3 1833 02999 9973
Gc 974.901 C91a
Andrews, Frsnk D.
The t e a - b u r n e r s of
Cumberland County who
Burned ei Cargo of Tea
GRBEIVWICH, INBW JBRSBV
DBCBMBBR 22, XI'JA
PRANK D. ANDREWS
CUMBERLAND COUNTY. NEW JERSEY
liiiiiii. ill ilii lii'iiiiHiiililii Ji'iiiiii 1 1 1 J IlilH
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CORA JUNE SHEPPARD
THE HOWELL HOMESTEAD
HOME OF RICHARD, AFTERWARD GOVERNOR. AND LEWIS HOWELL
SHILOH. NEW JERSEY
THE YOUNG MEN FROM BRIDGETOWN AND FAIRFIELD MET HERE BEFORE JOINING THE REST
OF THE PARTY AT THE FITHIAN HOMESTEAD
DECEMBER 22, 1774
SHOWED THEIR RESISTANCE
BRITISH TYRANNY AND UNJUST TAXATION
BURNING A CARGO OF EAST INDIA TEA
ON THE EVENING OF
DBCBTVIBER 22, 1774
GREEINWICH, INEW JERSEV
RRAINK D. ANDREWS
SECRETARY VINELAND HISTORICAL AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, NEW JERSEY
Wlcn Courtv Public Libtaoi
900 y«ebstet Street
Ky"! IN 46801-2270
Unveiling and dedication of the Monument erected
in honor of the Tea-Burners of Cumberland
County, at Greenwich, N. J.,
September 30, 1908.
No event in the history of Cumberland County has re-
ceived such recognition, or been so highly honored as the act
of the young patriots who burned a cargo of tea stored at
Greenwich, and we preface this edition with some account of
the day and celebration.
The centennial of the event was the occasion of a cele-
bration held at Bridgeton, November 25, 26, 1874, attended
by thousands of visitors, their patriotism aroused by the
approaching centennial of the nation.
With the recent organization of societies of patriotic
women of the county, such an important event in its annals
could not long remain unhonored.
With one purpose in view, the Daughters of the
Revolution, and Mr. W. W. Sheppard, who, impressed with
the work of patriotic societies in the East, in preserving and
marking historical spots, suggested a monument; an effort
was made to secure the necessary funds. After many delays
an appropriation of $5,000 from the State was obtained and
a monument commission appointed. The result of their labors
is seen in a handsome granite memorial, fourteen feet in
height ornamented with Corinthian columns carved on front
and back. On the sides in raised letters are the names of the
Tea-Burners; on the face, a bronze tablet pictures the scene
of the burning of the tea; underneath is the following:
IN HONOR OF THE
PATRIOTS OF CUMBERLAND CO., N. J.
WHO, ON THE EVE OF
DECEMBER 22, 1774,
BURNED BRITISH TEA
NEAR THIS SITE.
On Wednesday, the day of the celebration, residents of
the county and strangers from without its borders, laid aside
their cares and responsibilities and journeyed to the old
historic town on the Cohansey. Former inhabitants return-
ing as to an old home week to look again on familiar scenes
and meet the friends of their youth. Some, while awaiting
the opening ceremonies, visited the ancient Presbyterian
cemetery to pay homage to the Tea-Burners buried there, who
one hundred and thirty-four years ago made the day's cele-
bration possible; moving in and out among the graves of the
early settlers with reverent tread; reading the quaint in-
scriptions on the time stained stones; standing on the site of
the old brick church, by the tomb of the pastor, who on the
eve of the Revolution preached freedom from British
oppression. On the right, Whitefield once addressed the as-
sembled colonists; on the left, an old oak still stands as a
living witness of the changing scenes of two centuries,
near by the stream the Indians loved, murmurs as in the past.
Others sought the village, whose wide street, lined with
fine old trees, is the oldest in constant use in the county.
They admired as they passed and repassed the well preserved,
ancient houses which vied with modern habitations in the
display of flags and bunting. Opposite Market Square, and
the monument, was the speakers stand, where New
Jersey's governor, John Franklin Fort and prominent guests
reviewed the fine parade marshalled by an aged descendant
of a Tea-Burner.
Lunch was served on the lawn, under stately trees sur-
rounding the Friends Meeting House, about which cluster
memories of the past. Adjoining the grounds is the enclosed
burial place of the early Quakers, with rude native stones
marking the graves of the silent sleepers. Close at hand the
Cohansey River moves onward to the Bay while over all
blue skies and fleecy clouds add their charm to the peace-
The afternoons exercises were of an impressive character.
Rev. Louis C. Wainwright invoked the divine blessing on
the assembled multitude. Hon. Bloomfield H. Minch, the pre-
siding officer, spoke of the completion of a work long delayed,
and complimented the ladies through whose efforts it had
been accomplished. The Band played the "Star Spangled
Banner," the school children sang, and the flags veiling the
monument parted at the touch of Mrs. Robert Ward, Vice
President General of the Society of the Daughters of the
Revolution, revealing a beautiful and enduring memorial.
Ex-Governor Stokes on being introduced reviewed the
colonial history of the county, and the issues which led to the
destruction of tea in Boston Harbor, and later on the banks of
the Cohansey. in closing he formally presented the
monument to the State. Governor Fort with due formality
accepted the trust and said, "We want more such memorials
all over the state where ever there have been events which
justify their erection. They are object lessons more
valuable than study and books. The object lesson remains
Miss Adaline W. Sterling, Regent of the N. J. Society of
the Daughters of the Revolution, followed with a most in-
teresting historical address picturing the scene of the tea
burning and paying tribute to the Revolutionary heroes of
Professor Warren W. Sheppard delivered a scholarly
oration in which he traced the migration of the ancestors of
the English people who settled this country, and the growth
and development of the spirit of freedom until it became a
living issue with the men who burned the tea.
A poem "What mean these Stones," written for the
occasion by Mrs. Charles Watson, was read by Mr. James
Hunt. After singing America by the school children, Rev.
Joseph Lyon Ewing of Bridgeton pronounced the benediction,
A galax wreath, presented by the New Jersey Society
of the Daughters of the Revolution, was placed upon the
monument by Mrs. Ward, and with that added tribute to the
men honored, visitors, with a last look at the stately object
lesson standing in its majestic granduer for the principle of
right and justice, departed for their homes pleased with the
celebration, the cordiality and generous hospitality of the
Greenwich people, and charmed with the tranquility and
quiet beauty of the place.
FRANK D. ANDREWS.
Vineland, New Jersey.
October 3, 1908.
GREENWICH IN 1774
Although the rich farming land along Cohansey River
found ready purchasers and the settlers commenced the im-
provement of their plantations, it was not until after the
death of the proprietor, John Fenwick, in 1683, that the town
he had planned and named Cohanzick, was laid out on the
north side of the river by his executors.
During the ninety years of its growth and development
preceeding the Revolutionary era, the first settlers, those
who crossed the Atlantic with Fenwick, and those of
New England origin, who, in remembrance of their home in
Connecticut colony, changed the name of the town to Green-
wich, had alike passed on to their reward, leaving numerous
descendants to inherit the fruit of their labor. An active,
energetic. God-fearing people, these men and women to the
manor born. Their inheritance was not only houses and
land, but those traits of character which adorn and add lustre
to a community, industry, patience and forbearance character-
izing the Friends; while energy, thrift and economy marked
the descendants of New England ancestry.
Others had been drawn to the settlement by its
advantageous location, the enterprise of its people and its
fertile soil. They had also helped to develop and build up
Many of the descendants of the early settlers had lived
their allotted time, some by reason of strength, had reached
four score and past and still lingered amid the scenes of
their youth. It was the children of these sturdy men and
women, who, grown to manhood and womanhood were in
active life at this period.
6 GREENWICH IN 1774
The united labor of three generations of these in-
dustrious people had made Greenwich a prosperous
community and a pleasant dwelling place. As the rude
habitations of the first settlers gave way to more comfortable
dwellings, so they in turn were succeeded by homes both
substantial and elegant for the time.
The village street from the river landing to the Presby-
terian Church, a distance of two miles, was more thickly
settled than other parts of the township. On highways
leading to neighboring settlements, amid fertile fields, were
farm houses of brick, of stone, or wood according to
the wealth and enterprise of the owner.
