History of the Jefferson Township Historical Society

The Jefferson Township Historical Society was incorporated July 1, 1971 as Jefferson Township Committee for ’76. The main purpose of the group was the restoration of the Headley Homestead (Weldon Road) and the maintenance of this historic site. Unfortunately, they were not successful and the building was torn down and is presently a school bus parking lot. Undaunted the group continued and is ever active. The original six trustees of the corporation were: Ray Burket, Robert Govero, Leslie L. Post, Elizabeth Y. Riggs, Donald Rutsch and David Wilson. It was received by Frank A. Headley, County Clerk July 29, 1971 at 11:00 A.M. This is so listed in Book 82 Page 57 under Title 15.

In October 2012, the Jefferson Township Historical Society was formally incorporated as Jefferson Township Historical Society, Inc., dropping the reference to Jefferson Township Committee for '76.


The History of the Jefferson Museum
(the Chamberlain house), 1870’s-1985

In the 1870s, Amos Chamberlain, a resident of Milton Village built a second  house. His son, George, married Ruth Elizabeth Speaker in 1874 and moved into the new house on Dover-Milton Road. Two children, Raymond and Archie were raised in the house and attended school in the Milton Village. The family was in residence until the 1890’s.  For many years afterwards, the house was home to various families who rented from the Chamberlain family.

In 1960 the Chamberlain house was purchased by the Friends of the Library. They began the task of refurbishing the building into a library.  For the next nineteen years it functioned as the Violet Riker Library. When the new Jefferson Library was built, the township acquired the building and under the supervision of local resident, Emily Panek renovation began.
With a $15,000 grant and $27,000 raised from the township the renovation began in 1982. Much of the labor was donated. Walls were sandblasted and the chestnut floors were repaired. A large hole in the front door was repaired. The windows were all repaired by hand. The rear left liter broke and water came in through the back wall. After two years of work, the building became the Jefferson Township Museum and home to the Jefferson Township Historical Society.  It remained as such with little interior or exterior change until 2005.


The History of the Museum Garden Club of Jefferson

The Museum Garden Club was founded in the fall of 2004 by Roberta Shaw and Christine Williams. Both women were part of the landscaping committee for the Moving Viet Nam Wall in which the township hosted as part of its bicentennial celebration. When the Wall was dismantled and moved onto its next location, the flowers and trees that had been donated were left behind as were benches.  Some were sold; but many of the perennials were not suitable for sale. Shaw and Williams decided to take those half dead flowers and plant them at the township Museum and hope for the best in the next spring.

With no real plan in mind to start with, Shaw, a Master Gardener, started developing one as they looked over what was already planted around the 1870’s building. Most of what was there was large overgrown shrubbery.  There was one large area filled with poison ivy. Members of the historical society had planted tulip bulbs and annual through out the years and even terraced one area.  There was a border of hosta across the front. Realizing the scope of redoing the gardens around the building the two went looking for help. Williams was able to obtain a grant from the bicentennial committee to hire professional, Bill’s Scenic Landscaping from Lake Hopatcong. The transformation had begun. Four of the benches and a pear tree from the Wall were given to the Museum. It was too late in the season to plant the tree so it was stored at the township DPW for the winter.  The workers removed all of the old scrubs and prepared areas for planting. Specific flowers were chosen for authenticity to the period. Again Shaw and Williams knew that they could not care for these gardens themselves. The idea to begin a garden club whose sole purpose was to develop and maintain the Museum gardens. The Museum Garden Club of Jefferson was born.