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The Small House that is a Big Mystery

Fleming Castle Museum (Samuel Fleming House) - 5 Bonnell Street, Flemington, NJ

1906 sign on the Fleming Castle

Samuel Fleming was born in Ireland in 1707. In 1746, now in the new world, he became licensed to run a tavern in Ringoes, NJ. Then, in 1756, he bought 210 acres in present-day Flemington for his house. At that time there were 'more wolves than sheep, more bears than horses, and more Indians than settlers.' Soon after Fleming built his grand structure and the area began to be known as 'The Fleming Settlement', later as 'Fleming's' and still later as 'Flemington' (1870's).

Samuel Fleming's house served as a home to his large family and was the most substantial dwelling for miles around. His tavern was located on a main street and was a stopping place noted for the warmth tired travelers felt by the welcoming fireplace and good food and drink. It became a popular stop. According to tradition George Washington mentions 'stopping at Fleming's' in his journals.

There is much about life in 1756 that we know. Taverns were among the first and most important commercial enterprises in the settlements of colonial America. They offered food, drink, lodging and stables to travelers, and often served as the place where locals conducted business and socialized. In many areas, the local tavern was the only place for miles around to receive mail, read public notices, or see a copy of one of the few newspapers available.

Recent research indicates there are still questions about the small house - the Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House). Today, the House is being set up to depict life in the 1700's including a colonial kitchen, a ladies parlor, and a tavern room.

In July 2005, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) sold The Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House) to Flemington Borough to be used as a public museum. The main goal is to convert the structure for public use with activities for all. In particular, educational activities will be developed for school age children such as the Traveling Trunck program which brings a bit of the House into the schools and special group tours for school children at the House.

The earlier name of the building, Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House), was obviously not accurate and many visitors questioned it. In November 2009 the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name to Samuel Fleming House, Borough Council approved, and the name confusion is ended. Simply, Samuel Fleming built the house about 1756, he and his family lived there and although it was structurally far above most dwellings in the general area, it was a house not a castle.

Although the Borough has only owned the House for a short time, the enthusiasm and pride is unlimited. A 'Friends of Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House)' volunteers group has been formed and everyone is working to bring about future events. In May, 2006, The Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House) celebrated its 250th birthday. It was a grand reason to have a glorious celebration!

Content revised 2/2010   Copyright © 2005-10 Fleming Castle (Samuel Fleming House)

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