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

. (page 25 of 34)
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 25 of 34)
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lor prevalent ignorance we feel impelled to bring the word
down to the level of ordinary minds. We must translate it.
Malicious whisperers might insinuate that it has something to
do with the Dutchman's " ager fits : " but such souls have no eye
or ear for the beauties of language. Agurnde simply means
adjourned. Could anything be more obscure or more tasteful
than this ingeniously occult term .' It looks like a stately
Latin word, and beside it the common participle sinks into



insignificance. There, too, is the word surveyors — how beauti-
fully has the Town Clerk transformed it ! Survares is certainly
as elegant as "agurnde" and shows the fertility of a brain
fully given up to orthograpliy.

The taxes for 1780-81, according to an accor.nt in Liber B,
folios 26 and 27, were paid in Continental paper, State money,
and " hard casli " — the last being rather scarce. ^43,939, 9^/.
is the amount of the year's receipts for taxes; an enormous
sum, apparently, but when we consider that only ^4, 2s. 6d.
out of the ^1,205, 2>s. gd. paid to Thomas Edgar as O/erseer
of the Poor were in "hard cash," we are not greatly aston-
ished at the big figures. Of the round sum (^44,000) it is
highly probable that ;z(,'43,5oo were in paper. To galvanize an
old joke: it required a wagon to take the money to the
butcher and a pocket-book to carry the steak to Mary.

At the close of the war how many firesides were enlivened
by the vivid stories of its actual participants ! Late at night
by the wide chimney, up which the sparks and tobacco smoke
went cheerily together, the names of Natty Randolph, General
Heard, and many others (some, alas, unknown to us) mingled
in the thrillinsf narratives with which the evenina: was whiled
away. Gaping boys and large-eyed girls drank in eagerly
the wonderful reminiscences; and many a hero, over his mug
of cider, recalled the recent scenes of daring encounter to an
admiring group of listeners. Grateful was the patriot to
hearken to the conversation of two old soldiers, suggesting to
each other events familiar to both. And ladies, not yet grown
old, tarried at the table sipping the fragrant tea, and repeating
the startling experiences through which they had lately
passed. A common cause and a common interest had drawn
many people together whom nothing but the same sufferings
and rejoicings would have brought into social relations. So
the war had its beneficent results to offset its record of woe.
The old folks tell us that the pleasant times of the past can
never be repeated — that the people of that period were more
friendly and that the visits of acquaintances were less osten-
tatious than those of to-day. Perhaps things are as they
represent them. Certain it is that the simplicity of former
times has almost departed. We hear very little now of the


unconventional gatherings tor which that age was distin-
guished. The husking frolics, the apple bees, the quilting
parties, and other simple means of pleasure have given place
to the greatest bore that was ever invented — the modern
dance, at Avhich everybody feels as stiff and constrained as
though he had been doing penance for a week in a refrigera-
tor. Well, we do not wish the old times to come again — we
do not lament that they have gone forever — but we wish the
genial spirit of them might be restored to the people of to-day.
In the haste to get rich many of the finer feelings of the heart
are almost destroyed, as flowers are trampled under hurrying
and careless feet. Were it not for the sweet and elevating in-
fluence of the religion of Jesus, mankind, in its headlong race
after ignoble prizes, would soon plunge back into barbarism.
It is greatly the fashion at this time to laud the native gener-
osity of the human heart ; but the laudation comes from
those who least need assistance and who, therefore, know least
about the subject. The heart grows callous to sympathy
when it is turned in wholly upon itself. Wars in the past
history of this country have had the providential compensa-
tion, apart from the objects aimed at, of bringing the people
closer together. The burst of ]:)atriotism evoked in 1776 has
communicated an electric shock to the nation which tingles
through the encrusted selfishness of 1S73. Selfishness, sajs
one, was surely not manifested when Chicago was burned.
True; tliat was a noble generosity whicii poured its benevo-
lence into that stricken city. But criminal selfishness robbed
Nev/ York and permitted frauds in Philadelphia, Newark, and
other places. Selfishness, tiie hot-bed of aristocracy, the foe
to true republicanism, planned the Credit Mobilier scheme
and scores of comparatively petty thefts upon the public.
Selfishness establishes caste and holds itself an enemy to the
spirit of American institutions. Is there no necessity for
imity — for a' broader political culture — for an enlightened,
unselfish patriotism ? This nation is emphatically a brother-
hood, and its darkest hour will come when the feeling of fra-
ternity dies. That is why the Christian religion is a necessity
to us. It is full of brotherly kindness — the sap of our national
existence. The lack of it has brought disgrace upon us in tlie
recent past.



