The Hammond Maps of Hunterdon County proprietary tracts are a wonderful resource for county historians. Many of the property owners shown on these maps drawn by D. Stanton Hammond in 1963 were the first Europeans to claim title to this part of the state of New Jersey. What happened to those properties in succeeding years has always fascinated me and provided wonderful material for my articles.

So far, I have written about Samuel Green (“Samuel Green of West NJ”) and his relations, especially the Opdyckes, the Wrights, Richard Bull, the surveyor, and Edward Kemp (“First Landowners of Hunterdon County”). Other early proprietors I have written about were John Reading, Daniel Robins, Dorothy Metcalf, Edward Milner, John Lewis, John Calow, and Peter Fretwell.

Lately, I have been writing about early settlers in the Haddon Tract.1 The Haddon Tract was one of many surveyed in the Lotting Purchase of 1703. Adjacent to the Haddon Tract was a property surveyed for John Cook in 1714–my subject for today.

John Cook, Sr. and Jr.

John Cook, Sr. was typical of many of the proprietors of West New Jersey. He was a brazier who lived in London and had enough extra cash to purchase shares in the new province. He was unlike many proprietors because he actually made the trip to the Province of West New Jersey and took up residence first in Burlington and later in Philadelphia. He was present in Burlington by 1694 when he was listed as a debtor in the estate of Thomas Lambert.

By 1698 John Cook had died. There was no estate recorded for him in New Jersey because he had died in Pennsylvania. However, a guardian was named for his son John, Jr. who was still a minor. That guardian was Peter Fretwell, a Quaker tanner of Burlington County. The fellowbondsman was Henry Grubb, a victualler and also a prominent man in Burlington.2 In 1712, John Cook, Jr. was old enough to exercise his inherited proprietary rights which allowed him to have a tract of 800 acres surveyed in Amwell Township.3 Two years later, on May 28, 1714, the tract was resurveyed and recorded again.4

Surveyed unto John Cook 800 acres of land and land for highways in ye Lotting Purchase ye 3d day of ye 3d mo’th 1712 bounding as followeth Beginning at a white oak for a corner and from thence by ye bound of John Butcher’s land North 34 chains to a second corner from thence East 12 chains to a white oak for a third corner from thence North 103 chains to a 4th corner from thence by Daniel Robins land west 64 chains to a fifth corner from thence South by ye lands of John Haddon 137 chains to a 6th corner from thence East 53 chains to ye first mentioned corner. Surveyed by Tho. Sharp Dept Surveyor, 28 May 1714

Detail of the Hammond Map

As you can see from the map, the Cook tract was located east of the village of Sand Brook, straddling the Third Neshanic River, and overlaps the boundary between what later became Delaware and Raritan Townships. It was bordered on the north by Daniel Robins, on the west by Elizabeth Haddon, on the south by John Dennis and William Petty, and on the east by Mahlon Stacy, William Burge and William Wright.

On October 12, 1712, John Cook “late of Frankfort in the county of Philadelphia,” son of John Cook Sr., “late of the City of Philadelphia, Gent,” sold 400 acres out of his Amwell property to Martha Borden of Rhode Island.5 What is perplexing about this is that (according to the deed referred to above) the sale by John Cook, Jr. to Martha Borden took place two years before the property was surveyed.

In addition to his property in Amwell Township, John Cook also had surveyed a tract of 1,111 acres an area northwest of Bloomsbury in 1715.6 Like the Amwell Township property, that was simply an investment. There is no reason to think Cook ever lived in either place.

Apparently John Cook, Jr. did not live long after this. A will for John Cook was probated on December 23, 1716 in Burlington County. But the N.J. Abstracts of Wills has only this entry: “Burlington Records, reversed side.” A search of estate records in Pennsylvania will probably turn his will up, since he was living in Frankfort County when he sold the 400 acres to Martha Borden.

The recital referred to above was found in a deed dated Nov. 22, 1760 (but not recorded until April 26, 1817) in which part of the 400 acres was conveyed to Jonas Sutton by John Taylor.7 The deed explained that Martha Borden, who had bought 400 acres from John Cook, Jr., had bequeathed the same to her son Abraham Borden, also of Rhode Island, and how he had bequeathed it to his son Abraham Jr., resident and merchant of Boston “in New Ingland.” This Abraham Jr. had given his power of attorney to Thomas Wetherell of Burlington on May 25, 1741, and shortly afterwards Wetherell sold the 400 acres to John Taylor.

