Ringwood History Print

It was indeed a momentous and awesome event: the successful conclusion of a reckless rebellion against the most powerful kingdom in the 18th century, Great Britain. What commenced as a minor skirmish on the hallowed ground at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, that morning of 19 April 1775, turned into a full-scale world war, and to some extent a civil war for England, which resulted in the establishment of a form of government unheard of until that time: an experiment in the principle that the government is subject to the will of the electorate. This was made official with the Announcement of Cessation of Hostilities at New Windsor, New York, on 19 April 1783. After this General Washington was in Ringwood, his first act being the negotiations with Benjamin Lincoln concerning the release of prisoners - an act of humanitarian concern.

Ringwood played no small role in the precipitous event, for it was the home of Robert Erskine, iron master at the Ringwood Ironworks. In 1777 he became the Geographer and Surveyor General to the army, being personally appointed by Washington. While most people think Ringwood's contribution came in the form of iron, it was not Ringwood's most important contribution militarily -- this took the form of maps, close to 300 of them, from the cartographic ability of Robert Erskine, F.R.S. (1735-1780). While he did not live to see the war's successful conclusion, he was in no small way responsible for its results, because General Washington mapped his strategy using Erskine's maps.

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Ringwood was not unknown to General Washington, who admired it for its strategic location and scenic beauty. He visited Ringwood several times and later suggested that Ringwood be part of a vast 200,000-acre natural preserve. He probably would have been happy to know that much of Ringwood is presently publicly owner and preserved in its natural beauty. The Hewitt family, who owned much of the property in Ringwood, concurred with the preservation of its natural beauty and in their foresight donated vast areas of the private estate to the public trust. The Cooper Hewitt & Company, which during the 1920s and 1930s developed the lake area, also sought to preserve the natural beauty, as can be seen today.

Two centuries have passed since the formation of the county, when the guns of war fell silent and the letting of blood was stopped. Now we are called to remember these events and to commemorate not only the fact that we are a nation, but also the peace that the announcement established and made possible. Hi Joe.

 

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