or The Gilded Age on Main Street
By the time of the Civil War, Flemington had grown considerably, but the war had dampened commercial spirits and citizens were eager for a comeback. This was demonstrated by an item from the editor of the Hunterdon Republican, on Nov. 1, 1865:
We understand that the desire to purchase real estate, in and near the village of Flemington, is quite prevalent, and that many are now looking around to find property to suit them. . . Other excellent sites for business stands are in the market, and now that the war is over, [my emphasis] we have an idea that our pleasant town will once more renew her energy; and soon we may see many handsome buildings erected, and the place become second to none in the county.
Recovering from War
That editor was George A. Allen, an important businessman in Flemington, as well as a strong member of Lincoln’s Republican party. As Hubert G. Schmidt wrote in The Press of Hunterdon County (p.37), Allen felt that “Abraham Lincoln and the Republican administration at Washington could do no wrong.”
He also did his best to promote commercial development of Flemington’s Main Street. He was particularly impressed with the work of John C. Hopewell, “our energetic and estimable townsman,” who was leading the way for rejuvenation of Flemington’s Main Street with his beautiful new bank building, designed to house the Hunterdon National Bank as well as the town’s Masons (see Flemington’s First Bank). Allen wrote that it “will be an ornament, and of great profit to our citizens.”
But by 1866, Allen was getting a little impatient with the rest of Flemington’s businessmen. He wrote this on May 2, 1866:
BUSINESS. Trade in Flemington appear to be on the increase daily. This is evidenced by the addition of store houses in our midst, and the increase of population in the county. We noticed last Saturday evening crowds of people in all the business places, and a large trade fell to the lot of our merchants. With a little more of the spirit of public improvement this town could be made to rank first in the county, in the way of wealth and business. . . . Why do not our people progress in these matters. We want more of the progressive principles of our esteemed townsman John C. Hopewell, Esq.
Eventually, activity did pick up, enough to inspire Beers, Comstock & Cline to publish an Atlas for the County, a publication I rely on heavily. Here is a view of Flemington in 1872, which was before most of the buildings along today’s Main Street were erected.
As the Atlas shows, the lots on Main Street were already occupied. The new Italianate buildings of the 1870s and 80s replaced previously existing ones. If only we had some photographs of those earlier buildings. The only one we have is that of Blackwell’s Row at Bloomfield Ave. (shown as “J. Blackwell” on the Atlas; see Oysters Every Style). In the Atlas, the Union Hotel is much smaller than it is now, and “W. H. Fulper” owns the building just south of it.
The Panic of 1873 & the Gilded Age in Flemington
The comeback that editor Allen was so eager for was somewhat stalled by the Panic of 1873 which depressed economic activity, as all panics do. This was shown in a notice from the partnership of merchants Anderson, Nevius & Connet published in the Hunterdon Republican on March 5, 1874:
Owing to the extreme tightness of money, we have endeavored to be as lenient as possible toward those owing us, but now as the first of April is approaching, we need our money in order to meet our liabilities . . . We trust our request will not be considered unreasonable, for we are more and more convinced every year that much business cannot be done without money.
The Panic was followed by a period of fairly wretched excess, in architecture, furniture and dress. (The styles of the period are ably depicted in the television series ‘The Gilded Age.’) Life in Flemington was not quite as hedonistic as it was in the major cities, of course. But the well-to-do got in the spirit, including George Rea, John P. Rittenhouse and the new owner of the Union Hotel.
George Rea was the first to indulge in a major renovation of his building on the corner of Main and Bloomfield in 1874, as described in The Clock Tower Building. Next came the Union Hotel, which was transformed in 1877 into the grand building we know today by its new owner, Lambert Humphrey (see Union Hotel, part three). Then came the Oyster Restaurant in 1878, as described in my article, Oysters Every Style. On April 25, 1878, the new restaurant owners, John P. Rittenhouse & Farley S. Taylor, advertised in the Republican that The Union Restaurant and Billiard Hall, next door to the Hotel of Lambert Humphrey, had been remodeled.1
Fulper’s New Store, 1880
As for the Union Hotel, not only was it ornate, it was very large; just too hard to ignore by its neighbor, William H. Fulper. He had been operating his dry goods store in that location for several years, and probably watched the progress of the hotel’s construction very closely. I would not be surprised to learn that he decided to hire the same architect who worked on the Hotel, only with instructions to make his building even more ornate.
