History of Rosemont, part two

This is a sequel to the article by Egbert T. Bush titled “Crosskeys Tavern,” about the history of the village of Rosemont, which was published in its entirety last week. Here I will break it down to provide more information.

Bush began with a history of the tavern lot.

The farm on the corner on which the old “Crosskeys Tavern” still stands . . . appears to have been held in the Rittenhouse family for almost a century, beginning with William in 1719. According to tradition, this stone house was built by him, but the date stone says “F R 1754.”

William Rittenhouse, Sr. & Catherine Howell

The tavern’s history, as Mr. Bush wrote, begins with the first of the Rittenhouse family to settle in Hunterdon County. William Rittenhouse, born 1696, came to the county from New Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he was raised by his parents Garret or Gerard Rettinghousen and Mary Shoemaker or Margeret Revacomb.

Why did Rittenhouse leave New Germantown to go live in the wilderness of southwest Amwell Township, NJ? It must have had something to do with the woman he married. Her name was Catharine Howell (c.1700-1778), and she was the daughter of Daniel Howell and Hannah Lakin of Pennsylvania. Her brother, Daniel Howell ii, married Mary Reading, daughter of John and Elizabeth Reading and set up the first ferry over the Delaware River at Stockton. For many years thereafter, Stockton and Prallsville were known as Howell’s Ferry.

William and Catharine Howell Rittenhouse married about 1719 and had thirteen children, which is pretty remarkable when one considers there was nothing in the way of healthcare available at the time. The family had very few neighbors, so Catharine had to rely on the help of her few nearby female relatives. She must have been a very healthy woman, because she was the progenitor of one of the largest of the early Hunterdon families, as can be seen in the Rittenhouse Family Tree.

Probably about the time of his marriage, William Rittenhouse acquired a large tract of land on the eastern half of the Rosemont intersection, bordering the much larger tract of land owned by John Reading, which was known as Mount Amwell. The properties can be seen on a map drawn by D. Stanton Hammond of the proprietary tracts in Hunterdon County.

Because of the family connection with John Reading, it seems likely that Reading conveyed part of his property to William Rittenhouse, although no deed was recorded. One reason for thinking this is that the Rittenhouse property was bordered on the east, the west and the south by land of John Reading. As shown on the detail of Hammond Map F, the southern border of the Rittenhouse tract appears to run along Shoppons Run (the creek that branches off from the Wickecheoke).1

There is evidence that the Rittenhouses were living near Route 519 as early as 1729, for the survey made for that road, which was recorded November 21, 1729, listed William Rittenhouse as one of the bordering property owners.2 He built a house for himself on land south of the village and east of Route 519, and carved his and Catherine’s initials into the chimney—“W C R.”3

Five years later, on November 6, 1734, Rittenhouse acquired the warrant for a survey of 1,000 acres in the Lotting Purchase, the boundary of which can be seen in the Hammond map. William Rittenhouse’s Rosemont farm was south of the Lotting Purchase line, which is another reason for thinking that he acquired that land from John Reading. His survey for land north of the Purchase line was not recorded until 1749 and involved a large tract of land near Locktown.

None of this accounts for the tavern lot which is located north of the Lotting Purchase line and north of Route 604. Hammond’s map seems to show that the tavern lot was part of the original Wolverton tract. The map also indicates that some of that property was acquired by John Bainbridge, who recorded a mortgage in 1786 for 79 acres.4 But that is too late for the tavern lot which was occupied by Isaac Rittenhouse as early as 1754. My only guess is that either William Rittenhouse bought some property from Charles Wolverton and did not record the deed or that Hammond got the Lotting Purchase line wrong (which I doubt).

On August 27, 1761, when he was 65 years old, William Rittenhouse of Amwell wrote his will. By that time, all his surviving children were married and with families of their own. Rittenhouse had a large amount of real estate to dispose of, but apparently had already given much of it to his sons. He bequeathed the farms where they lived to his sons William, Peter, and Moses, plus his own homestead farm to son Lot. To his son Isaac, he only left 5 shillings. It is generally assumed that such a small bequest indicates that provision had already made for the recipient of this nominal sum. This makes sense, as son Isaac had already built himself the tavern house in 1754.

