Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation
^irdt f reAouterian L^nurcn
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY
300 tn ^nniuersaru
MAY 25, 1975
'FREE PUBLIC UMPm
GEORGE FREOEBiCK PLAZA
WOODBRfOOE, UJ. 07095
Edward E. Baker
The Tercentenary Seal is adapted
from a design submitted by
Miss Cathy Briegs
Hoffman Printing Corp.
Carteret, N. J.
REFERENCE USE ONLY
"The history of a nation," Woodrow Wilson once said, is "the
history of its villages." Since the church was the very heart of village
life, the early history of a settlement is inseparable from that of its
During the period of colonization, church and state were not sepa-
rate entities as we know them today. The church, often referred to
as "The Meeting House," was indeed the place where town meetings
were held and in which the townspeople assembled to both worship
and govern. In this, Woodbridge was no exception.
In reviewing the "Old Town Book" in which is recorded the pro-
ceedings of town meetings of the 1660's and 1670's, we find land
grants, court business, calls to clergymen and plans for building a
meeting house all commingled. The Charter of Woodbridge, 1669,
provided that 200 acres of land be set aside for the Kirk, the Kirk
green and the use of the minister and that a tax be levied to pay the
salary of the minister. In 1676, the town was assessed to defray the
cost of building a meeting house, which was to become the First Pres-
byterian Church of Woodbridge.
So thus it is that one publishes little volumes such as this to show
the genesis of a village and the heritage of a people. We do so not
without pride and satisfaction, pointing to 300 years (1675-1975) of
continuous service to this community; saying with Wordsworth, We
"seem of cheerful yesterdays and confident tomorrows."
Chapter 1, History 1675-1775 — Olga B. Howell 1
Chapter 2, History 1775-1875 — Marjorie C. Briegs 16
Chapter 3, History 1875-1975 — Rev. Lewis E. Bender 33
Chapter 4, Cemetery — John M. Kreger 49
Section 1, Puritan Funerary Art 49
Section 2, First Families or Early Settlers
Interred in Our Cemetery 59
Section 3, War Veterans Interred 75
Section 4, Interments Having Unusual Interest Appeal ... 80
Section 5, Town Doctors Interred in Our Cemetery 86
Section 6, Former Pastors Interred in Our Cemetery 89
Section 7, Epitaphs on Tombstones in Our Cemetery 92
Section 8, Miscellaneous Comments 96
Chapter 5, Church Organizations 101
White Church Guild — Marjorie F. Lockie 101
Ladies Aid — Evelyn K. Kreger 103
United Presbyterian Women — Emma Aaroe 105
Sunday Church School — Gloria Peterson 108
1670 (six months) Rev. Samuel Treat ^
1674 (three months) Rev. Benjamen Salisbury
1680-1685 Rev. John Allm ^
1686-1689 Rev. Archibald RiddeU ^
1695-1707 Rev. Samuel Shepard =
1707-171 1 '. Rev. Nathaniel Wade
1714-1752 Rev. John Pierson
1755-1760 Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker
1763-1815 Rev. Azel Roe
1816-1821 Rev. Henry Mills
1822-1852 Rev. Wilham B. Barton
1852-1863 Rev. Wilham M. Martin
1863-1873 Rev. George C. Lucas
1874-1906 Rev. Joseph M. McNulty
1907-1918 Rev. Robert W. Mark
1918-1925 Rev. Leonard V. Buschman
1925-1927 Rev. Leroy Y. Dillener, Sr.
1927-1933 Rev. Ernest A. Abbott
1933-1959 Rev. Earl H. Devanny
1959-1967 Rev. Alex N. Nemeth
1967- Rev. Lewis E. Bender ^
1. Names and dates compiled from primary sources.
2. The list is comprised of those who contracted to be the "Minister" of the Church.
There were many others such as Rev. George Gillespie (1712), Rev. Howard
Augustine (1932), and Rev. Kenneth M. Kepler (1942-1945) who served as
"Interim" or "Supply" Pastors.
3. Sometimes incorrectly spelled "Allen".
4. Sometimes incorrectly spelled "Riddle".
5. Sometimes incorrectly spelled "Sheppard".
6. The list was compiled by Rev. Bender.
"Established 1675" reads a sign on the front of the First Presby-
terian Church of Woodbridge. This is a matter of some pride and
satisfaction to many who invest antiquity with all things good and
wise. A more practical value can be put on an existence of some 300
years. The useful, continuing service to this community which has
grown to a population of near 100,000 cannot be measured.
Although the history of a church normally begins with the start
of regularly held services under the leadership of an ordained minister,
our church has several alternate options. We might have selected the
year 1667, the date when the articles of agreement were confirmed
which included provision for the building of a church and the allot-
ment of land for the minister. Or we might have chosen June 8, 1669
when two citizens were commissioned at a town meeting to secure a
minister. However, May 27, 1675, the frame of the meeting house
was erected; and it is this date which has been chosen as the real be-
ginning of our church. In 1676, the town was assessed to defray the
expenses of the building.
The attainment of a minister met with many an obstacle and it
was not until September, 1680, that the services of Mr. John Allin
were procured. At this point it might be well to note the very close
relationship between church and state; church matters and secular
matters were truly one. A voluntary subscription plan, adopted in
1680, was discarded the following year when it was ordered that the
minister's salary be raised in the same manner as other taxes. In Janu-
ary, 1681, it was voted that Mr. Allin be their choice of permanent
pastor and that he be made a freeholder if he would stay. The next
November he was presented with a house and ten acres.
"This is a fair place set in green meadows beside clear sparkhng
water with a good stand of timber nearby, with excellent protected
water for shipping." Thus wrote an early promoter to folks back home
in England early in the development of the New Jersey colony in an
effort to entice more settlers to cross the stormy seas.
However, the desire to cast their lot in the New World may have
sprung not so much from the "green meadows" as from the religious
oppression and persecution widespread in Europe during the Seven-
In 1665, James, Duke of York, heir to the throne of England,
granted title to the province of New Jersey and the right to govern it
to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Cartaret. They appointed Phihp
Cartaret as Governor who sent agents to New England to seek settlers
for the New Jersey colony.
A number of willing emigrants were found in Newbury, Mass.,
presumably through the efforts of John Woodbridge, an original settler
of Newbury and a man of long standing influence in that community,
having served in many capacities including surveyor, teacher, town
clerk, magistrate and at that time Assistant Pastor of the church. The
admiration and affection held for him was made abundantly clear when
the emigrants named their new settlement Woodbridge, New Jersey,
in honor of this great man. Articles were drawn up on December 1 1 ,
1666. "The contract was between Capt. Philip Cartaret, Governor of
the Province of New Jersey, John Ogden, and Duke Watson of Eliza-
bethtown of the first part and Daniel Pierce of Newbury, Massachusetts
and his associates of the second part." Daniel Pierce paid to the party
of the first part the sum of four score pounds sterling, being in full for
said tract of land known by the name of Arthur Cull or Amboyle, or
any other name it may be called by. This land was purchased from
the natives or Indians by John Bayly, Daniel Denton, and the said Luke
Watson as by said bill of sale from the natives, bearing date of October
28, 1664; which same then made over to Philip Cartaret and John
Ogden. Daniel Pierce made choice of as his associates Joshua Pierce,
John Pike, John Bishop, Henry Jacques and Hugh March of Newbury;
Stephen Kent of Haverhill; Robert Dennis of Yarmouth; John Smith
of Barnstable in New England.
The articles of agreement were confirmed by a deed dated De-
cember 3, 1667, on which day Daniel Pierce was commissioned to be
Deputy Surveyor to run boundary lines and lay out lands to the dif-
ferent associates. These articles gave permission to settle one or two
plantations consisting of forty to one hundred famihes in the area be-
tween the Rahway River and the Raritan River. Provision was made
for making land grants to settlers, for choosing magistrates and miU-
tary officers, for electing deputies to the colony's General Assembly.
Land was specifically allotted for the ministry and for the building of
a church. About one third of the tract was sold to emigrants from
New Hampshire, which became the township of Piscataway.
Rev. John Woodbridge
The following persons received patents from the Proprietors prin-
cipally in the year 1670 for lands within the township of Woodbridge,
and were all, it is believed, actual settlers. The nine original associ-
ates were allowed to retain two hundred forty acres of upland and
forty acres of meadow land in addition to the regular allotment to
each Freeholder, but the first division is not recorded.
The nine associates are:
John Bishop Joshua Pierce
Robert Dennis John Smith "Wheelwright"
Henry Jacques Hugh March
John Pike Stephen Kent
Additional settlers for that year are:
Daniel Robins Jonathan Bishop
Isaac Tappan James Clawson or Clarkson
Robert Rogers Jonathan Dennis
Thomas Adams Hopewell Hull
John Averill Thomas Pike
As the settlers arrived, the land was divided, roads laid out, and
the community established. The life of the town was quiet, principally
agricultural. John Smith, wheelwright, was moderator of the town
meetings which were held in his home. Township court named John
Pike, Samuel Moore, and John Bishop as constables between 1671
and 1693. Samuel Hale was marshal; and the clerk was Jonathan
Dunham. Many trades and vocations were present among the early
Woodbridge inhabitants. There were carpenters, masons, wheelwrights,
a dealer in bricks, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, two doctors.
Charters were asked for by both Woodbridge and Piscataway in
which the residents were to have the privilege of choosing their own
magistrate and military officers. They were empowered to hold courts
for trial. This early Woodbridge charter, dated June 1, 1669, stated
that liberty of conscience in religious worship was to be allowed and
two hundred acres of land were to be set aside for the perpetual main-
tenance of the ministry. Provision was made for a church and the
churchyard to be exempt forever from tax of any kind. The Governor,
Council, and General Assembly were the joint authority for levying
tax, but were to do it only for the pubUc good. The yearly rent of
half-penny per acre to the Lords-proprietors was to begin March 25,
1670, thus giving the inhabitants nearly four years of exemption. All
land patents were to be recorded within a year of the time of survey-
ing. In case of war, Woodbridge and Piscataway men agreed to com-
bine with other towns in the Province against the common foe. All
freeholders were to have a "free voice" in the election of Deputies to
the General Assembly. They swore allegiance to the King and pledged
their fidelity to the Proprietors. They claimed the privilege of moving
when and where they pleased and of seUing their land to the best ad-
vantage. They were to have the necessary authority to impose fines
upon criminals and to inflict punishment. Seven years possession of
the land was to secure the same to the settler, his heirs, or assigns
forever. The democratic doctrine of a ruling majority is set forth in
In spite of a lovely setting and a potentially prosperous com-
munity, it was very hard to persuade a minister to come to live among
the early settlers.
At a town meeting, June 8, 1669, Geo. Little and Samuel Moore
were directed to go to Newark to interview 'young Mr. Pierson' and
"endeavor to get him to be our minister." The elder Mr. Pierson was
pastor of the Newark congregation and the freeholders of that com-
munity had decided to install the son as an assistant.
In July, a committee approached a Mr. Peck of Elizabethtown;
but he, too, proved uninterested. Mr. Samuel Treat was offered twenty
one pounds sterling for preaching the next six months.
The 7th of February, 1 67 1 , it was ordered a house lot and "other
accommodations equal to those of other inhabitants be reserved for the
use of a minister." Permission was given Jonathan Dunham to mow
the grass on the parsonage meadow for four years or until a minister
December, 1671, saw the selection of yet another committee of
eight members to decide what must be done to obtain ministerial serv-
ices. It was decided they must have a settled ministry. They approached
Mr. Samuel Treat to secure his services permanently but were un-
Mr. Benjamin Salisbury accepted the offer; but after one month,
the town voted to dismiss him.
Hoping to improve their luck, they voted to build a meeting house,
which was to be thirty feet square, and appointed a committee to con-
tract for the suitable complement of carpenters.
It was also arranged that a room be fitted in the home of Mr.
Samuel Hale or Samuel Moore to be offered to the minister whenever
he should come.
Lots were drawn and Samuel Dennis was designated to "go North-
ward to seek a minister." Since money was not abundant, 3000 pipe
staves were made to defray the expenses. These staves, which were
made in some quantity in Woodbridge, were used in making barrels
and kegs. Unfortunately, the staves were sold, but no record exists
that Samuel Dennis went anywhere.
A number of years later, the town asked Capt. Andrew Bound,
a ship's master of a vessel sailing between England and the Colonies,
to carry letters to clergy in England. He was authorized to seek out
a minister in case the letters drew no response and to offer fifty pounds
a year and the use of two hundred acres of parsonage land.
The raising of our first building occurred, as already stated, on
May 27, 1675. There seems to have been a cessation of operations as
to "internal improvements" for about five years. Not until 1680 or
1681 was the floor laid and the interior was ordered to be plastered
on all but the south side over the clapboards. Why this singular omis-
sion in plastering is not explained. About a year later a determined
effort was made toward completion. It was ordered to be daubed,
lathed and plastered. Two doors were made and fitted with locks. This
early building was described by McNulty as "a building about thirty
feet square, unpainted inside or out with no steeple or bell without,
and no stove within. At one side a long pew for the accommodation
of the public officers of the place, and on the other, similar pews run-
ning parallel with the walls, which, it was said, were much sought
after, as one eye could be directed toward the minister, and the other
t© anything that might require attention in the other part of the house.
In 1697 the "galaries were finished." In 1698 "the walls of the
building were to be whitewashed by John Pike, member of the as-
sembly and clerk of the corporation." Ezekiel Bloomfield was also
"to build a new pulpit forthwith." This circular pulpit supported by
a pedestal placed the minister above the congregation, beneath the
time-honored sounding board. Ezekiel Bloomfield was ex-assemblyman
and, a little later, keeper of the pound. So it must be noted that public
functionaries, in those days, did not consider that any honorable em-
ployment, however humble, would compromise their dignity.
Two pillars supported the roof from the center, which went up
on four sides -ending, at this time, in a small steeple. The sexton, in
ringing the bell, stood in the middle aisle, winding the rope around
one of the pillars during the service.
The church was never desecrated with stoves, but in the midst
of winter the good people kept up what heat they could by an occa-
sional stamp on the floor, and tradition says the "dominee would keep
warm by an extra amount of gesture."
This building stood until 1 802, when it was taken down to give
way to a new place of worship.
Some time in 1685, the good Mr. AUin severed connections with
the Woodbridge congregation. Perhaps his health suft'ered; the records
do not say. He lived in Woodbridge until he died in January, 1715.
He was married three times; his last wife was Deliverance Potter.
In October, 1686, Mr. Archibald Riddell, of Scotland, was en-
couraged to settle here and to be the minister. He was granted eight
acres of land "adjoining the meeting house and fronting on the high-
way that runs west from the kirk green." He was admitted as a Free-
holder and granted one hundred twenty acres of upland for a farm
and ten more for planting, all of which he enjoyed tax free. Upon his
departure in 1689 he returned to the town the eight acres and a house
he started to build. In 1700 he disposed of his Woodbridge land to
Thomas Gordon. In the deed he is referred to as the minister of the
gospel of Kirkaldie in county Fife.
After several years of searching, the Woodbridge congregation
was able to secure the services of Mr. Samuel Shepard as their min-
ister. Spiritual affairs seem to have greatly prospered under his lead-
ership. His salary was fifty pounds per annum, or its equivalent, which
could have been pork, peas, wheat, or the like. This was raised by
direct tax on the townsmen, Mr. Samuel Dennis and Jonathan Bishop
being appointed to receive it.
About this time we read in the town records a freeman of the
town, William Webster, objected to the tax for the minister's salary
on grounds of conscientious scrupies. Whereupon Capt. John Bishop
assumed the man's share of the annual rate during his (Bishop's) hfe-
time. Although this is the first record of a decided stand against the
tax, it, no doubt, had been a matter of private discussion for a time.
There would eventually be a division of civil and religious matters
with the church shouldering the cost of its ministry.
The situation in New Jersey was different from that in Scotland
or England, or even New England. The original proprietors of the
colony were Anglican, but as landlords they needed settlers to make
the colony prosper. So all the early agreements and charters provided
that no one would be persecuted for his religious belief as long as
there was no civil disturbance. The colony of New Jersey was not to
have an established church — there were Baptists at Middletown and
Piscataway; Quakers at Shrewsbury; Reformed at Bergen; Puritans at
Elizabethtown, Newark, and Woodbridge; and Presbyterians at Free-
hold. Although each settlement had its own church supported by pub-
lic taxation, the passage of time brought the founding of different
churches within the same community, and the financial support for the
ministry came to be based not on public taxation but on subscription
of the members.
May, 1696, saw Mr. Shepard determined to go to New England
to visit. The town offered him a house, which had been started by
Mr. Riddell, and thirty acres of land on condition he should return.
Return he did. We find him preaching in Woodbridge for some years.
In 1701, a committee was directed to confer with him on the
matter of his being ordained as minister of the town. However, at this
point, his wife flatly declared against setthng permanently in Wood-
bridge. He told them there was no possibility of her changing her mind
and they best look out for a new pastor.
In 1707 Nathaniel Wade came to Woodbridge and began a rather
stormy ministry. He was a Boston Congregationalist whose decided
opinions and imperious bearing stirred up considerable conflict within
The first entry in the church record, written by Mr. Wade himself
following his ordination and installation in January, 1708, read thus:
"January 29th, 1707/8, Was gathered the Church of Christ in
Woodbridge by Nathaniel Wade, pastor. Present there were as Mes-
sengers, two from ye church of Newark, and one from the Church of
Elizabethtown: Theophilus Pierson, Jonahs Wood, Benjamin Price.
The foundation of ye church was laid first upon three persons who had
been Communicants in other churches, viz: Sam'l Hail, John Pike, and
It became clear that Mr. Wade had organized the church accord-
ing to the pattern of the Congregational Church. Included among the
church members at this time was an increasing number of Scotch-Irish
immigrants who were confirmed Presbyterians as well as others who
leaned toward the Church of England.
The congregational convictions of Mr. Wade so angered some of
the parishioners that an appeal was made to the Presbytery of Phila-
delphia for aid in the matter.
The earliest extant records of Presbytery, which had been founded
in 1706, include Woodbridge as a church under its jurisdiction and
show thai in May 1708, efforts were being made to resolve the dif-
ferences between Mr. Wade and tiie people of Woodbridge.
The church rolls at the beginning of Mr. Wade's pastorate showed
forty-seven members, increasing to sixty-seven in 1 709, and to seventy-
five in 1710. This increase in membership, undoubtedly of Presby-
terian faith, served to augment the battle which raged on, with the
Presbytery keeping their hands in the furor. Even though Mr. Wade
became a Presbyterian in September 1710, his effort did not settle the
In 1711 the differences between Mr. Wade and one segment of
the congregation reached a clima x, causing a secession from the church.
These people sent to Eli^^SitSt^^fiVfor a Rev. Edward Vaughan to
help them establish aH^piscopahan ohurch.
The Presbytery ^i^ ihis tim e, in-^Hpr to resolve the various dis-
putes, suggested Mr. Wade sever ministerial relations with Woodbridge;
however, his name appears on town records until January, 1714.
When the Presbytery of Philadelphia was founded in 1706 under
the leadership of Francis Makemie, a Scotch Presbyterian missionary,
who came to America in the 1680's, the New Jersey and Long Island
churches rapidly sought admission. By 1716 the Presbytery had forty
churches claiming 3,000 members. Increasing migration of Scotch-
Irish confirmed the trend toward Presbyterianism.
In 1729 the Synod (organized in 1717) adopted as its standard
of doctrinal belief, the Westminister Confession of Faith of 1647, with
the statement that ministers were to subscribe to its "necessary and
Since neither Presbytery nor Synod had any connection with the
church in Scotland, this action established an exclusively American
church authority, completely separate from Europe and long before
this occurred on most other denominations.
The Reverend John Pierson succeeded to the pastorate of the
Woodbridge church in 1714. He was the son of Reverend Abraham
Pierson of Killingworth, Connecticut, the first President of Yale Col-
lege, and the grandson of John Pierson, the first minister of the Newark
Church. It is supposed that Reverend Jonathan Dickinson, his close
friend, who was the celebrated Independent preacher of Elizabethtown,
introduced young Pierson's name to the Woodbridge congregation.
Mr. Pierson was married to Ruth Woodbridge, daughter of Reverend
Timothy Woodbridge of Hartford, Connecticut, and granddaughter of
John Woodbridge of Newbury, Mass. She died in 1732.
Mr. Pierson's arrival rapidly smoothed over the quarrel that had
occurred over Nathaniel Wade. John Pierson in his years at Wood-
bridge, .until 1752, became one of the colony's outstanding ministers,
taking a leading role in Synod affairs, sympathetic to the ideas of the
Great Awakening, and active in helping the church to solve the prob-
lems that the revival raised. He was instrumental in founding the Col-
lege of New Jersey for the training of Presbyterian ministers, and ef-
fective in furthering the process of Americanization through his ability
to relate his theological training to the conditions of colonial society.
Within his congregation, he acquired a reputation of being a strict
It was some time in the early years of Pierson's ministry that the
first meeting house was built in Metuchen. The first entry in their
Session Book reads:
"A.D. 1717. There was a small church built in the north
west part of the township of Woodbridge called Metuchen for the
purposes of preaching lectures in every fourth week on week day
by the Rev. Mr. John Pierson then minister of the First Pres-
byterian congregation in the township aforesaid to which con-
gregation we were then united."
In the first half of the eighteenth century, because of expanding
population, the absence of an established church, and the influence of
the religious upheaval known as the Great Awakening, many new
churches began to be founded as new centers of rural population began
to form. So the Rahway Church was founded in the 1740's by Wood-
bridge communicants, and Westfield split off from Elizabeth in 1727.
With this growth the church as a whole underwent periodic reorgani-
zation. In 1733 the Presbytery of East Jersey was created; and in
1738, six churches in East Jersey, including Woodbridge, and eight
on Long Island united to form the Presbytery of New York, which
was soon to become one of the Synod's leading Presbyteries.
The Great Awakening of the 1730's and 1740's was an important
influence leading to the establishment of new churches and the re-
vitalization of old ones. After the first impulse of new colonization in
the seventeenth century, a widespread indifference to the church as a
moral force in colonial life set in. Frontier life was hard and unre-
warding; there were no educational institutions, little social activity,
frequent competition and disputes over land ownership, much callous-
ness, and little kindness. Many ministers, clinging to old ideas, did
not adapt themselves or their ideas to American conditions. The Re-
vival was an appeal to the individual on the need for an active faith,
the leading of a holy life, and working to realize the kingdom of God.
It emphasized man's sinful nature, tried to make understandable the
terror of not being a True Christian, and preached the need for re-
pentance and regeneration by the divine spirit. It was critical of out-
moded orthodoxy and irrelevant formalism, and it deplored the moral
degeneration it found everywhere. Revival preaching was confined to
established church services, usually Sunday morning and afternoon and
one weekday afternoon, and it emphasized not immediate conversion
but the need for individual struggle with conscience, aided by frequent
pastoral visiting and counsel. Only by a mighty struggle within himself
could sinful man know repentance and true faith.
Some of Gilbert Tennent's sermon titles were; "The Danger of
Forgetting God;" "The Necessity of Religious Violence;" "A Solemn
Warning to the Secure World." It was a movement to make the role
of religion a real and vital thing in the Hfe of the individual. It was
another important step in the Americanization of Christianity, and in
New Jersey, particularly, of the Presbyterian church.
The strongest center of the revival was the Presbytery of New
Brunswick, where three of the sons of William Tennent were all active.
John and William Tennent Jr. at Freehold, and Gilbert Tennent at
New Brunswick. Gilbert's sermons were designed to change the smug-
ness of self-satisfaction into new dedication to do God's work. Jona-
than Dickinson of Elizabeth was another exponent of the new way.
Both Dickinson and Tennent preached at Woodbridge, where Pierson
and his congregation were receptive to the revivalists.
