Joseph W. cn Dally.

Woodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. online

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Online LibraryJoseph W. cn DallyWoodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. → online text (page 23 of 34)
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Presbyterian grave-yard. (See Captain Mattheiv Free-

M elanchtOxV Freeman, Surgeon, father of Dr. Matthias
Freeman. His death occurred November iitli, 1806, in
his 60th year, and his grave is in the old Metuchen cem-

Capt. Matthew Freeman died in 1824, aged about 81 years.
He was made 2d Lieutenant of the ist Regiment Mid-
dlesex Militia in January, 1776, and afterward became
Captain. Asher Fitz Randolph served as Ensign under
Capt. Freeman at the beginning of his career; then
Asher became one of his lieutenants, and subsequently
left Freeman's ^company for a Captaincy in Maj. Hayes'
Battalion. Matthew is buried at Metuchen.

Jonath an Free man.

David Freeman.

Samuel Force resided where Dr. Jaques died.

Hiram Frazee lived where John Lasslett now resides.

Morris Frazee lived between Oak Tree and Plainfield.

" EsiEH " Fitz Randolph, Ezekiel, Malachi, and Michael
belonged to Capt. Asher F. Randolph's company.
The Fitz Randolph family was one of the most patriotic
of the war. Among those going to battle from this
section we find, besides those just mentioned, Barzilla,
Daniel, James, Joseph, Stelle, Phineas, Samuel, Thomas,
Zedekiah, and others.

John and Joseph Gilman belonged to Capt. David Edgar's
Troop of Light Horse.

Charles Gilman.

Thomas Hadden was a Captain of ist Regiment Middlesex
Militia; then Major, and in April, 1778, he was com-
missioned Ueutenant-Colonel, but resigned in Decem-
ber of the same year.

Samuel Jaquish.

James Kinsey, Sr., is thought to be a Woodbridge man; so
is James, Jr., and John (an artilleryman), and Shadrach.
Concerning James, Sr., it is recorded that lie was dis-


charged for disability, Januar}- 3d, 1783, "after seven
years' faithful service " — a brief but satisfactory evidence
of a noble and self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of

Aprah.\m Loughberry, or Lufifberry, resided in Rahway,
near the house of Francis Labaw. lie was a Sergeant
in Hazen's Regiment (2d Canadian). His son, the late
Joseph O. Lufbery, was a prominent and highly es-
teemed citizen of Rahway. John H. Lufbery, ex-Mayor
of Rahway, is also his son. The old family name is
spelled Loofbonrroiv. When Gen. Lafayette visited
Rahway, in 1824, Abraham was the chairman of the
committee appointed to receive him ; and it is said that
the French patriot recognized him immediately, not-
withstanding forty years had intervened since they had

Abr.a,m Laing lived where the late Ctn-nelius \^anderhoven

Capt. Nathaniel Leonard, who died May 9th, 1803, in his
50th year, and is buried in the old Metuchen cemetery,
has inscribed on his tomb-stone these words : "Served
through the Revolutionary war." He was a Wagon-
master and Captain in the Continental army.

Oliver Martin resided in Rahway and built the house occu-
pied by Jonathan Woodruff, which he called the " Peace
Tavern." Jeremiah C. Force was his ^on-in-law. He
belonged to the 3d Regiment of Militia.

Eliphalet Moore, of the 2d Regiment of Artillery, Conti-
nental Army, lived on the farm in Rahway Neck, lately
owned by Reuben Drake.

Capt. Christopher Marsh belonged to Essex Light Horse;
but he lived on the Kinsev Farm, between Six Roads
and Milton. He was at first a lieutenant in Capt.
Blanchard's Troop. On the 2d of June, 1777, he was
promoted to a captaincy. He was the grandfather of
Rolph M. Crowell. Died in 1810, aged 67 years.

Ralph Marsh, made ist Lieutenant in Capt. Ellis Barron's
company, January loth, 1776.

