This article is about one of Delaware Township’s most secretive burying grounds, and is part of a series on Delaware Township cemeteries. It is also a follow-up to my series of articles on Buchanan’s Tavern, since Archibald Buchanan was buried here.1
The plot is located on the farm that belonged to the family of Archibald’s wife Delilah Sutton Buchanan. It is on the old Mason Farm, in what is now part of the Robin Hill Development, off of Sutton Farm Road. It is not very far from another secretive burial place, which I call the Kitchen-Thatcher Burying Ground, and have written about previously, here and here.
The Sutton Burying Ground is about 30 by 60 feet in size, with an old stone wall, or what remains of one, surrounding it. There was a huge and very ancient tulip poplar tree there, that was hollow by the time Hiram Deats came to visit in 1922; he thought it had been there since the Revolution. When the subdivision called Robin Hill was made in the 1980s, an easement was created for the cemetery, and a fund of $2000 was required for its maintenance. I’ll bet no one has made use of that money for quite a long time.
The Sutton Farm first belonged to Jonas Sutton, who first came here sometime before 1744.2 We can’t be sure because Mr. Sutton never recorded his deed. He was born on April 18, 1721 in Piscataway, NJ, grandson of a family who moved to New Jersey from Plymouth, Massachusetts.
We also do not know the name of his first wife, but it appears he married her around the time he arrived in old Amwell Township, because his first four children were born from 1748 to around 1755. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Runyon, in 1764, and had five more children with her. A genealogy written by Olive Barrick Rowland in 1935 described his house this way:
Jonas Sutton’s house was “a long inn-like structure, the first story built of stone surfaced with plaster, and the second story of wood. There is a verandah the full length of the second story front, the house being built on the side of a hill. Originally a lane lead from the buildings to the Flemington highway [Route 523]; but the only present approach is by way of another long and neglected lane, a continuation of the lane of a neighboring farm, in from Sandbrook.”3
The house is no longer standing. It was long gone before the new development was built. When Jonas Sutton wrote his will on March 25, 1797, he left his farm to his wife Elizabeth, to be shared with his son Amos during her lifetime, and then all the property to Amos who was to pay legacies to his many siblings.
This Amos Sutton (1765-1828) was the father of Delilah Sutton Buchanan. He married Jane Robins, daughter of John Robins and Elizabeth Taylor, in 1785, after the Revolution was over. He had served in Capt. David Seeley’s Company in 1780 when they were bogged down in Hackensack, New Jersey. Sutton, who was only 15, decided he’d had enough and returned home.4 Apparently no one ever bothered to charge him with desertion. And given the fact that his father gave him all the property and made him sole executor, he must have been a trustworthy person. He ran a distillery on his farm that was very well-known; people thought its products were superior because the main ingredient, water, came from a cold spring on the property.5
Amos and Jane Sutton had ten children. Two of them, John (1802-1885) and Jonas (1804-1879), acquired the family farm after their father’s death, but they had to buy it at a sheriff’s sale as their father had gone into debt. John did not remain on the property; his brother Jonas did. He married Mary A. Besson (1806-1861), daughter of Francis Besson and Elizabeth Thatcher, around 1830; they had six children. Jonas Sutton served on the Delaware Township Committee in 1840, and continued the distillery. He also kept racing horses on his farm and advertised them for breeding.
After his death, in 1880, his executors were obliged to offer the farm for sale, now reduced to 115.48 acres, which then passed out of the Sutton family.
Most of the stones in the Sutton Burying Ground are no longer visible. Thankfully, in 1922, Hiram E. Deats found this place and made note of the graves that were still standing at the time. At the bottom of his list he wrote: “There are at least fifty graves. Enclosed stone wall, about 40 ft. square. Copied Sept. 27, 1922. H.E. Deats.” If you go there today, you won’t be able to find most of the stones that Deats found, and many of the surviving ones are unmarked.
