In my previous post on Delaware Township’s first meeting. I gave brief biographies of the Township Committee members, but neglected the rest. So, here are some of the other officeholders. (I will save Overseers of Roads for another post.) Many of these biographies are incomplete, either because records are poor, or because I have not spent enough time researching them.
A. B. Chamberlin
Amplius (or Ampleus) Blake Chamberlin (1807-1879) was actively engaged in civic affairs for most of his life. He was born in Connecticut in 1807. Why he decided to come to Hunterdon County is, so far, a mystery.1 He settled in Locktown a few years before 1830 when he married Elizabeth Myers (1811-1859), daughter of John Myers and Sarah Rockafellar. They had twelve children, only two of whom died as infants. (For the 19th century, that was a good record.) In 1843, he served as Chosen Freeholder from Delaware Twp.
During the Democratic County Convention in March 1844, A. B. Chamberlin was appointed to a committee to nominate candidates for that year’s elections. I cannot tell whether he nominated himself or not, but in October of that year, he handily defeated his opponent in the race for Sheriff, and continued in that position until 1847. By that time he had moved to Kingwood Township, where he was elected Chosen Freeholder in 1848. He was a witness to and administrator of many estates for his neighbors and made several inventories. In 1866 he joined the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Flemington.
Chamberlin’s wife Elizabeth died in 1859 (she was only 47, but after 12 children, it’s no wonder she died young). Chamberlin’s second wife was Ann or Amy Bird, whom he married in 1861. She was the widow of David Rittenhouse, who died of cancer, age 38, in 1860. A. B. Chamberlin died near Locktown in Kingwood Township, and wife Amy died in 1898 in Trenton, but I do not know where either of them are buried.
Judge of Election
Abraham Conover (1792-1881) was the son of Albert Covenhoven and Sarah Bonham; I believe they lived near Headquarters. Abraham married his wife Sarah Bodine on March 1, 1817, and had six children, about whom I know very little. In fact, I’m not quite certain about his parentage. He was born at a time when record-keeping was very casual. I am also completely clueless about the family of Sarah Bodine.
By the 1820s Abraham Conover was witnessing wills and purchasing property. Like almost everyone else, he was a farmer, and lived at the corner of Route 523 and Sand Brook Road. In 1837, he bought a large part of the old John Rake farm at Sand Brook. In 1840, he was Chosen Freeholder for Delaware Township, along with James Snyder. In 1844, he was named to the same nominating committee as A. B. Chamberlin at the County’s Democratic Convention.
By 1860, Conover was a tanner, but by 1870, he was back to farming. That was the year that his wife Sarah died. He died ten years later. Both are buried at the Dunkard Church Cemetery (known as the Lower Amwell Old Yard).
Mahlon Smith Esq.
Also served as Commissioner of Appeals and Overseer of Roads in 1838.
There are too many Mahlon Smiths (I have eleven in my database). My best guess is that the Mahlon Smith who served as tax collector was born in 1797 to John Smith and Anna Dilts, and in 1825 married Jemima Barton, daughter of John Barton and Charity Golden. They had at least 7 children; the first four died in 1835 of diphtheria, according to Mahlon Smith’s great-grandson Milton Smith, who lived in Locktown until he died in 2012 at the age of 94. The last child, Asher, who died in 1838, was buried with his siblings in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery. The two children of Mahlon and Jemima Smith that reached adulthood were Jacob B. Smith and Isaac Smith.
Mahlon Smith Esq. owned a farm near Locktown. He served as trustee of the Green Sergeant School when it was opened in 1830, which seems a little odd, since there was a school in Locktown as early as 1804. In 1840, Smith was elected tax collector and overseer of roads in District 5, and also named Commissioner to decide tax appeals with Benjamin Horn and Jacob Buchanan. He witnessed many deeds over the ensuing years and continued on as a farmer, until he died in 1868 at the age of 71. His inventory showed that he had lent sums to many people, totaling $7,960. It also included a “Pigeon Net,” which was used to trap passenger pigeons. His wife Jemima died in 1874, age 72. She spent her last years living with her son Jacob Smith. Both Mahlon and Jemima Smith were buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery.
