This article is a follow-up to the Democratic Club of Delaware Township, published last spring.
The previous article described the Club’s principles and resolutions, reflecting the alarm felt by Hunterdon Democrats at the war measures taken by President Lincoln. The article was published in the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter.1 But because of length restrictions, short biographies of the club’s officers had to be postponed to a future newsletter.
Many of my recent Civil War-related articles have described the very conservative views of Hunterdon County’s Democrats. In this article, I want to learn about what the party leaders were like, but I also want to consider what men on the other side of the political spectrum were also like, that is—people who counted themselves supporters of the administration, if not actual Republicans.
Members of the Democratic Party in Hunterdon County, and in fact in most of New Jersey, were greatly distressed by the policies of Lincoln’s administration. Many felt that going to war to end secession was a mistake, and that war-time measures were intolerable. Some members of the Party expressed themselves with great vehemence, to such an extent that today, now that Lincoln has been recognized as a great president, their opinions come as something of a shock. Especially when they argued that black people, and especially slaves, were not equal to whites and never could be, in intelligence or in the ability to act as citizens in a democracy. These Democrats were especially alarmed by the notion that freed slaves would flood the labor markets of the North and put many white laborers out of work.
The initial officers of the club were listed on the first page of their booklet. The By-Laws required that there be one president and as many vice-presidents as there were school districts serving the township of Delaware. It is interesting that they were identified by school districts, but as you will see, the vice presidents did not always reside in the school district they represented.
About a year previous to the organization of the Delaware Township Democrats, a meeting was held in Sergeantsville on July 30, 1862 for the purpose of raising money to pay for volunteers for the draft.2 This sort of thing was permitted, and many towns did just that—replace draftees with men who were willing to fight in their stead, for a fee. The men who signed up to raise these funds were also listed by school district, and I find it interesting that not one of them were officers in the Delaware Twp. Democratic Club.
Here is the list of vice-presidents of the Democratic Club, and a list of men assigned to raise funds for the volunteers, arranged by School Districts (I’ve listed the men who attended the 1862 meeting as “Union” although attendance at that meeting did not necessarily mean these men were Republicans):
First (Reading) District – Democrat: J. M. Hoppock; Union: George Van Camp & John F. S. Smith
Second (Centre Bridge/“River School”) District – Democrat: David B. Boss; Union: Mr. S. C. Hoppock & George Sharp.
Third (Vandolah) District – Democrat: Henry F. Trout; Union: John Barber & George Runk
Fourth (Moore’s) District – Democrat: John M. Bowne; Union: Mr. A. R. Wagoner & Joseph Hains
Fifth (Locktown) District – Democrat: E. M. Heath; no Union man in the Locktown area
Sixth (Sergeants) District – Democrat: J. T. Sergeant; Union: Dilts Larue & James Snyder.
Seventh (Sand Brook) District – Democrat: Henry Crum; Union: Jacob T. Buchanan & Hiram Moore
Eighth (Dry Brook) District – Democrat: Bateman Hockenbury; no Union men named.
Ninth (Harmony) District – Democrat: Isaac Horne; no Union men named.
Tenth (Kuhl’s) District – no Democrat or Union man named.
Eleventh (Mt. Airy) District – J. V. C. Barber; no Union man named.
Twelfth (Supreme) District – Democrat: Jos. Williamson; Union: Mr. H. P. Cullin & Asher Wolverton.
Thirteenth (Ringoes) District – Democrat: John B. Fisher; no Union man named.
Fourteenth (Oregon) District – Democrat: A. B. Rittenhouse; Union: Charles Warrick & John T. Risler
Fifteenth (Rocktown) District – no Democrat or Union man named.
Shortly before the Democratic Club organized, Delaware Township held its annual meeting and elected its 16 officers. Three of them were officers in the Democratic Club. The Moderator was John T. Sergeant. Andrew B. Rittenhouse was Town Clerk and Chosen Freeholder, and Edward M. Heath was named Town Superintendent. I do not know the politics of the others, but none of the gentlemen who signed up to raise funds for volunteers were elected to township office.
