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 32 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 32 of 34)
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Extending along by the bank to town Line : from thence by the Town
Line and through a Corner of John Jaquis his Land on the South Side of a
Rowe of marked trees into the Common : the Said way from Cortlands
Mill being four Rod broad :

Ezekiel Bloomfield
Samuel Hale
Ephraim Andrews
Thomas Pike
Taken from F. Randolph's copy, p. 111.



It seems to be eminently appropriate that we should present an account
in this place of the Baptist Church in Piscataway. For the facts presented
here, we are principally indebted to the sketch printed in 1870 in the
minutes of the East New Jersey Baptist Association, written by the Rev.
James F. Brown, the present pastor of the Piscataway Church.

The first building for worship was projected in January, 1C86; to be
twenty feet wide, thirty feet long and ten feet "between joints." This
meeting house, like the one at Woodbridge, was built by the settlers of the
town ; and as the Baptist element predominated, it gradually became
subject, in its services and proprietary interests, to that denomination — just
as the Presbyterians of Woodbridge came into possession of the property
lelt in that town for the " support of a Gospel ministry."

The primitive structure stood not far from the river, about & mile south-
east of the present Church building. The Rev. Thomas Killingsworth, an
English clergyman, and first pastor of the Cohansey Church, organized the
Baptist Society of Piscataway in the Spring of 1G89 ; and from this date
until the year 1748 the original meeting-house was occupied for regular
services. The membership of the Church, at its organization in 1G89, was
feeble, consisting only of six persons : John Drake, Hugh Dunn, Edmund
Dunham, Nicholas Bonham, John Smalley, and John Randolph. The
three first-mentioned were exhorters or lay-preachers. John Drake became
the pastor at the organization of the Church, and held the position until the
period of his death, which occurred in 1739, making his ministerial career
fifty years in duration. Nothing of importance is recorded within this
time, except the statements that in 1707 the Church united with four others
to institute the Philadelphia Association (the first Baptist Association in
America), and that in 1709 the Church in Piscataway numbered only
twenty members.

(• The Rev. Benjamin Stelle, the second pastor, was ordained soon after the
death of Mr. Drake. He was the son of Pontius Stelle, a French Hugue-
not, and was born in New York in 1683. For twenty years he continued
to preach the " unsearchable riches of Christ." He died, aged seventy-five
years, in January, 1759. His ministry was a successful one. The Churcli
numbered over one hundred members in 1746, fifteen of whom, in the fol-
lowing year, formed a Church at Scotch Plains, and others residing nfiar
Morristown organized a Church there ; so that the precious seed scattered by
this man of God was widely sown, and who shall count the harvest .-'


In 1748 a new meeting-house was built. The lot had been purchased in
April, 1731, of Alexander McDowell, and contained four acres and six-
tenths. This is the lot upon which the present structure stands, which is
the third that has occupied the same site. The first of these three (that of
1748) was forty feet by thirty-six feet in size, and is spoken of as "a well-
finished house," but without the " convenience of a stove." It stood for
seventy-seven years, when (in 1825) it was taken down, and a building fifty-
two by forty-two was erected at a cost of |3,000. This was entirely
destroyed by fire on January lit, 1851. The present house of worship was
speedily constructed upon the ruins of the old church building, and recently
a graceful spire has added to its attractiveness. The edifice is sixty-eight
by fifty-two, and has a gallery on three sides, three aisles, an da recess pulpit.

The third pastor. Rev. Isaac Stelle, was the son of Benjamin, -the preced-
ing minister, and was, undoubtedly, a man of no ordinary abilities. He
had been ordained to assist his father in 1753, and, in 1759, when his father
died, he was inducted into the pulpit as his successor. He had some repu-
tation abroad as well as at home, for he went about doing good. So many
dismissions had been given to members removing to other localities, that
when he assumed the pastorate the Church numbered only forty ; but in
1775 the membership had increased to seventy-five. He died in the 63rd
year of his age, on the 9th of October, 1781 — having fulfilled the duties of a
pastor for twenty-two years.