Thomas Wetherell was himself the owner of several proprietary tracts. One wonders how Borden, living way up in Boston, became aware of the services that Wetherell could render him. Perhaps Wetherell was involved in the sale of the other half of the Cook proprietary tract which came into the hands of Richard Rounsavel around the same time that Taylor bought the northern half of the tract. That is a story for another day.

An interesting mortgage was filed for Jonas Sutton in 1744. It was through the Hunterdon County Loan Office (No. 182), for a tract of 81 acres and a mortgage of £24.25.0. The property was bordered on the east by land of John Cook and on the south by John Taylor. The property was a triangle of land in the northeast corner of the Cook Tract, on the east side of Route 579, which is in Raritan Township today.

In 1776, when George Trout got a mortgage from the same office (No. 98), he also bordered John Cook, even though Cook was long gone by then. It was another example of people relying on old land descriptions rather than current ones.

John Taylor

John Taylor, Sr. was born about 1696 in Staten Island, possibly the son of Ephraim Taylor and Margaret Curtis.8 Ephraim Taylor, wrote his will in December 1713, when his son John was 17 years old, leaving a tract of land to John’s brother Abraham. He named his wife and his son John his executors, and left his farm and its improvements to his wife. The will was recorded in 1715.

Probably soon after his father’s death, John Taylor married. He and wife Sarah had six known children, born from about 1720 to about 1730. (More about them later.)9 John Taylor’s first appearance in Hunterdon County records dates to March 10, 1737, when he applied for a mortgage from the Hunterdon County Loan Office for 280 acres in Amwell for £30.10 The property description that Taylor provided stated that it bordered John Reading and Jonathan Curtis, and appears to be located somewhere other than the Cook tract.

I am happy to say that John Taylor’s signature was attached to this application. (I took it from a microfilm reader at the State Archives, hence the streaks.)

Here I take the opportunity to vent my frustration with 18th century landowners. They were far too casual about recording their deeds, probably for very good reasons, but still, their lapse can at times be very vexing, leaving great gaps in our understanding of the rural economy of Hunterdon County before the Revolution. Thankfully, some records did survive.

John Taylor was named in the loan application of Nathaniel Pettit on March 25, 1737.11 Petit was mortgaging a farm of 181.25 acres. His land description firmly locates Taylor on the Cook Tract. The survey began “at a post for a Corner standing near a small Hickery tree marked for a Corner of a Tract of Land formerly Surveyed to John Cook, Thence by the line of the former Survey North 22 chains and fourteen links . . .” The other bordering owners were John Robins and Mahlon Stacy. On Hammond’s map of the Cook tract, Mahlon Stacy appears next to Cook’s northeast corner, and just south of that is a tract surveyed for William Burge in 1712, and resurveyed for Paul Cool and Henry Dilts in 1743. Hammond did not indicate any property there for Nathaniel Pettit, but the description in the loan indicates that Pettit’s 181.25 acres was in between Stacy’s land and Cooks, with John Robins to the north. This does not agree with Hammond’s map at all. It suggests that some of Lot 15 belonging to Daniel Robins was sold to Nathaniel Pettit sometime before 1737.

John Taylor performed his duties as a citizen of Hunterdon and Amwell. Local government in the mid 18th century did not amount to much, but some positions were essential. For instance, jury duty. Taylor was an Amwell freeholder performing jury duty in 1741.

One of the most important positions in these early rural townships was that of Overseer of Roads. As you might imagine, the old dirt roads were extremely primitive and needed a lot of maintenance. In 1753 John Taylor was named an Overseer of the Swamp Road in Amwell Township. That road is today’s County Route 579. It was a main artery, running all the way from Trenton to Easton. Presumably Taylor (and others) were responsible for the section that is today the boundary between Delaware and Raritan Townships.