Merrick Martin'. A number of Martins, residing in this


section, were soldiers in the Revolution. Many of
them lived at or near Metuchen.

Jeremiah Manning, Captain ist Regiment of Militia, died
June loth, 1S03, aged 67. The following is inscribed on
the stone over his grave in the Presbyterian yard at
Woodbridge: "He filled the office of magistrate 26
years, most of which time he Avas also one of the Judges
of this County. At the age of 22 he became a member
of the Baptist Church, and, although interred here,
continued such until his decease, counting all things
but loss, as nothing compared with the excellency of
the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord."

Peter Noe lived at Blazing Star. He was the grandfather of
Joel B. Laing. Several other Noes from this section
fought for freedom. James belonged to A. F. Ran-
dolph's company. Peter died Sept. 2d, 1S19, aged 69.

Capt. Zebulon Pike was a Cornet in Movlan's Regiment of
Continentals in March, 1777; an Adjutant, November
ist; a Lieutenant, March 15th, 1778; then Paymaster;
and finally Captain, December 25th, 1778.

Capt. Robert Ross, of Metuchen, died January 15th, 1822,
aged 73 years, and was buried in the old Metuchen
cemetery. He was a Captain in the ist Regiment of
Middlesex Militia. In June, 1781, he was recruiting
officer for this County.

John Ross is supposed to have lived at Bonhamtown where
Benjamin Tappen resides.

Isaac Sears (or Sayeri) was a fifer in Capt. Ogden's company,
ist Regiment of Militia. His residence stood where
Hazelwood Cemetery is now located.

Thompson Steele was a Captain of Militia and Paymaster.
Possibly he lived at Piscataway. He was a County
Ccmiinissioner (for seizing the effects of disaffected
parties who had gone over to the enemy) until June,
1777, when he was taken prisoner by the British.*

Capt. Richard Skinner, of tlie ist Regiment, Militia, was
killed July ist, 1779, at the Six Roads Tavern— at least
that is supposed to be the place.

• Conncil of Safety of New Jersey, p. 67.


David Stewart, father of Randolph Stewart, lived near the

Dog Tavern.
Benjamin Thorp, of Spencer's Regiment of Continentals,

lived near James Potter's at Short Hills.
Israel Thornell died May 19th, 1819, in his 74th year, and

was buried at Metuchen.
Benjamin Thornell belonged to the ist Regiment of Militia,

and afterward to the Continental Army.
Samuel Willis was one of Capt. A. F. Randolph's company.

He lived between Houghtenville and New Dover.*

There may be soms names omitted in tlie foregoing table ;
but, if so, the omission is unintentional. It is not an easy task
to make a complete statement of this kind; but we flatter
ourselves that we have prepared the best that has been made
to the present date.

* For information in this Ust I am indebted to A. V. Shotwell, Dr. H. R. Stilee, the
"Cutter Book," G-eu. Stryker's Roster, and reliable tradition.




The Revolution, Continued— Stirring Times— Spanktown
—Events Between 1776 and 1783 in Chronological
Order — Grace Lacky— Baitle of Ash Swamp — Ezra
Mundy— The Cutters— Clarkson Edgar— The Moores
— Jennet Gage.

The year 1777 was the most exciting- one of the war, proba-
bly, to the inhabitants of Woodbridge. The latter part of the
year before had been very disastrous to the cause of liberty.
The American army had retreated across the State to Penn-
sylvania, passing en route through Bonhamtown and New
Brunswick. In its wake followed the British and Hessian
troops, who, flushed with success, ravaged the countr}', to the
great consternation of the residents They were checked at
Trenton in December (25th), 1776; but through all the suc-
ceeding Spring the enemy despoiled the Eastern part of New
Jersey. There was terror in every patriot household. Camps
of the foe were established at Bonhamtown, Raritan Landing,
and New Brunswick, from which strolling parties in search of
plunder were sent out through all the regions adjacent.
Woodbridge was not neglected by the foragers, as may readily
be imagined. Skirmishes between them and small parties ot
Jersey militia were frequent; but the latter were feeble and
poorly equipped and were in jeopardy every hour. The
condition of the inhabitants was forlorn and defenceless in the
extreme, and Hessians marched through the village with their
huge brass fronted caps, long pig-tails hanging down their
backs, yellow waistcoats and breeches, and blue dress-coats —
tyrants of the hour.

