James P Snell.

History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : online

. (page 73 of 190)
Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 73 of 190)
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broad, much of this land being highly cultivate, I and
productive. The total valuation of real estate in the
township is si ,-_".'. :'.'.m;, and of the personal property
*M7,7U7, its personal indebtedness being si!7:$,lJ71.

Ii is one of the townships lying adjacent to the New
fork State line, and is bounded on the north by Or-
ange Co., N. Y.; south bj Lafayette, Frankford, and

llardyston; cast by Vernon and Hardy-ton : wc-i

bj Montague, the townships on the eastern boundary
Being separated from it by the Wallkill River.

In connection with this history it will be interest-
II to afford the reader a concise account of the geog-
raphy and natural advantages of the region of which

Wantage is a pari. The whole valley, more than 100

n length and varying in breadth from 10 to 20
miles, was called the KU-O-ting valley by the Indians

who fust inhabited it. It extends from the Delaware
River on the southwest to the Hudson on the north-
Bast, and is bounded oil the WCSl by the Blue M"Un-

• liy E, o. Wagner.

tain, or rather a spur of the great chain of that name,
and which was originally called tin- " Kittatinny
Mountain." On the east is the Hamburg or Schoo-
ley's Mountain, the Indian name of which is Wawa-
yanda. This valley contains nearly four counties.—

Warren, Sussex, Orange, and Ulster on this side the
Hudson. This i- indeed but a section of one of the
finest valley- in the Union, extending into Pennsyl-
vania mi the one side and into tin- New England
Slate- on the other.

The principal rivers are the l'auliuskill and the
Wallkill, having their sources nearly at the same
point in Sussex County, and pouring, the first into the

I Delaware and the second into the Hudson near Kings-

1 1: I : -e i I this vail \ is unc\ : n - m some purli us

cm lillglv so, but the s.,i| is generally stron-.:. ■_' I

for grain, and peculiarly fine for grazing. For its
large dairies and excellent butter it is unrivaled.
This valley may be said "to flow with milk and
honey ." It was not, however, so regarded by the first
emigrants, who deemed much of the land scarcely

worth possessing. As an illustration of this may be
mentioned that of one of the finest farm- in the
county a Mr. Wintield -elected about 1"> acre-, then

in a wild state, which he judged might answer fop



tilling, and a Mr. Cortwright found about ten acres
in another place which he thought suitable for the
plow. The first emigrants selected the flat lands
along the creeks and rivers as the best adapted to
farming purposes. This was natural, having been ac-
customed to the lowlands of Holland, from whence
they came to this country and place.

Connected with this valley is the Mamakating Hol-
low, down which flows the beautiful Rosendall and its
tributaries, emptying into the Wallkill. " Mamaka-
ting" is said to mean " the valley of the dividing of
waters." It is in this valley that the Neversink, emp-
tying into the Delaware, and the Lackawanna, which
discharges itself into the Rosendall, both rise in the
same fountain. And so likewise the Sandkill and Ba-
sha's Kill originate in the same spring in this valley.
If it would serve to recover this significant Indian
name and preserve a knowledge of its meaning, it
might be mentioned, also, that a branch of Paulins-
kill and the Papakating rise in the same fountain
and part in different directions.

The Indian word " kating" meant " dividing of
waters" or " the waters of strife," which is counten-
anced by the above facts, the termination in each
name being the same, and in each valley one foun-
tain originates two streams, descending in opposite
directions, — on the one side to the Delaware, and on
the other to the Hudson.

These two valleys were the principal gorges along
which the early emigrants were dispersed after leaving
the mother-colony at Kingston. Kingston was a con-
necting link between many of the original families
that settled along the Wallkill and in the Mamaka-
ting Hollow, where their descendants are still found.
This fact holds the two colonies in such close affinity,
at the first, as in a great measure to identify their early
history. A range of the Kittatinny Mountain was the
only barrier between the fertile valley along which
proceeded the two collateral and enterprising colonies,
making " the wilderness and solitary place to bud and
blossom as the rose."

Scarcely in the Union, or in the world perhaps, is
there to be seen a richer or more picturesque land-
scape than presents itself to the eye as you ascend the
Wawayanda or the noble Kittatinny, where the im-
mense valley opens the distant perspective, bestudded
with cottages, hamlets, and villages embossed in out-
stretching lawns and fields waving with the rising

The township of Wantage embraces that portion of
the Kittatinny valley which lies between the Pochuck
Mountains on the east and the Blue Mountains on
the west. This part of the valley is not a level sur-
face, hut interspersed by several low ranges of hills,
with valleys of considerable extent between.

