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Full text of "Tucca--Ramma-Hacking"

Tucca^ 



Ramma- 



Hacking. 



Hunterdon Historical Series. No. 5. 



Tucca-Ramma-Hacking. 



BY E. VOSSELLER. 



.E.DEATS. 4-75507 



FLEMINGTON, N. J 
H 

1901. 



George W. Burroughs, Printer, 
Cranbury, N. J. 



fROM the high ground near the middle of Mor- 
ris Co., two little streams start on their 

* winding way to the ocean. One takes a zig- 
zag southerly course into Somerset Co., the other 
with a great sweep to the southwest into Hunter- 
don Co., makes a turn which causes it to run north 
for some miles from its mouth, though its first few 
miles are almost exactly south. About four miles 
north of Somerville in Somerset Co., these two 
streams, the North Branch and the South Branch 
unite and form the Karitan. The neighborhood 
where these streams join, the Indians called 
Tucca-Ramma-Hacking, meaning the flowing to- 
gether of waters. 

Of this region Cornelius Van Tienhoven, Secre- 
tary of tlie New Netherlands writing in 1G50 says, 
3 



"This is the liandsoniest and pleasantest country 
that man can behold. It furnished the Indians 
with aljundance of maize, beans, pumpkins, and 
other fruits. It was abandoned by them for two 
reasons. First finding themselves unable to resist 
the southern Indians, they migrated further in- 
land. Second this country was flooded every 
spring, frequently destroying their supply of 
maize, stored in holes under ground." 

Along these beautiful meadoAvs the red man 
fished and hunted finding an ample supply. Here 
he wooed his dusky mate. Here liis l)oys learned 
the use of bow and arrow, and stone ax. Hei e his 
girls learned the gentler arts of housekeeping and 
of providing grain and fruits for winter. Here he 
ate and drank and slept ; what then V He ate and 
drank and slept again, with litth' incentive l)e- 
yond, except some time to reach the haj)))y limit- 
ing grounds. 

But there came a day when the Dutch imasion 

from Long Island pushing up the Ivaritan reached 

tliis region and tract after tract of their lands went 

out of their possession. But let it be remembered 

1 



that these lands were always bought, and never 
stolen from the Indians. 

"It is a proud fact in the history of New Jersey 
that every foot of her soil has heen obtained from 
the Indians by fair and voluntary purchase and 
transfer, a fact that no other state of the Union, 
not even the land that bears the name of Penn 
can boast of." So said Samuel L. Southard, New 
Jersey's most brilliant Senator who reached the 
unique distinction of being an United States Sena- 
tor while his father was a Congressman. On the 
same occasion, Sha-wus kukh-kung an educated 
Delaware said "Not a drop of our blood have you 
spilled in battle, not an acre of our land have you 
taken but by our consent." 

The prosaic name for Tucca-Kanima-Hacking 
was Two Bridges. These spanned the North 
Branch near its mouth, the first, as you go toward 
Somerville, reaching to a little island about two- 
thirds the way across and the shorter one landing 
you on the east side of the river. These seemed 
a sufficient warrant for the name, l)ut tradition 
says the name referred to the fact that there was a 
5 



bridge also over the South Branch near its mouth 
to accommodate a road running up the south side 
of the Earitan. It is unlikely. In that case they 
would have called the place Tliree Bridges. 

In the early days the great market for this sec- 
tion and the country west of it was New Bruns- 
wick. Tiiere was a great deal of travel over these 
bridges, the farmers hauling their grain to New 
Brunswick and bringing back provisions of various 
sorts. The first house over the bridge towards 
Somerville was kept as a tavern. Of course that 
house has disappeared, but in a new house a little 
further back from the river, our old time Fleni- 
Ington neighbor, Elisha Kuhl, successfully culti- 
vates one of those splendid Tucca-Ramma-Hacking 
farms where "the valleys stand so thick with 
corn, they laugh and sing." 

Before these bridges were built the stream was 
forded a little below where the bridges afterward 
stood. A woman on horseback from the neighlior- 
hood of Readington crossed over one mcn-ning to 
do somfr errand below, and on her return the stream 
had risen so much as to be dangerous and she was 
G 



advised at the tavern not to try to cross. She 
said she must get home for she had left her little 
baby there in the morning and she must get back 
to it. So she made the attempt, but the cruel 
waters swept horse and rider out into the Earitan 
and both were drowned. 

The following extract from the deed, taken 
from the Elizabethtovvn Bill in Chancery, relates 
to the part of these lands lying at the mouth of 
the South Branch. 

