Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina
First Families of Jersey Settlement
New Jersey historians wrote of Hopewell and Carolina historians wrote of Jersey Settlement. Nobody wrote about how, when and why North Carolina's Jersey Settlement grew out of (and interacted with) its parent community, Hopewell, New Jersey, nor why so many of old Hopewell's solid citizens fled to North Carolina. To satisfy her curiosity, the author mined facts with the help of librarians, genealogical societies in both places, and other descendants. Eventually, a story emerged of the Settlement's origins: it was older than expected, and its first settlers were Hopewell citizens who migrated after being swindled by Proprietors and royal Governors, especially Dr. Daniel Coxe and his son Col. Daniel Coxe, two powerful and greedily villainous Proprietors, in "The Coxe Affair." What these Jersey men endured in Hopewell directly affected the Yadkin's Revolutionary generation, explaining why Jersey Settlement had reacted so violently against N.C.'s corrupt Gov. William Tryon's sticky-fingered royal officials, John Frohock, Rowan Court Clerk and Edmund Fanning, King's Attorney, whose thievery and injustices caused the 1771 Regulator War (considered by historians the first true battle of the American Revolution), and caused Charles Lord Cornwallis to call central North Carolina "a hornet's nest of rebellion."
The earliest families of Jersey Settlement came from Hopewell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where some had been members of Pennington's Presbyterian Church, and others were Quakers and Baptists who baptized their children in St. Mary's Episcopal church for practical, political reasons. The earliest families identified in Jersey Settlement c1745 were those of Jonathan Hunt, Thomas and Rebecca (Anderson) Smith, Robert Heaton, and John Titus. (Hunt and Titus were married to Smith's nieces.) Others from Hopewell, e.g., Cornelius Anderson, came in this first party or soon followed. They were founding this settlement so that they (and groups that followed) could recoup losses suffered when New Jersey's Supreme Court invalidated deeds to thousands of acres in Hopewell, land their fathers had purchased as wilderness. To understand this amazing story of invalidated land titles, one must "begin at the beginning" with the founding of West Jersey's Hopewell Township, followed by a slow build up to the surprising events that preceded this migration.
Hopewell's first inhabitants were Lenapes, an Algonquin tribe who welcomed Europeans because they needed protection from other Indians. Their Hopewell villages were Wissamonson (Woodbridge) and Minnepenasson (Stoutsburg). New Jersey's first Europeans were Swedes and Dutch from New York and Pennsylvania. In 1655 Peter Stuyvesant brought it under Dutch control with landowners called Proprietors, but the Dutch governed inhabitants. In March, 1664 England's King Charles II -- who did not own New Netherlands -- gave it to his brother, James, Duke of York, and sent a fleet that easily seized it. The Duke of York then gave half of New Jersey to George, Lord Carteret, including the right to govern inhabitants on lands held. Thereafter, any wealthy man could be a Proprietor and govern residents, a land power system predestined for abuse of power for personal gain and disputes over land ownership. The colony developed as a Proprietary System, like a corporation, and London speculators dealt in "percentages of Proprietary Shares." In 1664, the British seized New Jersey, but, to avoid the expense of Indian wars, decreed that land be purchased before settlement, buying West Jersey for wampum, trinkets, a few bolts of cloth and two kettles. The Lenapes lived among Europeans on Stony Brook from the 1680's to c1725, then moved west, declaring: "Not a drop of our blood have you shed in battle---not an acre of our land have you taken without our consent."
In 1673 Lord Berkeley sold his shares to John Fenwicke and Edward Byllynge who planned a Quaker Refuge like Pennsylvania. In July 1676 the "Province Line" divided East and West Jersey, giving control to the Quakers who owned five-eighths. William Penn drafted a constitution. In 1677 ships brought 230 Quakers from Yorkshire and London who founded a settlement at Burlington. In late summer 1677, the Flie-Boate Martha of Burlington, Yorkshire, sailed from Hull bringing 114 passengers, including two heads of families, Thomas Schooley and Thomas Hooten (a.k.a. Houghton), future residents of Hopewell. New arrival Tom Hooten wrote to his wife in Burlington, Yorkshire:
On the "10th of the 8th month" (10 October 1678) the ship Shield, Daniel Towes, Captain, was the first to sail this far up the Delaware river. After mooring to a tree, passengers landed on the Jersey side, including George Parks [immigrant George Parks was perhaps brother to Hopewell's Quaker Roger Parke, and perhaps related the later George Parks who arrived c1760 in Jersey Settlement], Peter and John Fretwell, Thomas Revell and wife, Robert Schooley, wife and children, and Thomas Potts, wife and children. ["Burlington Baptist Church was constituted in 1689 with eleven members. Thomas Potts (Sr., a tanner, & lot wife Mary; 2nd wife Anne) and a few others had been Baptists in England, and others converted after their arrival in America. It appears that some may have been Quakers who were influenced to become Baptists." Norman Maring, The Baptists of New Jersey, Washington, D.C. (1944) edited by H. Clay Reed & George W. Miller, using notes from Burlington Court Minutes. 1722 Hopewell Tax List: Thomas Potts].