Rev. Reune Runyon, the fourth minister, was pastor of the Church
at Morristown from 1772 until 1780. He was a native of Piscataway, the
son of Reune Runyon, Esq., of French descent. The date of his birth was
November 29lh, 1741, and that of his death was November 21st, 1811. He
succeeded Mr. Stelle in 1783 and continued to perform a pastor's duties
until the time of his decease. The length of his service to the Church at
Piscataway was, therefore, twenty-eight years. He owned a farm which
afforded him a comfortable support when his salary of £50 per annum was
not fully paid — which sometimes happened. Only thirty-nine members
were reported in the communion in 1785 ; but in the following year an
extensive revival of religion prevailed which increased the number to one
hundred and twenty-one. The good work did not end with the close of the
year, but progressed powerfully throughout many months; so that in 1790
a membership of one hundred and forty-eight was reported to the Associa-
tion. Two years after the last-mentioned date the Baptist Church at Samp-
town was organized by some of the members residing there. In August,
1792, the Piscataway Church dissolved its relation to the Philadelphia
Association, with which, for so many years, it had been connected, and
joined the New York Association. Its spirituality began to decline in 1794
to such a degree that a day of fasting and prayer was observed — earnest
invocation being made that God, in tender mercy, might pour out His
Spirit upon the suppliant people, and upon those who had grown indifierent
to holy influences. Four days of public prayer were appointed in the
following year on account of the coldness in religious matters which



prevailed throughout the community. During 1807 and several succeeding
years the result of all this prayer was seen in many additions to the Church.
In the midst of the ingathering the laithful man of God was taken from his
field oflabor by the great Harvester, and others gathered his sheaves.

Rev. James M'Laugliliu, the fifth pastor, became Mr. Runyon's successor
on the 1st of October, 1812— nearly a year after the pulpit became vacant.
The Church had no parsonage, so the new preacher rented a house in New-
Brunswick, where some of his parishioners resided. In the morning he
preached at Piscataway and in the afternoon at New Brunswick, wlicre a
house of worship had been erected two years previously ; but it was not
until September Kith, 1816, that the New Brunswick members were
organized as an independent church. In the following May, ISI'Laughlin
ceased to supply the New Brunswick pulpit on account of the desire at that
place for a separate ministry; and in October ensuing he resigned the
Piscataway pastorate. He is spoken of as a man of great piety and of
unusual solemnity in declaring the Gospel.

Rev. Daniel Dodge, of Wilmington, Del., was the sixth preacher at
Piscataway, beginning his pastoral labors October 1st, 1818, and concluding
them by resignation on the 39th of May, 1832. Forty souls were added to
the Church during the first year, and some were baptized ever}' year of his
ministry at this place. He lived at New Brunswick, as tlic parsonage was
not yet built. Two questions agitated the Church duriug Mr. Dodge's term
of service. One was in regard to the imposition of hands after baptism,
■which, the pastor held, " was a Gospel ordinance " and a necessity. Many of
the brethren regarded this as an innovation and a misunderstanding of the
Scripture, and they were much grieved in consequence. The second ques-
.tion was in regard to the Scriptural teaching as to a man who married
'his deceased wife's sister" — and the controversy wa.xed warm, some
holding the opinion that such a marriage is unlawful and some maintaining
the opposite view. Much strife and bitterness resulted from the discussion,
which was finally transferred to the Association (or some authoritative
decision. That body very wisely recommended that dillerences of opinioa
on that point might not be made a bar to Christian fellowship, and a Coun-
cil of Seven was sent to Piscataway to promote better feeling in the
communion. A session of this Council, beginning June 10th, 1829, and
lasting three days, brouglit about the much-desired reconciliation. The
question of imposition of hands after baptism was settled, at the same time,
in favor of Mr. Dodge's usage. Tho pa^ior liought a farm near the meeting-
house and resided there until he left Piscataway to preach for tlie First
Church, Newark. Deacon Samuel Smith describes him as "a godly man,
a good preacher, in doctrine strongly Calvinistic, neat in person, dignified
in deportment, winning in manners, and very exemplary in liis walk and
conversation. "