William Rittenhouse, Sr. died on March 8, 1767, and his will was recorded on April 13, 1767. Sons Peter and William were the executors. His widow Catharine survived until 1778, dying at the age of 78. The couple is buried in the Rittenhouse cemetery on a bluff above Prallsville, at one time the property of Catharine’s parents. (See Rittenhouse Cemetery, part two for images of their gravestones.)

Isaac Rittenhouse & Susannah Baker

Isaac Rittenhouse was the seventh child and the sixth son of William and Catherine Rittenhouse. He was born on July 13, 1726.5

It is thought that Isaac Rittenhouse had a first wife whose name is unknown. I do not know what evidence there is of that. Sometime not long before 1758, Isaac Rittenhouse married Susannah Baker, born in 1732 to Samuel Baker and an unknown wife.6 The Bakers lived in Hopewell Township before moving to Kingwood Township, where Susannah probably came of age.

Susannah’s sisters (she had no brothers) married into other well-known families in the area. Sister Margery married Morris Wolverton about 1754, Elizabeth married Levi Ketchum, Abigail married someone from the Barnes family, Rachel married Thomas Stevenson in 1761, and Zeruviah/Sophie married George Opdycke, Sr. about 1767.

Samuel Baker, who was born September 15, 1704, died on July 15, 1802, obviously a very old man, and was buried in the Rosemont Cemetery. His unknown wife must have died sometime after 1740, but her gravestone has not been found. Following in her mother-in-law’s path, Susannah Rittenhouse gave birth to ten children, from 1758 to 1778.

Construction of the Tavern

Although there is some speculation that Isaac’s father William was the one to establish a tavern at Rosemont,7 it seems most likely that it was Isaac who did it. Exactly when the tavern went into operation is hard to say. Tavern licenses in Hunterdon were not recorded until after the Revolution. But the date of 1754 is pretty convincing, as that is the date carved into a stone on the west gable end of the tavern house.

In his article, Crosskeys Tavern, Egbert T. Bush wrote:

The farm on the corner on which the old “Crosskeys Tavern” still stands appears to have been held in the Rittenhouse family for almost a century, beginning with William in 1719. According to tradition, this stone house was built by him, but the date stone says “F R 1754.” Another Rittenhouse may have come in between William and Isaac, who is known to have been the proprietor during the Revolution; or the initial W may have been placed upon the stone and since obliterated, the “W” for William and the “F” for his wife, it being a common custom in early days to use the initials of both husband and wife.

Photograph provided by Marilyn Cummings

Regrettably, the shade from the pent roof makes the stone very dark. (Click on the image to get a better look.) You can see that the gable trim board obscures the top part of the letter I. Or is it an F, as Mr. Bush seemed to think? If Mr. Bush is right, then the question becomes—who was F. R.? None of the writers on the Rittenhouse family have been able to explain that.

The earliest “F R” that I am aware of was Isaac Rittenhouse’s grand-nephew Francis Rittenhouse of Locktown, born 1826 to Daniel Rittenhouse and Elizabeth Myers, 72 years after the house was built. Perhaps F R was the builder of the house instead of the owner, in which case, the R could have represented any one of the early R families in the area. But since when have builders put their initials on the buildings they put up for clients? I don’t think it is an F at all. In the 18th century, some writers put a small horizontal line across the middle of the vertical line in a capital I. That is the case here, I believe. If the stone was fully visible, it would probably end the controversy. Since Isaac Rittenhouse is the only one associated with the property, I think we can be confident that it is his initials, and not some mysterious F R.

This theory is reinforced by the fact that the existing roof is not original to the house. This was the conclusion that Marilyn Cummings came to after a recent visit to the tavernhouse and a careful study of the stone walls. When the gable trim boards were added, the datestone got partially covered.8 As to the original roof, Mr. Bush wrote:

The stone proves that the walls were built in 1754, but tradition says that the house was not completed until the next year, and you know,

“That was the year when Lisbon town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock’s army was done so brown—
Left without a scalp to its crown.”