Jacob Rake (c.1801- aft. 1860) was the son of William Rake and Lydia Larew (see William Rake, below, as Constable). His wife was probably Amy Fulper, but I have no information on her. They had a child, John G. Rake, in 1828. Jacob Rake was listed in the Amwell census of 1830 as being in his 30s, living with an unnamed female in her 20s, and 3 children under 5 years of age. He owned land in Delaware twp., near Buchanan’s Tavern, along Route 523.
Given the offices he held in 1838 (he was also an Overseer of the Poor and member of the School Committee), he must have been well thought of. He also served as Overseer of the Poor in 1839 but disappears from Hunterdon records after that.
Research by Geoff Raike has shown that Jacob Rake and his family moved west, first to Ohio, and then to Illinois. In 1882, Jacob Rake returned to Delaware Township to visit relatives, a fact that was noted in the Hunterdon County Democrat. He was 81 years old by then and must have died not long afterwards in Illinois. His wife Amy went to live with a daughter and died in Iowa at age 85.
Commissioners of Appeals
Jacob F. Buchanan
Jacob Fulper Buchanan (1804-1894) was the son of Samuel Buchanan and Margaret Arnwine, and grandson of John Buchanan, of Buchanan’s Tavern, and Sarah Opdycke. The Buchanans and Fulpers had been close neighbors, which appears to be the reason for Jacob Buchanan’s middle name. In 1836 he married Mary Gordon (1807-1882), daughter of Othniel Gordon and Mary Heath. They had five children: Ann E., Gordon, George, John R. and Elizabeth.
Jacob F. Buchanan was a farmer who lived near Sand Brook. His farm ran between Route 523 and Biser Road, and originally belonged to the Fulper family. In 1834, lightning struck his barn, which caught fire and burned to the ground. Fortunately, only hay and grain were lost, no livestock. The newspaper says nothing about rebuilding his barn, but there is little doubt that he did it with the help of his neighbors.
In 1836, Jacob F. Buchanan was named secretary for a meeting of the Democratic-Republicans of Amwell gathered to support reform of the Caucus nominating system in the county. In 1840, Jacob F. Buchanan served as Commissioner to decide tax appeals along with Benjamin Horn. After this, Buchanan seems to have retired from public life, with the exception of a meeting in October 1861, at which he represented Delaware Township on a nominating committee for the Union Convention, which was called to support “a vigorous prosecution of the war.”
In 1880, Jacob F. and Mary Buchanan, ages 75 and 72, were living alone in Delaware Twp. with their daughter Elizabeth (age 42). Next to them was their son Gordon Buchanan (age 39) and his family. Jacob lived to be 89 years old; he died in 1894 and was buried in the Sand Brook Cemetery next to his wife Mary, who had died in 1882.
As a member of the Township Committee, he has already been profiled. However, I have since found that he served as Tax Collector for Amwell Township in 1836 and have revised the previous post to reflect that.
See above, under Tax Collector.
William Rake (1776-1850) was probably the father of Jacob Rake above.2 He was the son of the first Rake to live in Amwell/Delaware Township—John Rake, who died near Sand Brook in 1805. William Rake’s first child was George Rake, born out of wedlock in 1798 to Ann Hoppock. In 1800 William Rake married first Lydia (Lidda) Larew (1769-1802), daughter of Moses and Urania Larew. They had two children, Jacob F. Rake (born 1801) and Jonathan Hunter Rake (1802-1874). William Rake married second Elizabeth’s sister, Anna Larew, in 1804 and may have had as many as 9 children with her. I only know of two: Peter and Izer Rake.
William Rake was the innkeeper at “Schencktown” (Sergeantsville) in 1821, and for several years previously. He had been running a tavern since 1806, although not necessarily in Sergeantsville. Rake was also a jailer for Hunterdon County, probably in the years 1813, 1814 and 1819, and he appears to have served as Constable for Amwell Township for few years.
