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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 3 of 34)
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declared the Nichols grants to be void.

Lord Berkeley had become so disgusted with his N'ova
Ccesarea property tliat he sold out his share for less than
$5,000 to John Fen wick and Edward By Hinge on the 18th of
March, 1673.

To what lengths the people in tiie Province might have
carried their I'evolutionary proceedings, if no interruption to
their designs had occurred, cannot, of course, be easily
conjectured. Proprietary rule seemed on the verge of utter
extinction, when a fleet of Dutch vessels appeared in the
harbor of New York, and. in July, 1673, captured the city, and
with it the whole of New Jersey was subjugated. By a treaty
of peace, in the following year, between Holland and
England the Provinces were restored to English rule.
Edmund Aadross, a fussy, domineering man, was made
Governor of New York, and Philip Carteret was re-appointed
to New Jersey The latter was welcomed back to the
Province, and resumed the reins of Government as though
nothing had interfered with it. The discontented settlers^
wisely refrained from again setting up their exemption
claims — discouraged from it, either by the Duke of York's
emphatic repudiation of the Nichols grants, or by the fear of
coming into collision with the English Government. Then,
too, nobodv would come into the Province to settle while it
was so distracted — hence, self-interest may have influenced
them in this respect. At any rate the storm blew over, and



28



wdonrRinc.K and vicinity



the inhabitants began the payment of tlic land tax of one half-
penny per acre, or one whole penny, if the lands were
valuable; and if liicrc was any grumbling it did not again
result in open rebellion against tlie Cxovernment.

The following list* of Freeholders of Woodbridge is
supposed to comprise actual settlers to whom patents were
granted in 1670, or thereabouts ; with the amount of land each
man received. Xo doubt the land was laid out in plots, and
selection was made by the drawing of lots, as was suggested
in the Charter. The names in sm.\ll capitals are those of
the nine original associates, who were each granted 240 acres
of upland and 40 of meadow, in addition to the regular
allotment. The names in italiis are not found in the list of
land-holders in 1682, these persons having either disposed of
their rights or been admitted as Freeholders subsequently:



ACRES.

John Adams 97

Kpliraiiu Andrews (107-"!) Of^

Thoniiis Auger, or Alger I(i7

Obiidiab Ayers 171

Samuel Baker, or Bacon 170

.Tosli ua Bradley 171

.foiiN Bisiror 470

.lolin Bisiiop, .Tr 77

MaUhew Hunn, "Mariner" 1(55

Thoa. Blomticld ;32G

Thos. Blouifield, Jr 92

John Blomfield 90

.lohn Conser 170

Joli n Croni \v el 1 17:!

Wm. C'oni p ton 1 74

J{oiiT. Dknnis 448

John Denni.s 1(17

Sain'l Dennis 94

John I)illy(lU70) 94

lIu^h Dun 9J

.lonaMian Dunluun (1672) 21^

John French, " Mason " 15

Hehobolh (iiinnil 448

Daniel f i r a s i e 104

Samuel Hale 1(17

.lonalhan Ilaynes (107:5) 97

Klisha llsley 172

JIkNUY jAtiUES, )

Henry Jaques, Jr. )"



ACRE>.

Stephen Kent 24'.»

Stephen Kent, Jr 104

Henry Les«enby 88

George Little 100

Hucli Makcii 32(1

David Makany 1 08

Samuel Moore .'>■')()

Matthew Moore 177

Benjamin Parker, "Joiner" 105

Elis'ha Parker (1070) ^i^'Z

.John Puce 308

John Pike, Jr 91

DANUil, PlEKCK 450

JosiruA Pierce oO

Ihtitiel Ilohim 173

Robert liocjerx 91

John Smith, "Millwright"| 513

Samuel Smith (1070) 103

John Smith, Scotchman 170

Isaac 7)ijtj)((n 1 72

Abraham Tappan 951. >'

John Taylor, "Blacksmith" 93

Israel Tliorne (1070) 90

Robert Vanquellin, )



or



LaP



rau'ie.



.175



308



John VVatkins 92

Nathan Webster 93

John Whilaker 91

Richard Worth 172



• Wo Iwvp taken Uiis list from Win. A. ■Whitebe.id's "Contributions to East Jersey His-
l.ry,' p.igo Kid. Sei' alsii olil liccord, Lib. A.

+ Not wheelwright, as 'Whitehead sayf.



EARLV EVENTS.



29



Fifty-seven names — quite a respectable settlement ! The
following additional names are found in the Town Book,
Avithout date:

ACRES. ACUES.