We now propose to give a succinct statement of events
occurring in Woodbridge and vicinity in nearly chronological
order, after which we will resume the biographical narratives
of the preceding chapter.


In July, 1776, the 2d Pennsylvania Battalion of Philadelphia
marched through Woodbridge on the route to Amboy. One
company, Capt. Wilcox's, remained on the Smith Farm in
Woodbridge Neck — for how long a time we do not know.*
In August It was expected that an attack would be made on
Amboy by the enemy. Among other measures for defence,
four hundred men were ordered to be stationed at Woodbridee

After the battle of Trenton the British through this section
made their strongholds at Amboy and New Brunswick.
Piscataway was visited a little while previous to this, and the
houses robbed of bedding, cooking utensils, etc.,f the wives of
predatory soldiers assisting in the robberies.

Soon after the British camp was formed at Bonhamtown a
Mr. Compton, grandfather of Henry Compton, was visited by
the British, who had learned that two of his sons were serving
in the Continental army, and telling him to pack up his bed
and furniture, gave him the old grey horse and a wagon, and
sent him away. They then burned his house and out-build-
ings and stole his six horses, thirty head c^t cattle, and fifty
sheep. J Mr. Compton's dwelling stood by the brook between
Metuchen and Bonhamtown. The camp at the latter place
was composed of five British regiments. The officers occupied
the house now the dwelling of Benjamin Tappen — owned at
that time by the grandfather of Jerome Ross.§

About the 6th of Januar)', 1777, one thousand bushels of
salt were taken from the English at Spanktown (Rahway)
after a sharp encounter in which the Americans were victori-
ous. The conflict lasted two hours. When the British found
themselves being worsted they sent dispatches to Woodbridge
and Amboy for reinforcements. Two regiments hastened to
their relief; but the Hessians encamped at Woodbridge refused
to go, nnagining that the Jersey militia were at Spanktown in
immense numbers. The two regiments arrived there just in
time to save their comrades from total disaster. ||

The reason for calling Rahway by the unprepossessing
name of Spanktown is not obvious. We do not suppose any
more spanking was done in ancient Rahway than usually befalls

' Wbitehead, 331. t Ibid., 339. t Hunt's Metuchen, p. 12. 5 Ibid., p. 11. I Hat-
field, p. 455.


the rising generation in any thrifty town. But, taking our
cue from the astute Kniclcerbocker (who began his history of
New York from the creation of the world), we go back to the
old meaning of spank, and find that it means a quick trot. So
we say, "he went along at a spankUig gait," whicli does not
mean that his mother administered castigation as he pro-
ceeded, but that he moved along on his steed at a lively pace.
Now, what is more reasonable than tliat Rahway was so noted
for its fast horses that it became Spanktown on that verv
account? The name is certainly invested with much more
dignity in tlie latter than in the former view of the case,
although we are free to confess that the evidence for the one is
as good as for the other. At any rate, we see one signification
exemplified: Rahway is growing at "x spanking rate; and we
rejoice in its prosperity. As it was once a part of Woodbridge
we feel a sort of motherly pride in its progress. As the child
has grown larger than the parent, it would seem that the
period of correction has passed; the toddler is approaching
maturity, and the days of its castigatory trials are ended.

