Most of you, my dear readers, know that the famous Rockafellar family had its roots in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County. And we’re all familiar with one particular descendant of this German immigrant family, a man who prospered hugely from the opportunities afforded him in America—the famous John D. Rockafellar. Another descendant, although not a direct ancestor of John D., became the tavernkeeper at Skunktown (now known as Sergeantsville), and I am much more interested in him.
SERGEANTSVILLE is located in the heart of Delaware Township, and serves as its de facto capital. The tavern of former years is now the township municipal building. Except for Perth Amboy’s municipal building, Delaware Township’s is the longest continually used building for municipal government. Being located at the intersection of county routes 523 and 604, it is still a fairly busy place, but nothing like it was in the 19th century, when farmers would come to town to shop and collect their mail.
This is the story of an unusual school in the 1830s run by an eccentric visionary, who sadly failed to make a success of it.
While working on a history of the Sergeantsville Inn, I realized that this would be a good time to publish Egbert T. Bush’s article about the places that made Sergeantsville such an interesting little town. Mr. Bush did not have the advantage of adding photographs the way I do. These pictures come from the postcard collection of Paul Kurzenberger. (Note that Mr. Bush’s article is in italics; my comments are not.)
Henry H. Fisher, Esq.
Part one of this story was published last year in March 2015 (The Sergeantsville Inn). It was written too quickly, and now has been revised. In its original form, the article covered the time period from the original proprietary deed to the end of the 19th century. I’ve revised that first article with more information about the last of the Thatcher family to own the property, bringing us up to 1830.
There is a tiny burying ground located on a plot of land across from the Delaware Township Municipal Building that is used during the summer by the Sergeantsville Farmers’ Market. It is hidden in a clump of trees, and very few people know of its existence.
When writing about Pine Hill Cemetery recently, the name of John Lewis came up. This reminded me of a wonderful article written by Jonathan M. Hoppock back in 1905 about a mysterious character named Ticnor Lewis who lived not far from Pine Hill. It is one of Mr. Hoppock’s most colorful yarns, and one of his many stories of the early settlers in Amwell Township. This one is based entirely on folklore or family tradition. A bowl-full of salt is highly recommended.
Pine Hill Cemetery is one of the most interesting of the old family burial grounds in Hunterdon County. I have written about it before, in an article that listed the known graves with some biographical information. But I had just scratched the surface; there is so much more to be said.
There is an odd sort of road in Delaware Township, running south from Sergeantsville, that I have often wondered about. It is called Rittenhouse Road, and for much of its length, it runs straight as an arrow, then suddenly does a zigzag before ending at Sandy Ridge Road.
Quite often the very straight roads in Hunterdon County were created as a result of the early, large proprietary tracts that forced roads to run along their borders. But that is not the case here. This road ran through the middle of Daniel Robins’ 700+ acres, surveyed in 1722.