Thomas Revell, "Gentleman", a first Justice of the Peace, was appointed by a group of Proprietors as "Agent for the Honorable West Jersey Society in England" to survey and sell land and issue deeds. On September 8, 1680, he made his first entry in Liber A, Revels's Book of Surveys. Early Trenton was called "At the ffalls of Dellaware," early Hopewell "Above the ffalls of Dellaware." On June 4,1680 "John Hooten, Andrew Smith, Englishmen, (were among) ye ffreeholders & Inhabittants within ye Court at Burlington. " In November 1680, a Delaware river survey for John Hooten on NW side of Crosswick's Creek (near Trenton). On January 20, 1681, Revel surveyed for Peter Fretwell "above the ffals of Dellaware" (Hopewell), and 200 acres for Andrew Smith "at the ffalls (Trenton)." Burlington County was divided into "Tenths". 1682 officers: Thomas Revel, Provincial Clerk-Recorder; Daniel Leeds, Surveyor; Robert Schooley & John Pancoast, Constables, Yorkshire Tenth; Thomas Sharp, Constable, Third Tenth. In 1685 a large share-holder, Dr. Daniel Coxe , "Ciregeon (surgeon) of London and Doctor in phisick," entered the New Jersey action without leaving London. His political power was from being physician to the royal court, while his great wealth enabled him to buy extensive land shares. A ruthless, "bottom-line" speculator, Dr. Coxe aimed to maximize his power and profits by any conceivable method.
He began a series of acquisitions and manipulations, writing the Council of Proprietors: "It would be for your good --- to contrive any method thereby the government might legally ... be involved with the Proprietors." By 1685, as largest share-holder, he declared, "The government of West Jersey is legally in me as full as Pennsylvania is in Penn ... I therefore assume the title of Governor, and lay claim to the powers and authority therein annexed..." For several years he governed from London. The first white man in Hopewell was Jonathan Stout who in 1685 explored the wilderness from his parent's home in Middletown, lived several years at Wissamonson with the Indians, then returned home. On March 30, 1688, Adlord Bowle, agent for "Daniell Coxe, Esqr., Governor & Cheife Proprietor" of West Jersey, met with eleven Indian Chiefs who sold their rights to a huge tract of land that included Hopewell, Ewing and north Trenton for hatchets, knives, needles, tobacco, rum, beer, kettles, 30 guns, shot and lead. With land sales now legal, Dr. Coxe directed his agents to subdivide and sell to settlers. In May 1688 Andrew Smith, Sr., "yeoman," bought 200 acres, but not from Coxe's agents, from Cornelius Empson of Pa., "in what is called Hopewell," a tract later occupied by his son Thomas Smith (a pioneer of Jersey Settlement).
In 1688 the Council of Proprietors accepted the plan of Dr. Coxe, an Anglican, to disenfranchise the Quakers whose rights came from a deceased Proprietor: "All the deeds granted Edward Byllinge ... shall be adjudged and esteemed insufficient for the commission to grant warrants upon." The Council left land records in the hands of Thomas Revel. (At this point, Coxe and Revel were not at odds.) On December 4, 1689, Hopewell was surveyed for Dr. Daniel Coxe who bought it estimated as "28,000 acres of wilderness inhabited by wild beasts and Indians." Then, apparently temporarily short of cash, in 1691 he sold part of his holdings:
This first agreement excepted the Hopewell tract, but between 1692 and 1694 Coxe made a second agreement transferring it to the West Jersey Society -- which failed to execute a deed. The Society and Agent Revel continued selling land and developing the area. The West Jersey Society distributed fliers on the north-east seaboard advertising "Fertile Land for Sale Cheap," offering to residents in New England and in older New Jersey communities cheap land "lying above ye ffals of ye Delaware" (Hopewell) with inducements to buy farms by cash or mortgages. In 1690 Roger Parke, an English immigrant, lived in a Quaker settlement on Crosswick's Creek, but he traveled so often to Wissamonson to study medicine under old Indian squaws and medicine men that his path was called "Roger's Road." About 1700 he moved his family to Hopewell as its first white settlers. Surveys preceded settlement, and Hopewell's first farm was surveyed on February 27, 1696 by Revell for Thomas Tindall, but not occupied until c1706 by his son-in-law John Pullen [John Pullen (Poillion, Bullen), of Huguenot ancestry, first occupant of Tindall's 1696 farm: Hunter & Porter, Hopewell, A Historical Geography, p. 105].
Some of Roger Parke's Quaker neighbors from Crosswick's settled south of him in Hopewell. [Land records: 1686: Jonathan Eldridge; 1688: Dr. John Houghton of Gloucester, 1693: John Wilsford; 1694: Widow Mary Stanisland; 1695: John Bryerley, Capt. Moses Petit & Benjamin Clark. A 1696 survey showed that Parke's Stony Brook tract adjoined land owned by John Moore, George Hutchinson, Sam Bunting and Marmaduke Houseman. Surveys, 1696: Edward Hunt 200 acres in the Society's 30,000 acre tract; 1697: Andrew Smith for Thomas Smith, next to Roger Parke 1698: John Gilbert, weaver, James Melvin near Thomas Stevenson, Nathaniel Pope, Edward Burroughs and George Woolsey].
In 1697 Thomas Revell sold 1,050 acres (in the center of the township) to Johannes Opdyke, a Penny Town (Pennington) area soon settled by inter-related Presbyterian families from Newton (Elmhurst), Queens, Long Island. In January 1675/7 the will of Ralph Hunt, Sr. was proved at Newton. In 1698 his sons, Ralph, Jr., Samuel, daughter Ann and husband Theophilus Phillips, and daughter-in-law Johanna (widow of John Hunt) had deeds in Maidenhead (Lawrence), N.J., where they joined the Presbyterian Church. [John & Joanna (Wilson?) Hunt had a son John Hunt born c1690 at Newtown, L.I., who m. Feb 8, 1714 Margaret Moore in Newtown's Presby. Ch.; she was perhaps d/o Gersham. Moore, and descended from Presbyterian Rev. John Moore. John Hall, D.D., History of the Presbyterian Church of Trenton, N.J].
