in the courts of Hunterdon County. On that day in-
dictments were brought against eleven persons, six of
whom were of one family. The punishment ordered
by the court was " lashes on the bare back, to be done
at the publique whipping-post ;" three were to receive
ten lashes each, two to receive eight lashes each, and
one, a woman, to receive "three stripes on ye bare
Aug. 6, 1723, appears on the record the following:
" Domi Rex vs. R.. Densey,
Domi Rex vs. D. Maloney.
" Confessed that lie was guilty of breaking ye stocks about ye ower of
one or two in the morning on ye fourth day of July last."
Each was ordered to pay his part for repairing the
"stocks," and ten shillings costs thereon, and to stand
committed till the fine was paid.
In 1725 (July 6th), Edmond Beeks asked the court
to recognize his claim to the services of a boy aged
about twelve years. The court ordered that the boy
remain in the possession of George Green, of Amwell,
until August 16th, and appointed Samuel Green, An-
drew Smith, and John Knowles to examine into the
case, with authority to bind the lad out until he was
twenty-one if they found Mr. Beeks had no legal
claim upon him. At the same time Martha Heath
was bound out by the court to William Snowdon, of
Trenton, until she was eighteen.
May 13, 1726, Arthur Howell was appointed by the
court " doctor of ye county." In March of the same
year indictments were brought against Thomas Shird,
"one of ye attorneys of the court," for taking ex-
travagant fees of one Vroom ; Jacob and Isaac An-
derson, for stealing a book entitled the " New Testa-
ment," belonging to John Titus, and, at the meeting
of the grand jury next year, against Jacob Anderson,
" for stealing a horse-bell" ! In May, 1728, " Albertus
Opdyke came into court and swore upon the Holley
Evangelist of Almighty God that the Hog that was
in dispute between Balph Hunt and himself was not
his." Ordered that Ralph Hunt pay Albertus Opdyke
fifteen shillings and ninepence.
At the October term, 1732, the court ordered the
" managers of the publick money" to forthwith cause
to be built " a good and sufficient pair of stocks and
whipping-post, to be placed by the prison."
The following is an account of the singular trials
of the Rev. William Tennent and others in 1744 :
"About the year 1744 there was an unusual attention to religion in
this part of the country. The Rev. Wm. Tennent and the Rev. John
Rowland were considerably instrumental in calling the attention of the
people to spiritual concerns. Mr. Rowland's popularity and success was
such as to draw upon him the enmity of those who disregarded religious
truth, and among the number was the chief justice of the State, the son
of Lewis Morris, Esq., then Governor. He was a member of the Council,
as well as the head of the judiciary. The appointment of young Morris
to this office was highly reprobated by the people, who opposed the union
of the legislative and judiciary, and more especially as this union was in
the person of the sou of the Governor.*
"At this time there was a man traveling about the country by the
namo of Tom Boll, of notoriously bad character. It happened one even-
ing that Mr. John Stockton, of Princeton, met with Bell at a tavern in
that place and addressed him as Mr. Rowland. Bell told him his mis-
take. Mr. Stockton informed him that his error had arisen from his re-
markable resemblance to Mr. Rowland. This hint was sufficient for
Bell. The next day he wont into a neighboring town of Hunterdon
County, where Mr. Rowland had preached once or twice, and introduced
himself as the Rev. Mr. Rowland who had before preached for them, and
ho was invited to officiate for them the next Sabbath.
"Bell received the kindest attention of the family where ho stayed
until tbo next Sabbath, when he rode with the family in their wagon to
church ; just beforo reaching which Bell discovered that he had left bis
■ Mulford's History, p. :145.
COURTS AND COUNTY BUILDLNCS.