"That Paywassen, Indian, by his deed dated 
Aug. 14, 1688 for the consideiatiou therein named 
did sell to the Proprietors of East Jersey, a tract 
of land beginning at Holland's Brook and from 
thence as the river runs to the meeting of the 
l)ranches of the Pari tan and to run as far back as 
the said l*ay\vasseu and other Indians their lands 
run as by the said deed, recorded in Liber B. page 
r):{4." 

In 171G Andreas Ten Eyek bought the north 

half of this tract, about 275 acres. His son Col. 

Al)raham and wife Sarah were buried on a 

bluff on this farm about one hundred yards back 

7 



from tlie mouth of the South Branch, as if they 
were loath to be carried away from these beautiful 
surroundings. It is stated on their tomb-stones 
that Col. Abraham Ten Eick died Nov. 1812 aged 
81 years and 331 days, and that Sarah wife of Col. 
Abraham Ten Eyvl- died Jan. 2, 1811, aged 101 
years and nine months, showing that she was her 
husband's senior by nineteen years. 

Col. Abraham's grandson Andrew Ten Eyck 
who lived here, was very fond of sliow. He kept 
many tine liorses, Avagons and carriages with har- 
ness and whips to match. If he had occasion to 
do a little trading at the stores in Somerville he 
would likely go with four horses and a big farm 
wagon. He drove by word, without lines, and 
never tied his horses to a tie-post. They weie 
large and fat and lazy, and when he said whoa, 
they stood fast until he gave them anotlier com- 
mand. 

On one occasion he came to the othce of our late 
Vice Chancellor, A. V. Van Fleet, when he was a 
leading lawyer here in Flemington and introduc- 
ing himself threw down $20.00 as a retaining fee, 



saying he thought of instituting a law suit and in 
tliat case would want his services. But that was 
the last of it, the law suit never came off. 

In such Nvays he cut a pretty broad swath for 
many years. He inherited three farms, two of 
which were uu-incumbered. He died in a hut on 
an Illinois prairie, so poor he had not money 
enough to bury him. 

Lot No. 37 of these original purchases, contain- 
ing 500 acres bought by Hendrick Corson in the 
same year 1688, represents that part of Tucca- 
Ramma-Hacking lying at the mouth of the North 
Branch. 

In 1753 Corson sold tlie south part of his lot to 
Peter Dumont. This was inherited by his son 
John Baptist Dumont, and by his will devised for 
their life time to his sisters, Brachia and Phebe. 
These were two very amiable gentlewomen, Avho 
were Aunt "Bracky" and Aunt Phebe to the 
whole neighborhood. At their decease it came 
into the market, and my brother John Yosseller 
bought it. He sold off all but 100 acres, cleared 



up and enriched the land, built a new barn and 
remodelled the house. These improvements, add- 
ed to its unusually handsome location, made of it 
a model homestead. Here he resided until that 
beautiful Easter morning of 1900, when he enter- 
ed into rest. 

Just back of this farm in Dec. 1753, Jacob Van 
Nest was brutally murdered by one of his slaves. 
The occasion is said to have been the taking of a 
leaf of tobacco out of the negro's box. He was 
arrested, taken to the county seat, then at Mill- 
stone, tried and condemned to be burned publicly 
at the stake. This execution was a great occasion. 
Sheriff A^an Doren enforced the penalty. It is 
said that many of the negroes of the surrounding 
country were present forming the inner circle, 
while the whites formed the outer circle, around 
the fire. During the burning, the sheriff* on his 
horse with a drawn sword in hand, rode between 
the spectators and the fire to keep the former at a 
proper distance. 

In those good old days, when they punished, 
they punished ; and they were quick about it. 



As an illustration, — In that same neighborhood 
on June 20, 1780, Tobie a negro slave ^vas indict- 
ed for a felony. He pleaded not guilty and "put 
liimself on his God and the Country." On the 
21st he was tried and found guilty and sentenced 
to be hung on the 24th, and the penalty was duly 
enforced. 

"The Dutch Reformed Church of North Branch," 
organized about 1717 built its lirst edifice here on 
the brow of the hill about two hundred yards 
west of Two Bridges on the north side of the "big" 
road, that is, the "old York Koad," and on the 
west side of the road running up the North Branch. 
It was built of logs with a framed addition which 
seems to suggest growth in the congregation soon 
after the organization. It stood on ground now 
belongiug to the widow of Mr. John Vosseller and 
tradition says it was burned down. This is the 
organization now known as the Reformed Church 
of Readiugton located about three miles west of 
this first building, in the village of Readington 
where a frame church was erected and the first 
service held Oct. 7, 1739. 
11 



Durino; the Revolution the affairs of Queen 's^ 
now Rutgers College were carried on for some 
time in this log church. The faculty and students 
of tliis college were more than once ohliged to de- 
camp from New Brunswick on account of the 
proximity of the British forces. The New Jersey 
Gazette of May 5, 1778, announces that "the hnsi' 
ness of Queen's College in New Jersey formerly 
carried on in New Brunswick, is begun at North 
Branch of Raritan, in the County of Somerset in a 
pleasant and retired neighborhood ; lodging and 
board to be had in decent families at 80 £ per an- 
num. Apply to John Taylor A, iM., tutor at place 
aforesaid." 