That same year, Jonathan, Samuel and Elnathan Davis were members of Burlington's Presbyterian Church. [On January 21, 1698/9, a deed from Jonathan Davis "husband man" was transferred to his brother Samuel Davis "weave', both of Maidenhead, 20 acres at the head of his preceding 100 acres north of town, adj. on the west by Elnathan Davis. New Jersey Records, Liber B, H:656].
The February 1699 Burlington County Court received a "Petition of some inhabitants above the ffalls for a new township to be called Hopewell, as also a new road and boundaries of Said town..." The Township's location was described c1770:
About 1700/01, a fateful marriage occurred when John Parke married Thomas Smith's sister Sarah. (These two brothers-in-law, Smith and Parke, later acted together in open rebellion during "The Coxe Affair", fled together, and both families would be early pioneers of Jersey Settlement.) In 1701 Dr. Daniel Coxe, as physician to the Royal Household, learned that New York (and New Jersey) was about to become a Royal Colony --- and that the West Jersey Society had not registered his transfer of the Hopewell tract to them. Using this inside information, in 1702 Dr. Coxe gave Hopewell to his son: "Dr. Daniel Coxe of London Doctor in Phisiq" (conveyed his... tracts and proprietary rights to) "Daniel Coxe of London, Gentleman Son and heir apparent of the said Daniell Coxe Doctor in Phisiq."
Many new settlers came to Hopewell between 1686 and 1710. [Hopewell area land records: 1696: Richard Stockton, Thomas Hutchinson, Joseph Worth & Thomas Warne on Stony Brook. 1697: William Wood. 1699: Joshua Ely. 1700: John Hutchinson of Hutchinsons Manor sold land in Hopewell to Samuel Wright of Nottingham Twp., Burlington Co., lying between Matthew Grange, Caleb Wheatley & Henry Scott; Vincent ffountaine of Staten Island, N.Y., yeoman. 1701: Benjamin ffield, Joseph Sackett (yeoman, Newtown, L.I.) between Christopher Wetherill & Thos. Hutchinson, William Clark (near Thomas Lambert.) 1702: Richard Burt of Newtown, Long Island. 1703: John Fidler, William Hixon, George Willis, John Routlege of Abbington Twp., Philadelphia Co., Pa., Joshua Anderson & Robert Pearson].
Robert and Elizabeth Blackwell joined his friend Richard Titus from Newton, L.I., settling on adjoining farms near the junction of Stony Brook and Honey Brook. [Robert Blackwell, "of English origin, was the progenitor of this family. In 1676 he was a merchant in Elizabethton, New Jersey, who lived on Blackwell's Island in the East River where he died in 1717. His eldest son, Robert Blackwell, Jr., married Elizabeth Combes, d/o Francis Combes of Newtown, Long Island, and moved to Hopewell, N.J. Alice Blackwell Lewis, Hopewell Valley Heritage (Hopewell Museum, 1973), p-134].
In 1702 the political event that Dr. Coxe anticipated occurred: the Jersey Proprietors relinquished their rights of government to the Crown, Queen Amne was on the throne, Dr. Coxe was her private physician --- and the new Governor coming from London was the Queen's first cousin, Dr. Coxe's good friend, Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury -- accompanied to America by Dr. Coxe's son, Col. Daniel Coxe. Together they composed the Cornbury Ring, which quickly became infamous for abusing government authority for personal profit. Both the Ring and the Proprietors fought to control land sales because whoever did also controlled the government -- and had a handsome income. As governor, Lord Cornbury changed the political climate, being allied with the Coxes against the West Jersey Society over ownership of large tracts of land, one of which included Hopewell Township. In 1706, Lord Cornbury and his Council (the upper House of Legislature, of which Col. Daniel Coxe was a member) launched an attack on the proprietary faction, challenging their authority over the land system. They also alleged that the West Jersey Society lacked any title, that being Col. Coxe's position, taking advantage of the Society's failure to register his transfer (for a consideration) to them of the Hopewell tract c1692/3.
This first cousin to Queen Anne, Governor of New York and New Jersey from 1702 to 1708, had his portrait painted wearing a ball gown and five o'clock shadow. (It now hangs in the New York Historical Society). [Newsweek magazine, issue of May 23, 1994; also Richard Zacks, History Laid Bare, citing Diaries of Sylvester Douglas, Lord Glenbervie, (Harper Collins, 1994) pp. 209-210].
