by Jonathan M. Hoppock
published August 31, 1905
in the Democrat Advertiser, Flemington, NJ
The article was written by Mr. Hoppock. The footnotes are mine.
Located a short distance north of Bowne’s Station on the Flemington Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad—on the farm at present owned by Captain John Shields of Flemington—stands this old stone mansion. No date can be found on its walls showing the year in which it was erected, but from information obtained from the oldest inhabitants here, who have heard it spoken of by their ancestors, and who also remember the old dwelling from early childhood, it is evident that it was built more than one hundred and sixty years ago.
What gives the old structure local historic interest is the fact that it was owned and occupied for a long number of years by Captain David Jones of Revolutionary renown.1 From facts relating to Captain Jones’ life, still remembered, it is evident that he was, in his day, a man of prominence and a born leader of men—a man well fitted for the turbulent times in which he lived. Inspired by patriotic motives at the outbreak of the Revolutionary struggle, he took a leading part at its commencement and until its close did well his share in assisting to gain American Independence, remaining in active service as a member of the New Jersey Militia until the close of the war.
By standard history it is shown that Captain Jones was first appointed ensign in a company composing the Third Regiment of New Jersey Militia, commanded by Colonel David Chambers; he was afterwards promoted to Captain, then to second Major of the Second Regiment New Jersey Militia. These regiments were raised under the act of Nov. 27th, 1776. The services rendered by the New Jersey Militia in beating back the incursions of the British, checkmating the plans of the Tories, and curtailing the ravages of the Refugees, is well known to every student of history. The part they played in the skirmishes at Connecticut Farms, Three Rivers, Hancock’s Bridge and at the battles of Long Island, Trenton, Princeton, Springfield, Germantown and Monmouth in some of which Captain Jones was engaged, embellishes his memory as well as that of the valiant, patriotic band whose movements he directed in those bloody conflicts, with unfading lustre.
Nor were his services in behalf of this grand old cause confined to the battle field alone. Receipts given for money and supplies for the benefit of the American Army, while encamped at Head Quarters (Grover) in the month of July, 1777, now in the possession of the writer to whom they were given by his grandfather, as well as other papers relating to this encampment—in which the name of Captain Jones appears—show that the heart and hand of the old hero were fully enlisted in Freedom’s holy cause. A copy of the shortest among these time-stained receipts is here given:
“Rec’d, Aug. 21, 1776, of John F. ——- the sum Three Pounds, it being a fine for refusing to March in the First Division of Colonel David Chambers’ Battalion, Being the first Detachment from Capt. David Jones’s —— Company.
“Rec’d per me, John Mildrom, Ck”
Numerous incidents relating to the army during its stop at this point are still kept alive by tradition. This part of the State at that time was, of course, but thinly populated, but the people, almost to a man, were in hearty sympathy with the patriotic cause. Through the exertions of Captain Jones and his compatriots, numerous recruits were added to their numbers while remaining here. The citizens did all in their power to relieve the sufferings of the soldiers, gratuitously furnishing food and clothing and in many other ways administering to their wants.
The old White Hall house, still standing on the corner of the road,2 was the place of rendezvous to which the militia came when receiving a notice from Captain “Davy” that their services were needed in the field, and it is stated that, as a rule, these orders were promptly obeyed, but occasionally some one of these old defenders of the country in those days when it tried men’s souls, would show a weakness in the region of the knee-joints—probably in the same condition as the recruits who applied for enlistment in time of the Rebellion, at the recruiting office of Major Jack Downing. The Major refused to enlist them for fear they would be subject to dysentery in the dread hour of battle. The writer in his boyhood often heard the following story related:
A militiaman on his way to camp in obedience to one of these calls, stopped at the house of a neighbor who was to accompany him, and while there began to talk of his many ailments, although it was well known that the man was in perfect health. The matron of the home being a blue-blooded Scotch woman of the John Knox stamp had no respect for cowardice or love for Red Coats. —Eying the fellow with contempt, with a good round oath exclaimed: “The bluutie!” Calling to her son, she said: “O’ wie his breeks! gie him a nit sark and put him to bed wie the bairns!” (The sniveler! Off with his breeches, give him a nightshirt and put him to bed with the children.)