Here are short biographies of the gentlemen involved:
President, Joshua Primmer. Rev. Joshua Primmer was born June 25, 1813 in Hopewell to Richard Primer and Lydia Bunn. He married Mary W. Servis on April 26, 1837. They had no children. Primmer was a blacksmith before moving to Delaware Township. He settled on a farm on Route 523 south of Sergeantsville and became active not only in the Democratic Party but the Masons and the Methodist Church. He was often called Rev. Primmer even though he was not an ordained minister. Primmer was 50 years old in 1863. He died on March 18, 1904, age 90.3
Treasurer, Dr. I. S. Cramer. Isaac Smith Cramer, M.D. was born May 24, 1834 in Changewater, Sussex Co. to Peter Emery Cramer and Sarah Smith. He married Margaret R. Inghams on Feb. 14, 1855, but, like his friend Rev. Joshua Primmer, had no children. Also like Primmer, he was a Mason and was active in Democratic politics. He received his medical degree in 1854. In the 1860 census for Delaware Township, he was identified as a doctor of “Alapathy.” In 1862 he was elected Secretary of the Hunterdon County Medical Society, and later became its president. After the war, he set up a nursery business in Sergeantsville, but continued his work as a physician. Later in life, he operated a drug store in Flemington, and served as county coroner. He died in 1911 age 76. His wife died the next year, and they are buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery.4
Secretary, Dr. H. B. Nightingale. Henry Billington Nightingale was born June 22, 1825 in Baltimore, MD. His wife was Albina C. Prince (also known as Elmira) of Bucks Co., PA. They married on Feb. 19, 1851 and had 8 children. Probably not long after the marriage, Nightingale moved to the Rosemont neighborhood and set up his medical practice. He was associated with the Presbyterian church that once stood next to the cemetery, and in 1860 gave a 99-year lease to the cemetery trustees for a right of way across the church grounds. Like Primmer and Cramer, he was active in Democratic politics. He was chosen as quartermaster of the Hunterdon Militia Brigade in 1861, and in 1862 was elected president of the Hunterdon County Medical Society. In 1866, Nightingale embarked on a new venture—as publisher of the Hunterdon County Democrat, but that only lasted for a year. After selling the paper, he continued to practice medicine in Flemington until 1872 when he moved back to Rosemont. He was harnessing his horse to his carriage in preparation for a medical visit when he suffered a massive stroke and died on Sept. 10, 1873.
The following are the Vice Presidents of the Club, listed by school district, and the names of men in the same districts who raised money for volunteers:
First District, Reading School, on the north side of Raven Rock-Rosemont Road.
Jonathan M. Hoppock was the vice president for the Democratic Club. He was the local historian whose articles I have been publishing on my website. He was born Sept. 20, 1838 to Henry J. Hoppock and Lydia Wolverton. For most of his life he was a school teacher. In 1859, Hoppock was one of the founding members of the Locktown Debating Society. The next year, the society debated the question: Should slavery be abolished. Hoppock argued in the affirmative. At the town meeting held in April 1862, he was elected to the township committee when he was only 24. On Sept. 16, 1864 he married Elizabeth Cain and had two daughters. He died on Oct. 29, 1906 at the age of 68.
George Van Camp and John F. S. Smith were the men from the Reading district who signed up to raise funds for volunteers. All I know of George Van Camp is that he was born about 1823, and in 1860 he was a 30-year-old farmer, with wife Sarah and three children. By 1880 he had moved to Lambertville. John F. S. Smith, born 1828, and married in 1860 to Rachel M. Larew, was the son of Mahlon Smith and Phoebe Dilts of Flemington. Like Van Camp, I know little of him.
Second District, Centre Bridge [Stockton] School, located where it still stands today.
Hon. David B. Boss was Democratic Club vice-president. He was born Sept. 27, 1817, the youngest of nine children, to Peter Boss and Anna or Amy Bosenbury. They lived in Delaware Township, near the border with East Amwell. On Dec. 23, 1843, David B. Boss married Permelia W. Rounsavel, and they had two sons, Richard and Gershom. In 1850, the couple was living in Delaware with Peter and Anna Boss, and David was farming. In 1855, he was named a Justice by the State Legislature, and again in 1860. In 1863, Boss was named Commissioner of Deeds for Delaware Twp., and in 1864, he was elected to the N.J. Assembly, and served that year and the next. In the 1870 census, when he was 52, he was identified as a retired farmer. He may have suffered from a lingering illness as he died on May 29, 1872, age 54, and was buried at the Sandy Ridge cemetery. His wife Permelia died on Nov. 14, 1899 and was buried beside him.
