Ducks’ Flat School, Crossroads School and Their Teachers
Testing a Greeny’s Nerve

by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton. N. J.
published in the Hunterdon Co. Democrat, December 18, 1930

Detail of the Cornell Map of 1851

Detail of the Cornell Map of 1851

This article by Mr. Bush is a perfect complement to a recent blog post, “Amos Romine’s Beloved Farm.” It is one of my favorite Bush articles. Because there is so much to say about the people he mentions, I will refrain from interrupting him and leave my comments for the end.

Just a note of explanation about what is shown on the Cornell Map of 1851: The Oregon School is the “S. House,” adjacent to and just north of “J. Fulper.” Further down the Locktown-Sergeantsville Road you can see “A. Romine.” All of these properties are on the east side of the road. On the west side, and just north of Plum Brook, is the home of A. B. Rittenhouse (Block 13 lot 4; click on the map for a larger version). All the maps in this post were provided by me; Mr. Bush’s articles generally did not include images. Note also that Mr. Bush’s article as follows is shown in italics. My comments are not.

As we look over old references, and some not so very old, we are impressed by the thought that schools, like people, are very soon forgotten. If not “born to blush unseen,” many of them do “die unwept, unhonored and unsung.”

Did you ever hear of the “Oregon School District?” Some few now living in the vicinity still know or remember about it; but most of the people interrogated “never heard of any such school.” And no wonder. I do not find it noticed in any school history, or even in any sketch of the schools of Hunterdon County. Yet it was here not very many years ago—so soon do schools and mortals pass. On a map of Delaware Township, made in 1860, the spot is marked “School,” but on one made in 1873, no such mention is made.

Approximate location of the school house lot and Jerusha Fulper's lot.

Approximate location of the school house lot and Jerusha Fulper’s lot, on the Locktown-Sergeantsville Road, just north of Meszaros Road, based on available deeds. Numbers refer to lot numbers; Block 13 is on the left and Block 12 on the right of the road.

By lease dated May 8, 1848, Andrew B. Rittenhouse conveyed to Thomas Lake, Charles Hoppock and Derrick A. Sutphin,[1] “Trustees of-the Oregon School District,” a plot of ground: “Beginning in the middle of the great road leading from Locktown to Sergeantsville, being in line of Jerusha Fulper’s Lot; thence with her line (1) nearly East to a stone in Asa Romine’s Line and corner to Jerusha Fulper’s Lot, thence (2) with said Romine’s Line nearly North to a stone for a comer, thence across the field (3) nearly West and parallel with Mrs. Fulper’s Line just mentioned and ranging with the School House Foundation, to the middle of said great road, thence with said road nearly South to the place of Beginning, containing between one fourth and one half of an acre of land.”

Note: See Endnote 1 for information on the Fulper family.

Oregon School LotHere is a map showing an approximation of the school house lot and Jerusha Fulper’s lot based on the road configuration. The bend in the road makes sense as the frontage of the school house lot. The old school houses usually fronted right on the road. Mr. Bush has written that the rarely-traveled roads made a good playground for the students. The fact that Mrs. Fulper’s lot was triangular has given me this idea for the location of the lots, which does not exactly agree with the map above. Perhaps an archaeologist can figure this out.

Lease Very Specific

The lease is so very specific that it appears worthy of quoting: “For and in, consideration of my part of the funds necessary to build the school hereinafter named, have granted * * * to the party of the second part & their successors in office as Trustees of said Oregon School District, and for no other purpose whatever, but in case the Trustees or District fail to erect a school house as above for the space of two years from this date, or that at any time hereafter they shall erect any church, dwelling or any other kind of building except what may be necessary for the school outbuilding, on the said lot or suffer any other person or persons for any use whatever, or cease to use the lot as a place for keeping the district school, or that the said ‘district becomes dissolved, in any of the above cases, this Indenture and conveyance becomes null and void and of any effect, * * * the premises to revert to the farm.”

The house was erected of stone and was used as a school-house for several years. Nothing but the foundation now remains to mark the spot on which wisdom was once dispensed—or “dispensed with.” The building is only a memory for older people; but some of these remember also when a school flourished here. Among those mentioned as being last to attend school in the old house are Matilda M. Snyder, who died at Sand Brook a few months ago, and her brother William Conover, children of Richard Conover then living in the vicinity.

