Written January 29, 2023 Richard Gardner III rev. Feb. 23, 2023, Feb. 28 and March 19
published Mar. 20, 2023
My parents knew each other over 70 years and were married over 65 years. Contrary to the way women are
often seen in our society she was much more than an appendage of my father. Both were college educated and
from the same social class. She was a very talented and creative artisan who had a variety of skill sets she
worked to excel at such as wreathe making, needlepoint and knitting and the tenacity to complete what she
started. Often when my father was a television watching vegetable Mom would be knitting a sweater or working
on another form of art.
My mother’s family appears to have started coming to North America in the early to mid-1600’s. The last family
member apparently came here from England as a stowaway during the Boer War, being too young to fight. If I
remember right his house in Boonton is still being lived in.
One story I have is that of Lieutenant William Barton and Margaret Henderson. They are buried in the Zeek
Cemetery about 1 mile northeast of the Marcella Union Cemetery. Originally William Barton was a British soldier
who switched sides after the Battle of New York. According to a book I have on the Barton family his father James
is supposed to have died with Braddock at the Battle of the Monongahela during the French and Indian Wars.
Anyway, Barton was assigned to guard German mercenaries who were now prisoners of war working in the
Hibernia iron works at the top of Split Rock Lake. One day him and some of the soldiers assigned to him went to
a dance. He settled in a long a wall to watch. There was this pretty spirited woman, Margaret Henderson, who
decided he might make a good husband. During a game of Drop the Handkerchief she made her thoughts known
choosing him. Pursuit around the circle, romance, engagement and marriage was incredibly fast taking 2 weeks
for the whole process. My mother is a spirited descendant so Margaret’s choice was a good one.
There were about 10 of Mom’s ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. Dad’s family was to my
knowledge German mercenaries hired by the British. Both families may have first met across swords and
bayonets at this time, either on the Saratoga battlefield or during the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777. I would not
be surprised if Mom’s family members did not help escort captured members of my father’s family after
Saratoga or Trenton as they travelled as prisoners of war to internment at Fort Frederick along the Potomac or a
prisoner of war camp near York, PA.
At least one ancestor, Christopher Zeek, fought in the War of 1812. I am guessing knowing the history that at
least one or two more family members were also involved.
Many of Mom’s ancestors apparently had slaves, especially the Davenports, because that was common in New
Jersey in Colonial times and through the early 1800’s. At the same time, Morris County sent about 1/3 of its
eligible men to fight against slavery during the American Civil War. About 1/3 of them did not return. Many more
came back wounded and crippled. Some of these men were family members of my mother’s ancestors.
One of the injured was Hiram Everment, a private in the First New Jersey Volunteer Calvary. My understanding is
that a horse rolled on him causing crippling injuries, disqualifying him from a government pension because he
was not wounded during battle. I have seen some of the related paperwork. His wife eventually qualified for his
pension. He was her mother’s grandfather or Mom’s great-grandfather.
All this family history is especially interesting because I can say with certainty when touring a historic site such as
a battlefield that a certain ancestor was at that place at a certain time and that I am seeing what that person
Mom was the only member of her family to go to college, Paterson City Normal School (teachers’ college), being
opposed by her mother, but with the full support of her father. One of the stories she told is that she helped pay
for college by making wreathes on welding rod hoops welded together by her father. I am only guessing that she
did other handicrafts such as knitting to further pay for college. She lived at home above the “garage” on
Rockaway Valley Road, along the Rockaway River. It was about a 20 mile commute each way. (Mom taught me to
make wreathes, my first handicraft.) The basic artisan skills, abilities and creativity were passed down to at least
one of us.
Mom’s mom was apparently opposed to my parents’ marriage from what she said. Flora was probably a
Prohibitionist, “Lips that touch wine will never touch mine”, being a Methodist in an area where there was strong
pro-Prohibition sentiment. Therefore, anyone including family which consumed ethanol was obviously evil, a
devil’s child. This is my conjecture based on what I know of the local history and stories Mom told me about her
mother. She rightly married my father, despite her mother’s objections.
My parents apparently met during my mother’s freshman year of high during band practice. My father was
playing the clarinet at this time. My mother according to one of my father’s cousins was playing the
Glockenspiel, a heavy and unwieldy instrument, proving right from the start she was the stronger of the two.
A story I once heard is that my father was so determined to visit mom during a snowstorm that he was going to
walk the 3 miles or so there and back. His father relented and let him take the car.
Mom instigated the move from New Jersey removing her and my father from family disputes. This is something I
regret because I know very few members of my mother’s family. An irony is that I know more about my mother’s
ancestry and have spent more time exploring where her ancestors lived and visiting their graves than my
father’s, about who I know almost nothing. Yet I know more of my father’s family.
My mother was far smarter than my father in many ways, standing on her own as a courageous woman with
immense drive and inherent talent.
As they aged my mother was the energy and glue which kept the household together and functioning.
What I find most bothersome is that my mother will be remembered as the appendage of my father with little
value in herself. She was a talented woman whose life and accomplishments stand boldly on their own above
anything my father attempted or accomplished.
Like all women my mother needs to be remembered for herself, not as an appendage of who she married.