This is a continuation of the history of the old Sutton Farm. Part One can be found by clicking on Sand Brook Had a Tavern Nearby.
In the previous article, I left off with the death of Jonas Sutton in 1879. He was the last person to run a distillery on this large farm, and the last of the Sutton family to live there.1
Two months later, Sutton’s executors, his son Amos Sutton and John P. Rittenhouse, conveyed the farm to Runkle Rea who paid $52 an acre, or $6,004.96.2 The sale took place at a public auction held on February 12, 1880. The deed was dated March 29, 1880. (Mr. Bush mistakenly wrote that it was 1860.)
The acreage given in the deed was 115.48 acres, an increase of 5.48 acres from the previously given size of the farm. But where was the deed for this extra lot? I had thought that perhaps the second lot of ten acres that Mr. Bush mentioned had something to do with it. But that is not the case.
It turns out that the previous estimate of the farm’s size, 110 acres, was not quite right. I compared the metes and bounds of the deeds from 1760 and 1828, both of which claimed to amount to 110 acres, and found very little difference with the deed of 1880 which conveyed 115.48 acres. Clearly a new survey had been made and a more accurate count of the acreage resulted. And once this new survey was done, the description was used in all subsequent deeds for the property up through the 1920s, if not later, including the old names of bordering owners. Those bordering owners of 1880 were Daniel B. Ege, George H. Holcombe, William Swallow, the Old Trenton Road (Rte 579), Mary Bond, Jacob Thatcher and Geo. N. Holcombe.
Runkle Rea was the son of George Rea, Esq. (1774-1838) and Elizabeth Runkle (1782-1868). George Rea was a well-known clockmaker in the late 1700s, but in 1815, he purchased the mill property in Sandbrook for $6,000. This was the old mill established by Samuel Kitchen in the 18th century, and then run by John Rockafellar.
In 1834, when he was 30 years old, Runkle Rea married Rachel Ann Manners, daughter of David Manners and Mary Schenck. They settled in Raritan Township where Rea worked as a farmer. Rachel gave birth to seven children, but died in 1847, probably in childbirth. Her son Runkle Rea, Jr. was born that year. Runkle, Sr. lost no time in remarrying. His second wife was Ellen Sullivan of Pennsylvania, whom he married in 1848. She was only 18 at the time, and had one child, William Sullivan Rea, who died when he was only 5 years old.
In 1850, the family was living in Raritan Township where Rea continued to work as a farmer. But he was also investing in land. By 1860, he was counted in the Raritan Twp. census as a merchant with real estate worth $10,000 and personal property also worth $10,000. A search of the deed index will show how active in the real estate market Rea was. (I counted 94 deeds in the deed index books.)
As for the old Sutton farm, he probably rented it to a tenant. But he was still its owner when he died on May 4, 1882, at the age of 78.
David & Permelia Carrell
On March 28, 1883, Ellen Rea, widow of Runkle Rea, conveyed the 115.48-acre farm to David Carrell of Headquarters. The deed used the previous description. Carrell paid $60/acre,3 but he did not have the purchase price at hand, so he mortgaged the farm to Ellen G. Case, who assigned it to Charles Green on April 3, 1883. Carrell also got a mortgage from Wilson B. Moore, who assigned it to Permelia Carrell, David’s wife.
Charles Green (1812 –1894) was the son of Peter Green and Abigail Townsend of New York, and later Franklin Township, in Hunterdon County. Thus he was not related to the early Green family of Hunterdon County. Peter and Abigail had nine children. Their oldest son John (1794-1877) settled in Delaware Township and married Prudence Jackson. John’s brother Charles Green married Rebecca Ann Smith (1815-1893), daughter of Mahlon Smith and Phoebe Dilts. They had seven children, including son James, who married Salome Carrell, sister of David Carrell. Hence the connection.
David Carrell (1846-1939) was the son of John A. Carrell and Amy Myers. On August 27, 1872, he married Permelia Moore, daughter of William S. Moore and Susan Burroughs. Previously his sister Amy Carrell married Gideon C. Moore, son of Wm H. Moore and Martha Wolverton. Permelia’s father William S. Moore is something of a mystery. I have not been able to link him up to the extensive Moore family living in a large area east of Sergeantsville. He ought to be a member of that family.
Permelia and David Carrell had nine children, from 1874 to 1890, but only one of them survived to adulthood. The toll must have been heavy on Permelia—she died on January 20, 1900 at the age of 46 and was buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington.
