Chapter 29
Morris Co. Up


CITY, VILLAGE AND TOWNSHIP HISTORIES, MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP.

BY HON. JOHN L. KANOUSE.

THIS township was formed in 1867, from territory set off from Pequannock. It is bounded north by Pequannock township, east by Pequannock township and the Passaic River, south by the Rockaway River and west by the Rockaway River and Boonton township. It is about four miles in width, and nine miles long; in area it is twice as large as Boonton township, and not quite half as large as Pequannock; in proportion to its area it has more tillable land than either Boonton or Pequannock. The extreme southern part peninsular in form, being nearly surrounded by the Rockaway and Passaic Rivers, consists of what is called the Pine Brook flats, and is a level tract with soil of sandy loam free from stone, which, when properly cultivated, is productive. This part of the township is about thirteen miles from Newark, with which it is connected by a good road, which for three-quarters of the distance consists of a Telford pavement. The soil in the rest of this township consists mainly of loam on clay bottom, and is generally productive in grass, grain, vegetables and fruit. The farmers in the southern part are engaged largely in the production of milk to supply the Newark market, and in the more central parts considerable quantities of butter, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, hay and straw are produced for market. For some years past considerable attention has been given to planting choice fruit trees, and some are beginning to reap the benefits in apples and pears, which generally yield a good return.

The land in this township is chiefly rolling; the northern part is principally rough, mountainous woodland; the highest points in the northeastern part are the Waughan Mountains and Turkey Mountain. In the southeastern part is the Hook Mountain range; between this and the Passaic River is a fertile strip of farming land with a southeastern exposure and sloping to the river, called Passaic Valley. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and the Morris Canal pass centrally from west to east through the township. A small stream called Stony Brook passes through the northwestern part, and empties into the Rockaway River above Powerville; another brook, rising near Turkey Mountain, flows through the village of Montville and down the valley, emptying into the Rockaway River about half a mile below the Dutch Reformed church. This latter stream at Montville village affords some water power, which is about the only power afforded by any stream in the township, excepting that furnished by the Rockaway River for a short distance on the western boundary.

In Passaic Valley, near the line of Pequannock township, is a quarry of red sandstone, belonging to John H. Vreeland, a descendant of Hartman Vreeland, who was one of the first settlers in this region. This quarry is remarkable for rocks found there, containing apparently the tracks of a bird as large as the ostrich; some fine specimens have been obtained, and one may be seen in the State geological museum at Trenton. In the northern part of this township, near Turkey Mountain, is a quarry from which quantities of limestone have been taken to supply the furnaces at Boonton, and for making lime for agricultural and other purposes. The majority of this stone is quite white. Asbestos and also some very handsome specimens of serpentine stone are found here; this is the only deposit of limestone known anywhere in this vicinity.

The population of this township in 1870 was 1,353 white and 50 colored, total 1,403; in 1875 it was 1,412 white and 31 colored, total 1,443; in 1880 the total population was 1,269, showing a decrease in five years of 174; this decrease no doubt is accounted for in part by the stoppage of the Boonton iron works in 1876, as some of the employes at those works lived at Montville. The assesors' figures for 1881 were as follows: Acres, 11,302; valuation of real estate, $459,226; personal property, $118,989; debt, $36,665; polls, 304; State school tax, $1,378.57; county tax, $1,288.69; bounty tax, $1,403.78; road tax, $1,200.

The brook that runs through what is now known as Upper Montville and down the valley, emptying into the Rockaway River below the Dutch Reformed church, was known among the early settlers by the name of "Owl Kill." It is a tortuous stream and often overflows much of the adjoining land, rendering it rich natural meadow. Along the banks of this stream stood many large trees, which in olden times were a favorite resort for owls; these birds feed principally upon mice, and doubtless were attracted to this place by the large number of mice that burrowed in the soft grounds of the adjoining meadows. Hence this stream, about two miles in length, came to be called "Owl Kill;" from the peculiar pronunciation of the Dutch this was changed to "Uylekill," and the valley as well as the brook was known by that name. This account of the matter is corroborated by Levi Stiles, now 85 years old, who was born and has always lived in this vicinity. We find this view further confirmed by documentary evidence, which is more reliable than mere memory. Humphry Davenport, one of the first settlers in this vicinity, came here in 1714, a granddaughter of his was on January 1st 1754 married to Jacob Bovie, and she is recorded as born in "Uylekill." This is taken from a certified copy of the church record at Aquackanock.

