I recently concluded the history of the old Carman homestead farm, the 18th century farmstead that ended up being owned by a Hollywood movie star in the 1930s (The Carman Farm). There was one important fact connected with the Carman farm that I left out and will describe in today’s post: the Carmans owned a road.
Let us go back now to the 1850s, when Mary Hoagland sold a lot of 1.4 acres to her son Aaron.
The sale took place on October 23, 1852. Aaron C. Hoagland paid his mother $10 for this small lot which was bordered on the north by “lands late Andrew Hoagland, now Gershom Sergeant,” on the east by Adam M. Bellis, on the south by land of Jacob Rockafellar now Cornelius Voorhees, and on the west by lands late Samuel Hill and Elijah Carman.”1The deed went on to state that the lot that was conveyed was
the same land now occupied & used as a Road leading from said Aaron Hoagland to the Flemington & Ringoe Road and is the same Lot of Land that was conveyed by Andrew Hoagland to Elijah Carman bearing date the 1st day of December a.d. 1810, which said lot of land is forever hereafter to [be] used & occupied as a road or public highway.
This is the first time I’ve come across a road described as a lot to be conveyed by its owner to a purchaser—in this case, a mother to her son. There may be others, but this is the first I’ve seen.
It demonstrates the difference between what was considered a private road versus a public road. As a private road, Aaron Hoagland would have to maintain it without help from Raritan Township, even though the deed stated that it would be used as a “public highway.”
A Proprietary Boundary
The location of the road actually goes back to the earliest days of settlement. It was drawn on a map back in 1713 when Susanna Marriott’s 135 acres was surveyed (as described in Carman, Hoagland & Higgins). The Carman-Hoagland road runs along the northern boundary of the Marriott tract.
The conveyance from Mary Hoagland was recognized several years later in a deed of 1882 when heirs of Gershom C. Sergeant sold their rights in a farm of 198+ acres to siblings Joseph and Letitia Sergeant.2 The deed included this language: “Excepting out 1.4 acres used as a public road from Aaron C. Hoagland to the Main Road.” I will be returning to that deed, as it needs an explanation.
But first, take note that in 1852, the road led from Aaron C. Hoagland’s property, but he did not own property on the north or south sides of the road. I originally thought Hoagland’s road connected Route 31 with the old Carman homestead located at the bend in Johanna Farms Road, but after plotting the deed and fitting it in with its bordering owners, I realized that it actually ran from Route 31 only as far west as the eastern boundary of the Hoagland farm, meaning it ran between properties that belonged to other landowners.
And that explains why a deed for the road was needed.
Johanna Farms Road
This road owned by the Hoaglands is today known as Johanna Farms Road, named for the dairy farm and dairy processing plant located along the road. It was established in 1927 by Max and Julius Piser, who named it for their niece, Johanna Neustadt.3
As I mentioned, the private road that was sold to Aaron C. Hoagland was a road that required maintenance by Hoagland himself, not by “the Inhabitants of the Township of Raritan.” It didn’t take Hoagland long to figure out that this situation needed to be remedied.
In 1859, he got ten of his neighbors to join him in petitioning the Court of Common Pleas to create a public road out of this lot he had bought from his mother. The Court agreed to name surveyors of highways to look over the proposed route and determine whether such a road was “necessary.” They named two surveyors from Franklin Twp. (Joseph B. Leigh & Evans C. Mattison), two from East Amwell (Edward H. Schanck & Peter P. Quick), and two from Raritan Township (John Quick & Dickinson M. Cox). They viewed the ground and agreed that such a road was indeed necessary.4
The description of the road they surveyed matches the route of the road today. It began at land of Adam M. Bellis, went northwest 40 links and then ran west to land of the Flemington Railroad & Transportation Company, crossed the rail line (nothing was said about a bridge), and proceeded west through land of Gershom C. Sergeant and Aaron C. Hoagland to land of Mary Hoagland, where it turned south to run through land of William Danley, Samuel M. Higgins and David Bellis, ending in the road from Copper Hill to “the road from Asher Trout’s to Ringoes” or, in other words, Route 579 from its intersection with Route 523 to Ringoes.
Note that the intersection of Hampton Corner Road and Route 31 was once upon a time the village of Copper Hill, as is seen on the Beers Atlas.
The survey for the rail line had it passing close to Mary Hoagland’s house near the point where Johanna Farms Road makes a sharp 90-degree turn. From there it would run northeast straight to Flemington, following a route similar to the dotted line on the Beers Atlas showing the boundary of the school district. I will be studying that remaining part of the rail line, but first, a side-trip to learn about the landowners along Hoagland’s road.
