My next article on the proposed route of the Delaware Flemington Railroad is not ready for publication. However, a few years after the railroad company collapsed, one of the company’s directors found himself confronted by an angry man.
crime and punishment
Halloween is almost here. The days are getting much shorter, the nights much longer, and soon we will wind our clocks back to make the night seem even longer.
There are two ways to think about this time of year. The cheerful way is to glory in the fall colors and delight in children running from house to house on Halloween, many of the boys dressed as pirates (though not as much as in years past).
The brutal murder of Mrs. Catharine Beakes in September 1827 became a sensation in Hunterdon County, not only because murders were rare at the time, but because this murder was quite brutal and her alleged killer was a 12-year-old black boy. Following a coroner’s inquest, he was arrested and brought to the Flemington jail (‘gaol’ in those days).
Note: Records from the Coroner’s Inquest were discovered after the first version of the story was published. I have since updated the article to reflect the new information found there. It is now a much longer, but even more interesting article.
With all the controversy over the possible demolition of the Union Hotel in Flemington, there has been a revival of interest in “The Trial of the Century,” when Bruno Hauptman was tried for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. But there was another “Trial of the Century” in Hunterdon County more than 100 years earlier, held in May 1828, when a 12-year-old boy was convicted of the murder of a 60-year-old woman.
Recently I gave a talk at the Hunterdon Co. Historical Society on how to research the history of one’s house. While preparing for the talk, I decided to look over the history I did for my own house back in 1981. It was the first one I had ever done, and I hadn’t a clue about how to go about it. I found most of the owners of my home, but some of them were absentee owners, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. On reviewing my chain of title, I got curious about one of those absentee owners, and began to do some more serious research. It paid off with a pretty interesting story.
In my last post I wrote about how the town of Clinton came to be. The man who made it happen was John W. Bray, with the financial backing of his brother-in-law Archibald S. Taylor. Building lots were laid out and sold, merchants and residents moved in and a new town came to life. In 1832 The Newark Daily Advertiser referred to Clinton as “a flourishing manufacturing village.”
However, Bray took some shortcuts that had dire consequences for his financial backer, and for himself.
When writing about Pine Hill Cemetery recently, the name of John Lewis came up. This reminded me of a wonderful article written by Jonathan M. Hoppock back in 1905 about a mysterious character named Ticnor Lewis who lived not far from Pine Hill. It is one of Mr. Hoppock’s most colorful yarns, and one of his many stories of the early settlers in Amwell Township. This one is based entirely on folklore or family tradition. A bowl-full of salt is highly recommended.
Law Once Compelled Every Town
to Have a Drinking Place
How “Amwell” Originated
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, NJ
published in the Hunterdon County Democrat, May 7, 1931
Sundry notes from old histories and other sources though jotted down in a haphazard way may serve to awaken thought or to throw light upon the ways of the past.
Whilst paging through the abstracts of the Hunterdon Republican by Bill Hartman, I came across this wonderful bit of news from the February 18, 1869 issue: