White Hall Recruiting Station, 1775-1781

by Marfy Goodspeed on March 20, 2011

in Delaware Township, Historians Revisited

by Jonathan M. Hoppock
Democrat-Advertiser, 24 October 1901

The White Hall Tavern in Headquarters, NJ

This old building, erected in 1758 at Head Quarters, now Grover, standing on the corner of the road on the farm at present owned by Smith Skinner, was, between the dates given above, used as a recruiting station.1  As shown by papers in possession of the writer, Captain David Jones, of the Continental line, was the recruiting officer, and at this point, when the alarm was given that the then hated minions of King George had made a landing at Paulus Hook (Jersey City) or Amboy, would assemble the patriotic old citizen-soldiery, armed with the flint-locks, home-made bullets and powder horns, and from thence hasten to the front to assist the great Washington in beating back the invaders.2

Although the enlistments made here were for a short term only, yet mainly through the efforts of these old heroes was this part of our State kept free from invasion. At Trenton, Princeton, Somerset Court House and Monmouth nobly and well they did their duty. At the last named battle, under their gallant leader, General Maxwell, they were assigned the duty of opening the fight, and were highly complimented by the Commander-in-Chief for their bravery on that bloody field.3

Though the names of many of these old heroes have never been recorded, and their deeds have been kept alive by tradition only, yet we find from the census of 1840 that eight of them as pensioners were still living in the Township, their names and ages being stated at that time as follows: William Dilts 86, Elijah Hummell 84, Tunis Case 79, Andrew Butterfoss 81, James Underwood 77, William Geary 85, Daniel Ent 83, and Samuel Barber, 84.4

These old heroes have long since been gathered to their final resting place, and the old mansion at which they assembled at their country’s call is fast falling into decay, but should not places like these, made sacred by the acts of the men of ’76 be marked by tablet or monument?5 What nobler soldier ever “from the woodland sprung?” What greater results ever achieved by all appeal to arms?

White Hall Tavern, shortly before it was demolished

  1. I do not know what source Hoppock used for the date of 1758, but judging from the old photos, it might be true. The building was located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Route 604 and Lambertville-Headquarters Road. The name Grover came into use when a post office was established at the Headquarters store. As soon as the post office closed, the name reverted to Headquarters.
  2. Hoppock wrote a much longer article on Captain David Johnes on Aug. 31, 1905. I also wrote about this event on The Delaware Township Post. It is an enormous tragedy to me that those papers that Hoppock said were in his possession have not been located, and may very well have been destroyed.
  3. Examination of pension applications for residents of Amwell Township confirm that during the monthly tours of duty, Amwell residents participated in all the battles that Hoppock mentioned.
  4. These were all residents of Delaware Township. It is odd that the editors of the Hunterdon Democrat didn’t ask Hoppock to provide the names of other Hunterdon veterans.
  5. There is no marker at the corner where this old building stood. It was taken down by the people who owned the property in the 1930s, and the stone used to build a 3-car garage for the house where John Opdycke once lived.

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