This is my second article on the neighborhood of Sandy Ridge in Delaware Township. The previous article was written by Jonathan M. Hoppock in 1905 (and heavily annotated by me.) Today’s article was written by Egbert T. Bush, over 25 years later.
There is a noticeable difference between articles by Egbert T. Bush and those by Jonathan Hoppock. Most obvious is that Mr. Bush’s are much longer. They are also packed with a lot more information. In the case of Sandy Ridge, the difference is even greater because Mr. Bush lived in Sandy Ridge right up until his death in 1937.
For this article it appears that Mr. Bush was strolling through the cemetery adjacent to the old church, observing gravestones and remembering who was buried there. But the title of the article is misleading. Headstones, yes, but as far as I can tell there is not a single headline in the article.
Old Headstones and Headlines
Where the Sandy Ridge Settlers Made Their Graves
Gazing at the Sourland Mountains
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, N.J.
published by the Hunterdon Democrat, June 26, 1930
In the Sandy Ridge Cemetery rest many of the old settlers but none of the oldest. The first buried here was Rebecca Doyle, who died in 1819 at the age of 62. As a neighborly duty of that day, Garret Van Dolah dug her grave. Her sister Uria, wife of John Mason, has lain by her side since 1827; and with them sleeps Hannah Doyle, evidently a niece, who died in 1828 at the age of 20.
Mr. Bush’s comment that “none of the oldest” settlers were buried in the Sandy Ridge cemetery might be puzzling until one learns that settlers appeared in the vicinity as early as the 1730s, long before Rebecca Doyle was buried.
The memorial to Nehemiah Hunt, who died in 1823 at the age of 41, heads a line of 27 graves in which departed Hunts are sleeping. His father Samuel died in 1825, aged 71; and John, son of Nehemiah, died in 1860 at the age of 73.1
Rev. Charles Bartolette, first pastor of the Sandy Ridge Church, died in 1852 at the age of 63. Rev. Joseph Wright, who succeeded him, died in 1880, aged 84, and sleeps here beside his first wife, who died in 1834, aged 34 years. But we must leave these interesting memorials for what may be of greater interest to others.2
The Garret Van Dolah (1797-1877) who dug the grave for Rebecca Doyle was a son of Henry Vandolah and Catharine Taylor. His grandfather Garret was the first settler from that family in the Sandy Ridge neighbourhood (see Vandolah Tree), but as Mr. Bush implied, none of the earliest Van Dolahs will be found in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery.
Uria or Ury Mason (1756-1827) was buried in the cemetery, but her husband John Mason was not, or at least his gravestone has not been found there. He is known to have died in Kingwood Township in 1813. Mason’s records indicate that his wife was Ury Mitchell, so Rebecca Doyle must have been Rebecca Mitchell.
The reason the sisters were buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery has to do with their brother, William Mitchell, Esq. (c.1756-1824). He was one of the church’s trustees in 1819 and was buried there himself.3
Mr. Bush goes on to discuss some other Sandy Ridge residents who were buried in the cemetery next to the church, like the Warmans, Larisons, Dilts, Wolvertons, and others.
Jacob Warman, father of several whose memorials are here, died in 1864, aged 56.4 His home was on the farm later owned by his son Lambert. We note the memorial to Asher, son of Jacob and Sarah Warman, who died in 1854 at the age of 21. 5 The sad story of this young man’s untimely death can hardly be passed over. He was the “hired man” at Garret Van Dolah’s for that summer and, according to the custom, was living as one of the family. A “cold snap” and a social gathering happened to fall upon the same day. Asher dressed according to the calendar rather than to temperature, with a linen “duster” as his only coat. Mrs. Van Dolah advised a coat under the duster. “You’ll almost freeze, Asher,” pro-tested the motherly woman. But Asher thought otherwise, as youth is prone to do. The result was a severe cold, long suffering, and death in the following October.