And tradition insists that the rafters on this building were raised on the day of that defeat, July 9, 1755. Be that as it may, the building has weathered the storms of 175 years, the rafters have never blown down, and the house looks good for another century.

Mr. Bush was writing in 1930. Today the tavernhouse is 264 years old.

Addendum, August 23, 2018:  In August 2018, a closer inspection was made of the rafters in the tavern roof. And it turns out that ones over the original section (the two rooms on the west side of the house) do date back to some time prior to the Revolution. So the theory that the roof over that section was a replacement must be tossed out. It is very nice to have confirmation of the claim that the house is at least as old as the 1770s. Could there have been an earlier structure dating to 1754 that was replaced only twenty years later? Seems unlikely.

The proprietor named his new venture “Crosskeys Tavern,” and hung out a sign with that emblem emblazoned thereon. And a good name it was; but the name of the proprietor made a stronger appeal to the public. Gradually it became “Rittenhouse’s Tavern,” and the good old sign was relegated to the rubbish loft, where it might still have been found forty years ago. What joy it would be to dig out that old sign now!

I do wonder how Mr. Bush knew that the tavern was once named Crosskeys. I suppose the answer is “tradition.”

The Revolution in Rosemont

Mr. Bush described an interesting event that probably happened in 1778 when the British were in the neighborhood.

This [i.e., Rosemont] appears to have been a central point for marauding bands on both sides during the Revolution. Isaac Rittenhouse is said to have had a Negro man whose duties included care of the sheds. On one occasion, while he was caring for some horses belonging to American soldiers, he discovered that a detachment of the enemy was approaching. Hurriedly cutting all halters, he sent the horses scampering into the woods. No horses for the British that day, thanks to the quick wit of the faithful Negro.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Bush was writing in 1930 when the term ‘negro’ was considered polite terminology. There is a slightly more interesting version of this event, which appeared in the Hunterdon County Democrat on December 31, 1878.

Local Department. A well informed correspondent of the Hunterdon Independent is writing a series of articles for that paper upon the early days of the county of Hunterdon. In speaking of the old tavern at Rosemont, he says: Isaac Rittenhouse it is said built the older part of the tavern at Rosemont and while they were engaged in putting up the rafters the news came of Braddock’s defeat, now 123 years ago. Isaac passed through many scenes incident to the revolution, when the Jerseys were overrun by the British and Tories. He had a negro by the name of Cato, a faithful, wide awake servant. At one time a band of Tories were seen approaching on a marauding expedition. Mrs. Rittenhouse gave a signal to Cato and her son Samuel, then a lad, while she engaged them in pleasant conversation to go to the barn and turn out all the horses, some very good ones, and drive them up in the woods, so when the Tories sought their horses they could not be found. At another time the enemy came and commanded them to come and cart for the army. Samuel and Cato watching an opportunity sprang on the horses and dashed off concealing themselves in the thick forests of Kingwood.

One thing I noticed in this depiction was the reference to “the thick forests of Kingwood.” There are still many wooded areas north of Rosemont, especially along Strimples Mill Road. But I’m sure they cannot compare to the forests of the 18th century.

Cato appears in another record. In 1780, rampant inflation made it was necessary to levy a tax to support the war effort. Isaac “Rettenhousen” was taxed on 120 acres, 4 horses, 4 cattle, 1 pig, 1 slave (i.e., Cato), a tavern and a ferry. Also one single man—that was his eldest son Elijah Rittenhouse. The ferry is odd, as there is no major waterway running through Rosemont. Perhaps Isaac Rittenhouse had taken over Howell’s Ferry for a time.

In a previous article (Rittenhouse Tavern) I discussed the possibility that at some point during the Revolution, George Washington dined at the Rittenhouse Tavern. This was one of those family myths that are so irresistible. One can’t help but wonder how Washington managed to appear in so many New Jersey locations during the Revolution. Examining Washington’s itinerary, it seems doubtful. The most likely time for that to have happened was in 1778. Perhaps Washington had heard of Cato’s heroism and come to say hello. And perhaps not.

