From Primmer to Pauch

by Marfy Goodspeed on May 3, 2014

in Delaware Township

This article is the last in the series on the Pauch Farm of Delaware Township. For the previous articles please click on “Pauch Farm” in the Topics list to the right.

Joshua Primmer and Mary W. Servis

Rev. Joshua Primmer, from the Democrat-Advertiser, 1904

Rev. Joshua Primmer, from the Democrat-Advertiser, 1904

On April 1, 1856, James Wolverton sold the 128-acre Pauch farm to Joshua Primmer of Sergeantsville. I cannot say how much Primmer paid for the property as the amount was left blank on the deed.1 But the deed did state that this farm was the same as the one that Wolverton had bought from John R. Dill who had bought it from the estate of Charles Sergeant deceased. At the time, the farm bordered the lands of Jacob Lawshe, Asher Johnson, wood lots formerly belonging to this farm, John Sharp, Andrew Larason, the “Arch Bridge” and Covered Bridge Road (in the deed, the road was called “the new road leading from the above mentioned road {Rte 523} to Sergeants Mills). Primmer was the first owner since 1702 who was not related in some way to Samuel Green, a period of 154 years.

Rev. Joshua Primmer was greatly respected in Delaware Township, but he was born and grew up in Hopewell Township.2 He was born on June 25, 1813 to Richard Primer and Lydia Bunn, and on April 26, 1837 he married Mary W. Servis, the third of eight children born to Tunis Servis and Elizabeth Horn. The Primmers had no children of their own, but did adopt the daughter of Joshua’s brother John W. Primmer of Trenton. Her name was Anna or Annie R. Primmer, and she married Elisha Warford Opdycke in 1878.

Joshua Primmer began his adult life as a blacksmith in Hopewell. In 1844 he was appointed Postmaster for Titusville, and again in 1853. He was counted in the 1850 census for Hopewell as a blacksmith, age 37, worth $1200, and living with wife Mary M. Primmer, age 30. There were no children living with them.

By 1855, the Primmers had decided to move to Delaware Township, and subsequently bought the Wolverton property. Primmer’s obituary stated: “In the year 1855 he purchased a farm midway between Sergeantsville and Stockton, where he carried on farming and blacksmithing for twenty-five years.” This was at the Pauch farm.

In November 1857, a year and a half after buying the Pauch farm, Joshua Primmer, together with Dr. Isaac S. Cramer, bought a farm of 137.4 acres on Sanford Road, Delaware Township, from Henry B. Nightingale.3 It was subject to two mortgages, and it appears that Primmer did not make payments on them because the next year, a series of advertisements in the Hunterdon Gazette announced that the Sheriff had seized a farm of Joshua Primmer’s in Delaware Township.  The description shows it was in fact the Nightingale farm, not the Sergeant farm that was seized. Oddly enough, the notices made no mention of Isaac S. Cramer. The sheriff first offered it for sale on June 19th, but it was postponed to December 14, 1858; and then again to January 15 and again to February 12, 1859. Primmer and Cramer did sell some small lots out of the original farm, but it was not until that Joshua and Mary Primmer sold the rest of the farm jointly with Isaac and Margaret Cramer to John J. Slack for $4000.[4

On April 12, 1857, Mary Primmer’s father Tunis Servis died without a will. His son Frazer Servis and son-in-law Joshua Primmer acted as administrators of his estate, and made their account to the Orphans Court on December 17, 1858. Tunis Servis was buried in the cemetery attached to the Locktown Christian Church. His wife was buried next to him after she died in 1872.5

By 1860, when he was counted in the Delaware Township census, Joshua Primmer was a well-to-do 46-year-old farmer with property valued at $10,000, and personal property at $1850. (I wonder if he still kept up the blacksmith trade.) There were only 30 families in Delaware Township richer than his was, out of a total of 526 households. His wife Mary was 40, and living with them was Aaron Emmons, age 22, who worked on the farm. Another indication of Primmer’s financial well-being appears in the federal income tax of 1865, which was intended to defray the expenses of the Civil War. Joshua Primmer was taxed $1 on a carriage, $2 on a piano, and $5.40 on an income of $108.00.

In the census his name was spelled “Primer,” and that is the way it often appeared, even though he himself spelled it “Primmer.” Even after he died in 1904, his obituary had his name as ‘Primer,’ while mention of him in the newspapers around 1900 used the spelling ‘Primmer.’

In 1868, Joshua Primmer was one of many who were victimized by some local thieves who roamed through Delaware Township and Lambertville stealing a large number of turkeys and anything else they could lay their hands on. Joshua Primmer got off lucky—he lost only two turkeys.6 The loss did not harm his financial well-being. In the 1870 census for Delaware Township, Primmer, still a farmer, had property valued at $11,000, and a personal estate worth $2000. He was living with his wife Mary, age 50, and their niece Anna, age 25 (single). Also in the household was Thomas Roach 34, born in Ireland, who worked on the farm.

