CROTON. The village of Croton straddles the dividing line (Rte 579) between Delaware and Raritan Townships, and is located just north of Highway 12. The old road that ran from Flemington to Frenchtown passed through the village, and is known today as Old Croton Road. It was once a thriving place, with stores, a mill, a blacksmith shop, a church and a school. Many of the original buildings have been lost to fires, and the village has lost some of its charm thanks to the impact of a county road running through it.
Recently I got a chance to look through Paul Kurzenberger’s postcard collection and found this gem:
It was too funny not to scan and save. As you see, the caption reads “Three of a kind, from Croton, N.J.” After my chuckles subsided, I began to wonder who in Croton sent this postcard, and who received it.
This is the last month of Benjamin H. Ellicott’s Diary. He continues to report on war news from his home in Baltimore, but, on August 18th he describes a visit to Croton, New Jersey on August 11th that leads him and wife Mary Ann Warford to decide to relocate there. But he does not explain why that decision was made. Perhaps they felt that the war was getting too close to them. Or maybe Mary Ann’s father, Elisha Warford, was asking them to come live with him.
In his diary, Benjamin Ellicott made several references to his father-in-law, Elisha Warford. Warford is a legendary figure in the history of the Locktown-Croton vicinity, so it seems appropriate to publish Mr. Bush’s recollections of the man. He was a controversial figure, extremely wealthy, and extremely litigious. He never hesitated to take his debtors to court, as the papers in the Warford Collection at the Hunterdon County Historical Society will attest. Warford was a difficult personality that Mr. Bush managed to write about without casting aspersions. But then Egbert T. Bush was always a gentleman. As usual, I will take the liberty of making comments and annotations.
First Trip to Delaware River Kilns an Experience for a Boy
Spoke Making a Lost Trade
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, N. J. published in the Hunterdon Co. Democrat, April 21, 1932
In recognition of the belated arrival of spring, I offer Mr. Bush’s tale of how farmers got lime for their fields in the mid 19th-century. And among those “Other Things,” Mr. Bush describes the business of spoke making.
As our forests were cut off and the stumps rotted away, the land was found to be or soon to become more or less sour. The sorrels began to grow plentifully, especially the tall, reddish brown one that we called “horse sorrel.” That was later known as a sure indication that the land needed lime, tho in the earlier stages little was known about sour land or the indications, or even about lime as a sweetener. Such knowledge, like almost every other kind, grew gradually with experience and observation, until science took hold of such matters and showed us to be sometimes on the right track without knowing exactly why.
Imagine Delaware Township being served by eleven different post offices, nearly all of them located within the township boundaries. This was necessary in the days before “Rural Free Delivery.” Getting one’s mail involved traveling to the nearest village, and in the process getting up to date on local news from others who were also collecting their mail, and visiting stores and taverns while they were at it. It sounds rather appealing, as long as the weather is nice.
In this article, I have listed the post offices first in chronological order and then alphabetically with their postmasters. I am tempted to add more biographical details, but that would turn this post into a book. Stockton has been included only for the time that it was a part of Delaware Township. It did not become an independent borough until 1898.Continue reading »
This is another long post; it is the rest of a talk I gave in 1997 on Delaware Township villages (part one can be read here). Part two focuses on the villages in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is far more to say about them, which I will attempt to do in future posts. Currently I have been researching the history of Raven Rock, which you can read about here and here.Continue reading »
Mention of Newly-cut Whiteoak Lumber Gives One an Appetite
Some Local Sawmill History
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, N.J.
Hunterdon County Democrat, October 17, 1929
If the boy has ever lovingly watched the operation of one of the original sawmills, the old man’s memory will often go fondly back to those boyhood days. Whether they were or were not “the good old days” of which we hear so much, makes no difference at all. They were the days in which sawmills along country roads were almost as common as filling stations are today. And how much more interesting they were, and how much sweeter smelling!Continue reading »