Two streams drain these sub-valleys and pour their
waters into the Wallkill, having previously formed a
union. These streams run in opposite directions, and
together form nearly a straight line from north to

south through the township. The northern stream
has its source near the New York State line, and runs
south through the exceedingly productive valley
called the " Clove" to the village of Deckertown.
Here it unites with the Papakating, a stream of nearly
the same volume, but rising in the adjoining township
of Frankford. This stream runs almost due north
until it unites with the Clove Creek, just described,
after which it turns east, and eventually empties into
the Wallkill.

The soil of the township may be technically de-
scribed as composed of argillaceous slate and dilu-
vium deposit, and is, according to the theory of a
former State geologist, an upheaval of the third series
from the bottom of a former sea. It is a soil eminently
adapted to the dairy business and to agricultural pur-


As to the time when the township of Wantage be-
gan to be inhabited by the whites, and who the first
families were that removed within its borders, no ac-
curate account can be given. It is extremely im-
probable that there were civilized men here one
hundred and fifty years ago, though this fact cannot
be stated with positive certainty. Some few families
came into the township as early as any settlement
was effected at the Forks of the Delaware. Of these
were the Cortwrights, Wiufields, Deckers, Titsworths,
Middaughs, and Cuddabachs, — perhaps, also, the
Westbrooks, Wilsons, and Adams, 1 though the pres-
ence of the latter families at this early date is in-
volved in some uncertainty.

It is thought that as late as 1780 there were not
more than seventy families in the town. As these
families may very properly be considered as ancestors
to the rising generation, a catalogue of their names
will very appropriately begin this part of our history.
It will at least serve as a respectful inscription to
their memory and a pleasing relic to their descend-
ants. A threefold division in time will mark with
sufficient accuracy the periods when they settled in
this region.

1st. Those who were here one hundred and forty
years ago or more were the Messrs. Decker, Cort-
wright, Winfield, Titsworth, Middaugh, Cuddabach,
Westbrook, Wilson, Adams, Wyker, Brink, Koykin-
dall, Crowell, Beemer.

2d. Those who were here one hundred years ago
were the Messrs. Stradcr or Strouder, Criger, Conulus,
Snook, Kymer, Bockover, Sebold, De Witt, De Puy,
Cox, McCoy, Roloson, Collum, Skellinger, Longcor,
Elston, Davenport, Cole, Rittenhouse, Chimers, Ayres,
Sayre, Vanflcct, Gomo, Martin, Hains, Swazy, Lewis,
Colt, Tims, Hough, Casky, Stephens, Nightengill,
Newman, Westfall.

3d. Those whose settlement in this region will range
from eighty to one hundred years ago were the Messrs.
Vansickle, Swartz, Rutan, Wintermute, Carr, Rogers,
Watson, Havens, Phillips, Dunning, Crowell, Comp-



ton, Baxter, Vanauken, Struble, Dunn, William-.
Shepherd, Quick, Richards, Smith, Evans, Ros< n-

The descendants of these families arc to a f;reat
extent resilient in this region, and constitute a large
majority of the inhabitants of Wantage.

The whole line of settlements along the Wallkill
tap to this point, with few exceptions, and along tin-
Rosendall until we reach the Delaware in that direc-
tion, are two limbs of the same parent stock, the rool
of which must besought in the countries of Europe.
The early emigrants comprising the aeries of settle-
pi nt- alluded to are, with few exceptions, either of
Dutch or French origin, as their name- sufficiently

A few German families found their way here di-
rectly from Germany. There are also in the township
several families — a few that are ancient, and -nine
mure recent — who are descended from the Pilgrim
Fathers, who fled to this country for the love of civil
aiel religious liberty.

The first white settler of whom any authentic facta
are known was Peter Decker, who came from the
Neversink settlement in 17 hi and chose a Bpot of
ground where now stands the growing village of
Deekertown.* 1 Upon this he erected a log abode,
which was occupied during his lifetime, and passed
by descent to his son, who also made it hi- residence,
peter Decker is the progenitor of all the family of the
name now residing in tin 1 township. Joseph, one <>i
In- -mi-, resided earlj at the Clove, where he erected
tin- first grist-mil] ami was an extensive farmer. His
Bhildren were Bowdewine, Lbram, William. Famitje,
ami Margaret. The Bona lived ami died in the town-
ship. I :mil|e man: il 1 : hr:iin kilpalrek .rand-
t'ather of Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, ami Mar-ant was

United t'> Beth Wickham. Bowdewine, one of the
sun-, \<a-, during his lifetime, a prominent citizen of
Wantage. John B. Decker, a venerable resident of
the township, i- a great-grandson of Peter ami a -on
of Bowdewine I teoker.