In 1824 William Rake was sued in the N.J. Supreme Court by the Inhabitants of Amwell. (I have not yet looked up that case, but suspect it involved debt.) He bought and sold quite a bit of land over the years, but appears to have resided at the farm of his father-in-law, Moses Larew, on Reading Road, later owned by Jacob Johnson.
Like some other officeholders of 1838, William Rake was a Democrat. In 1837, he attended a meeting of the Democratic Citizens of Amwell and was named a delegate to the county meeting where nominations would be made for the October elections. In 1840, William Rake was elected Constable of Delaware Township, but in 1841, he was sued by the Inhabitants of Delaware Township in the N.J. Supreme Court; another interesting case worth looking up.
William Rake died in 1850 at the age of 73, a short time before the 1850 census was taken. His wife Anna died five years previously. They are not recorded as being buried in the Locktown Christian Church Cemetery, but that is where I would expect to find them since William Rake served as church trustee in 1830 and 1838.
Exactly what the duties of the school committee were I cannot say. In 1838 there were several one-room schoolhouses in the township, each one having its own set of trustees. There was no county superintendent of schools to oversee them. Since the State of New Jersey had instituted a “Common School Fund,” perhaps it was the job of the committee to divide the moneys between the various schools. This is suggested by an advertisement in the Hunterdon Gazette of May 11, 1836:
NOTICE is hereby given, that the trustees of the several schools in the township of Amwell must present to the School Committee by the 15th day of June next, the true average number of scholars in each quarter of the preceding year, as no report will be received after that date. The trustees of such schools as have been vacant the whole of the last year, are requested to report their average from the best information they can obtain. [signed] Garret Servis, William K. Oat, D. J. Rockafellar. Amwell School Committee. May 11, 1836.
The idea that some schools were vacant reflects the fact that parents were under no obligation to send their children to school, and often needed them to help with the multitude of chores on the farm.
A. B. Chamberlin
See above under Town Clerk.
See above under Assessor.
Once again, there are too many William Wilsons. I am guessing (again) that the Wilson who was a member of the Township’s first School Committee was William W. Wilson Esq. (1796-1875). Unfortunately, I have not been able to identify his parents. He may be the William Wilson who married Maria Lambert, daughter of Sen. John Lambert and Hannah Little. She died in Feb 1838 and was buried in the Barber Cemetery. But I have a quandary: a William Wilson married Anna Maria Lambert in 1831, who died in 1852 and was also buried in the Barber Cemetery. What is the likelihood that someone would have two wives with the same names? (If I ever resolve this, I will make corrections here.) William Wilson had two children, Mary L. Wilson, born 1832 and Jane Wilson, born 1834. Mary never married and lived with her parents. I do not have information on Jane.
Wilson had a busy life. The earliest record I have of him is 1826 when he was one of the managers from Amwell for the Hunterdon County Bible Society. He was overseer of roads for Amwell Twp. in 1828 and was named to the Executive Committee of the Hunterdon Temperance Society in 1830. Wilson was a strong Democrat. In 1835 he ran against Nathaniel Saxton for the Governor’s Council and won the nomination, and the election. However, he failed to win re-election in 1836, due to a strong anti-caucus-system movement that year; he lost to “anti-monopoly candidate,” Henry S. Hunt. In 1838 Wilson was nominated for Assembly, but not elected.
In 1840, William Wilson presided over the meeting of the Friends of Van Buren and Johnson, where he gave a lengthy speech which was published in the Hunterdon Gazette. In 1842, he was Moderator of the Delaware Twp. Annual Meeting, and in 1842 presided over the July 4th dinner held at Lambertville (he had also done this in 1836). In 1842 he was again elected to the Council of the NJ Legislature, and in 1843 was again Moderator for Delaware’s Annual Meeting. He continued his many activities after this date, but I will stop here and simply say that William Wilson died “near Dilts Corner” in 1875, age 80, and was buried in the Barber Cemetery.
Was he buried next to the two Maria Lamberts? Sadly, the cemetery stones are so worn down that I couldn’t even find Wm. Wilson’s grave, let alone the two Marias.
James J. Fisher
As a member of the Township Committee, Fisher was described in a previous post. I would like to mention here that David Bond, who is currently chairman of the planning board and has also served on the Township Committee of Delaware Township, is a descendant of Cornelius Q. Fisher, brother of James J. Fisher. Quite a heritage. Are there any other descendants of the first officeholders still living in Delaware Township?
James Snyder Esq.
James Snyder (1786-1874) might have been the youngest child of John and Christina Snyder, originally of Kingwood, but living in Amwell when John Snyder died in 1809. James Snyder married in 1813 Elizabeth Reed (1795-1835), daughter of Asa Reed and Elizabeth Bray. They had five children, all of whom reached adulthood.
James Snyder’s first land purchase was a lot in Raven Rock, which he bought in 1814 from Jacob and Elizabeth Hunt. In 1816, he bought the 124-acre farm of Richard Green near Rosemont. He was named trustee of the Green Sergeant School when it was first created. By that time, 4 of his 5 children were in need of a school. In 1835, his wife died at the age of 39. In 1840, he married second Lucy Cronce (c.1806-aft 1870), whose parents are not known to me. They had four children.
James Snyder began his public life when he was appointed a Justice of the Peace by the State Legislature in 1825. In 1831, nominations started coming his way. That year he was nominated for freeholder and for Amwell Twp. Committee. In 1832 he was nominated to be Collector for Amwell. In 1834, he was named at a meeting of the Democrats at Flemington to be one of a committee to attend the state convention in Trenton. In 1836, he was again appointed a Justice of the Peace, and in 1837 he was nominated for the Assembly, along with many others. He was nominated again in 1838, and this time won the election as a Democrat. That same year, he was chosen to serve as Freeholder from Delaware Twp.
In 1839, James Snyder ran for the Council and won election. In 1840, he was again Freeholder from Delaware Twp., along with Abraham Conover. He also served on the School Committee that year. This was also the case in 1842. In 1843, he served as Freeholder with A. B. Chamberlin. In 1847 and 1848, he was elected to the Delaware Township Committee. In 1849, he served as a judge of election as well as committee member. In 1850, James Snyder shifted gears and ran for sheriff on the Whig ticket and was elected.3
In 1853, Snyder was a commissioner of the Lumberville-Delaware Bridge Company. Subscribers were invited to visit his office in Flemington to sign up. In 1863, Snyder and Dilts Larue from the Sergeants School District were named to find volunteers for the Civil War draft. In June 1872, the Hunterdon Republican republished a list of the County’s Sheriffs first published by the Hunterdon (or Frenchtown) Independent. Of James Snyder the paper said that he “was a member of the State Council (now Senate) until 1839 and member of the Assembly in 1838. He now resides in Delaware Township and is about 85 years old.”
In the 1860 census, when he was 74 years old, he was called a Gentleman. In 1870, he was still living in Delaware Twp., age 84, calling himself a “retired gardener.” His wife Lucy was still keeping house, and they lived with the family of their daughter Mary Ann and her husband James W. Johnson. James Snyder died “universally respected” in 1874 and was buried in the Rosemont Cemetery next to his first wife. His wife Lucy survived until 1894 and was also buried at Rosemont.
Surveyors of Highways
John Hoffman/Huffman is an impossible name to research. I cannot say with certainty who this is. Assuming that an officeholder in 1838 had to have been born in 1810 or earlier, and have lived in Amwell Township, I am left with only one good candidate: John Hoffman, born about 1775, son of John Hoffman (1754-1837) and Rebecca Rounsavel (1754-1833), who lived near “Buchanansville.” Trouble is, I have information on John Sr. who died in 1837, but none on his son. To complicate matters, the name Hoffman was often spelled Huffman. In some cases, John Hoffman and John Huffman were different people, but often they were the same.
