by J. M. Hoppock, March 24, 1904
published in the Democrat-Advertiser
This is an obituary, for Rev. Joshua Primmer, who died on March 18, 1904. I wrote about Rev. Primmer in May 2014, in my article “From Primmer to Pauch.” At that time, I had forgotten my intention to eventually publish all of J. M. Hoppock’s articles with annotations. So today I am making up for that oversight. If you check the very end of the page “Index of Articles,” you will see a complete list of those articles, separated into those that have been published here, and those as yet unpublished.
It is odd that Mr. Hoppock consistently wrote the name as “Primer.” I wonder if he pronounced the name that way. Apparently that is the way his grandfather wrote it, but it is not the way Rev. Primmer wrote it.
Rev. Joshua Primer, the oldest resident of the Sergeants-ville vicinity, died at his home in Grover on Friday morning, March 18th, aged 90 years 8 months and 23 days. Mr. Primer was born in Hopewell, Mercer County, NJ, June 25th, 1813. He was the son of Richard and Lydia Bunn Primer. His ancestors were of German origin and were among the earliest settlers in New Jersey. His paternal and maternal grand-parents were both soldiers in the American army during the revolution. His paternal grandfather also served in the French and Indian war, and was with General Braddock at his noted defeat near Fort DuQuesne (now Pittsburg).
Rev. Primmer’s paternal grandfather was John Adam Primer who settled in Monmouth County and wrote his will in 1804, identifying son Richard. His maternal grandfather was Jonathan Bunn, about whom I have no information.
Mr. Primer lived during his boyhood in the vicinity of Pennington. He learned the blacksmith’s trade in Trenton, and about 1833 began to work at that occupation in Hopewell. Removing thence to Titusville, Mercer Co., he pursued his trade at that place for seventeen years. In the year 1855, he purchased a farm midway between Sergeantsville and Stockton, where he carried on farming and blacksmithing for twenty-five years. Relinquishing those occupations in 1875, he moved to Sergeantsville and afterward to Grover, where his long and useful life was ended.
Mr. Hoppock’s arithmetic is a little off. There is only a twenty-year difference between 1855 and 1875. When Rev. Primmer moved to Sergeantsville, he moved to the Pauch farm, which is south of the village. Mr. Hoppock was using the village name to stand for the general vicinity, as was often done, and still is today.
When Rev. and Mrs. Primmer moved to Grover, they were moving to a house on Route 604, not far west of Sergeantsville. Grover was the name for Headquarters in 1904.
He married Mary W. Servis, daughter of Tunis Servis of Hunterdon Co., April 26th, 1837. She still survives him. They were at the time of his death the oldest married couple in this part of the County, having traveled life’s journey for sixty-seven years as husband and wife. Mr. Primer was for many years a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church and in his ninetieth year delivered an able sermon in Sergeantsville. He was an eloquent speaker and an able debater. Having but few opportunities in youth to acquire an education, yet by self efforts and the assistance of the noted blind instructor William Boggs, he thoroughly mastered the Greek language. As a Biblical scholar, linguist and historian, he had but few equals. From his revolutionary ancestors he acquired love of country held dear by every true-born American. In politics a life-long Democrat and for many years stood high in that party’s councils.
On July 4, 1863, the Democratic Club of Delaware Township was created, with a Joshua Primmer as its first president.
He was at the time of death a member of Orpheus Lodge, A. F. A. M., and the oldest mason in the State. No children survive him. His aged widow has the sympathy of the entire community in her bereavement.
Funeral services at his late residence in Grover on Monday last, Rev. Hiram Forney officiating and delivering an able address from Jeremiah, sixth and sixteenth. “Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where is the good way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” The text was Mr. Primer’s own selection. Interment at the Locktown cemetery. Mr. Forney was assisted in the service by Revs. Loux of Locktown, Lyon of Sergeantsville, and Williams of Sandy Ridge.
May our dear old friend sleep in peace. We shall miss his kindly greeting and his pleasant smile of recognition, and as we muse upon his virtues and lament his departure from our midst yet may we find satisfaction in the reflection that his will be a joyous resurrection.
J. M. Hoppock