Disturbing news of late, somehow reminiscent of the lead-up to America’s first Civil War. Whilst scrolling through the Hunterdon Gazette recently, I came across an item that caught my attention, published on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1859:
Party Politics in 1803
Recently, my son, Ben Zimmer, sent me a clipping that a friend of his had found in the Trenton True American for March 7, 1803. This friend, Barry Popik, was researching the expression “Uncle Sam,” (see “New Light on “Uncle Sam”), and had found an instance of its use in this letter to the editor:
The next presidential debate for Democratic candidates is coming up on September 12th. In light of that and also with thoughts about the kind of discourse Americans are having these days, it seemed appropriate to publish Mr. Bush’s article on a practice that went out of fashion long ago—local debating societies. Somehow it was possible for 19th-century neighbors to dispute current issues without making enemies of each other.
In my previous post (A Shrinking Township, part one), I wrote about a petition in 1896 to take a large chunk out of Delaware Township and give it to East Amwell Township. That petition was signed by two East Amwell residents, William H. Manners and Simpson Sked Stout. This post will describe these two, as well as the journey the bill took through the legislature, and the property owners who were affected by it.
On November 18, 1896, two gentlemen from East Amwell Township announced in the Hunterdon Republican newspaper that they would petition the state legislature to change the boundary between East Amwell and Delaware Townships. It was a fairly radical change they were proposing, in which Delaware Township yielded to East Amwell a large chunk from its eastern border and Delaware got nothing in return. On April 17, 1897, the State Legislature followed through and passed a bill to make that happen.
Observers of Hunterdon history on Facebook have called our attention to the anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Hunterdon County Courthouse on February 13, 1828. This inspired me to look at the Hunterdon Gazette for 1828 to see how people reacted to this disaster.
William Kidd and Samuel Jennings
In the previous post, concerning the life and death of Capt. William Kidd, I speculated on who the person was who drew these pictures
Unfortunately, I was basing my conclusions on a faulty citation, which is an egregious error for an historian, amateur or not. I had concluded that the most likely person was John Tatham, who was not only an ardent opponent of Samuel Jennings, but also a strong supporter of Gov. Jeremiah Basse and of the claims of Daniel Coxe, and later the West Jersey Society, to vast tracts of land in West New Jersey. The circumstance I relied on to identify Tatham was my mistaken notion that the drawings were made on a blank page of the minute book of the West Jersey Board of Proprietors. And I made that mistake by relying on my memory rather than verifying the source.
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 darker way (which can exist in our minds simultaneously), is to be haunted by the unknown on dark windy nights. One of the most frightening things to encounter on a dark 17th century night was the sight (and smell) of a gibbeted body swinging from a post.
Put Halloween, pirates and gibbeting together, add some interesting early New Jersey history, and what do we get? Captain Kidd!
This series of posts has been based on an article by Egbert T. Bush called “Sergeant’s Mills Once a Prosperous Place.” My previous post dealt with two of the four farms located in the Rosemont valley, on the north side of the road from Rittenhouse’s Tavern (Rosemont) to Skunk Town (Sergeantsville), otherwise known as Route 604. This post will describe the owner of the third farm, and include the rest of Mr. Bush’s article.
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