part ten of The Route Not Taken
My previous article about the planned route of the Delaware-Flemington Railroad Company ended at the property of Samuel M. Higgins on the west side of Johanna Farms Road. The route then proceeded across Higgins’ farm in a northeasterly direction, passing not far north of a house near a branch of the Neshanic River.
Here is a detail from the 1906 topographical map of Hunterdon County with the route of the proposed railroad drawn. Today we get as far as the bend in Johanna Farms Road. Beyond that point, the line is dotted.
Over the years, maps often disagree about labels. That branch of the Neshanic I referred to is a perfect example. The map above leaves it unlabeled, calling another branch of the Neshanic running along Dayton Road near Flemington “Walnut Brook.”
The 1850 Raritan Township map calls the creek that crosses Johanna Farms Road “Walnut Brook,” while the 1851 Cornell Map does not label it but puts the name “Walnut Brook” on the branch along Dayton Road. The 1860 Philadelphia Map and Beers Atlas of 1873 call the creek over Johanna Farms Road “Neshanic No.2.” The railroad survey map of 1873 calls it “Walnut Brook,” but the 1888 USGS topographic map calls it “Neshanic River.” The 1902 Hunterdon Map calls it “Walnut Brook,” and just to round things out, the 1954 topographical map calls the creek over Johanna Farms Road “Neshanic River.” What is one to think? Call it whatever you like!
Name changes for house owners on the 19th century maps are a little more understandable. On the railroad survey map of 1873, an unlabeled house is shown just west of the point where Johanna Farms Road turns sharply to the right. On the Beers Atlas of 1873, one can see that same house is occupied by “Mrs. Hoagland.” She also appears on the 1860 Philadelphia Map as “Mrs. Hoagland,” but the 1851 Cornell Map shows “J. Carman” at that location, and the 1850 Raritan Township map gets more specific, showing “Jane Carman,” with a farmstead of several buildings.
Since the railroad would have passed just north of the house, I needed to find out who Mrs. Hoagland was and who Jane Carman was. Jane Carman turned out to be the widow of Elijah Carman and the mother of Mary Carman, who married Andrew Hoagland. I suppose her name was omitted from the railroad survey map because she died in 1873 when the survey was made.
Mary Carman & Andrew Hoagland
Mary Carman and Andrew Hoagland married in 1804 and had four children, the eldest being Aaron C. Hoagland, who is next along the railroad route. Andrew Hoagland (1780-1843) was the son of Amos Derrick Hoagland and Mary Titus of Reaville and acted as executor of his father’s estate in 1807, along with his mother and brother Jonathan.
Andrew Hoagland’s first real estate purchase on record was in 1806 when he bought a tract of 57 acres 27 perches located near Dayton Road in Flemington from his wife’s parents.1 That same year he bought a 4-acre woodlot from Nicholas & Mary Swallow and a tract of land in Bethlehem Township.
Then in 1810, he made his big investment, purchasing a tract of 239.48 acres from Richard and Elizabeth Hill of Trenton for $9,379.2 This large property lay on both sides of Route 523 and was bordered on the north by Leffler Hill Road and on the south by the Carman homestead. It had originally belonged to Jonathan and Sarah Smith Hill. A survey of this property was made by Nathaniel Saxton.3 Based on a scan of the survey by Bob Leith, I have transferred the outlines of the property, along with some bordering properties, to the Raritan tax map.
Andrew Hoagland was a man of some stature in Hunterdon County. He was active in Whig politics and in 1840, he was appointed a Judge by the NJ legislature in joint meeting. He also served as a Justice of the Peace. But in 1843 his career was interrupted by “a short but painful illness” from which he died at the age of 63 without having written a will. His obituary in the Hunterdon Democrat noted that he was “an active and highly useful member of the Methodist E. Church.” That may have been the case, but he was buried in the cemetery attached to the Flemington Presbyterian Church.4
His three sons, Aaron, James and Elijah, were named administrators of his estate. His fourth son, Amos and son Aaron sold their rights to their father’s 239 acres to brothers Elijah and James, who shared the ‘plantation’ for many years.
The widow, Mary Carman Hoagland (1785-1873), was counted in the Raritan Township census of 1850 living with her 24-year-old tenant farmer, Andrew Mires, his wife Jane Sackett Mires and their infant daughter Jane. Also in the household was Jane Carman who was then 91 years old, and was in fact the head of the household.5 This was the “J. Carman” on the 1851 Cornell Map. Her husband, Elijah Carman, had died in 1841. Jane Carman lived to the age of 94, dying on July 4, 1854, and was buried in the Carman Cemetery with her husband Elijah. (More on the cemetery below.)
Other than a very interesting land sale, which I will discuss in the next post, there is little information about Mary Hoagland after this. There is no sign of her in the 1860 or 1870 census records. Her presence on the Beers Atlas as ‘Mrs. Hoagland’ is the only record until her death on September 19, 1873, at the age of 88. She joined her husband Andrew in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Flemington.
