The Dig

“Uncovering Woodbridge History – A Public Archaeology Open House” took place in the Dunham House yard on Sept. 28-29, 2019. The archaeological dig was a project of the Middlesex County Office of Arts and History and the New Jersey Archaeological Society, along with Trinity Church and Monmouth University. Students from the County College of Morris also participated.

Here’s the dig in progress. (Courtesy of the Monmouth University School of History and Anthropology.)

The archaeologists dug three square holes in the yard: one just outside the main dining-room windows, and two others at an angle from the first. They turned up a number of artifacts, including a thimble and a penny dating back to the mid-1800s. Parts of two earlier foundations were discovered as well. Though we don’t know exactly what the foundations were for, it’s possible to make educated guesses.

This hole was dug right outside the dining room’s main windows. Portions of the two earlier foundations were discovered here.

One foundation may have been for an outside kitchen, which was described in a 1921 history of Middlesex County. The Rectory wall has a door-sized hole nearby that was sealed with stones and mortar, as shown in the first photo. There may well have been a door there to provide access to the kitchen.

This hole was dug away from the first hole at an angle

The other suggests more than one house might have been built on the site before it became Trinity’s Rectory in 1873. Some sources contend that what we consider to be the Dunham House was actually built by the Barron family around 1750. A Woodbridge map from 1780 identifies the property as the Barron House. Middlesex County records show that two daughters of Samuel Barron sold the house in 1872 to George Hance, who had it renovated and expanded before turning it over to Trinity the next year.

This hole was dug away from the second hole at an angle, and located near the tree in the upper left corner. The main tree root was left undisturbed.

These mysteries deserve further study. For now, Trinity is grateful to all those who helped put together and carry out the dig.