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Full text of "Within a Jersey circle; tales of the past, grave and gay, as picked up from old Jerseyites"

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Illustrated by 

Somerville, N. J. 
Unionist-Gazette Association 



Copyright, 1910, 




These Sketches 

Are respectfully dedicated 

to his friend 



G. Q. 



The Hermit of Caven Point 9 

Old Coaching Days 18 

Romance of an Old Dutch Estate 32 

A Tragedy of Long Ago 37 

Dr. Vanderveer's Romance 52 

Our Grandfathers' Pure Politics 60 

Random Tales of Horace Greeley 75 

A Legend of Pluckemin 82 

A Night of Terror 89 

When Talmage was Young 99 

"Prince" George of Somerset 106 

"Prince" George's Sons 112 

Tales of the Past 118 

A Romance of Old Bergen 127 

A Shattered Romance 145 

Calvin Corle 1 59 

Colonel Sanderson's Mail Coaches 169 

Bogus Parson Murdered his Wife 177 

Dr. John Rockhill 183 

The "Mayor of Pluckemin" 194 




Judge Aaron Robertson, of Warren 2ii 

John Davenport 217 

Old Days and Ways in Patriotic Pluckemin 228 

Dominie Frelinghuysen 234 

Tales of the Past 242 

Love in the Mountains 252 

In the "Red Coats' " Power 260 

A Haunted Meadow 267 

The Castner Family Massacre 274 

Em Osborn's Christmas 289 

Indian Legends 297 

"Do You Want to be Shaved?" 301 

"Devil John" 312 

The Long Pastorate of North Branch 327 

Within a Jersey Circle. 


'old John's" early life among the Indians, his 

ESCAPE, his wanderings AND HIS FADS. 

For a good many years up to 1882 a native Jerseylte 
who never knew himself to be possessed of any other 
name than ''John" spent the last of his somewhat amphib- 
ious life in an old catboat moored at Caven Point, on the 
Jersey shore of New York Bay. There he lived the life 
of a hermit. 

"Old John," as he was latterly known, was an interest- 
ing character and, as to his origin, a mystery even to him- 
self. He was, however, quite communicative with the 
very few who gained his confidence. To them he seemed 
to enjoy telling all he knew about himself and of his life 
and wanderings, for in his prime he went to sea and vis- 
ited many countries, from which he brought home many 
curios as mementoes. These he kept labeled and arranged 
in his catboat home, and to his favorite visitors he never 
tired of showing them. 

His whole appearance and whatever he did suggested 
rotundity. His head and face were covered with fine, soft, 
white hair, except his round, snubby nose and a small, 
bald patch on his forehead. His eyes looked like two little 
circular bits of glass on this haze of white locks. No 



mouth was visible until he laughed or gave vent to some 
other emotion. Then a perfectly round hole opened in 
his matted beard beneath a door-knob-like nose. He w^as 
exceedingly round-shouldered. Indeed, his body, arms 
and legs included, w^as not unlike a barrel on end. When 
he w^alked he seemed really to roll along, and even when 
sitting, his body generally oscillated from side to side like 
a sphere coming to rest by gravitation. 

Most of us have seen or heard of collectors of old 
coins, old clocks, rare books, pictures, furniture, etc. For 
these and many other articles that usually take people's 
fancy, "old John" had no care. His passion was foot- 
gear. Wherever the four winds of heaven had wafted 
him as a sailor, John no sooner made port and got shore 
leave than he began diligently threading his way through 
the queer streets and bazars, not for grogshops, as most 
sailors are apt to do, but to find what kind of shoes the 
natives wore. As soon as he had possessed himself of a few 
representative pairs, he would hurry back to his ship and 
put his treasures under lock and key. From the coasts of 
Labrador to Capes Horn and Good Hope, from China 
to Peru, "John" had worked his way before the mast, 
not so much, he used to say, for the money that was In it, 
as to see the world and to measure the wisdom of man- 
kind by the manner in which they walked upon the earth. 
For "John" was a philosopher and maintained that the 
folly or wisdom of men was commensurate with the thick- 
ness or thinness of the soles of their shoes. 

True wisdom, he maintained, placed nothing whatever 
between the natural footsole and the ground. Every de- 
gree of departure from that, he argued, was a measure 


of folly. He would not explain why or wherefore. That 
was his dictum, and that was the end of it. 

Besides shoes of all nations, "old John" had a large 
collection of beautiful sea shells. It might be imagined 
that there could not be room for anything more than 
necessary domestic utensils in a catboat, but that all de- 
pends on the housekeeper. This one found room not only 
for shoes and shells, but for quaint books, and much of 
his time was spent in reading them. His was a most cu- 
rious little museum, w^hich many people used to walk 
away out to the point to see, and to hear, if possible, his 
interesting tales of his life. 

"Old John's" life, as far as he knew it, began among 
the Indians. Though he must have been a mere babe 
at the time, he always had a kind of sub-conscious feeling, 
something like a horrible nightmare, of seeing his parents, 
sisters and brothers massacred, their home burned and 
himself, possibly three or four years old, carried away by 
the bloody-handed red men. This, he felt sure, occurred 
near the Delaware River and the Hakehahake Creek, in 
Alexander Township, for those names, to his dying day, 
mysteriously affected him whenever he heard them men- 

Whatever tribe had been his captors, they in turn moved 
westward, for when he first realized that he was not an 
Indian, but of white parents, like the people he saw mur- 
dered on many occasions, he felt sure that he and his red 
friends were out West and so far as he could judge in 
Wisconsin. It was there when about the age, as near as he 
could guess, of eighteen, that he made up his mind to 
escape. He had been taught the use of the bow and ar- 


row, as well as that of firearms, and, much against his 
wishes, he sometimes had to participate in raids and rob- 
beries and, passively, at least, in the killing of white peo- 

His determination to escape was at this time brought 
to a head by his being chosen by his Indian "father," who 
was the father of an Indian girl, and chief of the tribe, 
to be the latter's daughter's husband. The young woman, 
Unahaha by name, was of much larger stature than the 
common run of Indian women and had as much courage 
and dexterity in a fight as any man of the tribe. She was 
a daring horseback rider. She took a prominent part in 
tribal fights and in plundering and, where she thought 
it necessary, in slaying white settlers. Besides being tall 
and having the graceful carriage and strength of an ath- 
lete, she had smaller and much more regular features than 
the usual Indian type. In fact, to any one but a man 
prejudiced against the race and bent on escape from them 
as John was, Unahaha could not have helped being looked 
upon as physically, a splendid, dashing and pretty girl, 
though she was a savage. 

This was the fair Amazon, who had signified to the 
sachems her wish that Wamhammo (that was "John") 
should be given her in marriage. And as in that tribe 
the men usually took such choice of a woman as a great 
compliment, and in far less tempting cases, never dreamt 
of anything but cheerful acquiescence, "John" feeling en- 
tirely different, was driven to desperation and concluded 
that now or never he must escape. For a long time he 
had been secreting powder and bullets in a safe hiding 
place. He knew of a white settlement a couple of days 


distant and he determined, at whatever risk, to make the 
attempt to reach it. But one thing or another had put 
him off night after night until the very eve of his dreaded 
marriage. He decided that on that night he vs^ould either 
get away or die in the attempt; for he knew that failure 
would mean death to him. 

His experiences of that night, "John" used to say, 
haunted him forever after, wheresoever he traveled. He 
was never over keen to tell about it, for even when he 
approached his ninetieth year, more than threescore and 
ten years after the event, he trembled when he spoke of it. 

As he lay in the wigwam that eventful night with sev- 
eral braves, all stretched as usual on their wolf and bear 
skins on the earth floor, he waited many weary hours be- 
fore he felt sure that his savage companions were all asleep. 
He could hear his own heart beating so plainly that he 
began to fear it kept the others awake. At last when 
every one was evidently in deep slumber he knew by the 
slant of the moon's rays through a hole in the roof of the 
hut that it was about midnight and time for his daring 

Rising as noiselessly as a cat he slipped his long knife 
into his belt. Then stepping over one of the sleepers he 
was reaching for his gun, when the man turned over with 
an ejaculation and, to John's unspeakable terror, caught 
him by the leg. The next few seconds were like those aw- 
ful moments, which are supposed to constitute a whole 
lifetime of condensed agony — the few seconds, for instance, 
while the victim's neck lies on the block waiting for the 
executioner's ax to descend and sever it. "John's" first 
thought being that he was discovered, he was on the point 


of making a hopeless dash for liberty, but feeling the In- 
dian's grip loosen, he stood breathless and still as a statue 
and was rewarded by presently finding the hand drop 
nerveless to the floor. The brave had merely been dream- 

A few minutes later the young fellow was cautiously 
creeping past the night sentry. Soon he was swiftly 
threading his way among the brush and big forest trees 
to the old stump near the brook where he had hidden 
his little store of ammunition. Bounding down the slope 
to the brook and taking the few feet of water at a leap 
he landed on the opposite bank within two feet of a wom- 
an. She was kneeling by the stream and the moment 
his feet touched the ground, she threw her bare arms 
around his legs and held him as if in a vise. There was 
no mistaking that grip. It was Unahaha's. 

"Whither away so fast, my friend?" she asked, releas- 
ing one hand with which she seized the muzzle end of 
"John's" gun. He was in the act of pulling the trigger 
while the gun pointed directly at her body, but desisted 
only because he knew the report would raise the whole 

"Wamhammo!" the maiden said, rising and transfer- 
ring her grip to his arm; "I loved you and you were 
about to become my husband ; but — ," she hesitated, hold- 
ing him off and eyeing him with scorn, "you are caught 
in the act of running away on the very eve of our mar- 
riage ! 

"You are therefore a base traitor to me, and you shall 
answer for it!" 

With that she wrenched the gun from "John" with one 


hand, as if he were a child, still keeping jBrm hold of his 
arm with her other hand. She then stepped into the wa- 
ter intending to lead "John" back to the camp a prisoner. 
But dragging back with all his strength to cover his 
movement, "John," unknown to her, whipped his long 
knife from his belt and plunged it through her half-naked 
body. With a peculiarly piercing cry, Unahaha fell dead 
in the brook. 

"John," in deadly fear that his victim's scream would 
raise the braves to arms and pursuit, dashed for his life 
into the thick of the forest. 

"Yes; I did that," John used to say, "and I ran many 
a mile before I dared take breath or look back. In time 
I reached the white people. If I hadn't killed her I 
would have met a death too horrible for a white man's 
ears to hear of. 

"But I'll tell you what it is, mates," he would say 
very earnestly, "I've felt only a very mean kind of a man 
ever since. After all, she was a woman ! aye, and a beau- 
tiful one, too. And let me tell you God's solemn truth: 
often and often I have heard that awful death cry since. 
Out on the wild ocean many a time, when the gale tore 
through the rigging with a hoarse shout like the voices of 
warring giants; when waves as big as mountains leaped 
upon us with a mighty roar, carrying timbers and masts 
away like matches; in the midst of it all and high above 
it all, again and again, I've heard that dying shriek of 
Unahaha's! Aye, aye, it's true; and lots of times even 
here in this little cockleshell, high and dry on land, I've 
heard the same thing." 

"Old John's" eyes grew into bigger circles than ever 


when he discussed this subject, and the little round tunnel- 
like opening in his beard would develop amazingly as he 
solemnly adjured: 

"Oh! Whatever happens to you, mates, never kill a 
woman— red, white, black, yellow or whatever color she 
may be! God made her to be a mother of men! Never 
kill what was made for a tender mother. I never knew 
a father, mother, sister, brother or any kin in this world. 
I believe that Unahaha, savage though she was, truly loved 
me— the only love ever given me on earth— and I killed 
her! Ah, yes, mates, and when I die I know that I must 
answer for it. Never kill a woman !" 

What made ''John" feel saddest of all, it seemed, was 
that with all her martial prowess and sometimes barbar- 
ous cruelty, Unahaha, according to the lights vouchsafed to 
her, was deeply religious. Her visit to the stream that 
night, the eve of her nuptials— where death instead of 
Wamhammo became her bridegroom — was made for the 
observance of certain rites and ablutions which, according 
to the religious gospel of her tribe, were a necessary pre- 
liminary to the sacred union of wedlock. 

When "John" reached the white settlement, which took 
him two nights and days, he was almost dead with hun- 
ger and weariness. He told his story and was received 
with kindness and afterward given work at good wages. 
Meeting with a lively Irishman who had been a sailor, 
he felt by his stories irresistibly drawn to the great deep! 
His first savings enabled him to reach Chicago, where on 
the Great Lakes he took to sailoring. But that was not 
enough ; he soon saved sufficient to pay his way to New 


York. Then he shipped as a seaman to China; and, 
changing ships, visited ports all over the world. 

When he had had enough of the roving sailor's life he had 
bought the catboat and fished along the Jersey coast for 
many years. Then when his boat — like himself — began 
to grow old and rickety, he one day ran his craft up on a 
spring tide, high and dry at Caven Point, struck sail and 
lowered his booms for the last time. There he propped 
her up on an even keel by shoveling sand and gravel un- 
der her sides; then sinking his sheet anchor deep in clay, 
at the full length of his cable to the landward, he ended 
his sailing of the seas. 

"My next trip will be the one by dead reckoning, over 
the dark river," he used to say; "and if I can only pass 
that 'rock' I was telling you of, I think I'll make port 
all right. Any way, it won't be long now before I set 
my jib in that direction." 

One day in the fall of the year, a tremendous equi- 
noctial storm drove a great volume of water up the bay 
and lashed it high up on the land at Caven Point. As 
night came on "old John's" houseboat was seen to be 
rocking, far out in the thundering breakers beyond any 
human reach. There was no sign of her master aboard. 
In the morning the old boat had dragged her stern anchor 
and stood with her head proudly facing seaward, ready 
to brave the worst the storm could do. But her old mas- 
ter lay quietly below. He was found dead in his bunk. 



• Another tale of bygone days, which old "Uncle" Wal- 
dron used to relate and which probably not two men now 
living ever heard directly from him, referred to old times 
at Reaville. He used to delight in telling about his fore- 
fathers's recollections of old coaching days, when the 
"Swift Sure Mail" coaches used to pass through that an- 
cient village, when it was known as Greenville. At the 
time the line was started it was announced that "a saving 
of two days was made" by it, in the journey from New 
York to Philadelphia. They traveled along the Old York 
road, putting up all night at Centreville, on the trip each 
way, that village being considered about halfway be- 
tween the two great cities. 

One story which Waldron used to refer to as "Pet- 
tinger's Ride," involved some lively doings, and went to 
show that such rural places as Ringoes, Reaville, Centre- 
ville, etc., were far more subject to the mercurial influ- 
ences of the large cities in those times than they are to- 
day. For undoubtedly the most seductive of all inter- 
mediaries between town and country that ever existed was 
that half-sporting kind of Beau Nash of the road, the 
gay and spectacular old stage coach. 

To-day, when one stands at the principal crossing in 
any of these places, the village equivalent of the famous 
"Four Corners" of Newark, the dead stillness is actually 
painful. Such absolute quiet reigns that it brings to one's 



mind one of the lines which the old sexton was supposed 
to sing in his populous city of the dead: 

"Many are with me, but still I'm alone." 

And when one walks away and there happens to be an 
occasional stone flag or some boards for a sidewalk, the 
sound of his footfall seems hollow and almost sepulchral. 
The only relief from the utter silence in the country vil- 
lages is the "clink" of the horseshoe quoits of the idlers 
in front of the village grocery. This seems to be the only 
diversion, and it is perennial and perpetual as a time- 
killer. For even in the deepest snows of winter the men 
who have more time than they know how to dispose of 
have mats spread on the floor and continue this endless 
game inside the hospitable grocery store. 

Now it happened that at the time Reaville distinguished 
itself by a departure from the commonplace and gave oc- 
casion for "Pettinger's Ride," it was at least three days 
a week stirred to its depths by the rousing arrival and de- 
parture of two flashing, swaggering, real stagecoaches of 
ye olden time, each whirled along by sometimes six and 
never less than four horses. Fancy the thrilling commo- 
tion in the village breast at the merry blast of the coach 
guard's horn, which he winded musically at intervals from 
some half-mile distant, as they approached the village. The 
jolly tavernkeeper hustled his stablemen, preparing meal 
and water drinks for the horses, lounging hangers-on from 
the bar-room were joined by dozens of the village urchins 
around the hitching posts, and old, bent men hobbled up 
from their cottage doors to hear and see what was going 


on. Women holding children in their arms in their front 
yards, shrilly called other children of theirs from the 
street; others hurried to the inn with packets or parcels, 
or waited in the crowd for letters or packages, or for some 
friend expected from a distance. There was a general 
bustle and running to and fro across the street, when, 
with steaming horses, gay trappings and brass mountings 
that sparkled and jingled, the great gilded coach, green 
and red, picked out with gold, swung round the corner 
under the guidance of the gorgeously appareled coachman 
in buckskin breeches top boots, red vest and silk hat, with 
a gold band, the brim turned up at the sides. 

"Whoa! whoa! will ye," shouted, upon one occasion, 
this princely looking personage, as he jammed down the 
brake hard with his right foot, and jerked his whip per- 
pendicularly, presenting arms as it were, to the landlord's 
respectful salute. 

"MorninM Mornin'! devlish powdery roads down this 
way! Got somethin' that'll wash a peck o' dust out o' 
man's throat? You have, eh? Then I'm yours right 
heartily. Tom! hey, Tom, the piper's son; say, Tom 
(the guard), tell the good postmistress to look lively. 
We're twenty minutes late already." 

Thus spoke the lord of the whip. The prosperous tav- 
ern into which he followed the landlord stands in the 
same place still. It has been largely renovated, of course, 
as a frame building is bound to be that stands well into 
its second century ; but the rooms are mainly as they were 
in the old time. The situation of the old bar is distinctly 
traceable. Most of the beams, door-jams and several of 
the window frames appear to be old enough to have been 


contemporaries of the old coaches. In fact, there are two 
windows at the end of the present bar with very thin 
sashes and many small panes, which are said to have be- 
longed to the first Presbyterian church ever erected in the 
district. It was built on the hill some distance out toward 
Ringoes at an early date, and has long since been pulled 
down. Its burial ground is still used in connection with 
the new church in the village. This old church on the 
hill is where Whitefield and Davenport preached in 1739 
to two or three thousand people in the open. The village 
blacksmith who told me about these windows also pointed 
out that several letters of the old Greenville tavern sign 
are still decipherable, as is some of the ornamental scroll 
work across the front of the building. Mr. Schneider is 
the present landlord. 

Tom, on the occasion referred to, having disinterred 
the leather bag from a superincumbent mass of carpetbags, 
boxes and banboxes in the coach boot, hurried across the 
street to a one-story cottage, in the window of which were 
pinned several letters not yet called for by their owners. 
Here he lost no time, but unlocking the brass padlock of 
the mail bag and taking it by the bottom, he emptied the 
entire contents, according to custom, on the centre of the 
kitchen floor. Being urged to haste as directed, the spec- 
tacled and becapped dame, Mrs. Stoothoff, dropped to her 
knees and commenced picking out any letters or small 
packages addressed to Greenville, putting the others, not 
so addressed, back into Tom's bag. Two village girls 
in their teens, got down also and helped the postmistress. 
They were smart helpers; for Greenville had attended 
well to the education of its children, through good pri- 


vate schools, for more than fifty years, even at this early 
date. In perhaps fifty years more, its first public school, 
built of logs, was opened. 

"Ah! Miss Nancy, there is one for you. Here it is," 
said the postmistress, handing a letter to a very pretty 
girl of not more than seventeen, v^ho was seated at one 
side of the room, who anxiously received the letter with 
both hands. 

"Oh, thank you, so much, Mrs. Stoothoof!" she said, 
and retired to a corner near the window. There she ner- 
vously broke open the wafer seal and read the letter, her 
fair cheeks flushing a good deal as she did so. 

"Well, well! if here isn't another for you. Miss Nan- 
cy!" exclaimed the old lady. The young woman opened 
this also, which seemed to add to her nervous confusion. 
Presently she folded up several pieces of paper she had 
received, rolled them up, hurriedly and left the house. 

Shortly after this, Tom, locking up the mail bag, and 
hastening across the street, had hardly time to gulp down 
his favorite nip at the bar, before the great autocrat of the 
whip, with a graceful wave and crack of its long lash, 
almost as loud as a pistol shot, had his four handsome 
bays prancing and pawing the ground like wild horses, 
leaving Tom just time to cry "All aboard !" and to 
mount his perch on the boot. At his shout of "Right!" 
which the horses understood as well as their driver did, 
the brake went off the wheels with a heavy jolt, and away 
rolled that magnificent institution of the past, the full 
fledged mail coach, with its bugle winding heroically amid 
the running cheers of every boy in the village. 

While Mrs. Stoothoff followed Tom to her door, the 


eyes of the two girls fell upon a piece of paper on the 
floor, where Nancy Pettinger, for that was the young 
lady's name, had been reading her letters. Both rushed to 
pick it up, and they almost gasped for breath, as they read, 
amid terms of passionate endearment, that Nancy was 
to come to Philadelphia by the following day's coach and 
that her "very own devoted Harry" would be there wait- 
ing, "dying," he said, to meet her. 

"Oh, Margie!" 

"Oh, Sarah Ann!" they cried to one another. 

"It's to be an elopement!" declared Margie, horror- 
stricken and clasping her hand to her side, lest her heart 
might burst its bounds. 

"All planned and ready, as sure as you live!" rejoined 
Sarah Ann; "well, if ever I did in my life see better than 
this, even in a story book!" 

Peregrin Pettinger and Mrs. Oril Pettinger, Nancy's 
father and mother, were well-to-do people. They had been 
in business at Ringoes, then the chief trade centre -in the 
county, and had prospered. Mrs. Pettinger was a sister 
of one of the Landis's wives. The Landis brothers at- 
tained wide fame and fortune as saddle makers in Rin- 
goes. That business, once by far the greatest saddle man- 
ufactory in the State, is still continued by William B. 
Dungan, who learned the trade with Jesse Landis, the last 
of the name in the business. The senior, Henry Lan- 
dis, built and lived in what was then considered a fine 
stone mansion, on the Old York road at Ringoes, and 
which still stands in wonderfully good repair, with a more 
recent frame extension, the latter having been added more 
than fifty years ago. The stone part was the house which 


was occupied by General Lafayette for over a week. He 
was sick here and was attended by Dr. Gershom Craven, 
during which time General Washington came to the house 
and spent some hours with the patient. This famous house 
was purchased last spring by C. W. Johnson, who now 
lives there. 

Those interested in historic relics will learn perhaps 
with some regret, that Mr. Johnson is on the point of 
making extensive alterations in the house. He is going 
to put a new modern roof on it; the windows are to be 
enlarged and the quaint dormer windows, one of which 
lighted the sickroom of Lafayette, are to be done away 
with altogether. In fact, the whole building is to be 
modernized, as Mr. Johnson says, to make it a comfort- 
able, up-to-date home. In answer to my remark that he 
would utterly ruin the fine old relic, he replied that, "If 
any one wants to preserve it in its present shape, that may 
be done by paying me a fair price for it. But so far 
as I am concerned, I don't take much interest in such 
matters; and if any people have such ideas they'll need to 
look sharp before it's too late." 

Nancy Pettinger was quite a frequent and favorite vis- 
itor to her aunt at this house. When her father hap- 
pened to be busy with his horses, the coach made a con- 
venient means of travel backward and forward to Green- 
ville. It was therefore nothing unusual when Nancy some 
time after leaving the postoffice that day, told her mother 
of a plan of hers to run over by next day's coach to see 
her aunt and do some little shopping. It was thought so 
little about that Mrs. Pettinger did not even remember 
to mention it to the girl's father. Nancy, as an only child. 


had always had her wish and way in everything; so, as a 
matter of course, no opposition was offered to her proposed 
visit. Her great fancy for Ringoes of late had given rise 
to no suspicion as to its real cause, which was a wild in- 
fatuation that completely absorbed her, for a gay young 
blade, Harry Thorndyke, who belonged to a rich and 
fashionable family in Philadelphia. 

Every summer the Thorndykes, with many other ex- 
clusive society people of the Quaker City, made those fa- 
mous pilgrimages to the then celebrated springs in the 
Schooley Mountains. They came in their state coaches, 
the doors of which mostly bore emblazoned crests, the 
ponderous vehicles being drawn by four, six and some 
times eight richly caparisoned horses. They made a three 
days' journey of it; the first day some made New Hope, 
some Lambertville, and some got as far as Ringoes, where 
they would put up for the night. Next day they pushed 
on to Pluckemin, arriving at the Schooleys on the even- 
ing of the third day. Whatever may be the present-day 
ideas on the subject of the whereabouts and height of the 
tip-top of the American social ladder, there was no pos- 
sible doubt about it then. It oscillated with the regular- 
ity of a pendulum between Philadelphia and the ultra- 
fashionable spa of the Schooley Mountains. 

It was on the occasion of one of these stops over night 
at Ringoes of the Thorndykes that the adventurous Harry 
had become acquainted with Nancy Pettinger, many se- 
cret meetings subsequently taking place at that village, 
which were brought about, it is to be feared, by inex- 
cusable deception of their parents. Any one who was at 
all well acquainted with Harry Thorndyke's life as a 


mere idler and rather dissolute young man-about-town in 
Philadelphia, could easily imagine the great danger the 
pretty and perfectly innocent Nancy incurred, in being 
led to meet the young man as he proposed, and which 
invitation the poor girl gleefully accepted, anticipating 
ra end of romance ending in her acceptance into a high 
and exceedingly rich family as Harry's wife. That was 
the way the unscrupulous young man put it; but, alas! 
as the story goes, he had no such sequel in his real 
thoughts. Yet he was so handsome and splendid in every 
way in Nancy's eyes, that when he made love to her with 
all the artfully entrancing graces of a prince in fairy tale, 
she had no sense left but a delicious, ethereal bliss and, 
as it were, wings, ready to fly with him anywhere. 

It was in such a state of mind that Nancy boarded the 
gilded coach the following morning, as her lover re- 
quested, bound, as she informed her mother, for Ringoes, 
but in a delirium of delightful anticipation of extending 
her ride till she should meet her fond and peerless Harry 
in Philadelphia. As the great vehicle rolled out of the 
village with sound of trumpet, prancing steeds and with 
the acclamations of all young Greenville in her ears, 
Nancy felt herself another Cinderella on a triumphant 
progress to her prince's enchanted castle. 

Nancy's vanity had been pleased, too, by a knot of 
girl acquaitances, including Margie and Sarah Ann, afore- 
mentioned, who appeared to notice her departure particu- 

"Ah! If they only knew where I'm going then they 
would stare Indeed and turn green with jealousy," she 
thought to herself. But In this she deceived herself, for 


when she was entering the coach Mary Lott, her particu- 
lar friend, in answer to another girl, said: 

"She's going to Ringoes to her Aunt Landis's for a 
week," waving good-by to Nancy as she spoke, while the 
coach moved away. 

"I know better," said Sarah Ann, excitedly; "she's not 
going to any such place. She's going to meet Harry 
Thorndyke in Philadelphia and get married. That's where 
she's going. I know it, because she dropped this yester- 
day, when she left the postoffice. Look! Read it for 
yourself," and she held up the part of a letter for Mary 
Lott to read. 

"Oh! my good gracious, Sarah Ann!" exclaimed Miss 
Lott, "why on earth didn't you tell it before. What will 
her mother say?" and without another word Mary flew 
as if on wings to the Pettinger house, with the telltale 
paper crumpled in her hand. The first result was that the 
poor mother, who was not strong and happened to be at 
home alone, fainted dead away on reading the letter. This 
delayed Miss Lott perhaps half an hour, before she could 
leave the stricken mother to run and call Mr. Pettinger, 
who was some distance away in one of his fields. When 
the panting girl put the paper in his hand, his face grew 
ashy pale and his powerful fingers crushed the writing as 
if his grip were at the throat of the writer. 

"God forbid! She surely didn't go?" he exclaimed. 
"Did Nancy go by that coach, Mary?" 

"She did! She did! O Mr. Pettinger, I didn't know 
a thing about it till she was gone, or I would have come 
at once and told you! Sarah Ann Robbins found that 


paper in the postoffice yesterday, where Nancy drop- 
ped It." 

By the time she had said this, Mr. Pettinger had un- 
hitched his horses. Leaping on the back of one and beg- 
ging Mary to run to the house and stay with his wife 
while he followed the coach, he was gone as hard as the 
plow horses could go to the stable. Flinging a bridle 
over the head of his swiftest roadster, a big slashing mare 
of good sixteen hands — he was noted for his fast horses — 
and not stopping to saddle the animal, he seized his stout 
blacksnake whip, jumped on the spirited beast's bare 
back and in less than five minutes after the girl told him, 
just one hour behind the coach, he shot from his front 
gate in pursuit. He disappeared amid swirling clouds of 
dust down toward Ringoes like a whirlwind. Thus com- 
menced what old "Uncle" Waldron often spoke of as 
"Pettinger's Ride," in which such a brakeneck speed 
was maintained, it is said, as was never before equaled In 
this part of Jersey. An old Reavllle resident said the other 
day, on my mentioning the story, that he had heard his 
father tell about it, but that the chase, as he had heard 
tell, was supposed to have been made In an old-fashioned 
gig. However that may have been, I can only give the 
tale as given to me. 

As the rider with unslackened pace swept past the scat- 
tered houses near Ringoes some twelve minutes later, peo- 
ple who happened to be at their front gates and knew 
Mr. Pettinger, wondering what was wrong, would hail 

"What's the mat — ?" but by the time the sentence was 
finished the horseman would be far out of reach of their 


voices. Presently he reined up his steed at Aunt Landis's 
stone house at Ringoes. 

''Hello! hello within, auntie! Is Nancy here?" he 
shouted. The lady rushed out. 

**No, no Peregrin! Nancy is not here!" she gasped. 
"My God!" he muttered; and leaving the woman al- 
most petrified with alarm he sent his mettled mare for- 
ward at full gallop again without a further word. In an 
agony of wonder and dread, his sister-in-law watched his 
rapidly disappearing figure, his black beard, long hair, and 
his linen jumper floating and fluttering behind in the gale 
made by his tremendous speed. 

All had gone well and propitiously with the coach as 
far as Ringoes, where they had taken up an extra pas- 
senger for Philadelphia, none other was it than the light 
of Nancy's eyes, the gay Harry Thorndyke himself, who 
had come thus far to meet her. There was just room for 
him inside, where he managed to get seated next to Nancy. 
I It was not exactly a lover's paradise, for they had to sit 
in demure silence facing severe-looking elderly people, or 
only indulge in commonplace conversation ; which is well 
j known to be an insupportable trial to youthful people who 
think they are in love. But Nancy was radiantly happy; 
for she was by her Harry's side, and in spite of what 
j he called the "frowning battery of ancient muzzles," un- 
der which they sat, he contrived occasional, accidental con- 
. tacts of his and Nancy's hands, with cleverly adminis- 
I tered pressures of her dainty figures, which made every- 
thing poetry and delight to her. 

Nevertheless Harry felt nervous and apprehensive. Un- 
founded fears and misgivings are said to haunt people 


engaged in evil proceedings. Just such qualms tortured 
Harry; but when about half-way between Mount Airy 
and Lambertville was reached, a sudden lunge of the 
coach, with many rapid "Whoas!" some shouting and then 
a full stop, convinced him that there were grounds for his 
worst fears. He was the first passenger out to investi- 
gate. There he found the outside horse of the hind team 
toppled over in a fit of blind staggers. The animal was 
struggling to regain its feet, but could only raise its fore 
end; and there it sat on its hind legs like a great dog, 
staring pathetically in the face of the portly driver, who 
returned the stare in blank astonishment. After half an 
hour or more spent in vain efforts to raise the horse, the 
coachman decided to loose out the sick beast and proceed 
with the other three. 

It was at this juncture that some one descried a horse 
and rider, followed by clouds of dust, coming along the 
straight stretch of road behind them at a terrific pace. 
Tom, the guard, ordered "All aboard" to get his passen- 
gers out of danger. Before following the others in Harry 
got Nancy to look back and see whether she knew the ap- 
proaching man and horse. Putting her head out of the 
coach window: 

''O Harry. Harry! I believe it's my father!" she 
exclaimed. "Oh, what shall we do? What shall we do ?" 
cried she, falling back in her seat, weeping and covering 
her face with her hands. The next moment Tom was 
holding the panting and foam-covered horse, and Mr. Pet- 
tinger, springing at the coach, tore open the door. 

"Ah! you are here, my poor child ! Thank God ! Thank 
God!" he said, evidently from his heart. Then, clutching 


his snakewhfp, with a muttered curse, he dashed for the 
road fence of high osage orange, which Harry Thorndyke 
was at that moment making agonizing efforts to creep 
through. That youth soon found the nether half of his 
body, including his shapely, silk-stockinged legs, merciless- 
ly belabored with the rawhide whip, the enraged father 
hissing between his teeth: 

"You'd steal my daughter, would you?" with every 

The terrified culprit's yells of pain, which were said to 
resemble the bellowing of a calf, everybody in the coach 
except Nancy laughed at heartily. After receiving some 
twenty or thirty strokes, each one of which must have raised 
a huge welt like a rope on his skin, the young fellow at 
last wriggled through the awful thorn-teeth of the osage 
fence, and swiftly took to his heels across a field in full 
view of the coach. And that was the end of "Pettinger's 
ride," as well as of Nancy Pettinger's dream. 



In pre-Revolutionary days Lord Neill Campbell, a son 
of the Duke of Argyle, owned a great tract of land along 
the North Branch River, including that upon which now 
stands North Branch village. Campbell sold a great part 
of his holding to Dr. John Johnson, and Dr. Johnson con- 
veyed 500 acres of his purchase to Matthias Ten Eyck, 
of Esopus, N. Y. Ten Eyck in turn conveyed the 500 
acres to his son, Jacob, who entered into possession of the 
estate near the end of the seventeenth century. 

About the first thing Jacob did was to build himself 
a good substantial stone house to live in. And this dwell- 
ing, perhaps the best specimen of the Colonial period in 
existence, stands in excellent order to this day and is an 
interesting and worthy memento of one of the fine old 
pioneer Dutch families who did so much for New Jersey 
by carving out civilization from the primeval forest. 

This is the estate which, several generations later, John 
S. Ten Eyck in his litigious monomania mortgaged and 
frittered away among courts and lawyers to the last pen- 
ny and then parted with it to his brother, Tunis. One 
cannot but marvel that any man in his senses, sitting at 
his ease in so fair a place, could be led by an almost 
childish chimera to throw away such a property and pau- 
perize himself. But that is what John S. Ten Eyck did, 
and yet he was always accounted a wise man. 



This old Ten Eyck house, by far the most venerable 
building in the vicinity, has many quaint reminders of the 
past. It has two stories, with a very high attic and many 
large windows, the sills of which, on account of the 
thickness of the walls, are eighteen inches deep. In the 
upper part of the massive front door are two large oval- 
shaped panes of glass set in diagonally, which when lit up 
at night look from the outside like the huge almond eyes of 
an oriental giant. An old negro, sent there one night 
with two dozen eggs from a neighboring farm, coming 
suddenly upon the weird sight, dropped the eggs and ran 
home yelling with fright: 

*'Oh! oh!" he shouted, "a' seen de debbil; sho', sho', 
a' did!" 

There are four spacious rooms downstairs in the house, 
and five, including the best room or parlor, on the sec- 
ond floor. Around the parlor fireplace are forty- 
eight blue and white tiles, evidently hand-made; for 
although made in pairs, there are no two of them 
exactly alike. Each tile has figures illustrative of some 
Scriptural passage, with chapter and verse for reference. 
A few of the latter still decipherable are as follows: 
"Jona. I, 2, 15; Gen. 18, 2, 15; Luc. 5, 2, 3; Luc. 
8, 2, 14; Luc. 8, 2, 44; Job. 15, 2, 25; Matt, i, 4, 2; 
Luc. I, 9, 2, 4; Matt. 15, 2, 25 ; Matt. 25, 2, 37 ; Luc. 19, 
2, 4; Mark 8, 3, 23; Gen. 14, 2, 6; Numb. 13, 2, 23; 
Matt. 27, 25, 39; Exod. 3, 2, 4." The rest are illegible. 

The mantelpieces, which are long, but not very high, 
do not afford more than two inches deep of shelf room, 
evidently not being intended as catch-alls. The front 
stairs are very broad and stately, with fine, solid hard- 


wood balusters. The back stairs are spiral, every step 
being triangular. The garden is tastefully laid out and 
bordered with long-lived boxwood. In it are two gi- 
gantic, white mulberry trees; that is, they bear white 
berries. These are said to be a rare species and coeval 
with the house, or about two hundred years old. 

In the lofty and spacious attic are many of the charac- 
teristic relics left behind by old industrious Dutch families, 
flax and wool spinning wheels, distaffs, etc. Among these 
once upon a time were mementos of martial prowess in the 
family. Captain Jacob Ten Eyck served his country 
with distinguished valor in the Revolution. His sword 
and pistols were preserved here with jealous pride, until 
the inevitable scattering of such treasures that surely ac- 
companies family decadence or disruption. 

Tunis, the last Ten Eyck who owned the old home- 
stead, had started out West on horseback and came home 
a rich man — no one ever knew how rich — ^just in time 
to save the grand old property from strangers, when his 
brother John had squandered it all at law. Tunis took 
the place in hand in worthy fashion and soon added many 
other properties to it. In fact, whenever a farm within 
range came into the market, there came Tunis with the 
ready money jingling in his pocket and planked down the 
necessary price, whatever it might be, to the confusion and 
dismay of any or every other would-be purchaser. In 
these acquired places he planted one or other of his poor 
relations and set them up in the most generous manner, 
living in the old homestead himself, a great landlord, but 
a somewhat eccentric old bachelor withal, for he never 
married. He must have been easy to get along with, too, 


for he had many competent housekeepers, who never left 
him until they got married. At these junctures he loaded 
each of them with presents, almost enough, it is said, to 
begin housekeeping with. But toward children he was 
charged with being a regular cranky old gooseberry, fum- 
ing and going on terribly, it is said, if they dared to pull 
a flower or a single cherry on his grounds. 

In a general way, however, he was an amiable man, as 
appears verified by the affectionate cognomen of "Uncle" 
Tunis, applied to him by all as he grew old and feeble. 
As age crept upon him, all his wealth failed to avert an 
inevitable fate which appeared to await all members of 
the Ten Eyck family. A cerebral hemorrhage left him 
blind. Then a burglar entered his house and robbed him 
of $300. After that he was afraid to be in the house 
without protection. A nephew, Marion Vanderveer, vol- 
unteered to sleep in the house, and did so. He was a for- 
tunate young man ; for so grateful was the old gentleman 
for his kindness that he made a codicil to his will and left 
his nephew the old house and about a hundred acres 
of land. Tunis died and when he was buried it was the 
departure of the last Ten Eyck from the old homestead 
which had been so long associated with that name, and 
Marion Vanderveer reigns there now, in their stead. 

To the credit of the new owner be it stated, he seems 
fully imbued with the laudable intention to preserve and 
perpetuate as much as possible the picturesque features of 
the old place's past. As an instant proof of this, lately 
when the well required repairing, Mr. Vanderveer did 
not have an up-to-date pump put in, but was at particular 
pains to reproduce the good old well sweep — as nearly as 


possible a duplicate of the worn-out one of old — and the 
people praised it as a worthy deed. 

When one of the farms belonging to John S. Ten 
Eyck came into the market, about sixty years ago, it was 
bought at auction by Cornelius Hall, the celebrated wit- 
ness for Ten Eyck in the great river dam law suit. When 
the hammer fell some one startled old Darkey Dick, who 
had always lived on the place. ''There, Dick, now you're 
done for!" the speaker said. ''The old place is sold now 
and you've got no other home to go to." 

At this old Dick set up a most dismal howl and cried 
like a child. 

"Here, hold on Dick; we must stop this noise," the 
auctioneer said, with a wink at the purchaser of the farm. 
"Step this way, Dick, my man," he said, and jumping on 
his restrum again. "Now, gentlemen, how much am I 
offered for Darkey Dick, an inseparable adjunct, part and 
parcel of this farm?" he asked, looking smilingly at Mr. 
Hall, with more winks. 

"One dollar," bid Hall. 

"Going, going at one dollar. Any advance? Going, 
and sold to Mr. Cornelius Hall for one dollar," cried the 
auctioneer, with a bang of his gavel. "Now, Dick, you're 
all right again, ain't you?" said he, laughing. And Dick 
danced around in pure delight. And he lived all his re- 
maining days on the farm, doing such light, odd jobs as he 
could, and was perfectly happy. This was probably the 
last darky ever sold in New Jersey. 



Two doctors met In the road, near Pluckemin, one day 
about sixty years ago. One of them was a tall, fine-look- 
ing man, who was mounted on a splendid horse; the 
other, a little, sickly-looking man, was seated in a two- 
wheeled vehicle. 

"Doctor," said the latter, *'It does one's eyes good to see 
you. I wish I knew your secret of health." 

"Doctor," the big man answered, "get out of that sulky 
and seat yourself on your horse's back. Then you'll have 
the whole thing — my secret and good health together." 

The last speaker was Dr. Henry Vanderveer, a noted 
physician of Pluckemin, who generally practiced what he 
preached and lived to be almost a hundred years old. He 
was a remarkable man in several ways. Besides having a 
large and lucrative practise he owned an estate of about 
one thousand acres. Half of this was kept under culti- 
vation; the other half was fine timberland, of which the 
doctor was very proud. All his work was done by negroes, 
of which he owned some thirty or forty. His house with 
its lordly entrance hall and Immensely high-posted rooms 
is still much the same as it was when he and his sister 
Phoebe lived In It, and when each used to pay the other 
a formal weekly visit in full dress. This they did by 
crossing the hall, upon either side of which each had sep- 
arate living rooms. The rooms are twelve feet from floor 



to ceiling. Half way along the hall is a fine arch, from 
which a candelabrum once hung. The little pulleys, by 
which the ponderous mass of cr}^stals was raised and low- 
ered, are still there. 

Bordered by trees, a quiet spot some distance from the 
back door contains the buried bodies of the Vanderveer 
slaves of generations. Elias Vanderveer, the doctor's 
father, \^'as also buried somewhere nearer the house. The 
exact location of his grave, is however, unknown ; but 
his gravestone, broken in halves, lies sometimes here, some- 
times there, and one half of it was in the house-cellar when 
last seen. 

Neither the doctor nor his sister ever married and 
both, as they grew old, became eccentric. Miss Phoebe, 
like her handsome and polished brother, was also tall and 
refined, but in her later > ears she was extremely faddish 
aiul peculiar. For many years, for instance during hot 
weather, she kept men and women slaves continually fan- 
m'ng her day and m'ght. She had a large walmit cradle 
maile tor herself and slept in it. This had to be rocked 
without ceasing all through the night while she slept. An 
aged resident here saw the cradle sold at auction a number 
of years after the brother and sister had died. 

'I'here are two colored women still living who were 
\\'uuler\eer slaves. Kfiie, one of them, now a sen^ant for 
Dr. Heekman, of Hedminster, waited on Dr. Vanderveer 
until she was twenty-five years old. She is now sixty-iive, 
and although a bit slow at comprehension, is still a good 
worker, acconling to Dr. Heeknian. Her sister, Li/zie, is 
employed by the family of Dr. James Cornell, of Somer- 
ville. These women say Miss Phoebe used to measure 


out the thread for the seamstress when she had one. She 
would never shake hands with a caller nor handle money, 
until her perfectly fitting lavender kid gloves were drawn 
on and buttoned without a crease. Miss Phoebe did not 
wash her own face. That was part of her maid's duty, 
and it had to be done very methodically. First one eye 
and then the other was washed and perfectly dried. Her 
nose was dealt with as a separate operation. One ear 
was similarly treated as a distinct study, and then the 
other, and so on. 

In the days when Henry and Phoebe Vanderveer lived 
at home with their father, the young man, after deciding 
on the healing art as his profession, studied medicine with 
his uncle for some years and was subsequently given a 
course at some of the German college hospitals. Mean- 
time Phoebe had been kept at the Moravian Sisters' Sem- 
inary in Pennsylvania. Henry went a second time to Ger- 
many, this time taking Phoebe with him. He was liberally 
supplied with money, so as to be able to fully reciprocate 
social kindnesses. This they did in so regal a manner that 
their stay proved an almost continuous round of brilliant 
society fetes and functions. 

Among Henry's college chums there was one that clung 
to him from the first with an almost brotherly love. He 
was Paul von Treder, a tall young fellow about Henry's 
own age, of athletic and splendid physique. He was a rich 
provincial burgomaster's son, whom the father chose to 
make a physician. The first evening this young man met 
Phoebe Vanderveer he fell desperately in love with her, 
and quite as certainly she sincerely admired him. 

Not long after the brother and sister returned home 


their father, Ellas, died leaving them equally interested 
in the paternal estate and both rich. Paul von Treder did 
not long delay follow^ing Phoebe to her home for the pur- 
pose of asking her father for her hand in marriage. He 
arrived on the very day of her father's funeral. Having 
come over with his own parents' full consent to settle and 
practise medicine in America and to marry Miss Vander 
veer if she would have him, he delayed not to make his 
plea to Phoebe's only guardian, her brother Henry. Of 
course, there was no possible objection on the brother's 

"Phoebe," said Henry, **you are quite able to decide for 
yourself. You know what I think of Paul. He is the 
very finest and truest-hearted fellow I ever met. He is 
my brother already, whatever you say to him. Just please 
yourself, sister." 

That balmy June evening was the beginning of a short 
but sweet reign of bliss for Phoebe, as she and Paul 
walked to and fro over the lovely green slope up the moun- 
tain side, all carpeted with buttercups and daisies, and 
looking out over a far-reaching landscape of unsurpassed 
beauty. For there they told each other the old thrilling 
story, which is ever new, and which, like fairy music, 
turns the whole world into a poetic paradise. When they 
returned the sun had long set. They went sauntering 
arm in arm down a narrow lane toward the house, pass- 
ing near a clump of trees which surrounded the colored 
people's burying ground. Paul, who did not know that 
the place was so used, stopped. 

"What a curious light that is over there!" he remarked, 
looking among the trees. "Do you suppose any one is 


walking about there with a lighted candle, my sweet 

"I do not think so," she answered, looking intently in 
the direction he indicated; "but neither can I see any 
light. That place, however, has long been — " 

Her words were interrupted by the most pitiful sound- 
ing wail that Paul had ever heard. For a moment they 
stood speechless and listened. Suddenly the young woman 
was startled as her companion caught her convulsively with 
one hand, and pointed into the darkness with the other, 
exclaiming with great excitement: 

"See, my dearest Phoebe! See that most extraordinary 
moving flame! It now grows larger and brighter." 

"It is — ach! himmel!" he cried, shrinking from a globe 
of fire, which he declared flew straight for his face — some- 
thing which his companion even then failed to see a ves- 
tige of. She shivered at a momentary recollection of the 
"corpse lights" her old nurse used to harrow her young 
soul by telling about, and, involuntarily tightening her 
hold of her companion's arm, she walked forward. 

"Come!" she urged, "that sound is dismal and distress- 
ing to hear. Do let us hurry home to brother; he is one 
of the ancient magi, I think, for he can explain everything 
and no doubt will do so now. Come!" 

The matter was merrily laughed off with the doctor, in 
rooms lit up with many bright candles and good cheer. 
Phoebe, however, said nothing about something she herself 
had seen. Upon arriving home she asked Harry, their 
slave foreman, where the big, crazy, hunchback negro, 
"Ethiopia," was. Harry, after looking, returned to say 
that the negro was safe behind the bars of his room. 



"Ethiopia," who had shown homicidal tendencies, was 
worked every day, and afterward fed and locked up for 
the night like a horse or an ox. 

Phoebe was sorely puzzled, for, of course, the man 
could not have been in two places at the same time. In 
the light of her new and delicious life, which was filled 
to overflowing with the joy of her handsome and devoted 
lover's society, this fact, and almost everything else, was 
forgotten. For two months they visited friends far and 
near, riding on the doctor's fine horses, and enjoying that 
untrammeled lovers' bliss preceding an early wedding. 
Their marriage was arranged to take place in August. 

Everything took on a gala appearance as the glad time 
approached for the nuptials of the universally beloved and 
pretty young mistress of the old Vanderveer mansion. The 
slaves, who simply worshiped their "Missy Phoebe," were 
granted very special privileges. A tent was provided for 
them in the rear garden, where old "Bandy," the Bed- 
minster fiddler, nightly discoursed dance-compelling music, 
and there they danced and sang for hours every evening. 
It was a gala time for all save one, who could only look 
out through his barred window and gnash his teeth in 
jealous rage — the dangerous hunchback, "Ethiopia." 

When these festivities had gone on every night for a 
week, and the wedding was just three days distant, the 
demented creature howled so much as to drown the mu- 
sic, and not until he was beaten and even gagged and 
bound would he be quiet. After that there was not a re- 
bellious sound from his little room-cell, and nobody 
thought more of him until the evening preceding the wed- 


ding day. Then Harry, the foreman, called one of the 

"Here, Tom," he called, handing the boy a yellow 
striped mug of cider, "take this up to 'Ethiopia' and tell 
him to drink Miss Phoebe's health. We musn't forget 
nobody to-night." 

Soon Tom came back with the news that "Ethiopia had 
done gone and broke out." 

About 8 o'clock that evening Paul von Treder, excus- 
ing himself to Phoebe and two of her intended brides- 
maids of the morrow, said he would walk up and meet 
the doctor, who was a little late in returning from a pro- 
fessional call at Eli Smith's, who lived about a mile away. 
Phoebe kissed him and fondly followed him with her 
eyes till he turned to take the lane. Then, just as he was 
about disappearing, he looked back and they waved to 
each other a little adieu. Then he was gone. 

In less than an hour, uttering a heartbreaking wail of 
woe, Phoebe fell senseless across the bleeding breast of 
her lover. He had been brought back to her door a corpse. 

When it became known on the Vanderveer estate, in 
those days of long ago, that Phoebe Vanderveer's hand- 
some and much respected sweetheart, Paul von Treder, 
had been murdered, a thrill of horror vibrated in every 
heart. It was regarded as such a diabolical deed that noth- 
ing but the blood of the assassin could satisfy the cry for 
vengeance. Nobody stopped to ask who did it. 

"Where is 'Ethiopia?' " the slaves demanded, seizing, 
one his cutlass, another an axe, and the others whatever 
came handy, and one and all started out to find the power- 
ful but demented black man. 


Dr. Vanderveer, who had come upon the scene almost 
In time to see the murderous blow struck, saw the terrible 
black hunchback diving Into the wood just after his victim 
fell. The doctor feared the worst and sprang to aid 
his friend who had uttered that short, sharp shout of 
surprise and pain which invariably escapes the man who is 
fatally struck with blade or bullet. Being slightly and 
gently raised, von Treder spoke: 

"The hunchback negro — stabbed me;" he gasped. "He 
crept — up behind me!" 

"He stabbed me," repeated the young man and falling 
back he expired In the doctor's arms. 

"Now, Harn'," the doctor said to his managing negro, 
after his friend's body had been brought home, "we know 
that 'Ethiopia' has committed this awful crime. The big 
brute Is a maniac and should not have been allowed at 
large. That cannot be helped now. But we must get 
hold of him as quickly as possible. Then we'll hand him 
over to the jailers and let the law punish him." 

The colored man mumbled something incoherent, end- 
ing In "po'r ]\IIssy Phoebe," and left, as the doctor sus- 
pected, in tears. But once outside that room, black Harry 
was king. Law Indeed ! No law was needed but his, he 
said, for the blacks, whom he ruled with an imperial rod 
of Iron. There was a dangerous gleam In his big brown 
eyes, as he armed himself and started with a dozen of his 
men, to find "Ethiopia." A significant part of the equip- 
ment of the hunting party was a detachment with pickaxes 
and shovels. That night the big hunchback negro breathed 
his last. He was burled where he fell, his hands still red 
with the blood of his innocent victim, Paul von Treder. 


The shock almost killed Phoebe Vanderveer. She 
showed no outward signs of grief, but seemed dazed or 
paralyzed. For months she took no account of time or 
circumstance, whether it was night or day, or time to eat 
or drink or time to sleep. She would eat a little when 
repeatedly urged to do so. She would lie down upon her 
bed and close her eyes at night, but she slept only a very 
little, if any at all. All through the night, at intervals, 
as through the day, she would rise and walk as if in a 
dream to the place where the blood-stained corpse of her 
lover was laid that fatal night. 

With unstinted, loving sympathy from her brother and 
from every colored person on the estate, and with as many 
women of the latter as she desired to attend her, Phoebe 
managed to live, or, more correctly, to exist in spite of 
the sincere wish of her broken heart that she might be 
permitted to lay down the burden and rejoin her lost 
love. This despondency eventually culminated in an ill- 
ness that seemed a complete collapse of both body and 
mind. At the beginning Dr. Vanderveer had called in the 
best medical aid. When a critical stage was reached and 
the patient lay at the point of death, the physician in 
charge called in Dr. Cornelius C. Suydam, of Lesser Cross 
Roads. Heroic treatment recommended by the latter was 
adopted, and the patient got well, at least, physically. 