In 1786 after the war was over, Isaac “RottenHousen” [which gives us an idea of how the name was pronounced] was taxed on 120 acres valued at £33, plus 4 horses, 7 cattle, 2 pigs, one slave and one single man. Since Isaac and Susannah had sons Elijah born in 1758, Samuel born 1765, John B. born 1767, and William born 1769, it is rather hard to say which of these was the single man. In 1790, Isaac Rettinghousen was taxed on 120 acres, 1 tavern, 1 slave and 1 sleigh. There were no single men in the household.

One wonders if Isaac Rittenhouse ever thought to reward Cato’s good service with manumission, as many Amwell slaveowners did in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. If he was freed, the fact was not recorded in the Hunterdon Slave Manumissions.9

As mentioned before, tavern licenses were not required until after the Revolution, so if we want evidence that the tavern originated with William Rittenhouse, Sr., we’re out of luck since he died in 1767. But his son Isaac certainly did apply for a license, over and over. The first record we have is in 1789. In his application, Isaac Rittenhouse stated that the tavern was located “on the cross road leading from Mr. Reading’s and Mr. McClain’s ferrys to Flemington and no Publick house near it to Entertain travellers.”10

The reference to “McClain’s Ferry” is interesting. I previously mentioned Isaac Rittenhouse being taxed on a ferry. McClain’s Ferry, also known as Painter’s Ferry, was located at the end of Federal Twist Road, a location some distance upriver from Howell’s Ferry at Stockton. But I found no record of Isaac Rittenhouse owning it in 1780. There is no direct route from McClain’s Ferry to Rosemont, but tavern applications were often vague about their locations, since everyone knew them already.

Rittenhouse also obtained licenses in 1790, -91 and -92.11 In his license application for 1793, Isaac Rittenhouse was able to get several people to vouch for him. The application was signed by George Alexander, John Barcroft, John Buchanan, Judiah Higgins, John Holcombe, Richard Holcombe, Daniel Howell, John Meldrum, Samuel Opdycke, Thomas Opdycke, Charles Sergeant, John Severns, and George Woolverton. Rittenhouse continued to be granted licenses up through 1800.

Isaac Rittenhouse’s Later Life

In 1793 and 1799, Isaac Rittenhouse purchased some properties in Kingwood Township, which he later disposed of to his sons in his will.

In 1806, the Tavern was a noted landmark. A deed of that year described Route 519 as the road from Isaac Rittenhouse’s tavern to Trenton.12

In 1807, Rittenhouse was taxed once again on 120 acres, with Isaac Hoagland a single man. All of his own sons had moved away. His eldest son Elijah had bought a lot in Kingwood on Route 519. Son Samuel had moved to a farm on Upper Creek Road. Son John Baker Rittenhouse was either living with his brother William, or had already left Amwell for Philadelphia. Son William is thought to have stayed at home, but by 1807 he was no longer a single man.

Isaac Rittenhouse of Amwell wrote his will on April 10, 1805, and died at the age of 82 on February 23, 1809. Mr. Bush wrote:

The will of Isaac Rittenhouse, probated March 6, 1809, gives the “plantation” to his three sons—Samuel, John and William; also his share in “the Snap fishery on Inly’s Island,” and his share in “the fish pond in Howell’s falls in the Delaware river.” Somebody may recall echoes of those names.

The will was a little more interesting than that. In addition to the property he left to his sons, he ordered that they pay to his six grandchildren (“children of my son Elijah dec’d”) £5 each, as the girls reach 18 and the boys reach 21.

He ordered that his wife Susannah was to have the west room and to be supported by her sons out of proceeds from the plantation. She was also given 1 cow.

He left to his son Samuel a plantation in Hopewell Twp. “whereon he now lives,” and he is to pay my daughter Sarah £30 for her outset and £30 to daughter Susannah for her outset. Daughter Sarah never required an outset as she remained single. Daughter Susannah married Samuel R. Reading in 1809. Sarah and Susannah were also to receive “the beds and furniture now owned by them.” Beds and bedding were expensive items back in 1805, so this was meant as a serious gift.

