974.901 ' '
n51647 ®^NEALOGY COLUECTiON
Ill iitfm fiiP^iVimNi vHfil'^ ^'^P*'
3 1833 02246 9792
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
GEORGE S. MOTT, D. D-
Read before the New Jersey Historical Society, at Trenton,
January 17 th, 1878.
FLEMINGTON, N. J.
E. VossELLER, Bookseller and Stationer.
In this sketch of the " First Century of Hunterdon County," I
shall restrict myself to the territory now comprised within the
-' boundary of the county. Because the history of that portion of
. . ^ "Old Hunterdon," which is now included in Mercer County, has
\9\ ^een cared for by others.'
I New Jersey held out two hands of welcome to those of Europe
who were seeking an asylum from evils which made their mother
•^ country no longer endurable. The one hand was Delaware Bay,
^ the other was Raritan Bay. Through these openings to the sea
<).^ready access was gained to the two rivers, which took their names
^'^ from these bays. These streams opened avenues for up among
fertile valleys until, in Hunterdon County, they approached at the
r\ • nearest points within twenty miles of each othei', and there the
^ tributaries of each drain the same hills. The mil^i climate — less
■ bleak than New England, not so hot as Virginia — the abundance
of game, fish jind fruits,'^ won to those shores the children of the
y^. northern half of Europe, who were accustomed to the temperate
'"'^^^^S^one. Lord Berkley and Sir George Carteret,^ prepared a constitu-
tion, which was almost as democratic as that which we now enjoy.
This assured civil and religious rights to all the settlers. Thus in-
vited by the 'country and its privileges, emigrants streamed in from
Europe, Long Island and New England.
' Dr. Hale's History of Pennington. Dr. Hall's History of Trenton, and the
Histories of Princeton and the battle of Trenton.
= Smith's History of New Jersey, pp. 20, 105, 174-177. He speaks of
peaches, plums, and strawberries growing plentifully in the woods.
' To them the proprietary right of the soil had been conveyed and they
divided the Province between them, into East and West Jersey. Berkley had
4 HUNDERDON COUNTY.
The Quakers in England had become the objects of suspicion and
dislike to the government ; and they were assailed by penalty and
persecution, which led them to look over the ocean for some spot
that should furnish the toleration they could not secure in there
native land. John Fenwicke and Edward Bjilinge, both Quakers,
bought out Berkley's shares. But Byllinge soon became so em-
barrassed in business, that he made an assignment to Trustees, of
whom "VYilliam Penn was one. But before this he had sold a num-
ber shares. Thus Penn became one of the proprietors of West
Jersey, and the owner of large tracts of land in Hunterdon. Soon
after Fenwicke made a similar assignment. These Trustees,
under the pressure of circumstances, sold shares to different pur-
chasers. As these Trustees were Quakers, the purchasers were
mostly members of that body. Two companies were formed for
that purpose in 1677, one in Yorkshire and the other in London.
Daniel Coxe was connected with the latter, and became the largest
holder of shares ; and by this means he eventually possessed exten-
sive tracts of land in Old Hunterdon. The tide of immigration now
set in rapidly. In the same year the companies were organized and
four hundred 'caJne over, most of them were persons of property.
Burlington was founded, and became the principal town. Here the
land office for all West Jersey was located, and deeds were re-
In 1696 an agreement was made between Barclay and the pro-
prietors of East Jersey, on the one side, and Byllinge and the pro-
prietors of West Jersey on the other, for running the partition line
so as to give as equal a division of the Province as was practicable
A straight line was directed to be surveyed from '' Little Egg Har-
bor, to the most northerly branch of the Delaware." The line was ex-
tended as far as the south branch of the Raritan, at a point just east of
the Old York Road. This line was run by Keith, Surveyor General of
East Jersey. But it was deemed by the West Jersey proprietors-
to be too far west, and thereb}'' encroaching on their territory, and
they objected to its continuance. On September 5th, 1688, Gover-.
HUNTKRDON COUNTY O
nors Coxe and Barclay, representing each side, entered into an
agreement for terminating all differences, by stipulating that this line,
so far as run, should be the bounds, and directing the course by
which it should be extended, viz. : — " From that point (where it
touched the south branch), along the back of the adjoining planta-
tions, until it touched the noi'th branch of the Raritan at the falls of
the Allamitung (now the Laniington Falls), thence running up that
stream northward to its rise near Succasunny. From that point, a
short straight line was to be run to touch the nearest part of the
Passaic River." Such a line would pass about five miles north of
Morristown. The course of the Passaic was to be continued as far
as the Paquanick, and up that branch to the forty-first degree north
latitude ; and from that point in "a straight line due east to the par-
tition point on Hudson River, between East Jersey and New York."'
This line gave to the northern part of West Jersey, the present
counties of Warren, Sussex, all of Morris north of Morristown, and
those portions of Passaic and Bergen, which lie north of Ibrty-first
parallel. Though this agreement was never carried into effect, this
division line constituted the western boundary of Hunterdon, and so
remained until Morris was set off in 1738. And then all that port
of North Jersey, down as far as Musconetcong, was erected into the
The territory of West Jersey was divided into one hundred
shares or proprietarios. These were again divided into lots of one
hundred each; the inhabitants of which elected commissioners,
who were empowered, '' To set forth and divide all the lands of the
Province as were taken up, or by themselves shall be taken u^ and
contracted for with the natives, and the said lands to divide into one
hundred parts, as occasion shall require."^ The first and second
division extended as far as the Assanpink (Trenton).
' Smith's History, pp. 196-198.
^ Chap. 1 of CoQcessioas of " The Trustees." Quoted in Gordon's History
of New Jersey, p. 68.
b HUNTERDON COUNTY.
At the close of the seventeenth centurj^, West Jersey is said to
have contained 8,000 inhabitants.' These people began to look
with longing eyes upon the territory to the north, which was yet
held by the Indians. So that the proprietors urged the Council to
grant them a third dividend, or taking up of land. In compliance
with this request a committee was appointed, consisting of John
Wills, Wm. Biddle, Jr., and John Reading, to treat with the natives.
This committee reported at a meeting of the Council held June
27th, 1 703, " That they had made a full agreement with Himhaniraoe,
for one tract of land adjoining to the division line (i. e., between
East and West Jersey) and lying on both sides of the Raritan
river. * * * And also with Coponnockous for another tract
of land, lying between the purchase made by Adlord Boude" and
the boundaries of the land belonging to Himhammoe fronting on
the Delaware."^ This purchase was computed to contain 150,000
acres, and the cost, with other incidental charges, was estimated at
£700. It was proposed to allow 5,000 acres for each dividend to a
proprietary.* At another meeting of the Conncil, held November
2d, 1703, the same committee was sent to those Indians, and
particularly to Coponnockous, to have the tract of land lately pur-
chased, " Marked forth and get them to sign a deed for the same.
* * * And that they go to Himhammoe's wigwam in order to
treat with them, and to see the bonnds of the land lately purchased
of him." This purchase covered the Old Amwell township, or the
present townships of Raritan, Delaware, East and West Amwell.
The 150,000 acres were divided among the proprietors. But the
tract ^hich extended north from the Assanpink and which was
within the original township of Hopewell, belonging to the West
Jersey Society, which was a company of proprietors living in
' Gordon's History, p. 57.
'^ This Boude Tract extended southward from Lambertville.
' Smith's History of New Jersey, pp. 95, 97.
^ It IS probable that tracts of land had been bargained for previously, by
individuals with the Indians.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. I
England. To them Daniel Coxe conveyed this tract in 1691. He
obtained the title to it in 1685. He owned 22 proprietory shares.
Among the first who took up land out of this tract of 150,000
acres, was the estate of Benjamin Field. ^ He had 3,000 acres
fronting on the riverj the southern border of this touched the
Society's tract. He also had 2,000 acres near Ringos. Robert
Dinsdale had extensive tracts beginning about Lambertville and
embracing Mt. Airy. John Calow owned north of the city, and
fronting on the river. Wm. Biddle held 5,000 acres immediately
north of Calow, fronting on the river. John Reading took up land in
the vicinity or Prallsville and Barber's Station. He also owned land
about Centre Bridge which was called Reading's Ferry,
until 1770, when it went by the nameof Howell's Ferry." Other own
ers of tracts were Gilbert Wheeler, Richard Bull and John Clarke.
These large tracts soon passed into other hands. 1705 John Hoi-
combe of Arlington of Pa., bought lands from Wheeler and Bull,
and subsequently he made purchases out of the Biddle and Calow
tracts. He is the ancestor of the Holcombe families in Hunterdon
county. In 1709 Wm. Biles sold to Edward Kemp of Buck's
county, Pa., who the next year sold 200 acres to Ralph Brock, a
millwright. In 1716 Richard Mew sold one half a tract to John
Mumford of Newport, R. I. Joshua Opdyke purchased several
hundred acres of the heirs of Wm. Biles. He was the great-grand-
father of Hon. George Opdyke, at one time Mayor New York city.
In 1714 Wm. Biles, son of W. Biles, Sr., who was then deceased,
sold 1,665 acres to Charles Wolverton. The southwest corner of
this was on Reading's line ; 284 acres of this was sold to Geo. Fox,
who came from England. In 1729 this was conveyed to Thomas
Canby of Buck's county. In 1735 he sold to Henry Coat, and in
1741 he to Derrick Hoagland. Wm. Rittenhouse had a tract of
land east this. Wm. Biddle also sold 1,150 acres in 1732 to
' See subsequent page.
^ For these facts about Lambertville, I am indebted to manuscripts of P. A .
Studdiford, D. D. of Lambertville, N. J.
» HUNTERDON COUNTY
Peter Eraley of Mansfield, now Washington, Warren count}-. He
sold to Christopher Cornelius in 1750. And he sold to Daniel
Howell, the same year, 400 acres. This was the Howell from
whom the Ferry took its name. His land joined Reading's at the
river. Howell conveyed a part of this land in 1Y54 to Francis
Tomlinson. In 1774 this came into possession of General Bray.
Yet further up the Delaware, adventurous settlers pressed, select-
ing tracts in Kingwood, Franklin and Alexandria townships,
checked only by the frowning hills of of the Schooley's range.
Among these we know of Warford, Bateman, Ellis, Gamer, A. Hunt,
Besson. About 1720' a Baptist Church was organized at Baptist-
4own, known in its earliest days as the Bethlehem Baptist Church.
The Dalrymple family, numerous in Kingwood, are of Scotch origin.
There ancestor here, selected land by the advice of James Alexan-'
der. Surveyor General of New Jersey, who was the agent of Sir
John Dalrymple, to whom Robert Barclay sold land in East Jersey.
Kingwood became more especially a Quaker settlement. The old
records of the Meeting at Quakertown date back to 1744, when the
first monthly meeting was held. Tn 1767, the minutes show that
they were busy building a new meeting house of stone, 39x27.
This was to take the place of one built of logs.''^ This would indi-
cate a settlement about 1725.' Among the first of whom we have
any knowledge as living in that neighborhood are King, Wilson,
Clifton, Rockhill, and .Stevenson. They all belonged to the Bur-
lington Quarterly Meeting. Later on, Thomas Robeson settled in
that locality, the ancestor of the Secretary of the Navy during
President Grant's administration ; also Thomas Schooley was
another settler, who became the owner of large tracts of land on the
mountain, which is called after him.
* So it has been stated. But I regard this date as too early by ten or fifteen
"^ Kindly furnished by A. R. Vail, clerk of the meeting.