The renovation was completed in early 1880. The Hunterdon Republican reported on March 18, 1880, that “William H. Fulper has made extensive alterations and improvements in his store and now has one of the largest store rooms in the State.”
Based on this architectural description published by Friends of Historic Flemington on its website (and written by architect Chris Pickell), it is clear that Fulper went all out.
Historically Nevius Brothers Dry Goods; Blaher’s; The Potting Shed; Yellow Finch Antiques.
Except for its classic 1950’s storefront, the exterior of the building at 78 Main Street is very little changed from when it was first built, probably in the 1880’s. The building is very tall, long and at only 25 feet wide, very skinny. It is a sophisticated and charming example of Italianate commercial design. Built of local red brick on a rubblestone base, it has some of the most elaborate brickwork of any commercial building in Flemington. The front façade on Main Street has brick quoins on the corners, these repeat at the sides of the slightly projecting central section. Semicircular and segmental arched wooden one-over-one double-hung windows alternate across the façade in a complicated pattern; in the center, a pair of arched windows on the third floor sit above a pair of segmental windows on the second floor, this pattern reverses in the single windows which flank the central projection. The third-floor window heads have slim brick hood mouldings which terminate in square blocks; in contrast the second-floor window heads are accented by broad cut stone arches with keystones. These arches are cut in relief with unusual diamond patterns and terminate in swirls. The third floor sills are boldly projecting stone bands, supported by short ogee-shaped plinth blocks.
Who Was William H. Fulper?
William Hill Fulper (1840-1887) was the son of Abraham Fulper, the pottery maker, and Jane Forker. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, in 1867, he married Mary Ann Higgins (1839-1914), daughter of the wealthy farmer Judiah Higgins and Charity Fisher.
Fulper had been in the mercantile business several years before getting married. In December 1862, a notice was posted in the Hunterdon Gazette to the effect that Fulper was entering into a business partnership with George W. Able and Charles Arnwine. This lasted less than two years, when the “Dissolution of Partnership” was announced in the Gazette on Sept. 7, 1864, “by mutual consent, by the retirement of Wm. H. Fulper.”
Exactly what Fulper was up to between Sept. 7, 1864 and Nov. 29, 1865, I cannot say. However, on the latter date, a new partnership was announced in the Gazette:
The co-partnership now existing between Wm. E. Anderson and Peter Nevius, trading under the name and firm of ANDERSON & NEVIUS, will be dissolved on the first day of January next, by mutual consent. All persons having accounts will please call and settle the same before said time. Produce will be received until the 25th inst. We also would state that we cannot give the above notice without tendering our sincere thanks to our friends who have so long and liberally bestowed their patronage upon us. Our successors (who are to be) Wm. H. Fulper and Andrew T. Connett [my emphasis], we believe to be worthy of equally as large a share of trade as has been given to us. [signed] Anderson & Nevius.
The Store’s Early History
I have written about this store previously in A Store, A Bank, A Mansion. At that time, I was focused on the original owners, Joseph Chamberlin followed in 1835 by the Reading brothers, Joseph H. & John G. Reading. Later on, the brothers divided their properties, with Joseph H. keeping ownership of the store for himself, renting it to John R. Holcombe in 1848-1851. Reading then partnered with John L. Jones to run a general store until his death in 1857.
On October 27, 1858, Reading’s executors, John C. Hopewell, Samuel Evans and brother John G. Reading, offered the store lot for sale, describing it as “directly opposite the Court House.” Hopewell certainly had an interest in seeing that a proper new owner acquired the Reading store building, as he owned the property just south of it.
