James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

. (page 126 of 190)
Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 126 of 190)
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may be called the faculty of logical construction, en-
abling him with surprising ease to master and unfold
all the intricacies of a case from the simple develop-
ments of the trial as it proceeds. This faculty — rare
in all but # the greatest lawyers, and not always pos-
sessed by them — is in itself sufficient to stamp him as
one of the foremost members of the profession. He
is perhaps one of the ablest lawyers in the State, taken
in all departments of the law.

Mr. Shipman is a pronounced and prominent Re-
publican, and was for a long time a member of the
Republican State Executive Committee. He is held
in great esteem by his party. He has never sought
office, but office may be said to have sought him. His
political friends have frequently urged him to stand
for the highest places in the State, particularly that of
Governor, which, however, he has declined. As a po-
litical speaker he is extremely effective. He is a mem-
ber of the Presbyterian Church, of which he has been
a ruling elder for over twenty years, and during most
of this period superintendent or assistant superintend-
ent of the Sabbath-school, and at all times a consistent
and liberal supporter of church and school alike. He
married, in 1845, a daughter of W. C. Morris, Esq., of
Belvidere. His son, George M., is a member of the
New Jersey bar, and since 1873 has been his law-part-
ner, the firm being J. G. Shipman & Son. For one
year, 1868, Mercer Beasly, Jr., son of Chief Justice
Beasly, was his partner.

James M. Robeson is a lineal descendant of Jona-
than Robeson, who came from England about the
time of William Penn and settled on the Schuylkill,
near Philadelphia. In 1741 he commenced the erec-
tion of the first iron-furnace in what was then Green-
wich township, Morris Co., N. J., to which he gave
the name of " Oxford Furnace," in compliment, it is
said, to his father, Andrew Robeson, who had been
educated at the University of Oxford. From this the
township of Oxford took its-name upon its erection,
in 1754. The Robesons were of the Society of Friends
or Quakers, and were among the most wealthy of the
early settlers.

We quote the following from Edsall's Centennial
Address :

"Jonathan Robeson was one of the first judges of Sussex County. His
father an J grandfather both wore the ermine heforo him in Pennsylvania;
while his eon, grandson, and great-grandson, eaell in his turn, occupied
seats on the judicial bench. William P. Robeson, of Warren County,
was the sixtli judge in regular descent from his ancestor, Androw Robe-
son, who came to America with William Penn, and was a member of
Governor Markliam's Privy Council."

Morris Robeson, a son of Jonathan, was associated
with his father in the erection of the Oxford Furnace.
He married Anne Rockhill, a sister of Dr. John
Rockhill, of Pittstown, Hunterdon Co., N. J., April
25, 1750. Between 1750 and 1755, Morris Robeson

purchased a tract of land in the Highlands, in Orange
Co., N. Y., to which he removed with his family, and
there erected the first iron-furnace in the then prov-
ince of New York. He gave to this estate and fur-
nace the name of " Forest of Dean."

Mr. Robeson continued to remain there, carrying
on his business, until failing health compelled him to
relinquish it, and about 1760 he returned to New
Jersey, where he soon after died, and was buried in
the Friends' burying-ground at Quakertown, Hunter-
don Co. The date of his death, as recorded in the
old Elizabethan Bible published in England in 1599,
and preserved in the family of James M. Robeson, of
Belvidere, was Nov. 13, 1761. Anne Robeson, his
wife, died Feb. 26, 1774.

The children of Morris and Anne Robeson were
Elizabeth, born June 15, 1751; Mary, born Feb. 1,
1753; John, born July 22, 1755; Achsah, born March
21, 1757; David Maurice, born May 19, 1759; Anne,
born Feb. 14, 1762.

Of the children above named, John, the third
son, was the father of the subject of this sketch.
He was born at Oxford Furnace, Jan. 22, 1755, and
was well, though not liberally, educated. During
the Revolution, Mrs. Robeson being a widow, the
family was broken up, some of its members living in
New Jersey and some in Pennsylvania, Before the
close of the war all had died except Elizabeth, Morris,
and John, who in 1781 returned to Oxford and settled
on a farm situated at the lower end of Green Pond,
broken in fortune by the vicissitudes of the war, yet
with sufficient property to make a comfortable living.
The brothers and sister lived here together, all un-
married. In 1782, Morris removed to Pittstown, and
subsequently to Philadelphia. John and Elizabeth
continued to live together upon the farm until 1799,
when John was united in marriage to Martha Boyle,
daughter of Anthony Boyle, of Sussex County. Eliza-
beth died single in Belvidere, April, 1833.

