Longtime face of Morris tourism to lead new ‘Friends of Jockey Hollow’


For approximately a quarter century as tourism director, Leslie Bensley promoted Morris County’s contributions to the American Revolution.

Now, she’s coming out of retirement to endorse a mutiny.

Leslie Bensley, pictured in 2016 as executive director of the Morris County Tourism Bureau. Photograph by Kevin Coughlin

As executive director of the new Mates of Jockey Hollow, a person of her ambitions is to incorporate a 50 {33efa13c0f87cf344d34d513ba9e1f951dc69f99c8cfd81bd283c4da93fdf481}-mile “Pennsylvania Mutiny Trail” to the 27 miles of climbing paths at Jockey Hollow in the Morristown Nationwide Historical Park.

The nonprofit Buddies, established by the Kirby and Wentworth households, aims to to aid the Countrywide Park Company improve Jockey Hollow’s trails and amenities.

“I consider it’s amazing,” Tom Ross, superintendent of the historic park, reported of the Pals. “They will supply a fantastic deal of assistance and advocacy for the park…I assume it’s a wonderful possibility.”

Many thanks partly to Bensley’s attempts in excess of the years, numerous people today know that George Washington’s troops endured the cruelest winter of the Revolution at Jockey Hollow.

Monument at Jockey Hollow remembers Capt. Adam Bettin, killed there by mutinous troopers throughout the Revolution. Image courtesy of Leslie Bensley

But they might be amazed to find out that mutinous troopers killed Captain Adam Bettin there on New Year’s Working day, 1781.

“Telling the mutiny tale is impactful, because it tells how distressed these troops were being,” Bensley stated. “That doesn’t get explained to as often as the well known battles, or the crossing of the Delaware.”

The Continental Military persevered versus extensive odds and excessive hardships to get our democracy, Bensley stated. Some men snapped under the pressure.

“They were hungry drained, underpaid, underfed, chilly guys. They were fed up. We require to tell that tale. So we’re likely to tell it.”

THE UNTOLD Story OF JOCKEY HOLLOW: Illustration depicts the  ‘Pennsylvania Mutiny.’ Impression courtesy of Leslie Bensley
THE Good friends Powering THE Good friends

Underwriting these efforts are two philanthropic families whose really like for Jockey Hollow yielded an award-profitable 2009 NJN documentary, Morristown: Wherever The united states Survived, based on John T. Cunningham’s e book, The Uncertain Revolution.

Extending their collaboration, the S. Dillard and Adrienne Kirby Family Philanthropic Fund and Finn and Kim Wentworth of Morristown have developed the Pals of Jockey Hollow to augment scarce federal pounds for the park.

From remaining: Finn and Kim Wentworth and Adrienne and Dillard Kirby, at MPAC in 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We have this jewel in our local community that’s not been polished to the extent it need to be,” because of funding shortfalls, claimed Kim Wentworth, primary mover of the Good friends strategy.

Although people flocked to Jockey Hollow all through the pandemic, she explained, number of may well know it desires assist. A washed-out bridge in the vicinity of the Cross Estate, for illustration, might charge $250,000 to substitute, in accordance to her partner.

The Mates corporation is intended to offer you a way for the community to pitch in, by using tax- deductible contributions and volunteer tasks. Jockey Hollow’s Innovative pedigree, and its affiliation with the country’s initially Countrywide Historic Park (1933), should attraction to benefactors past New Jersey, the founders believe.

Priorities for the Buddies of Jockey Hollow include wayfinding signs and path maintenance, archeological studies, curbing invasive species, and restoring the Wick House orchard. The 1,300-acre park in Harding the moment held about 1,000 huts and lodged far more than 10,000 troops – which at the time would have been the younger nation’s fifth-most significant metropolis.

Resources will be administered by way of the Neighborhood Basis of New Jersey, a nonprofit centered in Morris Township.

The Wentworths were being inspired by the Friends of Acadia, set up in 1986 to aid “preserve, secure and promote” Acadia National Park in Maine.

That grassroots group has served the National Park Support accommodate a six-fold raise in site visitors to Acadia, stated Finn Wentworth, an entrepreneur and developer.

He has led big fund drives for Morristown Healthcare Middle and pandemic relief, among other charitable ventures.

Kim Wentworth serves on the Group Basis board and is a former Morris County parks commissioner. She dates her interest in environmental triggers to the cleanup of a polluted Menlo Park playground when she was 11.

Their son, Mark X. Wentworth, a California vintner and conservationist, also is a Close friends founder and board volunteer.

Adrienne Kirby is a member of the Yard Club of Morristown and previous chairperson of Preschool Advantage. Her spouse Dillard stepped down very last 12 months as president of the Morristown-based F.M. Kirby Basis, which supports numerous environmental organizations and other nonprofits. American River, a documentary he manufactured, is getting highlighted at environmental movie festivals throughout the region.

The Kirbys, from Mendham, and the Wentworths are shut good friends and avid hikers at Jockey Hollow.


Already, the Mates have equipped a electronic information board for the Jockey Hollow Site visitors Middle. Up coming, Ross claimed, they might help archeological explorations, which are demanded ahead of path updates on the historic grounds.

The park superintendent extra he is delighted to companion all over again with Bensley, who retired final December as founding director of the Morris County Tourism Bureau.  The Buddies founders mentioned they ended up pleasantly astonished when Bensley agreed to spearhead  fundraising and volunteer recruitment.

“We’re incredibly privileged to have Leslie. Her enthusiasm is infectious” and her practical experience and contacts are considerable, mentioned Adrienne Kirby.

Former Morris Tourism Director Leslie Bensley at ‘Women To start with!,’ March 20, 2022. Photograph by Marion Filler

“Very couple points could entice me to come out of retirement so before long. But this is one of them,” stated Bensley, serving component-time as the Friends’ sole paid out staffer.

“I’m not concluded contributing. And there was one thing very special about this opportunity,” explained the Morris Township resident, who made the Close friends site that went reside this 7 days.

The task also enhances her advisory position on a committee scheduling New Jersey’s 250th anniversary celebration in 2026, she mentioned.

Buddies of Jockey Hollow QR code.

And staying capable to “hyper-emphasis on this a person park, and explain to its story, dovetails with what I have accomplished in the earlier,” Bensley stated, including wryly: “I have the costumes. And I can say Huzzah! with authority.”

Bensley also has a individual relationship to Jockey Hollow. An ancestor, Samuel Pauling, bivouacked there in the course of the War for Independence. But do not look for any skeletons rattling in this closet.

Asked if Pauling joined the mutineers, Bensley responded with a resounding:


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