I have written a few articles recently concerning the neighborhood of Bowne Station (“The Daybooks of Dr. Bowne,” “The Bowne Homestead,” “Bowne Station” and “The Bosenbury and Taylor Graveyards”), and have frequently come across references to the first settlers in that area, one Jacob Moore and his wife, Apolonia Amy Moret. Just when I thought I had published all articles by Egbert T. Bush and Jonathan M. Hoppock pertaining to the early history of the Moore family in Amwell, another one turned up. Actually, two articles, “Old Farms in Old Hunterdon” and “Farewell Relic of Another Age.”
There are two farms being discussed by Mr. Bush in the “Old Farms” article, one belonging to those original Moores, and the other to their neighbors, the Haines. Since both families are very ancient, I am obliged to divide Mr. Bush’s article in half and treat of the Moore family first.
Little is known of the first generation other than what has been passed along by family tradition. Trying to connect that tradition with the few documented facts that can be found is not easy. To help me out I have this article by Egbert T. Bush. Here is part one (really the second half) of
Old Farms In Old Hunterdon
Haines and Moore Places in the Families For Generations
The Last of the Indians
by Egbert T. Bush, Stockton, N.J.
published April 9, 1931 in the Hunterdon County Democrat
The Moore Homestead
Leaving this farm [the Haines farm], we go to an adjoining property, with buildings a half mile to the southwest, along the improved road from Ringoes Station through Headquarters to Sergeantsville [Route 604, Rosemont-Ringoes Road]. Through later generations, this has been known as the Wagner farm; but long before it took that name, it was the old Jacob Moore homestead.
Here we have the statement that I had been relying on for the past few weeks—that Jacob Moore’s homestead farm was located on the Wagner farm, not on the farm of Dr. John Bowne. Apparently both properties were once part of the original Moore plantation, but most likely purchased in separate parcels.
The present owners—the Misses Katherine and Rhoda Wagner—do not know exactly when their distant ancestor, Joseph [sic, should be Jacob] Moore, first came to this place. They know that it was between 1700 and 1705; in order to avoid claiming too much, they call it 1705.
What a shame they did not share with Mr. Bush exactly how they knew that Moore arrived between 1700 and 1705. That is an extremely early (though not impossible) date for this part of Amwell Township.
As the Cornell Map of 1851 shows, “A. K. Wagner,” in the center of the map, had a home on the road from Ringoes to Headquarters, close to the creek. There is some reason to think there were actually two houses on the property in 1851, given the architecture of the remaining house.
Katherine, known as Kate, and Rhoda Wagner were the daughters of Franklin Pierce Wagner and Sybilla Bodine Reading. Katherine was born on May 23, 1874 and Rhoda on June 12, 1879. They had a brother, Albertus King Wagner (known as Albert or Bert, and named after his grandfather), who was born on September 20, 1875. Franklin Pierce Wagner was born September 4, 1852 to Albertus K. Wagner and Rhoda Moore. Rhoda Moore was the daughter of David Moore, granddaughter of Daniel Moore, and great-granddaughter of the original Jacob and Amy Moore.
Kate and Rhoda Wagner were living on the Wagner farm when Mr. Bush interviewed them. But I was a little confused about what house they lived in. And also what Township. I was not able to locate them in either the 1920 or 1930 census records. In 1880, the sisters were living with their father, Frank Wagner and his sister Emma in Delaware Township. Frank’s wife, Sybilla, died in 1880 at the tragically young age of 28. She was born in 1852 to Samuel Wolverton Reading and Catherine H. Bodine and was buried in the Sand Brook cemetery.1
Twenty years later, in 1900, Frank Wagner, a widower, was living in East Amwell with his sister Emma and his daughters Kate (age 27) and Rhoda (age 20). In 1910, Rhoda was still at home with her father, but Kate is nowhere to be found.
In 1940, Katherine Wagner was 67 and living in East Amwell. She was a farmer and head of household, living with her sister Rhoda, age 60, also a farmer. Living with them was their brother, Albert Wagner, age 76, and apparently unable to work. Actually, the age of 76 is incorrect; he would have been about 65 in 1940. Why there would be a ten-year difference is a mystery to me. According to the census, Kate, Albert and Rhoda were all living in the same house in 1935, which suggests they might also have been living there in 1931 when Mr. Bush came to visit.