Dr. Suydam, who was somewhat younger than Dr. 
Vanderveer and had studied with him, had a large prac- 
tise and was a man of note. Six feet four inches in height 
and weighing about 250 pounds, he was acknowledged 
to be about the handsomest man, as well as the most splen- 
did horseman, anywhere in Bedminster Township. Rich 


or poor patients were all alike to him. Wherever his aid 
was asked, near or far, he pointed his horse's head and in 
the shortest possible time, generally by a course straight 
across as the crow flies, he was where he was wanted. At 
the bedside he combined the consummate skill of the 
physician with a woman's gentleness. Having been born 
in affluence, of a highly respected old Somerset family, he 
was immensely popular and much sought after. And yet, 
like his professional neighbor. Dr. Vanderveer, he was a 

During Phoebe Vanderveer's convalescence Dr. Suy- 
dam, on one plea or another, had found himself frequently 
calling at the Vanderveer homestead, where, naturally 
enough, he was made particularly welcome. He had 
heard, of course, in a general way about the tragic end of 
Phoebe's love affair, and was honestly moved to great 
pity for the suffering she had undergone. Affairs like 
hers are always appealing to people of sentiment, particu- 
larly when the surviving party of the drama is as inter- 
esting as Phoebe Vanderveer was. Pity is proverbially 
near akin to love; and, behold, before the doctor had a 
suspicion of the fact, he was hopelessly in love with Miss 

As soon as that developed into an unmistakable truth 
in the doctor's mind, he felt called upon to declare him- 
self, like the honest and true-hearted gentleman that he 
was. And as he did when called professionally, he 'arose 
and made a bee line for the Vanderveer mansion and pro- 
posed to the fair Phoebe that she should become his wife. 

Thus much has filtered down through devious tradition. 
But how the proposal was received or what the final an- 


swer to the physician was can only be Inferred from sub- 
sequent events in the doctor's life. These were thought 
remarkable enough, even when considered apart from their 
romantic origin. They were considered so strange that 
they were written In the book of the chronicles of Bed- 
minster Township. But how Immensely more interest- 
ing are extraordinary actions on the part of a man, if we 
see in them the desperate consequences of a woman's 

Hitherto Dr. Suydam had lived in the old family home- 
stead with his aged mother, a sister and several slaves 
inherited from his father. About the time mentioned, the 
mother having died, his sister went to live with a married 
sister and he was left alone with the blacks. Soon they 
began to hang their heads in heaviness and look exceed- 
ingly sad at being left by the mistresses they loved. 

"Away with the lot of you; out of my sight!" the doc- 
tor, out of patience, one day exclaimed, and he bound 
every one of them out to service elsewhere. Living now 
entirely alone, he turned morose and sulky. Patients sent 
for him, but he answered the messengers without opening 
the door that he would not come. He declared that he had 
gone out of practise. Some few poor people came and 
begged so hard for him to prescribe that he relented, but 
when he had attended them he told them they must never 
come again. One of his rich patients, for being too per- 
sistent after a flat refusal, received part of a pail of water 
on his head as a prescription. 

The doctor fed his own horses, milked his own cow, 
cooked his meals, and. In fact, did all his housekeeping 
for himself. Occasionally he saddled his fastest horse In 


the night and rode long journeys, never once stopping to 
speak to mortal man. Sometimes he hitched up a pair of 
his roadsters to a bolster wagon without springs, and sit- 
ting on a rough board laid across it, he would drive like a 
very jehu all around his former haunts. But the greater 
part of his time he spent shut up in his house reading the 
Bible and studying, especially, passages referring to fa- 
miliar spirits and the casting out of devils. 

Bleeding was common in medical practice in those days. 
Every now and again the doctor would slit the vein in his 
own arm and bleed himself copiously. Sometimes he 
bandaged the arm carelessly and more than once the vein 
opened again. Not infrequently that occurred when he 
was out on his wild rides, and the result was that he him- 
self and the horse or vehicle was often marked with blood 
to the terror of people who saw him. This often placed 
his life in imminent danger; but he seemed perfectly in- 
different whether he lived or died. There was only one 
man with whom he would hold any converse and that was 
Dr. McDowell, the man who had been invited there to 
take up the fine practise that the hermit doctor had so unac- 
countably thrown away. 

One day he took Dr. McDowell more closely than 
usual into his confidence. In the matter of dishwashing, 
for example. Dr. Suydam had a plan which was all his 
own. He had bought a great three-bushel basket and a 
whole lot of plates and dishes for table use. As he used 
these be put them away in the big basket. When the re- 
ceptacle was full he carried it to the river which passed 
near his house, dumped them all in and washed the whole 
pile at once. 


"Do you see that large box doctor?" the visitor was 
asked one day. "Well, that box has two compartments; 
both are full of evil spirits — little devils! I'm not afraid 
of them; oh, no! I know every one of them by name, I 
don't fear them, though they are my deadly enemies. 
They raise their trap-doors and come out at night, going 
round the house screaming and blaspheming horribly, and 
trying all the time to tempt me to do evil things. But I 
won't! I won't!" 

With his long straggling hair and emaciated frame, the 
once erect, broad-shouldered, handsome, graciously man- 
nered doctor looked pitiful indeed. He was now such a 
nervous and physical wreck, that his uncouth look and 
jerkiness of manner suggested the movements of some big, 
moulting bird of ill omen. 

"Hark!" he cried with raised finger and dilating eyes 
one night. "Harl?! do you hear him, doctor? That's 
'Darkness.' He's always out first and is rather a pleasant 
little devil; but he's soon followed by 'Doubt' and 'Des- 
pair,' and then the trouble begins. I call them the three 
double D's. There they go! Do you hear them? Aren't 
they enough to drive a man mad?" 

"Dear me! dear me!" the visiting doctor interrupted; 
why do you indulge in such rank folly, Suydam ? You are 
far too wise a man to thus deceive yourself. Those rat- 
tlings and squealings, you know, are made by common rats 
and not by any spirits. Why do you — " 

"I won't! I won't!" the demented man shouted, seem- 
ing to forget his friend's presence and answering the de- 
mons again. 

"Begone! you ugly little devil, Despair! I hear what 


you say: 'Marry for spite! Marry for spite!' you tell 
me. But I won't! I tell you I won't!" 

The recital from time to time of these and many more 
details of Dr. Suydam's horrible condition to Phoebe 
Vanderveer, plunged her deeper and deeper into mental 
agony. At first she believed it was merely an original 
plan on the part of the doctor to bring pressure to bear 
upon her heart. 

"Alas! alas!" she would complain. "What futility it 
is thus to press his suit upon a bride of heaven ! Paul, my 
dear, etherealized husband, 'tis but a narrow stream 
that divides us — a mere thought, a passing breath. Soon 
it will be over; then forever and forever we shall be 
united !" 

But though it was impossible for her to listen to the 
doctor's suit, the kind soul of Phoebe Vanderveer was 
burdened with great sorrow for the fate of the man who 
evidently gave up all earthly joys because he was denied 
the heart which she had not in her power or keeping to 
give him. This ever-increasing weight of woe, added to 
the unquenchable grief for Paul, in time so sapped the 
foundations of her reason that she became the picturesque 
prey of supercilious eccentricity in her later life. As long 
as she lived, however, in all her most fantastic vagaries 
and pitiful whims, it is pleasant to know that she had the 
loving forbearance, sympathy and indulgence of that 
splendid type of gentleman of the old school, her loyal 
brother, Dr. Henry Vanderveer. 

Even after all was over, when Death in his peaceful 
guise came and took poor Phoebe to the man she loved, her 
brother, faithful to the last, remembering and respecting 


her little weakness as to her age and much to the disap- 
pointment of many curious ones of her sex, did not men- 
tion it on the tablet which he lovingly raised over her grave 
in Bedminster churchyard. 

It is pleasant to relate that Dr. Suydam in time arose 
from his despair and once more "clothed and in his right 
mind," resumed his practise, married a very estimable lady, 
attained the highest place in his profession and died at a 
ripe old age, beloved and respected by every one who knew 



One of the interesting tales of bygone days that were 
recalled by Mrs. Hugh Hartwell, of Somerville, when the 
writer met her recently at the old Van Nest homestead, 
where "Prince" George was born and brought up a fam- 
ily, was about a romance in the life of old Dr. Henry 
Vanderveer, of Pluckemin. It was a story that Mrs. 
Hartwell's grandmother, Mrs. Davenport Van Nest, 
never tired of telling, and one that my informant never 
wearied of hearing. 

It will be remembered by readers of this series that Dr. 
Vanderveer lived and died a bachelor. This was not 
really surprising, when his many eccentricities were con- 
sidered. But, after all, it seems that it was not by any 
means through choice that he lived in celibacy. On the 
contrary, at least once in his life he appears to have made 
truly heroic efforts to join the noble army of benedicts. 
It was, of course, only another of his oddities that he de- 
layed this move until he was far advanced in life and that 
the lady of his choice, so far as age was concerned, might 
have been his great-granddaughter. 

On McDougal street, only a block or two away from 
Abraham Van Nest's fine old homestead in ancient Green- 
wich, N, Y., lived a family named Angevin, a daughter of 
which, called Mary, was a beautiful and cultivated young 
woman, but extremely delicate. Mary was a niece of 



Mrs. Davenport Van Nest, and often visited the Abraham 
Van Nests, her near neighbors at old Greenwich. But 
her favorite visit was to her aunt at the old Van Nest 
homestead, in lovely Somerset. Here at the age of twenty 
she met Dr. Henry Vanderveer, who was then seventy. 

One evening while she and her aunt sat by the open 
parlor window enjoying the cooling breeze, a man on 
horseback rode up the avenue. He was Dr. Vanderveer. 

As the wonderfully preserved doctor appeared in the 
hall, with fine, erect form, tight-buttoned coat, shining 
top boots and gilded spurs, a step as firm and buoyant as 
most men have at thirty, and without a silver thread in 
his wavy hair, he was a striking figure. Holding his 
low-crowned silk hat and silver-headed riding whip in one 
hand, with the other he handed Mrs. Van Nest some 
nostrum that he had come to deliver. Then with apologies 
for his haste and with the usual polite conventionalisms, 
he was bowing himself out from the entrance hall, when 
his hostess stopped him. 

"Doctor," she said, "I would like you to see my niece. 
Won't you step in for a moment?" 

"Ah! how do you do?" the physician said with his most 
courtly bow when he was presented to Miss Angevin. 

"My dear Mrs. Van Nest, your niece is very beautiful," 
he remarked on leaving. "We must relieve that cough 
of hers or she will die of consumption." 

On a subsequent visit and while in consultation with the 
aunt the doctor stood a moment looking down in silence 
and tapping the floor with his foot. 

"I — I — that is, Mrs. Van Nest," he said, haltingly, 
"you've known me a long time as being always sincere, and 


perhaps Impetuous. The fact is, I'm an old fool, no 
doubt; but something tells me I shall marry this most 
lovely young creature! No such thought or consciousness 
ever before possessed me. Pray, my dear friend, be my con- 
fidant. As physician, I propose to attack and conquer 
what will otherwise steal away this incomparable bud 
of womanhood. If I succeed I shall ask her to be my 

I'hen commenced the duel between death and Dr. 
Vanderveer for a bride. Those who knew the doctor and 
his secret knew that he was a physician of deep and re- 
sourceful skill and they felt confident that his grim an- 
tagonist, though sure to win in the long run, would find a 
doughty opponent. The fight went on and the doctor 
seemed to be clearly winning until in the succeeding fall 
the fair prize had such a relapse that death seemed an 
easy victor. But the doctor, with unabated ardor, so 
effectually drove back his terrible antagonist that his pa- 
tient came again on her annual visit to Jersey, really better 
in health and more radiantly beautiful than ever. 

Dr. Vanderveer was jubilant. At all times fastidious 
in dress, he now kept pace as it were with nature's re- 
freshing rejuvenation everywhere, and burst forth into 
full blossom in suit after suit of the most exquisite effects 
to be had in New York. Perhaps the most striking and 
for potent reasons his favorite suit included a blue swal- 
lowtail, silk-embroidered coat with brass buttons, yellow 
plush vest, ruffled shirt front and wristbands and drab 
shorts, or kneebreeches, with broad silver knee and shoe 
buckles. Miss Angevin had complimented him upon his 
appearance in this suit and so he wore it more than any 


other. He also chose it for the occasion of his first plain 
declaration of his love for his fair patient. 

It must be admitted, despite the disparity of no less 
than fifty years in their ages, that when they came through 
the hall on their way to the garden, after that important 
conversation, they were a striking looking couple. What- 
ever had been her answer to the doctor's proposal it cer- 
tainly could not have been unfavorable, for they were dis- 
tinctly more joyous in each other's society than ever be- 

Dr. Vanderveer was a rich man, and now that he had 
declared himself a suitor for her hand, he loaded his 
fiancee with costly presents and sparkling trinkets. 

As the summer merged into autumn, Mary again de- 
veloping unfavorable pulmonary symptoms, this being her 
weak point, and the doctor fearing phthisis, he determined 
and insisted on taking her to Niagara for her health. She 
assented, on the understanding that she should first be 
allowed a few days at home, in New York. He de- 
clared it to be an unnecessary delay, but took her to her 
home and arranged to call for her the following week. 

Sad comment as it is on a beautiful girl's sense of honor, 
the truth must be told. And this is it: Long before Dr. 
Vanderveer could have reached home, Mary Angevin had 
arranged a meeting with a young man — a handsome young 
fellow he was admittedly, and of most engaging presence, 
but in all other respects an utter failure, if ever one lived. 
Soon they were together and rapturously he folded her in 
his arms, almost before a word was spoken. 

"Darling Mary!" he exclaimed, in the midst of con- 
tinued caresses, "how cruel of you to stay away so long!" 


"Poor, dear, big baby Billy!" responded she, with her 
brightest smile. "And so you missed me?" 

"Did I miss you! Well, I wonder what you think of 
a fellow anyway!" he exclaimed, with an injured look. 
"But the truth is, I suppose, that after all your fine prom- 
ises, you're going to throw me over and marry this rich 
old Somerset doctor!" 

"No, big, beautiful Billy," she answered. "Fm bad 
and heartless enough in a variety of ways, but I'll never 
marry the old doctor. He insists on believing I will, and 
my aunt is as determined as he is that I shall do so, but 
I would not marry him if he were covered with dia- 

"And what about this idiotic Niagara trip?" Billy 
asked. "I suppose the amiable physician is getting up this 
grand expedition just to get you completely away from 
your friends and then — " 

Just then Mary was seized with a severe fit of cough- 
ing, so hollow-sounding that it frightened even Billy. 
They were in an arbor of her McDougal street home, long 
after sunset, and though it was moonlight the air was 
damp and chilly. Mary told her companion that her 
uncle, Samuel Davenport, was going along with them to 
Niagara, and that otherwise she would not go at all. 

"Run into the house, Molly, dearest; don't stay here," 
said Billy. "You are taking cold. But wait. Listen, 
Molly, just a second. Keep me posted, darling. If I can 
raise some money that I have in view, I'll meet you at any 
time and place you desire. Let it be at your aunt's, Mol- 
ly, after your return. Then I'll come again to the Pluck- 
emin tavern, but this time with my own horses and — 


Hark! It's your mother, Molly. Farewell! We'll meet 
at Pluckemin!" 

In consequence of this exposure to the night air Mary 
suffered a serious relapse and when she was later taken to 
Niagara, a trained nurse was engaged to take care of her. 
After a comparatively short stay there the young woman's 
health seemed miraculously restored again. The doctor 
again pressed his suit and proposed that they should return 
home as a married couple. Still she hesitated and dallied 
with her aged lover, not seeming to have the moral cour^ 
age to broach the truth to him. 

Finding, however, that she could no longer stave off 
the inevitable, she wrote to Billy full particulars ^f the 
position in which she stood. Hearing from hin? m reply 
that he had obtained the money he had spoken t*f and was 
therefore ready to fly to her side, she w^rote informing 
him on what day she would arrive at her aunt's house 
near Pluckemin and urged him not to fail to meet and 
rescue her from her terrible predicament. 

His reply came promptly. In it he begged her to pos- 
sess her soul in peace and urged her on her arrival at her 
aunt's to say nothing and retire as usual to her room, but 
to look out into the night on hearing the call of the whip- 
poorwill, which bird Mary knew he could imitate per- 

"Doctor," she said one morning, "if you will promise 
not to mention the subject of our marriage until two days 
after I get home to my Aunt Van Nest's house, can you 
guess what I'll do now? I'll tell you, for you never could 
guess, I will faithfully and seriously promise you to go 
then and be married." 



"You will?" asked the doctor earnestly. 

"I will!" answered Mary seriously. 

''Then, I do promise," said the doctor. 

"And I do so in all sincerity." Mary said. 

The subject as to the date of their marriage was there- 
fore dropped for the time being. After their return to the 
Van Nest homestead and when the doctor had made his 
adieus to his young bride-to-be he extended his hand to 
Mrs. Van Nest and thanked her heartily for her vast 
kindness, which, as he said, had "contributed so much to 
bring about this great happiness." He would devote the 
intervening short time before the marriage, he said, to the 
still further embellishment of his hitherto silent and deso- 
late house. 

That night Mrs. Van Nest lay awake longer than was 
her wont. She felt an unaccountable restlessness. 

"Dear me!" she said at length, raising her head from 
the pillow; "I could be sworn I heard the whippoorwill. 
Late in the season to hear that bird!" 

Again she dozed, and again she awoke, this time with a 
start, at hearing a strange grating sound against the side 
of the house. 

"There's something wrong going on about this house," 
the good lady said, and getting up she hastily donned some 
of her clothes. It was bright moonlight. She threw up 
the staircase window and peered out. 

"Lawk a mercy on us! Thieves! Robbers! House- 
breakers on horseback!" she screamed. "Sam! Brother 
Sam! Wake up and call the servants! Help! help, for 
mercy's sake!" 

"Dearest auntie," said a voice in the darkness, "don't 


be frightened or angry. It's Billy and I. He came a lit- 
tle late and so we thought we'd not disturb you. Good- 
by, auntie dear, and please tell the doctor that I've kept 
my promise; for I'm now going to be married. To-mor- 
row I shall be Mrs. Billy Elderson!" 

Then the clatter of horse's hoofs was heard on the frost- 
crusted ground, and in a moment the couple were out of 

Mary married the young and handsome, but worthless, 
Billy. Her career was short. It was filled with priva- 
tions and pain, and she went to an early grave. 



It is the wail of the pessimist that everything is in a 
bad way and steadily growing worse. The political croak- 
er particularly, as a rule, with some disappointment rank- 
ling in him, looks around and sees nothing but grasping 
cupidity and venality, or rampant "graft," everywhere 
among the servants of the people, and this every day in- 
creasing enormously. 

''It's no use talking," he tells you; "we're a long way 
down grade from what our grandfathers were. People 
had consciences in those days and inflexible principle, upon 
which were established a just pride and honor which were 
dearer to them than their lives. Now," he avers, "we 
are the abject slaves of money. Every hour more and 
more brazenly we bow the knee to the golden calf. Those 
glorious twin sisters. Honest Integrity and Honor, are 
browbeaten, insulted and pushed aside in our wild scram- 
ble for filthy lucre. Now, there is absolutely none that 
can be trusted, no not one!" 

All right, Mr. Sorehead Demagogue, but talking of our 
grandfathers, it might not be out of place to offer you a 
retrospective peep into political doings of those halcyon 
times you mention. We'll pass over the hackneyed story 
of iniquity of the Tweed gang in little old New York. 
Of course, cities always did and always will have rings 
of idle schemers on the lookout for money without work- 



ing for It. Let the cities take care of themselves and 
come along, Mr. Sorehead, out into the sweet, uncontam- 
inated atmosphere of the country of our grandsires. 

Here is a county surely favored of the gods for purity 
for Is It not elevated toward heaven upon the everlasting 
buttresses and bastions of the Pohatcong and KIttatlnny 
mountains, with Mount Jenny Jump keeping her towering 
watch and ward in the centre? See also how It is 
washed clean on nearly all Its sides by the stately Dela- 
ware and Musconetcong rivers, while the pleasant Pau- 
lins, winding through the once famous Walnut Valley, 
cleanses and refreshens it Internally. 

It must have been the creation of patriotic men, too, 
this county; for among Its towns and townships we find 
the proud names of Washington, Columbia, Franklin, 
Frelinghuysen, Independence, Hope and Harmony. Here 
from Jenny Jump's mantling donjon let us survey this 
pleasant land. It Is the fair county of Warren, N. J. 

From time immemorial Warren was nothing If not 
Democratic. Generally it went Democratic to the tune 
of two to three thousand majority. A Democratic nom- 
ination in Warren used to be equivalent to election. In 
fact, at the period mentioned a Republican was literally 
so great a curiosity that if one was announced In town, 
all the women and children turned out to get a glimpse 
of him, really believing, it is said, that he must be exceed- 
ingly dark with kinky curled hair, or at least with a black 
streak on him somewhere. 

All went well and merrily as the proverbial marriage 
bell for the sleek and joyful old, trusted Democratic 
family party, until one day by a mere accident the tax- 


payers discovered something that proved like a lighted 
match dropped in a powder magazine. That is to say 
they found that their freehanded representatives had paid 
a contractor's bill of $500 twice over and had never so 
much as noticed the slight mistake. This set the people 
thinking, then to doubting and finally to looking into 
money matters for themselves. And lo, an explosion fol- 
lowed that blew open the doors of the State prison and 
penitentiary and swept into their cells, amid filth unspeak- 
able, most of the honored officeholders of the Warren 
County of our grandfathers. 

What furnished the $500 fulminate spark to the mag- 
azine was a contract for the building of a bridge over the 
river at Newburg. The contractor, happening to be a 
poor man, ordered a large consignment of pine wood to 
be sent along for the new bridge to be paid for C. O. D. 
He had arranged with the freeholders for an advance of 
money toward the work, and on arrival of the lumber two 
of them handed him $500. Notwithstanding this when 
the bridge was finished and taken over by the county the 
contractor was paid the full amount the contract called 
for, not a cent being deducted for the $500 advanced on 
account. This coming in some way to the ears of certain 
taxpayers, they first questioned the freeholders about it 
and not receiving satisfactory answers they demanded an 
investigation and a committee was appointed to make it. 

The cat was out of the bag. One discovery followed 
another of fraud upon fraud and such abandoned rascality 
that the committee stood dumfounded. They could not 
easily realize that these men, their chosen representatives, 
their intimate friends and neighbors, could be guilty of 


such crimes. But they waded through books of account, 
bills and vouchers and could not shut their eyes to what 
they saw in black and white before them. It was evident 
the methods used in the expenditure of the public money 
were through and through so grossly bad that in view of 
the persons involved it seemed perfectly incredible, in- 

Checks were raised to many times their original amounts 
in the most barefaced perpetration of common theft. To 
give a few from endless examples, a check for $7 on ac- 
count of the bridge work was raised and cashed as $70. 
For another similar bill, a check for $3 was put through 
as $300. Bills for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars 
for expensive carpeting charged against and paid by the 
county, purported to be for the court-house, while not a 
yard went to that building, but was all used to carpet the 
parlors of the officeholders. It was ascertained beyond the 
possibility of a doubt that over several years the confiding 
taxpayers of Warren County were robbed by their trusted 
Democratic representatives of upward of quarter of a mil- 
lion of dollars. 

As the investigation committee proceeded, unearthing 
batch after batch of these terrible facts, the taxpayers went 
wild. They demanded instant prosecution of every of- 
ficial on the political roster. Henry S. Harris, a rising 
young lawyer, was appointed public prosecutor for War- 
ren County. His was a difficult and painful task, for all 
of the suspected men in office were his intimate acquaint- 
ances, many of them personal friends. But he buckled 
unflinchingly to the work and did his duty, facing fierce 
attempts at intimidation and even veiled threats against his 


life. Several times on dark nights anonymous missiles 
bearing the gruesome skull and crossbones were pushed 
underneath his door, but he never swerved to the right or 
to the left till his work was done, and done well. 

It was a tremendous sensation when every officeholder 
in Warren County was indicted and haled before the grand 
jury to answer for malfeasance in office. There were no 
protests of innocence heard from the accused. The proofs 
of their guilt were far too palpable and direct for that. 
But they weakly whined a request that the investigators 
should extend their search back for fourteen years and 
prosecute their predecessors in office. 

"That might not clear us of blame," they pleaded, 
"but it would show that we are no worse than others 
who were in office before us; for they did the same thing 
we have done. We have simply followed in their foot- 
stesps," they said. 

Although their plea for retrospective justice could not 
be granted, seeing that indictments were inoperative for 
offenses committed beyond the space of two years, yet the 
investigators did probe the accounts away back as re- 
quested, and they found the statement true, that the same 
rottenness of maladministration had been sapping their 
county's foundation for over fourteen years. 

All the accused officers were arrested and lodged in 
jail, but admitted to heavy bail. And, of course, most 
of them had no difficulty in finding sureties ready to go 
upon their bail bonds, and were liberated pending trial. 
But one of them, a prominent professional man, finding 
himself unable to procure bondsmen, had to remain in 
durance. Not being disposed to submit to this indignity, 

"You are my prisoner," he said. 


he foolishly resorted to the vulgar plan of breaking his 
way out of jail, and fled through the fields and over the 
Oxford Mountains to his home in Washington, Warren 

His heart yearned, how^ever, not for his home and be- 
loved ones there, but for his wife's pocket money. He 
stole into his home like a burglar, extracted $160 of his 
wife's savings from her little private cupboard, and, sneak- 
ing away as he had come, went presumably to New York 
to another woman he had been supporting there. His es- 
cape from jail nettled, as well as mystified, the court when 
it was found that the fugitive had not been seen at his 
home. But the public prosecutor was an astute man, and, 
being put upon his mettle, he sent for a young man of 
whom he had the highest opinion in such matters. 

"Bob," he said, when the young man came, "you're 
the very man for this job. I mean ," said he, nam- 
ing the prison-breaker. "He has been foolish enough to 
break jail and has taken to his heels. He did not go 
home, I find, but is in hiding somewhere. You bring that 
man back here to his cake and milk, and your fee, what- 
ever the amount, will be ready, waiting for you." 

Bob, who was almost entirely without a clue, started 
first to ferret out the woman in the case. It was an in- 
tricate and diflScult piece of dovetailing disjointed facts 
into one another that led him to the then highly fashion- 
able London Terrace, between Ninth and Tenth avenues 
in New York. In a select boarding house, about the mid- 
dle of the row, a tall, auburn-haired, elegantly attired 
woman had been residing about a week when she came 
under Bob's close observation. At the old Fog Horn Inn, 


on the corner of Twenty-third street and Ninth avenue, 
where the young sleuth, Bob, put up, the lady in whom 
he was so interested was much discussed in the bar as 
the "strawberry blonde." She often walked up and down 
Twenty-third street and the "boys" over their cups were 
enthusiastic over her charming appearance. Bob joined 
with zest in the conversation, but all the time was in 
despair because his man did not put in his expected ap- 
pearance along with the woman. Suddenly, however, the 
strawberry blonde, rolled away in a cab with trunks on 
top, and though the "boys" did not have even an inkling 
of it. Bob promptly bowled away in the same direction 
in another cab. 

The result was that two mornings later when the lady 
left her hotel in Richmond, Va., for a walk, accompanied 
by a dark smooth-shaven man wearing green glasses. Bob 
came sauntering up behind, tapped the man on the shoul- 
der and addressing him as , the man he wanted : 

"You are my prisoner," he said. 

The man indignatly protested that he was not the 
person named. 

"Never mind," said Bob, coolly snapping an iron on 
his arm. "I'll take all the chances. This way, please." 
And he marched his man off to the station. The fugitive 
had had a long, black beard and was totally unlike the 
captured man, but Bob was relentless and paid not the 
slightest heed to the continued protestations and the ex- 
cited threats of the strawberry blonde, and next day de- 
livered the real runaway culprit into the hands of Mr. 
Jlarris^ public prosecutor of Warren County, and was 


highly complimented and paid double the modest fee he 

"And, Bob, let me tell you, my boy," Mr. Harris said, 
heartily shaking the young man's hand, "I prophesy that 
the name of Robert Pinkerton will soon have national 
fame." And who that knows the widespread ramifications 
of the great Pinkerton Detective Agency of to-day but 
will admit that Mr. Prosecutor Harris's was a true 
prophecy ? 

Eleven men were duly tried and every one of them 
convicted — all except one, and he, the master mind and 
arch conspirator oi the whole gang, by turning State's 
evidence went Scott free. The eleven were drawn up in 
a row before Chief Justice Beasley for sentence. He first 
read them collectively a severe moral lecture. Then ad- 
dressing by name the prominent professional man who had 
vainly tried to escape, after some scathing personal re- 
marks the judge said: 

*Tor your crime I sentence you to serve two years in 
the State prison at hard labor." There was a pause, and 
the prisoner, evidently surprised at the lightness of his 
sentence, took upon himself to thank the judge in flowing 
terms. But the justice, not noticing the interruption in 
any way, went on: 

"And for breaking jail I also sentence you to two more 
years, making in all four years for you in State prison at 
hard labor." At which the prisoner hung down his head 
and offered no further remarks whatever. The nine oth- 
ers were also sent to the State prison, and one to the coun- 
ty jail. Their sentences varied from eighteen months to 
four years. , 


As might well have been expected, the smashing of the 
ring utterly demoralized the Democratic party of Warren 
County; and the next Senator, Peter Cramer, of New 
Hampton, was a life-long Republican. Benjamin F. 
Howey, also an out-and-out Republican, was elected 
sheriff. This was the first time in the history of Warren 
County that a Republican ever beat a Democrat at an 

The prosecutor of the ring rose to well earned fame and 
was elected to Congress. When his first term expired he 
was renominated. But the men he had sent to prison 
were now free again and being past masters of the art of 
politics, and as they were banded together as one man to 
be revenged, they effected their purpose by defeating him 
and sending a Democrat in his place. 

And as time, the great mollifier and mellower of all 
things temporal, jogged along and the horror of the old 
ring gradually died away, the Democrats began to come 
into their own again. So now, once more, Warren County 
usually goes, as of old, decidedly Democratic. 

Warren County's plan of providing for its poor about 
forty years ago, at the time of the ring's operations, was 
and I believe, still is unique and highly commendable. A 
very large farm, over six hundred acres, it is said, was 
fully stocked and equipped with proper implements, barns, 
etc., and was operated entirely by pauper labor. Every 
pauper in the county was brought to the farm, and each 
one allotted his work, according to his age and strength; 
and they all took kindly to it, as enabling even the oldest 
and weakest of them to preserve their self-respect, through 
participating in some small way in productive labor. 


Thousands of bushels of grain and tons upon tons of 
beef and pork were produced annually, besides much fruit, 
vegetables, milk and butter for market, after supplying 
their own needs. It was governed by a board of directors, 
who elected a resident steward, and was all, of course, 
ruled by politics. In fact, the fate of the ring hung in 
the balance over the election of sheriff, for which office the 
farm steward was the Democratic candidate. The bosses 
made sure that if their nominee was returned for this 
office they would be able to upset and prevent the then 
impending investigation. So they made tremendous ef- 
forts to effect their purpose. 

My informant in these matters, then a callow and un- 
sophisticated youth just arrived at voting age, was ap- 
proached and made a delegate by the eager ringsters, who 
felt bound to have a man who would do exactly what he 
was told. The big boy was, of course, pleased at their 
choice of him, while having no more idea than one of his 
father's goslings what it really meant. His father was 
warned : 

"Don't you let your boy be seen with those 

rascals!" a prominent citizen cautioned him. 

But it was then too late to prevent it. Samuel Frome, 
the ring's choice, had served a term as steward of the 
poor farm and was immensely popular, especially with the 
paupers. For among other amiable features of his man- 
agement of the farm, he always had the traveling tobacco 
wagon drive up and supply sufficient of that seductive 
weed for all, men and women alike. Everyone that wanted 
tobacco could have it. In some quarters complaints were 
occasionally made that too much tobacco was used; but 


Sam Frome always met them with the same prompt an- 

"As long as I'm steward the old folks shall have their 
'baccy.' If you don't like it, choose my successor. There 
are plenty aching for the job." 

The election came off; the boy delegate did as he 
was told, but alas for the ring! The public rose up in its 
wrath and overthrew them. For the first time in the mem- 
ory of man the choice of the Democratic bosses of War- 
ren County was beaten. The trial, as before stated, went 
on and the malefactors were sent where they rightly de- 
served to go, to State prison. 

But as to that great coup it was very likely true, as 
very many Warren County people claimed, and as, in- 
deed, only too frequently happens in wholesale punish- 
ment, that at least one righteous man suffered with the 
wicked. Simon A. Cummins, who held the office of coun- 
ty collector, was verily believed to have been the innocent 
victim of the frauds with which he was too hopelessly and 
incongruously mixed up ever to be able to shake off the 
contaminating filth and right himself. Yet, that he could 
have done so is pretty widely believed, though he never 
put it to the test; a thing that many still regret. For 
"Honest Simon," as he was admiringly and universally 
called, was held in the highest esteem. The great nervous 
shock and strain of the trial completely demoralized and 
ruined him. 

Hufty Thaw, who was overseer of the poor at that 
time, had some amusing whimsicalities of character not 
out of keeping with his peculiar name. As a matter of 
fact, it may be noted that the country people of these parts 


are particularly happy in the aptness of their choice of 
nicknames. Hufty was a spare little, dried-up looking 
man with bushy eyebrows over little keen gray eyes, a 
long nose with a round knob on the end and rather fat, 
mobile lips that were usually pushed out with a self- 
satisfied pucker, expressive of great importance and in- 
tolerance of contradiction. He was hot-tempered but 
quick to change his choler to a smile, especially when the 
opposition proved too strong for him. 

For a time his wife lost much crockery in arguments 
with him, for if she crossed him too much he would at- 
tack the china and smash plates, cups and saucers, etc., 
to smithereens — probably some of the Thaw "brain 
storms" of those early days, ere yet blood and boodle had 
lent them lurid fame. But one day when he began it 
again, the wife started also and smashed away harder 
than he did. Stopping immediately: 

"Oh, lan's sakes, Mary; let up on this!" he implored 
with outstretched hands. "It do look so durned foolish 
to see you breaking things. Do stop, Mary, and I'll never 
break another thing in all my life!" And he never did. 

At one period he quite frequently and grossly exceeded 
the bounds of temperance in liquid refreshments, and after 
a specially wet day always used to rise from his bed some 
time in the night to quench his raging thirst from a crock 
of buttermilk which was kept standing on a stone bench 
behind the kitchen door. One night after a whole day of 
unusually liberal potations, he arose with his mouth so 
parched that he did not detect the least difference in the 
flavor of his favorite teetotal beverage, though it was very 


decidedly different, and gulped down about a quart of it 
from the old familiar crock. 

As he was returning to bed his wife woke up, who, 
thinking her husband had just that moment arisen: 

"Oh, Hufty," she said, "are you going for a drink? 
Don't go to the crock, for I put the soiled clothes to soak 
in it. The buttermilk is in a pail on the — oh, what's the 
matter, Hufty? Are you ill?" she cried, springing to the 
floor as Hufty threw himself half out of a window, al- 
most retching his heart out. 

Tradition has not set that down as a wifely artifice in 
the good cause of temperance. But a decided preponder- 
ance, at all events, of masculine opinion, ascribes it to 
deliberate design with the qualification added that though 
it did cure Hufty of excessive drinking, it certainly 
reached the extreme limit of what might be called palat- 
able discretion on his wife's part. 

While it is of unhappy record that there were a good 
many unfaithful public officers in Warren County at the 
time mentioned, Hufty Thaw was certainly not one of 
them. All men's characters, good, bad and indifferent, 
are matters of gradual evolution. And after the toning 
down from crockery brain storms and his drastic ex- 
purgation with soap suds, Hufty did duly develop into a 
steady and shining light and very slave of arduous duty. 
Perhaps a beacon light would be the more apt physical 
interpretation. For the knob of his nose end, notwith- 
standing the new leaf he had turned, loomed in purple 
warmth over a bluish-white background of nose and 
cheek, that, like summer sunsets, suggested the embers of 
hot days that had been. 





Hufty's office entailed the gathering of paupers from 
all quarters of the county into the fold of the poor farm. 
When he found new candidates he went to a justice of the 
peace of the district to have the proper papers made out. 
Justices were then called squires in Warren County. So 
one day early in the morning Hufty climbed the stoop 
and gave a loud knock at the door of the Squire of Beatty- 
town. The Squire, who was a fine stately, well-groomed 
looking man, had one cardinal weakness; which was a 
kind of dread that sooner or later he would fall a victim 
to one or other of the infectious diseases, which in those 
days so often swept whole communities into their graves. 
Answering the knock in person: 

"Why, good morning, Hufty," he said. ''You're 
abroad early. Won't you step in? We're just eating 
breakfast. Ah, a little business. That'll be all right. 
But breakfast first, business after's my plan, always. Step 
right in, Hufty." 

Hufty did step in and was pleasantly greeted by the 
lady of the house and her rising family, all seated around 
the amply furnished table. 

"Take that chair, Hufty, and sit up," said the affable 
squire, resuming his own seat. But the faithful overseer 
of the poor seemed to remember something that ought to 
be mentioned and stood tapping the rim of his old high- 
crowned beaver hat against his puckered lips. 

"I — I hope you'll really excuse me, squire," he stam- 
mered, "but, in point of fact, I have already had break- 
fast and, thank you kindly all the same, while you finish 
^ours I think I ought to be looking to see if a wagon can 
je hired in the town. For, you see, m'am," he said, 



bowing slightly to the hostess, "the poor people I found 
up at Port Murray this morning, a family of ten they are, 
m'am, are very sick. In point of fact, I helped turn the 
poor man on the bed myself, m'am, before I left the house 
to come here. He is dying, I think, and tell the truth, I 
don't know how they can be moved; for more than half 
of the family are down with it. I mean with the small- 
pox and — " 

"What!" thundered the squire, jumping to his feet; 
"smallpox! You — scoundrel! You in that house and 
came straight to mine I Get out of here, or by — Away ! 
or I'll kick your contaminating little carcass into the 
street! Don't touch that 'door knob! Confound you! 
for two cents I'd — " and he chased the alarmed Hufty 
down the stoop and half a block away, the poor little man 
still hugging his stovepipe hat, with his long hair stream- 
ing back as he barely escaped with his life. 



His Wife Trained an Angel. 

The little village of Lamington, near Pluckemin, was 
once a familiar and favorite resort of Horace Greeley. In 
the midst of his labors in building up the farbric of a 
great metropolitan newspaper — one that will always be 
associated with his name — from the piles of correspond- 
ence mounting on his desk, which included dispatches 
from the highest in the land, Mr. Greeley would often 
select for first perusal, a little, daintily addressed envelope 
which he knew came from Lamington. Then for a brief 
moment, forgetting the glorious grime and grind at the 
galleys of Printing House Square, through which he of- 
ten swayed the trend of even national affairs, there would 
be a softening of the lines of the great man's counten- 
ance, as from all these he "lightly turned to thoughts of 

Some time in the early thirties Mr. Greeley happened 
to dine at a vegetarian hotel in New York, where he met 
Miss Mary T. Cheney, a school teacher, a native of Wa- 
tertown, N. C, at table and promptly fell in love with 
her. Miss Cheney, who was spending her vacation in 
the city, soon returned to her charge, which was at the 
little Foot of the Lane School, close to Lamington, 



whither she appears to have taken the great editor's heart 
along with her. 

For at frequently recurring intervals thereafter he ap- 
peared at Bound Brook in his familiar white overcoat 
and with a tuck on the right leg of his trousers and none 
on the left, and would scale the mountain ; or, if coming 
by Somerville, would trek his way, often on foot, the 
ten or more miles to Mr. Kennedy's house at Vliets Mills, 
about half way between Pottersville and Lamington, 
where Miss Cheney dwelt. 

For some time before Mr. Greeley and she were mar- 
ried Miss Cheney lived with a Mrs. Duickinck, close to 
the Foot of the Lane School. This woman's descendants 
relate some interesting things about the Greeleys. She 
used to say they were very fine and most agreeable peo- 
ple, but both full of fads of their own. From her de- 
scription, Miss Cheney must have been a typically strong- 
mined person, with her full share of advanced ideas about 
woman's proper sphere, etc. 

Facetious persons will say that Mrs. Duickinck has 
left corroborative evidence of the truth of this in the fur- 
ther information she supplied that Miss Cheney, who 
built her own fires In the school, one day most terribly 
alarmed a few of her early scholars by fainting dead 
away at the sight of a little mouse. The moment she 
opened the stove door the little rodent bounced out and 
the teacher collapsed. 

After the Greeleys were married and their first baby 
was about a year old, Mrs. Greeley came to see Mrs. 
Duickinck and other old friends and to let her first born 
breathe the salubrious air among the well remembered 


rural beauties of fair Somerset. Early in the visit she 
astonished Mrs. Duickinck with a minute account of the 
system on which she would bring up her little one — "the 
only rational and proper system," she declared it to be. 
The child was fed, not when it cried for food, but when 
the hands of the clock pointed to certain hours. And as 
soon as fed, instead of being dandled or rocked to sleep, 
the little thing, clad in very loose and spare swaddling 
clothes, was laid on the floor of an adjoining room, to cry 
and kick and sprottle at its own sweet will, until it tired 
itself and lay still, or kept on rolling or creeping and cry- 
ing as it pleased. In other words, it was allowed to "de- 
velop itself," the mother explained. 

Another part of the system was in operation one morn- 
ing, just as Dr. Cornelius C. Suydam happened to be pass- 
ing in his gig. That is to say, Mrs. Greeley was holding 
her screaming infant under the pump with one hand, 
while with the other she vigorously worked the handle, 
sending a flood of almost ice cold water over the little 

"For God's sake, madam, what are you doing to the 
poor child?" the physician shouted. 

"I'm going to make a perfect woman of my baby girl, 
when she grows up, sir," the mother proudly answered. 

"You'll make an angel of her long before that; and 
that's more than any woman ever was! Take my word 
for it!" the doctor said and passed on. 

When able to walk, after the pump bath the child was 
made to run naked a certain number of times around the 
table — not a lap more or less than the strict regulation 
number. Another phase of Mrs. Greeley's system — but 


this she acknowledged to be experimental— was that of 
keeping her little one entirely isolated from speech of any 
kind from any one, so as to find what sounds it would 
naturally invent to make known its wants. This, accord- 
ing to the testimony of both the daughter and stepdaugh- 
ter of Mrs. Duickinck, was carried out until the child 
was quite large— at least four, or probably, five years of 
age. Up to that age, they say, the child never uttered any 
more intelligible sound than "oo-oo!" whatever wants it 
wished to express. But the humane Dr. Suydam proved 
to be right; for the poor child died, while the extraor- 
dinary experiment was still in progress. 

Mrs. Greeley utterly condemned the use of any kind 
of shortening in bread. In fact, she preferred wheat 
kernels in their natural state and ate great quantities. 
One day, on a visit at Dr. McDowell's, at Larger Cross 
Roads, when helped to bread she smelt of it : 

"I cannot eat this bread," she said, "there's lard in it." 
The incident very much discomposed the hostess and prac- 
tically spoiled the visit. 

On January i6, 1872, the last year of his life, Horace 
Greeley gave a lecture on temperance in the Second 
Church of Mendham. He stayed over night with Rev. 
T. W. Cochran, of that place, who gathered a number of 
friends to meet his distinguished visitor. Tea was an- 
nounced soon after Mr. Greeley's arrival. After a bless- 
ing was asked the host passed a plate of cold chicken to 
Mr. Greeley, who helped himself liberally. As the plate 
was passed to another guest, the host attempted to hand 
Mr. Greeley the bread, but before he could possibly do so 


the great editor reached with his fork nearly across the 
table and harpooned a slice from a full plate. 

"How do you take your tea, Mr. Greeley?" the hostess 

"Thank you, I don't take any," he replied. 

"What, then, will you have to drink?" Mrs. Cochran 

"A cup of hot water with milk and sugar — and plenty 
of milk," he answered. "I left off tea a long time ago and 
have not taken coffee in thirty years," the great man said. 
"If I hadn't I know I could not have done the work I 
have ; nor would my hand be as steady as it is." 

"You don't mean to say," said the host, "that your 
hand doesn't shake any?" 

"It does not!" Mr. Greeley declared most emphatically. 

Just then noticing that his chief guest had finished his 
bread, Mr. Cochran put out his hand to pass him some 
more, but Mr. Greeley with his dexterous fork and long 
arm again forestalled him. 

Seated in the parlor, after the meal — 

"Mr. Greeley," the host said, "where do you live now, 
if it's a fair" — but before the question was fairly put — 

"I cannot be said to live anywhere!" he answered. 
"My wife has been an invalid for many years and for six 
years has been in different parts of the world, seeking the 
most congenial atmosphere for her lungs — the West In- 
dies, Florida, England, France, Italy, etc." 

"Mr. Greeley," one of the company said, "I heard you 
twenty years ago at a teachers' institute at Somerville." 

"Oh, yes," he replied, "I used to come to Somerville 
quite often thirty years ago, or perhaps nearer forty years, 


it'll be! I married my wife in Somerset County. She 
taught school near Lamington." 

A man who attended Mr. Greeley's lecture said he was 
a much larger and finer looking man than he expected; 
and he noticed no oddity about him, except that one leg 
of his pantaloons only reached to the top of his shoes. On 
the drink question Mr. Greeley took the position that al- 
cohol is poison. 

"Don't take poison into your system," he said. *'You 
don't take strychnine, nor arsenic, nor corrosive sublimate. 
Then don't take alcohol, either!" 

"There are two things for temperance folks to do," 
he continued. "First, men are ignorant of the true char- 
acter of this poison and you must teach them. Second, 
they won't know and believe and you must persuade 
them. There are thousands wilfully blind," he said, "as 
was the man who got up before daylight to do his fall 
killing. A hog was nicely dressed before breakfast, and 
he 'hadn't had fresh pork in so long' he must eat a pound 
or two to breakfast. At dinner, spare-rib and pluck of 
course made the meal. For supper his good wife thought 
something lighter would do; but no, he 'hadn't had fresh 
pork in so long' he must have some for supper, too. All 
went well so far, and about 9 o'clock he topped off with 
a couple of baked apples and went to bed. 

"In the night he had — as he richly deserved — a violent 
attack of cholera morbus, from which he just escaped 
with his life. His comment was: Well, it was them 
baked apples that like to have killed me. I'll never eat 
any more baked apples!' 

"So kidney complaints, inflammations, nervous weak- 




nesses and a thousand other ailments are all mysterious 
visitations of Providence. No, they ain't" the lecturer 
shouted. "They are far oftener visitations of rum!" 

The lecturer held the close attention of his audience 
for an hour and a half. In his delivery there was fre- 
quent hesitation, or waiting for the right word, my in- 
formant says, which in one so used to public speaking 
seemed remarkable. But that the thoughts and deduc- 
tions were worthy of the great and good man that de- 
livered them was the unanimous conclusion of his hearers. 

At breakfast, next morning, allusion was made to the 
unveiling of Franklin's statue, which was to take place 
that same day, January 17, 1872, in Printing House 
Square, in New York. Of this Mr. Greeley remarked : 

"As a member of the press I must be there. I don't 
mind that; but the dinner after it is the trouble — I hate 
public dinners!" he said. 

On the twenty-ninth of November of the same year 
Horace Greeley was dead; just thirty days after the 
death of his wife. She died on the thirtieth of October. 



The visitor to Pluckemin would miss its most roman- 
tic attraction should he fail to see Echo Lake with its 
Buttermilk Falls. This charming spot is at the base 
of the northern termination of the First Watchung 
Mountain, between which and the Second Mountain is 
the notch opening into Washington Valley. The limpid 
little lake received its name doubtless on account of its 
remarkable manipulation of sounds; for through some 
peculiar acoustics of the beetling mountain brow, with 
its shelving and perpendicular rocks on one side, and 
the dim, cloister-like windings of the other shore, from 
certain points the human voice is echoed and re-echoed 
as many as seven distinct times. 

As might be expected, this spot has traditions of its 
own, some of them of Indian origin. The same never- 
failing spring, which, on account of its healing virtues 
the red men came from afar to drink, still gushes from 
their old Father Watchung's side into Echo Lake and is 
today tapped at what is known as the Culm Rock Spring. 
Nor were the Indians free from superstitious beliefs in the 
wonderful curative efFects of its outward application, 
when made with certain forms and ceremonies, one es- 
pecial virtue being its supposed power to quench the 
pangs of misplaced or slighted love. 

One legend bearing on this propertv of the waters to 


the Indian mind has it that Cannackanuck, one of the 
last Raritan Kings, was grievously weighed down with 
trouble, in that his beautiful and only daughter, Winona, 
loved Thingerawso, an inferior chief of their own, the 
Delaware nation. 

"Thingerawso shall never wed thee, my daughter," 
the King said. "That he is a comely youth and well 
favored, I grant; but he is not of thy station. It cannot 
be. Of this distemper thou shalt be relieved. For by 
advice of my faithful medicine man we shall journey into 
the wholesome land of the persimmon and thou shalt par- 
take of the cooling waters that flow from old Father 
Watchung's bounteous springs, and peradventure thou 
may'st be restored to salubrious sanity. Up, let thy 
maidens make ready, for to-morrow at sunrise we shall 
set out." 

With a bodyguard of threescore braves the King next 
day moved his family and court to the Watchung Moun- 
tain top, overlooking Echo Lake, and encamped there. 
Each morning Winona and her favorite maid descended 
the mountain and according to the medicine man's pre- 
scription the King's daughter, strewing persimmon leaves 
on the surface, lifted water from a spring in a natural 
cup in the rock with her hand and drank, uttering a 
short incantation between each sip and turning her face 
to the east. 

"I thus perform my hard task, my Senseta, as you see, 
faithfully," Winona said to her maid, "because my revered 
father wishes that in this way I should renounce my own 
Thingerawso; but, alas! the purpose is at war with my 
heart, for I only love him still the more." 


Meantime the King, who seemed to have had the royal 
instinct of matchmaking, came home from the hunt one 
day with a handsome young brave, whom he had casually 
met in the chase, and presented him to Winona and her 
mother as Connosota, the warlike son of Unawanda, a 
powerful Seneca chief of the Mengwe nation, beyond the 
Delaware. The elder woman directed a startled glance 
of inquiry at her husband, which he perfectly understood 
and answered, by announcing that their guest's puissant 
father, though wielding the highest power among a people 
not over friendly to the Delaware nation, yet was a tried 
and true friend of the Raritan Kings. 

''Therefore I do truly delight to honor his son," the 
King said, and filling two richly chased horns from a 
little rill that trickled from a fissure in the high rock that 
formed a side of the wigwam, and handing one to his 
guest: "Let us drink," said he, "from Father Watchung's 
unequaled vintage to the health and unending glory of 
thy right noble sire." 

The young chief and his company were lodged in one 
of the State wigwams, and had such distinguished enter- 
tainment that they stayed many days and were frequently 
joined by the King in their hunts along the North Branch 
River. The young man's presence there was really 
brought about by the King's special and pressing invita- 
tion, who judged that the presence of so princely a youth 
might aid .in his design of turning the unfortunate current 
of his daughter's thoughts from Thingerawso, even better 
perhaps than his medicine man's prescription could; and, 
further, such a union would go a long way to cement the 


friendship which he so much desired with the powerful 
and domineering Mengwe tribesmen. 

Meanwhile Thingerawso, being a fearless and adven- 
turous young chief, and fully assured of Winona's love 
for him, he let no opportunity slip of meeting her. Hav- 
ing learned of her enforced observances at Echo Lake, he 
soon gained the connivance of her maid to his beloved 
spending some precious time each day in his company. 
To this end a trysting place was arranged between the 
lovers, which was at the top of a high rock that rose prone 
from Echo Lake on the south side. The same rock is 
there still, but considerably lower, and whereas its top is 
now shaley, with only a few scrub oaks around, at the 
time mentioned it had a fort-like crown embowered by 
stately forest trees, wherefrom a lovely view was obtained 
of the opposite shore and the lake beneath. Here the fair 
Winona and her cruelly forbidden lover met almost daily 
and basked in the sunshine of each others smiles. This 
was until the coming of Connosota. After that event, as 
the young guest plainly showed a deep interest in the 
beautiful girl, by her father's directions her visits to the 
lake were fewer and of shorter duration and soon termin- 
ated altogether. So that Winona's Rock, as their meeting 
place was ever afterward known, often had now the dis- 
consolate Thingerawso waiting alone and lingering long 
for his love in vain. 

It was not long before the impetuous guest asked the 
King and was readily promised his daughter in marriage. 
Then was Winona in great tribulation, for she could no 
longer go to the lake at all, but was continually called 
upon to contribute to the entertainment of their guest, 


who though of fine manly form and martial bearing, had 
the proud and somewhat contemptuous manner invariably 
in vogue among the Mengwe toward all the Delawares 
without exception. She was not consulted, however, and 
had to take part even in rejoicings over her betrothal to 
one man while passionately in love with another. Every 
day now she felt unspeakable woe to think of her true 
lover vainly waiting and watching for her coming, and 
having to go away without a word of explanation and 
perhaps doubting her fidelity. 

At last, on the brink of despair, one day when her 
father and his guest were again in the hunting field, 
Winona contrived a meeting with her lover. Nothing, 
she told him wringing her hands in anguish, could now 
rescue her from the detested Seneca chief's son, but his 

"Would that I could meet him in single combat. I 
would lower his proud crest or perish in the attempt!" 
exclaimed her lover. 

"Thou shalt meet him, my brave Thingerawso! To- 
morrow an opportunity shall be given thee to prove thy 
love in prowess and to rid me of this insufferable burden." 
Then shading her lustrous brown eyes with her hand in 
hurried scrutiny that they were unobserved, in a tense 
whisper she unfolded her plot. On the morrow, she told 
him, she would lure Connosota to come to the spot where 
they then stood, on Winona's Rock. "And," said she fer- 
vently clasping her hands and looking upward, "may the 
Great Spirit deliver this, our mortal enemy, into thine 

She further explained that the exact hour when her 


lover might expect his victim vv^as beyond her powder to 
name, but just as he should start out to see her favorite 
seat, which short pilgrimage she vi^ould exact of him in 
proof of his devotion — then she would spill milk Into the 
stream that ran near their camp and which fed the falls. 
''Therefore," she said, "let my beloved Thingerawso 
tarry by the falling waters and what time they turn white, 
even with the milk, then may'st thou walk straight to 
the rock here and find the enemy who must be slain and 
cast over the precipice into the lake, to the end that thou 
and I shall be made happy." 