Thos. Adams [Hopewell Hull

John Alleu, "Minister" 97 John Ilsley 97

John AuiiXl John Slarlin, Sr 255

Wm. Bingley 186 Thomas Pike

JoHiithan Bishop John Trewman 97

Capt. Philip Carteret 313 Lords-proprietors 1,000

Jfis. Clawaon, or Clarkson : For the ]\Iinislry 200

Jonatltan Dcnms , Maintenance of School 100

Samuel Moore was one of the most distinguished citizens
of Woodbridge, and wielded considerable influence in the
Province. He came from Massachusetts, and exhibited,
in his new home, much of the enterprise and public spirit
which have made the people of New England famous. He
was very popular — being chosen Deputy to the General
Assembly no less than five times: in 1668 (to the first
Legislature lield in the Province), 1669, '70, '82, '87. In 1672
he was President of the Township Court, of which he was a
subordinate member the previous year. For nearly twenty
years he was the Town Clerk — from 1669 to 1688 — a period ot
official service almost without a parallel in these days of
'• rotation."

On the 7th of December, 1672, the Proprietors sent from
Whitehall a dispatch to the Governor, Council, and Receiver-
General, ordering the payment to Mr. Moore of ^10 annually
for the next seven years, and authorized them to sfive him
sixty acres of upland for each person in his family, in
addition to the land he had already taken up as a settler. A
proportionate amount of meadow-land was also ordered to be
■ d<Dnated to him. No reason for this liberality is given in the
paper, but it was undoubtedly the reward for some public
service. Land was often given by the Proprietors to
stimulate the enterprise of the inhabitants. However this
may be, he grew in favor with the authorities, for, in 1683, he
was appointed High Sheriff of Middlesex County — a position
, of great dignity and responsibility at that time.*



* He seems to have been eminently qualified for such a position, for, in 1672—3, he was Mar-
shal of the Province under Gov. Carteret (see Hatfield's Elizabeth, pp. 143 and 1 IS). He was,
'lor several j-^ears. Treasurer of East Jersey, bein^ elected to that oflSce, Dec. 9, 1675. (See
L^i.ming- <fc Spicer, pp. 101, 129.)



3"



WOOPr.KlIX.I. AND VUINITY,



In the same dispatch which conferred these gifts on Mr,
Moore, the Proprietors gave to the Township of Woodbridge
one-third part of the quit rents., or hand tax, for the next seven
years; at the end of which time (about January, 1680) the
corporaticMi was tf) pay its full proportion, according tr)
agreement.

Tiie devout i)C(iple in the settlement had grown numerous
enough and sufficiently strong to build a meeting-house,
which was done in 1675. Three buildings liave been erecte'd
on the same site. We shall have occasion, in the later pages
of this volume, to recount the history of this church, so
intimately connected with the story of our village.

It was in July of the year 1676 that a great change was
made in the government of New Jersey. Previously, Go\ .
Carteret's government had extended from Staten Island Sound I
to the Delaware River, and from Cape May to the liills of
Bergen. By an agreement between tlie proprietors, the Prov-
ince was divided — forming two Provinces, to be distinguished
as East and West Jersey. East Jersey continued to be gov-
erned b}' Philip Carteret. The line of partition began at
Little Egg Harbor, and was drawn straight across in a north-
west direction, until it touched the Delaware River, in latitude
41 degrees nortli. This, at least, was the general direction
which, it was agreed, the line should take; but it was not sur-
veyed and officially settled until long afterward. Woodbridge,
of course, fell on the east side of the new boundarv, and
remained, therefore, in Carteret's jurisdiction.

The Governor began to think of making a commercial town
of Amboy, and cleared several vessels from the port during
this year, lie was the more zealous to do this because a great
deal of the reserved property of the Proprietors was located
there, and a busy town at this point would enhance the value
ot it. If he had succeeded in this purpose it would have been
the means of making a city of Woodbridge, for they lay but
three miles apart. But New York was a dangerous rival, and,
as will be seen, its authorities exerted themselves to the utmost
to ruin the prospects of Amboy. The harbor of the latter is one
of the finest in the world; and it is a matter of ever-recurring
wonder why it is not one of the chief commercial marts in
America.



EARLY EVENTS. ■>!

It was known among the Indians as Aml>o, the Point, and
was for some time called, tautologically, " Ambo Point " by
the English. Afterwards it was called Perth, in honor of the
Earl of Perth, who became one ot the Proprietors of the
Province. But in 1698 the name by Avhich it is now
designated was officially given to it in a dispatch from the
English authorities.