The purchasers were William E. Anderson, Peter Nevius, Lambert Boeman & William Hill, in partnership with some others. The lot was described as ‘all that lot & storehouse with appurtenances in the Village of Flemington on the east side of the Main St. bordering east side of the Court House lot, land formerly Neal Hart [i.e., the hotel], an alley, the storehouse on sd lot, together with use of the alley.’2
The Fluid Nature of Business Partnerships
I should here point out the difference between owning a business and owning a property. Tracking property owners is relatively easy because sales of property had to be recorded with the County Clerk, and deeds recorded in Hunterdon County begin in the late 1790s.
Businesses may have been recorded also, but those records are not on file until 1927. What happened to the earlier ones no one can say. A compensation is provided by the Hunterdon Republican for mid-19th century partnerships. The paper regularly reported on the “Dissolution of Partnerships;” not so regularly the creation of partnerships.
Anderson, Nevius, & Boeman had been partners in a business operated out of the “the large and commodious store house opposite the Court House,” i.e., the Fulper store, since January 1856.3 William E. Anderson and Peter I. Nevius had been in partnership as early as 1850, as proclaimed in the Hunterdon Gazette for March 27, 1850:
SEE HERE! We invite the attention of the reader to the advertisement of ANDERSON & NEVIUS, in another column. It will be seen that these gentlemen have just entered upon the lively scenes of business “on their own hook;” and that they have a full and extensive assortment of every thing desired by purchasers.
On March 2, 1859, Anderson & Nevius put a long advertisement in the Hunterdon Gazette announcing their new firm located opposite the Court House opening with “a large lot of NEW GOODS!!” In January 1860, the company took on a new partner, Lambert Boeman, and set up as Anderson, Nevius & Boeman.
I bring this up in order to show the early connection of the Nevius family with this property. The Nevius concerned in the 1850s was Peter I. Nevius (1824-1894), son of Dominius Nevius and Johanna Stothoff, and husband of 1) Christianna Capner (1831-1865), daughter of Hugh R. Capner & Matilda Anderson and 2) Mary Furman Allen (1843-1907), daughter of Rev. Peter Allen and Jane Furman of New York. Nevius remained a merchant for most of his life, but not in the Fulper location. However, many years later, in the 1890s, his nephew, Peter TenBroek Nevius, clerked in the store. In the 20th century, the Nevius who ran the store was Jacob Nevius and/or his sons, distant relatives of the elder Peter.
The partnership of Anderson, Nevius, & Boeman was named the William E. Anderson & Co. The next year, Peter I. Nevius ran for the Assembly as a Republican (and won). He was identified by the Gazette as “one of the firm of Wm. E. Anderson & Co., merchants in this place” (October 31, 1860).
Snell’s History of Hunterdon County includes a portrait of Peter I. Nevius, but not one of William H. Fulper, perhaps because Fulper was unwilling to contribute toward the book’s publication.
Albert T. Connet
As mentioned above, while the William E. Anderson Company was operating in what became the Fulper building, William H. Fulper was running a store at the corner of Main and Mine Streets under the partnership of Fulper, Abel & Arnwine. Fulper left that group in 1864 and at the end of the Civil War joined with Andrew T. Connet to create a new partnership and take over the Anderson Co. store.4
Lt. Andrew Thompson Connet (1842-1913), son of Samuel Connet and Hannah Thompson of Readington Township, had fought in the Civil War under Maj. Alexander V. Bonnell. Bonnell lived on the west side of Main Street, next to the building he used for his hardware store. On January 20, 1865, the Republican announced that
“Alexander V. Bonnell has recently associated with him, in the hardware business, Andrew T. Connett, formerly with Anderson & Nevius, and the business will be continued at the old stand. Mr. Connett is a young man of excellent character and business qualifications, and we bespeak for the new firm a liberal share of patronage.”
Connet worked with Bonnell, his war-time commander, for only 11 months, from January to November of 1865, before joining with William H. Fulper in January 1866. In May 1866, he married Joanna Stothoff Nevius (c.1844-1929), daughter of Abraham D. Nevius & Mary K. Shurts, niece of Peter I. Nevius, and sister of Peter TenBroeck Nevius (1847-1921), mentioned above.