The river that flows through Rahway was styled Rahwack,
Rawawack, and Rahawack in the early days — so called, it is
thought, in honor of an Indian chief of that name. It has been
rendered more euphonious by the modern residents, who call
it Rahway ; but this name was not given to the town, perma-
nently, until Monday evening, July 29th, 1822. •'■ Previous to
that date Bridgetown was its frequent appellation; but at that
time a meeting of prominent citizens at Smith Freeman's
hotel (Richard Marsh, Chairman, and Jos. O. Lufbery, Secre-
tary) settled the matter in designating the town by its present

But to return to Revolutionary matters:

Somewhere about February ist, 1777, an engagement
occurred at Piscataway between one thousand British, with
three heavy guns, and seven hundred Americans, in which the
former were compelled to retreat. But receiving reinforce-
ments and three more guns the enemy drove back the militia,

* Bridgetown Museum and N. J. Advoc, Aug. 3d, 1822.


losing in the attaclvS at least thirty-six, who were killed. Of
the Americans nine were slain and fourteen were wounded.*

The distinofuished British Gen. Howe came near beina:
captured in the neighborhood of Bonhamtown in March of the
same year. He was at tliat place on the 8th attempting to
open communication with New Brunswick, whicli had been
cut off by the Americans; but he failed. In his attempt to
return to Amboy 3,000 men were called out as a guard — sup-
posed to be the entire force in the neighborhood of Bonham-
town. These troops were put in battle array on " Punk Hill,"
as the nearest advantageous point. Is not this locality
"Spunk Hill".'' It would seem so — the Spunk and Punk
being confusedly mixed in the mind of the chronicler. Skir-
mishes occurred between parties of Gen. Maxwell's men and
these British soldiers, one effect of which was to bring on a
serious engagement, resulting in loss on both sides. The
British lost, probably, sixty men killed and wounded, a bag-
gage-wagon and three pieces ot artillery. f If Maxwell's force
had attacked the hostile army on the hill and been successful,
Gen. Howe, probably, would have fallen into the hands of the

At Spanktown a severe encounter occurred on the 23d of
February, between Maxwell's troops, stationed there, and the
3d British Brigade from Amboy. The latter made a detour
by way of Spanktown for the purpose of capturing Maxwell ;
but their real destination was New Brunswick, into which
town they intended to bring their prisoners in triumph. Sad
to relate, Maxwell was not accommodating enough to be
captured; but the Americans followed their foes through the
snow all the wa}' back to Amboy, pouring a destructive fire
into their ranks as they proceeded. Their loss, from their own
accounts, was large — four officers and nearly one hundred men
killed and wounded. The Americans set down the British
loss at 500 and their own at 3 killed and 12 wounded \ Such
a great disparity seems almost incredible.

Several American soldiers were made prisoners during
April at or near Woodbridge. Among them we find Patrick

* Whitehead, p. 341. t Whitehead, p. 342. i. Whitehead's Contr., p. 344.


McConnally, a Hunterdon County man. He was taken on the
nth* Isaac Cotheal, who was a member of Capt. Marsh's
troop of Essex Light Horse, was wounded and captured near
Woodbridge on the 19th. His wounds must have been severe.
Because of them he was discharged from the service May ist,
1778.1 Cotheal was a guide for the patriot army at the time
of his capture. He was living in 1810, as we learn from a
letter of Lieut. Paton, in whicli it is stated that he was suffer-
ing greatly from his wounds, and an increased pension for
him is mentioned as desirable.

At two o'clock on the morning of April 15th, 1777, a detach-
ment of Col. Cook's i2th Pennsylvania Regiment, under Capt
Alexander Paterson, made a successful attack on the British
picket guard at Bonhamtown. The entire guard (twenty-
five soldiers) were either killed or taken. The main body of
the British forces retired to the intrenchments near at hand.];

Col. Cook's camp was not far from Bonhamtown; and two
other parties from his regiment, on the nights of the 20th and
2ist, harassed the enemy's picket, driving it in on both occa-
sions. Lieut. McCabe made the former attack with only 16
men, killing one and wounding two, Lieut. Lodge made the
latter assault, assisted by McCabe, having 32 men in com-
mand ;§ and the British were in such a state of alarm that' the
entire encampment was kept under arms all night.