Rev. Daniel Lewis, of Paterson, N. J., succeeded him as the seventh pas-
tor of the Church. Mr. Lewis began his ministry on tlic 23rd of June, 1S3:3,
and ended it sixteen years after, on the 27lh of September, 1849— the date


of his death. One hundred and sixty-five souls were brought into the fold
as the result of his toil in this vineyard. He was not an educated man, but
a most devoted servant of his Master. Through his influence the Church
returned to its ancient custom of admitting candidates without the imposi-
tion of hands after baptism. Indeed, he did not respond to the call
extended to him until he was assured that the Church had returned to its
former position on the question. A special meeting on the 1st of January,
1834, voted that the matter of a man's marrying the sister of his deceased
wife should be left to the conscience of the individual — this vote being also
secured through the influence of the preacher. In the Winter of 1837-8
the Spirit of the Lord was manifest in the conversion of forty-five persons.
Again in 'i 843 a great awakening occurred, continuing many months. One
hundred and one united with the Church as the fruit of that great revival.
In November, 1841, the East New Jersey Baptist Association was formed,
and the Piscataway Baptists joined it, thereby severing their connection
with the New York organization. Nearly eight years after, the humble
preacher died, and his affectionate people placed him to rest in the old
burying-ground alongside the house of worship in which he had ministered
BO long.

Kev. Henry V. Jones, of Newark, N. J., was the eighth pastor. His
labors began April 1st, 1850, and were discontinued, on account of his
impaired health, in March, 1856. Twenty acres of land and a house were
purchased for the use of the Piscataway ministers before Mr. Jones tirrived.
The old house was, however, supplanted by a new and commodious build-
ing, which was occupied by the preaciiers until 1869, when the property
was sold on account of the distance from it to the meeting-house (two miles)
and the unnecessary amount of land. One acre was bought near the house
of worship and a tasteful parsonage was forthwith constructed at a cost of
$8,300. Under Mr. Jones' fervent ministrations greater spirituality and vigor
began to pervade the Church. The cause of missions received much atten-
tion and four Sunday-schools were permanently established. Mr. Jones'
health began to decline some time before his pastoraie was ended ; but his
people were loth to part with him. They accepted his resignation with
reluctance in March, 1856, when he left the parish amid universal regret.

Rev. Christian J. Page, the ninth pastor, came from Bristol in the same
year, and began his successful ministry on the 1st of October. He resigned
in March, 1867, and went to Spring Valley, N. Y., in the Autumn. A
revival followed his advent resulting in the addition ot one hundred souls
to the Church within eij^hteeu months. This work of grace began at an
out-station, and proved a blessing to the entire community. In 1858 the
membership numbered two hundred and eighty-five, to which four others
were added in the succeeding year, making the highest total in the history
of the Church. The five years following were years of comparative unfruit-
fulness, only ten being baptized in that time. In September, 1863, Mr.
Page having received an appointment as Chaplain in the Union army, was
voted leave of absence for nine months with salary. On his return a good


work began which added forty to the fold, and the gracious influence
continued during his stay in Piscataway.

Rev. James F. Brown, the tenth pastor of this ancient Church, became
Mr. Page's successor in March, 1868, and is now worthily filling this honor-
able position. Mr. Brown came from Bridgetou, N. J. Under hLs care the
various benevolent enterprises of the Baptists and the general relio-ious
interests of the village have not suifered.