Next day at the prearranged signal, when Thingerawso 
saw the water running over the falls white with milk, 
knitting his brows and clenching his teeth, he made for 
the place of deadly tryst. Arriving at the spot, there, 
gazing at the fair scene, in obedience to his enforced be- 
trothed, stood Connosota. Grasping his tomahawk in a 
hand of iron the Delaware swooped down the slope. 

''Death to the miscreant! Thingerawso, a Delaware 
chief, decrees It!" Thingerawso shouted, and sv^ng his 
weapon to dash out his enemy's brains. But quick as 
thought the wily Connosota whipped something from un- 
der his cloak that no Delaware had ever heard of, and 
shot the advancing chief with a white man's pistol. 
Thingerawso fell, calling Winona's name, and by his 
own Impetus rolled over the cliff, a dead man, into the 
lake below. 

From the mountain top the waiting Winona ran to 
meet her lover, though terrified at the awful sound of the 
unknown firearm, which she mistook for thunder and 
which echoed and re-echoed, not seven but seemingly sev- 


enty times seven times among the mountains and distant 
hills. She ran on until she reached the fatal rock, where 
she had promised to meet her victorious lover and had 
likewise but faithlessly promised to meet Connosota, 
neither wishing nor expecting to see him again alive. But, 
alas! there stood, not the man she loved, but her hated 
betrothed, with a ghastly stream of blood beneath her 
feet; whose blood! Pointing dramactically at the tell- 
tale gore: 

"What hast thou done, oh, murderous Mengwe?" she 
screamed, on the point, as it seemed, of flying at his 
throat like a lioness robbed of her whelps. 

'1 have slain the cut-throat Delaware, Thingerawso," 
he answered. ''That is his blood; be it upon his own 
head ; his body is there," and he pointed to the lake. 

Speechless she passed him, and peering over the cliff 
saw the dear dead face she loved so well in the water far 
below. So near was she to the brink of the dizzy preci- 
pice that Connosota, brave man as he was, covered his 
eyes and called in abject fear for her: 

"Winona! Oh, Winona!" But she neither heeded or 
heard him. 

As she gazed down in rapt agony, the dead face sank 
out of sight just as weird, answering echoes came back 
over the water, calling pathetically, "Winona! Win- 

"Thou callest me, my love," she said with a smile of 
sweet contentment, "and I come to thee!" and she plung- 
ed over the precipice to death with her lover. 



Thingerawso fell, calling Winona's name, 



Things left undone that we ought to have done are 
often brought home to us In this sublunary sphere. It 
ought to have been and was Intended, but forgotten, to 
be mentioned In my last article, that I was Indebted to 
two aged men for the bulk of what was said about the 
old Cherryvllle tavern, namely, to J. Rutsen Schenck, of 
Clover Hill, and old Garret Docherty, the constable, of 
Montgomery. The latter, who gave me much of the 
data, I regret now to learn, died several days ago. In 
fact he seems to have told me his story and died almost 
with the last words of It upon his lips. 

Long before he became a constable himself, "Gat" 
even as a boy took great Interest In the tales of men who 
had grown old and gray In that office. One of these. 
Constable Durham, had a seemingly Inexhaustible fund 
of story about all sorts of queer things In his own and 
others' experience. Among many other stories he told 
"Gat" about some happenings of a ghostly kind at the 
Cherryvllle tavern, while It stood empty, after old "Abe" 
Skinner's somewhat dramatic end there. 

Naturally, after what happened there, a kind of awe- 
some feeling among the neighbors made them stand aloof 
from the premises; so that grass and weeds were soon 
springing up In the yards and between the bricks and 
stones of the pavement In front of the house. In the late 




fall, when the wind has final tussles with the trees for 
possession of their last leaves and the sun begins to sulk 
behind cold, leaden clouds, almost making night of it about 
5 P. M., it is a pretty bleak place around Cherryville. 
If a man has ridden far and has had little to eat since 
an early breakfast, he's apt to feel hungry and cold up 
here; something like the wolves did of old when they 
used to skulk down from these hills in great numbers, 
to the level where Flemington now stands so gracefully, 
or father on, down the sheltered vale of the South 
Branch River, for their suppers. 

Not unlike one of these in the demands of his inner 
man was Richard, or "Dick," Loud, as he was called, an 
extensive cattle and horse dealer from Pennsylvania, who 
happened here one bleak day as he was passing through the 
State. It was one of "Dick's" boasts that he knew more 
of tavern life than any other man in New Jersey. "Big 
Bill" Armstrong and his tavern were a combination af- 
ter "Dick's" own heart. He knew them both well, 
though he had not seen one or the other for some years. 
On this occasion he rode eagerly toward the inn and fin- 
ally reached it. 

"Hallo, the house!" the rider shouted as he reined up 
in front of the tavern. Then he noticed the closed blinds. 
''Hey! my man," he called to a farmhand passing, 
"What's to do here? Has Armstrong put up the shut- 
ters for the night already?" 

"Armstrong, said ye?" asked the man; "why he's been 
dead more'n two year. Another falla, Abe Skinner, kept 
place since him. He's dead, too. Place has been shet 
goin' on six months." 


"Here! don't be in such an all-fired hurn*!" demanded 
■"Dick"" as the stranger walked on. "I want supper and 
bed for myself and horse, and I'm bound to have it." 

"There was light in the tavern last night," said the 
stranger, walking on. "Mebbe somebody's a-kepin' it 
again, ^e might get in if ye tried." 

The fact was the young man thus questioned, Tony 
Trimmer by name, was so filled with superstitious fear of 
the inn that no money could have bribed him to stay 
longer. He really suspected that the mounted man was 
only a phantom of the haunted place. 

'"Well. I like this — over the left I" said "Dick." ''Tom, 
my friend, this is tough," he murmured, addressing his 
horse as if he were a human companion. "Come, get up 
with you to the barn, Tom. You're the first to be con- 
sidered, an)"way. We'll storm the old place for a night's 
lodging whatever comes." 

Having found everything necessan," and stabled his 
horse comfortably, "Dick" next thought of his own needs, 
and, with his big stock whip doubled up in his hand, he 
marched across to the inn he had known so long and liked 
so well. First he tried the front door, but, getting no re- 
sponse to his knocks, he went 'round to the back. 

"By Jiminies!" he cried, at last, "I wonder if the old 
string arrangement is here still!'' 

He found that it was. Then he pulled the bobbin and 
"open sesame!" in he walked, just as he had done many a 
time in former days. 

All was quiet and as dark as pitch in the house, but 
out from ''Dick's' capacious pocket came his portable 
tinderbox and steel, and a light was struck in no time. 


Candles of all lengths were there in their candlesticks, 
just as they had been blown out long months before. 
After lighting a couple of these he lost no time in making 
for the bar. There on the counter and tables stood stone 
and pewter mugs, covered with dust and dried-up dregs 
of long ago potations. Each vessel, when lifted, left a 
little circular island of clean wood amid the dust that 
covered everything. "Dick's" eye, however, wandered 
in search of something more potent than stuff usually 
slopped out in stone and pewter pots. 

"Aha! here she is!" he exclaimed, bringing out a high- 
shouldered, green bottle from the dark recesses of a closet. 
Pulling out the cork, he sniffed at the contents and smiled. 
With this and a couple of silver-mounted horn noggins 
"Dick" made his way to what used to be his favorite table, 
where he and "Big Bill" Armstrong had sat many an 
hour together. He pulled up two chairs, for a strange 
fancy got hold of him to imagine that his old favorite, 
"Bill," sat there facing him, as of yore. Having wiped 
the thick of the dust away with his sleeve, he put on the 
table the candle, the green bottle and the two drinking 
vessels. Then, filling both measures to the brims, he 
raised one, tipped its top and bottom in a convivial way 
against the other and nodded smilingly across the table. 

" 'Biir Armstrong, mine old friend and host," he said, 
"your jolly good health." Then he drained his noggin 
to the dregs. 

"You see, 'Bill,' we're mostly great fools in this stupid 
old world of ours," Dick went on pleasantly, refilling his 
glass; "but to me, now, the trifling fact of j^our having 
kicked the bucket needn't interfere at all with our socia- 


bility to-night. This house without you is an impossibil- 
ity — quite out of the question. If you've thought proper 
to change your coat, what of it? You're there, all the 
same. I cannot see you as plainly and distinctly as be- 
fore, but that's my fault and not yours. Here's to you 
again, my good old host, and may your shadow never 
grow less!" and again Dick's glass was emptied. 

Then there came three loud knocks on the door or 
under the floor — Dick hardly knew which. But he went 
to the door and opened it. 

"Come in, good friends," he called, being anything but 
averse to one or two more for company; but nobody 
was there, and the only response to his invitation to en- 
ter was made by a great gust of wind and pelting rain. 
It took all his strength to close the door again against 
the blast which whistled and whined through windows 
and keyholes like voices of goblins. 

"That must have been old Simon, your cellarman, that 
knocked, 'Bill,' " Dick said, returning to his imaginary 
host. "I remember his knock full well, when he used to 
summon you below stairs. Never mind, 'Bill' just keep 
your seat; I'll run down for you. I'll wager Simon just 
wants you to stand me a magnum, eh? What! Excuse 
me, 'Bill,' I'll return anon." And away went Dick with 
the second candle. 

"What, ho! Simon! Didst knock, man?" he called, 
but he got no answer. 

"Out on thee, thou baron of bungholes!" he shouted. 
"I believe thou livest and growest fat on the mildewed 
cobwebs and dust of thine ancient and fruity treasures 
down here* 


Then seizing the wooden hammer used by cellar-men, 
he hit a half-empty hogshead a few resonant bangs, sing- 
ing what was probably the fag end of some old bacchanal's 
sentiments : 

O never a church bell sweeter rung 
Than the sound of his hammer on a brandy bung — 
His old wooden mallet that so long he's swung — 
Sing ho! for old Simon the cellarer! 

Walking forward he saw and seized a goodly sized 
wine bottle. 

"See, mine host 'Bill,' " he shouted; "a magnum, with 
the jolly old Simon's compliments. Good old port; im- 
ported port, of Oporto! Selah!" 

By the time he had finished the port — all but the one 
glass duly set before his invisible host — "Dick" had jab- 
bered himself tired and somewhat sleepy. About mid- 
night, with many apologies for leaving what he called his 
"entertainer's very agreeable company," he took his candle 
and started upstairs. 

"I know my old bunk, 'Bill.' Don't move a step!" 
"Dick" said at parting. "It's like going upstairs in my 
own home. I never had a real home in my life, though ; 
but that's the very reason I know so well what a home 
should be. A fair good-night to thee, friend 'Bill,' and 
happy dreams." 

"Dick" Loud seemed to hugely enjoy his merry conceit 
of thus conjuring up his old host for company and chuck- 
led over it as he shambled a little unsteadily toward the 
hall leading to the stairs. He held in utter scorn all 


tales about ghosts and had many a time gloried in telling 
of things like what he had just done as a proof that all 
such beliefs were fit only for weak women and children. 

From the room where "Dick" was to the hall, there 
was a drop of about two Inches in the floor. This to 
most people Is worse than a clearly apparent drop of three 
times that depth; and It proved somewhat of a pitfall to 
''Dick," for he stumbled to his knees and let his candle 
fall, extinguishing his light. Scrambling quickly to his 
feet, an imprecation died on his lips as he beheld a lighted 
candle In the hand of a thin, bent old man who was slowly 
mounting the stairs. Grabbing up his broken candle he 
hurried toward him. 

"Hallo, there! friend Simon; stop and give us a light, 
won't you!" cried Dick; but the man took no notice and 
went on up the stair. 

"Deaf as a doornail!" thought "Dick" as he rattled 
pell-mell up the stair in pursuit, "but I'll make him hear 

He reached the top step only just in time to see the old 
man disappear through a door a few feet away, leaving 
the hall in utter darkness. Lighting his candle In his own 
way, "Dick" determined to see more of the unsociable old 
man and proceeded to pound on the door. Stopping to 
see if there was any response and putting his ear to the 
door, he couldn't hear a sound within. Then reaching 
down to shake the latch, he found there was none there ; 
and more, a cold shiver ran through him to find that it 
was no ordinary door at all, but a dummy or blind door 
that had been nailed up and not opened for scores of years. 

"By my halidom, Dick Loud; brave man as thou art, 


this seemeth to down thy proudest philosophy!" Dick 
muttered to himself, considerably sobered. "Through the 
very timber of this door that old man passed, as sure as I 
live and breathe the breath of a mortal man. Humph! 
methinks port on top o' brandy and no supper withal doth 
unman me! Sleep — sleep only will correct this brainless 

Another surprise awaited him, for as he approached the 
room he had formerly occupied, the door, which had been 
closed, slowly opened with a long "sque-a-k," of its own 
accord. "Dick" stared hard at the door, looked behind it 
and everywhere, to find if anybody had moved the door 
and hid afterward, but he could see nobody and nothing 
to account for it. 

"Humph !" said he again in a dissatisfied way. "Enough 
of this. I'm in my own room of old now and there's my 
bed. A truce to this humbug!" 

With that he banged the door shut, locked it, set the 
candle down on a chair and flung himself, all as he was, 
on the bed. He couldn't sleep, however. An unaccount- 
able restlessness so pervaded his whole system that sleep 
was impossible, excepting little cat-naps, out of which he 
woke every few minutes with a start. 

This astonished him greatly, but it might not have 
done so had he known that the floor and walls of his room 
were stained with spatters and splashes of human blood. 
Of course he knew nothing of it, but that was the room 
where old Skinner's housekeeper was said to have been 
murdered. The very bed where he lay had been satur- 
ated with blood and remained as It was left after that 

Bill Armstrong, mine old friend and host, 
good health." 

he said, "your jolly 


tragedy. But a half-drunk man with a broken, sputtering 
candle for light is not very discriminating. 

One shadow on the white wall "Dick" had been watch- 
ing for some time. He thought it grew larger and larger, 
and he could have sworn he saw it move. 

"Only the flicker of the candle," he thought at last, 
and dozed again. 

Presently he awoke with a spring. Half conscious, he 
had heard a moan for some time; and now that shadow 
had turned into a crouching woman, evidently in an 
agony of fear at the sound of approaching footsteps in the 
hallway. Then, before "Dick" could collect his wits, the 
old man he had seen on the stairs burst into the room 
and while the woman dropped on her knees with clasped 
hands, he raised a heavy cleaver and dashed out her brains. 

With cold beads upon his brow, "Dick" sprang from 
the bed at the ruthless murderer; but he grasped only 
empty air. His rage and horror turned to dread. He 
seized the candle and held it down to find the woman. 
She, too, had vanished ; but there, where she fell was 
the mark of a pool of blood. Holding the light to the 
dark smudge on the wall, he saw that that was blood, too. 
Other stains were everywhere. 

"Even on the bed where I've been lying; Zounds! it's 
■a human shamble!" he exclaimed, backing out shivering 
and aghast. But once outside the door he stopped in 
breathless astonishment. 

At the other side of the passage the same old man, now 
with a noose of stout rope around his neck, was in the 
act of tying the other end to the stair banister. The man 
then deliberately flung himself down the stairway. Dick 


was filled with horror. He rushed to cut the man down, 
but neither man nor rope w^as there; everything was still 
as the grave. 

The first gray streaks of morning discovered a man on 
horseback, riding with all speed away from the haunted 
Cherryville Tavern. It was **Dick" Loud, and it was 
the last time he was ever seen in that vicinity. 





In the year 1817 only one lonely house stood facing 
the sea on that part of the Jersey coast now occupied by 
Long Branch. The inmates of the house, being fisher- 
folks, always cast their eyes to seaward with the first 
streaks of daylight, for they knew it was a treacherous 
coast, that often proved fatal to ships that tried to pass 
in the night. 

One of the first of this family to be out on this morning 
was the old grandfather, who had been a sailor for many 
years. On a level spot commanding a good sea view he 
would walk up and down studying the wind and weather 
and watery horizon, just as he formerly did on the slip- 
pery deck of his vessel, and he as faithfully reported each 
passing craft to his family in the house, as he was wont to 
do to the captain in his cabin, when he kept larboard or 
starboard watch aboard ship. 

"Ahoy, below there, shipmates! Slip your cables!" he 
sung out one morning before the others were astir: "Ship 
dismasted and driving ashore, going down fast by her 
head! Wind east, blowin' a whole gale!" 

The son and son's sons were soon rushing down to the 
shore where the mighty breakers came bounding, roaring 
and hissing in. What were their little fishing boats 
among such raging billows? They could do nothing! 



But there was no signal of distress nor other sign of life 
on the ship. The waves broke in seething mountains over 
her and rolled her hull like a huge log before them. Evi- 
dently all on board had perished. 

Presently a man was seen in the surf, buffeted by the 
waves, but clinging tenaciously to a broken spar. After 
many disappearances and reappearances, each time flung 
by the waves nearer land, he was finally seized and hauled 
ashore. Then it was found that he was lashed to the spar 
with a stout rope and that he was to all appearance dead. 
They, however, bore him to the lonely house, where kind, 
expert treatment restored him to life. 

The rescued man proved to be Francis Hastings, about 
twenty years of age, a native of Cheltenham, Gloucester- 
shire, England. Having lost everything he possessed in 
the wreck, the young man, when recovered, was given 
food and clothes; and as he was of superior education, he 
soon set about maintaining himself by teaching school. 
As time went on he enlarged his work and later he taught 
a goodly number of pupils in a building which stood near 
where the Green Knoll school now stands, about half way 
between Pluckemin and Somerville. 

The late Dr. T. DeWitt Talmage was one of Mr. 
Hasting's pupils in that school. Living with his parents 
in the house now owned by Frederick Potts, on the Tal- 
mage road out of Somerville, until he was about fiftten, 
the doctor used to go across lots to the Hastings School. 
Dr. Talmage was born on a farm near Somerville, on the 
Pluckemin road. When he was about ten the family 
moved to and lived In the toll-gate house, on the old New 
Jersey turnpike from Easton to New Brunswick, where 


they kept the toll-gate. The boy, who afterwards rose 
to fame, used often to relieve his father by keeping the 
gate and taking the toll money. 

For these and many other interesting facts I am m- 
debted to John A Powelson, a cousin of Dr. Talmage 
and a nephew of Francis Hastings. Mr. Powelson has a 
fine farm and a pleasant residence about a mile and a half 
out of Pluckemin on the Somerville road. Being intensely 
interested in the folklore of his native State, and of this 
section in particular, he desired some years ago to verify 
the statement as to Talmage and Hastings, and wrote 
the doctor asking if he remembered going to the Hastings 
school. To this a manuscript reply was received. It is 
said to be the last autograph letter that the doctor ever 
wrote. The missive is dated at Washington, April lo, 
1 901, and is addressed to "John A. Powelson, Esq." In 
it the doctor wrote: 

"Your letter received concerning Mr. Francis Hast- 
ings. Yes, I remember Mr. Hastings as my teacher in 
the schoolhouse on the road between Pluckemin and Som- 
erville. It was then called Herod's school, a man by the 
name of Herod living near. I remember Mr. Hastings 
opened the school eveiy morning with prayer, putting his 
foot on a chair and his elbow on his knee and his hand 
before his eyes, but often looking through his fingers while 
he prayed to see if any of us were behaving badly, so that 
he literally fulfilled the injunction, 'Watch and pray.' 

"I am glad to know that he is being held in remem- 
brance, for he was a good man and faithful. Yours, 

T. DeWitt Talmage." 

"Big Jim Quick," as he is called, one of Talmage's 


playmates and school-fellows, is now eighty years of age, 
and a resident of Somerville. "Big Jim" is six feet three 
inches in height and of proportionate build. He and De- 
Witt, as Talmage was called in those long ago days, at- 
tended the "Herod" school at the same time. 

"He was a good boy, was DeWitt," Jim says, "but he 
was full of harmless mischief just like most other boys. He 
was a born leader, though, wherever he was." 

It seems that old "Herod," who lived near the school 
and had a nice apple orchard, was a lame and crusty indi- 
vidual. It is broadly understood that this dangerous 
combination, coupled with a stout cane, such as lame men 
usually carry, probably impressed the cruel name of 
"Herod" upon many another boy's mind, as well as on 
that of the lad who, after rising to world-wide distinc- 
tion, so well remembered him. 

The old man's name was not "Herod," however, any 
more that it was "Old Gooseberry," which the boys also 
called him. His real name was Herrlot. But the nick- 
name "Herod," even In the great preacher's memory, 
seems to have outlived all others. 

One night "big Jim" and his favorite playmate, De- 
Witt Talmage, were left alone at the former's home to 
amuse themselves, while David Talmage and Mr. Quick 
senior went to make a call. After many games and 
tricks, the irrepressible DeWitt inserted a lighted candle 
into his mouth and then dared Jim to do it. Not to be 
outdone, Jim grabbed the candle and did the same thing, 
intending to quickly withdraw it as DeWitt had done; 
but the latter, really with much greater force than he in- 
tended, struck Jim's hand and sent the blazing candle 


into his throat, quite severely burning his tonsils. That 
was one of the many Talmage stunts that old Somerville 
residents still talk about. 

Another man who remembers Dr. Talmage's boyhood, 
though he was much younger than the doctor, is Van 
Nest Garretson. He well remembers a trip that DeWitt 
made with him and Mr. Garretson to North Branch in a 
wagon drawn by a team of oxen. The trip was made to 
get a load of wood. On the return journey the oxen be- 
came unmanageable and ran away. DeWitt and Van 
Nest were much alarmed, but the latter 's father, who was 
quite calm, laughed at them. 

''Never mind, boys!" he shouted. "We can ride as 
hard as they can run! Hold fast and let them go!" 

At a turn in the road, however, the wagon was upset 
and they ail w^nt rolling into a ditch, but no one was 

When the Talmages kept the tollgate, the women folk 
sometimes took the money. One day when Mrs. Talmage 
was on duty, a Mr. Gaston came through. He happened 
to be carrying a cat in his wagon, intending to drop it 
somewhere to get rid of it. He was a droll man and ex- 
ceedingly fond of a joke, and so when Mrs. Talmage had 
politely opened the gate and reached out for the money, 
much to her horror, Gaston dropped his cat in her hand 
and drove ofi. Upon returning, however, he paid his 
proper dues and said the laugh he had had was good inter- 
est on the money. The old wooden cradle in which Dr. 
Talmage was rocked in his babyhood came into this Mr. 
Gaston's family and is still carefully preserved by them. 

Francis Hastings, who so pathetically landed in this 


country, stripped by the merciless waves of all but life, 
had been given a liberal education before he left his native 
England. This was done in preparation for a high sta- 
tion which he was almost certain to succeed to, and it 
stood him in good stead in the profession he immediately 
took up — that of teaching. After working at this calling 
for fourteen years he purchased a small farm in Bridge- 
water Township, on the Pluckemin road, and married 
Ann Powelson, who was a great-aunt to my informant, 
John A. Powelson. Hastings was a man of the deepest 
piety and never engaged in any undertaking without first 
seeking the Divine guidance in prayer. He was chosen 
one of the first elders of the Pluckemin Presbyterian 

There was an additional pathos added to the life of 
Francis Hastings in the fact that, through powerful oppo- 
sition and malfeasance brought to bear against his inter- 
ests in England, his legal heirship to titled revenues and 
valuable estates there was overridden and lost. 

On the death of his uncle, the distinguished nobleman 
and soldier, Francis Hastings, Marquis of Hastings, 
Baron Rawdon, Earl of Huntingdon and Moira, etc., in 
the year 1825, William Hastings, brother of the deceased 
Francis and father of Francis Hastings, who taught school 
here, became the just and legal heir to the baronies of 
Hastings, comprising the earldoms of Huntingdon and 
Moira, but in consequence of the malversations then 
made use of he was deprived of his rights. 

The claim stands recorded in the College of Heraldry 
in London and was prosecuted to the utmost of the heir's 
ability. It, however, failed, probably for lack of sufficient 


funds to set In motion the very cumbrous legal machinery 
necessary to be moved in his behalf. There were many 
personal letters on the subject from Lord Lyon, and all 
of them went to show the validity of Mr. Hastings's just 
claim. These letters are still among Mr. Hastings's pa- 
pers, which are now in the possession of his grandchildren 
in the West. 

After his father's death, Hastings made several visits 
from his Am.erican home to England in the hope of es- 
tablishing his rights as direct heir, but these trips were 
all in vain. His first trip over on this special quest was 
made in the well-known first leviathan steamship Great 
Eastern on her first return voyage from New York to 

After the death of his wife in 1854 Mr. Hastings 
moved with his family to Fulton County, 111., where his 
children and grandchildren still reside. He returned to 
this State and died in Jersey City about fifteen years ago 
at the age of ninety-seven years. His remains and those 
of his wife are buried in the Pluckemin Cemetery. 





In his time George Van Nest, or "Prince George," as 
he was commonly called, was unquestionably one of the 
most picturesque figures of Somerset County. Born in 
1736 he was the son of Peter Van Nest, after whom 
Peter's Brook, near Pluckemin, was named. He was also 
a great-grandfather of the Rev. Dr. Talmadge. Peter's 
father, also named Peter, was the original, or pioneer, 
Van Nest in America. He emigrated to this country 
from the Netherlands in 1647 and lived in Brooklyn, N. 

Peter Van Nest, the second in America, was the first 
of the family in New Jersey. He owned a large tract of 
fertile land along the north branch of the Raritan River, 
between the village of North Branch and Somerville, and 
in time his estate was portioned off among his sons, whom 
he left all well to do. 

George, especially, lived so sumptuously, dispensed 
such a royal hospitality arid moved at all times with so 
much pomp and dignity, that nothing short of the title of 
prince seemed to fit him. Naturally, it rose to people's 
lips in speaking of him. When he went out driving, one 
of his many slaves in high hat and stifif "choker," held the 
reins; another in equally correct garb sat by the driver 
with folded arms, bolt upright, ready at all times to get 



down and open gates, brush off stinging flies from the 
horses, or clear away any obstruction, alive or dead, from 
their path. Alongside the lordly master himself sat his 
little darky page, who always followed close at his mas- 
ter's heels at home or abroad, ready to fill his pipe, hold 
his great coat and cane, open and close doors and perform 
the thousand little offices of personally and obsequiously 
waiting upon him. 

"Prince" George's picture hangs in the fine old home- 
stead of his great-grandson, Henry Van Nest Garretson, 
near North Branch, where a number of Talmage's youth- 
ful years were spent, and where the old-time upper and 
lower half doors are still to be seen. Over the latter of 
these the doctor (Talmage) used to swing when a little 
boy and look longingly down the road for the return of 
his parents from church. At the height of his fame the 
great preacher delighted in going over this and other 
familiar scenes of his early youth, in company with friends 
from the great cities. 

Any one who knew Dr. Talmage, and who looks at the 
portrait of "Prince" George, can hardly fail to see a 
striking family likeness between the two. The doctor 
was taller and his countenance showed greater mentality, 
but in his great-grandfather's face in the picture the same 
strong lines of intellectual individuality and force are 
plainly discernible. 

With all his magnificence, "Prince" George fell an 
easy victim to the charms of Catherine Williamson, an at- 
tractive young woman who lived with her parents in 
Seneca County, N. Y. His parents had taken him there 
on a visit when he was a mere lad, and he and Catherine 


played together with other children. Young as he was, 
however, George was deeply impressed with his play- 
mate, and more than once he told her with what must 
have been comical gravity that he considered her a very 
nice girl and that when he was big enough he would 
come all the way from Jersey on a prancing steed to get 
her for his wife. 

"And," said he one day, "I'll bring a fine horse and a 
side saddle for you, so that you can ride back with me." 

Catherine was then swinging on the garden gate. She 
stopped her swinging to listen and stood demurely look- 
ing at her little cavalier. Suddenly her mother burst out 
laughing just behind her: 

"Oh, for goodness sake," the mother cried, "look at 
George and Cattie sweethearting!" 

Instantly and without a word Catherine hit George 
a stinging smack on his cheek and ran into the house cry- 
ing. That was the last George and Catherine saw of 
each other for more than ten years. But George had not 
forgotten her. When next they met his face was pro- 
tected by a beard, and the red marks of Catherine's fin- 
gers seemed to have been transferred to her own cheeks. 
The chubby little boy was now transfigured into the 
handsome, rich and regal-looking "Prince George." The 
girl had become a charming woman. 

This time she did not smite him upon the cheek, al- 
though he had the temerity to repeat the very same pro- 
posal that he made to her that other time, when she, in a 
dimity pinafore, was swinging on the garden gate. It is 
freely admitted that her mother did not make fun of her 
on this occasion^ 


As a result of the talk that the couple had on this oc- 
casion "Prince George" rode away to his Jersey home as 
happy as a lark. He had Catherine's permission to bring 
to her that horse and side saddle, and in his heart he knew 
that she would return with him as his wife. Early in 
the following summer — that eventful summer of 1765, 
just when the news was permeating the indignant colo- 
nies that the British Parliament had passed the stamp 
act — "Prince George" appeared at her home once more, 
and they were duly married. Catherine, an expert horse- 
woman, vaulted to the back of the shining and fiery bay 
mare which George had brought for her, and dashed out 
over the meadows for a preliminary or trial spin. There 
were ejaculations of wonder and fear from the town-bred 
visitors for Catherine's safety. After a number of evo- 
lutions and sprints, with the mare under perfect control, 
she rode back at a canter, patting and stroking the arched 
neck of her mount. Then, reining the horse, the young 
woman jumped to the ground. 

"George!" she cried to her husband, "I'd follow you 
on that mare around the world! She's my queen! And 
the saddle like herself, is second to none. It is the blue 
ribbon of perfection!" 

The long wedding march from the young bride's home 
in New York was commenced immediately and continued 
daily until the travellers finally reached their home, within 
about a mile of Pluckemin. The only roads to follow 
were bridle paths or Indian trails. As the Indians were 
then plentiful and in an ugly mood, the "Prince's" escort 
of four mounted and armed blacks in advance and four 


following his wife and himself and their two pages, was 
no more than the case called for. 

The red men had been growing more and more dan- 
gerous since the termination of the French war in 1760, 
until in 1763 that able and warlike chief, Pontiac, arose 
and fell upon the English in the Northwest, capturing all 
their posts west of Oswego, except Niagara, Fort Pitt and 
Detroit. Following the tremendous prestige and daring 
this gave them, the Indians were scouring the country in 
bands far and wide, plundering, murdering and burning 
all before them, determined, as they said, to exterminate 
the white grovelers, who were increasing and multiply- 
ing so alarmingly. 

If the wedding party had delayed setting out just one 
day longer, in all likelihood it would never have readied 
the "prince's" home, but would have perished as so many 
other parties did in those perilous times, leaving no rec- 
ord behind of what had befallen them. As it was, at the 
end of their first day's ride, "Prince" George and his fel- 
low-travelers put up for the night at a little settlement 
village called Painted Post. They left the next morning 
at daybreak, continuing their journey by forced marches 
along the Susquehana River and through Pennsylvania. 
It was well for them that they did so, for they just es- 
caped a desperate gang of more than fifty savages, wlio 
the very next night surrounded Painted Post, killed evcr\ 
white person they could find and burnt the place to tlv 

Fortunately, "Prince George" and Catherine's honey- 
moon in the saddle ended propitiously and all arrived at 
the old homestead in safety. If, as so nearly happened, it 


had been otherwise, the whole Christian world would 
have been the loser, for it would never have known T. De- 
Witt Talmage. 



When George Van Nest, otherwise known as "Prince" 
George, and his fair bride, Catherine, arrived at his an- 
cestral home in Somerset County; it may be assured that 
he was ignorant of one thing, and that was that his great- 
grandson, John Van Nest, would live in that same old 
homestead, and would have the distinction in this, our 
day, of being a near neighbor of Tunis Melick, the far- 
famed and hilariously popular "Mayor of Pluckemin." 

Were the present Mr. Van Nest disposed to shut his 
eyes to this fact — which I feel sure he is not — his ears 
would inevitably remind him of it, for the jolly Mr. 
Melick has a singularly far-reaching and pleasing baritone 
voice, which floats on the ambient air to incredible dis- 
tances, especially when, with reassuring and resounding 
laugh, he declines some proffered favor with his famous 
recitative: "Later on, boys! later on!! later on!!!" 

"Prince" George and Catherine had seven sons and 
two daughters. According to a family tradition one of 
the daughters, Jane, was always terribly afraid to go up 
to the garret of their home, because of a peculiar fore- 
handedness on her father's part. He owned much timber 
of the finest kind, but prided himself particularly in his 
great store of black walnut. One tree pleased him so 
well that he had a number of slabs carefully sawed from 
it, and these, after inspection, he labeled, "For my coffin." 



Then he stored them away in the garret. Jane dreaded 
to enter the garret on this account, and whenever un- 
avoidable duties took her there she kept a wary eye on 
those black boards, usually finishing her visits by scudding 
from the room as if the slabs were following her. 

All the *'princes's" sons became rich men. This, how- 
ever, was not due to the proverbial ''silver spoon." Abra- 
ham, the most pronounced success of them all, ran away 
from home when he was twelve years old and with only 
one dollar in his pocket. Like many another adventurous 
boy since his day, little Abe landed in New York, but 
unlike most runaways of these latter days, he was not 
fired with dime novel ambitions. 

On the contrary, Abe set out to find employment. He 
soon obtained a position, and, going earnestly to work, 
he saved what remained of his scant capital. Soon he had 
his dollar back again, and then he began adding bit by 
bit to it from his small pay as errand boy in a harness sup- 
ply store. He stuck to his work, never once asking for 
a day off. His pay grew with his stature, up and up, 
until at last he was made manager of the concern. Then 
he worked harder than ever, and in time he became pro- 
prietor of the business. 

In 181 9, when he was forty-two, and had been thirty 
years in New York, he bought the old Warren mansion, 
which, surrounded by beautiful grounds, stood in what 
was then a rural hamlet on the outskirts of New York, 
and was known as Greenwich Village. He paid $10,000 
for it. This house was built in 1740 by Sir Peter War- 
ren, vice-admiral of the English navy, who at that time 
was in command of the British fleet in New York. It 


was the admiral's summer home, his town house being on 
Bowling Green. Long years afterwards, when the city 
eventually crept up and absorbed Greenwich, Mr. Van 
Nest's property formed one whole block, surrounded by 
Bleecker, Fourth, Charles and Perry streets. 

When Mr. Van Nest bought Warren House it was 
two miles beyond the city limit. The family, according 
to Mr. Van Nest's daughter, Mrs. Ann Van Nest Bus- 
sing, used to go to it every summer from their city home, 
the latter being where the Corn Exchange Bank now 
stands on William street. Kip & Brown's stage coaches 
then ran every hour between Greenwich Village and New 
York, and those desiring to take the trip were obliged to 
give notice at the company's office, so that the coach might 
call for them. So lonely and dark was the road from the 
city at night, Mrs. Bussings says, that when her father 
was detained later than usual her mother anxiously 
awaited the return of his carriage. 

The house stood in a perfect forest of grand old horse 
chestnuts, willows, poplars, sycamores and locusts, form- 
ing in places an impenetrable shade. Besides these, there 
were cherry, apricot and peach trees, always laden in their 
season with delicious fruit. The garden, which extend- 
ed the whole length of the two-and-a-half-acre tract, was 
in summer a very fair^dand of flowers of the good ohi 
kinds — hollyhocks, coxcombs, sweet William, bleedinj 
hearts, ragged sailors, maid-o'-the mist, bachelor buttons, 
wallflowers, old man, mignonette, lilies, clove pinks, 
phlox, poppies, larkspurs, strawberrv^ shrub, etc. All the 
old favorites were there in abundance, in boxwood-bo r- 


dered beds of fanciful shapes. In June the whole garden 
was pink w^ith the loveliest roses. 

The carriage drive which at one time wound grace- 
fully through the extensive woods of the Warren estate 
in later 5^ears ran straight through from one street to the 
other. A wide hall extended from the front to the back 
of the house, and on the first landing of the broad, old- 
fashioned staircase a tall and very ancient clock sedately 
checked off the passage of time. 

Many changes had the old sentinel seen from its sta- 
tion in the hall during its stately tour of dut^' through 
nearly fifty years. It had heard voices of gladness and 
moans of sorrow. Four times it heard glad marriage 
bells rung for one after another of four happily married 
daughters. It also heard many other rejoicings. Oftener, 
however, it marked the heavy presence of grief and woe, 
when the dread reaper came beckoning for the infant, the 
child, the youth and man and woman, and bore them off. 

The Christmas gatherings, when children, grandchil- 
dren and great-grandchildren — in later years numbering 
nearly fifty — met at the old homestead and clustered 
around the beloved patriarch with "Merry Christmas" 
greetings, the house rang with joy. In those days the 
little ones loved to stand by "grandpa" and see in answer 
to his gentle "coo-coo!" clouds of pigeons — thousands of 
them, a relative says — fluttering from their houses to pick 
up the handfuls of corn that were showered among them. 
John A. Powelson well remembers seeing these things on 
his visits to his great-uncle. His mother often antici- 
pated with delight that outing of outings, "going to 
Greenwich to see Uncle Abraham." Their last visit there 


was made in 1863, when Mr. Powelson helped the old 
gentleman to feed the myriads of pigeons, and saw the 
cow and many chickens as peacefully feeding, as if they 
were out in the balmy and far-off country, instead of 
being in that marvelous oasis in the very heart of New 
York. Mr. Van Nest was then in his eighty-seventh year 
and rather feeble, but he was as kindly genial as ever, 
especially to his young visitors. 

Always the doors were thrown open to clergymen who 
were welcome and frequent guests. Closeted with his 
clerical friends in the quiet retirement of his library, Mr. 
Van Nest spent many of the happiest hours of his life in 
taking counsel in devising and perfecting plans for pro- 
moting the welfare of the Reformed Dutch Church, the 
best interests of which were so dear to his heart. 

An interesting reminder of the past was often to be 
seen at the old homestead, in the person of the old colored 
"Aunty" leaning on the Dutch half-door that opened 
gardenward. "Aunty" had lived as a slave in "Prince" 
George's family and afterward served nearly forty years 
in that of his son Abraham. Her descendants were with 
him to the end of his life. 

Abraham Van Nest was especially blest in his choice 
of a wife. She was Miss Margaret Field, of Fieldville, 
near Bound Brook, where she was born in 1782. She 
was married when she was nineteen years of age. Beauti- 
ful in character, as she was universally acknowledged to 
be in person, for fifty years she looked well to the ways 
of their household, and as wife and mother she as nearly 
approached perfection as it falls to the lot of humanity 
to be in anything. 


Mr. Van Nest was one of the founders of the old 
Greenwich Savings Bank of New York, and served as its 
president a great many years. He made his will in the year 
1807, which was fift>^-seven years before he died. At the 
same time he wrote beautiful letters to his sons and daugh- 
ters, sealing them and laying them away with his will, 
with instructions that they were to be handed to each at 
such time after his decease as his executors might deem 
expedient. The letters were couched in most aftectionate 
terms of advice, breathing forth the deepest piet}-. They 
were duly delivered by the executors and have all been 

Mr. Van Nest died in 1864 in the eighty-eighth year 
of his age. Shortly afterward the old homestead, which 
cost him $10,000, was sold for upward of $500,000. Soon 
the fine old trees fell, the house was demolished and the 
garden was blotted out. Then the last long lingering 
relic of old Greenwich, a place which was filled with 
sacred associations to many a heart in New Jersey, was 
known no more. 



It was my privilege, and certainly my pleasure, to be 
present the other evening at a very unusual and most in- 
teresting gathering. Unfortunately my admission as a 
guest was circumscribed by certain conditions, among these 
being an exacted understanding on my part, that neither 
the names of the host and hostess nor those of any of their 
guests should be given in any printed reference I might 
make to the function. It was also understood that I was 
not to give any more definite designation as to place than 
to say that the house where we met is an old-fashioned 
and well-preserved homestead in Hillsborough Township, 
of Somerset County, in this State. 

The idea occurred to the proprietor and his wife, 
both aged and excellent descendants of some of the first 
settlers in these parts, that it would be pleasant to recall 
old associations and memories in a realistic way. They 
accordingly began their preparations by pulling out the 
fireboard which had been so many years papered out of 
sight like a dead wall, and again exposed the wide old 
open fireplace to full view. Then they refurbished a long 
disused, old iron pot, hung it up by its pothooks from the 
sooty beam and crossbar in the chimney, put in place the 
andirons, piled upon them a goodly heap of logs and when 
the proper time came set them ablaze. 



Ancient candelstlcks, tall and short ones, the latter 
with trays and snuffers, real tallow candles alight, many 
pewter dishes, old-fashioned blue plates, dish covers and 
mugs, a brass preserving pan and copper teakettles 
adorned the tall mantelpiece. Depending therefrom w^as 
a pair of bellows and at each end of the expansive grate 
stood the poker, shovel, tongs, etc., that had seen many a 
year of active service where they were now reinstated. 

The room was also given over to high-backed chairs, 
long hair-seated sofas, old pictures, several samplers and 
quaint ornaments. In the room there were two spinning 
wheels, one for flax and the other for wool. At the lat- 
ter, as I entered the place on the long-to-be-remembered 
occasion, a grand dame in "tallying" ironed cap, brocaded 
gown, little shawl and mittened hands, sat and spun 
woolen yarn. It was no make-believe attempt. The 
worker made the wheel whirl merrily and the bobbin hum 
with the genuine purring sound of real spinning. The 
host in a great oaken arm chair, sat smoking a long- 
stemmed Dutch pipe. He wore the same kind of knee 
breeches, white silk stockings and buckled shoes, and the 
same cut of high-necked, broad frocked coat that were 
used by his grandfather over a hundred years ago; the 
grandson being, himself, now a great-grandfather. 

The hostess wore a cap with lavender-colored bows and 
ornaments, such as adorned married women's heads some 
fifty years ago. In fact every woman present wore a cap 
befitting her age. Besides the aged matron presiding at 
the spinning wheel, three other venerable dames wore the 
old-fashioned white caps with fluted borders. Which ap- 
pealed most to the eye, the very old ladies in those ador- 


able white caps and ancient gowns, the middle-aged ma- 
trons in most becoming colored caps and rustling silks, or 
the several maidens in very good imitations of the old- 
time short-waisted homespuns — it was hard, indeed, to 
decide, for all were interesting in their several ways. 

After a while the spinning wheels, embroidery reticules 
and knitting kits were laid aside, and two old colored 
men, for the nonce supposed to be slaves, laid the shining, 
homespun linen tablecloth and supper, setting out all the 
pewter ware and old delf that was to be had. On the 
table, which was liberally supplied with tall candles, were 
heaps of brown bread, johnnycakes, cookies, home-made 
cake, doughnuts, baked beans, fruit tarts, gingerbread 
horses and men. Cider was served in pewter and old 
china mugs. 

Supper over, in lieu of a dance, a grand-daughter of the 
host played a slow march, using the muffled, low pedal of 
the piano in imitation of the harp. The host drew the 
arm of the senior dame through his own and was followed 
by the rest of the company in couples in a procession 
around the room, giving one a very interesting glimpse, 
as it were, of the past. After several turns, chairs were 
arranged in a wide semi-circle about the fire, and as if 
nature itself seconded the idea in hand, a storm seemed to 
work itself up as a background for the entertainment. 
The wind rose high and began to roar through the trees 
outside. It whined and whistled through the keyholes 
and rumbled in the chimney. Then the colored man 
brought in word that a big snow storm was in full swing. 
"Let it come, Uncle Tom, my hearty!" cried the host. 
"How seasonable it is! Pile on more logs, Tom, and 


'Sing ho! the green holly! 
For this is most jolly!' 

*'And now, my dear friends," the ruddy-faced old gen- 
tleman went on, "let's be seated around the fire and be 
comfortable; for Tom is making it outroar the storm 
itself, and nothing beats good spruce logs for a merry 
crackle of a welcoming fire!" 

Then settling himself cozily in his ancestral chair and 
making an elevated, acute angle of his meeting finger tips, 
with his elbows resting on the chair arms, thus displaying 
to great advantage the delicate lace ruffles at his wrists, 
and also airing his silver shoe buckles and tights by cross- 
ing his legs, the jolly host, his face beaming and rosy with 
good humor, set the ball rolling in what he said was de- 
cidedly the most important of their evening's amusement. 
He explained that each person present should tell some 
tale of his or her own experience, or something each must 
have heard others tell of their long past — ^let it be an old 
song or sermon or sentiment, legend or ghost story, any- 
thing, long or short, tragic or comic, of the years gone by. 

"And," said he, "as example, however poor it may be, 
is ever better than precept, I will tell you that very early 
in life I heard a story about one Theophilus Thistle: 

"Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter in 
sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand 
thistle thorns through the thick of his thumb. What did 
Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter, do with 
the three thousand thistle thorns thrust through the thick 
of his thumb? 

This the young folks had never before heard and great 


fun resulted from their unsuccessful attempts to say it 
quickly as it had been given. The Thistle story, with sev- 
eral other meaningless compositions of the kind, the host 
said, used to be given to children to test and improve cer- 
tain difficulties of English pronunciation. 

"And now," said he, "having exposed my own weak- 
ness in ancient lore, and as any one can easily beat me at 
it, I propose that we all take turns around the circle as 
the sun goes. 

"Therefore, my charming and very dear friend," he 
said, with a graceful inclination to his next neighbor, the 
oldest woman present, a woman in her eighty-eighth 
year, "this gives me the honor and pleasure of calling upon 
you. Permit me to suggest, 'Aunt Jane,', that there must 
be some subtle secret whereby you so wonderfully pre- 
serve your youthfulness. That, now, would be the most 
interesting of all things to tell us." 

Mrs. D., the venerable but sprightly dame thus ad- 
dressed, said she would gladly tell them that secret, and 
to do so she would give the very words her mother used in 
answering a precisely similar question put to her just loi 
years ago as follows: 

When hungry, of the best I eat, 
And dry and warm I keep my feet; 
I shield my head from sun and rain, 
And let few cares perplex my brain. 

That, the old lady said, equally applied to her case and 
very completely set forth the only secret as to her own 


The next one called upon in rotation was another 
Mrs. D., aged seventy-eight. She related some facts that 
seemed of considerable interest and which probably missed 
getting into histories of Readington church. 

''Casper Berger," she said, "was stolen from Holland 
when a little boy, early in the seventeenth century. He 
was brought to New York, and, like many other helpless 
people in those early times, was sold as a slave. A farmer 
on Long Island bought him, and with him the boy worked 
until he had bought his freedom, after which he hired 
himself for good pay and soon laid by some money. Then 
he migrated as one of the earliest settlers in what was af- 
terward called Readington. There by great industry and 
enterprise he became a rich and prosperous man. He built 
the Ten Brook Inn, which soon became a thriving hos- 
telry, and in time attained considerable celebrity as a 
house of call for coaches and other vehicular traffic be- 
tween Easton and other Pennsylvania centres to Newark, 
New Brunswick, Elizabethtown, etc. He owned several 
hundred acres of land and donated to the village of Read- 
ington the church land on which the present Reformed 
church stands, as well as the greater part of the surround- 
ing cemetery. 

"While breaking in a colt Casper Berger had the mis- 
fortune to break his leg, and he made a phenomenally bad 
patient, being so self-willed and excitable that nobody 
could do anything with him. The doctor said that he 
should keep to his bed for a length of time, but Mr. Ber- 
ger treated such advice with scorn. He insisted on being 
out and about and hobbled around with two canes before 
the bone was properly set. In doing that he fell and 


broke his leg again. This brought him to his senses and 
he lay quietly on his bed until the bone was properly 
united and became as gentle and tractable as any man 
need be." 

Subsequently inquiry among old Readington people 
confirms the statement as to Mr. Berger's benefactions, 
and points him out as having been to all intents and pur- 
poses the founder of that village. He seems to have 
owned nearly all the land which the village now covers 
and was unquestionably the most generous friend that the 
church there ever had, not only in the granting of land, 
but by liberal contributions toward church expenses. 1 
have frequently heard remarks of astonishment that these 
facts seem to have been generally overlooked in most an- 
nals of that rural retreat. 

The next call was upon Mr. A., who gave his age as 
seventy-six. He was, however, a long way from looking 
it. He said that one thing he could recall was about the 
way a minister many years ago got a call to old Neshanic 
Church. In his father's time, Mr. A. said, the pulpit 
of the Reformed church at Neshanic became vacant 
through the death of their much beloved pastor. The 
congregation invited a young clergyman to preach on proba- 
tion and they liked him. But having had a pastor for many 
years so exactly to their liking, they were inclined to be 
jealously exacting about choosing another. . Some of them 
argued that it was hardly a sufficient test, to bring a man 
there and judge him on the delivery of a few sermons 
from texts of his own choosing, doubtless all cut and 
dried and well rehearsed for the occasion. They said they 
would like to see a text chosen for the candidate, then let 


him preach an extemporaneous sermon therefrom. To 
this the minister signified his ready agreement. 

"If you will allow me a suggestion," the young man 
said, "I propose that I now withdraw from this meeting. 
You are all here; suppose, then, that you agree upon a 
text among yourselves; then just mark chapter and verse 
on this piece of paper and have it laid on the pulpit on 
Sunday morning. Whatever is there set down I shall do 
my best to preach from." 

This being acceptable, the minister left them to their 
deliberations. But they were unable to agree on a text. 
So when Sunday came one of the deacons folded the blank 
paper and laid it on the pulpit. When it came to sermon 
time the minister unfolded the paper and found it per- 
fectly blank. Taking the paper up and examining one 
side of it, 

''Here is nothing," he said. Then turning it over: 
"And there is nothing," he added. Then after a mo- 
ment's pause, he said: 

"Brethren, out of nothing the Lord created ever}^- 
thing;" and using that as his text, the young man went 
on and preached an eloquent sermon. The result was, 
Mr. A. said, that the young man was unanimously given 
the call; and in a long succeeding pastorate fully justified 
the people's choice. 

Others told tales of the past and then Miss V., who 
was quite elderly, knowing the next and last turn to be 
hers, did not wait for her call, but without preliminary, 
started off with this : 

"Seven brave maids sat on seven broad beds, braiding 
seven broad braids. I said to the seven brave maids braid- 


ing seven broad braids: 'Braid broad braids, brave 
maids!' " 

This was rattled off rapidly without a single slip. If 
any reader tries it, as some in the room did, it will not be 
found as easy as it might appear at first sight. 

The same lady said her father used to point to the 
icicles hanging from the eaves of their house and say : 

"As long as the icicles down from the eaves. 

So deep will be snow^ yet before there are leaves." 



At the old homestead gathering already mentioned 
Mr. T., a middle-aged man, occupying about the centre 
of the large circle surrounding the blazing log fire, in 
answer to the host's call for something about old times, 
said he did not know exactly whether a story would be 
acceptable if it began in that vicinity and ended, say, in 
Timbuctoo. I don't suppose it would, he said. But 
there's a tale of rather unusual happenings, which com- 
menced in Somerville and continued in Jersey City, that 
might not be considered quite so remote; so, if it is not 
too long I'll give it for what it may be worth. 

I am somewhat at sea as to the exact date of the oc- 
currence, Mr. T. said, but as near as one can come at it 
by a sort of dead reckoning, it must have been some twen- 
ty-five years after the Revolutionary War, or roundly, 
say, about a hundred years ago, when Somerville began 
to assert its claims as a trade centre, that one Abraham 
Van Clief had a flourishing general store there. 

Besides many other kinds of merchandise, he dealt large- 
ly in hats, which he bought of Jeremiah Jenkins, a Welsh 
hat manufacturer of Jersey City. The manufacturer and 
his good Somerville customer were both prosperous and 
fine-looking young men; and in their frequent meetings 
at the latter's store, where Jenkins came on his rounds 



for orders, they used to joke one another about getting 

One day the tu^o men when about to part stood just 
inside the store door. At that moment a young woman 
passing in the street stopped to look at some article in 
the window. 

''By Jove!" Jenkins exclaimed, "that's a fine lookinf^ 
girl;" moving up close to the door the better to see her. 
"Now, if I were really in the market," said he, coming 
back, "that's about the kind of dainty goods I'd be apt to 
consider," He did not seem to notice that Van Clief 
colored a little and rather dryly changed the subject. The 
truth was that the young woman happened to be the ver^'' 
person of whom, after a long acquaintance with her. Van 
Clief not only held a precisely similar opinion, but he 
had latterly been telling himself that as some convenient 
season he might ask her to be his wife. 

Although the details are unknown, a romance undoubt- 
edly followed ; for in the course of a year or so from that 
time the affable Mr. Jenkins came to Somerville, courted 
and carried off as his wife the pretty girl with whom Mr. 
Van Clief in his over-confidence had been too long dally- 
ing, and made her the proud mistress of his fine suburban 
homestead in what was then the village of Bergen, now 
known as Jersey City Heights. 

Thirty years after these events, Mrs. Jenkins died, 
leaving her husband and seven daughters. The widower 
and his motherless girls, with two faithful colored ser- 
vants in the kitchen, lived together a long time; in fact, 
until the youngest girl Frankie was tw^enty-five years old, 
tind the eldest thirty-five. Most people remarked how 


fortunate Mr. Jenkins was to have his house so well 
looked after when he lost his wife; but there were others 
who said that sooner than live in the same house with 
seven "old maids" they would live with seventy-seven 
cats. For that opprobrious title was already freely ap- 
plied to the whole seven sisters. Frankie was rather un- 
der the usual height, small boned and had what many 
would call a pretty face and figure, as well as a youthful 
and engaging manner. The rest were just well bred and 
well educated, pleasant young w^omen. But, though each 
and ever)^ one of them was eminently suited to make 
some man a thoroughly good wife, strange to say, not one 
man, so far as known up to that time, ever seemed brave 
enough to face that battery of seven marriageable spin- 
sters all in one house, and risk proposing to one of them. 
Nor should it be forgotten that the father was well 
known to be what was then considered a very wealthy 
man and well able to portion them all off in a highly cred- 
itable maner for his enviable station in life. 

