Recollections of Baptistown
by Jay Bee
Hunterdon Independent
Frenchtown, N.J.
1893 - 1897
Paper clippings given by Capt. John Bellis
to Hunterdon Historical Society
From the collection of Beulah Gangaware

Special thanks to Albert Hosbach for sending me these Recollections for use on my web site.

Recollections of Baptistown ---   Jay Bee --- 1893

Index:  A - C    D-F    G-H   J-M    N-Q   R     S      T-V    W-Y

Pages 1 - 8b

~~ 1 ~~

        My earliest recollections of Baptistown dates back between 55 and 60 years.

        At that time, John Doughty Scott and Thomas Barcroft kept the store where John C. Arnwine now keeps.

        John D. Scott was the son of James Scott and Mary Rittenhouse, who lived about 1/4 mile below Kingwood store, where Thomas Jardine now lives.  His wife was Nancy, daughter of George Opdyke.  She was a sister to the late ex-mayor, George Opdyke of New York City.  Mr. Scott removed to New York City, where he engaged in the mercantile business on a larger scale and where he died several years ago.

        Thomas Barcroft was the son of Aaron Barcroft and Margaret, nee Opdyke.  They lived where Mrs. Catharine Barcroft now lives.  Thomas died when a young man.  While he lived in Baptistown he had a horse stolen.  He paid John Taylor $100 for the horse.  This was the top price for a horse at that time.  Francis Roberson, Jr. had a horse taken the same night.  I believe the horses were never recovered.  Some time after this a vigilant society was formed at Baptistown and kept up for several years; no member ever had a horse stolen.

        The next store keepers were Moses M. Bateman and Ellis Hulsizer.  Their wives were sisters by the name of Waldron.  Bateman was the son of Rev. David Bateman who was pastor of the Baptistown Baptist Church for a number of years.  He died in 1832 and his remains were interred beneath the floor of the Baptist Church at Locktown in front of and near the pulpit.  A large marble slab with suitable inscription marks the spot.  Ellis Hulsizer removed to the West many years ago.

        In 1844, Andrew B. Rittenhouse kept the store.  He was a son of Edward and Elizabeth (Bray) Rittenhouse.  He married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Netler of Mt. Pleasant.  He served one term as clerk of Hunterdon Co.  His children were:  Wilson M., Amy M., Dewitt C., Joseph M. and Mary M.

~~ 2 ~~

        There was a small room in the northeast corner of the store house in which Cyrenuis Wagner worked for a few years.  He was a tailor by trade.  His wife was Sarah A., daughter of Josiah Rounsavill and Margaret Bearder.  They had 2 children: Cornelia and William.  William Smith used this room for a shoe shop for a few years.  His wife was Lucinda, daughter of Samuel H. Britton.

        A man by the name of Fox kept a jewelry shop for a time in this room.  His wife was a daughter of George Johnson of Raven Rock.  At this time a stranger came to the hotel and remained for a few weeks.  He left one night and some of Fox's jewelry was missing the next morning.  There was an open shed west of and attached to the store house.  West of the shed was a building used as storage house and for packing pork, etc.

        The writer remembers a town meeting that was held under this shed one snowy day--it was usually held out in the road--Jacob R. Fox was the Moderator.  He lived on the road to Frenchtown where John H. Opdyke lived for a number of years.  At that time, voting by ballot was not in vogue.  The Moderator, as he was called, occupied an elevated position where he could see the voters.  Someone would be nominated for an office, and if there was no opposition someone would call out "good enough, put him down" and it was so ordered.  But in case there were two persons named for the same office, the Moderator would cry out, "All in favor of John Jones will go to the right, and all in favor of John Smith will go to the left."  A fence rail was usually used for the dividing line.  If the Moderator could not decide who had the most votes, he would request them to change sides.  Then it was like bedlam let loose as the voters crowded through to make the change.  Some not caring to vote would stand outside.  Some of these would be pulled in, in order to swell the vote for Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith.  If the Moderator still could not decide as to who had the most votes, a count would be called for.  Four men would be selected, two men from each side.  Between these the voters would pass and be counted.  There were no ballot boxes to stuff, and as for purchasing votes, it was scarcely thought of.  In my judgment, men were more honest, politically, than they are in this enlightened age.