EARLY RESIDENTS AND ENTERPRISES.

The settlement at what is known as Upper Montville was made at a very early date, and there is some reason to believe that the first grist-mill in this vicinity was erected there. The records of Pequannock show that on October 2nd 1745 a road was laid out "from the corner at Cornelius Doremus's to the corner at Nicholas Hyler's, and then along the line between Hyler and Peter Fredericks to a white oak tree, and thence across the brook, and thence as the path goeth to Michael Cook's mill." This shows that a grist-mill was at Montville prior to 1745, and that it belonged to Michael Cook; and it appears that Michael Cook was then an old resident, and was elected to a town office as early as 1749. There is reason, therefore, to believe that he had built a mill there some time before that date, or that his immediate predecessor built it, perhaps as early as 1720. About 1787 we find that this mill and a saw-mill were owned by John Pierson and Elijah Dod, the latter a son of Caleb Dod who lived at Horse Neck, in Caldwell township, Essex county, at a point now called Clinton. Elijah Dod came there when a young man, and soon afterward erected a dwelling, the same that is now the residence of the widow of Frederick W. Cook. The last named was a son of Silas Cook, who bought the property after the death of Elijah Dod, which occurred February 3d 1807. Elijah Dod left four daughters; the eldest married William Scott, the next married Joseph Scott jr. (brother of William), the third became the wife of John G. Kanouse, and the youngest married Lewis King; the two latter are still living, one aged 80 and the other 77.

Silas Cook came to Montville about 1795. His first wife was a daughter of Martin Morrison, who resided near Lower Montville. By this marriage he had two daughters, one of whom married Cornelius Van Orden and the other Swain A. Condit. His second wife was a daughter of John Salter, who lived in that vicinity. His first purchase of property at Montville was one-quarter of the cider-mill and distillery belonging to Zadoc Baldwin, a resident of Caldwell, Essex county. This he bought June 8th 1798. The following year Baldwin sold another quarter to Cook, who soon became the sole owner of the distillery, and after the death of Elijah Dod became the owner of the grist-mill and also of a part of the saw-mill. When Zadoc Baldwin sold to Cook a part of the distillery he made a reserve of sufficient ground in the rear of the cider-mill to erect a tannery. His plans as to a tannery here were not carried out, but two years after that his son, Elijah Baldwin, bought a site from Thomas Fredericks, about a quarter of a mile distant, and there built a bark mill and tannery. Considerable bark was purchased and ground here and sold to tanners in Newark, besides what was used on the premises in tanning. Elijah Baldwin sold half of his bark-mill and tannery to his brother Bethuel, who sold his share to Martin Van Duyne. The latter purchased for his two sons Cornelius M. and John M. Van Duyne. Quite a large business in bark and tanning was carried on here for many years, but since the death of Elijah Baldwin comparatively little has been done. The mill and tannery are still used by Moses A. Baldwin, a younger son of Elijah Baldwin.

In the cider-mill of Silas Cook apples in large quantities were ground in the old-fashioned way, being crushed by a heavy wooden wheel passing over them in a circular trough, and for many years a large business in cidermaking and distilling was done here. Whiskey was prepared in various forms; by the addition of little scorched sugar a color was given to it, and then it was called cider brandy and sold for 25 per cent. more. In those days they made what was called "cherry;" this was made by putting a quantity of black cherries and wild cherries into a barrel of whiskey, which imparted a deep red color and a cherry flavor to the liquor. After steeping for a time the liquor was drawn off and the cherries thrown out. In those days it was the general practice to allow swine to run at large upon the public streets; although it is said a hog will not drink whiskey, these cherries thrown out appeared to attract them, and after they had eaten of the highly seasoned fruit it was amusing to notice them as they would begin to jump about, stagger, squeal, and grunt, and then lie in the gutters, the result being quite illustrative of the effects of whiskey upon human beings.