It seems that she only had a life estate in the Carman homestead, because it passed to her son Aaron without any deed being recorded.
The Carman Family
Mary’s father, Elijah Carman, was born in 1756 to Samuel & Mary Carman.6 Samuel Carman was the son of Caleb Carman and Abigail King, of New York and Hopewell. Samuel’s grandparents on both sides were immigrants from England.
By accident I found an early record for Caleb Carman hiding in the minute book for the Court of Common Pleas for 1728. It stated that Caleb Carman had sold land in 1719 to Thomas Merrill. In 1722 “Calap Carman” was taxed on 90 acres and four horses. Caleb Carman, yeoman of Hopewell, wrote his will on August 25, 1744, “being sick.” He left the “plantation where I live and all personal estate” to his wife Abigail, “except a mare colt belonging to the mare called the Potomack mare.” After Abigail’s death, the property was to go to son Jonathan, who was then a minor. The will made reference to a son John and unnamed daughters and left a ‘plantation’ in Morris County to sons Samuel and Jasper.7
I don’t know what happened to Jasper Carman, but I suspect that Caleb Carman’s reference to Morris County was actually to Hunterdon County. . Morris County had only been taken out of Hunterdon County in 1739, and confusing the two counties was a common error of that time. But whether Caleb bought land in today’s Raritan Township or not is a question I cannot answer.
Samuel Carman probably married his wife Mary Wilson around 1748 and was living in Amwell Township by the time that Caleb Carman wrote his will.8 Their first child, Martha, was born in 1750, followed by Elijah born 1756 and Sarah born 1764. Two other daughters were Susanna and Jemima.
There is no deed recorded to show what property Samuel Carman acquired, but his name shows up in a mortgage dated July 23, 1766 in which Samuel Hill mortgaged a tract of 215 acres in Amwell Township bordering Jonathan Hill and William Penn’s “old line,” out of which a lot of 2 acres 4 perches had been sold to Samuel Carman.9 We know that he died in possession of an Amwell ‘plantation’ of 135 acres +/-, because his son Elijah mentioned it in his own will of 1806. It was originally a proprietary tract, but there is a long time between 1713, when 132 acres was surveyed for Susannah Field Marriott, and some time before the Revolution, perhaps around 1766, when Samuel Carman took possession.
Susannah Field Marriott
This is a detail of D. Stanton Hammond’s map of proprietary tracts for Hunterdon County. He did not include many roads, so I have added Johanna Farms Road because it lines up with the northern boundary of the Marriott tract. (Note that the creek that crosses Johanna Farms Road is not even shown on the Hammond map, but two branches to the north and south are labeled First Neshanic River and Second Neshanic River.)
As you can see, this property was surveyed for Susannah Marriott in 1713. Just to the south is a tract of 416 acres surveyed to Mahlon Stacy. The southern boundary of his tract is Hampton Corner Road. Next time you drive along one of those roads, remember they were proprietary boundaries as early as 1713.
Susannah Marriott was born Susannah Field about 1680 to Robert and Susanna Field of Queens County, New York. Her brother was Benjamin Field (c.1670-1702), an early settler in Chesterfield County and investor in the Province of West New Jersey. With his several proprietary shares, he was able to have large tracts of land surveyed in 1701 in the Indian Purchase that was attributed to Adlord Bowde and included the southern part of Hunterdon County and most of Hopewell Township. His wife was Experience Allen, sister of another large investor in early Hunterdon, Nathan Allen.
Isaac Marriott was an English immigrant to West New Jersey who was present as early as 1681 when he declared his intention to marry Joyce Olive, sister-in-law of prominent West Jersey politician Samuel Jennings. Joyce Olive Marriott died in 1685 after having seven children. Five years later, Isaac Marriott married as his second wife Susannah Field. Isaac Marriott wrote his will on May 3, 1712, leaving his real estate to his wife Susannah, and naming her executor along with their son Thomas. Apparently, part of what was left to Susannah was shares in the Province of West Jersey, which entitled her to have 132 acres surveyed in the Lotting Purchase.10
At some point thereafter, probably about 1748 when he married Mary Wilson, Samuel Carman came into possession of the Marriott tract. Perhaps his father Caleb was the purchaser and this farm was the one mentioned in Caleb’s will of 1744. Perhaps not. More evidence is needed.
Samuel Carman wrote his Last Will & Testament on February 23, 1778, leaving “the plantation where I live” to his wife Mary during her lifetime, and then to his son Elijah. He named his wife executor along with his son-in-law, none-other than the Samuel Hill who mortgaged that 215 acres in 1766. It is curious that son Elijah was not named an executor. However, the explanation may be that Elijah was a private in the Hunterdon Militia, and in 1778, the militia was very busy. (We know that Carman fought in the Revolution from his obituary, but I did not find a record of his pension or of his being drafted.)