Brian E. Rounsavill, who has been researching his family for many years, made a visit to the cemetery in 2001, and published a Rounsavell genealogy that included a chapter on the burying ground.6 He had a difficult time locating the cemetery, and at first could not find the gravestones belonging to Rounsavell family members. During a second visit, he succeeded in finding the Rounsavell stones that Deats had listed, buried beneath the soil and severely damaged. With approval from the Delaware Township Committee, he uprighted and restored them.
Here is the list of stones that Hiram E. Deats found in 1922, arranged by families:
I. S. | 1797 | Agd 76
This was Jonas Sutton Sr., born April 18, 1721, Piscataway, son of Richard Sutton and Sarah Runyon. In the 18th century, a J was often written as I. He wrote his will on March 25, 1797, and it was recorded on November 11, 1797.7 His plantation went to son Amos after his wife Elizabeth died, and the other 8 children were to receive payments of £120 each, except for son Nathan who only got £75.
I. S. | 1795
John Sutton (1748-1795), son of Jonas Sutton and his first wife, married Dinah Bonham (1756-1810), daughter of Uriah Bonham and Anchor Fox, in 1773. He lived on a farm one mile west of Locktown. John Sutton was only 47 when he died. It was obviously unexpected; he did not write a will. His widow Dinah died at the Locktown farm when she was 54, but I do not know where she was buried. They were survived by 6 of their 7 children, all daughters except for son Uriah Sutton (1779-1849).
Amos Sutton | died April 6, 1828 | age 63
This was the son of Jonas Sr. who inherited the farm. Because of his indebtedness, he did not have property to bequeath.
Jane | Relict of Amos Sutton | died March 15, 1834 age 69
She was the daughter of John Robins (c.1720-1802) and Elizabeth Taylor (c.1725-bef 1777), and probably grew up on the farm adjacent to the Sutton farm. She and Amos Sutton married in 1785 and had 10 children, including Delilah Sutton, born about 1790.
Archibald Buchanan | died April 20, 1819 | age 29
Archibald Buchanan was the son of John Buchanan and his second wife, Azubah Lake. He married Delilah Sutton, daughter of Amos Sutton and Jane Robins. Her gravestone has not been not found; she died around 1848. Archibald Buchanan died only one year after his father died. His was the only stone with a readable epitaph:
In Memory of
who departed this life
April 20th A.D. 1819
in the 29th year
of his age
Dear friends farewell I go to dwell
With Jesus Christ on high;
There for to sing Praise to my king;
Thro’ all eternity.
E. H. L.
This is probably Elisha H. Large (1823-1853), the son of Jacob Large (1790-1854) and Sarah Sutton (1789-1863). Sarah Sutton was the daughter of Amos Sutton and Jane Robins. She married Jacob Large in 1813, and they had 9 children. She and Jacob must have had a falling out because in 1850, Jacob was counted by himself, living in the household of Rev. Israel Poulson, but Sarah is nowhere to be found (not with her children and not with her siblings). In 1860, she was living with her youngest son William, a master carpenter of Lambertville, who married Abigail Holcombe Case about 1856. She died there in 1863, but I do not know where she was buried.
Given that son Elisha H. Large was only 29 years old when he died, it seems likely he was a victim of an accident, of typhoid fever or consumption.
Amos Robbins | Sept. 15, 1827 | 79-4-0
Amos Robins was the son of John Robins and Elizabeth Taylor, and brother to Jane Robins who married Amos Sutton. He lived on the other Robins farm, the one along the Boarshead Road, and for a time ran the Boarshead Inn/Hotel on Route 579. He married Ruth Barnes (1758-1823) on October 26, 1777; they had at least two children, Job, born about 1785, and Sarah, who married a cousin, Joseph Robbins.
Ruth, wife of Amos Robins | died November 23, 1823 aged 65
The wife of Amos Robins was Ruth Barnes, daughter of William Barnes (c.1725-c.1785) and Hannah Kitchen (c.1727-?). William and Hannah Barnes owned a farm on Route 579 not too far north of the intersection with Route 523.