But we did not intend to write a philosophic disquisition.
We merely intend to point out the danger of trifling with the
hard-earned results of the Revolution, and to show that unsel-
fish patriotism should be cultivated if we would remain a true

Reviewing the history we have written, we think we must
assign the most prominent place in it, previous to the war of
'76, to Samuel Moore. He was scrupulously exact in all his
transactions with the local and provincial governments, and
was, moreover, a man of great financial and executive ability.
He was, in fact, one of the greatest men of Woodbridge, and
he is the central figure in the days of the settlement. In some
respects the jurist, Samuel Dennis, was the peer of Moore-
and, as we have seen, both men were held in high estimation
by the town-folk. Dennis, however, achieved much of his
popularity after Moore's death — the people regarding him as
the only man qualified to succeed their favorite. Dennis
continued to figure prominently in public affairs until his
decease ; but Judge Pike became a formidable rival before
that event occurred. Pike was a man of considerable judicial
acumen and is the ancestor of some notable men. He seems
to have thrown himself heartily into the township business,
and displayed so much wisdom in his counsels that his fellow
citizens made him a Judge. A son, named John, also, was
conspicuous in our village annals. Dennis outlived Pike
seventeen or eighteen years. Had Pike survived Dennis
there is no question but that he would have been the foremost
man in the community. Pike was for many years the military
chieftain of Woodbridge, and he is often spoken of as "Cap-
tain"; but the village soldiery was of little importance and
not a great deal of real honor was attached to the imposing
army titles. The Bishops had a monopoly of the cheap dis-
tinction at one time — young John glorying for a long time in
the captaincy, old John in the lieutenancy — Jonathan being
ensign. No use being made of these officers, of course we
cannot say just how valiant they were. In civil life the
Bishops were exceedingly useful, and did good service in
their " day and generation " whereof we have reason to be
glad. The most notable man after Dennis and Pike had


passed away was Judge Hude, although his name does not
occur as often in the records as the names of otliers. After
him arose the distinguished James Parker, the printer. Of no
event ought Woodbridge to be more proud, in its civil
history, than of tlie birth of this remarkably talented and
useful citizen. Many men had labored for the material
advancement of the place — striving to make it a populous and
wealthy town ; but he labored for its mental and moral
improvement. With his types and press he did more for the
elevation of his State than many a more prominent man.
And though in the lapse of years his name has ceased to be
connected with the impulse which he gave to thought and
literature in his time, yet his influence is stirring many hearts
to-day like the subtle force at the pole which produces com-
motion at the equator. Just as, long after the hand of the
musician is withdrawn, the strings ot the lyre continue to
vibrate and give out pleasant sounds ; so, long after a forceful
life is closed, its sweetness and influence are felt even by some
who cannot trace the mysterious power to its author. Park-
er's unrecog-nized influence is felt to-day and will be felt for
many days to come. His was an earnest life and left its
impress — " foot-prints on the sands of time " ;

"Foot-priat3 that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn maui,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again."