Another notice in the same paper of Jan. 24, 
1779, gives information that "the College is still 
carried on at the North Branch of Raritan. and 
that the neighborhood is so far distant from head- 
quarters that the army does not at least interfere 
with the business of the College." 

This John Taylor was "1st Colonel New Jersey 
State Regiment." As late as Sept. 25, 1779 he 
wrote from this place to Gov. Livingston assign- 
12 



ing his diities in College as a reason for some de= 
lay in forwarding certain reports concerning the 
Militia. During the war his time appears to have 
been divided between his duties as Colonel of a 
militia regiment and those pertaining to his pro* 
fessorship. 

A little north of the Church, but on the east 
side of the road running up the North Branch, 
stood a blacksmith shop. In recent years various 
iron scraps have been unearthed there. Among 
other things the two halves of a chain cannon ball 
and the bottoms of smoothing irons, and near 
where the church stood a line looking spur, which 
some horse-backer had lost. A few English cop- 
per coins and a few Nova Cesareas or horse heads, 
also have been found there. 

Tradition has it tliat to this shop Gen. Wash- 
ington came and had the shoes of his horse taken 
oft" and all turned around so that as he travelled 
in any diiection he seemed to be going directly 
opposite. A crazy conceit. The truth probably 
was that he had his horse's shoes reset and trans- 
it 



ferred from riglit foot to left that they might wear 
longer. 

It is said a wlieelwright shop stood a little to 
the southwest of the Church. It is certain that a. 
few graves clustered about the Church, but whose, 
none can tell. "Dust to duet and the spirit to 
God who gave it. ' ' 

Kev. Theodorus Jacobus F'relinghuysen was the 
only pastor of this Log Church in the wilderness. 
At the same time he was Pastor of the Dutch Ke- 
formed Church of Three Mile Run now New 
Brunswick, of Six Mile Run, and of liaritan now 
Somerville. He was a strong man and for about 
thirty years exercised a powerful influence for 
good over a territory of more than two hundred 
squaie miles, embracing now more than fifty con- 
gregations. 

The great Whitefield visited him in 1739 and 
made the following record in his journal. "At 
New Brunswick some thousands gathered from 
various parts of the country, among whom there 
had been a considerable awakening by the instru- 
mentalities of Ivev. Mr. Frelinghuysen." This 
14 



refers to an extensive revival wliich had reached 
all four of his churches and wliich resulted in the 
conversion of about two hundred, a very large 
number for such a sparsely settled region. 

Mr. Frelinghuysen deserves to rank among the 
eminent men of his times. His father was a 
minister, his five sons were ministers and his two 
daughters married ministers. Some of his de- 
scendants have been greatly honored both by our 
state and nation, and have adorned every station 
in which they have been placed. 

One of tliem Hon. Theodore was nominated by 
the Whigs for Vice-President on the ticket with 
Henry Clay. 

Only a little distance up the North Branch is 
a place called "The Broad Axe Hole. " The water 
there was deep and the fishing excellent. A funny 
thing happened there which came near being seri- 
ous. A large tree had blown over into the water, 
but was held fast by its roots. Tim McCarthy, 
whose nationality perhaps you can guess, was as- 
signed the task of cutting off the tree near the 
bank, so it mioht be drawn out. He stepped out 
15 



on the tree and deliberately cut it off between 
himself and the shore, so that presently with a 
great splash down went the tree with Tim and his 
axe into the deep water and it was with consider- 
able trouble that he was pulled out. But he held 
on to his axe. 

Shad used to be very plentiful about the head 
waters of the Raritan and for some distance up its 
Branches. An old gentleman told nie that as he 
was lishing one night in the North Branch he 
heard a splashing and found that a great fish was 
making its way up the stream. He gave chase in 
his boat, but could not overtake it until they came 
to a rift, where the fish was impeded, and then 
being determined to capture it, he threw himself 
upon it, but the fish shook him off and went on 
up the river. He thought likely it was the King 
of the Shad About a mile up the North Branch 
there is a little village called Milltowu. It had a 
grist mill, woolen mill, saw mill, general store, 
grocery, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, school 
house and five dwellings. A considerable business 
centered here, along in the forties. Now there is 
16 



a rather feeble Grist Mill and one or two houses. 
The whole village and three farms abdnt it, were 
owned by Michael Van Derveer. Freshets some- 
times tore oat his dam and occasionally flooded his 
Grist Mill. He was therefore very sensitive on 
the subject of rain. At a time when there had 
been two days of rain he became very anxious and 
jumping up early on the next day he looked out 
of the window and remarked, "raining again like 
a damn fool." 