Any descendants who can clear this up are invited to contact me.
Albertus K. Wagner
Albertus K. Wagner (1810-1871) was the son of David and Elizabeth Wagner. When he was 20 years old, his father David died, in 1830. His obituary stated that he had served as constable in Amwell Township and “left a large family to mourn his loss.” Albertus Wagner had 7 brothers and sisters and appears to have grown up in the vicinity of Ferry Road and Locktown-Flemington Roads.
I have four Albertus K.’s in my database. The other three were named Albertus King, so it seems likely that Albertus Wagner was Albertus King Wagner. The popular “King” is no doubt Albertus King (1781-1845), son of Jeremiah King and Sarah Rittenhouse, who set up a sawmill at Croton in 1811.4
When he was appointed a Surveyor of Highways in 1838, Albertus Wagner was only 28. He was probably living in Delaware Twp. with his widowed mother in 1840. (The census that year does not give names of everyone in the household.) Sometime after that, Wagner moved to Baptistown where he built a tailor shop, and in 1845, was appointed postmaster at Baptistown. His term expired in 1846, when he moved to a farm in the neighborhood of Headquarters “on the road to Barber’s Station,” and married Rhoda Moore (1811-1881), daughter of David Moore and Elizabeth Hudnut. They only had 3 children, one of whom died as an infant. The other two were Emma E. Wagner (1847-1926), who never married, and Frank Pierce Wagner (1852-1922).
Albertus Wagner was listed in the Delaware Twp. census of 1850. Living with him was the widow Elizabeth Wagner, age 66. Albertus K. Wagner, was 40 years old, his wife Rhoda was 37, and daughter Emma age 3. Also with them was his brother David R. Wagner, 24. Albertus K. Wagner was also listed in the 1860 and 1870 censuses for Delaware Township. On Aug. 23, 1871, this obituary was published in the Hunterdon Democrat:
“Local Affairs: Albertus K. Wagner, one of the Vice Presidents of the Hunterdon County Agricultural Society, and a well-known Republican politician, died at his residence in Delaware township on the 12th inst.”
He was buried in the Sand Brook Cemetery. His widow Rhoda went to live with their son Frank and was counted in the 1880 census. She died on January 22, 1881, but the location of her grave is not known. Given that she belonged to the Moore family, she might have been buried in the Moore family burying ground; if so, her gravestone has been lost.
Thoughts on Longevity
If there is one thing most of these men have in common, it is their longevity. They all lived well past the usual period for that time. In 1830, only one-third of Americans would live past the age of 60. The average lifespan back then was only about 39 years. Childhood mortality was quite high, and many women died from childbirth. Most people who survived childhood died from tuberculosis. So what was it about these gentlemen that allowed them to reach a ripe old age? Could it be that volunteering for one’s community gives one better immunity against diseases? Or is it that those people who volunteer start off with an advantage?
The next post may deal with the business conducted at that first meeting, or I might instead describe the many people who were named Overseers of Roads. To see all the articles concerning the events of 1838, click on the topic in the right-hand column.
- Mr. Chamberlin’s parents, John and Lydia, were very creative when naming their children; the siblings of Ampleus Blake were named Royal Tyler, John Peter, Alurad Clark, Harlem G., Pearl C., Joseph Hosford, and Octavius Perkins. ↩
- Thanks to Geoff Rake for sharing his extensive research on William Rake and his family. ↩
- The Abstracts of the Hunterdon Gazette for 1851 do not give names of those elected to office that year, but Snyder’s obituary confirms that he did serve as Sheriff. Snell states that he served 1850-1852. ↩
- I do not know the maiden name of Albertus Wagner’s mother Elizabeth, but she was not the sister of Albertus King. Why David and Elizabeth Wagner named their son Albertus K. Wagner remains a mystery. ↩