There were some other interesting provisions in the will of Samuel Carman. He left his “large bible” to daughter Martha, £10 to daughter Jemima and £20 each to daughters Susanna and Sarah. Then this: “If Elijah and his mother agree to work the place, then he can keep a cow,” and “James Johnson to be at the disposal of my wife.” Most likely, Johnson was a hired man who was living on the Carman farm.
Mary Carman survived her husband by 24 years, dying at the age of 80 on March 21, 1803. She died intestate and administration of her estate was given to son Elijah. Security (known as “fellowbondsmen”) for Elijah Carman as administrator were John Aller who lived nearby (see The Township Farm) and George Holcombe. Mary’s inventory, which amounted to $730.96, was made by John Allen and William Merrill, another neighbor (and possibly the son of the Thomas Merrill who bought land from Caleb Carman).
Sarah Carman Coate
Besides daughters Martha and Jemima, Samuel and Mary Carman had a daughter Sarah (1764-1852). Sarah married (very unwisely) Robert Coate, son of Henry Coate, Jr. and Deborah Newbold of Kingwood Township. Robert turned out to be a spendthrift. In 1803, he had to assign all his possessions to his brother-in-law Elijah Carman for the purpose of satisfying his creditors.11 Those possessions consisted of 2 bedsteads & bedding, 6 pewter plats, 1 platter and 2 basons, 2 wheels, 1 trunk, 1 table, 1 iron pot, 1 tea kettle, 1 back [sic] Kettle. 1 brass Kettle, 2 wash tubs, 4 chairs, 1 side saddle, 2 pails 1 Keeler [?], 2 smoothing irons, 1 bake iron, 1 cupboard and all other goods & furniture.
In 1804, Robert and Sarah Coat petitioned the Orphans Court demanding that Samuel Hill file his account of the estate of Samuel Carman, dec’d. Most likely they were hoping that once the executor’s account was filed with the Orphans’ Court, they would get some income from the estate. Hill certainly took his time. He did not file his account until July 31, 1815, about 35 years after the death of Samuel Carman.12
After this, Robert Coate disappears. Hard to say what happened to him, but I would not be surprised if he removed himself from the county to escape from his creditors. Sarah Coate was left behind with their three children and survived with the help of her brother. She died in 1852 at the age of 87 and was buried in the Carman family cemetery.
Elijah Carman & Jane James
As mentioned above, following the orders in Samuel Carman’s will, his son Elijah Carman took possession of the farm in his own name. He certainly did not wait for his dilatory brother-in-law to file his account.
Elijah Carman, born 1756, married Jane James about 1784-85. She was the daughter of John James (c.1740-1787) & wife Mary (c.1740-1804).13 Jane and Elijah Carman had only two children, Mary (1785-1873) who married Andrew Hoagland, and Aaron who probably died young.
During his life, Elijah Carman bought and sold many properties, including parts of the old Robbins tract in 1804 and 1805 from the heirs of John Robins. So did his son-in-law Andrew Hoagland. There was at least one case in which the two men purchased a property jointly, a farm in Bethlehem Township sold by James & Margaret Larowe. In 1810, after purchasing his 239-acre farm from the Hill family, Andrew Hoagland set off a lot of 30.21 acres and conveyed it to his father-in-law for $1,108.14
Being a farmer in the early 19th century had its challenges. One of the greatest annoyances was hunters who traipsed across their planted fields with their dogs, killing all sorts of wildlife. It got to be such a problem that a sort of neighborhood association began to be created throughout Hunterdon County, including one for the Carman-Hoagland vicinity. On June 24, 1835, Carman and his neighbors put this notice in the Hunterdon Gazette:
CAUTION TO SPORTSMEN! The subscribers hereby caution all persons against trespassing on their lands with dogs and guns, as the law will be enforced against all who may be found so trespassing after this date. [signed] Elijah Carman, Aaron Hogeland, Andrew Hogeland, John Higgins, Joseph Sergeant, Gershom Sergeant and Samuel M. Higgins.
In 1837 there was an interesting incident on Elijah Carman’s farm. It was reported in the Hunterdon Gazette on Feb. 22, 1837:
A Wild Cat was shot on Monday week, on the farm of Elijah Carman, about two miles from this village. It had been in the neighborhood for some time and had latterly enjoyed comfortable winter quarters under Mr. Carman’s hay barn. It appeared to be a young one, more than half grown, extremely lean, and was doubtless driven from its native forests by the pinchings of hunger, at the setting in of winter.
By this time, Elijah and Jane Carman were getting on in years. In May 1838, Elijah Carman decided it was time to give up farming. He advertised in the Hunterdon Gazette that he was “about to quit Farming, and was selling “Two horses, a yoke of Oxen, a farm Waggon, & other farming Utensils.” Only three years later, on November 17, 1841, the Hunterdon Democrat published this obituary:
“DIED, On Monday the 8th inst., after a lingering illness, Elijah Carman, in the 86th year, of his age. Mr. Carman was a soldier in the Revolution.”