' For further particulars respecting Kingwood see quotations from old deeds
in a series of articles ou " Traditions of our Ancestors," published in the
Hunterdon Republican, Fob. 17 and 24, May ."5 and 12. lcS7 0.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 9
While the tide of immigration was setting up the Delaware, a
similar flow advanced along the Raritan. The persecutions of the
Covenanters drove large numbers of them, in 1638 and the following
years, to Bast Jersey, many of whom settled at Plain field, Scotch
Plains and Westfield. They were Presbyterians, and men of virtue,
education and courage. The opposition of the people and the
proprietors to any arbitary imposition from England, and freedom
of conscience, allured these people to New Jersey. And, as Ban-
croft says, they gave to "the rising commonwealth a character,
which a century and a half has not effaced." The Quakers also set-
tled among them, through the influence of Robert Barclay. Some
of these settlers, and many of their children found their way to the
richer lands of Hunterdon.
So early as 1685, Dutch Huguenots came to the north branch of
the Raritan. In 1699 the Dutch Church of Somerville was formed.
Readington township, which lies between the north and south
branches, was taken up by four proprietors. George Willocks of
Perth Amboy, owned the northeast, i. e., all northward of Holland's
Brook and eastward of the White House, to the Lamington river.
John Budd and James Logan held the portion northwest of Willocks.
Joseph Kirkbride had the southerly part, and Colonel Daniel Coxe,
of Philadelphia, the southwest. These two were proprietors of
West Jersey. Their lines came to the south branch. On the
west of that stream they both had tracts ; extending to Flemington.'
They had their lands surveyed in the year 1712, in which year
Kirkbride sold five hundred acres to Emanuel Van Etta; having
previously disposed of two hundred acres, west of Van Etta's pur-
chase, to Daniel Seabring and Jerome Van Est. This tract extend-
ed from the south branch to the road now leading from Pleasant run
to Branchville. On this tract, near (!Jampbell's Brook, was an In-
dian village. Other settlers from 1710 to 1720 were Stoll, Lott,
Biggs, Schoraps, Smith, Van Horn, Wyckofi", Cole, Klein, Jennings,
Stevens, Johnson, Hoagland, Fisher, Probasco, LeQueer, Schenck;
' See subsequent page.
10 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Voorhees ; some of whom came from Long Island. Frederick Van
Fleet came from Esopus, New York, in 1725, and bought lands of
Van Etta. He shortly after became owner of manj' acres at Van
Fleet's Corner. His son, Thomas, was the great-grandfather of A.
V. Van Fleet, the present Vice-Chancellor of the State. Lord
Niel Campbell had obtained a deed for land at the forks of the north
and south branches, January 9th, 1685. John Dobie, John Camp-
bell, John Drumraond and Andrew Hamilton purchased all south
of Holland's Brook and west of the south branch. November 9th,
1685. Campbell's Brook was named after that John Campbell.'
This district, lying between the confluence of the branches of the
Raritan and the Delaware river, soon became known ; and its natur-
al advantages attracted the attention of both the Jerseys. A tribe
of Indians living near the site of Hartsville, Pa., had a path to and
across the Delaware at Lambertville, and thence to Newark, by way
of Mt. Air}^, Ringos and Reaville. The " Old York Road " was
laid on the bed of that path, or rather this path became that road,
for the road itself was never surveyed. In a deed for land at Rin-
gos, dated August 25th, 1726, this is described as "The King's
Highway that is called the York Road." Another Indian came in
^rom the north, through the valley at Clarksville, the gateway for all
their tribes who threaded their way down the great valley of theWal.
kill, or crossed over from Pennsylvania at the forks of the Delaware.
This Indian highway led down to the wigwams on the Assanpink.
These roads crossed at Ringos. This whole region was heavily
wooded with oak, hickory, beach and maple. The forests abounded
with game. The streams were alive with fish, and the most deli,
cious shad made annual visitations along the borders. That fish was
caught higher up than Plemington, before mill dams obstructed the
branch. The hauls of them in the Delaware have been enormous
within the memory of old people. Also the Indians were peaceable
' Historical Appendix to the Dedication Sermon of the Readmgton Church,
by the Rev. John Van Liew. Appendix by John B. Thompson.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 1 1
and friendly. The Raritan was navigable up to the union of the
north and south branches. Long afterward, much of the heavy
produce was carried to market on these streams, In seasons of
freshets the farmers up the river conveyed their grain to New Bruns-
wick in flat bottomed boats, floating them down and pulling them
back. Old persons tell us that fifty years ago, brooks were double
their present volume. No wonder, then, that East and West Jer-
sey joined hands over Hunterdon County, and that their children
were attracted away from their old homesteads at an early day.
For that same eagerness to occupy the frontier and push further
West, which has been the ruling passion for the last half century,
possessed and animated the sons of the settlers in the seventeenth
In addition, the political institutions were so liberal in their char
acter, that those who appreciated civil and religious liberty were at-
tracted. And thus it came to pass, that no count}'- in the State had
so mixed a population, composed, as it was, of Huguenots, Hol-
lands, Germans, Scotch, Irish, English, and native Americans.
The Coxe estate extended to the present village of Clinton, and
joined the Kirkbride tract, the two covering an area of four miles.
One of the oldest and most distinguished settlers in that part of the
county was Phillip Grandin, His father emigrated from France,
and settled in Monmontli County. Phillip and his brother John
bought one thousand acres on the the south branch, including Hamp-
ton. He built a grist mill and a fulling mill. Afterward this was
called Johnston's Mills. It was in a ruined condition one hundred
years ago. Cloth was made there for all this region. He was the
grandfather of Dr. John Grandin, who was the most noted physi-
cian of the county in his day.'
On the present site of Clinton were early located mills, called
Hunt's Mills. During the revolution large quantities of flour were
ground in them. Among the early settlers were James Wilson,
' For further, seo History of the District Medical Society of Hunterdon, by
John Blane, M. D., and Hunterdon County Republic, March 13st, 1870.
1*2 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Hope, Foster, Apgar, Bonnell. Tlie most distinguished was Judge
Johnston, who came about 1740. He owned a tract of one thous-
and two hundred acres. His house was the most stately mansion
in the northern part of West Jersey.- Being chief magistrate for this
section of the county, on Monday of each week court was held in
his broad hall. His house became the resort of culture and talent ;
and his daughter, who afterwards married Charles Stewart, is said to
have been the best read woman in the province.
A tract of five thousand and eighty-eight acres, from Asbury to
Hampton Junction, was purchased by John Bowl by about 1740.
When he was running the boundaries of this land. Col. Daniel Coxe
(who was the oldest son of the proprietor, deceased about 1739),
was lying out a tract to the east of him. There was a great strife,
who should get his survey first on record, so as to secure as much
of the Musconetcong Creek as possible. Bowlby was successful.
John W. Bray, a descendant of one of the first settlers in connection
with A. Taylor, commenced improving Clinton about the time that
Governor Clinton of New York died ; and they named the place
Returning now toward the north branch, from a deed in the
possession of A. E. Sanderson, Esq., of Plemington, it appears that
about the year 1711, the West Jersey Society had surveyed for
them a section known as " The Society's Great Tract." Of this,
James Alexander purchased ten thousand acres in 1744, taking in
the whole of the Round Valley and surrounding mountains, and al
the land from Bray's hill on the west nearly to the White House,
and reaching north to the brow of the hill north of Lambertville.
The Lebanon part contained two thousand acres, which were
conveyed to Anthony White by Alexander's heirs, September 7th,
1782. This, however, had been held in Trust by Alexander since
1755. These heirs were his son William Lord Sterling, and the
wives of Peter Van Brug Livingston (whose sister Sterling had
married), Walter Rutherford, John Stevens, and Susanna Alex-
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 13
ander, who afterwards married Col. Reid. Walter Rutherfurd was
the owner of large tracts of land in Sussex County. Livingston
was a son of Philip Livingston of Livingston Manor, on the
Hudson, and a brother of Governor Livingston. All these took a
very active part in the Revolutionary struggle. Lord Stirling' was
the Colonel of the First Battalion formed in New Jersey, November
7th, 1775. The next March (11th), he was made Brigadier-General
of the Continental army; Major-General, February 19th, 1777.
He twice received the thanks of Congress, January 29th, 1776,
and September 24th, 1779. He died of gout at Albany, N. Y.,
January 15th, 1783, while in command of the Northern Department.
Mr. Livingston was a merchant in New York, and contributed
largely of his money for the service of his country. The sisters
found the old mansion a safe retreat, when their own houses were
no longer protected from the incursions of the enemy. John
Stevens settled in Round Valley. He was the grandfather of
Edward, John, and Robert Livingston Stevens, who became the
pioneers in the railroad and steamboat enterprises of our State.
Robert when onlj^ twenty years old, took the Phoenix, a steamboat
built by his father^ and one of the first ever constructed, from New
York around to Philadelphia, by sea, which is indisputably the
first instance of ocean steam navigation. This was in 1808.
Tradition says that Livingston, the associate of Robert Fulton, was
a frequent visitor at Round Valley.
One of the first settlers in the neighborhood of White House
was Baltes Pickel, who bought one thousand acres from the Budd
and Logan tract, at the foot of Cushetunk Mt., now Pickles Mt.
Abram Van Horn came from Monmouth to White House about
1749, he took up four hundred acres, south of the railroad and on
both sides of the creek, along the turnpike. On the stream he
built a mill. When Washington's army lay at Morristown, he was
appointed forage master. In his mill he ground flour for the army
and hauled it over. His barn was used as a storehouse for forage.
' See life of Stirling, published by N. J. Historical Society.
14 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
In this barn, a company of Hessians, taken prisoners at Trenton,
were lodged and fed, while on their way to Easton, Pa. This same
barn afterwards was used as a house of worship for fifteen years, by
the congregation of the Reformed Church.'
The settlement of Lebanon, at one time called Jacksonville, and
Germantown, is connected with the settlement of German Valley.
In 1707 a number of German Reformed people, who had been
driven by persecution to Rhenish Prussia, and thence had gone to
Holland, embarked for New York. But adverse winds carried
their ship into Delaware Bay. Determined, however, to go to the
place for which they set out, the banks of the Hudson, they
started from Philadelphia and went up to New Hope ; there crossing
the river they took the Old York Road. Precisely where this
band came to the mountainous region is not known. But their
vision was charmed with the tempting nature of the soil, and the
streams. They found this whole nigion astir with pioneers, who
were prospecting and settling. Abandoning therefore their original
intention, they resolved to establish themselves on the good land
around them. From them and their descendants, Germantown and
German Valley derived their names. The names of these pioneers
are yet found on the church record of Lebanon. Probably at New
GermantoAvn a few English people had alread}^ settled, and this
was the first point occupied in Tewksbury township. Among
these names are Johnson, Thompson, Cole, Plat, Ireland, Carlisle
and Smith. Smith was a large land owner, and ambitious of
founding a town. The first street was called Smith's lane, and the
first name by which the settlement was known was Smithfield.
About 1753 the village began to be called New Germantown. All
the land which Smith sold was conveyed in the form of leases,
running for one hundred years. Most of the land in and around
the village, was bequeathed to Zion's Church, and was rented to
'On White House, see an article by Rev. William Bailey, in " Our Home,"
magazine published in Somerville, N. J., in 1873.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 15
tenants on long leases. The greater part of these were bought in,
fifty years ago. This is now a Lutheran Society, but the probability
is that a religious organization of the Church of England preceded
this, and at an early date, probably under Lord Cornbury. For in
1749 an instrument conveys seven acres of ground, and the church
building then erected, to the Trustees of the Lutheran Society for a
period of one hundred and three years. But the Germans who
came in before the Revolution predominated. Among these were
Jacob Kline, Mellick, one of whose sons went to New York,
became a merchant and was the first President of the Chemical
Bank ; Honeyman, John Bergen, George Wilcox, Adam Ten Eyck
who owned a large tract in the southern part of the township.*
Frederic Bartles was another, who was in the cavalry of Frederic
the Great. He was captured by the French, but escaped to
Amsterdam. Thence he made his way to London. He came over
to Philadelphia and then to New Germantown. He was the grand-
father of Charles Bartles, Esq., of Flemington.