But did the family move from Delaware Township to East Amwell between 1880 and 1900? No—the township moved instead. As you can see from the 1851 map above, the Wagner farm was originally part of Delaware Township, which extended all the way to Ringoes. But in 1897 the border between Delaware and East Amwell was changed, putting the Wagner house into East Amwell. (A discussion of how that border was created will have to wait until I publish an article on the Haines family. Please note that the tax map below has been modified by me.)
The history of this early Jacob Moore, though largely traditional, is certainly interesting. As a young unmarried man, he came from Norden, in the province of Westphalia, Germany, and landed at New York. But Jacob wanted room. Through some intuition or influence or combination of circumstances, he found his way to this vicinity and secured a grant of land. Then he preceeded [sic] to erect a log cabin on the site of the old house which is still standing here, an interesting relic of Colonial days. Tradition says that, while engaged in this work, Jacob lived chiefly in an immense hollow tree—probably supplemented by such additional protection as could be hastily made above and about the opening in its side. Here he lived and flourished while hacking and hewing his future habitation out of the surrounding forest. And here, no doubt, he dreamed such dreams as youth and health and energy will indulge concerning what the future may have in store.
A German Wife
But Jacob, wise young pioneer, determined that he would not leave all to future chance or accident. When the cabin was completed, he turned scornfully from it and went back to New York.
Longing for its greater conveniences and opportunities? Not exactly. His mind was not on New York or what it might become, but rather on two rosy cheeks. He accomplished his errand by marrying a German girl who had come over in the same vessel with him, and who had doubtless been his inspiration through weary days and howling nights, while the cabin was slowly taking shape and form for her welcome. Back he hurried with his bride, to the house of his own creation, there to find the numerous family of Moores who have since spread far and wide throughout the country.
I would like to observe here that Mr. Bush was also a poet, and sometimes his poetical inclinations carried him away. He reads an awful lot into the actions of a person he never met, who never wrote down his feelings about settling in a wilderness or marrying a German girl. But then, Moore would have to have been quite a stoic if he did not experience some of the feelings Mr. Bush describes.
As for that “grant of land” that Moore is supposed to have gotten, it was almost certainly a purchase of acreage from the first proprietary owner, one John Dennis. The original farm can be seen on the Hammond Map. It was surveyed for Dennis in 1712 and 1714.2
Jacob Moore may have also acquired some of the property just to the east of the Dennis tract, surveyed for William Petty.3 John Dennis of Newtown, Gloucester County wrote his will on December 28, 1712 and it was proved (recorded) the same month. The abstract of his will makes a reference to real estate but does not itemize it. Presumably the property in Amwell was surveyed for him or his heirs, who would have been the ones to convey it to Jacob Moore. The will names daughter Rebecca but no other children; it also named brother William Dennis. Executors were William Alberson and Simon Breach, brothers-in law.
There were two early Dennis families in New Jersey—one in West New Jersey (Gloucester County) and the other in East Jersey (Monmouth County). I think it is safe to say that the John Dennis who had land surveyed in Amwell Township was the one from Gloucester County. Sadly, the deeds indexed in “Colonial Conveyances” do not show any sale by Dennis to Jacob Moore or to Hendrick Weaver.
Researchers into the Moore family have discovered that Johannes Jacob Mohr was born on July 28, 1686 in Obernhof, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. His wife, Apolonia Moret , was born in “High Germany.” They were married on September 24, 1719 in New York City, I presume in a reformed or Baptist church.4
This is quite a few years after 1705. It certainly calls that earlier date into question. Also, their first child, Jacob Moore, Jr., was born on February 23, 1723,5 which suggests perhaps the first children died as infants. Or, Jacob Moore left his wife in New York for a few years while he cleared land in Amwell and built his famous log house.
As the young couple prospered and their need for more house room increased, they kept adding to the cabin. Their descendants added other parts by making small additions until Daniel Moore, evidently a grandson of the pioneer, put on the finishing touches at the westerly end of the quaint old structure. The later additions are of stone, but unfortunately there is nothing by which to fix the exact date of adding any part. But it is known that the work of the pioneer largely remains, to give additional interest to the whole.
Daniel Moore was, in fact, a son of Jacob and Amy Moore, not a grandson. He was born April 20, 1729, and died December 30, 1807, age 78 years and 8 months. He was buried in the Moore Family Burying Ground.
