There is an odd sort of road in Delaware Township, running south from Sergeantsville, that I have often wondered about. It is called Rittenhouse Road, and for much of its length, it runs straight as an arrow, then suddenly does a zigzag before ending at Sandy Ridge Road.
Quite often the very straight roads in Hunterdon County were created as a result of the early, large proprietary tracts that forced roads to run along their borders. But that is not the case here. This road ran through the middle of Daniel Robins’ 700+ acres, surveyed in 1722.
For those of us who look for genealogical information in deeds, there is a very special word we hope to find: “Whereas.” This wonderful word introduces a clause that should appear in every deed, but often does not—the recital clause, which states who the seller of the property bought it from. Most of the time, that’s all it does—name the preceding property owner. But every once in a while, mostly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, you will get a recital that goes all the way back to the beginning, to the original proprietary owner.
Having published Mr. Bush’s article, “The ‘Oregon’ and Other Schools,” and then a follow-up on Duck’s Flat, I thought I was done with this neighborhood for now. But I recently found another article by Mr. Bush continuing the story of Ducks’ Flat school. This article has allowed me to identify the mystery school I referred to previously, located down the road from the Ducks’ Flat school that Mr. Bush was familiar with. But I’ll wait until Mr. Bush has concluded before explaining.
In 2011, I began a series of articles on the history of Bull’s Island, Raven Rock, and Saxtonville. (For the original post, please visit “Raven Rock and the Saxtonville Tavern,” where you will learn something of how the name Raven Rock began to be used.) Recently three documents turned up to shed more light on this subject–a deed of 1722, and two survey maps, one of them made in 1819 showing the original proprietary tracts. It is time to return to Raven Rock for another look.
On November 16, I gave a speech about John Reading and the Creation of Hunterdon County. There was quite a lot of information in that speech, covering the years 1664 to 1718. In fact, it was probably a bit too much.
For example, the beginning of the speech covered the conquest of New Netherland by the English in 1664, the Third Anglo-Dutch War of 1672-74, the Quintipartite Deed of 1676, and John Reading’s settlement in Gloucester County in 1684; also Edward Byllinge and the early settlement of West New Jersey. Rather than rehash material that I have already written about, you can see a list of pertinent articles at the end of this one. They cover the settlement of West New Jersey, its political history, its infamous governor Daniel Coxe, and the early career of John Reading.
For the history of Hunterdon County, it is best to start with 1694. What follows is the first part of a somewhat amended version of the speech.
As I have mentioned in previous posts,1 many wonderful documents can be found in the Cathers-Davison collection that has recently been donated to the Hunterdon County Historical Society. I was very fortunate to get a look at some of them beforehand, and among the earliest documents was a gem.
In My Library: Owning New Jersey, Mapping New Jersey, Owning the Earth and New Jersey Linseed Oil Mills
Owning New Jersey; Historic Tales of War, Property Disputes & the Pursuit of Happiness
by Joseph A. Grabas, published by The History Press, 2014
What a great name for a book. I’ve wanted to own this book for decades, even though it did not exist until now. Joseph Grabas is a well-known figure among New Jersey historians, for his ability to take what he has learned from his many years as a title searcher and turn it into fascinating New Jersey history. He’s done a beautiful job of showing how interrelated land ownership and politics can be, and how those systems have influenced New Jersey history right from its very beginning. It’s also a very readable book. It is easy to overlook how much we can learn from old records—records that seem to be dry and uninteresting, unless an inquiring mind like Mr. Grabas takes a close look at them. Then they reveal great human dramas, both comedic and tragic. This book has much to teach us.
This Delaware River ferry was located on the Pennsylvania side at the village of Lumberton in Solebury Township, which is easily confused with Lumberville, further north.1 On the New Jersey side, the ferry began at Johnson’s Tavern near the end of Federal Twist Road, about ¾ mile south of Bull’s Island.Continue reading »