Benjamin Larison, who died in 1892 at the age of 87, was the father of Dr. George H. and Dr. Cornelius Larison; of Rev. Andrew Larison and of John, who remained on the homestead farm now owned by his son Carman. All of Benjamin’s family, including four daughters, have reached their final rest.
William Dilts, grandfather of Dr. William Dilts Wolverton, a surgeon in the U.S. Army from 1861 to 1898, owned the property now occupied by Dr. Wolverton’s sisters, Caroline Godown and Emma Voorhees. In 1848, the heirs of William Dilts conveyed the property to Andrew Wolverton, father of the doctor. Several adjoining lots later came into possession of Dr. Wolverton and still lie for the benefit of his sisters.
Benjamin Larison and his wife Hannnah Ann Holcombe owned a farm on the north side of Route 523, next to the old Howell tract I wrote about previously. They are both buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery, along with seven of their nine children. The Larison family was so prominent in the southern part of Hunterdon County in the 19th century, that even though this is the only mention of them in this article, I have published a Larison family tree. I know I will be referring to it often in the future.6
William Dilts & Catharine Holcombe
William Dilts (1765-1831) remains a mystery to me. The problem is that there were other William Dilts of about the same age at the same time and same general place. I could not separate them out. In addition to William Dilts of Sandy Ridge there was (1) William (c.1755-bef. 1825), son of Hendrick Dilts and Anna Case, spouse not known; (2) William (1755-1840) son of John & Mary Dilts, who married Sarah Smith and lived near Locktown; and (3) William Dilts (1763-1848) whose parents I have not found, who married Sarah Ann Jolley and lived in Raritan Township. (See the William Dilts Family Tree.)
The William Dilts of Sandy Ridge married a Catharine Holcombe (1774-1868) on March 25, 1791 in Pennsylvania. But I have trouble with Catharine also as I have not managed to connect her with the early Holcombe family of Lambertville. She belongs with this family somehow, just as William belongs with the early Dilts family that settled in Hunterdon County.
William and Catharine Dilts had ten children, and all of them married and lived to old age, which is quite unusual for the time. Seven of them were buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery, along with their spouses and their parents.
The earliest record I have for William Dilts is in 1806 when he purchased a lot of 7.75 acres and 23 perches bordering Samuel Hunt, John Severns, and Henry Vandolah (among others) from John and Rebekah Opdycke for $240.7 This lot was located on Sandy Ridge Road.
Since this fairly small lot was his home, one can only conclude that his occupation was not that of a farmer but of a craftsman of some kind, most likely a carpenter. But he lived too early to have his occupation noted in the census records.
William and Catharine’s daughter Rebecca Dilts (1807-1896) married Andrew Wolverton (1809-1881) in 1829, probably at the Sandy Ridge Church, since the marriage was performed by Rev. Bartolette.8 They had eight children, including Dr. William Wolverton and his sisters. Mr. Bush wrote that some of the Dilts property was lying “in wait for the benefit of Dr. Wolverton’s sisters,” Caroline Godown and Emma Voorhees.
Who was Caroline Godown? I found that Andrew and Rebecca Wolverton had a daughter Ann (1836-1909) who married William Thatcher Godown (1825-1866) about 1852.9 That daughter was counted in the census of 1850, age 18, with her parents. But there was no daughter Caroline in that household. In 1860, William T. Godown, carpenter, age 33, was living with wife Ann age 27 and their four children.
So who was this Caroline? A little searching in the census records turned up the explanation. She did not appear in the 1850 census with her family because she was living nearby in the household of John P. Hunt (1787-1860) and his wife Esther Dilts (1794-1879), who was the sister of Rebecca Dilts, and therefore, Caroline’s aunt.