As for the name, Swamp Road, in the 18th century the Croton Plateau, who’s southeasterly boundary is the ridge that parallels Route 523 and extends northward to Quakertown, was commonly called the Swamp or the Great Swamp—hence the Swamp Road.

Sometime between 1760 when Taylor sold 110 acres to Jonas Sutton and 1777 when he wrote his will, John and Sarah Taylor moved away from the old Cook Tract to a location in Kingwood Township, possibly near the church they worshipped at, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church. John Taylor of Kingwood wrote his will on May 9, 1777, making provisions for his four children and two grandchildren (children of his two deceased children, Elizabeth Robins and Thomas Taylor).

The will said nothing about his property in Amwell. The only real estate he left was his house and land in Kingwood, which went to the children of son Thomas. The other children had been given loans of various amounts over the years, which were forgiven in the will. It appears that Taylor had previously conveyed portions of the property in the Cook Tract to sons John Jr. and Edward. The will was recorded on May 31, 1779.

Children of John & Sarah Taylor

Even though the Taylors had moved to Kingwood, there is no doubt in my mind that John and Sarah Taylor spent many years living on the Cook Tract in Amwell, if for no other reason than that their children married into neighboring families.

The spouses of these children tell us a lot about who the Taylors were acquainted with in the 18th century. Three children married children of Bartholomew Thatcher. Two children married into the Robins family. One child married into the ubiquitous Stout family. These are the Taylor children and their spouses:12

  1. John Taylor (15 Jul 1720-24 Sep 1805) married about 1744 Elizabeth Thatcher.13
  2. Ann/Nancy Taylor (c.1720-aft 1790) married c.1740 Jeremiah Thatcher
  3. Margaret Taylor (c.1725-c.1810) married c.1743 William Thatcher
  4. Elizabeth Taylor (c.1725-1777), married c.1750 John Robins, Jr.
  5. Edward Taylor (c.1730-aft 1786), married c.1750 Rebecca Stout
  6. Thomas Taylor (c.1730-May 1760), married c.1755 Hannah Robbins

Elizabeth, Jeremiah and William Thatcher were three of the twelve children of Bartholomew and Elizabeth Thatcher of Amwell and then Kingwood Townships. The most likely way the two families came into contact was through St. Thomas’ Episcopalian Church, where the Thatchers and Taylors were members. In fact, John Taylor, Sr., who died in 1779, is buried in the cemetery next to the church. His wife Sarah probably is also, but her stone has not survived. Son John Taylor, Jr. was also buried there, with his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1789.

John Robins (c.1720-1802) was the son of John Robins, Sr. (1694-1777). I have not been able to identify who the parents of Hannah Robbins were, but she had to have been related to the Robins/Robbins family of Buchanan’s Hill.14

In his will dated May 9, 1777, John Taylor of Kingwood named sons John and Edward as executors, along with son-in-law Jeremiah Thatcher, but only Thatcher made an account of the estate, on May 19, 1786, even though both John and Edward were still alive. Oddly enough, his will said nothing about real estate other than the proceeds from sale of his land in Kingwood Township which went to the children of his deceased son Thomas. Although this suggests that Taylor had sold all of his Amwell property before moving to Kingwood, in fact it was left in the hands of his sons John and Edward.

Edward Taylor (c.1730-bef 1786), the fifth child of John Taylor Sr. and wife Sarah, married Rebecca Stout (b.1722, Middletown, Monmouth Co.), the daughter of Freegift Stout and Mary Higgins, who came to Amwell Township in the 1730s and settled on land north of Wertsville. Stout had land to bequeath to each of his six sons in 1763, and money for his daughters, including Rebecca Taylor. Edward seems to have been the only one of John and Sarah’s children to stay behind on the Amwell farm. His brother John had also moved to Kingwood.