Elijah Carman’s Bequests
Carman’s illness must have lasted for many many years, because he wrote his will on February 1, 1806, when he was only 50 years old, which was 35 years before his death. He divided his property between his loving wife Jane and his daughter Mary, “now wife of Andrew Hoagland.” To his wife Jane he left in satisfaction of her dower right, “all my real estate, messuage, homestead plantation, etc. in Amwell of about 135 acres, which was devised to me by the last will and testament of my father Samuel Carman dec’d.”
This detail from the Raritan Township map of 1850 shows the Carman homestead in possession of Jane Carman (lower left).
To his daughter Mary Hoagland he left a farm of 62 acres bought from John and Jacob Anderson in 1795, plus four lots bought from the heirs of John Robins, and a woodlot of ten acres in “the swamp,” being the area on the Croton plateau.
For his sister Sarah Coates he ordered that $16 be taken from the profits of his homestead farm and paid annually by his wife Jane, and the same to be taken from the land devised to his daughter Mary Hoagland. In addition, he ordered $133 to be paid to Sarah’s children, Charles Coates (1789-1847, m. Elizabeth Ann Case), Lucy Coates (c.1794-1878, never married) and Susannah Coates (c.1800-1872, m. John Suydam).
Executors of Elijah’s estate were his widow Jane and son-in-law Andrew Hoagland. As reported in the Hunterdon Democrat (Nov. 17, 1841), Elijah Carman died on November 8, 1841 “after a lingering illness.” Andrew Hoagland died only two years later, on May 18, 1843, age 62. This meant that the work of managing Elijah Carman’s estate was left entirely to widow Jane. But before Andrew’s death, this item appeared in the Gazette for February 9, 1842:
“EXECUTORS’ SALE OF Real Estate. WILL be sold at public vendue, on Thursday the 24th of February inst. at the late residence of Elijah Carman, dec’d., in Raritan township, the personal property of said deceased, consisting of milch cows, and young cattle, swine, one and two horse wagons, cart, Portable Horse-Power and Thrashing Machine, with a corn-sheller and clover machine attached; a large quantity of hay; together with household and kitchen furniture, beds, stoves, &c. &c. Sale to commence at 10 o’clock, A. M. Conditions by Andrew Hoagland, Ex’r., Jane Carman, Ex’trix.
Why would widow Carman want to sell her household furniture and farm equipment? Perhaps this was one of those cases where executors were required to sell the goods at a public sale to satisfy outstanding debts. The widow would have to bid on what she wanted to keep. If we could look at a summary of sale values and compare them with appraisement values, we might see that sale proceeds were way below the appraised value. Generally speaking, when this sort of thing happened, neighbors would bid low or not at all, allowing the widow to buy back her property for a modest sum.
The Carman Burying Ground
Another source for the date of Elijah Carman’s death comes from his gravestone in the Carman Family Burying Ground. This small cemetery is located on Route 523 well to the north of the Carman farmstead.15
In 1918, Hiram Deats made a record of the surviving gravestones. There were many that had become unreadable, but the gravestones of Elijah Carman and his wife Jane were visible, and so were those of Jane’s parents, John and Mary James. Aaron Carman, a son of Elijah and Mary, was buried there, but no dates were readable on his gravestone. He probably died as a child.
Here is the list that Hiram Deats made as he wrote it, which Bob Leith found in the Deats Collection in the Hunterdon County Historical Society.
* Lucy Coates, Aug. 30, 1878 in 84th yr
* Mary James, mother of Jane Carman, Sept. 1804
* John James 1787
* Aaron Carman, son of Elijah and Jane, no date
* Jane Carman, widow of Elijah, July 4, 1854 95-0-6
* Elijah Carman Nov. 8, 1841 84-11-2
* Jesse Pettit, April 5, 1814, In 64th year
* Amos Pettit, son of Jesse Pettit, b. Nov. 7, 1805, d. 1810
* Hannah Philips, wife of David Rockafelow [sic]
“1777 R P ND. HEAR LIES THE __
AG 59 BODY DS 29 NOV.”
[If any readers have an idea who this grave belongs to, someone born c.1718, died 1777, please comment below. No one in my database fits the bill.]
This next headstone was not listed on the two pieces of paper that Deats saved, but was included in the article about the cemetery published in the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter (vol. 3, no. 1, p.4, Spring 1967):
* Sarah Coates, wife of Robert, March 22, 1852 – stone broken
One can’t help but wonder if Samuel and Mary Carman might also be buried here. They might be, inasmuch as some stones are completely illegible.
