The question of whether Washington actually visited Headquarters has bedeviled local historians for decades. The source of the controversy was Fanny Carrell, who was interviewed by Charles W. Opdycke, for his well-known Opdyke Genealogy sometime around 1880 [pg 218-19]. Frances ‘Fanny’ Opdycke was the wife of James Carrell, and he was the grandson of Elizabeth Opdycke Arnwine, daughter of old John Opdycke Esq.

George Washington, 1782

James Carrell died in 1874 and Fanny, his wife, died after 1882. We know it was Fanny who spoke to Charles W. Opdycke because she identified herself as the great-granddaughter of Joshua Opdycke and a third-cousin to her husband. She claimed that John Opdycke built the Skeuse house as well as ‘Whitehall’ and ‘Headquarters House’ where he also built a store. She also stated that John Opdycke built the mill on Old Mill Road, when in fact it was run by the Rittenhouse family long before Opdycke acquired it. To give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Opdycke upgraded an existing mill.

How did she know these things? From what her relatives told her. Fanny said she got her information about Washington occupying the Headquarters mansion house and store from her husband’s mother, a granddaughter of John Opdycke. According to the Opdyke Genealogy, Fanny said that Elizabeth Arnwine Carrell, granddaughter of John Opdycke, “was a remarkable woman,”

truthful and reliable, and often visited our house for months; never forgot anything she had heard or seen, and was very fond of relating stories of old times. She died Feb. 13, 1864, aged 94 years and 14 days. She remembered seeing General Washington seated with her grandfather under a shed before a stone pork house in the yard of her grandfather’s house. She was eight years old, and Washington gave her a penny to bring him a drink of water from the spring.

This is a charming picture, but something is wrong. If Fanny was correct that Elizabeth Arnwine Carrell died in 1864 at age 94, then she was born in 1770, which would make her 8 years old in 1778, just in time to see Washington moving his army east toward the Battle of Monmouth. Washington crossed the state of New Jersey several times—in 1776, 1777, 1778 and 1779. So we have a range of possible birth dates for 8-year-old Elizabeth: 1768-1771.

Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Opdycke, was born about 1738 and died at age 99 on January 15, 1837. She married John Arnwine Sr. who died about 1819. They had 7 children, including Elizabeth, who was actually born about 1781, not 1770. The birth year of 1781 conforms to her census data for 1850 and 1860 and to a death announcement in “The Hunterdon County Democrat.”

“Deaths: Near Locktown, January 21st [1867], Mrs. Elizabeth, wife of Mr. Elisha Warford, aged 86 years.”

(Oddly enough, the death announcement was not published until July 17, 1867 [Vol. 29, no. 47 (1594)].) Elisha Warford was Elizabeth’s second husband. He survived her, dying in 1872. Her first husband was Daniel Carrell who died in 1817.

Therefore, the Elizabeth who was a granddaughter of John Opdycke and mother of James Carrell was born in 1781, and was too young to have seen Washington in Headquarters during the Revolution. And her death date does not agree with the very specific date given by Fanny Carrell.

So now I have three questions. First, who was it who died on February 13, 1864, aged 94 years and 14 days? And secondly, why would Fanny be wrong about her mother-in-law’s death date and age? And finally, who was it who saw George Washington?

I spent a little time trying to see if there was another Opdycke descendant who could have been 8 years old between 1776 and 1779. One was Elizabeth Arnwine Carrell’s sister Margaret Arnwine, who was born about 1770 and married Samuel Buchanan. But she died in 1808, about 7 years before Fanny Carrell was born. Perhaps Elizabeth Carrell was telling Fanny a story that came from Margaret Buchanan.

Another possibility was Margaret Opdycke, born about 1770 to George Opdycke and Sophie Baker. She married first David Warford (c.1764-1791) and second William Bailey (c.1775-1818). David Warford was the uncle of Elisha Warford, who was the second husband of Elizabeth Arnwine Carrell. Both David Warford and Elisha Warford lived in Kingwood Township, near the Delaware Township line, so Fanny’s recollection of visits from her husband’s mother make sense, but may also apply to this older lady, Margaret Opdycke Warford Bailey. But then again, Margaret’s father, George Opdycke, son of John Opdycke Esq., was living in Kingwood Twp. during the Revolution, and raised his family there, so Margaret is not likely to have been present in Headquarters in 1778, unless she was visiting her grandfather. So, we cannot rule her out.

Are you confused? Perhaps this will help.

John Opdycke (1710-1777) and Margaret Green (1711-1775)
had Elizabeth Opdycke (1738-1837), who married John Arnwine Sr. (c.1735-c.1819)
who had Elizabeth Arnwine (c.1781-1867), who married Daniel Carrell (c.1775-1817)
who had James Carrell (1813-1874), who married Frances ‘Fanny’ Opdycke (c.1815-aft.1882)

John Opdycke (1710-1777) and Margaret Green (1711-1775)
had Elizabeth Opdycke (1738-1837), who married John Arnwine Sr. (c.1735-c.1819)
who had Margaret Arnwine (c1770-1808), who married Samuel Buchanan (c.1762-c.1855)

John Opdycke (1710-1777) and Margaret Green (1711-1775)
had George Opdycke (1743-1795), who married Sophie Baker (c.1740-1843)
who had Margaret Opdycke (c.1770- ?), who married David Warford (c.1764-1791)