North of the village, a large tract was owned by James Parker
of Amboy, one of the proprietors of East Jersey. The land on
which the Presbyterian Church at Fairmount stands, was given by
him before 1760, at which date a church edifice was on the ground.
The place was originally called Parkersville. It is probable that
the first settlers came about 1740. For Michael Schlatter speaks
of preaching in the church of Fox Hill in 1747. The hill was then
called Foxenburg, from a man by the name of Fox, who was a very
enterprising farmer, and introduced a new and superior kind of
wheat. People came from a great distance to buy this wheat for
seed. In 1768 the churches of Fox Hill and German Valley, with
those of Rockaway and Alexandria, were united under one charge.
In 1782 Casper Wack was settled over Lebanon, German Valley,
Fox Hill and Ringos,^
■ An Article in "Our Home," New Germantown, March, 1873.
'History of Presbyterian Church, Fairmount, by Rev. Wm. 0. Ruston, 1876.
16 HUNTERDON CODNTY.
As far as can be ascertained, after the occupation of the land on
the eastern and western borders^of the county, very soon land was
taken up along the great Indian paths already described, especially
on the Old York road. From parchment deeds now in possession
of Mr. A. S. Laning of Pennington, it appears that in the year
1702, Benjamin Field, one of the proprietors living in Burlington,
agreed to sell to Nathan Allen, of Allentown, 1,650 acres, com-
prising the land in and around Ringos. Field seems to have died
suddenly before this was consummated, making his wife. Experience,
his sole executrix, by a will dated 13th May, 1702. She conveyed
this tract to Allen, by deed dated May 29th, 1702. This, which
seems to have been before the purchase from the Indians b}^ the
Council, was probably allotted to Field's estate at the time of the
dividend in 1703. By a deed bearing date 6th December, 1721,
Allen conveyed to Rudolph Harley, of Somerset county, for £75
New York money, 176 acres. The deed conveys all the minerals,
mines, fishing, hunting and woods on the tract. Harley removed
from Somerset and settled here. On August 25th, 1726, he sold
25 acres of his tract to Theophilus Ketcham, innholder, for £15
English.' May 22d, 1720, Allen conveyed 150 acres to Philip
Peter. This whole tract of Allen's in a few years was divided into
small portions. For, by a release executed June 26th, 1758, the fol-
lowing persons are enumerated as being possessed of parts of the
original tract. Ichabod Leigh, 118 acres, Henry Landis, 80, Wm
Schenck, 280, Jacob Sutphin, 150, Tunis Hoppock, 100, Jacob
Moore, 138, Obadiah Howsell, 8, Justus Ransel, 30, Rudolph Har-
ley, 142, John Howsell, 3, Gershom Mott, 2, Philip Ringo, 40
James Baird, 18, Anna Lequear, 80, George Thompson, 100,
Jeremiah Trout, 3, Barrack, 100, George Trout. 17, John
Hoagland, 200, Derrick Hoagland, 180, John Williamson, 180. In
1724 Francis Moore, of Amwell, bought 100 acres from Allen, which
afterward he conveyed to John Dagworthy, of Trenton. Dagworthy
' To me the evidence favors the supposition that he kept the first tavern, and
not Ringo, as has generally been held.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 17
sold, on August 6th, 1736, to Philip Ringo, innholder, five acres for
£30. On this plot the present tavern stands. On April 18th.
1744, he let him have eight acres more for £50 of the Province,
Tradition declares that a log cabin was kept here, which became a
famous stopping place known as Ringo's Old Tavern. The son and
the grandson, John, continued the business until his death in 1781,
when the property was purchased by Joseph Robeson. For many
3'^ears Ringos was the most important village in the whole Amwell
valley. A store was kept here to which the Indians resorted from
as far as Somerville. Here public meetings were held to petition
the king for the removal of grievances. Later on, celebrations for
the whole county centered at this point. It was also a place of con-
siderable trade. Henry Landis who came in 1737, carried on the
saddlery business, in which he secured a reputation that extended
from Trenton to Sussex. In the prosecution of this business he
made money, and became owner of several hundred acres of land.
In the old stone house which he built and which is now standing, it
is said that Lafayette was confined by sickness for more than a week;
and that he was attended by Dr. Gershom Craven, who practiced
more than forty years in that part of the county.
Land was loosely surveyed. John Dagworthy. of Trenton, so
states one of the deeds already referred to, bought 100 acres. He
sold several portions of it, and then suspected that his original
purchase was larger than was stated ; so he obtained from the Coun-
cil of the Proprietors of West Jersey a warrant of resurvey, which
was done b}^ order of the Surveyor-General, dated Nov. 10th, 1753.
It was found to contain seventeen acres overplus. To secure him-
self he purchased the right tothis overplus, as unappropriated lands,
from John Reading.
So early as 1725 an Episcopal church was in existence at Ringos.
It was built of logs, and was located just beyond the railroad
station. It was organized under a charter from the crown, by a
missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts. Several of these were established about this time
18 HUNTKRDON COUNTY.
in the Province, under the auspices of Queen Anne, who instructed
Lord Cornbury to see that new churches were erected as need
required/ Boss settled east of Ringos, and Howsel west by 1725,
Schenckin 1726. Other settlers were Jacob Fisher, Lumraix, who
donated the burial ground to the Episcopal Church, Stevenson, Suy-
dam, Dilts, Shepherd, Larison, Wurts. Peter Young settled at
Wurtsville in 1726.
The colony of Germans who passed over the York Road in 1707
was the beginning of a large and continued migration. Some settled
at Mt. Airy and around Ringos, others near Round Valley, some
at length pressed over to Stillwater and Newton in Sussex county.
By the year 1 747 a German Reformed congregation was worship-
ping in a log church which stood in the old grave yard at Larison's
Corner, a mile from Ringos. The first pastor was John Conrad
Wurts, who for ten years, until 1751. had charge of that and the
churches of Lebanon, German Valley and Fox Hill. He was
probably the ancester of Alexander "Wurts, Esq., of Flemington
One of the first and prominent men connected with that church was
Adam Bellis, who came from Holland about 1740, and bought 250
acres two miles south of Flemington, next to the Kuhls. This
was a part of the old Stevenson tract of 1,400 acres. His descend-
ants are yet numerous in and around Flemington. The mill which
stands on the stream, near Copper Hill, was built at an earl}^ date by
Cornelius Stout. The second mill was built in 1812.
At Flemington the tracts of three pro'prietors touched. Penn
had one of 5,000 acres, and' Daniel Goxe one of 4,170, which Avere
surveyed by John Reading in 1712. The dividing line ran from
east to west, by the lamp post in front of the Presbyterian church.
A high stone just over the brook east of the South Branch Railroad
is where this line touched the stream. South of this line belonged
to Penn ; north of it to Coxe. Coxe's was commonly called the
Mt. Carmel tract, and the high hill on the top of which is Cherry-
Smith's N. J., pp. 252-3.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 19
ville still bears the name of Coxe's Hill. On March 24th, 1712,
Joseph Kirkbride bought a quarter section or 1,250 acres from John
Budd, son and heir of Thomas Budd of Philadelphia, which was
taken up as Budd's dividend of one quarter of a propriety, which he
purchased of Edward Bj^llinge, March, 1676. On the same date
(1712). Kirkbride also bought 1,250 acres adjacent to this, belonging
to "Wm. Biddle of Mt. Hope, Burlington county, which was his
dividend of a part of a propriety purchased of Byllinge in January,
1676. These two tracts, together 2,500 acres, lay next to Penn's,
and extended west and northwest along John Reading's and Ed-
ward Rockhill's lines ; eastward and north eastward to the South
Branch and, on^the southerly side. John Kays had a tract bordering
on Kirkbride's, and reaching to the Stevenson tract and John Woll-
man's. November 12th, 1737, this tract was sold to Benjamin
Stout for £90, Stouf seems already to have occupied 894- acres of
this tract. His deed speaks of the tract bordering at one part on
unappropriated land.' From other old deeds it appears that settlers
did not occupy land in Flemington earlier than 1731.'' In that vear
Coxe sold to Wm. Johnson 210 acres. He came from Ireland.
His son Samuel was a distinguished teacher and mathematician.
His son, Thomas Potts, was an eloquent and learned lawyer of New
Jersey. He married a daughter of Robert Stockton. His portrait
may now be seen over the judge's chair in the court room at Flem-
ington. Other settlers, in and around the village, were Johannes
Bursenbergh, Philip Kase, Robert Burgess, Wm. Norcross, Johr
Hairling, Geo. Alexander, Joseph Smith, James Farrar, Thos.
Hunt, Dr. George Creed. Of Dr. Creed nothing is known except
that he was practicing at Flemington in 1765. The early settlers
were German, Irish and English. In 1756 Samuel Fleming pur-
chased land. The old house where he lived and which was the
first built in the village is yet standing. Samuel Southard owned
' In 1736 a tavern was built at Cherry ville, which laPt year yielded to the
elements and fell.
- The above facts are taken from old deeds held by Aaron Griggs.
20 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
and occupied it while he resided in Flemington, where he began the
practice of law in 1814, at which time he was an active member of
the Presbyterian congregation. He was the first President of the
Hunterdon County Bible Societ}^ Fleming kept a tavern in this
house, and as other houses were built the settlement which grew up
was called Flemings — so it is named on the old maps — and finally,
Fleming brought with him from Ireland a boy, Thomas Lowr}^,
who afterwards married his daughter Esther. Lowry became the
most prominent man of the village, and acquired much propert}^
He was one of the founders of the Baptist Church in 1765. which
was the first Baptist Church in Amwell township. He was a
shrewd, sagacious man, who generally succeeded in his under-
takings. He was a member from Hunterdon of the Provincial
Congress in 1775. After the war, for several years, he was a member
of the Legislature. He bought about 1.000 acres of land, taking
in nearly all the beautiful and fertile plain where Frenchtown is
situated. He purchased a tract of the same extent at Milford.
This was probably before the revolution. The Frenchtown tract he
sold to Provost for £8,000. Lowry then commenced the improve-
ment of the Milford property, and put up the old red mill and the
saw mill at the river. These were completed by 1800. The place
was first called Lowrytown. Before the bridge was built across the
Delaware there was a ferry above the mill, and hence the name
Mill-ford. Lowry was the founder of Frenchtown, where he
built a house and mill, and resided until his death in 1809. He
was buried in the graveyard of the Kingwood Presbyterian Church.
One of his daughters married Dr. Wm. McGill, a prominent physi-
cian in that part of the county. Lowry and his wife were very
active patriots during the revolution. At the first call he enlisted
in the army, being appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Third Regi-
' For further information about the settlement and history of Flemington,
see Discourse b}' "Rev. G. S. Mott, 1876.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 21
ment in Hunterdon County, June, 1776, of which he afterward be-
The territory extending from Three Bridges, on the south branch,
along the Old York Road to Ringos, was settled at an early day ;
for in 1738 the Presbyterian Church of First Amwell, near
Reaville, is found upon the records of the Presbytery of New
Brunswick. Some circumstances lead to the supposition that a
congregation existed by 1730. WhiteHeld preached there in 1739,
and says in his diary, '' Some thousands of people had gathered
here by noon, expecting me." This was the only Presbyterian
church in the Amwell Valley, from the branch to the Delaware.
