Hiram Edmund Deats.

150th anniversary of the erection of the Fleming house, Flemington, N. J., May 23, 1906 (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHiram Edmund Deats150th anniversary of the erection of the Fleming house, Flemington, N. J., May 23, 1906 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 2)
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MAY 23. 1906


3+, *iih an illustration of
the house and tablet and portraits of
Mrs. Deafcs and Mrs. Kearfott.

We must not omit to mention the
generous way in which the citizens of
the town added to the occasion by decor-
ating tbe buildings and hanging out tho
flag. Over two hundred fligs are said
to have been counted in front of resi-
dences and other buildings.

Mr. Vosseller Said :

Madam President General, and Diuah-
ters of tbe American Revolution : —

I appreciate the honor conferred
upon me bv \our courteous invitation
to placu before you, briefly, some of the
inter* sting events in the history of our
old village.

Two hundred years ago the large
tracts of land in tbis part of our State,
containing thousands of acres and own-
ed by Wm. Penu, Daniel Coxe and
others, began to be broken up into
smaller parcels, and to be occupied by
actual settlers There were more
wolves here than sheep, more bears
than horses and more Indians than
white folks. And back of this gather
all the clouds and darkness of uncer-


An Indian tntv had i's en'*»mpmpnt
just back ot yonder hill. Tucca-Mir-
dan, the chief, had his wigwam, how-
ever, near the kg cabin of John Philip
Kase, which stood near the present
dwelling ol Mr. O B. Davis, on Mine
Brook. Between these families the
closest friendship existed and the chil-
dren of the Kase family felt as much at
home in the wigwam of the chief as in
their own log bouse.

In 1746 Samuel Fleming was licensed
to keep a tavern in a log hou->e and in
1756 he built "Fleming Castle", which
Judge Connet will tell you more about

After the building of this magnificent
structure, the place began to be spoken
of as the Fleming settlement, later as
Fleming's and still later Flemington.
This 'Castle" stood a little back from
a road which ran from a mill on the
South Branch on the site of the present

R ckaf How Mi'l, to Howell's Ferry on
t^e Delaware River. This road crossed
the Trenton road, which is now our
main street, at a sharp angle just in
front of this church. Tradition says
th>t this Trenton road ran thro' a
splendid huckleberry patch.

Near the ''Cast'e" was a well, now
covered over, into which a little girl
fell and was drowned. Perhsp3 this
tragedy furnished the ghost that haunt-
ed this bouse afterward and which was
seen majestically rising from a poL
heap and dissolving into thin air, on
one occasion, when the lady of the
house bad the temerity to visit her cel-
lar about midnight.

In 1750 Thomas Lowrey bought six
hundred and fifty square feet of land
from Samuel Fleming, who afterward
became his father-in-law, and built a
store on it. This was the first store in
this region and became the centre of a


iarge business. It stood in front of
this church, a little to the west and in
what is now Mr. James E. BrodheBd's
front yard. It was near the intersec-
tion of the two roads referred to and
was replaced in 1775 by a larger and
better building by Thomas Lowrey and
this later one was the Rtore which was
raided on Dec 14th, 1776, by a detach-
ment of Harcourt's Cavalry, thj Six-
teenth Regiment, known as "The
Queen's Own", which was the crack
Uavalry Regiment of the British Army
and at that lime was with Curnwallis
at Trenton. This raid was made with
the double purpose of capturing Col.
Lowrey, who was one of Washington's
Commissaries, and the provisions he
had co'lected in his store for the use
of Washington's Army. That story,
however, is too long for this occasion

In 1762 Thos. Lowrey and others sur-
veyed and laid out building lots along
the Trentou road and sold a number of
them. This no doubt determined the
direction of our Main Street. In 1767
he and James Eddy, a merchant of
Philadelphia and one of the owners of
these building lots, ga\e one of them
containing a half acre for the use of a
Baptist Church. This emphasized the
direction of Main Street and later on
the other road was closed, and even
some cherry trees which marked its di-
rection near the "Castle" have disap-