In 1677 Gov. Carteret made a successful attempt to buy from
the Indians all the unbought lands lying between Woodbridge
and Piscataway. It is the glory of New Jersey that not a rod
of its domain was wrested from the Aborigines by fraud or
violence. Every foot was paid for. The land was purchased
directly from the Indians, at prices that were satisfactor}- to
both parties — a fact of which no other State can boast, not
even that of William Penn. As a consequence the savages
\vere friendly to all the Jersey settlers, except the Dutch, who
did not seem to understand them. It seems singular that the
value which the Indians set upon the lands should have been
so low. Smith, in his History of Neiv Jersey, says they never
asked a high price for anything they had to sell — a degree of
modesty which has vanished with other barbarous peculiar-
ities and usages. To see how cheaply they sold the valuable
tract of country lying between Woodbridge and Piscataway,
we have only to examine the agreement between the Indian
land-holders and the Governor. The owners were three
in number, viz.: Conackamack, Capatamin, and Thingorav\-is ;
and this is the price of the land : one hundred fathoms of
white wampum, six match coats, four blankets, three guns,
six shirts, twenty bars of lead, twenty double hands of
powder, one anker of rum, twelve axes, two half vats of beer,
and six kettles ! That is all ! And yet the natives thought it
was enough and were thoroughly delighted with the bargain.
The sale took place in the presence of Emerus, Sachem of the
Nevesinks, Quermacke, Eramky, and other Indians as wit-
nesses.

But, as this document is a literary curiosity, having never
before been published, we give it to our readers, without
alteration, as it is found in the archives of New Jersey :

" Know all men by these presents that wee Conackamack,



■.;. WOOniiRIDGE AND VICINITY.

Capatamin, Thingorawis natives and owners of a certain tract
of land lying and being about Woodbridge & Piscataway, have
bargained, alienated and sould unto the Hon. Phillip Carteret
Esq. Governor of the Province of New Jersey for & in the
behalf of the right Honoble Sir George Carteret Kt. & Bar-
onet, Lord Proprietor of the said province, in the presence of
Emerus, Sachem of the Navesinks; Ouermacke, Eramky and
other Indians as witnesses hereunto, for, and in consideration
of these species following, viz— one hundred fathem of white
wampum, six match coates, Foure blankets, three guns, six
shirts, twenty barrs of lead, twenty double hands of powder,
one anker of Rum, twelve axes, two halfe Fatts of beere, and
six kettles; the which said goods wee doe hereby acknowl-
edjje to have received to our content and satisfaction, the
which said tract of Land begins at a place called Macask-
hegen or Kent's Neck upon the Rariton River, from thence
runs up the said river westward to a fresh river called by the
Indians Saconck, from thence, running along the said river as
the river runs downe North, easterly, to a swamp called by
them Maniquescake (and by the English, Dismal) from thence
to a place called Matockshoning where there is a stake
])lanted for Woodbridge — northermosf bounds; from thence
to a Swamp called Tamagues (by the English great Swamp)
and fi'om thence running Southerly to Macaskhegen where it
first began, to have and to hf)ld the said Tract of Land as it
is laid out and bounded, as aforesaid, together with all the
Woods, pastures, meadows, mines, mineralls, Quarryes,
Swamps, rivers, &; Rivulets thereunto belonging, joining and
appertaining to him the said Sr. George Carteret his Heirs or
Assigns forever. Free from any clainie, hindrance, or
incumbrance whatsoever by us or by any of us, or by any ot
our heirs or successors forever, and that wee will for ever
defend the said Sr. George Carteret his Heirs and Assigns for
the quiet and peaceable government and possession of the
premises from and after the date hereof. In witness whereof
wee tlie said natives above mentioned have hereunto sett our
hands & Seales the 14th day of September, 1677."

The signatures of the three owners are attached. Conack-
amark makes a nervous-looking cross ; Capatamin makes a



EARLY EVENTS. 33

mark like the figure 3, which, however, is nearly turned over
on its back ; Thingorawis, for some reason, urged his brother
Conackamack to sign the deed in his behalf, which he did with
a bold X. Four Indian witnesses signed the paper. Emerus,
Sachem of the Nevesinks, was the first, his mark looking very
much like the English capital C. Eramky's very much
resembles an F Clef in a glee-book — from which we argue
that he must have been in high glee — especially in view of
those ten gallons of rum which he, of course, expected to
share with his friends. Ah, how much our fathers were to
blame for introducing this vile beverage among the poor
Indians! Queramack's mark looks something like the
English capital G, and Nameth's signature resembles an A.
Below these are three English names : John Bloomfield,
Claude Valott, Hopewell Hull; and beneath these is the
official sign manual of James Bollen, Secretary of the
Province.

