For three years John P. Rittenhouse owned my small farm in Delaware Township, although he never lived there. As I started to research his life I discovered that, among other things, he was a Hunterdon Co. Sheriff, managed a restaurant at the Union Hotel, and then ran the hotel in Ringoes. He had an interesting life.
In 1859 he sold my farm to Edmund Perry, a successful politician, but a failure as an investor. I published the beginning of Rittenhouse’s story in the previous post, ending with a situation in which Rittenhouse, acting as deputy sheriff, had to take possession of the very farm he had previously sold to his political ally, Edmund Perry, and sell it to the highest bidder. Awkward.
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.
Following the election of 1836, things got really interesting—so much so that I have devoted this post to only one year—1837.
This article is a follow-up to the Democratic Club of Delaware Township, published last spring.
The previous article described the Club’s principles and resolutions, reflecting the alarm felt by Hunterdon Democrats at the war measures taken by President Lincoln. The article was published in the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter.1 But because of length restrictions, short biographies of the club’s officers had to be postponed to a future newsletter.
The most recent issue of the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter (vol. 51, no. 2) includes an article by me on the Democratic Club of Delaware Township. I thought the story an important one, so, for the benefit of those who do not subscribe to the newsletter, I am also publishing it here on my website, with a couple additional notes.
(I do hope you will consider becoming a member of the Hunterdon County Historical Society, which includes a subscription to the newsletter. It’s a great way to support the preservation of Hunterdon County history. Here’s their website: Hunterdon History.)
Petitioning for a New County
With so many surveys being made in the new Indian purchases, it was clear that people would be settling in this area very rapidly. And it was also clear that this new area was going to be hard to manage from far-away Burlington City. The residents of the northern townships in Burlington County were becoming frustrated by the need to travel 20 to 35 miles by horseback to the county seat to record their deeds, probate wills and attend court.1