About 1809 Conrad Estler bought a lot from Henry I. Vanness and opened a small store at Montville, the first store kept there; he carried on business here for a number of years, dealing considerably in hooppoles. On the first of April 1812 Benjamin L. and Stephen Condit bought 23.60 acres of land of Daniel T. Peer at Montville, and proceeded to erect a bark mill and tannery. On the 15th of April 1813 they sold to their brothers Nathaniel O. and Timothy D. Condit, who came from Orange, Essex county, and carried on here the bark and tanning business for several years. About 1827, when the Morris Canal was being built, N. O. Condit took out a license for a tavern. The building first occupied by him, a long one-story structure, stood on the site of the present tavern-house, which was built by N. O. Condit; he continued to keep a public house here for about thirty years. After the setting off of Rockaway township, in 1844, this was the place for holding town meetings and elections in Pequannock to 1867; since that time it has been the place for transacting the public business of Montville township.

From 1800 to 1820 Montville village was a hamlet containing about sixteen dwellings, two bark-mills and tanneries, three saw-mills, one grist-mill, a cider-mill and distillery, a blacksmith shop, a carpenter and wheelwright shop, and one small store, which tended to make the place a business center for a circuit of several miles. Since that time one tannery and bark mill and two saw-mills have gone down and disappeared. In the place of one saw-mill has recently been erected a large brick building occupied as a rubber factory, at which steam and water power are used; and near the site of another saw-mill a small grist-mill has been erected. The village now contains about forty dwellings, one saw-mill, two grist-mills, one bark-mill and tannery, one rubber factory, two blacksmith shops, two taverns, and two small stores. The great distillery was discontinued in 1825, when the building of the Morris Canal was commenced. This canal passes through the village, and in half a mile descends 150 feet by two inclined planes; the lower plane passes over part of the ground where the old distillery stood. Although this hamlet is not so great a business center as formerly for the surrounding country, yet the increase in the number of dwellings, their improved condition, and the generally neat appearance of their surroundings, indicate a greater degree of thrift and comfort.

The town records show that in October 1749 a road was laid out, beginning at Michael Cook's mill, and running across and along lands of Nicholas Hyler, Martin Van Duyne, Conrad Fredericks and John Miller to the river, and down the river, in the words of the record, "as the path runs to the bridge near John Davenport's." No mention being made of a grist-mill where Zabriskie's mill now stands, it is probable no mill was there at that time. The words of the description warrant the inference that this whole region was then mostly a wilderness; paths leading to and from the mill, which could only be traversed by horses carrying the grist in bags on their backs. The John Davenport mentioned was a son of Humphrey Davenport, who settled in this vicinity in 1714. John Davenport at the time lived near the brook where the road turns in to Starkey's woolen factory. Zabriskie's grist-mill stands at the beginning corner of the tract of 750 acres purchased by Humphrey Davenport in 1714; the exact date of the erection of a mill here we are unable to determine. For many years this mill was known as Duryea's mill. Daniel Duryea, who came from Harrington, Bergen county, on the 7th of July 1785, purchased from Albert Alyea 120 acres of land, having on it this grist-mill and a saw-mill, for which he paid 1,200, equal to $3,000; this tract immediately adjoined on the north the large tract bought by Humphrey Davenport in 1714. Albert Alyea had purchased it from David Brower in 1781, and Brower bought it from Peter Tise. It is probable a grist-mill and a saw-mill were erected here about 1760, shortly after the laying out and opening of public roads to that point. Daniel Duryea died in 1804, and left surviving three sons--Peter, Richard and Garret. To Peter he devised a part of his lands, including these mills and his homestead dwelling, which stood on the corner opposite the mill, where Zabriskie's residence stands; the old homestead was an old fashioned long stone house, of the Dutch cottage style. Peter Duryea lived here many years and died without children, leaving this property to Josiah Zabriskie; from Zabriskie it descended to his younger son, Albert J. Zabriskie, the present owner. The old mill was a small affair, with one run of stones, driven by an undershot wheel; the fall in the river at this point is about five feet. Some years ago a new mill with two runs of stones was erected in place of the old one, and a turbine wheel substituted. This mill has since been enlarged and greatly improved, and is one of the best in this vicinity.

