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1685 Historic Mansion of James Buckelew

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The Story of the Lincoln Coach

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 Civil War

The Story Of the Lincoln Coach

In 1845 a man by the name of Dent Miller drove the Freehold - Jamesburg stage established by Mr. Buckelew, which was eventually superseded by the Freehold and Jamesburg railroad in 1851.  Dent Miller was known all over the country as one of the most expert "whips" and coolest headed driver of coaches within hundreds of miles.  When President Elect Abraham Lincoln needed to be driven from the train station to the New Jersey State House in 1861, it was Mr. Dent who drove him in one of Mr. Buckelew's finest coaches.  To read the speech Mr. Lincoln gave after traveling there in the Lincoln Coach, go to

James Bucbelew's fine coach, the Mercedes Benz of the 1800's continued to serve the Buckelews for many years after it was lent to Mr. Lincoln.  It was housed in the large Octagonal Carriage house and mule stable further down Pergola Avenue (then known as Brickyard Road). By 1910 the horseless carriage had come along, and the coach and mules were part of the by-gone era. The building was torn down in 1910 (many of the bricks were recycled to build the houses on Pergola Avenue).


Nobody knew what to do with the coach; but the coach was kept, probably due to its association with our 16th  President. For a while it found a home in the firehouse and Borough Hall (built in 1898 and now gone) on Augusta Street. It was used for decades to lead the Memorial Day parades. Over the years it carried Union Army Veterans (14th N.J. Volunteers who had served with Colonel Isaac Buchelew in the Civil War), World War I Veterans, Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty (portrayed by Bob and Ruth Dublin). But by 1930 the space in the tiny Borough Hall was insufficient. There were only four spaces available in the garage area at the back of the building. Any garage space not used by the Fire Department was needed for the Police car and newly formed First Aid Squad.


The Borough Council decided to move it, and the next stop for the Coach was the site of the Casey & Stonaher Feed and Grain depot on West Railroad Avenue. This was located on the lot where Dr. Pirog's office is today. This company had been a major supplier to area farmers up to World War I. But as tractors, trucks and cars replaced horsepower, the business closed and the building was abandoned. It was not a solution they were to comfortable with, and again a temporary solution was found in the barn at the John P. Kirkpatrick residence on Forsgate Drive.  John Kirkpatrick was Mayor from1932 to 1934. His son Malcolm (who also served as Mayor from46 to 19560) remembers back then that he, his brother, and all the neighborhood children would haul the coach out of the barn and drag each other around the barnyard in it. Sometimes his older brother Roger would hitch the coach to the Model-T Ford, and pull them around.


After a while, it occurred to the Councilmen that neither an abandoned building nor a friendly barn were the most secure places to keep this historic vehicle. None of the Buckelew heirs lived in town. They arranged with the N.J. State Home for Boys to take custody. It was used in parades for several years. The State Home didn't know what to do with it either, so when the Historical Association of Trenton expressed an interest, the Borough agreed to let it go. It dropped out of sight, but never out of mind.


George Hausman remembered the coach, and wanted to know what had become of it. He often spoke of it and encouraged the young men in town to find out what had hap­pened to that piece of history, and bring it back. Oliver Soden saw it sitting in the yard at the "monkey and bird house" in Cadwalader Park in Trenton on Easter Sunday on a family outing with sons Lee and Bob. It was in poor condition. Then it disappeared again and could have been lost forever, but Abe Reynolds saw it in a pasture in Flemington. He came back to Jamesburg and told George the good news. George said, "lets go and get it", and off they went. Of course nothing is that simple. The farmer couldn't give it to them. It belonged to the Trenton Historical Association, and had to be restored. An agreement was finally reached between Abe Reynolds, Bob Mendoker, Oliver Soden, and the other found­ing members of the Jamesburg Historical Association and the Trenton group that the coach would be returned to Jamesburg, and Jamesburg would pay for the restoration. It could go back to Trenton to use for the purpose of parades or celebrations, but otherwise it would remain in Jamesburg. It returned to Trenton once to celebrate Trenton's Birthday.


The Historical Association had not yet acquired Lakeview, so for a while it was housed in the new firehouse on West Railroad Ave. A blacksmith Oliver Soden knew, from South River, rebuilt the wheels. A farmer, Mr. Jorgensen from Farmingdale, would hitch up horses and once again the Coach led off the Parades. Of late, horses and coachmen are hard to find, and the coach is growing older. These days it rides on a flat bed truck, but it still takes part in the Memorial Day Parade more than 140 years after it carried President Lincoln from the Trenton Railroad Station to the State Capitol.  Today the Coach resides in the conservatory at Lakeview. To this day it remains the most requested and photographed artifact at the house.

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Photo and text taken from A Look Back 1979 to 2004

Prepared for the Jamesburg Historical Association 

by Thomas C. Bodall, Ronald R. Becker, and Chad L. Hetzel


and information from selected writings of  Louise Kerwin

Thanks for visiting!  Do you have any questions?  Comments?
Created by Lynn Lakner  in conjunction with the Jamesburg Historical Association
Page created April 25, 2005.  Page last updated on April 26, 2005 .
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