James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

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resolution was like the full pulsation of liberty, which
was then beating in the heart of America. ' The
high and mighty exalted William Franklin, 'f as
Philip Livingston, Jr., called the Governor of New
Jersey, tried to rein them up, but found that the peo-
ple had fed so lustily on what they called ' popular
rights' as in mettlesome mood to take the bit in their
teeth and run where and as fast as they listed, the
driver to the contrary notwithstanding. AVithout
consulting the Governor, they organized regiments
and commissioned officers, and, among others, ' the
field-officers of the first regiment of Sussex County. 'J

| Governor Franklin soon became an open loyalist, and was deposed
from his office.
t Oct. HO, 1776.— Prov. Cong, N. J., p. 00.



Saltpetre was at a premium, and they wanted it to

' I mi i hantable saltpetre,' bo that the powder

made from it would nol 'hang fire.' Moreover, their

dings were enlivened by sundry evidences thai
Hew Jersey abhorred Tories ami was successful ;,,
bringing some of them to repentance. These sturdy
men were nol careful to inquire whether the Tor)
was a minister, an esquire, or anybody else. Two
esquires in Sussex were thus dealtwith. [faTory,
he must repent or perish. Meanwhile, the people of
Sussex astounded this Congress by two petitions,
signed by a great number of persons, praying thai
'all who pay taxes may be admitted to vote.' The
farmers of Essex also showed some signs to I"- con-
sidered in petitioning that 'money at interest, law-

'■.. be taxed.' li also appears thai the farmers
of .Morris County had been so greatly agitated by

the 'alarming account of the kittle of Lexington'

as to incur a debl of one hundred and eight; pounds
'in raising of minute-men, in May last.' The lathers
pf Sussex County showed 'an eye to the main chance'
in petitions to restrain shopmen from raising the
price of their goods. In fact, the whole province
was in a ferment: Tories were called to repentance;
strollers, vagabonds, horse-thieves, and other pui-
ummarily abated; the freemen ol the
State gathered around the altar of Liberty, and

'pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred
honor' to the defense and triumph of popular rights.
They hardly knew what was to conic of it; but,
paving put their hand to the plow, they did not look


Sussex County was nol slow in organizing. Com-
mittees i i § if: t ■■ were esl i 1 lished in all her townshij s.

Delegates fr these formed a County Committee of

Safety, w hie h met in the court-house at Newton once
a month. The proceedings of this committee, with the
exception of the minutes of a single meeting, found
and preserved by the late Benjamin B. Edsall, Esq.,
have unfortunati lj been lost. We quote Mr. Edsall's
remarks respecting this document, and the leading
facts derived from it, found in his " Centennial Ad-
dress," as follows :

"This committee exercised a general supervision
over the township organizations, provided means for

promoting the popular cause, ami procured the oath

Of abjuration to be administered to everj citizen of

the county, carefully noting down the name- of those

who refused, with the grounds upon which they based
such refusal, and causing the recusant- to be pre-
sented by the grand inquest of the county, to the cud
that they might appear in court and openly recant or
give bonds for their peaceable behavior. The minutes
of the sittings of this impor'ant committee were can-
fully written out for the information of subordinate
committees, and, with a little care, might have been
preserved; but, like the great mass of local memoranda

which now would he este >med invaluable, they appear
to have been regarded as possessing merelj an ephem-
eral interest, and were thrown aside as so much rub-
bish SO BO in as they had answered the immediate
purpose in hand. I esteem it peculiarly fortunate

that, amid the general destruction of these import-
ant papers, the minute, of one of tfa early meetings
of the county committee have been preserved and are
now in my possession. I found the manuscript among
some loose papers in the clerk's office, cast aside »• of
no account, and left to moulder undisturbed amid
dust and cobwebs. The proceedings which this

ancient document discloses took place at the BeSsiOO

of the County Committee of Safety held at the court-
house Oil the loth and 11th days of August, 1775. —

about eleven mouth- before the declaration of inde-
pendence was made by the representatives of the
United Colonies. At this meeting delegates ap-
peared from all the town-hips except Hardyston, —
viz., William Maxwell, Benjamin McCullough, and
James Stewart, of Greenwich; Edward Demont, Sam-
uel I Iazlet. and William 1 l.lunan, of Mansfield ; John