See Endnote 2: The Conovers

The Andrew B. Rittenhouse farm on which this house stood, has been traced to 1778. In that year Powels Amerman conveyed it to John Furman. From him it descended to Elizabeth Furman, who conveyed it to Edmund Furman in 1832. Edmund Furman conveyed it to Andrew B. Rittenhouse in 1845. After his death it was sold by commissioners to Wilson M. Rittenhouse in 1873, and by him it was conveyed to Peter R. Britton in 1877. In 1885 Britton conveyed it to Theodore Jameson, who conveyed it to Isaac Smith in 1893. In 1906 Isaac Smith sold it to his son George,. who still owns and occupies it, living in the old-time farm house on the left just after you cross Plum Brook, going northward toward Locktown.

See Endnote 3: The Furman Family, and Endnote 5: A. B. Rittenhouse

By deed dated April 1, 1847, Daniel Moore, executor of Isaac Servis, conveyed to Asa Romine the farm mentioned as bounding the school lot on the east. This farm then contained 120 acres and was sold for $2,250. There Asa lived and labored for many years, seemingly all the time in love with his farm—a happy condition for any farmer. In their old age I think he and his wife removed to Mt. Pleasant, where lived their daughter and her husband, Rusling S. Hoppock, a well-known teacher who was for many years principal of the public school at Milford. In his retirement Asa used to tell of the grand views which he had enjoyed while living on the farm. One great comfort seemed to be that he could see seven church steeples without going away from home.

See Endnote 4: The Romine Family

Ducks’ Flat School[2]

Another school that is not recorded anywhere and will soon be forgotten, was the “Ducks’ Flat School.” Why that prosperous region of the old times should have received that name is not clear; but Ducks’ Flat it was and, to a great extent among older people, Ducks’ Flat it still is. Of course the school inherited the name.

Theodore L. Cullen and Charles Opdyke—and probably several others—remember this old school distinctly, as they have good reason for doing. But it appears to be high time that a record, such as may yet be obtained, should be made on something more enduring than the memory of “the oldest inhabitant.” Nothing remains to show where the house stood. However, its location is definitely thus: It stood on the westerly side of the road from Rosemont to Kingwood, just below where the road to the “Oregon Mill” branches off toward the west. {See postscript at the end of this article.} This was later Strimple’s and is now Pfeiffer’s Mill. The land was leased by James Barcroft, father of Aaron, who was the father of J. M. Barcroft, now of Lambertville.

James Barcroft, blacksmith as well as farmer, worked in a shop that stood a little farther down the Rosemont road, just below where the road to Charles Opdyke’s branches off to the right.[3]

Recently a long-forgotten well was discovered across the Opdyke road and nearly opposite to where the old shop stood.[4] This strengthens the feeling that there was once a dwelling on that comer, probably the home of early blacksmiths.

This corner field was conveyed with other lands to Julius E. Ward, by Charles Opdyke in 1924. Charles had been farming over the well for 40 years, never once thinking of what was under his feet. But the Ward machinery broke through, and the new owner of the land wondered why his good friend and neighbor had given him no warning of the well. He was surprised to find that, with almost a lifelong intimate acquaintance with the ground, the seller had not the slightest, knowledge of the hidden well. No one was to blame and, fortunately, no great damage was done.

A Typical School

The school-house was a typical frame building, with plank seats and desks around the walls in orthodox style. The following are remembered as teachers here: Asa R. Smith. the old war horse among the fraternity in Delaware Township; Nora Barras, who became the wife of Rittenhouse Bennett and mother of Eldridge Bennett, of Rosemont; Joseph Williamson, a prominent farmer and local leader of the township, and Samuel Snyder, who is thought to have been last teacher there.

Theodore L. Cullen says that he began his school life there in or about 1862. The teacher then was Mary Naylor, who came from Pennsylvania. Opdyke says he was a pupil under each of the first three teachers mentioned above; while Cullen, whose father, Judge Henry P. Cullen, then and for many years, owned the Ward farm a little farther up the Kingwood road, spent most of his school life there. Among others who learned their three R’s there, as mentioned by our informants, are Mrs. George W. Arnett and Mrs. S. S. Van Horn, daughters of Lewis Dilley, who was farmer for the Barcrofts there in the earlier days. Both of these ladies have spent most of their lives in Lambertville.