Members of the Hunterdon County Historical Society’s cemetery committee have visited the cemetery and were able to locate and photograph some of the remaining headstones which are shown here. But many of those listed by Mr. Deats are no longer visible, including the one for Elijah Carman’s wife Jane, even though she died as late as 1854. My favorite gravestone is this one for Lucy Coates:
It is intriguing that some were buried here who were not related to the James-Carman families at all.
Jesse & Amos Pettit
Jesse Pettit, April 5, 1814, In 64th year
Amos Pettit, son of Jesse Pettit, b. Nov. 7, 1805, d. 1810
Jesse Pettit, a Revolutionary War veteran, was married to Anna Mary Johnson (1772-1833), daughter of Jacob Johnson. She was not buried here, but instead at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in East Amwell. The Pettits lived not far from the Higgins farm. A deed of 1811 shows Jesse Pettit bordering a lot sold by Isaac Hill to Judiah Higgins, putting Pettit on the north side of Route 523 in the area today known as Sunset Village. In his will of 1812, Jesse Pettit named his friend Elijah Carman as executor along with well-known Flemington figures Nathaniel Saxton and Peter Haward. Given that both Pettit and Elijah Carman were veterans of the Revolution, it seems likely they developed their friendship during the war.
Jesse Pettit’s son Mahlon (1804-1849) married one Amanda Higgins in 1839. She was the daughter of Michael Higgins and Ann Brokaw, but only distantly related to Jonathan and Jediah Higgins, owners of land surrounding the Carman Cemetery. (More about them below.)
Hannah Philips Rockafelow
Hannah Phillips (c.1760-bef. 1784) was the first wife of David Rockafellar, Esq. (1759-1833), son of John Peter Rockafellar and Mary Bellis. Soon after Hannah’s death, David married Margaret Risler (1761-1826), daughter of Hanteel and Catharine Risler. When his father died in 1787, David and brother Jacob each got a farm of 105 acres in what is today East Amwell, which David sold in 1788. He moved to Readington Township and left Hannah behind in the Carman cemetery.
What connection Hannah or David had with the Higgins family or with the Carmans is unknown to me. I can’t even identify Hannah’s parents, although there were several Phillips families in Hunterdon County with children about Hannah’s age.
Jane Carman’s 1843 Purchase
On August 29, 1843, just a few months after her son-in-law Andrew Hoagland died, Jane Carman purchased a strip of land 12 feet wide by 72 feet along the west side of the existing graveyard from John Higgins, Sr., who owned all the land surrounding the cemetery.16 Mrs. Carman was in effect enlarging the old graveyard, perhaps expecting that her heirs and descendants would also be using it. But as far as is known, there are no graves in that area. On the other hand, there are many gravestones outside of the cemetery bounds on the east side. I am surprised John Higgins did not sell that area to Jane Carman at the same time.
What is notable is that John Higgins did not own the graveyard itself, and therefore could not sell it to anyone. In fact, none of the early family burial grounds had owners. In every deed concerning surrounding property, graveyards were always excepted. They may be the only properties in New Jersey that have never had owners, other than the original colonial proprietors. It must be that people felt it was inappropriate to own property in which people were buried, whether relatives or not. You might say the only owners were the residents under ground. Jane Carman’s purchase, had it actually been used for burials, would have been an exception.
A search of land and probate records showed that Jane Carman never sold that patch of land, so presumably her only heir, daughter Mary Hoagland, inherited it. Mary Hoagland died intestate in 1873. Her administrators, David VanFleet, Miller Kline and Jacob A. VanDerveer, never offered the small lot for sale, and there is no record of anyone buying it. Perhaps it was considered part of the older cemetery.
Jediah Higgins’ Plantation
I was puzzled by the location of this cemetery on the north side of Route 523, and research has left me still more puzzled. The cemetery is located on a 222-acre tract of land that was surveyed for Jediah Higgins in 1794 (shown above in the tax map). This was affirmed in 1812 when Jediah’s father Jonathan wrote his will leaving to “son Gediah the plantation where he lives.”
The Carman family never owned that property, and neither did the James family. And to add to the mystery, none of the family members of Samuel & Mary Carman or of John and Mary James are related to the Higgins family—with one exception: Samuel Hill, who married Martha Carman, daughter of Elijah and Jane, had a sister Mary Hill who married Jediah Higgins, owner of this tract of land.17
There is another oddity about this plot: there is no known Higgins buried there. Jonathan Higgins (1725-1813) and wife Ann Britton (1730-1811), who came to Amwell Township from Kingston “sometime prior to the Revolution,” were buried in the Flemington Baptist Cemetery.18
It is possible that son Judiah/Jediah and wife Mary Hill were buried in the Carman cemetery as their graves have not been found. However, Jediah’s second wife, Rachel McPherson (1767-1848) is also buried in the Flemington Baptist Cemetery.19
Jediah and Mary Hill Higgins had ten children, and amazingly, they all lived to adulthood and married into prominent Amwell families: Ann to William Bishop, Hannah to Paul Kuhl, Martha to John Hummer, Sarah to Gilbert Barton, Judiah, Jr. to Mary Quick, Asher to Margaret Merrill, Jonathan to Eleanor Voorhees, John to Rebecca Schenck, Richard to Eliza Brittain and Jesse to Elizabeth Clark. ( See The Higgins Family Tree.)