The activities of these men flung a challenge at established ways
that was bound to evoke controversy. At least three major issues
emerged that were to cause serious division within the church.
One was the fact that many of the revivalists wanted to preach in
other pulpits than their own, where they could stir up the people even
if their own minister was unsympathetic. An outstanding example of
this itinerant preaching was set in New Jersey by George Whitefield,
the great English evangelist, who came to the colonies in 1739 and
on Pierson's invitation, preached in Woodbridge on April 28, 1740,
to an open air congregation of about 2,000 people outside the church.
His powerful voice and dramatic appeal for a new birth in Christ were
to influence deeply many congregations throughout the middle colonies.
A second issue revolved around the need for liberalization in the
training of candidates for the ministry, in particularly the need to ex-
amine candidates as to their experimental acquaintance with religion.
It was largely to meet this need that William Tennent Sr. founded Log
College in Pennsylvania. Some of the ministers trained there were
preaching in other parishes than their own. This issue implied a strong
criticism of many ministers with orthodox education and training; that
is, that they did not fully commit themselves to their calling. Gilbert
Tennent's famous sermon in 1739, "The Danger of an Unconverted
Ministry," charged that opponents of the revival had training and or-
thodoxy but were dead in heart; they were not true shepherds for
their flock. Tennent's flamboyant mannerisms and raving sermons on
hellfire and damnation brought him much criticism from more con-
A third and related issue arose over whether Presbytery or Synod
was the proper judge of the qualifications of ministerial candidates.
The revivalists, particularly in the Presbytery of New Brunswick,
strongly emphasized the authority of the Presbytery in the licensing of
preachers, being thus able to allow those whose training had been at
Log College to practice the ministry.
Naturally these challenges did not go unanswered. In 1737 and
1738 the Synod made two decisions to control these developments.
It prohibited members of one Presbytery preaching to congregations
of another without an invitation. And it decided that candidates for
the ministry must have a diploma from either a European or a New
England college or apply to Synod for examination before a com-
mittee. These decisions were followed by a dispute over the licensing
of a member of the New Brunswick Presbytery, which led to the ex-
pulsion of that Presbytery from the Synod of Philadelphia. Other
advocates of the new way eventually withdrew from the Synod and in
1745 formed the rival Synod of New York, with thirteen ministers
from the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and nine from the Presbytery
of New York. John Pierson played a prominent role in helping to
form the new Synod; he was later to be instrumental in bringing about
the reunion that occurred in 1758.
The new Synod, representing a union of the Tennents and their
supporters and the New England trained men, held what was to be-
come the prevaiHng view. To them, the revival was the work of God,
and a minister of the word should be not only versed in doctrine but
Christian in conduct. Their goal was not to transplant a European
church to America but to adapt the church that they knew to American
life. The two rival Synods were about equal in the number of their
ministers in 1745, but by the reunion of 1758, the Synod of New York
had grown from twenty-three to seventy-three ministers, and the ortho-
dox Synod of Philadelphia had remained stationary. The largest Pres-
bytery was New York (to which Woodbridge belonged), with twenty-
three ministers, of whom sixteen were graduates of Yale, and four of
the College of New Jersey. In the reunited Synod as a whole, only
lifteen of the seventy-eight ministers were graduates of universities in
Scotland and Ireland — another mark of the process of Americani-
Before this reunion occurred, the Synod of New York realized
the immediate need to establish a new college for the training of min-
isters. The calls for ministers far exceeded the available supply, and
statistics relating to the period all showed the number of vacant pulpits
almost as large as the number of filled ones. Log College had not
proven sullicient to fill the need. Accordingly in 1745, four prominent
ministers of the Synod, all favorable to the Great Awakening, petitioned
the governor of New Jersey, Lewis Morris, to found a college. The
four were John Pierson, thirty years at Woodbridge; Jonathan Dick-
inson, already thirty-six years at Elizabeth; Ebenezer Pemberton, at
New York for eighteen years; and Aaron Burr, at Newark for nine
years. Because of traditional Anglican hostility, Morris refused; but
an interim governor, John Hamilton, granted a charter in 1746, and
a revised one was granted in 1748 by Governor Jonathan Belcher.
The College of New Jersey first met in Dickinson's parsonage in Eliza-
beth, then in Burr's in Newark, and finally in 1756 moved to the town
of Princeton. All but one of the clerical members of its Board of
Trustees were members of the Synod of New York.
So it was that John Pierson, minister of the Woodbridge church
from 1714 to 1752, grandson of a Massachusetts Congregational min-
ister, son of the Harvard trained minister of the Newark church who
was unsuccessfully sought for Woodbridge in 1669 and who later be-
came a founder and first president of Yale, graduate of Yale, became
instrumental in the founding of Princeton, and for nineteen years on
its Board of Trustees. So much has one family in one church con-
tributed to the cause of higher education. Mr. Pierson left Wood-
bridge in 1752 to preach in Mendham, New Jersey where he died in
1770, at the age of 81, having preached the Gospel for fifty-six years.
By 1760, the separation from Europe was complete. The Pres-
byterian church had begun in the colonies under conditions lacking
an established church; in its Presbyteries and Synod it had created an
exclusively American authority; its outlook had been revitalized by
the Great Awakening; it had founded its own educational institution
to train its ministers, and the great majority of its ministers were gradu-
ates of the colonial colleges. In short, well before the American Revo-
lution, the Presbyterian church had become an American institution.
Symbolically perhaps this was marked for Woodbridge by the decision
of the freeholders in 1754 to appoint a committee to seek a charter
for the church, in order to preserve in perpetuity the uses of the land
according to the intent of the original inhabitants, i. e., the ground
on which the meeting house stood, the burial ground, and the par-
Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker, a licientate of the Presbytery of New
York, succeeded Mr. Pierson; he was ordained and duly installed De-
cember 10, 1755. The congregation applied for and received a royal
charter from George II of England in 1756. This action resulted largely
from the influence of Mr. Pierson. The charter gave the trustees legal
possession of the land which had been granted to them by the Lord's
Proprietors. It was conveyed to them by the Royal Governor Jona-
than Belcher. The Church was thus incorporated as The First Pres-
byterian Church of Woodbridge.' Rev. Whitaker asked to be dismissed
five years later, and very little more is known of him.
The original charter is still in the possession of the Woodbridge
church, having been lost for a time but came to light in 1922 in an
old safe, which was put up for sale at a local auction.
In 1763, Azel Roe, the famous rebel clergyman of New Jersey,
came to Woodbridge as its minister, a post he was to hold fifty-two
years until his death in 1815 at the age of seventy-seven. A Long
Islander by birth, he graduated from the College of New Jersey in
1756 at the age of eighteen, was ordained to the ministry a few years
later, and in 1800 received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Yale.
His style of preaching is said to have been argumentative and
very effective. He was a man of excellent address and commanding
presence. A zealous man, he rode frequently over to Metuchen to
hold meetings at private homes. The Metuchen Presbyterians had
for several years prior to this effected some sort of an organization,
holding meetings for religious worship by the courtesy and with the
assistance of neighboring ministers. On the 5th of August, 1767, the
Metuchen congregation united with that of Woodbridge, arrangement
being made to share Mr. Roe's services equally. In Roe's Manuscript
Church History we find it stated that these churches were to be con-
sidered as one in all things of an ecclesiastical nature; in their gov-
ernment and discipline to have but one Session, but separate in their
temporalities. Until 1793 the Metuchen society was known, after the
union, as the "Second Presbyterian Church of Woodbridge;" frequently
it was distinguished as the "upper congregation." Dr. Roe's Manu-
script states further: "Sometime near the year 1790, the old congre-
gation of the First Church became uneasy with their situation, not
satisfied with tiieir union with the Metuchen or Second Church that
they should have an equal share in the labors of their minister, but
wished for the whole of liis service which they were willing and thought
themselves able to support. They therefore applied to the Presbytery
to have the union dissolved, which after repeated applications were
effected though with some diOiculty, being warmly opposed by the
Metuchen Congregation. They have since obtained a minister by them-
selves and become respectable as a church. They have since put in a
claim to be a part of the great Parsonage given as has already been
mentioned by the original proprietors of the Town for maintenance
and support of the Gospel Minister. They have had their claim or
right to said Parsonage tried in Court of Chancery and in the Court
of Appeals and have lost in both these courts." The above dispute
refers to the disposition of the two hundred acres of land alloted the
church by the original charter.
1775 - 1875
The second century in the history of the First Presbyterian Church
of Woodbridge was the period in which it developed from being the
community church, independent in nature, though already Presby-
terian in government, into a distinctly denominational church, con-
servative in character. While the Woodbridge Congregation became
Presbyterian early in the eighteenth century and secured a royal charter
in 1756 incorporating it as the "First Presbyterian Church of Wood-
bridge," as late as December 30, 1801, a special Town Meeting was
called "for the purposes of choosing a Minister or Ministers of the
gospel for the Township, and taking the opinion of the inhabitants on
the propriety of dividing the Great Parsonage Lands . . ."
Important to the development of the character of this church was
its geographical location. William A. Whitehead in his "Early History
of Perth Amboy," published in 1856 writes, "At the period of the
Revolution the position of Woodbridge among the other towns of the
colony was far more important than at present, exceeding greatly in
influence many which now are far ahead in the great race of progress
. . . The town was then on the great thoroughfare between New York
and Philadelphia and the road which was traveled over by the worthies
of that day retains for miles the characteristics it then possessed." '
To quote Rev. Dr. Wallace N. Jamison, from the inside cover of his
book, Religion in New Jersey. A Brief History: "Perhaps the greatest
single influence on New Jersey's religious history, however, is the
state's geographic position between traditionally liberal New York City
and conservative Philadelphia. An inevitable tug-of-war between these
conflicting spheres of influence prompted the state's rehgious factions
to try to resolve for themselves the basic theories and questions that
arose. It is this very struggle which forms the story of how people
of one state, New Jersey, have sought to discover their religious iden-
tity." The Woodbridge Church, situated enroute between the two cities
was in position to be influenced by every trend ecclesiastical and po-
litical. Although communication was slow, travel by stagecoach and
horseback and boat was via Woodbridge, and the Inns were popular
for rest and refreshment, and news centers as well. Even such impor-
tant men as George Washington and Lafayette were here. News of
bloodshed at Lexington came by messenger on way to Philadelphia,
April 23, 1775.
Presbyterians were second to none in their patriotic devotion to
the cause of American independence. This was true in the Woodbridge
church. "Religious as well as economic and political causes underlay
the American Revolution. Many non-Anglicans, especially the Pres-
byterians, were alarmed at the desire of the English Church to send
a resident bishop to the American colonies , . . Presbyterians could
not forget that many of their immediate ancestors had come to America
to escape persecution from government supported Anglican prelates in
England, Scotland and Ireland. They had no desire to see similar ca-
lamaties overtake them in their new home, and were ready to resist
with sword, if necessary. On the other hand, most Episcopalians outside
of the South favored the 'loyalist', or British side, in the Revolution
against the 'patriot', or American side." ^ Woodbridge was a typical
example. Woodbridge was occupied by the British, December 2, 1776
to June 22, 1777. ^ According to tradition, the Episcopal Church,
situated in a portion of the original kirk green just beyond the Presby-
terian burying ground was used as an English barracks and the Rectory
as the English Fort. At this time a long list of Presbyterian men were
volunteers in the American Army.
"Woodbridge, during 1776, was the scene of the greatest excite-
ment. Troops were constantly passing and repassing through the town.
In the latter part of the year the British had collected about four hun-
dred head of cattle and two hundred sheep in the place, intending that
these should feed their troops during the cold weather; but a company
of impudent American militia entered the town on the night of the
11th of December and quietly drove John Bull's beef and mutton into
the other camp." ''
Skirmishes between British and American troops were common
events, and farms and homes were raided, often deprived of their most
prized possessions. Rev. Azel Roe, whose pastorate extended through
the Revolution and post-war period, was a devoted patriot. "By word
and action he urged the cause of liberty. On one occasion he incited
some of his people to assist the Continental troops against the British
at "Blazing Star" landing, and took part himself. He was taken pris-
oner at a subsequent date, and came by experience to know the horrors
of the 'Sugar House Prison' in New York City." = Blazing Star Land-
ing is in Carteret which was once part of Woodbridge.
Difficult times reached into homes of church members. British
soldiers ravished the neighborhood. Striking instances are told by Mr.
Dally in his Woodbridge and Vicinity. For example: "Smith and Tim-
othy Bloomfield were both away in the Continental Army, and the old
homestead and farm were open to the predatory raids of the enemy.
Among other things stolen were the old family Bible and a brindle
cow. The precious book could not be readily given up. Eunice, the
daughter of Timothy Bloomfield, concluded at length to appeal to the
British Commander on Staten Island for the restoration of the priceless
volume. In company with another girl, residing in the family home,
Eunice started from home, walking to the river. Reaching the shore
they were non-plussed. How should they reach the other side? Not
far off they espied an old scow. Pushing it into the water they paddled
across." " A guard on the other side conducted them to the officer in
command, who listened to their complaint and not only restored the
Bible, but also the cow. A guard of soldiers escorted the girls toward
Dally tells also about an ancestor of his, left alone to care for
her children and home, watching a skirmish on the road to Perth
Amboy from her dormer window, moved back barely in time before it
was blown out.
Daniel Moores was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and led
the singing for many years. The following story is a good illustration
of how the war reached into the very homes of the church people.
"Britain Moores, son of Daniel, was a sturdy friend of the Ameri-
can cause and suffered for it. The Tories visited the house in which
he lived in Woodbridge and carried him a prisoner to New York,
where he was kept, 'in durance vile', for six weeks. James, his brother,
was also abused for his patriotism. The mother, Mrs. Moores, was
very sarcastic in her conversations with the Tory neighbors and some-
times openly hostile to them. One of these, Isaac Dunham, would drop
over to see the Moores occasionally, and appeared covertly pleased
with the evidences of misfortune he saw at the old homestead. He
always seemed to know when a raid had been made and availed him-
self of the first opportunity to call on the afflicted household to rejoice
in its sorrows. An emphatic protest by Mrs. Moores, on one occasion,
accompanied by vigorous demonstrations with various loose articles
near at hand, caused Isaac to put his long legs in rapid motion, with
a mental resolution never to go near that dangerous woman again.
He suspended his neighborly visits for an indefinite length of time." ''
Almost all of the able bodied men of the church were away from
home in the service of the Continental army and many stories of their
heroic exploits have been told. In a paper on "The Revolutionary
Heroes" by Ellis B. Freeman, printed in the 225th Anniversary book-
let "Celebration," the names of more than fifty are listed. Some famihes
are represented by father and son, some by several brothers. Many
are buried in the church cemetery. Among those mentioned by Rev.
Joseph M. McNulty in his historical sermon on the occasion of the
200th Anniversary are Capt. Nathanial Fitz Randolph, the brave and
dashing Chieftain (whose daring exploits are described in Daily's His-
tory), Capt. David Edgar, the spirited Cavalryman; Lieut. James Paton,
the courageous Scotch patriot; Major Reuben Potter, the faithful friend
of liberty; Col. Sam'l Crowe, Col. Benj. Brown, Capt. Ellis Barron,
Capt. Abraham Tappen, Gen'l Clarkson Edgar and Capt. Mathias
Edgar of Revolutionary fame. Capt. Asher Fitz Randolph was a leader
under whom several Woodbridge men served.
In all the histories of the church, special honor is given to Dr.
Moses Bloomfield. He was a man of more than ordinary culture and
ability. His patriotism was fervent and he offered his services to his
country at a very early period of the war and became Senior Physician
and Surgeon in the hospitals of the United States. He was a Repre-
sentative in the Provincial Congress and General Assembly and an
Elder of the Presbyterian Church. He served forty years as Physician
As an elder. Dr. Moses Bloomfield set a fine example for the
congregation. The following is quoted from History of Woodbridge
Township, adapted from Leon McElroy's materials.
"What may be said to be the first anti-slavery meeting ever held
in the United States was held in Woodbridge on the 4th day of July,
1783, seven years after the Declaration of Independence and six years
before George Washington was inaugurated as President of the United
States. This meeting was held on the farm of Moses Bloomfield, a
surgeon in the Continental Army, located north of Freeman Street
where Barron Avenue runs through Prospect. Great preparations were
made for the event which had been freely advertised in the neighboring
communities. An ox was roasted whole and a vast crowd assembled
to listen to the orator of the day. Dr. Bloomfield. At the appointed
time. Dr. Bloomfield mounted the platform followed by his slaves,
fourteen in number, who took their places on each side of him, while
he addressed the multitude on the evil of slavery. At the close of the
speech. Dr. Bloomfield turned to his slaves, stating that inasmuch as
we as a nation had declared that all men had the right to freedom, he
could not consistently undo the principles of the Declaration of Inde-
pendence by holding slaves. He ended his speech with the announce-
ment, Trom this day they are free'. Tradition has it that each of the
slaves freed that day continued to labor for the venerable doctor but
for adequate compensation." ^ This meeting was within sight of the
church and much of the congregation must have been gathered there.
During and immediately following the Revolution the people were
more concerned with establishing new independence of the country,
less with the local church. Most of the active men of the church were
away much of the time which may be one reason there are no minutes
of session meetings for the first twenty-eight years of Dr. Roe's min-
istry. However, Dr. Roe kept a record of baptisms and new members
and session minutes resumed in 1793. There was general impover-
ishment after the war and the minister's salary was paid in wood and
food, and he was given the privilege of letting his cows graze in the
cemetery. It is interesting to note that Dr. Roe's records register bap-
tisms of blacks as well as whites, and also blacks as members, some
of whom had only first names, for example, "Hannah, a black" and
"Joe, a Negro."
The session minutes deal at length with the discipline of indi-
viduals in moral matters, even drunkenness. The 225th Anniversary
Booklet gives this report. "In the early days of the century discipline
in the Presbyterian Church was not a dead letter. The church's au-
thority was respected and enforced. The minutes contain the records
of many citations and trials. Elders were appointed to endeavor in
love to restore the erring one, and we read of confession, contrition
and restoration. These occasions, and the results, gives us a glimpse
at the character of the Elders. Ever zealous of the reputation of church
members, the Elders in a number of instances cited their associates to
answer charges brought against them personally, or by common report,
and they were even asked to stand aside from the Communion Table
until the charges could be investigated. ^ This assertion of discipline
by the session may have been an effort to counteract the alarming
moral and spiritual decline throughout the land following the war.
At the close of the eighteenth century a revival started in Ken-
tucky and spread north. It was known as the 'Great Awakening', and
it developed into the beginning of missions and expansion of the churches
into new territory being opened to the west. This revival was reflected
in the local church and gladdened the heart of Pastor Roe toward the
end of his ministry.
Dr. Roe's Historical Sermon records that "in April, 1803, the
people set about building them a new house of worship, their present
house being old and going to decay, having stood for about a century.
They undertook the building of the house with great unanimity and
spirit and iiad it almost finished by fall. So that it was opened and
consecrated in the beginning of December and is a very decent and
convenient house, sufiiciently large and spacious." '°
Daily's history gives a few more details, but states that there was
little need to describe the building since when he was writing in 1873
"the structure still stands, with but slight alterations, on the old Meeting-
House Green." Dally records that a paper was circulated in April, 1802,
with the understanding that a fourth part of the amount each man
subscribed was to be paid in August; a fourth in January, 1803; a
fourth in July and the remainder in January, 1804. The money was
to be applied to the erection of a Presbyterian Church, as the paper
states, 'nearly where the old one stands', to be sixty-six by forty-six
feet, with posts twenty-four feet high and enclosed with shingles. Dally
gives the list of subscribers and the amount each pledged, the total
Elder Jonathan Freeman, the father of Dr. E. B. Freeman, was
the architect and builder. He was the great-great-grandfather of the
wife of Rev. Joseph McNulty, who served the church beginning in
1874. McNulty writes that Freeman "looked in vain among other
church edifices of the time for something that suited him as a model,
hence its design differs from most others of the period." '^
Some excerpts from Book 6, Session minutes for 1802 and 1803,
give a glimpse into the time when the building took place. Quote:
"That David Edgar be requested to ask the parish generally to turn out
with their teams to assist in hauling timber for the new meeting house
and that there be a refreshment provided." Next entry: "At a special
parish meeting held on the ground where the old meeting house stood
by advertisement of regular notice, for the purpose of concluding where
the new house is to stand.
Maj. Wm. Edgar, moderator June 1, 1803
1. Voted that the new house stand facing the west.
2. That there be a door to the south.
James Paton, Clerk
"At a parish meeting held at the new meeting house"
October 15, 1803
1. Voted that Maj. Wm. Edgar present the subscriptions to the
people within the congregation that have not subscribed.
2. That a committee be appointed to approve the seats of five
persons, Ichabod Patton, Esq., John Brown, James Edgar,
Jos. Barron, General Clarkson Edgar.
3. Be the committee to assess the sum of $3.00 immediately.
4. That the assessments on the seats commence 1st of Jan. 1804.
James Paton, Clerk
From the picture of the 1803 church published in the 225th An-
niversary book it would seem the exterior was very simple, with no
windows on the sides, five multiple paned windows on the front, plus
windows in the tower and steeple, two doors with transoms on the
front. Joseph McNulty wrote, "It stood out in its plainness and sim-
phcity and whiteness, firmly and substantially constructed, a very ex-
pressive image in these epithets of the character, for the most part,
of those who originally erected and worshipped in it. The external
shingling is suggestive of its antiquity." '^
The bell for the spire was bought in 1825 by popular subscription.
In connection with church property it should be noted that the
Sexton's house was built in 1839; in 1841 it was voted to build a new
parsonage (manse); 1868-1869 the Sunday School room was built on
the rear of the church, a Sunday School or lecture hall near the par-
sonage having been used previously.
Mr. Thos. Barron presented to the church its first musical instru-
ment, a melodeon, to supercede the old tuning fork. An organ, which
may have been given as early as 1865 was presented by Mr. Henry
Morris, who also is reputed to have given the chandeher sometime
before the 200th Anniversary.
Before the celebration, the pulpit was removed from its position
high upon the wall and placed more nearly on a level with the con-
gregation, and a new system of pews was installed. '"
The Woodbridge Church was blessed with fine ministers during
this formative century of American Christianity and the new and ex-
panding nation. None was more illustrious than Dr. Azel Roe. Not
only was he an ardent patriot, "a devoted Pastor and forcible preacher,
he was a trustee of Princeton College for twenty years, and Moder-
ator of General Assembly in 1802, the only minister of this church
to have been so honored. Dr. Roe died in 1815 at the age of seventy-
seven, fifty-three of which embraced his ministry. Dr. Roe is spoken
of as a man of commanding presence and excellent address, energetic
and zealous in the Master's work." '^
The Pastorates which follow Dr. Roe's were shorter and less event-
ful. June 11, 1816 the Presbytery of Jersey met at Woodbridge and
ordained Dr. Henry Mills, who became pastor of the church. Most
important during his pastorate was the organization of the Sunday
The Old Manse
School in June, 1818, by three women — Sally Potter, Jane Potter
and Mrs. Harriett Paton, one of the first, if not the first, organized in
the state. This was a period when the climate was that of union, when
Congregationalists and Presbyterians and other denominations worked
together to establish missions, Bible societies and Sunday Schools
throughout the land. New seminaries were also founded and Dr.
Henry Mills was called to Auburn Theological Seminary in 1821,
where he became one of the leading professors.
