Not long ago I published some articles about properties located in what was once known as The Haddon Tract (The Haddon Tract, part one). Today’s article by Egbert T. Bush concerns a very large farm located in that tract that I have not yet written about. It was sold by Jacob Sniter and Nicholas Sayn to John Peter Foxe of Amwell, who subsequently sold it to Jost Hoppock in 1749.
As usual, I will insert comments whenever I have information to add.
Hoppock Farm Once Contained
Over 600 Acres
Portions Have Been Sold Off Until All Is Out of Family
Parchment Deeds are Cited
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, NJ
published by the Hunterdon County Democrat, July 13, 1933
Two miles eastward from Locktown lies the area formerly known as the Jobst Habbaugh Plantation. The name was spelled in various ways in days of old and to some extent in more recent times. Now it is usually spelled as in the heading.1 According to family tradition, well sustained by documentary evidence, that plantation once contained 600 acres.
The name Ferry Creek may not be familiar. Today it is called Plum Brook, a tributary of the Wickecheoke that flows from Raritan Township near Boarshead Road over to Stone Signpost Road and intersects with the Wickecheoke just north of Old Mill Road.
Over the years I have often come across deeds pertaining to Hoppock property, but never took the trouble to locate the original tract. Mr. Bush’s article has helped me do it.
The west boundary runs along today’s Ferry Road, which helps to explain why the road runs so straight for such a distance—it was the border of a proprietary tract. The other borders do not connect up with roads, but certainly do coincide with still-existing property boundaries.
Spreading out from Ferry Creek on the north and present Ferry road on the west, it included a part of the Finney farm, the whole of the John D. Hoppock farm, the John Hillier farm, the Nathaniel Shepherd farm and what has been known in more recent times as the Hoppock homestead. Tradition also says that by will of the old-time owner that magnificent tract was equally divided between his two sons, by a line running north from the road now leading from Sergeantsville to Sand Brook.
The Finney Farm could have been almost anywhere because John Finney (1828-1894) was a lumberman who bought up farms in order to harvest the timber, and then sold them.2 I do know that he bought the old Emmons farm on the west side of Ferry Road.
John D. Hoppock (1819-1906) purchased a farm on the east side of Ferry Road from the estate of John Hoppock dec’d. More about him below.
John Hillier I have not researched, but judging from the number of deeds he recorded, he also seems to have been a land speculator.
Nathaniel Shepherd (1830-c.1910) owned the farm of Amos Hoppock which is accessed from Route 523, a little south of Sand Brook. He purchased it in 1876 from the estate of Amos Hoppock dec’d. Mr. Bush will have more to say about Nathaniel Shepherd below.
These portions have been much divided and subdivided. The upper part of the eastern portion, with the homestead buildings was long occupied by the late George H. Hoppock, father of William P. Hoppock, in whose possession are found many old documents that give much light upon old times and old people in this vicinity.
When Mr. Bush wrote “The upper part of the eastern portion, with the homestead buildings,” he was describing property accessed by Biser Road. The farm was bequeathed to Henry J. Hoppock by his father John, Sr. in 1853, and straddled Biser Road at the place where the road makes a zigzag turn. Henry died intestate in 1878, with three surviving sons. But son George H. Hoppock seems to have been the one to inherit the homestead farm. You can see “H. J. Hoppock” on both sides of Biser Road in this detail from the Beers Map of Delaware Township.
Henry J. Hoppock’s son, George (1834-1894/5) married Hannah D. Bush about 1860.3 She was born in 1835 to John S. Bush and Ellen S. Dunn, residents of Croton and then Sergeantsville. George Hoppock and Hannah Bush had three children: Isabel, William P., and Ellen B. Hoppock. George and Hannah Hoppock were buried in the Rosemont Cemetery.
Their son William P. Hoppock (1867-1938) married Elizabeth Mary Heath about 1892.4 She was born in 1873 to George B. Heath and Elizabeth Snyder. William and Elizabeth had seven children. By 1920, the family had moved to the Raven Rock-Rosemont Road (Rte 604), and by 1930 they were located on the Prallsville-Sergeantsville Road (Rte 523). William was buried in the Rosemont Cemetery, and his wife Elizabeth, who died 20 years after him at the age of 85 was also buried there.