For live years after Mrs. Jenkins's death the family 
lived mostly to themselves in quiet, refined happiness, 
with no disturbing thoughts about matrimony or any 
other subject. But a surprise was in store for the seven 
beautiful daughters. If they had exchanged ideas and bits 
of gossip with the people at the one grocery of Bergen, 
who called the girls proud because they did not do so, 
they would have heard shrewd guesses that would 
have intensely surprised them as to the reason why 
their father had lately been so frequently out of an 
evening. They shared the usual fate of many an exclu- 
sive and home-centred family. That is, something which 


was quite rife for a long time among the gossips of the 
place came upon the seven sisters very much like a clap 
of thunder from a blue sky. 

To explain, one day Mr. Jenkins, in sitting down to 
dinner, laid a packet of legal-looking papers by his plate 
and appeared a little more thoughtful and taciturn than 
usual. After the meal was over, laying his hand on the 
packet, he invited his daughters to come with him into the 
drawing-room, for he had something important to tell 

*'My dear daughters," he said, "you are all now of full 
discretion and quite competent to judge as reasonable and 
right what I have decided to do. Mary Eliza, my dear," 
said he, addressing his first-born, *'to you first, but to you 
all, my dear, good girls, equally, I wish to say with the 
proudest love of a father's heart, that no daughters that 
ever lived could surpass, none could equal the perfection 
with which you have acquitted yourselves, every one of 
you, since the cares of this household devolved upon you; 
nor can your most affectionate and untiring devotion to 
myself ever be sufficiently praised. It has been perfect, 
and quite beyond the power of praise to do it even partial 

Then he told them that he had built seven detached 
houses in a row, each of seven rooms, and each having a 
pretty lawn and flower garden. It was the first row of 
houses ever built in Bergen. They stood on the brow of 
the hill, commanding a ^vide and pleasant view of the 
far-reaching meadows, Jersey City, the noble North Ri- 
ver, with its moving panorama of white sailed clipper ships, 


forests of masts and what was even then the imposing sky 
line of the great metropolis. 

The seven houses and gardens, situate near what was 
then the junction of Washington, Palisade and Hudson 
avenues, later called Jewett, Summit and Storm avenues, 
were exactly alike and they are to this day called the 
"Seven Sisters," though now probably few if any there 
know the origin of the name. Mr. Jenkins told his daugh- 
ters that he had caused the houses to be furnished com- 
pletely and precisely the same. Here, he explained, he 
wanted to establish each one of them in a home of her 

"But why, dear father, do you wish us to leave you?" 
several of his daughters pleaded with astonished and 
tear-filled eyes. 

Then he told them that he was going to marry a young 
widow whom they all knew and who was younger by 
several summers than some of themselves. At first there 
were bitter tears and anger, but the daughters soon 
thought better of it; for never, never could one of them 
be made to live with a stepmother, especially with Mrs. 
in that odious position. 

After the first little storm subsided, the father put into 
the hands of each the title deeds for their several houses, 
as well as government bond certificates or other gilt- 
edged scrip, to each $10,000 worth. And soon the seven 
sisters packed up their belongings and took possession of 
their seven pretty houses. The father married and set- 
tled down with his young wife in the old homestead, and 
after the proverbial nine days' talk everything went on 


as naturally and quietly as if they had never lived any 
other way. 

The sisters even sooner than might have been expected 
became v^^onderfuUy reconciled to the pleasant novelty of 
each being absolute mistress of her own house. They 
seemed to play at housekeeping, having pleasant after- 
noon teas and evening parties among themselves, as well 
as occasionally entertaining a few select friends. 

Death is said to have a way of sparing some families a 
visit; but once he makes a call he is apt to come soon 
again. Much the same is said to be true of that far more 
agreeable visitor, the little rosy-cheeked, chubby chap with 
wings, who wounds people so painfully but pleasantly 
with his arrows. 

Now, one winter evening, Frankie, with one of her 
sisters, went to the store to make some purchases. Any 
of them could go alone anywhere except Frankie. She 
was still the baby; and even now, with a house of her 
own, for her to have gone alone to the store would have 
shocked the sisters from one end of the row to the other. 

This night the eldest, Mary Eliza, accompanied the 
"baby" to what was still th^ only grocery store. It was 
on Bergen square. After their separate small purchases 
were made, the elder sister politely declined having the 
orders "sent," and each took up her own parcel. When 
leaving the store, Frankie, who was in front, stopped 
short to look at some fruit on the stand outside. 

" 'Ave a happle. Miss," a tall, lanky ruddy-cheeked, 
rather long-nosed young man in charge of the stand said, 
offering her a very fine one. Frankie, instead of taking 
the offering, tittered a little and affected not to see the 


movement; but the stately sister condescendingly took the 
apple and thanked the youth, who blushed very much at 
the "baby" sister's rebuff. 

"Oh! Isn't he the funniest greenhorn!" Frankie gig- 
gled, loud enough to be heard by the young man. 

"Hush, Frankie, instantly! I'm ashamed of you!" said 
the severe sister, hurrying her charge off homeward. 

The fresh-complexioned young man who bit his lip and 
looked after the retreating customers, was indeed a green- 
horn in America, for he only a few^ days before landed at 
Castle Garden, in New York, from England, and this 
had been his first day in his present position as grocery 
clerk. Knowing not a soul in all this new world to him, 
he felt strange and awkward, for whenever he spoke peo- 
ple couldn't help laughing in his face just as Frankie had 
done. Yet this positively gawky-looking stranger in a 
strange land muttered, as the prettiest of the sisters after 
snubbing him hurried away: 

"My word! how pretty she is! I'll marrj^ that girl as 
sure as my name is Lilly." George Lilly was his name. 
But when one of her sisters told Frankie the young man's 
name she screamed with laughter. 

"Mr. Lilly!" cried she. "Nobody could ever call that 
man lily. Mr. Poppy you mean!" And Poppy she in- 
sisted on calling him, too, for a long time. 

It was only a short time — a month or so — when the 
scattered residents of Bergen w^ere astonished to see a 
brand-new sign over the grocery store bearing the name 
of George Lilly as proprietor. Evidently the young man 
had brought a little money over the water with him and 
had bought out Mr. Meyer, the late proprietor. For in 


time the latter left for parts unknown and in his place 
behold the florid Englishman, assisted by a tow-headed 
German boy apprentice. 

In his bashful way Lilly, at once after seeing Frankie, 
had tried to gratify his burning curiosity to learn her name 
and where she dwelt. But what with his difficulty of 
making himself understood to the German Meyer and 
the big, round grocer's massive stupidity, the result of the 
inquiry was very disappointing. Making the best of such 
information as he got, Lilly's nearest approach to a defin- 
ite conclusion was that the girl he had hastily vowed he 
would marry must be Selina Schmock, the daughter of a 
junk man living near where the old glasshouse then stood. 

"Not a very pretty name," he thought, "and I may 
have to break my shins over a yardful of scrap iron and 
old junk to find Selina in a dog kennel, keeping accounts 
for a fright of a father. But Selina, if that's her name, 
I'll find, and Selina Fm going to have, wherever I find 

The worst of it was that, with all his vigilance, for a 
long time the ardent youth did not lay eyes on the two 
customers he so feverishly longed to see. The fact was 
that the eldest sister had felt so scandalized by the apple 
incident that she was ashamed to go again to the store, or 
to allow Frankie, to do so, until their most unseemly 
encounter with the strange clerk there should have time 
to be forgotten. So the alpha and omega of the sisters 
stayed at home and had their groceries bought for them 
by the others. And poor Lilly, as yet, knowing nothing 
of the family, was left to the forlorn conclusion that he 


would probably never again see the face that continued 
to haunt his thoughts. 

His new sign had been up some time, and his predeces- 
sor's customers came to him in gratifying numbers, but 
George Lilly was an unhappy young man, for Frankie 
came not. One evening, with a miserable, drizzling rain, 
feeling tired and dejected, he determined to close rather 
earlier than usual, and delighted the heart of young tow- 
head by saying: 

"Louis, you may put up the shutters and then go 
home." The boy, with a glad look of astonishment at 
the clock, bounced open the door, and, "Ach himmel!" he 
ejaculated, running into some one, while a lady ex- 
claimed : 

"Dear me, boy! Why are you so violent?" 

Lilly came forward instanly. Berating Louis for 
floundering against people, he held the door open, and 
was politely closing it behind the lady, with many apolo- 
gies for his boy's awkwardness, when he felt a gentle push 
at the door, as he thought, of the unlucky towhead to 
get in again. 

"Can't you let the door alone, blockhead?" he hissed 
in a wrathful undertone. But before crashing the door 
shut on the supposed towhead, the irate master, happen- 
ing to look down, saw by the store light a dainty bracelet 
on the wrist that pushed against him. 

"I humbly beg your — oh!" the poor fellow exclaimed. 
His first words were to ask another lady's pardon for ob- 
structing her entrance; the "oh!" was his exclamation 
when he was confronted by the very young person he had 
been so fervently longing to see. 


Around the blazing fire in the old Hillsborough home- 
stead Mr. T. and his auditors sat in sudden silence. It 
was just after he had finished his storj^ of the seven old- 
maid sisters of Bergen — now Jersey City Heights — the 
narrator having stopped at the point in the tale where 
my last article left it, saying that his throat felt dry. 

Doubtless he had his own suspicions about the danger- 
ous combination of so good a fire and prolixity. At all 
events, the moment he ceased speaking he slyly glanced 
along the line of his audience and, I feel sure, saw as I did, 
plainly, that several drooping heads suddenly bridled up, 
very much as if their owners were coming out of a cat- 
nap. So suddenly did he stop that the silence seemed to 
command attention, and after moistening his lips with a 
sip of cider he continued his story, evidently enjoying his 
little ruse to have his listeners all safely awake again. 

"When I stopped," Mr. T. said, -'I was telling you 
how George Lilly, the fresh-complexioned young English- 
man, who had bought the grocer\^ store in Bergen and 
had fallen in love with a young woman customer the 
first time he had seen her, was at last assisted in his dili- 
gent inquiry as to who she was, and so forth, by finding 
her in his store again. In fact, through an accident he 
found himself unintentionally almost swearing at her for 
pushing open his door when he was closing it, he think- 
ing it was his erring apprentice, Louis, that so opposed 
him. When he discovered his mistake he uttered a loud 
*oh!' of genuine surprise and actually staggered back a 
pace or two. 

To any one but himself, there seemed no call for such 
a shock as he appeared to receive; but only he himself 


knew how absorbing had been his thoughts about the 
girl, and, of course, he couldn't very well explain that he 
had hardly thought of any other person, place or thing but 
herself since she so coldly snubbed him by ignoring his 
offer of an apple from the stand some weeks before. Al- 
though Frankie could not help coloring a little at her 
theatrical reception, she evinced no other sign of noticing 
it, but walked demurely up to her eldest sister who stood 
at the counter. The latter thought it necessary under the 
circumstances to be even more starchy and frigid than 
was her wont, and gave her orders for both herself and 
sister as if she spoke from an iceberg a hundred miles 
out in the Arctic Ocean. In vain Mr. Lilly begged to 
be allowed to deliver the ladies' purchases. 

" 'No, indeed ! Thank you !' the elder and taller and 
much the primmer of the two answered at last, and the 
two customers departed without another unnecessary 


" 1 really wonder if that girl is Selina Schmock, an 

old junkman's daughter, as I've been told?" Lilly 

thought, after closing the door behind them. I'd give a 

whole lot — Louis! come here!" 

" 'Louis,' said he, hastily getting into his coat, 'I must 

go down Bergen Wood avenue. Look after the store. 

I'll be gone only a few minutes.' And out he strode with 

steps about two yards long. Once outside the drizzling 

rain reminded him that he had no hat on. 

" 'Why didn't you tell me I had forgotten my hat, 

Louis?' he said, coming back and seizing his headgear. 

'You're an absent-minded rascal, Louis!' and out he 

darted again on no other errand than to follow the two 


customers he had just served and see where they, or, at 
all events the smaller and prettier one lived. They car- 
ried a lantern and v^ere still in sight as he turned out of 
the square and soon he discovered that whoever they were 
the taller one entered and probably lived at the first, and 
the other in the fourth house of the row of seven houses 
on Palisade avenue. 

" 'Well,' thought he, as he returned to his store, 'I 
didn't see any sign of a scrap-iron yard near where she 
evidently lives. That's one consolation. And I don't 
suppose her name is Selina, after all. I hope not, for 
really I don't fancy the name.' 

*'He was not much longer left in the dark as to the 
whole history of the rather remarkable family that he had 
become so deeply interested in. For a smart young Irish- 
man, James McConnell, who was farmer for a New 
York merchant in the vicinity, and who was a customer 
of his, told him their name and all about them. McCon- 
nell, like almost every one else, thought and spoke of 
the seven old maid sisters as the best joke of the neigh- 
borhood. Among other things he told Lilly that in their 
really clever management and peculiar arrangements 
about their houses, the seven sisters had shown them- 
selves so original as to produce a kind of uncanny feeling 
in people's minds. 

"For instance, he explained that the seven houses were 
all connected by a system of strings and bells, arranged 
in such a way that any one sister could secretly call up 
any other or all the others, at any time, by a regular code, 
entirely of their own invention. By this contrivance, if 
any stranger, especially a man, called at No. i, in less 


than no time sisters from Nos. 2 and 3 would walk into 
the room, exactly as if they lived in the house. It was 
really, however, by a quiet little jerk of a certain string 
that they were summoned from their own houses and 
came through the gardens and in by the back door. Every- 
body admitted that this was a wise and prudent plan ; but 
the neighbors thought it was almost superhumanly clever 
for ordinary, natural women to concoct. 

"Then, again, there was a finished dovetailing about 
the way they managed their help that almost took one's 
breath away. Their ideas of economy did not admit of 
employing more than one woman servant for the seven 
houses, and their selection of their several domiciles was 
made with a strategic eye, particularly, so Lilly was told, 
for offensive and defensive tactics against male humanity. 
The two wings of the maidenly camp, the end houses, No. 
I and No. 7, were tenanted by Mary Eliza, the eldest 
in No. I and the next eldest in No. 7 ; in Nos. 2 and 6 the 
two next eldest lived ; in Nos. 3 and 5 the two next, and 
Frankie, the 'baby' sister, lived in the fourth. By this 
formation the tender fledgling of twenty-five and upward 
was flanked on both sides by three sisters, whose ages in- 
creased as they approached the outer or skirmishing points 
of the north and south wings. 

"Now, the able-bodied woman who served them all 
as a servant always slept at No. 4, in Frankie's house. 
On Monday she worked at Mary Eliza's, at No. i ; on 
Tuesday in No. 2, Wednesday in No. 3, Thursday in 
No. 4, Friday in No. 5, Saturday in No. 6, resting on 
Sunday in No. 7. Then she would work in No. 7. on 
Monday, No. 6 on Tuesday, No. 5 on Wednesday, No. 


4 on Thursday, No. 3 on Friday, No. 2 on Saturday, 
resting at No. i on Sunday, commencing work again on 
Monday at No. i. Thus she went the same round week 
in, week out, with the regularity of the sun. 

''The same nicety of cut-and-dried co-operative, eco- 
nomic and tactical discipline ruled in everything in the 
seven sisters' row, the complete details of which would 
fill a small volume. The enumeration of them was a 
common theme of conversation in the village and was 
said to strike a kind of superstitious awe to the breasts 
of men in general. But George Lilly's faith and inter- 
est were unshaken. 

" Trankie,' he conned over to himself, after McCon- 
nel had told him these things and left him alone, 'Frankie! 
What a nice, sprightly kind of name! And so exactly 
appropriate to the very prettiest little thing I ever did see. 
Heigho! I only fear she'll never have me. However, it 
will not be my fault if she don't. I'll try, anyway; ''faint 

heart never won fair lady !" ' \ . 

"Then the young man, surveying his features in his 
six-by-eight-inch looking glass, ran his fingers through his 
fair hair, patted his quite promising side whiskers and 
slightly smiled a little encouragement to himself. 

"The sisters came and went to the store, as had long 
been their wont; and beyond allowing Lilly in a distant 
way to feel that they appreciated his assiduous business 
efforts to please them, there was neither in word nor 
look any attempt at bridging over the gulf that, at all 
events in the elder sisters' minds, must forever yawn be 
tween them and any tradesman. That there was an ex 
ception in some manner, either in her eyes, speech or 


some mysterious way, in Frankie's case, might be inferred 
from the fact that as time wore on, her sincere admirer 
plainly gained in good spirits and hopefulness. 

"When Christmas came this assumed practical shape, 
in the good old custom of Christmas boxes. And though 
he was a trifle green and awkward-looking, when Lilly 
did a thing of that kind he did it well. He sent all the 
sisters beautiful, seasonable presents. Young tow-head 
had to toil all the way to the row seven times with them, 
and the last box, which the donor took good care should 
not be the least, almost proved the proverbial last straw 
to Louis. It was addressed to Miss Frankie Jenkins, at 
house number 4, of the Seven Sisters' row. 

"Thus did treason first insinuate its daring front within 
the battlemented ramparts of the immaculate row. 
Frankie, being courtmartialed about it, read her sisters 
a declaration of independence, and declared further that 
'Mr. Poppy' should have an invitation to call at the New 
Year, even if she had to extend the request herself. With 
more sorrow than anger, Mary Eliza, to save the family 
escutcheon from utter disgrace, conceded the point, and 
Mr. Lilly called on New Year's Day at No. i and re- 
ceived the thanks of the seven sisters, then and there con- 
vened for that purpose. Once the awful trial of enter- 
taining a man was over, and after the room had had a 
thorough cleaning and the windows had been left open 
for two whole consecurive days, the ordeal was considered 
over and done with, and a struggle was made to forget 

"Things were again passing along in the ordinary way 
in the row, when one day, perhaps a week after Mr. 


Lilly's visit at No. i, that martinet of spinsterhood, 
Mary Elisha, happened to run in at No. 4 with some 
fond and trival message for Frankie. As soon as she 
entered the hallway she sniffed around with an exceed- 
ingly wry face. 

"'Sister Frankie!' she cried, horrorstricken, 'there's 
been a man here!' 

" 'Yes, Mary Eliza,' answered Frankie, 'it was only 
Mr. Pop — Mr. Lilly, I mean. He very kindly brought 
me my unbrella, which I had forgotten in his store. That 
was nothing to be alarmed at, was it?' 

"The elder woman could only express her feelings by 
a shudder and a suppressed moan, as she dropped weakly 
into a chair. 

" 'Yes, sister,' Frankie continued, 'and do you know, 
Mr. Lilly has asked me to go to church with him. I 
saw no harm in that either, so I said "Yes," and that I 
had no objection ; and he's going to call for me next 
Sunday morning.' 

"Mary Eliza got to her home by a great effort; ex- 
actly how, she never knew. No suddenly dethroned and 
disgraced monarch ever more completely collapsed than 
she did. Her rule was over; her prestige trampled in the 
dust; her scepter had passed from her into other hands 
— into a man's hands! and that man a plebeian, country 
grocer! It was too, too much! She immured herself 
in her north-wing redoubt and was ill and unapproach- 
able for several days. 

"Meantime the persistent 'Poppy,' now, however, no 
longer so dubbed, but given the full benefit of his own 
proper name, Mr. Lilly, duly appeared at No. 4 on the 


following Sunday, arrayed In what he had considered In 
England his unimpeachable Sunday-go-to-meeting best. 
It was only to meet another rebuff, even more stingingly 
humiliating than that at his first meeting with the dam- 
sel of his choice. For Miss Frankie had a decided will 
and mind of her own, and withal, certain definite ideas of 
the proprieties. The result of this was that the moment she 
set eyes upon her would-be cavalier. In his Imported, tall, 
narrow and almost rimless stovepipe hat, flaring, checked 
trousers and a coat that seemed to have been made for his 
grandfather, she was completely shocked, and frankly told 
him she would never go to church or anywhere else with 
such a hat and coat as she then beheld. The poor young 
man blushed crimson and went home, utterly crestfallen 
— and 'never to come back again!' some would probably 
say. But those who thought so did not know Mr. Lilly. 
He was irrepressible, Indefatigible. 

"Not in the least offended or discouraged, he turned 
up at No. 4 on the following Sunday, dressed from head 
to foot in brand-new New York clothes of the very latest 
cut and pattern. And Frankie accompanied him, as she 
had promised, to church. 

"Furthermore, in due course of time, with several of 
her elder sisters as bridesmaids, she met him at the same 
old Dutch Reformed church that stands In the same place 
still, and became his wife. Then, as I have hinted, once 
the rosy-cheeked little Cupid got In some of his handi- 
work, he looked around for other victims. And in this 
quest Brother-in-law Lilly became his right-hand man 
and sworn ally among the sisters. 

"In the first place, with good common sense and 


liberally broad, democratic views, and a very modest and 
persuasive w^ay of expressing them, Mr. Lilly completely 
won over all of his six sisters-in-law to a more reasonable 
and kindly estimate and regard for their natural, best 
friends and helpmates, men. Not only this, but he held 
briefs, as it were, for other young fellows like himself — ■ 
not rich and high-minded swells, as he said, who thought 
only of themselves and knew nothing but how to spend 
money — but honest-hearted young men who were ready 
to work and make money, and who made also, he de- 
clared, the best husbands in the world. 

"Furthermore, quite accidentally, as it seemed, he 
brought just such young fellows to his house, and with- 
out any. palaver or preparation, introduced them and his 
wife's sisters over cups of tea and cards, and in evening 
walks in the summertime, and lo, the result! Weddings 
became the rage in Seven Sisters' row until, to the joy of 
them all — yea, even of the dethroned queen of spinster- 
hood — of Mary Eliza herself — they were every one of 
them mated and made happy wives, one of the husbands 
being James McConnel, the very youth who had all un- 
wittingly but sadly misrepresented as good and true a lot 
of women as ever were misunderstood and underesti- 
mated by their neighbors." 

Mr. T. added that Frankie was the only one of the 
seven sisters surviving when he was a small boy. He re- 
membered her perfectly, he said. She never had any chil- 
dren, and when he knew her she did not live in the some- 
what famous row. In fact, the seven houses, although 
still there, had long before his time passed into other 



After the members of what has come to be known as 
the Reminiscence Club had exchanged greetings at their 
regular gathering, and had taken seats around the cheery 
fire at the old Hillsborough Homestead, Mrs. S. was 
called upon for a story of bygone days. 

''Twenty years ago," she said, after a moment's thought, 
"I lived in a haunted house at 91 Storm avenue, on Jer- 
sey City Heights, which in my young days was still called 
Bergen. The house long ago disappeared and now a trol- 
ley line runs over the place where it stood. On the lawn 
were a few large, old cherry trees which bore very fine 
and delicious fruit. One day as I sat under the biggest 
of the trees enjoying its cool shade, an old, white-haired, 
well-dressed man, stopping at the garden gate, wished me 
a good morning and said he would very much like to taste 
the cherries that hung in ripe clusters on the tree over my 
head. He added that his wish was really only a senti- 
mental one. He had planted that and most of the other 
trees around there when he was a young fellow in his 
teens, he said. Having been down at that time in Vir- 
ginia he had brought back a lot of young trees of very 
choice kinds. Among them were several 'lady heart' cher- 
ries, all of which he planted; but, he explained, the tree 



underneath which I sat was the only one of them that 
had lived." 

" 'My father built this house,' went on the stranger 
as he sat down and began to eat some cherries; *it must 
be a hundred years old. My father was John Mandeville. 
He's been dead these many years. I'm his son James.' 

"Now, thought I," here is the very man to ask about 
the things I have heard in this house. I had been thor- 
oughly frightened at night several times by the most inex- 
plicable sounds, and without loss of time I asked my vis- 
itor about them. 

" 'Well,' Mr. Mandeville answered, 'I cannot say that 
I ever had direct proof of anything unusual about the 
house. But I'm not going to deny that such things have 
often been told about it by very credible and level-headed 
people. For my part, I was born here and I spent my 
childhood and boyhood here, but I cannot say that I ever 
saw or heard anything out of the common. But that does 
not gainsay others' experiences. There have been great 
changes here, and everywhere else, since I was a boy. 
That's a long time ago. I'm eighty-one now; and many, 
and some of them peculiar, people have lived here since 
those days. By the way, do you happen to know crazy 
Gussie ?' 

" 'Well,' he continued, when I replied in the affirma- 
tive, 'poor old Gussie was born in this house. That fact 
of itself hasn't much to do with the subject, but there 
were some pathetic incidents in her life, poor thing.' " 

"Being urged to proceed, he told us that his father had 
sold the house and lot we then occupied, together with 
much more land, to a well-to-do man, named Everett. 


When they went there, the Everett family consisted of 
Mr. and Mrs. Everett, one son and five daughters. In 
the first year of their tenancy one more child was added 
to the family. It was, according to my visitor, the tiniest, 
sweetest little doll of a girl baby that ever was seen. The 
little thing was perfectly formed, but so small that she 
could lie at full length on her father's slipper. Her ad- 
vent created quite a sensation and people went miles to 
see her. Perhaps no baby ever born before or since in 
Hudson County had so many callers and admirers. Her 
big brother and sisters became very fond and proud of 
her, and as she began toddling about, she was beloved 
and petted by all. 

" 'She was an apt pupil at school,' continued the old 
man, 'and there as elsewhere everybody admired and gave 
way to her, as if she were a little fairy queen. She had 
refined parents and a happy home, and by the time she 
reached her sixteenth year, she was a lovable and pretty 
little thing, but in appearance she was like a child of 
twelve. As she approached her seventeenth year, Au- 
gusta, or as she was affectionately called, little Gussie, 
looked out upon the world through the eyes of a woman 
and fell in love. 

" 'A young doctor having appeared upon the scene 
to begin practise, there was a flutter of excitement among 
all the marriageable daughters and their mothers in the 
growing village. There was much speculation as to which 
girls said he thought her nothing but a mere child, and 
at once look out for a wife. Gussie's parents were not, 
however, among those given to speculations of that kind. 
They were the old-fashioned, prudish kind of people, with 


a horror for 'bringing their daughters out,' or having them 
in any way invite the notice of men. Their diminutive 
and pretty daughter, however, had her own ideas of these 
things, but kept her own counsel, and though none of her 
own people suspected it, she was *just dying' to meet the 
doctor, whom she had already seen several times. 

" *At last Gussie's dearly wished for opportunity came. 
One of her girl friends had a birthday party, to which 
she was invited, and at it she met the doctor. To her su- 
preme delight he paid her marked attention. The other 
girl said he thought her nothing but a mere child, and 
they were, perhaps, not far astray. When men find 
themselves cornered in a tight place and clearly in for it, 
among many fair ones, all over-anxious to please, they 
will sometimes make a "dead set" in the most frivolous 
and unmeaning way in some perfectly safe quarter. What- 
ever may have been the doctor's ideas that evening, and 
however childish-looking the object of his particular no- 
tice was, his blandishments entirely transfigured the quite 
womanly and all too susceptible heart of little Gussie Ev- 
erett, and the result w^as that she went home "head and 
ears in love" with the young physician. 

" 'Her time being quite her own — for her tiny, deli- 
cate hands had never been soiled by work of any kind — 
she soon learned the doctor's ofKce hours and made up 
little fictions of errands, so as to meet him in the street. 
And in time, seeing plainly the complete conquest he had 
made, the budding physician, like many another young 
fellow, encouraged the girl and really fostered the flame 
he had kindled. He thought it an excellent joke. 

" 'Unquestionably there are great numbers of both 


genders of the human race who, though they may be per- 
fectly alert and circumspect, in all other ways, are utterly 
irrational and apparently blind as soon as the heart is in- 
volved. Pretty little Gussie was clearly one of the num- 
ber. For nothwithstanding her practical common-sense 
bringing up, all the usual shrewdness and judgment for 
which she had been remarkable on all other matters were 
seemingly cast to the winds at the very first show of the 
young doctor's preference for her. On any other subject 
she would have confided in and advised with her fond 
parents or sisters, or at least with her girl friends. But 
the moment the heart's great realm was invaded she was 
deaf, dumb and blind to all else but a headlong pursuit 
according to its yearnings and dictates. The doctor un- 
scrupulously continued to hum.or her, giving her flowers 
and bonbons — ^just as he would do with any other pretty 
and interesting child, he told himself — yet knowing quite 
as well as she did that in doing so he was really toying 
dangerously with a woman's heart. 

"After a lapse of a year, and when the young man 
had established a fairly promising practise, he announced 
his intention of going to his former home on a visit. It 
was the balmy beginning of June and the evening before 
his departure. He was strolling along a favorite walk 
of his out toward Claremont. The robins were In full 
song, the air delicious, with that delightful modulation of 
light and heat, so refreshing at the close of day. His ter- 
rier gave a short bark, then, wagging its tail, the animal 
ran to some one it knew, and the doctor saw^, only a short 
distance off the path, Gussie Everett, seated under a leafy 
canopy, making a nosegay of flowers she had gathered. 


" *A little fairy in her bower!' he exclaimed, and seat- 
ing himself on the log beside her, he said many other 
fond and pretty things which Gussie, many a year after- 
ward, used to recount. They exchanged little keepsake 
flowers, and the young man declared he would treasure 
and preserve the delicate exotic forget-me-nots which she 
unpinned from her dress and gave to him. The two 
parted, poor little Gussie's head swimming and her eyes 
dimmed in the blissful conviction which she rightly or 
wrongly entertained that the doctor was her own true 
lover and that he was coming back from his vacation to 
make her his wife. 

"The weary month of his absence, though appearing 
an age to Gussie, was but a prolongation of painful bliss 
to her. Every carol of the robin, every tuneful anthem 
of the thrush, every delicious roundelay of the oriole 
seemed Nature's accompaniment to the all-absorbing love- 
song of her soul. The weeks had dragged heavily past 
until one more only remained. Then came an Invitation 
to all the leading families from the absent man's landlady 
to a little reception which the good lady was getting up 
as a surprise for the doctor on his return. 

"The little ripple of Interest, as to this home-coming, 
among her girl friends rather offended Gussie at first. 
She wondered why any one but herself should aspire to 
welcome the doctor back again. Soon, however, she was 
made happy by the usual make-believe policy so success- 
fully practised on children and for the remaining few 
days of waiting she composed herself Into a serene assur- 
ance of her pre-eminent position among those who were 
to surprise the home-coming doctor with a welcome. 


"At last, at 8 o'clock in the evening, when the doctor 
was expected, a goodly company of heads, of families and 
young people sat around the large parlor of his boarding- 
house, waiting to greet him. As usual, the village pet 
and favorite of every one, little Gussie, who this night, 
all agreed, looked radiantly beautiful, was the centre of 
attraction among them all, and she was given the seat of 
honor, among a bevy of pretty girls in the middle of the 
wide circle facing the door. 

"Soon a carriage was heard to stop. The door knocker 
rapped out a brisk summons and then footsteps were 
heard in the hall. The company rose to greet the re- 
turning traveler. The landlady threw open the door and 
the doctor, accompanied by a lady, stepping over the 
threshold, stopped and glanced in astonishment around 
the circle. 

" 'Why, bless my soul!' he exclaimed. 'Oh, now I see! 
Well, truly, my friends, this is beautifully kind of you. 
It gives me the greater delight to receive such a very 
agreeable and genuine surprise as this, because I have now 
somebody here to help me in the appreciation of it. 

" 'My dear friends,' he added, motioning to his now 
blushing companion, 'let me introduce to you my wife!' 

The last words had but left his lips when a low moan 
of pain was heard and a girlish figure dropped senseless 
to the floor within a yard of the doctor's feet. It was 

" 'The heat was too much for her,' said the doctor as 
he raised the slight figure in his arms. 'Please open the 
door and bring me some water!' 

"Then he carried her out to the little lawn. Gussie 


soon recovered consciousness. She, however, greatly as- 
tonished her anxious friends by a somewhat dramatic 
procedure. The doctor, still kneeling by her side, was 
sprinkling her face, chafing her hands, etc., to restore 
animation, when the little patient, suddenly rousing her- 
self, fixed dilating eyes upon his face, wrenched her hand 
from his and, in a high key, dared him ever to lay a finger 
on her again. He looked seriously at the girl's father 
and mother and, rising to his feet, he told them in an 
undertone that Gussie had better be taken home and put 
to bed. The carriage in which he and his wife had but 
a few minutes before arrived at the house was still at the 
gate, he said, and he urged that it be used for taking the 
patient home. 

"This advice was followed, and soon Gussie, under the 
influence of a composing draft, dropped quietly to sleep 
in her own room in the so-called haunted house. The 
Everett family, though seriously concerned about Gussie 
that evening, thought the worst was past, and about the 
usual hour all retired. But they were doomed to a rude 
disappointment. About 2 o'clock in the morning Mrs. 
Everett, who had been somewhat wakeful, at last awoke 
her husband, and, trembling in every limb, told him she 
was sure some one was walking on the roof of the ver- 
anda, which was very flat and went completely around 
two sides of the house. Mr. Everett pooh-poohed what 
he called his wife's imagination, and said it was only the 
result of her disturbed nerves. But as they thus whis- 
pered, their very hearts stood still on hearing a girl's 
scream, and then footsteps running swiftly along the ver- 

Mr. Everett dashed to the window, flung up the sash and got out, 

just as Gussie, in her night robe, took a flying leap from 

the roof to the ground. 


anda roof. This was followed by a wild call for help 
and a girl screaming that a man was going to kill her. 

"Mr. Everett dashed to the window, flung up the sash 
and got out, just as Gussie in her night robe took a flying 
leap from the roof to the ground. Without searching for 
any man, the father rushed back through his window and 
down to the lawn, where he found his daughter, moan- 
ing and shivering, in a perfect frenzy of fear, but, mar- 
velously, with no broken bones. At first she only shrieked 
and shrunk away from her father. But when he took her 
up in his arms and put his face against hers soothingly, 
kissing her forehead and disheveled hair, all wet with 
cold beads of terror, she suddenly knew him and became 
calmer. Then she was carried back and quietly laid in 
her bed like a tired child and soon she fell asleep. 

"Awaking in the morning Gussie gazed for some time 
in a dazed way from one to another of those she loved. 
Then burying her face in the pillow she wept and sob- 
bed as if her heart would break. For over a week she 
continued in bed, spending most of her waking hours 
either in tears or in fits of uncontrollable laughter. 

"When in the course of some weeks she was again able 
to be about, she showed unmistakable signs that her mind 
was unbalanced. So pronounced was this that her girl 
friends began to shun her, and the doctor finding his 
name publicly associated in a more or less compromising 
way with her mental state, soon gave it out that because of 
his failing health he was going to leave the neighborhood. 
It wasn't long before he departed, and when he had 
gone most of the villagers said : 'Good riddance.' 

"In the course of years the harmless vagaries of the 


erstwhile pride and pet of the village were so persistent 
as to gain for her the title of 'Crazy Gussie.' As she grew 
older she seemed particularly fond of children. Almost 
every fine day when school was dismissed she was to be 
seen awaiting the little ones coming at her front gate. Her 
head barely reached above the palings and her hands were 
at such times always full of decayed fruit, faded flow- 
ers or trimmings from vines or shrubbery. These she 
would hand in a kind of surreptitious and cautious way 
to the little ones. 

At other times she would invite the children inside the 
gate, and having arranged them in a row on the bottom 
step of the front stoop, with many warnings to be very 
quite lest her sisters should come out and be upon them, 
she would tip-toe around as if in the garden of Blue- 
beard, and come back chuckling and whispering over the 
prizes she brought. These would be only some worth- 
less flowers, shriveled berries or the like. The children 
were amused and pleased, for child-like they knew by 
instinct that Gussie meant well and dearly loved them. 

"At Christmas or on some child's birthday Gussie 
would manage in some way to make her little favorites 
presents of one kind or another. Once a lady was sorely 
grieved over the loss of her canary. Gussie, who was 
very sorry for her, purchased a young chicken and brought 
it to the bereaved lady to put into the empty cage. As 
the years went by and when Gussie's hair had silver 
threads, the village girls of fourteen or fifteen used to 
find great amusement in teasing her about her beaux. At 
times they would have her in their homes and while they 
played the piano she would sing and dance for them. 


Then while they would put up her thinning locks in 
curl papers she would chat gaily about her approaching 
marriage, generally giving broad hints that the unmarried 
doctor of the village was to be the happy man. Again, 
when her professional choice married some one else, as her 
first love had done many a long year ago, she would fume 
about it terribly and threaten dire vengeance. 

"One doctor in the village was twice left a widower 
and often he was annoyed very seriously by Gussie, who 
made it a practise to ring his door bell and send him 
threatening letters. Once she hurled a piece of brick 
through his window. It smashed the glass to shivers and 
narrowly missed his head. At length he was driven to 
apply for police protection. That was a blow to Gussie, 
for it dispelled her last hope of matrimony in that quarter. 

"And then began the breaking up of the family. The 
mother died. Very soon afterward the son was dis- 
owned by the father and went West. He wrote for mon- 
ey, but got no answer. Then a stranger wrote to Mr. 
Everett informing him that his son was dead and asking 
if he would not send money enough for his burial. The 
father sent the sum named. After another year or two 
he received a second request for money to bury his son. 
This the father answered by requesting his correspondent 
to see that young Everett was buried and send him (the 
father) the bill. No such bill came and that was the last 
ever heard about the son. 

"Then the father died, and from that time not a blind 
or shutter of the house was ever opened. The sisters kept 
house as best they could. Louise was the only one who 
could cook. Matilda and Euphemia did the shopping and 


attended to other outside matters, among which was the 
marketing of their crops of cherries, quinces, berries, etc., 
which brought them in many dollars a year. Gussie just 
roamed about wherever she listed and was a well-known 
figure in the streets of Bergen for many years. Always 
with a happy smile and a kindly greeting for everybody, 
ever hastening to somewhere which never was reached, 
she made a round of errands that never ended. The two 
elder sisters seldom left the house. 

"Eventually Louise died. Then, as no one else could 
cook, and the family exchequer was getting low, the home 
had to be broken up. It was then that the house was of- 
fered for sale. The sisters went boarding ; but they were 
difficult to please. They would eat nothing cooked on 
Sunday, even if the gravy was warmed they would refuse 
their dinner. Not long after the home was vacated, the 
doors were all found open and on the floor in one of the 
rooms was the body of a man. The man had evidently been 
murdered. There were evidences of a fierce struggle. The 
body had many stab wounds while the head was beaten 
almost to a pulp. No clue was ever found to the identity 
of either the murdered man or the murderer. 

"Even before this gruesome discovery the house was 
looked upon as haunted. From that time, however, school 
children ran past it on the further side of the street, and 
neighbors declared there were lights and peculiar sounds 
in it at night. 

"One night for long hours a dog seemed to be dying of 
strangulation in the cellar. The next door neighbor was 
unable to sleep because of the noise. Procuring the key 
he went into the cellar, but in it he found no dog. Then 


he searched the rambling empty rooms upstairs with no 
better result. But he felt his flesh creep several times, 
for it seemed that an invisible dog ran at his heels. He 
heard it perfectly trip-tripping after him, but try as he 
would to throw his light on it he could see nothing. He 
left everything locked up, yet in the morning every door 
in the house was open. 

''Gussie, who at that time w^as about fifty years old, 
went regularly every day to the house and locked the 
doors, and just as regularly the next morning they were 
found wide open. 

*'That," Mrs. S. continued, after a pause, "was the 
condition of things when I came from a distance, knowing 
nobody in Bergen and nothing about the house which I 
hired from an agent. Our family consisted of my hus- 
band, daughter and myself. 

"Before we had lived there many days we found that 
we might close the doors between the kitchen, dining- 
room and parlor as tightly as we chose when retiring, 
but they would be open in the morning. One night 
my husband, being out later than usual, and my daughter 
having gone to bed, I sat by the dining-room stove wait- 
ing Mr. S.'s return. On the parlor door close behind me, 
which was shut, I heard three distinct knocks, as if made 
by the knuckles of one finger. Thinking it must be 
my daughter, I said, 'Come in.' I got up and opened the 
door. Nobody was there; but from the farther darkened 
end of the parlor I heard a deep sigh and the rustle of a 
dress, as If some one passed out Into the hall. Taking up 
the lamp, I followed as quickly as I could, through the 
parlor into the hall, but I could see no one. Going up- 


stairs to my daughter's room I found her in bed. The 
bedclothes were pulled over her head and she was all 
of a tremble. She had heard three taps on her door, ex- 
actly as I had heard on the door below, and from the 
silk-like rustle that followed the taps she was certain that 
some one had entered the room. We made a careful 
search, but could not find any one. 

"Another night, after we had all retired, there were 
sounds of merriment down stairs in the dining-room. 
These were followed quickly by a quarrel and a heavy 
fall. My husband crept down stairs, but found every- 
thing in order and everything perfectly quiet. But be- 
neath his feet, in the cellar, a dog was howling, evidently 
in great pain. The howling ceased as he descended the 
stairs, but no dog was to be seen anywhere. 

"Gussie sometimes called at her old home to see us, but 
she always seemed ill at ease and nervously watched each 
door that opened. Pleading haste to finish her imaginary 
errands, she would soon hurry away. At last she went 
on another real errand and returned no more; for she 
found, surely if ever any one did, what she and many a 
wiser head have vaguely searched for and which this 
world cannot give, that peace which 'passeth understand- 

"Matilda, Gussie's next older sister, who outlived her 
and who was the last of the family, boarded and grew old 
and gray with an aged couple. At last the man's wife 
died. Then when Matilda was over eighty years of age, 
she and the venerable widower married and cared for 
each other to the end." 



The venerable Calvin Corle, mentioned in my last ar- 
ticle as having overstepped by nine good years man's al- 
lotted days, must by no means be understood as having 
always been a strait-laced disciple of all work and no 
play, which, as has been truly said, makes Jack a dull 
boy. Far from that, he and his cousin, John L., the in- 
separable "old boys," had their share of youthful fun and 

Though the two were so undivided all their lives, in 
their young days they were never slow to take advantage 
of favorable circumstances to play practical jokes on each 
other. Calvin, especially, was much given to this kind 
of fun. In those days, though not as large as many youths 
of his years, he was of a clean-cut, athletic figure, and 
lithe and supple as a cat. He was also full of sparkling 
good humor and of nimble wit. His particular chum, 
on the other hand, had an almost comical gravity of man- 
ner and great deliberation of speech and movement. Al- 
though one might suppose that butter wouldn't have 
melted in his mouth, he was deep and astute and had a 
keen relish for fun, with a dry way of expressing himself 
that was the essence of comedy. But he was always 
so earnest and unsuspicious that Calvin found him an 
easy victim for many a joke. 

One fine moonlight night an opportunity of this kind 


occurred in one of their expeditions to see their sweet- 
hearts. There were in those days no such things as bug- 
gies or runabouts, in which a man might take his best 
girl for an outing. He rode his horse instead, and his 
lady love, poising herself on the horse-block, if there was 
one, or in lieu thereof on the rails of some convenient 
fence, sprang nimbly on the horse's back behind him. 

A great degree of satisfaction is said to have inured 
to the young lords of creation from this arrangement, in- 
asmuch as the fair one's sidewise seat behind the saddle 
usually proved sufficiently precarious to produce a certain 
clinging dependence upon the superior horsemanship of 
her escort that was highly agreeable to him. It has been 
claimed, indeed, to have been one of the most favorable 
of all possible situations for those irresistible little, timid 
appeals for help and protection on the one side and the 
gratified vanity and fearless rescue promptly rendered 
on the other, which always did and always will go, the 
old folk say, so far toward warming and welding to- 
gether the hearts of pretty maids and valiant men. 

On the night in question the two cousins, having ar- 
rived at the house where Martha, John's Dulcinea, dwelt 
with her prosperous parents, they dismounted and were 
received with the greatest good-will. Having propounded 
their project, they found it quite agreeable to the family. 
Their plan was for Martha to accompany John on his 
horse to the home of Calvin's sweetheart, where all were 
to spend the evening together. This being settled, Cal- 
vin suddenly bethinking himself of an errand he had to 
make for his father to a place about half a mile farther 


on toward their intended destination, excused himself to 
host and hostess, and moving to the door, called back: 

"You and Martha come along, John. I'll trot on 
ahead as far as Brokaw's and after delivering dad's mess- 
age I'll meet you at the road end." 

Assenting, John and Martha's father began chatting, 
w^hile she and her mother stepped out on the porch with 
his cousin. ''Don't be long, Mart," John requested as 
the young woman neared the door, ''and put a shawl 
about you, for it's a bit chilly to-night." 

Martha replied that she would so array herself and 
would be ready in a moment. Then she closed the door. 
As John sat talking he heard the mother and daughter 
laughing at something. 

"One of Calvin's jokes," John thought. "He does 
tell such good stories. He makes every one laugh as no 
one else can." 

Then he pursued the thread of his argument and for 
some little time, it must be confessed, he was oblivious to 
how really long Martha was in merely donning a shawl. 
But suddenly the mother rallied him in a way that made 
him jump almost out of his skin. 

"Fie on you, John Corle!" she cried excitedly. "How 
long will you keep our Martha standing out there on the 
horse-block awaiting her escort? A cold night like this, 
too! Upon my word, sir, when Martha's mother was 
her age I doubt if she'd waited half as long for any man 
that ever breathed!" 

But John didn't wait for the rebuke at full length. It 
was about the liveliest piece of work he ever did the 
way he dashed out through the kitchen, jumped on his 


dappled gray and came bounding around the house to the 
horse-block, where, sure enough, his fair partner for the 
ride, wearing a shawl and a large bonnet, demurely 
awaited him. If there was any anger of impatience in the 
face above the shawl the bonnet hid it, and John began 
honestly to tell his girl of his heartfelt sorrow for his 

"Well, now, Marty," he began, "it was very stupid 
of me and I ask your — " 

"Oh! for goodness sake, John, don't ask anything of 
anybody; but let Martha get on the horse!" broke in the 
mother with considerable asperity. She had followed to 
the mounting place, evidently quite cross about things, 
and, as John inwardly remarked, put herself to quite un- 
necessary trouble about Martha, who, poor girl, seemed 
so hurt and embarrassed that she said not a word. 

"And now, John Corle," continued the matron as a 
parting word, "you know Martha's my only child. Be 
very careful, and bring her safe back to us." 

With this the two rode away, John not unreasonably 
indignant at what he felt to be most unusual and uncalled- 
for excitement and the upbraiding of himself by Martha's 
mother. He could not understand it. 

"And here's Marty, poor thing, crying, I suppose, or 
•she'd never be silent like this," he thought bitterly as he 
rode on and on, really afraid to break the silence for fear 
of another rebuff. The longer the silence continued, the 
harder it seemed to break. At length they were actually 
drawing near to where the merry Calvin would meet 
them, both as dumb as if they were chief mourners at a 


"This is something awful!" John thought desperately. 
"What villainous fun he'll make of us! I must do some- 
thing. Oh! how I wish I had only Calvin's ready wit 
and knack of saying the right thing in the right place!" 

Dozens of times he had turned stealthily around and 
tried to peep under Martha's bonnet, in the hope that she 
would make some little remark to break the ice for him. 
But it was all in vain, for she only appeared to cover her 
face with the one hand that she could use for that pur- 
pose as if actually weeping. In fact, the devoted and 
almost distracted young man would have sworn he heard 
her sniffing and sniveling and that he positively saw a 
quiver of suppressed emotion the last time he looked. She 
must be heartbroken ! And here he was approaching the 
trysting place, where Calvin would see his distressful 
plight and would laugh at him for the next year about it. 
Something must be done! At last, feeling himself to be 
the most cruel and utterly heartless man that ever lived, 
he decided to speak. 

"Heigh-ho!" he sighed very audibly, and turning as far 
as possible around to his partner, in a very timorous, 
pleading voice he ventured to ask: 

"Marty! Marty! W — ^won't you speak to me?" 

Not a word of answer did he get, but there were more 
sniffs and plainly more spasms of grief. Then, nerving 
himself for a last heroic appeal for reconciliation, John, 
almost crying himself, tried to take hold of his sweet- 
heart's hand. 

"Oh! Marty, if you only knew — ," he was saying, 
when, with a screech wild enough to petrify the very heart 
of the bravest man, his companion sprang down and com- 


menced a wild, high-stepping dance, with such unmaidenly 
gyrations of limbs as almost paralyzed John's senses to 

Just as the horse, which was almost as terrified as its 
rider, seemed gaining the mastery and was on the point 
of running away — which in truth John himself was about 
ready to agree to — the mad dancer, from sheer exhaustion 
and suppressed laughter, unable to keep it up any. longer, 
fell against a tree for support, and with the unmistakable 
voice of a man, roared with laughter. 

"Oh! oh!" he laughed. "Oh, help! or I'll die!" 

And with apparently the last breath left in his body, 
Calvin, for no other was the dancer, cried: 

"Oh, John! John! I fear this will kill me!" 

Then did that wicked cousin betake himself swiftly to 
the woods, whither John could not penetrate with his 
mount in pursuit. And thus did Calvin save himself 
from being ridden down to the earth in John's fiery indig- 

The next day those two faithful cousins laughed loud 
and long in unison, as they continued to do for fifty-odd 
years thereafter over that and many another frolic of the 
days when they were young together. 

The cousins worked as well as played together. Those 
were the days when the many large grist mills dotting the 
South Branch River used to gather in the bountiful wheat 
and corn crops of their farmer customers and afterward 
hauled the grist products to New Brunswick, which was 
then the shipping port for a wide stretch of New Jersey, 
including Somerset and Hunterdon counties. Mr. Corle 
genior did a large business in this way, and it just suited 


his adventurous son, Calvin and his cousin to do the haul- 

Mounted on their immense wagons, loaded high with 
multitudinous sacks of wheat, bags of flour, bran, mid- 
dlings, corn, cornmeal, cracked corn, oats, oatmeal, 
crushed oats, buckwheat, buckwheat flour, etc., etc., all 
built firm, like bricks in a wall, and covered with tar- 
paulins, roped around stanch and strong and lashed to the 
vehicles like the halyards of a ship, Calvin and John, each 
with two or four horses in front of him, were in their ele- 
ment. At 4 o'clock in the morning they gathered up their 
lines and cracked their whips for the start. They liked 
the work, not because it was easy, for it was not. In the 
late fall, when the business really began in earnest, the 
weather, then as now, was often made up of blustering 
bastings of rain, hail and snow and keen, biting frosts, 
that made travel anything but child's play for man and 
beast. But it was full of blood-stirring action and excite- 
ment that just suited brawny young fellows of spirit. 

Outward bound they had to be expert drivers to navi- 
gate the imperfect roads of those days, and had to guard 
their valuable loads from free-handed plunderers, many 
of whom then infested lonely roads. Many stops at road- 
houses along the way were necessary to breathe their 
horses, if for nothing else. It was a hearty relief of the 
long tedium of the journey, to pull up at any hour of day 
or night, where a big sign invited all and singular to come 
in out of the rain or biting blast and be warmed and re- 
freshed. And every man who has tasted the bitters and 
sweets of such travel will readily admit that a foaming 
tankard of good nut-brown home-brewed helps amazingly 


to thaw out one's limbs, and sends the blood tingling Into 
his fingers and toes on such occasions. 

No hostelry door was kept shut In the face of a wearj^ 
or shivering traveler at any hour In those days. Were It 
the posting horseman, In need of a fresh mount and a 
hasty meal, or one of the roving tin peddlers, or any 
of the horse traders or cattle dealers then continually 
moving hither and thither before dawn, at high noon 
or black midnight, the clatter of horses' hoofs or the 
rumble of wheels, with a halloo from the driver, always 
brought prompt answer, a wide-open door, inviting 
warmth within and a cheery word of welcome. 

Thus would young Calvin and John, even before the 
half-awake crow of the earliest rooster, pull up on the 
first leg of their voyage at Flagtown and brace up with 
an eye-opener from the cozy and glittering bar of the 
hail-fellow-well-met landlord. Will Hall. 

The next stop would be at the justly famous Wood's 
Tavern, a landmark even to this day, but only a milk- 
and-water-dead-or-alive affair, compared with the all- 
day, all-night warmth, good cheer and bustle of the place, 
when the prosperous and jovial old bonlface, Isaac Van 
Fleet, smiled broadly his welcome to his many patrons. 

Early risers would be literally ''striking a light" from 
steel and flint into their tinder boxes and lighting there- 
from there tallow dip candles to dress by the time the cou- 
sins arrived at Millstone, with the river in front of them 
to ford, for there was no bridge over the Millstone River 
at that time. A word as to the state of the ford from 
mine host. Captain Wilson, was of course, but natural 
and reasonable. Who knew, as the merry captain did, 


the height and breadth and strength of the current of the 
Millstone River? No man that ever lived. Nor did any 
exist that knew as he did its every twist and bend and 
every creek that fed it, from Kingston and Rocky Hill 
(places immortalized, he would tell you, by their asso- 
ciation with the name of the Father of His Country) 
down to the Raritan and on to New Brunswick. Woe 
to the misguided teamster, whoever he was, that, in the 
season of freshets, took other word than that of the 
stanch old pilot with the rosy nose and foghorn voice, 
mine host of the Millstone Inn! 

Cornelius Williamson, an old friend of Mr. Corle's, 
once did that. He asked a woman, who stood at her 
door, if other drivers were able to go through, and, be- 
ing answered that they were, for she had seen them, 
he made a dash for it, and just missed losing his team and 
his life. Had the old captain been asked, he would have 
warned the questioner of his danger, for in but a few 
minutes the river had risen more than two feet. 

"A trick of hers — quick up, but mighty slow down, is 
the Millstone River," the captain would sometimes say. 
"Her twin sister is getting my supper yonder!" he would 
add with a wink, after a careful look over his shoulder, 
to make sure that his wife could not hear what he said. 

Across on the other bank John Bellis's house of call 
was visited by the cousins and other drivers, sometimes 
going and always coming homeward. The next stop 
was at Middlebush, where Landlord Fisher's sign held 
out it's welcome. Then came the last stop at Dick De- 
mont's, about two miles from their destination. 

