Walter “Fiddler” Van Orden
Walter Van Orden was born in Newfoundland, NJ in 1880. He had three brothers and four sisters and had to quit school in the 4th grade to go to work.
As a young man , he married Elizabeth and moved to New York City. After 14 months, they moved back to New Jersey for the country life. He and his houses started working for the Newark Water Shed. Nine houses were built by Newark Water Shed employees in New City, a section of Newfoundland. Eight were for housing for employees and one was designated as a school house for their children. Walter and his family lived there his entire adult life. They had a son Leroy and two daughters, Hazel and Evalyn.
He had a cow and his horses. In the fall he would take children on hay rides with his horse and wagon. In the winter, he would attach a large sled on the back of the wagon for sleigh riding.
His true love was music. He played in the Butler Band and the band played in New York City when the Statue of Liberty was brought over from France. On Saturday nights, Walter and Elizabeth went to barn dances. He played his fiddle and she played the piano for their neighbors and friends. He earned the nickname “Fiddler “. A musical family, their two daughters played the piano and their son played many instruments.
Walter was an inventor. Before go carts were thought of, he had made a small car for his grandson to ride in. After Joe Louis fought Billy Conn, he made a boxing ring complete with a mat and their figurines. There were hand controls on each side for two people to play the game. He loved working with his hands. He made a windmill carved out of wood of a hunter with a rifle and his dog by his side and his prey behind him.
Fiddler spent three years working his favorite creation. It was his “Dancing Machine”. It consisted of a fiddle attached to a three foot long base. One third of it was for the three piece band, their dog and the dance floor. The fiddle plays Turkey in the Straw, the band members tap their feet, the dog moves his head from side to side and there are four couples spinning around to the music. Upon its completion, Fiddler would put his Dancing Machine in the trunk of his car and drive around and show his neighbors his invention. Years ago in Butler, they held contests for new inventions and creations and Walter won many times.
Walter “Fiddler “ Van Orden died in 1954 at the age of seventy-f our. His three children produced fourteen grandchildren, thirty-three great grandchildren and many great great grandchildren. This information was provided by Fiddler’s eighty –nine year old daughter, Evalyn. the dancing machine resides in her home in Butler.