About a mile down the river there is an old woolen factory, erected about 1809 for a carding and fulling mill by Nicholas J. Hyler and Leonard Davenport, who at the same time built here a saw-mill on land purchased from Abraham Davenport. In 1812 Hyler bought Davenport's interest; in 1815 he died, and his administrators sold the property in 1816 to Joseph Scott; the latter on the 3d of April 1827 sold it to Benjamin Crane and Ezekiel B. Gaines, who sold to Benjamin Starkey, the present owner.

Within the present year (1881) a distillery for making apple whiskey has been started near Montville, which is the only one in this township and the only one that has existed anywhere in this vicinity for more than forty years. Prior to 1825 distilleries were numerous and the use of whiskey was quite general among the people. In 1815 Congress, in order to meet the expenses of the war of 1812, passed an act authorizing a direct tax, and we find the old distillery owned by Silas Cook noted as No. 90 in the second collection district. A circumstance serving to show the influence of public sentiment over the administration of law is worthy of notice. In a neighborhood about one and a half miles east of Montville, called "Doremus Town," there were in 1827 three dwellings within a few yards of each other (the only dwellings in the place) and each one was licensed as a tavern; about a mile further east another was licensed, and a mile and a half beyond this two more were licensed. Scarcely any of them were fitted and they probably were not expected to answer the legitimate purposes of a tavern as required by law, but were merely used for the purpose of selling liquor to the laborers engaged in constructing the canal.

From the description of property in old deeds it appears that between 1800 and 1810 an attempt was made to name the cluster of three or four houses at Pine Brook, where George D. Mead keeps a store, "Union Village;" but as a village failed to grow up the name was dropped and has been forgotten. At this point a tavern was kept over eighty years, and for many years it did a legitimate and profitable business in the accommodation of "Sussex teams," as they were called, which in large numbers used to pass this way toward Newark with loads of flour, feed, grain, butter, pork, and other produce from Sussex, Warren, and the upper parts of Morris county. The opening of railroads in various directions has produced a great change, and for the benefit of the farmers, as the transportation by rail is cheaper and more expeditious. Now very few teams are employed in such transportation, and there is scarcely any legitimate business for a tavern at this point. There are only two taverns in Montville township, and four stores--one at Pine Brook, two at Montville and one at White Hall; there are post-offices at Pine Brook, Montville and Whitehall.

About the year 1785 Nathaniel Gaines, a young man, settled near Pine Brook, on the old road, a few hundred yards below the present school-house. He had served in the Revolutionary war as a cavalryman, and was with General Stark at the battle of Bennington, Vermont. He was a native of Connecticut, and was a nailer by trade. A nailer in those days was one who made nails by hand, hammering each out on an anvil, as nail-cutting machines had not then been invented. There are persons living, born and brought up in that neighborhood, who say they well remember frequently hearing the ring of Gaines's hammer on his anvil in the morning as soon as it was light, going to show that he was an industrious man. Those were days of comparatively low prices for labor, and the surrounding circumstances were such that if a person would support himself and family comfortably and accumulate property he must apply himself with unceasing industry. Gaines married a daughter of Ezekiel Baldwin, who lived in that neighborhood, and had several children. His oldest son, Ezekiel Baldwin Gaines, was born near Pine Brook, October 10th 1791. He was educated for a physician, studied medicine with Dr. John S. Darcy at Hanover, and was licensed in 1814. He first practiced with Dr. Darcy at Hanover; from there he went to Parsippany, and for a few years he was in partnership with Dr. Stephen Fairchild. From Parsippany he removed in 1818 to Lower Montville, where he resided and practiced his profession about thirty-seven years. In 1855 he removed to Boonton, and in 1861 he was appointed postmaster there, in which capacity he served for several years; when, owing to advanced years and declining health, he retired from active life. He died at Boonton on the 31st of March 1881.

Silas Cook, being an educated man and a person of good natural ability, possessed an influence among the people of his neighborhood. In 1806 he was appointed one of the judges of the county court, and for nearly forty years almost continuously held that office; at the same time he was a justice of the peace, and for a term represented the county in the upper house of the State Legislature.