Arriving at New Brunswick, the travelers, thankful 


for their safe journey, put up at the Bull's Head, on 
Burnett street, which was kept by the genial Henry 
Smith. This old hostelry still stands, among other an- 
cient houses, on the same little narrow, winding, old- 
fashioned street, with sidewalks not much over a foot in 



There is nothing, perhaps, short of a journey in one 
that could conjure up the genuine stage coach of the 
olden time better than meeting a man who has so traveled 
— not one who did so for the fun or novelty of it, but a 
man who paid his fare and rode in earnest, thus using 
the only means then available for transporting himself 
from one place to another across the State. I had the 
pleasure of meeting such a man lately. He is Henry 
Vanderveer Van Liew, now of Clover Hill. 

Leaving, when he was fourteen years of age, the school 
that he had been attending at Easton, Pa., young Van 
Liew took the stage from there to Somerville. As he 
is now seventy-four, that was sixty years ago. He re- 
members that he was the only passenger in the coach on 
that long ride. He thus saw a plain evidence of the sure 
decadence that had already set in for the old mode of 
travel, and he has lived long enough to see the good old 
stage a thing of the past and all but forgotten. 

The coach Mr. Van Liew sat in and the man who 
drove it were types of the passing age— an age when men 
of standing and large means thought it not beneath their 
dignity to own stage lines, as well as to drive their own 
horses. Colonel D. Sanderson was the owner and driver 
of that coach. He was the proprietor of the main stage 
line then connecting New York and Philadelphia, and 




he owned six subsidiary lines as feeders thereto. The 
most important stage, that from Elizabeth to Easton, 
Pa., he drove himself, and long before Mr. Van Liew's 
ride with him home from school and long after the col- 
onel was famous for his splendid horses, and also for hav- 
ing cut down the record in crossing the State to a tritle 
under two days. 

In the earlier and more prosperous part of liis coach- 
ing career, Colonel Sanderson had personally superin- 
tended the travel over his line of such illustrious men as 
Lafayette, Jackson, Van Buren, Polk, Taylor, Richard 
M. Johnson and other notables, as they passed to ami 
fro between the two great cities. In the election of Pres- 
ident Taylor, Colonel Sanderson took an active part. He 
voted for Jackson in 1824, and though the latter was 
then defeated he was elected President four years later. 

Besides his stages, the colonel was interested in other 
enterprises, particularly hotels. The old Union House 
at Elizabeth belonged to him for over twenty-five >ears 
and was justly celebrated at that time as a first-class hos- 
telry. When New Jersey was crossed only by stages the 
single trip cost $7. This the colonel reduced to $5. ]\Ir. 
Van Liew paid $2 for .his ride from Easton to Somerville. 
The stage then carried the mail under government con- 
tract. It also transported express matter and baggage. 

Notwithstanding the fact that many of the earlier 
Western stage routes had made fortunes for their pro- 
prietors, Colonel Sanderson eventually lost heavily by his 
enterprise here in the East. By the time he finished with 
the business he found himself out of pocket over $25,- 
000. In the heydey of his coaching, when his horses 


were the admiration of every one for beauty and speed, 
he had the distinction of selling a superb pair of bays to 
the French Emperor for the handsome sum of $4,500. 
The transaction resulted in all probability through his 
pleasant and intimate relations with the Marquis de 

Colonel Sanderson's was a well-known and genial face, 
and his figure a commanding one as, seated on his raised 
"box," with fares to right of him, fares to left of him 
and more on a second seat behind him, he swung into 
view on the front of his glistening coach. Added to these 
passengers w^ould generally be six or eight *'insides," and 
two or three more alongside the conductor, perched up 
high on the "boot" behind. 

Thus came the great chariot, tearing down the street 
of the town or village, behind magnificent, foaming 
horses spurred on by the blasts of the bugle. The crash 
of wheels of the towering equipage — the splendid con- 
necting link between the two great cities of New York 
and Philadelphia — was inspiring and electrifying to every- 
body. And as for the brilliant captain of all this, the 
prince of good fellows, the fearless, dashing jehu, whose 
hand was on the reins, the gallant colonel, who hobnob- 
bed familiarly with great soldiers, statesmen and noble- 
men, he appeared to the country townsmen — especially to 
the flourishing tavern keepers, whose houses he filled with 
distinguished company, as little less than a god. 

To the passengers, whirled along by those mettled 
steeds, there was a sympathetic thrill of admiration and 
a sort of heroic fellowship with the noble animals, in 
their breasting of terrific steeps and their breakneck thun- 


dering down duplicate rock-bound descents, with, all the 
time, a delectable kaleidoscope of pleasant, pastoral 
scenes, forests, mountain gorges, crests, crags, tumbling 
floods, sparkling rills and fairy dells. Then there was 
the exhilarating clatter of hoofs, the rattling, banging 
and swaying of the laboring vehicle, the merry whistle 
and crack of the driver's whip, with his horsey quips and 
quiddities of stableisms, which the fuming chargers un- 
derstood perfectly and responded to with the strength of 
fiery demigods and the docility of children. 

With all these tingling the blood in the veins and mak- 
ing fresh and ruddy the cheeks of travelers, top coats 
were buttoned high; rugs were reefed tight, hats were 
jammed down hard against the stinging gale and pelting 
showers of the driving blast, and all sat snug as the great 
stage coach, like a resistless juggernaut, swept along in 
the old days through the State. 

Starting from the Old Union at Elizabeth, the out- 
ward journey was by way of Plainfield, Bound Brook, 
Somerville, skirting the Cushetunk Mountains to White- 
house, then on to Clinton and Perryville; then over 
the Musconetcong Mountains to Bloomsbury, Spring- 
town and Shimers, with many a short stop at welcoming 
roadhouses between, arriving in good time for an early 
supper at Easton on the second day. Here they were 
met by another of Colonel Sanderson's stages that traveled 
from Easton to Philadelphia. 

On the colonel's return journey some of his passengers 
would branch off at Bound Brook to another of his 
stages that ran to New Brunswick. Mr. Van Liew ac- 
companied his father on this branch line when he was a 


boy of six. Arriving on that occasion at New Bruns- 
wick, the coach was met by old Commodore Vanderbilt, 
who then ran a ferryboat from there to New York. Wav- 
ing his hand to the passengers, he cried : 

"This way! This way, all of you for New York! 
My boat is ready. Have a free sail to New York!" 

The secret of this touting was that another boat had 
been started in opposition to the commodore's ferry. The 
new boat had had the audacity to lower the ferry fare 
to six cents. When it did this the peppery commodore 
met it by taking passengers free of any charge at all. He 
not only did that, but he provided all his patrons with a 
substanial dinner. Mr. Van Liew says he perfectly re- 
members the commodore's figure as he saw him shouting 
from the deck of his boat to the people on the wharf and 
vigorously waving his arm: 

"Come on! Come on!" he cried. "Every one of you! 
This way for a free sail to New York and a good din- 

This soon had the desired effect. The new boat, un- 
able to fight on such terms, was before long taken off, 
leaving the commodore an undisputed field. 

Another man, who many a time rode in Colonel San- 
derson's coach and who knew the colonel well, is Calvin 
Corle. Not only did Mr. Corle know the colonel in- 
timately, but he has still sundry bottles of champagne 
which he received from Mr. Sanderson. These were 
known to be of very mature age when they came into 
Mr. Corle's possession. They are now estimated to be 
over a century and a quarter old. 

It seems truly difficult to quite realize how far back in 


history this combination of ages and acquaintances brings 
us. Here are Mr. Corle and Mr. Van Liew, neither of 
whom looks a day older than sixty-five, who have been 
on intimate terms — at all events, Mr. Corle was — with 
the famous coachman, Colonel Sanderson, who several 
times had Lafayette on his coach, and who, no doubt, 
"talked horse" with the famous Frenchman in that in- 
timate way that horse-lovers always fraternize. And 
here, to-day, can be seen in Mr. Corle's hands some 
of the complimentary wine with which the generous 
Frenchman loaded the colonel on his return from de- 
livering the horses to his august purchaser In Paris. La- 
fayette was a distinguished contemporary of George 
Washington, as well as of Colonel Sanderson. And 
here is Mr. Corle, who knew the colonel intimately for 
a number of years. It may not strike others so, but It 
does appear to me to be the nearest that I have ever ap- 
proached to those two great generals who co-operated so 
well In laying the foundation of the American nation. 

It Is doubtful If many men like Messrs. Corle and Van 
Liew are left; that is, men who made their adieus to the 
departing stage and to the gallant colonel as the last true 
type of Jersey coaching days of old, and then stepping 
across the breach, welcomed the new era of railroads. 

The formal transfer of Mr. Van Llew's allegiance 
was when he took advantage of the offer of the South 
Branch Railway of a free ride to New York and Coney 
Island at the completion of Its line In 1864. The ride 
Itself was all right and would have been enjoyable but 
for a defect, so to speak, in its trimmings. At all events 


there was this qualification necessary in speaking of his 
own particular experience. 

Putting $100 in his pocket and taking every one of his 
workmen for a nice treat, Mr. Van Liew and his party 
started from home at 4 o'clock in the morning for a day's 
outing at Coney Island. After a very early and imper- 
fect breakfast they had the long ride and then the sail 
from Jersey City, and by the time they reached the now 
famous watering place they were all in great trim for 
their dinners. This Mr. Van Liew was determined 
should be the very best that money could buy. They 
had little difficulty in selecting the tavern for their feast, 
for there was only one to be seen, and that was not of 
the most promising appearance. Indeed, there was no 
other house of any kind but that solitary, ramshackle 
one. Half a dozen little bathing boxes, not unlike cof- 
fins standing on end, were stuck up here and there on 
the sandy beach. This completed the accommodations 
of that day at Coney Island. 

As m.ay be supposed, the eager party quickly sur- 
rounded the only visible table at the inn ; but their hun- 
gry chops fell and their hearts sank when they were told 
that they could get nothing whatever to eat, not a drop 
of anything but "soft," very soft stuff — mere luke warm 
emetics — to drink. There they were, out for a feast 
and, hungry as cormorants, landed on an almost desert 
island. On one side was the broad, hungry ocean and 
long stretches of beautiful white sands, whetting their 
already voracious appetites into an agony of hunger, and 
nothing, not even a pretzel or a cent's worth of pea- 
nuts, to eat! On the other side was a trackless wilder- 


ness of wild weeds, sand dunes and swamps, and no 
mortal means to escape till 6 P. M. 

They wandered up and down all that long day by 
the sea in a state of suffering that not one of the party 
ever forgot. Nor did any of them ever forget the pain- 
ful eagerness with which they cast lots — not to deter- 
mine which of the party should die and be eaten — but 
to settle which should be the fortunate man that should 
devour an oyster, which in parsimonious mercy the sea 
gave up to them. 

Then when at last the steam packet got up steam and 
took them away from that place of torment, their hearts 
leaped within them at the thought of what they would 
do at a restaurant at Jersey City. How they longed 
to be once more back on dear old Jersey soil again! 
Then they'd be happy again! But, alas! for the vanity 
of human wishes. No sooner had their faltering feet 
touched the wished-for soil of Jersey than a stentorian 
voice came from the railroad station gate: 

"Train for Elizabeth, Plainfield, Bound Brook, Som- 
erville, and all stations on the South Branch Railroad. 
Step lively!" 

By a truly heroic spurt they reached the train just as 
it moved out of the station and secured only standing 
room. It was lO o'clock at night, when Mr. Van Liew, 
with the $100 still unbroken in his pocket and with his 
famished men, disembarked at Neshanic Station, wiser, 
perhaps, but certainly hungrier men than they ever were 
before or ever were again. 



About sixty years ago, ''Rev." Jacob H. Harden, a 
young man of fine appearance, very engaging manner 
and great eloquence, preached a few times on probation 
in Somerville. For some reason he was not chosen. A 
dark rumor of bogus credentials floated among a limited 
few, but little was said and the candidate soon after re- 
ceived a call to Mount Lebanon, in Morris County. 
There his remarkable power in the pulpit attracted im- 
mediate and absorbing attention and he was widely hailed 
as the most brilliant speaker in the county or even in the 
State. Especially was this the case among the fair sex, 
who, all in a flutter of excitement, elevated the young 
Apollo of a preacher to the very pinnacle of their most 
exuberant admiration. 

The church filled and flourished and for some time 
the poor little hearts were legion that went pitapat 
through long vigils of soulful agitation and alluring arti- 
fices, conning speculations as to who, oh which of them 
all was to be the happy girl to be glorified to the seventh 
heaven of bliss as his chosen one? To some natures this 
kind of wholesale adulation is the sweetest of incense, 
which they would fain prolong over all their lives. To 
others, and happily they are in the majority, it is pain- 
ful in the extreme and they are miserable and impatient 
to undeceive such of the fair as have been too indulgently 



kind in their judgment. Jacob Harden, though a born 
wholesaler in that line, saw the plain necessity to evolve 
from general suavity his particular attention to one, in 
order to socially save his face. But the truth really was 
that one or two motherly dowagers cogently impressed 
that upon his mind as an absolute necessity, and at length 
he took their advice. 

So one evening, bracing himself up to what was an un- 
pleasant as well as a serious step in life, he walked out 
to the Teetertown mill and engaged himself to Mary 
Darling, the miller's daughter. Sam Darling, the mil- 
ler of Teetertown, owned several farms, besides the mill, 
and was well known to be in very comfortable circum- 
stances. When consulted about the minister's proposal: 
"All right, Mary, lass," he answered in his kindly, gruff 
way. "If thee like the domine and thou'st sure he likes 
thee and thou'st sartin he's good sound grain an' not 
chaff, why go ahead, lass, and hitch up wi' 'im. Wind 
jammin' ain't much in my line," he went on. "As the 
man said, 'I hardly ever open my mouth but I put my 
foot in it;' but some can talk the hind leg off a cow and 
coax millions out of people's pockets, and this domine 
chap seems like one on 'em." 

As time went on and on and the preacher made no 
show of carrying out his promise of marriage, seeming 
instead rather more than ever infatuated in other quart- 
ers, old Sam Darling thought it about time to remind 
him that he was unfairly neglecting his daughter. The 
young man was penitent, renewed his proper attention 
to his betrothed and in due course married her. She was 
a beautiful girl, both in character and person and, though 


at first not quite as accomplished and at her ease as some 
in society, she was so lovely and good that any trival 
deficiencies were amply compensated for, and if she had 
had a sympathetic and true man as husband, as every- 
body admitted, she would have been one of the brightest 
ornaments that society could boast. 

Her marriage was the cause of much bitter enmity 
toward her and, as her husband still continued, or rather 
increased, his blandishments among other women, mar- 
ried as well as single, the poor wife soon keenly felt her 
dishonored position, but never complained. At last it 
was supposed some desperately wicked scheme brought 
on a crisis. He was then preaching in Andersontown, 
Warren County. One Sunday evening, just before 
church time, he came hastily into his home, telling his 
wife that a member of the congregation had sent her a 
beautiful apple. 

*'I have one, too," he said, "and I feel just like sam- 
pling it," with which he commenced eating his own. 

"My! but, wifey, they're fine fruit," he remarked with 
gusto. "No, no!" he answered to her request for a bite 
of his, "just to taste." "No, you must eat your own," 
he said, "they're simply delicious." 

Although not caring much for the apple, she ate it, 
really because she saw that he wished her to do so. That 
was ever her one thought, just to be agreeable and please 
him. They had barely time left to hurry into the church 
in time for service. He climbed to the pulpit and she 
sat facing him in the third seat from the front. His 
sermon, on a text chosen from the Beatitudes, was more 
eloquent and touching than usual, with fervid appeals 


to the hearts of his hearers for the exercise of all the 
benign virtues, which ought to reign in their lives, he 
told them, so as to culminate in the beautiful chaste life 
of truly Christian homes. It was particularly remarked 
that on this occasion the gifted preacher often turned his 
eyes devotedly upon his wife. Several fair ones, who at 
other times flattered themselves that the minister, as it 
were, sought inspiration in their bright eyes, felt chagrined 
and neglected. So pathetically pleading was this discourse, 
however, that the congregation was deeply moved, many 
of the ladies being in tears. 

At the height of his pathos, when the very atmosphere 
seemed vibrant with tense feeling, he paused. A few 
stifled sobs were heard. His eyes were calmly regarding 
his wife. He had noticed a pallor come over her lovely 
face; he saw her whole frame quiver and her eyes turn 
up white and deathlike. But without further notice and 
with a beautiful smile he raised his face and hands for 
the benediction. At the same instant his wife moaned: 
''Oh, father, I'm dying," and fell to the floor. 

"Bless her," her husband unctuously remarked, as 
many hands bore her from the church, "she will soon be 
better. She is an intensely receptive hearer; that is all." 

His wife was carried into the house of a Mr. Ramsey, 
where in about twenty minutes she died. Harden ap- 
peared shocked, but next morning he could not be found. 
Suspicion was aroused. Dr. Enos T. Blackwell, of Ste- 
phenstown, assisted by Dr. Crane, of Hackettstown, 
made a post-mortem examination, suspected poison and 
sent the stomach to Philadelphia for analysis of its con- 
tents. It was found to contain sufficient of a deadly 


poison to cause death. Then detectives were put on the 
case and the country was notified. The suspected preacher 
was traced to Virginia and captured within a week. He 
readily surrendered himself. 

*'I am glad you've come," he said. "Take me to prison 
and hang me, for I am guilty, guilty of murdering a 
good, beautiful and loving wife. I dare not ask even my 
God for forgivenness for so heinous a crime. No matter 
where I go I hear her innocent, dying moan — the wind, 
the brooks and trees all continually repeat it: 'Oh, 
father, I'm dying!' Ah!" he half groaned, 'Tve often 
tried to define hell. I know it now! I have lived its 
worst torments from that awful moment when in her 
dying agony she called, not to me, her natural protector, 
but to her good father, whom she knew she could trust, 
for help. She knew that I, vile beast that I am, wanted 
her out of my way: but like an angel, never spoke it. I 
poisoned the apple which I pressed her to eat before en- 
tering church that evening, and it killed her." 

He v^as tried at Belvidere, Warren County seat, and 
on his own confession of wilful murder was sentenced 
to be hanged. Executions were then in public, and 
never before was there such a mighty throng at Belvi- 
dere as came to see the hanging. Even the day before, 
people began to pour into the town by hundreds, even 
thousands. By the early morning of the appointed day 
the place was packed, housetops, barns, fences, trees, 
every available point, literally swarming with sightseers. 
Lines of wagons extended, it is averred, for miles in 
every direction on the highways, filled with people, who 
had not the remotest hope of seeing the scaffold. So 


great was the crush and so many were there who ought 
to have been cared for In their homes, Instead of fighting 
their way for twenty-four hours in such a place, that 
there were no less than three deaths and four births 
amid the surging crowds. 

The culprit at once after capture began writing a long, 
detailed confession. But it was so morbidly frank, and 
involved so many reputations besides his own, that It had 
to be suppressed. He had never been ordained, it tran- 
spired, and had cleverly imposed upon everybody — except 
the circumspect Somervllle folks. After making a clean 
breast of it, he died an abject penitent. 

Over poor Mary Harden's grave. In Pleasant Grove 
Cemetery, in Morris County, is still to be seen her mem- 
orial stone. In the stone the sorrowing father, old Sam 
Darling, had a space chiseled out, four inches deep by 
six inches square, in which he placed his beloved Mary's 
picture. My Informant tells me that, whenever he finds 
himself in that vicinity, he never fails to go and look at 
that pathetic memorial of a great tragedy. 



One day, a good many years ago, a sturdy Indian sud- 
denly and mysteriously appeared at the home of Dr. 
Rockhill, in Hunterdon County. 

"Papoose! papoose! Kup-paum-unum-woo!" cried 
the man, making wild gesticulations and evidently asking 
medical aid for a child. 

For a moment the athletic young doctor thought it 
was an intended decoy to lead him into ambush and mur- 
der him. But young though he was, his varied and some- 
times thrilling experiences as the pioneer physician among 
the wilds of the then sparsely settled Hunterdon County, 
made him able to read human nature better than many 
an older man. 

He saw in a twinkling the yearning sincerity of a par- 
ent in the red man's behavior; and in a very few min- 
utes, with a small materia-medica and a few instru- 
ments in his saddle bags, sufficient to meet any ordinary 
demand in medicine or surgery, he was plunging along 
through the woods following the fleet-footed red man 
he knew not whither. The Indian amply made up for 
his lack of mount by slipping through thickets and be- 
neath branches which frequently almost tore the white 
man from his horse. 

After a ceaseless swinging trot of several hours, every 



foot of the way being through seemingly pathless woods 
and uncultivated wilds, the untiring Indian at last stop- 
ping in front of a wigwam, signed dramatically for the 
doctor to enter, again crying, "Papoose! papoose!" and 
then fell exhausted upon the ground. Inside the hut the 
squaw-mother was supporting the head of their daugh- 
ter, a really pretty little girl of twelve, on her lap. She 
looked up as the doctor entered, the picture of hopeless 
despair. It required only a cursory examination to prove 
that the child had smallpox. That disease had wiped 
out whole families and even villages of the red men. 
They claimed that the white men had sold them that ter- 
rible disease along with the match-coats given for their 

The little sick girl was the apple of the Indian father's 
eye. He had several sons, but this was his only daugh- 
ter; and, as he had seen that the medicine men of his 
tribe could do nothing to fight the deadly malady, he had 
footed it more than thirty long miles to enlist the skill 
of the white man to save his child — the first known in- 
stance of this kind, perhaps, in all Jersey. Through the 
agency of a tribesman, who knew more or less English, 
the doctor was enabled to prescribe and give directions 
as to treatment, and left promising to come again in a 
day or two. 

This was Dr. John Rockhill, the first man to estab- 
lish himself in practise as a physician in Hunterdon 
County. After studying medicine under Dr. Thomas 
Cadwallader, of Philadelphia, he had migrated to Pitts- 
town, Hunterdon County, and in the year 1748, when 
twenty-two years of age, began practise there as a phy- 


sician to the Society of Friends. Tradition says he was 
a man of fine physique, with an Iron nerve and great en- 
durance, and was therefore well equipped for the toll- 
some and frequently hazardous journeys he was called 
upon to make to see his patients. 

The red man's call for medical aid was a novelty. 
Hitherto the doctor's acquaintance with the Indians had 
been anything but agreeable. It was the time of their 
greatest unrest, when they began to realize the serious- 
ness of the white man's encroachments upon their do- 
mains, with the gradual destruction of their only means 
of living — their hunting grounds. He had often been at- 
tacked on his errands of mercy, which at one time cov- 
ered great distances; for when he started practise there 
was not another medical man from the Delaware as far 
east as New Brunswick, or from Trenton to the Blue 
Mountains on the north. All the paths along the Dela- 
ware and near the mountains were unsafe from the roving 
hordes of exceedingly hostile Indians that came over the 
borders from Pennsylvania and New York State, Infest- 
ing the fastnesses on New Jersey's boundaries. But the 
doctor, who was as handy with his sword as with his scalpel 
and also a dead shot, was soon known a;s a dangerous cus- 
tomer to interfere with. 

Passing on one occasion by the path leading through 
what later became Spring Mills, he suddenly found him- 
self almost surrounded by red men, who greeted him with 
a perfect shower of arrows. One of these picked a piece 
of flesh from the back of his neck, another went through 
the rim of his hat and a couple stuck In the saddle, one 
on each side of his leg. In reply to this he shot two of his 



assailants dead — one while his horse was going at full 
gallop through a group of them. He seemed to bear a 
charmed life, and hit back so effectually when attacked 
that before long the white ''medicine man" was marked 
as one that was better to keep clear of than to attack. 

As good fortune willed it, the doctor's first Indian pa- 
tient, the little girl — who proved to be the daughter of an 
influential chief — responded splendidly to his treatment, 
and when he paid his second visit the child's parents were 
so over-powered with gratitude and admiration that they 
literally kissed the hem of his garment and sent men laden 
down with presents to his home. Moreover, Chief Shack- 
amaxo, whose daughter the child was, sent out runners in 
every direction advertising the inestimable goodness and 
god-like powers of the great white medicine man of Pitts- 
town and making known that he was the red man's best 
friend and hence must be protected at the hands of all 
good Indians thenceforth and forever. After that Dr. 
Rockhill's life was much safer on his travels; yet, never- 
theless, he was afterward fired upon by more than one of 
the roving gangs of mountaineer red men who for years 
harassed the northern and western boundaries of the State. 

In those days there was also more or less danger from 
four-legged marauders. The few families then settled 
where the prosperous little town of Flemington now stands 
had to guard themselves and their children and live stock 
from the wolves that in the winter came prowling down 
the valley from the big timber of the Round Mountain 
and Cherry Hill. There is a tradition that Dr. Rockhill 
was once hard pressed by a hungry pack of these on his 
return from visiting a family, supposed to be that of Abra- 


ham Van Horn, near Whitehouse. Leaving there early 
on a winter night, he was making his way with a clear, 
full moon In the sky, to visit an Indian village on the 
MInlsI Creek, about two miles above the present Fleming- 
ton. His way lay along the skirt of Cushetunk Mountain, 
which was well known to harbor many wolves. There 
had been a long spell of very severe weather, with a deep 
coat of snow on the ground, and the doctor had been cau- 
tioned about the danger of attack if he took the path he 
did. But, as he said, the snow was hard, he was well 
armed and well mounted, and really enjoyed risking It. 

The physician soon perceived, after proceeding some dis- 
tance, that several wolves were trotting behind him ; but 
they kept too far off for him to get a shot at them, though 
he tried more than once to draw them within range. As 
the Round Mountain loomed against the western sky, de- 
ciding to push on, the doctor put spurs to his horse for 
a spin across what appeared a nice open space. But be- 
fore he well knew what had happened he found himself 
unhorsed and partially stunned at the bottom of a deep 
washout, with the horse overturned on Its back partly over- 
lying him in deep snow and plunging madly to regain his 
feet. Fortunately the hole into which they fell being at 
the base of a giant oak tree, a hollowed out recess, big 
enough to admit his body, extended inward below the roots 
of the tree. He had just got into this hole and saved him- 
self from destruction from his horse's wild kicks, when a 
wolf sprang on the prostrate animal, burying its gleaming 
fangs in the fleshy part of the beast's hing leg. The doc- 
tor's pistol rang out sudden death to the Intruder, and It 
fell limp and dead into the hole at his feet. But the bite 


had so maddened the horse that, with one frantic effort, It 
gained Its feet and went snorting away at full gallop for 
its life. 

With a second pistol cocked ready for the next wolf, 
the doctor was about to peep over his entrenchment when 
the glaring eyes of another of his hungry followers met 
his. Over rolled that one with another well aimed bullet 
In its head, and, while several of Its brethren sniffed at 
the dead, licking its blood preparatory to devouring the 
body, the doctor clambered from the roots to the branches 
of the oak to a place of greater safety. Perched on a 
branch, just out of reach, and after emptying his pistols 
into one after another of the animals with deadly effect, as 
they slunk up at the smell of blood, he kept on reloading 
and firing away at his leisure, until dead wolves lay thick 
on the blood-bespattered snow all around him. Not be- 
fore his powder-horn began to feel light and almost his 
last ball was gone, did it ever occur to the sport-loving 
doctor about the precariousness of his situation. But al- 
most as soon as he thought of It he was saved from anxiety, 
for he even then heard the friendly whoops and halloos of 
men evidently seeking him. 

The doctor's horse galloping up without a rider to Sam- 
uel Fleming's stables, at the Flemington House hostelry 
— the first house, and then the only house, in what is now 
Flemington — created quite a furor. The horse knew the 
stables and was known, having been put up there on for- 
mer visits of Dr. Rockhlll In the neighborhood. Flem- 
ing, having notified Philip Kase, the nearest settler, as 
well as Chief Tuccamurdan, who happened to be at 
Kase's at the time, the three, having with all haste 


mounted horses and leading the doctor's runaway by the 
bridle, set out as a search party to find the physician. 
Following the horse's tracks they were not long in find- 
ing the treed doctor with a record slaughter beneath and 
all around him. 

As it was to Tuccamurdan's village Dr. Rockhill had 
been journeying, he was now escorted thither by the chief, 
who was overjoyed at the wonderful healing of the child 
of his brother-chief, Shackamaxo. He assured the doc- 
tor that he had bespoken all his tribesmen's hearts and 
hands in whatsoever way it might be possible to serve 
him. Immediately on arrival at his village, Tuccamur- 
dan dispatched several of his braves for the teeth of the 
wolves the doctor had slain. These he ordered his men 
to drill and string up as beads as a commemoration of his 
guest's prowess, and afterward he presented to him the 
unique memento of the event. It was on one of these 
professional visits of Dr. Rockhill to Chief Tuccamur- 
dan's village that that typical grand old man of the Del- 
awares made some philosophical observations which be- 
came historical. 

Kase being exceedingly thoughtful and taciturn, was a 
warm friend of the chief's and delighted at all times to 
hear the sage enlarge upon the old traditions and glories 
of the Indian people, merely answering in appreciative 
monosyllables. Fleming, on the other hand, could not 
help Indulging in the dry humor for which he was justly 
celebrated as the entertaining landlord of his famous "cas- 
tle." Answering one of his good-natured jibes, the stern 
old chief, who, like all his race, was utterly incapable of 


understanding jest of any kind, replied, addressing him- 
self, however, to Dr. Rockhill: 

"No; much as we admire the white people, we can- 
not admit that they are superior beings. The hair of 
their heads, their features and the various colors of their 
eyes plainly declare that they are not as we are, Lenni- 
Lenape — an original people, a race of men that hath ex- 
isted unchanged from the beginning of time — but that 
they are a mixed race and therefore a troublesome one." 

After a few meditative puffs at his long pipe, and 
without the slightest change in the sober gravity of his 
commanding features, Tuccamurdan's eye, with that 
steady, eagle-like dignity of gaze peculiar to him resting 
again on the doctor, went on: 

"The white race are my friends and I love them. But 
wherever they may be, the Great Spirit, knowing the 
natural wickedness of their disposition as a race, hath 
found it necessary to give them a great Book and hath 
taught them to read it, that they might know and ob- 
serve what He doth wish them to do and what to refrain 
from. But the Lenni-Lenape have no need of any such 
Book to know the will of their Maker; for they find it 
engraved on their hearts; they have had sufficient dis- 
cerment given to them to distinguish good from evil, and 
by following that unerring guide they are sure not to 
err. Such are our Unamis and Unalachtgos, the peace- 
ful dwellers of the plains, who love and are beloved of 
the white men. But like the white man's great Book 
telleth of, we have our descendants of Cain, who slew 
his brother, among us. The Minsi are of our kindred, 
but are turned to ravening wolves. They are gone out 


from the fold, a lost and bloodthirsty people. We abhor 
and reject them." 

It was but a short time after this meeting that Dr. 
Rockhill was summoned in great haste by a white family 
in woful distress, more than forty miles distant, between 
what is now Marcella and Split Rock Pond, in Morris 
County, A man named Wedge living there had had his 
house sacked and burned to the ground by Minsi Indians, 
who came suddenly down upon them from the Copperas 
Mountain. On the approach of the savages the family 
fled to the woods, being fired upon as they ran. Only 
one shot took effect. Their little daughter of ten, Elsie, 
fell, shot through the lungs. Thinking the child was 
dead the parents hastily covered her with leaves and con- 
tinued their flight, intending to bury the body on their 
return. But behold, when they came early next morning, 
Elsie was breathing and even recognized them. The over- 
joyed father bore his child to the nearest house and im- 
mediately set out all the way to Pittstown for Dr. Rock- 
hill, whose fame, mainly through the agency of the In- 
dians, extended far beyond the confines of his county. 

It is an impossible effort for the imagination to picture 
the difficulties of the journey that Samuel Wedge, with- 
out a moment's hesitation and with no more preparation 
than saddling a horse and stuffing some rye bread into his 
pockets, set out upon in the hope of saving his little 
daughter's life. Even now, with roads at least of some 
kind for wheeled traffic, a horseback ride over the same 
ground is no slight undertaking. 

What then must it have been, when the best available 
highways were mere blazed paths through almost con 


tinuous forests, with considerable risk of at any time 
meeting a scalping party of Indians or skulking wolves? 
But from the Northern part of what is now Morris 
County almost to the Delaware River, through tangled 
forests underwood, across unbridged rivers and over or 
around mountains, for forty tortuous miles, went Sam- 
uel Wedge, with probably as little thought of difficulty 
as most people nowadays think it to go half a dozen 
blocks over paved streets, hopefully pressing on for the 
doctor by whose skill his little Elsie might live. Surgery 
alone could save her; for the cruel lead that had pierced 
her back about the fifth rib had not gone all the way 
through but lodged somewhere in the little body, and of 
course meant death unless extracted. 

In less time than would perhaps be credited, Dr. 
Rockhill was there and performed the delicate opera- 
tion, which involved the difficult problem of probing and 
locating the bullet without X-rays or any of the other 
helpful improvements of modern times. But the marked 
success of Dr. Rockhill's surgery through the troublous 
times covered by his practise would almost justify the 
thought that the increase of novel appliances may not 
increase the cunning of the hand; for an undeniable his-, 
torical fact it certainly is that his success in the treatment 
of, for example, gunshot wounds, was so remarkable as to 
win him wide distinction. 

In little Elsie's case the bullet was found to have 
passed through the left lobe of the lungs and embedded 
itself in the breastbone near the diaphragm. From this 
vitally difficult position the doctor extracted the leaden 
ball, declaring his confident belief that the child would 


recover. The little patient lay for weeks, part of the 
time just hovering betw^een life and death. In time the 
high fever began to abate and Elsie got stronger and 
stronger and at last was quite well. Before the age of 
twenty she was married and in time became the mother 
of a large family. Moreover, she married into a well- 
known family, for her husband was Edward Marshall, 
the son of the man who made that historic walk along 
the bank of the Delaware for William Penn, whereby 
was measured the extent of land to be included in one of 
the great Quaker's purchases from the Indians. Elsie 
lived and reared a family of twelve children on the com- 
fortable estate won by the stout day's walk of her father- 
in-law. It was her daughter who told Mrs. Swallow, 
the grandmother of Mrs. George Kinney, now living 
in Three Bridges, the story about the elder Marshall's 
famous walk. Mrs. Swallow used to do spinning for 
Elsie's daughter. 

Dr. Rockhill married a Miss Robeson, who was grand- 
aunt to the late Secretary Robeson of the United States 
Navy. Miss Rockhill, sister of Dr. Rockhill, married 
his wife's brother, who was Secretary Robeson's grand- 
father, making Dr. Rockhill double great-uncle to the 

Dr. Rockhill died April 7, 1798, and was buried in 
the Friends' burial ground at Quakertown. 



Some years ago, when the writer lived in Newark 
and was all unconscious of the existence of the classic 
Pluckemin, something from that village caused quite a 
lot of excitement at the famous "Four Corners." I was 
walking up Market, from Broad street, when there sud- 
denly developed a peculiar commotion among pedestrains, 
which shifted its centre curiously, now to the sidewalk, 
now on the street, while men plunged wildly and grabbed 
at something on the ground that seemed to elude all 
their attempts to catch it. And in the wake of the ex- 
cited people, whichever way they surged, tripped up men 
sprawled on the street amid peals of laughter. 

Many like myself halted, wondering what the unusual 
stir was about. A loud squeal solved the mystery; no- 
body could mistake the sound; a pig was running loose, 
and a young fellow just then caught it. Scores had tried 
it and come to grief, for a pig is an awkward, naked 
kind of thing to catch, having neither horns like the cow, 
nor the mane-forelock of the horse, nor any tail to speak 
of by which to grasp It. But the young man had found 
a handle somewhere about the vociferous porker, which 
he marched off with as if he knew well where to take it. 
This I later learned was one of a dozen or more young 
pigs which "Mayor" Melick, of Pluckemin, had carted 
all the way to the Newark market. 



Being a well-known figure and a great favorite in 
Newark, the jovial Mayor has often had to pay the price 
of popularity by succumbing to the good-natured adula- 
tion of his city admirers. And it so happened that day 
when he came with his pigs to market that just as he 
turned out of Broad street, past the end of Military 
Park, he was recognized and immediately pounced upon 
by three old friends. In utter defiance, it appears, of his 
pleading business first and pleasure after, and though he 
tried his best to push ahead past them with his famous 
"Later on, boys! later on! later on!" it was no use. They 
insisted, seizing his horses' heads and actually compelling 
him to descend from his wagon, so that they might treat 
him, after his long drive. 

No sooner, however, had he entered a convenient hos- 
telry with two of the friends than the other, a regular 
mad wag, opened the rear fastening of the wagon, and, 
tipping up the huge crate, poured out as it were an aval- 
anche of squealing pigs on the street. The Mayor, hear- 
ing the deafening chorus, rushed out to find his whole 
stock of porkers running away, belter skelter in all direc- 

Pigs and perversity being inseparable, and every one 
of the swine race being bound to take his own course, in 
this case with all that could be done, escaping porkers 
were chased for hours through Newark toward every 
point of the compass. In their terrified career they 
dashed into stores, dwellings, offices, restaurants, etc., up- 
setting tables, chairs and stools, throwing men to the 
floor and sending women into hysterics. The pursuit 
and catching of those Pluckemin pigs was said to be a 


great hunt; a chase that for exhilaration of numbers and 
multiplicity of exciting espisodes, has been claimed to 
rival if not completely eclipse the very best Black Forest 
boar hunt ever enjoyed by his imperial highness, the Em- 
peror of Germany. 

To have missed the sight of Mayor Melick acting as 
w^hipper-in in his famous Newark pig hunt was, they say, 
the loss of a lifetime. In his shirtsleeves, his hat in one 
hand, a coil of rope in the other, his broad and amiable 
features fired with eagerness in the chase and dripping 
perspiration, the devoted man led his cohorts of small 
boys with such shouts as never before awoke the echoes 
of old Newark town. If nothing else had ever occurred 
whereby to estimate the man, assuredly this trying ordeal, 
through which he displayed such boyish hopefulness and 
even the keenest enjoyment of the fun, would have 
stamped the "Mayor of Pluckemin" as far removed above 
the common mediocrity of mankind. 

People who saw it said it was truly inspiring to see 
the panting owner, when he and his followers managed 
to surround one of the runaway pigs in some blind alley 
or corner, where they seemed sure of catching it. Stand- 
ing at bay, with head lowered facing his pursuers, the 
pig watched with the eyes of the basilisk, for an open- 
ing to make another dash, while its distinguished owner, 
with intense anxiety, approached, a la professional 
wrestler, with hands spread and stooping low, ready to 
seize him. Then, when with running squeal, the ani- 
mal made a plunge and the Mayor of Pluckemin, in- 
tending to fling himself bodily upon the pig, missed it 
and rolled in the dust, there were frantic cheers and 


laughter from his valiant henchmen and from hundreds 
of onlookers. This, which would have covered any other 
man with confusion, s( emed meat and drink to the 
Mayor. For, rising, he bowed his acknowledgment of 
the plaudits, and again rallying his ranks like an un- 
horsed general, he renewed the chase with redoubled en- 
thusiasm. Tunis Melick was pretty well known long 
before that in Newark. But since the spilling of his 
pigs on the street and the memorable hunt for them, his 
place is among the immortals. 

Experiences like those are merely incidentals to Mr. 
Melick's business as an agriculturalist. Thousands of 
other farmers can drive into town and do the same things, 
unnoticed and unknown. The great public makes its 
own estimate and for inscrutable reasons fixes its partic- 
ular attention upon certain personalities and makes them 
famous. The rule seems to be that he who seeks it find- 
eth it not; while he who does things in utter disregard 
of what any one but himself may think, and flavors his 
actions with a strong individuality, as Mr. Melick does, 
shall have good measure, pressed down and running 
over of notoriety wherever he turns. 

But Tunis Melick's fame far oversteps the great city 
of Newark, Morristown and other large centres of New 
Jersey, reaching out beyond even the confines of the 
State. Take, for instance, the great exposition at James- 
town, Va., of late. He went there, I have been told, by 
special invitation of the most influential people, and was 
practically the guest of the city. His acceptance of the 
invitation, as well as his subsequent progress thither, was 
noted and heralded by every newspaper of importance 


in Virginia under flaming headlines. On his arrival he 
was met by an immense concourse of people and was 
wined and dined and generally lionized throughout his 
entire stay. 

In argument Mr. Melick is invincible. Yet he ac- 
knowledges complete defeat on one occasion. His op- 
ponent in this memorable bout was an Englishman. Just 
for argument's sake he was laying out the Britisher for 
coming over here to America to share in its blessings, in- 
stead of being born to that right as he, Mr. Melick, was. 

"But I claim a better right," the Englishman said, "to 
prosper here than you have, and that for the reason 
that I started on better terms." 

"I defy you to give us one scintilla of proof of that!" 
Mr. Melick shouted, and the audience were all attention 
to hear the answer. 

"That's easy enough," said the Englishman, with a 
wink to the bystanders. "When I came to this country 
I had at least a shirt on my back and that's more than 
you had when you arrived." A salvo not unlike a gat- 
ling gun broadside, which people have become used to as 
the Melickian laugh, greeted the answer, and "You've 
bested me, my boy; here is my hat! Take it, take it! 
take it!" he cried, offering his opponent his sombrero. 
Which action as symbolical of surrender I confess to hav- 
ing been heretofore ignorant of. I never saw it before 
nor heard the expression. "Take my hat!" To me it is 
purely Pluckeminese, but of course, it may be widely used 
for all that. 

In his lighter moods Tunis Melick has been known to 
be wonderfully facetious, even to the point of playful- 


ness. Most people hereabouts are well aware that Pluck- 
emin is peculiarly subject to high speeding automobiles. 
The "mayor" is on bowing terms with all either fast or 
slow machines, and, indeed, with every person of high or 
low degree that passes through the village. 

"Watch me stop this racer!" he said one day, throw- 
ing up his arms and waving frantically to a machine com- 
ing at reckless speed. Pulling up with heavy jerks and 
jars, the begoggled driver demanded: 

"What's the matter?" with great impatience and im- 

"Why, you've not got j^our linen duster on!" the 
"mayor" megaphoned at him; and, as the man muttered 
and turned on the power: 

"That'll do; that's all," Mr. Melick said; "go ahead!" 

Another time, while walking with a friend along the 
road, as the result of a wager, Mr. Melick pulled a rail 
from the fence and carried it along so awkwardly that a 
speeding auto coming behind set up a perfect howl of 
honking for him to get out of the way. He kept on his 
devious way with the rail, however, until the machine 
was close upon him. At the last moment he flung the 
rail down right across the road and ran for his life up 
the bank. This brought the automobile to a dead stop, 
with a volley of anathemas. But Mr. Melick won his 
wager, and furthermore parted with all in the machine 
on the most amicable, not to say hilarious, terms. All 
that was needed to bring that about was for the travelers 
to learn, as they did from the other man, that they were 
confronted by the "Mayor of Pluckemin." 

To any one who has ever heard Tunis Melick talk, it 


must seem astonishing and altogether incredible, to be 
told that his resounding voice "is nothing to what his 
father's was." The father, Peter W. Melick, who lived 
at Barnet Hall, was the leading spirit in having the old 
Rockaway Railroad opened up between Whitehouse and 
New Germantown. 

It was a single track, with practically no grading. So 
the old engine used to go walloping up hill and down 
dale, lugging two or three ancient cars behind it and 
emitting unearthly howls and screeches as if it were 
some hideous wild animal. It spoke volumes as to Peter 
W. Melick's vocal powers, that the Rockaway engine 
was named after him. 

"Here comes old 'Peter W.,' " people would say, when 
they heard the loud blast of the engine miles away. 
There was no particular schedule as to old "Peter W's" 
movements, it is said. If it happened to be a fine morn- 
ing the train hands might have to get in several loads of 
hay that had been cut the day previous, before starting. 
Then, again, they say that when some farmer's cows had 
broken into a neighbor's cornfield, or the like, the train 
would stop and both train hands and passengers would 
get out and help for a half-hour or so to put things to 
rights, before they got aboard and started again. 

One amusing illustration of the railroad's reputation 
for speed is told in connection with a resident alongside 
the line who had set out on foot on day to go to a fu- 
neral at Whitehouse. Old "Peter W." coming up in the 
same direction with a tremendous snorting, made a spe- 
cial stop where there was no vestige of a station. 

"Hello, John," the engineer shouted, hailing the pedes- 


train, whom he knew, "going to town? Come on, jump 
in. You may as well ride as walk." 

"Not this time. Bill, thank'ee all the same," the man 
afoot answered. "I'm on my way to my mother-in-law's 
funeral at Mechanicsville (the old name of Whitehouse), 
and I'm bound to be there on time. I know I can do it 
afoot, but if I let old 'Peter W.' steer me, the Lord only 
knows when I'd git there." 

When Peter W. Melick was comparatively young, a 
man named Ezekiel Wooley was sexton of Zion Church, 
at New Germantown. Contrary to what is possibly a 
reputed somberness of sextons generally, Ezekiel was a jo- 
vial man for a gravedigger and delighted in playing prac- 
tical jokes on people. One of these had reference to 
rat-catching, and is claimed, though on doubtful grounds, 
to have originated a very widely used and well-known 

Henry Miller, who kept the village store, finding his 
place infested with rats, offered a reward of ten cents 
a head for every rat any one caught on the premises. 
Ezekiel set a trap, caught one and, presenting it, got his 
ten cents. After receiving pay he threw the rat outside. 
Later, on going home, he saw it lying on the ground and 
immediately detected the chance for a good joke. Pick- 
ing up the rat, he took it along with him and next day 
exhibited it as a second catch and got paid another ten 
cents for it. He repeated this process day after day 
with the same identical rodent he had caught at first, un- 
til Mr. Miller growing suspicious, hesitated, and smelt 
the rat. Then the game was up, and Ezekiel's laugh 
came in; and it is seriously claimed that there and then 



was created that figure of speech denoting aroused sus- 
picion — "smelling a rat." 

A new family, man and wife, came to live next door 
to the Wooleys. Ezekiel called in and made their ac- 
quaintance. He told the lady of the house that his wife 
would shortly make a friendly call, but the pity was, he 
said, that his wife was almost stone deaf. Then going 
home he told his wife that he had dropped in to see 
their new neighbors. They seemed very nice people, he 
explained, but said the worst of it was that the new 
neighbor's wife was so very hard of hearing that it was 
painful to talk to her. Notwithstanding this serious 
drawback, Mrs. Wooley soon called and she began shout- 
ing to the woman and the woman bawled at her so dread- 
fully, that when the host came home both women were 
almost exhausted and as hoarse as crows. From the 
loudness of their voices he really feared they were quar- 
reling and hurried into the room. 

"This is my husband!" the hostess yelled to her caller 
and then in her natural voice, "John," she said, "this is 
Mrs. Wooley, from next door," and a moment later con- 
tinued: "Lord! John, how deaf she is! And she must 
think I'm as deaf as she is herself, for she's been shout- 
ing at me till I'm most crazy." 

"Mercy sakes alive!" cried Mrs. Wooley, who, of 
course, heard what the wife told her husband; "I'm not 
the least bit deaf! What on earth made you think I 
was?" The new neighbor stared at her in astonishment. 

"Why," they both cried, "your husband told us you 
were as deaf as a stone!" 

"Oh, may heaven forgive my poor, foolish 'Zekiel, with 


his jokes! He's just too bad," Mrs. Wooley exclajmed 
impatiently. ''Why," she said to the wife, "that's exactly 
what he told me you were!" And thereupon while both 
mopped the perspiration induced by their great vocal exer- 
tions from their faces, the two women laughed themselves 
into a lasting friendship. 

The irrepressible Ezekiel was once employed to dig a 
well for Dr. Hazelius. When the digging was about 
finished and the well, a pretty deep one, the doctor who 
was said to be unusually close-fisted, having expressed a 
wish to descend the shaft, was accommodated. But when 
he wished to come up again, Ezekiel turned quite deaf, 
nor would he heed requests, entreaties or even threats as 
to getting his prisoner out again. Not till the doctor had 
faithfully promised him a brimming bumper of his best 
apple whiskey did the inveterate joker comply and bring 
him to the surface again. 

Many of the world's great minds even at the zenith of 
their powers, have delighted, in moments of relaxation, to 
slip their collars, so to speak, and play the boy again and 
have, at such times, perpetrated jokes and frolicsome tricks, 
just to recall their happy memories of exploits and fire- 
side tales of their meriy youth. And it may be safely 
conjectured that some such tales as above mentioned and 
many others, about the facetious sexton and so forth, re- 
lated by Tunis Melick's father, must have made a lasting 
impression upon his son. For multitudinous are the 
stories told about little playful lapses in such off moments 
or hours of ease in the mature life of Tunis Melick, the 
renowned, of Pluckemin. 

But talking of voices, as this article commenced, it 


must surely be that time's distance lends some wonderful 
enchantment to the memory of Peter W.'s voice, when 
any one can dream of its having eclipsed that of Tunis, 
his son's, in sonorous power. For he that hath ears to 
hear, let him hear, if only once, Tunis M click, when he 
mounts his chariot, and as a pleasant valedictory, throws 
out his broad chest and spouts a verse or two, or all of a 
poem of his, as follows: 

Stand up, my boys! Stand up, boys! 

Help bear the heavy load ; 
Toiling along the river side 

And up the mountain road. 

We cannot all have millions; 

We cannot all be IT; 
But courage, boys, and steady! 

We all can show our grit. 

When something's to be boosted 

Heave, O boys! heave away! 
All shout and pull together, 

Then sure we'll win the day. 

Pluck fortune by the forelock. 
Pluck hard, boys, and we'll win; 

That'll pluck from all the truth, boys, 
There's pluck in Pluckemin. 

Let any man hear that declamation, as the writer has 
in part, with a few genuine Melickian oratorical flour- 


ishes, before he makes the rash asseveration that there ever 
was, or ever will be, another voice, enunciato — perfecto, 
to compare with that of Tunis Melick. 

Whenever a traveler, whose eyes are open, for the 
first time mounts the good old Peapack stage at Somer- 
ville and winds pleasantly along by what is called the 
mountain road to Pluckemin, before the journey is much 
more than half finished, he is pretty sure to ask: 

"Whose house is that over there on our left, so ideally 
situated?" and is duly informed by Mr. Layton, the po- 
lite coach driver-proprietor, that it is the old Duchess 
homestead, the residence of Tunis Melick, "Mayor of 
Pluckemin." A prettier pastoral vale it would be hard 
to find than that which slopes gracefully down to the 
south from the Duchess, hedged on the east by the Wat- 
chung Mountains and rolling in pleasant undulations 
southwestward to meet the Cushetunk and a long border- 
land of Hunterdon Hills. 

As one approaches Pluckemin, Mr. Melick's house is 
a prominent feature of the landscape, as he is himself of 
one or two townships, if not of the whole county and 
even beyond it. The name of Melick, or Moelich, Mel- 
lick, Meelick, Melegh, Melich or Malick, as it has been 
variously spelled in this country, has been closely asso- 
ciated with the early history of 

"Peapack on to Pluckemin, 
Somerville and back ag'in," 

as the old ballad had it; but it was so in the first in- 
stance through another family, or another branch of the 


same family, which settled in the Peapack glen. De- 
scendants of that line seem to have either died out or 
migrated to other regions. The facetious and famous 
Tunis Melick came here from New Germantown in 
Hunterdon County. His great-great-grandfather, Jo- 
hann Peter, came over from Germany early in the eigh- 
teenth century and settled there, probably at the same 
time that his uncle or cousin, Johannes Melick, settled 
in the Peapack Valley and built the old stone house. 

The original Melick homestead, at New Germantown, 
was built by Ralph Smith in 1700. Smith owned at one 
time nearly all the land around this village, which ham- 
let he determined should be called Smithville or Smith- 
field, but in that was disappointed. The old Smith-house, 
which became the Melick homestead, was sold to Dr. 
Oliver Barnet, but after the doctor's death and a short 
occupancy of his nephew, the property again reverted to 
the Melicks and has remained in the family. 

When Dr. Barnet bought the place in 1765, he made 
it a beautiful residence, which was known as Barnet Hall. 
After the doctor's death, Dr. Oliver Wayne Ogden, 
who married Miss Wisner, Dr. Barnet's niece, secured 
possession of Barnet Hall by litigation, as his lawful inheri- 
tance. He practised only a short time there and be- 
came disastrously involved in real estate speculations at 
Perth Amboy, where he died. After being rented to sev- 
eral tenants and after standing vacant, eventually the hall 
came back to the Melicks and Tunis Melick's father, 
Peter Melick, died there not so many years ago. 

Barnet Hall was therefore the birth-place and boy- 
hood home of Tunis Melick, who was destined to add 


luster to the name of Pluckemin. From the earliest rec- 
ords of New Germantown, the hall was a noted place 
and became the repository of immense stores of interest- 
ing old historic records and relics, most of which have 
been unfortunately lost in the turmoil of the many 
changes of ownership and tenancy the property has passed 
through. One document, picked up from a lot of old 
papers in the attic, reads as follows: 

"Morris Town, May 6th, 1777. 

"The General will esteem it a singular favour if you 
can apprehend a Mulatto Girl servant and slave to Mrs. 
Washington, who eloped from this place yesterday, with 
w^hat design cannot be conjectured, though as she may 
intend to the enemy and pass your way I trouble you with 
her description; her name is Charlotte, but in all proba- 
bility will change it, yet may be discovered by question- 
ing. She is light complected, about 13 years of age, Pert 
and amorous, dressed in brown cloth westcoat and pet- 
ticoat: Your falling upon some method of recovering 
her should she be near you will accommodate Mrs. Wash- 
ington and lay her under great obligations to you, being 
the only female servant she brought from home, and in- 
tending to be off to-day had she not been missing. A 
gentle reward will be given to any soldier or other who 
may take her up. 

"I am with Respect, Your most Obedt. Servant. 
"Richard Everid Meade, 

"a. d. c. 

"Col. Spencer at Eliz. Town." 

When Dr. Barnet came to New Germantown he was 


a poor young man, having nothing in the world but his 
slender medical skill and a little Maryland pony. Soon 
after he started practise he had a tilt with Dr. Viesselius, 
the "red cheeked doctor" of the Old Stone House in 
East Amwell, at Three Bridges. As the story is told, a 
man living at Fox Hill had a very painful and much 
swollen gum. His neighbors told him he had cancer, 
and that he must consult the "red cheeked doctor," who 
was very clever and of wnde renown. He went to do so, 
but having been unable to find him, and meeting Dr. 
Barnet, he showed his gum to him. The young doctor 
honestly told him it was nothing but a gum-boil, and that 
it would be all right in a few days. 

On returning and telling this to his neighbors, the 
sufferer was told that Barnet was only a boy and knew 
nothing, and that he must hie away back and find the "red 
cheeked doctor," which he did. Dr. Viesselius was in- 
formed that people said it was cancer and, looking into 
his patient's mouth, the doctor shook his head ominously 
and said it was a bad case, but he thought he could cure 
it. He prescribed, and at once the man was cured. 
When he came and delightedly paid his bill he told Dr. 
Viesselius what Dr. Barnet had said, that it was only a 
gum-boil, etc. 

"Will you be so kind as to call on Dr. Barnet on your 
way home and tell him that he is a fool?" the physician 
asked. This the man did, and it so roused the young 
man to wrath that he declared he would thrash the "red 
cheeked doctor" for such an impertinence. They hap- 
pened to meet shortly afterward. 


"Did you send a man to tell me I was a fool?" the 
young man hotly demanded. 

"Yes," Viesselius said, "I did. You told a man he had 
a gum-boil and got nothing for it. The man told me he 
had a cancer. I said I could cure his mouth, and did 
so, and I got a guinea for it. You," said the "red cheeked 
doctor," laughing, "were a fool because you did not take 
the man's guinea." Dr. Barnet, who loved money, saw 
the point and never forgot the lesson. 

Ever since Dr. Barnet's death Barnet Hall has been 
said to be haunted, and the house, the old mill and the 
family cemetery, according to tradition, have been the 
scenes of many supernatural appearances, wonderful 
sounds and mysterious demonstrations. When the doctor 
died he was supposed to have left more than $80,000 in 
gold behind him, and as the money was understood not 
to have been found by his successors, people got talking 
about its being buried in the ground somewhere about the 
premises, and many stories have been told about noc- 
turnal search parties and how many a deep hole has been 
dug by them, here, there and everywhere in the vain hunt 
for the hidden treasure. 

The delvings w^re all or mostly conducted, it is said, 
under superstitious guidance. A sprig of witch-hazel 
was borne in a certain way in the hands of one of the 
company who was versed in divination. Absolute silence 
of the company was an imperative requisite and as the 
little twig inclined to left or right the searchers followed ; 
when it dipped toward the ground that was taken to be 
the infallible proof of the spot where the treasure was 
buried. And there, after drawing a fairy circle around 


the place, they began digging. But the utterance of one 
word would break the charm and the hole, no matter 
how deep it was, would fill up in a moment. 

It is told that one party was so successful that they 
actually discovered and bared the top of the iron chest 
containing the gold, when one of the company, happen- 
ing to look up, saw a little black goblin on the limb of a 
tree right over their heads sawing away with a red-hot 
knife at a rope, which suspended an enormous millstone. 
Next moment the great mass of rock would fall and 
crush them ; the man gasped a warning, when, instantly, 
out went their lights, the hole filled up and the company 
was scattered hither and thither in terror, and in total 
darkness, groping their way, not one having the remotest 
idea where the spot was that the hole had been. 

Whatever practical-minded people of to-day may think 
about this manner of search, it is unquestionable that as 
late as the last decade of the nineteenth century it was 
firmly believed in and put in practise at Barnet Hall, 
as can be attested by a living witness, who was let into 
the secret, and was privileged to watch the movements 
of such a party one night only a few years ago, which 
expedition, needless to tell the initiated, was barren of 
any successful result, as, of necessity, it was bound to be 
in presence of such oversight of unbelievers. 



"The evil that men do lives after them. 
The good is oft' interred with their bones." 

It is the lot of few men to leave behind them the 
record of so useful and altogether benevolent a life as 
did Judge Aaron Robertson of Warren County, who 
at the ripe age of eighty died at his Beattystown home 
about thirty years ago. When it was said that his loss 
was mourned by all who knew him, it was not a careless, 
conventional use of the phrase, but the earnest, sorrowful 
truth. He was a man of unusual stature, standing six 
feet three inches in his stockings and of proportionate 
build. He had a strong face and fine athletic figure, 
both being sujfficiently rounded for physical grace. Alto- 
gether he was a large, erect and handsome man ; a fitting 
tabernacle for the big sympathetic heart and wonderful, 
master-mind that dwelt in it. 

In several ways Judge Robertson was unquestionably 
a very remarkable man. Though he never systematically 
studied law^ nor graduated as others do to become law- 
yers, he became, as it were, by intuition, such an expert 
on all nice legal points and intricacies, that, as an oracle 
or living manual of cut and dry jurisprudence, he was 
consulted by practically every practising lawyer in the 
county. It is also a well-known fact that he wrote more 



wills for people than all the county lawyers combined ; 
and further, though many a time the wills he drew were 
contested in court, not one with a single flaw, technical 
or otherwise, was ever found by which it could be broken. 
Judge Beasley, commenting once upon an action brought 
for such purpose, said to the assembled counsel: 

"Any four of you may just as easily go, one to each 
corner of this courthouse, put your shoulders to it and 
move the whole structure a hundred feet from where it 
now stands, as you can break a will drawn by Aaron 

His advice was sought and freely given to multitudes, 
and as a fact whatever construction he put upon a legal 
point invariably stood in court. He never took a fee, of 
course, for he neither was nor wanted to be a member 
of the bar. Yet those who know it declare that as many 
as a dozen vehicles would frequently be seen waiting at 
the judge's gate for his coveted advice — advice that gen- 
erally tended to steer its recipients away from rather than 
into litigation. It is said that if he had charged even fifty 
cents apiece to all who consulted him, he could have 
made a fortune. 

Yet, strange and incongruous as it must seem, very 
often his importunate callers would find him with his 
sleeves rolled up, out in his yard among his pigs. He 
rarely had fewer than a hundred of them and it was his 
particular hobby to feed them with his own hands. He 
had two capacious butter-tubs bound with iron hoops and 
fitted with strong handles. With one of these in each 
hand, filled with milk, he delighted to regale his splendid 
hogs. When the first corn came in from the field in 


autumn he would make his men back a whole wagon 
load of ears into the yard at a feed for them. He also 
had many cows and churned for his own use; so there 
was plenty of milk and butter for the house, with oceans 
of skim and butter milk for the pigs. There were also 
fat beeves of mighty bulk in stalls, which, with the hogs, 
went to fill many huge provision barrels in the judge's 
cellars and joined in a plenteous decoration of his 
kitchen's ceilings with the toothsome shoulders, flitches 
and hams of his porkers. 

There was nothing small, mean or contemptible about 
him. He was big and ample-looking himself and every- 
thing he had in hand shared in the same large and liberal 
solidarity and breadth of beam, as it were, of his person. 
All his life he wore an old-fashioned stovepipe hat, in the 
top of which were always stowed away a fistful of cigars 
which rested on a bulkhead made of his big bandanna 
handkerchief. Late in life he gave up cigars and took to 
a clay pipe, the stem of which he bandaged at the mouth- 
piece with a piece of linen to save his teeth. 

When any one came to buy suckling pigs as ''keep- 
overs," the judge would bring out the New York Tri- 
bune and look up the price per 100 pounds of live hogs 
in New York. At the same price per pound he would 
then weigh out and sell the little bits of pigs, receiving 
a mere trifle apiece for them; whereas, usually such pigs 
brought about $5 a pair. He owned a fine stable of 
horses which he never drove. When he went, as he did 
frequently, to Hackettstown, three miles distant, he in- 
variably walked both ways, using a walking stick which 
was as long above as below his hand. 


He got a complete surfeit of driving in an amusing 
experience he had with a friend's horse — that is to say, 
amusing to others, but to himself so annoying that he 
never got over it. Thomas Shields, a friend of his, 
wanted the judge to try his favorite roadster for a drive 
to Hackettstown. At last the offer was accepted. All 
went well on the outward journey, but returning, the 
horse, being impatient to get home, quickened the pace 
a little beyond the judge's liking. Following the usual 
plan he drew the reins to restrain the animal, whereupon 
it decidedly increased its speed. He pulled harder, but 
only faster went the horse. He hated to be seen dashing 
along at such speed, and, getting a good grip, pulled till 
he feared the reins would break, but to his great disgust 
the brute, which seemed to have a mouth of iron, put on 
a sprint faster still, and they came tearing into Beattys- 
town at a rate that to the judge's mind was utterly dis- 
graceful and even dangerous. People rubbed their eyes 
and looking again: 

"Was that really and truly the judge?" they asked 
one another between amazement and doubt, gazing after 
the flying vehicle. They could hardly credit the evidence 
of their own eyes. 

That was enough. The judge, who was highly in- 
censed and scandalized, thereupon took a rooted dislike 
to the whole equine race and vowed he would never 
drive a horse again in his life ; and it is a fact that though 
he always had good horses, he kept his word. 

"After this I'll walk," he said, and he did. Mr. 
Shields, who had trained this particular horse to do 
exactly as it had done, forgot, he declared, to mention 


that peculfarity to the judge and expressed his deep re- 
gret at the occurrence. And no man doubted his sincerity, 
nor has any one ever harbored the slightest suspicion that 
he or any other man drawing the breath of life could 
have been so inhuman as to think of playing off a prac- 
tical joke on a man so universally beloved and revered 
as was Judge Robertson. He w^as so regarded by rich 
and poor alike and never wearied in helping all and 
singular, the poor especially, by his counsel and guidance; 
and many he saved from expensive and barren lawsuits. 
So marked was his goodness that a gifted preacher, Rev. 
Thomas McCauley, drew pointed public attention to it 
in a pulpit illustration, urging his hearers to bring their 
spiritual cares to the great Shepherd of Souls. 

"You know," he said, "how you all go with your 
troubles to the good Judge Robertson and how kindly he 
listens to your tales and helps you out of your temporal 
difficulties." Then he called upon his hearers, as to those 
infinitely more important burdens of the soul, to go and 
do likewise and thus find peace and rest eternal. 

The judge, who, as is averred, could any time have 
been Governor of the State, but would not allow such a 
thing mentioned in his hearing, was a man of far-reach- 
ing and supreme influence. When, for instance, the 
Morris and Essex Railroad first came through Warren 
County their survey called for a continuation of the line 
alongside the Musconetcong River from Washington to 
Hackettstown. This would have brought it close to 
Judge Robertson's residence, a thing he utterly disap- 
proved of; for he hated the howling and hurly-burly of 
railroads with a great hatred. This, coupled, per- 


haps with a little pardonable pique, at the high-handed 
methods that railroad companies have always displayed 
in doing about as they please, fired the judge to oppose 
their plans. That meant abandonment of their chosen 
route, though at first they did not think it would ; nor 
would the judge's opposition have been so uncompromis- 
ing, but for their want of tact, possibly. 

The result was that the company was defeated and 
was compelled to lay its track from Washington by way 
of Rockport. This cut off the Musconetcong River Val- 
ley, from Washington to Hackettstown, along which 
there were eleven mills in as many miles, all in active 
operation, leaving them about two miles distant from the 
railroad, to which they soon found they had to cart the 
bulk of their products. 



With the advance of refined civilization every nation 
sooner or later develops a strong interest in the incipient 
stages of its growth in which, standing out in bold relief, 
are the names and deeds of leading pioneer progenitors of 
the race. Here in America more and more attention is 
being devoted to this study, which is gradually asserting 
itself as a right which every one not only owes to himself 
and his descendants, but is also demanded as a filial mark 
of respect to his ancestors. 

No country in the world was ever populated as Amer- 
ica has been; no nation was ever formed of such com- 
posite elements, and no other country can compare with 
it — in the interesting revelations to be found as to the 
ancestry of multitudes of its people. And, although at- 
tempts have been made to promulgate baseless claims 
through the mistaken ambition of vain persons to gain 
prominence through misrepresentation of the importance 
and station of their progenitors, and although such things 
will doubtless occur again, yet that should not be al- 
lowed to stand in the way of people honestly desirous of 
satisfying themselves as far as may be as to who, what 
and whence were their forefathers. 

One hundred and eight years ago John Davenport 
came from Manchester, England, where he was born in 
1777, and in the year 1800 settled in the thriving little 




village of Pluckemin, a place made famous by General 
Washington having encamped there In 1777. This John 
Davenport was the progenitor of probably all the families 
of that name to be found In Somerset County, If not of 
all those of that name throughout the State. Unlike a 
great many other Imported names, that of Davenport has 
never apparently been changed In a single letter. And 
while It Is unwise to be too much elated over such mat- 
ters, it Is unquestionably true that so far as a legitimate 
pride In an Intellectual and practical as well as ancient 
ancestry Is concerned, the descendants of this long and 
distinguished line have every reason to be satisfied. 

The family name of Davenport originated In the coun- 
ty of Cheshire, In England, where the township, and the 
little river Dave running through It, have taken their 
names from the family. The manorial history of the 
seat of the Davenports presents what is almost unique 
even In the United Kingdom, an uninterrupted descent 
In the direct male line for very nearly eight and one-half 
centuries, or from the year 1066, the first of the reign 
of William the Conqueror, down to the present day. 
The family archives contain a complete series of original 
title documents which prove the possession of its old 
feudal powers and manorial estates with which they were 

In 1086 the crest of the Davenports was conferred by 
the sovereign and ordered Inscribed upon the helmets, 
shields and regalia of that house as a tallsmanic warrant 
against the roving robber bands which then infested the 
country. The family coat of arms, among the most an- 
cient in England, Is a shield with sable, crossets, crest, a 


falcon's head coupled at the neck, signifying magisterial 
"sergeantcy." The feudal service exacted was that of 
ridding the district of all nefarious highwaymen and 
marauders of every kind, with vested and absolute pow- 
ers of jurisdiction. In the old manor house of the ancient 
family seat is still to be seen the long parchment scroll on 
which is quaintly inscribed the portentous list of names 
of "master robbers," who were hunted, taken and be- 
headed under this charter. 

Through connections by marriage the Davenports have 
at times been brought into close relationship with the 
English crown. Edward Hyde, Lord High Chancellor, 
married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Davenport, an- 
cestor of Mary, the wife of James H. and mother of 
Mary, the consort of William of Orange, who, together, 
sat on the British throne, and also of Queen Anne, suc- 
cessive sovereigns of the kingdom. 

The Davenports have been constantly represented in 
the English Church and frequently in the peerage. But 
as has been said of this, "no boastful claims are put forth 
as to aristocratic distinction." The family, here at all 
events, have no higher ambition than that of belonging 
to the great middle class — that of merchants, artists, 
artisans and scholars — always loyal to the ruling powers, 
yet ever stanch advocates and defenders of free and equal 
human rights. 

Close intermarriage relations between the Wedge- 
woods, of ancient Staffordshire pottery fame, and the 
Davenports have existed from remote days, the Daven- 
port works there being, perhaps, still the largest in the 
world. The firm of Davenport Brothers, of New York 


— fathers and sons — have represented their Staffordshire 
house here for more than sixty-five years. 

The first of the name that came to this country was 
Rev. John Davenport, the distinguished minister of that 
celebrated company of Christian heroes who landed in 
New England in 1637, "to whom," says an authority, 
"may be well and truthfully accorded the fame of being 
the fathers of the American commonwealth." This emi- 
nent divine was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1597, 
of wealthy parentage, graduated at Oxford and occupied 
the pulpit of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in London. 
His fervent piety, eloquence and profound learning, to- 
gether with his fearless advocacy of puritanical doctrines, 
aroused the enmity of Archbishop Laud, of London. 
Persecution soon followed. Davenport, with many of 
his adherents, fled to Holland and in that renowned asy- 
lum of religious liberty, was met with open arms. After 
a brief stay they returned to England, where, after col- 
lecting their scattered band and holding frequent confer- 
ences, they resolved on emigration to America. 

At this time the leader was subjected to a renewal 
of persecution and had a narrow escape from arrest, even 
when they had all packed their belongings ready for sail- 
ing the next day. A few friends were chatting with Mr. 
and Mrs. Davenport that afternoon, when suddenly a 
lady friend rushed into the house. 

"Oh, Mr. Davenport! fly!" she cried in great ex- 
citement and in a tragic whisper. ''The officers are com- 
ing to arrest you; they are already in the garden walk." 

"Let them come!" said the reverend gentleman, 
calmly; "I'll not attempt to elude them." 


"No, no!" cried two or three of his adherents, who 
were all ready to sail with him on the morrow. "For 
our sakes, for the sake of the cause, fly or hide — anything 
but be arrested!" 

"I have It!" cried Mrs. Davenport. "Come, sister, 
help me!" And In a twinkling an immense packing-box 
which as yet only contained a few things, was overturned 
and emptied. "Now, John, dear, we mustn't lose you at 
the eleventh hour. All Is lost If we do. For my sake, 
do you sit down on the floor and allow us to cover you 
with this box and take tea over your head, and we'll 
defy them." 

Down the great man sat and the large box was quickly 
turned over him, a tablecloth spread over It and tea 
things set. In half the time It takes to tell It. When the 
emissaries of his persecutors were admitted, the company 
were seated around this improvised table, apparently en- 
joying their afternoon tea. When the officers asked for 
her husband Mrs. Davenport truthfully informed them: 

"Mr. Davenport left the house Immediately after our 
midday dinner." But she did not feel called upon to 
add that he had returned again. 

"Well, our orders are to search the house, madam," 
the leader said. 

"Search the house by all means," said the lady, "If It 
Is your duty. Mary!" she called to her maid, "show 
these persons into every room, please." 

They searched every place in the house but the right 
one, of which they did not have the least suspicion, and 
went away as they came. As soon as they had gone, Mr. 
Davenport lost no time In getting aboard their chartered 


ship, where In the bay he safely rode at anchor until all 
joined him before dawn the next day. That packing-box 
in the fair hands of Mrs. Davenport was a maker of 
history. If her husband had been taken, possibly neither 
he nor any of his illustrious companions would ever have 
seen America. As it was, they hoisted sail for the New 
World early that morning in the spring of 1637, and 
after a tempestuous voyage of three months landed at Bos- 

As these immigrants were known to be highly con- 
nected, of great learning and rich, strong inducements 
were offered to persuade them to settle within the con- 
fines of the Plymouth colony, but after full discussion it 
was deemed best to form a new colony. This they did 
on the Connecticut seaboard, founding New Haven. All 
authentic records fully accord to Mr. Davenport the 
honor and credit of leadership in the great movements 
toward civil and religious freedom, which resulted in 
establishing and developing that important colony. 

A continuous line of ministers have succeeded in the 
family, and others have met success as members of col- 
leges and other institutions of learning. They have also 
served their country in the army, navy and legislative 
halls, both in national and State government. They were 
whole-hearted supporters of the colonial cause in the Rev- 
olution as well by pen as sword, and fought in the Con- 
tinental army as officers and private soldiers. Two of 
the name were in Congress in the administrations of 
Washington, Adams and Jefferson. The Rev. James 
Davenport (grandson of the Connecticut pioneer), sta- 
tioned at Southold, Long Island, was a preacher of great 


power. His fame It was that attracted Whitefield hither 
from England, In 1739. Shortly after his arrival on this 
side the latter wrote home: 

"I am comforted exceedingly and encouraged by meet- 
ing my dear Brother Davenport, by whose hands the 
Lord hath already done such mighty things here." 

They organized a great missionary tour, and for a 
while together held Immense meetings In the leading 
cities of New England, New York, New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania. After the end of the tour, Davenport 
preached to a congregation of over three thousand In con- 
nection with the church of Mr. Cross at Basking Ridge. 
Here Whitefield again joined him and aided In the work 
with wonderful success. In the fall of 1739 these two 
evangelists passed along the Old York road here, through 
Reavllle and Three Bridges, on their way to New York. 
Their coming had been anticipated, evidently, for at the 
Presbyterian church at Reavllle, then the only church of 
the denomination in the Amwell Valley, they preached 
In the open air to a great concourse of worshipers. In 
Whitefield's diary it was noted that "some thousands of 
people" awaited them "at the small village of Reavllle." 
In after years Davenport preached for a time In Con- 
necticut, and finally was stationed at Hopewell, just be- 
low here In Mercer, near the border of Somerset, where 
he died In 1753. 

Another celebrated member of the family was John I. 
Davenport, a direct lineal descendant of the founder of 
New Haven, who distinguished himself for fearless fidel- 
ity and honesty as chief supervisor of elections In New 
York, toward the end of the eighteenth century. As an 


honest man, he naturally met tremendous difficulty and 
opposition in that office. But in the end he triumphed 
by causing his worst enemies, as well as committees of 
Congress, to fully acknowledge that, although he had 
been strictly right in law, justice and honesty in his great 
fight for an honest and free ballot, in and through all 
of which he fully exemplified the true, sterling qualities 
he had inherited from his righteous ancestors. 

To Jersey people, however, the chief interest in the 
past of the distinguished family must centre on John 
Davenport, of the same lineal stock as the great Con- 
necticut Puritan, but who came among his many rela- 
tives in that State half a century after their first Ameri- 
can progenitor had landed there. The newly arrived 
John first lived at Danbury, in the same State, but after 
a short stay there he decided to look further afield for a 
more favorable locality for trade. Being young and ad- 
venturous and of shrewd observation, he soon perceived 
the superior advantages of New Jersey in her milder cli- 
mate and prolific soil, but particularly in her geopraphi- 
cal position between the two great cities — New York 
and Philadelphia. He traveled considerably in Jersey, 
exploring toward the centre of the State. On arriving 
at Pluckemin, already a thriving little village, he judged 
it to be full of promise of becoming in time a good busi- 
ness centre. After fully studying the situation, he set- 
tled there in 1800 and engaged in general merchandise. 

After three years, noticing the rapid rise of Somerville, 
the county seat having just removed there, he concluded 
to branch out in that town, with a view to possibly per- 
manent removal to it as a more promising centre. He 


bought a fine farm facing on Main street and running 
north a full mile. The next year he built and occupied 
a house on the farm. Then entering into partnership 
with George Vannest (one of that numerous family 
naentioned in my last article, and whose son afterward 
married Mr. Davenport's daughter Margaret), he ex- 
pended much capital in establishing a hat manufactory 
in Somerville, while still conducting the Pluckemin busi- 
ness, traveling to and fro in the arduous work of attend- 
ing to both. After a few years' experience, he found 
many and great difficulties in managing two plants thus 
separated. Without severing in the least their warm 
friendship, Mr. Davenport wound up his business affairs 
with Vannest, sold his Somerville farm, moved back to 
Pluckemin and permanently concentrated his energies 

He purchased an extensive farm adjoining the village 
and commenced its improvement. There were tanneries 
and currying works on the place, and these he had thor- 
ough repaired and enlarged. He also built a flouring 
and grist mill, also a cider mill and distillery, and erected 
as well a new and extensive hat factory, putting into it 
the most improved machinery, with buildings properly ad- 
justed to every department. Over and above all these, 
he embarked in a perfectly new and separate trade, that 
of chemically treating sumac to meet the requirements of 
morocco factories in Philadelphia. This itself grew into 
a large and profitable trade. 

Operating all these branches of business at the same 
time, Mr. Davenport employed a great many hands, and 
by his industries alone made Pluckemin a place of con- 


siderable importance at that time. Splendid as was his 
constitution, the strain of constant application necessary to 
successfully conduct so many distinct enterprises brought 
on a sudden calamity. While in apparently full vigor of 
health and strength, he was stricken with apoplexy and 
died at his homestead at Pluckemin on September i8, 
1830, in the fiftj^-second year of his age. 

John Davenport was twice married, first in 1804, to 
Margaret Traphagen; she died in 181 1, leaving two chil- 
dren, Ralph and Sarah Ann. The latter died in 1829, un- 
married. Ralph, born in 1805, married Phoebe A. Voor- 
hies, in 1827; in two years she died, without issue. Ralph 
married again, in 1838, Sarah Drake; they had two chil- 
dren, Ralph and Mary; the former married Ellen Van- 
nest ; Mary became the wife of William Jeroloman. The 
father, Ralph, born in 1805, lived twenty years in New 
York, after which he spent the rest of his life farming at 

John Davenport's second wife was Mary Boylan 
whom he married in 1813; she was the daughter of John 
Boylan, of Pluckemin, and according to tradition was a 
most estimable woman. She died in 1848, leaving six 
children, namely, Margaret, born 18 14, who married 
George Vannest In 1839. He died In 1864, leaving six 
children, most of w^hom made their homes In Somerset 
county. John married Hester Voorhees in 1838; he died 
In 1848, leaving five children. Of these James proved 
himself a brave and patriotic youth. He enlisted when 
scarcely eighteen j^ears of age for service in the Civil 
War; was captured and shut up in Andersonvllle prison, 
where he died In delirium from Inhuman treatment In cap- 


tivity. Thomas married Frances Smith in 1851 and had 
six children; Eleanor married William L. Jones in 1836, 
lived in Plainfield and had two children, one of whom 
died in infancy; the other, Eliza, married Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Janeway, of the First New Jersey Cavalry, who fell 
bravely leading a charge at the battle of Jettersville, Va., 
the last battle of the War of the Rebellion. James S. 
married Maria Remsen in 1845, lived in Raritan and 
had three children; Samuel W., born in 1822, married 
Amelia Besteda in 1846 and lived in Somerville. They 
had seven children, four daughters and three sons. 

These are the first branches from the New Jersey stem 
of the Davenport family tree. The aged lady who kindly 
furnished this information and who is herself a Daven- 
port, says that it was impossible for her to keep track of 
the multitude of younger generations. She also says that 
so far as her knowledge goes the members of the family of 
Davenport in this country waste but little if any time 
thinking about their ancient lineage. But they do take 
sincere pride, she says, in the fine representation of the 
name among those who, in the hour of their country's 
greatest need, responded with heart and hand to the call 
of Abraham Lincoln. 



Emerging from exceptional winter scenes in Plucke- 
min, where for a number of days lately neither bread, 
meat, potatoes nor oil could be had for love or money, 
and when no roads were opened through the snow to 
enable people to help themselves, one is strongly prompted 
to hark back to that other and historical January, 133 
years ago, and wonder whether, in this section at least, 
the world has really advanced along the path of progress. 

There are probably more houses than when Washing- 
ton sent a commissary in advance asking the people to 
prepare food for his victorious soldiers coming hither from 
Princeton ; but if such a demand were made to-day, would 
it or could it be as liberally responded to as it was then? 
In those days few country people did not have well-filled 
beef and pork barrels. Mrs. Sarah Connover, late of 
Pluckemin — a daughter of Ida V. Gaston, of the historic 
Van Arsdale family — used to repeat what her mother of- 
ten related of those stirring days in Pluckemin. 

When word came about the coming of the troops, she 
used to tell, all the farmers and villagers filled their great 
ovens with bread and pies and hung huge pots, measuring 
about two and one-half feet in diameter, filled with meat 
over their open hearths. But the half-clad and starving 
soldiers came before the meat was sufficiently cooked, 



and, as famishing men might be expected to do, unable to 
wait, they fished out great collops of beef from the pots 
with their bayonets and devoured it raw. 

If such a call had come in our late weather siege, every- 
body would have had to wait for Williams, the butcher, 
to come from North Branch and wait in vain; then run to 
the grocery store for a few little cans of trust corned beef 
and find, as villagers did even for their own supply the 
other day, that it was all sold out. Is it not wonderful 
to think how substantial and self-contained country peo- 
ple were in those old days, when hundreds of soldiers were 
not only well fed upon short notice, but clothed as well? 

Robert Little was a big Scotchman in the ranks that 
came that time to Pluckemin. Although "of powerful 
build and a lion in courage," big Bob was handy with 
the needle. (It is a queer thing that in such companies 
it alwaj^s happens to be a Scot that can do a bit of sewing 
at a pinch.) Long after the war was over Little used to 
tell his children and friends many a tale about the shifts 
of the patriot army. He lived all his later life in Branch- 
burg Township, just below^ here, where descendants of 
his live still. 

"When we got to Pluckemin," he used to tell, "our 
company was as ragged as beggars. How could we help 
it? Our pay was poor; our clothes worn out, with 
nothing to replace them. At last the colonel issued an 
order that our men were to be sewed up a bit. I was 
then the tailor of the company. It was easy to issue the 
command ; to carry it out was a different matter. We 
could easily sew and patch, but cloth was required and 
where was it to come from? We hunted around and 


gathered what we could from families and friends, who 
gave wonderfully of their stout homespuns and linen, 
and with my assistants I went to work. 

"We overhauled, patched and mended until we got 
the clothes so far decent that no rags were seen. A 
grand dress parade was then ordered. Our boys marched 
with heads erect and proud step. For once in a long time 
they had clothes without any bad holes in them. The 
light-horse saw them and were envious. Then came a 
second order, 'Private Little must fit up the light-horse 
in as good shape as the infantry.' This was harder to 
fulfil than the first order. We ransacked all the houses 
a second time and again found cloth enough ; so we 
patched up the light-horse. But something more was here 
wanting. The cavalry wore helmets, in which were 
intended to be worn tufts of horsehair. We had no more 
horses' tails to borrow from; but I hit on a plan. Select- 
ing twenty of the smartest men, I woke them up at mid- 
night. Together we scoured the country 'round for 
miles, looking for cows. Every cow we could find lost 
about eight inches of her tail end that night, and the light- 
horse were turned out with plumes that looked fine." 
Where could cows enough be found now by which to do 
such a thing?" 

Stewart Brown, who came here from Ireland about 
the middle of the nineteenth century, as a lad eleven 
years old, tells me that even as late as that, Pluckemin 
had three large, well stocked general stores, a hat manu- 
factory, a first-class millinery store, two shoe shops, two 
tailor shops, a slaughter-house and butcher shop, two 
wheelwrights, two blacksmith shops, a cooper shop, a 


paint mill and brickyard. All that remains of these to- 
day is one slenderly stocked grocery and blacksmith shop. 
Even as late as 1863 this village made and supplied 
large quantities of clothes and shoes for the army in the 
Civil War, Mr. Brown says. 

In Revolutionary days the two storekeepers, John Boy- 
Ian and William McEowen, one at each end of the vil- 
lage, were merchants carrying immense stocks and doing 
very extensive businesses. John Boylan's was for many 
years the only store of any account between Somerville 
and Newton. He had everything "from a needle to an 
anchor" in his capacious store, at the same time operating 
a large granary and an extensive potash manufactory. 

Mrs. Paul Van De Vort, of Burnt Mills, is the oldest 
living descendant of John Boylan, who was her grand- 
father, and acted as a commissary for Washington's 
army. General and Mrs. Washington were several times 
entertained at Mr. Boylan's house, and Mrs. Van De 
Vort's grandmother had the distinguished honor of danc- 
ing with the general. The white satin slippers, with 
square silver buckles, which she wore in these dances are 
still preserved in the family. The china, a beautiful blue 
and gold set, together with the silver service, used in en- 
tertaining General Washington, are or were in the home 
of Horace Bannard, of Long Branch. The old secretaire 
used by John Boylan throughout his business career and 
many of his account books Mrs. Van De Vort has at 
Burnt Mills. 

When the British raided Pluckemin Mrs. Boylan had 
been baking, Mrs. Van De Vort tells me, and had just 
withdrawn a lot of bread and pies from the oven. She 


hurriedly hid all she could of these in the window seat, 
and, taking her knitting, sat over her hoard, hoping it 
would not be found. But when the Hessians came their 
scent was too keen to miss the freshly baked food. They 
made her get up and cleaned out not only her baking, 
but everything else eatable in the house. They also 
helped themselves to a favorite and very valuable horse 
from the stable. 

I am told that social life in Pluckemin in those days 
was at its most refined stage, and that the Boylans were 
its acknowledged leaders. There were sixteen children 
in the family. One daughter married Mr. Parker, a 
clothier, of New York. Their daughter, Eliza, was sent 
to an academy at Litchfield, Conn., at the same time that 
Harriet Beecher Stowe attended there. Eliza used to 
talk a great deal about the afterward famous Harriet, 
long before her celebrity, and often related how exceedingly 
smart and bright she was, and that she never came to 
school with an imperfect lesson. Miss Parker, who was 
an accomplished musician, inherited the old Boylan piano, 
upon which she used to play most exquisitely at the age 
of ninety. She died at ninety-six. 

Mr. Van De Vort has the powder horn that belonged 
to and was used by his uncle, John Pauling, and which 
hung at his side when he and two others captured Major 
Andre. History gives the three men's name who did 
this as "John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van 
Wert." The correct spelling of the three names is John 
Pauling, David Williams and Isaac Van De Vort; the 
latter also being an ancestor of my informants. 

On the powder horn is inscribed "Daniel Hay, his 


horn, 14th, 1758. Gift by John Pery." The 

rest of the horn is covered with rude figures of animals 
and hieroglyphs, which might have been done by Indians. 
Mr. Van De Vort has also a musket with bayonet, 
w^hich was hidden by the British in a haymow. It has 
the letters T. H. roughly cut on the stock. The barrel 
alone measures six feet. 




Readington School, whose known history dates from 
1805, had been taught for the first seventy years almost 
exclusively by male teachers. That is to say, out of for- 
ty-five instructors employed in that period only four were 

The record of the school as to its product of scholars 
over that time, seems well worthy of mention. Twenty- 
seven of them became successful teachers, nine of them 
clergyman, three lawyers, two judges and two physicians, 
while many others rose to an enviable place in the busi- 
ness world. 

From these statistics it seems that Myron T. Scudder's 
statement as to the desirability of employing male teach- 
ers in country schools might be well worthy of earnest 
consideration. For certain it is that during the long 
male administration of Readington School its record is 
one that much larger educational establishments might 
well be proud of. Perhaps, too, there is something in the 
uneventful monotony of the real country village life that 
helps boys in the absorption of learning, in the same way 
that the dim serenity of the sequestered cloister was con- 
sidered an indispensable aid to the studies of the monks 
of old. There is at all events even to this day an earnest 
and reverent belief in the serious things of life in this 
village which, whatever may be said or thought of it in 



other places more "careful and troubled about the many 
things" of rushing modern civilization, has at least turned 
out many men of the true sterling stamp, men who have 
left or will leave behind them splendid records, who 
were as certain to rise in whatsoever spheres their lots 
were cast as sparks are to fly upward. 

It is always interesting to trace back to their origin 
such useful institutions as Readington School has been. I 
stated lately that prior to 1806, little or nothing was 
known about school matters there. On further research, 
however, I find that unquestionably the first schoolmas- 
ter who taught the people's children of what is now Read- 
ington Township, was Jacobus Schureman, who came here 
from Holland in company with Theodorus Jacobus Fre- 
llnghuysen early in the year 1720. They were married to 
sisters. Schureman was a finely educated and pious man. 
It was an arrangement between the brothers-in-law that 
wherever the one preached the other opened and taught 
school. So Mr. Schureman's labors were not confined 
to one place, but distributed wherever Dr. Frelinghuy- 
sen preached. 

History says: "Before 171 7, about which time the 
Readington church was organized, the people of that 
township had to go to Raritan church (Somerville) for 
public worship." The first church organized was the 
Reformed Dutch Church. It was started perhaps two 
years before there was any place of worship for the regu- 
lar use of the inhabitants. Their first church edifice 
was begun in 1718 and was a log building; it was com- 
pleted the following year. It stood near the junction 
of the North and South branches of the Raritan River 


about two and one-half miles distant from the present vil- 
lage of Readington, in what is now Branchburg Town- 

The first sermon preached in the original Readington 
log church was delivered by the celebrated Dominie Fre- 
linghuysen, who was its first settled minister. That 
building, under the name of the North Branch Church, 
was used for about twenty years, on Sundays as a church, 
and on certain week days as a school, which was taught 
by Jacobus Schureman. He was indubitably the very 
worthy and accomplished pioneer schoolmaster of Read- 

In the olden time or beginning of things, many com- 
munities had to make great efforts in order that their 
children might receive instruction. For instance, in the 
district covering what is now known as New Centre Dis- 
trict, Flagtown Station and part of Bloomingdale, in 
Somerset, it was determined in 1790 to build a school 
for the benefit of the large numbers of children there. A 
building about twenty-four feet square, with a thatched 
roof, was put up, having an immense wide fireplace on 
one side and desks around the others. It was painted 
red, with white casings to the door and windows. It 
was known as the Red Schoolhouse, and in later times 
as the Old Red Schoolhouse. 

Old "Master John Warburton" was the first teacher. 
He was English by birth and had served in the British 
army in the Revolution. He had taught school there 
in a barn before the schoolhouse was built, and was a 
well-known and respected man everywhere. While gen- 
erally kind as a teacher, he was something of a martinet 


on discipline and believed thoroughly in the efficacy of the 
birch. Tradition says that some of the boys after a can- 
ing, when they got well clear of the school, used to shout 
back loud enough for "Master Warburton" to hear, some- 
thing like this: 

Old crazy British Wabberton 

Licks little boys for spite; 
Because their dads and Washington 

Licked England out of sight. 

In those days the Revolutionary struggle was not quite 
so far oft as now, and we can easily imagine that young 
America would be susceptible to strongly indignant feel- 
ings at being basted by a former wearer of the red coat. 
The English primer, Dilworthy spelling-books and arith- 
metic and the Bible were the only books that Mr. War- 
burton used, and he was wonderfully successful with his 
pupils. Their writing books were patterns of neatness, 
every line being fixed by scale and dividers. He made 
the children proud of themselves and their work. He 
did not "board around," as was the usual custom with 
teachers of the old time, but lived in the schoolhouse. 
Each family supplied him with food for a week. On 
Sunday morning he would breakfast with the family 
whose turn it was to supply him for the coming week, 
and he would then carry away his basket of provisions. 
He slept in a little garret over the schoolroom. 

Later, as he began to lose his hearing poor "Master 
Warburton" had to give up teaching. He bought a few 
acres of ground on the Second Mountain, near Somerville, 


and there he built himself a small house and also dug a 
cave and lived in one or the other as the whim took him. 
At last he was missed from his daily walks in his garden, 
and his nearest neighbors, about half a mile away, hav- 
ing gone to inquire if he was sick and whether they might 
not do something for him, found the white-haired old 
schoolmaster sitting in a natural position on an old wood- 
en settle in his cave, with the Bible open upon his knees. 
His visitors spoke to him but he made no answer. They 
thought he was asleep and touched him; but he did not 
move. The old man was dead. 

At Three Bridges the first record of a school is that 
left as a reminiscence by a pupil who afterward taught 
school at Readington and later became a widely known 
and quite distinguished man, the late Judge Joseph 
Thompson. He said that in 1813, when he first attended 
the school there, the building was 16x16 feet with eight 
feet posts. 

"The walls," he said, "were lined with boards to the 
height of four feet, with writing tables fastened to them 
on three sides. The seats were slabs from the saw mill, 
supported by legs of hickory, two feet in height. All the 
seats were destitute of backs. The ceiling was of un- 
planed oak boards, laid on beams eight inches thick. The 
teachers of that time were men — generally English, 
Scotch or Irish, with a few stray Yankees. The former 
were good penmen and the Irish good arithmeticians. 
Grammar and geography were not taught except in a few 
instances and for extra pay. The teacher collected his 
own bills for tuition, which were from $1 to $1.25 per 
scholar for a term of thirteen weeks. Every alternate 


Saturday was a holiday. The teachers boarded with their 
employers pro rata." 

The first written record of any kind found bearing on 
the subject of school in another district, now known as 
Washington Valley, between First and Second Moun- 
tains, is a receipt as follows: 

"Rece'd, Mar. 15, 1771, from Jeromes Van Nest, by 
the hands of George Fisher, schoolmaster, the full sum of 
four pounds, Jersey Light Money, in full for my de- 
mands from said Jeromes Van Nest. 

"£4. OS. od. Folkert Tunison." 

The minutes of a monthly meeting held in Quaker- 
town, Franklin Township, Somerset, in 1752, have an 
entry which seems the first reference to school matters 
there. It is as folows: 

''We have likewise considered the proposal for settling 
a School, But, being few of us and so remote from each 
other and Some of us under Low Circumstances, so that 
it seems unlikely to us that we shall be able to raise suffi- 
cient salary to Support Such School, otherwise we should 
be Very free and Heartily join with the Proposal, believ- 
ing it would in some good degree answer the Good Pur- 
pose intended." 

In an old account book of Dr. Samuel Wilson, of Alex- 
andria Township, there are two charges set down, one 
against ''William Rennels," and another item to the debit 
of "Rennels, the schoolmaster," in the year 1752. These 
are the only documentary evidence that a school existed in 
Alexandria Township as early as the date named. 

The earliest record of a school in Bedminster is given 
in a description of a road laid out January 6, 1759, "be- 


ginning at the westerly side of the river that divides Bed- 
minster and Bridgewater Township at the schoolhouse." 

From an account of an entertainment and ball given 
at Pluckemin in the year 1779, as published in the New 
Jersey Gazette of that year, it appears that pyrotechnics 
were in vogue a long while ago as well as schools. The 
report states that "The entertainment and ball wrere held 
in the academy of the park;" and with many details it is 
stated : "After fireworks in the park in the evening the 
company returned to the schoolhouse and concluded the 
celebration by a very splendid ball." 

Among the teachers at this "academy" was an old 
stickler for order and discipline named "Master Welsh." 
He wore a black gown during school hours, and when he 
deemed it necessary, vigorously wielded the birch. 

At Little York in 1809, and at Minchel's Grove about 
the same date, the first schoolhouses were "roofed with 
straw" — that is, thatched. 

Sixty years ago Rev. Hugh Frazer, minister of a Pres- 
byterian church in the Schooley Mountain, feeling ag- 
grieved at the lack of proper instruction for the many 
children in the vicinity of his church, decided to start a 
school himself. He went to New York and raised $300 
among his friends, with which he set up a school near his 
church and himself taught there for many years. Mrs. 
Davis, of this village, w^ho went to this school says it 
was well conducted and well attended. She says Mr. 
Frazer's scholars almost idolized their pastor-teacher, and 
that many of them, to her knowledge, carried into their 
subsequent lives a respect and affection for his teaching, 
preaching an exemplary life that never left them. She 


emphatically believes, she says, that the adoption of Mr. 
Frazer's method — that of having teacher and preacher 
combined in one person — would be the true solution of 
bringing up the children of to-day more like they ought 
to be brought up. 



In the Wertsville Valley, at the Hunterdon base of 
Sourland Mountain, not far from the farm where she 
was born a little over eighty-one years ago, resides Mrs. 
Asher Kelly, formerly Jane Quick. Having a wonder- 
fully retentive memory and a great facility of expression, 
she has long been looked upon as the local authority par 
excellence upon all matters of antiquarian and general 
interest in her pleasant green valley. 

Among the earlier things impressed upon Mrs. Kelly's 
memory is the tremendous snowstorm of 1836, which, 
she says, was far greater than the later and much more 
discussed blizzard of 1888. In the storm of 1836 it 
commenced snowing one Friday at 3 o'clock in the after- 
noon and continued, she says, without cessation until the 
following Sunday morning at 9 o'clock. All this time it 
was impossible for any one to see even a few feet ahead. 
The snow covered up all the fences entirely, and when 
afterward it crusted over the people rode their horses 
and drove wagons across them as if crossing a trackless 

At that time Mrs. Kelly lived with her father, Charles 
Quick. One of their men, John Mitchell, who lived in 
a cottage up the mountain slope, was rather an elderly 
man, and on the day the storm began her father gave him 
a bag of flour and sent him home much earlier than 


usual. But poor John never reached his cot. His wife 
thought he had been stormbound at the farm, and his 
master thought the next day, when the man did not turn 
up, that he had wisely stayed at home. When the truth 
was known it was useless to search for him. It was 
only when the snow thawed away in the spring that 
John's body was found. He had perished quite close to 
another house, in the opposite direction from his own 
cottage, and had been buried many feet deep in the snow. 
It was supposed that he had seen a light in the house 
that he had almost reached, but that he had been too ex- 
hausted to cover the last few yards and save his life. 

Mrs. Kelly came from a quite distinguished ances- 
try. John Manners, one of her forefathers, the first of 
that name to come to this country, belonged to an aris- 
tocratic and titled family of Yorkshire, England. He 
was probably a great-uncle of Lord John Manners of 
that ilk, who was, if I remember rightly, closely associ- 
ated with Mr. Gladstone in the latter's palmiest days. 
John Manners came to America in 1679 and first set- 
tled in Monmouth. In October, 17 18, he came to 
Wertsville, bought an estate, built a fine homestead and 
married Rebecka Stout, the daughter of David Stout, 
who was the seventh son of Richard Stout, the pioneer 
of the Stouts in America, and Penelope Von Princes, his 
heroic and famous wife. Captain David Manners, son 
of John Manners and Rebecka Stout, married Mary 
Schenck, the daughter of that highly distinguished officer 
and patriot, Colonel John Schenck, of Monmouth and 
Princeton fame. Adah, the daughter of Captain David 
Manners, married Charles Quick and had five children, 


two sons, David, only recently deceased, and Horace, and 
three daughters, Mary, Mrs. James Wyckoff; Ann 
Eliza, and Jane, Mrs. Asher Kelly, the eldest of the 

Captain David Manners, who married Miss Schenck, 
was a surveyor, and being a very devout and highly re- 
spected man, was often called upon to wind up and set- 
tle estates. His wife, who came of a rich and proud 
family, had never been taught to do housework. When 
she went to live at the Manner's homestead, as the cap- 
tain's wife, it was deemed necessary that she sould begin 
to learn household work. She found her very practical 
mother-in-law, Rebecca (Stout) Manners, aghast at her 
ignorance and very exacting as her tutor. The young 
wife would try her hand at turning griddle cakes like the 
others did, by tossing them up without fingering them, 
but they inevitably landed among the ashes. When 
given a tub of clothes to wash, and after she had toiled 
heroically with them, the mother-in-law would throw 
them all back and make her wash them again. 

When, in the fulness of time, she became mistress of 
her house, however, she kept many slaves and seldom 
went downstairs into her kitchen. In the course of 
years she had ten children, and as they grew up, she in 
her turn became "the old lady." All of her boys and 
girls were given the finest education obtainable at col- 
lege and seminary. The youngest daughter, Jane (Aunt 
Jane, as Mrs. Kelly spoke of her), seemed to have been 
a mischievous miss and, unlike her mother, dearly liked 
to make visits to the kitchen. One of the colored girls, 
named Kate, who was about Jane's own age, and who 


lived to be a great age, delighted to the last of her days 
to tell of the tricks she and "Missy Jane" used to play 
on the "old lady." 

Making candy was a favorite and frequent diversion of 
theirs, and great diplomacy had to be used by them in se- 
creting it and drawing from their sweet store in the old 
Dutch cupboard. Then they would bake a big cake on 
the sly, and if they heard the mistress approaching would 
hide it under a chair and sit down, covering the contra- 
band goods with their dresses. 

One day when Jane's father and mother went away,- 
she and her faithful Kate had a grand play at having a 
party. They killed a chicken, made a cake and put the 
best linen and silver on the table. They also adorned 
themselves in their very finest clothes. Then, just as the 
feast was spread and the two were preparing to sit down 
to it, they glanced up the road and saw Jane's parents. 
The latter had returned much sooner than they were 
expected. Jane and Kate made a lightning-like clearing 
of the table and escaped the reprimand they feared. Kate 
used to tell how she hated to scrape and wash the big bell- 
metal kettle in which the mighty messes of mush were 
made. Once she hid the kettle in the swill barrel. The 
humorous old darkey, after every tale about her misbe- 
havings, would laugh heartily and ask: 

"Now, shouldn't I have been whipped; now shouldn't 

There being such a houseful of young people at the 
house, it was a lively place, and there were continual 
rounds of parties and entertainments in the old lavish 
style. The young folk used to go sleigh riding all togeth- 


er in a large sleigh, and nearly always wound up by re- 
turning by way of Larison's hotel, at Pleasant Corners, 
about three miles from home, where they frequently 
danced all night. 

Adah, one of these girls, afterward mother of Mrs. 
Kelly, when fifteen was sent to the Moravian Boarding 
School, at Bethlehem, Pa. The following letter of hers 
to her parents, written in a beautiful hand, almost equal 
to copperplate, Mrs. Kelly has preserved, and was kind 
enough to allow me to copy: 
"My dear Parents, 

"Not having heard from you since your return home I 
take this opportunity to inform you of my health; I have 
been informed since you left Bethlehem that Mrs. Stronge 
intends bringing her daughter here to school very soon, 
and if you can make it convenient please to send me two 
pair of shoes, my worsted cape and something for pocket 
handkerchiefs. I have begun drawing, which I am very 
fond of. I would thank you, my dear Parents, to inform 
me whether I am to begin embroidery, and how soon. 
Ann Kershow desires me to give her love to you and all 
the family; also give my love to my Brothers, Sisters and 
all enquiring friends and accept the same yourselves 
"from your ever affectionate 

"and dutiful daughter 

"Adah Manners." 

This was addressed on the back of the double sheet 
in the same hand, which any one at first sight would think 
lithograph, "Mr. David Manners, Amwell, Hunterdon 
County, New Jersey." To compare the writing with that 
of our day almost makes one think that penmanship must 


be a lost art. The Moravian teachers wore white caps, 
Mrs. Kelly says, and their pupils had blue caps. 

Before Adah was married she had spun and woven all 
her linen and bed quilts. Many of the latter are still in 
use. A little slave boy, a cripple, born on the estate — of 
whom every care was taken up to his death and burial, 
at the age of thirty — used to creep on his hands and knees 
to the wagon shed to wind the yarn for Miss Adah. 

Mrs. Kelly had her father's and mother's wedding 
clothes until quite recently. Her mother wore a white 
crepe dress, white silk stockings, white kid slippers and 
gloves, white satin and lace shoulder cape and white crepe 
shawl. Her father wore white broadcloth knee breeches, 
a blue coat of the high neck and swallow tail cut, with 
brass buttons, and a long, white, figured vest. His shirt 
had ruffles down the front and around the wrists and he 
wore broad silver knee and shoe buckles. The metal of 
these is still in the family, but in the less ornamental if 
more useful shape of spoons. 

All the Quick family were great dancers. Often Mrs. 
Kelly's parents would send for an old colored fiddler to 
come from Ringoes to play at their parties, where dancing 
was the principal pastime. But they often had the old 
darky for a dance among themselves. At their gatherings 
they had also games, of which Mrs. Kelly remembers 
"hurly-burly," "hunt the button" and another in which 
it was asked, "How far from here to Barnegat?" This 
was answered by "Three score miles and ten." Then 
came the question, "Any big owls on the way?" An imper- 
sonator of the bird of night would then burst in and chase 
the company. Those who were caught would have to 


pay fines. Parties and gaiety of all kinds had begun to 
die out even in my informant's very young days and 
nothing in that way in her time ever equaled the genera- 
tion before hers, she says. 

Charles Quick, Mrs. Kelly's father, bought the Ker- 
show farm in the Wertsville Valley — nearer to the church 
and store or village than she lives now — in the year 1839. 
The house was then considered haunted. In it is a dark 
closet, or room as it might be called, which opens out of 
a bedroom ofi the kitchen. This room has never been 
opened in years. Three generations of the family have 
lived there, but that room has never been inspected. What 
It contains no one knows, but are all afraid to open it. 

Mrs. Ezekiel Quick, of a younger generation than Mrs. 
Kelly, who now lives in the house, when asked whether 
there is such a room in the place, said, pointing to the 
door of it: 

"Yes, that Is the room. I have never seen the Inside 
of It; and I never want to!" 

One can hardly help thinking that a sealed room of 
that kind in the house of any daughter of Eve would in- 
evitably play almost as strongly upon her curiosity as did 
the one forbidden tree in the midst of Eden. But there 
the locked and barred room is, intact, as it has been for 
generations, and there the people are of this generation, 
on the spot, and ready to answer about It for themselves. 

A man named Jerry Van Pelt lived there many years 
ago with his wife and family. One day a child of theirs 
was taken sick and they sent for Mrs. Quick, Mrs. Kel- 
ly's mother, who then lived near by. She responded as 
promptly as she could, but when she arrived they had the 


child nailed up in a common box and were carrying it out 
of doors for interment. She asked to be allowed to see 
the child, but they refused this and hurried away with 
the box, which they buried in the corner of the upper 
cornfield, near Higgins's. Mrs. Quick thought there was 
a nervous haste and mystery about the way they disposed 
of the child. It sickened her with horrible suspicion that 
they had knowingly buried the little one alive. She, how- 
ever, w^as helpless and nothing was ever done about the 

The pretty Wertsville Valley where this happened is 
even to-day a sequestered scene, far distant from doctors, 
coroners and other city resources, and hemmed in by the 
most terrific hills and perhaps the worst roads in all 
Hunterdon County, where roads are proverbially bad. 
What, then, must have been the state of isolation of that 
Vale nearly a hundred years ago, when these things 
happened ? At all events nothing official was done in the 
case, although a lot was thought by several others as 
well as by Mrs. Quick, about the probability that the 
hasty burial of that child had been a foul business. 

Soon after that event it was that the house acquired 
the reputation of being haunted. At the dead of night, 
it began to be said, the voice of a sick child was heard, 
wailing and crying. When at length the mother of the 
child was on her deathbed, she sent for Captain Man- 
ners, well and widely known as a kind, fatherly and 
Christian man, and asked him to pray for her. After 
this had been done the dying woman said: 

"Oh, Mr. Manners, there is a dreadful secret — I want 
to tell you something before I die — " 



"Now, Becky," harshly Interrupted her husband, 
"you're just gettin' out o' yer head and ram'lin.' Keep 
thee tongue quiet!" 