Connet acquired property at the corner of New Street (Park Ave) and Bonnell Street in late 1866 and 1867 from Alex. V. Bonnell. The lovely brick house on the site may have been built by James Williamson who occupied it in 1872. Connet sold most of the property in early 1868 to Anna Waldron, but the Beers Atlas shows Williamson in that location, which also shows that by 1872, Connet had settled on a large lot at the north end of Main St., next to ‘P. Nevius’ and ‘C. C. Dunham.’
The Big Gun
The editor of the Hunterdon Gazette took notice of the new firm on January 3, 1866:
We are requested to make note of the fact that FULPER & CONNETT, although not yet in complete trim in their store, will be happy to wait upon the many customers who in former times gave the “Big Gun” their patronage. We find in this young firm two very clever boys, who will leave no stone unturned in order to give entire satisfaction. The experience of both of them in the mercantile trade is sufficient to warrant good selections in the purchase of all articles kept in their line, content with small profits and quick sales. Messrs. Anderson & Nevius, so long and favorable [sic] known in this community, would not retire from the cares and perplexities of business without supplying their place with the right sort of men, and we think in the change they have hit the nail on the head exactly.
This notice was repeated in January, March and May. The “big gun” referred to was an important symbol among Main Street Flemington merchants, although it first appeared as a political symbol between news editors of the Democrat and the Gazette. After the Civil War it was limited to owners of the Fulper store, but that is another story.5
Fulper and Connet were both members of the Republican party. In April 1884, the Republicans of Raritan Township organized and named William H. Fulper chairman and William G. Callis, secretary. Andrew T. Connet was chosen as a delegate to the State Republican Convention. In August, Fulper was named to the executive committee of the Blaine & Logan Club.
Fulper & Nevius
Gradually ownership of the store lot was conveyed to Fulper & Connet by the several people who had an interest in it. And just as gradually, Connet dropped out and in 1869 conveyed his interest in the property to Peter I. Nevius and William H. Fulper. By this time the property was worth $7,000.6 The store was consistently increasing if value over the years.
The 1870 census showed how much Fulper and Nevius were prospering. Fulper was identified as a 29-year-old merchant with personal property worth $30,000 and real estate worth $10,000, while Nevius, a 46-year-old “dry goods merchant,” had personal property of $35,000 and real estate worth $16,000. The store’s clerk, Isaac Gray, age 17, was living in the Nevius household.
Then on March 27, 1875, Peter I. Nevius and wife Mary, residents of Flemington, conveyed their interest in the store property to William H. Fulper for $9,000, with Fulper to take responsibility for payment of a mortgage to Nathaniel Francis.7
Fulper had already taken on the business by himself in early 1872. On Feb. 6, 1873, the Republican published this note from him:
Thank You. One Year has passed since I commenced business alone and I feel very grateful for the success that so far has attended my efforts, my business having exceeded my reasonable expectations, and I desire to thank my friends for the manner in which they have stood by me, and I now assure you that I shall endeavor to make the coming year one in which you can still do the same, by strict attention to business and ever keeping in view the interest of the buyer as well as the seller. Respectfully, William H. Fulper, Flemington.
After a few years, Fulper took on some new “associates.” The Republican noted that Dennis S. Hall had been an associate of Fulper’s since 1877, along with John A. Schultz and S. K. Hickman. The business changed its name to Wm H. Fulper & Co.
As usual, the partnership did not last long. On Dec. 11, 1879, notice was given that “the Firm of William H. Fulper, & Co. will be dissolved 1 April 1880, by mutual consent.” Hall may have dropped out because the following March he was chosen as Superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Sunday School, in Flemington, in place of S. K. Hickman, who had been his partner in the Fulper store.
The New Store
And here we come to the reason why I’ve named this article ‘Fulper’s Store.’ Most people associate the name Nevius with this store, and for good reason. That family was the predominant owner in the 20th century. But Fulper gets credit for making the store what it is today.
During the late 1870s, the Union Hotel next door was being rebuilt. In 1880, Fulper’s building got its own transformation, and as early as March 1880, it became one of the most elegant buildings on Flemington’s Main Street, and also one with the largest storeroom.8
The Sanborn Map of 1885 shows the Fulper store as “Grocery / D. G. (i.e., Dry Goods).” The property may be narrow, but it clearly extends from Main Street all the way back to Spring Street.