Henry Mills was an educator. Before he was ordained as a min-
ister he was principal, in 1802, of the Elizabethtown Academy. It is
not surprising that the Sunday School was organized while he was the
preacher. Dally records, "He was a man of scholarly attainments, and
the degree of D.D. was justly bestowed upon him." ""
"Dr. Mills is remembered as a scholarly and refined man, an
earnest and evangelical preacher, much beloved as he went in and out
among the people." '^
"In 1822 Rev. William B. Barton was ordained and installed as
pastor, then 29 years of age. For nearly thirty years he discharged his
duties as the shepherd of the flock with fidelity and earnestness." '^
"Rev. Barton served as Sunday School superintendent also. It
was through the efforts of his wife that a society of young ladies was
organized and known as the Sunday School Society. They met after-
noons at different houses to sew and the proceeds of their labor were
used to purchase the child's paper for the Sunday School." '^
". . . He was a Godly man and a good preacher. During the
latter part of his ministry the Spirit of God was specially poured out.
The Church experienced a revival in 1843 and following. Death
claimed him on the 7th of April, 1852." 2°
"During that same year a call was extended to Rev. William M.
Martin. He accepted it and remained the zealous and enterprising
pastor for eleven years. With a heart full of love to the Master, he
overcame many 'obstacles' in his path, and his ministry was charac-
terized by ability, earnestness, and industry until Providence called
him to California. A spirit of revival accompanied his efforts during
most of his ministry." We are not told what the 'obstacles' were, but
we know that Presbyterians of this period were torn between the 'Old
School' and the 'New School', slavery and anti-slavery. Churches and
missions were becoming more strictly denominational, and it was the
era of greatest geographical expansion in American history. The Gold
Rush was on, The Homestead Act was passed, there was much to
distract young men from local church interests, and Rev. Martin him-
self seems to have been drawn to where the action was.
It was during Rev. Martin's pastorate that the First Presbyterian
Church Aid Society was first formed in December, I 858, its purpose
being "to aid in defraying the expense of the church. Members con-
sisted of anyone who contributed at any meeting any amount of work
or money. The society dwindled and was reorganized in 1873. Fairs,
Strawberry Festivals and Harvest Homes were among the favorite ways
of raising money. ^'
"Rev. George C. Lucas became pastor in 1863 and continued in
the discharge of the pastorate for ten years. He was a fine sermonizer
and a scholarly man." ^2 Leon C. McElroy's notes refer to him as
Rev. George C. Lucas of Jersey City, who had been called from the
Allen Street Presbyterian Church in New York City. McElroy also
notes: "Mr. Lucas had been called to the local church by unanimous
vote but it was charged by some that his ministry was not successful,
the membership not being so good at the end of ten years of his oc-
cupancy as it was at the commencement. This claim was refuted by
statements that the cause of diminished attendance was due to the
removal from the neighborhood of a number of families whose places
were not made up by others and not from any want of ability or con-
geniality in the Pastor, Mr. Lucas having played a very important part
in the life of the community." Loss of members may have been partly
due to the general westward migration at this time.
After Rev. Lucas left, the church was without a pastor for a
time. Then Rev. Joseph M. McNulty seems to have occupied the
rftanse by some arrangement other than a call by the whole congre-
gation. This caused dissention and a group including elders decided
to resign and form a Congregational Church, claiming their objective
was to "go back to the good old ways." The incident which brought
about the break may seem small in retrospect, but it must be remem-
bered that decision making by the congregation rather than by repre-
sentatives is paramount to Congregationalists. Systems of government
rather than doctrine divide Congregationalists from Presbyterians.
There was the heritage of Congregationalism in the Old White Church
since its founding by Independents from New England. The key to
the situation in this particular church during its second century may
be found in Leotacher's A Brief History of the Presbyterians. He writes,
"By the opening of the nineteenth century, there was becoming visible
a distinctly "American" type of Christianity. It had a common heri-
tage from English Puritanism and had been further shaped by common
American experiences like frontier life and revivalism. It included such
groups as Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and, in part. Low
Church Episcopalians ... A new American patriotism was greatly
strengthening the forces of heritage and religious environment that
were working for Christian unity at this time . . . Co-operation between
Presbyterians and Congregationalists came with particular readiness
and formed the nucleus of the growing unity. Relations between these
two bodies had been cordial during the colonial period and since. Both
accepted the Reformed or Calvinistic doctrines and both used a simple
Puritan type of worship. The chief differences were in church govern-
ment, the Congregationalists having no presbyteries over the local con-
gregations. But even at this point the Congregationalists, with a Gen-
eral Association in each New England state, seemed to be coming
somewhat nearer to the Presbyterian practice." ^^
In 1801 a 'Plan of Union' was adopted by both the General
Association and the General Assembly. "The Plan of Union was an
ingenious arrangement making it possible for congregations to be con-
nected with both the Congregational and the Presbyterian denomina-
tions at the same time, and to be served by pastors of either." ^'^ Under
these circumstances, those with Congregationalist backgrounds or lean-
ings were contented members of the First Presbyterian Church of
Woodbridge during the early years of the nineteenth century and
through it gave support to the 'nondenominational' voluntary societies
formed during the first quarter of the century on behalf of Foreign
Missions, Home Missions and Christian education in the form of the
American Bible Society and the founding of seminaries. The Old
White Church has had close ties with Princeton Seminary which opened
in August, 1812. The Plan of Union eventually proved impracticable.
"Seeds of disunity were implanted in the Woodbridge Church by
the division of the religious body of the Presbyterian Church. During
the years of division, 1837-1869, the two churches were popularly
known as Old School and New School." ^s
"But for some years before 1837 there had been ominous rum-
blings of controversy between 'Old School' and 'New School' parties
within the church on questions of church government and doctrine.
The Old School, reflecting its 'churchly' tradition and interest, was
dissatisfied with the Plan of Union of 1801 with the Congregationalists,
charging that the churches erected under the Plan were not truly Pres-
byterian at all, and that adequate control and discipline of them by
the church courts was impossible. The Old School also felt that the
Presbyterian Church should have its own denominational church
boards, responsible to the General Assembly, rather than work through
such nondenominational agencies as the American Board and the
American Home Missionary Society. On the other hand, the New
School, many members of which were of Congregational background
and training, were quite satisfied with the Plan of Union and the non-
denominational voluntary societies.
. . . "The Old School and the New School also disagreed on cer-
tain matters of doctrine. Jonathan Edwards, one of the leaders of the
Great Awakening in the eighteenth century, had restated — his fol-
lowers said 'improved' — some of the doctrines of Calvinism. Samuel
Hopkins carried these innovations farther and Nathaniel W. Taylor
farther yet. 'Hopkinsianism' and 'Taylorism' were types of doctrine
popular in the New School party.
"In 1835 some members of the Old School Party, becoming
alarmed, circulated through the church an 'Act and Testimony' over
their signatures warning of 'the prevalence of unsound doctrine and
laxity in discipline'. Finding themselves in a majority in the General
Assembly of 1837 the Old School men felt that the time for drastic
action had arrived. They voted to abrogate the Plan of Union of 1801.
They then took action stating that this abrogation was retroactive and
that the four Synods . . . organized under the Plan of Union were no
longer a part of the church. This definitely removed the New School
party from the church.
"The next year the commissioners from the exscinded presbyteries
presented their credentials, but were refused seals. They organized
themselves as a General Assembly and adjourned to another building
. . . The Old School contained about five ninths of the original mem-
bership, and was declared by the civil courts to be the legal successor
of the undivided church." ^^
The Old White Church was officially 'Old School' but some of
its members were 'New School' at heart and became potential Con-
The conservative influence of the Old School is evident in the
almost total absence of reference to the issue of slavery and the Civil
War in church records. The situation in the country must have been
disquieting to the church. Left'erts A. Loetscher writes: "From 1830
to 1860 the all-absorbing political question in the nation was that of
slavery. Most of the churches, by their official utterances, became, to
a greater or less degree, involved in the problem. The Presbyterian
Church, true to its Scotch-Irish conservatism, was cautious in its han-
dling of the issue.
"The first official utterance of the church came from the Synod
of New York and Philadelphia in 1787. They (the Synod) recom-
mended to all their people to use the most prudent measures, consistent
with the interest and state of civil society, in the counties where they
live, to procure eventually the final abolition of slavery in America.
This action was reaffirmed by five General Assemblies.
"In 1818 the General Assembly adopted an unusually strong ut-
terance: 'We consider the voluntary enslaving of one part of the human
race by another . . . utterly inconsistent with the law of God . . . and
. . . totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the gospel
"After 1832 the discussion of slavery had become so embittered
in the nation as a whole that the General Assembly of 1836 voted:
'Resolved that this whole subject be indefinitely postponed.'
After the division of 1837, the New School Church, with more
than seven eighths of its membership in the North, took a more pro-
nounced stand against slavery; while the Old School Church, with over
one third of its members in the South, maintained a more conservative
attitude. As a result, the relatively small Southern section of the New
School Church withdrew in 1857 to form the "United Synod of the
Presbyterian Church." In the Old School Church, on the other hand,
men of North and South continued in fellowship until the outbreak of
the Civil War in 1861. "
Shortly after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Old School
Assembly met in Philadelphia and after some hesitation and pressure
from the North expressed their 'devotion to the Union of these States'.
This action resulted in the separation of the Old School Church in the
South, which merged with the New School Church in the South after
the war was over. This merged Southern church changed its name to
the 'Presbyterian Church in the United States.' The Woodbridge Church
seems to have followed the counsel of the Old School General As-
sembly through these years. Locally, slavery was no big problem.
Early in the nineteenth century New Jersey had acted for the gradual
abolishment of slavery. In 1 846 it was abolished by law and those
remaining were known as apprentices. By 1860 only eighteen appren-
tices were left in Woodbridge. During the Civil War many members
of the Old White Church served in Col. Isaac Inslee's regiment, Co.
F. 28th, it is recorded. It is quite understandable that so little mention
of the Civil War is made, if it is remembered that most church par-
ticipation was through voluntary societies, which made efforts to min-
ister to the spiritual needs of the soldiers.
In 1861 the Christian Commission was organized in New York
to send preachers, nurses, libraries, religious literature and comforts to
men at the front. The American Bible Society, too, was very active,
giving Bibles and Testaments to both Union and Confederate armies.
In working for these mutual objectives, forces for closer unity were
at work in the Presbyterian Church in the North. There were other
factors bringing the Old School Church and the New School Church
together. They reunited in 1869 under the name of the Presbyterian
Church in the United States of America — the name before the divi-
sion and the name that each of the branches held during the division.
The discipline and doctrine of the Old School and the New School
had grown more similar. There were, however, root level splits that
were hard to heal, and the division of the New and Old School Churches
may have been an underlying cause for a group to leave the First
Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge to form a Congregational Church
in 1874, though not the immediate cause.
The shock of division within the local church seems to have stirred
a perhaps slightly apathetic church (membership had fallen off some)
to action. The faithful rallied under the leadership of Rev. Joseph
McNulty and prepared to celebrate the two hundredth Anniversary.
It is interesting to study the table of church members compiled
by Whitehead and completed by Dally, and try to understand why the
numbers built up, reaching a peak in 1843, a time of revival and then
dropped off. In 1787, 82 members; 1830, 160; 1831, 157; 1832, 170;
1833, 181; 1834, 184; 1835, 211; 1837, 196; 1838, 206; 1839, 198;
1840, 201; 1841, 194; 1843, 242; 1845, 233; 1847, 213; 1850, 200;
1853, 163. Dally adds from later church records 1863, 179, and in
1873, the year he was writing, the number was only 125. This would
be before some left to form the Congregational Church in 1874. In
1873 the Sabbath-school numbered over 100 scholars in actual at-
tendance, up to 200 on the rolls. This indicates a larger attendance
at Sunday School than at church worship services.
It is interesting to note that during the period 1787 to 1830, the
membership almost doubled. Following the devastation of the Revo-
lution and under the dedicated leadership of Dr. Roe, the Church
became first in importance in the lives of its members. They had
courage and foresight, and literally worked together to build a new
church building, sturdy and large enough to serve the congregation
more than a century. Shortly after the new church was built, while
Dr. Roe was still active, the church experienced a revival which aug-
mented its membership.
After Dr. Roe's death, during the pasorate of Rev. Henry Mills,
the church seems to have enjoyed a tranquil period of quiet growth
and expansion into new fields, especially religious education and a
start toward missions.
The peak in membership was reached in 1843, which was the
year there was a revival during Rev. William Barton's ministry. After
1 843 there was a gradual falling off in the membership for the next
twenty-five years or so. While there was dissatisfaction stirring among
the members at this period, there were other influences inhibiting the
growth of the Church. The disturbing influence of the conflicts in the
General Assembly, especially between the Old School and the New
School, the disruption of interest in the church caused by the Civil
War and its aftermath and the lure of the West have already been
mentioned. The publishing in 1859 of Charles Darwin's "Origin of
Species" and rumors of so called "higher criticism" being applied in
the field of Biblical studies may also have raised questions in the minds
of some young people which deterred them from joining the church.
Another important factor, however, was the change in Woodbridge
itself. From a country village, a hospitable stopover station for the
stagecoach and horseback traveler, it was becoming a town with a
thriving industry — clay-mining, manufacturing and exporting. More-
over, there was the beginning of commuting to New York City, first
\by boat and then by 1864 rail service came to Woodbridge. Some
industrialists, seeing a future in the clay business, moved in. Wood-
bridge was also becoming something of a summer resort, especially
in the Sewaren section, until fishing and bathing were spoiled by in-
It was not easy to interest the newly arrived industrialists or the
summer visitors in the support of the Old White Church. Meanwhile,
tales of adventure and gold were drawing the youth and sometimes
whole families, whose forefathers had been the mainstay of the church,
westward. They were inspired, for example, by stories of Zebulon Mont-
gomery Pike, who spent his boyhood in Woodbridge and was the son
of Col. Zebulon Pike. The younger Pike explored the southwest and
is credited with having discovered 'Pike's Peak'. Discovery of gold in
the far west drew others. Young men were attracted to dig for wealth
in new territory, rather than dig clay in their own backyards. The clay
industry did bring an influx of laborers, but they settled mostly in the
southern section near the brick works and the clay pits, a long way
from the church for those without horses. Moreover, many were Ger-
man and Irish immigrants who were Lutheran, Methodist and Catholic
and wanted no part in a Presbyterian Church. Records suggest there
was some effort to serve the newcomers. Rev. Lucas is mentioned for
his civic work and children were recruited for the Sunday School. Per-
haps the plan to hold the big supper in celebration of the 200th Anni-
versary at the "House of Hampton Cutter, Justice of the Peace, on
Strawberry Hill, opposite ye Clay Banks" was a gesture of hospitality,
as the invitation is said to have been circulated throughout the village.
The Old White Church can be proud of its second hundred years.
It has a glorious record of service during the Revolution and a part
in the establishment of federal government in both church and state.
In spite of hard times following the war, it built a new sanctuary dur-
ing the same ministry and generation. It reflected its countries' pio-
neering spirit by establishing the first Sunday School in the State and
taking an interest in missionary projects. The Great Awakening and
other revivals had their counterpart in the Old White Church. Divi-
sions and controversial issues such as slavery, domination of Old
School or New School in church doctrine had to be dealt with. The
Church also had to adjust to its role in Woodbridge, which changed
from a rural village to a town with a thriving clay industry. Through
it all, the Church honored its heritage, and approached its 200th birth-
day in a spirit of celebration and faith in the future. It was definitely
Presbyterian in doctrine and government, and undaunted in spirit.
1. Whitehead, Early History of Perth Am boy. p. 398.
2. Loetscher, A Brief History of the Presbyterians, p. 62.
3. History of Middlesex Co., Vol. 1, p. 93; Vol. 2, Chapt. 29, p. 418.
4. Dally, Woodbridge and Vicinity, p. 243.
5. Celebration of the 225th Anniversary, p. 17.
6. Celebration of the 225th Anniversary, p. 22.
7. Dally, p. 284-285.
8. McElroy, A History of Woodbridge, p. 5.
9. Celebration of the 225th Anniversary, p. 38.
10. Dr. Roe's Historical Sermon, copy of original manuscript.
11. Dally, p. 30.
12. Celebration, p. 14.
13. Celebration, p. 15.
14. "Church Founded With Township" article in Perth Amboy Evening News.
15. Two Hundredth Anniversary, p. 13-14 (See McNulty).
16. Dally, p. 233.
17. Two Hundredth Anniversary, p. 14 (See McNully).
18. Two Hundredth Anniversary, p. 15 (See McNulty).
19. Celebration of the 225th Anniversary, p. 31.
20. Two Hundredth Anniversary, p. 15 (See McNulty).
21. "Church Founded With Township" article in Perth Amboy Evening News.
22. Celebration of the 225th Anniversary, p. 34.
23. Loetscher, pp. 69 and 70.
24. Loetscher, p. 70.
25. Loetscher, p. 77.
26. Loetscher, p. 78.
27. Loetscher, p. 8L
BARBER & HOWE, Historical Collection of New Jersey Number 2.
BRECKENRIDGE, Amy E., Disappearing Landmarks of Woodhridge 1946.
Celebration of the Two HLmdred and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the First
Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, N. J., May, 1900.
CUNNINGHAM, John T., New Jersey, America's Main Road.
DALLY, Rev. Joseph W., Woodbridge and Vicinity. Hunterdon House,
Madison, N. J. 1967 copyright, 1873.
GARISTAD, Edwin Scott. A Religious History of America.
Harper & Row, New York, 1966.
History of Middlesex County, N. J. Vol. 1 and 2.
History of New Jersey Vol. 2. Chapt. XXIL
JAMISON, Wallace N., Religion in New Jersey, A Brief History.
JAMISON, Wallace N., The United Presbyterian Story.
KULL, Irving S., Editor New Jersey, A History, New York, 1930.
LOETSCHER, Lefferts A., A Brief History of the Presbyterians,
LUDEWIG, Dorothy S. D., Timely Told Tales of Woodbridge Township,
Woodbridge Township Board of Education 1970.
McELROY, Leon E., A History of Woodbridge (excerpts),
Woodbridge High School, 1955.
McNULTY, Rev. Joseph M., Historical Discourse, delivered at the Two Hundredth
Anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, N. J.,
June 20, 1875, New York. 1875.
Perth Amboy Evening News, Magazine Section. "Church Founded With Township,"
August 21, 1965.
SPENCE, Hartzell, The Story of America's Religions, The Presbyterians, pp. 59-75.
SWEET, William Warren, The Story of Religion in America.
The News Tribune, Perth Amboy, N. J., "Woodbridge Church Dates to
Revolution," Nov. 26, 1968.
TRINTERUD, Leonard J., The Forming of American Tradition, Philadelphia, 1949.
Two Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church,
Woodbridge, N. J. 1925.
WEBER, Thomas, Heritage of the First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen,
New Jersey 1967.
WHITEHEAD, W. A., Early Hi.story of Perth Amboy, D. Appleton & Co., N.Y. 1856.
WHITEHEAD, W. A., History of 'n. J. Under the Proprietors.
1875 - f975
To ascertain in any degree the truths of any history one must
strive to be objective, and to have some knowledge of the subject in
question. One must also have the ability and insight to view a par-
ticular subject as a whole — as one story that continually unfolds. This
is especially true of church history which reveals the complex patterns
in the life and organization of a church. The story of a church, as it
discloses the dreams and aspirations of people, is often a tale of hope,
dedication, and unbelievable sacrifice.
In attempting to tell and evaluate the "one story" of the third
century of the life and work of 'The White Church," one is most
fortunate in having the complete minutes of the Session and Trustees,
plus those of many organizations. The voluminous minutes make the
task most arduous, yet worthwhile and even humbling.
A storm of division was beginning to subside as our Church
staggered into the year of its 200th birthday, 1875. This division had
surfaced in October, 1873, when the Session and the Congregation
reluctantly agreed to dissolve the relationship with their Pastor, the
Reverend George C. Lucas.
At the root of this division, and the subsequent problems encoun-
tered in the selection of a new minister, was the lack of communication
between the Session and Trustees. The appointment of a committee
of Presbytery to moderate the Session following the dissolution of the
pastoral relationship only further aggravated the situation.
Even with the calling of a new pastor, the Reverend Joseph Mc-
Nulty, July, 1874, there was to be no reconciliation between the dis-
senting parties. In October, 1874, the Session granted letters of dis-
missal to 38 members, thus giving birth to the First Congregational
Church of Woodbridge.
Due to the dissension the Bicentennial Celebration was delayed
until late in '75 and early '76. In those years, even though the finances
were in a deplorable state, a major renovation of the sanctuary and
the construction of a Sunday School Building was undertaken. The
renovation included a new organ, new pews, the lowering of the pulpit,
and for the first time, a vestibule. In late 1 875 a magnificent gas
chandelier, now electrified, was installed. This object of great beauty
became the central subject of much conversation.
Admiration must be expressed for the faithful few who at that
time undertook a program of renovation and building for which liter-
ally there were no funds, due in part to the secession of one fourth of
the membership. The critical financial picture is shown by the fact
that the Trustees moved in October, 1877, to dispense with the services
of an organist. The Church Sinking Fund, appropriately named, showed
a balance of $10.00 in June, 1878. The organist was rehired in 1878
for the annual salary of $65.00, with the stipulation that he pay for
the services of a blower.
New hope and life was beginning to emerge. Beginning with 1877
new members were received at almost every Session meeting, and from
the same year, and during the remaining years of Dr. McNulty's
ministry, baptisms are recc^rded on almost every page of the Session's
minutes. Special "Prayer and Conference" meetings were held. The
subject of benevolence and mission giving was frequently discussed
with action taken. In 1883 Summer Union Services were commenced
with the new Congregational Church. This practice continued well
into the 20th Century.
Furthermore, the various women's organizations began to assume
a definite leadership role. The work of the Woman's Foreign Mission-
ary Society (1856) and the Church Ladies Aid Society (1862) was
augmented in 1872 by the creation of an Auxiliary Society connected
with the Elizabeth Presbyterial. In 1874 the "Lilies of the Field" Mis-
sion Band was established. This was an attempt to interest young
women in the work of Foreign Missions. In 1881 a Home Missionary
Society was formed. This Society merged with the Woman's Foreign
Missionary Society, in 1884, to become the Ladies' Missionary Society.
In 1891, with the exception of the "Mission Band." the various women's
organizations united to form the Ladies' Aid Society.
A further indication of the new spirit at that time, is seen in the
formation of youth organizations. In 1887 the Young Peoples Society
of Christian Endeavor was organized, primarily a senior age group.
In 1895 a Junior Christian Endeavor was formed. One wonders
whether the new emphasis on the importance of youth was the result
of the excellent work of the Reverend Dr. J. T. Mills, Evangelist from
California (1886), or a constructive attempt to counteract the rebel-
liousness of the young people during the services of worship. Giving
rise to the question are the minutes of the Trustees which read: "that
Mr. Benj. Drake be a connnillec of one to look after the disorderly
boys in church during service." ' Whatever the reason it is obvious
that the youth had moved into the mainstream of the church's life as
evidenced in the report of the Y.P.S.C.E. Treasurer in 1 896. ^
April 21, 1895, Dr. Jessup $20.00
April 29, Ernest Keorlin 20.00
April 29, Jr. C. E. Society 2.24
June 21, 1895, Ernest Keorlin 10.00
July and September, Miscellaneous 6.00
Nov. 10, 1895, Ernest Keorlin 10.00
Dec. 13, Topic Cards and Lecture on Pledge 4.25
Dec. 29, 1895, Armenians ^ 3.50
Feb. 23, 1896, for Help 1.75
Ernest Keorlin 20.00
Rail Fare for Speaker 50
In the area of proclaiming and extending the Gospel to the sur-
rounding communities the Church did itself proud in those years:
A petition, numerously signed by the people of East Wood-
bridge, desiring the Session to appoint Elder Prall to the position
of Superintendent of the "Blazing Star School House" Sunday
School, was received. It was approved and placed in Mr. Prall's
hands, urging his acceptance, and his entrance upon the work of
resuscitating that School. ^
The establishment of a Presbyterian Church in Carteret in 1893
was the direct result of the above mentioned work in conjunction with
the ministry of Dr. McNulty.