"No, no, Jerry!" the sick woman wailed; "I am in 
my right mind. Oh, Mr. Manners, I must, I must tell 
you before I'm taken away. My time has come to die, 

"Hold yer tongue, woman, can't you!" Van Pelt 
shouted, and he went on talking so loud and at such a 
rate that the poor wife's expiring words could not be 
heard. She passed away with her secret untold. 

This man, Jerry Van Pelt, seemed to have been an 
odd character in many ways. It is said, for instance that 
when the peddlers of fish came in his place, he would 
call them into the house to have a drink and keep them 
talking, while one or two of his negroes were sent by 
him to steal supplies from the wagon. 

A man named John Servis once had this farm. Just 
as a large field of wheat of his became ripe, a hail storm 
entirely destroyed it. This preyed on his mind, for he 
depended almost wholly upon the wheat for ways and 
means of livelihood. The following week his father- 
in-law, Colonel Bishop, of Ringoes, who held a mort- 
gage on the farm, died. This meant ruin. Servis took 
a rope, saying he was going to catch a horse. He was 
so long gone that a boy was sent to look for him and 
found him hanging by the neck in the hogpen. The boy 
fled and gave the alarm, but when help came Servis was 
found to be dead. 

Mrs. Kelly, who, after these events, lived a number 
of years in this house — that Is to say, from her twelfth 


year until she was married and went to live at Penning- 
ton — says that for her part she was always more afraid 
to go near the hogpen that she was of the sealed closet 
in the house. 

Charles Quick, Mrs. Kelly's father, long a widower, 
after his children had all married and left him, got a ten- 
ant farmer to carry on the place. This man and his 
family lived in a part of the house, and he and his folk 
declared often that they heard peculiar and unnatural 
sounds there. 

Like most very old houses, this one was built into the 
side of a low hill. The kitchen and one or two other 
rooms were entered from a basement door, while the 
other or upper rooms had an entrance from the higher 
ground. The room which was nailed up is one of three 
such basement rooms. In recent years a new kitchen 
has been built as an extension to the upper part of the 
house, the original kitchen being now deserted by the 
family and used as a kind of workroom by the men, with 
the adjoining bedroom as a storeroom. Of¥ this store- 
room is the dark and mysterious closet, which, for more 
than seventy years, no one has dared to open. 


AGO. A boys' plot AND ELOPEMENT. 

Garret Dougherty, well known as the Sourland 
Mountain sleuth, has seen in his time some of the lights 
as well as many of the shadows of country life. The 
tragedies necessarily connected with his constableship 
and his work routing criminals from his native moun- 
tain were preceded by pleasant youthful experiences that 
were lit up at times by light comedy and romance. 

His mother having died when he was two years old, 
at Post Town, now known as Planeville, he was taken 
and brought up by his grandmother, who lived on the 
mountain. They attended the Mt. Zion Church there. 
Little Dougherty received his education at the Mt. Zion 
school, which was near the church. His great-grand- 
father, who was what long ago was known as a Metho- 
dist exhorter, came here from Dublin, Ireland, at an 
early date and settled on the mountain. 

At the age of twenty-one. Garret, or "Gat," as he was 
known from childhood, went to live at Sergeantsville, 
where he took an active part in all the youthful amuse- 
ments and gayeties of that neighborhood. These he de- 
clares were incessant and simply wonderful as compared 
with anything of the kind in the country in these days. 
Young fellows thought nothing then of walking four or 
five or even ten miles to see their girls. Then they 
would escort them to church and afterward walk with 



them along the shady lanes and green fields. Eventually 
"Gat" got a horse, the better to keep up with the social 
engagements, and often on his rides his girl sat behind 
him on the saddle. There were parties practically every 
night at one place or another. Music was furnished by 
violinists. No pianos were ever seen out there in those 

One frosty moonlight night a sleighride to the Dun- 
ker Church was determined upon. But as there were 
not enough sleighs and horses to go round an enormous 
home-made sled was rigged up and hitched to a big 
team of oxen. This was unanimously voted to be the 
very acme of good, solid, sociability, and all went well 
and smoothly until the church was reached ; then there 
was trouble, A hymn was being sung with great vigor. 
The volume of human voices evidently proved something 
quite novel and startling to the bovine ear, for with 
heads thrown up, distended nostrils and very staring 
eyes, the animals approached the building with fear and 
trembling, until some one opened the church door. This 
produced a sudden burst of increased sound and cast a 
flash of light on the road, which quite demoralized the 
big bullocks. Swinging round with an irresistible rush, 
they made for the woods. Amid general shouting and 
terrified screams from the girls, some of the riders jump- 
ing out and others clinging to one another, the cumbrous 
vehicle crashed into the church railing, reducing a lot 
of it to matchwood. Then colliding with a tree, it over- 
turned, flinging its occupants out in a heap on the snow. 

Attracted by the alarming sounds, Deacon Hoffman 
ran out to see what the trouble was. After strongly pro- 


testing at such a disturbance he took down all the sled- 
riders' names, assessed them in damages and made them 
pay sweetly for it. 

The young men thoroughly resented this high-handed 
treatment and made up their minds to be avenged. This 
they decided to compass in a peculiar way, namely, by 
fooling the deacon about his daughter. It seems his only 
daughter, Eliza, though of distinctly mature years and as 
"homely as a hedge fence," as "Gat" put it, was extreme- 
ly susceptible to the thought that every young fellow that 
looked at her was in love with her. As her father was 
even more gullible on that score than she was the boys 
made up their minds that this harmless little vanity was 
a vulnerable point of the deacon's and that through it 
they would wound his pride by having a laugh at him. 

Their plan was for all six of them to pretend they had 
fallen victims of Eliza's attractions and to call nightly 
upon her, each to press his suit. Pursuant to this they 
cast lots as to the order of their calls, and it fell to "Gat" 
to go first. He went and was well received. Next night 
No. 2 called with a like result, and next No. 3. When No. 
4 came the deacon and his daughter began to smell a 
rat, and without ceremony he was ordered about his busi- 
ness. But according to contract they had all to call on 
the deacon's daughter in their turns. 

When No. 5 knocked at the door he was admitted. Al- 
most immediately he was bundled out. Then, knowing 
full well there was wrath in store for No. 6, "Gat" and 
another of the boys crept up before-hand and hid in a 
big empty flax box near the door to see what would hap- 
pen. The sixth and last young fellow to call, though 


rather fat, was supple. He declared that he would run 
before the fiery deacon could get at him. On his arrival 
and when his inevitable ejection came, he dashed wildly 
down the stoop, pursued, not only by the deacon, but by 
the old lady with a broom. But as bad luck had it, the 
little gate would not open. Then with the fair enemy 
close at his heels he made a desperate vault and bravely 
cleared the obstruction — all but part of his pants, which 
caught on one of the pickets. 

In this critical position, a perfectly helpless mark for 
the old lady's broom, which she wielded with surprising 
vigor, the young fellow hung and took his basting. The 
stout cloth at length gave way and he dropped to terra 
firma again. Then he took to his heels homeward. The 
suppression of laughter in the flax box was meanwhile 
painful in the extreme, until **Gat" and his companion 
heard the last wallop and saw their friend escape. Then 
they emptied the box of themselves by tipping it over and 
fled, with farewell love messages shouted back for Eliza. 
They considered themselves thus fully revenged on the 
wrathful deacon, who stood in his door flourishing a stout 
stick at the practical jokers. 

Very early in life "Gat" acted a minor part in a ro- 
mantic affair. That is to say, at the tender age of about 
ten or twelve he became an unconscious accessory before 
the fact in a case of elopement. Among the verdant hills 
and valleys that buttress Sourland Mountain on its north- 
eastern side dwelt Marjory, a maiden about ten years 
"Gat's" senior. Her mother died when Marjory was only 
ten years of age, leaving her to become a little mother to 
her four younger brothers and sisters. This pathetic duty 


she discharged so well for ten or more years, and she looked 
so wisely also after the whole household, that her wid- 
owed father prized her as the very apple of his eye. Per- 
haps he treasured his eldest rather selfishly, for like many 
parents he seemed to forget the flight of years and that 
new conditions grew up demanding new considerations at 
his hands. 

Among other things that he might have known and 
made reasonable allowance for was the fact that Marjory 
was naturally of an extremely sociable and sentimental 
nature, which, for her happiness, called for the society of 
young people like herself. But anything in that way nev- 
er occurred to him as at all necessary. He had a good 
home and every comfort that Marjory or any of his chil- 
dren could possibly need. Such a home was all he cared 
for himself. How, therefore, could any of his family re- 
quire anything more than he did himself? When friends, 
especially young men, came home from church with Mar- 
jory, and tried to edge into further acquaintance, they 
found anything but encouragement at her father's hands. 
In fact they were so coldly received that the visits were 
rarely repeated. 

The possible consequences of this unreasonable line of 
conduct on a father's part are proverbial. Her would-be 
suitors, whom Marjory ought to have been allowed to 
entertain openly at her home, saw her clandestinely. When 
the right man came along — "Rory," we'll call him, for 
he is living yet and so is Marjory, and they might not like 
their names given in full — he proved to be a stalwart, 
rosy-cheeked son of Erin, proved to be as brimful of ro- 
mance and sentiment as the girl herself. When two 


hearts so sympathetically attuned as these meet, events 
are bound soon to develop. And so it w^as in this case. 
There was only one way out of the difficulty — they de- 
cided to cut such a Gordian knot by elopement. 

Marjory's second-story window was not a very dizzy 
height, but it was too high to take at a leap. For, though 
his beloved was the nearest approach "Rory" knew to a 
real angel, he also knew from several test balances he had 
made of her good, solid avoirdupois on his knee, that for 
her to attempt actual flight would only be to tempt Prov- 
idence. So he either made or borrowed a rope ladder, 
which Marjory secreted in her room, and the following 
Thursday at midnight was set as the time for their flight. 

It was here that "Gat" became an innocent agent in 
the plot. He had been often sent down the mountain by 
his grandmother to Marjory's house on messages, and 
was quite a little favorite of hers. His appearance there 
on the Wednesday morning, the day before her intended 
flight with "Rory," she hailed as truly providential, for 
her uncle was coming to visit her father, and was ex- 
pected the very night that she and "Rory" had set for 
their elopement. It occurred to her that their great pro- 
ject would have to be postponed, or it would be discov- 
ered, for her father and uncle always sat up till long past 
midnight when they first met. 

So "Gat" was entrusted with a letter to be delivered 
to "Rory," informing him of the rock ahead, and saying 
that if the following night would do she would be ready 
at the appointed hour. Little "Gat" was solemnly bound 
over as a good boy and true to serve this personally on 
"Rory," and on none other, under the most awful pains 


and penalties, and further, to bring back from the said 
"Rory" an answer signed and sealed under his own hand. 
Thus was "Gat," even as early as his tenth year initiated 
into the serving of processes heavily laden with human des- 
tinies. The momentous Friday came, and hardly had the 
tall old hall clock chimed the witching hour of midnight, 
when Marjory heard a low whistle beneath her window, 
the preconcerted signal that her lover was there awaiting 
her. With heart going pit-a-pat, she first inquired in a 
whisper : 

"Who's there?" 

"Faith, and it's all that's left of your own "Rory," 
"Marjory Mavaumeen!" came the reassuring answer. 

Having nervously secured one end of the rope-ladder, 
the young woman lost no time, but scrambled out and 
commenced the descent, "Rory" standing beneath with 
outstretched arms ready to receive her. When less than 
half way down the girl gave a sharp scream. The rope 
had broken and she fell, not, however, to her death, but 
safe and sound, though somewhat forcibly, into her lover's 
waiting arms. 

Suddenly sounds of a man's bare feet were heard stump- 
ing on the adjoining room floor. Then came the sound of 
steps on the stairs. 

Away, hand in hand, like two children, the lovers 
scampered, with all their speed, down the long lane to 
the road, where Rory's fastest horse stood saddled and 

With one bound he was in the saddle; with another of 
equal dexterity, Marjory was on behind him, and away 
they went. 


"Hallo! Stop thief! Help, neighbors, help!" cried the 
enraged father, who, half-clad and cudgel in hand, came 
tearing down the lane In pursuit, but his only answer was 
the clatter and ring of the fast-moving horse's hoofs on 
the frequent stones of the Pennington road over the Sour- 
land Mountain. 

The lovers w^re married and lived in Pennington for 
many a year. And, contrary to all assumed, sombre pre- 
cedents as to the unallowed nature of such unions — more 
especially one made on a Friday — theirs was a happy and 
prosperous married life. It is still so; and, as hale and 
wonderfully well preserved octogenarians, they look with 
complacent delight on their offspring, even unto the third 

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One of the four, a tall, lanky youth called Hank, 
was exceedingly awkward at drill but a "dead shot" and 
proud of it. He was about to shoot when right in the 
line of the target and not much beyond it, he saw some- 

"Tom, do you see that 'redcoat'?" he asked in an ex- 
cited whisper. "That's my target! I'm going to shoot 

"No, don't!" ordered Tom, who was the instructor. 
"I'hat's one of our men in disguise, most likely. Hold 
on a bit till I see." 

Hank frowned. He wanted to show his marksman- 
ship on the real thing, and again he leveled his gun, de- 
claring that he would shoot the man. 

"Don't do it, I tell you!" Tom commanded, and again 
Hank was restrained. But as Tom shifted his ground 
for a better view, "Lanky Hanky," as they called him, 
covered his man with his gun and was on the point of 
firing when one of his mates interfered. It was lucky 
he did, for at that moment a crackling of many feet over 
the twigs behind them was heard and they found them- 
selves surrounded and taken prisoners by a strong com- 
pany of British soldiers. If Hank had shot the man the 
five of them would have been shot or hanged on the 
spot and this story would never have been told. 

"Tom," the instructor of Hank and the others, was 
Thomas Van Camp, who had served in the Continental 
army from the first skirmish down to the glorious ac- 
tions of Trenton and Princeton. His time having then 
expired he had repaired to his ancestral homestead, which 
is now the home of his grandson, Peter Van Camp, to 
whom I am largely indebted for this story. 


Thomas Van Camp's activity in collecting and drilling 
men for the army he had fought with, showed that he 
was a true patriot. But for the time his lamp was ex- 
tinguished ; for he and his recruits were in the hands of 
the enemy. And, as he used many a time to tell his 
grandson, who now retells it, the worst of their capture 
was that, being all big fellows, they were subjected to 
far more indignities than if they had been of smaller 
stature. For instance, they were made to run the gaunt- 
let, one at a time, between two facing lines of their 
enemies, every one of whom administered the best kick 
he was capable of to each runner as he passed down the 
line. The redcoats seemed to hugely enjoy the work, 
too ; for with every kick they would shout some taunt. 

"Why don't you fight, you lumbering rebels," they 
cried. "You're big and ugly enough," etc. 

But the captives soon had the satisfaction of seeing 
their enemies themselves cowed. For they had only pro- 
ceeded a short distance further up stream when suddenly, 
like a clap of thunder, a cannon belched from the hills 
to their left and a ball came whistling over their heads 
and tore up the earth only a few yards beyond them. 
Simultaneous musketry fire from a wood ahead of them 
seemed to fill the invaders with terror, for sheltering 
themselves in a convenient wood, they beat a double- 
quick retreat along the river, taking good care, how- 
ever, that their prisoners were well surrounded and made 
to scamper away along with them. For some time that 
well-planted cannon kept guessing their whereabouts, by 
shot after shot. Just opposite the Van Camp home- 
stead, where the river is now crossed by a fine bridge, a 


ball went crashing among the trees right over their heads. 
This brought down a heavy limb which pinned several 
Britishers under it, hurting one or two badly, and nar- 
rowly missing Thomas Van Camp. 

The men thus sent back the way they came were a 
force some seventy strong. They had been sent on a 
reconnoitering and foraging expedition by General Corn- 
wallis, who, with Colonel De Heister, was posted with 
two divisions of their army at Middlebush and Som- 
erset Courthouse. They had marched there from New 
Brunswick in the hope of drawing Washington from his 
stronghold at Middlebrook, which event they awaited 
with impatience but in vain. At the same time General 
Sullivan, by order of Washington, having come from 
Princeton, had left small corps of observation on Haunts 
Rock, on the Sourland Mountain, and encamped with his 
main body at Clover Hill. It was from there that the 
gun was sent by Sullivan, and it, with a few sharp- 
shooters, successfully defeated the purpose of the for- 

Nearly a hundred years after this occurrence, two can- 
non balls were unearthed on the Van Camp farm. They 
are still in the possession of Peter Van Camp, the grand- 
son of that same patriot soldier, Thomas, at whose cap- 
tors while he was among them, these very balls were fired. 
As there is no record of any other engagement ever having 
taken place in the vicinity, there seems to be no doubt as 
to the origin of these balls. 

When Cornwallis saw that Washington was not to 
be enticed from Middlebrook he marched back to New 
Brunswick, determining to move on Philadelphia by way 


of the sea. Thomas Van Camp and his fellow-prisoners 
were shipped under hatches in a vessel and taken to Long 
Island. There Hank and three of his mates received bad 
treatment in prison for five months; but Van Camp, who 
was wonderfully good natured, did whatever was re- 
quired of him, and knew so well how to humor his jailors 
that he got off after two months of imprisonment. He 
was paroled on leave to go and see an aunt, and needless 
to say the moment his feet touched the Jersey shore he 
took to his heels through swamps, rivers and woods, till 
he got back to his home. 

Peter Van Camp tells me that his grandfather lost his 
gun and other equipment at the time of his capture, but 
the musket used in the Revolution by his great uncle, 
John Van Kampen, as well as the latter's sword, after 
he was made an officer, is still preserved at the old home- 
stead. Mr. Van Camp has also a very old French gun, 
supposed to have been among the first firearms ever used 
in Jersey. It was brought here by his great-great-grand- 
father early in the seventeenth century, and is said to be 
at least 250 years old. 

It does not appear that Thomas Van Camp re-entered 
the army. Subsequent to his capture and release from the 
British lines, tradition and history seem to conflict a good 
deal as to his movements. In the second series of New 
Jersey Archives (as pointed out to me by Arthur S. Kim- 
ball, a relative of the Van Camps, through the Halls) 
there appears a letter, dated at Newark, February 7, 1778, 
which says: 

"A correspondent informs us that one William Pace, 
of Schoolie's Mountain, and Thomas Van Camp, of Som- 


erset County, both bound for Staten Island, the latter 
with a quantity of flour, and the former with four quar- 
ters of beef which had been stall-fed two years, and was 
intended for a British general, were apprehended and 
brought before the President and Council of Safety the 
twenty-eighth of January last. It not fully appearing to 
the board that their respective cargoes were to have been 
carried into the enemy's lines, which would have been 
high treason. Van Camp was adjudged to forfeit his 
flour and to pay the fine prescribed by law for asking more 
than the regulated price, and also the fine for asking a 
higher price in continental currency than in specie and 
Pace to forfeit his fat beef and to pay the fine for asking 
for it more than the regulated price, and both being 
bound over they were dismissed. 

"Evidence being produced the day after that one Jacob 
Fitz-Randolph, who lives at the Blazing Star, had met 
them (Van Camp and Pace) at Spanktown (now Rah- 
way) and engaged to take their cargoes if they would 
bring them to his house, and to convey them to Staten 
Island so soon as the ice would permit; the said Pace and 
Fitz-Randolph have since been committed to gaol for pro- 
curing provisions for the enemy, and as dangerous to the 
present government ; and a warrant is issued to apprehend 
the said Van Camp." 

History failing to note any further penalty as inflicted 
upon Thomas Van Camp, we may fairly assume that his 
actions were satisfactorily explained to the authorities. 

Tradition here enters and Informs us that Thomas Van 
Camp conveyed Martha Washington in a supply wagon 
from Princeton to Morristown In the month of Decem- 



ber, 1779. Although there is no official record of this, it 
had undoubtedly as good a chance of being authentic as 
most other family traditions have. And as to Thomas's 
attempted contraband transaction, perhaps he was not the 
first loyal citizen up to that time or since then who has 
been tempted into making large profits at the expense of 
an enemy of his country — if he really did attempt that. 
But the natural inference seems to be that he was ulti- 
mately exonerated from everything, except, perhaps a lit- 
tle pardonable venality in those hard times. 

The present Peter Van Camp, Thomas's grandson, is 
the oldest surviving descendant of two very old and im- 
portant families, the Halls and Van Camps, or Van 
Kampens. He lives at the original Hall homestead, one 
of the first places of the kind established in Somerset 
County. The Halls of this line especially have an ancient 
and decidedly interesting lineage. 

I have on several occasions noticed how remarkably old 
people in these regions seem to carry their weight of 
years. But wonderful as former instances have appeared 
to me, I am bound to admit that they are surpassed in the 
person of Peter Van Camp. He is eighty-three years of 
age, or as he humorously puts it: 

"Yes, next year I'll have come of age four times." 

And yet he is so alert in mind and body, and so very 
far from looking his great age, that no man could hon- 
estly guess him to be over sixty. Though he does not 
now do the heaviest work on his farm, he takes full care 
of his own horse, cows and chickens, does his own garden- 
ing and raises what are admitted to be the finest pigs to be 
seen for miles around. 



Across the South Branch River, opposite the place 
where Peter Van Camp lives, there once resided an eccen- 
tric character, named Joseph S. Pittenger. He was a 
harness maker, and at one time had a good business; but 
sometime in his career he became so odd in his behavior 
that he was afterward best known as "Crazy Joe." When 
he died he w^as buried in the peaceful little graveyard on 
Mr. Van Camp's place, which, with the adjoining mea- 
dow, has long been regarded as haunted. 

"Crazy Joe," or his restless spirit, is said to be largely 
responsible for the reputation of the place. It has been 
declared by most reputable persons of the vicinity that 
ever since his interment some person or thing has risen 
from the grave or come forth from the darkness in such 
questionable shape, and has disported itself in so extra- 
ordinary a manner as to be easily recognizable as the veri- 
table, dead Joseph Pittenger — himself or his ghost. 

Pittenger's sobriquet of "Crazy" was largely acquired 
through several exceedingly strong and unaccountable an- 
tipathies which he developed and seemed to have carried 
to his grave. Perhaps the full intensity of his objection 
was leveled against three very dissimilar things; namely 
cows, widows and geese. While living his abjuration of 
these was shown in his intense dislike of butter from the 



first, of the "weeds" of the second and the feathers of the 

If, while eating at a friend's house, butter were un- 
thinkingly brought on the table, Pittenger would hold up 
his hands to hide it from his sight, at the same time mak- 
ing exclamations almost as tragic as Macbeth's at sight of 
Banquo's ghost. As to widows, tradition has it that 
meeting a buxon young widow once on the highway, and, 
in sight of several witnesses, he literally carried out what 
had long been currently reported as his practice under 
such circumstances. That is, on seeing her, suddenly 
stopping, he spread out his hands as he was wont to do 
at butter; then removing his hat, he deliberately took up 
handful after handful of dust from the road and strewed 
It thickly on his bare pate. After that he vaulted the 
fence as if mad dogs were after him and disappeared In a 

His antipathy in this direction has been said to have 
had Its beginning In his rejection by a rich widow whom 
he was courting by characteristic methods. They were in 
the habit of walking a good deal together in the country 
lanes, at which times, whatever might be the state of 
the weather, Pittenger very frequently walked along in 
silence, with his hat in his hand Instead of upon his head. 
Being asked by his fair companion why he did so, he 
answered that he would be candid with her. Then he 
declared that at all such times he was petitioning the 
fairies, In which he truly believed, that they would 
influence her to love him Instead of Jacob, his 
hated rival. At this, It Is said, she turned on her heel, 
saying that she considered him more fit for a madhouse 


than to be her husband, and straightway she married the 
said Jacob. This was such a heavy blow to Joseph that 
many neighbors declared their belief that that and noth- 
ing else was the cause of all his subsequent vagaries. 

What turned him against geese has never had any 
plausible explanation. But his virulence against the 
feathers of those harmless birds is authenticated in sev- 
eral quarters. It is well known that in olden times 
feather beds were much more common than they are now- 
adays. And on sundry occasions when Joseph slept at 
friends' houses he was given a room with a good goose- 
feather bed to rest upon. But just as soon as the eccen- 
tric mortal discovered the nature of his bed he took out 
his jack-knife, ripped open the ticking and dumped the 
contents, worth probably a dollar a pound, out of the 

Another oddity of his was to hitch up his horse to a 
sulky of a summer evening and drive for hours together 
around one or other of the fields, with sleighbells jingling 
on his horse, as if he was in his sleigh in midwinter. 

Now, there is nothing more certain than is the fact 
that in a field adjoining the little graveyard, which field 
has long been called the "haunted meadow," some such 
freaks as these are still enacted at the dead, witching 
hour of night. 

"Have you ever seen anything of this kind?" Peter 
Van Camp was asked recently. 

"Well — I — " he was saying hesitatingly when his wife 
broke in. 

"Now, Peter," she exclaimed, "you saw it. You know 
you did!" 


"Well, anyway," he said, "I'm not going to say any- 
thing about that. I'm not going to stand for any 

Most men in these times, like Mr. Van Camp, hesi- 
tate about admitting any acquaintance with demonstra- 
tions of the supernatural. But there need be nothing 
of the kind, for, after a generation of ridicule heaped 
upon occult matters generally the very vanguard of 
science has arrived at the turning of the ways, and al- 
ready freely admits certain evidences of powers and ex- 
istence which are not accounted for in our recognized 
code of natural laws. Although Mr. Van Camp de- 
clined to tell something which it was plain enough to be 
seen that he knew, he was far from denying such know- 
ledge. Some neighbors were, however, more communica- 
tive, and explained as nearly as they could what others, 
as well as themselves, had seen. I say as nearly as they 
could, for in observing such matters people are usually 
under a high strain of nervous excitement, not so much, 
perhaps, from actual fear as from a feeling of awe, which 
undoubtedly possesses every mind in presence of plain 
evidences of another existence than that in which we 

What has been seen in the haunted meadow was ex- 
plained by one witness as some kind of combination of 
matter and rapid motion, which they say is fairly well 
presented to the mind by newspaper cartoonists' repre- 
sentation of the wheeling scrimmage that takes place 
when a bulldog gets a hold of a man's leg — something like 
wheels of dust spinning around, with parts of the com- 
batants occasionally visible in the mixup. 


This peculiar whizzing thing has been seen to come 
from the little graveyard and to go round and round the 
meadow at great speed. It is said to appear with cer- 
tainty if cows are permitted to graze In the meadow at 
night. In such a case great Is the effect among the herd, 
for they bellow and run hither and thither like wild 
steers on the plains of Texas, breaking all bounds and 
scattering in every direction. All the time the thing 
continues whirling and buzzing round and round the 
meadow like a gigantic hornet on wheels. 

One man who seemed to have had a better view of it 
than others, said that It looked like a man riding on a rig 
without horses or shafts to It, just as If he sat perched 
about four feet above the bare axel, on which the two 
wheels turned almost like lightning. In fact, he de- 
clares, that there was a kind of blue light, as If from long 
sparks which seemed to fly continuously from the hubs out- 
ward along the spokes. On reaching home this man, look- 
ing very white, told his wife that he had seen either 
"Crazy Joe" or the devil — he didn't know which — on 
wheels in the haunted meadow. 

The general consensus of opinion is that It Is none 
other than "Crazy Joe," and that he rises from his grave 
and takes these nocturnal rides, just as he used to do in 
the flesh with his sulky and sleigh bells. That theory Is 
strengthened, too, they say, by the certainty of his ap- 
pearance and the awful terror and stampede of the cows, 
If by any chance the herd is left in that particular 
meadow over night. 

"Crazy Joe" Pittenger must have been an extraor- 
dinary man in more ways than one. Another thing that 


happened when he was alive, according to local tradi- 
tion, was that on going one day into the graveyard where 
later he was buried, he looked at the gravestone of one of 
his fore-fathers, and it immediately fell down in many 

There were many peculiar people and strange hap- 
penings in this neighborhood. For instance, Samuel Hall, 
an uncle of Mrs. Peter Van Camp, was a decided ex- 
ception to the ordinary run of men. He never married. 
He was an estimable man in every way. But he never 
behaved as other men do. He used to visit the Van 
Camps before the old homstead was torn down in 1851. 
Here 'and everywhere else that he visited he always had 
his knitting with him, and while he sat chatting with the 
ladies, his needles were kept busy knitting. As a gen- 
eral thing he made stockings, mittens and such articles. 
He was quite at home and happy with the womenfolk ; 
would drink tea with them and join heartily in their 
little harmless gossipings, just as if he were himself a 
woman. He never seemed to have any great interest in 
common with men. 

Peter Van Camp's grandfather, like every one else in 
those days, had slaves. One of his darkies, named *'Spike" 
was one day engaged in splitting rails in a wood, near 
which was a field of buckwheat. He repeatedly begged 
his master for a gun, so that he might shoot some of the 
wild pigeons that came after the buckwheat. At last he 
was given the gun — that very long and ancient French 
musket, which, as mentioned in a- recent article in this 
series, the present Van Camp has still in his keeping. The 
gun was several inches longer than the negro himself, but 


with a bundle of straw and the loaded weapon, "Spike" 
went back to his work a happ)^ darkey. 

Then he waited until the field was blue with the birds. 
Carrying the innocent straw bundle in front of his body 
he advanced and was able to approach near to his game. 
Then taking deliberate aim he fired. The gun kicked 
so violently that "Spike" was knocked heels over head. 
But nothing daunted, he was quickly on his feet and pro- 
ceeded to pick up the slain. It is solemnly declared that 
when all of them had been gathered he had 103 pigeons. 
This seems almost fabulous; but it has come down in 
the family as an absolute fact that that was the exact num- 
ber of birds killed by darkey "Spike" with one shot of the 
old French gun. He came home, it is said, with all he 
could string in couples on the gun barrel, from end to 
end of it, and all he could possibly carry in his hands be- 
sides. The old man was angry. 

"Take the birds off that gun barrel, you villain!" he 
cried. "You'll bend and ruin my gun. Where did you 
get them all?" "Spike" told him. He also told him how 
the gun had "kicked." His master could hardly believe 
his own eyes. He had purposely overloaded the gun so 
as to cure "Spike" of asking for it in the future. But 
his plan did not have the desired effect, for the same 
negro afterward borrowed the gun and with it shot an 
immense otter. That was probably the last otter ever 
seen in this region. 



Half a century ago the gathering and publishing of 
news was a very different business to what it is to-day. 
Only the large cities had anything worth calling newspa- 
pers in those days, and they only very imperfectly reported 
their own city events, with little items of foreign news, us- 
ually three weeks or a month old, brought by primative 
paddle-wheeled steampackets. The most thrilling things 
might, and as a matter of fact did, occur a hundred or 
even fifty miles inland in their own country, and these 
old-time newspapers never had an inkling of it, much 
less their readers. 

Such an event doubtless was the atrocious Changewat- 
er murder, which occurred near the town of Change- 
water, on the Musconetcong River, in Warren County, 
just over the Hunterdon border. Probably not many 
outside those two counties ever read a single line, or even 
heard tell of this crime, which, though committed just 
sixty-six years ago, no doubt, through the recital of the 
tale by parents to their children, still continues to thrill 
the present generation over wide areas around where the 
deed was done. Not long since, after many a time and 
oft hearing in a disjointed way about the tragedy, I found 
two venerable Hunterdon County men, Mr. McPherson, 
of Ringoes, ninety years of age, and W. C. Ball, of Lar- 
rison's Corners, seventy-three, both of whom have still a 



vivid recollection of seeing the murderers, and who natur- 
ally knew a good deal at first-hand about the case. 

As they remember the circumstances, John Castnei, 
the principal victim, a most estimable man, lived with his 
wife and only son and a man and maid servant on a small 
farm about a mile out of Changewater. He was formerly 
in business in the town, but had sold out and retired, a 
comparatively rich man, intending to take things easy 
at his prettily shaded and well watered homestead for the 
remainder of his life. It would have been difficult to 
find another family perhaps in all Warren County, that 
had better reason to be happy, or that really more nearly 
approached that desirable condition, than did the Cast- 
ners. They had all the wealth they cared for, and their 
boy, already arrived almost at man's estate, was a good 
son, a great comfort to them and a credit to their careful 
bringing up. 

Leisure and rest to Mr. Castner meant anything but 
idleness; he was always busy at something. One day In 
the spring of the year he and John had done a hard 
day's work helping the hired man in opening up the vari- 
ous drains and water-courses, so that the heavy rains 
could flow off instead of lodging and spoiling the land. 
It was about 9 that night when John, feeling particu- 
larly tired and sleepy, bade his parents good night and 
went to bed. The hired man had gone to his rest earlier 
still. The husband and wife sat chatting by the cheer- 
ful open grate log fire perhaps half an hour after John 
left them ; and Jenny, Mrs. Castner's helper, was light- 
ing her candle to retire, w^hen a knock sounded on the 
door. Jenny answered it and came back saying that two 


neighboring farmers, Ed Carter and Jim Parks, who 
were Mr. Castner's nephews, had come to tell him that 
the rain which had been falling heavily, was washing 
out a ''sink hole" on his land and that it would soon be 
undermining the public road. 

"No, we'll not come in just now," they answered both 
Mr. and Mrs. Castner's invitation ; "we've got to hurry, 
but if you'll come on down right away. Uncle John, 
we'll help you a bit." 

"All right, boys; it's very kind of you. I'll follow you 
in a minute," Mr. Castner said, hastening to pull on his 
high boots. 

"Hadn't I better call John to go with you?" the wife 
asked. "I don't like you going down there this dark 
night without him." 

"Oh, no; don't disturb him, poor lad; he worked hard 
all day and is tired out. Let him have his good sleep. 
I'll manage all right and will be back shortly." With 
which, lighting the candle in the old perforated tin lan- 
tern, he hurried down the road in the pelting rain after 
his nephews to the "sink hole." 

When the winter's frost is in a fair way of thawing 
out, the rush of surface water sometimes washes under- 
ground through passages made by the frost having raised 
several feet deep of the surface soil in a solid mass. If 
this under current breaks its wa)^ through to the surface 
again lower down, it boils up with great force like a 
small geyser. Naturally this underground flood washes 
away considerable soil, and as the thaw proceeds, certain 
parts of the surface will sag or sink sometimes much be- 
low its normal level, thus leaving more or less deep hoi- 

o a 

3 o 

4 5* 



lows or holes. These are what In Warren County they 
call "sink holes;" and It was to prevent such an under- 
mining of the public road opposite his land that Mr. 
Castner followed his nephews down the road that dark, 
wet night. 

There Is dire reason why we cannot know for cer- 
tain how long the Interval really was; but through 
cross-questioning of those who were deeply involved in 
that night's proceedings and through their talk with out- 
side friends of theirs, we are able to state that Mrs. Cast- 
ner must have sat alone for more than an hour wait- 
ing for her husband's return, and still he did not come. 
Often, It Is said, she went to the door and peered down 
the road in the darkness and saw the weird glimmer of 
the lanterns, but could hear no sound but the rising wind 
moaning through the leafless trees and the dismal swish 
of the heavy rain. 

At last one light came bobbing along up and down and 
In and out toward her, in that strange, Will-o'-Wisp kind 
of way that a light appears when carried in the hand. But 
though a cold, goose-flesh shiver came over her, she made 
no doubt that the light was from the horn bullseye of her 
husband's lantern, on his way back to her. Hastening 
In, she heaped fresh logs on the fire; pulled the crane 
round so that the hanging tea kettle would catch the 
flames which, with the bellows, she soon sent leaping up 
around It, making it sing. Then at the sound of the 
gate and the expected foot-step, knowing that her hus- 
band would be wet through and through, she threw down 
the bellows, ran and opened the door to meet him, and. 


without a word from any one or sound was struck down 
dead with an axe. 

Next morning Peter Petty, who happened to be passing 
along the road, was shocked to find what he first thought 
was a negro lying dead in the "sink hole." On nearer 
view, however, he was horrified to find that the lifeless 
body was that of his universally respected and beloved 
friend, John Castner. The poor dead face was terribly 
begrimed with mud and had been so pounded with some 
blunt instrument as to be almost past identification. But 
Petty, who had known him from childhood, as soon as 
he had a good look, knew him at once. Later, when on 
oath, Petty said that "the sun was half an hour high" 
when he made the fearful discovery. 

Immediately summoning two passersby to help, Petty 
made all the haste he could to bring the dead man to his 
late dwelling. There he expected the distressful duty of 
breaking the awful news to Mrs. Castner and their son, 
John. But his horror is easier imagined than described 
when, on going to the house, he found Mrs. Castner also 
dead lying prostrate in a ghastly pool of gore, evidently 
foully murdered, just inside her own door. 

Alarmed almost to frenzy at this awful sight, Petty 
hardly knew what to do next and shouted : 

"Is any one in here?" 

Receiving no answer he turned and fled in terror to 
summon more help. Loosing his horse from the wagon 
that held Mr. Castner's body, he left his two helpers in 
charge of it and went at a gallop to alarm the neighbor- 
hood. The first house he came to was that of Jim Parks, 
the dead man's nephew. 


"Hullo! Jim Parks! For God's sake, where are you?" 
he yelled even before he reached the house. "Help, help! 
Parks! Come quick! Your uncle and aunt are both dead 
— killed, murdered by somebody! Do you hear?" But 
no one answered a word. He got down from his horse 
and pounded frantically on the door; to which uproar the 
only response was the growling bark of a dog. Evidently 
there was no one at home. Delaying not a moment, Petty 
mounted and was off again full speed, this time to the next 
farm, owned by Carter, also a nephew. The very peo- 
ple, as Petty felt, who ought to be first to render assist- 
ance in such dreadful circumstances. But arriving at the 
house, after the same shouting and hammering as at 
Parks's, there was no answer, not even the bark of a 

"Well, if this doesn't beat everything I ever knew! Is 
everybody dead, or what?" the desperate man exclaimed in 
an agony of excited perplexity. 

"They must have heard of it and gone through the 
fields. But, stars ! it do look queer. Ed ! Ed-d ! ! Hullo, 
Ed. Carter!" he j^elled once more and pounded again on 
the door, but all in vain. So he jumped on his horse and 
whipped him up to his best pace to the next farm again — 
no relations of the murdered people. Here he found the 
whole family and two hired men in, and they were tre- 
mendously shocked and horrified at what was told them, 
all rushing to assist in any or every way they could. Pet- 
ty therefore soon arrived at the Castner house with many 
neighbors from several other farms. 

When a few of the assembled company entered the 
house to explore, horror crowded on horror. Young John 


Castner, braiiifil w ith an axe like his mother, lay dead on 
the lloor by liis bed. 'I'he hired girl had evidently been 
chopped to ileath while asleep, as she seemed to have died 
without a struj^gle. J'he hired man also had his head 
gashed open, but he was the only one not killed outright. 
His pulse beat feebly and he still breathed. 

As the shuddering explorers bent over the man they 
suddenly gasped : 

"My God, what's that?" one asked in a hoarse voice, 
holding up his hiinds and turning a shade paler than even 
the dead hael made him. It was the merry laugh of a 
child in the attic from over their heads, which was fol- 
lowed by the familiar sound of little bare feet running 
across the floor. 

Creeping nervously up the stairs, the four men opened 
the door, peered in and saw two little fair-haired tots 
hilariously pillowing one another. At sight of the men's 
strange, white faces the baby girl clung to her big broth- 
er, of perhaps four years, and two pairs of pretty blue 
eyes grew very wide open and rouiul. 

"Dranma tome d'ess us," the little curly-wig cupid said, 
looking disparagingly down at his long nightgown. 

It was Friday morning sixty-six years ago, a black Fri- 
day indeed, when the people of Changewater, in War- 
ren County, ran breathlessly from house to house spread- 
ing the astounding intelligence that, almost in their midst 
the night before, five persons had been ruthlessly mur- 
dered ; all but one savagely brained with an axe ; the one 
exception being their ^^■ell-known and universally popu- 
lar townsman, John Castner, who had been barbarously 
beaten and mauled to death in a sink hole. It was so 



monstrous, so utterly revolting, that it came upon every 
one like a stunning blow. 

But to be correct, only four were killed outright, Mr. 
Castner, Mrs. Castner, their son John, and the servant 
maid, Jenny, were dead. The murderer's axe had crashed 
into the skull of the hired man, too, but by a miracle he 
still hovered on the very brink of death. He was assidu- 
ously attended by physicians and nursed with the utmost 
care in the hope of bringing him back to consciousness, 
so that if possible something might be learned from him 
throwing light on the case. For at first the whole af- 
fair was shrouded in utter mystery. The five mute vic- 
tims were there, but not a thing as the least clue to 
throw suspicion on any one. 

At last, however, there was a faint glimmer of con- 
sciousness shown by the maimed man. He was under- 
stood to whisper, "Water, water." 

"Ask him! Ask him who tried to murder him!" cried 
every one. But the medical man said, "No, not yet. 
Come to-morrow. We must by no means press questions 
on him at once." 

The morrow came with the patient decidedly stronger 
and more lucid. But, alas, "No," he whispered; he did 
not see any one strike him, nor even know that he had 
been attacked, he answered in monosyllables. Evidently 
he had been struck the terrible blow while he slept. But 
the next question brought light. 

"What," the physician asked, "is the last thing you 
can recall? Do you remember going to bed that night?" 

"Yes," the sick man answered audibly, "I went to bed 
early and was nearly asleep when I heard a knock on the 



kitchen door right below my window." (It seemed as 
if the patient realized the dire importance of his speech, 
for he visibly braced himself and spoke almost in his natural 
voice). **I heard Jenny going to the door," he went on, 
"and they told her about a sink hole." 

'Who told her?" the doctor asked earnestly. 

"The boss's nephews, Jim Parks and Ed Carter," an- 
swered the sick man and his hearers caught their breath 
and looked at each other. The man went on to tell that 
he heard Mr. and ^Irs. Carter call to their nephews to 
come in, that they declined, and he then heard his master 
getting on his boots and going out to meet them at the 
sink hole. That was the last thing he remembered "I 
think I then fell fast asleep," he muttered, now quite ex- 
hausted. It had been a great effort for him and he relapsed 
into unconsciousness. 

The minister who was present, when he heard about 
Parks and Carter, two members of his church, calling 
that night for their uncle, almost dropped to the floor. 

"This is truly terrible," he said. "Of course, they 
could not be guilty of the awful murders that succeeded. 
But how will they ever to be able to clear themselves of 
such a horrible suspicion?" 

This important information was gained on the Satur- 
day evening. It came like a bolt from the blue sky. The 
few hearers of it agreed not to breathe a word of it to 
any one until the proper authority should be brought to 
hear it as the probably dying man's deposition. But se- 
cretly a strict watch was kept on the two men implicated. 

Next morning the minister preached a powerful ser- 


mon on the murders to a large congregation. As he 
closed, looking sternly down the church: 

"My brethren," he said, suddenly changing his voice 
and attitude with dramatic effect, "it is quite possible 
that, here with bold and hardened effrontry in our 
midst in the house of God, may now be sitting the cruel, 
cowardly fiends that did this foul deed. If so I hope they 
will join me in the prayer, may God have mercy on their 
guilty souls!" 

The preacher, still regarding the dense rows of up- 
turned faces, stopped speaking. The silence was painful, 
until broken by the footsteps, audible all over the church, 
of two men who rose and left the building. Immediately 
everybody was craning around to see who they were. 

"It's Jim Parks and his cousin Carter," was whispered 
from one to another, and they all wondered why these 
men should go out after such an eloquent tribute as the 
clergyman had paid to their late uncle and so scathing an 
arraignment of his murderers. To people outside, the two 
said that the dominie had insulted the whole congregation 
and that they, at all events, would not stay to hear any 
more from such a man. They w^ould never again enter 
the church door, they declared, and walked away together 
homeward. They little knew how w^ell they would keep 
their word ; but they w^re not long left in the dark. In 
half an hour they were both arrested and lodged in jail. 

When searched both had large sums of money hidden 
in their clothes. This they accounted for by saying it 
was the price of stock they had sold the day before. Asked 
for the purchaser's name, they gave a name and number 
in New York which proved fictitious. It was a private 


house, and no such person as they named lived there. 
Brought before a magistrate they were formally com- 
mitted for trial on the charge of willful murder. 

At the trial it was proved that John Castner had sold 
a property the day before he was killed and was paid the 
whole price in cash, and further, that the prisoners, Car- 
ter and Parks, his nephews, had signed the deed as wit- 
nesses, and saw Mr. Castner receive the money, after 
which the uncle and his nephews drove home together. 
As their farms adjoined, and they often came and went, 
the prisoners knew that Mr. Castner and his son were 
home all the next day and that consequently the money 
was still in Mr. Castner's house when they called that 
night and enticed him down the road to the sink hole. 
Still, after all this was plainly brought out In evidence, 
what proof was there that could convict them? "Hardly 
sufficient," some said; "none!" said others. 

But one morning the prosecuting counsel came to court 
with a much more confident look and manner, which 
produced a corresponding look of trouble In the prison- 
ers. There was a new witness. Peter Petty, who had 
found John Castner's body and gave the first alarm of 
the murders, was recalled to the witness stand. 

"Was it already daylight that Friday morning when 
you found Mr. Castner's body In the sink hole?" he was 

"Yes, broad daylight," Petty answered. "I remem- 
ber perfectly that when I got down from my wagon and 
went to see the body that my shadow lay right across the 
hole, where I was looking." 


"You have already deposed that you judged the sun 
to be about half an hour high at the time?" 

"Yes; that's correct. I know it, because the sun was 
up before I got started from my yard; that was a good 
half hour or more before I found the body." Mr. Petty 
was then excused. 

"Smith Cougle!" the prosecutor called loudly; and he 
and many others saw both prisoners give a start and turn 
pale. They looked at one another significantly. The 
new witness, who took the stand in a perfectly easy-going 
manner, said his name was Smith Cougle, although with- 
out his special permission most people called him 
"Smitty." He was a hard working and hardly used 
huckster by trade, he said. Asked if he remembered that 
eventful Friday morning, he had no difficulty in doing 
so, he said, and that on account of the pleasant and un- 
usual circumstance that an acquaintance had stood him 
a drink that morning. He went on to explain that he 
had left home early on his way to Easton, Pa. ; and that, 
arriving at Washington while it was yet quite dark and 
noticing a light in Fechter's roadhouse, as he felt the 
cold, he stopped there for a drink. When he gave his 
order : 

"'Have one with me, Smitty!' some one said that I 
didn't quite see plain enough to know. Going nearer: 

"Hullo Jim!" I says. "Who'd a thought o' meetin' 
you here. For sure I didn't know who had me. What 
say? Oh, who was Jim? Why it was Jim Parks, there 
(pointing at the prisoner of that name). I've known Jim 
ever so long. So we had a drink together and as we 
come out, says he: 

" 'Is you goin' on to Easton, Smitty ?' 


" 'That's where I'm a goin',' says I. 

"Then he asked me to see Squire Shrope for him. (It's 
right, Jim, and you s'uddent look so black fer me to tell 
de trut'. I didn't come here of me own accord no how; 
but bein' here I'm not goin' to lie for nobody.) Well, I 
was to see the Squire and tell him that Jim couldn't pos- 
sible get to Easton that day because his uncle John had 
got killed. But he would come sure in a day or two 
and would then pay the judgment the squire hed again' 

"Now, when you left Jim Parks and resumed your 
journey to Easton, was it then daylight?" the witness 
was further asked. 

"No, sir," Cougle answered, "it was still a good hour 
and a half before sunrise." 

"That's all, you can go, Mr. Cougle," the prosecutor 
said, and shortly afterward in his address to the jury he 
pointed out that here was a man who had been sued for 
money and a judgment entered against him. He and 
Carter had driven home with Castner, to whom the same 
day they had seen a large sum of money paid. They 
must have known that money was in their uncle's house 
the night they called him out to the sink hole where, I 
am bound to claim, they murdered him. The motive of 
the crime was money ; but to get it safely, as they thought 
they had to do away with, not only Mr. Castner, but his 
whole household. It has been shown in evidence that 
since the murder these men could not do their ordinary 
work, but sat on the fences continually talking together. 
They rose and left the church when the minister said that 
the murderers might be there with decent people at wor- 


ship. When arrested they had large sums of money in 
their pockets, each about the same amount; both amounts 
added together amounting almost exactly to the sum that 
Mr. Castner brought home with him. And none of that 
money, not more than $5, can be found In Mr. Castner's 
late home. For the people I say that these prisoners com- 
mitted the crime of murdering these people to get that 
money and having secured It they divided it equally be- 
tween them. 

'*And lastly," said the counsel, '1 have brought here a 
witness who was told by Parks himself that John Cast- 
ner, his uncle, had been killed two hours before Peter 
Petty found the body, that is to say, before any other 
man but himself and his accomplice could possibly know 
of the deed." 

The judge, in summing up, said the testimony In the 
case was the strongest and most convincing circumstantial 
evidence that ever came before him, probably the strong- 
est of which there was any record. To him, he declared, 
it was a more complete and unimpeachable fastening of 
the heinous crime upon these two prisoners than could be 
even the testimony of an eye-witness. 

Yet the first trial ended in a disagreement of the jury. 
But undue pressure and influence upon the jury was more 
than suspected. The people went wild with indignation 
and insisted on a new trial. This time the jury re- 
turned In a remarkably short time with a unanimous ver- 
dict of guilty. The two were hanged side by side on a 
gallows specially made for them at Belvidere. The dou- 
ble gibbet was finished and erected even before the first 
trial ended in a disagreement. 


Mr. McPherson, of Ringoes, saw the prisoners being 
conveyed back in the old stage coach through Quaker 
City, after their mistrial. He says the excitement was 
terrible to behold. It seemed as if the people would 
have torn the prisoners limb from limb could they have 
laid hands on them. Mr. Ball, of Larison's Corners, 
who saw them hanged, says that never in his life before 
nor since did he see so many people gathered together as 
were there to have the satisfaction of seeing the hanging 
of Carter and Parks. 

Strange and unusual taste had a monument erected 
over the graves of the murderers. It is a heavy stone 
arch like a small bridge and is visible from the railroad 
going from Hampton to Washington. 



In an old, tumble-down house in the heart of the 
woods about a mile from Pluckemin, up in the Wat- 
chung Mountainside, a woman lives all alone. She is 
known as Em Osborn, the "Em" being a contraction of 
Emma or Emily; it is not certainly known which. How 
she manages to live nobody knows, and if you ask Em 
herself you're not much wiser, for she frankly tells you 
she doesn't know either. She is said to have no bed to 
sleep on, no chair to sit on nor a table on which to eat 
a meal. Neither has she any fire to cook with or where- 
withal to keep warm. 

It is, however, a hopeless task to enumerate the things 
that Em has not got, seeing that they include pretty 
nearly everything else on earth. It is far easier to name one 
or two of the things she is known to have. First, then, she 
has two pitchforks, one for action and one as reserve, as 
weapons of defense when any one knocks at her door for 
admittance. For, while Em will speak to any one fair 
enough in the open, it is a law like that of the Medes 
and Persians, which altereth not, that no man, woman or 
child, of whatsoever creed or kin or color, shall ever cross 
her threshold. 

Up to about a year ago there was the further deplor- 
able peculiarity in Em's character that of all things on 
earth or in the waters under the earth that she hated and 



detested, it was children. In the summer she used to 
pick a few baskets of blackberries and blueberries and 
sell them from house to house in Pluckemin. 

*'But drat them kids," she would tell you, ''they can't 
let me alone, for every now and again a clod or stone 
will hit me from behind a bush or fence from them little 

The summer before last, however, and the follow- 
ing Christmas she had a queer experience which com- 
pletely turned the cat in the pan. That is to say, one 
very warm evening when picking berries, in a beauti- 
ful grove of cedars on the opposite slope of the mountain 
from where she lives, when she came to the path called 
Petticoat Lane, near where six mountain paths meet, 
feeling tired and setting her large empty basket down, 
she sat in the shade to rest a while and fell asleep. When 
she awoke it was bright moonlight and she found two 
children, a boy and a girl, beautiful flaxed-haired little 
things, tugging at her hands and begging her to come 
with them. They looked so lovely and pressed her so 
hard that she could not refuse; so, giving them a hand a 
piece, she went along with them. She soon saw there 
were many other children, scores of them, there, skipping 
about among the little tent-like cedars in light tissues 
and tinseled dresses that shimmered like butterflies' 

At an open space they came upon a large company of 
the little things dancing in a circle, in the manner of the 
grand chain in the dancers dance. Em stood looking on 
in amazement, until at a sound as if some one clapped 
hands, the gay circle broke up and the dancers all filed 


past her in single file, each curtseying and emptying a 
coltsfoot leaf full of blueberries into the woman's basket 
and singing together: 

We've picked you the berries, there's nothing to pay; 
And we'll all come and see you on Christmas Day. 

Em was a strong woman, but she had all the berries 
she wanted to carry home that night. She also found the 
fruit to be of the finest and sold it all readily; whereas 
her own gatherings were usually inferior and hard to 
dispose of. Such kindness at the hands of children quite 
bewildered Em. She was much puzzled to know whether 
they had been her old enemies, the Pluckemin children, 
and narrowly she scrutinized every child's face she met 
when selling the fine berries there. But she could not 
seem to find one that she thought was among her beauti- 
ful little mountain benefactors. 

As the fall and bad weather came on Em was less and 
less seen in the village; but the juvenile Pluckeminites did 
not forget her. There was always a strong fascination 
about her and her mountain hovel to them. So much so 
that during recess they concocted and regularly acted a 
burlesque, which they called "Em Osborn." 

Dramatis personae: A girl having her head tied up 
fantastically and wearing an old rag of a shawl; In her 
hand a forked stick, to represent a pitchfork, would barri- 
cade herself in the school woodshed. This was Em Os- 
born. A little boy hopping about on one foot, was a one- 
legged duck of Em's. A small girl limping badly and 
having her arm In a sling was a lame, broken-winged fowl 


which Em nurtured ; and two more boys with strings tied 
to their coat-tails impersonated Em's two faithful cats 
which had no hair on their tails, the latter being like tap- 
ering whiplashes or rats' tails. The rest of the boys and 
girls represented the Pluckemin children going to visit 
the sibyl in her mountain fastness, the woodshed. 

