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.
Shrinking Township, part 2
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.
A Shrinking Township
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.
Hunterdon’s Courthouse, 1828
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.
Who Was the Artist?
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.
A Story for Halloween
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).
Sergeant’s Mills, part four
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.
Continue reading »
The Hunterdon Gazette, 1838-1866
This is a continuation of the saga of the Hunterdon Gazette and its first owner and editor, Charles George. Please refer to Charles George & the Hunterdon Gazette, part one and part two, and 1837 in Hunterdon County.
John P. Rittenhouse, part two
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.
John P. Rittenhouse
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.