One of Edward’s children, son John, born c.1760, got himself into terrible trouble. In 1782, he was sued by Charles Woolverton to recover damages of £500 for the harm done when Taylor raped Woolverton’s daughter Sarah. The court ordered Taylor arrested and bail was set at £250. It is gratifying to know that the court took such cases seriously, but unfortunately, that was only because the case was brought by her father. The wording of the court record shows that in the mid-18th century women were viewed more as property than as persons. Woolverton stated that Taylor was

“to answer for entering his Daughter Sarah Woolverton well knowing her to be the Daughter & Servant of him the said Charles Woolverton, with him the said John to Commit Fornication & for getting her with Child so that the said Charles the service of the said Sarah his Daughter & Servant as well by anasion? of the Carnal knowledge as by onasion? of the Pregnancy . . . for nine Months, altogether last &c as is said.” 15

Apparently the damages were not meant to compensate for harm done to Sarah per se, but for the loss to her father of her work as a servant. But things got worse. Edward Taylor apparently was convinced that his son was a victim rather than a perpetrator. Apparently he broke into Charles Wolverton’s house and beat daughter Sarah up, right after she had given birth to baby Parmelia. That is what he was accused of. The case went to the NJ Supreme Court, but I have not gotten my hands on the court papers.

John Taylor, Jr. seems to have disappeared after this. Sarah and her parents moved to Shamokin, PA; her daughter Parmelia grew up and married Annanais Saxton.

The Moores of Sand Brook

As mentioned above, the Taylor tract was sold in parts after the Taylors moved to Kingwood. In 1760, Jonas Sutton got 110 acres in Delaware Township from the northern half. The Taylor’s sons John and Edward got the remainder. In 1780, Edward Taylor was been taxed on 227 acres. According to a recital in a later deed,16 John and Edward Taylor sold their share of their father’s farm to Henry S. Moore in 1784.

An account of the estate of John Taylor, Sr., father of John and Edward, John Taylor, Sr., was not rendered until May 19, 1786, and the only one signing the document was the third executor, Jeremiah Thatcher. Since it seems likely that Edward Taylor had ‘skipped town,’ it makes sense that he did not participate. He and his son John seem to have disappeared.

Why his brother John did not play a role in the account seems odd. He continued living in Kingwood, and on August 12, 1803 wrote his will, which provided for his son Abel, son-in-law Tunis Eycke, daughters Nancy Slater, Elizabeth Curtis, Susannah Eycke, Leroney Thatcher and Mary Davis; he left his homestead farm to his son Edward. His wife Elizabeth Thatcher had predeceased him in 1789. The couple is buried in the St. Thomas cemetery.

Henry S. Moore, born in 1737, was the son of the immigrants Jacob Moore, Sr. and Amy Moret. Around 1764 he married Mary Groff, daughter of John & Anna Groff. The Moores had nine children from 1765 to 1787. Those children married into the Lawshe, Hoppock, Trout, Rounsavel, Fauss, Sine and Webster families. In 1785, Henry S. Moore witnessed the will of William Taylor, who was the right age to be a son of John Taylor, Sr. and wife Sarah, but was not named as their child in John Taylor’s will of 1777.

Henry Moore was already living in the Sand Brook area when he bought the Taylor property in 1784. He lived on the south side of Britton Road, and probably acquired that lot around 1760, but there is no record of that sale. A later deed provided a description of the property that began at the “arch bridge,” which crossed the Neshanic Creek where an old, no longer public, road ran south from Britton Road.

Because Henry Moore’s sons had all married years before Henry wrote his will in 1815, it is likely he had made provisions for them well before then. In his will dated April 25, 1815, Henry S. Moore ordered that his sons William and Jacob Moore receive the northerly side of “the farm whereon I live adjoining Joseph Moore, Amos Sutton, Wm Sines, and Nickolas Swallow of 96 acres,” they allowing their brother John the rights to a lane 36 links wide.17

To John Moore, Henry left the residue of his farm (being 130 acres), with the proviso that John allow the other sons a lane 36 links wide to Samuel Holcomb’s land, and also that John was to pay the estate $2,133.33. This son, John S. Moore (1773-1848), married Hannah Trout in 1796. She was the daughter of George and Hannah Lequear Trout.

Exactly what the S. stood for in Henry Moore’s name I cannot say. But the name was passed along to his son John, often described as John S. Moore. After his death in 1848, John S. Moore’s executors (William Sergeant & John M. Gray) sold at public vendue several woodlots, as instructed by Moore’s will, and his homestead farm consisting of 113 acres to Jacob C. Johnson of Raritan Township for $2,853.25.18 The description began at the arch bridge on Sand Brook Road, then passed by lands of William Hice, Asher Young, heirs of Philip Elgorden dec’d. It also bordered some of the woodlots that the executors had carved out, plus land of Nicholas Swallow, Jacob Moore, Sr., George N. Holcombe and Hiram Moore.