When he had charge of the General Store, he 
kept no clerk, and often locked the store and went 
to the mill. If a customer hunted him up, he 
always inquired what was wanted, and if the pro- 
posed purchase was a small one he declared he 
hadn't any, had just sold out. 

At times he bought a great deal of grain. Once 
he loaded his Mill so heavily with corn that it 
collapsed and several hundred bushels were car- 
ried down the stream. He allowed the mill to 
remain in that ruined condition for years, before 
re-building it. A mad dog that was chased across 
17 



the meadows ran into these ruins and was shot 
there. 

Here I had my first experiences in scliool and as 
I recall them now I am led to say that to be a 
schoolmaster in those days w-as to be a brnte. In 
1847 this school district was united to the one im- 
mediately west of it. The building was moved 
west a half mile and enlarged. With this change 
came deliverance from tyranny. Kev. Dr. Jno. B. 
Thompson, his brothers Henry P. and Abraham, 
and their father Hon. Joseph Thompson were the 
men who rescued the children of Tucca-Iiamma- 
Hacking from shameful barbarities, and school 
life became a pleasure. They introduced modern 
text books and modern methods. The school 
room was kept clean and was beautified with 
flowers from the school flower garden. Black- 
boards made their appearance. The morning ses- 
sion was opened with a reading from scripture fol- 
lowed by a brief prayer. Singing was indulged in 
at the opening and closing of each session. A love 
of history was inculcated by these teachers, who 
would now and then read to the school an account 
18 



of some stirring event in our country's life. Fri- 
day afternoons were devoted to the reading of 
compositions and to declamations. The parents 
were invited in to enjoy these "exercises.-' 
Sometimes we had a considerable audience to face 
and we were allowed to wear our Sunday clothes. 
A colored boy dropped into poetry, and wrote 
some very funny things we tliought. One verse 
was like this : — 

"When I do see a great big rat, 

Then I do look around 
To find a stone or a brick bat 
To knock the rascal down." 
After two or three efforts of this kind, Dr. 
Thompson stronglj^ advised him to stick to prose. 
One fellow who was always blundering began his 
oration with "Conscript Fathers ! I have come 
down to you from a former generation ! Heaven 
has kindly lengthened out your lives that you 
might behold this auspicious day !" 

The advanced cl.iss in Grammar were appointed 
the "Critics" of the school. They were on the 
alert to catch up ungrammatical sentences and 
19 



there was great joj among them when now and 
then the teacher would be caught making a slip of 
the tongue. In this way the practical use of 
grammar was shown to the whole school. In 
these and other ways a great interest in the school 
was aroused among the pupils and the parents, as 
well. In the Cedar Grove near by, from which 
the sahool took its name, we boys built a minia- 
ture railroad one of the arch bridges of which was 
considered so fine and strong that it was the talk 
of the neigliborliood. 

Going to school at Tucca- Ram ma-Hacking was 
fun ! The Township Superintendent, Geo. W. 
Vroom, declared this to be tlie best school in the 
Township. 

Dr. John B. Thompson has embalmed this name 
in his "History of Education in New Jersey," a 
copy of which has lately come into the possession 
of our Society. 

Along in the fifties a certain teacher fell vio- 
lently in love with one of the handsome girls of 
this neighborhood. Dr. Thompson in a spirit of 
mischief wrote some verses on the subject and had 
20 



tliem printed. A single verse will give some idea 
of tlieir flavor. 

"It seems as if some wretched wight 

At my heart strings were whacking 
So much I love this lovely maid 
Of Tucca-Ramma-Hacking. 
'It is interesting to know that this severe attack 
of heart ache was cured in the usual way, and 
that its owner made a fine record as a teacher at 
the head of a private school in the lower part of 
our state. 



•21 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



Hunterdon 




SIZK 3^2x4', INCHKS, PAPER COVRRS.J 
PRICE TEN CENTS EACH. 



Xo. l.-THE FLEMIN&TON COPPER MTNE8,< 

by E. VosselLer. 

No. 2.— THE TWO COLONELS JOHN TAYLOR, 

by Henry Race, M. T). 

No. 3.— 

HTSTORTCAL SKETCH OF .TAMES STERLTNO. 

by E. B. Sterling'. 
No. 4:.-THE READINOTON SCHOOL, 

by John Fleming. 
No. o.-TT^nCA-RAMMA-HACKINO. 
by E. VoRsellfr. 



OTHKR NUMBERS IN PREPARATION 

H. E. DEATS, 

RUBLISHKR, 

FLEMINGTON, N. J.