Before her death, she and David had to endure the stress of being sued for nonpayment of their mortgage. Charles Green died on September 1, 1894, one year after the death of his wife Rebecca,4 and his executors sued the Carrells in the Court of Chancery on December 1, 1895. The court ordered their farm to be sold at public auction, at which time the executors, Austin Green and Joseph G. Moore, purchased it for $2,000.5
Following this debacle and the death of his wife, David Carrell left Hunterdon County to work in Newark, bringing with him his three youngest daughters, Maud, Bertha and Florence. He was a day laborer in 1900, and a button maker in 1905. After his daughter Florence married Stanton Pascal, he went to live with them in Maplewood. He died there in 1939 and was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington next to his wife Permelia.
Anna Moore and Susan C. Johnson
In his article Mr. Bush mentioned that the farm was sold by Anna Moore to Susan C. Johnson. Who was this Anna Moore and how did she get the farm?
It turns out, Anna Moore was the daughter of the aforesaid Charles Green and Rebecca Smith. In other words, sister of Green’s executor, Austin Green. She was also the wife of the other executor, Joseph G. Moore. The farm of 115.48 acres was conveyed to her on April 1, 1899, not long after the suit against David Carrell was settled.6
The farm was obviously conveyed to Anna because Joseph G. Moore could not, as executor, sell it to himself. Joseph G. Moore (1845-1916) was the son of William Moore, Jr. and Mary Dalrymple. William Moore’s obituary was very sad. It was published in the Hunterdon Republican on March 18, 1873:
Mr William Moore of Headquarters, Delaware Twp, fell dead in the road while going from the store to his dwelling on Friday last; He was an old and respected citizen and had always lived in that neighborhood.
The obituary seems to suggest that Wm. Moore was a storekeeper, even though census records always labeled him a farmer. His son Joseph took up the same occupation. He was a “huckster” in 1870 when he and Anna were living with Joseph’s parents in Delaware Twp. In 1880, he was described as a grocer, and in 1882 he was a storekeeper in Rosemont.7
By 1900, Joseph G. Moore had taken up farming. He and Anna (now called Annie) had been married 32 years, but had no children. A girl identified as a step-daughter named Jennie G. Moore, age 15, was living with them.
On April 1, 1902, Anna Moore and husband Joseph G. Moore sold the Sutton farm of 115.48 acres to Susan C. Johnson for $2,030.8 The deed included this provision: “Subject to the payments conditions and agreements specified and contained in a certain indenture of mortgage by the sd Anna Moore and Joseph G. Moore to Sarah E. Fisher on April 1, 1899 . . . which obligations the grantee herein assumes.”9
Joseph G. Moore died in 1916, age 71. Anna Green Moore survived him until 1928 when she was 80 years old. The couple is buried in the Rosemont Cemetery.
Susan C. Johnson was not related to the Moores or the Greens or the Carrells. She was Susan C. Prall (1849-1930), daughter of Uriah Prall and Catharine Snyder. She married Holcombe West Johnson (1849-1923) of Delaware Twp. in 1873. He was the 13th child of Asher Johnson and Mary Ann Reading.
Just as the farm was sold to Anna Moore, and not her husband, it was sold to Susan Prall Johnson, and not her husband. The reason may have had something to do with West Johnson’s finances. On August 7, 1895, his farm of 99.5 acres on Route 523 south of Sergeantsville was put up for sale by the Sheriff, as a result of his failure to repay a loan from Elizabeth Buchanan.10
Following the purchase of the Sutton farm in 1902, the Johnsons took up residence there. This is confirmed by Mr. Bush’s article, in which he wrote:
During the ownership of the Johnsons, the barn burned down. The fire was started by the explosion of a gas engine working in the barn. By this explosion the son Paul was very seriously burned.
Actually, the son was named Uriah Prall Johnson, after his grandfather. He was the youngest of six, born November 30, 1889. He married Lottie B. Rittenhouse shortly after World War I and moved to Hightstown, Mercer County for several years. He died in 1976 and Lottie died the next year. Both are buried in the Rosemont Cemetery.
West and Susan Johnson were still living on the Sutton farm when the 1910 census was taken. West Johnson was 61 and still farming; wife Susan C. Johnson was 60. Living with them were Earl Snyder 17, hired man, and Prudence H. Larue 16, servant.
In 1918, the Johnsons sold the farm to Conrad Liedel.11 This sale may have taken place because the Johnsons were getting too old to farm. They moved to East Amwell where they were counted in the 1920 census, both of them 70 years old, living with their widowed daughter and grandchildren. Amelia P. Stout, age 86, was named as a sister.