Caroline T. Wolverton married Andrew Dewitt Godown, brother of William Thatcher Godown, in the late 1850s, judging by the census records. Like their siblings, their marriage was not recorded. Andrew Godown died in 1908 and Caroline in 1933, and like the rest of the family, were buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery. Their only child, a son named George, suffered from scrofula and died in 1895 when he was only 35 years old.
Andrew & Rebecca Wolverton’s daughter Emma Augusta (1850-1926) married Judson Voorhees (1848-1905) in 1880 and moved to Somerville and then Cranford in Union County.10 In 1910, Carolyn [sic] T. Godown, age 71, and sister Emma A. Voorhees, 58, both widows, were living in Delaware Township.11
The Dilts property (located across from the Church) was conveyed to Andrew Wolverton by the other heirs of William and Catharine Dilts in 1848, even though William Dilts died in 1831. The delay was probably due to the problem of drawing up deeds for all the heirs, including the widow Catharine, who survived until 1868.
Up until 1848, Andrew and Rebecca Wolverton had been living in Alexandria Township. But with the conveyances from Rebecca’s siblings and mother, and a clarification over the rights of John Hunt to the property, the Wolverton’s resettled in Sandy Ridge. But the size of the property over which all the fuss was being made was not very large.
The explanation is that Andrew Wolverton, like his father-in-law, was a carpenter. He was not identified as a farmer until the 1870 census, but in 1875 he was a carpenter again and in 1880 a retired carpenter. By that time, Andrew and Rebecca had conveyed their two small lots of land to their son William D. Wolverton for $2,400 in 1879. They also sold him a 3-acre lot, probably a woodlot, at the same time for $150.12
The house that stands on the property today was probably built by Andrew Wolverton. The photograph comes from the township’s historic sites survey made in the 1980s. It certainly was not the house inhabited by William and Catharine Dilts. Included with the survey was a photo of a falling-down shed, which was almost certainly used by Andrew Wolverton as a carpenter’s shop.
William D. Wolverton was an army surgeon during the Civil War, which must have been a harrowing experience. On October 9, 1861, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Army, stationed at a hospital in Georgetown, D.C. After the war was over, he was rewarded for “faithful and meritorious services during the war” by being appointed a Captain on March 13, 1865.
Following the war, in 1867, Dr. William D. Wolverton married Anna Eliza Wilson, daughter of James Willson and Mary Allen Laing of Cherryville, Franklin Twp. I thought she might have been from the Wilson family of Delaware Twp., but that was not the case. Eliza’s parents were Quakers and generally spelled their name with two L’s. The marriage of Eliza with Wm. D. Wolverton took place at the Friends Meeting in Philadelphia in 1867. They had two daughters, Florence Wolverton (1869-1955) and Mary L. Wolverton who married Howard W. Green.
By 1892, Dr. Wolverton had become a Lt. Col. in the Regular Army. He retired from the Army in 1898. I did not find him in the 1900 or 1910 census, but he seems to have been quite mobile. In 1880 was living with his family in the Dakota Territory. In 1916, Anna Eliza Wolverton died when the couple was living in Vancouver, Washington, and was buried in the Friends Cemetery in Quakertown, New Jersey. In 1920 Dr. Wolverton was at Springfield, Delaware County, PA, a widower age 85, living with daughter Florence 51. He died on July 20, 1922 and was buried at Sandy Ridge.
Returning to Mr. Bush’s article, he next describes residents of some of the other lots near the church, in particular a character named Dr. Royce, who appears on the Beers Atlas of 1873.
Doctor By Courtesy
On the opposite side of the road is the 12-acre lot that was conveyed by Joseph Hunt to Dwight Royce in 1856. He was known as “Dr. Royce,” but it seems that he was a doctor by courtesy rather than by scientific attainments. He evidently had considerable practice of a kind common in early days but having little scientific basis for the “healing art.” In 1862 he conveyed his property to Tobias Shadinger. It is now one of the Wolverton parcels.
