Historic Frazee House Scotch Plains NJ

According to the legend

It was a hot summer day Scotch Plains, NJ in June of 1777 and Elizabeth "Aunt Betty" Frazee was baking bread. She was a bread baker and known to locals in the area as such. The Battle of the Short Hills had just been fought in the nearby Ash Swamp. It was close enough that she would have been able to hear the cannon fire and smell the gunpowder. It is thought that she was actually baking bread intended for the Continental Army's troops.


Aunt Betty came away from her oven to meet British General Cornwallis approaching her home. Apparently the appetizing aroma of the bread led him and another high ranking officer to the house. The legend states that General Cornwallis addressed Aunt Betty saying, "I want the first loaf of bread that next comes from that oven."

Her courageous reply to the powerful general of the enemy's army was, "Sir, I give you this bread through fear, not love."
Affronted by the reply, Cornwallis is said to have then refused her bread and ordered, "Not a man in my command shall touch a single loaf."
The British officers road off on their horses continuing their march through Scotch Plains and the surrounding area to the Watchung Mountains. No bread was taken, but according to plunder claims filed by Gershom Frazee for that historic day, the British soldiers pillaged the property of many other items. Specifically listed on the inventory entitled "Tools Lost by the regular Forces, June 26th 1777" were 64 woodworking tools, 3 cows, 23 sheep, a hive of bees and household goods.

The Documents

The story of the actual confrontation between General Cornwallis and Aunt Betty Frazee does not have any documented evidence. There is original document evidence that Aunt Betty was indeed a baker. Inventory lists have been found to include 3 dough troughs, 3 flour casks and a chest for bread. Also, documents have been found stating that Aunt Betty baked bread and fed the Continental troops at an earlier point in the Revolutionary War, so it is quite possible she would be doing the same thing with the army battling so close by. Also, the plunder claims filed by Gershom Frazee are original and certainly prove the British soldier were on the property.

No matter the accuracy of the legend

The Elizabeth and Gershom Frazee House is a significant testament to the rich history of Scotch Plains, NJ and the surrounding area. The house still stands today in it's original location. In Aunt Betty's time that would have been known as Scotch Plains at Two Bridges, but currently the address is better understood as 1451 Raritan Road, near Terrill Road in Scotch Plains.
Originally the property was a farmstead spread out over 14 acres. The colonial house was built in an Anglo-Dutch style somewhere between 1720-1740. It was likely built by Aunt Betty's husband, Gershom. He was a accomplished carpenter and joiner in the 18th century.

Preserving the History

Though the dwelling still stands on it's original site, it is not occupied and not open for visitors due to the need for renovations. Since the death of Aunt Betty in 1815, it has been owned by various family members and then ultimately sold to outside owners. The most outstanding being the fairly recent (1950-1995) Terry family who operated the Terry-Lou Acres Zoo, New Jersey's largest privately owned zoo on the site. The Terry family made many changes to the property, which have now been removed in an effort to preserve it's history.


The property is now a single acre and owned by Scotch Plains. Further restoration and renovation is needed and fundraising efforts are being conducted by Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary. The township plans to use the site as a passive park. The landmark is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.