A Characteristic Deed
Here is a characteristic parchment deed from John Peter Foxe of the township of Amwell to Iobst Habbaugh, of the Township of Lebanon dated January 24, 1749, conveying a tract of land in Amwell (now in Delaware):
“Beginning at a hickory being a corner to land sold to William Hoffman, being also a corner in line of a former survey, thence by said old line near west twelve chains and eighty-seven links and a half link to a Stone corner thence . . . near north, ninety-two chains and thirty-two links to a Stone Corner standing in line of Jacob Peter Sniter’s land thence . . . near east twelve chains and eighty-seven links and a half link to a Stone Corner of Abraham Laroe’s Land, thence . . . near south ninety-two chains and thirty-two links to the place of Beginning, Containing one hundred eighteen acres and a half acre.
“And which land is a part of the equal half part of two hundred and thirty-seven acres by the said John Peter Foxe purchased from Jacob Peter Sniter and Nicholas Sayn . . . Who purchased the same with other land amounting to the quantity of thirteen hundred acres, being part . . . of two thousand acres formerly Surveyed to John Haddon of Southwark in the kingdom of Great Britain, from Elizabeth Estaugh, widow, and one of the Daughters of said John Haddon, by Indenture bearing date of the _______ day of _______ 1748 [left blank in the deed], which said Land with divers other things was Devised to Elizabeth Estaugh by will of her husband Reuben Estaugh deceased, Gent., bearing date of fifth day of October, A.D. 1742.”
When Mr. Bush wrote that this was “a characteristic deed,” he meant it was characteristic for the mid-18th century, not that it was characteristic of deeds made by either Jost Hoppough or John Peter Foxe. The latter’s name was more likely Johann Pieter Fuchs, which was also the name of his father, who immigrated to New York from Rotterdam in 1710. John Peter, Jr. was married to Catherine Roche in 1744, and they had three sons, Jacob, John and David, all of whom resided in Amwell Township. This family deserves an article of its own. However, this is not the same family as that of the well-known Quaker George Fox.5
Elizabeth Haddon’s husband was John Estaugh. Where Mr. Bush got the idea that he was named Reuben is a question I cannot answer, except it just goes to show how hard it is to read old deeds, even for an experienced person like Mr. Bush.6
This narrow tract, over a mile from north to south and less than 13 chains in width, appears to be the first land owned by Iobst Habbaugh (Hoppock) in this vicinity. But we find him active in Lebanon Township and elsewhere, both before and after the date of this transaction. This fine old parchment deed was acknowledged before John Reading, “One of his Majesties Council for the Province of New Jersey.”
The tract of 118.5 acres seems to have run from south of Route 523, including the farm later owned by Amos Hoppock, mentioned above, to a point north of Biser Road. The amount of acreage is intriguing. Another property that was originally 237 acres was located on the north and south sides of Locktown-Flemington Road, once owned by Sniter, and later divided into two tracts of the same amount–118.5 acres each.7
A Deed of 1748
Another deed, dated January 2, 1748 “Between Peter Rockafellar, Junr., of the Township of Amwell . . . George Habbaugh of Lebanon says:
“Whereas Mahlon Stacy late of the County of Burlington . . . Gent. deceased, at the time of his death was seized of and entitled to several parts in the Partition of Proprietary Rights of and unto all that Tract of Land now called the Western Division of the Province of New Jersey, and Whereas Mary Powell, Relict and widow of Reuben Powell, one of the sisters Coheirs of said deceased, did release all her right unto Peter Aller of the township of Amwell by Indenture dated the thirty-first day of May, 1742; and Whereas Peter Aller by Indenture dated the thirtieth day of December 1744, did release the same to Thomas Atkinson . . . and Whereas Thomas Atkinson did, by Indenture dated the thirtieth day of December 1748, release the same unto Peter Rockafeller, Junr.; Now This Indenture Witnesseth that, for the consideration of Ninety Pounds, the said Peter Rockafeller doth release unto the said George Habbaugh the said tract . . . containing fifty-two acres.”
There is reason for believing that this George Habbaugh was a brother to Iobst, whom we also find early in Lebanon Township.
Having just published an article on the Rockafellar family, I find this reference to Peter Rockafellar most interesting.8 Which Peter was it? Almost certainly the one who died in 1787, husband of 1) Margaret Peters and 2) Mary Bellis. As for George Habbaugh, I believe he was the father of Jost Hoppaugh who immigrated from Seelbach, Germany with his family in 1726 and settled in Lebanon Township, on a part of what was then known as the West Jersey Society’s Great Tract.
