Quite some time ago, I wrote an article called “Going-Going- Gone” about houses that are disappearing or have disappeared. One of them was a mystery to me. But finally I have figured out who it belonged to.
The photograph I used was provided by Paul Kurzenberger, who told me the house was at the corner of Route 523 and Cemetery Road. At the time, I was preoccupied with other places and did not pursue it. After all, as Paul told me, the house was torn down many years ago. And today the only house on that corner is a modern one.
But now after spending a few weeks learning about the old residents of Sandy Ridge, it seemed the time had come to study this long-gone house.
The first place I always look when studying an old property is the Cornell Map of 1851. It shows a “J. Lawshe” at that location. Then checking my database for J. Lawshe’s (most of them did not live in Delaware Township), I concluded this must have been Jacob Lawshe and his wife Hannah VanSyckle.
Jacob and Hannah Lawshe
According the Lawshe Family Bible,1 Jacob Lawshe was born June 17, 1767 to Abraham Lawshe and Margaret Bechleshammer of Amwell, more specifically the part of Delaware Township between Sergeantsville and Headquarters. Jacob and his brothers Henry and Abraham were named executors of their father’s estate in his will of March 30, 1813, proved on Dec. 20, 1819.2
On Nov. 20, 1790, Jacob Lawshe married Hannah VanSyckle. She was born on March 19, 1778, the daughter of Rynear Vansyckle and Rebecca Furman of Hopewell Twp.3
Jacob Lawshe first appeared in Hunterdon real estate records in 1793 when he bought a lot of 27.5 acres from Paul and Anna Kels in Alexandria Township. It had been part of the John Stevens tract that was divided up into smaller lots after his death. In 1804, Lawshe bought a tract of 61 acres from his sister Anna and her husband Abraham Moore, also in Alexandria Township.
Jacob and Hannah remained in Alexandria Twp. while raising their five children. They were:
1) John (1791-1819) m. Charity Lanning
2) Sarah (1793-1887), unmarried
3) Abraham (1794-1884), m. Sarah Garrison
4) Henry (1798-1872) m. Sarah Hoff Carter
5) Rebecca (1800-1802), died an infant
By 1834, after their children had grown, Jacob and Hannah were ready to move to Amwell (soon to be Delaware) Township.
On April 30, 1834, John and Hester Hunt of Amwell Township sold to “Jacob Lawshe of same (late of Alexandria),” for $1200, a lot of 8 acres, 1 rood, 22 perches bordering the great road from Sergeantsville to Centre Bridge. The lot also bordered land of Charles Sergeant dec’d, Andrew Larason, Job Wolverton and Richard Godown.4 The deed stated that this lot was the same parcel of land that the said John Hunt purchased from Gershom Lambert on August 30, 1814.
The Lawshes were certainly not young by then, Jacob being 67 years old and Hannah being 56. They had decided to spend their later years in the place where Jacob had been born and spent his childhood. Their unmarried daughter Sarah came with them, and their son Henry did also, purchasing several properties in Delaware Township.5
The property that Jacob and Hannah Lawshe purchased was not large, but was probably a good size for someone who was not a farmer. Jacob Lawshe had taken up weaving as an occupation, so a smaller lot made sense for them.
Later on in 1834, Jacob Lawshe added a lot of 4.37 acres to his holdings, being one of the many woodlots sold out of the land of Charles Sergeant, dec’d. Lawshe bought it from a middle man, John R. Dill of Trenton, and paid $227.24 for it.6 This would have been directly across Route 523 from the Lawshe’s home lot.
What I love about researching old properties is discovering how they came about. The 8.5-acre lot owned by Jacob Lawshe was once part of a much bigger property with an interesting history, one that I’ve written about before. But first, let’s see how the 8.5-acre lot got created.