The acts of the play followed one another in quick suc- 
cession; several children would advance and knock loudly 
on Em's door. 

"Who are you, and what's your business here?" she 
would demand from within, not attempting to open the 

"We want to come in and see your nice house, Em," 
they would cry, knocking again. "Let us in; let us in; 
we've got something nice for you." Here the rattailed 
cats would slip out and run purring and meowing among 
the callers and rubbing against them, like cats will do. 
Also the one-legged duck comes up quacking and the 
broken-winged hen busied herself picking up crumbs from 
the crackers the children are eating. After more knock- 

"Let us in; let us in, Em. Look what a lot of nice 
things we've brought you," the visitors call persistently, 
knocking louder and louder. Then the door would partly 
open and the prongs of the pitchfork coming out first. 

"I tell you to begone from here!" Em would scream. 
"I don't want none of you bad Pluckemin childer 'round 
here! Be off with you before I let the blood out of you!'' 
and the door shuts again with a bang. 

"All right for you, Em," they answer. "You're 
a, wild old hag ; that's what you are. You're always mad. 


So we'll take these nice things back and eat them our- 

"What's that?" the besieged would say. "Something 
to eat, have you got? I haven't broken bread in three 
days! Are you fooling me again?" And now, without 
pitchfork, she comes out, looking eagerly from one to 
another, one of her hands tightly grasping her chin, as if 
to keep it from chewing even before she got anything to 

"Gi' me it! Gi' me it!" she craves. "Gi me a bite to 
eat!" Then they hand her an empty package of old papers 
and run. Em makes a dive for her pitchfork and gives 
chase, the two cats following with their rat-tails in the 
air, the broken-winged fowl fluttering and cackling and 
the one-legged duck bringing up the rear squawking furi- 
ously. The mad chase continues till the pursued by round- 
ing the end of the schoolhouse are supposed to be out of 
the wood, and they barely save themselves. Then when 
safe they turn and revile and jeer at Em and her half-rat 
cats, her lame hen and the hobbling, one-legged duck, as 
these go straggling back after their mistress to their den. 

That was a favorite game of the Pluckemin school 
children, and it is said to have been a realistic staging of 
what often happened between them and Em Osborn, at 
her old "shanty," as they called her house in the woods 
high up on the Watchung Mountain. From this it is 
easy to infer that between the two factions there was lit- 
tle love lost, at all events, up to berry time last summer 
but one, when, as described, there occured that fairy-like 
bounty of filling her basket full and running over with 
blue berries, which almost stunned the poor hermit. She 


could do little else but think of it, and really for once In 
her lonely life she longed like a child for Christmas to 
come — not so much for what she might get, as to see the 
proof of whether children ever could be so good and kind 
and lovely again in this world as they had been that one 
time to her — and further to find, as she was determined 
to do, whether her benefactors on that occasion were or 
were not Pluckemin children. 

Em's way of keeping an account of the passage of time 
was by cutting a hack in a long stick for each day; but 
having been sick and sleeping irregularly she lost track 
of the sunrises and had to trudge all the way to Bedmin- 
ster to find what day it was and how many more days it 
was to Christmas. She found that three more notches in 
the stick and that day would dawn. 

When Christmas eve came the ground was sifted over 
with a deep coat of fresh fallen, dry snow ; this with a full 
moon made the night almost as light as day. Em, as was 
her wont looked around to see that her family were all 
in their places for the night. The one-legged duck after 
its supper with the broken-winged hen had hopped away 
to its little straw bed In the parlor; the hen was perched 
on the back of a seatless chair In the kitchen, and the 
two cats lay close together for warmth on the log bench 
whereon their mistress took her nightly rest and where 
she wisely utilized the soft, warm fur of her two tabbies 
to keep her own feet from freezing. 

Having mounted to her place with the cats on the log, 
although it was late, Em was reminiscent this night. 
How could she be otherwise, seeing that It was the an- 
niversary of w^hat ought to have and might have made 


her the happiest of women, but for that one word of his 
— "Ah, yes; he tried hard to recall it and to come to me 
as before; but never!" she said aloud. "They tell me 
I'm queer now. But — but — they don't know! Ah, they 
don't know," she sighed. Then she thought of the happy 
days of her childhood and girlhood, happy as the day was 
long, with her dear parents; passing from one scene to 
another of their girlish and joyous frolics, when she had 
plenty good food to eat, fine fires to warm them and soft 
beds to sleep in. 

"Ah! Christmas was a gay time then, but all gone, all 
gone!" she thought, gradually drowsing off into the land 
of dreams, and soon she was laughing again with her 
bright companions with "Merry Christmas" again ring- 
ing in her ears and snowballs flying and horns braying. 
She was back again among it all. It was very real ; so real 
that she awoke with the excitement of it and, opening her 
eyes, she became conscious with a start of real sounds of 
that very kind outside her own door. There was the 
merriest laughter with the greatest braying of horns she 
ever heard all around her old hovel, while on the kitchen 
door dozens of hands seemed to be pounding and dozens 
of wishes of "Merry Christmas!" being shouted through 
the keyholes and cracks. 

Like King Saul, she slept upon her spear, or pitchfork, 
and with this in hand she arose, forgetting all but the chil- 
dren's former annoyances and dashed to the door with her 
usual demand : 

"Who are you and what do you want here?" 

The only answer was peal after peal of children's laugh- 
ter and invitations to — 


"Come and see what we've brought you!" 
Her cat's anxiety to have the door opened decided 
Em that something good was really outside. She hastily 
undid the bolts, expecting to see a crowd, but not a 
soul was there. The cats were scratching at a big basket 
on the step, however, which Em rescued from them and 
opening which she found within a beautiful fat goose, all 
ready roasted to a turn, cranberry sauce, potatoes, celery, 
plum pudding, mince pies, apple and pumpkin pies, with 
plates, bright knives and forks, all ready to sit down to 
a real feast. She clapped the basket into her cupboard, 
when her attention was arrested by similar cries "Merry 
Christmas," laughter and horn blowing at a window at 
the other end of the house. Em hastened thither and 
found the plug of old clothes pulled out and, dropped on 
the floor, she found bags of candy, rich cakes, nuts, ap- 
ples, oranges, etc., and again not a vestige of a child to 
be seen. But sticking her head out at the h^le in the 
window, at a few rods' distance she saw a sleigh and a 
prancing team of horses on the point of starting away. 

"Now, children, all aboard!" Em heard from an adult 
voice, among the merry prattle and laughter of little 
ones. Then, with a tremendous blast from many horns 
and cheer upon cheer, away went Em Osborne's mysteri- 
ous visitors, with jingling bells and musical bugles mak- 
ing glad the very woods and rocks, down the mountain 
side, with a dash and a swirl that was worthy of old 
Santa Claus himself in his palmiest days. 



According to the Sourland hermit chief, the Indians 
drew on their imaginations in the way of fairy tales for the 
amusement of their children, much as we white people 
do in our Christmas story books. 

One of these stories said to have been told by the cave- 
dweller chief was that in the olden time, when the Rari- 
tan Kings dwelt on the mountain and reigned over many 
tribes and multitudes of people, Noorwadchantunk, the 
greatest of the monarchs, had two very beautiful chil- 
dren whom he dearly loved. One was a boy and the 
other was a girl. The boy, named Wamba, he hoped 
would succeed himself as king and chief of chiefs. One 
day, however, the queen squaw, the children's mother, 
died when the little girl, Vashtee, was only three and 
the boy but five years old. Then the king took unto him- 
self another wife to be his queen, and a mother to his 
children. She was good and kind to the children until 
one day when she had a little boy papoose of her own. 

Then all was changed. One night an evil manitou 
whispered in the mother's ear that if she were only to 
get rid of little Wamba, her own son would, in the ful- 
ness of time, be king. When she was brooding day and 
night over this, the same bad spirit again came and told 
her of a certain beldam that lived alone on the other moun- 
tain. She could work marvelous changes and perform 



wonders. To this very bad woman, the new queen- 
mother repaired, taking with her many presents and 
much wampum, which she laid on the shoulders of her 

"See," she said to the witch-woman, after describing 
what it was she wanted, "make it that my son shall be 
king when his father dies and, behold, all these riches 
and more also shall be thine!" 

Eagerly clutching the long strings of wampum and 
feasting her bleary eyes on the burdens of presents which 
the women took from their shoulders and spread out be- 
fore her, the old hag gleefully gibbering, appeared to 
bring her hooked nose and chin in touch, in a hideous 
attempt to smack her puckered lips over such prizes. 

"Oh, my sweet, honey queen, live forever!" she said, 
between a croak and squeak of voice. "Leave it to thy 
willing servant. Leave it all to her, sweet queen, and 
verily thine own son shall sit on his father's throne." 

Then the queen squaw and her women servants left 
the sorceress munching her old jaws and jabbering her 
joy over the rich haul of presents, and returned across 
the Neshanic River again to the queen's home on the 
mountain. The next day when little Wamba and his 
sister Vashtee were playing by the brook, the boy shoot- 
ing fish with the toy bow and arrow that his devoted 
father had made him, the old hag crept stealthily up be- 
hind them and touched each of them twice on the shoul- 
ders. Wings at once sprang out on their shoulders and 
their necks grew long and red and ugly, like turkeys. 

The children's father, the great king and chief of 
chiefs, happening to come along just then, beheld the 


hag of ill-omen, and being filled with fear at the sight 
of her, he ran to bring his beloved children away from 
such danger, when, to his dread astonishment, they spread 
out their newly acquired wings and flew away, high 
over his head. He ran after them looking up and call- 
ing to them to come down to him ; but after the manner 
of such birds, when pursued, they soared high out of 
his sight. 

Filled with great grief at this, the king went home and 
called his hunting braves together before him and com- 
manded them that henceforward they should never shoot 
or in any way harm or disturb a turkey-buzzard, but 
must do everything in their power to catch those birds 
alive. After this edict, whenever the hunters essayed 
to catch them, the big birds would fly away far out of 

So the hunters soon gave up all hope of ever recovering 
the beloved children of the bereaved king-father. 

Being in an agony of perplexity and distress over his 
loss, the king at last went to an old medicine man and 
inquired of him what should be done that his children 
might be restored to him. The magician answered: 

"Thy servant, O king, can turn thee into an eagle and 
then thou shalt be enabled to outfly thy chidren and soar 
above them; then, behold, thou mayst bear them down 
beneath thee to the earth. And it shall come to pass that 
as soon as their feet shall touch the ground they shall be 
thy children again, even as they were aforetime. But 
thou thyself shalt always remain a bird, even an eagle 
as I shall make thee." 

To this the distracted father assented, and immediately 


he was transformed and flew up in the air and swooped 
down upon the bird that was his son; and the eagle be- 
ing the stronger, bore him to the earth, whereupon the 
boy-buzzard turned at once into a fine young brave, the 
very picture of his father. This done, the eagle-father 
again flew up and likewise descending restored his little 

Then the boy told all his father's braves what his step- 
mother had done. Straightway they built a great quan- 
tity of fagots into a pyre. They put the bad stepmothter 
on it and fired the fagots, and she was burned to a cin- 

Wamba was then made king In his father's stead, and 
his guardian eagle always floated high over his head, 
ever watchful of his welfare, following after his son 
wheresoever he went; thus showing his fatherly love. 
Sometimes the eagle guardian threw down a feather, 
which the young man carefully fastened in his hair as a 
talisman. Thus In the course of time his head was cov- 
ered with these beautiful plumes. 

"And thus it was," the Sourland Mountain sage 
averred, "that the Indians first adopted and ever after- 
ward followed the practise of decorating their heads with 
the feathers of what they looked upon as their fatherly 
protector and the king of birds." 





It is probably true, as remarked by some unknown 
sage, long ago, that people's idiosyncrasies are largely in- 
fluenced by topographical environments. Take, for in- 
stance, a country made up of flat land, a dead level, ex- 
tending on every side as far as the eye can reach, vv^ith 
such sluggish rivers and streams that it is a puzzle to tell 
which way they are supposed to flow. Such a land is apt 
to produce a slow-blooded mediocrity of mental man, 
living in a drowsy monotony where nothing ever hap- 
pens. On the other hand, rolling hills, towering moun- 
tains, beetling rocks and rushing torrents seem to stir 
men's pulses making them imagine and dream and think 
and do things. 

Such a contrast, in a mild form, at all events, is met 
by the man who leaves the painfully prosaic steppes of 
Southern Long Island and betakes himself to almost any 
of the counties of the State of New Jersey ; but, especially 
so if he happens to make the upper reaches of Hunterdon 
County his choice, and more so, still, if he crosses the 
county line into Morris and pitches his tent in some of 
the picturesque valleys of the Schooley Mountains. That 
is just what a man named Katz did about a century ago, 
according to unerring tradition, and the move was the 
making of him. 



Christopher, or as he was famllarly known, Chris Katz, 
was born, and managed in spite of the mosquitoes, to live 
forty years on the skirts of a Sahara of sand and salt 
marsh swamp between Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways 
on Long Island. He grew some potatoes and dug the 
rest of his living out of the bogs in the shape of soft shell 
clams. His mouth, which was immense, and could not 
be made larger, his friends said, without displacing his 
ears, strikingly resembled that of a fish — a consequence, 
which, some naturalists claim, quite commonly succeeds 
an exclusively fish diet. Chris had lived entirely on fish 
and potatoes all his life. This mouth of his, with huge 
lantern jaws and very high cheek bones, together with 
big, round, watery gray eyes, really made his physiognomy 
almost the counterpart of that of the catfish. There could 
be no doubt at all that if Chris had met some of the pop- 
ular strolling players of his day, or a little later, his face 
would easily have made his fortune before the footlights. 
As it was, he found, as they say in rural Hunterdon, that 
there was "money into it;" but he had to carry it away 
from the humdrum low level of his native Long Island 
plains, and show it on the mercurial heights of the 
Schooleys to realize it. 

It is not of record what extraordinary circumstances 
they were that took Christopher Katz so far away and 
high above his native haunts; but there he turned up late 
in the fall of the year. With a huge carpetbag in one 
hand and what looked like the mother of umbrellas in 
the other, he walked into the "Travelers' Rest" road- 
house, a fine old-fashioned, roomy and solid looking inn, 
in the thriving little town of Chester, about lO o'clock 


one night. In answer to his inquiry, the smiling boniface 
replied : 

"For supper, friend, I'm heartily at your service; if the 
best half of a venison pie, corn cake, hot waffles and a 
tankard of my best home brewed to wash it down, might 
like thee. But as to a room, I'm right sorry sir, to say it; 
but we're full up, and — eh? What say, Mirandy? Now 
hold hard a minute. Just wait half a jiffy till I see what 
the woman says." 

"The woman" was his wife, who had called him. He 
hurried to her. Coming back shortly he drew a foaming 
mug of his prime October to Chris's order, and the lat- 
ter took a long pull at it. 

"Now, about a room," mine host said. "We have 
got an idle room, and the best bed in the house that room 
has into it, too; but it's so long since it has been let to 
any one that, by jiminy, I clean forgot it! Now, I'll tell 
you about that there room, and, as the woman says, "when 
you know all we know ourselves, why, you can suit your- 
self whether you'll take it or not." 

The landlord then explained to Chris that some years 
before, an old barber had occupied the room in question, 
and that he was either murdered or had put an end to his 
own life in that room by cutting his throat from ear to 

"Whether is was murder or he killed himself was 
never proved, but anyway," said the innkeeper, "it makes 
little difference now which way it was; the man is dead 
and buried and there's an end o' the business so far as I 
am concerned. But, hark ye, now, I always act fair and 
square by every man. Every man Jack in this house but 


myself, every customer that comes to it and every man, 
I do believe, in Chester town, will tell you that the old 
barber rises out of his grave and comes back to that room. 
Several people tried to sleep in the room since the trag- 
edy, but they all quit before the night was half through, 
and they all said the same thing as to what drove them 
out, and that was that the barber himself or his ghost 
walked the room in his white winding sheet, asking in a 
hollow voice: 

** 'Do you want to be shaved? Do you want to be 
shaved ?' 

"Now," continued the landlord, "between you and me 
and the bedpost, I don't give a continental cuss for all 
their white-livered yarns; nothin' but fool talk, tommyrot, 
I call it. Say, now, what do you think of it all, Mr. — 
I didn't quite catch your name?" 

"Katz, Christopher Katz, is my name," Chris an- 
swered, "and as to what I think about the barber or his 
ghost, the best way to give my opinion of the tales is to 
say that I will sleep in the room to-night if you are agree- 
able and you don't want too much for that privilege." 

"Good! good! Bully for you; now, Mr. Skat — Mr. 
Katz, I mean — excuse me, sir, but I do like to see a man 
as is a man, sir! Here, Mary Ann!" called the landlord 
to one of the hired girls, as he excitedly took down a cou- 
ple of burnished copper warming pans from the tall man- 
telpiece. "See, Mary Ann, clap a lot of red hot coals in- 
to these and keep 'em going in the bed in No. i for a 
good hour, do you hear!" 

"Oh, mercy on us!" ejaculated the girl, catching her 


breath, "in that room! All right, sir — but — but let Jenny 
come along with me." 

"All right, all right; get away about it, the pair of 
you," grunted the good-natured host, "and I'll just have 
to get the gentleman's supper myself. Such a set of 
frightened babbies as I've to put up with, anyhow!" 

"Now, you can see for youself," said he, turning to his 
guest, "one of them's as bad as another all through this 
house, and the whole town, I'll be sworn; which it dam- 
ages my good wholesome house, sir, from the wine in my 
cellar to the topmost shingle on the roof." 

"Talking of ghosts," Chris said, "I'm a true believer 
in what our old church sexton says and he's always mix- 
ing among coffins and graves. 'Believe me,' the sexton 
said one day I sounded him on the subject; 'believe me,' 
says he, 'there's no such thing as people coming back as 
ghosts. There's a good reason for it. For if a man goes 
to the good place when he dies he wouldn't leave it to 
come back to a worse place if he could; and if he goes to 
the bad spot, why, they wouldn't let him out to come 
back if he wanted to. Therefore,' says he, 'none of them 
ever does come back nohow.' " 

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed mine host; "that's about the 
closest reasoning I ever heard on! And now for your 
supper, friend; and it shall be worthy of the 'Traveler's 
Rest.' " 

The innkeeper, who seemed to take quite a liking to 
his new guest, probably because he looked so simple and 
was generally silent and listened at any length, appar- 
ently with his mouth as well as his ears, told Chris that 
his house was the headquarters for practically all 


ilir tin peddlers that came into the School ey's, men who 
in those days drove their iniiie wasions piled up high with 
household necessities throuj:;h every hii2;hway and byway 
ot the K>utitry. ( lood suhstantinl men of means they 
jxenernlly were, too, and respected even where. But, like 
nil other kinds of tradesmen, they had their hard drink- 
ers, hraw lers and i;amhlers among them. And mine host, 
riiihtly iudi^iint!: Chris not to be of that stripe, expressed 
a hope that it would not i^reatly disturb him if soiue of 
tht>se worthies were a bit late and noisy over their cards 
and cups, to which the piest replied that if the old bar- 
ber wouKl only let him alone he telt sure he would easily 
i;et ahtiii: with the rest. At all e\ents. he would try it, 
with which, takini: his candle, he repaired to No. i and 
went to bed. 

He h:\i\ not i;one asleep. howe\er. beiore he heard a 
pecidiar sounil. such a sound as Chris had little doubt 
that nervous people mi.cht easily mapiify into the dis:;- 
nity of a huiuau voice; but it did not so appear to hiiu. 
and, p:etting up, he detenuined to investip:ate. Locatinjx 
the oriiiin of the soimd as beinc in one corner of the 
room, he went near and listeneil. It certainly was sup;- 
p:estive ot a half-whine, half-moan of an old tuan, and 
not at all vmlike a kind of mumbling of "Do you want to 
be shaved ?" But that was not enough for the hard-headed 
"I.(Mig Island Yank," as Chris was sometimes called. He 
studied the thing as he nu'ght n mathematical probleiu. 
At last he openevl the window nearest the apparent 
source of the disturbance, and, behold! sure enough, 
there he saw the perfectly natural cause of what had ter- 
rified a lot of people half out of their wits. It was noth- 


ing more than the rubbing of a limb of a lilckory tree 
against the corner of the house near the window. With 
a derisive snifF he shut down the window and went back 
to bed. 

Perfectly satisfied and at his ease now and assured of 
enjoying the quiet rest he was greatly in need of, he was 
in the act of tucking himself in nice and srnig for sleep, 
when, to his intense disgust two or three loud-voiced men 
came stamping into munber two, next door, and began 
dragging chairs and tables about, evidently all uncon- 
scious of Chris's occupation of No. i. He v\as not long 
left in doubt of their intention, for among clinking of 
bottles and glasses and big oaths he heard them settle 
upon high stakes to be played for at cards; and it was 
not long before the chinking of coin, periods of great 
quiet interspersed by excited wrangles and blasphemy, 
confirmed the suspicion that they were gamblers and 
j^lainly meant to make a m'ght of it. Chris stood it 
for about two hours, then suddenly a great idea came to 

(letting out of bed during one of the gambler's loud 
arguments, he slipped back the bolt of a commum'catin;:; 
door with next room, and finding it open easily, peeped 
in and saw three men sitting close around a small table in 
one corner. The feeble yellow glare of two candles, 
one on each end of the table, showed the frenzied excite- 
ment of the men's dissolute faces, as their eves strained 
nervously from the cards in their hands to the piles of 
gold atul silver before them, which were about to be lost 
or won on the mere chance of a card. The pot was a 
big one; one man was to be made rich and the olliers as 


good as ruined. For the time, their liquor stood untasted, 
the only sound being the flip of shufl[ling and dealing 
and ejaculated curses at the tardiness of the winning 
card's appearance. It was a supreme moment. 

Withdrawing his head from the slightly opened door, 
Chris hastily whipped a sheet from the bed and hanging 
it over his head and in folds around his body, grasped 
the washbowl in one hand and then slowly advanced into 
the gamblers' room. When he had taken about three 
steps in, 

*'Do you want to be shaved?" he said as if out of the 
hollowest tomb. 

For a second or so the three pairs of eyes almost bulged 
out of their sockets, as, forgetting the game, money and 
everything else in the world, their owners opening wide 
their mouths as well, stared at the awful white figure. 
It made another step forward, and: 

"Do you want — ?" but before the ghostly question 
was finished: 

"It's the barber!" "It's the ghost!" "Let me out of 
here!" yelled the gamblers in abject terror as they fled 
and fell over each other in the doorway in their wild 
haste to escape from the room. 

When Chris heard the last of the trio scampering 
away for his life along the passage, he held his wash 
bowl to the deserted table and swept the three piles of 
money into it. Then he went back into his own room, 
locked the door and went quietly to bed. All was silent 
next door the rest of the night. Evidently the gamblers 
did not dare enter the room again. If they did, Chris 
said, they were mighty quiet about it, for he never heard 


a sound. Next morning, when he went down to a late 
breakfast, all the peddlers had long before departed on 
their business rounds. After a comfortable meal, Chris 
did the same, and his heart warmed at the very name of 
the Schooley Mountains ever afterward. 

Talking of peddlers, it is wonderful, old people here 
say, how things have changed in the country. One of the 
old standing institutions used to be the visits all around 
of the tin peddler. Now he is never seen any more. His 
big lumbering and crowded wagon once upon a time 
would regularly heave in sight with all its shining tin 
goods — the latest patent egg-beaters, nutmeg graters, 
toasting forks, broilers and novelty helps of every kind 
for the housewife. And she, ever looking forward to his 
welcome visits, would be carefully saving up her white 
rags in one bag and her colored clippings in another, 
against the day for the pleasant banter of exchange and 
barter with the well-known tin peddler — not some jab- 
bering and suspicious foreigner, but Mr. A. or Mr. B. 
of some good old native American family, on his time- 
honored and regular rounds. 

Indeed, some of New York's richest men of the past 
had their first start in life in such a business. For in- 
stance, the well-known *'Jim" Fisk, the millionaire, who 
met such an untimely end at the hands of Stokes, as a 
little boy traveled for years through, especially, Vermont 
and New Hampshire, on one of these wagons — just such 
wagons they were as used to creep along the Old York 
road here, through Hunterdon County in those days, as 
several aged persons here still delight to tell of. One 
woman now living near Reaville, who in her younger 


days lived in Vermont, says the variety and quantity of 
things that Mr. Fisk senior used to carry on his im- 
mense bazar-like wagon was something wonderful. 

Besides an endless selection of shining tinware he had 
such things as spectacles, ribbons of all kinds, a great 
variety of pretty dress goods, fancy work-baskets and no- 
tions of all kinds, as well as genuine jewelry. The above- 
mentioned lady's grandmother bought a string of prettily 
chased, real gold beads from Mr. Fisk senior, which she 
wore all her life, without ever once parting or losing a 
bead; and a grand-daughter wears them to this day. 

At the famous old "Downer's Tavern," at Upper Falls, 
Vt. (now called Amsden), the same lady well remembers 
when Fisk used regularly to put up and make his head- 
quarters there, from which he made numerous day jour- 
neys in the populous neighborhood. The present white- 
haired proprietor of that hostelry, who was only a little 
boy himself when the elder Fisk used to put up for 
long spells there, never tires of telling about "Jim" Fisk. 
It will be remembered that at the time of the great Chi- 
cago fire this same James Fisk was the first to dispatch a re- 
lief train, all at his own expense, to the sufferers there. 
The old innkeeper says that little Jim, who was a "bit of 
a runt" about his own age, was considered somewhat lazy, 
and being under-sized for his age, he often got out of 
work by complaining that he was too small to do it. The 
cleaning out of the stable was one of the jobs Jim used to 
shirk in this way. 

But one day his father put him on his mettle by prom- 
ising that if he cleaned the stable and would do the work 
well he should have $2. Being keen even then to make 


an honest penny, Jim went at it with a will, finished the 
job in good workmanlike style and duly received his $2. 
But, alas for Jim! It was only a baited trap of his long- 
headed father. For ever after that his plea of being too 
little to do it was of no avail and he had the stable to 
clean without mention of any further bribes. Many and 
many were the times, the landlord says, that he heard Jim 
declare later in life, after he had become a rich man, that 
cleaning that stable that time for $2 was the greatest 
mistake he ever made in his life. 



When William Penn treated with the Indians for a 
tract of land on one occasion, the extent of the purchase 
was agreed to be a given distance inland from the Dela- 
ware and as far along that river as a white man could 
travel in one day, from sunrise to sunset. In the choice 
of a man to do the walking or running, and in the elab- 
orate provisions made for his refreshments at intervals 
all along the course, so that he might cover as much 
ground as possible, and further, through the tremendous 
length he thus measured off, it is said the great Quaker 
came nearer forfeiting the red men's confidence than in any 
other of his many transactions with them. The Indians 
did bitterly resent what they felt to be the unfair advan- 
tage thus taken of them ; but their wrath was directed 
against the man and not his master. 

This man, the Weston of his day, was John Marshall. 
He was said to be wonderfully nimble of foot and a 
prodigy in endurance. For his ver>^ effective service on that 
occasion, John Marshall was granted a fine estate; but 
for many a long day after entering into possession of it he 
was in jeopardy, for his life was zealously sought by the 
red men, not by open attack by numbers, but secretly by 
one or two who used to skulk in neighboring woods with 
the object of shooting their enemy from ambush and then 
escaping; so that the murder might be a mystery and not 
chargeable against them by their great friend, William 



Penn. Naturally under such circumstances Marshall 
took care to have a loaded musket and pistols handy at 
all times. For he had more than once surprised his prowl- 
ing enemies; but as they had not actually attacked him he 
allowed them to slink away, as they always did when ob- 

At last an opportunity came when the white man by a 
strategic movement quite overawed them. He was en- 
gaged with his axe one evening among some stumps in a 
clearing when he caught sight of three Indians stealthily 
approaching. He purposely avoided openly looking their 
way, so as to draw them on, and with great nerve kept in 
full view until actually within musket range. Then, as 
if by accident, he disappeared behind a stump and taking 
his musket ramrod put his hat on it and pushed it up in 
sight, as if his head were in it and he were watching over 
the top of the stump. As he anticipated, they let drive 
and riddled the hat with three bullets. Then when he 
knew their weapons were empty the wily Marshall 
jumped up, shot one dead with his musket and pistoled 
the other two. One of the savages who was badly 
wounded he allowed to crawl away, so that he might tell 
his tribe the tale. The result was that Marshall was not 
again troubled by the Indians. 

According to tradition, tw^o or three sons of this first 
John Marshall, James, John and Edward, settled at Rah- 
way; but later James and John migrated with their fam- 
ilies to Stony Hill valley, a very fertile hollow lying be- 
tween the Second Mountain of the Watchungs and an 
offshoot known as Stony Hill. For reasons unknown 
these two families changed their names to Marsh, leav- 



Ing off the last syllable. James had a son, also named 
James, who grew up to be of exceptionally fine physique 
and who having married, became father of six children. 
As the young man looked upon his boys and girls growing 
up around him, he failed to see any proper future for them 
there, In the mountains, and moved to a little hamlet 
which afterward became Paterson, where he judged the 
outlook to be more favorable. 

This family was said to be as beautiful in character as 
they were prepossessing In personal beauty. As time 
passed, the third son, John, developed into a singu- 
larly handsome young fellow, but one who as cordially 
hated any one kind of work as another and harked back 
with an overpowering longing for the free air of moun- 
tain and forest, the green hills and woods of his boyhood 
haunts. He was so good to look upon that it was easy to 
anticipate fame and glory of some sort as awaiting him. 
Of all things impossible to expect for him, however, what 
did come was the most surprising and unexepected, and 
that was Infamy. 

Taking to the wlldwood with all the ardor of a young 
duck for water, through all the Watchung, Sourland, Ho- 
patcong and Musconetcong mountains, no foot was fleet- 
er, no eye more keen, no steadier hand In the daring hunt 
than John Marsh's, even while yet but a stripling. He 
loved to climb the dizziest steeps and delve through crag- 
gy gorges of the then unexplored mountains, and to out- 
wit and capture whatever he set his heart upon as game. 
Every ancient red man's trail, every bridle path through 
the densest forest, young John knew far better than he did 


any book. Afoot or in the saddle he was equally at home, 
the unapproachable Nimrod of the mountains. 

To transplant such a spirit into the town was to cage 
the young eagle. His father expostulated, telling him he 
should imitate his excellent brothers and settle down to 
useful work ; and John would acquiesce and try once more. 
But early as the parent rose of a morning, John was up 
before him ; and once again "Bugler," the best saddle 
horse, would be gone from the stable and John gone 
with him — back, back again to his fascinating mountains! 
It seemed quite hopeless. 

"Well, let him go," the father said at last, "till he finds 
that he can't live by it. He cannot always hang on his 
uncle John. He'll be wanting money to ride his hobby; 
then he'll come back and go to work." 

As far as wanting money, that prophecy was correct, 
but otherwise it went amiss. The young fellow developed 
a taste for card playing with loose company at wayside 
taverns. Money was everything there and he must have 
it. He came and went as he pleased, his indulgent Uncle 
John asking no questions. When his nephew would dis- 
appear for a few days and nights Uncle John thought the 
boy had gone back home for a while. And the father 
felt all was perfectly right so long as his boy was at his 
Uncle John's. So after about a week's absence when 
John came back to his uncle's on foot, the latter had no 
idea in the world but that the young fellow had been home 
and had left his father's favorite saddle horse "Bugler" 
there. Nevertheless the sad fact was that John had sold 
the horse for a large sum — more money than he had ever 


before handled — and like the proverbial fool, had already 
squandered every penny of it gambling. 

That was the parting of the ways in John's life. He 
was afraid to go home now and felt more and more guilt- 
ily ashamed to meet his good old uncle's frank and honest 
greetings. The only people he could look in the face 
without flinching were those back-barroom loungers of ill 
omen at the wayside taverns. 

"What! down on your luck, John? Ah, douse it and 
never say die, me hearty!" cried Slippery Dick, one of 
these choice spirits, clapping John with cheerful familiari- 
ty on the shoulder. "Come along in ; cheer-up, old chap," 
said he; and then in John's ear: "Another strike, sweet 
innocent, and raise the wind ; easiest thing in the world ! 
Hasn't pop another Bucephalus of the Bugler type? I've 
a buyer, ripe and raging-ready with a good three hundred 
spot cash, for another like that. What say to it, John? 
It's dead easy money." 

John shook his head, but only weakly, and Dick swag- 
gered out to the bar to order drinks, trolling, 

"Gaily still my moments roll. 
While I quaff the flowing bowl ;" 

and as he came back with two bumpers: 

"Care can never reach the soul 
Who deeply drinks of wine." 

After several more drinks and much talk, every now 
and again punctuated by a few bars of some madrigal or 


bachanal drivel from the elder toper, the two left the 
house together. Striking hands at parting: 

"That's settled then;" Slippery Dick said in an un- 
dertone: "Tony Van Vechten's tavern, Lambertville, 
next Monday night at 12 o'clock. Deliver the goods 
and I'm there, safe as houses with my man and the 

"I'll be there;" John answered and they took their 
several ways. 

As John some time later advanced toward his uncle's 
he stopped and looked at the peaceful homestead in the 
silent moonlight. "No!" he said, turning on his heel, 
"I cannot face Uncle John any more. I must pay my 
way now as I can. When I've money I'll eat well and 
sleep well; but till Monday night and my purse is re- 
plenished, the green grass for my bed and thou, starry 
heaven, for my canopy. O money, money! my only 
friend, thou art equally good howsoever we get thee; 
mine thou shalt be!" with which he struck into the 

Two days later there was complete consternation in 
Stony Hill, then known as Union village. Bill Par- 
sons, the well-to-do store keeper found his stable door 
broken open and his best horse gone. Parsons was a 
breeder of fine saddlehorses. The very pick of his stud 
was stolen! Who was the theif? It was a generation 
since such a thing happened. 

In the great hue and cry set up among the mountain 
dwellers everyone thought of strangers of course for the 
thief. A couple of tin peddlers who had passed through 
the day before were immediately pursued by Parsons, 


down through Passaic to Newark, but to no purpose; 
the men having no difficulty in proving their long es- 
tablished good character. Another villager, Silas Huff, 
had followed a clue that led him to Paterson with simi- 
lar result. The man he followed was a blacksmith's 
helper in search of work and honest as any man. 

Hufi was in the store telling Bill Parsons about his 
quest when Uncle John Marsh came in to learn what 
success they'd had. Having heard both men's stories of 
their fruitless rides: 

'Til tell you what, Bill," he said gleefully, 'Til send 
and ask my brother James at Paterson to send my 
nephew John up here with 'Bugler'! I'll wager that 
John will run down the thief if he's " 

"That's strange, Uncle John," Huff broke in, "for 
I met James and he said John was up here with you; 
and he asked me to tell you that he was in need of Bug- 
ler and would like if you would send John home with the 

"How's that, Silas?" Uncle John said with a start. 
"Did brother James say that? There must be a won- 
derful mistake somewhere. Why," said he taking a long 
breath and looking hard at Huff; "Why Silas, my nephew 
hasn't been inside my door in the last ten days; and 
Bugler! Why, he took Bugler home long ago." 

"Well, as you say. Uncle John," said Huff, putting a 
fresh chew in his mouth, "there's some mistake some- 
where ; for sartin sure it is that James said his boy was at 
your house and that he was stopping too long, for he 
hadn't been home for more two whole months." 

At this Uncle John's eyes and even his mouth opened 


wide; then he gave a shrill whistle of surprise and hurl- 
ing out, shouted from the door: 

"I'll see James in two hours' time!" And ten min- 
utes later, mounted on "Star", the swiftest horse in his 
stable, he was gone full gallop toward Paterson. 

By this time the village w^as in a rumpus, with th-e 
store as a storm center. 

"My stars! but Uncle John's gone off somewhere in a 
ter'ble hurry," Luther Dunn remarked, coming in like 
everyone else to give and get all the news possible. "B-e 
he gone for a docther, think ye Bill?" he asked the pro- 
prietor in his usual, high falsetto twang. But Parsons in 
a brown study, stood scratching his head and did not 
answer till his hat fell off. Replacing it mechanically: 

"What's that you said, Luther, — 'for a doctor'? No, 
I guess not. He's gone to get his nephew. Oh, say, 
Luther, that reminds me; weren't you a tellin' some- 
thing about seeing young John Marsh down in Crebbs' 
tavern one night last week and that he was talking with 
Slippery Dick?" 

"Sure I was! and I know more'n I telt ye then, too!" 
Luther sung out, delighted to find the deep interest his 
words all of a sudden seemed to create, for usually no- 
body cared to listen to him. "Why," said he, "I beared 
tell that young John lost more'n three hundred dollars in 
one night down there at cards." He had not finished 
speaking when a boy stuck his head in at the door and 
shouted that there were six men on horseback gone up to 
Uncle John's house. Soon the astounding news was out 
that another valuable horse had been stolen, this time at 
Turkey village. (Afteru^ard named New Providence 


so called as tradition has it, because at a very full church 
meeting the crowded gallery fell to the ground and not 
one hurt. "It is a providence," the minister declared. 
"Let us call this favored place the Nev^ Providence;" 
and that has been its name ever since). Young John 
Marsh had been seen loitering in the Turkey neighbor- 
hood on the night of the theft. It was in fact a posse of 
Turkey villagers the boy had seen going up to Uncle 
John's place, whither they went in the hope of nabbing 
Young John, who, they insisted, had stolen the horse. 

Evil news travels fast ; everywhere far and near, as 
if by magic, it was known that the handsome and jovial 
young John Marsh was wanted for horse stealing; and 
going to strengthen suspicion of him, he could nowhere 
be found. His uncle John came home terribly down up- 
on his nephew and became one of the most actively deter- 
mined, as he said, "to land the young cub in jail." Now 
that his eyes were opened he could recall many things in 
the young man's conduct of late that seemed to fit in with 
the worst that was said of him. 

"A horse-thief! Ruination and damnation for the good 
name he disgraces! States prison for the scamp! That's 
where he'll be shortly or my name's not John Marsh!" 

But either the uncle overestimated his capabilities or 
sadly miscalculated his nephew's cleverness. For days 
slipped away, weeks, months and even a whole year, and 
still young Marsh was at large. And to crown it all, 
horses kept on slipping away, also, until all the country, 
from the North River to the Delaware and from New 
York State on the north, to Staten Island and Long Isl- 
and on the south, horse owners trembled at his name. 


''He's the very devil is that boy, John;" the baffled un- 
cle began in the store one night. And promptly everyone 
adopted the name of "Devil John" for the man that so 
neatly nipped up choice horses, here, there and everywhere, 
turned them into cash and disappeared into forest fastnesses, 
simply defying the law and all its emissaries. And for one 
so superhumanly crafty and nimble of wit and limb as he 
was in his nefarious and hazardous work, the name seemed 
not inappropriate and it clung to him to the last. 

I am indebted to A. C. Townley of Newark, who is 
quite a lover of ancient lore, for most of these details in 
the short and somewhat spectacular career of this re- 
markable young scapegrace. On one occasion, my inform- 
ant said. Devil John was sighted toward dusk on a road 
near the village then called Browsetown, now known as 
Watchung. Stiles, the miller and Peter Allen were talk- 
ing together at the head of the Notch road, on the way to 
Plainfield, and suddenly noticed the notorious horse-thief 
crossing the road. They immediately gave chase and fol- 
lowed through a small wood dividing two clearings. 
When half through the wood they had to climb over a 
large fallen tree, after which, though they lost sight of 
their man, they rushed forward hoping to find him in the 
cleared ground ahead. In this they were disappointed, 
but while looking around and listening, they heard rust- 
ling in the wood behind them. Back they ran full tilt, 
when, to their amazement they saw in the gathering 
darkness what appeared to be a fiery figure moving away 
through the trees. 

"Hold on. Stiles!" Allen whispered, "don't go any 
farther; that's no man but a ghost we're after!" 


"Nonsense, Pete! Look ye here. Here's where my lad 
tlodged us." And Stiles pointed to a mass of glowing 
phosphorescent pulp in the hollow old tree, where Devil 
John had hidden himself. He easily escaped and as usual 
left the neighborhood distracted by riding away in the 
dim of early morning on one of the farmers' best horses. 
With various superstitious trimmings this tale has regaled 
the imaginations of nursery prattlers in the mountains for 

A mountaineer farmer, Baltus Roll was dragged from 
his house one freezing night and murdered. His wife, 
who was left tied to the wood pile in her night-dress, 
also died from fright and exposure. Abner Smalley, who 
married the deceased woman's sister got the farm and 
among other things had an exceptionally fine saddle 
horse, one that was good for sixty miles a day over those 
hills with the proud Abner on his back. Naturally the 
owner of such an animal shared the general dread of a 
visit from Devil John, and he provided himself with a 
big savage dog which he kept in the stable to protect his 
horse. But one day he found the dog dead and before 
he could get another the horse disappeared. The co- 
incidence pointed to poison, which the knowing thief un- 
doubtedly used to effect his purpose. 

Abner hunted high and low the whole county over 
for his horse, but in vain. Months after he had given up 
hope of ever seeing it again Noah Collins, a neighbor, hap- 
pening to be over on Long Island, was astonished one day 
to see Abner's horse, which he knew in a moment, quietly 
grazing in a paddock there. He quickly sent word of 
his find and Abner as quickly responded by going to 


Long Island and replevining his horse. He found to his 
amazement that Devil John, who got the horse of course, 
first sold it to another man ; then after a few days he 
re-stole the animal one night and then sold it to the man 
from whom Abner replevened it. 

Another time the famous horse thief stole a fine sad- 
dle horse and started by way of the Old York Road for 
Philadelphia. The theft having been discovered in bet- 
ter time than usual, the rightful owner promptly raised 
an outcry and with half a dozen mounted neighbors gave 
hot chase. Knowing the direction the thief took they 
pushed ahead that way haphazard until daylight broke. 
The first man they met was hailed: 

"Have you seen a man on horseback going this way? 
It's Devil John, the horse thief!" 

"Lans sakes alive! Yes; he's just ahead of ye." 

Applying whip and spur, they dashed for\\^ard until, 
as they approached Ringoes, they had him in plain view 
and commenced yelling "Stop thief! Stop thief!" not 
more than two hundred yards behind, hoping the Ringoes 
villagers would stop the runaway. But Devil John had 
a ready wit; for seeing several men in the road ahead of 
him and making sure they heard his pursuers' yells, he 
took up the cry himself and shouted even louder than 
they did, "Stop thief! Stop thief!" pointing ahead and 
gesturing wildly to stop an imaginary fugitive; and while 
the villagers looked to see if anyone had previously passed 
the wily thief swept by in a cloud of dust. The truth 
dawned on the men when the panting pursurers came 
up, demanding: 

"Why didn't you stop that man?" but they waited not 


answers, only looking their disgust and laying whips harder 
than ever on their jaded horses. On went the chase with 
another near shave at Doylestown; but the thief being 
better mounted put a wider gap between them. On 
reaching Nice Town and the Black Horse tavern, and at 
the Germantown road corner, they had to enquire which 
way the thief had taken. Arriving at Gerard avenue 
and Second street, Philadelphia, they began a search of 
the stables; but for a long time could see nothing of the 
horse or man they sought. But while standing undecided 
where to go next they heard a horse's whinney from a 
cellar beneath the stables. Demanding admittance they 
found the stolen horse covered with foam but no trace of 
its rider. From the description given of him, however, 
the decamped jockey was easily recognized as the arch 
enemy of horse-owners. Devil John. He lost his horse 
this time but once more got clear away himself. 

For several years the young horse-thief thus pursued 
his robberies, in defiance of all that could be done to 
stop or stay him ; as If he were a hawk and pounced upon 
his prey from the clouds, striking, now here, now there, 
In this county or that, from Long Island to Warren, and 
disappearing with his booty as if by magic. After a long 
respite from his depredations Stony Hill was once more 
thrown Into spasms by the report that he was again hov- 
ering on Its skirts, In the woods. His uncle John being 
duly notified, at once jumped to the conclusion that his 
rascally nephew was going to steal his beautiful chestnut 
known as the finest saddle-horse In the section. 

"Well, he may try his hand at it, but he'll get a few 
inches of steel into his ribs first," Uncle John declared, 


brandishing a pitchfork. And he took the fork over to a 
neighbor's and had the prongs specially sharpened for the 
purpose. Then as night came on he secreted himself in 
the stable on the watch, weapon in hand, ready to impale 
his desperate nephew if he dared to show up. Three suc- 
cessive nights he w^atched without result. On the fourth 
night his vigilance, without excitement, beginning to 
slacken a little, he involuntarily dropped asleep in spite 
of himself. 

Waking with a tremendous start, like Saul did his 
spear, he clutched the pitchfork and jumped to his feet; 
but the horse was gone! The nimble David, or Devil 
John, had come to his tent, helped himself and had gone 
in peace. As the old gentleman dashed for the door he 
felt something up his sleeve and drew from it a piece of 
paper. Rushing into the house, in the candlelight he read 
in the paper : 

"My humble duty to you. Uncle John, and grateful 
thanks for the chestnut. I'll duly report to you what I 
get for him. John." 

"Well he is the very devil himself, that boy, for 
sure!" Uncle John cried, dashing out and listening for 
any sound ; but all was still as the grave. He rushed for 
help and several men rode in various directions without, 
however, finding the least trace of the clever thief. Know- 
ing every wood path throughout the country Devil John 
easily escaped. And the young scapegrace kept his word 
with his uncle, for inside of a week, he wrote from Eas- 


ton, Pennsylvania, that he had just sold the chestnut for 
a large sum. 

But as such careers naturally invite, the desperate young 
man came to an inglorious end. Being hotly pursued on 
a stolen horse a little below^ Phillipsburg, Warren Co., 
he savr nothing for It but capture or to swim the swollen 
Delaware. Suddenly wheeling from the road he drove 
the spurs Into the mettled horse's sides and plunged Into 
the raging river. His pursuers stopped. They dared not 
breast such a tumbling torrent. He was more than man, 
they said, if he crossed alive. 

But they soon saw horse and man roll over and over in 
the boiling flood and then sink out of sight. That was 
the end of Devil John. Both he and his last stolen horse 
were drowned and must have been swept out to sea; for 
neither was ever again seen or heard of. 



The Rev. Dr. Philip Melanchthon Dooh'ttle was pas- 
tor of the North Branch Reformed Dutch Church for a 
little over half a century. On the 25th of July, 1906, 
there was a great festal gathering of clergy and laity in the 
village on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his 
pastorate, at which the aged clergyman delivered an able 
and interesting historical account of his stewardship, and 
in several addresses of classmates and laymen, was made 
the recipient of well deserved felicitations. 

The address on behalf of the Theological Seminary of 
New Brunswick, class of 1856, by Rev. Dr. E. Tanjore 
Corwin, was particularly interesting in pleasant reminis- 
cence, as well as disclosing the fact that Doctor Doolit- 
tle and he had been classmates of Dr. T. De Witt Tal- 
mage. The class, Dr. Corwin said, had been somewhat 
exceptional for long terms. One reached thirty-eight 
years of service in the ministry; three served from forty 
to forty-five years; one of forty-eight years still continued 
in the same field, "and," the speaker said, *'your own 
honored pastor here at North Branch, of fifty years." 
Three of the class were in the ministry over forty years; 
Rev. Giles Vanderwall, deceased, a Hollander by birth; 
the second. Rev. John Ferguson Harris, deceased, 
served forty-two years. 

''The third of this trio," Dr. Corwin said, "Rev. T. 


DeWItt Talmage, was in the ministry for forty-six 
years. He held in all five pastorates, the one in Brook- 
lyn reaching a term of twenty-five years. He was the 
genius of our class. Not remarkable as a student, he 
was, nevertheless, an omniverous reader. His thoughts 
came in glowing pictures, which he presented in most viv- 
id colors to his astonished hearers. His style of preaching 
in the seminary had all the peculiarities of his subsequent 
years, only later on it became somewhat more chastened." 

Dr. Corwin named four others of the same class as 
semi-centenarians; Rev. Dr. John H. Oerter, forty-eight 
years pastor of the Fourth German Church of New 
York. Well known as a scholar, Dr. Oerter was chosen 
by General Synod to deliver one of the courses of Vedder 
lectures in the New Brunswick Seminary, which course 
was published in volume in 1887. Rev. Dr. James Dem- 
arest was another of the class, who, after he had passed his 
seventieth year, was chosen pastor of the Claremont Ave- 
nue Church in Brooklyn, N. Y. 

"It was my own privilege," said the speaker, *'to serve 
the church of Millstone for twenty-five years. I have 
always been a little proud of so long a pastorate, but what 
is that compared with Dr. Doolittle's?" 

Dr. Corwin's address was interspersed with entertain- 
ing anecdotes. One, illustrative of a proneness to dry 
wit and humor on the part of Dr. Doolittle in his col- 
lege days, was given. Even the professors sometimes 
came in for a hit. It was customary for the students to 
preach on certain days, with the other students and a pro- 
fessor in the chair, as critics. After the sermon any one 
who had a criticism to make made It. This day, a very 


hot day in June it was, when they had assembled half 
baked with the heat, the president came in with every 
evidence that he had dined heartily, perhaps a little too 
well for so hot a day. For not long after he had as- 
sumed the comfortable armchair, and the preacher had 
fairly well launched out on his subject, it was noticed 
that the presiding professor had dropped into a sound 

Winks and smiles liberally passed among the young 
men, much to the annoyance and embarrassment of the 
preacher. Luckily the sleeper awoke just before the ser- 
mon ended, and, as if nothing unusual had happened, 
sedately called upon the students to make their criticisms 
of the discourse. After several young men had spoken, 
Dr. Doolittle rose and gravely commented on the ser- 

"But, professor," he said at the finish, "I noticed dur- 
ing the delivery of the sermon that some of the auditors 
were fast asleep. This is not showing due respect to the 
preacher, and is even embarrassing to him, and I hope 
that the professor when he sums up our criticisms will re- 
buke such conduct as it deserves." 

After this somewhat bold move all waited breathlessly 
for the professor's way out of such a dilemma. He was 
a large man of truly majestic presence, but genial withal. 
Rising with his blandest smile and with his fingers in- 
serted among his vest buttons: 

"Young gentlemen," he said, "I have listened to your 
criticisms to-day with the greatest interest, and for once 
I think they are so unusually excellent and just that I 
do not feel that I can add anything to them. Good af- 



ternoon." And through a convenient door he slid from 
the room. 

Rev. George H. Stephens, of Philadelphia, who had 
attended the church as a little boy, coming in at the 
eleventh hour, gave an address sparkling with humorous 
pleasantry. Then, taking from the table a purse, which 
emitted an agreeable, chinking sound: 

"But I have a special duty to perform," he said. "It 
is in the realm of finance, and there's no graft in it, 
either. * * * Good old Dr. Cuyler was present 
once at the annual New England dinner," Mr. Stephens 
explained, "and, being called upon to speak, as finance 
was then on the carpet, said he would propound them a 
conundrum : 

" 'Why,' Dr. Cuyler queried, Vas Noah the greatest 
financier of his times?' He gave them a year for its 
solution. The following year, not being present at the 
banquet, he telegraphed the answer to his conundrum. 

" 'Noah was the greatest financier of his time,' he said, 
'because he was able to float a stock company at a time 
when all his contemporaries were forced into involuntary 
liquidation.' " 

Mr. Stephens on behalf of the North Branch congre- 
gation then presented Dr. Doolittle with a purse of gold, 
along with which the doctor was to accept the affection- 
ate wishes of his people that he might long be spared to 
minister to them. 

It was no distant date, however, when the infirmities 
of advanced years forced the venerable pastor to retire. 
He felt that his work was done and resigned. 

"Yet," said the earnest old man, "if you will allow 


me, I'll preach just one more sermon next Sunday as my 
last word in our dear old church — the last sermon I shall 
ever preach." 

But though his wish was gladly granted it was not to 
be consummated; for before the next Sunday came the 
doctor with his last sermon unpreached had passed to his 
reward. It is believed that he felt his resignation to be 
such a calamity that it practically killed him. 

An account of a long village pastorate is usually a 
good history of the vicinity, and Dr. Doolittle's address 
made mention of many changes, which mostly marked 
the usuall falling off of business industries to be seen in 
rural communities. Nevertheless, it recorded a gain of 
fifty-three communicants more than were in the church 
at the beginning of his incumbency. 

David Dumont, an old church member, now in his 
eighty-second year, says the church used to be the nucleus 
around which several industries nestled for many years. 
Now all these have either died out or moved over the 
bridge to the newer part of the village. Among these, 
the school, which at first was opposite the church across 
the road, afterward moved into the churchyard, and later 
was moved over the bridge into its present location. A 
wheelwright shop was also close by the church formerly 
and a large general store, kept by Peter Ten Eyck, a few 
yards distant at the corner of the roads. 

When the school was near the church in the old days, 
it was kept by John Keys, an Irishman, and a first-class 
teacher, Mr. Dumont says, who opened school at 7.30 A. 
M. and made his pupils work till 5 and sometimes 6 P. 
M. If they got a half holiday on Saturday, once a 


month, they were thankful. School was kept the whole 
year round — as a News correspondent has been advocat- 
ing for the schools of to-day — and with splendid results. 
Mr. Dumont remembers another schoolmaster, before 
Mr. Keys's time, named Vanderbilt, who was the oppo- 
site of Keys as a teacher; for he used to get drunk and 
fall asleep in his chair, when the children left him to 
his nap and played ball. 

For a good many years of Dr. Doolittle's later life his 
household included an interesting and rather noted char- 
acter as general helper, named Harriet Ditmars. much 
better known as ''Old Harriet." Many things she said 
and did are well worth telling; but that is another story 
and must wait. 



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