Wrj behind, uii. i proposed to tin- mortar of tin- family, who rode by tho
wagon on a One li->r><-, to t.ik.' bis horse and ride back, thai he might get
his riuttw and return in time f«<r the service. To tin-* the gentleman ;i -
Kontod.uw! H'-ll monnt-il Hi-' li.-r-. - , r - k» hu. :\i t-> tli- h-use, rifled the
desk <»f bis lioMt, and made off with the borne; and wherever ho stopped
ho callod hiiiiHolf tho Rev. Mr. Rowland,
"At this time the Rev. >K-<«rs. Torment ami Rowland, with Mr. Joshua '
Lndei Dn and Benjamin Stuvuna, were In Maryland or Pennsylvania on j
|,ii [in i.| ti relish. iim imtun-. S..wn ull.-i tli.-ir r.turn l» Now Jersey,
Mr. Rowland was charged with tin- robbery. At tho court tho judpe
witii great severity charged the Jurj to Bnd a hill. But it wan not until
thoy had been sent ont tin- fourth time, with threats from tho judge, that I
they agreed u|m>ii a hill For tho ullegod crime.
"(in the trial tfeasrs. Temiont, Anderson, and Stevens appeared
an Witnesses, and fully proved on alibi; ... so Mr. Rowland was ac-
quitted, to the greal diaappolnl nt and mortification "i" bis prosocutors.
. . . Their vengeance, therefore, was directed against those persons by |
whom- tf-stiiinuiy Rowland had been rlrured, ami they wore accordingly
■censed ->f pcrj ur V* and, on ex-part* testimony, the grand Jurj found bills
m| indli tm-' n i against Messrs. Xennent, Anderson, and Stevens ' for will-
ful and corrupt perjury. 1 . . . Theso Indictments wore removed to tho
Bupn Court. Hut Mr. Andorson, living in the county, and fooling
his ontiro Innocence, and being unwilling to lie under the imputation of ,
porjury. demanded a trial at the lir*t Court of Oyer and Terminer.
" lie was accordingly tried, pronounced guilty, and sentenced to stand
on ii, trt-house steps one hour with a paper on his breast, on which
was written In large letters 'This is fur willful and corrupt perjury.*
\iei the sentence was executed.
•• m. ■.-.!., Ti- ii ii. 'iii and Stevens were bound over to appear al the next
"Thoy attondod, having employed Mr. .I - lm <'.,x»>, tin eminent lawyer,
to conduct their dofonse. Mr. Teunent knew of no person living by
whom ho could prove his inno.-ence, . . . and. - -..i^i-I.-i in- it im probable
thai he mlghl suffei , he had prepared a sermon to preach from tho pil-
lory, If that should be his fate. On his arrival at Trenton lit- found Mr.
Smith, of New fork, ono of tho ablest lawyers in America, and a relig-
lous man, who had volunteered in his defense; also Mr. John Kins.y,
one ol tho first counselors of Philadelphia, who bad come by requestor
Gilbert Teunent (his brothor) for the same purpose. Messrs. Tennont
and Stevens met these gentlemen at Mr. Coxo's the morning before the
trial was to come on. Mr. Ooxe wished them to bring In their wttm — ,
thai they might examine them before going into court Mr. Tenneut
replied that ho did not know ..f miv witness but God and bis own con-
science, Mr. Ooxe replied, ' If you have no witnesses, sir, the trial must
be put oil ; ..ih.'i wise, you will most Certainty be defeated. Your enemies
are making great exertions to ruin you.' 'I am K.r.-iH' of this,' -aid
U r, Tennont ; l ye1 It never shall be said that I have delayed the trial or
been afraid to meet tho justice of my country. I know my It
and that God whom I serve will not give me over Into thi bands of th<
my. Then-lure, gentlemen, go on with tho trial.' Mewrw. Smith and
Ktnsey told him that his i-i.niideneo and trust in God as a Christian mill-
the gospel were well founded, and before a heavenly tribunal
would he all-Important to htm, but assured blmthal ti
in an earthly court, and urged his consent !<■ put oil the trial. But Mr.
Xennent utterly refused,
" Mr. Ooxe told Nim that Uioro was a flaw in the Indictment of which
he might avail himself. A tier hearing an e\pl.« nation from Mr. Coxe re-
specting the nature oi the error, Mr. Tennent declared thai he would
iii.-i death than consent to such a course. Sir. Stevens, however,
i I ■■ d theopportunttj afforded, and wasdisi barged. Mr. Ooxe still urged
Mi Ton n en I to have the trial put off, . . . but Mr. T. Insisted that they
should proceed, and left thorn, thoy not knowing how to act, whan the
bell summoned them to coui t,
" Mr. Tonnenl had not walked far before be was met by a man and wife,
who asked If his numo was nol Tonnont Bo told them It was, and asked
u they had an] business with blm,
" rh« man said they had come from the place In Pennsylvania or Mary*
land where, at a particular time, Messrs. Rowland, I
and Stevens had lodged, and in the house where they were; that on the
next -lay thoy had heard Messrs. Tonnont and Rowland preach; thai a
few olghts before thoy (tho man and wif had left home, on a
of a sound sleep, both had dreamed that Mr. Tonnenl was al Trenton In
Ills greatest distress, and that It was In then | only, to re-
lieve him. This dream was twice repeated to them both, and so deep was
the Impression mad.- on tholi minds thai thai had come to i
wished to Know of him what they wore t.- do.
■* Mi. T. took them before lilacuuusol, who.aftei namtnlng ihem and
finding the testimony of tho man and bis wife full and to the \
were perfectly astonished. Before the trial began, another j»ereon came
to Mr. T. and told him that lie WU so troubled in mind f.r the part ho
had taken in the prosecution that be could find no rest till he had doter-
mini d toi ome out and make a full confession. Mr. T. sent this msn to
Ids counsel. Soon after, Mr. Stockton, from Princeton, appeared and
added his testimony.
"On trial, the advocates of the defendant so traced every moves
Mr. Tennent on the Saturday, Sabbath, ami Monday— tho time of the
theft and robbery by Bell— that the jury did not hesitate to acquit Mr.
"Thus was Mr. Tennent, by tho remarkable interposition of Divine
Providence, delivered out of the hands of his eueuilea."*
The court records ol' the year 177*1 present two wry
dissimilar forms of *\ |n. - inir the time of holding ita
sessions, indicative of the impending struggle for in-
dependence. The May term opened "at the court-
house in Trenton, on the first Tuesday La .May. in the
\i\th iff <rr of llir luiqn of Kim} denrrje t/t>: Third;" the
August term, " in the year of our Lord one thousand
srvrii hundred and Beventy-six."
Ai the August term id* 1778 inquisition was brought
by the State against thirty-three persons " for going
to the army of the King of I In-at Britain," and. on
default to appeal, commissioners were ordered to ad-
vertise their property agreeably to law. This was
sold, and the proceeds reverted to the State.
In 1785 the courts first met at Flemington, although
the court-house was not erected until 1791, — a delay
occasioned, most likely, by the " troublous times" fol-
lowing the Revolutionary war.
In 1784, Orphan-' Courts were established in this
Stale, and provision was made by law for one surro-
gate being appointed in each county, whose powi r
was limited to the cnuut\ 1 lu- original |uri: It; imn
of the ordinary remained as before, until, in Im'", it
was restricted to the granting of probates of wills,
letters of administration, letters of guardianship, and
to the hearing and final determining of disputes that
may arise thereon. In these matters it is Mill con-
current with that of the Surrogates' and Orphans'
( lourts, and from all orders and decrees of the Orphans'
Courts an appeal may be taken to the prerogative
court. Prior to 1844 the surrogate was appointed by
the joint meeting of the Legislature; the new con-
stitution pro\ ided for his election by a popular rote.f
In the first volume of records of the Orphan-'
Court of Hunterdon County, in the surrogate's office
at Flemington, the following is the first entry :
" Mj,\ Term, 1785, Saturday, nth.— At on Orphan*' Court holden at
Trenton, In inntj <.i Hunterdon. Prceent,
Jarod Soxtfii, Robert L Hooper, Joseph Beavers, Ksqulres, Judges.
itJon mode, and the court opened tor nil pereoni whowfl] me or
complain. . . . The rourt adjourned agreeably to law."