Still another deed, dated the 17th day of May “In the twenty-seventh year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, the Second . . . A.D. 1754, between John Bemmer of the Township of Amwell and Iobst Habbaugh Yeo.” [yeoman] conveys another tract traced back to the Stacy tract as above. Many other tracts were conveyed to Iobst Habbaugh, for some of which no deed can be found, but to which reference is made. A torn and mutilated copy of Iobst’s will shows him to have been owner of much land in Amwell and distributor of much other property.9
By this will he provides for his wife Mary, not forgetting the time-worn provision, “as long as she shall remain my widow.” He directs his executor to “assign unto Peter Aller, Husband of my well-beloved youngest daughter Ann, to the amount of one hundred and thirty-five pounds. The words, “well-beloved,” occur so often in this will that they may as well be understood before other bequests. He further says:
“I give to my eldest son John Hoppock that certain tract which I purchased from Peter Foxe, by deed dated twenty-fourth day of January, 1749. Also I Devise to my son Peter Hoppaugh all that certain Tract now in actual possession of him, and is the same which I purchased of Peter Foxe by Indenture bearing date the fifteenth day of December, 1756. I give and Devise unto my two sons John and Peter all the Land whereon I now live, . . . and is the plantation or tract of land which I purchased from Jacob Peter Sniter” (no deed for this has been found) [my emphasis], “to be divided between the said John and Peter equally in quantity and quality alike, by a line of Partition, Beginning at a Stone corner in line of Partition Between the said John and Peter Hoppaugh, of their lands first given and devised to them; thence by the same Course of said Partition Line near north so as to divide the same equally as aforesaid, each enjoying that part of the Land that shall adjoining their respective Estates, that is to say, John to possess the Easterly part and Peter the Westerly part.” No mention is made of either area or public road.
Just a reminder—Jacob Peter Sniter had divided the Haddon Tract with Nicholas Sine, and had taken the western portion, which is exactly where the Hoppock property was laid out (as shown in the map above).
“Next, I will and bequeath four Hundred Pounds to be taken from my Personal Estate and Equally divided Between all of my sons and Daughters; that is to say, Eighty pounds to my son John, and Eighty pounds to my son Peter, and Eighty pounds to my Daughter Lenah the wife of Peter Young, and Eighty pounds to my Daughter the wife of Peter Hann and Eighty pounds to my Daughter Ann the wife of Peter Aller. And the rest of my Estates, either Real or Personal . . . I give and bequeath to my three Daughters before mentioned to be divided Equally among them.” He gives Hann’s wife no first name.
Three sons-in-law and a son all by the name of Peter made this family distinguished for its Peters, and must have led to some confusion of names when all got together. Iobst signed with his usual mark —three vertical lines, the last two being joined at the middle and resembling a capital H. This suggests the thought that he may have meant to imitate initials of his name, I.H. However that may be, he used the same mark with unerring fidelity.
Probated Before Governor
This will, dated August 8, 1765, was probated before “His Excellency William Franklin, Esquire, Captain General and Governor in Chief of his Majesty’s Province of New Jersey.” Letters testamentary were granted to John Hoppaugh September 21, seventeen hundred and __ the rest is torn off. We know, however, that William Franklin was Governor from 1763 to 1776, at which time the Colonies dispensed with all further services of his Majesty’s gubernatorial or other appointees.
We find also a lease dated Jan. 2, 1750, “Between Stephen Crane of Elizabethtown . . . and Iobst Habbaugh,” by which Iobst gained possession of 580 acres of Land lying west of the “Lamatunck River, in the western part of the Elizabeth Town Purchase.” The term was nine years, at the annual rental of 18 pounds and 18 shillings. This sets one to wondering what Iobst wanted of that tract of land since he was already settled in Amwell. But distance does not appear to have worried him. It probably looked like a good chance for using the land for his own or some friend’s advantage, and Iobst appears to have been awake to such opportunities. The scribe wrote the name “Habbaugh” in the body of the lease but made the signature “Iobst habaugh,” with his characteristic mark duly attested.10
A deed by John G. Trimmer, Henry Aller and Jacob P. Fisher, commissioners to divide the real estate of John Hoppock deceased, dated August 1, 1819, says: “John Hoppock, one of the heirs . . . bidding twenty-nine dollars and five cents per acre, and no person bidding more, “a farm containing 75.29 acres was struck off to him. This may have been the farm which was later owned by John D. Hoppock, who was mentioned in an earlier article as a frequent visitor and speaker at the old “Hemlock Church.”
Report to His Majesty”
Another interesting paper found in this collection is a report dated simply 1747:
“To His Most Excellent Majesty,
“May it Please Your Majesty,
“We have lately had under oure consideration an Actt passed by Youre Majesty’s Province of New Jersey, M. 1747, Entitled An Actt for running and ascertaining ye Line of Partition and Division between this province of New Jersey and the province of New York.” Then follows a long report, which is signed by Dunk Halifax, T. Grinville, James Afwald and Andrew Jones.