In 1753 a parsonage was purchased, and the following names
appear on the subscription list : John Smith, Jacob Sutphin, Benja-
min Howell, John Steel, Jacob Mattison, Eliab Byram (the pastor),
Garret Schenck, Abraham Prall, Peter Prall, Daniel Larew, Thomas
Hardin, Benjamin Johnson, David Barham, John Reading (Grov.),
John Reading, Jr., Jacob Gray, Daniel Reading, Martin Ryerson
(greatgrandfather of the late Hon. Martin Ryerson of Newton,
N. J.), Daniel Griggs, George Reading, James Stout, Richard
Philips, John Anderson, William Anderson, Samuel Carman,
Samuel Furman, Thomas Hunt, Jonathan Hill, Samuel Fleming,
Richard Reading, Joseph Reading, Samuel Hill, Derrick Sutphen,
John Cox, John Francis, William Davison, John Wood, Henry
Dildine, Nathaniel Bogert, Abram Larew.
In the year 1754, the population had so increased, that Presby-
tery was petitioned, " by the people bordering on the Delaware, to
give them the privilege of building a meeting-house of their own."
This was granted, and the church at Mt. Airy was erected. The
frame of this remained until 1874, when a new building was put
In 1732 John Emanuel Coryell came to Lambertville. The
family left France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and
settled near Plainfield. John purchased a tract of two hundred
acres. In this was the ferry lot, for which he obtained a patent,
January 7th, 1733. In this patent the ferry is mentioned as
22 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
formerly known as Coat's Ferry. It was more generally called
Wells' Fony, down to the year 1770. It was so named because it
w^s leased to John Wells in 1719. Whether he and Coryell were
rival ferrymen, or had a joint interest, is not known. Wells bought
a tract of one hundred acres in 1734, on the Pennsylvania side,
near the ferry ; and from him the rapids below Ijambertville obtain
their name, " Wells' Falls." Four brothers, Lambert, came to
New Jerse}^ between 1735 and 1746. Two of these, Gershom and
John, settled about three miles from Lambertville, having bought
tracts of land near each other. John a son of Gershom, born 1846,
became a prominent man. He was intelligent, sagacious and
energetic. For many years he was a member of the State Council.
From 1795 to 1800 he was Vice-President of the Council. From
1800 to 1802 he was President. In 1802 and 1803, he was acting
Governor of New Jersey. From 1805 to 1809 he was a member of
the House of Representatives of the United States. From 1709 to
1715 he represented this State in the United States Senate. From
him the town took its name. His cousin Gershom, a son of
John, was an active patriot. He sent two substitutes to the Revo-
lutionary army. He aided the American troops in crossing the
river at Lambertville ; and when the army laid at Morristown he
had barrels made and carried them thither.'
At an early day, Allen and Turner, of Philadelphia, bought from
the proprietors ten thousand acres north and west of Clinton. The
tract extended from VanSyckle's to German Valley, including
High Bridge and Clarkesville. Furnaces were in operation at
E.xton's, near the High Bridge ; these were the most extensive^
Another was west of VanSyckle's. The Cokesburg furnace was
built in 1754, as appears by a stone upon the wall of a part of the
old building at that place. There was also the Hackelbarney Forge
near the falls of Lamington. These mines were discovered very
' For these facts I am indebted to Dr. Studdiford of Lambertville, who
permitted me to peruse his History of Lambertville, now in manuscript,
but to be published. It will be a valuable local history.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 23
early in the last century. This led to the settlement of this remote
part of the countrj^, and probably secured for it gentlemen like
Johnston, Stewart and Grandin, whose families became noted for
education, refinement and that generous and charming hospitality
which wealth and culture can furnish. Their mansions still tell
of the grandeur of the past. These mines also determined the
character of a large class of settlers, who were hands employed
about the furnaces and forges, many of whom, as their names
indicate, were Welsh, Germans and Irish. In 1762 Col. Hackett
was the superintendent and Mr. Taylor, bookkeeper. In 1775 the
superintendent died, and Mr. Taylor was appointed in his place. He
remained all through the Revolution. At this furnace balls were
cast for the use of the army. Some of the old moulds have been
dug up within a few years. After the war the large tract was
sold, probably as confiscated property, ' and Mr. Taylor was selected
as one of the commissioners to divide the land. He was allowed
the privilege of selecting such a portion as he desired to buy. He
chose that around the forge. The surveyor asked him if he should
include the mines. Mr. Taylor replied he did not care whether he
had them. They were, however, included in the survey, and the
price paid was £800 for three hundred and sixty-six acres.^ This
shows that little value was attached to the mines. They were not
worked again until the Central Railroad enabled the owners to
secure coal at a reasonable price.
Having taken this general survey of the settlement of the
county, we must now turn to other portions of its history. In
March, 1713, all the territory of West Jersey, north of the Assan-
pink, was erected mto the county of Hunterdon. This was
granted at the request of the inhabitants, who stated in their
petition, that ''their frequent attending the several Courts of Bur.
lington, being at a very great distance from their habitations, has
See subsequent page.
For further; Hunterdon Republic, January 20tb, 1870.
24 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
been inconvenient and troublesome, as well as chargeable to the
inhabitants of the said upper parts of the said division." And yet
it seems that most of the business continued to be done at Burling-
ton. So late as 1726, Trenton, which was the County seat, "had
hardly more than one house." In 1748 it had only a hundred.' The
county was named in honor of Brigadier-General Hunter, who at
that time was Governor General of the Provinces of New York
and New Jersey, to which he was appointed, June 14th, 1710.
Gordon in his history of New Jersey, says he " Was a native of
Scotland, and when a boy, was put an apprentice to an apothecary.
But he deserted his master and entered the army ; and being a man of
wit and personal beauty, acquired the affections of Lady Hay, whom
he afterwards married. He had been nominated in the year 1707
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, under George, Earl of Orkney ;
but having been captured by the French, in his voyage to that
colony, was carried into France. He was unquestionably a man of
merit, since he enjoyed the intimacy of Swift, Addison and others,
distinguished for sense and learning. He mingled freely with the
world, and was somewhat tainted by its follies ; had engaging
manners, blended, perhaps, not unhappily for his success in the
Province, with a dash of original vulgarity. His administration,
of ten years' duration, was one of almost unbroken harmony." He
was the most popular Governor the Crown had appointed, and
hence the respect shown him, in calling by his name the only
county formed during his administration. By 1722 the county had
grown to five townships, of which only one, Amwell, was north of
the Sourland range and within the present bounds of the county.
In 1726 the population was 3,236.
The Indians who inhabited this State when it was discovered,
belonged to the Dela wares, who were a part of the great Leni
Lenape family, whose different branches roamed the country east of
the Alleghenies. They occupied the territory which extended from
the Hudson River to and beyond the Potomac. These Delawares
' Gordon's Gazetteer of New Jersey, 253.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 25
had divided themselves into three tribes, two of these calling them-
selves Menamis and Unalachtgo, or the Turtle and the Turkey, had
settled on those lands which lay between the coast and the moun-
tains. The third tribe, the Wolf, or, as they called themselves, the
Minsi, orMonseys, possessed the mountains and the land beyond.
They extended their settlements from the Minisink, a place where
they held their councils, to the Hudson on the east, and beyond the
Susquehanna on the south-west. They were a very war-like race,
as their name indicated. Their southern boundary, in this direction,
was that range of hills which stretches along the upper line of
Hunterdon and the branches of the Raritan. Thus the coast-tribes
and the mountaineers came together in this county. Many families
of these chose to live by themselves, fixing their abode in villages,
and taking a name from their location. Each of these had a chief,
who, however, was in a measure subordinate to a head chief.' A
family was situated on the Neshanic, called the Neshanic Indians.
There was another settlement a mile from Flemington, on a brook
called the Minisi. One was near the Branch at Three Bridges. There
they had a burying ground. Another, one and a half miles south-
west from Ringos, along a creek on Jacob Thatcher's farm. Traces
of their village can yet be seen there. Yet another was near Mt.
Airy station on the Alexsocken. There was quite a large settle-
ment of them at Rocktown. Indeed, the Am well Valley was
populated with them. As already stated, in 1703 the proprietors
purchased of Heinhammoo, a large tract of land in Hunterdon, lying
west of the south branch, and they also bought the title to all other
lands of the Indians who were supposed to have any right to
them. These seem to have been contented, and lived in their
villages on the mostly friendly terms with the whites. But the
game diminished as the country was settled, so that the Indians
were constrained to resort to trade, in order to procure the neces-
saries of life. They made wooden ladles, bowls, trays, etc., which
' Heckewelder's Indian Nations. Memoirs of Historical Society of Penn-
aylvaiiia, vol. 12 pp. 48-52.
26 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
they exchanged for butter, milk, chickens and meat. They soon
acquired a fondness for intoxicating liquors, and, when under their
influence, would quarrel and fight in a terrible manner. This
became so great an evil, that the Legislature in 1757, laid a penalty
upon persons selling strong drink to the Indians, so as to intoxicate
them, and declaring all Indian sales and pawns for drink void.
The defeat of General Braddock in the Summer of 1775,
produced great consternation throughout all the colonies, and led to
disastrous consequences. A hatred of the whites had for years
been growing in the hearts of the Indians, who saw themselveg
becoming more and more helpless, under the steadily increasing
encroachments of the settlers. The wrongs which were inflicted
upon them, by designing men, aggravated their dislike. So that it
was an easy matter for the French, and the Indians already leagued
with them in hostilities, to persuade those tribes which had
remained nominally at peace with the inhabitants, to join them in
a general uprising and onslaught upon the settlers. The Shawnees
and Delawares were drawn into this defection also ; bands of Indians
joined them, many going from the Pines to the Blue Ridge, under
this impulse. Niimbers who had roamed around the countrj^,
much like the tramps of to-day, went off to join the Indian troops
and never returned. The people of this section and to the north,
were greatly alarmed at this state of things.
The first inroads of the savages were down the Susquehanna
through Berks and Northampton Counties, across the Delaware
into New Jersey. Some of the scalping parties penetrated
within thirty miles of Philadelphia. A letter from Easton, dated
December 25th, 1755, states that the "country all above this town
for fifty miles is mostly evacuated and ruined. The people have
mostly fled into the Jerseys. * * The enemy
made but few prisoners, murdering almost all that fell into
their hands, of all ages and both sexes." The inhabitants of New
Jersey, roused by these sufferings of their neighbors, and fearing
for their own towns, prepared to resist the foe. Governor Belcher
despatched troops promptly from all parts of the province, to
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 21
the defence of the western frontier. Col. John Anderson,
of Sussex County, collected four hundred men, and secured the
upper part of the State. During the winter of 1755 and 1756
marauding parties of French and Indians hung around this
western border. To guard against their incursions, a chain of forts
and block houses was erected along the mountain and at favorable
points on the east bank of the Delaware. Although the inroads of
the savages were infrequent, and consisted of small bands, yet the
fear which all felt that their mid-night slumber might be broken by
the war-whoop, was sufficient to keep them in a constant terror.
Many left their homes. ^ A loud call was made upon the Assembly
for increased means of defence. This was done, and the force was
placed under the command of Col. DeHart.^
As an additional measure of protection a treaty was made with
Teedyuscung, whereby the Delaware and Shawnees on the Susque-
hanna were reconciled. The Legislature appointed a committee,
who met the Indians of this State at Crosswicks, in the winter of
1756. Their grievances were heard patiently, and then reported to
the Legislature, which passed acts in 1757 to relieve them. One
of these grievances was, that the Indians had not been paid for
certain tracts of land, which had been taken from them. The only
portion of Hunterdon, which came within these claims, was a tract
of twenty-five hundred acres claimed by Teedyuscung himself,
" beginning at Ringos, and extending along the Brunswick road to
Nesbannock Creek, thence up the same to George Hattens, thence
in a straight course to Petit's place, and so on to a hill called
Paatquacktung, thence in a straight line to the place of the begin-
ing, which tract was reserved at the sale." i. e., between Ringos and
Copper Hill. The Legislature gave the commissioners power to appro-
priate £1,600 to purchase a general release of all these claims, one-
half of which was to be devoted to paying the Indians residing to the
' Tradition says that people hid themselves in the openings of the mines, at
' Gordon's New Jersey, pp. 122 and 124.