No one in my database with those initials has any connection with the Sutton family.
J. H. M. 1816
R. H. M.
The common middle initial and surname initial suggests they were siblings. I cannot identify them. I looked for possible relatives of the Sutton family whose surname began with M, and found Elizabeth B. Sutton (c.1835-1891), daughter of Jonas Sutton and Mary A. Besson, who married Gideon C. Moore (1837-1904) about 1865, but that was too late for these stones.
The Rounsavell Family
Richard Rounsavell | 1777 | Ag’d 43
Isaac Rounsavell | Dec. 28, 1839 in 76th year
The original ancestor, Richard Rounsavell (believed to have been the son of Roger Rounsavall and Mary Warne), was born on March 12, 1658 and christened on March 22, 1658 in the village of Padstow in Cornwall, England. He immigrated to New England and was present in Stratford, Connecticut from about 1680 to 1690. From there he moved to Wickapogue, Southampton, Long Island until about 1700, when he moved to Hopewell Township, in what was then Burlington County, where he wrote his will in 1703.8.
His son, typically referred to as Richard Rounsavell Sr., was born around 1690, and appears to have settled in Readington Township around 1725. But in 1743, he acquired a farm just south of the Jonas Sutton farm. The Rounsavell family was not related to the Sutton family, even though they were close neighbors. He had married his wife Rebeccah Bogart in Albany, NY in 1718, but she died in 1747, not long after arriving in Amwell Township. She is probably buried here, but her grave is long gone. They had 7 children, but only sons Richard and Henry had any presence in this neighborhood.
In 1757, Richard Rounsavell, Sr., together with Daniel Robins and George Trimmer, witnessed the will of Thomas Kitchen. In 1773, he wrote his own will, as yeoman of Amwell, dividing his home plantation between his sons Richard and Henry. By December 1775, he was dead, and it is believed that the stone with the initials R. R. belongs to him.9
Brian Rounsavill wrote: “It should be noted that this Richard Rounsavell, who was a minor when his father died in 1703, was commonly referred to as “Richard Rounsavell, Sr.,” although he was actually Richard Rounsavell II. At the same time, his son Richard, born in 1734, was referred to as “Richard Rounsavell, Jr.,” although he was actually Richard Rounsavell III. The reason that people referred to them as “Sr.” and “Jr.,” and not II and III, was due to the fact that Richard Rounsavell I passed away in 1703 while Richard Rounsavell, Sr., who was born circa 1695, was less than ten years of age. As a result, there is little remaining documented evidence of the first Richard Rounsavell in Hunterdon County (then Burlington County), New Jersey. Richard Rounsavell I’s children were most likely raised either by their widowed mother or other relatives or families. In contrast, Richard Rounsavell, Sr. and Richard Rounsavell, Jr. were both actively involved in Hunterdon County, New Jersey throughout the mid to late 1700s, often in the same place at the same time on the same transaction. Therefore, individuals would have found it necessary to differentiate between the two Richard Rounsavells. Since they were in fact father and son, they were aptly called “Sr.” and Jr.” As fate would have it, they also died within two years of each other, in 1775 and 1777 respectfully. This also accounts for why neither Richard Rounsavell, Sr. nor Jr., both active and well-respected citizens at the time, were ever documented as serving in the Revolution.”
Richard Rounsavell Jr. (1734-1777) married Rachel Stout in about 1753, daughter of Freegift Stout and Mary Higgins. He was frequently called upon to assist in the settlement of his neighbors’ estates. He wrote his own will on January 20, 1777, and died only three weeks later at the age of 42, leaving his widow alone to raise their 7 children.
One of those children was Isaac Rounsavell, born on March 3, 1764. About 1785, he married Catharine Larew, daughter of Abraham Larew and Mary Thatcher. He wrote his will on January 14, 1839, when he was 75 years old, leaving most of his estate to his grandson Harrison Rounsavell, the son of Stout Rounsavel and Elizabeth Thompson.