Thos. Lowrey built a bouse on the
site now occupied by Mr. Hugh C.
Nevius, just south and east of this
church. Soon after his marriage this
house was burned. A colored boy be-
longing to him got offended at a young
mau, an employee, and built a tire
under his bed, explaining that be
"didn't want to burn the house, bui
the voung man." During the Are, the
housekeeper, an old lady, kept calling
out, "Do try to save the most valuable
things", while she herself was trying to
8»ve an empty barrel with both heads
out. A really handsome house was
afterward built on this site with bricks
imported from England. The two
spacious front rooms were finished with
beautiiul cornices and the fire places
framed with handsome tiles. When
the Court House was burned, the pris-
oners were kept in this house under

guard for one night, and the next day
sent to Somerville. A late r owner
"improved" this house by tearing out
the cornices in which he found several
pieces of English silver money and a
two-edged dagger. He also took out
the tiles from the fire plac p s and cover-
ed over the brick walls with stucco
In spite of all this vandalism it is a
handsome house yet. In 1789 Mrs.
Lowrev (Esther Fuming) was one of
the matrons in charge of the ceremon-
ies at Trenton on that memorable oc-
casion of Gen. Washington's reception,
and passage under the tri imphal arch
at that place, and her daughter Mary
was one of the thirteen lovely youug
girls who strewed flowers before him as
they sang

"Welcome Mighty chief once more,
Welcome to this grateful shore;
Now no mercenary foe
Aims again the fatal hlow —
Aims at thee the fatal blow.
Virgins fair and matrons grave,
Whom thy conquering arm did save,
Build for then triumphal bowers :
Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers ;
Strew your hero's wav with flowers."

By the way, can any "Daughter"
tell me what music the v sang on this
occasion and who wrote it ?

In 1785 Flemington, which probablv
contained not more than twelve or fif-
teen houses, became the county seat of
Hunterdon County. In 1791 a Court
House was built. These to ward steps
were taken largely thro' the influence
of Jasper Smith, who was a lawyer,
and a man of great energy and public
spirit. He was a devout church mem-
ber and bad a great deal to do with the
organizition of the Presbyterian
Church of Flemington in 1791.

The first edifice of the Presbyterian
congregation was built in 1794 in one
corner of the grave varrl, with a tavern
in front of it In 1S56 the congrfga-
tion boueht the tavern properly and
erected their second edifice in its place
The congregation outgrew this build-
ing during the ministry of Rev Dr.
Geo. S Mott, of blessed memory, and
in 1883 replaced it with the church w«
are occupying to-dav. Only seven pts-
tors have ministered to this congrega-
tion which has had aliteexteLding over

one hundred and flfteen years.

In 1776 Col. Charles Stewart became
one of Washington's staff, a position
he occupied until the cloee of the war.
After the war he moved to Flemington
and lived in a house that stood near
the residence of the late John C Hope-
well. Washington held him in high
esteem. He and Mrs. Washington
wpire frequent visitors at his house
Hi? dauernter Martha married Capt
Robert Wilson, who was wounded at
the battle of Germantown and died in
1779. Mrs. Wilson was distinguished
for ber beauty, for her brilliant and
cultured mind a"d for her great execu-
tive ability When her father was
away in the army, 3be took entire
charge of the estato, managing his large
farming enterprises to his entire sat's-
factioo. Mrs. Ellet in her book,
"Women of the American Revolution",
devotes a whole chapter to Martha
Wilson. Gen. Washington was very
fond of her only daughter and fre-
quently heid the child on his lap and
kisaed her. SHe married John Myer
Eowere and after the war received
marked attention from Mrs. Washing-
ton. They were on such friendly terms
that they got out their sewing or kuit-
ting when visiting. Mrs. Bowers re-
lates that on one occasion Mrs. Wash-
ington ravelled a set of eld satin chair
covers, inherited by her. She had the
material carded and spun with the ad-
dition of cotton yarn woveu in alternate
broad and narrow stripes, the broad
being of white cotton and the narrow
of crimson silk. Out of this fabric she
had two morning dresses mide f n r her-

Gov Jno. Reading bought six hun
dred acre* of land just out of our vil-
lage along the South Branch He
built two flue residences, which are
s' ill standing, one occupied by Mr
Jacob Polhemup, near the Valley sta-
tion, and the other by Mr. Genrge W.
Campen. The bricks of whicn the lat-
ter was built, in 1760, were imported.
That house, too, has lost mauy of its
charms hy being modernized.

Gov. Reading had seven sons and
three daughters. The sons were active
in the Revolutionary struggle. Fiveol
them settled hereabouts aud exercised

a strong influence for good in state,
church and educational matters. One
of his descendants gave the money tor
the buildiDg of Reading Academy,
which is now our High School.