~~ 3 ~~

        During the Polk and Clay campaign in 1844, Jacob Moore kept the hotel.  He was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.  His wife was the daughter of George Johnson of Raven Rock.

        Andrew Rittenhouse kept the store; he was an ardent Whig.  Rittenhouse had the picture of a raccoon on the outside of his store door.  One morning he found his coon badly disfigured.  This caused hard thoughts and some pretty hard words between the faithful of the two parties.

        During the campaign, the Democrats erected a nice hickory pole near the hotel.  After the pole was put up, it was necessary for someone to climb it and unfasten the pulleys and ropes.  Theodore Poers tried to climb it but failed.  A colored youth was called on; he went up the pole like a cat.

        Samuel Slater kept the hotel when I first knew it.  His wife was Delilah, daughter of William Horner, who lived where John M. Snyder now lives.  Their children were:  Mary Ann, William H., Samuel, Gabriel H., Elizabeth, Rachel Jane and George W.

        Mary Ann married Nelson Roberson, son of William Roberson and Sarah West; she has been dead a long time.  William H. married Susan Risler.  He built a store house and dwelling where Stacy Sutton now lives.  He was a Whig and during political campaigns the Whigs would meet at his store evenings to discuss the political situation.  The Democrats called the place "Coon Harbor."

        During the Rebellion, William H. Slater raised a Company and entered in the service of the United States, as captain, and lost a leg in the battle of Fredericksburg.  He now lives in Washington City.

        Samuel Slater married for his first wife Margaret King, his second wife was Jennie Pugh.  He was in the Union Army, is now living in the State of Washington.  Gabriel married Emeline Metler, daughter of Levi Metler, who kept the Lowe tavern in Frenchtown for a number of years.  He is now living in Marion, Indiana.

~~ 3a ~~

        Elizabeth married William, son of William Heath and Anna Rittenhouse.  Rachel Jane married George A. Eddy, now keeping hardware store in Frenchtown.  George W. Slater was kicked by a colt when a lad, from the effects of which he died.

        Samuel Slater sold the hotel at Baptistown and bought land where Edward R. Roberson now lives, and built on it.  From here he moved to Frenchtown, where he died a few years ago at an advanced age.

~~ 4 ~~

        The next building north of the store was the Baptist church that was erected probably about 15O years ago. No doubt some who read these lines met here to worship their Maker. In about the year 1846 the building was sold to William Lair, Jr., who moved it down on his farm, where Peter Vanderbilt now lives and converted it into a bar. It was moved on rollers. It was first moved out to the middle of the road, then down the road to near where the Baptist parsonage now stands, then over into the field and so on down to its present location. A barn stood just north of the church; this was demolished years ago.

        The old store house that was destroyed by fire a few years ago was used as a dwelling when I first knew it. I believe it was a tavern at one time. Peter Werts, now living at Ithaca, Darke Co., Ohio, lived in it the winter of the deep snow. He was the only person in the village who had any firewood on land when the snow fell. He divided with his neighbors until wood could be procured. It was in the west room of this old house where the writer made his maiden speech in public, or made the attempt. It was at a boy's debating school. The speech was as follows:  “ Mr. President, I believe I have nothing to say.” In one respect it was like Gen. McClellan said he would make his Virginia campaign "short, sharp and decisive”. It was short, very short and I guess true.

        There was house stood a short distance north of the old store house and on the same side of the road. Here Cyrenuis Wagner lived at one time.

        The new school Baptist Church was built 1839. John Pierson, I think, was boss carpenter. Rev. James A Wigg was pastor of the church. His wife was Huldah, daughter of Jonathan Rittenbouse and Delilah Bray. It was in this church that I first attended Sunday School. The books used contained questions and answers. These, children committed to memory and repeated them to their teachers.  I was presented with a copy of the old & new testament for learning these questions.

        The next house north of this church was built by Jacob Moore.

~~ 5 ~~

        He sold it to Andrew B. Rittenhouse.

        Sergeant Lake lived where Watson Dalyrmple now lives. His wife was Letitia, daughter of Thomas West and Rachel Hoagland. Their children were: Lydia, Cornelius, Rachel Mary, Thomas and George W. There were other children but these are all I can name.