The Royce Lot
Dr. Royce and wife Dorcas sold their lot in Sandy Ridge to Tobias Shadinger in 1863, not in 1862.13 It bordered Andrew Wolverton, the Sandy Ridge Parsonage lot, land of Asher Johnson, the Widow Butterfoss, the road from Sandy Ridge to Head Quarters, and land of Garret Van Dolah. They sold it for $2,138, which suggests a valuable house on the property.
Tracing this lot back to its earliest owners was not easy, since it was part of three separate larger tracts of land. One part originally belonged to Nicholas B. Higgins. Another part belonged to William A. Naylor in 1844, and a third part came from John Opdycke, Esq. To put all these transactions together is more than can be managed in this article.
The Joseph Hunt who sold a lot of 11.94 acres to Dwight Royce in 185614 was living in Milford in Alexandria Township at the time, occupation machinist (according to the 1850 census). He was Joseph R. Hunt (c.1821-1897), married to Amelia/Permelia Swallow, also of Alexandria. I have not been able to link him to the rest of the Hunt family included in my Hunt Family Tree. There was another Joseph Hunt (1822-1912) of the same age, who was the son of Amos P. Hunt and Mary Vandolah. One would think he would be the one buying and selling Sandy Ridge property but apparently that was not the case.
Joseph R. Hunt bought part the Royce lot in 1854 from Tobias Shadinger, a farmer and carpenter, who later bought it back from Dwight Royce in 1863. Tobias Shadinger (born c.1814 in Pennsylvania, died 1871 in Solebury) married Catharine Dilts, sister of Rebecca Dilts Wolverton, mentioned above, in 1837.15
Dr. Royce is remembered as a fluent talker, ever ready for a debate on any subject. Two of his forensic contests, both held at Headquarters with William Wigg for his opponent, still linger in the memory of older people. One subject was: “Which has the greater influence upon the human mind, superstition or ambition?” The other was: “Which was the greater lexicographer, Walker or Webster?” Neither of much interest, one would think. But each contest is said to have waxed warm. The doctor was overwhelming in eloquence and won them both—the first for superstition and the second for Webster.
William Bray Wigg (1836-c.1910) was a 24-year-old farmer in the 1860 census, living in Delaware Township with the family of John and Mary Green, and their daughter Clarissa, whom Wigg had married in 1855. In 1863, when he was registered for the draft from Wantage Township, he was a 27-year-old married clergyman. He was the son of the controversial Rev. James W. Wigg, whom I wrote about in my articles “Baptists Divided” and “A Scandal in Baptistown.” It seems likely that these entertaining debates took place before 1863, as Rev. Wigg never lived in Delaware Township after that time.
I had little luck learning about Dr. Royce. I did find a marriage record for Dwight Royce and Dorcas H. Swigt in Tisbury, Dukes Co., Massachusetts on Dec. 6, 1835. The next record has him living in New Hope in 1850, a farmer age 36, born in Connecticut, with wife Dorcas, age 40, born in Massachusetts, their son Thomas (identified as T. Q. L. Royce, age 5, born Massachusetts), and a farmhand from Ireland. By 1855, the family was living in Delaware Township. That year, Harrison Royce of Providence, Rhode Island, bought a four-acre lot in Delaware Township from James J. Fisher in trust for Dorcas Royce. That lot was sold by Harrison, Dorcas & Dwight Royce to William H. Moore in 1856, the year that Dwight Royce bought the Sandy Ridge lot from Joseph and Permelia Hunt.
The following was not included in the original version of this article; it was found just a few hours after it was published:
Dr. Royce was present in Sandy Ridge by 1859 when this interesting item appeared in the Lambertville Beacon, and was copied in the Hunterdon Republican on February 23, 1859:
Silver Mine discovered. Dr. D. Royce brought a specimen of what is supposed to be silver ore found while digging a well on his property near the Sandy Ridge Baptist Meeting House. The specimen will be sent for assay.
Nothing else was said about this, so it was probably a false alarm.