The position of the Church in the community in the last quarter
of the century in question may well be determined by the following
comment, "On motion it was resolved to allow the use of the Church
on March 4. 1887 to the Graduating Class of the Public School, for
this year in view of the fact that all members of said class, with one
exception are either members of our church or congregation." ^
Despite the many difficulties. Reverend McNulty in evaluating the
19th Century wrote in his "Commemorative Sermon" for the Two
Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary: "The Century, let me say in
closing, during which this Church building has held its place, marks
the grandest era in the Church's history since the Apostolic Century.
We are impressed with this the more as we stand consciously on the
border line of the twentieth century." =
From a more objective viewpoint one would have to claim that
the good Reverend was guilty of hyperbole. One should not minimize
the dedication and hope — the living thread of the one story — but
neither should the assumption be made that all was "positive" as the
Church moved into the twentieth century.
The Treasurer on March 5, 1900 reported a balance of 10 cents.
In order to end the church year, April through March, in the black,
a special appeal was made from the pulpit for $360.00. The Congre-
gation responded; balance at the end of the year, $1.79.
A practice that existed at that time, and well into the 20th cen-
tury, makes it rather difficult to determine the true financial picture.
We refer to the assumption of mortgages by the Church. In the time
period, 1890-1930, almost every prominent family of the immediate
area, including Carteret and Perth Amboy, borrowed funds from the
Church. The extensiveness of this procedure raises the distinct possi-
bility that monies may still be owed.
No matter how you cut it, the financial picture was a dismal one.
The Session minutes of March, 1 896, reveals that while there were
almost 200 members on the roll, there were only 29 regular contrib-
Attendance at the worship services, particularly when Communion
was celebrated, left much to be desired. Growth in church member-
ship was practically at a standstill: 1894, 171; 1899, 182.
It also appears that much energy and time was wasted in oppos-
ing the inevitable. A battle raged, for example, for 25 years over the
placement of telephone poles. As late as January, 1901, an appHca-
tion from the Carteret Light and Power Company for permission to
erect poles along the church property was denied.
Still, the positives outweighed the negatives. With Hterally no
funds, and very few members, the Church decided to pull out all the
stops in respect to the 225th Anniversary. The resolution by the con-
gregation tells, in part, the amazing story:
"Whereas God in his good providence has allowed us as a
Church to complete Two Hundred and Twenty Five years of his-
tory on the 27th of May of this year, and our present Church
edifice to be nearly one hundred years old;
Therefore, Resolved, That we should appropriately celebrate
that remarkable era in our history in any method deemed best by
the Pastor and Ollicers of the Churcii, and we hereby endorse the
movement and method to do so already inaugurated at a joint
meeting held a short time since by the Elders and Trustees, and
we wish it will strive to give it, the utmost success." ''
The celebration held on May 27, 30 and 31, 1900, included
three excellent Sabbath services; a Midweek Service, a Banquet and
Program on Thursday evening, and the publication of an Anniversary
Book — which included Dr. McNulty's outstanding "Commemorative
Sermon." The highlight of the entire endeavor was the presentation
by Mr. William H. Cutter of a very beautiful silver Communion Serv-
ice, which was added to by Mr. Hampton Cutter in 1919. This service
is still very much prized by the congregation.
One notes that no former pastor took part in the Celebration.
The two immediate predecessors of Reverend McNulty, Reverend Wil-
liam M. Martin and Reverend George C. Lucas had both died in 1898.
In the first decade of the 20th Century the Church bowed to the
advances in technology. First of all came the telephone poles, 1902,
and in the same year electricity for the Church. Mr. McNulty did
not have, however, a lamp for his desk until 1906. In 1903 came the
Trolley Cars and a Water Motor for the organ; no more hand blowing.
In 1907 steam heat was provided for the Sanctuary and the Sunday
School rooms, and in 1908 the residents of the Parsonage enjoyed
similar luxury. Major repairs to the facilities were financed by the
Ladies Aid Society.
However, the convenience of an electric lamp was not to be long
enjoyed by the gracious Pastor. Dr. McNulty died December 24, 1906.
The Session minutes tell, in some degree, what his death meant
to the Congregation and to the Community:
"Rev. Joseph M. McNulty, D.D., the Pastor of this Church
for thirty-three consecutive years, an energetic worker, a scholarly
man and an earnest and effective preacher and a faithful Pastor.
passed away after a brief illness on the twenty-fourth of Dec. 1906.
Universally beloved by his own people, and respected and
esteemed by the entire community, he is sincerely mourned by all
who knew him and has left behind a record of good \\'ords and
works that will prove a lasting monument to his memory." ^
The Reverend Mr. Buschman puts it quite succinctly: "After
thirty-three years of service he was laid to rest in the adjoining church
yard, leaving a whole community to mourn his going." "^
Poor, but harmonious, the Church proceeded to look for a new
Pastor. Turning her eyes in the direction of Princeton Theological
Seminary she extended a call to an athletic son of Erin, Reverend
Robert W. Mark. While still a Senior Student he accepted the call at
an annual salary of $1,200. Dr. McNulty had been receiving $1,500.
With Reverend Mark's ministry the Church began to consider the
need for more social and recreational activities. This need culminated
with the erection of the Parish House in 1911. This house, constructed
at an approximate cost of $7,300, was located almost directly behind
the former Rahway Avenue manse on a very large tract of ground
which extended all the way to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. A
very large portion of the tract was used for many years by the Church
and community as an athletic field which was sold to York-Jersey
Homes, Inc., in 1942 for the sum of $6,000.
The Parish House project initiated a ministry for which, in the
long run, neither the Church nor the community was ever fully pre-
pared. Just about every organization of the Church and the com-
munity had a "go" at it. A hundred attempts were made to sell it.
Elders and Trustees prayed and argued about it. Community groups
vied with one another as to who was going to use, or more properly,
abuse it. In October, 1971 the building was razed, along with the
Rahway Avenue manse. There had been basketball games, dinners,
minstrel shows, tennis, and bowling. The bowling alleys had found
their way to the recreation room of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church
in 1935. Although it had had its moments of glory, few tears were
shed with its passing.
One should not be left with the impression, however, that for
sixty years, the Church was concerned only about the Parish House.
Many of the years of Reverend Mark's ministry, 1907-1917, were the
years of World War I, with the subsequent strain and stress on the
local Congregation which was not lessened by a very serious fire that
extensively damaged both the sanctuary and the Sunday School Build-
ing. While the flames of war threatened all of Europe the flames of
hope and dedication burned low in The White Church. The treasurer
reported in December, 1914, the month of the fire, a balance of 3<f.
Bills totalled $491.06. Bids were received in January and February
for repairing the fire damage, but most of them were rejected — there
were no funds for contracting out the work. So, the men and women
purchased the necessary materials and supplies and did the work them-
selves. By the end of February, 1915, most of the work had been
accomplished — another amazing chapter in the Church's long history.
In connection with the repairs to the Church in 1915, it is im-
portant to note that the men of the church were beginning to organize
into an effective and aggressive entity, over and above the work of the
t)ihcial judicatories. ' Though the Men's Brotherhood did not ollicially
organize until 1919, the Trustees minutes of April, 1910, state that
the President and Vice President of the Men's Bible Class were to serve
on the Building Committee of the Parish House. The Session minutes
of September, 1910, indicates that there were other men's organiza-
tions: "the matter of the federation of the men's organizations of the
Church as proposed by the Men's Bible Class was discussed and it was
agreed to postpone action until the next meeting." '°
This discussion was pursued for we find in the November minutes
a motion to call together the men of the church in order "to discuss
and devise some method of aggressive work." "
Even though the various men's organizations remained fragmented
during the ministry of Reverend Mark there is ample evidence to indi-
cate that the men played a major role in the planning and subsequent
supervision of the Parish House, in repairing the sanctuary and Sunday
School Building following the 1914 fire, and in taking a greater interest
in the larger ministry of the Church. One of the social concerns of
the men, patricularly in the second decade of this century, was to
whether or not to give the Anti-Saloon League an opportunity to pre-
sent its case.
The true spirit of the Congregation as it tried so hard to keep
things going is clearly revealed in the minutes that tell of the leaving
of the Pastor:
". . . reported that after a house to house canvass, all the
Church people were on their knees asking God that Mr. Mark
might see his way clear to remain with us as pastor, however not
our will but God's be done, and that to be in accord with the
church people asked that those present kneel for fifteen minutes
(in) silent prayer.
After this everyone expressed themselves and the unanimous
expression was one of unqualified loyalty and love for Mr. Mark
and the hope that he would stay with us until the unsettled con-
ditions, due to the war, were over." '^
In January, 1918, the Presbytery moved to receive Reverend
Mark's resignation. Looking once again toward the ivy covered walls
of Princeton Seminary a call was extended to another young man who
showed great promise, Mr. Leonard V. Buschman. He was Hcensed
to preach on April 16. On May 9, he was both ordained and installed
as pastor in the Woodbridge Church.
The years of Mr. Buschman's ministry may properly be described
as a "Love Story" between Pastor and People. Fresh out of Seminary
and quite anxious to prove his abiHty, the young, aggressive cleric
quickly captured the hearts of the Congregation. The Manse was
practically "done over" for the newlyweds. Their marriage took place
in October in Fulton, Missouri. To insure that the Pastor would be
"free from wordly care and avocations" '= Mr. Buschman's salary more
than doubled during his pastorate increasing from $1,500 to $3,600,
with a goodly number of bonuses. The affection was not limited, how-
ever to increases in salary. Parties and celebrations for the Buschmans
were the thing. Celebrations held for their fourth and fifth wedding
anniversaries were truly occasions of love and generosity.
To all of this the Buschmans responded most generously with
their time and talents. A Boy Scout House, a project that was en-
thusiastically supported, was constructed in 1921 near the Parish House.
Parish House and Boy Scout House
Most of the materials came from the Church's horse sheds. While the
Parish House and the cemetery (extensive damage was done to the
latter in 1921) continued to present problems, almost every other facet
of the Church's ministry was at its peak in the Buschman years. Church
membership more than doubled (250-602). A Board of Deacons was
organized in 1919. In the same year The Men's Brotherhood received
its charter. In 1920, Reverend Ralph B. Nesbitt, a Seminary room-
mate of Mr. Buschman, was chosen as the Church's special missionary
to India. The Sexton's House, located on the cemetery property, was
electrified in 1923. From 1921-1925 in preparation for the 250th
anniversary major repairs and renovations were made to the sanctuary
and the Sunday School Building. The celebration was held on May
25, 26, 27 and 31, 1925.
It was a great Anniversary. The congregation paid $1.00 a plate
for the Anniversary Ikinquel. The President of the United States in
resj'ionse to an invitation "regretted that it would be impossible for
him to take part." "
Following the celebration the undesired, but not imexpected, res-
ignation of the PastcM" was announced. Again the dillicult task of
finding a new minister was begun. The Pulpit Committee got right
down to work, but it was impossible to disguise the "let down" atti-
tude. By October, however, the Committee was prepared to recom-
mend to the Congregation the name of the Reverend Leroy Y. Dil-
lener, Sr. Mr. Dillener, a former classmate of Mr. Buschman, had
just returned to the United States after a five-year stint as a missionary
in Iran. Mr. Dillener's pastorate here was only a year and one half
in duration. The fairest critique of that pastorate might be that the
Congregation, greatly disappointed with the leaving of Mr. Buschman,
was not inclined to exert the necessary effort to understand the Dil-
liners. The Dilleners, for their part, experienced some difficulty in
relating to their first pastorate in America.
The Session commented in January, 1927, that 'Tt was felt that
the Church was slipping." In April it moved to call a meeting of the
Congregation to consider the dissolution of the pastoral relationship.
One would have to comment that ' the Church had reached another
"low" point. No Session or Parish minutes are available for the period
from April 6 to November 3. The Session minutes of Nov. 7, simply
state that the Reverend E. A. Abbott of Aurora, Missouri, had been
called on November 3, to be the new minister at a salary of $3,300
a year. '^ Strange things happened in the Church in those years as
indicated by the fact that the January, 1928, minutes of Session record
that the Church had celebrated Communion on the previous October
16, and that the Service was "conducted by Reverend E. A. Abbott
who was spending a week in town." "^
During the ministry of Reverend Abbott there was a decided deep-
ening of the spiritual life of the Congregation, with much time being
spent in seeking to reactivate the inactive members. During his min-
istry the Church played an integral role in the organizing of a Pres-
byterian Church in Avenel in 1927, and in Iselin in 1933. In the
Abbott years a number of the members of the Congregation, along
with the Pastor, were deeply involved in the First Century Fellowship
(Moral Rearmament), an involvement which was not fully supported
by the Session.
The very fine work on the part of Mr. Abbott was hindered, par-
ticularly in the closing years of his ministry in Woodbridge, by poor
health. In April, 1932, Reverend Abbott was appointed a commis-
sioner to the General Assembly which was to meet in Denver. He was
also given permission by the Session to attend the Pre- Assembly Con-
ference on Evangelism. He did not return to the Woodbridge Church.
Reverend E. A. Abbott died in Kerrville, Texas, on May 12, 1933.
The Church labored through some very dilhcult moments and
decisions in the interim between Mr. Abbott's departure for Denver in
May, 1932 and the calling of a new Pastor in June, 1933. There was
that hope and expectation that he would be able to return. In August
he was given a six months leave of absence. This was later extended.
Realizing the seriousness of his illness he wrote a very moving letter
of resignation in December. The letter of resignation was not oflicially
received until March 15, 1933.
In the passing of Mr. Abbott the Church lost an extremely sensi-
tive spiritual leader. His sensitivity is indicated, in part, in the minutes
of the Trustees as they worked for the Church's survival in the severe
depression of the Thirties. The following is part of a letter addressed
to the President of the Board of Trustees, April, 1932: "I shall be
pleased to accept any reduction in my annual salary which the Board
deems necessary to make at this time." "' The Board, out of sheer
necessity, reduced the annual salary by $250.00. Those were very
difficult days and hours.
The Reverend Mr. Howard Augustine served as the "Acting Min-
ister" from September 1932 through March, 1933. A number of the
Congregation apparently desired that Mr. Augustine be the Pastor,
but it is apparent from the records that he was never seriously consid-
On June 7, the Congregation called the Reverend Earl H. De-
vanney, the annual salary to be $2,700. An indication of the lack of
interest on the part of the Congregation is seen in the fact that only
fifty-five members voted.
Under the leadership of Mr. Devanney, who had had two fine
pastorates at the Mattituck Presbyterian Church in Long Island, and
the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, N. Y., the Church did
more than simply survive the remaining depression years. Church
membership gradually increased to 637 by 1938. The sanctuary was
recarpeted in 1936. The manse got a new furnace in 1937. There is
some indication that the Church was taking a new interest in the af-
fairs of the world as evidenced by the opposition to the Race Track
Referendum in 1938. The Pastor's salary was back to $3,000 in 1939.
In the same year we note the first inklings of the attitude of a
minority of Presbyterians to the War which was aflame in Europe.
The Presbytery of Elizabeth discussed the feasibility of changing the
Constitution of the Church to have it "similar to the Friends making
all Presbyterians conscientious objectors to all war." '^
In 1940, though there were many active organizations and the
attenelance at the worship services was quite steady, there were indi-
cations that things were not quite as they should be. The Session
called for a detailed report of the Minister's activities for the month
of December. Mr. Devanney made the report but let it be known that
"he would iiot present another in such detail." '^
In 1 94 1 , "42, the War began to have adverse afl'ects on the
Church. Men of the Congregation were enlisting and being drafted.
Contributions and attendance decreased. There was a general appre-
hension over the welfare of the Church.
In April, 1942, Mr. Devanney was granted a "leave of absence"
for the duration of the war in order that he might serve his country
in a more direct way as a Captain in the U. S. Air Force. This action,
which was certainly commendable on the part of the Congregation and
the Pastor, was to lead to some very serious repercussions.
The Interim Pastor was the Reverend Kenneth M. Kepler who
had been serving as a Missionary in China. During his ministry the
evangelistic arm of the Church was greatly strengthened. The Women's
Association was organized and the men's work was revitalized. The
Men's Club replaced the former Men's Brotherhood. Mr. Robert Vogt,
a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, was employed in Janu-
ary, 1944, to assist with the youth work.
Even with the many "positives" the effects of the war worked
against any kind of a "normal" ministry. Indeed, every Service re-
minded the Congregation of the war's presence. The Session minutes
of June 5, 1944, read: "Out of 160 present at last Sunday's service
in the morning only 16 men were present."
Wars have a way of ending, after awhile, and so do "leaves of
absence." Mr. Devanney had been away for approximately three and
one half years. Many had joined the Church who did not know him.
Others found the particular life style of the Interim Pastor more to
their liking. The inevitable result was that there were those who
thought that it would be more prudent for Mr. Devanney not to return
as Pastor. The very serious problems were alleviated, in some degree,
when Mr. Kepler announced that "he would leave Woodbridge on
November 20, as he had been called back to China." ^°
Reverend Devanney was back to work in February, 1946, fully
aware of the division in the Church and the dilhculties involved in
leading the Congregation in a post war era.
The division culminated in 1947 with the creation of the Gospel
Church on Prospect and Ridgedale Avenues. Its primary negative
effect was to weaken the ministry of the White Church at a time when
the community was rapidly expanding. The very rapid growth of both
the Avenel and Isehn Churches in the Forties and Fifties is concrete
evidence of this fact. The Session minutes of May, 1948, further sub-
stantiate this conclusion: "It was brought to the attention of Session,
that all officers of the newly organized church on Edgar Hill, were
from those who had been dropped at their own request, from the roll
of this Church . . ." ^'
With Mr. Devanney's return the women's work assumed the or-
ganizational pattern essentially as it is today: Women's Association —
now United Presbyterian Women, White Church Guild and the Ladies
Aid. The Men's Club, sometimes called "Association," reverted to the
The Church continued to show a concern with social problems.
Alcoholics Anonymous began holding meetings here in May, 1949.
In preparation for the 275th Anniversary of 1950 the interior
of the "Chapel" was painted, the chandeHer was "renovated" — includ-
ing the installation of an electrical hoist, and major repairs were made
to the organ. The 275th Anniversary Banquet was held at the Colonia
Country Club with Governor Driscoll as the principal speaker. Late
in the Anniversary Year because of the undeclared war in Korea it
was decided "to have a service flag in the Church again." ^2
In 1951 the official judicatories began to seriously discuss the
need for additional facilities to accommodate the needs of the expand-
ing Sunday Church School. By 1953 the discussion focused on the
erection of a "new building." In October, 1954, all things were "go."
Ground breaking services were held on May 22, 1955. The comer-
stone was laid on April 1, 1956. The very attractive Fellowship Hall,
completed at a rounded out cost of $1 10,000, was dedicated on May 27
In 1954 the Session and Trustees began to give serious consider-
ation of the need to employ a full time Assistant Minister. Seven
years later, September 1961, the Church employed the Reverend James
M. Marsh to fill this position. Mr. Marsh had been serving as the
Youth Director, on a part time basis.
In October, 1956, the Congregation adopted the Session Rotary
System and the new system for the Election of Church Officers, as
mandated by the General Assembly.
The Session minutes of September, 1958, indicates the recogni-
tion that the official name of the denomination should now include
the word "United."
On January 7, 1959, the Congregation acted upon the request
of Mr. Devanny to retire, thus another long and productive ministry
to the White Church had come to an end. Desiring to honor one who
had served for twenty-six years, the Congregation changed the name
of the Deacons Student Loan Fund to the Earl H. Devanny Student
Loan Fund, and at the same meeting moved to confer upon him the
title of Pastor Emeritus. Then they sang, as so often the Church had
sung before, "Blest Be the Tie That Binds."
On May 24, 1959, the Church called as its next Minister the
Reverend Alex N. Ncmeth. Mr. Nemeth, before coming to Wood-
bridge, had a very productive ministry in the Church in South River,
New Jersey. In the Nemeth, and we should add "Marsh" years, 1959-
1967, the Church became more aware of its role as a "steward" and
"servant." Giving to both Local and General Missions increased sig-
nificantly. Going the second mile the Church, in 1966, enthusiastically
supported the financial campaign known as the Fifty Million Fund —
this was a campaign to collect funds across the denomination for capital
needs. The original pledge of the White Church was $23,458.00.
Gifts sent to the" Fund totaled $21,688.84.
Mr. Nemeth and Mr. Marsh labored most diligently to create a
spirit of harmony and cooperation. They continued to stress the need
for a unified ministry in the service of the Lord. The unification was
realized in a very practical way, in January. 1961, with the adoption
of the Unicameral System. The essence of this system is that the offices
of the Trustees and Elders are merged into one judicatory.
Even with more unity and cooperation along with increased giv-
ing, the Church continued to experience financial problems. The sanc-
tuary and the Sunday School Building cried out for repairs. Specific
items of all facilities demanded attention. The razing of the Cemetery
House in March, 1960, solved one of the problems. Another need
was met when the organ was completely rebuilt in the spring of 1963
at a cost of $11,800. In November, 1965, a complete new heating
plant was installed at a cost of $8,650. But, in truth, there just wasn't
enough money to do all the needed repairs while maintaining a multiple
In February, 1967, Reverend Nemeth announced that he had
accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland, Mary-
land. In April, Reverend Marsh "requested the Session to concur with
him in requesting the Presbytery of Elizabeth to terminate" the rela-
tionship between himself and the White Church. =^
To quote a phrase used by Reverend Buschman, "the present
Pastor took up the work" " in July, 1967: moving into the newly pur-
chased Manse at 22 Dixon Drive in August. The fate of the old manse
had been sealed when the Congregation on April 16, 1967 moved to
"sell its property located at 555 Rahway Avenue, Woodbridge, New
Jersey, including the Manse and Parish House . . . The minimum sell-
ing price shall be $100,000."" The property, minus the buildings
which were razed in October, 1971, was eventually sold in April, 1972
to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The primary task which confronted the Congregation and Minister
centered on what to do with the Sanctuary and the Sunday School
Building. The task was greatly complicated by the mixture of sen-
timentality, practicality, inertia, indifference, and the overwhelming
magnitude of the problems.
After two years of labor, prayers, and meetings, the congregation
convened to act upon a recommendation that was designed to deter-
mine how much money the congregation was willing to spend, rather
than the issue of what to do with the facilities. The motion which was
adopted read: "That the Congregation adopt the sum of $350,000
to restore the present church or to build a new church." ^^ The meet-
ing opened the door for the very important decision that was made
in October: "That the congregation proceed with a program of restor-
ation and renovation within the limits determined" '^^ at the previous
Once this decision was made there was no lack of dedication.
The campaign for pledges in 1970 did not go as well as anticipated.
Only $200,000 was pledged, but that was not due to the lack of dedi-
cation and determination. When it was realized in 1971 that $350,000
would just about take care of the restoration and renovation of the
sanctuaiy, the Congregation aware that something had to be done with
the Sunday School Building, voted on October 20 to "approve an
additional expenditure of $1 50,000." ^^ This was S50,000 more than
the Session had recommended.
$150,000 provided only a "skeleton" Christian Education Annex.
Not to be denied an adequate facility, the congregation, men, women,
and children, went to work to complete the structure as desired: Thus
providing another great chapter in the long history of dedication.
What a proud people gathered that blustery "Reentry Sunday,"
October 15, 1972, to admire for all practical purposes a "new facility,"
yet one that did not break continuity with the past. They were an
even prouder people as they gathered for worship on "Dedication Sun-
day," October 29. Surely the angels rejoiced.
The total cost of the Sanctuary and Christian Education Annex
was in excess of $560,000.
The Church, however, is always more than wood and stone. The
Congregation has never lost sight of this truth. Tn the last several years,
for example, the "Benevolence Mission" has taken on new dimensions
with the assumption of direct financial support of specific missionary
personnel. A revival of the "Ministry of Healing" has resulted in a
deepening of concern and compassion.