The Indians living in and around Woodbridge when the
first settlers came, and doubtless those from whom the land
in the foregoing deed was bought, were mostly Raritans, or
Raritons. No doubt other tribes frequently visited these
sections, such as the Nevesinks, Minisinks or Muncys
Pomptons, Mantas and Naraticongs ; but the Raritans were
the original owners of the soil along the river that bears their
name. They were not numerous, nor, indeed, were any of
the New Jersey tribes. Smith says that tribes in some
sections were from ten to twenty miles apart. Many of these
Indians came to Ainbo during the fishing season to catch
perch, eels, oysters, clams, and other fish. The oysters to be
found at this place were so good and so plentiful that they
were the subject of many commendations by the delio-hted
Englishmen, one of whom wrote home that he thouo-ht there
were enough oysters at Perth to supply the whole of
England — and they were such "brave oysters ! "

In October, 167 1, a tax was levied by the " Town Meetino- "
to provide for an expedition against the Indians who were
exhibiting signs of dissatisfaction — or, at least, were supposed
to be manifesting an inclination to fight. Ten pounds of
powder and twenty pounds of lead were bought, and then our





34



WOODBRIDGE AND VlCINn V.



forefathers waited for the war-whoop of the savages, prepared
to march among them and annihilate them at the first sound
of hostility. If such a war was actually prosecuted the town-
ship officials must have been very much ashamed of it, for no
record is preserved of the campaign. It is altogether likely
that the suspicions of the people in regard to the Indians
were o-roundless; or it may be that the latter, observing the
war-like preparations, relinquished their murderous designs.

Four years after, in September, 1675, the inhabitants were
ao-ain aeitated on the subject. The Governor and Council
ordered that a stockade should be built around the tow.n
prison, partly as a fortification and partly as a place of refuge
tor the women and children in case of attack. It was built of
lota's at least nine feet in length. The fortification was never
needed, for the anticipated assault was not made.

Tradition informs us that the prison just mentioned stood,
in those days, where Mr. J. Mattison Melick's house now
stands. The author remembers when the old Presbyterian
parsonage (a venerable stone structure) occupied the same
site. This was torn down to make room for the present
tasteful residence, the property having been sold by the
Presbyterians. The "Prison" was also known, so it is said,
as the " Court House."* The Township Court held its ses-
sions in this building, and many criminals found a temporary
resting place within its walls.

Among other difficulties with which our fathers had to
contend, not the least, perhaps, was the manufacture of appro-
priate names for the numerous new localities with which they
found themselves in contact. In some cases they used the
Indian name; but this was not always available, for the very
good reason that their jaws were regarded as of more conse-
quence than the designation of any place could possibly be.
Besides, the Indians, being accustomed to using the nose very

* There is another tradition which seems to indicate that this is incorrect. Mr. T. Harvey
Morris, residing in the immediate vicinity of tlie old " Prison " site, sa<'s tliat an aj,'ed citizeiii
informed liiiii that the "Court House" stood on the spot mentioned above, and that ihe
'• Prison" (a separate biiildint;) was IcicHted some distance in tlie rear of it. This is corrobo-
rat<-d, njipari-ntly, by .«(inu' diggers liiiclins-. a few years aL'o. a subtt-rranean structure resemblinir
a dunneon (in wliich were found balls witli chains attached, etc.), at a considerable distance
Iroui the site of the old Court House.

Klisha Parker, weaver, iiunhased seven acres in Woodbridge, Sept. 7, 1C80, from his
father, Elisha, "lyln^r on the west side of tlie hi)?hw.ay tliat goeth from the prison to the
meetiDj,' liouse." Tids helps to locate the prison on the site indicated as the Court House.



EARLY EVENTS.



1136475 35

largely in pronunciation, producing a heavy nasal sound, our
fathers found it difficult to pronounce some of their words,
unless they were under the influence of a disagreeable catarrh.
Consequently, sundry English words were employed to
distinguish certain places from others; with what success,
may be gathered from the mention of two points of interest in
the town. A little stream near the elder Stephen Kent's
house, as we learn from the manuscript book of surveys of
Woodbridge in the library of the Historical Society of New-
Jersey (page 84), was called " Sling-taile Brook." Just think
of that — " Sling-taile Brook " ! What the name commemo-
rates we are not in a position to tell. Some Kilkenny cat
fio-ht may have originated it — or the windings of the brook
may have given some one the idea that it was very sling-tail
in its character — or some demure domestic animal may have
been switching herself contemplatively, as cows have done
from time immemorial, and in so doing frightened some vil-
lao-e swain who was rambling along the romantic stream, and
he has caused a search after a supposable ghost, which has
resulted in detecting the sedate bovine busily employed in
slino-ing her tail. However interesting the origin of the name,
we cannot give any certain knowledge of it. The little stream
which bore the distinction of " Sling-taile Brook " was that
one in the neighborhood of Ford's Corner, which place was
itself dignified as Slingtail in the memory of some people
now living.