At this time Greenwich was the largest and most
prosperous town in Cumberland County, Hither came the
farmer to trade, here maid and matrons found the best assort-
ment of goods to select from, the village merchants carrying
an ample supply for their simple needs.
At the landing on the river, at the beginning of the
"great street," a ferry had been long established, for there
was much travel between Greenwich and Fairfield, and
visiting of relatives and friends.
Many crossed the river to attend the Cohansey Baptist
Church, over which Rev. Robert Kelsey was settled. He
was from the north of Ireland, and a most methodical,
painstaking man, as his records testify.
Others crossed the ferry to unite with the Friends in
silent worship or passed on to the Presbyterian Church,
where with the villagers of that faith they listened to Rev.
Andrew Hunter, an able divine, who for nearly thirty years
had expounded the gospel to their great satisfaction.
Greenwich had long enjoyed water communication with
Philadelphia, and vessels bound for New York, Boston, or
more distant ports were not unfrequently seen at the landing,
taking on board the product of field and forest.
Frequent intercourse with the business and social world
of Philadelphia and other centres of population had had its
influence upon the citizens of Greenwich, and evidence is not
wanting to show that refinement and culture were to be
found in many households. Books had readers and admirers,
and the more intellipent of the townspeople kept in touch
GREENWICH IN 1774 7
with the outside world through the interchange of letters and
the newspapers of the period. Ambitious men there were in
the community who sought to rise above their fellows,
aspiring to positions of trust and responsibility in the
service of county and state.
For the most part, however, the people were tillers of
the soil, who followed with little deviation the habits of their
ancestors, opening for cultivation new fields as they cleared
the forest, adding more acres to the original purchase and
prospering in a moderate way. Some with insufficient help
availed themselves of their proximity to the City, securing
from the Captains of incoming vessels Redemptionists, who
had bound themselves to work out their passage money.
This was not always a safe investment as the new
arrivals frequently proved untrustworthy and absconded be-
fore their time of service expired.
With the beginning of the year 1774 the agitation regard-
ing the rights of the colonists and the unjust and tyrannical
course of the British Parliament became a subject of general
discussion throughout the country. At Greenwich, many
sided with the king and condemned any opposition to his
Others there were, with an ardent love of liberty who
freely discussed the political situation, taking sides with the
Boston patriots, commending their action in destroying the
tea in Boston Harbor, and giving with a liberal hand toward
the relief of the sufferers from the "Port Bill" which
Parliament had decreed as a punishment.
We may well believe the patriotic citizen of Cumberland
County took great interest in the meetings of the Con-
tinental Congress and heartily approved of its declaration of
The young men especially were alive to the issues of the
day, and the spirit of liberty and desire for freedom from
British oppression which was rapidly overspreading the
whole country, so influenced the most adventurous among
them, they were ready for any action wherein they might
assert their independence of kingly rule and show their
The year was not to close without an opportunity for
8 GREENWICH IN 1774
such a demonstration; unexpectedly there came sailing into
Cohansey River, December 12-14, the brig Greyhound,
Captain J. Allen, with a cargo of tea on board. Probably
the Captain had been warned by the pilots in the Bay, of the
reception awaiting him should he attempt to land his cargo in
Philadelphia whither he was bound.
With the port of destination thus closed against him, he
sailed up the river to Greenwich, doubtless expecting to find
a loyal subject of King George, willing for British gold to
defy public opinion and receive the tea on storage. Such a
man was found and the tea was accordingly placed in the
cellar of Dan Bowen's house on Market Square.
Although the landing was conducted with much secrecy
the Greyhound's mission was soon discovered by the watchful
inhabitants and long before the ship had proceeded far on its
return voyage, the villagers were in a state of excitement
over the extraordinary circumstance.
A temporary committee was appointed to take charge of
the tea, and await the action of the general committee, to be
chosen at a meeting to be held the following week at
The opportunity thus unexpectedly opened for the young
patriots to follow in some manner the example of the Indian
disguised Bostonians was not to pass unnoticed.
Active work on the part of the leaders so perfected their
plans that the Thursday evening following the appointment
of the general committee was decided upon for the decisive
stroke which would effectually rid the county of the
obnoxious herb and relieve the committee of its responsibility.
On the day appointed a general meeting of the inhabitants of
the county met at Bridgetown and unanimously approved of
the articles of association agreed upon by the Continental
Congress. A committee of thirty-five were appointed to en-
force the law throughout the county. They were informed
of the landing of the tea at Greenwich and the appointment
of a pro tempore committee of five who waited their action in
the matter. After deliberation they reported: "that being
ignorant of the principles on which the tea was imported,
from whence it came, or the importers names, they thought
best in his absence to have it privately stored," and proposed
GREENWICH IN 1774 9
to meet the following morning for that purpose.
Not all the members of that committee had reached their
homes that short December day, before the well laid plans
for the destruction of the tea were taking shape for speedy
execution. Men from Fairfield and from Bridgetown, in little
groups, with here and there a lone rider were making all
speed toward the appointed rendezvous near Shiloh, the home
of Richard and Lewis Howell. Here others joined the little
company which soon hastened on to the Fithian homestead,
not far from the old mill, where the Greenwich men im-
patiently awaited them.
Completing their arrangements and perfecting their
disguise with no fear of discovery in this unfrequented spot,
they again took up the line of march moving rapidly toward
Were we to visit Greenwich this year of our Lord nine-
teen hundred and eight we would find houses still standing as
old or older than those at which they met that evening.
May we not enter one of these ancient dwellings and in
imagination picture the scene that took place one hundred
and thirty-four years ago?
Turning backward the wheels of time we find ourselves
within the walls of one of the most pretentious residences of
that period. Uninvited and unseen let us join the family
circle about the broad hearthstone and before the blazing logs
warm into life faculties benumbed by our long flight through
the receeding years.
As the approaching gloom of night overspread the land
and the work of day is done, candles are lighted and the
evening meal served to the household.
The Quaker speech and manner are observed by this
family who do not unnecessarily linger over their simple
though substantial repast, but again seek the welcome
vibrating heat of the fireside, for the day has marked the
approach of winter, snow has fallen in Philadelphia, and the
chill in the atmosphere has penetrated the house.
Comfortably seated once more the interrupted con-
versation may perchance turn upon the events of the year:
the death of Dr. Ward, the late cold spring, with ice an inch
thick in May, the injury to the fruit and scanty crops, the
10 GREENWICH IN 1774
marriage of Amy Ewing and Robert Patterson, or more recent
occurrences; first day meeting, Captain Allen's visit, the
Greyhound's cargo, and the probable result of the days meet-
ing at the county -seat.
From the conversation we may gather, not all the
townspeople are in sympathy with the recommendation of the
recent Congress. We find there are many faithful subjects
of King George in the neighborhood and we also learn who
some of the partiots are. But listen! through the silence of
the night, do we not hear the subdued murmer of voices and
the tread of passing feet? The little group desert the
comfortable fireside seeking an explanation of the unusual
Let us follow them and join the startled villagers who
dimly see a motley crowd apparelled as the Red Men of the
forest moving swiftly past.
At Market Square they halt before the building in which
the tea is stored, speedily effect an entrance, and soon we
may see the boxes passed from hand to hand into the
neighboring field where the broken chests and contents form
a goodly pile.
But look! was it from that lantern in the hand of an
Indian brave, or from the flint and steel of that kneeling Red
Man a tiny spark appears, flutters in the breeze, which soon
fans it into a blaze lighting the square with burning tea.
The flames reveal the presence of many spectators
drawn thither by the unusual occurence. It also reveals the
masqueraders, who, like the brave men of the forest they
personate work in silence or with an occasional expression of
satisfaction, as box after box is added to the burning pile.
Some in a lively vein may join hands and dance and caper
before the blaze, their grotesque actions and elongated
shadows making a weird and fantastic scene worthy a
As the flames rise high and still higher, lighting up the
village and surrounding countryside, conflicting emotions fill
the mind of the amazed spectators; some declare it an outrage
for which the severest penalties should be visited upon the
offenders, some endeavor to penetrate the disguise and
discover the active participants with a view of their
GREENWICH IN 1774 n
apprehension; others secretly rejoice the tea is destroyed,
but fear trouble from the lawless act, while others uphold the
tea-burners action and regret they could not have taken part.
Who among that curious throng, as they watched the
burning tea, brought half way around the world to light up
old Cohansey, thought the act of sufficient worth to be
remembered for centuries? Little thought they as they saw
the drama played, of the far reaching influence of that nights
work; little did they imagine the actors would be honored and
the event commemorated by generations far removed.
