The Community Foundation of New Jersey has announced a new affiliated fund, Friends of Jockey Hollow, established by two local philanthropic families to protect, preserve, and promote the Jockey Hollow unit of Morristown National Historical Park. Jockey Hollow is renowned for its environmental quality, recreational value, and historic significance which keeps New Jersey’s rich cultural heritage alive for the enjoyment of current and future generations of visitors.
The founders of the new fund are the S. Dillard and Adrienne Kirby Family Philanthropic Fund, Finn and Kim Wentworth, and Mark X. Wentworth. Leslie Bensley, who recently retired as Morris County’s director of tourism, will serve as the Fund’s executive director. In 2009, the Kirbys and Wentworths collaborated on an NJN-produced award-winning documentary entitled Morristown: Where America Survived, based on John T. Cunningham’s book, The Uncertain Revolution. The film revisited the bitterly cold winter of 1779-1780 when General Washington’s ragged and weary troops arrived at this densely wooded area, for their winter encampment, and how the camp saved the army – and the American Revolution – from the brink of disaster.
“As a fund within the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Friends of Jockey Hollow is dedicated to broadening financial support through philanthropy and volunteerism to implement initiatives that will continue to enrich the visiting experience,” said Leslie Bensley, Friends of Jockey Hollow executive director.
In 1933, Congress honored Jockey Hollow as the first national historical park placed under the stewardship of the National Park Service. The Continental Army’s 1779-80 encampment remains an early example of American endurance and resourcefulness under the most brutal weather conditions.
Jockey Hollow’s ample forest provided the Continental Army with enough logs to build about 1,000 huts for more than 10,000 troops – enough to create the fledgling nation’s fifth-largest city. Morristown claimed its place in history as Washington’s headquarters – where the general and aides including Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette planned the war effort at the Ford Mansion, which is also a part of the park.
“With its wealth of woodlands, streams, diverse vegetation, and wildlife, Jockey Hollow is a particularly special place in the nation’s most densely populated state,” said Adrienne Kirby, a long-term member of The Garden Club of Morristown. “The park’s 1,300 acres represent a largely natural environmental landscape of both cultural and ecological value. We aim to encourage biodiversity of native flora and fauna while seeking to reduce the spread of invasive species.”
One of the most popular hiking attractions in the Northeast continues to be Jockey Hollow’s 27 miles of trails. These well-marked, sometimes rocky stretches of terrain routinely draw thousands of hikers, naturalists, birders, botanists and scouting groups.
“In collaboration with the National Park Service and local communities, the Friends of Jockey Hollow can bring an effective mix of volunteerism, private philanthropy, civic leadership, and educational resources to the Park’s continual improvement,” said Kim Wentworth, a CFNJ Board member, who also served as a Commissioner for the Morris County Parks.
More information about Friends of Jockey Hollow is available on its website, www.fojh.org.