A wheelwright is a person who
makes and repairs carriage wheels. Wheelwrights required a number of skills, including metal working and
blacksmithing. A blacksmith and
wheelwright formed the foundation of early communities, providing needed
services for horse drawn transportation.
The Williamson Wheelwright shop
was originally located along the busy Brunswick-Princeton Turnpike, now Route
27, in Franklin Township. The building
received its name from the Williamson family who owned the building for much of
the late 18th and 19th century. In 1750 William Williamson’s name also
appears as an elder in the Dutch Church of New Brunswick.
William had six children. His son George a practicing blacksmith,
inherited approximately 100 acres of property upon his father’s death in
1799. In the early 1800s the wheelwright
shop was owned by Jane Williamson Pumyea the sixth daughter of William. By 1853, Jane was widowed and her son, also
named William, purchased the property.
In 1876 he sold the property to Matthew and Sarah Suydam. During the Suydam ownership Frank Metz was
hired to run the shop. He worked here
from 1903 until he retired in 1951. In 1958 the property was sold to John and
Jane Halase who donated the building to East Jersey Old Town. The building was moved to its current
location in 1977.
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