The White Church, which in the last decade has suffered through
the longest undeclared war in the nation's history, the assassination
of one President and the resignation of another, and now caught in the
throes of an unbelievable economic inflation, finds itself preparing for
its finest hour, the celebration of its 300th Anniversary. "A" Day will
be May 25. 1975.
In this cursory presentation of the "one story" of the last one
hundred years the medium of continuity has been primarily the names
and contributions of particular ministers. The lack of space and time
literally prohibited the use of any other medium, resulting in the ex-
clusion of the names and contributions of a great host of lay people
who have shared the burden. Omitted also have been other particular
areas of ministry essential to the life of the Church, especially the
"Ministry of Music and Song."
God has truly blessed the First Presbyterian Church of Wood-
bridge, New Jersey.
FOOTNOTES AND SOURCES
1. "Minutes of Trustees," April, 1883.
2. "Minutes of Parish Meeting," 1896. Note that the published total is incorrect.
A specific item wa psrobabiy omitted.
3. ''Minutes of Session," April 11, 1884.
4. "Minutes of Trustees," Feb. 19, 1887.
5. McNultv, J. M. "Historical Sermon." 1900.
6. "Minutes of Parish Meeting." April 4, 1900.
7. "Minutes of Session." undated, but probably in January. 1907.
8. Buschman, Leonard V.. "Historical Sermon," 1925.
9. Filer, James, Two Hundred Fiftieth Aiuiiversiirx. p. 52.
10. "Minutes of Session," Sept. 10, 1910.
11. "Minutes of Session," Nov. 30, 1910.
12. "Minutes of Session," Dec. I, 1917.
13. These are the actual words of the "call," then and now.
14. "Minutes of Trustees," Feb. 8. 1925.
15. "Minutes of Session." Nov. 7, 1927.
](S. "Minutes of Session," Jan. 3, 1928.
17. "Minutes of Trustees." April 24, 1932.
18. "Minutes of Session," Feb. 6, 1939.
19. "Minutes of Session," Dec. 2, 1940.
20. "Minutes of Session," Oct. 1, 1945.
21. "Minutes of Session," Mav 4, 1948.
22. "Minutes of Session." Sept. 12, 1950.
23. "Minutes of Session." .April 11, 1967.
24. Buschman, Leonard V., Two Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 20.
25. "Minutes of Congregational Meeting." April 16, 1967.
26. "Minutes of Congregational Meeting." April 30, 1969.
27. "Minutes of Congregational Meeting." Oct. 15. 1969.
28. "Minutes of Congregational Meeting." Oct. 20, 1971.
Meeting House 1675
/' iiritan ^iinerarii .^rt
A dear kindly lady, a member of our church for many years and
whose remains are interred here, always, during her adult life, referred
to our burial ground as, "God's Half Acre." This is a fitting descrip-
tion of this consecrated, hallowed ground.
Actually, our burial ground covers about five acres. As of Oc-
tober 1, 1972, about three thousand burials have been made.
Our burial ground, which is one of the oldest in our state of New
Jersey, contains not only the remains of many of the earliest settlers
of our Township, but also many of those who fought for our freedom
as noted worthies in the Revolutionary War, and in our nation's sub-
The oldest monument in our burial -
ground is dated 1690 (Fig. I). This field- *"
stone monument is in an excellent state of pre- ' - _
servation in spite of the passing of almost three
hundred years. This stone bears no name,
only the initials, "E.F.B.F. 24, 1690." h
This interment may possibly be a member ^"^^ •
of the Bloomfield family inasmuch as the ad- :-i^" "'&;, <^'t*l
joining stone to this 1 690 one is plainly marked Pi^, i
It is highly probable that numerous interments were made prior
to 1690, since Woodbridge was first settled in the 1660s. If however,
any monuments were placed prior to 1690, they have long since van-
ished. A survey made in 1 849 of the cemetery showed the above
mentioned monument to be the oldest at that time.
As early as September 29, 1703, Samuel Hale and Adam Hude
were appointed to repair the meeting house and hang the gates of the
"Burying Place." In 1 705 a sum of money was levied for repairing the
graveyard fence. '
Three to four hundred red sandstone monuments still standing,
and an unknown number vandalized and/or destroyed by erosion are
existing proof of the influence of the New England Puritan Funerary
art in our burial ground.
The writer has been told by an eminent genealogist that some of
the red sandstone monuments which will be discussed in more detail
were carved in New England and brought down to Woodbridge.
Puritan funerary art shows a deep strain of passion and a naive
delight in mystical symbolism. The Puritan was a stem, unpretentious
character with no desire for show or ostentation of any kind.
Even their homes and churches were plain with no decoration,
fancy work or embellishment. ^
History informs us that as early as 1550 in England whole ship-
loads of religious statuary were exported to France by the Puritans.
In 1559 two great bonfires in London consumed even the wooden cross
images from St. Peters Cathedral and elsewhere.
Almost a century later in 1642, during the English Civil War,
Puritan troops destroyed graven images. Even the great cathedrals of
Exeter, Canterbury, and Winchester felt the relentless hammering of
the Puritan iconoclasts. These same prejudices regarding ostentation
were brought to New England by the Puritan settlers.
We may assume from the foregoing that when death claimed a
member of a Puritan family, the grave would be marked by the plain-
est of stones, devoid of any form of engraving other than the name,
dates of birth and death, or there might be an epitaph with Puritanical
Not so! The family was not content with the lengthy words of
condolence, sympathy and scripture readings by the minister at the
grave side. Their love for the deceased and the unexplained, unfath-
omable quirk of the Puritan mind required that what today we consider
symbols be engraved on the monument to show their fears and hopes
that surround the mysteries of Death and Resurrection. ^
Between 1668 and 1815 the Puritans utilized engravings which
appear to be almost mystical in appearance and interpretation. There
is little, if any, historic precedent for use of the symbols which appear
to depict the voyage of the soul through death toward salvation and
eternal glorified Life.
The New England stone carver and his local imitators doubtless,
on instruction from Puritan leaders, spoke in the language of paradox
when over a period of years they transformed the symbol of the death's
head into the symbol of the soul image. No grouping of New England
symbols has aroused more controversy than these symbols of transfor-
mation which purport to change grim death into sweet conceptions of
the soul. They are not complex enough to sense that the soul can
abide in heaven only by first becoming lost in death. ""
Like other early colonists the Puritans generally followed EngHsh
custom by placing their common burying grounds adjacent to their
meeting houses, in full ominous view of the worshipper.
The Puritans came to Woodbridge from New England in the
1660s in hope that by moving to the freer environment they would not
only be able to recover a stricter practice of church membership but
also escape the encroachment of the English crown which was whit-
tling away at the traditional freedom of the New England colonies.
It thus is not difficult to understand how extensively the early
Woodbridge settlers coming from New England were influenced by the
Puritan funerary art as shown by their local burial ground.
As mentioned above the symbols of transformation seem to depict
the voyage of the soul through death toward new fife in terms of be-
coming rather than of being. As soul image after soul image voyages
through the gray voids of becoming the imagery slowly reveals a branch
of theology that treats of death, judgment, and the future state of the
soul conceived in motion intellectually, but pictured stylistically in static
movement. At the harbor of death and life, the begining and the end
of the symbolic voyage, the imagery crystallizes first into the form of
the winged death head and then into the equally clear effigy of the
glorified soul. ^
Fig. 2 shows the engraving of
the so-called Death's Head. To the
Puritan mind this symbolized the
transporting of the soul into Para-
dise. The empty eye sockets, taper-
ing jaw, splayed nose, serated closely
shut teeth of both jaws, are typical
of this particular style of engraving. Fig 2
By actual count there were, on September 1972, approximately
260 red sandstone monuments in our burial ground which conform to
this type. No doubt many other similarly engraved stones have eroded
away or been vandalized beyond recognition. The oldest identifiable
monument at this writing, in this particular category is dated 1732 in
area 5-6; B-C.
tt ' M?
Fig. 3 Fig. 4
Fig. 3 and 4, dated 1740 and 1724 respectively, show the winged
death head but with the "crown of righteousness" over the head. This
particular type of engraved stone is not nearly so numerous as the type
shown in Fig. 2. The wing engraving of Fig. 4 is much more elaborate
than any previously shown. The "crown of righteousness" was engraved
in pointed, fluted and other variations; but in whatever form it ap-
peared, it proclaimed the same message when associated with the soul
— Resurrection in Christ. ""
2 Timothy 4:8 reads:
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
1 Peter 5:4 reads:
"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a
crown of Glory that fadeth not away."
James 1:12 reads:
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried
he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to
them that love him."
Along about 1750, a change took place in the symbohc carvings
on the monuments. The winged death head was seldom, if ever, used.
It was replaced by a somewhat cherubic face or symbol known to the
Puritan as a glorified soul image having wings to speed the transporting
of the soul to paradise. " There are about one hundred of this par-
ticular type of engraving still standing and legible.
Fig. 5 shows a version of the
so-called soul images or cherub
engraving. We would not describe
it as angelic looking but it is a
pleasant departure from the awe-
some death head engraving. The
eyes and nose are quite natural, but
the mouth is tight and grim in ap-
pearance. The detail work on the
wings is quite elaborate.
Fig. 6 shows another soul
image with a garland and crown
above the head and a large graven
heart outlined on the main body of
the stone. The Puritans believed
that an engraving of a heart on a
monument exemplified the soul in
bliss and was always in symbolic
opposition to the imagery of
Figs. 7, 8, and 9 with a slight variation in detail, are further
examples of the so-called symbolic glorified soul images.
The Puritans believed when death occurred that the Spirit left
the body through the mouth. ^ Exactly when this thought came into
being is not known to the writer. The manifestation of this belief is
not shown in the monuments dated earlier but is very noticeable in
Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. The distended cheeks in these en-
gravings leave no doubt that the spirit is escaping through the mouth.
In Figs. 10, 11, 12, and 13 the crown above the head is well de-
fined and in some instances quite elaborate.
In Figs. 12 and 13 the additional engraving in the form of the
two five-pointed stars with a circle is somewhat of a departure from
any engravings previously noted. In addition in Fig. 12, we have the
scroll engraving under the soul image face as is also shown in Figs.
14 and 15.
Fig. 16 shows the monument erected over the remains of Capt.
Nathaniel Fitz Randolph (5-6, D-E). This monument has the typical
Puritan winged soul effigy surmounted by crossed sabres. This is a
most unique illustration of Puritan influence combined with a military
^ 7 5f
"L ! -
motif. The top of this monument
also exhibits a series of jointed
semicircular carvings. The surface
of this monument shows many pit
marks or small craters. Did the
crossed sabres inspire some vandal
to discharge a firearm loaded with
buckshot against this most interest-
ing historical monument?
Fig. 17, dated 1726, is unique as far as the engraving is con-
cerned. The skull is neither the typical death's head nor the soul image;
the crossed bones are rare in our cemetery. A survey revealed only one
other monument with an engraving of crossed bones. The hourglass
engraving, however, is repeatedly used in Puritan engravings. In Puri-
tan symbolism, it suggests the journey of the soul from Death to Life
and also symbolizes the corruption and decay of the flesh, '° The
engraving around the top of the stone is unusual for the year 1726
and the engraving below and on both sides of the crossed bones chal-
lenge interpretation. Is it foliage from the "Tree of Life?" Does it
represent flames of fire? Modem eyes and imagination cannot truly
measure or gauge all Puritan symbols.
Fig. 17 Fig. 18
Fig. 18 is an interesting and beautiful exhibit. The engraving
so prominently shown is "The Tree of Life." This engraving has had
symbolic significance since at least the Sumerian times, 5000 B.C.,
and has been used by a number of cultures to symbolize spiritual values.
It was used by the Puritans and still is so used until the present day.
Note particularly the engraving of the coffin placed under "The Tree
of Life." This combination of cofiin under tree is symbolic of the victory
of eternal Life over Death. Additional interesting secondary engrav-
ings are also seen on the right and left hand shoulders of this monument.
The Puritan influence had probably waned with the coming of
later succeeding generations and the influx of other sects into the Wood-
The winged Death head and the winged glorified soul image en-
gravings ceased to be used after the very late 1700s.
The engravings following those of the Puritan influence had no
set pattern but were quite individualistic.
Fig. 19 shows an engraving of what is called an incinerary urn.
The purpose of an urn as here illustrated was to receive the ashes
produced by a cremation.
Fig. 19 Fig. 20
Fig. 20 shows the evolution of the use of a scallop shell for de-
corative purposes. This motif is found in various forms in a number
of the old red sandstone monuments.
Fig. 21 shows a composite form of engraving: the scallop shell,
but with fewer flutes than shown in Fig. 20; additional shell shapes in
both upper comers and both floral and unusual geometric engravings
are on the main face of the stone.
Fig. 22 shows another example of engraving after the Puritan
influence had completely waned as the year 1800 approached. This
stone shows a beautiful symmetrical floral design suggested by the tulip.
The many monuments erected after 1 800 are with very few ex-
ceptions the now standard granite stones. They are of a great variety
of size and shape as is shown in Fig. 23.
Fig. 23 • Fig. 24
The tendency in recent years has been toward a smaller, more
uniform shape, roughly resembling a pillow (Fig. 24). This size is
principally due to the fact that practically all recently purchased per-
petual care plots accommodate only two to four interments. There
have been no large (six or more) plots acquired by any family for
It is somewhat surprising to learn of the frequency that new
grave openings are requested by out-of-town residents connected with
old time Woodbridge families who have large plots in which there are
still unused burial areas.
There may be among the readers of this discourse doubts regard-
ing the custom among the Puritans for their penchant for what may
appear weird, almost frightening in appearance, graven images on
tombstones. The examples of Puritan engraving in our burial ground
are probably the least gruesome of any when compared with many
examples of the art as it may be found in Hingham, Paxton, Belling-
ham, Deerfield, Hanover, and other Massachusetts towns, as well as
in Peterboro, New Hampshire; Grafton, Vennont; Wiscasset, Maine,
and many other New England burial grounds. "
How do we account for their strange taste in engraving on tomb-
stones? There are no Puritans available to answer this question. If
however, we delve into certain facts concerning the Puritans, we prob-
ably will agree that their reasoning or thinking was complex, yes,
complicated, even paradoxical. How otherwise would we account for
their system of engravings on tombstones or their belief in witchcraft?
Witchcraft is the human exercise of alleged supernatural power
for anti-social, evil purpose. Witchcraft survived in England until the
18th Century — 1200 years after the introduction of Christianity and
was taken to colonial America by English settlers (including the Puri-
tans). In 1692 after a prolonged witch trial in Salem, Massachusetts,
as a result of accusations by a group of teenage girls, more than 30
persons were convicted of witchcraft. '^ The usual sentence for con-
viction of witchcraft was death.
The reality of witches and wizards was universally assumed; witch-
craft being merely another wile of that old deluder Satan himself. Evil
demons and unclean spirits had to be cast out or driven into the sea,
as in the New Testament. Seventeen hundred years had brought about
some refinements in the "driving into the sea" method but these bene-
fitted pigs more than people. '=*
It takes no stretching of the imagination to understand how the
Puritan mind which could condone all the indignities and persecution,
yes, even death upon a suspected witch or wizard could and did design,
invent, and carve symbolic figures on headstones. Symbols that are
far from being aesthetic or pleasing to the eye. In some instances the
symbolic meaning defies our present day interpretation.
To bring this matter of symbolic carvings, witchcraft, and the
pecularities of the Puritan mind to a close but to show how fully it had
immigrated to Woodbridge is illustrated by one simple "quote" from
a law passed by the General Assembly in meeting at Woodbridge, New
Jersey on December 9, 1675: "If any pesron be found to be a Witch,
either male or female, they shall be put to Death."
^irsl families or C^artn S^elllerS
interred in Kyur K^emeleru
In 1670 there were fifty-seven individuals who were made patent
holders by the East Jersey Proprietors. This meant that they were
given land, some a surprisingly large acreage, and are referred to as
the First Family or Early Settlers.
'If one owned a small tract of land in those early days, it was
called a farm; if it was approximately 200 acres, it was a plantation." '
A search of certain available records show a surprising number
of this group were interred in our cemetery. We feel sure that the
following short biographies regarding some of the first families or
early settlers will be of interest to the reader.
Alston — Here is a family name that few, if any, readers will as-
sociate with the very beginning of the settlement of Woodbridge. This
surmise will apply as well to other first family names which follow.
The early records show that John Alston, Sr. and two sons, John,
Jr. and Peter, were among the first settlers of Woodbridge. ^
John Alston, Sr. suft'ered shipwreck in Boston Bay on July 26,
1631 with two other fishermen. He later removed to Welles, Maine,
where he took the Oath of Allegiance to the Massachusetts government
on July 5, 1658.
There is no doubt but that with the other inhabitants of the Pis-
cataqua region of New Hampshire and Maine who found their way
to Woodbridge, also came John Alston, Sr. to head the locally promi-
nent family by that name. ^
Twenty-two Alstons have been interred here, the earliest is dated
Ay res Family
The Ayres or Ayers were from Newbury, Massachusetts at which
place Obadiah Ayers, by his wife Hannah, had a son born March 2,
1663. Obadiah was probably the son of John Ayres, who was of Sahs-
bury, Massachusetts in 1640; of Haverhill in 1647; and of Ipswich,
Massachusetts in 1 666. "^ The writer found no record of the exact date
of the coming of the Ayers to Woodbridge but Obadiah was listed as
a Freeholder in 1670. He received a grant of 171 acres of land. There
is still, today, between Main St. and former Metuchen Ave., a property
known as the Ayer Clay Bank.
There are nine interments in the Ayer Plot.
Without a shadow of dtuibt, one of the most interesting of the
early Woodbridge families is the Barron Family.
The Barrons are descended from the Palatine Barons of Burn-
church, County of Waterford. Ireland. The patronymic name of the
family was FitzGerald. The last branch of the FitzGeralds, who were
Barons of Burnchurch, retained for several years a station of rank and
influence in Kilkenny. When they became involved in the troubles of
the times they were forced to abandcMi their native shire and settle in
the bordering county of Waterford. To escape the rancor of persecu-
tion and elude its vigilance they assumed the cognomen of Barron in-
sted of their patronymic, FitzGerald. ''
The FitzGerald family can be traced back to the Battle of Hastings
and William the Conqueror to the year 1066. The earliest traceable
individual member is Walter FitzOtho in 1086.
The first member of this family, who now called themselves the
Barrons as apart from Baron, who came to America, was Ellis Barron.
He came to Watertown, Masachusetts in 1640 with his first wife Grace
and their five children.
A grandson of Ellis, Elizeus by name, born June 4, 1672 in
Groton, Massachusetts, came to Woodbridge about 1690 and was con-
sidered as among the first setlers. Elizeus had a son. Samuel, born in
1711 and who died on September 1, 1801.
Thomas Barron, born in Woodbridge June 10. 1790 and died
August 31, 1875, made munificent bequests to various institutions.
He and his nephew. Col. John C. Barron, gave the land and money
to erect the Barron Memorial Library on Rahway Avenue.
The cost of the original contract for the building, including laying
out the grounds and beautifying them, was $17,998.58. The ofiicial
dedication of the library took place on September 12. 1877.
Col. John C. Barron was chief surgeon of the 69th New York
Volunteers during the Civil War. He was born November 2, 1837,
in what is now the Dr. Rothfuss property at 574 Rahway Avenue. He
died February 8, 1908.
There are at least thirty-one interments in the several Barron plots
going baci< to 1744. Fig. 25 shows the monument on the Thomas
Barron plot. Fig. 26 shows the family monument on the John Barron
Fig. 25 Fig. 26
The Barron family is related by marriage to Calvin Coolidge, the
29th President of the United States. This relationship may be traced
1. A daughter of Ellis, Hannah Barron (bom 1635) married Simon
Coolidge (born in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1632) on Nov.
2. Their son, Obadiah Coolidge, married Elizabeth Rouse on Feb.
3. Obadiah, fifth child of Obadiah and Elizabeth, married Rachel
Goddard on July 24, 1717.
4. Josiah, first child of Obadiah and Rachel, married Mary Jones on
April 26, 1742. Josiah was a soldier in the Revolutonary War.
5. Captain John Coolidge, third child of Josiah and Mary, married
Hannah Priest on September 8, 1779. Captain John Coolidge
served in the war of the Revolution in Captain Artemas Horve's
Company, hastening to the Lexington Alarms April 19, 1775.
In the 178()s Captain Coolidge moved to Vernn^nt.
6. Calvin Coolidge, first child of Capt. John Coolidge and Hannah
Priest, married Sarah (Sally) Thompson (or Tompson) on Dec.
9, 1814 in Plymouth, Vermont.
7. Calvin Galusha Coolidge. first child of Calvin and Sarah (Sally),
married on March 3, 1844 Sarah Almeda Brewer.
8. John Calvin Coolidge, first child of Calvin Galusha and Sarah
Almeda, married May 6, 1 868 Victoria Josephine Moor.
9. John Calvin Coolidge, first child of John Calvin and Victoria
Josephine, born July 4, 1872, died January 5, 1933, married on
October 4, 1905 Grace Anna Goodhue. John Calvin, called
Calvin, became Vice President of the United States in 1921 and
on the death of Warren G. Harding in 1923, became President
and acted as such until 1929. ^
John Bishop was one of the original Associates. He was from
Newbury, Massachusetts where by his wife Rebecca, daughter of Rich-
ard Kent, he had a son Noah born June 20, 1658. He received a grant
of 470 acres.
There are four interments in the Bishop plot. "
The name was originally French, coming to England from Caen,
Normandy, and perchance is to be associated with William the Con-
queror in 1066.
Thomas Bloomfield was a major in CromwelTs army. Upon the
restoration of Charles II to the British throne he, Thomas, emigrated
from Woadhridge ", Suftolk County, England, with five children, Eze-
kiel, John, Thomas, Nathaniel, and Mary. They first settled in New-
bury, Massachusetts. They then removed to Woodbridge, New Jersey
in 1665. Thomas, Sr. received a grant of 326 acres; Thomas, Jr., 92
acres, and John, 90 acres. " The elder Bloomfield was a carpenter by
trade. He and his son, Thomas, became Freeholders in 1670. A
grandson, John, was a captain in Col. Drayton's 3rd Continental Regi-
ment in 1776. The marriages of several of Thomas Sr.'s children are
given in the Woodbridge records, but in some cases both the names
and dates are partially obliterated. This is the case with Ezekiel, but
it is quite certain that his wife was Hope, daughter of Edward Fitz
Randolph of Barnstable, Massachusetts, and that they were married at
Woodbridge, December 22, 1680.
Numbered among the members of this illustrious family was Joseph
Bloomfield who served as governor of New Jersey from 1801 to 1802,
and again from 1803 to I 812. He was the grandson of Ezekiel. Dr.
Moses Bloomlicld, another member of this family, was a well-loved
physician in the town whose monument in our cemetery bears the
following inscription: "In memory of Dr. Moses Bloomfield, forty years
physician and surgeon in this town; senior physician and surgeon in
the Hospitals of the United States; Representative in the Provincial Con-
gress and General Assembly; an upright magistrate Elder of the Pres-
byterian Church. Timothy 1:12. 'I know whom I have believed.'"
In various plots there is a total of forty Bloomfield interments.
Research showed that a George Brown came to Woodbridge from
Scotland in 1685 in the good ship "Henry and Frances." He was ban-
ished from Scotland for refusal to take the Oath of Abjuration, August
17, 1685. There is a total of at least 124 interments with the name of
Brown in numerous plots in our cemetery, the oldest bearing the date
1713, including the above named George Brown, his wife Annabel,
son James and daughter-in-law, Agnes.
James Clarkson, Sr. was a First Settler at Woodbridge. '° He
came with the Scots contingent in 1684-1685 directly from Scotland.
It is believed that the family came from the town of Lithgow, Scotland.