From the above it appears that no business was
transacted, tit*- first e\ tdence of w hich is of date
, Joseph Reading*
Jared Saxt-'ii, J pfa BeaTon, Esq*.Jadgei Barmb Hall presented a pe-
liti.-ii to tin" i -nit pnivi'ik' th.it - '-.n-.i-l K i;
• - I . A lex indi . D D . p. 189.
t Kiniri"- Cunei and Ooi | i.\ 18.
HUNTERDON COUNTY, NEW JERSEY.
to her son, Thomas Hall; and the said Conrad Kotts appearing in court
with Archibald Yard, his security, and offering to accept Baid trust, or-
dered by the court that the prayer of the petition be granted, and that
the surrogate take bonds," etc.
The settlement of the estate of Francis Tomlinson,
deceased, was ordered hy the court, and on citation for
settlement of the estate of Maurice Robeson, deceased
(John Kockhill "surviving executor" ), " Mr. Smith ap-
pearing for executor," it was " ordered that John Rock-
hill attend before the surrogate of the county at Pitts
Town on Wednesday the 23d of Nov r next at ten
o'clock in the forenoon for the purpose of settlement."
Similar orders were made in the cases of " Andrew
Keephart, administrator of Jacobus Johnson, dec'd,
against Cornelius Johnson, surviving exec r of Cor-
nelius Johnson, dec'd," and " John Case & Others,
Legatees, & c , ag st Peter & Mathias Case, ex rs of An-
thony Case, deceased." Court then " adjourned ac-
cording to law."
The first grand jury (which was May term of
court, 1838), after a portion of Mercer County was
taken from Hunterdon County, was summoned by
John Runk, sheriff, and was composed of the follow-
ing: John Rockafellow, Henry S. Hunt, George
Opdycke, Isaac R. Srope, Henry Disborough, Richard
Bennett, Adam M. Bellis, Morgan Scudder, James B.
Green, Joseph Huffman, John Ramsey, Amos Hart,
Benjamin S. Hill, John Vanderbeek, James Cooley,
Larason Stryker, William H. Johnson, Richard S.
Demott, Joseph Boss, Nelson Thatcher, Tunis Smith.
The first colored person to serve as a juror in
Hunterdon County figured in a case before Esq.
Angel, June 18, 1873*
Three persons only have been convicted of murder
in this county. The first, James Van Atta, of Alex-
andria, a white man of about thirty years of age, shot
a neighbor with whom he was at enmity, and buried
him in the forest; he was hung in July, 1794. The
second was a slave named Brom, who killed a fellow-
slave in his master's kitchen with a trammel ; he ex-
piated his crime on the gallows Nov. 11, 1803. These
executions took place in the upper part of Fleming-
ton, near the Reading mansion. The last case of capi-
tal punishment was the hanging of James Guise,t the
colored boy, for the willful murder of his aged mistress,
in Hopewell, with an ox-yoke. He was hung Nov.
28, 1828, the gallows being erected in a field west of
the village of Flemington, near the road to Centre
Bridge. His trial was one of unusual interest, and
memorable in the annals of this county. James
Guise, commonly known as "Little Jim," was a
colored boy about fourteen years of age, idle and
vicious. lie murdered Mrs. Beaks, an old lady with
whom he lived in Hopewell. Refused a gun for
which he had asked her, he struck her with a piece of
;i neck-yoke, the prongs of which inflicted mortal
* "Our Homo," 1873.
f liarber and Howe's " Hist. Coll. of New Jorsoy" orri i
lamo us James Buun. The records plainly say Guise.
wounds. The trial, which commenced the first Tues-
day in May, 1828, was largely 1 attended. Sixteen
witnesses appeared for the State, and three for the
defense. Upon the bench during that term sat the
Hons. George R. Drake, associate justice of the Su-
preme Court, George Rea, David Stout, Luther Op-
dyke, and John Thompson. William Halstead, Esq.,
was counsel for the State, and Messrs. Saxton, Clark,
Scott, and Prall were assigned by the court to de-
fend the prisoner. The jury brought in a verdict of
" Guilty in manner and form as he stands indicted,
and so we say all." Joseph W. Scott, Esq., moved
that judgment be respited, to get the advisory opinion
of the Supreme Court, which was granted till the
"fourth Tuesday of October next." October 9th
James Guise was brought into court, the same judges
being on the bench,
"And at the said court at Flemington aforesaid the said James Guise
being set at the bar and being asked if he had anything to say why the
court should not pronounce sentence of death against him, he answered,
No; whereupon, mi motion for judgment for the State, the court order
that the said James Guise be taken from hence to the place from whence
he came, and that on Friday, the 28th day of November next, between
the hours of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, he be taken
to the place of execution and be hanged by the neck until he be dead."£
From that date to the present time no death-sen-
tence has been pronounced in Hunterdon County.