It is told that Captain Jones often acted in concert with General Daniel Bray in the many frays in which that noted soldier was engaged, notably among them, he took a leading part in assisting Bray in capturing the boats along the upper Delaware that were used for the passage of the American Army across the stream on the eve of the battle of Trenton. A description of that feat —written by one of Bray’s biographers—appeared in The Advertiser a few years since, as follows:3
“At a council of war held in a house west of New Hope, Bucks Co., Pa., by Washington and his officers, it was decided to make an attack on Trenton. Boats for the passage of the army had to be secured and as those that had been used for the passage from the Jersey shore on Dec. 8th were all below Trenton Falls, it was impossible to bring them to McKonkey’s Ferry, eight miles above, where the American General and his officers had decided on crossing. The boats had to be secured from the upper Delaware. To accomplish this object a trooper was dispatched at midnight from Coryell’s Ferry, and rode six miles to Kingwood, where he aroused Captain Bray. The Captain returned with the trooper to the Ferry, where Washington met him and gave him his orders in regard to the boats. He told him to secure every boat on the Delaware, from the Lehigh river down, and expressed his confidence in him. Bray said he would try, and then started off in the night to find his helpers. He first rode to the home of Captain David Jones (then living in the mansion above shown) four miles inland, and from there to Flemington, where he aroused Captain Gearhart. They were informed of the project and requested to pick out men for it. They met at Ringoes and finally at Baptisttown. They went northward in three sections of companies, breaking up into small groups, as though on a hunting expedition, carrying flint-lock, dressed in linsey suits, and wearing rabbit and coon skin caps. They kept inland, not approaching the river till near the Lehigh. From there downward they cut by night the boats of every ferry, the Durham boats, and all other craft suitable for transporting the army. It was a perilous undertaking, as every one who has come down the Delaware rifts at night knows. Rocks and shoals must be avoided, the treacherous rapids must be descended carefully, with the river running from six to eight miles an hour. When there is added the cold, wintry night, the danger is intensified.”
Twenty-five boats were secured. The river was crossed, the Hessians captured, the gloom of defeat turned into triumphant noonday brightness.
At the close of the war, Captain Jones, like many others of his compatriots following the example of Cincinnatus of old, returned to his plow, engaged in farming until his death, which occurred in 1828. His old homestead has been known for more than a century as “The Jones Farm.” After his demise it was purchased by Elijah Wilson, Esq., who conveyed it to his sons, John and James Wilson. They owned it for many years and ranked among the most successful farmers of the township.
A few years ago, the farm became the property of Captain John Shields, of Flemington, a brave soldier of the Rebellion, and now a well-known and very successful contractor.4 The staunch old dwelling is good for more than a century longer, and in the years to come will doubtless, as it does at present, awaken patriotic pride when referred to as the home of Captain David Jones.5
Through the kindness of our old friend, D. V. L. Schenck, we are permitted to present the following:
“Captain David Jones and his beloved wife, Deborah Phillips Jones, and six of their children, are buried in the Mount Airy cemetery. (The original spelling of the name was Johnes.)
“David Johnes, died December 26th, 1828, aged 82 years, 5 months, 19 days. Deborah Phillips Johnes died November 19th, 1795, aged 42 years and 6 months.
Steven Johnes, died October 31, 1776, aged 1 year.
Samuel Johnes, died July 22, 1786, aged 3 months and 22 days.
Kesiah Johnes (daughter), died Sept. 8, 1793, aged 3 months.
William Johnes, died Feb. 14, 1824, aged 45 years 10 months and 15 days.
Frances Johnes, died April 30th, 1831, aged 48 years and 6 months.
Margaret Johnes, born Sept. 25, 1784, died May 20, 1858.”
Six of their other children, who grew to manhood and womanhood, are not buried in this cemetery, viz:
Hetty Jones, emigrated to Mason, Warren county, Ohio, and settled on a section of 160 acres of land given by the Government to her father;6
Mary married Captain John Lambert;
Deborah married his brother, Gershom Lambert;7
Benjamin, no record of his marriage;
David married a Creveling;
Charles married Ann Forst.
Samuel Corle, Judge of the Somerset County Court, born at Bowne Station, married Deborah Johnes Lambert, a daughter of Captain John Lambert and Mary Johnes, his wife. Four children were born to this family—John Lambert Corle, Mary Elizabeth Corle, Samuel Corle, Frances Jones Corle.
D. V. L. Schenck married Mary Elizabeth Corle. She died Dec. 5, 1903. Mr. Schenck still resides on the farm near Lambertville where he has lived for forty-five years.
Correction, 6/18/2013: Changed the birth date for Stephen Jones from 1800 to 1700. Thanks to Kim Jones for spotting the error.
- David Johnes (1746-1838) married Deborah Phillips, daughter of William, about 1770. In 1775, he appears in a deed of John Opdycke to Thomas Opdycke. He was probably the son of Stephen Johnes (July 31, 1700-June 18, 1785) and Grace Fitzrandolph (Oct. 5, 1706-Feb. 26, 1786), residents of Maidenhead (Lawrenceville), NJ. Hoppock consistently spells the name Jones. However, it so frequently shows up in historic documents as “Johnes” that I prefer that spelling, and it helps to distinguish David Johnes from Thomas Jones. ↩
- It is no longer standing; see my previous article on White Hall Tavern. ↩
- The article was published in the Democrat-Advertiser on June 18, 1903. ↩
- The 1900 census for Raritan Twp., NJ shows that Shields immigrated from Ireland in 1846. ↩
- This statement is true, as the house is still occupied, but there was a period of time when it was uninhabited and became known in the neighborhood as a haunted house. ↩
- Hetty married Abraham Lowe. ↩
- Other records show Sarah Johnes marrying Gershom Lambert and Deborah Johnes marrying Benjamin Lambert. Gershom, Benjamin and Capt. John Lambert were all the sons of Joseph Lambert and Elizabeth Wilson. ↩