Addendum, 3/6/15:  In 1863, the Democratic Club of Delaware Township was created, with a president (Joshua Primmer), and vice-presidents from each of the township school districts. The 14th or “Oregon” district was represented by A. B.  Rittenhouse.

The Opdyke Farm

Of the Opdyke farm on the corner on which the old well was found, we find as follows: The deed of James E. Sherman to Charles Opdyke conveyed 72.82 acres in 1884; the deed of Israel C. Sherman to James E. Sherman, dated March 31, 1879, conveys the same property; the deed of Charles Todd to Israel C. Sherman dated April 2, 1864, conveys 100 acres as the main tract, and a lot of 5.75 acres besides. December 8, 1862, William J. Fisher conveyed to Charles Todd 158 acres including the foregoing properties, but “excepting thereout the legal claims of the heirs of Daniel Bray and Ruth Bray to five acres and three quarters lying in the southwest corner thereof, should they ever call for the claim as above described, the said William Fisher not to be held accountable.” This shows that Gen. Daniel Bray and wife had in their day some kind of claim against the property, probably a mortgage that had never been canceled and was lying in 1863 and may be lying to-day, as harmless as a family cat that died in the same year that gave birth to the claim.

Crossroads School

I know of still another school of which no records have been found. Nor does it appear by whom it was organized or why. We always called it the “Crossroads School.” The frame house, about 20 feet square and built on the old plan, stood on the northeast comer at the crossing of the roads a quarter of a mile west of Oak Grove Mills. It was there in 1856, and was not a new house at that time.

For a few weeks during that summer, I was a pupil there. This date is definitely fixed by the fact that, on our way to and from school, we watched the building of the grist mill there, and especially the erection of the tall chimney. No trace of either mill or school-house now remains, and the site, when I last saw it, was covered by a fine growth of corn. The old school-house was claimed by Samuel Willson on some sort of reversion. It stood for many years after the last school was kept in it, and was used for Sunday Schools and other such gatherings. After the death of Samuel, it was sold to M. B. Culver, a carpenter of Quakertown, torn down and removed to his home.

The teacher in 1856 was Amy Kate Rittenhouse. At least, I remember that people called her “Amy Kate,” and am quite sure that her name was Rittenhouse. She was kind to us and, as I thought, knew a great deal more than I could hope ever to learn. The pupils most clearly remembered were Victoria Lundy, later the wife of Samuel T. Willson and mother of Eugene, both she and her son now living in Frenchtown. I remember her particularly because she was always so nice and kind to the other pupils; and there can be no offense in saying what all of her friends know—that she has been nice and kind ever since.

A Painful Incident

John Allen, son of Scott and grandson of Capt. John Allen, was the other pupil to make a deep impression. But John was different. He lost no time in forcibly introducing himself. I was placed by his side on one of the low benches provided for the “trundle-bed trash.” He seemed older and was certainly bigger and stronger than I, but there we were together. He had a penholder with a broken-pointed pen seemingly rusted fast in it. He eyed me in a challenging way but made no demonstration. At last his chance came; my hand was flat an the bench by his side. With all the energy at his command—and it seemed to be plenty—he jabbed that pen into the hand of the unsuspecting “greeny.”

The pain was intense; but greeny was either too mad or too much scared to make any outcry or complaint. The teacher never knew that anything had happened. From that time on, he was my devoted champion, ready to fight for me on any occasion, but never called on. We two were soon the owners “in our own right” of about the finest brush-house ever seen in the big woods south of the road. I have often wondered whether his cruel introduction was his way of testing the greeny’s nerve, to see he would do for a close champion. If so, greeny got credit for more nerve than he really had. John Allen has been dead for many years. but he is still remembered for his devotion and kindness rather than for his cruelty.

Sunday School

Among. those who attended Sunday School there in later days, some as leaders and others as visitors, the following are well remembered: The Dalrymples, James and his brother; Scott Allen, who lived a mile west, on the road to Baptistown; the Stenabaughs, whose big farm, conveyed by William L. King to Charles Stenabaugh in 1867, ran out to the southwest corner at the crossing; the Bartholomews, whose farm lay a mile to the northwest and in from any public road; and the Pottses, the third and fourth generation to come down from the first farm on the north. The only land now held here in any of these names is the small northwest corner farm owned by Sarah A., widow of William B. Potts, who succeeded his father and grandfather as owner of the farm on the north. This northwest comer at the crossing was owned for many years by Uriah Larue, an old-time land surveyor.