With New York a Royal Colony, the Anglican church became (as in England) entwined with all aspects of the civil government, with authority over many aspects of daily life, e. g., the only legal marriages were performed by Anglican ministers, with children from marriages performed by other clergymen considered illegitimate. An Episcopal priest was sent to Burlington County to establish- "Hopewell Chappel Church" (St. Mary 's Episcopal, Ewing.) A year before the cornerstone was laid (March 25, 1703) some Hopewell residents who were Quakers and Baptists rushed down to Ewing to have their adult children baptized as Anglicans to protect their inheritance rights. Baptized February 28,1702 by Rev. Mr. John Talbot:
By now, settlers had cleared land, built cabins and barns, widened paths, and established a ferry to connect with the Philadelphia road where many went to shop or to church so that the Jersey wilderness was becoming a productive, English style, rural community of isolated farms joined by lanes and a few wagon roads. In 1707 Col. Coxe acted to reclaim the Hopewell tract he had conveyed to the West Jersey Society by persuading the Cornbury Ring to make a new survey of the Hopewell tract in his name. Then, in 1708 the Coxes had a major setback: the Crown removed Lord Cornbury as Governor because of the turmoil caused by his obvious corruption. The new Governor supported the Proprietors, Col. Coxe was removed from Council and Assembly, and soon found the political climate so hostile that he returned to England. With him in disfavor, the West Jersey Society maintained its claim to the Hopewell tract without dispute. About 1708, the area around Penny Town received an influx of Presbyterians from Newton [1708 Deeds: Thomas Runyan; Richard Motfs 1,350 acre Penny Town tract war, subdivided and sold to Nathaniel Moore, John Mott, John Cornwall (Cornell) and Thomas Reed], including twenty-one year old Nathaniel Moore, recently married to Joanna Prudden (b. December 16, 1692), and Elnathan Baldwin who was married to Joanna's sister, Keziah Prudden [Daughters of Presbyterian Rev. John Prudden of Newark, a 1688 graduate of Harvard].
Within a two mile radius of the Moores settled others who were probably from Newton [others from Newton to Pennington c1708-10: John Muirheid, George Woolsey, John Welling, John Titus, Thomas Burroughs, William Cornell, John Carpenter, John Ketcham, Edward & Ralph Hunt, Robert Lanning, John Larison, Abraham Temple, and five brothers: Edward, Nathaniel, Joseph, Ralph & John Hart].
This great influx from Long Island led to the organization of a church, and in 1709 a call was sent to Philadelphia for a Presbyterian minister to serve "the people of Maidenhead and Hopewell." None being available, they continued to be served by the church in Philadelphia. In 1713 Hopewell Township was removed from old Burlington County, and became part of newly formed Hunterdon County. In 1714 John Reading and William Greene were first assessors. Deeds were issued c1709/10 for other parts of Hopewell Township. In its north area, Baptists and Quakers from Burlington had farms around Stoutsburg and Columbia (a village today called "Hopewell"). The Hunts were on Long Island on June 4,1714 when John, Sr. (b. c1658, son of Ralph of Newton) bought 500 acres in Hopewell, bounded E by Stony Brook, N by Samuel Davis, W by Capt. Hannel and S by Johannes Lawrenson. On March 7, 1715, John Hunt and wife Joanna of Newton, sold 100 acres in Newton. (Joanna Hunt, widow, joined Pennington Presbyterian Church August 31, 1733.) Johanna Hunt's son, John, Jr. (b. c1690 in Newton) married at Newton February 8, 1714 Margaret Moore, probably daughter of Gersham Moore. John and Margaret Hunt's son, Jonathan (October 17, 1717 - September 5, 1782) married c1737 Mary, daughter of Andrew and Sarah (Stout) Smith, Jr. (This is the same Jonathan Hunt who become a founder of Jersey Settlement, one of the most prominent men in the area, and a Colonel in the Rowan Militia). Thomas Reed of Hopewell was probably brother to John Reed (b. May 3, 1677, Long Island) who moved to New Jersey c1697.
Hannah Davis (b. c1715) who named a son Eldad in 1738, was probably daughter of Eldad Davis. These Davis - Reeds were Baptists and perhaps related to the Jonathan Davis who in 1708 came to Burlington's Court seeking to be qualified as a Baptist preacher according to the Act of Toleration, asking permission to preach in a house, which was how the Hopewell Baptists met at this time. In 1722 Eldad Davis and Jonathan Davis were on the Hopewell Twp. Tax List. Hannah Davis married John Reed (born c1710) perhaps son of the John Reed who was a bachelor in 1699 when he bought a 200 acre farm on Burlington road from the estate of Hester Watts who was almost certainly kin to Rev. John Watts (wife Sarah Eaton) who served the Baptists in Pennepek, Pa. and Hopewell, N.J. until he died of smallpox in 1703. With marriages performed by Baptist and Quaker clergy still not legal whenever the government favored Royalists, parents with nonconformist tenets continued having their offspring baptized as Anglicans to insure their inheritance rights. William and Grace Merrell, Jr., (Baptists from Warwickshire) came to Northfield, Staten Island, then moved to Middletown, N.J., and c1710/11 came to Hopewell with three sons, Benjamin, Joseph and William III (who m. 1729 Penelope Stout). [December 2, 1716 a cattle ear mark " formerly William Merrell's" was registered to "James Hubbard of Middletown." Stillwell, II, cited by Wm. E. Merrell, PhD.; ibid Ege, p 204].
The Merrells bought farms near the Stouts in NE Hopewell's Baptist neighborhood. The era being Royalist, baptized May 11, 1712 at St. Mary's Episcopal: Margaret daughter of William Merrail); George son of John Park. [Stillwell, Historical Miscellany, Vol. 1152-53, Register of St. Mary's Episcopal Parish, Ewing] In 1715, Enoch Armitage, an immigrant from Kirkburton Parish, Lydgate, West Riding, Yorkshire, wrote home saying that he had "settled on Stoney Brook about sixe miles from, Princeton ... near a small town called Pennington." In 1715 Dr. Coxe and Thomas Revel both died. Thomas Revel's Book of Deeds passed to son and heir, Col. Daniel Coxe. The West Jersey Society assigned a new agent to make sales, collect mortgage payments, and keep land records. In 1719 Trenton Township was formed from old south Hopewell. By now, the political climate having swung far enough back to the Royalists for Col. Daniel Coxe to return from his self-imposed exile in England, a wealthy and powerfully connected man who built a mansion in Trenton. [Richard Hunter & Richard Porter, Hopewell: A Historical Geography, p. 28]. When a 1720's land boom increased profits, he tried to reclaim ownership of huge tracts, including Hopewell. In this period, both Coxe and the West Jersey Society sold land in the township.
