Old is New: March 19, 2015

A new addition to the website this week is another installment of our “old is new series.” We recently scanned a copy of our spring 2005 newsletter, and posted it on our website. The principle article of that edition was a lengthy (epic is a good description) epistle by Charles …

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Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860 October 3, 2014 – March 29, 2015 Morven, New Jersey’s Cultural Museum, is hosting a landmark exhibition to be the first to focus on the important contribution of New Jersey in the creation of schoolgirl needlework in the eighteenth and …

Research Library

The Hiram E. Deats Memorial Library is the largest collection of Hunterdon County historical and genealogical material. It is open to the public at no charge. The collection consists of over 6,000 printed volumes, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, broadsides, photographs and records of local history gathered and preserved since the Hunterdon …

Doric House

The Doric House at 114 Main Street was built in the Greek Revival style in 1845 by Mahlon Fisher, a country carpenter of ability and taste, as his private residence. He also erected several other Flemington residences in the same style. The fine quality of design was probably Fisher’s own, …

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Old is New: March 27, 2015

March 27, 2015 Old is New Comments Off

Part II: Village Services
(CLICK here to read Part I: In the beginning)

My father was not only pleased with the farm, but also appreciated the number and proximity of services the village of Sergeantsville had to offer.

The one room schoolhouse that stood on the hill about a thousand yards from the farmhouse was in the process of becoming a two-room school. It would be the first in the township to separate grades 1-4 from 5-8. The converted school building was ready for the 1914 school year, Ebba’s first year of schooling. During the next several years Ebba, Boletta, Edla and I would complete our elementary education in this school with Miss Dora Hoppock and Mr. Vorhees Myers, its two teachers.

A blacksmith shop stood at the intersection of two main roads that marked the development of Sergeantsville as a town. Dory Green, the blacksmith, was a journeyman blacksmith. He could forge metal to make tools and repairs for farm machinery including wrought iron tires for wagon wheels. With horses being the main source of power, the blacksmith shop was a very essential service. James Harned was the farrier. Each of the satellite villages to Sergeantsville — Rosemont, Sand Brook, Stockton and Headquarters — also supported a blacksmith.

Sergeantsville had two general stores which were located at the crossroad. To a degree, they co-operated on the merchandise they carried. They both carried penny candy and canned and packaged foods. Only at Poll Sheppard’s store, however, could you buy salt or mackerel from a wooden pail of brine. At Jacob Stryker/Wilson you could have coffee beans ground and buy bolts of cloth for making a dress. Stryker/Wilson had a wide line of hardware that was more complete. It included nails, wire, chain, chicken wire and bales of barbed wire which were stored on the porch. Oddities such as buckshot traps and bamboo fishing poles could also be found at Stryker/Wilson. Around the pot belly stove in the store were chairs and benches where farmers, with their lanterns, spent the evenings discussing the events of the day and solving the country’s problems.

Fresh and processed meats could be purchased at a butcher shop. The store’s slaughter house stood at the southeast corner of our farm, with the lane to the slaughter house forming the eastern border of the farm. Sergeantsville was large enough to rate a post office which was located in the front corner of the Stryker/Wilson store. There was a space set aside for mail boxes and other postal functions.

The population of Sergeantsville was large enough to support three churches, the Bretheren, Methodist and Dunkard. Each of these churches maintained a clergyman and a parsonage. There were also churches in Rosemont, Stockton and Sandy Ridge. All of the churches had adjacent covered wagon sheds for the horses. The Methodist church had a cemetery. The cemeteries most frequently used, however, were in Sandy Ridge and Rosemont. They are in use to this day.

The Sergeantsville Hotel was still in operation when our family moved to town in 1913. It functioned as a rest stop for travelers, offering lodging and meals. Its horse sheds and livery stable provided for the needs of the travelers’ horses. The hotel was the meeting place for the township and all the business of the township took place within its walls.

Undoubtedly the presence of a creamery was an important factor in Christian and Maria’s decision to settle in Sergeantsville. The invention of the cream separator by Gustav DeLaval had given birth to the dairy industry and in 1881 the first creamery in Hunterdon County was opened in Sergeantsville. The second followed two years later in Locktown.