Still more amazing, Jediah and second wife Rachel McPherson’s four children also all survived childhood. I know of only two marriage from that family, Martha to John Kuhl and Rebecca to George Huffman.
In 1794, a tract of 222 acres was surveyed for “Jed. Higgins” by “B. Fitzpatrick.”20 At first, I could not figure out where this was located, but thanks to township tax maps and old lot lines, I found that it fitted neatly just north of the Carman homestead plantation and bordered on the east the 239 acres sold to Andrew Hoagland in 1810. (See the tax map shown above.)
This is relevant here because the proposed rail line would have passed through the southern section of the Higgins farm, running just north of Mrs. Hoagland’s farmstead and then a little to the north of Aaron C. Hoagland’s house.
Jediah Higgins bought a lot of property during his lifetime, which made figuring out where he lived more of a challenge than usual, since he still owned most of it when he died. Most 18th and early 19th century land investors sold the properties, but Higgins held on to most of what he bought, probably to provide for his very large family.
Judiah Higgins of Amwell failed to write a will. He died on February 1, 1820 and on February 12th administration of his estate was granted to four of his sons, Judiah Jr., Asher, Jonathan and John. On January 1, 1821, all the seven Higgins daughters and their husbands conveyed their rights in all that property to Higgins’ seven sons. (Note that one of those sons was Samuel M. Higgins, son of Judiah’s second wife Rachel McPherson, and owner of the farm on Johanna Farms Road discussed in Route Not Taken, part 7.) Then on February 21, 1821, the widow Rachel conveyed her dower rights to sons Judiah, Jr. and Jonathan Higgins in exchange for an annuity of $90.21
But there was still a lot of work to do. A reference to the Surrogate’s Court will show a division of Higgins’ lands among his many heirs that goes on for fifteen pages.22
The deed of January 1, 1821, when the Higgins daughters conveyed their rights in their father’s real estate, listed nine separate properties, most of them located in Amwell Township. But our concern is with the original 222 acres in Amwell (now Raritan), and the lots divided out of the total. Lot No. 1 was 61+ acres on the north side of Route 523 where the old Higgins farmhouse and the Carman cemetery were located. After widow Rachel Higgins conveyed her rights in all Judiah’s real estate to her sons, this lot came to eldest son Judiah Higgins, Jr.
Across the road were two lots, numbered 4 and 5 in the division. Lot 4 was also owned by Judiah Higgins, Jr., but he died in 1824. In 1828, his widow Mary sold that lot, amounting to 78 acres, to Elijah Carman and grandson Aaron C. Hoagland, jointly, for $1200.23 That property became the homestead farm of Aaron Hoagland, who I will discuss in the next article.
Three weeks after the death of his father Judiah Higgins, John Higgins (1791-1851), eighth child of Judiah Higgins and Mary Hill, married Rebecca Schenck (1800-1835), daughter of John Schenck and Mary Young, on February 26, 1820. The couple had six children. Their son Nathaniel, born about 1825 did not survive to adulthood, but the other children did. Rebecca Schenck Higgins died on February 11, 1835, only 34 years old, and only one year after the death of her youngest child, Rachel. Oddly enough, her burial place is not known.
Following the death of his brother Judiah Higgins, Jr. in 1824, the homestead lot on the north side of the road came to be owned by John Higgins. The lot on the south side of Route 523 (No. 5) conveyed to John Higgins by brother Richard in 1827 included the barns and outbuildings needed to farm the large property.
There is a long list of deeds recorded in John Higgins’ name, and I have not looked at most of them. It’s as if John had inherited his father Jediah’s penchant for acquiring property. The only deed of immediate interest is the one dated August 9, 1843 in which John Higgins, Sr. sold to Jane Carman the extension of the Carman Cemetery that never got used.
John Higgins of Raritan Township wrote his will on May 4, 1848.24 He left to son John S. [Schenck] Higgins “that part of my homestead farm whereon I now live on the north side of the Centre of the Great Road running from Flemington to Centre Bridge,” but said nothing about the cemetery. On May 28th he wrote a codicil:
“ in addition to bequest to son John S. Higgins, I also devise to him a lot of 5 acres of my homestead farm whereon I now live south of the road whereon my barn and buildings stand bordering John Leigh’s lot and the road; in consideration, son John to pay his two sisters Ann E. & Catharine Suydam $500 each.”