In 1720 the Presbyterians built a stone school at Pennington. On December 29, 1720, Robert Heaton (who in old age pioneered to Swearing Creek) was a Hopewell tailor when he proved Andrew Heath's will. In 1721 the Township had enough freemen to begin its first Book of Records, listing Cornelius Anderson's mill on Jacob's Creek (his namesake kinsman was a Jersey Settlement pioneer). The 1722 Hopewell Tax List listed Robert Eaton as keeper of a general store near the "Old Quaker Church" on Stony Brook just west of Princeton. In 1722 a Hunterdon County Tax Roll was made for five Townships, including Hopewell, and nearby areas such as Ewing, Lawrence and Trenton. About 1723 the Presbyterians build a cedar-shingled meetinghouse near their school at Pennington crossroads. In 1725 Enoch Armitage, now a successful blacksmith, ruling elder and lay minister at Pennington's Presbyterian church, wrote home to Yorkshire:
In 1731, calamity befell these honest and hard working settlers when "Col. Coxe and other heirs of the late Dr. Coxe" declared that most of Hopewell belonged to them, a claim without an honest basis, e.g., improper surveys or failure to pay -- but the West Jersey Society lacked a court record proving Dr. Coxe's transfer to them. His heir, Col. Coxe, had enough political clout to induce Hunterdon's Supreme Court to order High Sheriff Bennett Bard to serve perhaps a hundred or more Hopewell residents with Writs ordering them to "Pay" for their land a second time or "Quit." Those who failed to repurchase their own farms then received "Writs of Ejectment" which called them "Tenants" and "Tresspassers" on Coxe's land! On April 22, 1731, in an impressive show of unity, fifty of the earliest settlers of Hopewell entered into a written agreement and solemn compact to stand by each other and test the validity of Col. Coxe's claim. They hired an attorney, Mr. Kinsey, and filed a counter suit naming CoL Daniel Coxe as sole defendant. The Township had more people, but some were not affected, having purchased from Coxe. Others considered it useless to fight a man as powerful as Col. Coxe , so did not join in the law suit. The August 1732 term of the New Jersey Supreme Court issued Writs of Trespass & Ejectment against each settler who had not repurchased. The fifty men who sued were identified from their individual records [Virginia Everitt, Clerk of the Hunterdon County Court, Flemington, New Jersey, citing C.H. Records, Vol. H:46. Research of Gloria Padach]:
Hopewell was not the only tract affected. A group of citizens in Gloucester County hired a lawyer, Mr. Evans, and also filed a counter-suit. Unaffected communities were distressed that the Royal government abetted deed revocations, anxieties that encouraged later migrations from Hunterdon, Gloucester and Essex Counties. Still, the most violent reaction came in Hopewell where citizens actively resented the political maneuverings behind Col. Coxe's claims to ownership. After a long and tedious trail at Burlington by Judge Hooper and a panel of twelve Quaker jurors, the verdict was against the West Jersey Society and the Fifty Mens Compact. Mr. Kinsey then appealed to New Jersey's leading judicial officer, Chancellor William Cosby, who in December 1734 issued a judgment upholding the decision against the Society and Compact. Unfortunately, Mr. Cosby's ruling was based less on the legal strength of Col. Coxe's claim than on personal hatred of his arch-enemy, Lewis Morris, who after the death of Thomas Revel became primary Agent of the West Jersey Society. No higher appeal was possible because Col. Coxe was Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, a post he held till his death five years later. The settlers had three choices: pay, remove, or resist. Historian Ralph Ege (born in Hopewell in 1837) wrote about the great dilemma:
Many, including most of the Parke family, refused to pay for the same lands twice and left the area in the early stages of a great out-migration, generally moving westward where new lands were being opened on the Virginia frontier. Some who were unable or unwilling to repurchase, stubbornly refused to vacate their homes -- and were charged rent as "Tenants" -- rent they could or would not pay, and rent defaults created still more debts. The various resistance efforts would fill the colony's court dockets for years to come. Two of the dispossessed, Thomas Smith and John Parke, were brothers-in-law and community leaders, aged 58 and 60, perhaps able to repurchase had they wished, but they (and others) were so angry they no longer wished to live where the government was so corrupt that its Assembly and Supreme Court had aided and abetted Col. Coxe in what they considered to be a monstrous land swindle against honest citizens whose families were the earliest settlers of the Township. Not only did Smith and Parke refuse to pay for their land a second time, they refused to vacate until forcibly evicted by Sheriff Bennett Bard -- who then rented their homesteads to two yeoman named O'Guillon and Collier. This so enraged Smith and Parke that in July 1735 they took their revenge, in the traditional manner of the citizens of Old England who over the centuries had developed ways to express contempt whenever there was no legal recourse: a dishonest official was "Hanged in Effigy," and a man whose actions the community considered despicable was "Tarred and Feathered."