John Robeson followed the pursuit of an agricul-
turist, and dealt largely in the exportation of cattle to
Canada from 1783 to about 1810. He died May 2,
1836, and his wife, Martha, died Feb. — , 1849. The
children of John and Martha Robeson were Maurice,
Ann Elizabeth, Mary, Edward Rockhill, Anthony
Boyle, Caleb Newbold, John, Andrew, and James M.

James M. Robeson, the subject of this sketch, is the
only surviving member of the family. He was born
Nov. 1, 1819, on the farm near Hope, in Oxford town-
ship, where his early life was spent. He was educated
at the Friends' Academy in Philadel phia and at Lafay-
ette College, Easton, and began the study of the law
with John M. Sherrerd, Esq., in 1843, having previ-
ously been engaged in the mercantile business in that
town for several years. He finished his legal studies,
and was admitted to the bar as an attorney at the
January term, 1848, and as a counselor at the Febru-
ary term, 1860. From March 23, 1860, to March 27,
1865, he held the position of prosecutor of the pleas.





It was at the beginning of his services in I
st the April term, 1860, that he was called up-.n. by
Tirtue of his office, in beha - :aanage

one of the most important criminal trials in the annals
of the county , — that 3 larden fur the murder

of his wife. He w- assisted in -:al by

William L. Dayton, then attorney-general; and. al-
the evidence »i- entirely circumstantial, it
satisfy' all unprejudii
. tilt of the "prison r. II - _'uilty,

and was executed June 28, ntious

manner in which Mr. Robeson handled the
well as his tact and ability in its management. -
to him an honorable position as a counselor, and he
thenceforward took a leading place at the bar. which
he has ever -ince maintained. He is. with exception
of Jehiel C Shipman, Esq., the oldest living member
of the Warren County bar.

Robeson was elected by the joint meet-
lie Legislature law-judge of Warren County.
He held the otii -:gned.

Judge Robeson was married in '. - Sarah Owen,

an estimable lady of Belvidere. The fruit of this
union nan been five childn
One died in infancy.

iie sake of making a more complete outline
sketch • n family of this sect :' New

i ag :
Robeson,! -:id brother of John,

I Tacy Paul, of Philadelphia, and became one
of the large mercantile firm of Paul, Robeson A Paul,
who were intimately connected with the city govern-
ment during the latter part of the last and commence-
f the present century. He had a family of
hildren, all -

he purchased the old homestead property of the
Shippen estate, to whom it had been sold by his
grandfather, and removed to Oxford Furnace with
his family, and died there al*>ut 1822
Hon. William II. Morrow, pr—iding judge of
this county, was born at Deckertown,
Suae N J., in February. 1*4-4. He read law

with Levi Shepherd, of that place, and subsequently
in the office of Linn A Shepherd, in Newton. 1 1

i to the bar of the Supreme Court of this
is an attorney in N
• ■
Immediately alter becoming an attorney he re-
to Belvidere. and began the |
- >n in the office of Hon. I>. A. Depue. then

tinued in his profession here till January, 1875, when
he went to Newark and formed a copartnership with
- iw and James M I
re for four years, but baring his
residence in BelvM

. rials here he was retained

nd a number of tin uv . t eon-

- so admirably that upon thi

of Judge Vliet he was unanimously recommended
by the bar for the judgeship, and appointed i
ernor HcClellan to the p - r.er in

speaking of his appointment say-. —

* By bis untiring industry he has succeeded in building op a lucratire
pracTi-re, and has made himself felt aa a man of sterling character and
moral parity. This Domination and prompt confirmation as law-judge of
Warren County will please the people of the eoanty, regardless of politi-
cal distinction. In him a worthy successor of the lamented Judge Vliet
will he found. He has an attractire bearing, a fine personal appearance,
and in all the essentials of legal experience and attainments he is well
qualified for the hooorable position he is now i-allml to fill. The feeling
throughout the county it one of genuine satisfaction at the selection of
to acceptable an officer."

. Morrow has five brothers, all of whom are
members of the legal profession and were at one time
bag in Newark. He relates a story of a client
in Newark once expressing considerable interest in
his having five brothers who were lawyer-, whereupon
the judge said to him that was not the most remark-
able feature of it. inasmuch as each of the other- had
five brother- who were lawyers. The client was quite
dumfounded with this information, and went out of
> uncertain whether there were twenty-five or
thirty lawyers iu the family.