The possibility of developing his neighborhood with a rail line greatly appealed to Primmer, and in the late 1860s he joined with many others to advocate for a new rail line to link Flemington with Lambertville that would pass near his farm. In January 1870, “Rev. Joshua Primmer” was named to a committee of three to “wait on the legislature” to present a petition for a charter to create this railroad. They succeeded in getting a bill introduced for the Flemington and Delaware Railroad, and Primmer was named as one of the “incorporators.” But the railroad was never approved. If it had been, Delaware Township might look very different today.

Rev. Primmer’s ministerial activities were apparently not official. He was not listed as a minister for the Methodist Episcopal Church of Sergeantsville in Snell’s History of Hunterdon County, although he was a member of that congregation and remained so for the rest of his life. On January 3, 1871, a “Biblical Discussion” was held at the Methodist Church. It was announced in the Hunterdon Republican on December 29, 1870. The following pastors were to take part: Rev. George Young, pastor of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church; Rev. Joshua Primmer of Sergeantsville;  Rev. H. R. Nye, a universalist from Springfield, Massachusetts, and Rev. William C. Barrick of Croton. In the 19th century, religion was not only an important part of people’s lives but a major source of entertainment. The intensity with which these ‘discussions’ were followed is a good demonstration of the general feeling.

Egbert T. Bush described this event in his article, “Sergeantsville, A Town That Outlived Its Name.”7 According to Mr. Bush, “Joshua Primmer, local M.E. preacher, sustained the orthodox side,” while “William C. Barrick, the well-known champion debater of Croton,” took “the liberal side.” Bush did not know what the debate was actually about, but people got very worked up about it, and since neither side felt the issue had been settled, a second debate was arranged, this time with the two recognized authorities: Rev. George Young and Rev. Mr. Nye. Bush wrote that a great crowd filled the M.E. Church, enough to make the floor settle lower. Whatever the issue, no one’s mind was changed, but despite that, the debate was judged a success.

The 1873 Beers & Comstock Atlas of Hunterdon County showed owners of property and the location of their houses. “J. Primmer” was shown at the Pauch farm. That same year, on February 6, Primmer advertised in the Hunterdon Republican:

“Extensive Sale of Stock and Farm Utensils to be held 19 Feb. 1873. William S. Riley, Auctioneer, will sell at the residence of Joshua Primmer in Delaware Township, about 1 mile from Sergeantsville, on the road to Stockton, his entire stock and farming utensils. Also, Household furniture, etc.”

At this time, Primmer was 60 years old, not really old enough to give up farming, and yet that appears to be the reason for this sale. Since he kept the farm for another eleven years, he must have rented it out after moving to a smaller place. That place was a lot of 25 acres in Sergeantsville, which Primmer bought from Samuel Higgins on March 31, 1874.8 He paid a whopping $4,750 for it ($190/acre), and continued to be a farmer, as the 1880 census attests. It is hard to understand way he would sell off his farming tools if he did not expect to retire from farming. As to the new location, it later became known as the Higgins farm in Sergeantsville.

With more time on his hands, Joshua Primmer joined a new masonic lodge in Stockton.9 According to the announcement for this new lodge, Primmer served as “J. W.” I assume this meant “Junior Warden.” According to Wikipedia, this is also known as “Second Warden,” and is “the third of the principal officers . . . charged with the supervision of the Lodge while it is “at refreshment” (in recess for meals or other social purposes).” There may have other duties, depending on the jurisdiction.

Rev. Primmer also tried his hand at politics. In 1879, he was listed as one of the Democratic candidates for the State Senate, along with John W. Willever, Andrew Van Syckel, Eli Bosenbury and John Carpenter, Jr. Eli Bosenbury won the election, and from then on Rev. Primmer stayed out of politics.10

In 1880, when the census was taken, Joshua Primmer, age 67, farmer, was listed with those living in or near the village of Sergeantsville. His wife Mary, age 60, was keeping house (she was actually 62). Also living with them was 55-year-old Delilah Tindel, who was Primmer’s sister-in-law; also his niece Ada Tindel age 15, and his cousin, Joseph J. Bailey, laborer, age 49.11

It was not until 1884 that Joshua Primmer made his departure from the Pauch farm official. He sold it to William Ledger on March 31st for $7,538.99, excepting out a small lot of 3.93 acres sold to his neighbor Benjamin Larison.12  Oddly enough, the Hunterdon Republican announced that the farm was sold to Thomas Ledger (not William) for $61.50 per acre. The notice did not state the total amount paid, but it comes close to the amount given in the deed. The Ledger family may have owned the place, but Primmer’s association with it was not forgotten. On March 4, 1891, the Hunterdon Republican announced that “Judson B. Hoff, of Baptisttown, sold his farm to Emley Ruple, of Locktown and expects to move on a farm near Sandy Ridge once owned by Joshua Primmer.”

