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Rend he/ore the Neiv Jeraey Historical Societ/j, at Trenton, 
January \lth, 187S. 


K. VossELLER, Bookseller and Stationer. 





In this sketcli of the " First C'eiitiuy of Hunterdon County," I 
sliall restrict myself to the territory now comprised witliin tlie 
boundiiry of the county. Because the history of that portion of 
" Old Hunterdon," which is now included in Mercer County, has 
been cared for by others.' 

New Jersey held out two hands of welcome to those of Europe 
who were seeking an asylum from evils which made their mother 
(.•ouiitry no longei- endurable. The one hand was Delaware Ba}', 
the t)ther 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 
nearest points within twenty miles of each other, and there the 
tributaries of each drain the same hills. The mild climate — less 
bleak than New England, not so hot as A'irginia — the abundance 
of game, fish and fruits,^ won to those shores the children of the 
northern half of Europe, who were accustomed to the temperate 
zone. Lord Berkle}'- 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 plentifnlly 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 
West Jersey. 


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 Byllinge, 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 William 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 came 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 Earitan, 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 thereby encroaching on their territory, and 
they objected to its continuance. On September 5th, 1688, Gover- 


iiors Coxe and Barclay, representing each side, entered into an 
agreement for terminating all differences, by stipulating that this line, 
so far as rnn, sliould 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 north branch of the Raritan at the Iklls of 
the Allamitung (now the Lamington 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.'" 
'I'his 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 forty-first 
parallel. Though this agreement was never carried into effect, this 
division line constituted the western boundar}^ of Hunterdon, aud so 
remahied until Morris was set off in 1738. And then all that port 
of North Jersey, down as far as Musconetcong, was erected into the 
new county. 

The territory of West Jersey was divided into one hundred 
shares or proprietaries. 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 takeu up 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. 

'■^ Cliap. 1 of Concessious of " The Trustees." Quoted in Gordoii'.s History 
of New Jersey, p. 68. 


At the close of the sevontoonth centur}^, West Jersey is said to 
have contained 8.000 iiih:ibiLants.' These people began to look 
with longing ey(;s 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 Himhainmoe, 
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. * * * A.nd also with Coponiiockous 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 Council, 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 Himharamoe's wigwam in order to 
treat with them, and to see the bounds 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 which 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 previouslj% by 
individuals with the Indians. 


England. To them Daniel Coxe conveyed this tract in 1691. He 
obtained the title to it in 1685. He owned 22 proprietor}' shares. 
Among the first wlio took up land out of this tract of 150,000 
acres, was the estate of Benjamin Field.' lie had 3,000 acres 
fronting on the river; 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 cit)^ and 
fronting on the river. Wm. Biddle held 5,000 acres immediatelj' 
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 name of 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 HoL 
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 
lather 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 mauu^^CI•ipts of P. A . 
Studdiford, D. D. of Lambertville. N. J. 


Peter Kralev of Mansfield, now Washington, Warren county. He 
sold to Christopher Cornelius in 1750. And he sold to Daniel 
PTowell, the same year, 400 acres. This was the Howell from 
whom the Ferry took its nauie. His land joined Reading's at the 
river. Howell conveyed a part of this land in 1754 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- 
town, 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. In 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 ab^t 17 25." Among the first of whom we have 
any knowledge as Imng in that neighborhood are King, Wilson, 
Clifton, Rockhill, and Stevenson. They all belonged to the Bur- 
lington Quarterly MeMing. 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 

^ Kindlj' furnished by A. R. Vail, clerk of the meeting. 

' For furLlier particulars respecting Kingwood see quotations from old deeds 
in a .series of articles ou " Traditions of our Ancestors," publisliei in the 
Hunterdon Republican, Feb. 17 and 24, May 5 and 12. 1870. 