        Thomas Roberson, son of Francis and Mary (Homer) Roberson, lived where Andrew Roberson now lives. He was born in 1788 and died in 186?. His remains were interred in the Frenchtown Cemetery. His wife was Lucy, daughter of Thomas West. She was born 1798 and died 1878. They were active members of the M.E. church.  They had 13 children: Nancy E., Joseph W., Sibilia, Rachel H., Ruth E., Lucy Danelia, Francelia, Francis, Francie H., Catharine E., Thomas W., Charles A.   Danelia and Francelia were twins.
Nancy E.  married John Bellis Opdyke, son of Amos and Rebecca Bellis Opdyke. She died 1843.

        Joseph W. married Amy Brown, daughter of Capt. Brown of Frenchtown.   After her death he married Julia Davis of Virginia. He removed to Va. a few years before the State seceded and died there in 1888.

        Francis and Francis H. died young.

        Catharine E. married Horation, son of George Opdyke. They removed to Va. a few years before the war of secession and bought a farm in Fairfax Co. Owing to his Union sentiments He was forced to leave the State. He came to N.J.  The buildings and fences on his farm were all destroyed by the Army.  They are now living in Trenton, N.J.  Horation was a brother to George Opdyke, once mayor of  N.Y.C.

        Thomas W. married Charlotte King, de [sic] died in 1858.

        Charles A. married for his first wife Sarah Waldron, his second wife was Irletta Smith, he died recently.

        Bibilla married Martin, son of George Johnson.

        Rachel M. married for her first husband Greenleaf Dearborn Daggett, M.D.  Her second husband is Noah H. Hunt, they live in Milford.

~~ 5a ~~

        Ruth B. died when a young woman.

        Lucy B.  married Frederich Davis, they live in Illinois.

        Danelia and Francelia, not married, live in Trenton, N.J.

        In 1845 the Methodist held a meeting in John Taylor's woods, it was adjourned to the residence of Thomas Roberson, where it was held every night for 5 or 6 weeks. The meetings were largely attended and the converts were quite numerous, the most of whom united with the M.E. church, some went to the Baptist.   Rev. W.W. Christine led the meetings most of the time.  A few converts who attended tie M.E. church requested immersion and were baptized in the Delaware just below the bridge at Frenchtown on a Sunday afternoon. While tie people were waiting at the water for the minister and the candidates, big Fred Apgar, as he was called, caught up a dog and threw it into the water, soon after Prod fell headlong into the river.

~~ 6 ~~

        William Roberson lived on the farm adjoining Thomas on the west.

They were brothers and their wives were sisters. William's wife was Sarah West. He was born in 1785 and died in 1875 and his remains were interred in the cemetery at Frenchtown. His wife was born in 1790 and died in 1880. They were lively members of the Methodist church.  He was a Justice of the Peace for several years. They had 12 children: Eveline, Odgen, John Nelson, Elizabeth, Samuel, Mary Rachel, Lydia, Letitia, Jane, William W. and Francis C.

         Eveline married John Britton Opdyke, son of Joseph Opdyke and Frany Britton. She died In Frenchtown in 1880.

        Odgen married Sarah Reading, daughter of William Reading and Elizabeth Sergeant. He died in Flemington in 1888.

         John Nelson married Mary Ann Slater, daughter of Samuel Slater, for his first wife. His second wife was Sarah Keyser of Philadelphia. He died in Phila. in 1873.

        Elizabeth married Rev. A.K. Street of the M.E. Church. She died at Camden, N.J. a few years ago.

        Samuel married Sarah Ann King, daughter of William Newton King and Elizabeth Case. They live near Baptistown.

        Mary married Miller, son of Henry N. Kline.  She lives in Flemington.

        Rachel died young.

        Lydia married David Miller Kline and removed to Illinois many years ago,  where she still lives.

         Letitia married George Runk, son of John Runk, who lived at Milltown for a number of years. She died in Flemington in 1888.

        Jane died young.

        William W. married Sarah Gilmore.  He is living in one of the western states.

        Francis C. married Susan, daughter of George V. Mason and Mary Reiding. They live in Trenton, N.J.