The deed from Mary to Aaron Hoagland stated that the owner on the south of the road was “Jacob Rockafellar now Cornelius Voorhees.”
Cornelius Voorhees & Elizabeth Ann Large
I had a hard time finding Cornelius Voorhees in the records. That’s probably because he went west before census records got really detailed. Actually, Vorhis, as his name was frequently spelled, was quite a restless fellow. He was born in Alexandria Township in 1809 to Cornelius Voorhees, Sr. and Martha Debon. About 1830 he married Elizabeth Ann Large (1810-1864), daughter of Ebenezer Large of the Quakertown family. Cornelius and Elizabeth had a son, Van Rensalear Voorhees, in 1831. In 1837, they bought a lot in Milford from Cornelius’ brother Charles, but in 1840 they were living in Readington Township.
That was the year they got their chance to try out real farming. The assignees of John S. Rockafellow of Raritan Township were putting his farm of 127+ acres on the market. Cornelius was the highest bidder, offering $3,962.79 for it. The farm that was sold to him on March 30, 1840 was bordered by Joakim Hill on the south and east, Matthias Bellis and “the road” [i.e., Route 31] on the east, Gershom C. Sergeant on the north, and Elijah Carman and David W. Bellis on the west.5
This farm was located just east of the old Carman farm with Johanna Farms Road running along its northerly border. A nice piece of ground, as they say, but it did not suit Cornelius. After eleven years, he advertised it for sale in the Hunterdon Gazette, describing it as a farm of
“127.5 acres more or less ─one hundred acres of which is arable land, which has partly been lately limed, and a good proportion being meadow. The Farm is in a good state of cultivation, divided into nine fields, enclosed with good fences; and having two streams of never-failing water passing through it. . . . It lies on the great Copper range, and ore has been found in considerable quantities thereon. The improvements consist of a comfortable Dwelling-House, Barn, Hovel, Wagon-house, and other out-buildings. There is a good well of lasting water at the door ─ also three perpetual springs near at hand. There is an Apple Orchard and other fruit trees on the place.”
As you can see from the map (above), the house was connected to the Trenton-Ringoes Road, not to the Carman-Hoagland Road.6 Despite its sterling qualities, the farm was not sold until 1854. The purchasers were brothers Leonard P. Kuhl and William B. Kuhl, who paid a handsome $5,856.65 for the 127+ acres.7
About this time, and possibly earlier, Cornelius and Elizabeth Vorhis had moved to Deerfield, Indiana with their children. But things did not go well there. Perhaps Mr. Voorhees should have heeded his own words when he described the farm he had left–“its location is one unusually healthy.”
That was not what he found in his new home. On November 14, 1854, only a few months after leaving New Jersey, Cornelius Voorhees died “after a painful illness of eleven days.”8 He was only 45 years old. An infant daughter died about the same time. His widow Elizabeth Ann and their son Van Rensalear Large Vorhis survived.
With a name like that, I suspect that the son relied on his initials. A certain “V. L. Vorhis” went back to Raritan Township sometime after his father’s death, where he met and married in 1858, Nancy Coates, granddaughter of Sarah Carman Coates and grandniece of Elijah Carman. The Vorhis couple stayed in Raritan Township for a time before moving back out to Indiana, perhaps following the death of his mother Elizabeth Ann in 1864.
Normally, I do not digress from the history of Hunterdon County families once they move west, but while researching the Voorhees family online I came upon a family photograph of VanRensalear Voorhees, Nancy Coats, their three daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. The photograph was just too good not to share.9
The Kuhl Brothers
As mentioned above, Leonard P. & William B. Kuhl bought the Vorhis farm in 1854, consisting of 127+ acres. The brothers were members of one of Amwell Township’s most prominent families.
The first of that name was Johannes Paul Kuhl of Maxsian, Germany who came to America and married Eva Marya Case of Anhausen, Germany, member of another one of Hunterdon’s most prominent families. Paul Kuhl, Sr. and Eva Case Kuhl had eight children, several of whom married into other widely known families, like the Hummers, Hoppocks, Fishers and Dilts. Note that they were all originally German, part of the Palatine migration to Hunterdon County in the early to mid 18th century.10
Paul & Eva Kuhl’s son Leonard (1733-1793) married Margaretha Young (1751-1775) about 1770, who had a daughter Mary (1771-1855) and a son Paul (1773-1861). This son Paul married Hannah Higgins (1779-1857) about 1797. She was the daughter of Judiah Higgins and Mary Hill, about whom I wrote in Carman, Hoagland & Higgins. (See also Higgins Family Tree and Hill Family Tree.)The couple had nine children, two of whom died as infants. One of their sons was named Judiah Higgins Kuhl, after Hannah’s father. Two other sons were Leonard P. Kuhl and William B. Kuhl.