I.owry, John McMurtry, and William White, of Ox-
ford; Abraham Besherrer, Nathaniel Drake, and
Andrew Waggoner, of Knowlton; Casper Shafer, of
llardwick; Archibald Stewart. Robert Price, John
Stoll, Thomas Anderson, Jacob McCollum, Philip
I lodderer, and Jacob Stoll, of Newton : Jacob I tewitt
and Joseph llarkcr, of Wantage; Abraham Van
Campen, Daniel Depue, Jr., Moses Van Campen,
Joseph Montague, Emanuel Hover, John C Symmes,
and John Rosenkrans, of Walpack; Samuel West-
brook, Abraham Brokaw, and Henry Hover, of San-
dyston; Henrj W. Cortright ami John Cortright, of
Montague. William Maxwell, of Greenwich, was

chosen chairman, and Thomas Anderson, of Newton,

clerk. Returns were called for from the several town-
ship- of the names of those who refused to sign the
Articles of Association for the respective townships.

In Greenwich seven persons were returned a> having

refused to sign, font of whom were Quakers, who de-
clared it to be against their conscience to take up
arms; one gave no reason, and the remaining two
would " take time to consider.' From Mansfield two
na s were returned, but no reason for refusal as-
signed, [n Sandy-ton all signed except two, 'who
are willing t" do so when opportunity offers.' In

Montague every citizen signed, and in Wantage all
agreed except Joseph Haven- and one or two more
Quakers, 'who are Whigs and are willing to eon-
tribute.' Tl thcr towns, says the record, ' not

having had the Association particularly carried to

the inhabitant-, ordered that the committee of said
town- wait upon ibe people and make return at the

next meeting of the committee.'

"What report w a- made from 'the other tow n-' is
not now known, but may be inferred from the returns

ju-t given. The-e items afford us an insight into the

stale of feeling which pervaded the county at that



early stage of the conflict, and conclusively refute
the gross imputations which have been recklessly and
maliciously cast upon the patriotism of our Revolu-
tionary citizens.

"At this meeting means were taken to raise by tax
the county's quota of ten thousand pounds,* ordered
by the Provincial Congress of New Jersey for the
purpose of raising money to ' purchase arms and am-
munition, and for other exigencies of the province.'
Casper Shafer was appointed collector of the county,
to take charge of the funds to he ■ raised under the
authority of the Committee of Safety. It was also
ordered ' that the captains of the respective companies
of militia send an account to the next meeting of the
committee of all persons upwards of sixteen and
under fifty years old in their several districts who re-
fuse to sign the muster-rolls, that their names may be
forwarded to Provincial Congress.'

" Capt. John McMurtry and Lieut. William White,
of Oxford township, being desirous to go to Boston,
where the Americans were rallying under the stand-
ard of Washington, then just appointed commander-
in-chief of the Continental forces, requested the com-
mittee to certify as to their ' place of abode, charac-
ter, and reputation,' which was at once complied with.

"On motion, it was 'Resolved, nem. con., That any
person thinking himself aggrieved by any merchant
or trader in this county taking an exorbitant price for
any article of goods make application to the chair-
man of the town committee where' such merchant or
trader resides, who is to call a meeting of said com-
mittee as soon as convenient thereafter, which said
meeting is to consist of five members at least. And
the said committee, when convened, shall notify the
said merchant or trader to appear and show why he
has taken so great a price ; and if it shall appear that
he has taken an unreasonable profit, or shall refuse to
attend or give any satisfaction in the premises, that
he be cited by the said committee to appear at the
next meeting of the county committee, there to be
dealt with according to the rules of the Continental

"A memorial on this subject was also drawn up
and ordered to be presented to the Continental Con-
gress, praying that the latter body would make in-
quiry and ascertain if the Philadelphia and New
York merchants of whom the traders in this county
purchased their goods were not at the bottom of the
system of extortion, speculating upon the public ne-
cessity by affixing exorbitant prices upon their mer-

It appears that about this time there were good
reasons for such a precaution, prices having so gone
up that fifty bushels of wheat were exchanged for one
bushel of salt; calico was sold at fifteen shillings a
yard, while rye would only bring one shilling eight

* The county's proportion was five hundred and ninety-three pounds
five shillings four pence.

pence a bushel. " Only one pair of shoes a year
could be afforded, which were generally purchased
about Christmas, and which the fair owners carefully
preserved from dilapidation through the summer by
going barefoot, like the enchanting goddesses that
figure in ancient mythology."