William Titsworth (formerly Bpelled Titaoord), the
gnrliesl representative of a pioneer Wantage family,
with his household, escaped from the massacre in
Schenectady, N. Y., ami by invitation of friendly
Mini-ink Indians removed to a home situated on the
elbow of the Neversink. On June '■'■. 1700, he re-
ceived a deed of land from the Indians during bis
residence there. While the French and Indian war
was i u progress he left the Neversink settlement ami
located in Wantage, upon land where hi- descendants
have since resided, ^.mong the latter are William.
{Wallace W., ami Alfred, who an- all residing upon
ancestral estates.

The I lewitt family eanie early to the to\vii-hi|i, and

located on the Jacob W. Dewitt farm. The pioneer

• Edmll, In liii "I'.ni iini,.i lthlna,"givM the data "f 1734 n» tho

i'l ill WantagH.

of the family was Mo-,- I lew itt. w ho served in the Iu-
dian wars ami participated in the Mini-ink slaughter,
in which he displayed marked bravery. He was a
captain of militia, ami a considerable landowner in

tin- township. Jacob ami Soferein Dewitt located ill

Wantage, and Samuel removed to tin- West The

family is -till largely represented in tin- town-hip.
Evi Dewitt i- one of the oldest residents of \\

I" ing now in hi- ninety— ee.uid year. Moses and

Jacob an- also prominent citizens of the county.

Tin-re are twenty-four grandchildren, most of whom
reside on adjacent lands.

('apt. Elias Cooper was a native of Fiahkill, N. Y.,
and became a resident of Sussex County in April,

1812. His maternal ancle, Dominie ElittS Van Ben-
Schoten, owned large landed estates and other prop-
erty, which came by inheritance to Capt. I
The representatives of the family now in Wantage
are John J. Cooper, Dr. Charles A. Cooper, and Dr.
Daniel W. Cooper. I>r. Charles A. Cooper, who i- a
son of the captain, for a score Of years followed his
profession in the township.

Among other prominent phj -ieian- of an early date

were Drs. Berret Havens, John Titsworth, ami Alex-
ander Linn,

Moses < 'oykendall was horn in 17n7, and eanie early

to the town-hip. lie married Hannah, daughter of
Samuel Decker, ami had many children. The late

Simeon ('oykendall, attorney, ot Deekertown, was

iii- grandson. Many representatives of tin' family
-till reside in the township.

Samuel Coykendall was horn near llcemerville in
1752, and served with distinction throughout the Rev-
olutionary war. 1 lis sou, » iahriel ( 'oykendall, is still
a resident "f Deekertown.

The Martin family were early residents of Middlesex

County, from whence they emigrated to the southern
portion of the township, the pioneer of the family
having been Humphrey Martin. The representatives
of this family have for many generations been actively

identified with the progress of the township. A more
detailed sketch of its uieinhers will he found else-

W here.

.lame- Cuddeback was a descendant of an ancient
Dutch family of Esopus, ami first settled iii Wantage

in 177". He came from Mini-ink and -elected a -mall

tract of land, where he built his cabin of logs. He
then brought his Dutch wife ami began the work of
clearing the wilderness. He was fai i- a- a hunter

and trapper, and would frequently -tart for a cam-
paign of three months in the forests of the Delaware.
lie would invariably return laden with bear, wolf,

and other -kin- of much value as the trophic- of hi-
skill, the proceed- of which assisted in the payment

of his laud.-, lie later raised large quantities of
wheat The first market tor that commodity was at
Goshen. Several farmers would join together for
protection and go down with six or eight load-. By

industry and clo COnomy he bought and paid for



tract after tract, until he got together about 400 acres.
After his first cabin got old and he had paid for his
land he concluded to build a new one, and did erect
a spacious mansion for the times. It was about 16
by 24, two stories high, with a cellar under it, built
of hewn logs. He also bought and owned the Perry
mill-property. His last purchase was a large tract of
land in the Holland Purchase, on Lake Ontario,
where his sons moved after his death. The home-
stead remained for a long time in the hands of his
executors, but was finally purchased by Lewis AVhit-

George Backster was an early settler, and followed
his profession of surveying, in which his services were
much in demand. Until 1800 the meadow in front
of his house was a vast swamp and a secure refuge for
bears, wolves, and other animals. Through the in-
dustry of its owner it was later converted into a fruit-
ful field. Mr. and Mrs. Backster both died during
1817, and were interred in the same grave.