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 Plainfield, Scotch 
Plains and Westfield. They were Presbyterians, and men of virtue, 
education and courage. The opposition of the people and the 
proprietors to au}' arbitarj' 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 Barcla.y. 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 brancli to the road now leading from Pleasant run 
to Branch ville. On this tract, near Campbell's Brook, was an In- 
dian village. Other settlers from 1710 to 1720 were Stoll, Lott, 
Biggs, Schoraps, Smith, Van Horn, Wyckoff, Cole, Klein, Jennings, 
Stevens, Johnson, Hoagland, Fisher, Probasco, LeQueer, Schenck; 

' See subsequent page. 


Voorhees ; some of whom came from Long Island. Frederick Van 
Fleet came from Esopus, New York, in 1725, and bought lands of 
Van Etta. Me shortly after became owner 6i' many 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 Drummond 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 Flemington, 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 .\ppendix to the Dedication Sermon of the Readmgton Church, 
by the Rev. John Van Liew. Appendix by John B. Thompson. 


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 fiat 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 county in the State had 
so mixed a population, composed, as it was, of Huguenots, Hol- 
lands, Germans, Scotch, Irish, English, and native Americans. 

The^P^^e 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 Monmouth 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 \vas the 
grandfather of Dr. John Grandin, who was the most noted physi- 
cian of the county in his day.' 

On tlie 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. 


Hope, Foster, Apgar, Bonnell. The 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 
(v?ho 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 
after him. 

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 Societ3^'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 lieirs 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- 


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 Nortliern 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 only 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 Yalley. 

One of the first settlers in the neighborhood of White House 
was Bakes Pickel, who bought one thousand acres from the Budd 
and Logan tract, at the foot of Cushetunk Mt., now Pickles Mt. 
Abrani Van Horn came from Monmouth to White House about 
1749, he lookup 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, publiahed by N. J. Historicsal Society. 


In this barn, a company of Hessians, taken prisoners at Trenton, 
were lodo;ed 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 bv 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 region 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 tlieir 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 
Germantown a few English people had already 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 

"Oa "White House, see an article by Rev. William Bailey, iu " Our Home," a 
magazine published in Somerville, N. J., in 1873. 


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 Kevolution 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 Gerraantown. 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 bv 
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 Valle}^, 
Fox Hill and Ringos,^ 

' An Article in "Our Home," New Germantown, March, 1873. 

"History of Presbyterian Church, Fairmount, by Rev. Wm. 0. Ruston, 1876. 


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. Prom 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 by 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, G-ershom 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. 


sold, on August 6th, 1736, to Philip Ringo, inriholder, 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 
years Ringos was the most important village in the wliole 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 ofresurve}^ which 
was done by 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 to this 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 establislied about this time 


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 early date by 
Cornelius Stout. The second mill was built in 1812. 

At Flemington the tracts of three proprietors touched. Penn 
had one of 5,000 acres, and Daniel Coxe one of 4,170, which were 
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. 


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 Byllinge, 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 nortli eastward to the South 
Branch and, on^the southerly side, John Kays had a tract borderino- 
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. Stout seems already to have occupied 89^ acres of 
this tract. His deed speaks of the tract bordering at one part on 
unappropriated land.' Prom other old deeds it appears that settlers 
did not occupy land in Flemington earlier than 1731." In that year 
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 lawj'er 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 Earrar, 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 
lirst built in the village is yet standing. Samuel Southard owned 

' In 1736 a laveru was built at Cherry ville, which last year yielded to the 
elemeuis and fell. 

- The above facts are taken from old deeds held by Aaron Griggs. 


and occupied il 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 Societ3^ 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 Lowry, 
who afterwards married his daughter Esther. Lowry became the 
most prominent man of the village, and acquired much property. 
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. McG-ill, 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 by Rev. G. IS. Mott, 1876. 



ment in Hunterdon County, June, 1776, of which he afterward be- 
came Colonel. 