As the deed to Jacob Lawshe stated, John Hunt purchased the lot from Gershom Lambert on August 30, 1814.7
John & Hester Hunt
John P. Hunt was born on June 21, 1787, to Samuel Hunt (1755-1825) and Mary Reeder (1852-1839). On July 10, 1814, he married Esther (Hester) Dilts, born June 12, 1794 to William Dilts and Catharine Holcombe. They had nine children from 1815 to 1851, but it appears that only four of them lived to middle age.
This deed of 1814 in which John Hunt bought an 8+-acre lot from Gershom Lambert was the earliest recorded for him in Hunterdon County, but certainly not the last. Considering that John and Esther lived on the 8+ acres for about 20 years, and were raising six of their nine children, it seems likely that they were the ones who built the original house.
John and Hester Hunt sold the lot to Jacob Lawshe in 1834, but for some reason, waited until 1838 to purchase another property, this one from the heirs of Henry Vandolah, dec’d, a 20-acre lot in the heart of Sandy Ridge.8 John P. Hunt died on October 28, 1860, at the age of 73 years 3 months and 23 days. His wife survived him, dying in October 1897. Both were buried in Sandy Ridge cemetery.
Going back another step, let’s look at Gershom Lambert, who sold the 8+ acres to John Hunt. The deed to Hunt stated that the lot was part of a larger tract.
What was this larger tract? And who was Gershom Lambert?
Gershom Lambert and Rebecca Hunt
Gershom Lambert was born in 1759 to Gershom Lambert Sr. and Sarah Merriam, the first Lamberts to live in Amwell Township. His brother was Senator John Lambert. Gershom, Jr. married Rebecca Hunt about 1785. Rebecca was the daughter of John Hunt and Mary Carpenter of Hopewell. It seems quite a coincidence that the purchaser was also a Hunt, but apparently Rebecca and John were not related.
As far as I know, Gershom and Rebecca had only one child, a son Daniel, who married Mary ‘Polly’ Sharp (1780-1832), daughter of Robert Sharp and Rachel Ent. Following the War of 1812, this family, like so many others, moved west to Pennsylvania.
The Lambert family (Gershom, Sr. and sons John, Joseph and Gershom Jr.) were significant property owners in 18th-century Amwell Township.9 Among their many properties in 1790 was a tract of 179 acres improved and 35 unimproved owned by “Wilson & Lambert” who paid taxes on it that year, along with 4 horses and 5 cattle. This appears to have been the property that Gershom Lambert acquired in 1788 from the estate of George Wilson, deceased.
On April 15, 1788, the executors of George Wilson’s estate sold a tract of 159 acres to Gershom Lambert for £7220.127.116.11 This property bordered the Wickecheoke Creek, Benjamin Howell, Peter Bodine, Daniel Ent, the road to Howell’s ferry, Abraham Larew, Richard Green, Shoppons Run, and Albertus Ringo. It included the 8.5-acre lot later sold to John Hunt and then to Jacob Lawshe.
We usually do not find deeds from 1788 recorded with the Hunterdon County Clerk, but it does happen when the buyer is slow to record the deed, as is the case with this one, which was not recorded until 1820! –long after George Wilson died.
This deed from Wilson’s executors to Gershom Lambert included a very fascinating recital. It stated that John Wright was in possession of a tract of 147 acres which had been conveyed to him by Joseph Howell of Kingwood. John Wright died after writing a will in 1727 that ordered his executors to sell his property. His son John Wright, Jr. conveyed the farm on June 15, 1750, to a neighbor, Benjamin Severns, who owned a large property on the east side of Route 523. Severns was not interested in owning this land, especially since by this time he was living in Sussex County, so on February 13, 1750 he sold it to George Wilson (the name was also written Willson).
You may notice the oddity of Feb. 13, 1750 appearing to come after June 15, 1750. That is because in the middle 18th-century, the New Year did not start on January 1st; it started on March 25th, so February was the end of the year until 1752, when the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar, abandoning the old Julian calendar, also known as New Style v. Old Style.
