(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The tea-burners of Cumberland County who showed their resistance to British tyranny and unjust taxation by burning a cargo of East India tea on the evening of December 22, 1774 at Greenwich, New Jersey"



I 





& 



k) 



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 



THB 

TEA=BURNERS 

OF 

CUMBERLAND COUNTY 



WHO 



Burned ei Cargo of Tea 



AT 



GRBEIVWICH, INBW JBRSBV 
DBCBMBBR 22, XI'JA 



BY 

PRANK D. ANDREWS 



VJNELAND, 
CUMBERLAND COUNTY. NEW JERSEY 
1908 



i 


M 


'''iH^^^^^B 


s 




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 



THE 

TEA=BURNER5 

OF 

CUMBERLAND COUNTY 

WHO 

SHOWED THEIR RESISTANCE 

TO 

BRITISH TYRANNY AND UNJUST TAXATION 

BY 

BURNING A CARGO OF EAST INDIA TEA 

ON THE EVENING OF 

DBCBTVIBER 22, 1774 

AT 

GREEINWICH, INEW JERSEV 



BY 
RRAINK D. ANDREWS 

SECRETARY VINELAND HISTORICAL AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY 



VINELAND. 
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- 
ful scene. 

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 
through life," 

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 
Cumberland County. 

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. 



PART FIRST 
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 
the place. 

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 
authority. 

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 
colonial rights. 

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 
patriotism. 

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 
Bridgetown. 

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 
Greenwich street. 

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 
disturbance. 

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 
painter's brush. 

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 
them. 

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 
oppress mankind. 

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 
defence. 

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 
New Jersey. 

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 
is triumphant. 

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 
strengthened.* 

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 
County. 

*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." 

PART SECOND 

THB TBA=BURrs[BRS 

EBENEZER ELMER 

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 
1783. 

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: 

In 

Memory of 

GENERAL EBENHZEF? ELMER 

A soldier of the Revolution 

who died October i8th 1843 

Aged 91 years 



THE TEA-BURNERS 17 

TIMOTHY ELMER 

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 



JAMES EWING 

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 EWING 

Thomas, son of Maskell and Mary (Paget), Ewing, and 
brother of James, was born in Greenwich, September 13, 

1748. 

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 
Square. 

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 
Cumberland County. 

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. 

Surgeon, 

and 

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. 



JOEL FITHIAN 

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 
country. 

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 
period. 

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: 



Sacred 

To the Memory of 

JOEL FITHIAN 

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. 
Green. 

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 
and Pennsylvania. 

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 
men. 

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. 



LEWIS HOWELL 

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 
Deerfield. 

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 HOWELL 

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 
for damages. 

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 
Greenwich. 

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 

In 

memory of 

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 



JOHN HUNT 

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 
active part. 

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 

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: 

In 

memory of 

JOEL MILLER 

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 
County, Pennsylvania. 



EPHRIAM NEWCOMB 

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 
Ethan. 



SILAS NEWCOMB 

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 
1732. 

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 
inhabitants. 

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 
brother Ephriam. 



CLARENCE PARVIN 

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 
1779. 



DAVID PIERSON 

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 
settling Newark. 

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 

STEPHEN PIERSON 

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- 



HENRY SEELEY 

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 
cattle." 

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 
Deerfield. 



JOSIAH SEELEY 

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: 

IN 

MEMORY OF 

JOSIAH SEELEY 

who departed this life 

October i 1832 

Aged ^^ years. 



ABRAHAM SHEPPARD 

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. 



HENRY STACKS 

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. 



SILAS WHITEKAR 

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 
the firm. 

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 
follows: 



THE TEA-BURNERS 41 

In memory of 

MARY the once 

beloved spouse of 

SILAS WHITEKAR 

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 

1774- 

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 
events. 



ECKMAN 

JDERY INC. 



FEB 97 



.To-Pleasf N. MANCHESTER, 
'""^ INDIANA 46962