On the 23d of April, long after dark, a detachment of 63
men under Capt. Lacy marched through Woodbridge, from
the vicinity of Rahway, on the route to Amboy, to surprise the
Hessian pickets there. But the pickets had been removed;
so that, beyond a little consternation and the killing of one
sentinel and the wounding of another, this adventure was not
remarkable. On the following night another American party
of about thirty attempted to accomplish tlie same purpose,
but the darkness was great and they stumbled right among the
Hessians, who captured every one.^

In May the Royal Highlanders (71st Scotch Regiment) had
posted themselves half way between New Brunswick and
Bonhamtown with six companies of li^ht infantry. On the

* Gen. Stryker's Koster, p. 243. 1 Ibid., pp. 174, 556. t Barber & Howe's His. Coll..
p. 325. 5 Ibid. V Wlaitehead's Contr., p. 344.



loth they were assailed by a part of Gen. Stevens' division
and the battle lasted about an hour and a half. Near Piscata-
way the Highlanders took possession of a wood, but the
Americans drove them out of it. The pickets of the enemy
were also driven into Bonhamtown. Although the Royal
troops were reinforced, such was the vigor of the onslaught of
the Continentals that they again retreated, fighting as they
retired. Another British reinforcement compelled the Amer-
icans to give way. In excellent order they fell back with a
loss of twenty-seven. The Highlanders suffered sevei-ely, but
the loss is not stated.*

The British_army evacuated New Brunswick on the 2 2d of
June, retreating to Perth Amboy. On Thursday morning
(26th) they marched forth under Sir William Howe and Lord
Cornwallis as far as Westfield, intending to annihilate Gen.
Washington, whose camp was now situated in the neighbor-
hood of Plainfield. But the resistance they encountered at
every' stage of their advance was disheartening in the extreme.
Nearly every cross-road had its squad of pugnacious militia
which poured its deadly volleys into the splendid columns of
the w^ell-equipped troops. As they were passing through
Woodbridge they were checked for half an hour by Col.
Daniel Morgan's Rangers. Some sharp skirmishing and
rapid firing resulted in considerable loss of life.

The army moved from Amboy in two columns, one march-
ing by way of Metuchen meeting-house under Howe, and the
other passing through Woodbridge under command of Corn-
wallis. These columns were to form a junction beyond Me-
tuchen ; and then, two miles further on, they were to separate
in order to ffank the Americans at Ouibbletown. Four bat-
talions took up their position at Bonhamtown, with six heavy
guns, in the morning of this eventful day. The right column,
under Cornwallis, was the one that met Morgan's Rangers at
Woodbridge. Lord Howe's official dispatch states that Mor-
gan's force comprised 700 men. Of course, the Rangers were
compelled to give way, for the odds against them were too

• Hist. Coll. of N. J., p. 325. Whitehead, p. 344.



When Cornwallis entered the road leading to Scotch Plains,
just above the " Metuchen meeting-house," he was checked by
Gen. Stirling's corps of American troops. A general skirmish
ensued. Stirling was well posted in a wood, but he was
compelled to retire after a severe contest, in which he lost
three brass pieces of ordnance, and several men. Lord Howe
admits the British loss to be five killed, thirty wounded, and
thirteen prisoners; but sets down the loss on the other side
at sixty-three killed and over two hundred wounded and
•prisoners— a gross exaggeration if we may believe Gen.
Stirling's report. The enemy's troops in this conflict com-
prised three regiments of Hessian Grenadiers, one of British
Grenadiers, one of Light Infantry, tlie Hessian Chasseurs, and
the Queen's Rangers. Doubtless one cause ot Gen. Stirling's
retreat at Metuchen was the knowledge he must have pos-
sessed that Lord Howe was advancing in the rear of the rio-ht
column and would soon overtake it with a powerful reinforce-

After an intensely hot day and a fotiguing march, the Brit-
ish army entered Westfield. Looking toward the hills th§
weary soldiers saw that Washington had made his camp
among them, having forsaken Quibbletown and all the plain.
Every movement was in view of the American commander;
for, taking his position on the bold bluff now so well known
as "Washington's Rock," he was able to distinguisii any
. important manoeuvre the foe might choose to make.