Isaac’s daughter Mary (wife of an unknown Hoagland) had died in 1802. Her children were to receive £80 when they came of age, but Isaac did not name them.13 To his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Cornelius Prall, he gave a bond for £15, also £75.14

The residue of his moveable estate (presumably all his personal property) was to be divided equally between his wife Susannah and his four daughters, Rachel Bray (wife of John), Sarah (single), Amy Free (wife of Benjamin) and Susannah (single).

He named his son Samuel and son-in-law John Bray of Kingwood his executors. The will was witnessed by Isaac Blue, James Reed and Joseph Chapman.

Isaac Rittenhouse died on February 23, 1809 at the age of 82, and was buried in the family cemetery in Prallsville. An Inventory of his property was taken by Darius Everitt and Asa Reed, amounting to $3,000.17. An additional inventory of “open accounts” amounted to $293.46, and was recorded on February 25, 1809, and included a long list of names. The will itself was recorded on March 6, 1809.

Susannah Rittenhouse, Isaac’s widow, lived for several years after Isaac’s death. It is said that she married again, to one Jaques Rittenhouse. This is strange—there is no one named Jacques in the Rittenhouse family. After all, the family was German, not French.

Another source claims that her name was Susannah Lakin Oakes Baker. That also does not make much sense if she was the daughter of Samuel Baker. In his will of 1802, Samuel Baker named his four daughters, starting with Susannah Rittenhouse. I suspect she has been confused with another Susannah.

Susannah Rittenhouse wrote her will on October 21, 1824, leaving to son Samuel “a large Bible containing our family record” and $50. To daughter Elizabeth Prall she left the bed and bedding bequeathed to her by husband Isaac. To her two daughters, Sarah Rittenhouse and Susannah Reading (wife of Samuel), she left all the household goods bought at the sale of Isaac Rittenhouse’s personal property, share and share alike. The residue she left to her four youngest daughters, Elizabeth Prall, Sarah Rittenhouse, Amy Free (wife of Benjamin) and Susan Reading, “whose share of moneys are to be put at interest for her children.” (The two oldest daughters were Rachel Bray and Mary Hoagland.) Executors were friends Samuel Woolverton of Amwell and John Waterhouse of Kingwood. The will was witnessed by James Scott and Carson Smith.

Susannah Rittenhouse died on January 4, 1824, age 91, and was buried in the Rosemont Cemetery.

William Rittenhouse, 1811

Following the death of Isaac Rittenhouse, the three sons had to figure out a way to share the tavern lot. Samuel Rittenhouse (1765-1850) was the oldest son; he was the one who helped to hide the horses from the British and the Tories. He married one Martha Smith in 1794 and was living in Hopewell township when his father wrote his will in 1805. He later took up residence on a farm on the road that runs north from the covered bridge (Upper Creek Road).

The next son was John Rittenhouse (1767-1817), whose wife’s name is not known. He seems to have been less successful than his brothers. He owned land jointly with brother William for a time, but quit claimed his interest in 1810. John Lequear identified him as “Boston” John, who learned the tailor’s trade in Philadelphia, went to sea and/or moved to Ohio. This seems fanciful. John Rittenhouse died intestate in Hunterdon County in 1817. His Inventory was made by Charles Sergeant and brother Samuel Rittenhouse, and sworn to by brother-in-law Benjamin. Free.

The first step in dealing with Isaac Rittenhouses’s home farm was to have Isaac’s widow release her right of dower in his property, which she did on April 6, 1809, in exchange for a payment from sons Samuel, John and William of $75 yearly.15

The next step was for Samuel and John Rittenhouse to release their claim on the property to brother William. That conveyance took place on April 9, 1811. It was a deed of Partition between the three brothers. Samuel received rights to 56.5 acres bordering William Rittenhouse, Johnson’s Tavern, Asa Reed, John Woolverton, and John B. Rittenhouse. John B. Rittenhouse got the rights to 59.65 acres bordering Samuel Rittenhouse, John Woolverton, and Green. (The deed does not say which “Green” this was.)

