Last Sunday, I gave a talk to the Lambertville Historical Society about how to research one’s property in Hunterdon County, with a special focus on Lambertville. It was a great group of people, and I got a chance to appreciate how awesome old photos look when projected on an enormous screen. It was also nice to show many more pictures than I can reasonably do on this blog.
There are many kinds of sources for historical research, and some of them do not fit neatly into a bibliography. I have written about some that I have come across here.
Bill Hartman was one of those people whose loss is deeply felt by anyone who knew him, including me. I have not yet seen an obituary for him in the Hunterdon County Democrat, which seems odd considering how important he was to so many of us.
This is the second part of my article on how to do a house history, published March 29th. If you followed through with that article, you will now have a more or less complete chain of title. So, what next?
Step Four. Flesh Out the Story
A chain of title for your property is wonderful to have, but, really, all it is is a list of names, dates and sources. There’s no story there. It’s not really very interesting until you start digging and learn about who these people were, what their lives were like. Were they rich, poor, farmers, merchants? Were they important in their community? Did they get into trouble? This is where genealogical skills come into play.
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I recently discovered some interesting articles online about New Jersey history. For instance:
“Mutiny of the New Jersey Line” by Michael Schellhammer (March 19, 2014)
Nice summary of the events of the winter of 1780-81 when NJ troops stationed at Pompton became fed up with their conditions. Written in casual, non-academic language, perfect for us busy folks who love history but have other things to distract us. Considering that the mutineers had agreed to return to camp, it is surprising that Gen. Washington took such a strong position against them. Despite the fact that the NJ men only wanted to return home because their enlistments had expired, Washington and Howe determined to make an example of them, to discourage insubordination throughout the army. Two men were executed: Sergeant David Gilmore and Sergeant John Tuttle. Sergeant Major Grant would have been, but officers were persuaded he was not a ring leader that they thought he was. It was a high price to pay for a disciplined army.
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Most people who decide to research their properties head straight to the Search Room in the County Clerk’s Office to find the earliest deed they can. I understand the impulse—that’s exactly what I did over 30 years ago. But experience has taught me there is a better way to get started. I recently gave a talk on this subject for the Hunterdon County 300th Anniversary speakers’ series. It gave me a chance to boil down my approach to a few simple rules. Here they are:
People Mentioned in the Letters of John Lambert to Susan M. Hoppock, arranged alphabetically first by given names that have no surnames, then by surname (married women are listed under their maiden names).
I have begun to realize that it is a challenge to keep track of all the people mentioned by John Lambert, mostly family but also friends and neighbors. So here is a list of them all so far, which I will add to whenever someone new is mentioned. This is most definitely a work in progress, and any help that readers can lend me for some of my mysteries will be most appreciated. I will include a link to this post with each subsequent letter published. To view those letters, click on the topic “John Lambert” in the right-hand column.
The latest issue of the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey is out (vol. 86, no. 1), and the first article, “Burlington Waterlots Surveyed,” is just amazing. C. Miller Biddle, a descendant of the original Biddle family, has written a detailed description of the ownership of the water lots in the town of Burlington when they were first laid out.
He has also given us succeeding owners, sometimes into the early 19th century. He begins with the London side of town, west of High Street, and I gather he will eventually treat the Yorkshire side as well. Dr. Biddle’s research is truly impressive, and I expect these articles will be the last word on the subject, so be sure to look out for future installments.
Once again, Jerseyman has caught me by surprise. He has published a fascinating post relating to early maneuvering before the first Quaker settlers arrived in the Delaware River.
The blog is “History–Now and Then,” by “Jerseyman” and the post in question is The Best Laid Schemes o’Mice an’ Men, Gang aft Agley
Under instructions from the Quaker trustees, James Wasse and Richard Guy had a survey made by Richard Hancock, which was published by John Thornton and Robert Green and titled “A Mapp of Virginia Mary-land, New-Jarsey, New-York & New England,” probably around 1677 or 1678. It showed three designated areas for settlement, one being at “Bethlem” which became Gloucester, another called Antioch where Salem was located, and the third was 5000 acres at the Falls.
When writing about Hunterdon history, I will refer to events in New Jersey history that require some explanation. In order to avoid repetition, I will put short explanations of major events here, and update this post as needed. Continue reading »