History of Morris County, New Jersey with Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers, 1739-1882; New York: W.W. Munsell & CO., 1882.
THE PRELUDE TO THE REVOLUTION--PATRIOT LEADERS OF MORRIS COUNTY.
IN quick apprehension of and sturdy resistance to the tyrannical measures of the home government which produced the Revolution, the people of New Jersey were in no way behind the other colonists. Though not so immediately injured by all the measures taken by the British ministry to repress their uneasy subjects, they were not slow to perceive that the cause was a common one, and that their only hope of success was in united resistance. The Legislature of 1772 consisted of a House of Assembly, elected by and sympathizing with the people, and a Privy Council, whose members owed their appointment to Governor FRANKLIN, whose tastes were aristocratic and their sympathies altogether with the king. In this Assembly Jacob FORD and William WINDS represented Morris county. While the governor and Council could prevent the passage of a law in aid of the popular movement and the appointing of delegates to a General Congress who could be said to be appointed by the Legislature of the State, the action of the Assembly alone was regarded by the people as their action and its recommendations were observed as laws. February 8th 1774 the Assembly appointed nine of its members a standing committee of correspondence, and requested them to place the resolutions appointing them before the assemblies of the other colonies.
On the 11th day of June 1774 a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of Essex county was held at Newark, and resolutions were adopted calling upon the other counties to hold similar meetings and to appoint committees who should meet in a State convention to appoint delegates to a General Congress of deputies to be sent from each of the colonies, to form a general plan of union, and pledging their support and adherence to such plan when adopted. This call met a ready response from the other counties. The minds of all the citizens of the province seemed to have been prepared for the step, and their thoughts only required this example to take form.
In accordance with this movement "a respectable body of freeholders and inhabitants" of the county of Morris met at the court-house in Morristown on Monday June 27th 1774. Jacob FORD acted as chairman and the following resolutions were adopted:
"1st.--That George the Third is lawful and rightful king of Great Britain and all other his dominions and countries; and that as part of his dominions it is our duty not only to render unto him true faith and obedience, but also with our lives and fortunes to support and maintain the just dependence of these his colonies upon the crown of Great Britain.
"2nd.--That it is our wish and desire, and we esteem it our greatest happiness and security, to be governed by the laws of Great Britain, and that we will always cheerfully submit to them as far as can be done consistently with the constitutional liberties and privileges of freeborn Englishmen.
"3d.--That the late acts of Parliament for imposing taxes for the purpose of raising a revenue in America are oppressive and arbitrary, calculated to disturb the minds and alienate the affections of the colonists from the mother country, are replete with ruin to both; and consequently that the authors and promoters of said acts, or of such doctrines of the right of taxing America being in the Parliament of Great Britain, are and should be deemed enemies to our king and happy constitution.
"4th.--That it is the opinion of this meeting that the act of Parliament for shutting up the port of Boston is unconstitutional, injurious in its principles to the general cause of American freedom, particularly oppressive to the inhabitants of that town, and that therefore the people of Boston are considered by us as suffering in the general cause of America.
"5th.--That unanimity and firmness in the colonies are the most effectual means to relieve our suffering brethren at Boston, to avert the dangers justly to be apprehended from that alarming act commonly styled the Boston Port Bill, and to secure the invaded rights and privileges of America.
"6th.--That it is our opinion that an agreement between the colonies not to purchase or use any articles imported from Great Britain or from the East Indies, under such restrictions as may be agreed upon by the General Congress hereafter to be appointed by the colonies, would be of service in procuring a repeal of those acts.
"7th.--That we will most cheerfully join our brethren of the other counties in this province in promoting an union of the colonies by forming a General Congress of deputies to be sent from each of the colonies; and do now declare ourselves ready to send a committee to meet with those from the other counties at such time and place as by them may be agreed upon, in order to elect proper persons to represent this province in the said Congress.
"8th.--That it is the request of this meeting that the county committees, when met for the purposes aforesaid, do take into their serious consideration the propriety of setting on foot a subscription for the benefit of the sufferers at Boston under the Boston Port Bill above mentioned, and the money arising from such subscriptions to be laid out as the committees so met shall think will best answer the ends proposed.
"9th.--That we will faithfully adhere to such regulations and restrictions as shall by the members of said Congress be agreed upon and judged most expedient for avoiding the calamities and procuring the benefits intended in the foregoing resolves.
"10th.--It is our request that the committee hereafter named do correspond and consult with such other committees as shall be appointed by the other counties in this province, and particularly that they meet with the said county committee in order to elect and appoint deputies to represent this province in a General Congress.
"11th.--We do hereby desire the following gentlemen to accept of that important trust, and accordingly do appoint them our committee for the purposes aforesaid: Jacob FORD, William WINDS, Abraham OGDEN, William De HART, Samuel TUTHILL, Jonathan STILES, John CARLE, Philip V. CORTLAND and Samuel OGDEN, Esquires."
The committee appointed at this meeting was selected from all parts of the county, and its members were leading men in the community.
Jacob FORD was the son of John FORD, of Woodbridge, N. J., and was born at the latter place in 1704. He was one of the pioneers in the iron business of New Jersey, and from the year 1738, when we find him applying to keep an inn in "New Hanover," until his death, which occurred January 19th 1777, his name is frequently met in the public records and his influence was widely felt. He was no doubt the leading man in Morristown, keeping a store from which not only the community about him but his many employees in his different forges drew supplies. The first court, of which he was a member, met at his house, and "Washington's Headquarters" was built by him, probably in 1774, though his son Colonel Jacob FORD jr. resided there at the time of his death When made a delegate to the Provincial Congress he was an old man, and his son and namesake was succeeding him in his business and in his place in public regard.
Unfortunately the son died a few days before his father.
General William WINDS was in many respects a remarkable man. He was born in Southold, Long Island, in the year 1727 or 1728. Early in life he removed to New Jersey and settled near Dover, on the farm which he afterward willed to the Rockaway church, to which he was much attached. The car shops of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad are built upon a part of this farm, and not far from where the mansion house stood. He was a man of great physical powers, tremendous voice, strong will and indomitable courage. Very impulsive, he was calculated to be a leader and foremost in every popular movement. He is said to have borne a commission in the French war in a New Jersey company. As colonel of the 1st regiment 1st establishment in the continental army, and as brigadier general of militia, he acquitted himself with honor, and the name of no other of our Revolutionary heroes has been so much honored as his by both his own and succeeding generations. A very interesting sketch of his life was read be fore the New Jersey Historical Society by Dr. TUTTLE in 1853, and published in its proceedings, to which we must refer for a more detailed account of this ardent patriot. General WINDS died October 12th 1789, and is buried in the Rockaway cemetery, where his monument may be seen.
Abraham OGDEN and Samuel OGDEN were brothers, and sons of Judge David OGDEN, of Newark, who graduated at Yale in 1728 and became one of the judges of the supreme court of this State. When the war broke out he espoused the side of the king and became a distinguished loyalist. One son, Isaac, sided with his father, and his interest in the old Boonton property was accordingly confiscated and sold to his brother by the commissioners. Abraham and Samuel were active and ardent patriots. The former was a distinguished lawyer, and said to have had no equal before a jury. He was appointed surrogate for Morris in 1768. After the war he returned to Newark, was United States district attorney in Washington's administration, was a member of the Legislature in 1790, and died suddenly in 1798, upward of sixty years of age. Samuel OGDEN married a sister of Governor MORRIS, and lived at Old Boonton, where he was largely engaged in the iron business. He commanded a company of militia in the war. In 1805 he is described in a deed as being of Newark. He was the father of David B. OGDEN, eminent at the bar, both in New Jersey and New York.
William De HART was a lawyer residing in Morristown, and one of its streets was afterward named after him. He was a son of Dr. Matthias De HART, and had two brothers killed in the war. His name occurs frequently in the records of the court. He was licensed as attorney November 1st 1767, and as counselor May 30th 1771. He was a major in the first battalion, first and second establishments; afterward lieutenant-colonel of the second regiment continental army. He was born December 7th 1746, and died June 16th 1801.
Samuel TUTHILL was a prominent citizen of Morristown, a son-in-law of Jacob FORD sen., and after the war clerk of the county and judge of the county court. He lived on South street, at the corner of Pine, where James Wood afterward lived.
Jonathan STILES was one of the county judges and had been sheriff of the county. He also lived in Morristown. Jonathan STILES, named as a township officer in 1726, probably father of the delegate, died in Morristown November 15th 1758, aged 80 years.
John CARLE was one of the county judges, and resided in the southern part of the county. He was an elder in the Basking Ridge church and a man much respected.
Philip VAN CORTLAND was probably from the neighborhood of Pompton, and his name appears as colonel of the 2nd regiment of Essex county, and in 1776 as colonel of a battalion in Heard's brigade. There was a man of the same name--a delegate to the Provincial Congress of New York--who entered the military service of the king, and who in 1782 was major of the 3d battalion N.J. (loyal) volunteers. At the peace he went to Nova Scotia.
The committees of the several counties met at New Brunswick July 21st, and appointed five of their members delegates to the General Congress, which met in Philadelphia September 5th. This General Congress, after adopting various resolutions, and after a general interchange of views, resolved that another General Congress should be held on the 10th of May following, to which all the colonies were requested to send delegates. Delegates for this convention were chosen by the Assembly of New Jersey for the province, that body being urged to take the responsibility of that action by the people of the several counties.
The committee of correspondence, appointed in June 1774, after the adjournment of the General Congress in Philadelphia called a meeting of the citizens at Morristown to endorse its action. The proceedings of this meeting, breathing the same spirit of resistance and exhibiting an appreciation on the part of the committee that their appointment was "by the people and for the people," were as follows:
"At a meeting of the freeholders of the county of Morris, at Morristown, on Monday the 9th day of January 1775, William WINDS, Esq., chairman, the committee of correspondence for the county of Morris having produced and read the association of the Continental Congress, the same was deliberately considered by the whole assembly and by them unanimously approved as a wise, prudent and constitutional mode of opposition to the late several tyrannical and oppressive acts of the British Parliament. Whereupon they unanimously determined strictly to abide by the same, and thanks to the delegates of this colony for their great attention to the rights and liberties of their constituents, and for the faithful discharge of the important trust reposed in them.
"The assembly then unanimously agreed that the inhabitants of each several township in the county should meet, at their respective places of holding town meetings, on Monday the 23d day of January instant, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, then and there respectively to choose (by those who are qualified to vote for representatives in the Legislature) a committee of observation, pursuant to and for the purposes expressed in the eleventh article of the said association. After which the committee of correspondence declared to the assembly that they had thought proper to dissolve themselves, in order that their constituents might have an opportunity of a new choice, and that they were dissolved accordingly. Whereupon Jacob FORD, William WINDS and Jonathan STILES, Esquires, Messrs. Jacob DRAKE, Peter DICKERSON and Ellis COOK, together with Samuel TUTHILL, Dr. William HART and Abraham OGDEN, Esquires, were elected; and at the same time authorized to instruct the representatives of this county when convened in General Assembly to join in the appointment of delegates for this colony to meet in General Congress at Philadelphia; but if the said assembly should not appoint delegates for that purpose by the first day of April next, then the said committee of correspondence to meet with the several county committees of this colony and appoint the said delegates, at such time and place as shall be agreed upon by the said committees.
"The assembly afterwards, taking into consideration the conduct of James RIVINGTON, printer in New York, in publishing two certain pamphlets--the one entitled `A Friendly Address,' &c., &c., the other under the signature of `A. W. Farmer,' and several others--all containing many falsehoods, wickedly calculated to divide the colonies, to deceive the ignorant, and to cause a base submission to the unconstitutional measures of the British Parliament for enslaving the colonies, do unanimously resolve that they esteem the said James RIVINGTON an enemy to his country; and therefore that they will for the future refrain from taking his newspapers, and from all further commerce with him; and that by all lawful means in their power they will discourage the circulation of his papers in this county."
John CARLE and Philip VAN CORTLAND were left off the new committee for some reason, and Jacob DRAKE and Peter DICKERSON appointed in their places.
Colonel Jacob DRAKE was one of the earliest settlers at Drakesville, where he located a large tract of land, on which he resided the remainder of his life, selling off portions as the county became more thickly settled. He was born in 1730 and was of a Virginia family. At the breaking out of the war he took at once a leading part. He is described as of handsome physique, quick and active in his movements and of very popular manners. He was colonel of the "western battalion" of Morris militia, and resigned his commission to represent the county in the first State Legislature. He died at Drakesville, September 1823, aged 93 years. Colonel DRAKE's second wife was Esther DICKERSON, daughter of Captain Peter DICKERSON, of the continental army, and his associate on the committee. By her he had six children--Clarissa, wife of Dr. Ebenezer WOODRUFF; Jacob DRAKE jr., of Drakesville; Silas DRAKE, who removed to the west; Hon. George K. DRAKE, judge of the supreme court of New Jersey; Peter DRAKE, and Eliza, wife of Dr. Absalom WOODRUFF.
Peter DICKERSON, son of Thomas DICKERSON, was born at Southold, Long Island, in 1724, and came to New Jersey about 1741 and settled in Morris county. He was an ardent patriot and his house in Morristown was from the beginning of the difficulties with Great Britain a gathering place of those of kindred mind. He was a member of the Provincial Congress of 1776, and was captain of the 5th company of the 3d battalion first establishment continental army, and of the 1st company 3d battalion second establishment, his men re-enlisting in a body. It is said that he paid all the expense of the equipment of this company out of his own pocket, and that the money he so advanced stands to his credit today in Washington, unpaid. He died May 10th 1780, in the 56th year of his age, and is buried in the First Church burying ground in Morristown. By his first wife, Ruth COE, he had eight children, one of whom--Jonathan--was the father of Governor Mahlon DICKERSON, and another--Esther--married first George KING, of Morristown, and afterward Colonel Jacob DRAKE.
Who were chosen members of the several township committees on January 23d cannot now be ascertained. It is only known that each township did elect such a committee. Matthias BURNET, Aaron KITCHEL, David BRUEN, Captain Stephen DAY, Stephen MUNSON, Benjamin HOWELL and Captain James KEEN were on the committee for Hanover. The committee for Pequannock township was composed of Robert GASTON, Moses TUTTLE, Stephen JACKSON, Abraham KITCHEL and Job ALLEN. David THOMPSON was chairman of the Mendham committee. Each member of these committees exerted himself to obtain signatures to a form of association which pledged the signers to sustain the Provincial and Continental Congresses, and none others were allowed to vote for delegates to the Congress of the province. The paper of Captain Stephen JACKSON, with 172 signers, has been preserved and is printed in the "Revolutionary Fragments" of Dr. TUTTLE. While the committee for Hanover township is called a committee of safety and was in existence in February 1775, the form of the articles of association to which it was to obtain signatures was adopted by the Provincial Congress at its meeting on May 31st.
This Provincial Congress, which met at Trenton May 23d 1775, and continued its session through June and August, met in response to a call made by a committee of correspondence, and, assuming the powers of government, supplanted the former Legislature. The members of the Assembly were many of them members of this Congress, and the meetings of one body were held during the adjournments of the other. The delegates from Morris county were appointed at a meeting of the inhabitants held May 1st. The proceedings of this meeting and of the meeting of the delegates the next day show the progress that had been made in the work of revolution. They are as follows:
"Pursuant to an appointment of a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the county of Morris, agreeable to notice given by the former committee of correspondence, the said freeholders and inhabitants did meet accordingly on Monday the first day of May anno Domini 1775--Jacob FORD, Esq., chairman; William De HART, Esq., clerk--and came into the following votes and resolutions, to wit:
"That delegates be chosen to represent the county of Morris, and that the said delegates be vested with the power of legislation, and that they raise men, money and arms for the common defense and point out the mode, method and means of raising, appointing and paying the said men and officers, subject to the control and direction of the Provincial and Continental Congress; and that afterward they meet in Provincial Congress with such counties as shall send to the same jointly with them to levy taxes on the province, with full power of legislative authority, if they think proper to exercise the same, for the said province; and the said Provincial Congress be subject to the control of the grand Continental Congress.
"And they proceeded to elect the following persons to be their delegates as aforesaid, to wit: William WINDS, Esq., William De HART, Esq., Silas CONDICT, Peter DICKERSON, Jacob DRAKE, Ellis COOK, Jonathan STILES, Esq., David THOMPSON, Esq., Abraham KITCHEL.
"And pursuant to the above appointment the said delegates met at the house of Captain Peter DICKERSON at Morristown, in the county of Morris, on the first day of May 1775. Present: William WINDS, Esq., Silas CONDICT, Peter DICKERSON, Jacob DRAKE, Ellis COOK, Jonathan STILES, Esq., David THOMPSON, Esq., Abraham KITCHEL. William WINDS, Esq., was unanimously chosen chairman. Archibald DALLAS was appointed clerk.
"Voted, unanimously, that any five of the delegates when met be a body of the whole, and do make a board, and that a majority of them so met should make a vote.
"Voted, unanimously, that forces should be raised.
"Then the delegates adjourned till to-morrow at 9 o'clock in the forenoon, to meet at the house of Captain Peter DICKERSON, aforesaid."
Having met pursuant to the adjournment the delegates voted that three hundred volunteers be recruited, to be equally divided into five companies, each to have a captain and two lieutenants except the first two companies, which were to be commanded by two field officers. William WINDS was designated as colonel; William De HART, major; Samuel BALL, Joseph MORRIS and Daniel BUDD, captains; John HUNTINGTON, "captain-lieutenant" in the colonel's company, and Silas HOWELL ditto in the major's company. The captains were to appoint their lieutenants.
It was ordered that the captains should discipline their men at the rate of one day every week till further orders, the times and places to be appointed by the captains. It was voted "that the said officers and men shall be paid as follows, viz.: Captains, seven shillings proclamation money per day; first lieutenants, six shillings per day; second lieutenants, five shillings per day; sergeants, three shillings and six pence per day; private men, three shillings per day and found with provisions, arms and ammunition; and when only in discipline at home, the same wages and to find themselves; and their wages to be paid every two months."
It was ordered that five hundred pounds of powder and a ton of lead be purchased and kept in a magazine, for the use of the new regiment, and William De HART was appointed to make the purchase.
It was voted "that the votes and resolves of this meeting shall be subject to the control of the Provincial and Continental Congresses, to take place after due notice being given to us by either of the said Congresses of their disapprobation of all or any of our proceedings; and the delegates, taking into consideration the unhappy circumstances of this country, do recommend to the inhabitants of this county capable of bearing arms to provide themselves with arms and ammunition, to defend their country in case of any invasion.
"Adjourned till the ninth day of this month, at 9 o'clock in the forenoon, to meet at the house of Captain Peter DICKERSON, in Morristown."
This resolution to raise three companies was anticipating the first action of the Provincial Congress in regard to militia. On the 3d of June 1775 an act providing a plan for regulating the militia of the colony was passed, directing that where companies and regiments were already formed and officers chosen and appointed the same were to be continued. The muster roll signed by recruits contained only the promise "to obey our officers in such service as they shall appoint us, agreeable to the rules and orders of the Provincial Congress." Morris county was to have two regiments and one battalion.
Silas CONDICT, of Morristown, Ellis COOK, of Hanover, David THOMPSON, of Mendham, and Abraham KITCHEL, of Pequannock, who were the new members of the Morris county delegation, were men in every way worthy of the honor conferred upon them.
Silas CONDICT was the son of Peter CONDICT, who came from Newark to Morristown about 1730 and lived first on the Doughty place, on Kimball avenue, and afterward in a house near the David MILLS place. His son Silas was born March 7th 1738, and married first Phebe DAY, and afterward Abigail BYRAM. He was a man of good education and fine ability, an active member and trustee in the Presbyterian church, and an ardent patriot. He was one of the committee of the Provincial Congress to draft the first constitution of the State, and was the representative of the county in the State council. He was a member of the council of safety in 1777-8, and in 1783 represented the State in the Continental Congress. He was twice appointed one of the judges of the county, and was eight times elected to the House of Assembly, of which body he was four times the speaker. He died September 18th 1801, leaving but one descendant, a granddaughter, afterward the wife of Colonel Joseph CUTLER, and the mother of Hon. Augustus W. CUTLER. His nephew, Dr. Lewis CONDICT, son of Peter CONDICT jr., was a member of Congress from this State, and speaker of the House.
Ellis COOK was a very prominent public man and maintained the respect and confidence of a large constituency for many years. He was a member of the Council for three years, and of the House of Assembly for fourteen years.
David THOMPSON was a devout elder in the Mendham Presbyterian church, and noted for his eloquence in prayer and faith in the ultimate success of the patriots. He said in one of the darkest hours of the struggle: "We can look to Jehovah when all other refuges fail;" and his wife declared to the numerous soldiers she entertained without charge that "nothing was too good for the use of those who fight for our country." Thompson commanded a company of militia in the war.
Abraham KITCHEL was a son of Joseph KITCHEL, of Hanover, and a brother of Hon. Aaron KITCHEL, the member of Congress and United States senator. He was born August 26th 1736, and in 1768 was one of the supporters of the Rockaway church, to which he continued to belong until his death. He lived at first on the "back road" from Rockaway to Hibernia, in a log house near the stone house occupied after his death by his son James. He was a man of better education than was common among men of his day, of strong good sense, and of firmness amounting to obstinacy. He had great independence of character and more than ordinary physical strength. He built the Mansion House at White Meadow, and occupied it until 1799, when he sold it and the lands about it to Bernard SMITH. He died at Parsippany, January 11th 1807.
Of the military officers chosen, Colonel WINDS, Major De HART and Captains MORRIS and HOWELL soon found their way into the "regular army" of that day, and were officers in the 1st battalion 1st establishment of the continental army--"Jersey Line." Joseph MORRIS was made captain of the first company in this 1st establishment, November 8th 1775, and captain of the first company in the 1st battalion 2nd establishment November 29th 1776. He was promoted to be major, and severely wounded at the battle of Germantown, October 4th 1777, and died from his wounds, January 7th 1778.
Captain Silas HOWELL was captain of the 2nd company 1st battalion 1st establishment, November 14th 1775; captain of the 2nd company 1st battalion 2nd establishment, November 29th 1776, and retired September 26th 1780.
John HUNTINGTON was one of the organizers of the Rockaway church in 1758, and an elder in it for many years. His beautiful handwriting and fair composition in the church records show him to have been a man of considerable education. He lived near Shongum, and left at his death considerable estate. He was quartermaster in General WINDS's militia brigade.
Archibald DALLAS, the clerk of the meeting, was commissioned second lieutenant in Meeker's company 1st battalion 1st establishment, December 9th 1775, and in Captain HOWELL's company 1st battalion 2nd establishment November 29th 1776; captain in the 4th battalion 2nd establishment, and also in Colonel SPENCER's regiment, and was killed in action January 28th 1779.
This first Provincial Congress on August 12th directed an election in the several counties, to be held on Thursday the 21st day of September, for delegates to attend the Provincial Congress to meet at Trenton October 3d 1775. The delegates to the latter from Morris county were William WINDS, William De HART, Jacob DRAKE, Silas CONDICT and Ellis COOK. It was the last Provincial Congress, and continued its sessions, with adjournments, to August 21st 1776, when it adjourned without day, July 2nd 1776, two days before the declaration of independence, it adopted the first constitution of this State, under which the first State Legislature was elected, and which continued in force until supplanted by the constitution of 1834. On the committee to draft this constitution was Silas CONDICT.
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