Who were these men who suddenly appeared, defied the
law, and as mysteriously disappeared when their purpose
was accomplished? Who were they who opened the eyes of
the Tories and disaffected to the fact that the spirit of
patriotism and the love of liberty was in their midst, that
tyranny and injustice must cease and their rights be
respected? Whence came these brave men who by one
decisive stroke so strengthened the cause of freedom in
Cumberland County that the enemies of independence were
overawed, if not silenced, and her liberty loving citizens
sustained during the long conflict with Great Britain?
Who were they? They were young men of spirit, full
of life and enthusiasm, men of character and education, of
judgement and understanding, devoted to their country, who
believing the British Parliament had no right to impose taxes
on the colonies, or regulate its internal affairs, determined to
give expression to their opinion in such manner as would
convince those in authority that colonial rights in Cumberland
County would be maintained.
When the prominence to which many of these young
men attained in the service of their country, state and
county is considered, the importance of securing such record
of their acts and deeds as are now attainable for preservation
in an enduring and permanent form.
In one goodly company
will be recognized by all who have an interest in the his-
tory of the past.
It is a cause for regret that the names of all who
took part in the destruction of the tea that December night
are not known to this generation and held in remembrance
12 GREENWICH IN 1774
with their companions. Doubtless among them were those
equally brave, equally as patriotic and with as ardent love of
liberty, deserving of our tribute, for the successful lives are
not alone those whom their fellow countrymen delight to
honor, unknown beyond the community in which their lives
are spent, are those in restricted surroundings who by their
adherence to principle, by strict integrity and unselfishness
unconsciously mould and tem.per the lives of those about
May not the influence of some of these unknown heroes
who played their part so well in the little drama, have passed
into other lives and shown forth anew in the cause of right
and justice in conflict with the evils that in every generation
The secrecy and disguise of those who took part in tlie
destruction of the tea proved unavailing, in part at least, for
the owners, John Duflleld and Stacy Hepburn, commenced a
suit in trespass at the April term of the Supreme Court 1775,
against Joel Miller, Abraham Sheppard, Ephraim and Silas
Newcomb for damages to the amount of six hundred pounds.
Suit was also brought against Alexander Moore, Jr., Henry
Seeley and Richard Howell for the same amount.
Joseph Bloomfield, a friend of some of the party, after-
wards governor of the state, had recently been licensed to
practice law and was located in Bridgeton. To him his com-
panions naturally turned, engaging him to defend them.
Duffield and Hepburn were ordered to file security, which
they neglected to do.
The denunciation of the Tories and the condemnation of
the law abiding citizens who had not awakened to the spirit
of the time brought the sympathy of the friends of the
defendants to the front and money was raised for their
The services of Jonathan D. Sergeant, an able lawyer
of Philadelphia, who later became a member of the
Continental Congress, was retained and other legal talent
secured. Duffield and Hepburn engaged Joseph Reed of
Philadelphia, who afterward attained high rank in the
Revolutionary Army, and Charles Pettit, his father-in-law,
who like the opposing counsel, became a member of
GREENWICH IN 1774 I3
Continental Congress. Notwithstanding this formidable
array of legal talent the plaintiff having at last filed security,
found too late that delay had put an end to royal authority in
An effort to have the tea-burners indicted was also un-
successful. "At the May Court of Oyer and Terminer held
May 1775, Chief Justice Frederick Smyth, presided and
charged the Grand Jury, dwelling upon the unlawful action
of the offenders." Ebenezer Elmer, one of the party in the
destruction of the tea, was present and recorded in his
journal: "The jury came in without doing anything &
Court broke up." Judge Smyth incensed at their disloyalty
sent them out again with no result.
Jonathan Elmer, who became one of the most dis-
tinguished citizens of Cumberland County, was at that time
sheriff and had summoned a jury of Whigs. Daniel Elmer
was foreman, both were brothers of Ebenezer and sym-
pathized with the tea-burners.
David Bowen, the successor of Sheriff Elmer was a
Tory. He secured a jury of that persuasion who it was ex-
pected would agree.
The journal above referred to, records under date of
September 27th. "'Twas expected as Sheriff Bowen had got
a jury of Tories we should be indicted for burning tea and
taking Wheaton, (a notorious Tory), but they could not
make out, but made a presentment. Court broke up."
The Tory jury may have sensed the oncoming wave of
public sentiment and felt their support weakening, for
Cumberland County was partaking of the general excitement
which had prevailed througout the colonies since the engage-
ment at Concord and Lexington, and its liberty loving
inhabitants were uniting in a common cause. A number of
the tea-burners had already enlisted in the militia and were
practicing the arts of war.
Thus ends part first of the drama, played to a Cumber-
land County audience long years ago. In its presentation
the actors effect great secrecy, assume a characteristic
disguise making their first public appearance on Market
Square which they illuminate for the occasion with the light
of burning tea.
14 GREENWICH IN 1774
The performance won the applause of many of their
audience, others criticised and condemned it. hi scene
second their friends gather at the Court House, where judge
and jury failing to agree, the legal battle is won and liberty
Part second reveals, so far as known, the actors in the
drama, giving brief sketches regarding them: their families,
ancestry, their acts, their deeds and honors won in the ser-
vice of their country and state.
The memory of these men, and those whose names are
unrecorded, should be held in grateful remembrance for their
fidelity to the principles on which our government was
founded. By their act in destroying the tea, they but
followed the example of others equally opposed to an in-
vasion of their rights. Great Britain was made acquainted
with the temper of the colonists and America's cause was
December 22nd 1908 marks the one hundred and thirty-
fourth anniversary of that memorable night when the light of
burning tea illumined Market Square of Greenwich town,
a beacon which shone far over land and water, a
warning light across the sea.
Since that historic event four generations of men and
women have entered this sphere of activity, when, at last,
that unseen influence; that sense of justice, that regard for
principle, that veneration for ancestors whose sacrifices and
devotion to the cause of liberty made freedom possible,
touches the human heart vitalizing into action a grateful
posterity, an appreciative community, and a liberty loving
people who unite in doing honor to that which was honorable,
that which was justifiable and that which was commendable
in those brave patriots, the Tea-Burners of Cumberland
*Local trddit'ion linn jirefierved f/w ntinie-s nf ICnos h'ln'ng and
I.>iaac Preston (t.s iimouij the tea.-hurner.s.
PHOTOGRAHED BY CORA JUNE SHEPPARD
THE FITHIAN HOMESTEAD
HOME OF PHILIP V. FITHIAN
GREENWICH. NEW JERSEY
THE GREENWICH MEN A W AIT E D TH E ARR I V AL OF THE PARTY FROM THE HOWELL HOMESTEAD
AT THIS PLACE BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE BUSINESS OF THE EVENING
DECEMBER 22. 1774
"The name, the life, the influence of every man makes a part
of the history of the times."
Rev. Daniel Elmer, the ancestor of the Elmer family of
Cumberland County was born in Connecticut in 1690. He
graduated from Yale College in 171 3; engaged in teaching
and preaching until 1727 when he removed with his family to
Fairfield where he was pastor of the Presbyterian Church un-
til his death January nth, 1755. His eldest son, Daniel,
married Abigail Lawrence in 1738. He was a surveyor, and
also served as clerk of the county. He died in 1761.
Ebenezer, his son, was born August 23, 1752. Early de-
prived of his father's care, his education with the exception
of one quarter when he went through with arithmetic, was
acquired at an evening school. On reaching manhood he
studied the practical branches of navigation. He was not
however to follow a sea faring life, his brother. Dr. Jonathan
Elmer, taking him into his office as a student. While
engaged in the study of medicine the agitation regarding the
landing of the tea at Greenwich occurred, with others of his
acquaintance he took part in its destruction.