The following year , Fulper acquired another store in Bound Brook, Somerset County. The Republican announced that his clerks, Peter T. B. Nevius, George W. Forker and Samuel Case, would be running the business. The year after that, 1882, Fulper was elected to the Board of Directors of the Hunterdon County National Bank, located in Hopewell’s building nearby. He continued to be annually elected until his death in 1887.
What was Fulper selling that made him so prosperous? In 1874, he advertised for sale “a big stock of Carpets, Straw Goods, etc. at greatly reduced prices,” and, as was the custom, these got displayed under the porch roof, as shown here.
He also sold groceries. In 1883, Fulper advertised “cash prices” for these items: New Crop New Orleans Molasses .65; Good Table Syrup per gallon .45; Extra Sugar House, very choice .55; Good Family Flour per 100 2.75; Two Cans best Tomatoes .22; Two Cans Corn for .25; Best White Sugar .09; 10 lbs. Good Rio Coffee 1.00; 7 lbs. Best Rio Coffee 1.00; Old Government Java Coffee .25; and Deakin’s Salt 1.99.
Fulper dealt in large quantities. For instance, on Nov. 7, 1883, the Republican noted that
Theodore Bellis, after an absence of three weeks in Pennsylvania buying potatoes for William H. Fulper, returned home last Saturday evening, having bought, loaded and shipped 20 carloads of potatoes, amounting to 10,336 bushels.
In addition to carpets and groceries, Fulper sold housewares:
Geese Feathers, steamed at 55 cents; Bed tickings, Comfortables; Chamber Sets as low as $2.50; Glass Ware; Tubs, Pails and Churns; Window shades – 5 cents; Wall paper as low as 6 cents; New dress goods; New plaids; Tricot cloths; English hose, etc. Plus clover and oat seed for farmers and “Fulper’s Own-Cure Hams. They are fresh smoked every week throughout the season.
Fulper proclaimed: “My aim is to fill the wants of my customers in a satisfactory manner and at the very lowest prices.” And if those “wants” involved clothing, Fulper was ready to oblige. In 1885, he advertised the “new dress goods” being received “for fall and early winter,” which included:
Fashionable and Desirable. Black Silks, Colored Silks, Velvets. Full line of Satin Berbers, Very attractive, 25 cents per yard. Woolen Dress Fabrics – in the standard and fashionable colors. Underwear in all grades and sizes. More bargains in Hosiery and Light Goods at one-half value. Muslins, Calicoes, Tickings and Table Diaper. All of these Staple Goods in great quantities, at very low prices. A new stock of the latest styles of Hats and Gents’ Dress Goods. A Full Stock of Boots and Shoes for Men, Women and Children. Heavy Boots, Heavy Shoes and Light Shoes. Women’s Fine Shoes & Slippers. Children’s Shoes. Rubber Goods. As heretofore we take the lead in these goods and will continue to offer Unequalled Bargains in every Department. W. H. Fulper. Flemington, N. J., Sept. 9, 1885.
All this came to a halt on February 5, 1887, when Fulper died. He was only 47 years old but had been ill for some time. According to his obituary published in the Hunterdon Republican of February 9th, he died from an aneurism. At the time of his death, his Flemington store was “one of the largest in the State.” His widow Mary Ann was left with two small children and was named Administrator of the estate.
Fulper had made a large impression on his neighbors as well as his fellow churchgoers. In July 1890, “A handsome window of colored glass was placed in the front of the Flemington Baptist Church . . . in memory of the late William H. Fulper, who was an active member of the church. The gift was from his father-in-law Judiah Higgins, along with Avery Parker and Henry A. Fluck.”9
Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse
The following month, Mary Ann Fulper managed to convey the business to a new partnership. On March 9, 1887, the Hunterdon Republican announced that
Dennis S. Hall, William E. Trewin, and Albert H. Rittenhouse have purchased the stock and business of the late William H. Fulper, at the well-known store opposite the Court House and will continue the business. The firm will be called: Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse. Mr. Hall & Mr. Trewin have been in the clothing business in Flemington for 3 years. Mr. Rittenhouse has been Teller at the Clinton National Bank for several years and previous to that, he had been bookkeeper for the late Mr. Fulper. They are good business men, popular & obliging and their success is assured.