He left most of the property on the south and east side of Route 523 to his daughters Ann Elizabeth and Catharine. They both conveyed their title to this property, in separate deeds, to brother John S. Higgins.25
I had thought I would be able to write about Aaron C. Hoagland in this article, but the Higgins farm and the Carman Cemetery took up his space, so he and wife Susan Rockafellar will have to wait until next time. And in fact, there is more to say about the Carman homestead plantation. Quite a lot of history in this part of Raritan Township.
- H.C. Deed Book 13 p. 206; the Carmans had purchased the lot from the Anderson family in 1795. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 16 p.625. ↩
- Hunterdon Co. Historical Society, Collection 5, Box 1, folder 12. ↩
- According to Find-a-Grave, memorial # 114170847. ↩
- There is no obvious family connection between Mary Hoagland or Jane Carman with Andrew Mires or Jane Sackett. ↩
- An Ancestry.com tree states that Samuel Carman was born September 22, 1722, in Monmouth County but did not give a source. Samuel’s wife Mary Wilson was also identified as born in 1723 in Middletown, Monmouth Co. ↩
- There is another possibility: A Joseph Carman of Middletown, Monmouth County wrote his will in 1774 leaving £5 to son Samuel. ↩
- Mary Wilson was the daughter of Andrew Wilson (c.1675-1734) of Middletown, Monmouth County, and wife Ida Lambert (1679-c.1735), according to a family tree on Ancestry.com. ↩
- H.C. Mortgage Book 1 p. 12. ↩
- West Jersey Proprietors Records, Survey Book A p.147. The date of Susannah Field Marriott’s death is not known. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 8 p. 413. ↩
- Robert also had hopes from his father Henry Coate’s estate, although he had been named executor along with his mother Deborah. There is probably an interesting story behind the fact that nine years after Henry Coate’s death, his son Robert and wife Sarah Coate objected to the appointment of auditors. ↩
- I do not know if John & Mary James had other children beside daughter Jane Carman. It is possible they had a son John, Jr. Real estate records show that in 1807 a John James of Trenton bought a Flemington tavern lot from William & Rebecca Bennett and Henry Reading. Reading owned a large tract just west of property acquired by Elijah Carman, hinting that John James had a connection with Amwell relatives. In 1810, he was living in Nottingham in Burlington County, when he sold the tavern lot to Neal Hart. See H.C. Deeds Book 14 p.222 and Book 16 p.434. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 16 pp.598, 625. ↩
- See Hunterdon Historical Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 34. The cemetery has also been designated the “Valley School Cemetery.” ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 80 p.412. ↩
- There is another, looser connection. Samuel Hill and second wife Sarah Trout had a daughter Hannah (c.1789-1846), who married Nathaniel B. Higgins (1787-1851), grandson of Jonathan & Ann Britton Higgins. ↩
- See Mary S. Bond, “Higgins School,” in The Jerseyman, vol. 3, no.3, p.34. ↩
- Dates come from Katharine Chapin Higgins, Richard Higgins and His Descendants, p. 208. ↩
- The survey was saved in the Nathaniel Saxton Papers at the Hunterdon County Historical Society Archives. The survey was scanned by Robert Leith. ↩
- H.C. Deeds Book 31 pp. 309, 528. ↩
- The Division can be viewed here on Family Search. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 45 p.493. ↩
- H.C. Surrogate’s Court, Wills, Book 9 p.30. ↩
- Catharine S. Higgins Suydam on April 1, 1852, and Ann E. Higgins on October 27, 1852, just a week before marrying James G. Ewing. See H.C. Deeds Book 104 pp.243, 246. ↩
June 20, 2020 @ 5:31 pm
I think this Carman Cemetery could be the one mentioned in Thomas Hunt’s 1789 will probated in 1790. He stipulated that 1/4 acre be set aside for a “burying ground”. Hunt owned about 400 acres along today’s highway 523 at the time of his death, purchased in at least 4 separate transactions. Three plots were left to his grandson Henry Reading (who was 5 years old) and the fourth plot, which was most of the land surveyed to Andrew Heath in 1712, was to be sold. All of these lands passed through many hands during the next decades. I have not been successful in following the trail, because the plots were not kept intact and the transactions were not always recorded.
Hunt’s probate file (which is voluminous and very detailed) states that John Robins was paid one pound, 2 & 6 “for carting stone for fence round the grave yard”. Executor Francis Beson (styled “Person” in the file) charged the estate 5 pounds 8 shillings for work done to the grave yard.
I have never seen the cemetery, since it is on private property and I’m not even sure of its exact location. The HC Historical Newsletter v.3 no.1 (Spring 1967) provided the tombstone inscriptions. This newsletter records the UNIDENTIFIED FAMILY BURIAL as 1788, whereas you have 1777. I had thought this might be Abigail, the second wife of Thomas Hunt, but if the date is really 1777 then it cannot be Abigail. She was alive in 1779 according to one researcher, when she signed a deed. (I have not seen this deed.)