The committee further ordered that the " colonels
of each regiment and battalion in the county issue
orders to the several captains to make strict inquiry
into the state of their several companies, with regard
to firearms, and make a return of all deficiencies."
It was also ordered that a sum not exceeding forty
pounds be applied to the purchase of ammunition for
the battalion under the command of Col. John C.
Symmes, and that said amount be immediately raised
in "the three townships on the northwest side of the
Pahaquala Mountain" and credited to them " in the
quota of said towns of the money to be raised in the
county agreeably to the directions of the Provincial
Congress." On motion of Thomas Anderson, it was

" llesolved, That it be recommended to the committee of Knowlton
to get the Association in their town signed as speedily as pussilde, and to
suppress any riot there in its infancy, as threats of a riot from that town
have been reported."

It is said that in this township resided some trouble-
some Tories, who at this early stage of affairs sought
to organize their confederates in resistance to the
Articles of Association. But these loyalists soon fled
to the British lines, and their property was confiscated
to the State;

On motion of John Cleves Symmes, the following
preamble and resolutions were adopted by the Sussex
County committee :

" Whereas, There are somo men who, aftor having signed the Associa-
tion, have basely tinned their backs upon the sacred cause of liberty
and vilely aspersed her true sons, and wickedly endeavored, and do en-
deavor, to sow sedition, create confusion, and fill the minds of the good
people of the county with groundless fear and jealousy, to the great
detriment of the public cause, therefore this Board take the same into

" Resolved, nem. con.. That if any person or persons in any of the towns
in this county shall hereafter asperse any of the friends of liberty in this
county on accouutof their political sentiments, or shall speak contempt-
uously or disrespectfully of the Continental or Provincial Congresses, or
of any of the committees of and in this county, or of any measures
adopted or appointed to be pursued by the Cungresses or committees for
the public good and safety, on complaint being made thereof to one of the
committee of the town where such person shall reside, the chairman
shall, with tho consent of the majority of said committee, at the next
meeting, issue an order to the captain of the next company of militia to
Bend a party of five or six men of his company to take such offender
offenders on proof being made of tho fact laid to his or their chni
and forthwith bring him or them before the said committee ; and if such
offender or offenders, on proof being made of the fact laid tu his or til
charge, shall refuse lo retract or express sorrow 1 and contrition for hit
their offonses, and will not promise amendment in future, the said ch;
man shall, a day or two previous to tho next meeting of the county ci
mitteo, direct said captain to send a party of his men, as aforesaid, to
take said offondor or offendors and bring him or them forthwith before
the county committee, to bo dealt with according to his or their deserts."

This county committee was one of the most forward
and active bodies of patriots in New Jersey.

On June 3, 1775, the Provincial Congress passed
the following :



"The Congress, taking into consideration the spirited exertlonaol the

; ttorrls, Sussex, and Somerset In raising "f mlnuti

Ipprove of nnd thank Ihem for their seal In the common canae, and will

Into further consldoratlun al the nexl meeting."


The following are the names of members of the
Provincial Congress of New Jersej from Sussex
( 'oiinly :

Ha; and June, 1776.— Archibald Stewart, Edward Unmont, William Max-
well, Ephralm Martin.

Augimt, 177.. Edward Dumont, William Maxwell, John B.Scott, Hugh
Hughes, Mark 1 npson, William Korci

October, 177.'. W llllam Maxwell, Ephralm Martin, Thomas Potts, Aula
Brow i>. Hark Thompson.

May, 1770.— Ephralm Martin, Casper Shafer, I i-.uic Van

Dampen, John Gloves Sy mines.

These men and their associates from the other coun-
ties, acting in the Provincial Congress, changed the
government of New Jersey from the colonial form to
B constitutional government, or State. From August,
1775, the Provincial Congress became a legislative
lio.lv, and Boon superseded the regularly-appointed
Legislature under the king. Probably the fact that

Governor William Franklin was a royalist and sided

against the cause of the patriots hastened these meas-
ures sooner in New Jersey than elsewhere. The colo-
nial Governor had not only the power of proroguing
tin Legislature, hut the members of Assembly were
elected upon writs issued by him and his council to
the sheriff of each county ; and, as these officers were
appointed by the ( rovemor and held during his plea-
sure, it became necessary to provide a different mode
of elections. Bence, on Aug. 12, 1775, the Provincial
Congress passed on ordinance that the inhabitants of
each cow i/i/ qualified to vote for representatives to the
General Assembly (who were persons worth fifty
pounds in personal and real estate) should meet at
their respective court-houses, on the 21st daj of Sep-
tember then next, and by a plurality of votes elect
any number, not exceeding five, with full power to
represent each county in a Provincial Congress to be
held at Trenton on the 3d day of < October then next.
The chairman of the meeting chosen by the voters
present and any five or more freeholders were required
i.. iign ci ' I ifii ates of election. The persons elected

in pursuance of this ordinance, for Sn— ex County, at

the court-house in Newton, were those whose names
are given above under the date of < Ictober, 1775.