Most of these old names are gone, and that is human destiny. But the grand old trees—to north, to south, to east, to west—are also gone. Can this be charged to destiny? Or must we say that, here as in most places, it is due partly to human cupidity in grasping for the present, but mostly to human stupidity in failing to foresee the consequences of such destruction?

Once again Mr. Bush brings up the recurrent theme of the loss of the “grand old trees” of Hunterdon County. Ironically, it was the loss of those trees that made the splendid view from Amos Romine’s farm possible. For a list of Mr. Bush’s articles that focus on those trees, see “Gathering Nuts,” published on Nov. 28, 1014.

Postscript:

Mr. Bush mentioned the Oregon School in another of his articles–“Holcombe Mill and Thereabout,” Jan. 8, 1931:

The Oregon Mill

At another mill not far away, tho on the Lackatong instead of the Wickecheoke, was another distillery. This was at the “Oregon Mill,” later known as Strymple’s Mill. This, too, is said to have been a valuable adjunct to the regular business, tho little definite information concerning either business is now available.

The names “Oregon Mill” and “Oregon School District,” only two or three miles apart, set one to thinking how strong was the hold of the Oregon region upon the minds of our people a few years before and a few years after 1850. All that region and southward along our coast was a land of mystery and dreams; a land accessible only by weary weeks of sailing or by months of suffering on the land route, marked by the graves of those who had fallen victims of hardships or of savage hostility; a land from which news could be received only at long and uncertain intervals. The changes are startling. Now we can go back and forth by train, by automobile or by air. And instead of waiting months for news, we sit at home and listen to the shouts of 90,000 “fans” over a game of football, as it is played within sound of the Pacific’s waves.

I have written about Strimples Mill before, but this observation by Mr. Bush makes a new connection for me. I previously concluded that the mill was built by Daniel Carrell who bought the property in 1847.[5] It was sold as a 28.43-acre lot by Asa Jones, who was, oddly enough, the son-in-law of Isaac Servis, featured in my previous article on the Amos Romine farm. So, it must have been Daniel Carrell who named the mill “Oregon.” Carrell sold the mill property in 1852 and, sure enough, moved west, but only as far as Chicago, where he died in 1899.

.

E N D N O T E S

1: The Fulper Family

“Beginning in the middle of the great road leading from Locktown to Sergeantsville, being in line of Jerusha Fulper’s Lot . . .”

Mrs. Jerusha Fulper was the widow of Peter Fulper, who died in 1840. He lived on the old Williamson farm on Pavlica Road, at least until 1839 when it was offered for sale by its owners.[6]

Peter Fulper wrote his will on October 13, 1840. He had no real estate to bequeath, which confirms my suspicion that he had been the long-time caretaker and tenant of the old Williamson farm, while it was owned by the trio of Abraham Bonnell, Nellie Quick and Thomas Gordon.[7] He left to his wife “Jarusa” his loom and household goods. He ordered his executors (son Asher and neighbor Jacob F. Buchanan) to take $300-$400 from his estate and use it to buy a lot of land to be owned by his three children jointly in trust for their mother. That must have been a very small lot. To his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, both still single, he gave each $20 to buy a cow and one bed. He made no special provision for his son Asher. Peter Fulper died just three days after writing his will.

I found no evidence that Peter Fulper’s instructions regarding a home for his widow were carried out. Jerusha Fulper’s tiny lot (only half an acre) was sold to her by her son-in-law Asa Romine and daughter Sarah Fulper Romine on April 17, 1848 for $5.00. The sale took place less than a month before A. B. Rittenhouse conveyed the schoolhouse lot.[8]

As the Cornell map of 1851 shows, Jerusha Fulper’s lot was just south of the schoolhouse lot, on Block 12 lot 12, and a short distance from the home of Asa and Sarah Romine (“A. Remine”). It had a triangular shape and was just big enough for a widow’s house. This is the earliest deed recorded for Jerusha Fulper.[9] The house that appears on the 1851 map is no longer standing.[10] And neither is the Oregon School.