The farm adjoining Mr. Backster's was settled at an
early day by a Mr. Pierce, who sold his improvement
to a Mr. Southworth, and he to Abram Coursen, a
tanner by trade, who, having capital and enterprise,
improved the place rapidly, built a large dwelling-
house, barn, and the necessary buildings for carrying
on his trade. Mr. Coursen conducted his business on
an extensive scale, bark having been plenty and no
tannery was then nearer than Newton. He also em-
ployed a large force of skilled laborers to work up
the leather for customers. The supply of water was
furnished by a spring not far distant, which also con-
veyed it to the dwelling by means of an aqueduct.

George McCoy came from Bucks Co., Pa., in 1754,
purchased land, and erected upon it a log cabin.
His first clearing was a tract of land on the east and
south side of the meadow, in front of the house, and
the sandy gravelly vales where he cultivated his corn,
wheat, and other grains necessary for family use.
Being away from ready markets, it was natural to re-
sort to every available means to defray current ex-
penses, and, game being plenty and furs high and
light to carry, he devoted his time to hunting and
trapping. Being uncommonly expert at such busi-
ness, he realized large sums for his peltry, as it was
then called.

Among the settlers on the west side of the Papa-
kating was a family named Smith, embracing the
patriarch of the tribe and his nephews, Hector and
Malcom Smith. They at once erected their log cabin
and improved the land surrounding it. Hector for
many successive seasons taught school in a building
on the west bank of the brook. The last time he
taught, when engaged in his usual routine of duty, he
was closing the exercises for the day ; while giving
out the spelling-lesson he fell from his chair with a
scream and groan that like a shock of electricity af-
fected the whole school. Many ran off screaming,
and others, with more fortitude, stayed by him until

the neighbors came and bore him home. He revived
from the paralytic shock, and lived some months
afterwards. His nephew, Malcom, raised a family,
and died about 1800.

The Dunn family were early represented in the
township, Daniel, the first to locate in the county,
having come from Piscataway, N. J., before the Rev-
olution and located on a tract of land now owned by
Oscar Dunn, and which has been generally known as
the homestead. Charlotte, the wife of Nicholas Cox,
is a granddaughter of Daniel Dunn, and resides in
the township.

Zachariah Hoffman located in Wantage soon after
the Revolutionary war, near what is known as Van
Sickletown. He married Sarah De Witt, to whom
four children were born, — James, Zachariah, Corne-
lius, and Mary. James continued his residence in
Wantage, where his descendants still live. Zacha-
riah, who died in the township, was the father of Ira
D. Hoffman. Horace D. Hoffman and Mrs. Thomas
N. Roloson are children of Ira D. Hoffman.

Samuel Whitaker was born in Unionville, N. Y., in
1796, having been an early merchant at Beemerville,
and later at Deckertown, where his death occurred in
1871. He was a man of much influence in the latter
place, which owed much of its progress to his business
energy. He was early married to Miss Margaret
Adams, of Wantage, and two of his children now re-
side in Deckertown, — Jonathan A- Whitaker and Mrs.
Jacob E. Hornbeck.

The Kilpatrick family, of which Gen. Judson Kil-
patrick is a distinguished representative, are among
the oldest settlers in Wantage. The members of this
family are further referred to elsewhere.

The Wilson family are of Scotch descent, and have
resided for many years in the township. Andrew
Wilson, the earliest representative, was born in Scot-
land, and emigrated to America in early life. He
served in the battle of Ticonderoga, was badly
wounded, and retired to Wantage, where he followed
farming pursuits. He had fifteen children, a portion
of whom settled in the township. Most of the family
followed farming pursuits, and for a succession of
years cultivated the same land. Many of its mem-
bers still reside in the township.

Soferein Westbrook came from Kingston and lo-
cated upon the place now occupied by Jacob West-
brook. His son John, better known as the " Blind
Captain," served with credit in the war of the Revo-
lution. The homestead has been for many years in
possession of the family.

John McCoy, a brother of George, already men-
tioned, came from Bucks Co., Pa., at the same time,
and chose land on the east side of the Papakating
stream. The following graphic description of his set-
tlement, and the primitive methods employed in the
construction of the early dwelling, given by his grand-
son, Simeon McCoy, and written nearly thirty years
ago, will be of especial interest here:



"My grandfather, .Mm, li of the stream, and Gooruo

Big west aide, opposite tu arlj lo ear h nthi i John built 111

I soon Ihe rocl * i ovorcdby William Mi Coy's granary and i

lime, and bogan clcaringup the land i" raise « imothlog to support blm-
•eir and riHiriK family ; and by IndiiBtry and perseverance Hie fores! was
opened around him, and in u low yearn lie hud .pilte im improvement, -"

thai he began to have herds of cuttle, rind Ihxrks of si |., and horse- II.