Thomas Hunt was rich when he died, but not prominent. However, his son-in-law Charles Reading was from the most prominent family in the area. I have always thought it odd that a grave cannot be located. That is a reason to think that there might have been another cemetery and that it was destroyed over the years. Few of Thomas Hunt’s children remained in this area. So there would not have been many family members to bury. And Charles, along with most of his family, disappears from the area after failing financially circa 1814.
If this is the grave yard mentioned in the will, it must have already been in use as a burying ground for the neighborhood prior to 1790.
June 21, 2020 @ 7:25 am
Interesting idea, but I think the Hunt cemetery was probably closer to Buchanan’s Tavern. I’ve drawn the Hunt tract on the tax map, but don’t know how to post it in the comments section. It was located southeast of and adjacent to the tract sold to Andrew Hoagland in 1810. Finding the Hunt cemetery would be a good idea.
June 21, 2020 @ 2:14 pm
Were you able to locate the parts of his plantation that were left to Henry Reading? One parcel was purchased from the Penns, a second one from John Reading, and a third from George Green. They were presumably adjacent to his existing land (formerly John Heath’s) but I’ve no idea in which direction.
June 21, 2020 @ 2:45 pm
Martha, in 1812, Henry Reading sold several lots out of the tract of land he inherited from his grandfather Thomas Hunt. Most of them were small woodlots. The single big one was 149 acres sold to John Leigh (Deed Book 19 p. 423). It bordered among others Elijah Carman and Andrew Hoagland. As you know, Hunt named the people he bought from in his will. The northern half of the 149+ acres was located in the Penn tract, but the southern half was in the tract owned by Andrew Heath. It must have been sold by Heath to either Reading or Green before being bought by Hunt.
June 27, 2020 @ 1:24 pm
Thank you for your reply and the helpful map. I did look at the deeds from Henry Reading many years ago but could make no sense of them. I was able to follow the farm sold to John Leigh because it stayed 149 acres for many decades. I mistakenly thought that it was part of the land that Hunt purchased in 1727, which was essentially the Heath tract with the NE corner cut off. So I was puzzled, thinking that Hunt’s executors had not honored his wishes, or that Hunt was mistaken about the land. Big mistake on both counts. Hunt, although illiterate, seems to have had a mind like a steel trap, and Charles Reading was most punctilious in his duties. (p.s. the 49 acre purchase from John Reading is mentioned in “John Reading’s Diary”.)
Diane Carman Fudge
January 13, 2021 @ 8:06 pm
Interesting. My geneology shows that my 8th grandfather was married to Mary Wilson (same years of birth and death), but my family line ends up owning a great deal of Long Island at one time (Township of Hempstead) and my grandparents lived in the Freeport, NY area. There are a ton of my relatives buried in Nassau County, NY at the — cemetary. Here is the link to “my’ Samuel. I never knew that any of the Carman’s in my lineage started out in NJ, but I was also told that Samuel fought in the Revolutionary war and would love to prove that for membership in DAR. Here is the family line from Samuel to me: https://www.familysearch.org/campaign/memorial?ancestor_pid_1=LYMN-6MX&et_cid=1706858&et_rid=112935620&linkid=CTA&cid=em-bg-9639
Also, here is the grave of Samuel on Long Island, and it mentions in FindAGrave that the couple had a daughter Sarah, shown with a (?).
It seems odd that the Samuel and Mary with daughter Sarah could have been in NJ and NY? If you can shed any light on this, I’d love to hear any additional information.
January 14, 2021 @ 5:44 am
Interesting information, Diane. I’m afraid your link does not seem to work. As far as a connection with NY, I don’t see how that is possible. Could it be there were two Samuel Carmans? As far as I know, Samuel Carman died in NJ; at least, he wrote his will there and his estate was probated there. Caleb Carman wrote his will in 1744 leaving property in Morris Co., NJ to sons Samuel and Jasper. But there was also a Joseph Carman of Middletown, Monmouth who wrote his will in 1774, leaving £5 to son Samuel, and nothing else (will proved 1779). Researching the 18th century is such a challenge!
Nicholas Mundy Sanborn, Sr. 1937-????
December 30, 2021 @ 6:57 pm
John Carman came to 1631 to Roxbury, MA, 1649 was one of the “Patentees” of Hempstead, LI, NY. I have 25 Samuels in my data base, 14 Calebs, 42 Johns. A large part of the family became Quakers, in large part, I believe, by Carman men marrying women of that persuasion. Our line were not Quakers. Thomas Edison’s 39 acres “Menlo Park” in Edison, NJ was bought from my great grandfather William (1849-1926) Carman’s and he worked for Edison as purchasing agent and secretary. His Twin brother Theodore Frelinghuysen Carman was Edison’s shop foreman. A third brother also worked for Edison. The oldest was Brevet Brigadier General Ezra Ayers Carman 1834-1909.