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EXIT of the Day: I-95 EXIT 11 To: Garden State Parkway to Woodbridge, New Jersey
"As we now drive south into the more typical suburban woodlands, you are now leaving the salt marshes of north Jersey. In the last few Exits we have explored the Statue of Liberty, Jewish Immigrants, lady poets, striking refinery workers, pro football teams, Bald Eagles, and even New Jersey Mobsters. Quite a snapshot of the American tapestry spread across five miles of swamp, right?
Oh and I forgot: we discussed how these salt marshes were once home to massive garbage dumps, so-called lunatic asylums, and the world’s largest hog farm which together helped to tarnish New Jersey’s image as the bucolic Garden State.
Buried in asphalt and suburban sprawl is New Jersey's ancient heritage. In the early 1600s, this area was first settled by the Dutch and it was called New Holland. Then shortly thereafter, came the Brits. Most relocated from New England.
Nearby is the colonial era home of the ancestors of a recent President. This President's family came to America not long after the Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving. And no, it was not a Roosevelt, a Clinton, a Bush or a Trump.
President Barak Obama's American Roots run deep.
While his Dad was from Kenya, Obama's mom's side can trace roots directly to English immigrants arriving at the time of the Pilgrims. In fact, maybe his ancient American heritage might have something to do with his interest in law, morals as well as politics. His direct ancestors were leaders in the Anglican Church in North America and -- not surprisingly -- in colonial era politics.
Way back in 1640, Jonathan Singletary Dunham, Obama’s first America-born ancestor was born up in Massachusetts. John moved to Woodbridge, New Jersey where by 1670 he started a grist mill. It was the first grist mill in New Jersey. And like his presidential descendant, he was a politician. Elected as a Member of the New Jersey Provincial Congress, John Dunham is President Barack Obama’s direct ancestor; he is the president's 8th great-grandfather.
Nearly 400 years ago, John Dunham thrived in Woodbridge. The house the Dunhams built in 1671, the Jonathan Singletary Dunham House, still stands and currently serves as the Rectory of the Trinity Episcopal Church. That's because Obama's 7th great grandfather, Benjamin Dunham, generously built the first of three church buildings at that location. Ben personally paid for that building and donated it to the congregation.
As is the case with many Americans, members of the Dunham family then drifted out West. Generations passed. Ultimately Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was born in Wichita, Kansas. After high school in Wichita, Ann moved to Hawaii, enrolled in the University of Hawaii and studied to become an anthropologist.
Here in Woodbury, the oldest portions of the building are still in use today as the rectory where the presiding minister lives. She spoke to the webpage, mycentraljersey.com.
Said the Reverend Angela Cipolla, the head priest at Woodbridge's Trinity Episcopal Church. “The connection with the president is absolutely something that the parish is incredibly proud of.”
Not surprising, the Rector extends a warm invitation to the President's family to come visit Woodbury, New Jersey. In effect it's an invitation for President Obama to come home.
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