Early in 1776, after two years of study, he entered the
army as ensign in Captain Bloomfield's company, Third
Battalion. He was promoted April 9th to the office of second
lieutenant. His medical attainments secured him a position
as surgeon's mate under Dr. Lewis Howell, in the Second
Regiment, November 28, 1776. On Dr. Howell's death,
i6 THE TEA-BURNERS
June 28, 1778, he succeeded him as regimental surgeon, and
continued in the service until the army was disbanded in
Returning to Bridgeton, he established himself in his
profession, in which he was very successful. In 1784 he
married Hannah, daughter of Col. Ephriam Seeley. Two
children were born to them, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus,
who attained eminence as a jurist, and Sarah Smith, who
married Rev. William Neill, later president of Dickinson
College. About 1789 he entered the political arena and was
elected to the Assembly, serving until 1795. 'ri 1800 he v/as
sent to Congress as a representative from New Jersey, con-
tinuing for six years. He was appointed adjutant general of
the New Jersey Militia in 1804 and brigadier general of the
Cumberland brigade in 1806. The following year he was
again in the Assembly, and in 1809 was made collector of the
port of Bridgeton, He held several minor offices in the gift of
the people by whom he was highly honored and respected.
Joining the Presbyterian Church in 1825, he established
the first Sabbath School in the county, and was one of the
founders and for many years president of the Bible Society;
he was also president of the New Jersey Branch of the
Society of the Cincinnati, and the last surviving officer of the
Revolution in the state.
It has been said of him, "He was one who always
seemed to think more of his duty as a public officer than of
his private interest." On the stone that marks his last
resting place in the grave yard of the old Presbyterian
Church at Bridgeton, appears the following inscription:
GENERAL EBENHZEF? ELMER
A soldier of the Revolution
who died October i8th 1843
Aged 91 years
THE TEA-BURNERS 17
Timothy, son of Daniel Elmer Jr., and brother of
Ebenezer Elmer was born in Fairfield in 1748.
In 1772 he married Mary Dayton and settled on the
farm inherited from his father, who died when he was a lad
of thirteen. He is said to have been an earnest Whig whose
patriotic zeal led him to join the little band of tea-burners of
which his brother Ebenezer was a conspicuous member. His
love of country was so great he entered the service in its
defence becoming captain of the First Battalion, Cumber-
land Militia, under Col. Newcomb, October 5, 1776. He was
subsequently promoted to the rank of major. Returning
from the army he was elected to the Assembly in the fall of
1779. He was not to live to see the close of the struggle for
independence or to enjoy the fruit of his labor, his death
occurring May 16, 1780.
He was the father of three children: Timothy, born 1773;
Oliver, 1775; and Jane, 1777. Timoihy was sheriff of the
county in i8o5-'o7, and surrogate in 1815. He married Ruth,
daughter of Jeremiah Bennett in 1807. Of their ten children,
the youngest but one was the late Joseph H. Elmer whose
death in Bridgeton took place in 1906. ..-irt-tL-' i
The Ewing family trace their ancestry to Finley Ewing,
an Irish patriot, to whom King William presented a sword for
bravery at the battle of Boyne Water, July i, 1690.
Thomas, the first of the name to settle in West Jersey, came
from Londonderry to Long Island in 1718. He soon removed
to Greenwich where in 1720 he married Mary Maskell, a
descendant of New England ancestors.
Maskell Ewing, their first child, born in 1721, married in
1743 Mary Paget, whose many domestic virtues made her a
model wife and mother. Of their ten children, two, James
and Thomas, took a prominent part in the destruction of the
tea at Greenwich.
i8 THH TEA-BURNERS
While a young man James served as clerk in the store
of Mr. Boyd, who came from the north of Ireland in 1772,
having established himself in business in Bridgeton, he sent
for his wife and children to join him. On their arrival, late
in 1773, they found the husband and father had recently
died. The widow, with the assistance of James Ewing, con-
tinued the business. In the midst of his cares and
responsibilities he found time to win the heart and hand of
the eldest daughter, whom he married October 15, 1778.
He was elected to the Assembly the same year. The
following year he removed to Trenton where he held office as
commissioner of loans for New Jersey.
He gave much time in devising a simplified system of
spelling, which he explained in a pamphlet published in
Trenton in 1798. He died October 23, 1823.
His son Charles was born July 8, 1780; graduated with
honor at Princeton, became a lawyer, and from 1824 until
his death, August 5, 1832, was Chief Justice of the state,
and one of the ablest jurists of his time. (P/\j2Xj (S-^oX.
Thomas, son of Maskell and Mary (Paget), Ewing, and
brother of James, was born in Greenwich, September 13,
His early education was supplemented with a course of
Latin at the somewhat celebrated classical school kept by
Rev. Enoch Green at Deerfield. He then took up the study
of medicine under the instruction of Dr. Samuel Ward, a
native of Connecticut, who located in Greenwich near the
Presbyterian Church in 1760, and was a most successful
practitioner. Thomas Ewing married September 30, i770>
Sarah, only daughter of Samuel and Abigail Fithian, by
whom, it is said, he acquired a considerable estate.
He established himself in his profession at Cold Spring,
Cape May. His instructor Dr. Ward dying in 1774, he
returned to his native town, where he continued the practice
of medicine. He is described as "slimly built, five feet ten
THt TEA-BURNERS 19
inches in height, with dark complexion, black eyes and hair,
making with the addition of an Indian costume and some
slight changes, a disguise which his friends undoubtedly
found difficult to penetrate at the tea burning on Market
His professional ability secured him an appointment from
the Provincial Congress as surgeon in the Battalion, under
Colonel Silas Newcomb, in which were two companies from
He narrowly escaped capture at the battle of Long
Island. After the retreat and during the occupation of New
York by the British he was with Heard's Brigade, stationed
at Fort Washington. The excitement of the campaign, the
heat and unsanitary condition of the camp produced its
effect upon the raw recruits, and much sickness and
mortality prevailed. Among those who took the camp
fever was his former instructor. Rev. Enoch Green who was
fortunately able to reach his home and family before
death claimed him.
Not so fortunate was his friend Philip V. Fithian,
chaplain of Colonel Newcomb's Regiment, who fell a victim
of the same disease. Dr. Ewing was also seized with the
disorder and was brought home. Upon his recovery he was
commissioned first major. Second Battalion, under Colonel
David Potter; November 26, 1777.
During the war. Dr. Ewing was on the letter of marque
brig "Hibernia," Captain Collins, and again in I779, on the
privateer "General Wayne," enduring many hardships and
having several narrow escapes from death. In 1781 he was
elected to the Assembly. Dr. Ewing never fully recovered
from the effects of his sickness contracted in the army, which
had undermined his constitution. His practice was extensive
and was attended with so much exposure and fatigue, that he
had little opportunity for physical recuperation. He died of
consumption October 7, 1782. Of his two children:
Samuel Fithian, died young; William Belford, born in 1776,
attained prominence as a physician.
Dr. Ewing's remains lie in the old grave yard of the
20 THE TEA-BURNERS
Presbyterian Church at Greenwich. A marble tablet bears
the following record:
THOMAS EWING ESQ.
Practitioner in Physic.
After having served his country.
With fidelity and Reputation,
In a variety of important offices,.
Civil and Military,
Died, highly beloved
And much lamented,
October 7th 1782.
In the 55th year of his age.
The Fithian family of Cumberland County descended
from William, who according to tradition was a native of
Wales. He was a soldier under Cromwell and present at
the execution of Charles I. After the restoration of Charles
II, he was proscribed as a regicide and obliged to flee the
He came first to Boston, thence to Lynn, from there to
New Haven, finally settling in East Hampton, Lo-ng Island.
He died about 1678.
His son Samuel, married Priscilla Burnett, March 6, 1679:
removing to Fairfield about 1698, he soon afterwards settled
in Greenwich, where he died in 1702. Of their children;
Josiah, born May 6, 1685, m^arried Sarah, daughter of
Philip Dennis, November 7, 1706, and had Samuel, born
October 12, 1715. He married Phebe, daughter of Ephraim
Seeley, September 3, 1741.
Samuel Fithian was a man of prominence in the county,
holding several important offices, also serving as a member
of the Provincial Congress. He died November 2, 1777.
His eldest son, Joel, born September 29, 1748,, had the
advantages of a good education, his preceptor, Mr. Mc Gilliard
having prepared for the ministry, inculcated into his pupils
THE TEA-BURNERS 21
mind a love for the English classics and the literature of the
Through his father's activity in political life he became
familiar with the duties and responsibilities that attend a
public career. He was well informed regarding current
events and undoubtedly was familiar with the reception
given the tea at the different ports, and was ready to carry
into execution the plan for the destruction of that landed at
Greenwich. His patriotism led to his election as sheriff in
1776, an office of much responsibility and attended with no
little danger in the exciting times of the early part of the
Revolutionary war. He served also in 1777 and 1778, when
feeling his presence needed in the field he commanded a
company in Colonel Enos Seeley's battalion and rendered
service at the battle of Princeton and elsewhere.