28 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
south of the Raritan. This offer was accepted, and a treaty
concluded at Easton, October 26th, 1758, and thus ended all
difficulties with the Indians in New Jersey.' This pacification
was greatly aided and quickened by an association founded in
Philadelphia in 1755, called "The Friendly Association, for
regaining and preserving peace with the Indians by pacific meas-
ures." Another cause which contributed to this happy result, was
that Teedyescunk, who was King of the 'Delawares and a chief of
very wide influence, was a Christian. He became such in 1749, and
was baptized by the name of Gideon.' Also we may suppose that
the influence of John Reading, from 1757 to June, 1758, the acting
Cxovernor, while most of these negotiations were in progress, would
be exerted in behalf of liberal measures toward the Indians, inas-
much as his early experience as surveyor in Hunterdon County
when it was yet a wilderness, and his subsequent residence in this
frontier region, would well qualify him to know their wrongs and
their needs, while the piety which adorned his life, would lead him
to that charity which overlooks ignorance.
Governor Reading had then entered his seventy-third year ; and the
fact that, at such an advanced age, he occupied so important and prom -
inent position is of itself evidence of the estimation in which he was
held. He was a true Jerseyman, from boyhood identified with the
interests of the State, and particularly with the growth of Old
Hunterdon, by the side of whose ancient thoroughfare, the Old
York Road, in the graveyard of the old Amwell Church, his ashes
John Reading and Elizabeth his wife, the father and mother of
the Governor, emigrated from England with their two children,
John and Elsie. They were Quakers, and left their country on
account of the persecution to which the Quakers were subjected
They settled in the town of Gloucester, New Jersey, previous to
' Smith's New Jersey, chap. 23, which contains all the particulars.
' This fact of his being a Christian is obtained from the manuscripts of Dr.
Sluddiford, already mentioned.
HUNTKRDON COUNTY. 29
the year 1683, as he was that year a member of the Council,
meeting in Burlington. He was a landholder in and about
Gloucester, of which town he was Recorder from 1693 to 1701,
inclusive. He was one of the proprietors of West Jersey and a
prominent member of the Council, being often appointed on
important coramitteess. He, with William Biddle, Jr., and John
Mills, was sent to purchase in 1703, the great tract of one hundred
and fifty thousand acres, between the Raritan and the Delaware.
He was a surveyor and appointed one of the commissioners to
define the boundary line between New York and North Jersey, in
171 9. J He removed to his tract of land above Larabertville, where
he died, and was buried in the ground of the Buckingham Meeting
House in Buck's County, Pa.
John, the son, was born June 6th, 1686, and died November 7th,
1767. He and his sister, when children, were taken to England by
their mother to be educated. She remained w.ith them nine years,
attending to their education ; the father living in this country. On
the return of the son, it was found that he had embraced the
doctrines of the Presbyterians, to which he was ardently attached
all his life ; and so his descendnnts have continued. He married
Mary Ryerson, a sister of Col. P. Ryerson, then in the British
service. He succeeded to the greater part of his father's estate,
and followed his father's occupation. In 1712 to 1715 he surveyed
tracts for parties in Burlington, who were locating lands through
the Amwell Valley, under the grants of the dividend of 1703. At
the same time, with an eye to a valuable purchase, which a
surveyor would be supposed to have, he secured for himself six
hundred acres along the south branch, two miles from Flemington;
where afterwards, on a beautiful site, he built the Reading home-
stead, now occupied by Philip Brown. He is said to have planted
the walnut trees growing there. He owned three mill properties,
including the farms now in possession of Barton, Stothoff, Deats,
' Smith's New Jersey, p. 412.
30 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Ewing, Clark and Brown. He was a member of " His Majesty's
Council," from 1728 to death, and Vice President for ten or twelve
years. On the death of Governor Hamilton in 1747, the govern-
ment devolved on him, until the arrival of Governor Belcher, with
whom he had the most friendly and intimate connection. He was
one of the first Trustees of Princeton College. His name is at the
head of the list in 1 748. On the death of Governor Belcher, in
August, 1757, he succeeded a second time to the administration, in
which he continued until June, 1758, when he was superseded by
the arrival of Governor Bernard. His influence and services and
money were freely bestowed to lay the foundation of religious
privileges, educational advantages and national freedom, upon
which we are now building. At the ripe age of eighty-one his
long, useful and honored career ended, amid the quiet of that
beautiful spot, which, under his cultivation, had emerged from a
forest into a garden.
He had a large family of seven sons and three daughters. Five
of the sons settled near him, and perpetuated the moral and
religious influences of their sire. They were prominent in church
matters, and took a lively interest in the Revolutionary struggle.
The youngest son, Thomas, was Captain of the 6th Company of
the 3d Battalion of the Jersey Brigade, who were mustered in
during February, 1774. He served until the Battalion was
discharged. A grandson, John, entered the companj^ of his uncle,
as Ensign. In January, 1777, he was promoted to First Lieuten-
ant in a Company of another Battalion in which he continued uniil
September, 1780. Another grandson, Samuel, was appointed First
Lieutenant in Captain Stout's Company of the "Jersey Line,"
first establishment, December 18th, 1775. He was taken prisoner
at Three Rivers, June 8th, 1776. He became Captain, February
5th, 1777, and Major of the First Regiment, December 29th, 1781,
and served until the close of the war.' Yet another, Charles, was
' Officers and Men of New Jersey in Revolutionary "War, pp. 69, 86, 97.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 31
Lieutenant of the Third Regiment, Hunterdon, and afterwards
The Governor's oldest daughter, Ann, married Rev. Charles
Beatty, one of the first graduates of the Old Log College of
Neshaminy, Pa. He was a co-worker with the Tennants in this
State, and a prominent clergyman all his life. They were the
progenitors of a numerous line of descendants, some of whom
have been conspicuous in Church and State. On the female side,
eight married Presbyterian ministers. One of the sons. General
John Beatty, was in the Revolutionary war, and so was his brother,
Colonel Erkuries Beatty. For many years John was one of the
prominent citizens of Trenton, being the first President of the
Bridge Company, and of the Trenton Bank. Elizabeth, another
daughter of Governor Reading, married John Hackett, from whom
Hackettstown derived its name.
By the year 1738 the upper part of the county had become
so filled with settlers that they petitioned the General Assembly
to erect a new county, because the distance to Trenton, where the
courts were held, was inconvenient, and to reach it, expensive.
Yielding to this petition, a new connty was set oft", comprising all
the upper part of the old above the present boundaries between
Hunterdon and Morris and Warren. The new county was called
Morris. Although thus shorn of more than half its territory,
Hunterdon soon became the wealthiest and most populous of all the
counties. Monmouth came next and Burlington third. Somerset
was fourth and Middlesex fifth. Wheat was the principal produc-
tion. The flour was sent to Philadelphia and New York. The
State was remarkable for mill-seats even at an early day. And in
no part were they so numerous as in this county. Along the
north and south branches, they were situated only a few miles apart.
These were of great importance during the Revolution, in
supplying with flour that part of the army which hovered between
New York and Philadelphia. The iron interest about Union
contributed largely to its prosperity. The soil was better adapted
32 HUNTERDON CODNTY.
to grazing and wheat than w^as the country to the south. In 1748
the Raritan Landing was described as a " Market for the most
plentiful wheat country for its bigness in America." In 1765 there
were within the county, nine Presbyterian churches, Low Dutch,
one ; German, one ; Episcopal, three ; Quaker, two ; Baptist,
We now approach the great struggle with the mother country.
The Provincial Congress of New Jersey, in August, 1775, directed
fifty-four Companies, each of sixty-four minute men, to be
organized, allotting to each county a specific number. Hunterdon's
quota was from twenty-five to fifty per cent, above the other
counties. The members of this Congress from Hunterdon, were
Samuel Tucker, John Mehelm of New Germantown, John Hart and
John Stout of Hopewell, Jasper Smith and Thomas Lowry of
Flemington, Charles Stewart and Daniel Hunt of Bethlehem,
Ralph Hart, Jacob Jennings, Richard Stevens and John Stevens,
Jr., of Round Valley, Thomas Stout, Thomas Jones, and John
Charles Stewart resided at Landsdown near Clinton. On his
return home, he called a meeting at Abrara Bonnel's Tavern, and a
Regiment of minute-men was raised, probably the first it the State.'
He was a leading spirit in this movement, and rendered important
services, from the commencement of the struggle to its final
triumph. Many distinguished loyalists were among his friends,
who made every effort to retain him on the King's side, but in vain.
He was Colonel of the First Regiment of minute men in this
State; then Colonel of the Regiment of the line. By commission
from Congress in 1776, he became one of Washington's Staff", as
Commissary General, which position he occupied until the close of
the war. General Washington and his wife were frequently at his
house. Flis grand daughter; Mrs. Bower, who, after the war, in
Philadelphia , received marked attention from Mrs. Washington,
' Tlie first Company of Volunteers offered to the Governor, under the first
call of President Lincoln, was from this county— from Flemington.
HUNTERDON COUNTY, 33
relates the following, respecting the economy practiced by Mrs.
Washington : " She ravelled a set of old satin chair covers,
inherited by her. She had the material carded and spun, and with
the addition of cotton yarn, woven in alternate broad and narrow
stripes, the broad being of white cotton and the narrow of crimson
silk. Out of this fabric, she had two morning dresses made for
herself." His daughter, Martha, married Robert Wilson, a young
Irishman of education, who came to this country and volunteered in
the continental army, soon after the battle of Lexington. He was
wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Germantown. Captain
Wilson died at his home in Hackettstown, in 1779, at the early
age of twent3''-eight. Mrs Wilson was distinguished for beauty
and for a brilliant and cultured mind.'
After the war. General Stewart moved to Plemington, where he
occupied a house near the residence of John C. Hopewell, and
owned a large farm which extended to Coxe's Hill. He held a
leading position in his adopted State, and was her representative in
the Congress of 1784 and 1785. After much important public
service, he died in Flemington, June 24th, 1800, aged seventy-one
years. General Stewart was the son of Robert Stewart, and was
born at Gortlea, Donegal County, Irsland, in 1729. His grandfVither,
Charles, was a Scotch Puritan, and an officer of dragoons in tho
army of William of Orange, and fought bravely at the battle of
the Boyne. for which services he received a handsome domain in
the north of Ireland, called Gortlea. Puritan ideas and a love of
liberty impelled the grandson to emigrate to America, before he
was twenty-one years of age, in 1750. He became a favorite at
the house of Judge Johnson, whose daughter, Mary, he married.
His enterprise, industry and education, enabled him to acquire a
large property ; and at Landsdown, near Hampden, where the
south branch makes one of its loveliest windings, he erected a
mansion, which yet stands to call forth the admiration of the
' Mrs. Bllet in " Women of the American Revolution," devotes a chapter to
34 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
traveler. The estate remains in the possession of his descendants.
He was of medium height, spare in flesh, with a keen blue eye,
expressing intelligence, kindness, bravery and firmness. His portrait,
executed by Peale, is still preserved.
He became Surveyor General of the Province of Pennsylvania.