Many thanks to Brian E. Rounsavill for contributing information about the Rounsavell family and photos of the Rounsavell stones.
Postscript: The Trouts
I am intrigued by the fact that no members of the Trout family appear to have been buried here. George Trout (1773-1843) and wife Annie Besson (1783-1866) lived on the large farm just south of the old Robins tract, and must have been well-known to the Sutton family, since his farm ran along the northern border of the Sutton farm. Not finding any Trout stones here, I checked on the Kitchen-Thatcher burying ground nearby, but there is no evidence of them there either. As it turns out, George and Annie Trout were buried in the Lower Amwell Old Yard, the cemetery associated with the Amwell Baptist (Dunkard) Church. His daughters Sarah (wife of Jacob N. Thatcher) and Lucretia (wife of Ephraim Robbins) were also buried there; son John and his first wife, Mary Y. Brewer were buried in the Sand Brook Cemetery. Daughter Margaret (wife of Shf. Robert Thatcher) is buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington.
Postscript: From Egbert T. Bush
In his article, “Sand Brook Had a Tavern Nearby,” Mr. Bush mentioned this cemetery while writing about the old Sutton farm. Here is what he wrote:
“On this farm is an old-time burying ground, now much overgrown. We find here a stone with this inscription: “In Memory of Amos Sutton, who died April 6, 1828, Aged 63 years.”
Beside him sleeps his wife, thus commemorated: ‘”Jane, Relict of Amos Sutton, who died March 15, 1834, aged 69 years.” Another stone bears this: “In Memory of Archibald Buchanan, who departed this life April 20, 1819, in the 29th year of his age.” There may be older stones, now too much overgrown to be readily found and deciphered.
On leaving this ground, we crossed the adjoining Thatcher farm, passing the site of an ancient sawmill, now marked only by an ice pond about which sported perhaps 200 fine ducks, all unmindful of what had been going on there so long ago. Jacob Thatcher was the last to operate the vanished mill.”
Postscript: Another Burying Ground
There is another, smaller, cemetery near the Sutton Family Burying Ground. It is across Route 579, in the Raritan Township section of the Robin Hill development, hiding in someone’s backyard. I recently got the chance to visit this previously unknown to me burying ground. It has a low stone wall, and three large old marble stones, made in the same design as the one for Archibald Buchanan, pictured above. Sadly, the inscriptions have been erased by time and weather, and are now unreadable. John Micek told me that he recalled that one of the stones was a Buchanan, and perhaps this is where the missing grave of Delilah Sutton Buchanan rests. Given its location, it seems more likely to me that members of the John Robins family would have been buried here. You can learn more about that family in this post from the series on Buchanan’s Tavern.
- To see the series of articles on Buchanan’s Tavern, click on the topic in the right-hand column. ↩
- That year he bordered Andrew Pettit who had applied for a mortgage from the Hunterdon Co. Loan Office (No.182). ↩
- Olive Barrick Rowland, Genealogical Notes on Sutton and Rittenhouse Families of Hunterdon County, NJ, An Ancestral Chart & Handbook, Richmond, VA: 1935. ↩
- From a pension application filed by William Marts, No. S2724. ↩
- Cornelius W. Larison, N.D., “Skech of the Fisher family of old Amwell township in Hunterdon County, NJ.,” Fonic Publishing, 1890. ↩
- Richard Rounsavell and His Descendants, vol. 2, by Mark P. Rounsavall and Brian E. Rounsavill, 2002, 1220 p., $60. Contact Mark Rounsavall at email@example.com for an order form. Notice that each of the names has a different vowel in the last syllable. ↩
- New Jersey Archives, estate no. 1815J ↩
- Richard Rounsavell and His Descendants, vol. 2, by Mark P. Rounsavall and Brian E. Rounsavill, 2002, 1220 p. ↩
- For more information about him, see the Rounsavell Genealogy. ↩