We forget today just what an impact World War One had on the lives of its participants and their families. In the early 1990s the webmaster drove past an aging barn with “Argonne Farm” painted on its side at the corner of Washington Valley Road and Argonne Farm Road in Bridgewater, NJ. Twenty some years later, the webmaster finally pursued the WW1 connection and spoke with the original owner’s son. Here is the story:
Samuel Wishnowitz was born in Poland around 1897 and emigrated to the United States at some point before the war. According to the family, Samuel joined the army at some point in order to become a citizen. He fought in the war with the 1st Division, AEF; never rising beyond the rank of private.
Speaking little English and with little education, he bought the farm in Bridgewater, NJ together with his father, who had emigrated to the U.S. earlier. His son believes that he received $1,000 from the government after his discharge; helping him to purchase the property.
Samuel married at some point; and the couple raised a son and daughter on the farm. As it was hard to make a living farming, Samuel worked twenty years for the Somerset Country Road Department. This left his wife and son to do most of the farm work. They primarily sold eggs, but also some chickens. They also rented out much of the land to a neighbor farmer.
Samuel died in 1969, but his wife, Frieda, lived on the property until her death in early 1997.
According to his son, Samuel had a tough life; and he never lived long enough to see the reward of the farm. At some point in the 1990s the son, who had studied construction and real estate, subdivided the farm. In that way, the farm was ultimately the veteran’s legacy to his family.
Samuel spoke very little about his war-time experiences; and when he did, he would get very emotional about losing many friends and buddies over there. Obviously his war-time experiences made enough of an impression for Samuel to name the property “Argonne Farm.” Or was it because of the rolling hills crowned with woods that so resemble a drive in the Meuse-Argonne?
With numerous additions, the farm house at 1340 Martinsville Road, Bridgewater, NJ still stands.
A rear view of the house from Argonne Farm Drive clearly shows the rolling hills and woods. The barn stood at the corner of Martinsville Road and Argonne Farm Road, approximately where the grey house is situated.
Samuel’s grave at the Temple Sholom Cemetery in Bridgewater, NJ.