When writing about Pine Hill Cemetery recently, the name of John Lewis came up. This reminded me of a wonderful article written by Jonathan M. Hoppock back in 1905 about a mysterious character named Ticnor Lewis who lived not far from Pine Hill. It is one of Mr. Hoppock’s most colorful yarns, and one of his many stories of the early settlers in Amwell Township. This one is based entirely on folklore or family tradition. A bowl-full of salt is highly recommended.
READING. There is probably no family more important to the early history of Hunterdon County than this one, starting with John Reading Sr. and wife Elizabeth who first settled here about 1704-08. Their son, John Reading, Jr., served as acting Governor in 1757. John Sr. and Jr. were active surveyors throughout northwestern New Jersey.
Several years ago (in 2007), me and my cemetery buddies (pardon the grammar) visited the mysterious and lovely Rittenhouse Cemetery overlooking the old Prallsville quarry. I have wanted to write about this place for some time, but put it off because of concern that by making it known it would be more vulnerable to vandals. It appears that my restraint did not make much difference. Bob Leith visited recently and found one of the stones with graffiti and another one with a shotgun blast to its face. So, there is not much point in secrecy anymore. But there is another reason why I am inspired to write about the cemetery now. It has to do with the oldest stone there.
In the last post, I described the recital in a deed of 1815. It began with the sale in 1727 of 147 acres in Amwell Township by Joseph Howell to John Wright. But how did Joseph Howell get the property? That was not explained, but I assumed it had to come from John Reading, who had the tract surveyed for him in 1715, as shown on the Hammond Map of Hunterdon County.
For those of us who look for genealogical information in deeds, there is a very special word we hope to find: “Whereas.” This wonderful word introduces a clause that should appear in every deed, but often does not—the recital clause, which states who the seller of the property bought it from. Most of the time, that’s all it does—name the preceding property owner. But every once in a while, mostly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, you will get a recital that goes all the way back to the beginning, to the original proprietary owner.