At about the same time that George Wilson bought his 159 acres, another John Lambert (uncle of Gershom, Sr.) sold a tract of 410 acres to Valentine Ent. George Wilson was named as a bordering landowner, meaning Wilson and Ent were contemporaries.
This is not the first time I have written about this deed and its wonderful recital. In 2015, in the article “Recital: From Reading to Larison,” I transcribed the entire recital, and then assiduously described all the owners mentioned in it. It shows a clear line from Jacob and Hannah Lawshe’s small lot all the way back to John & Orca Wright, and before them, to the Howells and John Reading ( See also “The Howell House” and “Rittenhouse Cemetery, part one.” Also “A House Divided.”) In other words, all the way back to the beginning of European settlement in this area.
George Willson of Amwell wrote his will on May 1, 1779 in which he ordered that after the death of his wife Mary, his plantation was to be sold by his executors, and the proceeds divided among his children: Daniel, John, George, Samuel, Ann, Mary, Elizabeth and Eleanor. His executors were originally his sons Daniel, John and George Wilson, but in March 1787, George, Sr. named Joseph Hart to replace his son John Wilson as executor, as John had moved to Ohio. George Wilson died in late March or early April of 1787.
As mentioned in my previous article (“Recital: From Reading to Larison”), after the end of the War of 1812, Gershom Lambert got restless and decided to move to Pennsylvania. Perhaps he and wife Rebecca were just mulling over the possibility in 1814 when they sold off a lot containing 8 acres, 1 rood, and 22 perches to John Hunt. But they were definitely decided by May 1, 1815 when they sold the rest of their plantation to Isaac Skillman for $10,440.11 The property was described as a tract of 175 acres bordering the Wickecheoke Creek, Jacob Howell, Peter Bodine, Charles Ent, the road to Howell’s Ferry, John Ent, Shoppons Run, and land formerly belonging to Albertus Ringo. It also included a 4.5-acre lot on the Wickecheoke. Odd that it made no mention of the smaller lot recently sold to John Hunt.
Isaac Skillman paid quite a high price for his 175 acres. Too high, as it turned out. Although Skillman got several mortgages, he failed to meet the payments, was sued and lost the property. It was sold by the Sheriff to Andrew Larason in 1822, the sale excepting out a lot of 8.5 acres sold to John Hunt.12 For many years thereafter the property was owned by members of the Larison/Larason family.
Back to the Lawshes
As mentioned before, the Lawshes purchased this little lot late in their lives, and Jacob earned his living as a weaver. After buying the lot from the Hunts, they purchased a couple woodlots out of the Charles Sergeant tract across the road.
Then on March 28, 1857, when Jacob was 90 years old and his wife Hannah was 79, they sold their home to Lemuel Higgins for $1,310.13
Where did they go after that? They were still living in Delaware Township in 1860 when the census was taken. At that time, Jacob Lawshe was an impressive 93 years old and wife Hannah was 88, with personal property worth $3,000, but not owning any real estate. Because they were listed as living in their own household, we know they were not living with children or other caretakers. But listed next to them was their son Henry Lawshe, a 62-year-old farmer living with wife Sarah 63. All of Henry and Sarah’s six children had moved away from Delaware Township except for daughter Hannah Vansyckle Lawshe (1829-1917) who married John Carr Dilts (1824-1901) in 1848.
Jacob Lawshe lived to the remarkable age (for the 19th century) of 99. He died on November 28, 1865. His wife Hannah had predeceased him, dying on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1861, at the age of 83. The couple were buried in the Lower Amwell Old Yard, next to the German Baptist Church on Sandbrook Headquarters Road. Of the Lawshe’s five children, three also lived to old age. Son Henry was 74 when he died in 1872. Son Abraham lived to 89 and died in Quakertown in 1884. Daughter Sarah, who never married, died on November 9, 1887, age 94, and was buried next to her parents. Their son John died quite young in 1819, age 28, and daughter Rebecah, their last child, was only two years old when she died in 1802.