An item in the Republican for Sept. 12, 1888, established the fact that the store of Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse was being operated from the same location as the building once owned by the Reading brothers in the 1850s. It was an obituary for William P. Emery, who “formed a partnership with Joseph and John Reading under the name of Emery & Reading. Their store was where the firm of Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse is now located.”
You may notice that the detail shown above from the 1885 Sanborn map shows some sheds behind the Fulper store. The Sanborn map of 1896 shows that spaces between the sheds had been filled in and room set aside for ice storage. Ice was an important commodity before refrigerators became electrified, as shown in this item from the Republican of April 23, 1890:
Thirty-two carloads of ice, amounting to about 500 tons, arrived at Flemington Sunday morning over the Lehigh Valley R. R. The ice came from Canada, near Lake Ontario, from a sheet of water known as the Bay of Quinto. It was consigned to James Losey, the ice dealer; Henzler Bros. and Samuel W. Wyckoff, butchers; Otis B. Davis, who has a dairy and HALL, TREWIN & RITTENHOUSE, the merchants, all of Flemington. The ice was purchased from John B. Hunt, the freight solicitor for the Lehigh Valley Road, who some time ago secured a large quantity from Canada and has disposed of it at various points along the road. The ice costs $4.50 per ton, delivered in Flemington.
Dennis Stryker Hall
Identifying the Dennis S. Hall who partnered with Trewin & Rittenhouse was a challenge as there were at least four men with the same name.10 The Flemington storekeeper was the one born in 1851 to Cornelius VanHorn Hall, innkeeper of Clinton, and wife Margaret. He was also a grandson of the first Dennis Stryker Hall (1795-1841) and Maria VanHorn (1799-1867). He married Ella McCormick of Clinton in January 1875, and had with her two children, Harry M. Hall (1876-1908) and Clarence Hall (1884-1908).11 Ella died when she was only 39 on January 16, 1893. Two years later, on October 9, 1895, Dennis S. Hall married his second wife, Henrietta Priestly Boyce (1851-1939), who had been single up to the age of 44. Her sister, Caroline G. Boyce (1858-1934) had married John Frelinghuysen Schenck of Flemington, a real estate investor, in 1888.
Following William H. Fulper’s death, Dennis S. Hall acquired the Fulper house on Mine Street which he remodeled in 1896; this project included the installation of steam heat, as was reported in the Hunterdon Republican for Nov. 4, 1896; the company was Allen & Van Nest and their other customers were Henry F. Apgar, Atkinson V. Holcombe and the Presbyterian parsonage, all in Flemington. It must have been soon afterwards that he also acquired the house at 147 Main Street, known today as the Holcombe-Fisher Funeral Home, which Hall was taxed on in 1900 and 1910.
Hall leaves the Fulper store
Like so many others, the business partnership of Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse lasted only until 1892, as the Republican reported on Jan. 27th:
The firm of HALL, TREWIN & RITTENHOUSE, which has conducted the mercantile business opposite the Court House in Flemington for the past four years, will be dissolved Feb. first. Dennis S. Hall will enter into partnership with Peter T. B. Nevius in the clothing business. William E. Trewin will remain at the old store, which he will stock with clothing, carpets, wall paper, etc. and conduct business in that line. Albert H. Rittenhouse has leased the rear portion of the store and will conduct a wholesale produce and provision business.
Hall and Nevius’ clothing store was located in the Deats building on Main Street at the intersection with Mine Street. But the partnership did not last. Notice of its “Dissolution” was published on February 10, 1897. Hall kept the clothing store but made arrangements to set up in a new location. The Republican announced in November 1897 that Hall would be moving “his new store” into the new Flemington National Bank Building at Main and Bloomfield.