At the outset of the difficulties with the mother country, he
earnestl}'- espoused the cause of the colonies, and took the active
part already stated. He was buried in the family ground of
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. His life-long friend,' Chief
Justice Smith of Trenton, wrote his epitaph in these lines :
HE WAS AN EARLY AND DECIDED FRIEND
TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
AND BORE THE IMPORTANT OFFICE OF
COMMISSARY GENERAL OF ISSUES
TO UNIVERSAL ACCEPTANCE.
HIS FRIENDSHIPS WERE FERVID
AND COMMANDED BOTH HIS PURSK
AND HIS SERVICES.
WAS EXTENSIVE AND BOUNTIFUL ;
THE FRIEND AND THE STRANGER
WERE ALMOST COMPELLED TO
Some of his descendants have continued in the service of their
country to this day. One of his grandsons, Charles Stewart, son of
Samuel Stewart, was born in Flemington, where his father lived,
' For this sketch of General Stewart, I am indebted to his grand-daughter,
Mrs. Hoyt of Landsdown, widow of the late Captain Hoyt. It is taken from
a family record.
HUNTERDON COUNTT. 35
near the Presbyterian Church. He was a class-mate, at Princeton,
of Dr. Hodge and Alexander Wurts, Esq., and graduated in 1815.
He first studied law and then afterwards theology, and went as a
missionary to the Sandwich Islands, from which he returned in
1825, on account of the failure of his wife's health. In 1828 he
received the appointment of Chaplain in the Navy, in which office
he continued until 1862, visiting all parts of the world. He wrote
several books on foreign travel which were received with great
favor. He died in 1870 at Cooperstown, New York, at the age of
seventy-five. A son of his was graduated with General McClellan
at West Point. He served the country faithfully during the war,
having had charge, for the greater part of the time, of the engineers'
department at Fortress Monroe, for which important post he was
selected on account of his peculiar fitness. Since the war, he has
been put in command of the United States Engineer Corps at San
In the work of raising troops, Colonel Maxwell was also very
active and efficient. He lived about a mile east of Clinton. After
the war he removed to Warren County. He commanded the
battalion which was sent to Canada, and, witli Morgan and Colonel
Philip Johnson, both natives of this county, was engaged in the
siege of Quebec. He also took a conspicuous part in the battles
of Germantown, Brandywine, Trenton and Monmouth. As a
soldier and patriot he had few superiors. He served his country
faithfully all through the war, and died at Colonel Stewart's house
at Landsdown in 1796, where he was taken suddenly ill, while on a
visit, and expired in a few hours.
Another member of this Provincial Congress of 1775, who
represented this count}^, and who afterwards took an active part in
the Revolution, was John Mehelm. ' He emigrated to this
country from Ireland. We first hear of him as a schoolmaster in
Berk's County. Pa. He was a handsome writer and a fine scholar.
He purchased one hundred acres of land and a mill, on the north
branch near Pluckamin, since known as Hall's Mills. Here durins
36 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
the Eevolutionaiy war he manufactured flour, which was used by
the army while lying at Pluckamin, and encamped at Morristown.
He was Colonel of the Fourth Regiment, Hunterdon, and was on
the staff of Major General Dickerson. He was also Quartermaster
General and continued a pure and able patriot. He was often
associated with John Hart. He was also the friend and companion
of "Washington, whom he often met that winter, when Washington
passed through Pluckamin on his way to the headquarters at Mor-
ristown. Colonel Mehelm was a member of the Provincial Con-
gress, which met at Burlington June 10, 1776. This was a revolu-
tionary body, and was in full sympathy with that spirit of independ-
ence, which in less than a month renounced allegiance to the Bricish
crown. A committee was appointed, consisting of Livingston,
Witherspoon, Mehelm and Patterson, who boldly defied the Gov-
ernor, and summoned him to appear before the Assembly. For his
refusal to submit to the orders of the body, Governor Franklin was
sent a prisoner to Connecticut, and William Livingston was appointed
in his stead, who served the State in that capacity from 1776 to
1790. By him Colonel Mehelm was appointed Surrogate for the
counties of Hunterdon and Somerset, which office he held until 1801,
when he was removed.'
I think Hunterdon county may claim General Morgan as one of
her sons. Tradition states that he was born on the farm owned by
Major Dusenberry, near New Hampton. There are still visible the
remains of an old fire place, which is said to belong to the log house
in which Morgan was born. Dr. John Blaine, of Perryville, who
has devoted much attention to the early history of this neighbor-
hood, was told this by persons whose mother and aunts lived less
than a mile from the residence of the Morgan family. They
further stated that when he -became large enough to drive a team he
went to Pittstown, where he drove a pair of oxen for the proprietors
'From an article in "Our Home," October, 1773, entitled "Pluckamin One
Hundred Years Ago," by A. W. McDowell.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 37
of a business there. About 1750 he went to Virginia. Rogers in
his "Heroes and Statesmen of America," puts his birthplace in
Durham, Pa. This mistake might easily arise from the fact that the
family appears to have been connected with the iron companies of
the day, and may have lived for a time in Durham. In Appleton's
Encyclopaedia, edition of 1861, his birth is stated to be in New
Jersey in 1736. He was in Braddock's expedition in 1755. At
the outbreak of the Revolutioa he was living in Frederic, now
Clarke county, Virginia. Immediately he started for Boston, in
command of a company of riflemen, all of whom, like himself, were
expert marksmen. He accompanied the expedition of Arnold to
Quebec, where he was captured. During that captivity he declined
the oifer of a Colonelcy in the British army. On his release, toward
the close of 1776, he was appointed Colonel of a rifle regiment
This was just in season for liim to render those valuable services
during Washington's retreat through New Jersey, which endeared
him to that commander. His corps of riflemen was the terror of
the enemy, and the pride of the Continental army all through the
war. Few names are more distinguished during that struggle than
General Daniel Morgan.
Associated with Colonel Stewart in his patriotic measures, and
conspicuous too, was Colonel Philip Johnston, his brother-in-law.
Johnston was the oldest of seven children, and was born in 1741.
His father, Judge Samuel Johnston, was a Colonial magistrate
thirty years before the Revolution. The family were from Scot-
land, and belonged to an ancient barony in Anandale. They were
a warlike clan and a great terror to the border thieves. Philip
left his class in Princeton College to serve in the French war in
Canada, from which he returned with military honor and reputation.
This fact drew many to his standard, when he called for volunteers
in 1776. He was appointed by the Provincial Congress of New
Jersey to the command of the First Regiment. At the head of
this regiment he went into the battle of Long Island. He was one
of the bravest in that hotly contested fight. Force's Revolutionary
38 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Archives gives the following extract from a Philadelphia journal of
the day : "We hear that in the late action on Long Island, Col.
Philip Johnston, of New Jersey, behaved with remarkable in-
trepidity and fortitude. By the well-directed tire of his battalion
the enemy were several times repulsed, and lanes were made
through them, until he received a ball in his breast, which put an
end to as brave an officer as ever commanded. General Sullivan,
who was close to him when he fell, says that no man could behave
with more firmness during the whole action," Just as he was
leaving home for the seat of war, he went into the room where his
little children were in bed, and, kissing them, he kneeled down and
commended his family to God in prayer. One of those three
daughters, Mary, became the wife of Joseph Scudder, and was the
mother of Dr. John Scudder, the world-renowned missionary to
Another prominent patriot in that neighborhood was Captain
Adam Hope, who commanded a company of New Jersey Militia
(Second Regiment), in the battle of Monmouth. After General
Lee's capture, forty of his army on their way to Easton came
through Clinton. They stopped at Captain Hope's house and his
wife got breakfast for them.
Anoiher was Colonel Bonnell, who established his tavern in 1767
near Clinton. It became a centre for resort to all that section.
The first meeting to raise minute-men was held there.
In the neighborhood of Plemington was Colonel Hugh Runyon,
who was a bold and fearless officer, full of energy and action amid
scenes of danger. Joseph Capner, ancestor of the Capners in
Flemington, married one of his daughters.
Captain Joseph Stout commanded a Company of Regulars, in
which Samuel Reading, a grandson of the Governor, and Aaron
' These facts are taken from an article in the "Christian Intelligencer," by
Rev. "Wm. Hall, January 25, 1877. The correctness of them is asserted by
Mrs. Hoyt, grand-daughter of Col. Stewart.
Lane were Lieutenants. Stout was killed at the battle of Brandy-
wine, September 11th, 1777. When the men went into service in
1776, we find Captain William Chamberlain's Company from Am well.
Soon after this, he was promoted to Major, and Nathan Stout was
Captain ; and Philip Service and Christopher Fisher, Lieutenants.
Beside these two Stouts, were two other, James and Samuel, who
were Captains. David Sehomp of Reading, was a Captain in
Washington's Seci^et Service for years, and as such traversed
swamp and hill, from the Delaware to the Hudson.
But the zealous proceedings of these patriots do not present the
whole picture. Public opinion was divided, especially among the
masses. When Lord Cornwallis entered the Jerseys, he issued a
proclamation, offering protection to all who would take the oath of
allegiance within sixty days, and containing assurances that the
obnoxious laws which had occasioned the war would be revised.
This produced a wide-spread dissatisfaction toward the patriots.
Memorials came to the Provincial Congress from the counties of
Monmouth, Hunterdon, Bergen and Sussex, complaining of the
hostile intentions and proceedings of the disaffected. " Authentic
information was received that other disaffected persons in the
county of Hunterdon, had confederated for the purpose of opposing
the measures of Congress, and had even proceeded to acts of open
and daring violence, having plundered the house of a Captain
Jones, beaten, wounded and otherwise abused the friends of
freedom in the county, and publicly declared that they would take
up arms in behalf of the King of Great Britain. In order to
check a combination so hostile and dangerous, Lieutenant Colonel
Abram Ten Eick and Major Berry were directed, with the militia
of Hunterdon and Somerset, to apprehend these insurgents. On
the 1st of July, 1776, the Provincial Congress resolved that the
several colonels of the counties, should, without delay, proceed to
disarm all persons within their districts who refused to bear arms."'
Gordon's New Jersey, p. 195.
40 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
In October, 1777, Governor Livingston remonstrated with the
President of Continental Congress, against the order of the Board
of War, for sending. Governor Penn of Pennsylvania, and others
to Union in Hunterdon County. He says " that region, has always
been considerably disaffected, and still continues so, notwithstanding
all our efforts ; owing, we imagine, in part, to the interest, connec-
tions and influence of Mr. John Allen, brother-in-law of Mr. Penn,
who is now with the enemy." This Union was the iron works,
within a few miles of the home of Colonels Stewart and Johnston.
Near the furnaces was the house occupied by Mr. Taylor, the
superintendent. He was a patriot. In this house, which now
forms a part of the residence of Lewis H. Taylor, Penn and the
Attorney General Chew were confined six months as prison .
ers of war, in charge of Mr. Taylor. Tradition reports that
they brought their servants with them, and an Indian fiddler to
beguile the hours of their captivity. Governor Penn presented Mr.
Taylor with a copy of Dalryraple's Memoirs, with his autograph
upon the title page.
At this time the feeling between the two sides was intense and
often bitter. Eev. William Frazer was then Rector of the Epis-
copal Church at Ringos. Being supported by a British Missionary
Society, he would not omit the prayers for the royal family. This
rendered him obnoxious to the patriots. One Sunday, when he
entered his church, a rope was hanging over the pulpit. Public
sentiment grew so violent that he was compelled to suspend
worship in his church. But so prudent was his conduct and so
lovely his character, that soon after peace was declared, he
re-opened his church and resumed his ministry, with general
During the war, large farms belonging to these tories were
confiscated. But they proved of little value to the public treasury,
because the sales were generally on credit; and by the progressive
New Jersey Rev. Cor., pp. 101 and 102
HUNTERDON COUNTY 41
depreciation of money when the time of payment came, the real
value of the money was very small. Public notice was given,
February 11th, 1779, that two of the Judges of Hunterdon County
would attend at the house of John Ringo, in Amwell, " For the
purpose of hearing the claims against the estate of certain fugitives
and offenders." These parties were a long list of wealthy men,
who did not sympathize with the patriot cause. Thousand of acres
were advertised for sale, under these judgments entered by the
And yet as a whole, Hunterdon County was strong for the war.