His fellow citizens desiring him to represent them in the
Legislature, he did so in 1779, and again in 1791, 1793, ^nd
in 1798 Vv'as a member of the Council.
Joel Fithian was twice married, first to Rachel, daughter
of Jonathan and Ann Holmes. His second marriage was with
Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. Charles Beatty, and widow of
his cousin Rev. Philip V. Fithian, February 2, 1780.
Of their five children, the youngest. Dr. Enoch B. Fithian
lived to be a centenarian.
In the Presbyterian Church yard at Greenwich, Joel
Fithian and Elizabeth his wife, lie buried. A marble stone
bears the following:
To the Memory of
Who Departed This Life November 9 1821
In The 71 Year Of His Life
He Was A Soldier In The Revolution
And Served His Country In Many Important Offices
And The Church In Greenwich As A Ruling Elder
With Zeal And Fidelity
Reader Imitate His Virtues That Your End
May Like His Be Peaceful.
His children have placed at his grave this testimonial of
his worth and their affection.
22 THE TEA-BURNERS
PHILIP VICKERS FITHIAN
Philip, the son of Joseph and Hannah (Vickers) Fithian
was born in Greenwich, December 29, 1747. In his youth
he showed a disposition to acquire an education, having a
fondness for books and learning, which led to his being placed
at the classical school of Rev. Enoch Green at Deerfield,
where he prepared for college. He entered Nassau Hall at
Princeton in 1770, graduating in 1772, and returned to Deer-
field to study for the ministry with his former instructor, Mr.
While thus engaged he received an offer through Rev,
Dr. Witherspoon, president of the College of New Jersey,
to become a tutor in the family of Hon. Robert Carter of
Nomini Hall, Virginia, which he accepted, and for upward of
a year was engaged in teaching.
On his return he was licensed to preach December 6,
1774, and entered upon his work as missionary supplying
vacancies in New Jersey, and preaching in Western Virginia
He was in Greenwich when the destruction of the tea
took place and thus records the circumstance in his journal
under date of Friday, December 23, 1774. "Last night the
Tea, was, by a number of persons in disguise, taken out of
the house & consumed with fire. Violent and different are
the words about this manoeuvre among the inhabitants.
Some rave, some curse and condemn, some try to reason;
many are glad the Tea is destroyed, but almost all disapprove
the manner of destruction."
While he does not mention his participation in the event
of the prevous evening, it is generally understood he was
present. Indeed, we may never know to what extent lie
was responsible for the method of destruction. We do know,
that on his return from Virginia a few weeks previous, he had
spent a day at Annapolis, Maryland, where the people a few
days before had obliged the owner of the brig "Peggy
Stewart" to set fire to the vessel in which were seventeen
chests of tea. The patriotic zeal and temper of the people
there may have led him to suggest the tea stored at Green-
wich be disposed of by the same agent.
THE TEA-BURNERS 23
Of the young men engaged in the affair, many were his
friends and associates, those living in the vicinity of
Greenwich met at his house, which was in a retired spot,
where they were joined by others of the party from the
rendezvous at the Howell brothers, and it is probable, with
his intimate friend, Andrew Hunter, Jr., he accompanied
them to Market Square where if the young ministers did not
take an active part, they heartily approved of the proceedings.
While Philip was yet a student at Mr. Green's he met
and became attached to Mrs. Green's sister, Elizabeth,
daughter of Rev. Charles Beatty of Neshaminy, Penn., an
amiable and attractive young lady some four years his junior.
They were married at the house of her brother, Dr. John
Beatty, near Princeton, October 25, 1775.
On the third of July, 1776 the Continental Congress
resolved to reinforce the army at New York, and requested
New Jersey to furnish of their militia, three hundred
The Provincial Congress ordered the force to be divided
into five battalions, consisting of eightcomp-uiies of seventy -
eight men each, and the service was limited to December i,
1776. Cumberland County's quoto was two companies.
Many of Philips friends had already entered the service
and others proposed joining the new companies. Here was
his opportunity to serve his country and his fellow men. He
secured the appointment of chaplain June 20th, bade adieu
to his beloved wife and joined the army at New York.
Colonel Newcomb was in command of the battalion. Dr.
Thomas Ewing was surgeon, Robert Patterson, surgeon's
mate and other friends were in the camp. With his battalion
he was in the retreat from Long island and retired to Fort
Washington when the British took possession of the City.
As the fall approached, the sickness and mortality of the
army increased. In Colonel Newcomb's battalion of 337
men but 261 were fit for duty the 21st of September. A few
days later chaplain Fithian, weakened by exposure and
fatigue was seized with the camp fever, although he had the
care and attention of his comrades; Dr. Ewing and Rev.
Andrew Hunter, who were in the same brigade, he was un-
able to rally and died October 8, 1776.
24 THE TEA-BURNERS
He was buried the following day, another friend, Rev.
William Hollingshead of Fairfield, in the service as chaplain,
conducted the last rites. Thus closed the brief career of one
of Cumberland County's most talented sons.
The American ancestor of the branch of the Howell
family to which the brothers, Lewis and Richard belonged,
came from Wales in 1729.
Lewis, the son of Ebenezer and Sarah (Bond) Howell,
was born in Newark, Delaware, October 25, 1754. With
his twin brother, Richard, he enjoyed the educational
advantages of his native town until the family having re-
moved to Shiloh in Cumberland County about the year 1769,
it is believed he became a pupil of Rev. Enoch Green at
Having decided to become a physician, he entered upon
the study of medicine in the office of Dr. Jonathan Elmer at
Bridgetown. The Doctor's brother, Ebenezer, was a
fellow student, and one of the party associated with the
Howell's in burning the tea at Greenwich. On the com-
pletion of his studies, Lewis Howell was appointed surgeon
of the Second Battalion, November 28, 1776.
At the battle of Brandy wine he was taken prisoner
but escaped. The Second Battalion was included in the
13,000 men under General Washington, who pursued the
army of Sir Henry Clinton across New Jersey after the
evacuation of Philadelphia in June 1778. The weather was
exceedingly debilitating — heavy rains having fallen — fol-
lowed by intense heat. Dr. Howell was taken sick with the
cholera morbus and was unable to proceed, stopping it is said,
at the Black Horse Tavern between Bordentown and
Trenton. Word was conveyed to his brother. Major Howell,
who had gone forward with his command, "that if he did not
come that day he would not see him alive." He sought and
obtained leave by supplying his place. The officer appointed
"remarked that Howell was willinci to get leave of absence,
THE TEA-BURNERS 25
for he knew there would be hot work that day." Hearing
the remark, and believing it a reflection on his courage,
Major Howell threw himself into the ranks as a private and
fought with gallantry throughout the battle." General
Washington hearing of the circumstance, sent for him and
on the account being confirmed, he rebuked him gently and
said: "Howell, I admire your bravery, but it was your duty
to go to your brother."
On that day, the 28th of June, the hottest of the season,
the battle of Monmouth was fought. Lying in an obscure
tavern. Dr. Lewis Howell, in his twenty-fourth year died.
His life was as much a sacrifice to the cause of American
liberty as those who fell on the field of battle.
Richard, twin brother of Lewis Howell, was born at
Newark, Delaware, October 25, 1754. The early education
of the boys was obtained there, and after the removal of their
parents to New Jersey, continued at the classical school of
Rev. Enoch Green at Deerfield.
Having chosen law as his profession, Richard Howell re-
turned to Delaware and pursued his studies at New Castle.
His school-mate Philip V. Fithian on his way to Mr. Green's
records meeting him July 19, 1773. Mr. Howell informed
him he was soon going to Philadelphia on some business, and
thence to Cape May for his health.
This statement shows at that early day Cape May was
considered a health resort.
It was at the home of the Howell brothers, a brick house
still standing near the village of Shiloh, that the Fairfield and
Bridgetown men, intent upon the destruction of the tea stored
at Greenwich, met.