SCHOOLS.

There are five school districts in this township--at Pine Brook, Lower Montville, Upper Montville, White Hall and Taylortown. The school-houses are all nearly new buildings, and with the exception of that at Taylortown are furnished with improved desks and seats. The total value of school property in this township is estimated at $9,500. Since the formation of the township these schools have been entirely free, and have been kept open generally during the school year.

For a more particular history of these schools prior to 1867 the reader is referred to the history of education in Pequannock township.

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCHES.

In Montville township there are four churches--two Methodist and two Reformed. The Methodist church at Pine Brook was erected about 1843, and the congregation is the largest of that denomination in the township. The society has a neat and commodious parsonage near the church, and maintains a settled pastor.

The other Methodist church, at Whitehall, is a neat edifice erected about 1851; this congregation has no parsonage, but maintains a pastor and includes in its limits those of that denomination in the northern and central parts of this township.

REFORMED CHURCHES.

The oldest church in this township is the Reformed church at Lower Montville. This church organization was started at Old Boonton, about 1756, and shortly afterward a church edifice was erected there, which stood about five hundred yards directly north from where stands the Morris county poor-house. Prior to the erection of the church meetings were held in a log school-house that stood near that place. Feeble in the beginning this organization had no settled minister, but was supplied occasionally by preachers from other churches. Indeed, the history of these early congregations shows that financially they were weak, and under the necessity of making a joint effort to support a settled minister. But this was not the only reason. The church history informs us that about this time there were nearly twice as many church organizations of this denomination as there were regularly licensed and approved ministers; consequently it was a matter of compulsion that several should unite in calling a minister conjointly. Rev. David Marinus, who was called to serve at Acquackanonk and Pompton conjointly in 1752, occasionally preached at Old Boonton. From 1762 to 1767 Rev. Cornelius Blaw, of the "Conferentic" party, served this church conjointly with those at Fairfield, Totowa and Pompton. From 1772 to 1791 the pulpit was supplied occasionally by Rev. Hermanus Meyer, who was the settled pastor at Totowa and Pompton Plains. In 1794 this church united with that at the Plains in calling Rev. Stephen Ostrander, who preached at Old Boonton one quarter of the time for about seven years.

In 1801 this congregation appointed a committee, consisting of Silas Cook, Edmund Kingsland, Richard Duryea and Henry Van Ness, and authorized them to purchase a place for a parsonage; and on the 13th of April that year they bought of Samuel Stiles a house and about twenty-two acres of land at Lower Montville, near the residence of Richard Duryea. It is said this parsonage was occupied briefly by a Rev. W. P. Kuypers, who preached from 1801 to 1805 at Old Boonton. Little use was made of this place as a parsonage, and the records show that Silas Cook, Henry Van Ness, and Edmund Kingsland, a committee appointed by the congregation for the purpose, sold it by deed dated February 8th 1805 to Dr. George Wurts, who resided there about thirty-five years, until his death.

When Rev. Mr. Ostrander became the pastor this church took the necessary course to become incorporated, and as a matter of interest we copy from the records the following: "We the ministers, elders, and deacons of the Reformed Dutch Congregation at Boonton do certify that the said congregation is named the First Reformed Dutch Congregation at Boonton; and we hereby wish the same to be recorded in the clerk's office of the county of Morris, agreeable to an act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey passed November 25th 1789; as witness our hands and seals this -- day of November 1795." Signed by Stephen Ostrander, V. D. M., and by Lucas Von Beverhoudt, Jacob Kanous sen., Jacob Romine, and Michael Cook as elders, and by Jacob Kanous jr., Frederick Miller and Henry Mourison as deacons.

After 1805 this church seems to have been served with preachers occasionally from other churches. Alden's Register reports the pulpit of the church at Boonton as vacant in 1810 and 1811. Rev. John Duryea, who was settled at Fairfield, occasionally preached at Boonton from about 1812 to 1816. Levi Stiles, now over 85 years old, relates his recollection of an incident connected with Mr. Duryea's preaching at Boonton. In the beginning of the war of 1812, in the course of his sermon one Sunday, suddenly digressing, in an animated appeal to the people he broke forth with the exclamation, "Young men, one and all, gird on your swords and rush to the war!" This, Mr. Stiles says, surprised many and gave offense to some of those present.

