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.
RITTENHOUSE. The first to settle here was William Rittenhouse (1696-1767). He married Catharine Howell (c.1700-1778), the sister of Daniel Howell, and acquired land at Rosemont, adjacent on the east to the Mount Amwell plantation of John and Elizabeth Reading. The family was prolific and active in Hunterdon County life.
After this article was published, some careful readers alerted me to a few errors which merit attention.
For three years John P. Rittenhouse owned my small farm in Delaware Township, although he never lived there. As I started to research his life I discovered that, among other things, he was a Hunterdon Co. Sheriff, managed a restaurant at the Union Hotel, and then ran the hotel in Ringoes. He had an interesting life.
In 1859 he sold my farm to Edmund Perry, a successful politician, but a failure as an investor. I published the beginning of Rittenhouse’s story in the previous post, ending with a situation in which Rittenhouse, acting as deputy sheriff, had to take possession of the very farm he had previously sold to his political ally, Edmund Perry, and sell it to the highest bidder. Awkward.
Recently I gave a talk at the Hunterdon Co. Historical Society on how to research the history of one’s house. While preparing for the talk, I decided to look over the history I did for my own house back in 1981. It was the first one I had ever done, and I hadn’t a clue about how to go about it. I found most of the owners of my home, but some of them were absentee owners, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. On reviewing my chain of title, I got curious about one of those absentee owners, and began to do some more serious research. It paid off with a pretty interesting story.
The following is the keynote speech I delivered on September 19, 2015 for the 2nd Annual Cemetery Seminar, sponsored by the Hunterdon Co. Historical Society and others. It is somewhat modified to make it more readable, less like a speech.
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.
Several years ago (in 2007), me and my cemetery buddies (pardon the grammar) visited the mysterious and lovely Rittenhouse Cemetery overlooking the old Prallsville quarry. I have wanted to write about this place for some time, but put it off because of concern that by making it known it would be more vulnerable to vandals. It appears that my restraint did not make much difference. Bob Leith visited recently and found one of the stones with graffiti and another one with a shotgun blast to its face. So, there is not much point in secrecy anymore. But there is another reason why I am inspired to write about the cemetery now. It has to do with the oldest stone there.
The Pauch farm, continued. The previous article was Joseph Sergeant and Jane Quick.
One item in Charles Sergeant’s will of 1833 is of particular interest to us. It concerned a farm of 130 acres which he had bought from Joseph Sergeant, and which was occupied at that time by Jonathan Rittenhouse. Sergeant ordered that it be sold and the profits divided among his heirs. This was the old Richard Green farm which Charles Sergeant had kept after buying it back from his brother Joseph in 1818. After Joseph Sergeant left the premises, Charles Sergeant rented the farm to a tenant—Jonathan Rittenhouse. Continue reading »
“Repeated Rascalities” Create
Embarrassment for a New Church
A continuation of the Kingwood Baptist division of 1839
The Missionary Baptists of Kingwood got off to a very rough start. After a promising beginning, they turned their backs on the pastor who led them through the creation a new church, and chose instead a newcomer who proved to be a scoundrel. (You can see the first installment of this story here.)