The house that Mr. Bush is describing is no longer standing and should not be confused with the second house on this property, the handsome white farmhouse up on the hill above the old stone ice house, at the corner of Haines Road and the Ringoes-Rosemont Road (shown in an early photograph above). How wonderful it would be to explore that old mansion house of Jacob Moore and his descendants, but such is not to be, as will be seen in the next article by Mr. Bush, “Farewell Relic of Another Age.” The following paragraph is rather heart-breaking.
An Ancient Dwelling
This is certainly one of the oldest dwellings and probably the oldest, to be found anywhere in this community. As a relic of the earliest days of civilization here, it should be—and probably will be—preserved for future generations to enjoy. The roof is well preserved, and the walls are staunch. The overhead beams are still sound. The quaint little windows and the doors, with old-time hinges, are worthy of attention. One door has about the finest specimens of the old-time blacksmith’s artistry in making hinges, that the writer has ever seen.
We are told by the family history that Daniel Moore built a schoolhouse here, not far from his farm buildings, and that he personally hired a teacher to give instruction to his numerous children and to such others as might be sent in to reduce expenses. This is said to have been the first school hereabout, and to be the original of the Moore School, now located a quarter of a mile up the road toward Headquarters. Conkling’s History of the Schools of Hunterdon County does not mention the house built by Daniel Moore, but does tell of a later one farther down, in which two teachers are named—Cyrus Van Dolah and “Rhoda Wagner, widow of Albertus K. Wagner.” It also says that the present house was built in 1866, and that the trustees at the time of writing (1876) were Gideon Moore, Joseph Haines and James P. Fulper, and that the teacher was Emma Wagner.
Note that Rhoda Wagner was the grandmother of Kate & Rhoda Wagner. Also that Emma Wagner was their aunt (sister of Frank P. Wagner), and that Joseph Haines was their neighbor.6
The Last Indian
Albertus King Wagner married Rhoda, daughter of Daniel Moore and sister of Hiram Moore, who owned the grist mill at Sand Brook, two and a half miles due north from the Moore homestead. Katherine Wagner, granddaughter of Rhoda, says: “Grandma Wagner could remember the last Indian—‘Old Indian Mary.’ She was buried over in our woods.” Think of that!
No kindred near, no kindred far—
Not one of all her race—
To note her death, or ever know
Her lonely resting place.
The children of Daniel Moore, grandson of the pioneer, [once again, no—Daniel Moore (1729-1807) was the son of the pioneer] are recorded as follows: By his first wife, Catherine Stout—Elizabeth, Abraham, Rebecca, Daniel, Jacob, Catharine, Susannah, John and Esther; by his second wife, Elizabeth Rowser—Gideon, Hannah, Mary, David, Solomon, Sarah, Judith, Isaac, Rhoda, Ann and Agnes. Just twenty of them, as tradition correctly has them.
The oldest deed among the interesting old papers held by the Wagner Sisters, bears date of May 1, 1734. By this deed, Jacob Moore conveyed a part of his holdings to John Noss, [sic—should be Naas] a preacher of the German Baptist persuasion. Rev. John Noss died, and his son Jacob William Noss, a physicion [sic] then practicing here, conveyed the lands back to Jacob Moore by deed dated Sept. 1, 1755.
I looked through the Haines-Moore Papers (Collection 21) at the Hunterdon County Historical Society to see if that deed of 1734 might be there; it was not, nor was it with the Society’s unrecorded manuscript deeds. Nor were there any other early land records pertaining to the Moore family. As it turns out, Rhoda Wagner had it in her possession and when she wrote her will in 1971 she left the deed, along with $1,000 for preservation of the Moore Family Cemetery, to the Amwell Church of the Brethren. Somehow, the deed has been lost. It is thought that the deed might have come into the hands of Bert German, old-time storekeeper at Headquarters. But Bert died long ago, and the whereabouts of the deed remains a mystery.7
Probably the earliest record of Jacob Moore, Sr. is dated July 8, 1730 when he was naturalized.8 By that time, Moore was well established in his Amwell home. His first four children had been born (Jacob 1723, Susannah about 1725, Daniel 1729, and Peter about 1730). Jacob and Amy Moore would have at least five more children, the last being born around 1740.