Most importantly, the deed to Jacob C. Johnson stated that the property was part of the farmstead bequeathed to John Moore, Sr. dec’d (i.e., John S. Moore) by will of Henry Moore, Sr., dec’d on April 15, 1815, and conveyed to the said Henry Moore, Sr. in 1784 from Edward Taylor and wife.

I have not identified Jacob C. Johnson’s parents. But there were many Johnsons living in Amwell by the time of his birth in 1823. I have not identified his wife’s parents either. She was Sarah W. Schamp (1833-1856), and died at age 23 after giving birth to son Daniel Johnson, who died an infant. Johnson married second Catherine Moore around 1857. She was not the daughter of John S. Moore; rather, her parents were Asa Moore and Mary White, who lived on the west side of Sandbrook-Headquarters Road. Jacob and Catherine did not have children.

On April 2, 1855, Jacob C. Johnson and wife Catharine sold half of the John Moore farm (52 acres plus 8-acre woodlot) to William “G.” Moore, the uncle of Johnson’s wife.19

The Philadelphia map of 1860 shows “W. Moore” at the location of John Moore Sr.’s farm. The census of 1860 indicated that William Moore was a 46-year-old farmer, living with wife Martha age 47 (1813)20 and children Angeline 25, Charles W. 21, Mary 18 and Gideon 13. Also in the household were Charles’ wife Mary Ann Fauss 25, Elizabeth Trimmer age 63 (1797), William P. Kise age 23, laborer, and William Dalrymple age 6. Unfortunately, the 1860 census does not give relationships, so it is hard to explain these extra household members, other than Wm. Kise who was clearly working on the farm. There was an Elizabeth Wolverton married to a John Trimmer who died before 1830, but I cannot quite connect the two. And William Dalrymple may have been a child of that name born in 1844 to James Dalrymple, Esq. and wife Margaret Hoff, but why the boy would be moved to a farm near Sand Brook is a mystery.

William H. (or G.) Moore was a deacon of the Baptist Church in Sand Brook. This was the “Mooreite” church, an off-shoot of the much older German Baptist Church. The Sand Brook church was founded in 1848. The church building, which is still standing but without a congregation, was designed with three large chairs behind the altar, one for the founding elder, John P. Moore, and one for each of the deacons—William H. Moore and Jacob Fauss.

On March 1, 1860, William H. Moore and wife Martha sold the farm of 52 acres plus an 8-acre woodlot back to Jacob C. Johnson for $3,000.21 And on the same day, Jacob C. Johnson and wife Catharine sold the exact same property back to Moore for the same amount of money, $3,000.22 I have not figured out yet what was going on between the two.

It may have had something to do with Johnson’s marrying as his second wife Catherine Moore, sister of William H. Moore.23 They married sometime after 1857 because Jacob’s first wife Sarah W. Schamp died on Jan. 10, 1856 (buried at Pleasant Ridge Cem., as were Jacob C. Johnson and Catherine Moore Johnson). And the Johnson family included Catharine in the 1860 census.

But Jacob C. Johnson bought and sold a lot of real estate during the mid-19th century. It is hard to say whether he lived on the Taylor property or elsewhere. In fact, there is no reason to think that William H. Moore lived there either. His father was Gideon Moore, who had bequeathed him his homestead farm on Dunkard Church Road in his will of Feb. 25, 1840.

In 1865, William H. Moore sold 27 acres out of the old Taylor-Moore farm to his son Charles W. Moore for $2800.24 This deed may tell us more about what happened to the remains of the old Taylor farm, but that will have to wait for another time.

William H. Moore wrote his will on December 29, 1865, leaving his wearing apparel to sons Charles W. and Gideon C. Moore. In addition to household goods and furniture and $500, he left his wife the interest from $3500 during her widowhood, in lieu of dower. William H. Moore died on August 3, 1866, age 52 years 3 months and 19 days, and was buried in the Sand Brook Cemetery. His wife Martha died on Nov. 23, 1875 and was buried next to her husband.