Lemuel Higgins & Mary Jane Gaddis
Lemuel Higgins, who bought the 8.5-acre lot from Jacob and Hannah Lawshe in 1857, was born March 17, 1835 to Nicholas B. Higgins and Hannah Hill. Hannah died in 1846 when she was 57. She had 15 children, from about 1810 to 1839, but two of them died as children, and another six died in their 20’s. When Lemuel Higgins’ father Nicholas died in 1851, age 63, only five of the children were still living.
Nicholas B. Higgins died without writing a will. Because there was not enough cash on hand to pay his debts, the court ordered his real estate to be sold. N. B. Higgins had bought and sold quite a lot of property during his life, and in 1852, quite a number of sales were made of the real estate he still owned. Lemuel got none of it.
In 1854, Lemuel Higgins married Mary Jane Gaddis, born March 8, 1835 to George W. Gaddis and Lorania Reading. (I mentioned George Gaddis recently in my article on Peter Jackson, “Sandy Ridge, part five.”) Lemuel and Mary Jane had five children, but the only one I have good information on is their son Lewis L. Higgins (1864-1948) who married Annie J. Trimmer and lived in Sergeantsville.
Apparently, the Lawshe lot was not to the Higgins’ liking. Only three years later, on April 2, 1860, they sold it to Adam Williamson for $1,525. It was described as a lot of 8 acres 1 rood 22 perches, bordering the great road from Sergeantsville to Centre Bridge (today’s Route 523) at an angle in the line of Joshua Primmer’s land, also bordering Benjamin Larison and the public road from Green Sergeant’s Mills (now Covered Bridge Road), land of Job Wolverton, and William Nailer (Naylor).14
Adam & Eleanor Williamson & Amy Williamson
According to Williamson family researchers, Adam Williamson (1786-1868) was the son of Peter Williamson & Catherine Broach of Somerset County. He may have been related to the Williamson family that had settled in Amwell Township as early as 1735 through his grandfather Dirck Williamson.
In 1806, Adam married Eleanor Williamson (1781-1867), the daughter of Abraham Williamson & Frances Housel. Abraham and Frances had moved to Amwell as early as 1780 when they were taxed on a farm of 208 acres. Eleanor was also a grandchild of Dirck Williamson, making Adam and Eleanor first cousins.15
There may have been another family connection. Adam’s brother Abraham Williamson (1773-1854) lived at Raven Rock and married Margaret Wood (1776-1845) in 1800. Eleanor also had a brother Abraham (1783-1851) who married Elizabeth Rittenhouse (1802-1862), daughter of Moses Rittenhouse and Sarah Wood, and lived in Kingwood Township. But finding a relationship between Sarah and Margaret Wood is presently not possible due to a dearth of records for the early Wood family.
Adam Williamson was active in the Kingwood Baptist Church, to the extent of being licensed to preach there. He owned property in Kingwood and Amwell Townships, and from 1835 to 1840, was a member of the Delaware Twp. Committee. In the census of 1860, he was identified as a Gentleman.
Considering how much property Adam Williamson owned, it is surprising that he would purchase this 8.5-acre lot. But he may have had a purpose—estate planning. In 1860, Adam was 74 and wife Eleanor was 79, while their daughter Amy, who was living with them and never married, was 41. Following the death of his wife Eleanor in 1867, Adam Williamson wrote his will in which he left “to daughter Amy a lot on which I now live to be hers at my death plus all my personal property except one cow to Martha C. Williamson.”