He lived only two or three years after arriving here. On October 1 2,
1687, letters of administration on the estate of James Clarkson, Sr.
were granted to his son James, a yeoman of Woodbridge. Following
his death, the widow of James Sr. returned to Scotland to live with her
There are twenty-eight interments in the Clarkson plots; the oldest
is dated 1715. "
Compton is an old family name going back to William the Con-
queror in 1066. There is no record of anyone by this name interred
in our cemetery. However, William Compton, whose daughter Mary
was the first child born in Woodbridge in 1668, is probably the William
Compton of Ipswich, Massachusetts. He purchased land there in 1662
but soon thereafter reportedly came to Woodbridge where he was a
pioneer settler and received a grant of 174 acres. His grant must have
been a wooded area since the records say that he was the first man in
this area to cut down timber.
Crowell, Crow, Crowes, Croel Family
The Crowells were probably from Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
Among the earUcst settlers were John and Yelverton Crow. John came
over from England in 1635. The name was long written Crowe, some-
times Crowes, Croel, but finally evolved into the present Crowell. '^
Edward Crowell, Sr. was a first settler of Woodbridge, arriving with
his wife Mary Lothrop before 1688-89. The Crowells received a grant
of 630 acres. His son Yelberton was a private in the militia regiment
in 1715. Edward Crowell, Jr., born in 1680, was later in his life Town
Clerk of Wcmdbridge for a period of twenty-five years.
There are at least 55 Crowells going back to 1728 interred in our
John Coddington who, by his wife Hannah, had several children
born in Woodbridge between 1677 and 1689 may have been John
Coddington previously of Boston, Massachusetts.
Some forty interments under this family name are in our burial
The common ancestor was Richard Cutter of Cambridge, Massa-
chusetts. William Cutter was a first settler of Woodbridge in 1685.
He was a blacksmith by occupation. Ephraim Cutter, a first settler
from Massachusetts was by occupation a glazier. '" Other, later mem-
bers of this family had extensive holdings of choice, high grade clay
There are sixty-four Cutters interred here beginning with the year
As early in the Proprietary Period of East Jersey as 1670, refer-
ence is made in the old town books to Jonathan Dunham, alias Single-
tary, and Mary, his wife, formerly of Haverhill in ye Massachusetts
colony. '^ It is recorded of him that a grant of land was made in his
name in consideration of his building the first grist mill in Woodbridge
1670-1671, with his toll to be l/16th of the grist.
In May 1670-71 Jonathan was a member of a jury sitting at
Elizabeth and in 1671 he olliciated as foreman of another jury. He
became an influential citizen possessing suflicient acquired property
holdings to entitle him to honorable distinction. He received in 1672
a grant of 213 acres. He is interred in the local Episcopal cemetery.
A descendant, Willard Dunham, is head of the contracting com-
pany that built our Fellowship Hall in 1955 and did the work of Res-
toration and Renovation to the church sanctuary in 1971 and 1972.
Mr. Byron Dunham, a member of our Church, is also a direct descen-
dant of Jonathan Dunham.
There are eight Dunham interments dating back to 1758.
Thomas Edgar, the common American ancestor of the Edgar
family of New Jersey, lies buried here. Born at Keithock, Forfarshire,
Scotland, October 19, 1681, he came to New Jersey in 1703 and died
June 16, 1759. He was the son of David Edgar, Laird of Keithock
and Kathirine Forrester (Fig. 27).
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Jenett Edgar, the common American ancestor of the Edgar family
of New Jersey, lies buried here. Born in Woodbridge, March 16, 16S9,
she died September 16, 1767. She was the daughter of William Knox
and Anabel Gordon who came from Scotland (Fig. 28).
A son of Thomas and Jcnelt. Alexanelcr by name, married a Mary
Smith whose father owned the land now called Sewaren.
The section of the township known as Edgar Hill is named after
a branch of this family who lived in that area many years. This area
is identified today by the Edgar Station stop of the Pennsylvania Rail-
road immediately north of the Woodbridge station.
There are seventy Edgar interments going back to 1 754.
Fitz Randolph Family
The Woodbridge Fitz Randolphs are the descendants of Edward
Fitz Randolph or Fitz Randle of Scituate and Barnstable. '^ Edward
was married to Elizabeth Blosson at Scituate May 10, 1637. Eliza-
beth was born in Leyden, Holland, in 1620, daughter of Thomas and
Ann Blosson. She came to New England with her parents in 1629.
Edward removed to Barnstable in 1639, among his several chil-
dren was Nathaniel born May 15, 1642. Nathaniel, the eldest son of
Edward, was married November 1662 to Mary, daughter of Joseph
>Ialley. In 1667 Nathaniel, who some years before had joined the
Quakers and had in consequence suffered much persecution from the
Plymouth Government, exchanged his house in Barnstable for lands
in Woodbridge and removed his family there. He represented Wood-
bridge in the Provincial Assembly 1693-1694. He died in 1713.
A grandson of Nathaniel, Captain Nathaniel Fitz Randolph of
the Revolutionary War fame, had two direct descendants now deceased
who were well known to many of the readers of this report, namely,
Asher Fitz Randolph, one of the most ardent, faithful workers for the
Old White Church and his sister, Mittie Fitz Randolph Reynolds.
Our Township Committee in 1778 thought so much of the brave
deeds of Captain Nathaniel that they ordered a sword for him as a
"fitting tribute to his patriotism, vigilance, and bravery during the War."
Captain Nathaniel, while participating in attacks on Staten Island,
captured a number of British. He was finally captured by the British
and imprisoned in New York for about a year and a half. History
records that he was cruelly treated and was finally exchanged for a
Captain Jones, who was captured by Fitz Randolph's own men for that
specific purpose. After release Capt. Fitz Randolph returned to active
service. He died of wounds received in the skirmish near Springfield,
New Jersey, in 1780 (Fig. 16).
There are some forty Fitz Randolphs interred in our cemetery.
Force Family '*"
The first Force to appear in Woodbridge records was Sarah, wife
of Matthew Force. She was a witness to the will of Robert Custice of
Woodbridge, dated 1696-97, March 4, and of whom an Edward Jones
was made "universal heir and executer," a fact which is important, as
the Jones were kin to the Forces.
Another excerpt from the old records, "Matthew Force had just
married Sarah Morris, January ye 7th, 1696, by me, Samuel Hale,
A Benjamin I^Orcc was by tar the most iniporlanl and prominent
of the Force family. He was early a leader in the Church, a member
of the Town Committee, and Moderator in 1727. He was originally
from Dorchester, Massachusetts.
There are five interments in the Force Plot; the oldest dated 1733.
Ford or Foord Family
John Ford, who settled in Woodbridge in 1700 or earlier, came
from Duxbury, Massachusetts. He was the son of William Ford and
was bom in 1659. He was a deacon in our church in 1708, and elder
in 1710. He later removed to Morris County, New Jersey, where he
became interested in iron mines and forges. '' He died in May 1724.
Samuel Ford and Jacob, Jr. were sons of John Ford and Elizabeth
Freeman. The latter was a tavern owner and iron manufacturer and
was for many years a county judge.
In Morristown the Fords built the oak-planked, ship-caulked
house which became Washington's personal headquarters during the
winter when the Revolutionary War troops were encamped there. Being
engaged in the "blooming iron works," the Ford family manufactured
shot and shell for the Revolutionary Army.
Fords Corner or Fords, as it is now known, was named after this
There are five interments in the Ford Plot.
Henry Freeman, a first settler, came here sometime before 1700.
He was married on May 16, 1695, in Woodbridge to Elizabeth Bowne.
She was the daughter of Judge James Bcmne and his wife Mary Stout.
Henry, who became known as Judge Freeman, was born in 1670
and became a prominent figure in the early days of the Province of
East Jersey. He was sturdy in his assertion of the rights of the Colonists
against the encroachment of the royal governors, who, nevertheless,
recognized his worth by long continued appointments as one of the six
judges of the common pleas of Middlesex County. He was buried in
the church burial ground, having died in his 94th year Oct. 10, 1763.
The descendants of Henry Freeman and his brother Edward Free-
man represent a group of American citizens ever keen to both the rights
and duties of State and CcMiimunity.
Dr. Ellis Barron Freeman, M.D., born in 1807, died at the age
of 70 in the year 1 877, and his son. Dr. Samuel Edgar Freeman, M.D.,
born in 1835, died in 1904 at 69 years of age. Both served this com-
munity as highly respected physicians.
There are some fifty Freemans interred in our burial grounds.
John Heard, a first settler, presumably came from Salisbury,
Massachusetts, and removed to Woodbridge in 1681. He was married
to a sister of John Allen of Woodbridge.
John Heard, by trade, was a cooper. He died in 1720. He had
a son John born in 1681 who married in 1722 Mary, a daughter of
Israel Thornell. John, Jr. died on March 2. 1757, age seventy-six.
Others of this family were Samuel, William, James, and the best
known and most famous. General Nathaniel Heard of Revolutionary
The General was one of the first to take up arms against the
British in 1775. He raised a body of troops which he placed at the
disposition of the Provincial Congress. He was first a Colonel of the
first Middlesex Regiment; afterward Colonel of a battalion of Minute
Men; later Colonel of a battalion named in his honor; then he was
made Brigadier General in the Continental Army and continued to
hold that rank in the local militia.
He suffered heavy penalties at the hands of the British. His dwell-
ing and outside buildings were destroyed. The British also appropri-
ated to their use, one thousand bushels of his grain, seventy tons of
hay, one thousand pounds of fence, twenty-two hogshead of cider, and
two horses. The whole lot valued at over two thousand pounds sterling.
The General died at age 'S
sixty-two on October 28, 1792
(Fig. 29). This stone is set hori- ?
zonlally on top of the gnumd.
The Heard name will live as
long as there is a WocKlbridge.
Heard's Brook, which commences
in the Western section of the town
and which flows eastward to emp- '" ~
ty into the salt meadows and which so many times has flooded School,
Pearl Streets and Rahway Avenue, is named after this family.
There are fifteen intennents in the Heard Plot dating back to 1736.
Gil mail Fcuuily
Long before 1674-75 Charles Oilman arrived in East Jersey with
two servants and purchased rights. He was one of the senior con-
tractors of the Woodbridge Charter, of July 7, 1668, as well as an
assignee there with John Martin, Hugh Dunn, Hopewell Hull and Rob-
The Gilmans came from Hingham and Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
In this area they originally settled in Piscataway but some members of
the family settled in Woodbridge.
There are eleven Oilman interments in our cemetery.
Adam Hude. First Settler, was quite a useful man in Woodbridge.
He came to New Jersey from Scotland in 1685 in the good ship "Henry
and Frances." In 1718 he was appointed one of the judges of the court
of Common Pleas in Middlesex County and soon after became the
presiding judge, a position that he held for many years.
Adam built a residence about one mile north of our church on
the road to Rahway. In the old records Adam is knt^wn as a weaver
by trade. He died on June 17, 1746 in his 85th year (4-5: D-E).
On the tombstone of his wife is engraved the following: "Marion
Hude. She died November 30, 1732, having been wife of Adam Hude,
Esq. for ye space of 46 years."
Ilsley becomes Inslee Family
It is very doubtful that there was other than the original Illsley
family at Woodbridge, though Inslee, Enslee and other variations were
used after 1700. William Jr., Elisha, and John, all brothers, were first
settlers in Woodbridge by 1674. They came from Newbury, Massa-
chusetts. Elisha was a quit renter for 172 acres and John for 160 acres
in 1684-85. There are at least twenty-hve Inslee interments going back
to 1736. Among these are those of two infants btirn in China, children
of the Rev. Elias B. and Euphemia.
Jaqiiesh or Jaa/ncs Family
The birth of several children to Henry Jacques was recorded be-
tween 1674 and 1679. Henry was probably the son of Henry Jacques
Sr. of Newbury who came there in 1640. Henry Sr. was married
October 8, 1648 to Ann Knight and had a son, Henry Jr., born July
30, 1649. Henry Sr. and Henry Jr. received a jtiint grant of 368 acres.
In passing, and lor future records, it is interesting to note that a
goodly part of the New Woculbridge Shopping Center between old
Metuchen Avenue and Route 9, was for many years identified as the
Jacques farm, then as the Jacques Clay Bank, and through the years
was the production source of milhons of tons of sand and first quaUty
There are twenty-six Jacques interments in our burial ground,
going back to 1722, and there are additional members of this family
interred in the Episcopal graveyard directly across Trinity Lane.
The Kents are descendants of Stephen Kent of Newbury, who
came from Southampton, England in the ship "Confidence" in 1638
with a wife, Margery and four or five servants. He was sworn a free-
man May 22, 1639. Stephen Sr. later removed to Haverhill before
coming to VVoodbridge. '° Stephen Sr. was given a grant of 249 acres;
his son, Stephen Jr.. a grant of 104 acres.
The interments in the Kent plot date back to 1761.
March or Marsh Family
Hugh Marsh, carpenter, came from Newberry, Massachusetts. He
and his son George paid quit rents in 1684. Hugh Marsh received a
grant of 320 acres. Both Hugh and George were mentioned in the town
records as early as 1667. The name of Mary Marsh, a daughter of
Hugh, was recorded in the marriage registry of March 27, 1691 when
she became the wife of Isaac Tappen.
There are sixteen interments in the Marsh plot.
We are concerned over the origin of that illustrious John Martin,
Original Grantee and First Settler of Piscataway in 1 664 or thereabouts.
He came from the Piscataqua section of New Hampshire where he had
married Esther or Hester Roberts, daughter of the First Governor of
New Hampshire, Thomas Roberts and his wife Rebecca, nee Hilton.
John Martin was the head of what became a large New Jersey
descendancy; intermarriage with other first settler families made this
lineage very important. To his lineage belonged in New Jersey that
famous Luther Martin of the Constitutional Convention.
John Martin had been at Dover, New Hampshire 1648-1666.
While first entered at Piscataway he was really a First Settler of Wood-
bridge 1676-1687, and as such received a grant of 255 acres.
There are fifty-two interments in various Martin plots in our
Moore or Moore s Family
Sanuiel and Matllicw Moore or Moores whose children's births
are among tlie earhest of the names in the Woodbridge records, came
from Newbury, Massachusetts. Samuel Moore, born 1630, died May
27, 1688, was quite a prominent man in the early history of Wood-
bridge and was for many years town clerk. Samuel received a grant of
356 acres and Matthew, a grant of 177 acres.
There are some sixty-three interments in the various Moore and
Pain or Paine Family
Nathaniel and Peter Pain were First Settlers. Their ancestry is
interesting since they are alliliated with the notable Freeman family.
In 1710 Peter and his wife were members of our Presbyterian Church.
One record of 1685 mentions an Anna Pain. "She had a sweet tooth
and appropriated three gallons of molasses of Benjamin Hull, as his
descendant served her right." ^°
Peter died July 10, 1756. Nathaniel died July 20, 1733.
The Parkers of Woodbridge came from Staten Island and were
probably of the same family of those who about that time settled in
Monmouth County. Elisha Parker, Sr. received his first grant of 1 82
acres in Woodbridge in 1675. In 1694 he was appointed High Sheriff
of Middlesex; represented the County in the Assembly in 1707 and
in 1711 became a member of Gov. Hunters Council. By his first wife,
Elizabeth, he had a son Samuel who was the father of James Parker,
the Printer. Elisha's son John Sr. was a Colonel of the provincial forces
and was a member of the Council 1719-1732. John Sr. had a son,
John, who served with great distinction in the French-Indian Wars
1756-1759. Benjamin Parker, a joiner, a grant of 105 acres.
There are seven Parker interments in our cemetery going back
Captain John Pike of Newbury came to Woodbridge early in 1665
and became the eighth of the associates and one of its most prominent
men. In 1 666 articles of agreement were signed between him and
Governor Carteret, whereby the colony was formed at Woodbridge
over which he was appointed Judge and later Governor. The records
of the Pike family state that he was on Governor Carteret's staff for
Far ahead of his time in his hfe and influence he was a man who
did much to revolutionize and advance the religious thought of his day.
It would be correct to say that he held every Civil oflice within the gift
or appointment of the colony during his illustrious career. He died in
No monument presently marks
the grave of Capt. John Pike, but
the grave of his son, Judge John
Pike who died in August 1714, is
marked as is those of six other
members of this family interred in
the Pike plots (Fig. 30).
Major John Pike of Revolu-
tionary War fame and his son,
General Zebulen Montgomery
Pike, famed explorer and army
officer, were of this family. Pike's
Peak in Colorado is named after
General Zebulon Montgomery
since he discovered and mapped !
it in 1806. He was killed in 1 8 1 3
while fighting against the British
in the War ol' 1812. Fig. 30
An interesting anecdote regarding Capt. John Pike came to my
attention while doing the research for this discourse. "He (Capt. John
Pike) filled several ollices and was an active citizen of Newbury. On
one occasion, in May 1638, it is recorded that 'John Pike shall pay
two shillings and six pence for departing from this (town) meeting
without leave and contemptiously.' " (These early settlers came from
stern, disciplined, rule-abiding folks.) Capt. John Pike Sr. received
a grant of 308 acres. Judge John Pike Jr. received 91 acres.
Marmaduke Potter was bom in Stony Stratford, England in 1645.
He came to America in 1664 with two brothers. One brother settled
in Stonington, Connecticut and the other in Toms River, New Jersey. ^'
Marmaduke settled originally in Piscataway. He married Mary
Brugley in November of 1677, and was admitted to the class of Free-
holders on February 4, 1686 by virtue of purchase of land. He took
the oath of allegiance and hdelity with other settlers of Woodbridge
on February 27, 1667. He sold land in Woodbridge before 1684-85.
He died December 19, 1694 and was buried in Piscataway. Major
Reuben Potter ( 1719-1799) of Revolutionary War tame was a grand-
son of Marmaduke.
There are some twenty-nine Potter interments going back to 1762.
John Robinson, First Settler, son of the first Andrew Robinson of
Woodbridge was a signer of the Concession 1685, and a member of the
Assembly and Council 1685.
Andrew Robinson was, in his day, a famous surveyor. He was
quit renter for ninety-two acres in 1696. "Quit Rent" price was 1^2 p
per acre per annum in nearly all cases. His original grant was dated
December 28, 1694-96 for ninety-four acres.
John Robinson was a member of Reverend Wade's church in 1708;
a Constable for Woodbridge 1711-1712; 1714-1716; 1718-1719.
The Robinson plot is in area 6-7; D-E with interments back to
It is difhcult to determine whether the Smiths of Woodbridge,
whose names are found in the records, are all of the same family.
One of the earliest settlers was John Smith, millwright. He ap-
pears to have been quite a prominent and active citizen.
He acted as Moderator of the first town meetings which were held
in his home, was afterward a Deputy to the Assembly and an Associate
Judge. He was one of the original Associates with Daniel Pierce and
is named in the Agreement as "John Smith of Barnstable."
In 1643 John married Susanna Hinckley, whose brother Thomas
later became Governor of New Jersey. Their children were Samuel,
born April 1644 and twelve others, born between 1644 and 1668,
viz. Sarah, Ebenezer, Mary, Doreas, John, Shubaal, John (2), Ben-
jamin, Ichabod, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Joseph. Samuel, Thomas, and
Ichabod Smith all had children whose births are recorded in the old
In 1677, after residing several years in Woodbridge, he returned
to New England having exchanged his house and land in Woodbridge
for a house and lot in Barnstable belonging to Nathaniel Fitz Randolph.
John Smith, the Scotsman, received a grant of 176 acres. Samuel
Smith received a grant of 103 acres in 1676. The Richard Smith of
the old records was probably a different family. Historians ^^ think it
probable that most of the Smiths who became so numerous in the
Woodbridge vicinity descended from him.
Tap pan Family
The Tappans, First Settlers, were the descendants of Abraham
Tappan of Newbury, who was made a freeman there May 2, 1638.
He was one of the signers of the Articles of Agreement between Gov.
Carteret in behalf of the Lord Proprietors and the early settlers on
May 21, 1666. Early Settler Isaac Tappan received a grant of 95 Vi
acres in Woodbridge.
There are thirty-eight interments in various Tappan plots going
back to 1748.
vUcir Ueterans interred
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their busy tents are spread
And Glory guards, with solemn Round,
The bivouac of the Dead.
Rest on embelmed and sainted dead.
Dear as the blood ye gave
No impious footsteps here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.*
All around us as we stand on the consecrated ground are the un-
pretentious memorials of the Revolutionary War Veterans as well as
to those of subsequent wars in which our nation has been a contender.
A hst of Revolutionary War Veterans as compiled some years
ago by the Janet Gage Chapter of Daughters of the Revolution of
Woodbridge, New Jersey follows:
(The numerals and initials shown indicate the location of the
various plots on our cemetery map. )
Died Sept. 9, 1850 (7-8: C-D)
Died August 14, 1791
Died Apr. 1, 1810 (4-5; B-C)
Died Feb. 26, 1836
Died 1838 (3-4; B-C)
Died May 27, 1807 (4-5; E-F)
Died Jan. 15, 1828 (3-4; E-F)
Died Feb. 6, 1837 (3-4; C-D)
Died Sept. 7, 1830 (4-5; C-D)
Died Mar. 31, 1782 (6-7; C-D)
*From tablet in Finn's Point National Cemetery near Pennsville, N. J.
Bloomfield, Dr. Moses
Brown, Col. Benjamin A.
Barron, Capt. Ellis
Cutter, Campy on
Crow, Col. Samuel
Cutter. Deacon William
Edgar, General Clarkson
Edgar, Capt. David
(The spirited cavalrym
Heard. Gen. Nathaniel
Hadden, Thomas Jr.
Marsh, Capt. Christopher
Potter, Major Reuben
Randolph, Capt. N. Fitz
Randolph. Capt. A. Fitz 1755 Died Apr. 16, 1817 (3-4: D-E)
Paton, Lieut. James 1758 Died Nov. 6, 1816 (4-5; B-C)
(Known as the courageous Scotch Patriot)
Tappen. Capt. Abraham^ 1756 Died Sept. 29, 1799 (5-6; F-G)
Endeavor has been made to list all those who served our nation
in wars other than the Revolutic)n, and whose remains are interred in
our burial grounds. If any names have been overlooked, sincere apology
is offered. After exhaustive search, the following is submitted:
Barron, Col. John C.
Chief surgeon, 69th N. Y. Vol.
^ Born Nov. 2, 1837
Bellaney, Sgt. Harrison
Barton, Gen. William B.
Died Feb. 6, 1908
Co. F., N. Y. Eng.
Civil War, Brevet Brig. Gen., Col. 48th Reg. N. Y. State
Vols. Commander 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 11th Army
Corps, Army of the James; and son of Rev, William B. Bar-
ton, Pastor of the old White Church from 1822 to 1852.
Baker, Harry J. Jr.
Dally, Clarence W.
(Sec. H, row 4)
Dally, Marcus L.
Devanny, Earl H.
WWI and WWII (9-10; B-C)
See sect, under former pastors
Dally, Capt. Charles
War (7-8; B-C)
Edgar, Capt. Peter
War (6-7; B-C)
Co. G. 52 N.Y. Inf. (3-4; D-E)
Farrell, Charles, US Navy, WWI
Freeman, Samuel E.,
Greiner, August F.
Gardner, Marion Lester
WWI Red Cross Nurse
(Sec. H, Row2)
Hart, E. B.
Hinsdale, Samuel B.
Co. H, 151 Reg., 3rd Inf. Vol.
Jackson, J. T.
Lee, John F.
1st Sgt., N. J. Infantry
La Forge, Jefferson
La Forge, George W.
(Row 4, Sec. L)
Larson, John R. Jr.
Mawbey, Frederick R
Osborne, Colonel Henry
(Row 6N, Sec. L)
Peterson, Peter E.
Mabie, Warner, W. G.
Co. G, 42nd N. Y.