In March, 1776, the Committee of Safety, of which Captain
Mehelm and John Hart were members, resolved that three battal-
ions of militia be draughted out of the militia of the State, for the
help of New York. The quota of Hunterdon was four hundred
and forty, which was just double that of any other county.' Colo-
nel Frelinghuysen, of Raritan, wrote to Governor Livingston, August
15th, 1777 : "I must not forget to congratulate your Excellency, on
the great loyalty of Hunterdon County."
The lukewarmness and disaffection already described, were
caused by the uncertainties of the incipient struggle, and the
disasters of the year 1776. New York was captured, and about
the middle of November, Cornwallis entered New Jersey. Gover-
nor Livingston made the most strenuous exertions to have the militia
who were in the field, oppose the invading force. But the panic
which had seized upon the mass of the population could not be
controlled. The bare-footed and almost naked Continental army,
scantily supplied with ammunition, was retreating before the strong,
well equipped battalions of the enemy. The contest seemed hope-
less. Those who visited the army brought home an unfavorable
report. They secretly or openly advised others to do nothing that
would involve them in disloyalty, and thus jeopardized their
possessions. Old people tell us that such was the talk with many.
The Legislature, itself defenceless, had removed from Princeton to
' New Jersey Rev. Cor., pp. 5, 95.
42 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Burlington, and there on the second of December they adjourned,
each man going home to look after his own affairs. Until the
battle of Trenton, on the twenty-fifth of that month, New Jersey
might have been considered a conquered province. Even Samuel
Tucker, Chairman of the Committee of Safety, Treasurer, and
Judge of the Supreme Court, took a protection of the British, and
thus renounced allegiance to this State and vacated his offices.'
But a reaction, decided and permanent, was close at hand. The
dispiriting retreat through the State, was accomplished, and
Washington was safely on the other side of the Delaware. As the
American rear guard crossed the river, the flags of the British
danced in the distance. If the enemy had brought boats with
them, as was reported, it would have been impossible for the
patriots to have hindered their passing over. This was on the third
of December. Washington sent four brigades under Generals
Mercer, Stephens, DeFermoy and Lord Sterling, who were posted
from Yardleys to Coryell's Ferry, in such a way as to guard every
point of the river, where a crossing might be attempted. General
Sterling was stationed with his troops opposite Lambertville, at
Beaumont's, about three miles below New Hope. Redoubts were
cast up, one on the top of the hill back of the school house at
New Hope. General Washington rode up to inspect these, prob-
ably returning the same day. He ordered a stockade intrenchment
to be made, and batteries to be posted. As it was important that
he should have command of all the boats on the river, General
Green was charged with the duty. He ordered General Ewing to
send sixteen Durham boats and four flats down to McKonkey's
(Washington's crossing). These Durham boats were large, flat and
pointed at each end, being used for conveying iron from Dunham
to Philadelphia. General Maxwell was directed to collect the boats
high up the river, as there was danger of the enemy seizing
them, and to place them under strong guard. This service was
' Gordon's New Jersey, p. 237.
HUNTKRDON COUNTY. 43
assigned to Captain Daniel Bray, afterwards General Bray, of the
New Jersey Militia, Captain Jacob Gearheart and Captain Thomas
Jones, who collected all the boats on the upper waters of the
Delaware and Lehigh, and brought them down to Coryell's Ferry.
The boats were hid behind Malta Island, just below what is known
as " The Mills, " on the Pennsylvania side. The island was
densely wooded, so that the boats could not be seen by a reconnoi-
tering party of the enemy, as it looked down from the New Jersey
heights. These boats were thus secured for the famous crossing of
Christmas night.^ Captain Bray was a native of Kingwood, and
was familiar with every boat and crossin-^ along the river. Captain
Gerhart was from Flemington. To procure these boats, to conceal
their plan from the tories who were lurking about, and who would
betray them at the first opportunity, to cut out these flat boats in
the darkness of those cold winter nights, to float them down amid
the rocks and through the rapids, to keep them from being crushed
or swamped, was a task most difScult and hazardous. But it was
successfully accomplished. Cornwallis was informed of this enter-
prise, and sent a detachment to seize these boats, but they could not
find them, or were afraid to venture across the river in the face of
those frowning batteries.
Probably while engaged in this search the British learned that a
lot of guns was stored in Flemington. A part of Cornwallis' army
was then encamped just below Pennington. Five hundred cavalry
were detailed to seize these arras. At that time, near the Presby-
terian Church, was a long, low, frame building. For many years
afterward it was a store, famous tliroughout that part of the county.
It afforded a market for wheat to a wide section. The store was
kept in connection with a mill^ on the site of John Rockafellow's
mill. In this building a quantity of muskets had been stored by
the Continentals. The cavalry reached the village early in the
morning and found in the street a man in a cart, whom they pressed
' Dr. Studdiford's Manuscripts. Also History of Berk's County, by W. W.
into their service. The chests, with the guns packed in them, were
taken out of the building and put into the cart, and then the whole
troop hastened away. But when thej reached Tattersall's Lane,
where the tile kiln now is, they became alarmed, and concluded it
would be better to destroy the muskets than attempt to carrj^ them
away. So they broke the guns by striking them upon the posts of
the fence. In the meantime Captain John Schenck had collected
a band of men and secreted them in a piece of woods between
Copper Hill and Larasons. As the horsemen filed through this,
they were fired upon. Captain Geary, the commander of the
British, ordered his troops to halt and face the spot whence the
firing proceeded, when he was almost immediately shot through the
head. His men wheeled and fled. Afraid that they might meet
more opposition if they returned the same road they came, the
British turned and went toward New Brunswick. Captain Geary's
body was buried in the woods.
This Captain Schenck, afterwards Colonel, was a brave officer.
With Colonel Charles Stewart he rallied the minute-men in 1775,
and was active during the whole conflict, in various ways.
The success of Washington at Trenton and Princeton was not
the only cause of turning the tide toward the patriots. Neither the
proclamation of Cornwallis nor protection papers saved the people
from plunder. Discontent and murmurs at the outrages perpetrated
by British and Hessians increased on every side. Infants, children,
old men and women were left without a blanket to protect them-
selves from the inclemency of winter. The most brutal outrages
were perpetrated by a licentious soldiery. The whole country be-
came hostile to the invaders. Suiferers of all parties arose, as with
one accord, to revenge their personal injuries.'
'When General Washington was retreating through the Jerseys
almost forsaken by all others, her militia were at all times obedient
to his orders ; and for a considerable length of time composed the
strength of his army.^ And of this praise Hunterdon county
' Gordon's American War, Vol. 2., p. 178, 180
^ Winterbotham's History of America, Vol. 2, p. 303.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 45
deserves a large share, because she furnished more soldiers than
any other county. Her scouts and guides were of priceless value.
After the battle of Trenton the American army went into Winter
quarters, part at Morristown and part at Valley Forge. The direct road
between these lay through Amwell Valley and over Coryell's Ferry.
The Spring of 1777 revealed this state of things, for which
Washington must provide. General Burgoyne, with a superior
force of the British, was moving from Canada southward. General
Howe was at New York. He would either endeavor, by moving
up the Hudson, to possess himself of the forts and high grounds
occupied by the Americans, and thus open the southern part of the
way to New York for Burgoyne, and separate New England from
the rest of the Colonies ; or he would attempt Philadelphia. Wash-
ington was uncertain which of these courses would be adopted ;
hence he must be prepared for both. To do this, he determined to
occupy the high grounds of New Jersey, north of New Brunswick.
About ten miles in that direction, at Middle brook, a low range of
mountains forms the apex of a triangle, the sides of which extend
toward the northeast and northwest. These heights could be
rendered almost impregnable against the enemy, while they would
serve as a watch-tower to command the course of the Raritan, the
road to Philadelphia, the hills about New Brunswick, and a con
siderable part of the country between that place and Amboy, thus
affording a full view of any important movement on the part of the
enemy. Washington directed the troops from Jersey to South Caro-
lina to assemble in this State, and, breaking up his camp at Morris-
town, he made Middlebrook his headquarters, May 28, 1777. Gen.
Howe was preparing to attack Philadelphia, but first he wanted to
draw the American General from his strong position. Leaving 2,000
troops at Brunswick, he advanced, June 14, with two columns
from different directions, which arrived about the same hour.
Washington had posted his army in order of battle, on the
heights in front of the camp, and refused to come down. General
Howe, finding he could not be drawn from his strong position,
retired. But this movement of General Howe toward Philadelphia
46 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
roused the militia of this part of the State, and with great alacrity
they took the field, principally joining General vSullivan, who had
retired from Princeton behind the southern hills towards Fleming-
ton, where a considerable army was forming to oppose the enemy,
should he attempt to cross Coryell's Perry, which seemed to be his
object. Influenced, no doubt, by this gathering of forces, Howe
ceased to threaten Philadelphia by land, and determined to embark
his troops for the Delaware. Indeed, it would have been an act of
unpardonable military recklessness to have proceeded, when the
enemy was combining in his front, and was ready with an army to
follow in his rear. By this planning, the Am well Valley was saved
from the ravages of an invading host; and also, perhaps, lost the
glory of becoming one of the famous battle-fields of the Eevolu-
tion. Probably this is the time when the Baptist clinrch at
Flemington, was occupied as barracks by American soldiers. Marks
of then- muskets were visible on the floor of the old church. A
panic prevailed along the Old York Road in that region. Farmers
drove their cattle to hiding places. Household valuables were
buried, or carried to the houses of friends at a distance. The
women and children were prepared to flee at a moment's warning.
The county for several years previous to the war, was quite evenly
populated, so that it must have been inconvenient and expensive to
the many residing about Flemington and northward, to go to
Trenton for the transaction of business ; that county-seat being at
the extreme southern corner. The unsettled state of the countr\^,
which diverted public attention from local necessities, and the
general disturbance arising from the fact that the county was a
thoroughfare for both armies, prevented a change in the county
town. But we find that in 1785, two years after the treaty of
peace, as soon, therefore, as the matter could be attended to, the
county-seat was removed to Flemington, which was nearly in the
centre. The village at that time consisted of probably not more than
twelve or fifteen houses. For in 1809, there were only sixteen
houses between the Baptist and Presbyterian churches, which
comprised most of the village. However, it was important as a
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 47
centre of trade. There was also living there a lawyer and judge,
Jasper Smith, a gentleman of great energy and public spirit; who
was afterward prominent in the formation of the Presbyterian
church in that village. Indeed, he may be called its founder, I
believe that he had a great deal to do in securing the location of
the county-seat. Because two miles further toward Clinton, on the
south branch, was another point called Readings, the focus of
several roads leading to all parts of the county. This also was a
centre of trade. And there the county-seat should have been
located. It is in many respects a more desirable site. The bank
of the Branch is high, the drainage would have been excellent
and the land is beautifully situated for building lots. Besides, the
water power is such that the town by this day would have become
the seat of flourishing manufactures. The Court House was not
built until the Summer of 1791. It was on the site of the present
buildings, and was constructed of stone brought " from Large's
land in Kingwocd." This edifice was destroyed by tire in February,
1828. This delay in building was probably caused by the poverty
of the county, and the fluctuating value of money. In 1780 a
continental paper dollar was worth one copper. In 1779 linen was
one hundred and forty shillings a yard, shoes one hundred and
twenty shillings a pair, pocket handkerchiefs seventy shillings a
piece.' All other clothing in proportion. After the war, and even
to the opening of the century, wages were fifty cents a day, and
corn eighty cents a bushel.