Leonard P. Kuhl
On May 19, 1831, Leonard P. Kuhl married Dorothy Ten Eyck Sutphin (1809-1893), daughter of Abraham Roelif Sutphin and Mary Lowe of Amwell (later East Amwell).
Leonard and his brother William must have been close because, beginning in 1834 they bought several properties together, the first being four woodlots in the Great Swamp. The next property was 31+ acres which they bought from their parents. It had been part of the Amwell Township Poor Farm of 187+ acres, a property with a very tangled history, which I will have to save for another time.11
It made sense for Leonard P. Kuhl and brother William to buy the Vorhis farm in 1854, since it bordered land owned by their parents, the dividing line being the road from Flemington to Ringoes, now Route 31.
Leonard and Dorothy Kuhl had six children. Three of them were greatly impacted by the Civil War. Their daughter Henrietta married Lambert N. Boeman, who sold out his business interests in 1862 and organized a company for the 15th NJ infantry. He was commissioned a Captain and then promoted to Major in 1863. The next year he was killed at Cedar Creek.
That same year, 1864, Leonard and Dorothy’s youngest child, Paul, who had been promoted to Sergeant, was killed at Spotsylvania when he was only 21 years old.
Their son-in-law, Samuel Young also served but managed to survive. He was married to Hannah Maria Kuhl (1833-1888), but their two children did not live to adulthood.
Daughter Elizabeth Kuhl (1839-1916) married John Dennis Van Liew (1838-1928) and moved to DesMoines, Iowa. Daughter Martha (1837-1919) did not marry. Leonard and Dorothy’s son Richard Sutphen Kuhl (1839-1917) also did not marry. He focused his energies on getting admitted to the Bar, a profession that he was very successful in. Later in life, he was elected to the NJ State Senate.
The tragedies of the Civil War did not affect Leonard P. Kuhl because he died of consumption before the war started, on October 22, 1857 when he was only 57 years old. A routine obituary was published in the Hunterdon Republican on October 28th, but this was followed a week later on Nov. 4th, by a very personal obituary, the author of which was not revealed, but, judging from the tone, might have been a minister:
LEONARD P. KUHL, whose death was announced in last week’s paper, deserves more than a passing notice. His death is a public loss, and has created a void not easily filled. Mr. Kuhl was born June 27, 1800, and was therefore but a few months over 57 years of age.
His mind naturally was of a high order, and manifested itself in constantly seeking information from every source. None could be in his society long and fail to observe this. Though engaged in active and extensive business, he still found time for reading─ and few men in the community, not in professional life, were possessed of greater stores of general and solid information.
His mind was well-balanced, his judgement was clear and weighed well the subjects presented to it. He was rarely, if ever, carried away by impulse. This made him a safe and valuable counselor and adviser, and in his neighborhood none was sought after so much for advice as he; and the kind and affable manner in which he gave it, and the interest he took in all who came to him for it, will long be remembered. And in the public business in which he was called from time to time to take part he was ever regarded as a prudent, reliable counselor. As a friend he was firm in his attachments, and self-denying in his efforts to promote the interest of his friends, and the warm and kindly greeting of hand and eye showed his pleasure when he met them.
He was a man of kind and benevolent feelings. It was enough that a person was in suffering and distress, although a stranger, to call forth his warm sympathies. He was ever ready to relieve. The sick room was a place where he was often found, not from idle curiosity, but because his warm feelings led him there to proffer his aid.
In the family circle he was the attentive and obedient son, the affectionate brother, the tender and loving husband,─ the kind and devoted father. In the church, of which he was a member and elder, he maintained a consistent walk and conversation taking a deep and abiding interest in all that concerned her welfare. Here he will be missed indeed, nor will his place be easily filled. Though called by an illness of a few days from time into eternity, he was prepared, and leaning on the arm of his saviour he feared no evil─ to use his own words, “The foundation was sure,” and with his head pillowed on the bosom of his Saviour, he gently and peacefully fell asleep in Jesus.