The Revolution produced a host of strong characters, as we
have seen; and some of them were our fathers arid mothers.
We do not propose the invidious task of singling from the
noble group any name for special mention; for stars of the
same brilliancy shine best in clusters. We refer, therefore, to
the preceding pages for the names of some of the grandest
patriots known to history. Not that they have ever been
talked of in foreign courts; not that their hices were often
seen among the great and wise; not that they are mentioned
in the volumes that commemorate the spirit of '76 ; but they
were grand patriots because they did their duty bravely, con-
tending even unto death for the freedom we enjoy. In a
speech delivered a number of )^ears ago by Hon. R, M. Crow-


ell, well known to Woodbridge people, allusion is made to
the sufferings of our fathers during the trying years of" that
war, especially to the cruelties of the Sugar House and the
Prison Ships. Speaking of these, he says : " We cannot form
the least conception of the misery and wretchedness of those
places. The prisoners were crowded together in the dark
caverns of those dismal ships, almost deprived of air, covered
with vermin, surrounded with filth, and constantly gnawed by
hunger. They were crowded among the sick, the dying, and
the dead. From the Jersey prison ship alone it is computed
that more than 11,000 prisoners paid the debt of nature."

How different is the scene which our village presents to-day
in comparison with that of the long ago which we have en-
deavored to reproduce in these pages ! Taking our position on
Strawberry Hill we glance over a picture which, rising sud-
denly to the vision of Judge Pike two hundred years ago, would
have astonished him. Not that Woodbridge has grown so
large, but that it has such a different population and has such
new elements of growth. Below his whilom dwelling-place,
just skirting the salt meadow, he would have seen the tossing
smoke of the locomotive and the swiftly-passing train of dark
red cars. The weather-beaten telegraph poles supporting the
slender wires would have aroused his curiosity. Across the
meadow he would have observed Phillips' mill — a new object to
him ; and nearer at hand Berry's fire-brick manufactory with its
peculiar chimneys above the kilns. At the left he would liave
seen the graceful spire of the elegant brick Methodist Church ;
and much puzzled he would have been to understand the de-
nominational status and tenets of Methodism, for in his day
it was unknown — it was not even dreamed of The white
spire of the Presbyterian Church would have been a marvel
to him, also ; for he was accustomed to worship in the rude
meeting-house, the history of which we have already given.
The brick Episcopal Church would have attracted his atten-
tion ; and so would the tall flag-staff in front of the Wood-
bridge Hotel. Then the fine residences, so different from the
plain, unpretending buildings of his day, would have made
the good judge open his eyes in bewilderment and ask him-
self, " Is this indeed Woodbridge, where I spent the years of


my manhood ?" It was a wilderness when Pike came to the
settlement, and he would scarcely recognize at this time a
familiar spot. The Sound, perhaps, would have been a remem-
bered feature of the landscape; but the creek, it is said, has
undergone considerable change. The meadows, with their tall
rushes and thin-bladed salt grass, doubtless present the same
monotonous stretch of level green as they did in John Pike's
time. The former magnate of Woodbridge would have seen,
therefore, very little to remind him of the settlement where
he won a name. The large fire-brick manufactories, the
handsome brick Masonic Hail now in course of construction
near the depot, the improved school buildings, tlie busy clay
wagons passing and repassing all day long between the
" Banks " and the boats, cars, or factories— these would have
been new sights to him.

If we could play Rip Van Winkle and open our e3"es on the
village two hundred years from now, doubtless we should see
more wonderful changes than would have appeared to the
view of John Pike if he had recently revisited his home of two
centuries ago. Our town is near enough to New York to
afford a home for the merchants of that city, and our traffic
and manufactures are rising in importance every year.
In the natural order of things, therefore, our destiny is one of
steady progress. Obstacles may prevent our development,
such as the lack of public spirit among oiu- leading men, a lax
morality, anti-Christian influences, and a degenerate popula-
tion. To some extent these opposing forces are already among
us — especially the lax morality among our young people.
We are not going to croak. We see many bright tints in our
future sky. But we see little clouds there, too. May we not
utter a word of warning before the storm comes and throws
some noble bark upon the strand ?

Growing up among us are many fine-looking young men,
strong, self-reliant, and ambitious. The'late war for the Union
despoiled many homes of the bravest and best, and our public
gatherings were dreary enough for a while, we missed them
so. Some of them returned, and glad we were to see them
back again ; but some sank to the grave on Southern fields,
and unknown hands performed for them the hasty rites of


burial. In tlie stillness of deserted wilds and far-away battle-
grounds some of them rest to-day. Tliose were brave youno-
men. Shall the generation which follows them be less so.?
They were animated by high and noble purposes and per-
formed heroic deeds— shall not this generation emulate their
spirit .' The hope for the future is in our young people. Will
they betray it ? It is for them to decide. To love God and
to do good constitute the noblest life that a man can hope for;
and in such a life we invite the young people of Woodbridge
to expend their powers, assuring them that it is the only one
that brings no disappointment.

