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42 A Tragedy and a Celebration

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On Wednesday, March 2, 1932, two unrelated headlines on the front page of The Hopewell Herald, a weekly newspaper that is still published, reported dramatically different local events—a tragedy and a celebration. It covered the infamous Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the centennial celebration of Blawenburg(h) Reformed Church. What a combination of headlines.


Of course, the Lindbergh kidnapping was big news all around the world. After all, Colonel Lindbergh was an international hero who just five years earlier became the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Everybody knew Lucky Lindy. He built a house known as Highfields on Sourland Mountain, just north of Hopewell Borough so he could retreat from all the commotion that surrounded his fame. The house was large and remote. It had its own airstrip.


But what happened on March 1 brought a great deal of commotion to the Hopewell area. The headline in The Hopewell Herald read:


COLONEL LINDBERGH'S SON IS STOLEN

BABY KIDNAPPED LAST NIGHT FROM NURSERY BETWEEN 7:30 AND 10:00 O'CLOCK

PLANES SEARCH SOURLAND MOUNTAIN


Charles and Ann Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was taken from the second floor of their home in East Amwell Township. Demands for money ensued, but what became known as the Crime of the Century had a horrible result on May 12, 1932 when the body of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. was found along Carter Road just south of Hopewell Borough.


On the night of the abduction, young Charles’s nurse, Betty Gow, reported the toddler missing at 10pm. A ransom note demanding $50,000 was found on the second-floor window sill in the child’s room.


Highfields in 1932. A ladder is hoisted to the window in the baby’s room.


The Lindbergh kidnapping sent law enforcement into high action as they tracked down every clue regarding the crime. It dominated the news for months, and it is still the source of much controversy today. Many books have been written about it, reenactments have been done at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, and scores of conspiracy theories have been sparked.