The torritor}' 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. Whitelield 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, Bejaja- 
min_jJius£ll,_John Steel, Jacob Mattison, Eliab Byram (the pastor), 
Garret Schenck, Abraham Prall, Peter Prall, paiii^]. finrew, Thomas 
Hardin, Benjamin Johnson, David Barham, John Reading (Gov.), 
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 ciiurch 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 whicli he obtained a patent, 
January 7th, 1733. In this patent the ferry is mentioned as 


formerly known as Goat's Ferry. It was more generally called 
Wells' Forry, down to the year 1770. It was so named because it 
was 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 Lambertville obtain 
their name, " Wells' Falls." Four brothers, Lambert, came to 
New Jersey 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 arm3^ 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 
Exton'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 verv 

' For these facts J am indebted to Dr. Studdiford of Lambertville, who 
permitted me to peruse his History of Lambertville, now in mannscript, 
but to be published. It will be a valuable local history. 


early in the last century. This led to the settlement of this remote 
part of the country, and probably secured for it gentlemen like 
Johnston, SteAvart 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, probabl}' 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 into the county of Hunterdon. This was 
granted at the request of tlio 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 furtlier; Hunterdon Republic, January 20th, 1870. 

24 huntp:rdon county. 

been inconv'^enient 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 live 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 Delawares, 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. 


had divided themselves into three tribes, two of these calling them- 
selves Menarais 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 Minisinl\, a place where 
they held tlieir councils, to the Hudson on the east, and beyond th^ 
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 Fleminglon, 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- 
sylvania, vol. 12 pp. 48-52. 


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 steadil}^ 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. Numbers 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 


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, wliereby 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, tliat the Indians had not been paid for 
certain tracts of land, wliich 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 
Neshannock 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, tJience 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 tliemselves in the openings of tlie mines, at 
" Gordon's New Jersey, pp. 122 and 124. 


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 
Governor, 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 Jersey man, 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. 
Studdiford, already mentioned. 


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 ^vas 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 committeess. I [e, 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 
1719.1 He removed to his tract of land above Lambertville, 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, 
1 767. He and his sister, when children, were taken to England by 
their mother to be educated. She remained with 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 surve3'^ed 
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. 


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 govera- 
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 Revolution ar}^ struggle. 
The youngest son, Thomas, was Captain of the 6th Company of 
the 3d Battalion of the Jersey Brigade, who were mustered m 
during February, 1774. He served until the Battalion was 
discharged. A grandson, John, entered the company of his uncle, 
as Ensign. In Januarj^^ 1777, he was promoted to First Lieuten- 
ant in a Company of another Battalion in which he continued until 
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. 


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. lie was a co-worker with the Tetinants 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 county was set ofi", 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 


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 Abram 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 ever}^ 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. His grand daughter; Mrs. Bower, who, after the war, in 
Philadelphia , received marked attention from Mrs. Washington, 

' The first Company of Volunteers offered to the Governor, under the first 
call of President Lincoln, was from this county — from Flemington. 


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 twenty-eight. Mrs Wilson was distinguished for beauty 
and for a brilliant and cultured mind.' 

After the war, General Stewart moved to Flemington, 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, Ireland, in 1729. His grandfather, 
Charles, was a Scotch Puritan, and an officer of dragoons in the 
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 propert} ; 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 Ellet in " Women of the Araorican Revolution," devotes a chapter to 
Marllia Wilson. 


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 
earnestly 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 : 















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 Plemington, 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. 


near the Presbyterian Church. He was a class-mate, at Princeton, 
of Dr. Hodge and Alexander Wurts, ^sq., 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 countr}^ 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, with 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 Gorman town. Brandy wine, Trenton and Monmouth. As a 
soldier and patriot he had few superiors. He served his country 
faithfulh" all tlu'ough 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 county, and who afterwards took an active part in 
the Revolution, was John Mehelm. He emigrated to tliis 
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 
brancli near Pluckamin, since known as [fall's Mills. Here during 


the Revolutionary 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 British 
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 bod}^ 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.' 

