Azariah Horton
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. I., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899

Rev. Azariah HORTON, the first American missionary and the first pastor of the Presbyterian church of Madison, formerly Bottle Hill, was a native of Southold, Long Island, graduated at Yale College, New Haven in the year 1735, and was licensed to preach and ordained as a missionary among the Indians by the presbytery of New York in 1741. He had been called to this service by a number of clergymen of New York and vicinity; among them being Rev. Ebenezer PEMBERTON, of New York, Rev. Aaron BURR, of Newark. And Rev. Jonathan EDWARDS, of Northampton, Massachusetts, who were organized as a commission representing the "Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge" and who proceeded to select two men who should devote themselves to this work. The first chosen was Mr. HORTON and the second David BRAINERD.

From the tenth volume of the works of President EDWARDS, Editor's Advertisement, Brown's History of Missions, vol. 2, pp. 480, 481, and Gillies' Historical Collections, vol. 1. P. 448, we learn that Mr. Horton was directed in August, 1741, to Long Island, "at the east of which there are two small towns of Indians; and from the east to west end of the island lesser companies settled at a few miles distance from one another for the space of more than a hundred miles". Among these Indians he labored successfully for a number of years. His home at that time was in Shinnecock, about two, miles west of Southampton, Long Island, in which last place he married a young woman residing there of the name of Eunice Foster. In addition to his labors on Long Island he preached among the Indians at Wyoming and the forks of the Delaware, where he did much to prepare the way for Rev. David BRAINERD, who had just been set apart to this work. He continued his work as a missionary until the year 1751, when he became the pastor of the Presbyterian church of South Hanover, located at Bottle Hill, now Madison, New Jersey.

The following extract from a letter from Rev. Jonathan EDWARDS to the rev. John ERSKINE in Scotland, explains the reason of his retirement from the missionary field. Mr. EDWARDS says: "With respect to the proceedings of the correspondents, they had dismissed Mr. HORTON from his mission of Long Island, and he is about to settle in a congregation in New Jersey. He was dismissed by reason of his very much failing of employment, many of the class of Indians to whom he used to preach having dwindled away, by death or dispersion, and there being but little prospect of success among others that remain, and some being so situated that they may conveniently be taken care of by other minister."

The "Congregation in New Jersey," referred to above, was the village of Bottle Hill, now known as Madison. To this place he came as a candidate for settlement in 1751, and during the latter part of that year he was regularly installed as the pastor of the church.

His salary was only seventy pounds per annum, and in order to help in the support of the large family, Mrs. HORTON erected a small store on the corner of the roads now known as Kings road and Green Village road, and managed it with such thrift and success as not only to provide for the education of her children, but also to lay aside a sum sufficent for the purchase of a small farm. She appears to have been a very well educated and energetic lady, and in every respect a worthy helpmeet(sic) of the excellent pioneer pastor.

After laboring in Bottle Hill most faithfully and successfully for over twenty-five years, Mr. HORTON resigned the pastorate, in October, 1776, and went to live with his son Foster HORTON, in the neighboring village of Chatham. He was there residing when about three months later the Revolutionary army under General WASHINGTON, immediately after the victories of Trenton and Princeton, came into winter quarters in Bottle Hill. Within a few weeks the smallpox began to prevail among troops and citizens. Mr. HORTON looked with a compassionate eye upon his flock, as yet without a shepherd, as well the patriotic soldier's who were falling victims to the scourge. With the devotion of a true minister and patriot he threw himself again into the work of pastor, ministering to the dying and performing the last sad offices over the dead, thus exposing himself to the contagion, to which he fell a victim. He was seized with the disease and died March 27, 1777. The event excited the most painful regrets in the minds of all classes of the community, and by all it was regarded as that of a venerable father. He was buried in the cemetery, just back of the old pulpit where he had so long preached. Over his grave was erected a horizontal slab of freestone, resting upon six uprights of the same material, the tomb being of a costly description, quite unusual at that time and indicating a degree of thought and interest among his people and perhaps among the officers of the army which called for the erection of so massive and beautiful a memorial. It may still be seen upon the summit of the cemetery hill in the borough of Madison, and upon it may be traced the following inscription: "In memory of the Rev. Azariah HORTON, for twenty-five years pastor of this church died March 27, 1777, aged sixty-two years".

About a year and a half after Mr. HORTON'S death, his wife, Mrs. Eunice Horton, also died, at the residence of her son, Foster, in Chatham, and she was buried by the side of the remains of her husband. Her name also was inscribed upon the slab, her age being fifty-six years.

Of Mr. HORTON's sons, Jonathan was a physician and Caleb was killed while serving his country as a soldier in the Revolutionary army. Foster kept a store in Chatham and accumulated a considerable property, a part of which at his death he bequeathed to the general assembly of the Presbyterian church. Azariah, the third son, graduated at the College of New Jersey, and subsequently kept a store in Bottle Hill. Four daughters also survived him. Hannah married Lewis WOODRUFF, of Elizabethtown, and on his death she married Captain PHINNEY and died July 24, 1844, eighty-seven years old, leaving most of her property to the First Presbyterian church in Elizabeth. Mrs. PHINNEY was highly esteemed as a Christian by her old pastor, Rev. John McDOWELL, D.D., as well as his successor, Rev. Nicholas MURRAY, D.D. As a testimony of their regard for her as a liberal donor to the church, the trustees, when they enlarged the church edifice, placed in the exterior of the north wall of the building a marble slab with the following inscription: "In memory of Hannah Phinney, late widow of Capt. Lewis Woodruff, and daughter of Rev. Azariah Horton, who died July 24, 1844, aged eighty-seven years. She was a liberal donor of and to the church, and one of its most zealous members for nearly sixty years. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

Mary married Jacob MORRELL, a resident of Chatham, living next door to Foster HORTON. She died at the age of thirty-three years, about three years after her father's decease, and her name may also be found on his monument. The MORRELL homestead just across the street from the Presbyterian church, remains in a good state of preservation. Here General Washington was frequently entertained. The Rev. Theodore L. CUYLER, D.D., of Brooklyn, New York, is a great-grandson of Mr. and Mrs. MORRELL, also General James H. BAKER, of Minnesota, and Rev. Clarence HILLS, of Indiana; and Rev. H. C. WEAKLEY, D.D., of the Methodist Episcopal church, Cincinnati, Ohio, is their great-great-grandson. Charlotte, the third daughter, it is believed, died unmarried, and the fourth, Eunice, married a Mr. TUTTLE, of Hanover Neck, or Whippany.

[The above sketch was furnished by William Parkahurst Tuttle]

Transcribed by Ida King


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