The important business of the Orphan-' Court has
been attended to with the greatest care
row, and. it is believed, to the entire satisfaction of
the people of the county. It may be noticed that the
official ■ that the business of the courts

has been transacted in less than one-half the time
that has been usually required for that pi

- an elder in the Second i
terian Church of Belvidere. and superintendent of its
Sabbath-school. His residence, on the corner of
Third and Greenwich Streets, is one of ti.
handsome in town.

Henry S. IIap.ei-. — His grandfather i- Dr. Henry
rris, who for fifty years has been a prominent
phv-ician. most of which time he practiced 1
N. J. An extended ski
his life and ancestry may be found in the Medical
if thi- work.

father of Henry S. Harris, was born '

tington, Html

in Belvid.re in 1843, and upon the resignation of

John Stuart, the first cashier of the Belvidere Bank,

- i to fill the position, which [dace he has

retained for a period of twenty-six years. Hellas

- d in all that pertains to '
interest- and a supporter of all worthy
local enterpri- ■ rly a member of the old

vine identified with the Republi-
can party upon its organization, in 1856, and has been
somewhat active in the pr its principles

in town-hip and, county matters. For many year- he
has taken a prominent and influential part in the
order of Odd-Fellows in N and has filled

the office of < Irand Blaster, and -ix yean Grand Rep-
itiTe to Grand Lodge of the United States, II -
wife i- Susan, a da .n Stuart and Eliza



Lawrence Everitt. Her father was of Scotch birth ;
came to America and settled in Warren County in
1811. He kept a store at Hope, and then removed to
Ramsayshurg, in Knowlton township, where he was
proprietor of a public-house for some time ; was deputy
sheriff' of the county for several years, and upon the
organization of the Belvidere Bank was elected its
cashier, which position he retained for many years,
and resigned in 1854.

The children of Israel Harris are Henry S., Frank
V., a student-at-law in the office of his brother, Henry
S. ; Charles E., a member of the junior class at
Princeton in 1880 ; and Carrie A., wife of Dr. E. M.
Beesley, of Belvidere.

Henry S. Harris, subject of this sketch, and son of
Israel Harris, was born in Belvidere, Dec. 27, 1850.
He received his early education at the public schools
of his native place, was prepared for college in the
classical school of Rev. Frederick Knighton, pastor
of the Oxford Presbyterian Church, and entered the
sophomore class at Princeton in the fall of 1867, from
which institution he was graduated in the class of
'70. Immediately following his graduation, he com-
menced the study of law in the office of J. G. Ship-
man, at Belvidere, was admitted to the bar as attorney
at the June term in 1873, and as counselor at the
June term in 1876. Upon being admitted to the bar
as attorney he opened a law-office in Belvidere, and
has remained in continuous practice there since. In
March, 1877, he was appointed prosecutor of the pleas
for Warren County by Governor Bedle, and is the
incumbent of that office in 1880.

Mr. Harris ranks among the most prominent of the
younger members of the profession in the State, and
his legal ability has been very fully developed while
acting as prosecutor in some of the most important
causes ever tried in New Jersey. The most notable of
these were the cases of the strikers on the Morris and
Essex and the New Jersey Central Railroads, in
which nearly a score of them were indicted and con-
victed, and also in the famous Warren County ring
trials of 1878, wherein twelve high officials of the
county were indicted, convicted, and sent to the
State's prison and jail for conspiracy, forgery, and
embezzlement, seventy -six bills of indictment having
been found against them.

In the fall of 1880, Mr. Harris, having since 1872
acted as a Democrat, received the unanimous nomi-
nation for member of Congress from the Fourth Con-
gressional District of New Jersey by the Democratic
party, and was elected by a majority of four thousand
one hundred and seventy-three, against Gen. Judson
Kilpatrick, the Republican candidate. The district
is composed of the counties of Sussex, Warren, Hun-
terdon, and Somerset.

Mr. Harris married, Aug. 19, 1874, Miss Martha, a
daughter of Anthony B. Robeson, deceased, of Belvi-
ilrrc. They have one child, Bertha Robeson, aged
four years and six months.

Oscar Jeffery was born in the city of Lockport,
N. Y., Aug. 31, 1838. His father, Joseph Jeffery,
died when Oscar was a mere child, and after the
decease of his father his mother, with her two children,

returned to her native county, Sussex, N. J. In
August, 1849, his mother died of the Asiatic cholera,
leaving Oscar and his younger brother orphans with
no means of subsistence.