In the list of fundraisers for volunteers, the “River School District” was the name used for Centre Bridge. The men there were S. C. Hoppock and George Sharp. Most likely the River School was the school in Stockton.
S. C. Hoppock was Samuel C. Hoppock, c. 1826-1893, a prosperous merchant of Delaware twp. He was the third son of William L. Hoppock, miller of Prallsville, and Jane Heed. He married about 1855, but he and wife Sarah did not have any children. Hoppock was listed as a merchant in the 1850 and 1860 census records, but by 1870 he was retired to his father’s farm. He was not much involved in politics. His concerns were primarily agricultural. In 1877 he was elected treasurer of the newly formed Delaware Valley Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Agricultural Society.
George Sharp was a resident of Stockton. He was born in 1812 to William Sharp and Esther Butterfoss. He was a trustee of the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church in 1849. In 1850, he was a 38-year-old farmer, with wife Elizabeth [Eliza Vandolah] and daughters Sarah 13 and Ann Elizabeth 9. Daughter Sarah died the next year. Ann Elizabeth married Watson Rittenhouse Bodine about 1871. In 1860, George Sharp bought a farm of 69 acres in Stockton from Jacob C. Johnson. Like S. C. Holcombe, he did not have much political activity. He became a vice president of the Hunterdon Co. Temperance Society in 1866, and in 1867 became a trustee of the new Baptist congregation in Ringoes. Sharp died in 1876, age 68, leaving his widow Elizabeth who died in 1886. They are both buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery.
Third District, Vandolah School on Sandy Ridge-Mt. Airy Road, south of the Sandy Ridge Church.
The vice-president for this district was Rev. Henry F. Trout, born July 29, 1829 to Jeremiah Trout and Mary Ann Dunn. About 1848 he married Mary M. Case. They had one child, G. W. Melville Trout, in 1858. Henry Trout, like Jonathan M. Hoppock, began adult life as a school teacher, teaching at the Dry Brook School. He and his family lived on a farm on Meszaros Road that he bought from Asa and Sarah Romine in 1860. This location was not at all near the Vandolah school at Sandy Ridge. Perhaps there was no one available in that neighborhood to manage the district for the Club. Trout died at the young age of 43, on Sept. 1, 1872, and was buried in the cemetery at Sand Brook. His wife died in 1910. The list of officers for the Democratic Club identified him as “Rev.,” but I do not know which church he was affiliated with. Since he was buried at Sand Brook, it is possible he was a member of the Brethren Church in that village.
The Union men from the Vandolah neighborhood were John Barber and George Runk. John V. C. Barber was one of the two people who appeared on both lists. He was a man of some consequence in Delaware Township, and was chosen as vice president of the Mt. Airy district, #11, to be covered in the next post.
George Washington Runk, 1817-?, was the son of Caleb Runk and Margaret Curry, and lived on Grafton Road. In 1840 he was active in the Whig party. In 1862, he became involved in the Sabbath School Association. In 1866, he joined a temperance meeting in Sergeantsville and was named one of the managers. He was also among the members of the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church who were dismissed to join the Berean Baptist Church in Stockton. Seemingly at the same time, he was an elder in the Presbyterian Church at Rosemont, and in 1867 joined the new Presbyterian Church in Stockton.5 I do not quite know what to make of this Catholicity. With his wife Ellen6 he had three children (Margaret, Emma and George W.). I have not been able to find either an obituary or cemetery record for George W. and Ellen Runk, so I cannot say when they died. However, they should not be confused with the George W. Runk of Branchburg, born in 1816, who married Elizabeth S. Brokaw, and died in Plainfield in 1894.
Fourth District, Moore’s School on the north side of Route 604, just west of the intersection with Wagner Road.