Oddly enough, the map of Philadelphia and Environs of 1860 showed “Miss A. Williamson” at the Lawshe lot. Perhaps the mapmakers considered Amy already the head of household. She was still there for the Beers Atlas of 1873, following the death of Adam Williamson in 1868. Curiously, the Beers Atlas seems to show two houses on the property.16
Williamson to Bowne
Despite the lack of evidence from the census records, I feel quite certain that Amy Williamson remained at the old Hunt-Lawshe house until 1890 when she was about 72 years old. On September 31st of that year, as a resident of Delaware Township, she sold the lot, now described as 8.39 acres, to Bartolette E. Bowne, also of Delaware, for $1,000.17 The lot’s description closely matched that used in previous sales; it bordered the road from Sergeantsville to Stockton at an angle in the line of land formerly Joshua Primmer’s (now William Ledger), John Larison, the road to Sergeant’s Mill, Ezekiel L. Higgins, and land formerly William Naylor’s. The deed’s recital claimed it was the same lot sold to Adam Williamson by Lemuel L. Higgins on April 2, 1860, and bequeathed to Amy Williamson by her father Adam Williamson’s will. At the time of the sale, a mortgage for $500 was held by George Arnwine, which was to be paid by Bowne.
On the same day, Bowne and wife Rachel conveyed to Amy Williamson a lot in the village of Brookville for the same $1,000.18 But according to the recital in the deed to Amy Williamson, the Bowne’s never spent time on the Brookville property; they had purchased the lot from Hiram Deats only one week previously.
Bartolette E. Bowne and Sarah Cronce
Bartolette E. Bowne (1836-1913) was the son of John Deats Bowne (1792-1860) and Sarah Cronce (1802-1881) of Cherryville, Franklin Township. He was the youngest of ten children.19 On January 12, 1858, Bartolette Bowne married Rachel M. Alward of Warren in Somerset County, the daughter of Daniel Alward and Mary Ann Miller.
Prior to coming to Delaware Township when they were in their 50s, Bowne and his wife were living in Elizabeth, NJ and in Ocean Twp. in Monmouth County. Their daughter Sarah married William H. Rainear in 1878 in Elizabeth, and their other daughter Mary Elizabeth married John H. Carroll in 1884 in Long Branch, Monmouth County. But Mary Bowne Carroll died shortly afterwards, in 1887 when she was only 23, and was buried in the Sandy Ridge Cemetery in Delaware Township.20
In the five census records that Bartolette Bowne was listed in, his occupations were wheelwright, carpenter and farmer. Never once was he identified as a minister. But in 1905, when he and Cyrus Van Dolah circulated a petition for a free mail delivery route from Stockton to Oak Dale [Bowne Station] and Grover [Headquarters], he was “The Rev. Bartolette E. Bowne.”
Rev. Bowne was clearly named after the esteemed first minister to the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, Rev. Charles Bartolette (See “Sandy Ridge Church”). And he followed in his namesake’s footsteps, taking up the task of ministering to local churches. However, he never seems to have been the pastor of any single church, and was very catholic, to use the expression, about what churches he preached in. He was mentioned frequently in the local page of the Trenton Evening Times, which reported that Rev. Bowne preached in the Locktown Christian Church, the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Churches [none specified], and the Sergeantsville Methodist Episcopal Church.
Mrs. Bowne was also active in local causes. On May 12, 1906 it was reported that she and “Mrs. A. Wert Abbott attended the W. C. T. U. Convention at New Hampton last week.” That would be the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
There were many entries in the Times about visits to the Bowne’s by their son John D. Bowne of Manunka Chunk, as well as their daughter Sarah Emma Rainear of Elizabeth, NJ. In these notices, the Bowne home was often identified as “Valley View,” which is curious since there is no noticeable valley where the Lawshe lot is located.
Perhaps the most noteworthy item about Rev. and Mrs. Bowne in the Trenton Evening Times was this entry on January 11, 1908:
BOWNES CELEBRATE GOLDEN WEDDING. Special to the Times. The home of the Rev. and Mrs. Bartolette E. Bowne was the scene of a pretty gathering yesterday when they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. The house was beautifully decorated with flowers. A dinner was served in the spacious dining room at 1 o’clock.
Dr. Bowne is one of the oldest residents of this township and has resided in his present home the past 19 years. In the year 1858 he was married to Miss Rachel Alward. Three children were born to them. John E. [sic] Bowne of Manunka Chunk, Mrs William Rainer of Elizabeth, and one daughter deceased. Four generations were present at the anniversary.