The grange provided a meeting hall over a store from which farmers bought seeds and fertilizer. The availability of two grist mills in Headquarters and Prallsville Mills was essential in providing animal feed. Because of the number and proximity of services in Sergeantsville, family trips to Flemington and Lambertville were infrequent.

There were also a few services that no longer required a full time journeyman. The shoemaker, the harness maker and the wheelwright were among them. Of note was the one-horse, eight-can milk wagon that was made in Sergeantsville’s wheelwright shop. There were the usual tradesmen such as carpenters and masons. Most could do any type of work the job required. Hiram Hippock began with a Sears Roebuck prefabricated house for himself and his brother-in-law Henry Hyde. Their houses stood directly across the road from our farmhouse. They were the first to be heated with a new innovation, the pipeless heater.

One critical service that would not be available for many years was a fire department. A barn that was struck by lightning would almost certainly burn to the ground. When an approaching thunderstorm threatened at night, all members of our family would get dressed and be ready with buckets of water should lightning start a fire. The effort was directed toward saving the animals and other valuables, acknowledging that the barn could not be saved.

The grange, the school and the churches became the social centers of the community. It was in them that Christian and Maria ceased to be “foreigners”. My father spoke fluent English and, although my mother understood English, she preferred to speak Swedish. And so an interesting pattern evolved whereby the children spoke to their mother in English and she responded in Swedish.

Next installment, part III, Land for Sale by Owner

Old is New: March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015 Old is New Comments Off

A new addition to the website this week is another installment of our “old is new series.” We recently scanned a copy of our spring 2005 newsletter, and posted it on our website. The principle article of that edition was a lengthy (epic is a good description) epistle by Charles Jurgensen about the passing of time and owners of a farm in Sergeantsville. It is long enough that we will have to post it in several different segments. It is interesting, especially for those who are looking for a descriptive way in which to tell a younger person what life was like on the farm.

Catalpa Farm —An Epic
By Charles Jurgensen

Story of a family, a farm, a country village and a catalpa tree each confronting life changes and the passing of time.

Part I: In the beginning:

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.48.37 AMBorn in 1878 in Denmark, Christian Jurgensen emigrated to the United States in 1893 at the age of nineteen. His future wife, Maria Stahlgren, was born in Sweden in 1872 and came to America alone in the 1890’s. They met in Goshen, New York where Christian had purchased a farm and Maria was working as a cook for a wealthy family who had a summer home in Goshen. They were married at the home of Maria’s friend Edla Anderson in Brooklyn, NY in 1906. Between the year of their marriage and 1914 their four children were bom. To Christian and Maria Jurgensen, Midland Farm in Goshen,
New York, where they had been living, was not a suitable farm or location to put down their young family’s roots. Its northern location meant a shorter growing season for the crops they wished to plant. In addition, the school was a distance from the farm and there was a racetrack nearby.

Christian’s brother, Emanuel alerted him to a farm in Sergeantsville, New Jersey that was for sale. Christian subsequently visited his brother and decided to buy the farm which he would later name Catalpa after a tree that stood at the farm entrance. It was located in Delaware Township adjacent to
Kingwood where Emanual had settled his family and blacksmith shop. The year was 1913.

All aspects of Catalpa were ideal, particularly location, size, fertility and above all, the proximity of the farm to supporting facilities and services. Catalpa Farm was a level tract of tillable land totaling approximately sixty acres. There were four acres of mature woodland which provided the wood necessary for cooking and heating. Most of the acreage was divided into five fields of approximately ten acres each. An internal lane separated the east and west fields. The five fields permitted the rotation of crops-corn, wheat and oats. One field was in grass which produced hay. Another was pasture for the milk cows. To protect the fertility of the soil my father felt that crop rotation was necessary.

Corn, the principal crop for animal feed, was stored in corn cribs. Hay was stored in the hay loft in the main bam. The grain crops were stored on the second floor of the granary and straw in a building attached to the barn.

During the winter months we restocked the wood house which stood directly behind the farmhouse. When not in use, the farm machinery was kept in a two-story shed which connected the barn to the granary. The farm buildings had been placed to form a farm yard and a barnyard.

Water for the house and animals was carried in buckets from a thirty-foot deep well that was lined with fieldstone. The well had been placed half way between the barn and the house. Pumping was done by all members of the family until a pipe was laid and a one horsepower gasoline engine was installed in the pump house. In dry seasons water had to be hauled from the creamery spring for watering the animals.

The farm animals numbered eleven milk cows, one bull, three pigs raised from shoats, one hundred Rhode Island Red chickens, a team of handsome Pershing horses, a stray dog named Prince and the usual number of cats for control of the mice and rat population.

Milk was brought to the creamery in forty quart milk cans. All members of the family milked the cows twice daily, before and after school. We drank unpasteurized milk that was kept cool and fresh in the pump house.

Vegetables were raised in a garden, canned in quart jars and stored in the basement. Potatoes were kept in burlap sacks, also stored in the basement. After slaughtering, hams were put in brine barrels in the basement of the house until ready for smoking.

The farmhouse was a two-story clapboard building that had been constructed in two stages. The first stage was believed to have been build in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s and the second stage in the mid 1800’s. The style was typical for rural America. The two bedrooms which were located over the living
room were accessed by a closed staircase. A walk-in fireplace serviced both the living room and the lean-to kitchen that had been built on the east side of the house. No heat was available to the second floor bedrooms except that from a grill in the ceiling of the living room.

About 1850 the second section was built. It duplicated the first section with two bedrooms located over the living room. The second floor was accessed by the closed stairway in the original section of the house. The lean-to kitchen was located on the back of the house this time. The basement was of fieldstone. This arrangement had allowed for joint occupancy of the farmhouse over many years.

After a chimney fire damaged the original part of the large house, my father removed four feet of the living room’s east wall. He found the wall of the living room was insulated with a mix of wet clay and straw. This helped verify that the construction of the original part of the house dated back to the turn of the century or earlier. A new kitchen was constructed on the back of the house and a new fireplace was built on the addition to supply heat. The front porch was extended and new porches were added to the east and south sides of the house. The new construction resulted in a comfortable home for Christian and Maria and their four children.

Next installment, Part II: Village Services

Marfy This Month: March 2015

March 16, 2015 Marfy This Month Comments Off
Sketch of the Sergeantsville Inn, published in Colonial Homes Magazine, August 1987

Sketch of the Sergeantsville Inn, published in Colonial Homes Magazine, August 1987

I am sure all of you are aware of the terrible fire that destroyed the Sergeantsville Inn, a place that has long been dear to our hearts. In recognition of this sad event, I am publishing a partial history of the Inn up to the early 1900s. I admit it has been a rush job, and am fearful that I may be coming back to make corrections. It has certainly been a challenge, but part of my impetus was the need to correct the bizarre claims repeatedly published in blaring headlines. 300-year-old landmark! Geo. Washington slept there!

The history of the Inn doesn’t need any of this “my house is older than yours” business or any association with Gen. Washington to make it interesting. I hope you will agree with me when you read The Sergeantsville Inn.

Unidentified Hunterdon County farm

Unidentified Hunterdon County farm



This Week’s Query: Earlier this week I published a Query from Lora Olsen. She has a photograph of a farmstead that might have been located on the old Trout farm in Raritan Township. But I do not know the answer. Perhaps one of you do?

March 6, Locktown Got Its Name As Result of Church Quarrel by Egbert T. Bush

Inventory Posted for Larison’s Corner Church Papers

March 12, 2015 Archives, Collections Comments Off

Collection No. 41, Papers of the Larison’s Corner Church – has been posted! That’s 41 of our earlier collections now with inventories posted to the web. We are closing the gap to getting inventories/finding aids up for all of our manuscript collections.

While scanning, it occurred to me that this collection is a particularly robust source of information about the Church and its members. Contents of the collection include:

  • historical papers from the Church’s construction, 1749-1753 (some written in German!),
  • tons of financial and trustees information from the 19th century,
  • some baptismal and marriage records,
  • Trustee minutes from from 1818-1973,
  • Session minutes from 1863-1977,
  • and Church registers from 1868-1934.

That is a lot of historical material, and worth noting, I think, as we now have made the collection inventory available right HERE!

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