Ten ministers have been given to the cause of Christ by the Piscataway
Church; viz.: Revs. John Drake, Isaac Stelle, Renue Runyon, IJcnry
Smalley, Jacob Sutton, Lewis F. Stelle, Warren Randolph, D. D. Bergen
Stelle, George Pawley, and Charles C. Smith. The three first mentioned
were pastors at their native place ; Rev. Mr. Smalley became connected
with the First Cohansey Baptist Church on the 8th of November, 1790
where he preached until his death in 1839 ; Rev. Mr. Sutton was licensed in
January, 1811, and ministered at Penn's Neck until the close of his life in
1814; Rev. L. F. Stelle, son of Deacon Drake Stelle, began his labors in
September, 1843, and died December 21st, 1863, having been the pastor at
Branchville, Herbertsville, and Bloomingdale in succession ; Rev. Dr. Ran-
dolph was ordained at Pawtucket, R. I., on the 24th of August, 1851, and
became pastor of the Fifth Baptist Church of Philadelphia; Rev. B. Stelle,
brother of the Rev. L. F. Stelle, was licensed November 29th, 1848, and
preached first at George's Road and then at Cherryville, in which pastorate
he died, in ihe 49th year of his age, August 9th, 1864 ; Rev. G. Pawley was
licensed on the 25th ot March, 1860, but did not long remain in the ranks
of the profession ; Rev. C. C. Smith was licensed October 2d, 1860, and was
ordained as pastor of the Coopei-stown (N. Y.) Baptist Churcli in March,

The officers of the Piscataway Church in 1870 were as follows : — Pastor :
Rev. James F. Brown ; Deacons, Henry Smaiky, Alexander Dunn, Sam-
uel Smith, Augustus T. Stelle, James D. Stelle ; Tkustees, Runyon
Walker, Furman R. Stelle, Wm. E. Crowell, ilartin Lupardus, Wm. F.
Randolph, Philip Hummer, and MetTord Runyon. In that year the member-
ship numbered two hundred and fifty-five, and its total collection for the
year amounted to $3,954.

The burial-ground alongside the Church building contains some interest-
ing memorials of auld lang syne. There is Edward Griffith's grave— he died
March 23rd, 1813, aged seventy-five years. Upon the stone we read these
words: "He worthily fulfilled the office of Deacon in this Church near 50
years." Whajt a good record that is ! Here is old Ephraim Martin's place
of rest. His death occurred in his seventy-third year on the 28th day of
February, 1806. William Drake's wife, Hannah, sleeps near at hand, buried
in March, 1797, in the forty-first year [of her age. Fitz Randolph Drake
died October 6th, 1791, aged seventy-five, and his body is slumbering here.
George Drake's wife, Elizabeth, who was buried in 1768 at the age of fifty-
SIX, has this flattering testimonial recorded upon the stone :

''Frngal like Martha as a wife.
And lived Mary's godly life."


Capt. Andrew Drake, Elizabeth Sutton, and many other old-time people
here " wait for the morning."

Blessed Church ! What a history thou hast ! What precious memories
linger around this spot ! How many, with tears, have sought the Lord in
the temples which have been destroyed ; and how many with gladness have
found the Saviour on this hallowed ground ! What scenes of solemnitj'
have here awakened thought and emotion ! What words of burning elo-
quence have held the listening congregation as questions of eternity stirred
the heart of the preacher ! What a delightful influence moved every soul
when the Spirit of the Lord brooded over the place ! May that Spirit often
return to greatly refresh the Church in which for so many years such signal
. mercies have been enjoyed.


1664. Woodbridge bought of the Indians by Bayley, Denton & Watson.

1665. The town settled by English.

1666. The town bought by Daniel Pierce and associates. Articles of
agreement signed between Gov. Carteret and the Woodbridge
men. Piscataway formed into a settlement.

1667. Woodbridge laid out. First baby born.

1668. First Legislature of the Province held at Elizabeth, May 26.

1669. The first recorded town meeting held January 1. Woodbridge
township created, June 1. Charter granted 16. Strawberry Ilill
made a commons, Aug. 27. First bridge over the creek, Sept. 22.