It is probable Ebenezer Elmer was one of the leaders
among them; but v/e may rest assured from what is known
of the character of Richard Howell, that when the signal
was given and they crossed the threshold of the lower en-
trance of his home out into the fast fading light of the
26 THE TEA-BURNERS
winter's day, he held no second place in that company. His
activity led to his recognition and he was with others sued
The approaching conflict offering a wider field for his ad-
venturous spirit, he laid aside the study of law to enter the
army, hi October 1775 he applied for a captain's commission
and set about enlisting a company. He received his com-
mission bearing date November 29th and marched with his
company from Greenwich the 13th of December. He was
in the expedition to Canada, saw service at Brandywine,
Germantown, was at Valley Forge, followed the British after
the evacuation of Philadelphia, and fought bravely at
Monmouth, while his brother Lewis, surgeon of the battalion
in which he was major, lay dying at a small tavern some
miles away, refusing to take leave to visit him and absent
himself from the conflict. He resigned April 7, 1779 to
engage in some secret service for General Washington.
He commenced the practice of law in Salem and Cum-
berland Counties, having obtained license April 1779. After
a few years he removed to Trenton where he was in 1778
elected clerk of the Supreme Court.
In 1793 he was chosen governor of the state, an office he
held until 1801, when the Federalist party to which he be-
longed was defeated. When General Washington passed
through Trenton on his journey to New York to be in-
augurated president, Governor Howell was most active in
making the reception one of lasting remembrance and wrote
the verses of welcome.
Richard Howell married November I779, Keziah,
daughter of Joseph Burr of Burlington County, by whom he
had nine children. His son, Richard Lewis, was an officer in
the War of 1812. His grandson, John Gumming Howell,
entered the navy, served during the civil war, attaining the
rank of rear admiral 1877, and was acting secretary of the
Navy at various times. Governor Howell's son William was
a lieutenant in the War of 1812, He emigrated to Mississippi
where he married and was the father of several sons dis-
tinguished in the naval service of the Confederacy. His
daughter, Varina, married Jefferson Davis, President of the
Confederate States, whom she survived. Governor Howell
THE TEA-BURNERS 27
died at Trenton, April 28, 1802. His widow removed to
Pittsburgh, Penn., where she died August 9, 1835.
JAMES BOOTH HUNT
During the religious persecution which prevailed in
Scotland many of the inhabitants removed to the north of
Ireland where they became known as Scotch-Irish. Many
thousands of these people emigrated to this country during
the first half of the eighteenth century. Among them was
Robert the ancestor of the Hunt family of Cumberland
County, who settled at Shiloh where he married Rebecca,
daughter of Isaac and Hannah (Barrett) Ayars.
Their son, Bartholomew, married a Mrs. Wood, and was
the father of several children. James Booth, the first born,
with his next younger brother John, had for neighbors Lewis
and Richard Howell, young men of energy and spirit, at
whose home the young patriots met that memorable December
day, joining with others in the execution of a rash and
hazardous undertaking — the destruction of the tea at
James B. Hunt enlisted in the service of his country and
was at Trenton, the scene of General Washington's triumph,
which revived the hopes of the American people. He married
Sarah daughter of Maskell Ewing and settled in Greenwich
near the Presbyterian Church of which he was an active
member. He was a man of local prominence and judge of
the County Court. Three of his sons grew to manhood:
Thomas Ewing, Reuben and William F., whose descendants
are widely scattered over the United States.
The remains of James B. Hunt and his wife repose in
the old cemetery near their home. Mr. Hunt's tombstone
bears the following inscription:
28 THE TEA-BURNERS
JAMES B. HUNT ESQ
who departed this life
August 5 1824
in the 71st year of his age
He served his country in her
struggle for Independence and
afterwards filled various Civil
offices with fidelity to the public
The family home of the Hunts was on an elevation
known as Hunt's Hill, south west of Shiloh, adjoining the
residence of Ebenezer Howell. After the death of his wife,
Rebecca Ayars, Robert Hunt removed to North Carolina,
where there was a settlement of Scotch-Irish, his sympathies
being more in accord with the Presbyterian faith than that of
the Seventh Day Baptist of Shiloh.
Bartholomew, his son, and father of John and James B.
was a successful farmer. John, the second son, in company
with his brother James, was one of the party who so signally
protested against British tyranny by destroying the tea at
Greenwich, December 22, 1774.
John Hunt obtained license to marry Ann Brewster,
May 28, 1779. Of their children, two sons, Richard and John
removed from New Jersey, locating in Springfield, Ohio.
ANDREW HUNTER, JR.
David Hunter, the father of Andrew, was an officer in
the British Army who on his retirement settled in Virginia.
Here Andrew was born in 1752. An Uncle for whom he was
named had removed to New Jersey, entered the ministry and
at that time located in Cumberland County as pastor of the
THE TEA-BURNERS 29
Greenwich Presbyterian Church. His wife, Amie Stockton,
was a cousin of Richard Stockton, who kiter signed the
Declaration of Independence. Having no children. Rev.
Andrew Hunter wrote his brother David if he would send
his namesake to him he would educate him. The father
complied, and the boy became an inmate of the household,
his uncle instructing him and preparing him for college, which
he entered in the fall of 1770, graduating from Nassau Hall,
Princeton, in 1772. He was licensed to preach the following
year, and went as a missionary to the frontier of Pennsylva-
nia and Virginia.
The Greenwich parsonage, then located about three
miles east of the church, had long been his home and was
dear to him — dearer still was one of its inmates — Nancy Ann
Riddle, a beautiful girl, half sister of Mrs. Hunter, and much
younger, whom she had adopted as a daughter.
Brought up in the same household they had become
much attached to each other, her presence in the home
being the loadstone which drew him thither whenever
opportunity offered. He was there in December, happy in the
enjoyment of her society, when the agitation regarding the
tea occured. On that evening when the village was
illuminated with burning tea, he was undoubtedly present
at the scene of the conflagration and it is supposed took an
After the death of his uncle, July 28, 1775, he was
occasionally called to the pulpit of the Greenwich church.
October 2d of the same year he and his charming Nancy
were married. After a few short months of wedded bliss he
received an appointment as chaplain of Colonel Van
Cortland's battalion, June 28, 1776. This battalion formed
part of Heard's brigade which in the defence of New York,
vv'as, on the approach of the British, obliged to retire to the
upper part of the Island. Here he was called upon to take
final leave of his youthful companion and college associate,
Chaplain Fithian, who, weakened by sickness and disease
passed from the activity and turmoil of camp life into that
unknown realm which so closely enfolds and conceals from
mortal sight the spirit of the departed.
As his term of service with the militia expired. Chaplain
?o THE TEA-BURNERS
Hunter entered the Continental army, General MaxwelTs
brigade, remaining in the service until the close of the war.
He received the public thanks of General Washington
for valuable aid rendered at the battle of Monmouth. By his
marriage with Nancy Riddle he had two children: Andrew, a
prominent lawyer and attorney general of the state, and a
daughter who married a Mr. Gordon of Trenton. After the
close of the war he returned to Bridgeton where he taught a
classical school in 1784 — '85.
His wife having died, he married a daughter of Richard
Stockton, signer of the Declaration of hidependence.
Mr, Hunter occasionally preached, and on December 29,
1799, he occupied the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church at
Trenton, reading President Adams' proclamation regarding
General Washington's death and stated the recommendation
of the pastor, Rev. Mr. Armstrong, regarding the ladies
wearing mourning for three months.
He was engaged in teaching in the vicinity of Trenton
for a number of years, and from 1804 to 1808 was professor
of mathematics and astronomy at Princeton College.
He was appointed chaplain in the U. S. Navy, March 5,
181 1, and for many years was stationed at Washington,
D. C. He died there February 24, 1823. His children by
his second marriage were: Richard S., a naval officer, who
died in 1825; David, a graduate of West Point, who was a
major general in the Civil War, dying in 1886; Moses and
Lewis B., who graduated from Princeton, the latter an
eminent surgeon in the U. S. Navy.
A daughter, Mary, married Lieutenant S. W. Stockton,
who died in 1836. On July 8, 1852 she became the second
wife of the eminent Dr. Charles Hodge of Princeton College.
Joel Miller was one of the members of the Greenwich
tea-burners whose identity was discovered and against whom
suit was brought for damages. As at that time he was in his
twenty-fourth year it is assumed he was a man of some
THE TEA-BURNERS 31
property, the owners of the tea, however, never received
any consideration for their loss.
Many of Joel's companions and friends having enlisted,
he entered the army as sergeant in the company of which
Joel Fithian was captain. His company formed part of
Colonel Enos Seeley's battalion and rendered good service at
Princeton. It is believed Joel Miller was with the pursuing
army who followed Sir Henry Clinton and his command
across the "Jerseys," and was present at the battle of
Monmouth, taking part also in other engagements.