This trial, conviction, and sentence formed a source
of great excitement among the people of Hunterdon,
and, while a few plead for his deliverance on the score
of his youth, the great masses felt that justice ought
to take her course, — that the young wretch should
suffer the penalty of the law. The Supreme Court,
to whom the question was submitted, saw fit not to
reverse the verdict.
In prison " Little Jim" manifested the same ma-
lignity of disposition that had characterized his for-
mer life, and which is often found in the full-blooded,
ignorant, and superstitious Guinea negro. It is said
he would glare upon those who passed the grating of
his cell " with looks that made stout hearts quail. He
had listened with curious interest to the proceedings
of his trial, and caught up many parts of the forms of
law used in the court-room. In his cell mice would
scamper across the floor, and he with cat-like dex-
terity would catch them. At one time he succeeded
in capturing thirteen and tying them fast with a
string. Twelve he constituted into a jury ; the thir-
teenth, a reckless little dark-colored mouse, was forced
to play the culprit. The trial being over, Jim would
say to the poor little mouse, ' Now, you wicked little
nigger, you know you killed that old woman 1 How
say you, gentlemen of the jury, guilty or not guilty?'
' Guilty 1' and the offender's body would soon dangle
from a string."
Thousands came to Flemington to witness this, the
last execution within the limits of Hunterdon County.
An immense crowd had gathered, in wagons, standing
X Court llooord.
rolIKTS AND COUNTY UUILDLV iS.
or sitting wherever they could. As the culpril stood
upon the fatal drop, the cap drawn over his eyes, by :i
cunning movement unknown to the sheriff In- slipped
up the cap, ami when the pin was removed he caught
oie toes on the edge of the platform, hi- eyes wide
open, Btaring at the crowd. The people turned away
horrified, while the Bheriffwas compelled to return to
the scaffold and push the culprit's feet from the plank.
This was the end of " Little Jim I"
Tin- first court-house of Hunterdon County, after
Elemington became the county-seat, was erected in
the summer of 1791. It was on the site of the preeenl
buildings, and was constructed of stone brought " from
Large's Land in Kin-wood." The history of this
edifice, as it appears in the records, is as follows:
At the firsl meeting, held at Flemington, of the
board of justices and freeholders of Hunterdon
County, Jan. 3, 1791, "'the question being put what
sum should be raised for building court hous, gaol, etc.,
ii was carried for the sum of twenty-five hundred
pounds." < 'id. John Ta\ lor, < 'ol. William Chamber-
lain, and .John Snyder were appointed a committee to
make a draft of a plan for the same. The board met
at the house of George Alexander, January 27th.
The record states thai
"Mr. George Alexander appeared before, the Board and offered half an
acre of laiul free, gratis for tin- use of UiiMhm t h<> Com i l . on ■ ■■. < ; .., 1. uml
Gatd-yard, on the southeast corner of his Dwslllng-House Lott, exclusive,
of tho Roads, which was accepted, and said buildings 1h to be erected
thereon accordingly. The several flans woro thon brought forward by
tho committee appointed for that purpose, when a plan of sixty feet by
thirty-flve feet, two Htoric* high, the first story nine feet high, tin- s .■■■.. n« I
.story fourteon foot high, and to bo finished complete agreeable to Plan,
William Chamberlain, Thomas Stout, ami Joseph
Atkinson were appointed managers.