The Provincial Congress met at the time and place
appointed, and so continued to meet, according to the
ies of public business, till August, 1776. Many
ordinances were enacted bj this body, — ordinances for
organizing the militia, for raising mon > \- tax.-.n a
for issuing New Jersey scrip, for arresting and pun-
ishing Tories, for dealing with contraband vessels
upon the coast; in short, for everything necessary to
carry on the machinery of the pro> incial goi eminent
during those trying and perilous tunes. | > much
credit cannot be given to the intelligence, patriotism,
firmness, and wisdom of the men who guided the bark

of State through those boisterous wave- and anchored
her safely in the harbor of assured and triumphant
republicanism. They were men of great capacity as
well as of great courage and determination.

The regular Legislature met for the last time in
Burlington, Nov. L5, 177-">. the members from Sussex
being Nathaniel Pettit and Joseph Barton. They

enacted two or three laws, but made no attempt to in-
terfere with the Provincial Congress. The regular
me was prorogued by Governor Franklin
until the 3d of January, but it failed to meet on that

day, and Franklin then summoned it, by a proclama-
tion in the name of the king, to meet on the ensuing
20th of . June. Bui the Provincial Congress, on the 4th

of June, by a vote of thirty-eight to eleven, resolved

that the proclamation ought not to be obeyed. < In the
16th of June the Provincial Congress ordered the ar-
rest of the Governor by a still more decisive vote,
then being forty-two ayes to ten naj -. He was taken

into custody, and afterwards, by order of the Conti-
nental Congress, Bent as a prisoner to Connecticut,
where he remained till regularly exchanged. We
give from the minutes of the Provincial Congress the
resolution and the vote- in this famous case of guber-
natorial impeachment :

', That, in Hi.' opinion of tin's Conprese, the said William
Franklin, Bsqulre, luis discovered liiuiseirtu be an euemy tu the liberties
ol tin- • .null v ; nii'l Unit aieasusee uughl to be Immediately taken for
securing the peraun ol the sal i William Kraukllu, Require.

"The said resolution onrs.d ss follows:

"Yeas: Mr. A. Clark, Canip. Uoudlct, Drake, l ■ ■>., w

Frelinghuysen, Patoi m, Hardeuhergh, I. Inn, Hart, Ue-

ludnt, Uovenboveu, Mott, Joslah Hulm Br, E. Clark, Hugg

EHIa, Elmer, Harris, Boweu, Hand, Learning, Savage, Hatkoni
Held, WeUierlil, Dui S Quackeubusli, Mar-

tin, Sbafi I i linn.-. Sluulckaou, John Holme.

"Nays: Mr, In mow], Dlcklusun, Alien, Taylor,

-i, Vnii Buskirk, Brown, Potts."


Hitherto the Provincial Congress had taken no

measures to form a State constitution, but, On June

21, I77d, agreeably to the recommendation of Conti-
nental Congress that each colony should adopt a pro-
visional form of government, it was resolved, by a
vote of fifty-four affirmatives to one m gative, " that a

meiit be formed for regulating the internal
polil f this colony, pursuant to the reeommenda-

tions of the Continental Congress of the fifteenth of

Maj last." The members from Sussex County in the

- at this time wen- John Cleves Symmca, Isaac

Van Campen, Th as Potts, Bphraim .Martin, and

Casper Shafer. A committee of ten members, of
which Rev. Jacob Green, "f Morris County, was

chairman, was appointed to prepare a draft of a con-
stitution. John t .ev, - <\ mine- was a member of this

i imittee. with another eminent lawyer, —Jonathan

Dickinson; so D . John Witherspoon, presi-

dent of Princeton College; and probably these nun
had the most to do in preparing the draft which "as

