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.
The Hammond Maps of Hunterdon County proprietary tracts are a wonderful resource for county historians. Many of the property owners shown on these maps drawn by D. Stanton Hammond in 1963 were the first Europeans to claim title to this part of the state of New Jersey. What happened to those properties in succeeding years has always fascinated me and provided wonderful material for my articles.
Who really found the Delaware River boats in December 1776? the boats that Gen. Washington was supposed to rely on to carry his army across the river on Christmas Eve? For a long time I was certain it was David Johnes of Amwell, working with Daniel Bray and Jacob Gearhart. Now I’m not so sure. In fact, I now have serious doubts.
The dotted line in this picture is a survey line, drawn by Reading Howell in 1774, and as you can see, one of the lines goes right through the middle of the house, which is labeled “Ferry House.” Strangely enough, this house has long been known as the tavern house at Howell’s Ferry (Stockton) which I wrote about in “Jacob’s Path, an 1813 Shortcut.” So why was the tavern house called the Ferry House in 1774? And why did the surveyor run a line right through the middle? Therein lies a story.
There is something fascinating about old roads, especially when their routes differ from the ones we know today. One of the very oldest roads in Hunterdon County was “layed out” in December 1721 and recorded in January 1721/22.
Here is the full text, as transcribed in Snell’s History of Hunterdon County (p. 347), which I will follow with my attempt to decipher what route was being described.1
In 1686, there were a few events that boded ill for West New Jersey.
The Declaration of Indulgence, which James II issued in March (or April), was James’ attempt to get the Protestant English accustomed to having Catholics and dissident Protestants more visible in daily life. It granted amnesty to those imprisoned under laws against the practice of these religions. Following this, James granted many commissions to Catholics in the army. Seems like a good thing, but it was also a good example of how James misread his subjects, who truly feared that a strong Catholic sovereign like James might turn their country into an appendage of Catholic France.Continue reading »