On the back of this report some unnamed cobbler made the following charges:
“December ye 18, 1750, Charles Huff is Dr.
“to Solling and covering apare of Shoes for his wife 2 shillings.”
“to Ratchell Stout Solled for hir two pare att 1 shilling.”
“Gabriel Huff on pare of Shoes solled [sic] 1 shilling, to James on pare [sic] mended 6 pence.”
“May ye 8 to Catherin and Sarah Soaling 1 shilling, to a pare of Small Shoes to youre Doughter Catherin 3 shilings, to a pare Douball Chaneltt pumps to Gabriel 7 shillings 6 pence.”
This cobbler’s report is not relevant to the story of the Hoppock farm, but Mr. Bush often cannot resist sharing these interesting tidbits whenever he comes across them.
As we have seen, the homestead came by will of Iobst Hobbaugh to his son John. The family think that it came directly from this John Hoppaugh to Henry J. Hoppaugh. But there is a long space of time between. Iobst’s will was certainly probated in or before 1776.
We find the will of John Hoppaugh probated March 7, 1853, devising to his son Henry J. “all that tract of land whereon he now resides said to contain 142 acres”; and to his son Amos, “all my homestead farm and a wood lot adjoining lands devised to Henry J. Hoppock.”
From this long laps of years—at least 72—we come to the conclusion that there was another John Hoppaugh in between John, the son of Iobst, and John, the father of Henry J. Moreover, Iobst’s son John appears to have been a man in active life at the date of his father’s will (1765), which was 88 years before the property came to Henry J.
Mr. Bush has missed Jost’s son John who died intestate in 1816. He and first wife Mary had four children: Cornelius (c.1769-1835), John R. (1769-1853), Jacob (c.1770-?) and Sarah (1775-1873, m. Jonathan Moore). It was John’s son John R. Hoppock who was the father of Henry J. Hoppock, and wrote a very long will.
Henry J. Hoppock had three sons: Henry W., now living in Flemington; George H., to whose wife Hannah D. the homestead was conveyed April 1, 1881, by William R. Bearder, administrator of the estate of Henry J. Hoppock; and Jonathan M., the well-known teacher and much-esteemed local correspondent. George H. Hoppock died in 1895; his widow Hannah D. conveyed the homestead (116.56 acres) to George T. Arnwine in 1903. Arnwine conveyed it to Henry McCandless July 2, 1912; three days later McCandless conveyed it to the present owners, Giovanni Leone and Santo Leone.11
Adjoining the Henry J. Hoppock farm on the south was the farm left by John’s will to Amos Hoppock. In 1876 this farm was conveyed to Nathaniel Shepherd by deed from Joseph Haines, administrator of the estate of Amos Hoppock, and his son-in-law by marrying first one of his daughters and then another. Shepherd conveyed the same to Isaac Haines, son of Joseph, Nov. 13, 1908; September 21, 1912, Haines and wife conveyed it to John B. McPherson; June 12, 1932, John B. McPherson and wife conveyed it to Fannie Grossman, excepting lots previously sold by them to Reuben McPherson.
For another look at the Hoppock properties, there is the Cornell Map of 1851 (left), showing “J. Hoppock” and “A. Hoppock” located along Route 523, and “H. Hoppock” on the east side of Ferry Road, near “D. Shepherd.” Biser Road runs between Shepherd and Hoppock.
That partition line provided for by will of Iobst Habbaugh is still recognized, being the western line of the Shepherd farm. On the east side of that farm, as we ride along the road from Sergeantsville to Sand Brook, we may still see the lane, now almost overgrown, by which Jacob F. Buchanan, the Hoppocks and others to the east of them long reached the highway. Some 70 years ago a road was laid out from the Ferry road across lands of the Hoppocks and others, reaching the Trenton road at the top of the hill west of Buchanan’s Tavern, and giving an easy outlet in another direction.
This newer road is known today as Biser Road. In the 1920 census, it was called “the road west from Buchanan’s Hill.” The Leone family mentioned above immigrated from Italy in 1909, according to the census of that year, and as Mr. Bush wrote, acquired their farm on Biser Road in 1912, where they remained for decades. Several years ago, a member of the Leone family contacted me wanting to know if I could get the township to change the name from Biser Road to Leone Road. It seems that after the Leone’s moved away, the township decided to give the road a proper name, and chose Biser for the family of Nicholas and Anna Beiser, Hungarian immigrants who were also living on that road. My Leone contact gave me the impression that the Bisers were newcomers, but as it turns out, they arrived about the same time as Leone family. So it goes.