The other name alluded to was equally sentimental. It was
Mutton HoUoiv, situated on the west side of the town, in what
is now known as the Clay Bank Region. Here again we are
at a loss to account for the origin of the appellation. It is a
hoUouf, that much is certain ; but it is the mutton we cannot
explain. Sheep meat is notoriously fat, and it is barely
possible that some settler, noticing the greasy clay which
abounded in the valley, took it for mutton fat. It is by no
means certain that this is the correct history of this locality.
We only suggest it as affording a faint clue to the origin of
the name. It is a more modern name than " Sling-taile
Brook " — the latter having been given some time before the
year 1669.



CHAPTER lY.

1007 — 1077 {Continued).

Joshua Pierce — History of the Early Town Meetings—
The Ilslys — Voquillen — Trouble with Piscataway —
John Smith — The Township Court Difficulty — Re-
ward Offered for the Woodbridge Constable's Head.

The "Town Book" is divided into two parts — tlie first con-
taining grants and surveys, the second recording the pro-
ceedings of the "Town Meetings." The first entry in tlic
latter part is dated January ist, 1669, which sets fortii the fact
that Joshua Pierce, who had been Clerk during 1667, point-
edly refused to give up the record of the surveys and Town
Meetings for that year; in consequence of which the events
of 1667 are nearly a blank in the history of the town. It
seems that this Pierce had kept the writings alluded to on
loose pieces of paper, and wlien Samuel Moore, his successor,
entered upon his duties, he sought to place them on record in
a substantial book. To this Pierce demurred, and the sus-
picion as to the cause, entertained by posterity, is anything
but flattering to the recreant Clerk; for it is supposed that
the production of the records would have revealed dishonest
deeds and purposes to which he was an interested party. It
is possible, liowever, that lie was disappointed in not securing
a re-election to the Clerkship, and refused to surrender the
papers in order to avenge the slight. Whatever may have
been the reason, no means were taken, of which we are
aware, to obtain the missing links; and, while we regret the
loss, we are struck with wonder at the forbearance of our
fathers, and their lofty indifference to the comfort of their
present historian in his researches.

At the first Town Meeting (Jan. i, 1669) of which we have
any account, Robert Dennis and Samuel Moore were chosen



TOWN MEETINGS. 37

" Burgases," or delegates to the Legislature, the latter was
chosen Town Clerk, and John Smith was appointed Con-
stable. It was ordered at this meeting that the Clerk should
give notice of all subsequent meetings, which were to be
opened at ten o'clock in the morning; and a fine of 2^-. was
imposed on all who absented themselves without excuse, and
for leaving the room during sessions i^. was exacted. The
Clerk announced that the laws of the Province had been
publicly read by him, as the law required. Samuel Moore
was selected to "fix the brand marks upon both horses and
cattle."

The Town Meetings were ordered to be held at the house
of John Smith, Constable, until further notice. This Smith
is supposed to have lived on the highway which crossed
Papiack Creek — a convenient point; for many of the early*
settlers lived on the upland along the Sound and could not
reach the other side of the meadow without Sfoins: over this
road. It was built across the meadow at a place where the
marsh was narrowest, and where, therefore, it would cost
least to construct a causeway.

The Town Meeting did not hold regular sessions at this
time — the Clerk, with four others, being empowered to call
the Freeholders together as occasion required. From Jan-
uary I St until February ist no meeting was held, after which
an interval of four months passed before the august assemblage
visited John Smith's house on the west side of Papiack Creek.
In the February meeting it was ordered that nobody should
be allowed to cut down any timber for " pipe staves,
clabords " [clap-boards], or shingles, unless they were
designed for local use. Any violation of this order was
punishable by a 40s. fine for each tree felled.

On the ist of June it was "granted to Elisha II sly to be an
inhabitant and to have accommodations equal with other
inhabitants, he engaging to come and settle by Michaelmas
next, except he be disappointed for want of an opportunity;
if so, then to make use of the first opportunity that shall
present." Elisha was a brother to John Ilsly, both of whom?
according to Whitehead (who refers to Cojfuis Histoj-y 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 3 of 34)