Since the perpetrators of this "land grab," Col. Daniel Coxe, Judge Hooper, Sheriff Bard, Gov. William Cosby and lawyer Murray, were out of their victims reach, Thomas Smith and John Parke made a different plan -- but before taking action, sent their families to safety, probably across the river to Bucks County, Pa. In the dead of a July night, Smith and Parke and ten or more friends, slipped into the woods behind the homes where they had grown up, prepared a vat of melted tar and a barrel of chicken and turkey feathers, then broke into their former homes and took a "Tar and Feather" revenge on the interlopers who occupied them! These acts were considerably more than mere personal revenge: "Tar and Feathers" showed utter contempt for Coxe's dishonest officials. Tar was almost impossible to remove, so it publicly shamed the two who sought to gain from injustice, while burning their former homes and barns reduced profits to Col. Coxe. Their rebellion finished, Smith and Parke escaped across the Delaware, and their "ten or more friends" went back to their Hopewell homes, perhaps to toast the night's lively events in good English ale. Public sympathy was surely with these rebels because, in spite of great desperation in the community for money and common knowledge of the identities of the dozen or more perpetrators, nobody ever came forward to claim the large reward. These rebellious acts generated the expected response from the royal officials they had very deliberately insulted. At the August 1735 term of Hunterdon County's Superior Court, Mr. Murray, Attorney for the Coxe heirs, reported:
A proclamation by WILLIAM COSBY, Captain General and Governour in Chief of the Provinces of New-Jersey, New York and Territories thereon Depending, in America .&c., was published in The American Weekly Mercury, Aug. 21- 28,1735:
Smith and Parke did not wait for High Sheriff Bennet Bard to pursue nor for Governor Cosby to declare them outlaws. Before dawn, they had crossed the Delaware river, and were safely beyond the reach of New Jersey's royal officials. Two years after receiving eviction notices, some in Hopewell who had not paid for their land a second time nor paid "rent" on their own homes, fled to avoid being thrown into Debtor's Prison and having their personal property seized.
In 1738 Sheriff Bard was ordered to take George Woolsey into custody to insure his court appearance. In the next few years, some stayed in Hopewell, but others followed Smith and Parke west after selling their improvements to newcomers from Long Island and elsewhere for barely enough to make a new start. Between 1731 and 1760 about half of the families of Hopewell's "Fifty Men's Compact" moved where land was cheaper and the government more trustworthy. A popular destination was the upper Shenandoah Valley where the first settlement was started in 1730 when guide Morgan Bryan led a group of Quakers walking from Pennsylvania to the upper Potomac. He settled his own family on Opequon Creek, an area that in 1738 become Frederick County, Virginia. About 1732 another guide, Jost Hite, opened the first wagon road as far as Winchester, settling his group of Pennsylvania Germans on a different stretch of Opequon Creek. Comparison of records for early settlers in the upper Valley shows many with surnames identical to those in New Jersey's "Coxe Affair" including the two opportunistic yeoman, Duncan O'Quillon and John Collier, who after being beaten, tarred and feathered, realized they were not welcome in Hopewell. The greatest concentration of New Jersey migrants was along Back Creek (the next creek west of Opequon) in a small, mountain community where a peak was fortuitously named by its early settlers "Jersey Mountain." Since Thomas Smith (and probably his brother-in-law John Parke) had fled from Hopewell in 1735 without benefit of land sales, carrying only their personal possessions, it's unlikely either was able to buy land on arrival in the Shenandoah Valley.
Unfortunately, the same high elevation and steep slopes that made this mountain area a safe haven for refugees beyond the reach of royal law, also made farming difficult, beyond a mere subsistence level. After living several years in these beautiful mountains, many ambitious men began looking elsewhere. Furthermore, the upper Valley was no longer a safe haven. Indian raids and war threats necessitated the construction of frontier forts and the conscription of militia. Parke and Smith were now elderly, their kinsmen middle aged, and, in view of their New Jersey experiences, they were not interested in a new migration that made them "squatters," their reasons for another move being to find a peaceful area with fertile soil, moderate climate, good government and secure land titles. By May 1741, Bladen County issued deeds on the Great Peedee (Yadkin). It was no accident that the Hopewell group chose its north bank to found their "Jersey Settlement," an area described as: "Ten square miles of the best wheat land in the south, located in (modern) Davidson County, near Linwood. It was composed of many people from New Jersey who had sent an agent there to locate and enter the best land still open to settlement." [John Preston Arthur, A History of Watauga County, N. C., (1915) p.88].
A great attraction for these victims of political corruption was that in 1745 North Carolina was exceptionally well governed. Gov. Gabriel Johnston was an honest, capable Scottish physician and professor who on arrival found the colony in pitiable condition, and tried earnestly to better its welfare. "Under (Johnston's) prudent administration, the province increased in population, wealth and happiness."' [C. L. Hunter, Sketches of Western North Carolina, (1877), p. 7].
About 1745, the New Jersey group (perhaps a dozen or more families) left Back Creek in a wagon train bound for the Yadkin. Based on events after arrival, their leaders were probably Jonathan Hunt and Thomas Smith, but they were almost surely guided by the famous "Waggoneer" and explorer, Morgan Bryan who guided other groups to this general area, and in 1748 brought his own family from the Opequon to form Morgan's Settlement on the south bank of Deep Creek, four miles above the "Shallow Ford" of the Yadkin. [Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle, Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762; (U.N.C. Press, 1964; 4th printing 1987), p. 31].