(p.s.  In my first paper the types made me say, “There was an open shed west and attached to the stone house.”  It should have been “store house”.

~~ 7 ~~

        A few yards north of where Andrew Roberson now lives--down under the hill--a family by the name of Hulsizer lived when I first knew the place.  A wheelwright by the name of Parks lived here several years.  He was very deaf.  A few yards below on the same side of the road, stood the old school house.  Here I spent my first day in a school room.  The day was a long one, Asher Bonham was the teacher.  He gave me a pocket knife and candies to induce me to come to school.  He removed West between 50 or 60 years ago.  I think the next teacher was Jesse Sinclair, who I believe is still living in Holland Township.  John Slater was the next teacher, followed by Charles Roberts who is now ticket agent for the Pa. railroad at Lambertsville.  George Slack was the next teacher under whom I finished my education.  There may have been other teachers in the meantime, as I attended school in another district a part of the time.  I can name 50 of my school mates whom I know to be still living.

        The house below the school house, at the turn of the road, where Philip Bosenbury lived, recently was occupied by William Cooper, the blacksmith who was killed by the cars a short distance below Frenchtown several years ago.  His wife was a daughter of David Curtis who lived where George Niece now lives near the Kingwood Presbyterian Church.  AFter Cooper left, Benjamin, son of David Curtis, occupied the house.  I can name 5 of his children:  David, William, John, Mahlon, and Martha.  David was a local M.E. preacher and died near Frenchtown a few years ago.  William is dead, John and Mahlon live in Penna.  Martha was Mathias C. Apgar's first wife.  There were other children, but I cannot name them.

        The blacksmith shop stood where Paul C. Larue's new house now stands.  Ezra and Nelson Dalrymple worked there.  They were the sons of James Dalrymple and Elizabeth McPherson and were brothers to Joseph Dalrymple now living in Frenchtown.  Ezra lived in the old storehouse that was burned down a few years ago, and I think died there.  Thomas Price worked there in the shop.  His wife was the daughter of Capt. Brown of Frenchtown.

~~ 8 ~~

        The shop was moved to the east side of the road opposite to where De. [sic] Leidy now lives.  John H. Philkill, now living near Locktown, worked there and lived where Peter Dalrymple now lives.

        After the old school Baptist sold their meeting house, they elected a new one.  Gabriel Conklin was pastor of the church at the time.  He house was dedicated, I think in 1847.

        John Taylor owned and lived where Dr. Leidy now resides.  His first wife was Hannah, daughter of Nathaniel Thatcher.  His second wife was Jane Curtis, daughter of David Curtis.  Their children were: Jacob who died when a small child; John married Amy, daughter of John Shepherd; Davis married Mary Ellen, daughter of John Eick; Sarah married Andrew, son of Frances Roberson and Nancy, nee Rittenhouse; Susan Jane died when a young woman; Mary Ann married Henry Hoff.  John Taylor's mother lived to be over 100 years old.

        Thomas Taylor, brother to John, owned and lived where Wilson R. Kugler now lives.  His first wife was a Coughlin, by whom he had one daughter, Sarah, who married Anderson Horner.  She lives in Trenton.  Thomas Taylor's second wife was Sarah Ann Stryker, a sister to Larason Stryker, who kept the hotel at Pittstown for many years.  They had 7 children: Elizabeth married a Hunt; Amelia married Mathias VanSyckle; Kate died a young woman; George; Jane married a Smith for her first husband, her second husband is Peter C. Mechling; Keziah's first husband was a Hunt, her second husband is John Roberson West; Emeline married Nathan Crouse.

        William Heath, son of Richard and Catharine (Rittenhouse) Heath, lived where James P. Gary now lives.  He is said to have been well up in mathematics and was the first to teach in the old school house at Locktown.  He was postmaster at Baptistown for a few years.  His wife was Ann, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Roberson) Rittenhouse.  They had 3 children: Catharine who married John, son of John Deputy and who died in the state of Delaware; Lavina married William Lair; William married Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Slater.

~~ 8a ~~

p.s.  I think that the next house north of the Baptist Church was built by Jacob Moore, not Jacob Warne, as it was printed.  Dr. John Leavitt lived in this house when he first came to Baptistown.

Continued    ----->>

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