The daughter was Mary Ann Johnson (1879-1965) who married Elmer W. Stout in 1898. Elmer Stout, a carpenter living in Lambertville in 1910, died in 1914, only 38 years old, perhaps from an accident. I tried to identify the “sister,” Amelia, but could not. She was probably the sister of Elmer W. Stout’s father Theodore H. Stout whose parents immigrated from England, according to statement by Theodore Stout on the 1920 census.
Twentieth Century Owners
As mentioned above, the farm was purchased by Conrad Liedel of Brooklyn, NY, on August 28, 1918.12 The deed to Mr. Liedel was very interesting. After giving the same description of the property that had been in use since 1880, it stated that the conveyance was subject to a purchase money mortgage of $2,000. But far more interesting to me was the information that it provided about the workings of the farm.
Susan & Holcombe W. Johnson conveyed, along with the land, “the seller’s half of the hay crop, which is harvested, all the straw except that which may be used by the tenant, all manure, all of the seller’s share of the corn stalks, except from 200 to 400 bundles, which he reserves for his own use.” The reference to “he” was probably to Holcombe Johnson, who was the one doing some farming there.
The deed also identified the current tenant farmer, which was very unusual. He was Howard Johnson, and the deed stated that the land was sold subject to his rights as tenant. His lease would not expire until April 1, 1919.
Howard Johnson (1874-1948) was the son of George C. Johnson and Julia Ann Hann. In 1914 he married Violet Beatrice Housel. So, at the time of this deed, he had a young family, with two children born in 1916. We know a little more about him because he was registered for the draft in 1918, at which time he was described as a self-employed farmer of medium height with blue eyes and light hair.
But others also had rights to the products of the farm. Peter I. Worthington had planted a field of corn, and the deed protected his right to remove the corn and half the corn fodder. And W. G. Hartpence had rights to the timber on the property, specifically to “a tract near A. L. Thatcher’s residence and the tract near William Worthington’s land, comprising collectively about 8 acres.” Hartpence was given the right “to enter sd lands to cut and remove the same, up to April 1, 1920. And he shall have the right to set his saw mill near the creek by the Thatcher tract if he elects to do so.”
Conrad and his wife Anna were both born in Germany, but they came separately to the United States, Conrad in 1893 and Anna in 1907. Anna was twelve years younger than Conrad. They married in 1916.
The 1920 census shows that the Liedel family was living in Raritan Twp., rather than in Delaware Township. They were probably living on property across the road from the Sutton farm. Conrad was 42 years old, a farmer, and his wife was 30. They had two children: Charley H. age 2 and Emma six months.
The farm was a failure for the Liedels. On March 21, 1921, They sold it to one Charles Ahlman of Delaware Twp. for $1. (It was the practice at the time to state that consideration was $1, as a way to conceal the actual sales price.) On the same day, Mr. Ahlman conveyed the farm back to Anna Liedel, but not to Conrad. Once again, a case of a woman taking title to the property instead of her husband. Then in May of 1921, Anna Liedel (and her husband Conrad) conveyed the farm to John and Margreth Yekel of Elizabeth, NJ, again for $1.13
The Yekels immediately sold the farm to John Meczionis,14 which brings us to the Mason family. Note that John Yekel sold the adjacent farm previously belonging to George N. Holcombe to Stephen Knoll in 1922.15 It was Stephen Knoll who ran a distillery during Prohibition.
The Mason Family
I learned about the Mason family’s history from Marjorie Stangle Mason and her brother-in-law Charlie Mason in 1994. According to them, the family came to Delaware Township from Harrison and Jersey City, but originally from Lithuania. Upon their arrival, the name Meczionis was changed to Mason.
I cannot say exactly when the Meczionis family arrived in America, but it was probably not long after the end of World War I. The family was listed in the 1930 census for Raritan Township. John was 50 years old and Anna was 45. They had been married for 22 years.
The 1930 census reports that they had three sons: Mechislaw 17, William 13 and John, Jr. 11. Also living with them were niece Anna Lauraitis 22 single, nephews Charles 18 and Frank 16 Lauraitis, and nephew Stanley Petrulis 13, all laborers; sister-in-law Jesoir Wirbitski 47 single and brother-in-law Milharl? Wirbitski 38 single, laborer, both born Lithuania, speak Lithuanian.
The sons were born in America, so John and Anna had to have arrived before 1914.