ons and daughters to help Indoors and out. Others con
the settlement advanced; produce mid nil kindsof stock commanded a
Agh price, and was bought up and drivon awaj by speculators beyond
intnlnn south of tlio valley. Aftoi |Utyiug fol

inotln r, ind is In 111 more land, until

he hud about 1000 acres nil In i body, and he, like the putriarchs of

old, in the centre, his sons and daughters settled ar id him. An his fam-
ed and grew n|i bo found his log house was too small for thoir
accommodation, unci he bulll another ueul to the unit, leaving a passage

<>r 5 or 6 feet between tlielll. tlll'OUgll Which, nild III llilio, ll|i U holder,

thoy entered the chambers ibruugh a pousugo made by sawing off Ihe
logs; the shlngloroofe wore joined togothor, so as to cover the passage-
way between them. They »,.„. n ,t eostly mansions, v.l the

of one did require two skillful axemen, one on each corner, to cut the
notch and fit them to their place. I have been to several such
in my boyish days. After the noighbors had isslsted the owner In laying
up the logs the shingles wore prepared by sell i tin mi I ml red-oak

Id the forest that was s id and strnlght-riftod, s mencalled

it. It was cut down,eawed in shingle lengths, n|dii Into bolts, and with
a tool culled a free split and shaved lit fur putting on the roof. A i ar-

pontor wan then railed to pat them on, moki tiled * and window , laj

Ihe floors, etc, Tl wner and Ills boys did the mas m-work by chinking

between the bigs vvitb split pieces "C w I, plastering ovor with .lay, lay-
ing up a wide book with stones as high us the beams, and curry lug the

i above the roof with split sticks laid In clay rtur, and well

plastered with the samo. Generally there were no jams; the back pro-

oroighl Inches Inward, and a large stone hearth Jul lupto'the

they snvod all the and u log could bo rolled -mus big as

three or four stout boys could handio, — and thus in a Tom dayaaftei the
<>ii the ground the house could be bulll and occupied. Bit
barn and stables wore largo, built of logs, and the roof made ol
ma the custom In those days. Ho built the Ur-i saw-mill ever erected

In this settlement, and had n iloto monopoly of that kind of business

for many year.-. In the bouse thus described bo lived to u good old age,
and saw hi- .liii.li on Bottled around him on lands purchased by th.ir

Joint offnrin nobly by agricultural pursuits. He settled his oldosl n

the farm now owned by .la - ShelloT. My father, Samuel, wenl on

what was called the Brown placo, where tho W Idow McCoy no« liven. He

built house lor bin -..|i Johu » lore J. W. Ml I \ now lives, Ul

tiled on what they called the bog adow place, now owned by

Robert Habr i He < I dnod ins I lesteail 'ill neai his death, and super-
intended bis business, which lie cm tied on hi

o hoi -and cuttle. I can remember of his having many .oils running
irr the liehl- nnbrokon until thoj wore foul or flvo years old. Hewaaof
Bcotch descont, had i lucutlon, but showed in- nationality li

trait of his eh line lor- ; of a robust Irarno and .oust iln Hon ; quick Of np-

pi shen don, shrewd In business tmnsar tlons, Indefatigable In ace pllsh-

hjg his purposes; a true Whig aud bitter oneiny of the Tories in Revo-
lutionary times. He suffered groat 1 »bj the young government; his

rio.Ks and herds iee re drivon off to support the arorj lighting foi liberty,
and loo.i goi i impensatlon for them in ley A few years before bis

dealh bo desired bis noli John to eoine and build a house arel live with

him; which request wa- complied with, and thoy bulll the house whore

u llllimi M. Vey now lives Bol ir was iai.lv i omploted be died Intos-

laie, an< I hi- l.n Re o lute was divided anion- hi- children audei ths law

giving -oris two -baio- and .1 iti litoi on

Dr. Hi 111:111 Allen came from Orange County in
1821 and located near Deckertown. He was a phy-
sician, enjoying n large practice, and alto followed
Running pursuits. He continued his professional la-
bors until ill health compelled their relinquishment,
When he retired to private life, and died inhiseighty-
Irsl year. His daughter, Mr-. Sanford Leach, still

resides in Wantane.

Soe blograph) i Di Ulou inchnptor upon the " Medical Profession
of Sussex County," in this work.

Samuel Bhellej came from Muni- < lounty before the

Online LibraryJames P SnellHistory of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey : → online text (page 73 of 190)