Apparently the value of each of those lots was equaled by the value of the Tavern lot. William Rittenhouse got the 8.96 acres bordering Lot Rittenhouse, Samuel Rittenhouse, and the road from Flemington.16

William Rittenhouse was born on April 6, 1769, the sixth of his parents’ ten children. About 1791 he married Catharine Ely, daughter of Col. George Ely, Jr. and Susannah Farley. The couple had seven children from 1791 to about 1800. There is some reason to think that Catharine died early, because on September 23, 1809, William Rittenhouse and wife Elizabeth conveyed three small lots along the Wickecheoke to his brother Samuel.17

Before his father’s death in 1809, William and brother John had together invested in a farm of 107 acres formerly owned by Thomas Gordon on the Locktown-Sergeantsville Road. They were taxed on that property in 1807. By 1810, John had to quit claim his rights to that property to his brother, who kept the property for the rest of his life.18 But since it is clear that William spent his life running the tavern in Rosemont, we must conclude that he leased the farm near Sergeantsville.

William Rittenhouse obtained tavern licenses for the years 1814-1820, 1822-28 and 1830-31. No doubt he also got licenses for those missing years of 1821 and 1829.

Unfortunately, the early years of the 19th century are not the best for finding historical records. There is the Amwell Township census of 1830, in which William Rittenhouse’s household included a couple in their 60s, two males in their 20s and a female aged 15-19. William and Catharine (or Elizabeth) did have two sons, Elijah, born about 1795, who married Elizabeth Hoppock in 1836, and David, born about 1797, about whom I have no other information. They also had five daughters. A daughter age 15-19 in 1830 would have been born from 1811 to 1815, and none of their daughters was that young. That teenaged female must remain unidentified, and was probably a household servant.

By 1830, William Rittenhouse was 63 years old. By 1832 he had reached retirement age, and Egbert Bush was of the opinion that about that time, William Rittenhouse sold the tavern lot to Garret Lare/Lair. That may be so, but no deed was recorded for the sale, because Garret Lair was William’s son-in-law, married to eldest daughter Hester/Esther Rittenhouse.

Not too long after conveying his ownership of the tavern to his son-in-law, William Rittenhouse died. He did so very inconspicuously, as he left no estate. His wife followed suit—I have no record at all of her death. Presumably the couple was buried in the Rittenhouse cemetery at Prallsville, but their stones have not been found.

Garret Lair, c.1832

Garret Lair was born near Locktown in Delaware Township on January 15, 1790 to William Lair and Sarah Boss. He was the sixth of eight children. (See The Lair Family Tree.) His grandparents, Johannes and Maria Lehr, were born in either Germany or eastern France. They may have been French Huguenot. Johannes Lehr died about 1752 in Lyons, France.19

Johannes and Maria Lehr had two children that we know of. The eldest was Gerhardt Lehr/Lare, born about 1745; his brother William was born about 1750, both in Lyons. Johannes Lehr died in 1752. About five years later, his widow Maria and her two sons emigrated to America.

Another early immigrant to America was Andrew Butterfoss. His wife Anna Moore may have come to Amwell Township with her own family. Whatever the case, they had married by 1740 because their first child was born in 1742. Their third child, Elizabeth, was born about 1748 and married Gerhardt Lehr about 1770. They settled in Bethlehem Township.

Gerhardt’s brother Wilhelm/William (c.1750-1829) spent his youth living with and apprenticing to Casper Behr/Bair, a carpenter. In 1776 (January 4th), William Lair married Sarah Boss (1757-1799), daughter of Godfrey Boss and Elizabeth Horner. Their first child was born nine months later, followed by seven more, including the sixth child Garret, born in 1790.

During the Revolution, William fought in the 3d Battalion under a Capt. Flanagan. His brother Garret died young, and in 1787, when William was in his 30s, he took on the task of administering his brother’s estate.

By 1790, William Lair and his family were living on the 132-acre farm belonging to John Rockafellar located on the north side of the Locktown-Flemington Road. He was taxed on the property that year, and officially purchased it in 1796.20

Garret Lair married Esther Rittenhouse on October 10, 1812. Their first child was born in September 1813, and was named, of course, William, since the fathers of both Garret and Hester were also named William. They had an addition eight children, the last being born in 1833.