William Bishop Kuhl
Leonard’s brother and real estate partner, William B. Kuhl (1811-1870), married in 1833 Ellen Sutphin (c.1814-1878), sister of Dorothy Ten Eyck Sutphin who was married to Leonard P. Kuhl. Coincidentally, their brother Judiah Higgins Kuhl married Catharine Y. Sutphin in 1835. At first I was inclined to think that the three Kuhl brothers married three Sutphin sisters, but it turns out that Catharine was a distant cousin of Ellen and Dorothy, being the daughter of Abraham D. Kuhl and Margaret Young.12
William and Ellen Kuhl had five daughters, only one of whom had children. That was the youngest daughter Margaret (1845-1922), whose first husband (whom she married in 1868) was John P. Quick (1844-1871). He was only 26 when he died. Their daughter was Laurel Quick, born 1870. In 1879 Margaret married second Jacob Runkle Wert (1841-1921) who took in Margaret’s child Laurel and also his own sister Melvina, widow of George M. Prall.
As a co-purchaser of the several properties that the brothers bought as tenants in common, William B. Kuhl was, as of 1857, the sole owner of the Cornelius Voorhees farm, as well as their several other properties.
Somehow, the farm came into the hands of William B. Kuhl’s youngest brother George (1818-1879), although no deed recorded it. George Kuhl was married to Mary Y. Chamberlin (1819-1847) in 1843 and had a son Alpheus C. Kuhl (1844-1913). In 1852, George married his second wife Henrietta VanLiew (1827-1903) at her parents’ home in North Brunswick, Middlesex County. George and Henrietta had seven children, from 1854 to 1869.13
It appears that George Kuhl was unable to pay a mortgage on the Voorhees property, so it was seized by Sheriff Robert Thatcher and offered at public sale in 1861. The highest bidder was William B. Kuhl at $4,825. The farm was 127 acres and bordered Joakim Hill, “the road,” Mathias Bellis dec’d, Gershom C. Sergeant, Elijah Carman and David W. Bellis.14
After that, Wm B. Kuhl took his time deciding what to do with the Voorhees farm. It was not until the end of the Civil War, in 1865, that William and wife Ellen sold a tract of 84.38 acres plus a woodlot of 4.19 acres to Gershom C. Sergeant, for $4,617.82.15 The deed from the Kuhls made no mention of Hoagland’s road.
Gershom Craven Sergeant
I began this article with the road description in the deed of 1852 from Mary to Aaron C. Hoagland. It stated that Gershom Sergeant owned land on the north side of the road. That was indeed the case, and I shall describe how that came to be in my next article.
In 1859, when the road was made public, the road survey described its path running west through land of Gershom C. Sergeant and Aaron C. Hoagland to land of Mary Hoagland. Sergeant owned land on either side of the road, and Hoagland’s farm was just west of Sergeant, also on either side of the road. Sergeant still owned the land on both sides of the road in 1873 when the Beers Atlas was compiled. Note the detail of the Beers Atlas above. It shows “G. C. Sergeant” with access lanes to both Route 31 and to Johanna Farms Road, and also his farm on the north side of the road.
Gershom Craven Sergeant (1807-1881) was the son of Joseph Sergeant and Jane Quick of Amwell (later Raritan) Township. He was almost certainly named after Dr. Gershom Craven, physician of Ringoes (1744-1819). Dr. Craven was in his 60s when Gershom C. Sergeant was born, still practicing medicine, and perhaps instrumental in Sergeant having a healthy birth.
I have written a lot about the Sergeant family, but my focus was always on the Sergeants of Delaware Township. The Joseph Sergeant who married Jane Quick was the brother of Charles Sergeant who lived next to the Covered Bridge in Delaware Township (see Sergeant Family Tree). I will have more to say about this Joseph Sergeant in a future post.
In 1835 Gershom C. Sergeant married Charity Anne Howell (1813-1890), daughter of Benjamin Howell, deceased, of “near Trenton,” according to the marriage announcement in the Hunterdon Gazette. Her mother must have also died by then because she was not mentioned. (I have not been able to identify her).
The couple (Gershom & Charity) had eight children from 1835 to 1850. Their eldest, Benjamin, died age 6 in 1842. Other casualties were daughter Emma, an infant who died the same year, and daughter Emeline who died an infant in 1850. The cause was scarlet fever, which devastated many Hunterdon families during this time period. During these years, the Sergeant family was living on the property Sergeant owned on the north side of the road.
Gershom C. Sergeant was very involved in his community. He was a trustee of the Neshanic School in 1852, along with William M. Bellis and Judiah H. Kuhl, when they bought a small lot for a schoolhouse at the corner of Kuhl’s Road and Route 31. The schoolhouse lot is visible on the Cornell Map.
In the 1840s Sergeant had been active in the presidential campaign for Whig candidates Harrison & Tyler. But he changed his stripes twenty years later by becoming active in the County’s Democratic party, the party that at the time was hostile to the war against the South. It was as a Democrat that Gershom C. Sergeant got elected as Chosen Freeholder for Raritan Township from 1861 through 1864.