It was three o'clock on Friday afternoon that the English
Generals, seeing Washington's impregnable position, took up
their line of march from Westfield to Amboy, assaulted flank
and rear by Scott's Light Horse and Morgan's Rangers.
They encamped that night at Spanktown. The next day,
harassed as before, they resumed their retreat and arrived at
Amboy, from which, on the last day of June, they departed" —
leaving New Jersey in possession of the American army.
During the remainder of the war the latter held' Amboy, and
the State was never again so completely overrun with
marauders and British troops, altliough many parties entered
it lor pillage from hostile camps in adjoining States.

' Howe's dispatch ; see Wbitehead, p. 346. Also Hatfield, p. 460.


While the British cause seemed to be in the ascendency, in
the former part of 1777, the Tories were exultant and assisted
the King's troops in every possible way; but now they were
doomed to severe retribution. Many of them were glad to
escape with their lives to the English lines, leaving their prop-
erty in the hands ot the angry citizens. There were cases of
tarring and feathering, which caused a speedy exit of certain
Royalists to the congenial latitude of Staten Island.

The New Jersey Council of Safety,* which met at Haddon- ^
field on the i6th of August of this year, cited Ichabod Bunn,
Thomas Bioomfield, Sen., Samuel Freeman, Samuel Heard,
Michael Long, John Kinsey, and Samuel Insley to appear as
witnesses in respect, to disaffected parties in this section. As
a result, perhaps, of this citation, we find the following, on the
record of the Council, bearing date Wednesday, August 27th ;

" Ordered the wives and children (under age) ot John Heard,
Ellis Barron, Wm. Smith, Isaac Freeman and Saml. Moores,
late inhabitants of the Township of Woodbridge, but now
with the Enemy, be immediately apprehended & sent over to
Staten Island; & that Col. Fredk. Frelinghuysen be directed
to carry this order into execution."

In the early part of October troops began to assemble at
Woodbridge and Elizabethtown in large numbers, supposed
to be two thousand militia, under Gen. Maxwell. Generals
Heard and Maxwell led a large detachment from these places
on Friday (the 2d) toward Hackensack to attack the British
troops which Avere threatening to invade Bergen County. f

A guard was kept at Rahvvay by the Americans at this time
to prevent incursions from Staten Island; but forays were,
nevertheless, of frequent occurrence. Thirteen mounted
Tories rode into Railway on Sunday evening, January 30th,
1780, and surprised nine soldiers in the company of several
young ladies. The refugees took their prisoners to the Island,
to a social atmosphere by no means as pleasant as that from
which they had been so ruthlessly snatched. J; As this Winter
was very cold the Sound was frozen over, and the Tories and
other inimical marauders were able to cross it at any point

* Minutes of the Couacil, p. 117. t Htitfield's Elizabeth, 469. t Ibid., 483.


with horses and vehicles. It was, indeed, a terrible Winter to
all the inhabitants in this section.

But several other matters connected with the year 1777
ought to be mentioned here :

The Council of Safety met at Princeton on the 8th of
December, and a guard from Major Potter at Woodbridge
brought the following prisoners from Middlesex before the
Board: El lenor Worth, Charles Friend, John Willis, Walter
Noakes, Michael Condin, and William Fleming. All but the
two last were taken into custody and detained in Princeton,
Maj. Reuben Potter was 2d Major in the First Regiment of

Online LibraryJoseph W. cn DallyWoodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. → online text (page 23 of 34)