ShroLirds, William H.
Nichanck. Henry F.
Simonscn, Hdvvard WWI
Slugg, Clarence H.
Turner, \V. F.
Co. E, 14 N. J. Infantry
Truner, H. C.
Tufts, William E.
Tappen, Capt. David
Turner, Lieut. John F.
Co. C. 79th N. Y. Infantry
Trost, Edward WWI
Treen, Charles WWI
Treen, William WWI
Van Wagner. Louis A. C. War
Co. C, 102 Reg., Ohio Vols.
Webber, John Civil War
Co. F. 2cS N.J. Infantry
Wilson. Henry R. US Navy
Williams, Joseph Carl
Captain, Co. A, 41V
Wand, Alexander H. WWI
Lockie. James WWII
Kilmer, Edward WWII
Schumann. Leo WWII
Anness, Charles WWI
Young, Richard H. WWII
(Row 1, Sec.
Died 1949 (7-8; C-D
1917-1970 (Sec. L, R 2, 11-12
Died 1970 (Sec. L, R 3-16-17
1923-1972 (Sec. L-M, R 5-1-2
1900-1973 (Sec. L, R 4N 5-6
1929-1947 (11-12; E-F
^ntcrnicnti ^J^avinn i^nuSual interest ^^npeai
Fig. 33 shows tombstones of the
DE LaFlechcUe Family. Alphonse
Pierre Marie DE LaFlechelle was
"Deputy CoLinsui from the Court of
France." He died October 12, 1847,
age fifty-six. In addition to his
monument are those for his widow,
Elizabeth Burton Fitzgerald DE La-
Flechelle, and their three daughters.
Elizabeth Burton Fitgerald DE La-
1855. Evidence of great tragedy
is apparent from the death dates
of their three daughters, Zelma
Catherine and Elizabeth Edmire,
who died on successive days, March
19 and 20, 1834, and Louise M.,
who died in March 1837.
This interment of the family of a French civil servant in our burial
ground has created unusual interest. Letters in reply to our query
from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Paris, France, advised that
Alphonse had been the chief secretary of the French Embassy in Dub-
lin, Ireland in 1814. He was in a similar capacity in New York City
in 1825, and in Boston in 1839. French records show also that he
married Elizabeth Burton Fitzgerald in September 1825.
This is all interesting information but the intriguing question is
still — What were the circumstances that brought the DE LaFlechelles
to Woodbridge, and finally to the church burial grounds? There is a
lapse of twenty-one years from the first DE LaFlechelle interment in
1834 to the last in 1855. In 1834 Alphonse apparently represented
France in New York City. Did he and his family reside in Woodbridge?
The French records show that Alphonse transferred from New
York City to Boston in 1839. Even so, on his death in 1847 he was
interred in Woodbridge.
His widow, Elizabeth Burton Fitzgerald DE LaFlechelle, survived
her husband. Alphonsc, by eight years. Was there famly or close friends
iiere in Woodbridge with wiiom she resided during those years?
Mary Conplon Ccunphcll ( Fig. 34 )
She was the daughter of Wilham and Mary Compton. On her
monument is engraved the following:
'in memory of Mary, wife of Caleb Campbell who died Febru-
ary 15. 1735 age sixty-seven years and three months."
"The first born child in Woodbridge."
Ruth Woodbridge Pier son (Fig. 35)
Ruth was a granddaughter of John Woodbridge after whom our
town is named. Baptized on August 18, 1695, she was the wife of
Rev. John Pierson, pastor of our church from 1714 to 1754.
Engraved on her tombstone, which rests horizontally on the ground
over her grave, are engraved the following words:
"Here is interred ye Precious Remains of Mrs. Ruth Pierson, wife
of ye Rev. Mr. John Pierson and Daughter of ye Rev. Mr. Timo Wood-
bridge of Hartford in N. E. Who fell asleep in Jesus January 6th, 1732.
"Reposed to rest in this cold bed to Ly
Remains of Meekness Prudence Piety:
The best of Christian Parents Wives and friends
Grim Death to this dark Um. remorseless sends:
Once dear to all still dear to Christ who'll make
This Dust revive and to his Likeness make."
Inslee, (Fig. 36) (2-3; B-C)
Children of Missionaries to China. This plot is directly in the rear
of the Sunday School rooms along Pt)rt Reading Road.
The one stone is engraved in memory of Alexander Charles, son
of Rev. Elias B. and Euphemia B. Inslee, born in Ningpo, China, Dec.
18, 1859, died in ButYalo, New York, March 20, 1863.
The second stone is engraved, Euphemia Helen, youngest child of
Elias B. and Euphemia B. Inslee, born in Song King in Kiany Su Fu,
China, October 20. 1865. died in Woodbridge, October 27, 1866,
having been brought to this country after her mother fell asleep in
Jesus, February 10, 1866 and who remains at rest in the missionary
circle at Shanghai, China.
BORn, lUDODBRIDGE. H. J. -1714
DIED, BURLinCTOn, R. J.- 1770
FIRST nnTWE ntUJ JERSEV PRiniER
tRtCTED BV THE
300 ih RnniyERSflRy com '"Itel
Of UJOODBRIDCf TOUjnSHiK '< J
SEPIEfTlBER 30. I%0
Parker (Fig. 37)
James Parker, New Jersey's first native Printer, was born in Wood-
bridge in 1714. He was the son of Elisha Parker, Sr. who received a
grant of land in Woodbridge in 1675.
James Parker entered the trade at the early age of eleven being
apprenticed to William Bradford, the first printer in New York.
In May 1733 at the age of nineteen, Parker ran away from his
employer. The reason for his runaway is not known nor is it known
where he was for the next nine years. '
When he came back he revived the New York Gazette, which
had been discontinued by Bradford, calling it the Weekly Post Bay
and began publishing in 1742.
In 1751 Parker established his printing company in Woodbridgc.
Us site was at Amboy Avenue and Grove Street in a gn)ve of tall locust
trees. The St. James Roman Catholic Church now stands on the site.
He still owned the Weekly Post Bay in New York, but now lived
In 1752 he began the New American Magazine, which was pub-
lished until 1761. In addition to the magazine, his press printed Wood-
bridge nuMiey. the j^roceedings of the legislature as well as many public.
dt>cuments and the seccMid volume of Nevill's Laws of New Jersey.
In September 1753 Benjamin Franklin prevailed upon Parker to
open a ]irinling shop in New Haven, Connecticut. This operation did
not go along smoothly and after many trials and tribulatons, Parker
sold out in April 1 762.
Parker returned to Woodbridge where he had been appointed
printer to the province of New Jersey. He became active in the Church
of England, acted as lay reader in the Trinity Episcopal Church of
In 1765 Parker moved his press to Burlington io accommodate
Samuel Smith, the histcMian in the issue of the history of New Jersey,
the manuscript of which is preserved in the library of the Historical
Society at Newark, New Jersey. Parker then moved the press back to
Woodbridge after the ct)mpletion of the work.
He was soon to become postmaster of New York as well as comp-
troller and secretary of the postal department for the Northern District
of the British Colonies. He continued his business as a printer and was
working at Burlington when his health began to fail. He died in 1770
at the age of 56.
His remains were brought to Woodbridge. His funeral services
were conducted by llie Chaplain of a regiment of British foot soldiers,
and he was interred in the White Church Cemetery. ^
On September 28, 1969, as part of the Tercentenary of Wood-
bridge Tov^'nship a monument was placed in our cemetery in luMior
of James Parker.
Rolph (Fig. 38) " - '\^
This fieldstone monument. '-l flP^i-LIrSTH!:.
placed in memory oii Richard ., ::''.'^y OT riCH/'J-.'-
Rolfe. is one of the oldest in our : ; ,■ ?^jL^'H"f/j^,GO]-,
burial ground, being dated Septem- ^Jdi ^ ^rEF-'THE-'''''Tf:f«^
her 17n. ^ ^i^,' ,.. : 17/ T-
The Roljih family is a most •3i?s^.v>r^^-'r->-v^
interesting one. ' Fiq. 3.^
A Henry Rolfe came from England to Newbury, Massachusetts
in 1638. Henry's son Moses removed to Woodbridge where he changed
his surname to Rolph. Moses married in 1702 the widow Higgins,
The Woodbridge Rolphs were related to John Rolph of James-
town, Va., who married Pocahontas, the native Indian princess. She
was presented at the Court of King James in London where she out-
shone all the celebrated royal beauties. She died at Gravesend, En-
gland, immediately prior to her intended departure for the plantation
In addition to the Richard Rolfe interment there have been sev-
eral other members of this family buried in our cemetery.
Patau (Fig. 39) (7-8; H-J )
Harriet C. Cutter Palon was born 1794, died December II, 1876,
age eighty-two years. With the help of Sally and Jane Potter, she or-
ganized the Sabbath School or as it is now called the Sunday School
in June 1818. This school, records show, was one of the first, if not
the First Sabbath School organized in New Jersey.
Fig. 39 Fig. 40
Roe, Rebecca (Fig. 40)
She was the first wife of Rev. Azel Roe and daughter of Isaac
and Mary Foot of Branford, Connecticut, died at age fifty-five on
September 1, 1794.
Of unusual inlcresl regarding this inlermtMil is first, the excellent
condition of the red sandstone monument and the clarity of the en-
graving. Secondly, the engraving was dt)ne at a local Wood bridge
monument works. Down on the lower right hand corner of this monu-
ment is the name, "H. Osf-jorn."' Mr. Osborn is an ancestor of Miss
Rae Osborn who is known lo many of our readers.
Mr. H. Osborn and his successor Mr. Courtland Parker Osborn
had a monument works on Main Street, Woodbridge, just slightly east
of Christensens Department Store. "
Other mtinuments also bear the names of the engravers, E. Price
and Johnathan Acker about whom we have no additional information.
^omn oLJoclors ^nterrect In Kyur (^emeieru
Freeman, Ellis Barron. M.D., born 1807, died 1877 (Fig. 41).
Freeintuu Samuel Edgar, M.D., son of Dr. Ellis.
Freeman, Barron, born 1835, died 1904.
On the death of Dr. Samuel Edgar Freeman in 1 904 the news-
paper of that day printed the following:
'To the Memory of Dr. Samuel Edgar Freeman"
In the death of Dr. Samuel E. Freeman, which occurred last
Saturday evening at his home on Prospect Hill ^ from an attack
of apoplexy, Woodbridge loses a skillful physician — one who
stood high in his profession, and who had practiced here for over
thirty years — and a valued citizen. - Dr. Freeman was bom and
had always resided in Woodbridge, with the exception of his years
at college; of Woodbridge stock; a descendant from a union of
two old Woodbridge families, whose names were identified with
the early history of the old town; a grandson of the late General
Samuel Edgar, a son of the late Ellis B. Edgar.
Dr. Samuel E. Freeman has always been recognized as a
man of strong and positive ideas, fearless and independent in the
expression of his views, not in sympathy with superficialities of
society, but genial and social in his nature. His kindly nature and
Christian principles as made evident in his practice, for he was as
faithful and untiring in his ministrations in the homes of poverty
where there was no hope of remuneration as he was in the homes
of the wealthy.
Dr. Freeman was married early in life to Miss Kate F. Ran-
dolph, who only lived a few years to gladden his home. She left
two little ones — a son and daughter, now grown to manhood and
womanhood — Miss Mabel Freeman and Mr. Ellis Freeman. Four
sisters and one brother also mourn him — Mrs. John Anderson of
Elizabeth, Mrs. J. H. T. Martin, Miss Phoebe Freeman, Miss Susie
Freeman and Mr. Ellis B. Freeman — all residents of town. Fu-
neral service was held Tuesday afternoon from the Freeman home-
stead '' on Rahway Avenue. The Rev. Or. McNuUy olliciated and
spoke very impressively from the words: "I liave hnished my
course." The Rev. \V. H. Jackson oifered prayer. Several appro-
priate selections were beautifully rendered f^y Mr. Louis Potter,
Mrs. Seth Lockwood. acccMTipanist. The beautiful llowers that
covered and surrounded the casket were tributes from loving rela-
tives and friends.
The committal service was private, attended only by the
It is a somewhat remarkable fact that for more than a cen-
tury there has been a Dr. Freeman practicing in Woodbridge.
The death of Dr. Samuel E. Freeman, who was the fifth doc-
tor beaming the name Freeman leaves Woodbridge, for the first
time in owq hundred years without a Doctor Freeman. "
The sixth physician of the name — Dr. James Freeman —
recently left here to practice in Jacksonville, Florida. '^
Fig. 41 Fig. 42
Harried, Samuel P., M.D., bom 1836, died 1898.
Pierson, John, M.D., bom 1723, died 1772. He was the son of
Rev. John Pierson who was the minister of our church from 1714 to
1754 (Fig. 42). He was also a grandson of the President of Yale Col-
lege, as it was known in those years. His mother, Ruth Woodbridge
Pierson, was a granddaughter of Rev. John Woodbridge, after whom
Wood bridge was named.
On Septcmlier (S, 1756 our Congregation obtained a Royal Char-
ter from King George II at the hands of the then governor of the
Province, Governor Belcher. It was largely through the efTorts and
inlluence of the Piersons, father and son, that the Royal Charter was
Van Warner, A. B.. M.D., born 1846, died Feb. 8, 1890.
Wall, John Galen. M.D.. born Dec. 17, 1729, died Jan. 14, 1798.
On his tombstone was found the following:
"In memory of Dr. John Galen Wall, thirteen years Physician of
Woodbridge and Perth Amboy. Born at Middlesex, Monmouth.
If Physick's aid of friendship balm could save from death, thou
shall had lived."
This monument is no longer in existence.
Wilkinson, James, M.D., born 1670, died Jan. 15, 1749.
^i( lion (y
^ornici- I ii.sior.s ^ynicrrcii in ' Jur C cniclcni
Reverend A/cl Roc was ordained and installed in ihe autmnn of
1763 and labored in our church initil his eleath in I (SI 5. a i')eriod of
fifty-two years. He was a Long Islander by birth. In 1756, at tiie age
of eighteen, he was graduated from the College of New Jersey. In
1800 he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Yale. '"
Although he did not serve as a uniformed soldier during the Revo-
lutionary War, he certainly ranks with (uir greatest patriots of that era.
The original monument that marked his grave has K)ng since
eroded so badly that none of the original engraving is legible; but from
a survey made in l<S49, the following appeared legible at that time. "
"Sacred to the memory (^f Re\\l.
Dr. Azel Roe. Pastor of the First
Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge,
who after a life cheerfully, faithfully,
and affectionately devoted to the
services of Jehovah Jesus. Iiis
Saxiour and his God. and t(^ the
eternal interests of his flock fell
sweetly to sleep in the bosom of
that Saxiour on the 2nd day of De-
cember 1 (S 1 5 in the 77th year of his
age and the 5.^rd of his ministry."
Lord now let thy servant &c Luke 2:29. 30.
I have fought a good fight &c II Tim'y 4:7. 8."
Rev. Roe's remains lie near those of his first xxife Rebecca Foot
Roe who died September 1, 1794 and of his second x\ife. Hannah
Bostwick Roe. who died November 28, 1815.
Rev. William B. Barton was pastor of our church from 1822 to
1852. He died at the age of fifty-nine on April 7, 1852. His remains
lie next to those of his son, Brevet Brig. General, Col. 48th Reg. N. Y.
State Vols.; Commander 2nd Brigade 2nd Div. Army Corp., Army
of the James in the Civil War (Fig. 43).
Rev. Joseph M. McNulty was pastor irom 1874-1906. On his
tombstone is engraved;
Fig. 43 Fig. 44
"But in his duty, prompt at every call. He watched and wept. He
Prayed and felt for all" (Fig. 44).
Rev. Robert W. Mark (Fig. 45) was pastor from 1906 to 1918;
died age seventy-five on February 5. 1955. Under his pastorate the
church grew in strength and number. He was largely responsible for
the building of the so-called church parish house to the rear of our
former manse on Rahway Avenue, which for many years was a center
for township athletic activities. This parish house was razed during
the fall of 1971.
Rev. Earl Hannum Devanny was born April 23, 1894 — died
April 21, 1962. He was a veteran of World War I; when World War
1 * ^ ^-'^r^i
* . DEVANNY i --
Fig. 45 Fig. 46
11 invoked tlic United States he applied for and was granted leave
ol absence. He enlisted in the Armed Services and served vv'ith honor
and distinction. At hostilities end he was honorably discharged with
the rank ol Lieutenant Colonel. During his pastorate in 1955-1^)56
1 ello\vshi|i Hall was erected and completely paid l\)r. On his tomb-
stone is found this engraving:
"Minister. Old White Church 1933-1959. Pastor, Soldier, Chris-
tian Cientleman'' ( F^g. 46).
The church bidletin board in front of the church was given in his
memory by a member of our church.
The bronze plate in the brickwork at the bottom of the bulletin
board reads, "In memoi^ of Earl Hannum Devanny, Pastor, October,
L^nifan/iJ on tombstones in yyiir L^entetetu
Gravestone verses reflect the
feeling of the times, "" dire warn-
ings to the Hving; BibHcal quota-
tions and later sentimental render-
ings extolling the virtues of the
person entombed. One of the most
common verses in use during colo-
nial times was some variation of
the familiar, "As you are now, so
once was I," which had appeared
in England as early as 1376 on
the tomb of Edward, the Black
Edward was buried in the east
end of Canterbury Cathedral on
September 29, 1376 where his
magnificent tomb, erected in ac-
cordance with the instructions in '*'
his will may still be seen. Fig. 47
The epitaph on his tomb is identical with one found in our burial
ground with a date Aug. 24, 1809 (Fig. 47).
"Look and see as you pass by
As you are now so once was I,
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for Death and follow me."
Many other epitaphs covering a diversity of moods are also
found in our cemetery.
April 10, 1758 (Expressing Hope)
"The World's a Bubble, a mere show
But the next World to which we go,
Hath Joys eternal and sincere
O May she rise and enter there."
June 29, ISII (Ode to Ihc Great Physician)
"Affliction sore short time I bore
Physician's art was all in vain.
Till God above did hear my moan,
And cured me of my pain."
"My Hying years time urges on,
What's mortal must decay.
My friend, my dear companion gone
Nor came I long expect to stay."
"Rest in peace, thou gentle spirit
Souls like thine with God inherit
Life and Love.
"Sleep lovely child and take thy rest
Both young and old must die,
God called thee home. He thought it best
To sing his praise on high"
"Their minds in death, were calm, serene,
No terror in their looks were seen
A savior's smile dispelled their gloom,
And smoothed the passage to the tomb."
"Father, I give my spirit up
And trust it in thy hand.
My dying flesh shall rest in hope,
And rise at thy command."
"As bright Sol the equator Past,
Death cut her down as with a blast
And in Death's fetters must lie bound
Till raised by the last Trumpet Sound."
"My heart dissolves with Pangs unknown
In Groans I waste my Breath
Thy heavy hand has brought me down
Low as the dust of death
Father, I give my spirit up
And trust it in thy hand.
My dying flesh shall rest in hope
And rise at thy command."
"Sweet sacred Dust, sleep in the Tomb
While here the World was not her home
Now she's removed to Realms above
To endless bliss and boundless Love."
Ye glittering toys of earth adieu
A nobler choice be mine
A real prize attracts my view
A treasure all divine."
"Our days begin with troubles here
Our life is but a span
And cruel death is always near
So frail a thing is man."
"Thus falls ye generous and the brave
A captive Prisoner to the grave
And till the last trumpets awful sound
Shall thru the rending tombs resound
Then may our moulding dust arise
Ascend and reign above the skies."
"Death like an overtlowing stream
Sweeps away our life, a dream
An empty talc, a mourning ilower
Cut down and withered in an hour."
"My loving friends, I bid all farewell
Prepare yourselves with God to dwell
In a few more days it will be said
That you are numbered with the dead."
1832 (child 2 months old)
"Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade
Death came with friendly care
The opening bud to heaven conveyed
And bade it blossom there."
1833 (child 1 month, 23 days old)
"This lovely bud, so young, so fair
Called hence by early doom
Just came to show how sweet a flower,
In paradise would bloom."
"See the leaves around ye falling
Dry and withered to the ground,
Thus to thoughtless mortals calling
With a sure and solemn sound."
"There is a blessed home
Beyond this land of ours
Where trials never come
No tears of sorrow flow."
The spelling in the preceding Epitaphs is exactly as it appears
on the tombstone.
1 1 ^i^cellaneou^ (comments
In making a study of the various facets of our burial ground,
attention is attracted to names, both surnames and Christian names.
Some surnames or family names found in our burial ground are
rarely heard at all in our Township today, viz: Ashbill, Appleyard,
Pain, Ryno, Mabic, Bunn, Clinch, Nightingale, Playfoot, Callander,
It is true also of Christian names, which seem to follow a pat-
tern. In the early days of our church Biblical names intluenced par-
ticularly male names.
How often today is a male child called Jothan, Gideon, Jabez,
Ephraim, Ichabod, Phineas, Abraham, Eliphilet, Cyrus, Rufus, Isaac,
Seth, Moses, Joshua, Azel, Adam, Jeremiah, Everts, Enoch, Zebulon,
Socrates, Sebastian, Titus, or Marmaduke?
Female names seemed to have a quaintness all their own, seem-
ingly associated with the early times. Names such as the following
seem today to be passe — Jobatha, Prudence, Letitia, Indiana, Mal-
vina, Sabra, Ursula, Phebe, Jannet, Ellie, Experience, Ezebel, Ginnet,
Jaenke, Mercy, Gettie, Tabitha, Charity, Euphemia, Abigail, Sabina,
Elizer, Huldah, Deliverance, Sisfal, Katurah, Mahalia.
Names, like styles in garments, change with the time.
Someone has said that gravestones with their inscriptions and
imagery possess an eloquence rarely matched in literature. The monu-
ments speak directly to all who face them, echoing of the past. On
their sometimes crumbling surfaces one can trace the lives and experi-
ence of past generations, its wars, its epidemics, the opulence of cer-
The cemetery records reveal that the then dreaded smallpox dis-
ease caused mortality back in 1709. Samuel Hale, Esq., one of the
original Freeholders, who was granted in 1670 a plot of 167 acres,
was one of the victims. This dreaded disease also struck in January
1732 '^ and in the winter and spring of 1774-1775.
During the early 1890s a diptheria epidemic was experienceu in
The influenza epidemic in 1917-1919 struck with disasterous re-
sults. Hospitals in this area were so overcrowded that our Parish House
building on Rahway Avenue was turned into a nursing center.
One of the most distressing facts read on the monuments is re-
vealed in the number of infant and childhood deaths.
In one family plot there are seven interments of children, six
sons and one daughter, all who died in infancy.
In still another plot, " J, born 1900, died in 1900; W, born 1902,
died 1902; E, born 1890, died 1893; F, born 1887, died 1890; J,
born 1870, died 1873; A, born 1863. died 1864; Ta, born 1871, died
1872; KT, 1889-1890; L. 1901-1904.
Graves of over forty children who died before reaching six months
of age can be counted; thirty others before their first birthday; fifteen
before age two, and about fifty others between ages three and ten.
In a number of instances two children of the same family passed
away the same day.
Such happenings are unheard of today. What was the cause back
then? Diptheria, Scarlet Fever, the so-called "Summer complaint,"
The question is raised repeatedly as to whether or not there re-
mains space for additional burials in our cemetery. The answer is
"Yes!" There is still space for an additional three to four hundred
new plots and room for many additional interments in plots already
assigned to families in past years.
In going through the old cemetery records one will come across
items of a tragic nature, viz:
"Henry Clay Smith, son of Edgar R. and Phebe Smith, lost his
life at Rahway, January 22, 1833 in his efi'orts to rescue his playmate
from a watery grave. Henry was in his fourteenth year."'