The moving plans got interrupted in December 1897, when Hall “the well-known clothier of Flemington,” had a bad carriage accident. However, he carried on, and in March 1898, opened his new store “with a complete and new line of clothing.”
Hall continued his active participation in Flemington’s civic groups, including the “Prohibitionists of Hunterdon County,” the Methodist Church and the Epworth League. He lived a long life, dying on April 13, 1932 at the age of 80, and was buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery. His wife Henrietta survived him seven years. She spent her last years at “Dr. William E. McCorkle’s Home for the Aged” in Ringoes, according to her obituary in the Courier News. She died at the age of 87 on January 29, 1939, and was buried next to her husband.
William E. Trewin
When the partnership of Hall, Trewin & Rittenhouse dissolved in 1892, Trewin took over the Fulper store location.
William E. Trewin (1856-after 1930), was the son of English immigrant Thomas R. Trewin & Charlotte Louisa Harrison. Thomas was a tailor who set up shop in Raritan Township (probably in Flemington), but by 1880 was suffering from rheumatism. His son William, then 24 years old, was clerking in the Trewin store, daughter Elizabeth 20 working as a milliner and son James 16 a tailor.
Not long afterwards, Wm E. Trewin married Alice M. Brewer (1859-1932), daughter of Leonard Brewer and Elizabeth A. Carkhuff, and soon after that joined the partnership of Hall and Rittenhouse to run the old Fulper store. In 1887, the partners hired Ella Brewer as clerk. She was (probably) the niece of Alice Brewer Trewin. The Republican reported on April 13th:
Miss Ella Brewer an experienced clerk, well known to Flemington customers, has been engaged by HALL, TREWIN & RITTENHOUSE and will be found at their store, where she will be pleased to wait upon her friends.
After the partnership dissolved in January 1892, Trewin stocked the Fulper store, “with clothing, carpets, wall paper, etc. and conduct business in that line.” The next month, the Republican noted that
William E. Trewin opened his new store last week. The interior has been handsomely papered, painted and fitted up and it now presents a most bright and attractive appearance. He has it well stocked with an entire new inventory of goods in his line – clothing, carpets, wall paper, &c.
I was uncertain about where Trewin’s store was located, based on the Republican’s reference to a “new store.” But an ad published in the issue of January 3, 1894 identified Trewin’s store as “opposite the Court House, Flemington.”
William E. Trewin continued as a clothing merchant until sometime after 1910, probably around the time he turned 60 years of age. The 1920 census stated that he was 63 years old without an occupation, living in a house at 14 Broad Street that he owned mortgage-free with wife Alice, age 70 and daughter Eleanor age 35 who worked as a bank clerk.
Trewin died October 2, 1936, and was buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery with his wife Alice, who died Feb. 1, 1932.
Albert H. Rittenhouse
The Dissolution notice of January 1892 mentioned that Albert H. Rittenhouse would lease the rear portion of the store, those sheds that appear on the Sanborn maps, that extend all the way back to Spring Street.
Albert Huffman Rittenhouse (1854-1937) was the son of John Prall Rittenhouse (mentioned above as owner of the oyster restaurant) and Susan Acker Hoffman. On June 5, 1879, he married Mary Elizabeth Risler (1853-1897), daughter of Alexander R. Risler and Mercy R. Prall. The couple had three children, one of whom, Lt. Hawley O. Rittenhouse, joined the navy and was frequently mentioned in the Hunterdon Republican, along with his uncle, who had the same name and rank.
By the time of the 1900 census, Albert Rittenhouse was no longer a merchant. He was a bank cashier. In 1894, John B. Hopewell, son of builder John C. Hopewell, retired as Cashier for the Hunterdon County National Bank, and Rittenhouse replaced him. He conveyed his “wholesale produce business” to Wm E. Trewin in partnership with Andrew T. Connet.12
This was the same Andrew T. Connet who had partnered in the store business back in the 1860s. He continued to be identified as a “wholesale produce dealer” in the census records of 1900 and 1910. But he also bought and sold a great deal of real estate, including a lot purchased from the estate of John C. Hopewell on the south side of Hopewell’s Masonic Hall.13 adjacent to a lot sold to Trewin by Hopewell’s executors.14
In 1897, Andrew Connet and William Trewin parted ways as the Republican reported on January 6, 1897.