Dwight Royce was recognized as a doctor by 1860 when he was shown on the 1860 Philadelphia map as such. Even though he sold his lot in 1863, he apparently remained on the property, as the Beers Atlas of 1873 shown above indicates “Dr. Royce” in the same place. In fact, I was unable to find Dr. Royce after the New Jersey State census of 1865 when he was listed with his wife in Delaware Township. He seems to have disappeared after this. The couple was not buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery, even though that is where you’d expect to find them. Find-a-Grave had no record of them.
Returning to Mr. Bush’s article:
In 1843 John Hunt conveyed to Silas Hoffman the farm now owned by the widow of Charles Poulson. Hoffman erected the farm buildings and bought other lands. In 1860 he conveyed the property to Dr. Cornelius Larison, who projected an agricultural school thereon. That enterprise was short-lived, the doctor selling out to Charles Bowne in 1861. In 1884, Bowne’s heirs conveyed the farm to William B. Bowne, who conveyed it to Henry L. Van Dolah in 1885. Hiram D. Hoppock and William O. Merrill, executors of Henry L. Van Dolah, conveyed it to Charles Poulson in 1902.
This is a pretty complete chain of title. The lot in question was located at the intersection of the Sandy Ridge Road with Rittenhouse Road, on the northwest corner. Silas Hoffman was usually identified as Silas Huffman (1812-1889). He was the son of Isaac C. Huffman and Catherine Reed. In 1835, he married Margaret Wolverton (1812-1892), daughter of Daniel Wolverton and Margaret Petty. She and Andrew Wolverton were second cousins.
As Mr. Bush wrote, Huffman bought the lot in 1843. In 1847 he bought an additional 14 acres from George E. and Elizabeth Sharp bordering his other property.16 Then in 1850, Huffman sold part of his land back to Geo. W. Sharp. But the big change came in 1860 when Huffman bought the Job Wolverton farm on the south side of the road from the Covered Bridge to Rosemont in partnership with William Fisher. That’s when he sold the small Sandy Ridge farm to Cornelius Larison.17
Huffman apparently did not care for farming. By 1870 he was listed in the census as a coal dealer and in 1880 he and Margaret were living in Stockton where Huffman worked as a lumber dealer. He and his wife Margaret did not attend the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church. They were Methodists and were buried in the Sergeantsville cemetery next to the Methodist Church there.
On the south side of the road lies the 68-acre farm which Edward Hunt and others conveyed to Charles Marshall in 1875, with this recital and exception: “Being a part of a larger tract that the heirs of Evan Godown conveyed to Samuel Hunt by Deed dated the 4th day of March A. D. 1792, and which the said Samuel Hunt by his last will and Testament in writing in due form of law, devised to the said John P. Hunt, excepting and always excepting the privilege of raising the sawmill dam below said land six inches higher than it now is without being answerable for backing water on said land.”
This farm remained in the Hunt family until it was sold to Marshall. After his death it was sold to his sons John and George W. in 1880. In 1894 William J. Poulson, Sheriff, sold it to John Lair, who conveyed it to Jeremiah Snyder in 1895. From him it descended to his son Burris, father of Clifford E. Snyder, President of the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and former Vice-President of the State Board. Burris Snyder conveyed it to John Stryker in 1912. Edward C. Brown now owns it.
The “sawmill dam below said land” was on the farm which John P. Hunt received by will of his father, Samuel, probated August 3, 1825. John P. erected there the farm buildings and the sawmill. In 1881 Edward Hunt and Robert D. Hunt, executors of John P. Hunt, conveyed the property to John Bearder, whose heirs in 1890 conveyed it to John B. Poulson—always known as “Baker Poulson.” In 1920 Poulson conveyed it to Russell Hoagland, who conveyed it to Joseph Mellin in 1921, and Mellin to Stephen Sharp in 1928.