submitted and adopted as the firsl constitution




The Committee of Safety of the Province of New
Jersey was organized in October, 1775, and convened
at Princeton. Samuel Tucker, Hendrick Fisher,
Lewis Ogden, Joseph Holmes, Isaac Pearson, John
Pope, Abraham Clark, Azariah Dunham, John Den-
nis, Augustine Stevenson, Ruloff Van Dyke, John
Cleves Symmes, John Hart, John Mehelm, Samuel
Dick, John Combs, Caleb Camp, Edmund Wetherby,
and Benjamin Manning were members, Samuel
Tricker president, and Abraham Clark secretary.
Little of local interest appears in the minutes of
this body, excepting a few commitments for Toryism,
treason, etc., until July 5, 1777, when, upon the rec-
ommendation of a letter from John Cleves Symmes,
the committee began its sittings in Newton, Sussex
Co. The board met in the court-house on Saturday
evening at nine o'clock, and adjourned till Monday
morning, July 7th. It was " agreed that letters be
written to Majs. Samuel Meeker and Samuel Kuy-
kendal, Isaac Martin, Jacob McCollom, and George
Allen, Esqs., to appear before the board and give a
list of persons in this county who are disaffected or
dangerous to the present government." The com-
mittee made their report on the 9th of July, present-
ing a list of twenty-eight names, sixteen of whom
were in the township of Hsydwick, eight in Knowl-
ton, one in Wantage, three in Newton, and one in
Oxford. This number was considerably reduced
when it appeared, upon examination, that six or
seven of the accused parties were Quakers, who had
refused to take the oath on religious ground, but were
" willing to be bound by surety ;" and they were so
bound, in the sum of three hundred pounds.

On July 12, 1777, Thomas Anderson, Esq., of
Newton, was made a member of the board. At this
time John Troop, Peter Saunders, and James Moody
(the latter the notorious Lieut. James Moody, of
whom we shall give an account hereafter) were re-
cruiting for the British in the State. The board
ordered Col. John Munson (and some other officer,
whose name is left blank in the minutes) forthwith
to apprehend them. It appears from the minutes of
August 11th that John Troop and Peter Saunders
were apprehended and brought before the board :

" Lieut. John Troop, of the 3d Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, in
the enemy's service, having been apprehended by order of the Governor
and Council of Safety as a spy or recruiting for the enemy, wus brought
before the Council and examined.

" Ordered, That the said Liuut. John Troop, with his examination, bo
Bent to Gen. Washington.

" Ordereil, That Henry Shoope and Peter Saunders, suspected as spies
from the enemy, taken with Lieut. Troop, be remanded to prison in order
to determine whether they will take their trial or go on board the Navy
of the United States."

" August 111, 1777. — Ordered, That Mr. Camp pay Col. Morgan the sum
of £'ili 18*. '.id. for apprehending and seeming John Troop and others."

The Council of Safety held regular sessions at
Newton till Aug. 21, 1777, when they adjourned to
meet in Princeton.

During the early part of the Revolution many
prisoners were confined in the Sussex County jail.
On Oct. 12, 1777, the council agreed "That His Ex-
cellency the Governor be advised to write Maj.
Samuel Meeker, of Sussex, directing him to raise a
party of twenty men, two sergeants, and two cor-
porals, to do guard-duty over the prisoners, dis-
affected persons, etc., at New Town, in Sussex

Pursuant to a resolution of Congress recommend-
ing to the executive authorities of each State the
appointment of proper persons in each district to
recruit men, apprehend deserters, etc., Isaac Martin,
Benjamin Kuykendal, Capt. Emanuel Hover, and
William Carr were appointed for said purpose for
Sussex County. Nov. 17, 1777, " His Excellency was
pleased to lay before the board a letter from Maj.
Meeker respecting the prisoners in Sussex gaol, and
the provisions necessary for their support. The
board, being of the opinion that there is no necessity
of keeping a guard for securing the prisoners above
mentioned, agreed that Col. Symmes be desired to
direct Maj. Meeker to discharge the guard now kept
for that purpose, and to settle with Maj. Meeker as
to the cattle and flour he has purchased for their
support. That as to the British prisoners confined
in said gaol, Col. Symmes will acquaint the commis-
sary of provisions with their confinement, and pro-
cure his directions concerning them. As to the de-
serters from the Continental army, he will inform
the magistrates and endeavor to have them carried
to their respective corps."

The following order shows that Sussex County was
a good place for taking care of Tories, even within
one mile of the jail at Newton :

"The board being informed that His Excellency Gen. Washington, by
a letter of the '20th instant, that he considers Capt. Archibald Kennedy
as a state prisoner, and that therefore he does not think that he has any

Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 13 of 190)