Notice of Dissolution. The copartnership heretofore existing between the undersigned under the firm name of A. T. Connet & Co., is this day dissolved by mutual consent. The business will from this date be continued by Mr. Connet. [signed] Andrew T. Connet and William E. Trewin, effective 1 Jan. 1897.
I do not have enough information at this point to say where Trewin was selling clothes, although he continued to do so for at least the next twenty years. Connet appears to have taken over the Fulper property, and dealt with groceries in a big way, as these notices in the Republican demonstrate:
1895 Jan 16, CASH. Cash Paid for Poultry, Potatoes, Apples, Eggs, Beef-Hides, &c. At Andrew T. Connet, opposite the Court House in Flemington.
1898 Jan 5, A good quality of ice, 6 1⁄2 in. thick, was stored in the ice houses of Lambert Humphrey and Andrew T. Connet early last week. The ice was gathered from the pond of Henry B. Herr, near Flemington.
1898 Dec 14, We want our usual number of good fat TURKEYS for Christmas – about 1,000. Can use 200 or 300 of them alive. Highest cash price paid. Andrew T. Connet.
1900 Jan 3, Andrew T. Connet, Opposite Court House, Flemington. CASH ONLY. Cash paid for Poultry, Potatoes, Eggs, Beef-Hides, &c. Salt and Grass Seeds for sale, wholesale and retail.
1900 April 1, Choice Seed Potatoes, standard varieties, early and late. Andrew T. Connet, Flemington.
1900 Nov 21, Turkeys for Thanksgiving. We want our usual number – about 1,000 – and for good fat stock will give the highest market price. Can use a few alive. Andrew T. Connet, Flemington.
1900 Dec 26, Rutan Heath of Barbertown, is the champion egg buyer. He has sold to Andrew T. Connet, of Flemington, 274,688 eggs since 1 Mar. 1900. He also bought 85 skunk, 110 opossum and other furs during the past month.
Andrew T. Connet died on August 2, 1913, at the age of 71.
And here I must end. I had hoped to connect up with the Nevius family that took possession of the store in the 1930s, but I’ve run out of steam. If you are interested, please check out the history of the Lynn building by Dan Lynn.
- Rittenhouse and Taylor must have been leasing the property from Phebe Smith VanFleet, who had purchased it from Hugh Capner back in 1865 and did not sell it until 1896 (Deeds 131-565 & 246-348). I have written about John P. Rittenhouse previously in John P. Rittenhouse, parts one & two. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 119 p.586. ↩
- Hunterdon Gazette, Jan. 2, 1856. ↩
- In most of the records of the 1860s and 1870s, the name Connet was spelled with two Ts; later on, one T was more common. It all depended in the inclination of the clerks. ↩
- Much to my disappointment, H. G. Schmidt had nothing to say about this friendly teasing between newspapers in his book, The Press in Hunterdon County. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 144 p.245. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 159 p.702. ↩
- A sidenote: On 25 Aug. 1880 (Hunterdon Republican, Sept 2, 1880), a new Post of the G.A.R. was organized at Flemington and was named the Major Boeman Post, No. 45, named after Maj. Lambert Boeman. The Post Commander was Andrew T. Connet. Both Major Boeman and Andrew Connet had at one time been connected with the Fulper store. ↩
- Hunterdon Republican, July 9, 1890. ↩
- There was Dennis S. Hall 1795-1841; another 1834-1902; a third 1851-1932 and the youngest, 1874-1967. ↩
- I am uncertain about son Clarence, as he was not mentioned in Ella’s obituary in the Hunterdon Republican Jan. 18, 1893. However, the Republican of Oct. 10, 1900, reported that “Clarence H. Hall, son of Dennis S. Hall of Flemington, has a position with a large clothing store in New York.” ↩
- Hunterdon Republican, Nov. 28 & Dec. 12, 1894. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 278 p.46. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 278 p.180. ↩