Hoppock Loyal to Colonies
We are told that while Washington was stationed at Head Quarters, a body of his troops encamped on the west side of that old lane above mentioned, on land of John Hoppock. A man named Fulper, who then owned the Buchanan farm, asked for a guard to protect his gathered crops. The guard was furnished, but the crops disappeared. Hoppock asked no protection; his loyalty was sufficient. This may have been the “Capt. John Hoppaugh,” letters of administration on whose estate were granted to Amy Hoppaugh, March 1, 1814, but about whom no further particulars have been discovered.
A descendant of this Capt. John Hoppough was Jonathan M. Hoppock, who wrote several articles on Hunterdon history.12 In his article about the Daniel Robins house at the top of Buchanan’s Hill, he wrote:
“ . . . your correspondent has it from the lips of his grandfather that he, when a boy of eight or nine years of age, went in company with his father to see General Washington and his staff who made it his headquarters for a short time during the last of July, in the year 1777. This was the time when Washington by slow marches was passing with his army through New Jersey, watching the movements of Lord Howe at New York, not knowing whether he would march his army north and join Burgoyne or sail to attack Philadelphia. The American army was moving in three divisions toward the Delaware, the northern one encamping for three days at the foot of the hill before mentioned in three different containments, one on the place now owned by Nathaniel Shepherd, one on the farm of Hiram M. Holcombe near Sand Brook and the other on the farm of Joseph Carrell at Headquarters, now Grover.
J. M. Hoppock’s grandfather was the John R. Hoppock (1769-1853) previously discussed, and he was indeed 8 or 9 years old in 1777. His great-grandfather was John Hoppock (1726-1816) who would have been 51 years old in 1777. I regret to write that so far it has been impossible to verify Hoppock’s statement about the three encampments.
As we have seen, William P. Hoppock considers himself the great-great-grandson of Iobst Habbaugh, but he is evidently once more “great.” He married Mary Elizabeth Heath, who shares with him and their intelligent family a deep interest in the old home and the family descent. Their children are: Louise M., who married Russell Higgins, deceased; George H., married Edith Burd; Jonathan M.; Anne S., now helping teacher of Warren County; Hannah D., holding a clerical position in Trenton; Howard S.; and Ernest F.
Speaking of ancestors, it is appropriate to mention that William P. Hoppock’s wife Mary Elizabeth Heath descended from another very early family. The first of the Heath family to appear in Amwell Township was Andrew Heath (c.1695-1745), who was present on land south of Locktown as early as 1737. Mr. Bush concludes:
As we view the scenes along that old partition line, it is sad to reflect that not a foot of land on either side is now lying in the good old name. Yet pleasant things of long, long past are readily envisaged. No need for attempt at description. Such things always bring to view a picture without frame, a canvas without boundary.
- In a previous article, “Cornelius H. Barber,” I wrote about a descendant of Jobst Hoppough’s brother, Tunis Hoppough, but neglected to show the relationship. I have since added that information. ↩
- You can read about Finney here: “Biggest Lost Ever Brought to Stockton.” ↩
- I had to estimate the year because the marriage was not listed in Deats’ Hunterdon County Marriages. ↩
- The 1900 census states they had been married eight years. Their first child was born in 1895. ↩
- You can read about Quaker George on the website if you click on Families on the home-page menu, and then click on Fox. ↩
- For articles mentioning Elizabeth Haddon, see “The Haddon Tract, part one.” ↩
- See the Besson/Bearder article for more on that parcel. ↩
- Tavernkeeper of Skunktown. ↩
- I do not know the whereabouts of these three deeds. I have mentioned before that German immigrants tended to avoid recording their deeds. Perhaps it was a language problem, or perhaps a suspicion of government. In any case, none of these deeds is listed in the Index known as “Colonial Conveyances,” and none are on file in the manuscript collection of early deeds at the Hunterdon County Historical Society. One wonders if perhaps these original deeds might have been sold to private owners. ↩
- The will of Jost Hobbaugh was probated on September 21, 1765, and an account by the executors was filed on September 27, 1767. ↩
- Deed from McCandless can be found in Hunterdon Co. Deeds Book 304 p. 81. ↩
- For a list of Mr. Hoppock’s articles published here, go to Historians Revisited in the right-hand column. ↩