by Jonathan M. Hoppock

Democrat-Advertiser, 26 September 1901

The above view of this old mansion now standing on the farm of Manning Dilts in Raritan Township, at the top of what is known as Buchanan’s or Dilley’s Hill, built in 1725, making it one hundred and seventy-six years old, was recently photographed by Mr. J. C. Sunderlin of Flemington.1  From this elevation the eye has a view of the Raritan valley as far east as Bound Brook. Also from this point a view can be had of the Sourland Mountain range from the Delaware on the west, extending through the counties of Hunterdon and Somerset, presenting to the view a greater scope of country than can probably be seen from any other point in the county.

As to its history your correspondent has it from the lips of his grandfather that he, when a boy of eight or nine years of age, went in company with his father to see General Washington and his staff who made it his headquarters for a short time during the last of July, in the year 1777.2 This was the time when Washington by slow marches was passing with his army through New Jersey, watching the movements of Lord Howe at New York, not knowing whether he would march his army north and join Burgoyne or sail to attack Philadelphia.3  The American army was moving in three divisions toward the Delaware, the northern one encamping for three days at the foot of the hill before mentioned in three different containments, one on the place now owned by Nathaniel Shepherd, one on the farm of Hiram M. Holcombe near Sand Brook, and the other on the farm of Joseph Carrell at  Headquarters, now Grover.4

Note: This property was dealt with extensively in my series of articles on Buchanan’s Tavern. Click on the topic in the right-hand column.

  1. The photo was scanned from the Advertiser, and is none too good. In 1777, the owner of Buchanan’s Tavern was John Buchanan, son-in-law of John Opdycke. The house is located at the corner of Route 523 and Route 579, on the top of the hill, as Hoppock says. This John Buchanan and his tavern were written about by Egbert T. Bush, “Buchanan’s, A Tavern With a Long History.”
  2. J. M. Hoppock’s grandfather was John R. Hoppock (1769-1853), so he was indeed 8 or 9 years old in 1777. His great-grandfather was John Hoppock (1726-1816), making him 51 years old in 1777.
  3. In another article Hoppock claims that Gen. Washington stopped in Headquarters to visit with John Opdycke, also in late July 1777. But Washington could only have spent an afternoon and perhaps an evening in Amwell Township in 1777, given his rapid journey across the state from Morristown to Coryell’s Ferry. His movements in late July were not as slow as Hoppock indicates. Regrettably, Washington made no mention in his letters or papers of spending time in any location in Delaware Township. However–Hoppock “had it from the lips of his grandfather,” and that cannot be ignored.
  4. I am a little surprised that Hoppock neglected to mention that the farm of Nathaniel Shepherd was owned by his great-grandfather John Hoppock.