Through the kindness of an uncle, Oscar was kept
at school until 1856, when he became a clerk in the
general country store of Robert Blair, at Johnsons-
burg, N. J. In 1860, upon the suggestion of a friend
who was a law-student, he had his name entered as a
law-student in the office of David Thompson, Esq.,
a prominent member of the Sussex County bar, and
while performing his duties in the store he devoted
himself to his law-studies during all the leisure time
at his command. In 1864 he quit the store and be-
came a clerk in his preceptor's office, at Newton,
N. J., where he remained until the November term
of the Supreme Court of the same year, when he
passed his examination and was licensed as an at-
torney-at-law. He was admitted to the bar as a coun-
selor-at-law November, 1867.

On the 10th day of January, 1865, after his admis-
sion as an attorney, Mr. Jeffery opened a law-office
at Washington, N. J., where he has continued to prac-
tice his profession with a good degree of success.



Before he attained his majority lie identified himself
with the Republican party, and has remained loyal to
it- principles since. He has never held political of-
fice except to act as a member of the county execu-
tive committee , il In in-; the only time the liepuhlican
party was successful enough to elect a State senator
ami sheriff in Warren County, at which time he was
chairman of the committee. lie I i.i- heeii closely

pentified with the Methodist Church at Washington
for many years, has been continuously one of the
Official board, and has served as the recording steward
since 1867, and Sunday-school superintendent nearly
no-half of the time.

Mr. Jeffery i- interested in all worthy local enter-
Irises, and lends his aid to their support. In 1870
he married Mi-s Emma L., daughter of John Wild,
pPaterson, N..I.. a woman of high moral and Chris-
tian excellence, of culture and refinement.


Several important trials have been had before the
Bench of this county. The lir-t one of note was
rather a series of trials growing out of the murder
aaaeof Joseph Carter,Jr., Abner Parke, and PeterW,
Parke, in 1843 ami 1844. These persons were in-
dieted for the murder of John Castner, Maria Cast-
ner, his wife, Mary .Matilda Castner, daughter of John
and Maria Castner, and John I!. Parke, brother of
ivn-r W. Parke.

These murders were committed at Changewater, in
W'anen County, and were of such an inhuman and
revolting character as to send a shudder of horror
through the whole county and wherever the deed was
known. The perpetrators also attempted to kill Jesse
Force, a hound hoy in the family, striking him on the

head with a hatchet and leaving him, a- they -up-
posed, dead or in a dying condition.

Indictments were found against Carter and the
l'arkes at the June term of < Iyer a no Terminer, 1848,
and the trials began at the September term, when
Darter was tried upon the first issue of the Beries, for
the murder of John Castner. The counsel for the

State were William ( '. .Morris, prosecutor of the plea-,

fjteorgc P. Molleson, attorney-general, and John M.
iherrerd, Esq., of Belvidere. Those for the defendant
un. William F. Clemson, Phineas B. Kennedy, and
Alexander Wurts, the latter from Plemington, Hun-
terdon Co. The jury in the case were Samuel Beatty,
Joseph Andrew, John Hixson, Joseph Bryant, David
I'. Kenyon, William Matlock, Joseph A. Carpenter,
Vass, John Van Sickle, John I taj . Jr., John

S. Ogden, John Allen.

The trial Was protracted, and created a great deal

Rf public excitement. Sixty-sis witnesses were ex-
amined for the prosecution, and twenty-nine for the
Defense. On the 14th of September the jury returned
I verdict of " Not guilty."


Die iwelw [April 1. I8S1

\inr his acquittal Carter was admitted to bail in
the sum of fifteen thousand dollars. In 1*1)
brought to another trial, the- issue this time being
upon the murder of John 15. Parke. He was
i icted, and so also was Peter W. Parke, a nephew of
the murdered man, John I!. Parka Abner Parke, a
brother of John B. Parke, and Henry C. Hummer
were tried upon separate indictments in thi
general case, and acquitted.

I hese trials revealed a marvelous network of cir-
cumstantial evidence, holding the criminals so com-
pletely within its meshes as to render escape from
justice impossible. It was skillfully woven around

them by the tact ami eloquence of able counsel, and
the public sense indorsed the justice of the convictions.
few murders have left a more profound impression of

their enormity or of the guilt of the perpetrators upon
the county than these. Joseph Carter and I'eter W.

Parke were hung in Belvidere, within an inclosure in

front of the COUrt-hoUSe in 1 8 15.

Another important and exciting trial in thi- county

was thai ol Jacob S. Harden, indicted at the April
term, 1859, for the murder of hi- win- l.\ p
Harden was n Methodist minister, officiating at An-
il. r-ou church, in the town-hip of Mansfield, Warren
C Mid lived III the t unilv I I Dcwiit ( 1 un- . o
whose house the murder was committed.

