Following the footsteps of George Washington … and his spy

A historical and family-friendly bike ride from Rocky Hill to Griggstown, home of that “notorious Tory spy” John Honeyman. Or was he really a spy for George Washington.

Time for another history-themed bike ride in New Jersey.

Today I led a 7-mile family-friendly ride on a road that George Washington and his troops took after their victory at the Battle of Princeton before we looped back on the D&R Canal towpath. You know it’s truly a family ride when two (speedy) 5-year-olds and a 7-year-old are part of the group!

Franklin Township closed Canal Road — avoided by all but experienced road riders — from Rocky Hill to Griggstown. This was the Griggstown Road back in 1777, and we were looking for the marker honoring the march to Morristown.

True, we missed it the first time — I thought it was by the red locktender’s house. It’s actually just past it on the way to Griggstown and on the other side of the road. Look for the two small American flags.

Or maybe we were just distracted by the friendly volunteer firefighters at the locktender’s house, offering free water and candy, even to adults. Honest — only the kids said yes to the candy. Not that they knew where the marker was either.

But on our second trip back, when we were only four and we did find the elusive marker, they let the lone child step into a firefighter’s boots and wear the attached pants!

With the road closed, we had time and the peace of mind to stop for turtles. We did it even more often on the towpath. Some of us caught a look at some big ones (a foot across?) taking a break on a log, but others just heard the big splash as one dove off  — and wondered whether that was a child falling into the canal!

And the spy included in the name of ride? That would be John Honeyman, who lived in Griggstown. But whether he was a “notorious Tory spy” or just faking it and really spying for Washington or is, as the CIA calls him, “the spy who never was” — well, that is up to you to decide.

My ride, though, was more than just the 7-mile loop plus an extra 3 or 4 miles to find the marker. I rode from home to get in close to 30 miles as I train for the weeklong fundraising ride in October from Wilmington, NC, to Savannah. That was after 40 hilly miles on Saturday. Got to do more given those 80-mile days, even if they are flat!

More history on a bike: A weekend bike tour around Princeton NJ: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

Author: alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.

2 thoughts on “Following the footsteps of George Washington … and his spy”

  1. Read the book “The Revolutionary Scene in New Jersey” published 1942, starts on page 99. John Honeyman was indeed Washington’s spy, and died at the age of 95, not 93, they have his birth date wrong on his grave. He is buried in Lamington Churchyard. Mystery solved.


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