The First German Preacher
Rev. Jacob Noss [sic, should be Naas], who died during or before 1755, is said to have been the first German Baptist preacher in this vicinity. But if he ever had charge of a church, the records have not been found. He died at least 56 years before Israel Poulson conveyed the lot for the “Lower Church,” whose history is known. Still, the prevalence of that faith here in the earlier days led the writer long ago to believe that there was some such organization in the vicinity, whether owning a house of worship or not. As a rule, a denomination without organization or leadership, gradually fades out of a community. This one throve instead of fading.
A history of the German Baptist Church, also known as the Amwell Church of the Brethren, or the Dunkard Church, was written by James Buchanan and published in the March 11, 1896 issue of the Hunterdon Republican. It states that the church met in private homes, where German was spoken, up until the pastorship of Rev. Israel Poulson, who not only provided the lot for a church building in 1811, but persuaded the congregation to hold their services in English. I will certainly be writing of this church in the future. One matter of particular interest is the date of the Baptists’ arrival in America. Buchanan wrote that some of the members of this church came in 1719, and others, including the church’s leader, Rev. Alexander Mack, in 1729. The Baptists who arrived in 1719 were followers of Peter Becker, and they settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The Rittenhouse family had also settled there as did Rev. Mack and his followers.9
In an attempt to persuade Rev. John Naas to settle in Amwell, Jacob Moore sold him 25 acres in 1734 for £24, according to the church’s history. This may very well be the deed referred to above, once owned by Rhoda Wagner. It would be especially valuable if it included a recital explaining how Jacob Moore acquired his property.
If Jacob Moore married in 1719 in New York, it’s not likely he was building a log house in 1700 or 1705. He probably came to Amwell with other German Baptists. By the 1730s it is believed he had built himself a four-story house where he raised a very large family, and hosted the first meetings of the Amwell Church of the Brethren.10 But although he had been naturalized in 1730, he abstained from politics; his name is missing from the list of Amwell voters in the legislative race of 1738.
While most of the curiously cut-up apartments [in the old Moore house] are now used only for storing other old things, one room is still used for sleeping quarters by one of the workmen on the farm. We note that the old house appears to be designated on the Beers maps of 1873 [detail, above], as the residence of “Mrs. R. M. Wagner.” The mansion house is located, but without name. Rhoda Moore Wagner then owned the property as devisee under the will of Albertus K. Wagner, who died in 1871.
Jacob Moore—certainly not the pioneer, but evidently his son—died in 1784, aged 61 years. His wife Christena died in 1816, at the age of 95. Jacob Moore’s land, at one time, according to an old deed, extended from Buchanan’s Hill to a point on the Alexauken Creek, as one unbroken course indicates. And it was Jacob’s son Daniel who built the large part of the old barn which still serves the farm in the capacity for which it was erected so long ago.
I have problems with this paragraph. First of all, and once again, Daniel Moore, builder of the old barn, was the son of Jacob Moore, Sr., not Jacob Jr. It is true that Jacob Moore, Jr. died in 1784, but unfortunately he died intestate, so there is no will listing his children. He, wife Christine, and family of eight children lived on the southern end of Ringoes, as can be seen from his deeds of 1761, 1768 and 1770. His father Johannes Jacob Moore is supposed to have written a will in 1764, but it is not recorded in N. J. Archives. Knowledge of the will comes from references to it in subsequent deeds.
But my biggest problem is with the statement that Jacob Moore’s original landholdings extended from Alexauken Creek to Buchanan’s Hill. That simply is not possible, for either Jacob Sr. or Jacob Jr.
Hammond’s map of proprietary tracts shows how impossible this was. According to that map, Jacob Moore’s property was part of several different proprietary tracts belonging to John Dennis, William Petty, Samuel Green, Benjamin Field, and William Biddle. None of those properties come anywhere near Buchanan’s Hill, which was the intersection of Routes 579 and 523. There was a deed of 1758 in which Nicholas Austin and wife Sarah quit claimed their rights in 130 acres in the Field-Allen tract,11, but that doesn’t get us anywhere near Buchanan’s Hill. I presume Mr. Bush got this information from his visit to the Wagner sisters and some document they showed him. How I wish I could see it.
Stole the Stockings
Family tradition—generally approximately correct—says that when Washington was stopping at Headquarters, some of his men came past the old Moore farm. Seeing the family wash out on the line, they helped themselves to such of the stockings as they could wear, and left everything else untouched.