Here is an odd thing. In 1845, when the Furman farm was sold to Andrew B. Rittenhouse, it bordered Mrs. Fulper at Block 12 lot 12. But that lot was not sold to her by son-in-law Asa Romine until 1848. Perhaps this had something to do with Peter Fulper’s estate. It is likely that at the time of the sale, Jerusha’s daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law William M. Dilts moved in with her. Prior to 1850, William M. Dilts owned a lot of 16.47 acres in Sergeantsville which he got from his parents (John Dilts & Rachel Moore) in 1847, and which he sold to George W. Gaddis in 1848.[11]

In 1850, Jerusha Fulper was 61 years old, living with her daughter Elizabeth 31 and son-in-law William M. Dilts 27, a carpenter. Also living with them was William Fulper 53, laborer and brother-in-law of Jerusha Fulper.

In the census of 1870, William Fulper was still living in the household of Elizabeth and Wm. M. Dilts, age 79, but Jerusha Fulper was not. She died on Feb. 4, 1870, age 81, having been born on Oct. 25, 1788 to Joseph Larew and Margaret Gordon. She was buried next to her husband Peter in the Lower Amwell Old Yard (the cemetery of the Amwell Church of the Brethren). In 1880, William and Elizabeth Dilts were still living in Delaware Township, with William Fulper, who had never married. He was 90 in 1880, and died two years later, on April 21, 1882. I have not been able to identify his burial place.

William Fulper and his brother Peter were the sons of Jacob Fulper (1755-1814) and Catharine Hoppock (dates not known). Their sister Elizabeth (1781-1846) married George Buchanan; their sister Sarah (1795-1866) married John Gordon; and their brother Jacob died age 11 in 1798.

In the Beers Atlas of 1873, there is no property shown for either Wm. Dilts or Jerusha Fulper; however there are three properties on or near Locktown-Sergeantsville Road assigned to “A. Romine.” One of those houses was the home of Jerusha Fulper (where I suspect Elizabeth and Wm. M. Dilts were still living, and another was the old Oregon School, which apparently was no longer in operation.

By 1900, Wm. and Elizabeth Dilts, who never had any children, were living in East Raritan Township (possibly Flemington). William died on June 27, 1902, age 80, and Elizabeth died on March 24, 1904, age 85. They were both buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington.

2:  The Conovers

“Among those mentioned as being last to attend school in the old house are Matilda M. Snyder, who died at Sand Brook a few months ago, and her brother William Conover, children of Richard Conover then living in the vicinity.”

Even though there were many Conovers in south Hunterdon at the time, I have not yet been able to identify the parents of Richard S. Conover. He was buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery, where I learned that he was born on April 18, 1826 and died March 27, 1902. On December 23, 1848, he married Caroline Case (1826-1896), daughter of John Case and Mary Rounsavel. The marriage announcement in the Hunterdon Gazette stated that they were married in the Flemington parsonage by Rev. W. Robertson, that Richard Conover was “of Sand Brook,” and Miss Case was “of Lambertville.” They had four children: Mary Matilda (1854-aft 1902), William, Caroline and Laura S. Conover (1863-1883), who married Hiram H. Hockenbury.

On April 22, 1867, Charles Hoppock, one of the trustees mentioned by Mr. Bush, sold part of his property to Richard S. Conover. At that time, Hoppock and wife Jerusha Moore were living in Newtown, Bucks County. What they sold was a lot of 7.88 acres at the corner of Pavlica and Pine Hill Road (Block 21 lot 11) for $700. (At $88.83/acre, there must have been a house on this lot.) This is the earliest deed recorded for Richard S. Conover, even though he was 41 years old by this time. His four children had all been born. Four years later, the Conover’s swapped this lot for a 69+ acre farm on the Locktown-Sergeantsville Road.[12]

3:  The Furman Family

John Furman and his wife Elizabeth Wildman were very early settlers in Amwell Township. I do not know much about them. John Furman was born about 1755 to Thomas Furman and Elizabeth Hart of Amwell. It is quite possible that he was the “I.S. 1831” who is buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery off on Pavlica Road, as he died intestate that year, while his children were still minors. They were Elizabeth, born about 1810, who married John Warrick on Aug. 8, 1832, and Edward, born about 1812, who married Mary Lair on Dec. 17, 1831.