1670. Dunham's grist mill built. Samuel, Treat, the first town minister,

1671. First Grand .Jury in this town. False alarm of Indians.
1673. Woodbridge under Dutch rule.

1675. The town meeting-house begun. Stockade built around the prison,

1676. Legislature meets in Woodbridge, October 5.

1677. Lands between Piscataway and Woodbridge bought of the Indians.
Legislature meets here a second time, October 10th.

1680. John Allen becomes town preacher.

1682. Middlesex Ceunty created. Samuel Moore made High Sheriff. First
overseers of the poor chosen.

1683. First tavern in town.

1686. Samuel Dennis arrested (see p. 162). Rev. Mr. Riddell arrives.

1688. Death of Samuel Moore.

1689. First Quaker meeting held here. First school teacher, James Fuller-
ton arrives. Piscataway Baptist Church constituted.

1690. Alarm of Indians ; a ranger appointed. .
1693. Monthly Court established here.

1695. Adam Hude comes to reside here from Staten Island. Rev. Samuel

Shepard comes to town.
1697. Wolves grow troublesome.
1699. Riot in Woodbridge against the Proprietary Government.

1701. The Piscataway boundary quarrel settled. School land laid out,
Dec. 11.

1702. The first Episcopalian missionary comes here.

1704. Rev. John Brook begins Episcopal pervice in Piscataway.

1705. The first town committee appomted. Parker's grist mill built

1706. The first division of common land, October 14.

1707. Second division of land, in June.

1708. Rev. Mr. Wade mstalled.


1709. Law-suit against Sonmans begun. Pike & Cutter's grist mill built.
Beginning to build Quaker meeting-house.

1710. Richard Soper's grist mill begun. Presbyterian Church established.

1711. Rev. Edward Vaughan forms an Episcopal congregation here, and
begins to build a church. Greorge Eubanks arrives, the first school
teacher on Strawberry Hill.

1713. Church doors shut against Rev. Mr. Halliday. "Weekly worship

begun in the new Quaker meeting-house.
1715. Third division of land in July.
1717. Fourth division of land, May 8. Rev. John Pieraon ordained M

Presbyterian preacher in this place.

1720. Fifth division of land, April 4.

1721. Sixth division of land authorized January 16.
1730. First cup of tea drank in this place.

1734 Seventh division of land.

1737. End of the Sonmans-Stelle law-suit.

1739. Rev. Benj. Stelle becaiAe the second pastor at the Piscataway Bap-
tist Church.

1740. Rev. George Whitfield preached in Woodbridge.
1748- Prof. Kalm, the Swedish botanist, visits Woodbridge.

1751. Mr. Parker established the first printing-press in the State at Wood-
bridge. First Quarterly Meeting ot the Quakers held here. Rev. T.

\ B. Chandler arrives.

1754. The second Episcopal Church built in this place.

1755. Rev. Nathl. Whitaker installed, Dec. 10.

1756. The Presbyterian Church secures a Charter.
1957. Quaker meeting-house begun at Rahway.

1758. Military draft afflicts the Quakers ; some are imprisoned.

1761. Rev. Mr. Roe is invited to Woodbridge.

1763. Rev. Mr. Roe installed.

1765. "Sons of Liberty" organized in town. Quaker meetings begin to

1769. Episcopal Church of this place secures a charter, Dec. 6.

1776. Continentals encamped in town. Gen. Heard of Woodbridge arresta
Gov. Franklin at Aml)c)y, June 17. Soldiers quartered in the Qua-
ker M«cting-house.

1777. Hessians encamped in Woodbridge. Skirmish with Morgan's Raa-
gers, June 26. Battle of Ash Swamp.

1780. Capt. Nathaniel Fitz Randolph died July 23. Captured cannon
brought to Woodbridge.

1783. Peace proclaimed.

1784. Quaker Meeting-house at Woodbridge was sold.

Errata. — On page 116, three lines from bottom, read Bryant for Byron,
and the last line is slightly misquoted. On page 147, thirteen lines from
bottom, read James instead ot William Coddington.