"A motion was made and seconded to take a voto whether the man-
ogors should employ workmen by the Da) or by the Grate; 11 was car-
ried for the latter. The managers nre to draw noy Crom time to time
us occasion may n-<|uin< fur the purpose of defli in expenses of said
building, and to render account of the expenditure ol the same to the
Justices and chosen freeholders when thereunto required bj
En this connection the deed for the court-house Lot
i- given, as being of historic value. It is recorded in
Volume A of deeds of Hunterdon County, p. 684 :
■: i.i A i i \ INDBB
Tun BoiJU) Or JVSTIOU KHU t'uvniMi i.i i
OOUH IV Of Hi NTI.UIK'N.
"This Indenture, made tin Qfteentb day ol klarob, Intho tift ith year
of tin' Independence of Amorica, Annoque Domini i thou
hundred and ninety-one, Dotwoen Qoorge Alexander of Flemington, in
the tMwnhiui.ni' Amwoll, In tho county ol Uuntordou and Bl
i,.- pin I , .iii.I tin' »■ ;irl ■■: '
freeholders ol the count] of Hunterdon of the othei part \\ bereas the
oourt-house and gaol belonging to the county of Hunterdon i- no* In
one corner of tho county and much out of repair, I
great number of tho Inhabitants ol ed the Legislature
of Ho- Stat.- of New Jersey to make a law rorthe Inhal I
i'Y 11 majority ol fob i ol ild i ountj to u\ b pi where the oourt-house
and gaol ol and for id count) should be built Whereupon thi I
ture of the said Btate ol Mam Jersey, on the twenty-sixth das ■ ' U •>.
Anno Domlny, 1700, passed a law allowing the inhal. itants of the county
ol Hunt r i □ (entitled to rote al the Rcneral oloctions), at an election to
be ootli the i ounty of Hunterdon to the eai-1 Inhabit*
: . t . i thai they ah the house of John Heldrum, in the
township ol amwell, at the place called Bingo Tavern, end by s nun.. my
of votes to ti* the plac when the court-house and gaol shall ho built for
tho said county, and that the election should be opened and concluded in
tho mode in which elections tor representatives for said county an*, as is
particularly set forth In the law. Whereupon William Lowry, Star.,
high sheriff of the c itj of Hunterdon, did give the notice required hy
law as aforesaid that on the second Tuesday In October then next ensuing
. . . the election would I pened <-n tho day and place aforebaid fur tho
i i i i, i ii timeand place the Inhabitants of said
met and proceeded as directed by the law, and, on the votes twin
up, it appeared thai s majoi Ity was for the court-bouse aud gaol t»» bo
built ;tt Flemington (which Is tn the township of Amwell, In the county
oi Hunterdon), as by the certlflcatoof the said sherifl and Ins]
the said election which Is In tho following words,— viz.: We do hereby
certify to oil whom it may concern that at an election begun on tho
twelfth Instant and ended this day agreeable to an act of tho I.
,,i Hi,- st.it- mi nyw ,i,i «■) pn. - . ,i ut Perth V ml toy the lw< nty-elxth day
..f May last for the purpose of fixing on a place for building a court-
house and gaol for the county of Hunterdon, the town of Elemington,
extending half •> mile on each of the public roads from the bouse of
George Alexander, Innkeeper In said town, was fixed by a majority of
votes for the iil*.\<- mentioned purpose. Witness our hands and mm l.- tlo.
twenty-first day uf i>« toh.-r Ann.. Domini one thousand Bevon hundred
and ninety. William l,..wry, High Shoriff [l.s.] ; Nathaniel Temple,
Insp. [i..s.] ; Andrew Boeder, Insp. [la] ; Thomas Bowlsby, Insp. [i..a.];
Ileubon McPbereon, Intp. [l.s.]; Henry Bockafollow, Insp. [i. - I
Dawes, Insp, [i .>.]; Joseph Bcudder, Insp. [l.8.]; Arthur Henrle, Insp.
[la]; Ezekiel Blue, fnsp. [la]; Charles Beading, Iusp. [la]. After
which— to wit, the 27th day of January, In the year of odr Lord ona
I seven hundred and ninety-one — the chosen freeholdei