Among the guests were the Rev. and Mrs. Bartolette E. Bowne [guests?], Mr and Mrs William Ranier, Mr and Mrs Warner and son Bartolette of Elizabeth, Mr and Mrs John E. Bowne and family of Manunka Chunk, Mr and Mrs J. E. Ridge, William Bowne of Lambertville, Wilson H. Bowne of Sandy [Ridge], William Bowne of Flemington, Mr and Mrs Frank Fisher and family, Mr and Mrs Hawley W. Crum, Mr and Mrs Mahlon Corson, Mr and Mrs Lambert Moore, Mr and Mrs N. B. Rittenouse, the Rev. and Mrs James Leggett and family.
Perhaps all this information compensates for the fact that when Rev. Bowne sold his house on Route 523, his buyer failed to record the deed. The Times comes to the rescue, by reporting on July 23, 1910, that
“Bartolette E. Bowne has sold his house and lot containing 12 acres and located midway between this place [Stockton] and Sergeantsville to William Stryker. Mr. and Mrs. Bowne will remove to Washington, NJ.”
Bartolette’s brother George W. Bowne was living there. The brothers appear to have decided to share their old age together.
Not only did William Stryker fail to record his deed, he failed to make himself noteworthy in any other way. I could find no biographical information about him. It seem likely that he was the one who abandoned the house. It is sad think of the house “beautifully decorated with flowers” in 1908 for the Bowne’s anniversary and then left to crumble into a ruin.
- Hunterdon County Historical Society Bible Collection. ↩
- I have made an attempt at a Lawshe family tree, but you will see there that I could use a lot more information about them ↩
- In his will dated April 8, 1823, Rynear Vansyckle named his daughter Hannah “Lashley.” ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 57 p. 634. ↩
- Henry Lawshe (1798-1872) married Sarah Hoff Carter (1796-1868), daughter of Henry Carter and Thisbe Calvin of Bethlehem Township. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 61 p. 458. ↩
- HC. Deed Book 30 p. 414. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 57 p. 634. ↩
- Note: Gershom & John’s sister was Jerusha, who married Peter Taylor, and was buried in a small cemetery which I will discuss in a forthcoming article. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 23 p. 305. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 24 p. 446. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 35 p. 444. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 119-205. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 123 p.65. ↩
- However, one of their descendants discovered through DNA testing that Adam and Eleanor may not have been directly related, except of course by marriage. More research is needed to determine why this would be. ↩
- The Beers map also shows an “R. Williamson” further up Covered Bridge Road, with a house near the road and another one further back. I have so far not been able to identify who that R. Williamson was. The deed index for Hunterdon County did not seem to list anyone who qualified. And speaking of frustrations, I was unable to find Amy Williamson in the census records of 1870 and 1880, which seems very odd. And finally, a caution—Amy Williamson is not to be confused with Amy Rittenhouse (c.1848-after 1880), the daughter of Wilson & Ury Ent Rittenhouse, who married William H. Williamson in 1882. Searching records, one often comes across this other Amy Williamson. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 228 p. 88. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 228 p. 71. ↩
- I have not found a direct relationship between Bartolette E. Bowne and Dr. John Bowne (1767-1857) of Bowne Station, but not doubt they shared an ancestor who lived in Monmouth County, NJ. ↩
- A side note: John H. Carroll, the widower, was difficult to track down. I thought he might be connected with the family of Daniel Carrel & Elizabeth Arnwine, but have not been able to find a link. I did find a most interesting entry for him in the 1910 census for Lambertville, NJ. He was 49 years old (born about 1861 in Pennsylvania), a widower, living on a canal boat where he made his living as a boatman. However, his father was born in Ireland and his mother in Pennsylvania, so he probably was not connected with the Delaware Twp. Carrell’s after all. ↩