Mr. Bush wrote that John Furman’s farm “descended to Elizabeth Furman” who conveyed it to Edward Furman. This happened on July 4, 1832.[13] I have been puzzled by the use of the word ‘descended,’ because John Furman died intestate. Presumably the Elizabeth Furman referred to was John Furman’s widow, not his daughter, who was also named Elizabeth.

The farm that was conveyed was 100 acres bordering land of Gordon and “Quimble,” a misspelling of Quinby. It was sold to John Furman by Powles Amerman on March 25, 1778, and included a large acreage to the northwest of the Furman house on Locktown-Sergeantsville Road (Block 13 lot 24 on the tax map). Unfortunately, John Furman’s original deed did not get recorded.[14]

In 1840, Edward Furman and wife “Easter” of Hopewell sold land to Edmond Derumple (I have not checked this deed.) On May 3, 1841, they sold four small woodlots out of the old Furman farm to Britton Higgins, Margaret Larew, John and Edmond Derumple, bordering land previously sold to Edmond Derumple.

Then, on October 21, 1845, Edward Furman of Trenton (no wife mentioned) sold the old Furman homestead farm of 79 acres to Andrew B. Rittenhouse.[15] The next day, A. B. Rittenhouse and wife Elizabeth sold a lot of 87/100th of an acre in Baptistown to Edward Furman for $700. The next year, on October 24, 1846, Edward Furman and wife Elizabeth of Hopewell sold the lot back to Rittenhouse for only $500.[16] Apparently Edward Furman was not much interested in farming, and wanted to try out storekeeping in Baptistown. And as it turned out, he was not happy with that choice either. What his occupation was after he moved to Hopewell, I cannot say. He probably left New Jersey before that year’s census was taken.

Edward Furman appears to have held on to the rest of his father’s acreage that surrounded the lot sold to A. B. Rittenhouse for some time, as he appears as a bordering owner is several deeds of this time. But he was only an absentee owner.

These deeds lead to some confusion about Edward Furman’s married life. The only marriage on record is to Mary Lair on Dec. 17, 1831 in Hunterdon County. She died on Nov. 23, 1855 and was buried in the Lower Amwell Old Yard (the Dunkard Church Cemetery). That being the case, how is it that Edward Furman’s wife in 1840-41 was named “Easter”? And what happened to Easter? In 1846, Furman’s wife was named Elizabeth.

4:  The Romine Family

I have written about Asa Romine previously (Asa Romine’s Beloved Farm). As mentioned before, Asa Romine was born July 6, 1820, the son of Furman Romine (1772-1847) and Ann Holcombe (1775-1852) of Brookville. Given that Asa Romine bought a farm so close to the farm once owned by John and Elizabeth Furman, I can’t help but wonder if the parents of Furman Romine had some relationship with this family. But from what I know so far, there is no connection with the Furmans of Amwell.

5:  Andrew Bray (A. B.) Rittenhouse

Andrew Bray Rittenhouse was born Nov. 22, 1807 to Edward Rittenhouse (1768-1821) and Elizabeth Bray (1775-1845). This makes him the uncle of Huldah Rittenhouse, who married Elder James W. Wigg (see Baptists Divided).

In 1832, he married Elizabeth Mettler, daughter of Joseph Mettler and Mary Allen of Alexandria township. Oddly enough, for someone who was a storekeeper and later became County Clerk—in other words, someone who knew how to keep records—the marriage was not recorded in Hunterdon Co. Their children were:

  • Wilson M. (1833-1881, farmer, married Martha J. Post in 1856);
  • Amy M. (1834-1858, married 1849 John Bellis, farmer); Some uncertainty about her. An Amy Rittenhouse was counted in the 1850 census with the family of Andrew & Elizabeth Rittenhouse (age 16), and another with the family of James & Abigail Rittenhouse, age 10. Both Andrew B. and James Rittenhouse died without writing wills, so it is harder to separate the two Amys. Although Bellis researchers identify the wife of John Bellis as the daughter of James and Abigail Rittenhouse, I am convinced she was the daughter of A. B. and Elizabeth Rittenhouse, even though she was only 15 when she married in 1849. She was only 24 when she died.
  • Dewitt Clinton (1846-1916, farmer, house painter and constable, married Jane Aller Shepherd abt 1858);
  • Mary M. (1841-1920, married Wm. J. Rounsavel carpenter, removed to Orange Co., NY); and
  • Joseph M. (1843-1910, ‘commission merchant’ in 1870, supposed to have married Melvina Napton Taylor, removed to Philadelphia).
  • They may also have had two sons, Joseph and James, who died young.