A few years later Joel Miller, in a matrimonial engage-
ment, surrendered his heart into the keeping of Polly Newel,
whom he took out license to marry April 10, 1787.
By reason of strength he lived four score years, and as
an old soldier of the Revolution was laid at rest, among
comrades who had preceeded him, in the Presbyterian
cemetery at Greenwich, A plain marble stone marks the
spot and bears the following:
who died December 8, 1827
Aged 80 years
ALEXANDER MOORE, JR.
Alexander Moore, Sr., was of Irish descent, born about
1704. He was an early settler of Cohansey Bridge,
(Bridgeton), where he engaged in trade and became wealthy.
He married Sarah, daughter of Abraham Reeves of Green-
wich. Of their five children, the eldest, Sarah, became the
wife of John White of Philadelphia; another daughter married
Dr. Isaac Harris of Pittsgrove, who in 1776 was surgeon in
Colonel Newcomb's brigade, and two children died in infancy.
The parents were buried in the church yard at Greenwich
where substantial tablets recount their virtues. Mrs. White
and the two children also repose there.
Alexander Jr., was one of the now famous tea-burners,
32 THE TEA-BURNERS
and was sued by the owners for damages, the wealth of his
father no doubt leading them to hope for financial redress, a
hope that proved delusive.
Alexander Moore owned a large tract of land near the
present county house. Here in a substantial mansion called
"Moore's Hall" he and his wife, a Miss Tate, endeavored to
maintain the position and style assumed by wealthy and
aristocratic families of the period. Early in tke nineteenth
century he disposed of his estate and removed to Bucks
Ephriam Newcomb was of New England ancestry, his
father and grandfather having removed from Massachusetts
to New Jersey in 1732.
Silas Newcomb, his father, married Bathsheba Dayton
and settled at Fairfield. They were members of the Presby-
terian Church, having been baptized in 1759, v/hen he is
recorded as captain. He saw active service in the French
and Indian and Revolutionary wars.
Ephriam was his fourth son. It is said he studied
medicine with Ebenezer Elmer. He was one of the young
men present at Greenwich when the tea was destroyed and
was included with those who were sued for damages. It does
not appear that he entered the service; the family, however,
was well represented by his father. General Silas, his
brothers, Dayton and Webster, and his cousins, Reuben and
Toward the close of the seventeenth century a number
of the inhabitants of Fairfield in Connecticut removed to
West Jersey and settled on the south side of Cohansey
River. Here they established a church about 1690, and on
THE TEA-BURNERS 33
May 12, 1697 were, by an act of the Assembly, duly
authorized to name the township Fairfield. The advantages
of the settlement having become known to Captain Joseph
Newcomb of Edgartown, on the Island of Martha's Vineyard,
Massachusetts, he removed with his wife and three sons in
Captain Newcomb was then about fifty years of age, he
had held important offices in his home town, and served as a
member of the Legislature. The family were hardly settled
in their new home when he died just before January 17, 1733,
at which time his widow, Joyce (Butler), was appointed
administrator of his estate,
Silas, their sixth and youngest child, was born about
1723; he married Bathsheba Dayton, and their children were:
Dayton, Webster, Silas and Ephriam. He was a lieutenant
in the French and Indian War defending the frontier in
1758 against the attack of the savages.
The following year he was promoted captain and with
his company was included in that famous regiment of 1,000
men who were completely clothed in a handsome uniform
and provided with all necessities through the efforts of
Governor Barnard, which reflected credit upon the colony and
elicited the praise of General Amherst when he reviewed
them at Albany.
Whatever influence the pomp and splendor of the
British camp, with its well equipped and finely disciplined
troops, may have had upon the rank and file of the provincial
army, the . old soldiers were better qualified by their
experience, and were generally ready to engage in the
approaching struggle for their country's freedom.
Captain Newcomb, although one of the committee to
carry into execution the articles of association entered into by
the Continental Congress, yet persisted in violating one of
its articles, by using tea in his family. He was soon con-
vinced of his error by the determination of his associates to
"break off all dealings with him," and acknowledged in a
letter. May 11, 1775, his decision to abide by the association,
and asked "pardon for his great offence."
The news of the battle of Lexington, which occurred on
the 19th of April, 1775, arrived in Philadelphia the 24th about
34 THE TEA-BURNERS
five o'clock in the afternoon. The next day Cumberland
County was awakened by the report. Captain Newcomb's
martial spirit was aroused, and with clearer views on the tea
question, he was ready to serve his oppressed country. He
was commissioned colonel of the First Battalion, Cumberland
County militia, which formed part of Heard's brigade in the
defence of New York, he was also in the Continental army.
March 15, 1777 he was appointed brigadier general of
the militia, resigning December 4th of the same year, but
was afterwards engaged in guarding the banks of the
Delaware, preventing the landing of refugees to plunder the
Although the names of Silas and Ephriam Newcomb
appear among the tea-burners, and General Newcomb is
accepted as the Silas referred to, the writer is inclined to the
belief, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it was
Silas the son of the old soldier who was present with his
Clarence, the son of Silas Parvin was born at Bridge-
town, probably in the tavern built by his father, a two-story
hip-roofed house of some pretensions, west of and facing the
river a short distance south of Commerce street.
Silas Parvin was a store keeper as well as an innkeeper;
he secured a license as early as 1737 to keep a tavern, re-
newing it from time to time until 1773 when he retired.
In the year 1771 Silas Parvin appeared before the
governor and council at Burlington, having charges against
"Jonathan Holmes, Howell Powell, Jonathan Ayars, Ephriam
Seely and Samuel Fithian, Esqrs., justices of the peace."
At the hearing December 4th, as Mr. Parvin could not "prove
misbehavior on the part of the justices," he acknowledged he
was unable to support his charges, "asked their pardon for the
trouble he had put them to and his behavior toward them."
From this incident and the opinion of the committee we may
infer Mr. Parvin, at that period of his life, was not in
THE TEA-BURNERS 35
sympathy with the majesty of the law.
Clarence, his eldest son, was evidently a young man of
some spirit who did not hesitate to defy the law in the cause
of freedom — and under cover of the darkness with his
associates made a bonfire of the tea stored at Greenwich.
He married Amy Mayhew of Pittsgrove in 1775. His
father who was a man of considerable property died in
Henry Pierson, the ancestor of David and Stephen
Pierson, who were among the tea-burners at Greenwich was
one of the first and leading citizens of Southampton, Long
Island. He was a brother or near kinsman of Rev.
Abraham Pierson, who came to New England in 1639,
gathered a church at Lynn, Massachusets, and with them
removed to and became the first settlers of Southampton in
1640. Seven years later he removed with part of his
congregation to Branford, Connecticut, and in 1667, again
removed with most of his flock to New Jersey, founding and
Henry Pierson remained in Southampton until his death
in 1680 or 1681. His son, Joseph, married Amy Barnes,
November 17, 1675. O^ their five children, the first, named
Henry, was born in 1678 and married into the Ludlow family.
From that marriage eight children were born; the third, Azel,
born 1708, settled in West Jersey, probably at Fairfield
where so many of the Long Island emigrants located.
Of his descendants, David Pierson, the tea-burner, en-
tered the service of his country as first lieutenant October
5, 1776, in Captain Timothy Elmer's company. He also
served under Captain David Elwell in Colonel Enos Seely's
battalion, January 31, 1777, and was promoted to the rank
of captain July i, 1780. Dr. Azel Pierson, born July 12,
1767, became a prominent physician of Cumberland County.
36 THE TEA-BURNERS
The name of Pierson holds an honorable place in the
records of the colony of New Jersey. One of the most
prominent in its early annals is that of Rev. Abraham
Pierson, who was the founder and first settler of Newark.
His son, bearing the same name, was the first president of
Yale College. A kinsman, Azel Pierson, settled in the
southern part of the colony and left among his descendants,
two, who immortalized their names by their connection
with a number of young men who with patriotic zeal
burned a cargo of East India tea at Greenwich. Stephen
Pierson's home was probably not far distant from his friends,
the Elmers, and Newcombs at Fairfield, and although we
may know little regarding his career. General Elmer in his
old age did not forget he was one of his companions on that
memorable day in December 1774-
The Seeley's of West Jersey are descendants of Robert
Seeley who was made a freeman in Massachusetts Colony,
May i8, 1631. From Watertown, where he was a surveyor,
he removed with a "goodly company" to Wethersfield, in
Connecticut Colony, where they hoped to "better maintain
their minister and find larger accommodations for their
Hardly had they become established when a band
of Pequot Indians surprised them, killing six men and three
women, taking captive two girls, killing twenty cows and
doing other damage.