1 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 Year.s Agjo," by A. W. McDowell. 



of ij, 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 
flimily appears to have been connected with the iron companies of 
the day, and may have lived for a time in Durham. In Appletou'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 Revolution 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 offer 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 him 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 / 
Generaj^J}auiel 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 Anandule. The}' 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 lie went into the battle of Long Island. He was one 
of the bravest in that hotly contested fight. Force's Revolutionary 


Archives gives the following extract from a Philadelphia journal of 
the day: "We liear 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 lire 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 wlien 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. 

Another 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 Amwell. 
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 Schomp of Reading, was a Captain in 
Washington's Secret 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 
Abrara Ton Eick and Major Berry were directed, with tlie 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. 


la 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 conhaed six months as prison, 
ers of war, in charge of Mr. Taylor. Tradition reports that 
tliey 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 Dalrymple'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 Prazer was then Rector of the Epis- 
copal Church at Ringos. Being supported by a British Missionary 
Societ)'', he would not omit tlie 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 liis 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. 


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 
State. ' 

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 fort}'', which was just double that of any other county.' Colo- 
nel Frelinghuyseii, of Raritan, wrote to Governor Livingston, August 
15th, 1777 : "I must not forget to congratulate your Excellency, on 
the great loyal t}^ 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 secretl}'' or openl)'- 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 witli many. 
The Legislature, itself defenceless, had removed from Princeton to 

' New Jersey Rev. Cor., pp. 5, 95. 


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 Larabertville, 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. 


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.i Captain Biay was a native of Kingwood, and 
was familiar with every boat andcrossin'^ along the river. Captain 
G^hart was from Fleraington. 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 thi-ough the rapids, to keep them from being crushed 
or swamped, was a task most difficult 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 arms. At that time, near the Presby- 
terian Church, was a long, low, frame building. For many years 
afterward it was a store, famous throughout 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 they 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 carry 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 murraurs 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 
Avere perpetrated by a licentious soldiery. The whole countrv be- 
came hostile to the invaders. Sufferers 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. 


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 Aniwell 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 
wa}' 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 Middlebrook, 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. 
Plowe 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 


roused the militia of this part of the State, and with great alacrity 
they took tlie field, principally joining General Sullivan, who had 
retired from Princeton behind the southern hills towards Fleming- 
ton, where a considerable array was forming to oppose the enemy, 
should he attempt to cross Corj'-ell'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 Revolu- 
tion. Probably this is the time when the Baptist church at 
Flemington, was occupied as barracks by American soldiers. Marks 
of their 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 country, 
Avhich 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, ;is 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 


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 manufacturts. 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 Kingwood." 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 Presbj^terian congregations of the two Amwell churches, 
finding that the salary was insuflScient 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 monev, 
some in produce, some in both, as the salary lists show. It was 
determined to purchase a new parsonage, and a subscription was 

' New Jersey Rev. Cor., p. 184. 


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 fort3^-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 


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 j^ears 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 1820 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 year 
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- i 
terdon passed several important highways. One ran through Newi 
Hampton, via Pittstown, Quakertown, Ringos on to Pennington and 

' An old record, 1797, of Flemington Presbyterian church, states, that collec- 
tions were made by order of Presbytery to support missionaries on those 


Trenton. The great east and west line was the Old York Koad, 
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 
Baston 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 aristocrac}'' of Philadelphia, who traveled in their own 
conveyances, which were large coaches, drawn by four or six horses 
and with the family coat of arms 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 


Johnston at Sidney, and afterwards the residence of Judge Wilson. 
Ill 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 b}"^ 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 b}- Charles Bartles, 
Esq., in Fleraington. There he had his office. 


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. 

The 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 ail 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, acquired 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, 


were denominated over the civilized world as a nation of drunkards. 
In one township along the Raritan, at the commencement of this 
century, 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 genera] 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 shillint^s 
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. 


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 
with us. 




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