"Timothy Bloomtield, son of Timothy and Sussanah Bloomfield,
lost at sea by falling overboard from his ship, "America" on a passage
from New York City to Batavia, Indonesia, in the Pacific Ocean on
the 21 of July 1819; age eighteen years, one month, four days."
In the first paragraph of this chapter we termed our Burial Ground
as "consecrated and hallowed." We would also hope that the reading
of this discourse would engender a greater appreciation of our ceme-
tery as a truly historical site knitting our church to the life and work
of our Community, State, and Nation. It has often been said that the
history of America is here.
Fig. 48 shows the author
gathering data from one of the old
red sandstone monuments.
The author gives deserved
thanks to Mr. Clyde Williams for
the generous amount of time given
by him in taking the many photo-
graphs and for his recording the
many epitaphs shown herein. Also,
thanks to a quartet of our teen-
agers, Charles and Mat Barany,
Dan Natalc, and Bill Gardner who
saved the author many steps in
John M. Kreger, Author
FOOTNOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Monnette, Orra Eugene, Ye Plantation of Piscataway and Woodhridge.
2. Ludwig, Allan I.. Graven Images — New England Stone Carvings and Its Sxmhols.
3-10. Ludwig, Allan I., op. cit.
11. American Heritage Magazine, "Graven Images, Sermons in Stone" — Aug. 1970.
12. Graustad, Edwin S., A Religious History of America.
13. Graustad, op. cit.
1. Wolk, Ruth, The History of Woodhridge. N. J.. 1970 Edition.
2, 3. Monnette, op. cit.
4. Savage, General Dictionary of New England.
5. Wells, Albert, American Family Antiquity. Society Library, New York City, 1880.
6. Bryant, Blanch B. and Baker, Gertrude E., Compilers, Gcneological Records of
the Founders' and Early Settlers of Plymouth, Vermont.
7. Monnette, op. cit.
8. The late Mr. Leon McElroy, attorney and historian of Woodbridge, was one of
a group who claimed that the town of "Woodbridge" was not named in honor
of Reverend John Woodbridge of Newbury, Massachusetts. Mr. McElroy stated
that there was no record that Rev. John Woodbridge had ever visited Wood-
bridge, New Jersey. He claimed that Woodbridge was named after a town in
England. The writer takes no sides in this issue. It is, however, purely coinci-
dental that Thomas Bioomfield. who came to Woodbridge as early as 1665 and
who was one of the most influential of the first settlers, came from Woodbridge,
9. Monnette, i>p. cit.
10-11. Monnette, op. cit.
12. Annals of Yarmouth, Mass.
13-16. Monnette, op. cit.
17. New Jersey Historical Society Third Series VL
18. Ludwig, F. D., Timely Told Talcs of Woodbridge Township.
19. Savage, ^>p. cit.
20. Monnette, op. cit.
21. Potter, Frank D., a descendant.
22. Whitehead, William A., 1856.
SECTIONS IV, V, VI, VIL VIII
1. Evening News, Perth Amboy, N. J., June 30, 1964.
2. Parker, Captain James, History of the Parker and Kearnev Families of Perth
3. From Correspondence with Mr. Barbour Rolph of West Union, Ohio.
4. Breckenridge, Amy E., Disappearing Landmarks of Woodbridge.
5. This home is presently 123 Prospect St. The writer and his family resided in this
home from December 1930 to October 1957. This home since 1957 has been
the manse for the Woodbridge Gospel Church.
6. Dr. Samuel Freeman also operated a drug store and was also at one time the
7. The so-called Freeman Homestead was the Thayer Martin home on Rahway
Avenue since razed to make room for the apartment complex, corner Freeman
Street and Rahway Avenue.
8. Research revealed a Dr. Matthew Freeman and the date 1808 but no other details.
9. Wade, John P., and Pirkersgill, Harold E., History of Middlesex County.
10. Weber, Thomas, "The Heritage of the First Presbvterian Church of Metuchen,
11. Whitehead, William A., assisted by his son, William, Monumental Inscriptions of
Dates Prior to 1800, translated for the N. J. Historical Society, 1849.
12. Neal, Avon, American Heritage. 1970.
13. New York Gazette, Jan. 18, 1732.
14. Monnette, op. cit.
The women of the First Presbyterian Church of Woodbridge,
which is affectionately known as 'The Old White Church," first or-
ganized in 1856 under various names and for various projects.
At the present time the women of this church have the privilege
of deciding in which of three organizations they will be most useful
to the Lord in His work. Just as there were Martha and Mary long
ago, each with her own particular talent, so in our church there are
many Marthas and Marys who are fortunate in being able to choose
the organization in which they can best use their particular talents.
There are a few women who have chosen to work in two organizations,
but most concentrate their efforts by working in just one.
A short description of the goals and accomplishments of these
three groups will be found on the following pages.
l/Uliite L^hurch L^iiild
In May of 1946, eighteen of the young women of the church
organized the White Church Guild with the goals of working for the
Old White Church and of helping the minister. Because this group
was comprised of young mothers and career women, the meetings were
held in the evenings semi-monthly.
The first officers were President, Mrs. Andrew Lockie; Vice-
president, Mrs. Russell Demarest; Secretary, Mrs. Oakley Blair, and
Treasurer, Miss Loma MacCrory. In 1948 when Miss MacCrory
married and left the United States to be with her husband who was
in foreign service, Mrs. Wesley Heiselberg became treasurer, a position
which she has filled ever since with painstaking care and devotion.
Mrs. Earl H. Devanny, our pastor's wife, accepted the position of
Counselor, a post which she had held in the Lillian Buschman Guild,
to which a majority of the members of the newly organized group had
belonged prior to 1942. For a short time meetings were held at the
home of Mrs. William Gardner, the Assistant Counselor. However,
due to her failing health, she was forced to relinquish her active part
in the organization. After this the Guild meetings were held, at Mrs.
Devanny's invitation, at the manse, until Fellowship Hall was avail-
able in 1956.
Mrs. Devanny's indominitable spirit, combined with her love for
the church, proved an inspiration to many of the Guild members and
helped to strengthen their two-fold purpose for being part of this or-
ganization. Mrs. Devanny had two maxims by which she and the
Guild were governed: the first. "Nothing for the Lord Is Impossible,"
and the second, "A Guild Girl Never Says, 'No!' " If one were in doubt
about her ability to accomplish what seemed to her an impossible task,
she thought of Mrs. Devanny's maxims and accomplished it! This
gallant and beloved lady was Counselor of the Guild until 1959 when
Mr. Devanny and she retired to their farm at Cream Ridge, N. J.
Upon Mrs. Devanny's retirement Mrs. Andrew S. Lockie Sr. became
Adviser to the Guild.
The general program for the year is the responsibility of the Pro-
gram Chairman and her committee. These women plan the year's
activities and present a year book which contains the program, names
of hostesses and devotional leaders, members' names and addresses
and duties of each member. The Vice-president is also Ways and
Means Chairman. Her duty and that of her committee is to present
ideas which, when put into action, will increase the amount in the
Guild treasury, thus enabling the Guild to be of greater service to the
church. Since 1956 one of the highlights of the Guild year has been
the Spring Auction and Cake Sale. The distribution of "Talent Dollars"
every few years causes temporary dismay among the members but
usually results in a sizable increase in the Guild coffers when the mem-
bers return their dollars generally increased many fold by using their
"Talents." These talents have varied from having clam chowder sales
to making book marks.
The activities for the year vary, but each year one evening is set
aside to work on table favors or gifts of some kind for the residents
of our Synod Homes. Each Christmas the Guild gives a cash gift to
each of the four people whom our church sponsors in the Synod Homes.
The Woman's Auxiliary of Synod Homes also receives a contribution
toward their projects for the Homes. In 1 974 in addition to the usual
gifts the Guild gave a subscription to "Guide Posts," the publication
sponsored by Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. This edition is one in large
print, a special boon to those with failing sight at Madison House and
at the Haddonfield Home.
The responsibility of the Church Nursery is one of the tasks as-
sumed by the Cluild. The Nursery Cliairnian compiles the schedule
of nursery attendants lor the year and each week reminds the person
whose turn it is to ser\c in the nursery, nf her duty. If the scheduled
person cannot sei\e and a substitute is not available, the Chairman
finds herself in charge of the nursery. The Guild, in conjunction with
the Ladies' Aid. has acce|ited the responsibility for having fresh llowers
in church every Sunday. Mrs. Joseph Husk has served most faithfully
as Flower Chairman since 1965. Several members of the Guild also
help the church secretary with special mailings and each month prepare
the "Spire" for mailing.
The funds spent on material for the necessities and beautification
of church property have varied through the years starting in 1947 with
a purchase of Christmas tree lights for SIS. 30. repairing the church
chandelier in 1972 at a cost of SI 26 1.00. and climaxing in 1973 v\'ith
the paving of the church parking lot at a cost of S7()2().00. Whether
it was $503.50 for the electric typewriter for the church ofhce, $10.00
for nursery supplies. $462.00 for pulpit chairs or $13.85 for kitchen
curtain material for Fellowship Hall, the money for these items was
raised with zeal and given with love. Vrom the time of its organization
until early in 1974 the Guild has been privileged to spend more than
$13,000.00 on necessities and beautification of church pr(-)perties and
to give as donations tc^ the church for current expenses and pledges
over $14,000.00. Of the latter hgure. $4,223.97 was specifically ear-
marked for the Renovation and Restoration Fund.
All of this has been made possible, not because of one person or
of one committee, but through the e'Torts of a group of dedicated
women, working cheerfully together, guided by the maxims which the
early members had thoroughly imprinted on their minds and hearts —
"Nothing for the Lord Ls Impossible," and "A Guild Girl Never says,
In 1946 the only woman's organization in our church was the
United Presbyterian Women, a naticMial organization whose primary
concern was missionary wcirk. At that time many women felt the
need for a second woman's organization whose primary purpose would
be to provide financial help to the local church and to aid the pastor
in his duties. The end of World War II brought the return of Reverend
and Mrs. Earl Devanny. With the return of Mrs. Devanny, a group
of about forty women called together by Mrs. Whitney Leeson and
Mrs. Devanny, met to discuss means to fill this need. As a result of
this meeting held in May 1946, the Ladies Aid Society was bom.
The first officers elected were: President, Mrs. John Kreger, who
served for ten years; Vice-president, Mrs. Albert Bowers, Sr.; Secre-
tary, Miss Louise Brewster; Treasurer, Mrs. George Fullerton, who
was their beloved treasurer. Key Woman to the Belvidere Home and
Sunshine Chairman from this time, 1946, until her death in 1963.
The first project was to raise $1000 in four years for the 275th
Anniversary Celebration of the church in 1950. Since that time, the
Ladies' Aid has raised money for kitchen needs including a new re-
frigerator, cooking utensils, table silver and other articles.
Two beautiful silver services and two fine lace tablecloths were
purchased. These are at the disposal of any group wishing to use them.
The tray of one is engraved to honor the memory of our deceased
members, and the other to honor Mrs. Devanny, who worked so tire-
lessly for the Society.
Several hundred dollars are given to the trustees each year, and
special funds are raised for such needs as church carpeting, choir
gowns, lights, etc.
The meetings average about twenty-five members and are held
twice a month. At first meetings were held in the homes of the mem-
bers, but after the completion of Fellowship Hall in 1956 the group
has met there. Each of the three women's groups shared in the expense
of furnishings the "Ladies Lounge or Parlor," contributing $800 each.
Funds are raised each year by an Annual Fall Bazaar, by rum-
mage sales and by projects at regular meetings.
The presidents following Mrs. Kreger were: Mrs. Edwin Earley,
Mrs. William Bowen, Mrs. Fred Baldwin, Mrs. John Jelicks, Mrs.
Andrew Simonsen, Mrs. Albert Bergen and Mrs. Hans Stockel.
A fine celebration of our 25th Anniversary was held in May 1971
with a luncheon served and donated by the White Church Guild.
Our pastor. Reverend Lewis Bender, visits us often with words of
praise for our works and prays for our continued success and co-opera-
tion with the church.
The Ladies' Aid have made the following gifts to the church:
Silver services, refrigerator, shrubbery, 275th Anniversary Fund, choir
gowns, carpet for the church, furniture for the parlor, dishes, carpet
sweeper. Communion table and pulpit, tablecloths, money gifts and
donations to the trustees amounting to $11,264 and total gifts of about
We have an active Sunshine Chairman, Mrs. Edwin Potter, who
sends out cards, flowers, and money gifts to the sick and bereaved as
well as to the four people sponsored by our church at Synod Homes.
A Hostess Chairman and a Devotional Chairman see to it that
each meeting is well planned. We share with the Guild the expense
of pulpit flowers.
An Entertainment Chairman plans games, quizes, etc. for several
meetings a year. We open and close the year with a Covered Dish
We all enjoy the work and the fellowship and pray that this or-
ganization will continue for many years.
1/1 nl ted l~^^resbuterlan l/L/c
Upon the recommendation of the Elizabeth Presbyterial, the
"Guild Circle System" was presented to the Women's Auxiliary at a
meeting held March 19, 1943. After two organizational meetings, the
Session called all the women of the church to a meeting on April 16,
when a constitution and a budget were presented and accepted. The
name "Women's Association of the First Presbyterian Church of Wood-
bridge" was chosen.
At this time, the movement toward having one women's organi-
zation in a church instead of several, was being launched throughout
the United States by the Presbyterian Church. The theory of the sys-
tem was that each woman in a church would belong to the organiza-
tion and all would work together to accomplish that which they had
been aiming toward separately. The organization would be divided
into circles, to nurture fellowship and give more opportunity to express
individual needs. Circles would meet once a month, usually at the
home of a member, and the entire membership would meet together
once monthly at the church to conduct business and take part in special
In order to keep each circle from becoming a club unto itself,
names of all members were to be put in a bowl and redrawn each
year for circle membership. The only division made, was membership
for afternoon and evening groups. This is still the practice of UPW.
The formation of such an organization in our church was not
done without sacrifices. The Lillian Buschman Guild, organized in
March 1929, and the Women's Auxiliary which had received its new
name that same year, disbanded. The Amy Breckenridge Chapter of
Westminster Guild, organized in 1920, continued to meet for quite
some time, until, due to a changing world, they ceased to meet.
On May 7, 1943, in the sanctuary, the interim pastor, the Rev.
Kenneth M. Kepler, installed the following slate:
President Mrs. Kenneth Kepler
1st Vice President Mrs. Edward H. Kinsey
2nd Vice President Mrs. George Battman
3rd Vice President Mrs. Edwin Plueddemann
Recording Secretary Mrs. Grace Von Bremen
Corresponding Secretary Mrs. Eugene Burns
Treasurer Mrs. Emerson White
Historian Miss Louise Brewster
Twelve circles were formed with the t\)llowing chairmen:
1 — Mrs. John M. Kreger 7 — Mrs. Whitney C. Leeson
2 — Mrs. James Reid 8 — Mrs. Kenneth Manning
3— Mrs. M. H. Keneston 9— Mrs. Fred G. Baldwin
4— Mrs. Chfford Blair 10— Miss Kathryn Holland
5 — Mrs. Bertha Brewer 1 1 — Miss Bess Donnelly
6 — Mrs. Edwin F. Earley 12 — Mrs. F. Ward Brown
Projects undertaken in the first year included redecorating the
church basement (then the Primary Department). This cost $50 for
paint, brushes and curtains. Labor was volunteered. The pastor's
stody was relurbished for $40, under the same conditions. Blackout
shades were purchased for the church basement; it was, after all, 1943,
and a service flag with a star for each son of the church in the armed
forces was purchased and hung in the sanctuary.
Other activities carried out during the early years included: in-
auguration of a nursery during church services, care of the kitchen
(its list of problems are the same as today's); installation of a ladies'
room in the Parish House, installation of a downstairs lavatory in the
manse, and organization of a flower committee for the church. Because
of the faithfulness of Mr. and Mrs. George Rowe who placed flowers
from their garden on the altar of the church each Sunday for so many
years, this committee's work covered only a few winter Sundays.
Sewing for mission stations from Arizona to Africa and points
beyond was a giant task cheerfully assumed. Dozens of garments were
made annually for many years until the economy changed in the coun-
tries where the stations were located. It then became more charitable
to send money which could be used to pay native workers to make the
needed articles. Tiiis served a two-fold purpose of supplying the hos-
pitals, schools, etc., with many articles and providing the workers with
the self-esteem of earning a living. During World War II, it is also
noted, the women knitted hundreds of articles for the American Red
During the post-war years, well into the l^SO's, the activities of
the Association were shaped l^y the times. Boxes of clothing without
number were collected and delivered to the Newcomer's Christian Fel-
lowship in New York City where the Rev. and Mrs. Frederick Forrell
clothed a great flow of refugees. Many of these came from refugee
camps with few, if any, posessions to start a new life.
At this time also, some circles adopted families whose life in
impoverished Europe was desperate. Boxes of food, clothing and neces-
cesities, impossible to purchase even if one had the price, were sent
regularly. Touched by the stories of German Christians behind the
Iron Curtain whose faithfulness to God kept them in miserable poverty,
as well as physical danger, the women responded with more gifts and
CARE packages for several years.
In the United States, partial support of the Rev. and Mrs. William
Isette, missionaries to the Papago Indians in Arizona, was part of the
UPW budget over a long period of time. Under the auspices of the
Association, "Papago Christmas" was held each year at which time the
Sunday School children donated gifts and candy for their counterparts
'on the Papago Reservation at Sells.
By 1946 upon the conclusion of WW II and the return of Rev.
and Mrs. Earl H. Devanny, as the aspect of women's organizations in
our church changed and the Ladies' Aid and White Cliurch Guild were
organized, they assumed many of the local activities which formerly
came under the Association's committee structure. The "Second Mile
Giving" of Presbyterian women which is still vitally necessary to the
support of many mission activities at home and abroad continues to
receive loyal backing from the Association's free will offerings.
Woman's changing role in our society has been retlected in the
UPW programs. There are modificatitws, but the basic features of the
following activities have not changed through the years:
Circle friends — Each circle adopts two or three shut-ins each
year and remembers them throughout the year with cards, gifts and
visits to let them know someone cares.
Christmas boxes — Besides remembering the guests at the Pres-
byterian Homes, November hnds UPW members donating gifts for a
jireviously selected recipient, sometimes far away, but with the costs
of postage rising, it is more often some group near at hand.
Bible Study — Probably the heart of the UPW program is the
Bible study conducted at circle meetings. With few exceptions, the
members take turns in leading the study — not without fear and trem-
bling. There is a hymn which goes, "Thy Word is like a deep, deep
mine, with jewels rich and rare . . ." Many a jewel has been unearthed
as circle members seek together for the riches of the Word.
The oHiciai purpose of the UPW reads:
Seeking to be obedient to God's call in Jesus Christ,
To support the missic>n of the United Presbyterian Church
in the U.S.A.
To help one another grow in Christian faith and
To act in Christian concern in the company of God's
Hoping to abide by this goal in the future, we look forward to
where the Lord will lead us. Our group embraces women of all ages
which span more than 60 years. Each age has its own special con-
tribution as we remember the motto chosen for the group in 1943:
"Seek ye hrst the Kingdom of God."
^unclaii (church School
Tn an historic pageant written for the 25()th anniversary of our
church Mrs. L. V. Buschman writes that the men and women of our
early church, "were people of great faith and vision. Religion to them
was no mere incident but a vital part of their lives." They devoted
almost the entire day of Sunday to the worship of the Lord and they
toi^k their children with them. So far the first 143 years of our church's
history there was no Sunday School. The children worshipped with
the adults and learned their Bible lessons at home. Apparently some
parents were not doing their job and the children's religious edu-
cation was being neglected. During the pastorate of Dr. Henry Mills,
a group of women petitioned the elders for permission to "gather the
dear children of the community together and teach them the great
truths of the Holy Word." On the third Sunday of June in the year
of Our Lord, 1818, the first Sunday School classes were held.
Most of the work of establishing tiie first Sabbath School was
done by Sally Potter, Jane Patton and Mrs. Harriet Potter. Classes
were held on Sunday afternoon and consisted mostly of singing hymns,
hearing Bible stories, and memorizing Bible verses. The Church rec-
ords for the early years of Sabbath School no longer exist but appar-
ently the classes were held in a private residence until school rooms
were added to the church in 1868. Miss Potter conducted one of
these classes near Metuchen because "it was quite impossible for the
children of that section to reach the town."
The second superintendant was Dr. William Barton whose wife
established the Sabbath School Society to benefit and help finance the
work of the school. The Society bought paper supplies for the chil-
dren and books for the Library which by the year 1 900 had some 600
volumes. This library was very important and the Sunday School
Committee had many lengthy discussions over each and every book
that was purchased for it.
The minutes of the monthly Sabbath School meetings indicate
that various "entertainments" were arranged for the children of the
Sabbath School. The records of August 19, 1877 state that a picnic
was going to be held at Boynton Beach on Tuesday, the 27th. The
committees for this picnic included one for the "procuring of wagons
and teams." In July 1883, our church families joined several other
area churches on the first of a yearly excursion to Asbury Park. Other
"entertainments" included a Christmas Festival where a tree was pro-
vided, a church supper was held and prizes were awarded to the chil-
dren who attended most regularly, who learned their lessons well or
who "brought the most souls to class." These three activities were
continued, in one form or another, well into the 1900's.
But the members of the committee did not just concern themselves
with the work of providing "entertainments;" they had long discussions
on the problems of raising funds (the Sabbath School tried to be self-
supporting), the difticulty of keeping the "little one's minds on the
task at hand," the best ways to increase attendance, and sometimes
even, on the behavior of some of the teachers.
The members of the committee were indeed people of faith and
service. Many people were involved in the work of the Sabbath School
and much labor, time, and effort was put into the work of the Church.
Because they were disappointed in the School attendance, which on
Rallying Day was about 150, they established the Home Department,
a program for taking the School into the homes of the people.
The Sabbath School also encouraged the children to donate to
the work of missitins. The offering on the last Sunday of each month
was used for the work of the church World-Wide.
The Sunday School records for 1908-1909 state that the school
had twenty teachers, nine ollicers including a librarian and an average
attendance of one hundred thirty to one hundred forty children. The
record attendance for 1909 was 370 on Rallying Day. The curriculum
used was the Westminster Quarterly. Children's Day and the Anni-
versary Exercise was a combined annual celebration which was held
in June. It must have been a very special affair for special programs
were written and invitations were sent to all the churches in the area.
The attendance records for February 8, 1921 proved that the
Sunday School continued to develop. It had seven different sections
— a Cradle Roll, Beginners, Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior
Departments. By the time of the Sunday School's 110th birthday, the
committee had 44 members. The activities included not only Sunday
morning classes and all of the activities already mentioned, but also
Daily Vacation Bible School, Rally Days, Special Sunday Worship
Services, Mission Projects, The White Gift Program, teacher training
courses and conferences and a Sunday School Orchestra.
Through the years, the activities of the Sunday School continued
to grow. The activities changed with the times, the facilities were
expanded by the building of Fellowship Hall and curriculum materials
were constantly updated and revised but the problems facing the com-
mittee for the Sunday School remained the same — how to increase
attendance, how to finance a growing church school and how to find
devoted and capable teachers who would help our young people to
develop into active, committed Christians.
In 1972 when our church was renovated a new Christian Educa-
tion building was constructed. The Sabbath School which over the
years had met in private residences, in basements, in overcrowded con-
ditions in Fellowship Hall, finally had adequate facilities in which to
conduct its very vital task, the job of educating its young children in
the faith of its forefathers. Hopefully, they will become the kind of
people to whom religion is not a mere incident but a vital part of their
lives. The people who have served our Sunday School have been nu-
merous and dedicated. There would be no Sunday School today if it
had not been for those men and women of "faith and vision."
To our youth, who at times are
impetuous and demanding, yet who
constantly remind us that we must not
become weary or discouraged in the
Master's Service, we dedicate this book.