After William’s death, his executors sold 118 acres out of his estate to Gideon C. Moore for $10,750. This property was the farm he had inherited from his father Gideon Moore in 1840.25 It was not the old Taylor farm.

William’s son Charles W. Moore was an elder in the Sand Brook Church and superintendent of the Sand Brook Sunday School. He lived at Sand Brook for the whole of his life, but exactly where I cannot at this point say. There were several deeds recorded in which he exchanged property with his siblings Gideon and Angeline, and also with Hiram Moore, John P. Moore and Angeline’s husband Peter Buchanan.

The Taylor family was important to the neighborhood of Sand Brook up until the end of the Revolution. After that, the Moore family was the dominant family in the village, and remained that way well into the mid-19th century.

Footnotes:

  1. To see those articles, click on “Haddon Tract” in the right column under Topics.
  2. The only mention of a John Cook in Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy is from Burlington Monthly Meeting, concerning a John Cooke whose wife Ellen was buried in 1680. No mention was made of a John Cook/Cooke who died in 1698 or earlier, nor of John Cook, Jr. However, there was a John Cook who married Mary Simcock, in the Chester Meeting of Bucks County Friends on March 30, 1688. And a John Cock died in Pennsylvania in 1719, but does not appear to be the West New Jersey landowner.
  3. The survey by Thomas Sharp was recorded on May 3, 1712 in Sharp’s Book B, p. 12. All land transactions for the proprietary period are on file at the N.J. State Archives and available on microfilm.
  4. Surveys, West New Jersey, Sharp’s Book A p. 145.
  5. Recorded in West Jersey Proprietors Deed Book BBB p. 323. I have not gotten a copy of this deed. However, a later deed of 1760, referred to below, contained a lengthy recital explaining the transaction.
  6. N.J. State Archives, Bull’s Surveys, page 44. I have not found a record of a sale of that property, but then I have not researched it either.
  7. H.C. Deed Book 27 p. 175. E. T. Bush mentioned this in his article, “Sand Brook Had a Tavern Close By.” (The article will be published here soon.)
  8. I am not certain of this. The statement came from Family Record of the Descendants of Dr. Edward Taylor to December 1953 by William Shipley Taylor. But when I recently looked for this genealogy at the Hunterdon County Historical Society, I could not find it. There are an abundance of Taylor genealogies but none seem to concern the John Taylor who moved to Amwell Township.
  9. Researching men named John Taylor is no picnic. I should point out that the John Taylor of Hunterdon County described in an article by Henry Race titled “The Two Colonels John Taylor” (The Jerseyan vol. I No. 4, March 1892) concerns a completely different person, from a different Taylor family.
  10. N. J. State Archives, HCLO 1737, No. 44.
  11. NJ State Archives, HCLO 1737 D 90. The loan can also be seen on microfilm at the H.C. Historical Society. Pettit made payments up through 1753.
  12. For an extended family tree of several Taylor families see The Taylor Families.
  13. John Taylor’s birthdate comes from a Godown Genealogy, but it was not sourced. The date does not come from his gravestone, which only gives his death date.
  14. See articles on Daniel & Frances Robins by clicking on the Families page, then Robins.
  15. Minutes Court of Common Pleas, October term 1782, file #30044. Text is very hard to read.
  16. Recital, H. C. Deed Book 94 p. 519.
  17. William Sutton was the youngest child of Jonas Sutton and his firat (unknown) wife. He married his neighbor Mary Robins, daughter of John and Eleanor Robins.
  18. H. C. Deed Book 94 p. 519.
  19. H. C. Deed Book 111 p. 157. Note that the deed index gives the names as Jacob J. Johnson and William H. Moore. Sometimes middle initials are helpful when searching records, but other times, they are frustratingly unreliable.
  20. She was Martha Wolverton, 1811-1875, daughter of Job Wolverton and Anna Housel.
  21. H. C. Deed Book 121 p. 680.
  22. H. C. Deed Book 121 p. 683.
  23. The marriage was not listed in Deats Marriages of Hunterdon County.
  24. H.C. Deed Book 132-050.
  25. H. C. Deed Book 140-531.