The general court declared war against the Pequots
May I, 1637. Captain John Mason and Lieutenant Robert
Seeley were placed in command of upward of ninety men, who,
with the help of friendly Indians, destroyed nearly the entire
tribe of Pequots, and secured peace which lasted nearly forty
years. Lieutenant Seeley removed to New Haven in 1639.
After residing there a few years, he revisited England, re-
THE TEA-BURNERS 37
turning in 1654. He is supposed to have died in New York,
his widow administering upon his estate October 9, 1668.
His son, Nathaniel, married in New Haven, 1646, Mary
Turney. They removed to Fairfield, Connecticut Colony,
where he was made a freeman in 1647. His wife having
died he married Elizabeth, widow of Nehemiah Olmsted.
Nathaniel Seeley was commissioned lieutenant in King
Philip's War, and was killed December 19, 1675 ^t the head
of his command in an engagement with the Indians. Of his
ten children, Joseph, who married Sarah. , and had
Ephriam and Samuel, was undoubtedly the Joseph Seeley
"late of New England," who with others, possibly his brother
Benjamin among them, purchased May 3, 1697, 400 acres
of land on Cohansey River at Fairfield, in New Jersey.
Joseph's son Ephriam, purchased land and built a mill
on what is now known as East Lake, Bridgeton. His will is
dated March 9, 1722-3. He left a wife Mary, and children:
Ephriam, Elizabeth, Sarah and Phebe. His personal estate
amounted to £258.13. To the congregation inhabitants in
and about Fairfield "he left forty shillings per year, for the
procuring and supporting a Protestant Dissenting minister"
for ten years.
Henry Seeley was a descendant of the first settlers of
Fairfield. He was probably living in or near Bridgetown at
the time of the landing of the tea at Greenwich. As a friend
and companion of the young men, he joined with them in its
destruction. Of his subsequent history little seems to be
known. It is said he died unmarried. A Henry Seeley, a
relative, married Hannah Dare and kept an inn at
Ephriam, the father of Josiah Seeley, the tea-burner, was
a son of Ephriam, whose father, Joseph, settled in Fairfield
about 1697. He was born in 1709 and married Hannah,
daughter of Josiah Fithian in 1736.
He was a man of prominence in the county, holding the
38 THE TEA-BURNERS
office of justice, judge and colonel of militia. His death
occurred while a resident of Bridgetown, June 22, 1774.
Josiah, his son, was born in 1755. He early displayed
his patriotism by uniting with his Bridgetown companions in
destroying the tea at Greenwich, and later showed his
love for his country by enlisting in the Continental army,
February 7, 1776, as first lieutenant in Captain Bloomfield's
company. He soon resigned, and was appointed quarter-
master of the first battalion, Cumberland militia, July 10,
1777. He married Rebecca Gibbon, settling near Deerfield,
where in the management of his mill property on the
Cohansey, inherited from his father, he resided for a number
of years, returning later to Bridgeton where after many
years of usefulness he died. His wife died April 5, 1822,
aged 64 years. Their daughter, Mary Gibbon, married Dr.
Francis G. Brewster, a lineal descendant of Elder William
Brewster who came in the "Mayflower" in 1620. Another
daughter, Harriet, became the wife of Dr. William Belford
Ewing. Twin sons, Ephriam and Leonard died in 1794 and
are buried at Deerfield. Richard and Mason G. grew to
manhood, married and left descendants.
Husband and wife lie buried in the old cemetery at
Bridgeton. On Mr. Seeley's tombstone is the following:
who departed this life
October i 1832
Aged ^^ years.
The Sheppards were among the early settlers of
Cohansey precinct, now Cumberland County. On Septem-
ber 20, 1687, David Sheppard, who was then sojourning in
Burlington, purchased of the agent of William Worth, one
half of 500 acres of land he had bought of John Fenwick,
August II, 1676, located at Back Neck. David's brothers.
THE TEA-BURNERS 39
James and Thomas purchased in the same locality.
John, probably another brother, was also an extensive
land owner. He died in 1710, James in 1690, David in 1695
and Thomas in 1721. Evidently they were all men of
property and standing in the community.
Among their numerous descendants was the father of
Abraham Sheppard, who it is thought settled at Greenwich.
Little seems to be known regarding the son, but from his
connection with the tea-burners we have good reason to
believe he was patriotic and brave. He was, with others,
sued by the owners of the tea, with what result has already
been stated, it is believed his remains lie unmarked in the
Presbyterian burial ground at Greenwich.
in the year 1729 there was in the employ of Benjamin
Acton, a surveyor and tanner of Salem, one Henry Stacks,
shorter of statue than most men, and of a yellowish brown
complexion, with a scar upon his face, who for some reason
became dissatisfied with his environment, and in company
with an Indian man, also in Mr. Acton's service, deserted
their master and the town.
Where they went is not known to this generation. It is
quite possible however, Henry Stacks found his way to
Cohansey precinct and settled there, where in the course of
time, having married, a son was born, to whom he gave his
own name. If the inference is correct, it was his son, Henry,
who joining with the tea-burners on that memorable Thurs-
day evening won for himself an unenviable reputation by
tying his trousers about his ankles and filling them with tea,
hoping while the moon was obscured to escape detection in
the darkness. Not only was his act discovered and ridiculed
by his companions who dubbed him "Tea-Stacks," but the
story has been handed down from generation to generation.
Like many another person, he forgot the glorious cause in
which they were engaged, the principle to be maintained at
all hazard, for the present opportunity.
40 THE TEA-BURNERS
His saving propensity served liim well, for in his later
years he became a large landholder in Lower Hopewell, and
in a wordly way was prosperous. His place in Dutch Neck
is now owned by Robert M. Rocap of Bridgeton.
With John Fenwick in the "Griffin" came Richard
Whitacar, the founder of the family in New Jersey.
Tradition has it he visited this country in 1665 — '66 returning
to England to come again in 1675.
He was a zealous adherent of the founder of Salem, and
a magistrate from 1676 to 1702 He was a Friend, and
married Elizabeth Adkins a member of that body. Before the
close of the century he removed to the south side of
Cohansey River in the vicinity of New England Town where
he built a substantial brick dwelling.
In company with Henry Buck, Jr., a native of
Connecticut, he engaged in trade, carrying on an extensive
business in supplying the settlers with groceries, dry goods,
clothing and liquors, receiving in exchange produce which
was sent to New York and Boston in a large sloop owned by
Richard Whitacar died soon after 1709, leaving a son of
the same name, also Thomas and Nathaniel. Of this family
so prominent in the early history of Fairfield, the name of
Silas Whitekar appears as an illustrious example of the
young men of the time, who, feeling the injustice of Great
Britain in forcing the tea upon the unwilling colonists,
asserted their independence by committing it to the flames,
in the cemetery surrounding the "Old Stone Church"
at Fairton may be seen the marble slab marking the last
resting place of his wife.
The inscription, quaint and unusual to modern eyes is as
THE TEA-BURNERS 41
In memory of
MARY the once
beloved spouse of
whose exit was on
the i8th of Nov. 1794
Life how short
Eternity how long
This brief epitaph evidently but partly reveals the depth
of tenderness and love Silas Whitekar had for his wife. Of
his burial place we know not, no stone appearing in the old
cemetery, but we venture to say it was his desire to be laid
at rest beside his beloved Mary.
Another descendant of Richard and relative of Silas, Rev.
Epher Whitaker, distinguished as a clergyman and author,
was born at Fairfield, March 27, 1820.
Before the close of the present year of nineteen hundred
and eight, visitors to the historic town of Greenwich will find
a monument of enduring granite erected in honor of the
young patriots who burned a cargo of tea stored there in
This memorial will remain an object of pride to the
people of the town, county and state, who in thus com-
memorating the event will not only draw attention to its
history, and the character of the men honored, but also serve
to increase the interest of the present generation in historic
.To-Pleasf N. MANCHESTER,
'""^ INDIANA 46962