John Milton Bowne, the vice-president of the Democratic Club, was born Sept. 18, 1831 to Hon. Joseph Gardner Bowne and Mary S. Barber. He married Anna Mary Fisher about 1850, and had five children. Daughter Mary Lee Bowne married Archibald Trout. In 1861, Bowne became a captain in the Hunterdon militia, and soon after was named Adjutant of the Hunterdon and Mercer Squadron, and after that, Quartermaster of the 4th Regiment of N.J. Cavalry.7 His life was cut short when he died of diphtheria on August 31, 1863, shortly after being named to his position in the Democratic Club. His wife died on June 14, 1901. The couple is buried in the Barber Cemetery.
The Union men in the Moore’s School District were A. R. Wagoner and Joseph Hains [sic].
Albertus K. Wagner (1810-1871) was the son of David and Elizabeth Wagner, and lived on Route 604 near East Amwell with his wife Rhoda Moore (1811-1881), daughter of David Moore and Elizabeth Hudnut. Wagner worked as a tailor in a shop near Baptistown for many years before his marriage in 1846, when he moved to Delaware Township and prospered as a farmer. He attended the Republican County Convention held in Masonic Hall in Flemington in 1870, and was appointed Chairman. He was also involved in the Hunterdon County Agricultural Society. He died in 1871, age 60, leaving his wife Rhoda to survive him by ten years. They had five children, but three died as infants. Daughter Emma remained unmarried until her death in 1926, and son Frank Pierce Wagner married Sybilla Bodine Reading. A K. Wagner was buried in the Sand Brook German Baptist Cemetery. Rhoda Wagner probably was too, but I don’t have a record of that.
Addendum, 10/9/15: Reader Bob Fusi notes that her grave does appear on Find-a-Grave, but the stone has fallen to the ground.
Addendunm 10/11/15: I just discovered in the Hunterdon Gazette (10/23/1861) that Albertus K. Wagner was one of the vice-presidents named to the Union Convention of 1861, confirming that he was definitely not in sympathy with the Democrats.
Joseph Haines (1828-1901), son of Isaac Haines and Mary Trimmer, was married about 1850 to Margaret Hoppock (1826-1859), daughter of Amos Hoppock and Elizabeth Dalrymple. Their daughter Mary Elizabeth (1857-1914) married Clinton B. Wilson in 1878, and son Isaac married Loraine Thatcher. After Margaret’s death, Joseph Haines married second Margaret’s sister Mary M. Hoppock (1829-1914). There is no question about Haines’ politics—he was a tried and true Republican, although evidence of his political activity does not emerge until after the Civil War. He first appears as a Republican in 1867 when he was elected an inspector of elections for Delaware Township. In 1870 he was nominated for the Assembly, but did not succeed. In 1877 he got involved in the movement for tax reforms, and in 1878 joined the “Greenback” county convention. He was again nominated as a Republican for the Assembly in that year and failed again. During these years he became known as an outstanding farmer and stock dealer, regularly producing some of the largest hogs and cattle in the county. He was also a director of the Flemington National Bank, the Hunterdon Agricultural Society and the Sergeantsville Creamery Association. In 1896, part of Delaware Township was annexed to East Amwell, and the Haines farm went with it. Joseph Haines died in 1901 at the age of 72 and was buried in the Lower Amwell Old Yard of the German Baptist Church, next to his two wives. His son Amos became a minister of the German Baptist Church not long after 1880, and retired in 1892 to teach in Illinois and then Pennsylvania.
Fifth District, Locktown School on Locktown School Road, just east of the intersection with Locktown-Sergeantsville Road.
Its Democratic vice-president was Edward Mason Heath, born May 24, 1837 to George D. Heath and Mary R. Heath. He married Annie B. Trout (a cousin of Henry F. Trout) about 1858. They had one son, Robert T. Heath, born 1866. In 1858 when the Locktown Volunteers were organized as a local militia, he volunteered and was named a second lieutenant. In 1860 he was a school teacher, living with his wife in Kingwood Twp. At the Delaware Twp. meeting of 1862, he was elected Town Superintendent. In 1865, he was clerk at a special meeting held in Sergeantsville to provide the town’s allotment of volunteers. That year he became clerk of Delaware Township, a position he held until 1873. In 1866, he was chosen as Clerk of Hunterdon County, a position he held for two years. He was active in the local Granges, and witnessed many deeds. In 1875, he clerked for the Locktown Christian Church, of which he was a member. In the 1880 census he was 43 years old, a farmer and a school teacher. He died on Feb. 1, 1916, age 78, and his wife Annie died in 1922. Both were buried in the cemetery of the Locktown Christian Church.