Following William Rittenhouse’s death in 1834 without a will, the tavern property should have gone to his eldest son, Elijah (c.1795-1867). Elijah married Elizabeth Hoppock in 1836 (daughter of Cornelius & Rachel Hoppock), and soon afterwards moved west to Ohio. The next and only other son David seems to have died young. That is why the tavern lot at Rosemont came into Garret Lair’s possession. But it is not at all clear whether Lair actually lived there. He appeared in the census of 1840 living in Kingwood township. And every deed I have found for him has him living in Kingwood, not Delaware. Clearly, he rented to the tavern to someone, but who? Egbert T. Bush did not identify anyone in his article, but he did mention the tenant tavernkeeper for the subsequent owner, James Wolverton.

Note: The above paragraph was amended, July 24, 2019, to take note of William’s son Elijah, and to amend the death date from 1829 to 1834.

Sale of the Tavern, 1843

On April 6, 1843, when Lair/Lare was 53 years old, he conveyed the tavern lot of 8.96 acres along with an adjoining lot of 52 acres to James Wolverton of Kingwood.21

For the rest of the story, see Rittenhouse Tavern continued.


  1. Richard S. Grumet, in his book Beyond Manhattan, A Gazetteer of Delaware Indian History, notes that the name Shoppon dates back to 1771, citing D’Autrechy, 1990-91: 134, but could not provide an Indian translation for the term.
  2. H.C. Special Deeds, Book 1 p. 28, as abstracted in D’Autrechy, Some Records of Old Hunterdon, 1701-1838, Trenton Printing Co., 1979, p. 12. The list of bordering properties to this road is a fascinating one, many names and places that I hope someday to identify.
  3. Many years ago, I was acquainted with the owners of the house who proudly showed me the inscription on the chimney. But the Cultural & Heritage Commission report on the house shows that it was built in the mid-19th century. The builder was James Dean, who probably saved the old datestone from the original house, which was torn down.
  4. H. C. Mortgage Book 1 p.323.
  5. I wish I could identify the source of Isaac’s birth date, but I cannot. Most of his siblings’ birth dates are only approximate. Given that Isaac’s gravestone has not survived, it is curious to have a specific birth date.
  6. I have not been able to find a marriage record for Isaac and Susannah. It is not listed in Deats’ Marriage Records, Hunterdon Co., 1795-1875, nor in NJ Archives, Marriage Records, 1665-1800.
  7. Snell, History of Hunterdon & Somerset Counties, p. 376.
  8. A careful study of the tavern house was made by Carla Cielo for the Rosemont Historic District application in 2006. She also noticed that the roof was probably not original.
  9. Phyllis D’Autrechy, Some Records of Old Hunterdon.
  10. Hunterdon Co. Tavern License Applications, NJDARM, Box 3, Vol. 3, p. 293.
  11. See Hunterdon Co. Tavern License Applications, Vol. 3, p. 294-296.
  12. H.C. Deed Book 9 p. 351.
  13. I have not taken the time to examine Isaac Rittenhouse’s estate papers in the Hunterdon Surrogate’s Court; the answer might be there.
  14. Elizabeth died intestate in 1814. As to Cornelius Prall, I have no information on him.
  15. H. C. Deed Book 16 p. 132.
  16. H. C. Deed Book 19 p. 114.
  17. A lot of 11.5 acres was sold to William by Samuel and Martha Rittenhouse of Hopewell in 1804. The other 10.5 acres were purchased by William from John Opdycke in 1805. In the deed of 1809, William was identified as a blacksmith. H. C. Deeds 10-392, 12-173 and 15-422.
  18. H. C. Deed Book 14 p.176, Book 61, p. 477.
  19. Herner Hacker, “18th Century Register of Emigrants from Southwest Germany to America and Other Countries, Apollo Press, 1994, p. 267.
  20. H.C. Deed Book 14 p. 322.
  21. H.C. Deed Book 79 p. 401.