Not long ago, Dennis Bertland inquired about an old house that might have been located on the William Rittenhouse tract that I recently wrote about (“The Rittenhouse Tavern.” Dennis’ inquiry can be found in the comments section.) It is located in a blank space on the Hammond Map between the Wickecheoke Creek and Shoppons Run. Who did that space belong to?
Although this article concerns two more owners of the Rittenhouse Tavern, I am going to interrupt the story to relate the history of the Rosemont Store. The reason for that is that the next tavern house owner, Lambert B. Mathews, purchased the store before he bought the house.
Col. John Reading was the first of the family to living in Hunterdon County, in fact the first European to officially reside in Amwell Township. (There most likely were unknown squatters.) He purchased his 1440-acre tract of land in 170_, and the Township of Amwell was created in 1708. He and wife Elizabeth had only four children, and only one son, from whom all the Hunterdon Readings descend.
This is a continuation of my history of the ownership of the Rittenhouse Tavern. The previous article covered the period of time when members of the Rittenhouse family owned the tavern. The following article looks at the subsequent history, starting with James Wolverton and Mary Ann Sergeant in 1843, George Hoppock and Jane Elizabeth Wolverton in 1868 and Lambert B. Mathews and Lizzie Nixon in 1910, and ending with Frank W. Reading and Charlotte Venable in 1922.
Johann George Hoppough and wife Anna Magdalena came from Seelbach, Germany to Hunterdon County with their six children. They settled in Lebanon Township and worshipped at the Readington Reformed Church. In 1745, “Jurey Happach” became a naturalized New Jersey citizen. The best source for information on this immigrant family is More Palatine Families by Henry Z. Jones.
Like many other family names, this one was spelled in a variety of ways: Habbaugh, Hausbach, Hopbach, Hobbach, Hoppaugh are just a few.
The Rittenhouse Family in America has been studied at some length and genealogies have been published covering all branches in America. The earliest identified Rittenhouse was Wilhelm (1644-1708) who married Gertrude Pieters (1646-1708) in 1665 at Mulheim, Westphalia, Germany. This couple immigrated to Philadelphia shortly afterwards, where at least two children were born. Their son Garret or Gerard married Mary Shoemaker and had at least two children, one of whom was William, born in 1696, below.
The Lair, Lehr, Lare family of Hunterdon County originated with the immigrants Johannes and Maria Lehr, who originated in Germany or eastern France. They may have been French Huguenot. There is a town of Lehr in Germany in the palatinate between France and Germany. And Lair is a family name from Lyon. The two children of Johannes and Maria that we know of were born there. After the death of Johannes Lair, the family migrated to America, probably encouraged to do so by other German immigrants.
The marvelous house on the northeast corner of the intersection at Rosemont (at Routes 519 and 604), once known as the Rittenhouse or Crosskeys Tavern, may be in search of a new owner in the near future. It is my sincere hope, and that of the current owners, that someone will take over who fully appreciates the historic value of the property. The sale has reminded me that I have not yet published Egbert T. Bush’s article on Crosskeys Tavern.
In a previous article, I told the story of Martin Kaffitz and his wife Hattie W. Fritts. Kaffitz was employed for many years by William Crater who ran the blacksmith shop in Glen Gardner, Hunterdon County. I learned about the life of Martin Kaffitz from the many entries about him in the Hunterdon Republican newspaper. That paper was equally informative about William Crater, although Crater led a very different sort of life.