The Presbyterian congregations of the two Am well churches,
finding that the salary was insufiScient on account of the deprecia-
tion of the paper money, a joint meeting, held January 21st, 1779,
agreed that the salary should be paid in produce at the old prices,
or as much money as would purchase it. Some paid in money,
some in produce, some in both, as the salar}^ lists show. It was
determined to purchase a new parsonage, and a subscription was
' New Jersey Rev. Cor., p. 184.
48 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
made, but when they came to buy, the price of land had risen
beyond the amount supposed to be necessary. And then the
trustees hired " a plantation adjoining the parsonage for one hundred
and fifty pounds, in order the better to support the ministers." In
1790 both paper money and coin were in circulation. From an
old paper labelled "Account of Supplies," of the First Amwell
Church, it appears that the sum paid for one Sunday's services was
one pound and ten shillings ; for preaching and administrating the
Lord's Supper, three pounds. This was the amount in " hard
money," as the account has it. Sometimes the supplies were paid
in paper money, sometimes in coin and sometimes in both. There
is this N. B. : " The law is lately altered in not making paper
money equal to hard money, in hard money engagements. One-
half is now (1790, April 4th), the current exchange." A collection
for a poor student in divinity gives this amount: paper money,
twenty-five shillings ; silver, seventeen shillings ; copper, twelve
shillings and two pence.
According to the census of 1790, the population of Hunterdon
was twenty thousand, one hundred and fifty-three. This made it
the first county in numbers ; but close to it pressed Sussex with
nineteen thousand, five hundred ; and Burlington with eighteen
thousand and ninety-five. Then came Essex, Monmouth, Morris
and Middlesex, each about one thousand less in the order named.
Gloucester, thirteen thousand, three hundred and three ; Bergen,
twelve thousand, six hundred and one ; Somerset, twelve thousand,
two hundred and ninety-six ; Salem, ten thousand, four hundred
and thirty-seven ; while Cumberland and Cape May came in at the
foot, the former with eight thousand, two hundred and forty-eight,
and the latter with only two thousand, five hundred and seventy-one.
The total population of the State was one hundred and eighty-four
thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine. The population of the
townships of Hunterdon was — Amwell, five thousand, two hundred
and one, which was more than double that of any other township.
Kingwood, two thousand, four hundred and forty ; Hopewell, two
thousand, three hundred and twenty; Trenton, one thousand, nine
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 49
hundred and forty-six , Alexandria, one thousand, five hundred
and three; Bethlehem, one thousand, three hundred and thirty-
five ; Maidenhead, one thousand, and thirty-two. Lebanon, Reading-
ton and Tewksbury, are combined, four thousand, three hundred and
seventy. The number of slaves, one thousand, three hundred and
one, and of free blacks, one hundred and ninety-one. But in the
next ten years the increase was very small in this part of the State,
both in Hunterdon and Somerset ; the former adding to her popu-
lation one thousand one hundred and eight, and the latter, five
hundred and nineteen. The cause of this was that the young people
were drawn to the great west of that day — central New York
and western Pennsylvania'. Indeed, the whole State has been a
hive of States — constantly sending out swarms, whose labors have
tended to subdue and fertilize western wilds — so that the State is
remarkable for the paucity of the increase of its population, until with-
in a recent period. In this same decade of which I am speaking, 1790
to 1800, the increase in the whole State was only twenty-seven
thousand, eight hundred and ten. The ratio of increase from
1790 to 18*20 was thirteen and a half per cent, for each decennial
term. But in the first half of the last century, the rate of increase
was about thirty per cent, in eight years. Hunterdon, by the j^ear
1800, had dropped down to the fourth county in population ; and
yet the difference between it and Sussex, which was the highest,
was only one thousand two hundred and seventy-three. In 1810,
Hunterdon held the same relative position to the other counties,
but Essex had now risen to the head, which it has since maintained.
The population of Hunterdon then was twenty-four thousand, five
hundred and fifty-six.
Let us recall the fact, that across the present territory of Hun-
terdon passed several important highways. One ran through New
Hampton, via Pittstown, Quakertown, Ringos on to Pennington and
' An old record, 1797, of Plemington Presbyterian church, states, that collec-
tions were made by order of Presbytery to support missionaries on those
50 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
Trenton. The great east and west line was the Old York Road,
running the length of the Amwell valley, and passing out of the
State at Lambertville. The third, of less importance than the
other two, and yet a great road in its day, was the Somerville and
Easton Turnpike, which entered the county at Lambertville and
passed out at Bloomsbury ; furnishing the outlet from the southern
part of Warren, and from Easton to New York, via New Brunswick
Although this was not chartered as a turnpike until 1812, the road
itself was laid out prior to the Revolution. Produce was carried
along this road to New Brunswick, which at the beginning of this
century was the most thriving mart of trade in the State. To the
same city large wagons from Pennsylvania and from the Amwell
valley, drawn by six horses, heavily laden with flour, flax-seed,
flax and other kinds of produce, went over the Old York Road.
The iron spring at Schooleys Mt., like most of those of any
value on the continent, was known to the Indians, generations
probably before the European advent. It was their tales of these
waters of life, as they poetically called them, which led to the belief
of the " Fountain of Youth," which the old Spanish explorer,
Ponce de Leon, so ardently desired. Almost from the settlement
of the State, the ailing resorted to this iron spring. Its virtue
attracted the valetudinarian, while the high altitude, 1,100 feet above
the ocean, and the beauty of its surroundings rendered it a favorite
place of resort. Thither went for many years after the Revolution,
the old aristocracy of Philadelphia, who traveled in their own
conveyances, Avhich were large coaches, drawn by four or six horses
and with the family coat of arras emblazoned on the sides. Their
route was the first da}'^ to New Hope, the second day across the
river and along the Old York Road to Pluckamin, and the third day
reaching the mountain. None of those which came over this route
attracted as much attention as Judge Coxe. He was a grandson of
Daniel Coxe, one of the first proprietors of "West Jersey, whose
large proprietary tracts made his descendants immensely wealthy..
In the latter part of the century, Charles Coxe bought the farm
of one thousand two hundred acres that was owned by Judge
HUNTKKDON COUNTY. 51
Johnston at Sidney, and afterwards the residence of Judge Wilson.
In the old mansion Judge Coxe spent his Summers, extending a
princely hospitality to the first families of Philadelphia, who were
his guests weeks at a time.' He was a man of enterprise, and
sought to turn the splendid water power on his land to account, by
establishing a large woolen factory. He also was impressed with
the unrivalled advantages that region possessed, in its streams of
water, for large manufacturing enterprises. For at that day, before
the steam engine displaced the water wheel, capitalists were eager
to secure water power. About this period it was, 1793, that a
company obtained the water-rights at Paterson. In order, however,
to render the water power of this region available, better means of
transportation must be obtained than was furnished by a turnpike.
He applied, therefore, to the Legislature for a charter, to build a
canal from the Delaware at Easton, to some point on the south
branch above Clinton, and thence by the best practicable route to
Trenton. This was about 1706. The application, however, was
unsuccessful. Another project was to make slack water navigation
up the south branch, thus securing an outlet through the Raritan.
At that time these streams were larger than they are now.
Winterbotham, in 1796, describes the people of New Jersey
thus : " The Presbyterian, the Quaker, the Episcopalian, the
Baptist, the German and Low Dutch Calvinist, the Methodist and
the Moravian, have each their distinguishing characteristics, either
in their worship, their discipline or their dress. There is still
another characteristical difference, distinct from either of the others,
which arises from the intercourse of the inhabitants with different
States. The people in West Jersey trade to Philadelphia, and of
course, imitate the fashions and imbibe their manners. The inhab-
itants of East Jersey, trade to New York, and regulate their
' One of his daughters married Lucius Stockton, who was the first clerk of
Hunterdon. He built a part of the house now occupied by Charles Bartles,
Esq., iu Flemington. There he had his office.
52 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
fashions and manners according to those in New York ; so that the
difference in fashions and manners between East and West Jersey,
is nearly as great as between New York and Philadelphia." In
this county the two influences were blended, because communication
was divided; the eastern part trading with New Brunswick and
New York, and the western with Trenton and Philadelphia. And
all the religious denominations mentioned, except the Moravian, had
congregations within the bounds of Hunterdon.
Tlie people generally were distinguished for industry. The
children when not put to trades, or not migrating to the new
country, remained with their parents working on the farm. This
was especially the case with the oldest son. For the European
idea of primogeniture had not yielded to the more equal distribution
of an estate. To that son, the homestead was willed. When he
married, he remained at home with his parents. And an addition
was built on the old house for his accommodation. Where the
father owned several hundred acres, he set off a portion to his
sons as they married. This subdivision kept on, until the farms
reached their present size.
Religion generally had declined, during and after the war. French
infidelity poisoned the minds of too many of the prominent men of
the county ; and its effect was felt upon the people. Intemperance
prevailed at the opening of this century to a frightful extent. The
early settlers in Hunterdon, like all the Dutch and Germans, and
indeed English of that age, used malt liquors as a beverage. The
war of the Revolution brought rum and whiskey into general use.
The use of these, a.cquired in the army, was continued by the
soldiers on their return home. More liquor was drunk, per capita,
in this country for the two or three decades after the war than by
any other nation on the face of the earth. Its manufacture made
extensive progress in the States.^ Thirteen hundred retail licenses
were issued in the year 1800, and intemperance grew, so that we
'Winterbotham, Vol. I, 351.
HUNTERDON COUNTY. 53
were denominated over the civilized world as a nation of drunkards.
In one township along the Raritan, at the commencement of this
centur}^, eight distilleries were in operation. Custom required each
hand, in hay or harvest, to be furnished with one pint of rum a day.
Almost every farmer had his cellar stocked with barrels of cider,
spirits and rye whiskey. The county was full of taverns. The
education of poor children was neglected. In prominent villages,
like Pennington and Flemington, academies were established, which
were under the care of trustees. There were also private schools,
kept mostly by clergymen. Such places were centres of intelli-
gence and refinement. In 1802 several libraries were in existence.
At Trenton, Elliott Howell, Librarian ; Pennington, Achilles Wil-
son, Librarian ; Ringos, David Bishop, Librarian ; Flemington,
Asher Atkinson, Librarian.^
The general training days were scenes of frightful disorder.
Fighting, to decide who was champion, or as the result of quarrels
engendered by rum, was common ; indeed it was almost the neces-
sary attendant of trainings and elections.
There were few wagons. People went to meeting afoot for four
to six miles, wearing thick shoes, sometimes none at all, until near
the church, and then they put on Sunday shoes. It was common
for the men to sit in church without coats.
Whipping was the penalty for small offences. This seems to
have been inflicted upon the slaves, more frequently than on other
classes of offenders. A slave, if found five miles from home was
arrested and whipped by the constable ; for which five shillings
were received, to be paid by the master or mistress. The whip was
made of thongs of raw hide, plaited sometimes with fine wire.
Only one newspaper was published in the county. That was a
weekly in Trenton. The mails slowly proceeded to the principal
villages, and at intervals found their way to remote parts. So late
as 1822 one mail came up from Trenton to Flemington on Tuesday,
'From Collector's book of 1802 in possession of Peter Young at Ringos.
54 HUNTERDON COUNTY.
and thence to the other parts of the county, returning on Saturday,
We speak of those times as distinguished for simplicity, good-
ness, honor — as better days than our own. We do " not inquire
wisely concerning this." In all that render morals, education and
religion, an acquaintance with current events, and facility in travel,
superior to mere physical enjoyment, the advantage is greatly