It appears that all the children were born in Kingwood, because prior to his move to the Locktown-Sergeantsville Road farm of John Furman, A. B. Rittenhouse was a Baptistown storekeeper, from 1841 to 1845. John Bellis has written that he was an “ardent Whig” in his politics. Curiously, his obituary claimed he was “quite a prominent Democrat.”

Rittenhouse’s conversion to the Democratic Party may have come during the Civil War. In 1865, he was hired as clerk to the Board of Freeholders, a position he held through 1869. Up until that time, he and his wife were living on the Delaware Township farm, but probably moved to Flemington when he became clerk.

In the census of 1870, the Rittenhouses were living in Raritan Township (Flemington) with their daughter Mary and son Joseph, while still owning the Delaware Township farm. A. B. Rittenhouse’s occupation in 1870 was “retired farmer.” He was clearly a successful one for his assets were $14,300 in real estate and $5,000 of personal property.

Rittenhouse died suddenly at age 64, apparently of a heart attack. Here is his obituary, published in the Hunterdon Republican on September 26, 1872:

“Sudden Death–The uncertainty of human life was exemplified in our midst on Sunday last by the sudden death of one of our best known citizens, Mr. Andrew B. Rittenhouse; On Sunday morning he was as well as usual, but about 11 o’clock complained of feeling unwell, and grew rapidly worse until his death at 4 o’clock; An affection of the heart is supposed to have been the cause of his death; Mr Rittenhouse was quite a prominent Democratic politician and was well known throughout the county, having held the office of County Clerk for five years, vacating the office in 1869.”

As a postscript, I will note that on December 12, 1872, Commissioners appointed by the Orphans Court offered for sale the real estate of A. B. Rittenhouse. It included a 93-acre farm in Delaware Township that was at that time occupied by Wilson M. Rittenhouse, eldest son of A. B. Rittenhouse. He owned several other properties, in Kingwood, Flemington, Raritan, Brookville, East Amwell, Lambertville and Lebanon Township.

Footnotes:

[1]      Charles Hoppock lived on the southeast corner of Pavlica and Pine Hill Roads. Thomas Lake lived on the west side of Locktown-Sergeantsville Road, somewhat south of Mezaros Road. I have not located Derrick Sutphin in this neighborhood.

[2]      I am publishing Mr. Bush’s complete article today, but am saving comments on this and the following sections for a future post.

[3]      I have previously written about James Barcroft and his family when discussing his stone house which is now in ruins–“The Barcroft Genealogy.”

[4]      The “Opdyke road” that Mr. Bush refers to is now Sanford Road.

[5]      H. C. Mortgage Bk 21 p. 336.

[6]      Advertisement in the Oct. 15, 1839 edition of the Hunterdon Gazette.

[7]      The story of the Williamson farm is long, complex and fascinating. It’s on my list of articles to write some day. Part of the original farm is now owned by the N.J. Conservation Foundation.

[8]      H. C. Deed Book 91 p. 307.

[9]      Note that there was another Jerusha Fulper at this time. She was the daughter of Asher Fulper, and granddaughter of Peter and Jerusha Fulper. She was born on February 15, 1833 and never married. Her will, written on March 13, 1901, shows that she lived in Flemington. She died sometime before Sept. 29, 1904 when her will was recorded

[10]      H. C. Deed Book 91 p. 307.

[11]      H. C. Deeds 89-384 and 91-464.

[12]      H. C. Deeds 139-021, 147-434, 147-547.

[13]      See H. C. Deeds Book 53 p. 68 and Book 136 p. 420.

[14]      This location is confirmed when the heirs of John Warrick deceased sold the farm to Joseph S. West in 1866 (Deed Book 136 p. 420).

[15]      H. C. Deed Book 85 p. 429.

[16]      H. C. Deeds 85-356 and 93-328.