There was no one listed for the Locktown School District among those raising money for volunteers. But then, Locktown was known for its “Copperheadism,” as became plain after the Civil War (see “Copperheadism in Locktown”).
Sixth District, “Sergeant’s” located on Route 604 at the intersection with Reading Road, not far east of the covered bridge.
“Gen. J. T. Sergeant” was the Democratic vice-president. This was John Trimmer Sergeant, who was “General” of the local militia. Being a resident of Sand Brook, it is surprising to see him listed for the Sergeant’s District, which was the Green Sergeant school, just east of the covered bridge, as he lived near Sand Brook. Perhaps there was no one else available to recruit in that area. Or maybe he asked for it in recognition of his likely ancestor, Charles Sergeant. John T. Sergeant was born Sept. 30, 1828 to William Sergeant and Elizabeth Trimmer, and married about September 1850 to Mary Jane LaRoche. They had three children (William T., Ann Elizabeth and Emma). Sergeant was Captain of the Delaware Guards as early as 1857. In 1859, he was chosen as Moderator for the Delaware Twp. town meeting, and was named a judge of election. He also moderated the town meetings held in 1862 through 1865. In 1864, he was named vice-president of the Freeman’s Meeting, which was “called by men in favor of peace, and opposed to the present administration.” John T. Sergeant died suddenly on November 26, 1865 at the age of 37, just three months after the death of his father, on August 4, 1865. He is buried with his parents in the Larison’s Corner Cemetery. His wife Mary died in 1904 and is buried in the Amwell Church of the Brethren cemetery (Lower Amwell Old Yard).
In this district, the Union men were Dilts Larue and James Snyder.
Not long after the Union meeting held on July 30, 1862, Dilts (“Dils”) Larue, then age 63, died at his home in Delaware Township, on November 12, 1862. He was buried at the Sandy Ridge cemetery. There is a problem with his death date however. The database for death records on Ancestry.com states that he died on March 13, 1862, and identified him as a 64-year-old married farmer, the son of Daniel and Catharine Larew/Larue.8 This is all correct, except for the date. On the other hand, the gravestone shown on “Find-a-Grave” is so covered in moss or lichen that it is impossible to read the date other than 1862. But he certainly must have been alive in July of 1862, and I am not aware of another Dilts Larue for that time period. He married Susan Hoagland in 1822 and had seven children.
Hon. James Snyder, Esq. (1796-1874) was a Jackson Democrat in the 1830s, but he changed his politics later on, being nominated for sheriff on the Whig ticket in 1851. What brought about his change of heart regarding his political affiliation, I cannot say. Snyder was actively engaged in politics for much of his life. In 1838 he was elected to the Assembly as a Democrat, and the next year won election to the “Council,” (i.e., the State Senate). From 1838 to 1843, he was the Freeholder from Delaware Township. His home was a farm in the beautiful Rosemont valley. He had five children from his first wife, Elizabeth Reed (1795-1835) and four more with second wife Lucy B. Cronce (1806-1894). Snyder and his two wives are buried in the Rosemont Cemetery.
This article will be continued soon, covering Districts 7 through 15.
- HHN, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 1210-1212, Spring 2015. ↩
- Article published in newspaper “The Hunterdon Republican” on August 8, 1862. ↩
- A short biography of Rev. Primmer can be found in Snell’s History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, p. 391. Also see my article “Rev. Joshua Primmer.” ↩
- See Snell, pp. 390-91 for a short biography. of I. S. Cramer, M.D. ↩
- James P. Snell, History of Hunterdon County, p. 382. ↩
- Marriage not recorded in Hunterdon. ↩
- Obituary for John M. Bowne, in the Hunterdon Co. Republican, April 8, 1864, and H. C. Democrat, April 13, 1864. It is surprising that the obits were not published until 8 months after the date of death. ↩
- Daniel Larew’s first wife is not known, but Dilts Larue must have been her son, because Daniel Larew married his second wife, Catharine Wilson, in December 1804, five years after Dilts Larew was born. Perhaps the first wife was also named Catharine. ↩