About this time the people began to agitate the question of building a new church, and in order to have it more central to the congregation it was determined to remove to the present location at Montville. Preparatory to this end the church edifice at Boonton was taken down, in order that such parts of the material as were found sound and available might be used in the new structure; and about the year 1818 a new church was built on a site on the north side of the road and directly opposite the present church, and it was opened for services the next year. The land for the site and for a burial ground was obtained from Garret Duryea, and the quantity first bought was forty-hundredths of an acre; the church edifice was erected before the deed for the land was made out, which bears date October 8th 1819. This edifice was in dimensions about 30 by 50 fifty feet, and was two stories in height, with a steeple in front, and finished inside with a double row of pews on each side of a central aisle, with a side and end gallery; built after the old style with a heavy frame of white oak timber, it was a very substantial building. It served this congregation thirty-eight years, and when it was removed in 1856 most of the timber in the frame was found to be sound, although some of it had been in use at Boonton and Montville nearly a hundred years.

After the removal to Montville the first minister settled as the pastor was James G. Brinckerhoof; he began about 1821 and continued until 1824, when disturbances arose in the congregation touching doctrinal points, from which a division resulted, a portion, with whom Mr. Brinckerhoof sided, going off and forming an organization which they called "The True Reformed Dutch Church." By this party a house for worship was erected soon after about two miles south on the road to Pine Brook. The differences which led to a separation are plainly set forth in the deed given for the ground on which the church stands. We copy the following from the record of the deed, bearing date October 8th 1827:

"Henry Mourison to the trustees of the True Reformed Dutch Church at Montville * * *."

"The party of the first part, desirous to promote and advance the cause and interests of the true religion in general, and particularly to encourage the above mentioned society and congregation, holding and maintaining the doctrines hereinafter mentioned, for and in consideration of the premises, and also in consideration of five dollars, have sold and conveyed to the trustees of the True Reformed Dutch Church of Montville and their successors in office, to and for the use of the said society or congregation above mentioned, a certain tract of land, &c., to have and hold the same so long as said trustees and their successors in office or any three of them do and shall truly, faithfully, and sincerely hold thereto and maintain the following Christian doctrines, that is to say:

"The total depravity of the sinner, he having no natural ability to serve and worship God acceptably.

"The definite atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his name having made satisfaction only for the elect of God.

"Regeneration wrought by the Spirit of God alone, and justification by faith in the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, in contradistinction to that or those denomination or denominations of Christians who hold and maintain the following doctrines, that is to say:

"The natural ability of the sinner to love and worship God acceptably.

"The indefinite atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ in his having (as they maintain) made satisfaction not only for the elect but for the non-elect also in a certain sense."

This congregation, small in the beginning and without much increase in numbers, has maintained its organization for over half a century. It has a small house of worship, kept in good repair; has had no settled minister for many years, but occasionally supplies, and meetings weekly.

After the division in the church at Montville as stated the pulpit was next occupied by Rev. Abraham Mesler as a supply for about two years; then by Rev. J. Ford Morris and Rev. John G. Tarbell for a short time. Next Rev. Mr. Ogilvy occupied the pulpit as pastor for about one year. Then followed Rev. Abraham Mesler again, but this time as pastor at Pompton Plains and this church for about three years, to 1832. Next came the pastorate of Rev. Frederick F. Cornell, continuing about three years, to 1836; Rev. Mr. Woods was then pastor about a year; Rev. Jeremiah S. Lord about four years, to 1843; Rev. John L. Janeway about seven years, to 1850; Rev. Nathaniel Conklin about nineteen years; Rev. Luther H.Van Doren about three years, to 1874; Rev. J. H. Collier about five years, to 1879. In that year Rev. James Kemlo, a young licentiate of Rutgers and an ordained minister, was called, and he is the present pastor.

In 1856 this congregation, thinking more church room necessary, purchased ground on the opposite side of the road, and erected the present church edifice.


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