So began the River Settlements, best reached from the north via an old Indian warpath, widened and renamed The Yading Path. About 1745/6 Thomas Smith received land on Swearing Creek, but his Bladen deed is missing (as are many others.). At age 71, on September 29, 1748, Smith was at Newburn with men from other western communities, petitioning the North Carolina Assembly to form Anson County, because they had to travel over a hundred miles to Bladen court house. The next day, September 30, 1748, he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Bladen, [William L. Saunders, editor, N. C. Colonial Records, Vol IV: 189, 889] --and under Colonial N.C. law, only landowners could be Justices of the Peace.
On November 5, 1748, a survey was made on Swearing Creek for Robert Heaton adjoining Thomas Smith; chain bearers: John Titus and Jonathan Hunt. These men are the first four landowners identified in Jersey Settlement. More than four men were needed in a frontier settlement, so it's likely others came in this first group, young men from Back Creek (not necessarily Hopewell) who were unable to buy land at first, but, being needed, lived with friends or kinsmen. Perhaps some did buy land on arrival, their Bladen deeds missing, like Smith's. John Titus, Jr. (1748 Swearing Creek chain bearer for Heaton), after losing his Hopewell land, joined his wife's uncle, Thomas Smith, on Back Creek before moving with him to the Yadkin. [John Titus, Jr. b. c1715 Hopewell, m. there c1740 Anna Smith (b. 28 Jan 1716) d/o Andrew & Sarah (Stout) Smith, Jr. In 1752, John & Sarah Titus were still in Jersey Settlement, but they returned to Hopewell where she d. 25 Aug 1777. However, other members of the Titus family later came to Jersey Settlement. (Research of Gloria Padach); Peggy Shomo Joyner, Northern Neck Warrants, 11:139]
On April 14, 1753, a 584 acre survey for Richard Lane," on "branches of Swaring Creek", adjoining McCullouch's Line, Thomas Smith and Robert Heaton. Wits: Jas. Carter, & Wm. Bishop. [Richard Lane was probably from the Hopewell family of Baptists descended from early immigrant Geisbert Laenen (Gilbert Lane) from north Belgium, then part of Netherlands. In 1719 Mathias Lane died leaving his property in Stoutsburg, Hopewell Twp., to his widow Anna. Obid, Lewis, p. 191; Margaret M. Hofmann, The Granville District of North Carolina 1748-1763, #4673].
Robert Heaton of Hopewell was on Back Creek till, the summer of 1748 when he came to Swearing Creek. "Thomas Potts probably lived on Potts Creek." [James S. Brawley, The Rowan Story. In addition, Thomas Potts was perhaps a descendant of English immigrant Thomas Potts who arrived at Burlington, N.J. in 1678 on the ship Shield with his wife Mary and children, a Baptist on arrival, a 1689 member of Burhngton Baptist Church. Ibid, Baptists of New Jersey. In 1722, Thomas Potts was on Hopewell's Tax List].
Thomas Evans was a very early settler at Rowan's Trading Ford. Robert Ramsey thought he might be Thomas Evans of Maryland [Robert Ramsey, Carolina Cradle, (U.N.C. Press, 4th printing, 1987), p. 110].. However, on July 4, 1738 at St. Mary's, Ewing, the marriage of Tho's Evans & Diana Cassel. In 1753, 348 persons signed a new petition, this one being to separate from Anson County, resulting in the formation of Rowan, of which Henry Reeves wrote:
Note: Identical names in two locations do not prove they are the same individuals. Thomas Evans of the Fifty Mens' Compact, may be same man as (or father of) Thomas Evans of Rowan's Trading Ford. ["14th of 4th month 1713, a baptism at Hopewell, Susanna, daughter Thowas Evans." Ibid, Register of First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia which also served Hopewell].
John Parke (who fled Hopewell with Thomas Smith) is believed to be the John Park who died in the upper Valley, and perhaps father of George Parks who had deeds on Back Creek and Rowan. April 13, 1751, Thomas Sharp to George Parks 143 acres on Back Creek, Frederick Co., Va. Dec. 20, 1760, "George Park of Roann County, N.C." 143 acres on Back Creek to Thomas Sharp of Frederick Co. [Peggy Shomo Joyner, Northern Neck Warrants, 11:139].
Thomas Smith who rebelled so strongly in Hopewell that he became fugitive, died at his home on Swearing Creek. His widow, Rebecca, many years his junior, lived to see more wagon trains arrive, some with neighbors and kin from Hopewell, including the Baptist Stouts, Eatons and Merrells. She was there c1752 when a huge wagon train brought several hundred people, including most of the congregation of Scotch Plains Baptist Church from Essex County, New Jersey, and undoubtedly heard sermons in 1755 by that church's visiting minister, "Rev. (Benjamin) Miller-(who) spent several weeks at the Jersey Church for the colony was made up of many persons from his neighborhood.-"' [Rev. Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, II:106].
In 1755, a wagon train arrived with Quakers from Pennsylvania, followed in the 1760's by many Germans from Pennsylvania and west Maryland. As a widow, Rebecca (Anderson) Smith, lived with a married daughter, dying at age 86, August 13, 1785, and was buried at Eaton's Baptist Church. The first pioneers kept in touch with New Jersey, e.g., death in Rowan was entered in a Hopewell Bible, and they invited others from Hopewell and Back Creek to join them in the beautiful valley of the Yadkin, an invitation many accepted. Some who had not sued in the Fifty Mens' Compact lost their land, and came to rebuild their fortunes. At least 22 of the 50 families who lost both lawsuit and land in the infamous "Coxe Affair " eventually moved to Jersey Settlement.