This Hunt farm that once belonged to Samuel Hunt (1755-1825) included the smaller lots that were sold to William Dilts. It ran south from the Sandy Ridge Road and amounted to about 95 acres. Samuel Hunt was married to Mary Reeder (1752-1839) in 1779; they had eight children, three of whom died as children. The burial places of those three children are not known, but were probably in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery, along with their parents and four of their siblings. Samuel’s son Nehemiah married Elizabeth Butterfoss, son Samuel married Hulda P. Brown, and son John P. Hunt married Esther Dilts, daughter of William and Catharine Holcombe Dilts.
As Mr. Bush pointed out, Samuel Hunt came to Sandy Ridge from Hopewell Twp. in the 1790s when he bought his farm of 96 acres, more or less, from the estate of Evans Godown deceased.
Mr. Bush wrote that Samuel Hunt bequeathed his farm to John P. Hunt, but in fact the will dated June 18, 1825, left the residue of the farm to sons John and Samuel as joint tenants. Somehow, John Hunt came into possession of the property even though there was no deed recorded from Samuel Hunt Jr. to brother John. This younger Samuel died in 1840. A look at the Cornell map shown above will indicate where John P. Hunt had his grist mill in 1851.
John P. Hunt (1787-1860) was one of the original trustees of the Sandy Ridge Church in 1818. He married Esther Dilts (1794-1879), daughter of William and Catharine, in 1814, and had eight or nine children. (I am uncertain about one of them.) Three or four children died very young. The Edward Hunt (1815-1881) mentioned by Mr. Bush as selling the Hunt farm in 1875 may have been one of the children, but I have not found proof of that. However, in 1839 he did marry a neighbor, Elizabeth Higgins (1815-1882), daughter of Nicholas B. Higgins and Hannah Hill.
Mr. Bush has brought the chain of title for the Hunt farm right up to the present day for this article, 1930. There is more to Mr. Bush’s article on the residents of Sandy Ridge, which I will save for part three.
- See The Hunt Family Tree. ↩
- Jonathan M. Hoppock, in his article “The Sandy Ridge Church,” gave a complete listing of the church’s pastors up to 1905. In my annotations I focused on the Reverends Bartolette, Wright, Sproul and Cox. ↩
- There is much to be said about William Mitchell—an article about him will go on my list for the coming year. ↩
- For Jacob Warman’s history and the location of his home, see The Howell House, part three. ↩
- This may have been a typo. Asher Warman died on Oct. 1, 1852, age 21 years 10 months, 22 days. ↩
- To see instances of when the Larison family was mentioned in previous articles, click on Families in the right column, and chose Larison from the drop-down menu. ↩
- Hunterdon Co. Deed Book 13 p. 116. ↩
- Andrew Wolverton was the son of Job Wolverton and Anna Housel, and may be found in the Wolverton Family Tree in the sixth generation. ↩
- Their marriage was not listed in Deats’ Hunterdon Co. Marriages. ↩
- The three sisters, Ann, Caroline and Emma, are listed in The Wolverton Family Tree, which I have updated to include some of the sixth generation. ↩
- There was an oddity about this census, though. It stated that Carolyn’s father was born in NJ but Emma’s was born in PA, while both their mothers were born in PA. I doubt that the sisters had different fathers, and Rebecca Dilts Wolverton was certainly born in Amwell Township. ↩
- H. C. Deeds Book 179 p. 591; Book 183 p. 480. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 129 p. 38. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 124 p. 13. ↩
- Their daughter Hester married Joseph M. Van Cleve in 1862, and daughter Hannah married Charles W. Bodine (1847-1921), son of William Bodine and Delilah Ann Rittenhouse about 1870. Hannah Bodine died in 1874. Both couples were buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery. ↩
- H.C. Deeds Book 84 p. 384 and Book 111 p. 574. ↩
- H. C. Deeds Book 122 p. 604 and Book 122 p. 435. ↩