|State Legislature of New Jersey|
July 16, 1763
Totowa, New Jersey
|Died||October 5, 1835 (aged 72)|
Paterson, New Jersey
|Political party||Democrat Party|
|Occupation||Fife Major, Brigadier General, Politician, Freemason, Master Engraver, Inn Keeper, Musician, Poet, Artist.|
Abraham Godwin (July 16, 1763 – October 5, 1835) was a representative in the New Jersey General Assembly, former fife major in the American Revolutionary War, and brigadier general during the War of 1812.
Abraham Godwin was born to Captain Abraham Godwin and Phebe Coole in Totowa, New Jersey. His father built up the area around Totowa, now known as Paterson, New Jersey, building the Godwin Hotel and creating the first stage coach line for tourists to travel to the Passaic Falls. Abraham Godwin married Mary Maria Munson on July 3, 1783 in the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey. They had nine children, Phebe, Henry, Caleb, Susanna, Abraham, Maria, Catharine, Elizabeth, and Margaret. His son Henry committed suicide after going bankrupt producing cotton in 1816. He has a famous grandson, author and journalist Parke Godwin.
Abraham’s father joined the cause in early 1776 and was Captain of Marines stationed on board the USS Lady Washington in New York City. Abraham’s older brother Henry became a Quartermaster in Fishkill, New York, and his younger brother David was a Drummer. Abraham and David were re-united with their father when they enlisted in New York City. Abraham’s father survived getting shot during the Siege of New York. Knowing the topography of New Jersey, they led George Washington’s army to Totowa where he stayed at the Godwin Hotel. After that they split ways, Washington to the Delaware River, and the Godwins to Fishkill. The Godwins had much debt to the Tories, and lost half their land as a result. The British raided the Godwin homestead, stripping Phebe and the daughters of everything. This sickened Abraham’s father even more, to the point where he died early in 1777. In the spring, Abraham, Henry, and David were ordered to Fort Montgomery to lay a chain across the North River. On October 7, 1777 the Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery took place. David was ordered to send for help, Henry was captured by the British, and Abraham jumped into the Hudson and swam to shore. Abraham was present at the Siege of Yorktown, witnessed the surrender of Charles Cornwallis to George Washington and received an honorable discharge signed by George Washington.
Towards the end of the war Abraham became an engraving apprentice of Andrew Billings, a silversmith and an engraver of bookplates. Within a few years Abraham became better than his master. Abraham soon found himself with high-profile projects, like his engraving of the certificate for the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York or his certificate for the Fire Department of New York City, among others. He most likely painted a portrait of George Washington while he stayed at the Passaic Hotel.
Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures
Alexander Hamilton had envisioned the Passaic Falls as a powerhouse for manufacturing since his first visit in 1778. While he was Treasury Secretary he led the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures and they decided on the newly named Paterson. They met at the Godwin Hotel. Abraham led the group surveying the land surrounding the falls. Hamilton made the final call to place the factories right next to the falls rather than dig expensive canals to place them miles away. They all agreed.
New Jersey General Assembly (1802-1806)
Brigadier General in the War of 1812
Abraham quickly rose to the rank of Brigadier General because of his time in the New Jersey State Legislature. His son was a Lieutenant. He patrolled the beaches between Atlantic City and Sandy Hook, and was praised when he brought volunteers from Paterson to help build the first fort in Sandy Hook.
He retired to a peaceful life running the hotel in Paterson. He wrote poems, songs, continued his engravings and made many paintings. The Godwin Hotel was a well known tourist attraction while he was alive. It was advertised in the papers that there was always a fiddler ready to play. He was nominated the only elector for Andrew Jackson in New Jersey in 1828. In 1829, the greatest honor was bestowed upon him, the township just north of the Passaic river was named Godwinville.
Godwinville was renamed Ridgewood in the 1876 by Samuel and Cornelia Dayton. The Paterson and Ramapo Railroad Company fought this decision. The Godwin Hotel lost its prestige after Abraham died, and it fell into disrepair. The building was torn down in 1915. Many remnants of Godwin still remain in Paterson, Ridgewood, and the surrounding areas. There are two roads in Paterson, Godwin Street and Godwin Avenue, that were chopped in half by the train tracks. From Wyckoff through Midland Park and ending at Ridgewood another Godwin Avenue exists, formerly known as Godwinville Road. In 1951, the Captain Abraham Godwin chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution erected a monument in to Abraham Godwin in Van Neste Square in Ridgewood, New Jersey. In 2016, the monument had lights installed so it could be viewed at night.
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- Posted on February 7, 2010 August 23, 2018 (2010-02-07). "History of the Village of Ridgewood – THE RIDGEWOOD BLOG". Theridgewoodblog.net. Retrieved 2018-12-26.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
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- Fricke, Janet. "Lighting Project at Memorial Park at Van Neste Square - October 17". www.ridgewoodnj.net.