Another hand before many years will doubtless find mate-
rial enough in the yet unknc)wn and future history of the
town to set it forth before the world. That such a record may
contain honorable mention of many of our young men and
young women is our earnest hope. But, better than any
other record, may their names be written in the Book of Life.

It has been said that a historian should not exhort or render
an opinion as to the relation of the facts which he presents to
his readers. If we are now violating this canon it is in the
interest of sound morality and the public welfare. The dissi-
pation to which many of our young people are giving way
evokes the darkest cloud in our future; and as many young
eyes may glance over these pages we cannot close without
this gently-spoken warning: Beware of ship-iureck .'

Not long since we were looking from the western window
at a gorgeous spectacle. The beams of the setting sun shot
upward in dazzling effulgence ; the stray clouds caught the
light and arrayed themselves in its beauties. Imperceptibly
the scene changed. The azure became a delicate cream color.
Across this background, like floating isles, moved majestically
the most beautiful golden clouds, shining so brightly in the
rays of the already sunken sun that it wearied the eye to
behold them Right above these were clouds that reveled in
the most exquisite carmine, and so full was the sky of this
brilliancy that a tint appeared to be thrown over everything
around us. Like a celestial cascade tiie resplendent hues
seemed to ripple down from the zenith to the f^xr southern
horizon. The wliole west was in a glow ; and ruddy__with


the reflected light, the neighboring Avindows shone in their
borrowed beauty. We were reminded of the grand apostrophe
of blind Ossian :

"Ob, thou that rollest above,
Round as tlie shield of my fathers! —
Whence are thy beams, O Sun,
Thy everlasting light ?
Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty ;
The stars hide themselves in the sky ;
The moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave ; —
But thou thyself movest alone !
Who can be a companion of thy course?
The oaks of, the mountains fall ;
The mountains themselves decay with years;.
The ocean shrinks and grows again ;
The moon herself is lost in heaven ;
But thou art forever the same.
Rejoicing in the brightness of thj'- course-
When the world is dark with tempests.
When thunder rolls and lightning flies.
Thou lookest in thy beauty from the cloud
And laughest at the storm.
But to Ossian thou lookest in vain ; ■
For he beholds thy beams no more,
Whether th}' yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds.
Or thou tremblest at the gates of the West.
But thou art perhaps like me — for a season :

Thy years will have an end.
Thou shall sleep in thy clouds

Careless of the voice of the morning."

Why may not your life be as full of grandeur as the sun
and as glorious in its close as the decline of an October day }
Keep alive every patriotic emotion and worship the God of
your fathers; and thus, if you never live in the hearts of your
countrymen to the degree to whicli your ambition aspires, you
may live in the memory of Him who hath caused it to be said
that "the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
Thus ordering your life, the setting sun will be a faint figure
of the glory in reserve for you ; for the time wnll come when
" the sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for bright-
ness shall the moon give light unto thee ; but the Lord shall
be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.



Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon with-
draw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and
the days of thy mourning shall be ended."


In the following pages we have presented some of the more important
documents relating to the early history of Woodbridge. Besides these, will
be found herein the lists of "Marriages, Deaths, etc.," contained in Libers
A and B. These serve to throw a great deal of light on the genealogies of
many families, affording a clue to somo of them which, if closely pursued,
will lead to valuable results. None of these papere have ever before been
published, and in process of time they would doubtless be lost to history
unless preserved in ttie printed page. They will be valuable for reference
in time to come, as our readers will perceive.



This Deed Bearing date the first day of June in the year of our Lord
1669 and in tlie 21st year of the Reigne of our Sovrn. Lord Charles by the
Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland King, defender of
the Faith, &c.