CHAPTER I. 1605-1666.
Ancient New Jersey— Hunting— Origin of "Woodbridge— Gov Car-
teret's Arrival— The Articles of Agreement— Piscataway— Travel
— Newark— Elizabelhtown — Early Rom.ince 5

CHAPTER II. 1667-1677.
The Town Book — Rtndolph's Copy of it — First Highways— Jona-
than Dunham's Grist Mill — View over the Sound— Old Dock —
The Fiist Mc-chanics in Woolbridge— And the First Baby— Old
Landings :.... ig

CHAPTER III. 1667-1677.

Woodbridge Cliarter— Its Confirmation —First Legislature of Ncvr
Jersey— Insurrection against Gov. Carteret — Names of Settlers —
Samuel Moore — Quit Reuts — Ambo Point — Indian Sale of Land
Between Woodbridge and P'scataway — The Old Prison— Odd
Names.. 33

CHAPTER IV. 1607-1677.

Joshua Pierce — Early Town Meetings — The Ilslys— Voquillcn — Trou-
ble with Piscataway— The Inevitable John Smith— The Town-
ship Court — Reward for the Constable's Head 38

CHAPTER V. 1667-1677.

Dissatisfaction with the Quit Rents— A Cross Letter from the Gover-
nor — Wolf Pits — First Grand Jur}'- in Woodbridge— Tlic Honest
Scotchman— Paying Fees in Pork— Tbe Dutch Rule— Piscataway
Troubles- The Pound— Stockade— Magazine— Importing Pau-
pers—Legislature in Woodbridge— Second Session Hero— The
Pikes 45

CHAPTER VI. 1686-1750.
The ^waA^rs— Meetings at Amboy— At Woodbridge—" G. F."— Build-
ing the Woodbridge House of Worship— Quaker Books— Plain-
field and Rahway Meetings 69


CHAPTER VII. iC69-1700.

2he Tmon Meetiiuj-HonRe — The Kirk Green — The F'irst Minister, Sam-
uel Treat — Benjamin Salsbur}' — John Allen — The New Meeting-
house — Archibald Ridde 11— Samuel Shepard — Opposition to Tax
for Supporting the Town Minister 76

CHAPTER VIII. 1678-1683.

Gov. Andross — Bridge over the Papiack — Low Treasury — Township
Court Regulations — Deputy Gov. Rudyard — A Woodbridge Citi-
zen Disgraced 89

CHAPTER IX. 1683-1690.

Moore and Dennis — Shrievalty — First Tavern — More Piscataway
Trouble — The Deputy Governors — Quit Rent Agitation — High-
ways — Pound — Obadiah Ayers — Vigilance Committee — Landings
Second Division of Land — Death of Samuel Moore — of Israel
Thornell— First Side-walk 98

CHAPTER X. 1690-1700.

The Rangers — Geese Troubles — Town in Debt — The Courts — Another
Town Clerlv— Indian War— A Sick Man— Ncav Bridge — Walker's
Walk— Too much Talk— The Freemen— Model Compact— Riot. Ill

CHAPTER XI. 1702-1872.

2he B/piscopal Congregaimi— George Keith — Edward Vaughan— Hal-
liday — First Church — Piscataway Church — Skinner — Chandler —
McKean — Parker — Preston— The Revolution— List of Church
Officers 121

Township Officers from 1668 to 1700 -Deputies— Town Clerks— Con-
stables — Court Officers — Overseers of Highways — Rate-makers —
Rate-Gatherers-Other Officers 137

CHAPTER XIII. 1700-1707.

Provincial Difficulties — Cornfield Landing — Metuchen— Pound at
Rahway-^Dividing the Commons — Boundary Between Wood-
bridge and Amboy — Arrears in Taxes — Fulling Mill— First Town

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 32 of 34)