Morgan Edwards, A.M., Fellow Rhode Island College 1770-1792, (His private publication, 1790). Rev. Edwards extant diaries edited by Eve B. Weeks & Mary B. Warren, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, (Heritage Papers, 1984).
Ralph Ege, Pioneers of Old Hopewell, (Hopewell Museum, 1908, rpt 1963).
Richard W. Hunter & Richard L. Porter, Hopewell. A Historical Geography, (N. J. Historical Commission, 1990).
Alice Blackwell Lewis, Hopewell Valley Heritage, (Hopewell Museum, 1973).
Ms. Ethel Stroupe, a native of Asheville, N.C., is a Certified Social Worker, retired from administration, living in Laguna Niguel, California. She did her first genealogy at Biltmore College as a Biology 101 assignment on genetics taught by her cousin, Professor William E. Merrill, then studied history at the U.'s of Rome, Florence, Ohio State, Pitt, and Cal. Berkeley. Her Jersey Settlement families are Childers, Davis, Fouts, Garren, Harper, Rent, Reed and Whitaker.
She gratefully acknowledges the help of Gloria Padach, especially for sharing documents from the New Jersey Archives and Hunterdon courthouse, and advises all who want to know more about Hopewell families buy the excellent books by Ralph Ege and Alice Blackwell Lewis which are crammed with family and historical information, and are available most reasonably by writing to Hopewell Museum, Beverly A. Weide, Curator, 28 East Broad Street, Hopewell, N.J. 08525.
First Light on the Jersey Settlement.-From a sketch of the Greene Family of Watauga, by the late Rev. G. W. Greene, Baptist missionary to China, we learn that "about the middle of the eighteenth century a colony moved from New Jersey and settled in Rowan County, North Carolina. This "Jersey Settlement" is now a part of Davidson County, and lies near the Yadkin River, opposite Salisbury . . . H. E. McCullough, of England, had secured grants to large tracts in North Carolina, tract No. 9 containing 12500 acres, including much of the land of the Jersey Settlement. Jeremiah Greene bought 541 acres of this tract. This land is described as lying "on the waters of Atkin or Pee Dee," on Pott's Creek. This creek passes near the village of Linwood, within a mile of the Jersey church, and empties into the Yadkin, not far away. This land was bought in 1762. Some years later, when this tract of land was divided between his two sons, Richard and Isaac, the new deeds were not registered, but the names of the new owners were written on the margin of the page where the old deed was registered. The Yadkin becomes the Pee Dee in South Carolina. In his "Rhymes of Southern Rivers" M. V. Moore says that Yadkin is not an Indian name, but a corruption of Atkin or Adkin. If Atkin's initials were P. D., then P. D. Atkin might very easily have become P. D. Yatkin, just as "don't you know" becomes "doncher know." Henry Eustace McCullough was doubtless the "H. E. McCullough, of England," referred to by Mr. Greene, was the agent of the province of North Carolina in December and was commended for good conduct (Col. Rec., Vol. IX, P. 206), and he surrendered land in Mecklenberg, claimed by John Campbell, Esq., of England, without authority as Campbell claimed, although there was a direction in the minutes of the council journals that the attorney-general directing McCulloh was to surrender it." (Id. P. 790.) It seems that land in large tracts had been granted to certain persons of influence on condition that they be settled within certain dates, for G. A. Selwyn, of England, appointed H. E. McCulloh to surrender any part of three tracts of 100000 acres each, which had been granted to him upon the above conditions. (Id. Vol. VI, pp. go6-7.) This was in November, 1763, only a year after Jeremiah Greene bought his 541 acres from H. E. McCullough. This would seem to account for the reference by Bishop Spangenberg to the 400 families from the North which had just arrived in 1752, and for the fact that most of the land east of Rowan County had been already taken up at that time. (Id. Vol. IV, p. 1312.)
Meager Facts Concerning-This settlement consisted of about ten square miles of the best wheat land in the South, and was located in Davidson County, near Linwood. It was composed of many people from New Jersey who had sent an agent there to locate and enter the best land still open to settlement. According to Rev. C. B. Williams in his "History of the Baptists in North Carolina" (p. 16), "The exact year in which the Jersey Settlement was made on the Yadkin is not known. It is probable that this settlement left New Jersey and arrived on the Yadkin between 1747 and 1755. Benjamin Miller preached there as early as 1755, and the facts indicate that there were already Baptists on the Yadkin when Benjamin Miller visited the settlement. The Philadelphia Association has in its records of 1755 the following reference: "Appointed that one minister from the Jerseys and one from Pennsylvania visit North Carolina." But Miller appears to have gone to the "Jersey Settlement still earlier than 1755 - - - (p.17). Another preacher who visited the Jersey Settlement was John Gano. He had been converted just before this time, and was directed by Benjamin Miller, pastor of Scotch Plains Church, New Jersey, to take the New Testament as his guide on baptism. He became a Baptist, and, learning of Carolina from Miller, decided to visit the Jersey Settlement on his way to South Carolina. This he seems to have done in 1756. During his stay at the settlement he tells us in his autobiography that "a Baptist Church was constituted and additions made to it." He left the colony early in the year 1759, and so the church must have been organized between 1756 and 1758. There is a tradition that while there Gano, married a Bryan or a Morgan, one of the antecedents of the Bryan family of Boone.
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS