Chapter 07
Morris Co. Up

History of Morris County, New Jersey, 1739-1882, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers; New York, W.W. Munsell & Co., 1882; Pages 39-48


THE history of the iron industry of Morris county reaches back almost to its first settlement. We have no positive knowledge of any actual settlement in the county until about 1700. Yet in 1714 the tract embracing the Dickerson mine was taken up on account of its minerals, from the proprietors of West Jersey, by John READING, who in 1716 sold it to Joseph KIRKBRIDE; and it is a matter of tradition that previous to that time the ore was manufactured into iron by the owners of forges, who were allowed to help themselves without charge. The presence of the ore was known to the Indians yet earlier than this; and their name for the locality "Suckasuna" (or, as some have it, "Sock-Soona"), meaning "black stone" or "heavy stone," has been given to the plains which extend to the westward of the hills wherein the mine is situated. Arrow-heads and utensils of various kinds made of iron by the Indians have been picked up in the neighborhood.

It is altogether probable that the presence of ore in great abundance, the forests which covered the whole land, ready for the collier, and the abundant waterfalls of the many rivers and brooks which traversed the mountainous region were the chief inducements which led the first settlers into its wildernesses. It is a circumstance which has not failed to impress itself upon those familiar with the records of the proprietors of East Jersey that among the first lands to be taken up or purchased, especially in the northern part of the county, were the lots containing waterfalls, and where veins of ore cropped out on the surface, afterward pieces of natural meadow, and last of all the surrounding hills.

In the "brief account of the province of East Jersey, in America, published by the present proprietors" in 1682, it is said: "What sort of mines or minerals are in the bowels of the earth after-time must produce, the inhabitants not having yet employed themselves in search thereof; but there is already a smelting furnace and forge set up in this colony, where is made good iron, which is of great benefit to the country." This furnace and forge were probably the iron works at Tinton Falls, in Monmouth county, and the quotation shows that the minerals of Morris county had not yet been discovered. Of the seven "considerable towns" mentioned as being in East Jersey none are west of Orange Mountain, and the whole region was no doubt an unbroken wilderness.

The first forge within the present bounds of Morris of which we have any knowledge was erected at Whippany, on what was then called, by its Indian name, the Whippanong River, just above the bridge which crosses the stream nearly in front of the church. Tradition fixes as early a date as 1710 for its erection. Mr. GREEN in his history of the Hanover church speaks of the old building in the Whippany graveyard as "about 100 rods below the forge which is and has long been known by the name of the Old Iron Works." It was no doubt a very small and rude affair, where good iron was made free from the ore by smelting it with charcoal, and without any of the economical appliances even of the bloomaries of a hundred years later. The ore was brought to it from the Succasunna mine in leather bags on horseback, and the iron was carried to market at tide water in bars bent to fit a horse's back--the only method of transportation. A single horse, it is said, would carry from four to five hundred pounds fifteen miles in a day. Not a vestige of this forge now remains, and its builder is unknown. The conjecture is that John FORD and Judge BUDD built it. An aged Presbyterian clergyman, Rev. Isaac TODD, of Ocean county, who is still living, and is a descendant of Colonel Jacob FORD sen., says the ancestor of the Morris county Fords was John FORD, of Woodbridge. While in Philadelphia in 1710, as a representative of his church to the presbytery, he made the acquaintance of Judge BUDD, who had a large estate in Morris county. Budd offered Ford a large tract of land if he would remove to Monroe, between Morristown and Whippany, an offer which was accepted.

Following up the Whippany River forges were erected soon after near the site of Morristown, of the same character as the Whippany forge, and getting their supply of ore from the same source. One was located just north of what is now called Water street and near Flagler's mill, called the Ford forge. Colonel Jacob FORD sen., who probably built this forge, and afterward forges on the two branches of the Rockaway, was called by Peter HASENCLEVER "one of the first adventurers in bloomary iron works." All the forges near Morristown were extinct in 1823.

The first forge at Dover was built, it is said, by John JACKSON in 1722, on what is still called Jackson's Brook, near the present residence of Alpheus BEEMER. Jackson purchased a tract of 527 acres of one Joseph LATHAM, including the site of this forge and much of the land west of Dover. The venture was not a successful one, however, and in 1757 the forge passed into the hands of Josiah BEMAN, and the farm into those of Hartshorne FITZ RANDOLPH.

It is to be noted, however, that in 1743 a tract of 91 acres was located by Joseph SHOTWELL which covered most of the village of Dover, on both sides of the river from where the Morris and Essex Railroad crosses it to below Bergen street, and it was said to be at a place called the "Quaker Iron Works." In 1769 Josiah BEMAN, "bloomer," mortgages to Thomas BARTOW the same tract, "being that which John JACKSON formerly lived on and whereon the forge and dwelling house which was his did stand," and which land was "conveyed to him by Joseph PRUDDEN by deed dated April 7th 1761; excepting out of this present grant nine acres on which the forge stands sold by him to Robert SCHOOLEY." It further appears from other deeds that the indebtedness secured by this mortgage was contracted in 1761, probably when the purchase was made of Prudden. In 1768 Joseph JACKSON and his son Stephen purchased of Robert SCHOOLEY one fire in this forge. The next year Joseph JACKSON conveyed his interest in the forge to his son. Josiah BEMAN, the owner as it appears as early as 1761 of this Dover forge, was a brother of David BEMAN of Rockaway, the brother-in-law of General WINDS and the grandfather of the late Thomas GREEN of Denville. He lived in the long, low house in the village of Dover still standing on the north side of the mill pond. He is described as a man of great piety, a regular attendant upon the church at Rockaway and of very simple habits. Stephen JACKSON learned his trade of him, and in 1764 bought the last year of his time of him for $100--then considered a large sum--and with Andrew KING leased and carried on the forge for a time. It is said the two young men kept bachelors' hall, doing their own cooking, which was of the simplest kind, by turns. In a few years they both had capital to go into business for themselves, and both became prominent iron manufacturers. Beman sold his forge to Canfield & Losey in 1792, and the new firm enlarged the business by the erection of rollingmills, etc.

In 1748 the land on both sides of the river at Rockaway was located by Colonel Jacob FORD, and the tract was said to include "Job Allen's iron works." In 1767 letters of administration of Job ALLEN'S estate were granted to Colonel Jacob FORD, his principal debtor; tending to the conclusion that the pioneer ironmaster of Rockaway had been no more successful than his neighbor at Dover. These iron works were built, as near as can now be ascertained, in 1730.

The little dam in the middle of the upper pond and covered ordinarily by water was that on which this earliest structure depended for its supply of water. In 1774 Joseph PRUDDEN jr., of Morristown, conveyed to Thomas BROWN and John COBB one fire in this forge, the other being in the possession of David BEMAN. May 30th 1778 Cobb & Brown convey the same fire, with the appurtenances, "coal yards, dams and ponds," to Stephen JACKSON. In 1780, January 2nd. David BEMAN conveyed his half of the forge to John Jacob FAESCH; and January 1st 1782 Stephen JACKSON conveyed his part also to him. Faesch retained possession of the works until his death, when they were bought back by Stephen JACKSON. In 1812 Stephen JACKSON devised this forge to his sons William and John D. JACKSON; but both interests were purchased by their brother Colonel Joseph JACKSON, who had since 1809 been the owner of the lower forge at Rockaway. By him it was sold in 1850 to his son-in-law Samuel B. HALSEY, to whose heirs it still belongs.

It is evident that about the years 1748-50 a great advance was made in the manufacture of iron. In 1741 a humble "representation" was made by the Council and House of Representatives to the governor of the province, Lewis MORRIS, setting forth the abundance of iron ore and the conveniences for making the same into pig and bar iron which existed, and that with proper encouragement they could probably in some years wholly supply that necessary commodity to Great Britain and Ireland, "for which they become annually greatly indebted to Sweden and other nations"; but that hitherto they had "made but small advantage there from, having imported but very inconsiderable quantities either of pig metal or bar iron into Great Britain, by reason of the great discouragement they be under for the high price of labor and the duties by act of Parliament on these commodities imported from his Majesty's plantations in America. That should it please the British Legislature to take off the duties at present payable on importations, and allow such bounty thereon as to them in their great wisdom might seem reasonable, the inhabitants of this and other of his Majesty's colonies in North America would be thereby the better enabled to discharge the respective balances due by them to their mother country, and greatly to increase the quantities of her manufactures by them exported (as their return would be in those only); whereby the annual debt by her incurred to Sweden and other foreign nations for iron would be considerably lessened, and the navigation and ship-building throughout the British dominions greatly encouraged and enlarged."

This very humble petition seems to have had no immediate effect; but in 1750 an act of Parliament was transmitted to the governor of the colony entitled "an act to encourage the importation of pig and bar iron from his Majesty's colonies in America, and to prevent the erection of any mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating forge to work with a tilt hammer, or any furnace for making steel, in any of the said colonies." The act corresponded with its title; and, while it permitted the colonists to manufacture and send to the mother country pig and bar iron under certain regulations, it strictly forbade, under penalty of 200, the erection of any such mill as was intended to be prohibited. They might make the crude article, but they must send it to the mother country to be reduced to such shape as to fit it for use. The forge man could make the iron bloom, but he must send it across the Atlantic to be rolled into the nail rods and horseshoe iron he and his neighbors required for their own use.

The governors were ordered to report the mills, etc., then erected, and accordingly Governor BELCHER reported that there were in New Jersey that year one mill for slitting and rolling iron, in Bethlehem township, Hunterdon county; one plating forge at Trenton and one furnace for making steel in Trenton--of which only the plating forge was then used; and besides these, the governor adds, "I do also certify that from the strictest inquiry I can possibly make there is no other mill or engine for slitting and rolling of iron, or plating forge which works with a tilt hammer, or furnace for making steel, within his Majesty's province of New Jersey."

Whether as one of the effects of this law or not, several forges were built in the county about the time it went into operation. Colonel Jacob FORD, of Morristown, in 1750 "took up" or located the falls of the east branch of the Rockaway at Mt. Pleasant, and proceeded to erect two forges there. The same year he purchased the falls on the same stream at Denmark, where the "Burnt Meadow forge" was built. It is called "John Harriman's Iron Works" in 1764, but a few years afterward was owned by Jacob FORD jr. In 1749 Jonathan OSBORN purchased the falls midway between Denmark and Mt. Pleasant, and built what is known as Middle forge--the site of which is now owned by the United States. All these forges were in the hands of the Fords before the Revolutionary war.

There was also a forge about half a mile below Lower Longwood in existence at the time of the war, which was called "Ford's forge," which was extinct in 1823; but exactly when it was built cannot be ascertained. In a deed made in 1803 from Samuel TUTHILL to John P. LOSEY mention is made of the bridge that crosses the Rockaway River "a little above where the old Speedwell forge formerly stood."

About this time, that is to say from 1750 to the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, were also erected many other ancient forges. One stood on the Whippany River near Morristown, called the Carmichael forge, and one at Malapardis, about three miles northeast of Morristown. Both of these were extinct before this century began. The Hathaway forge on the Whippany, close to the Morris and Essex Railroad, and about a mile west of Morris Plains station, was built by Captain James KEENE, who was a captain in the Revolutionary army, and who ran it until 1780. Jonathan HATHAWAY, from whom it took its name, owned and ran it for over twenty-five years, then Benjamin HOLLOWAY until 1806, when it was burned down. It was rebuilt, but a freshet in 1821 broke away the dam and it was not again in operation.

On Den Brook, a tributary of the Rockaway, were built Shongum forge, owned by Deacon John HUNTINGTON; Ninkey forge (owned by Abraham and John KINNEY in 1796 and sold as their property in 1799 to Caleb RUSSEL), built and rebuilt several times; Coleraine (or Cold-rain) forge, lower down the stream; and still lower Franklin forge, built by John COBB, Thomas BROWN and Stephen JACKSON just previous to the war. Hubbard S. STICKLE, who has just died at the advanced age of ninety-eight years, and who himself built one forge and assisted in building several others, said he could remember when all four of these forges were running.

Colonel James W. DRAKE writes in 1854 that, "principally for the purpose of consuming the surplus wood, four forges for manufacturing iron were at different times erected in the township of Mendham, but the fires of all of them have been long extinguished. The ore for their supply was almost entirely furnished by the well known Suckasunny mine. A small amount of ore was at one time supplied by a mine in the village of Water Street, but at length the use of it was abandoned, as iron could not be made of it." From an old map made in 1823, showing the forges active and extinct in Morris county at that time, it appears that these forges were the "Rushes" and "Mendham" forges, on the north branch of the Raritan; "Leddle's forge," on a branch of the Passaic; and "Rye" forge, on the Whippany river at Water Street, all extinct. The mine spoken of by Colonel DRAKE was reopened and worked extensively since the last war by Ario PARDEE and other lessees of the owner, Madison CONNET.

In 1751 John JOHNSTON bought of the proprietors the falls of the Beach Glen Brook at Beach Glen, and built the forge known for many years as "Johnston's iron works." It was sold by Job ALLEN to Benjamin BEACH and Henry TUTTLE December 30th 1771, and Beach shortly after bought out his partner and continued to operate it until his death. Benjamin BEACH (son of Abner BEACH) is described as a self-made man, who, beginning with very small means, by integrity, industry and systematic perseverance acquired a large estate, owning at the time of his death over a thousand acres of land. Beach Glen before it was so called, in honor of himself, was called Horse Pound, because the early settlers, by building a fence from one high hill to the other, formed a pound into which they drove their wild horses to catch them. From Benjamin Beach the forge descended to his two sons Chilion and Samuel SEARING; and the site is still in the family, being owned by Dr. Columbus BEACH, the son of Chilion. The dam was swept away by a freshet in 1867, and has never been rebuilt.

There was also an old forge at Troy, near the present residence of Andrew J. SMITH, built probably by John COBB. It (or, rather, its site--for the forge has gone down) is still owned in part by some of the descendants of Cobb, one-half being owned by Andrew J. SMITH, whose father, Ebenezer F. SMITH, ran it as late as 1860. There was also an old forge at the head of Speedwell Pond, and another at the present dam at Speedwell where Arnold & Kinney erected their slitting-mill. Colonel Ford is said to have been the builder of these.

White Meadow was also a place of importance at this time. A lot was located here in 1753 by David BEMAN, probably for the purpose of building a forge, and he and Thomas MILLER were, no doubt, the builders of one. They or one of them conveyed to John BIGALOW and Aaron BIGALOW; for in 1769 the Bigalows gave a mortgage of one-half of the forge " which was built at the place called White Meadow." October 18th 1774 the Bigalows gave a mortgage on a tract of 142 1/2 acres (including the lot returned to Beman), said to be a tract which Thomas MILLER bought of Thomas BARTON and David BEMAN, and conveyed to said Bigalows by deed of even date with the mortgage. From the Bigalows it fell into the possession of Abraham KITCHEL, who conveyed it to Bernard SMITH (the friend of Faesch) in 1792. Smith was obliged to part with it, and sold it to Isaac CANFIELD in 1802.

About a mile below White Meadow was the forge well known as " Guinea forge," built by Colonel John MUNSON before 1774. A recital by Benjamin BEACH and Abrahan KITCHEL, in the minutes of the board of proprietors in 1785, quotes an application of Munson and Benjamin BEACH in 1774 for a large tract of land lying near these works, which tells the history of this forge for the ten years previous, as follows:

"To the Honorable the Council of Proprietors--A tract of land [was] surveyed by Thomas MILLIGE to Benjamin BEACH and Colonel John MUNSON of about 2,600 acres, but no deed has been given nor moneys paid except the surveying, recording, &c. Colonel Munson, being unable to carry on his forge, sold his forge and right to procure a deed in his name to Joshua WINGET, who sold the same to Samuel CRANE. Crane sold to Abijah SHERMAN, and when Sherman broke, Crane took the forge again and now Crane proves insolvent. Mr. Beach does not expect to take more than half of the land surveyed and recorded as above. Colonel Munson, not being able to attend, prays that his contract may be void. Abraham KITCHEL and Mark WALTON will take Colonel Munson's part provided they can have it for a reasonable sum."

With White Meadow forge Guinea forge fell into the hands of Abraham KITCHEL, who conveyed it in 1791 to Bernard SMITH, who conveyed it to Isaac CANFIELD in 1802. Both these forges were afterward owned by Colonel Thomas MUIR, whose family still own White Meadow and the mine and large tracts surrounding. Guinea forge was bought by Hubbard S. STICKLE, who owned its site at the time of his death. Both forges have long been down.

The capacity of the forges built before the Revolution may be judged from a petition presented to the House of Assembly in September 1751, by the owners of bloomaries in the county of Morris, "setting forth that they humbly conceive their bloomaries are not comprehended in the late law for returning the taxables of the province; and that there are many bloomaries in the said county that don't make more than five or six tons of iron in a year; and that therefore the profits of such forges cannot pay any tax, but many of them on the contrary must be obliged to let their works fall if any tax be laid on them; and praying the House will rather encourage so publick a benefit, and instead of laying a tax grant a small bounty upon every ton of bar iron fitted for market, and a receipt of the same being shipped for London produced to the treasurer, according to a late act of Parliament." No action appears to have been taken upon this petition.

The ore for these forges continued to be taken principally from the Dickerson mine, on account of its greater richness and purity, though the great Jugular vein at Mount Hope and the vein at Hibernia had become known. The forgemen constituted a class by themselves, handing down in many instances from father to son the trade they lived by. It was a day of simple habits and men lived on the plainest fare. Morristown was the chief source of supply, and many of the men made the trip on foot from the upper part of the county to that place once a week to get their supplies. From Henry BAKER, of Mt. Pleasant, we have this incident of his grandfather, Andrew KING, who was one of Colonel Ford's forgemen at Mt. Pleasant, and who at one time leased, as we have stated, the Dover forge of Josiah BEMAN.

On one of his visits to Morristown for supplies the store keeper recommended to him tea as a new article of diet, which he would find very agreeable. He took a package of it home, with a very general idea of the manner in which it should be prepared for the table, and his good wife, who had never seen the article before, attempted to make a pudding of it. The bag in which she had secured it burst in the boiling, and with great difficulty she succeeded in keeping it within bounds during the cooking. Of course no one could eat the unpalatable dish, and on being asked how he liked it when in Morristown again he replied they did not want any more of it. When he described the use they had sought to make of it, it created no little amusement in the store. He said they "could neither eat the pudding nor drink the broth." However, he was persuaded to make a new trial, and with more definite instructions, and with wooden cups and saucers and a new package the use of the beverage was inaugurated under more favorable auspices.

This Andrew KING was a man of excellent character and thoroughly understood his business. By his industry and thrift he acquired considerable property, and he died when over 90 years of age, in Dover, where he owned a house and farm on the hill south of the Morris and Essex depot. One of his daughters married Jeremiah BAKER, of Mt. Pleasant. A son, John KING, acted as clerk for Faesch at Mt. Hope and for Stotesbury at Hibernia, and finally in 1802 went with Nathan and David FORD to Ogdensburg, where they were the pioneers. Preston KING, who it will be remembered was at one time collector of the port of New York, and committed suicide by jumping from a ferryboat in the North River, was a son of this John KING.

An incident to illustrate the capacity of these early forges is thus narrated by the late William JACKSON:--While Colonel Jacob FORD owned and worked the Middle forge he lived at Morristown. One Saturday evening he returned home in fine spirits and said to his wife: "Now, wife, you must make one of your largest short cakes, for I have made one of the largest loops ever made in the county. How much do you think it weighed?" he asked his wife. Of course she could not tell and asked him how much. He answered, "It weighed 28 1/4 pounds! was not that a big one!"

Peter HASENCLEVER, a German born at Remscheid, in 1716, came to this country about 1764 as the representative of the London Company. Within three years he is said to have built a furnace at Charlotteburgh (on the borders of Morris county) and three miles further down stream a "finery forge," with four fires and two hammers, capable of making 250 tons of bar iron a year single handed and from 300 to 350 tons double handed; and a mile lower down still a second forge, of equal capacity. He introduced many improvements in the manufacture of iron and increased the capacity of the forges. Governor FRANKLIN appointed a committee, consisting of Lord STIRLING, Colonel John SCHUYLER, Major Tunis DAY and James GREY, to examine into his acts in behalf of his company, with whom he had gotten into difficulty. This commission, reporting at Newark July 8th 1768, testified to the perfection of his iron works and to the fact that he had introduced many improvements in the manufacture of iron, some of which had been adopted in England. They said: "He is the first person that we know who has so greatly improved the use of the great natural ponds of this country as by damming them to secure reservoirs of water for the use of iron works in the dry season, without which the best streams are liable to fail in the great droughts we are subject to." They further said that he was the first to make old cinder beds profitable; that he improved the furnaces by building the inwalls of slate instead of stones, which seldom lasted longer than a year or two, and by placing the stack under roof; that he only used overshot wheels, and "around the hammer-wheel, shafts with strong cast-iron rings, whose arms served as cogs to lift the hammer handle." The commission, whose members were all interested in iron works and mines, and so able to speak authoritatively, said these contrivances were new ones--"at least they are new in America." It may be interesting to know that Hasenclever was justified by a decision of Lord THURLOW in England after a long litigation, and that he was so successful as a linen manufacturer in Silesia that he refused as advantageous invitation from Benjamin Franklin to return to America.

After the Revolutionary war, and especially in the decade preceding and in that following 1800, many new forges were built, of larger size and some of them probably occupying sites of others which had gone down. In a letter written to Richard Henry LEE in 1777 Washington states that in "Morris county alone there are between eighty and one hundred iron works, large and small." Unless the writer counted each fire of every forge it is impossible to verify this statement by locating the iron works, or even then unless some of those known to have been built at a later period were built on sites of older forges. Charcoal furnaces had been built before the war, but while ore and charcoal were so abundant, and the work of refining so little understood, there was sufficient demand for bloomary iron to make work for all the forges; and the time of greatest prosperity among the bloomaries was the earlier part of this century and before anthracite coal came into use.

Besides the forges mentioned, some of which were still in operation, the principal other forges of the county after the war were as follows:

Beginning at the head waters of the west branch of the Rockaway River we have nearest its source the Hopewell forge, near the boundary line of, if not within, Sussex county. It was built, tradition says, by Colonel Samuel OGDEN, of Boonton, and was probably rebuilt by Samuel G. I. DeCAMP about 1812. It has long been idle, and is going to ruin.

The next forge, a mile below Hopewell, called "Russia," was built before 1800, and was long known as William HEADLEY's forge. Prof. Cook places its erection as early as 1775. It was an old forge in 1806, when it was owned by William FICHTER. It was owned in 1828 by Joseph CHAMBERLAIN, and is now by Jetur R. RIGGS. Colonel Samuel OGDEN conveyed the land on which it was built to Thomas KEEPERS in 1800; and Mrs. DAVENPORT, Thomas KEEPERS's daughter, says that there were forges here and at Hopewell before 1800, which were called "Upper and Lower Farmingham forges." Situate as Russia forge is, just where the river issues from the mountains with a fall of twenty-five or thirty feet, the site was a most desirable one and was probably early taken up.

The next forge, a mile lower down, was called the "Swedeland forge." It was built by John DOW, Cornelius DAVENPORT and Jacob RIKER, before 1800. Dow was the leading spirit in the enterprise. In 1806 Colonel John STANBURROUGH took possession of the premises, and he operated the forge more or less at intervals until his death, which occurred in 1862. He took the premium of the Morris County Agricultural Society over fifty years ago for making a ton of octagon iron in the shortest time. The premium was a silver cup, which is held as an heirloom in the family by his youngest daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth DALRYMPLE, of Branchville, N. J. The forge has been repaired by Albert R. RIGGS, its present owner, and is now in a better state of preservation than any other forge in Jefferson township.

The next forge, about one and a half miles below Swedeland, is Petersburg. This is a very old forge, some placing its erection as early as 1730. The land was located for Robert Hunter MORRIS and James ALEXANDER, June 3d 1754. Jonah AUSTIN mortgaged to Abraham OGDEN, October 1st 1777, one quarter interest in the forge and lot called "Petersburg." It has also been called " Arnold's" forge, having once been owned by Jacob ARNOLD, of the Speedwell iron works. It has been transferred many times, but has now gone to decay. The site is owned by Lewis CHAMBERLAIN.

On a branch of the Rockaway River which comes in from the east below Petersburg is built the "Hard Bargain" forge, now owned by Stephen STRAIT. It stands on the same tract originally as the Petersburg forge, from which it is distant only a quarter of a mile in an air line. It was built about 1795, by an association of persons among whom were John DOW, Christian STRAIT, John DAVENPORT and others. Though a one-fired forge it had at one time nine partners. In 1828 it belonged to Adams & Dean. The buildings are still in good repair, but have long been disused.

Passing down the Rockaway River about one and a half miles we come next to Woodstock forge. This is of comparatively recent origin, having been built about the year 1825, by Ephraim ADAMS, James L. DICKERSON and Stephen ADAMS. The tract of land (1,748 acres) upon which it stands was returned to Skinner & Johnson for Thomas KINNEY in 1774. This forge never made a large quantity of iron, the fall in the stream being insufficient to give proper hammering capacity to draw out the iron when made. It belongs to Zopher O. TALMADGE, who uses it as a distillery.

The next forge below Woodstock is the Upper Longwood forge, which stands in the same tract of 1,748 acres as the Woodstock. It is a very old forge and large quantities of iron have been made there. John DeCAMP became its owner about 1798 and it is said to have been rebuilt by him on a new foundation, a freshet having carried out the old works. De Camp, who carried on the forge until 1817, was a brother of Joseph, Lemuel and David DeCAMP, all of whom were more or less engaged in iron manufacture. An anchor shop was at one time attached to this forge, in which large quantities of anchors were manufactured and many men employed. The forge buildings have fallen or been torn down, and the property, containing some 2,000 acres of land, is now owned by John KEAN, of Elizabeth.

The next forge in order and a mile lower down the stream is the Lower Longwood forge, standing on the same tract of 1,748 acres above mentioned. It is said to have been built by Ebenezer TUTTLE and Grandin MORRIS, about 1796, and bought by Canfield & Losey in 1806. From them it passed into the hands of Blackwell & McFarlan. It is now the property of John HANCE, but has long ceased to be a forge.

Below Lower Longwood was the old Speedwell or Ford forge, already spoken of.

For much of the above information respecting the forges on the upper Rockaway we are indebted to Horace CHAMBERLAIN, of Oakridge, formerly a member of the Legislature from this county, a gentleman whose local knowledge and lifelong experience as a surveyor have made him very familiar with the history especially of the northerly part of the county.

Next in order is the "Valley forge," within sight of the track of the Morris and Essex Railroad, which was built by Jared COE and Minard LeFEVER, probably before or during the Revolutionary war. Prof. Cook places the date at 1780. It came into the hands of Canfield & Losey about 1800, and was burned down in 1814. Jeremiah BAKER, the son-in-law of Andrew KING, and who had already commenced to acquire the large property which he afterward possessed, built it up with an agreement to purchase; but after working it for a year Canfield & Losey took it back, and Baker bought it a second time of Blackwell & McFarlan, who had succeeded to the business and property of Canfield & Losey, in 1817. This was with an understanding that Blackwell & McFarlan should take all the iron he made. In 1828 it again burned down, and was rebuilt by Mr. Baker. In 1875 it was burned a third time, while rented by Messrs. McClees, of New York, from Henry and William H. BAKER, to whom their father had devised it. It has not been rebuilt.

The next forge on the west branch, and just before its junction with the east branch of the Rockaway, is Washington forge, which was built by Charles HOFF and his brother-in-law Joseph DeCAMP about the year 1795. Charles HOFF sold his half to Joseph HURD in 1808, and the DeCamp heirs theirs to Joseph DICKERSON, who owned the whole in 1828. It was run by Henry McFARLAN until within a few years.

Beginning at the head waters of the east branch of the Rockaway River, or, as it is called, Burnt Meadow Brook, the first forge was the "Burnt Meadow forge," or "Denmark," owned by Harriman & Sayre, and Jacob FORD jr., as we have seen, in its beginning. In 1806 the Fords sold to Benjamin HOLLOWAY, who built the present or last forge. Hubbard S. STICKLE stated that he managed for Holloway from December 1806 to December 1807, while it was being built. The old forge had then entirely disappeared. Holloway failed in 1818, and in 1823 it was bought by George STICKLE (father of Hubbard S. STICKLE), who sold it in 1821 to John HARDY. John M. EDDY bought in 1841 and carried it on for several years, when it fell into the possession of Edward R. BIDDLE, then the owner of Mt. Hope. It finally, in 1858, came to the possession of Ernest FIEDLER, of New York city, to whose heirs it still belongs. It has long been disused.

About forty years ago "Big" Samuel MERRITT built a forge on a little brook running out of Gravel Dam, on what is called the Garrigus place, near Denmark; but it was a small affair and soon abandoned.

The next forge down the stream was "Middle forge," already mentioned. In 1773 Colonel Jacob FORD sen. conveyed this forge to Colonel Jacob FORD jr., and in 1778 the executors of Jacob FORD jr. conveyed it to John Jacob FAESCH, who ran it in connection with his works at Mount Hope until his death, June 28th 1800. General John DOUGHTY, as commissioner appointed to sell the lands of Faesch, conveyed it to Moses PHILLIPS jr., who rebuilt and ran the forge for a number of years. Under him it was called the "Aetna forge." In 1839 it came into the hands of Samuel F. RIGHTER, who conveyed it in 1853 to his brother George E. RIGHTER. He ran it till within a few years, when it was permitted to go to decay. The United States purchased the forge seat in 1880 with the large tract of land around it of Mr. Righter, and the government is now putting up extensive powder magazines there. For this purpose no other place was found to contain equal advantages. It was very easy of access to the seaboard, possessed a valuable water power, and the tract was as secluded as could be desired.

The next forge is the Mount Pleasant forge, already spoken of. Here were at one time a four-fire forge above the bridge and a smaller one below. The upper or large forge was down before the beginning of this century; the lower one was standing to within a few years.

The Rockaway River after the union of its two branches flows first through Dover, where were the old Josiah BEMAN forge and Schooley's forge (the Quaker iron works), already mentioned, and, it is said, a forge built by Moses DOTY. Of these only one survived to the present century and became merged in the extensive iron works of Canfield & Losey, which will be spoken of hereafter.

Below Dover the first forge on the Rockaway River was the old iron works of "Job Allen," where is the present forge at Rockaway, of which an account has been given.

The lower forge at Rockaway was built by Stephen JACKSON, after he had sold his interest in the upper one and found Faesch unwilling to sell it back to him. He had served as captain of militia cavalry in the Revolutionary war, and in the severe winter of 1780-1 was occupied with his company reconnoitering the enemy's lines below Short Hills. In this service he contracted a pulmonary disease which he supposed would terminate fatally, and in this belief sold his forge to Faesch. Afterward, recovering his health, he tried in vain to repurchase it. A freshet in the winter of 1794-5 formed an ice dam below the upper dam and on his own land. He was prompt to act on this suggestion, building the next year the lower dam and forge at Rockaway, which he sold in 1809 to his son Joseph. It remained in his possession until 1852, when he conveyed it with the rolling-mill to Freeman WOOD. It was never afterward used as a bloomary forge. It was used in the manufacture of steel, but only for a short time, and was then suffered to fall to pieces after the last war.

A mile below the village of Rockaway a stream joins the Rockaway River, coming from the north, known as Beaver Brook. It is made up of three principal streams--the White Meadow Brook, upon which were built the White Meadow forge and Guinea forge already mentioned; the Beach Glen Brook, upon which were the Hibernia forge and the Beach Glen forge (the old "Johnson iron works"); and the Meriden Brook, upon which were the Durham forge, the Split Rock forge and the two Meriden forges.

Hibernia forge was built by William SCOTT after the furnace there went down. It ran but a short time, and has been gone for forty years at least. Of the Beach Glen forge mention has already been made.

Durham forge, at Greenville, was built by Ebenezer COBB, about the year 1800. Its site belongs to the estate of Andrew B. COBB, deceased; but though the dam still retains a pond there is nothing left of the forge but the heavy castings, which vegetation has almost covered up.

The Split Rock forge was built about 1790, by a Mr. FARRAND. It was bought by Colonel Lemuel COBB, and formed part of that large tract of about 3,000 acres at Split-rock which was divided among his three heirs--Andrew B. COBB, Mrs. William C. H. WADDELL and Mrs. Benjamin HOWELL. The forge in the division fell to Andrew B. COBB, and still forms a part of his estate. The old bloomary fires, however, have been replaced by a Wilson deoxidizer, which, by a process that introduces the ore heated and mingled with heated pulverized charcoal to three fires arranged around one stack, makes a charcoal bloom similar to that of the old-fashioned fire, but much more rapidly.

Of the two forges at Meriden, one on the north side and the other on the south side of the public road, the upper one was built shortly after Split Rock and possibly by the same parties, the lower one by Peter HILER, about 1820. Colonel John HINCHMAN, of Denville, once owned this lower forge; from him it passed to John RIGHTER, of Parsippany. Both forges have been down for many years.

Below the mouth of Beaver Brook, at Denville, Den Brook enters the Rockaway from the southwest. Upon this stream were the Shongum, Ninkey, Cold-rain and Franklin forges, which have been mentioned.

Near the Rockaway River in Rockaway Valley, on a brook coming from the hills on the west, James DIXON built in 1830 the forge which was operated for about thirty years by him and his two sons Cyrus and William.

On another little stream which joins the Rockaway at Rockaway Valley, and about two miles north of the Valley church, a forge was built by John DEEKER about 1825 and called Deeker's forge. It was running to within a few years of the last war.

Following down the Rockaway the next forge is Powerville forge, built in 1794 by William SCOTT. In 1836 Scott built the rolling mill on the same property. In the division of Colonel Scott's real estate this fell to his son Elijah D. SCOTT, who by deed and devise conveyed it to Thomas WILLIS, in whose family the property still remains. The forge is yet in working order, though like the one at Rockaway used principally for working over scrap.

Three miles below Powerville on the Rockaway is Old Boonton, of whose slitting-mill mention will be made hereafter. In connection with this mill was a four-fire forge, which long survived the other mills and was in operation until a late date.

Besides the forges mentioned there were in the county several others. Benjamin ROOME writes that Simon VAN NESS had a forge on the Morris county side of the Pequannock River, about one and a half miles above Bloomingdale, which was worked by Robert COLFAX as late as about 1811, when a freshet tore it to pieces and it was not rebuilt.

In 1821-2 Hubbard S. STICKLE built the Montgomery forge, on Stone Meadow Brook, a tributary of the Pequannock, about two miles above Stony Brook. It is no longer in operation.

About the same time Timber Brook forge was built near Greenville, on Copperas Brook, a stream running north into the Pequannock, by John DOW. It was owned in 1828 by George STICKLE, and afterward by Matthias KITCHEL. Since the death of Mr. Kitchel it has been suffered to go to decay.

On the stream running south into Lake Hopatcong were built two forges. The upper one, called the "Welldone"--since shortened into Weldon--forge, was built by Major Moses HOPPING, probably about 1800. The land was located in 1793. The forge now belongs to Hon. William E. DODGE, of New York. The lower forge was built shortly before the other, probably in 1795, by Daniel and Joseph HURD, and called by them "New Partners."

On the Musconetcong River there were several forges, but mostly on the Sussex side of the river.

June 5th 1764 Benjamin and Thomas COE deeded to Garret RAPALYE "all one half of a certain forge with one fire, and one equal undivided half part of five acres of land which was surveyed for the use of s'd forge, with half of the stream or water only (excepting what the sawmill now standing upon the same premises draw), standing, lying and being upon Musconetcong River, in the province of New Jersey aforesaid, near the uppermost falls below the mouth of the Great Pond." January 1st 1768 RAPALYE leased to Joseph and John TUTTLE, who were brothers and living then in Hanover, his iron works for five years at 300 a year, reserving the right to build a furnace on one end of the dam. The Tuttles were to deliver all the iron they made to Rapalye in New York for 28 per ton for refined iron, and 24 per ton for Whippany or bloomed iron, but the prices to vary with changes in the market. This lease was so onerous that it caused the failure of the Tuttles.

In the New Jersey Gazette, 1778, is noticed the sale of a large tract of land "at the head of the Musconetcong River, about 35 miles from Elizabethtown and 4 from Suckasunny Plains, containing about 3,000 acres, having on it a large forge with four fires and two hammers, * * * which is now under lease for eight and a half tons of bar iron per annum." Rapalye mortgaged this forge to a London merchant, and on foreclosure of this mortgage it was sold in 1809 by the sheriff to Thomas CADWALLADER, a lawyer of Philadelphia. September 25th 1811 Cadwallader sold it to James and John R. HINCHMAN, for $1,000.

William JACKSON wrote that the Brooklyn forge was built by Phineas FITZ RANDOLPH previous to 1800, and carried on by him and James HINCHMAN for many years. In 1828 it was said to be the property of Charles F. RANDOLPH.

The Stanhope forges were built by Silas DICKERSON, brother of Governor Mahlon DICKERSON, soon after Brooklyn forge was built. They were carried on by him until he was killed in the nail factory which he had just built, in 1807.

On the south branch of the Raritan there were at least three forges. William STEPHENS built one in 1840 about a mile below Budd's Lake, which was in operation but a few years, when it went down. George SALMON owned one at Upper Bartleyville, which was running as late as 1862; and at Bartleyville was the old forge known as "Welsh's forge," which ran down about 1840. Professor Cook gives the date of its erection as 1790.

There is located on an old map (1823) the site of an "extinct forge," called Eaton, near Bartleyville, and another below the junction of the north and south branches, called "Casterline's."

On the north branch at Flanders was an old forge, built by William HINCHMAN in 1802, and which ran for about forty years. In 1812 he advertised in the Morristown Herald a large amount of property for sale, including "an excellent two-fire forge, in complete repair, for making bar iron, with workmen's houses, orchards, gardens, &c."

On Black River were also three forges--one, whose ruins are remembered by old people--about a mile above the grist-mill of the late General COOPER; one at Hacklebarney, which was running until a late date, and one about a mile below Hacklebarney, which has long gone to decay.

At Shippenport was built in 1844 a forge, to run by the waste water of the Morris Canal in summer and by a small natural stream at other seasons. This forge was greatly enlarged by Anson G. P. SEGUR a few years ago, and it is still in working order.

Of the forges on the Pequannock River, which is the northerly boundary line of the county, it is proper to give some account, though the buildings were not on the Morris county side of the river. Horace CHAMBERLAIN has furnished the following information concerning them:

Before the river leaves Sussex county, at the head waters was Canistear forge, worked at one time by 'Squire Adam SMITH and the Day brothers. It has long since gone into disuse. Below this forge is "Margoram forge," so named from its former owner Stephen F. MARGORAM. It was carried away by the freshets of 1850. Mr. Margoram said to Mr. Chamberlain, after that event, that he had been trying to get out of the iron business, but the freshets had closed him out. Going down the river, just below the junction of its two branches, near Snufftown, are the ruins of another old forge--probably the creation of the enterprising spirit of John O. FORD, one of the leading forgemen of his day. It was called "New forge," and from this it may be supposed it was built after the others; but they were all of them comparatively recent.

Farther down the river but still in Sussex county is "Windham forge." The corner of the counties of Morris and Passaic in the line of Sussex county is a rock marked "M. S.," on the edge of the stream, about four chains below this forge. Windham was built by John O. FORD and run by him and his sons, the last one of whom was Sidney FORD, who finished his career as an ironmaker there. After Sidney FORD left it Frederick W. DELLECKER, formerly surrogate of the county, became the owner, and from him it passed to Albert R. RIGGS, its present owner. It is the only forge on the Pequannock which is still in working order.

Next in order down the stream are the ruins of the old "Warner forge," so called from the Warner brothers, who, associated with a man named Hoops, under the firm name of "Warner & Hoops," purchased, improved and enlarged the forge about the year 1840, and after several years' unsuccessful operation vacated the premises and returned to Pennsylvania, their native State. The site is now owned by Peter TRACY.

Two or three hundred yards down the stream was the "Methodist forge," in after years known as "John Lewis forge." By whom and when it was built is unknown, but it was probably built by John O. FORD. After Mr. Lewis it came into the possession of Daniel HULME and after him of Ebenezer W. TEMPLE. It is now owned by his brother William TEMPLE.

Stockholm, next in order, some two or three hundred yards farther down the stream, was probably one of John O. FORD's enterprises. It remained in the Ford family until carried away by the freshets in 1850 while being worked by Horace FORD, one of the sons of John O. FORD. The three last mentioned forges are all on a tract of 492.22 acres returned in 1800 and known as John O. FORD's large tract.

About three-eighths of a mile down said stream, where the mountains seemingly diverge to the right and left to give room for that valley of farming land known as Newfoundland, we come to what is called in common parlance the "Gregory forge," from its founder, Samuel S. GREGORY, who gave it the more classic name of "Carthage." One of the lots of this forge property was located in 1763. It now belongs to Jetur A. RIGGS.

The Pequannock River after leaving the mountains flows more slowly and sluggishly along, now to the right and now to the left, through the farming and meadow lands some six or seven miles to the village of Newfoundland, the center of which is the hotel of John P. Brown. At this village a small forge was erected about forty years ago by an association of persons, among whom were the late Peter B. BROWN and Ebenezer COBB. It stands on a tract of 320.16 acres returned for James ALEXANDER and Robert H. MORRIS, October 25th 1754. This forge has been called "'Squire Cobb's forge," "Cobb & Bigalow's forge," and "Bigalow & Deeker's forge," and sometimes "Tobacco forge" from its limited power. Its present owner, John W. BIGALOW, has converted it into a saw-mill.

About a mile above Brown's hotel Cedar Brook, flowing from the north, joins the Pequannock; up this brook about a mile was the celebrated Clinton iron works (so called in honor of De Witt CLINTON), built by William JACKSON in 1826 and in the six years following. Though entirely in Passaic county it was a Morris county enterprise and undertaken by Morris county men. William JACKSON was a son of Stephen JACKSON of Rockaway, and had but recently, with his brother, built the rolling-mill there. Selling out his interest in the Rockaway mill he entered this then perfectly wild forest region, erected a saw-mill, forge and blast furnace, sawed timber and made iron, which he carted to Dover and Rockaway for market. The first blast was made under the supervision of John F. WINSLOW, a son-in-law of Mr. JACKSON, afterward one of the proprietors of the Albany iron works. It commenced October 4th 1833 and continued until February 5th 1834. The second blast commenced May 9th 1834, and ended April 29th 1835. The third and final blast commenced August 25th 1835, and ended January 30th 1836. Mr. Jackson employed many men and teams in the transportation of his lumber and iron to their destination, and the returning trips were made with ore. He made roads and built dwelling houses and out-buildings for his men and teams and such as were necessary for his business; also a grist-mill. An anchor shop was built and anchors were made. While the works were being constructed iron fell one half or more in price, owing to the tariff legislation, and Mr. Jackson was obliged to stop operations. All the works have long been idle. Forge, saw-mill and grist-mill have disappeared, but the furnace stack still stands. The water power is a splendid one and the water, descending in three or four falls between one and two hundred feet, presents a beautiful and romantic place to visit.

Mr. Winslow went to Troy, N. Y., where he entered into partnership with Erastus CORNING. The "Monitor," which met the "Merrimac" off Fortress Monroe in 1861, was built by them and actually owned by them at the time of its wonderful victory.

About two miles below Mr. Brown's is Charlotteburgh, or Charlottenburg, as it is generally called; so named, it is said, in honor of Queen Charlotte. Here, as has been said, the London Company had its furnaces, etc., before the Revolutionary war. The property was long in the possession of Chilion Ford DeCAMP and his son Edward DeCAMP, both Morris county men--the latter a son-in-law of Colonel William SCOTT, owner at one time of Hibernia, Powerville, etc. It is now owned by Hon. Abram S. HEWITT.

A mile below Charlotteburgh was a small one-fire forge, erected by the late John SMITH in 1850, at a place called Smith's Mills. But little iron was made here--hardly enough to make a cinder bank--and it long ago went to destruction.

The next forge down the stream is the Bloomingdale forge, owned by Martin John RYERSON, near the old Ogden furnace. It is not now in operation.

This page was last modified on:  01 January, 2014

Copyright 1999-2014 by Brianne Kelly-Bly, all rights reserved.