In the grave yard of the Presbyter-
ian Church lie the remains of at least
six R°volutionary soldiers. With one
exception, these graves are unmarked.
Mpjor John Howe had a "friend"
who placed a bomhastic and ridiculous
inscription on his grave stone. If the
others could know about it they doubt-
less would thank the Lord that they
died without suoh a "friend" and be
reconciled to lying in unknown graves.

One of this number was Capt. TIks
Gearhar!;. To him and Capt. Daniel
Bray and Capt. Thos. Jones was as-
signed the direction of that most diffi-
cult and hazardous enterprise rf col-
lecting the boats to carry out Washing-
ton's brilliant achievement at 'Irenton.
He carried a bullet in his knee, but
whan the doctors offerer! to cut it out
he refused, saying, "No : I got Uat
ball in the Revolution and I mean to
carrv it as long as I live", and he did,
tho' it made him a cripple tor life.

When a tired, hot and dusty visitor
steps off the traiu at our Central station
and looks down our Ma ; n Street, a
senoe of comfort and refreshment takes
possession of him at ones, for he sees a
eool, sprinkled avenue, with substantial
sidewalks, flanked by well-kept lawns
bright with flowers, and trees arching
overhead as far as the vision extends.

If he goes sight-seeing, among other
thing he will find six churches, two line
buildings housing our public school
with a corps of thirteen teachers, a
beautiful monument dedicated to the
memory of those who died for their
country, a Public Fouutain for the re-
freshment of man and beast, a Court
Housp,ioterestinj; because of its age; wj
up-to date public building for county
uses, three lively newspapers, a free
public library and reading room, a park,
a generous water supply, a flrst-class
sewerage system, gas, electric lights,
etc., etc, and a Woman's Club that
does things. To them we are indebted
for our Public Fountain. Thev also
transformed a patch of waste land,
which had become an eyesore by rea-

son cf neglect, into a thing of beauty
and to-day we are proud ot our Park
and it gives promise of much greater
beauty in the years to come. This
Club also is the backbone of our Free
Library and Readicg Room. They
have created also a snuit of village im-
provement, which shows on all our
streets and on our lawns as well
Their latest endeavor is to teach the
little girls of the village to sew, and a
weekly meeting for that purpose is
largely attended, and the results sur-
prisingly satisfactory.

He will find a much smaller organ-
ization also, a Chapter of the Daugh-
ters of the American Revolution, mak-
ing its influence felt as you see to-day.
Also a musical organization which for
years has rendered the oratorio of the
Crucifixion on Good Friday night with-
out cost to the audience and wh'ch
year by year, with the aid of great so-
loists from the cities, is presenting one
or another of the great masterpieces,
like the Messiah, The Elijah, etc., et a
nominal cost, which gives to the com-
munity musical opportunities not usual-
ly to be had outside the cities.

And last, but not least, he will see
one ot the handsomest liberty poles in
the State, from which "Old Glory",
that emblem of freedom, is flving to-
day, in honor of this meeting ot the
Daughters of the American Revolution.
rir. Connet's Address was as Follows :

It is eminently appropriate that some
recognition should be made of this
ancient fabric, because of its age,
his'ory and traditions If these walls
could speak, I have no doubt they cou'd
tell us many things that we of this
generation cannot possibly know

Aside, perhaps, from fome log huts,
this was the fi-st boupe built here, and
was the inception and foundation of
this beautiful village. It should stand
as long as any bouse in the village re-

It is fitting too that such a tablet «s
you Daughters of the American R°volu
tion, have, through the kindness of the
present owners, placed upon it, and
which will presently be exhibited to
your view, should mark it, so that all
passers-by may read and learn in some
degree its history.

To all I wish tos ty that this memorial
was wrought by and is the gift of one
of our townsmen, Mr. Robert Reardou,
who takes a deep interest in historical
matters, to Col. Lowrey Chapter, of
your estimable and patriotic order, and
is placed here by that Chapter.

Many of the early settlers of this
community were cf Irish nativity, and
among ttose who came from Ireland at
an early day, and settled here was
Samuel Fleming^ He purchased a
considerable quantity of land in this
vicinity, and a p-irt of that land consist-
ed of the territory upon which Fleming-
ton is now located. He ha


Online LibraryHiram Edmund Deats150th anniversary of the erection of the Fleming house, Flemington, N. J., May 23, 1906 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 2)