It was not easy to tear oneself from the collection of old papers and old things so cheerfully brought to notice here. Their perusal would require days, if one would learn the half that they have to tell. Here are fine old silhouettes of ancestors long since departed, quaint old handiwork of various kinds, and interesting letters suggestive of the early days. A letter from Sarah Wagner to David Moore “and family and aged parents,” written in 1818, came through from Springfield, Ill., folded and sealed, but without envelope. The address seems over-long and yet hardly sufficient; but it got to its destination: “David Moore, Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, State of New Jersey, near Ringo’s Old Tavern.”
The mansion house on this historic old farm was built by the grandparents of the present owners, and is still an imposing structure. It is finely located, with a delightful view to the north and northwest, over a pleasant valley, to rolling hills growing purple in the distance. This old farm was long reckoned among the best. In late years it has not been so carefully cultivated. But it is still a delightful place, rich in historic interest and possibilities for the future.
When Mr. Bush refers here to “the mansion house,” he means the larger house, built in stages probably from the 1840s to the 1880s, in which Albertus K. and Rhoda Moore Wagner lived. The original mansion house of Jacob Moore was enlarged by his son Daniel, and later by his grandson David. When David Moore wrote his will in 1842, he bequeathed the residue of his estate, including the original homestead, to his daughter, Rhoda Moore (later Rhoda Wagner). That suggests to me that Rhoda Moore must have been intelligent and disciplined, and a favorite of her father’s.
For the sad conclusion to the history of Jacob Moore’s house, see the following article, “Farewell, Relic of Another Age.”
Corrections and Addendums:
1/9/16: I had originally shown the son of David Moore and husband of Mary Lake as Isaac A. Moore, when his name was actually Isaiah A. Moore. Thanks to Rick Moore for the correction.
1/15/16: Rick Moore called my attention to an error in the Moore Genealogy, noting that Theophilus Moore, who married Rhoda Phillips, and Rhoda Moore, who married Theophilus Phillips, came from the English Moore family, as found in the genealogy for Rev. John Moore. The Phillips were Hopewell people, which is undoubtedly where Theophilus and Rhoda also lived. I also discovered a missing child of Jacob and Amy Moore—Elizabeth, born about 1721. I learned about this from an impressive genealogy of the German Moore family of Hunterdon County, and have made corrections to my chart in light of information I found there, entitled “A Special Union.”
2/18/2016: I’ve added a quote from E. T. Bush in another article, regarding the vast numbers of Moore descendants.
6/6/2018: This article originally included an abbreviated family tree. I have removed that information in order to publish it in a separate Moore Family Tree.
- Find-a-Grave does not list her in the Sand Brook Cemetery, however her name does appear in an older inventory, but without dates; it merely says “Sabell Wagner, wife of Frank Wagner.” ↩
- As shown on Hammond Map F, citing Survey Book A p. 144, and Bull’s Survey Book p. 5. ↩
- Hammond Map F, Survey Book A p. 122. ↩
- Marriage record from an LDS database on Ancestry.com identified as Genealogical Research Library, comp. New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s, Provo, UT, USA. A well-known genealogy of the Moore family entitled Rev. John Moore of Newtown, Long Island and Some of His Descendants concerns an entirely different family that first appeared on Long Island by 1641. The first couple, Rev. John Moore and Margaret Howell, were English, not German. ↩
- Jacob Moore, Jr. is buried in the Moore Family Burying Ground; he died May 7, 1784, age 61 years 2 months and 7 days, hence the birth date of 1723. ↩
- I have a James B. Fulper (c.1848-1922) in my database, but no James P. Fulper. ↩
- This is a perfect example of how important it is for family members to donate the historical collections of the deceased to the Hunterdon County Historical Society, where they are preserved and made available to anyone interested in them. If only Rhoda Wagner had done this! ↩
- History of East Amwell, p. 41; The Jerseyman; A Quarterly magazine of Local History and Genealogy, ed. Hiram E. Deats, vol. 2 (1893) p. 1. ↩
- Another church history, written by a committee of the church in 1915, states that Rev. John Naas came to America in 1733 with four families, including Jacob Moore. But not only do we have evidence that Jacob Moore came to America much earlier, this history mistakenly identifies Alexander Cassel as Abraham Cassel. ↩
- History of East Amwell, p. 194. ↩
- James P. Snell, History of Hunterdon County, p. 352. ↩