I larden had entered the ministry when quite young,

— less than twenty-one years of age, — and was about

twenty-three when the murder was committed, lb-
was a son of John Harden, ami was horn near 1
town. It appeared in the evidence that he had left
home about the age of fifteen, and hi- course had
been one revealing his entire lack of moral integrity.
He had not been many years married to his wife — her
maiden name was Hannah M. Dorland, and -he wa-
in ill health and sometimes low-spirited— when he
conceived the .lark design of putting her out of the

way and marrying another woman, with whom he

was on terms of intimacy. UN guill at last culmi-
nated in the foul act which brought him to an igno-
minious and untimely end upon the gallows.

Ill this remarkable trial the evidence was entirely

circumstantial, but it was nevertheless clear and con-
vincing; so that all doubts of his guilt were removed.
The jury who convicted him was composed of Philip
I>. Weller, Charles Walker, Horace M. Norton, Da-
vid Smith, James Blair, Philip Hartung, Aaron

( 'rammer. John k". Teel, John Y. Doshong, G

II. Welh r, George V. Stillwell, Edwin Albertson.
Jam.- M. Robeson had just received the appointment
of prosecutor, and. he and Attorney-General William

I.. 1 >aytoii were the coun-el for the Slate ; while Benja-
min Williamson, chancellor, Joseph 1'. Bradley, since

of the Supreme Court of the United Stat.-, Jehiel I ■'.
Shipmau. of the Warren bar. and l>a\id A. Depue,

of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, were the counsel

for the prisoner, lb- was tried before Chief J
Whelplev, of the Supreme ('..nil, and \ -



John Moore, James Davison, and Jacob Sharp of the
Warren Common Pleas.

After a full and patient hearing of the ease, which
consumed fourteen days, and the examination of a
large number of witnesses on both sides, the jury
brought in the prisoner guilty of murder in the first
degree, May 2, 1860. On the 3d of May he received
his sentence to be hung on the 28th of June follow-
ing. At the time appointed he expiated his crime
upon the gallows.

On May 17, 1875, Peter T. Myers was killed at Phil-
lipsburg by a pistol-shot from a revolver fired by Pat-
rick Ward, an Irishman about sixty years old. An
indictment for murder was found at the September
term, 1875, and the case came up for trial Feb. 6, 1876,
before the court, consisting of Mercer Beasley, chief jus-
tice, Samuel Sherrerd, law-judgeof the county, and As-
ciate Judges Jesse Stewart, Jr., and Robert Rusling ;
Jacob Vanatta, attorney-general, Joseph Vliet, pros-
ecutor for Warren County, Judge Kirkpatrick, of
Easton, and G. F. Fitch, for the State ; I. G. Ship-
man, George M. Shipman, and B. C. Frost for the
defense. The jurors were Bartley Rush, Ogden White-
sell, George B. Bowers, Joseph Gardner, Peter Wil-
lever, Oliver B. Badgley, David Miller, Joseph M.
Cole, Alfred L. Flummerfelt, Jacob S. Hoff, Imla D.
Mann, and Alfred Leida. Twenty-one witnesses were
examined on the part of the State, and sixteen on the
part of defendant.

There had for a long time been bad blood between
the parties. On the day of the shooting Ward was at
the front of his house when Myers went by ; some
words passed between them, when Ward fired, and
Myers fell, the ball having gone through his arm, en-
tered his breast, and lodged in his spine, severing the
spinal marrow, causing paralysis of the lower limbs
immediately, and death in a few days after the shoot-
ing. The killing was not denied, but it was claimed,
on the part of the prisoner, that it was done in self-
defense. The jury, however, did not believe this the-
ory, and brought in a verdict of murder in the first
degree after being out a little over an hour. On the
15th of February the defendant was sentenced to
be hung on the 24th of March, 1876, but on the 23d
of that month this sentence was changed by an order
of the Court of Pardons to that of imprisonment for
life, and he is now in the penitentiary.

About this time Warren County seems to have been
visited by an epidemic of murder. At the same term
at which Ward was tried there were two other pris-
oners disposed of who had been indicted for that
crime. John Walters, a young man living in Green-
wich township, killed his brother with a stone. He
at first pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder in
the first degree, but afterwards retracted his plea. A
plea of guilty of murder in the second degree was
accepted by the court, and he was sentenced, Feb. 12,
1870, to five years' imprisonment in the penitentiary.

John Ritter, a German, was indicted at the De-

cember term, 1875, for the murder of his two children,
Otto Ritter and John Ritter, Jr., at Hackettstown.
The case was an exceedingly atrocious one, and
aroused a great deal of feeling in the community;

Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 126 of 190)