The Primmers After the Pauch Farm

On June 19, 1895, this item appeared in the Hunterdon Republican, concerning a robbery that took place on June 15th of that year. At the time, Joshua Primmer was 82 years old and his wife Mary was 77. Here is the version from Bill Hartman’s abstracts of the Republican:

The residence of Joshua Primmer, near Sergeantsville was entered by thieves on Saturday night and a large amount of valuables were taken. The family attended a sale in the afternoon and after supper, they left to attend a meeting. They later discovered money, jewelry and clothing were missing. Miss Mabel Loux, daughter of Mahlon Loux, living in the tenant house of Farley Shepherd, not far from the Primmer home, was suspected as being the thief as she was at the house a few moments before Joshua and his wife left for the sale. A search warrant was issued and Constable John Ramsey came to the home of the girl, but did not find any of the articles there. It is supposed that the robbery was committed by a more daring person than the young girl, since on inspection a cellar window was found to be broken.

What is particularly interesting about this mention of the Loux family is that a Rev. Loux of Locktown was one of those who spoke at Primmer’s funeral. Another curiosity is that Dorothy M. Pauch, daughter of John H. and Esther Pauch, married a John Laux, probably around 1940. This may be just a coincidence, but it would be very interesting to see if John Laux was related to the Loux’s of Delaware Township.

There were two more mentions of Rev. Primmer in the Hunterdon Republican. One took place on May 12, 1897, when the paper reported that:

 “The horse of Rev. Joshua Primmer, Rev., of Sergeantsville, ran away on Mine St., Flemington on Friday. In turning the corner at Bodine’s store, one of the wheels of the wagon collapsed, but fortunately he was not thrown to the ground. The horse was captured before doing further damage. Rev. Primmer is 85 years old.”

On January 31, 1898, the Primmers gave up their small farm in Sergeantsville by selling it to Joseph G. Moore for $2500.13 The sale excepted out lots sold by the Primmers to the German Baptist Church for a parsonage and to Asa Smith. It also required Moore to assume the mortgage held by Lemuel Hoffman. The Primmers then took up residence on a small lot in Headquarters, which they had bought from Rachel W. Green, widow of Manuel H. Green, blacksmith of Headquarters.

Joshua Primmer and his wife Mary were counted in the 1900 census for Delaware Township. He was then 86 years old, and Mary was 82. They had been married 63 years, but had no children, and no one else was counted in their household. In June 1901, Rev. Primmer’s name appeared in the Democrat-Advertiser as part of the local report, as follows:

“Uncle Joshua Primmer, who is within a few days of being 88 years of age, still makes trips on foot between this place [Sergeantsville] and home [Headquarters], more than one mile distant.”

Joshua Primmer died on March 18, 1904 at his home near Headquarters (called Grover at the time). His obituary, a lengthy one, was written by Jonathan M. Hoppock for the Democrat-Advertiser, and his photograph was included. His wife Mary survived him, but I have not found news of her death as yet.  Both of them wrote wills.

One would expect Joshua Primmer to be buried in the cemetery attached to the Methodist Church in Sergeantsville, but apparently he was not. His obituary stated that “Interment {was to be} at the Locktown Cemetery,” but did not say which cemetery, and no records survive to show where the Primmer graves can be found.14

20th Century Owners of the Pauch Farm

This takes the history of the Pauch farm up to the end of the 19th century. When Joshua & Mary Primmer sold it to William Ledger, it was 123.59 acres and it still is.

Here is a list of owners from the beginning of the 20th century up to the present:  1885, William Ledger;  1910, Monroe B. Miller;  1913, John F. Pauch; 1938, Dorothea Pauch, widow of John F. Pauch;  1941, John H. and Esther Pauch;  1953, Alfred Leroy Pauch, the present owner.

The Pauch family has owned this farm for over 100 years. If this family can keep it for another 55 years, they will outdistance the descendants of Samuel Green and Sarah Bull.

Footnotes:

  1. H.C. Deed Book 114 p. 189. This is unusual, but it is not the only case where the consideration, which was required by law, was left out.
  2. His biography can be found on p. 391 of James Snell’s History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties.
  3. Deed Book 139 p. 203.
  4. Deed Book 140 p. 341.
  5. The old Christian Church in Locktown and its parsonage is now for sale. The church has an interesting history that I will describe in a future post.
  6. I published the story on these thefts in this article: “I done it for a pastime.
  7. Hunterdon County Democrat, April 10, 1930.
  8. H.C. Deed Bk 156 p. 510. See Snell, p 391.
  9. Hunterdon Gazette, Feb. 12, 1874.
  10. Egbert T. Bush, “1879 Copy of Democrat Revives Memories of Many Old Timers,” Hunterdon Co. Democrat, Sept. 9, 1937.
  11. I am puzzled at Ada Tindel, since Delilah married John Tindal in 1848, and he died in August 1849, long before Ada was born. Was there another Tindal? Straightening out this family could take a lot of work.
  12. Hunterdon DeedsBk 208 p. 459; Bk 174 p. 431.
  13. H.C. Deed Bk 249 p. 524.
  14. Since Rev. Loux spoke at Primmer’s funeral, and Loux was a Baptist minister, one might guess the Baptist Cemetery, rather than the Christian Church cemetery. Loux had been a minister for the church at Navesink and later at the Atlantic Highlands. The History of the Baptists of New Jersey by Thomas Sharp Griffiths does not say whether Rev. Loux became pastor in Locktown. He may have been a visiting minister.

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