The reason the family was counted in Raritan rather than in Delaware was that John Mason had also purchased the Thatcher Farm from Lizzie Thatcher in 1927.16 John Meczionis died in 1930, and his sons Mechislaw and Charles inherited the farm. Marjorie Stangle, who grew up in Martinsville, NJ, married Mechislaw Mason around 1950. The couple took up residence on the Delaware Township portion of the Sutton farm.
Memories of the Old House
My interview with Marjorie Mason in 1994 took place at the Mason’s dining room table while we looked at the family photo album. One of the pictures in the Mason photo album was of children sitting on the steps of the old Sutton house which was built on the side of a hill. (For more information on that old house, see The Sutton Farm.)
By the time that the Masons became owners of the property, the old outbuildings were used for a cow barn and pig stable, while the big house itself was turned into a henhouse for 1000 chickens. During the Depression the Masons would occasionally find chickens missing. When the incubator was going they had to sleep there to keep critters away. The only heat came from a fire in the old fireplace.
When they bought the farm, the Masons were told that the old house was going to cave in. So they got a log, about 8 or 10 inches thick and propped up the second floor. When they sold the farm to Reagent Chemical in 1981, the house was still standing. Members of the Skeuse family, owners of Reagent Chemical Co., took down the old barn in order to salvage the beams which were 12-14 inches thick. It took four men and a tractor trailer, 5 or 6 days to remove them.
Addendum: In July 2019, Marjorie Sievers, a descendant of the Mason family, shared this photograph which she had found on Google. The back of the photograph says “Old Farm,” and that is how she remembers her grandparents referring to the place. So far, this is the only image we have of the original Sutton house.
There was a stone building attached to the old house with a sink and washtub, and a fireplace for heating water, with a big crane you could attach a tub to and swing it in over the fire. It was about four feet long, V-shaped, and weighed about 100 pounds, all hard steel. Marjorie’s brother-in-law John Mason, Jr., always wanted that “arm” (crane) but never got around to it, until finally one day he went to get it and found it had been stolen. The stones in the fireplace had been pried out.
Charlie Mason recalled that at the bottom of the steps to the old house there was a cement block about ten feet by five feet wide that served as a stepping stone or mounting block for climbing into wagons. It was destroyed when the house was torn down by the Mortaras, who bought the farm from Reagent and built the development.
There were many other stories told by Marjorie and Charlie, and many great pictures in their family album, including some fine old farm equipment owned by Marjorie’s husband, like one of the first John Deere field choppers and a self-propelled Massey-Harris corn picker. These were machines that only came into general use after World War II. I am sorry that Marjorie and Charlie are gone. They loved history and they loved Delaware Township, and they were wonderful to talk to.
Regrettably, this interview took place before digital cameras were common. I could not find any photographs taken during this visit, and now, 24 years later, my memory of it is very dim. And that photo album—I wonder who has it now.
Today the Sutton farm is covered with new houses, roads and driveways. It takes quite a stretch of the imagination to picture the place as it once was. But at least we have a history of it.
- Jonas Sutton’s son Amos Sutton never bought any land of his own. His was apparently not a happy life. His wife, Caroline J. Anderson, had left him in 1873, when he published this notice in the Hunterdon Co. Democrat: “To Whom it My Concern Take notice, that my wife Caroline Sutton, has left my bed and board without cause or provocation; therefore, I hereby forbid any person or persons to trust her on my account, for I will pay no debts or bills contracted by her whatever. Feb. 25, 1873. Amos Sutton.” In 1900, when he was 66 years old, he was living with his daughter Ada LaRue and her family. He died in 1909, and may have been buried in the Holcombe-Riverview Cemetery in Lambertville, although he is not listed on Find-a-Grave. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 187 p. 287. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 201 p. 401. ↩
- The couple was buried in the Rosemont Cemetery in Delaware Township. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 244 p. 400. This is a very long deed because it goes into some detail regarding the suit, and the many other parties involved. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 254 p. 30. ↩
- E. T. Bush, “Crosskeys Tavern Built in 1754,” Hunterdon Democrat, Jan. 30, 1930. ↩
- H.C. Deed Book 264 p. 288. ↩
- H. C. Mortgages, Book 80 p. 602, for $1500 at the time of purchase, and $1,000 from April 1, 1902. ↩
- H. C. Republican, August 7, 1895. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 326 p. 174. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 326 p. 174. ↩
- H.C. Deeds Book 339 pp. 493, 495 and Book 341 pp. 10, 12. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 343 p. 67. ↩
- H. C. Deed 344-445. ↩
- H. C. Deed Book 368 p. 104. ↩