Rock Named to Honor ‘Respected & Eccentric’ W. Portal Woman

She killed rattlesnakes and tolerated “Uncle Billy.” And what might be New Jersey’s largest uncovered rock is named in her honor.

If you’ve ever traveled along Route 173 in the West Portal Area, you may have come across an historical marker touting Hannah’s Rock.

“Hannah” is Hannah Quick, who lived on the land where the rock is located (just beyond the historical marker). She was known as “Aunt Hannah” and her husband was “Uncle Billy,” and the couple was remembered in a March 1920 article in The Hunterdon County Democrat long after they had passed.

The paper recorded: “They were an eccentric old couple, but were respected by everyone. Aunt Hannah, who was simple and benevolent, had an amazing knowledge of herbs and no physician had more calls than she to treat the common ailments of the children of the community. Besides caring for her home and “Uncle Billy,” who at times was more or less of a trial, she was kept busy looking out for pigs, chickens and two cows, to say nothing of responding to neighborhood calls of all sorts.”

The paper noted she was fearless when dealing with “tramps,” and could quickly dispense with rattlesnakes — or, as she called them, “varments” — who unwisely slithered too close to her chickens.

“Uncle Billy, who never quite recovered from an attack of malignant fever, was quite childish at times,” The Democrat noted. “At one time he learned the trade of cabinet maker and so from time to time was able to do some crude work along the line of mending furniture and re-seating chairs. There was always plenty of work to be done in the garden, but usually Uncle Billy preferred to sit in the shade and smoke or gossip with a neighbor or some wayside traveler.”

In November of 1950, Hannah’s Rock made the news when a large tractor-trailer veered out of control on the curve in front of it, hurtled the barrier between the two lanes of the road, and plunged over the embankment on the other side of the highway. The rebuilding of the stretch over the mountain a few years earlier had brought the rock closer to the road, where, as The Democrat noted, a whole new generation of motorists had “discovered for the first time” the legendary formation.