Witnesseth of the Charier Granted to the Towne and Freeholders of
Woodbridge, in the province of New Cesarea or New Jersey by Capt.
Phillip Carteret Esqr. Governor of the said Province and his Councell under
the Right Honabl. John Lord Berkley Baron of Stratton and Sr. George
Carteret Knight and Baronet the absolute Lords proprietors of the same,
contayuing the limits and bounds of the jurisdiction of the said Towne
together with the immunities and privilidges thereunto belonging and
appertaining as iolloweth :

1st. Imprimis, the bounds of the aforesaid Towne of Woodl)ridge is to
begin on the East Side from Arthur Cull Rivor otherwise called the Sound,
at the going in to Rawack River, and to go up the said River as bye as the
tyde flows, to a fresh brook that runs West-north west, where there stands
a beach tree that is marked on the four sides of it, from thence it extends
upon a direct west line througii a great Swamp and through two other small
swamps till it comes to a walnut stake that is pitched upon the plaine
marked with two notches and a crosse, which is from the said beach tree
Five miles and a halfe ; From wliieh stake it extends upon a South Lyne
through another great Swamp Called Dismal to the Raratons River ; In
length seaven miles and a halfe. Butting within tenn chains to the westward
of two Red Clifts that stands on ye other side of tlie said River called
turne about, which said lyne comes between two black oakes thai stands at
the entering in of the meadows, within a Rod the one from the other, where
a stake is planted betweenethem, which said oakes are marked upon each of
them with three notches about brest live, and a notcli on all tlie fower
sides of each of the said trees on the lower part of the slump neare the
ground & a cross upon each tree above the uppermost notches. From
which said stake betweene tlie two trees there is two stakes more pitch
in the meadow answermg to the bounds before mentioned on the other
side of the aforesaid River, Being butted and bounded on the East side by
the Artliur Cull River, otherwise called the Sound that parts Staten Island
and the maine. On the North side by the bounds belonging to Elizabeth-


towne ; on the west side by the bounds belonging to New Piscataway.
And on the South side hy the aforesaid Raratons River, as may more at
large appeare by a draught made by the Surveyor GeueraJl hereunto an-
nexed. The whole said tract of upland & meadow being valewed
and esteemed by the Surveyor General!, Allowance being given for waist
land and hye wayes to contaiue six miles square, which amounts to twenty
three thousand and Fourty acres, English measure.

Which said limits and bounds together with all rivers, ponds, creeks,
Islands, Inlets, Bays, Fishing, Hawking, Hunting and all other appur-
tenances whatsoever thereunto belonging, and appertayning, (The halfe
part Golde and Sdver Mynes and the Royaltie of the Lords proprietors only
excepted) to continue and remalne within the jurisdiction, corporaticu or
Township of the said towne of Woodbridge from the day of tlie date hereof
and for ever ; they submitting themselves to the authority of the Lords
proprietors and the government of the said province. To be holden by
them, the said Corporation or Townsliip their heirs and successors as of the
manner of East Greenwich in free and common socage.

2dly. The said Corporation or township called by the name of AYood-
bridge shall consist of at least sixty families, and as many more as they shall
think lilt, which Families shall be accounted as the associates and Free-
holders of the aforesaid corporation or township, which said Freeholders,
or the major part of them are equally to divide the aforesaid tract of
upland and meadows among themselves by first, second and third lotts, or
as they can otherwise agree upon, Provided that Amboy point be reserved
to be disposed of by the Lords proprietors towifrds tlie thousand acres of
upland and meadow, (that is reserved by the first articles made before the
settling of the said towusuip) to their use, in Lieu of the seventh part
mentioned in the Concessions. And when settled to pay all rates equall
"with other plantations, which Land l)eing so divided and agreed upon hy
all or the major part of the said Freeholders, the same is to be entered upon
Record by the Secretary or Recorder Generall of the province, and also a
Record thereof to be kept in the towne book oi Records together with every
particular man's name, of liis allotment that he is to have; which being
done, the Surveyor Generall is by warrant from the Governor to survey,
butt and bound every particnlarman's alolnunt and to bring the same to
remaiue upon the file in the Becietarie's office, that recourse may be there-

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 25 of 34)