It was the practice for the Freeholders to divvy up responsibilities, and it was given to Sergeant to supervise repairs to the “the cells in the Court House.” This was required in 1861 because, as the Gazette reported in its August 21st issue
Some time since, a prisoner confined in one the Cells had his arrangements made to escape, but the Sheriff fortunately discovered his preparations and thwarted his plans by placing him in irons. Mr. Sergeant is making a god job of it [the repairs], we think.
In 1864, Sergeant was chosen to be treasurer of the Democratic Organization of Raritan Township. After retiring from the Freeholder Board, he served on the Raritan Township Committee from 1866 through 1869.
Gershom C. Sergeant died on April 24, 1881 at the age of 74. He was buried in the Flemington Presbyterian Cemetery. Surviving him were his wife Charity, who died in 1890, age 77, and five of his children. Sergeant died without writing a will, leaving his heirs to sort out his property.
In 1882, the widow Charity sold her dower rights in a farm of 41.7 acres to daughter Garetta R. Vansindern. In another conveyance the same year, she sold her dower rights in a farm of 198.85 acres to her unmarried children Joseph and Letitia Sergeant, who lived together. The other siblings also sold their rights in this farm to Joseph and Letitia in 1882.16 The property was considerably larger than the farm owned by Jacob Rockafellow, Cornelius Voorhees and the Kuhl brothers. That is because it included the farm on the north side of the road, the farm later owned by the Goldman family.
The deed was unusual in that the recital explained how Gershom C. Sergeant had put together this tract from five separate deeds and gave the deed number for each of them. In addition to 84.38 acres sold to him by William & Ellen Kuhl in 1865, there were lots purchased from David Bellis in 1850, and in 1854 from Adam M. & Ann Bellis and Alfred & Hannah Everitt.
Joseph Sergeant died in 1904, age 61. His remaining siblings conveyed their rights in Joseph’s share of the real estate to their sister Letitia, who remained at the farm until her death in 1923, at age 77. They were both buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery.
It had been my intention to write a complete history of this property in a single post, but once again, I must postpone the conclusion, in which I will go back in time, to look at the history of this property before Cornelius Voorhees bought it in 1840. It was, in fact, the homestead farm of Rockafellar patriarch, Peter Rockafellar.
Addendum, July 27, 2020:
While studying the property on the north side of Johanna Farms Road, I discovered an interesting mortgage given by Peter and Euphemia Taylor to David Johnes on May 1, 1821. It was for a 64+ tract of land that bordered “Elijah Carman his road and farm.” That makes it clear to me that the road was originally laid out by Elijah Carman and passed on to his daughter Mary and son-in-law Andrew Hoagland. I should have called the article “Carman’s Road.”
Note: The story will be continued here: A Rockafellar Homestead Divided
- H. C. Deed Book 104 p. 1. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 198 p. 183. ↩
- I have not checked on Raritan Township records to see exactly when the road name was established. Clearly, it was after 1927. ↩
- H.C. Road Record, Book 4 p.153. The ten neighbors were not named in the road record. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 73 p. 426. ↩
- The house may no longer be standing—it was not included in the Cultural & Heritage Commission Historic Sites Survey. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 107 p. 635. ↩
- Hunterdon Gazette, Nov. 22, 1854. ↩
- Photograph published on Ancestry.com by Carolyn Vaness. ↩
- To learn about the Kuhl family in Hunterdon one cannot do better than to consult the genealogy compiled by John W. Kuhl and Michael Gesner: The Kuhl Family of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, by John W. Kuhl and Michael Gesner, 2012, Hunterdon Co. Historical Society. However, there are some minor errors in it, which is not surprising given how many people are named in it. ↩
- It was not the same property owned by Raritan Township in 1850, which I wrote about in The Township Farm. ↩
- Many thanks to John W. Kuhl for steering me straight. Catharine’s death record identified her as the daughter of Abraham & Margaret Young Sutphin. The two Abraham Sutphins were only distant cousins, despite the similar names. ↩
- I have to wonder if Henrietta had a family connection with John Dennis VanLiew (1838-1928) who married George Kuhl’s cousin Elizabeth B. Kuhl (1839-1916) in 1861. John’s parents were Dennis and Hannah Williamson VanLieu, while Henrietta’s were Garret and Helena VanLiew. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 125 p.685. ↩
- H.C. Deed 131-588. On the same day, William B. Kuhl and wife Ellen sold most of the remaining acreage to Adam M. Bellis. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 198 pp.179, 181, 183. ↩