Fine. Item #100256
Elizabeth, NJ, William Mackdowell & others, 1722. Pen, ink and gouache on vellum, 3 interleaved membranes two of which are 26” x 31” and one map measuring 15” x 13”. Four wax seals intact, docketed on verso “Secretar [sic] Office / Perth Amboy 1723 / Recorded in Libres D No. 2 Fol. 7 lo. 13. Nearly pristine condition overall.
“It is a proud fact in the history of New Jersey that every foot of her soil has been obtained from the Indians by fair and voluntary purchase and transaction – a fact that no other State in the Union, not even the land which bears the name Penn can boast of” – Hon. Samuel L. Southard of Somerset Co. 1832.
The first purchase of Indian lands in Somerset County took place in 1681 when New York City merchant Thomas Codrington, John Palmer, Gabrielle Minvielle, Peter Carteret Governor of New Jersey, John White, Richard Hall, John Royce and John Delevalle purchased a large tract called Rakahova-walaby from the Raritan Chiefs Konackama and Qureromak for 100 pounds. A patent to the lands of Rakahova-walaby was granted by the Lords Proprietors of the Province of East Jersey in 1683. The original deed describes the tract thus:
“..do sell to them a tract on the north side of the Raritan River, beginning at the mouth of a rivulet called Bound Brook, and by the Indians, Sacunk; and thence up along the river Raritan to a brook called Raweighweros, and from thence to a certain stony hill; thence easterly to Metape’s Wigwam; thence along the Bound Brook aforesaid to the beginning”
The map contained here encompasses the limits of the first purchase within Bridgewater Township in Somerset County. Thomas Codrington was the only original proprietor to settle on these lands. Codrington sold a 2,750 acre tract to merchant Phillip French in 1707.
Phillip French was a successful New York City merchant and also served as the city’s 27th mayor from 1702 to 1703. Phillip and his wife Sussana would have three daughters, two of which survived to adulthood, Elizabeth and Anne. Elizabeth married Phillip Van Horne and Anne married Joseph Reade, who are here the recipients of the land according to Phillip French’s will and partitioned according to attached deed which reads in part:
“For the quantity of two thousand seven hundred and fifty acres within the limits…Buildings, Barns, Stables, warehouses…orchards, gardens, pastures, feedings, and all and singular other the premises the appurtenances therein mentioned to be Bargained and Sold”
Thomas Codrington also acquired John Palmer’s share being an 836 acre tract which he conveyed to Michiel Van Veghten by deed in 1691. Van Veghten settled on the land in 1694 by which he acquired the homestead farm on the Raritan River as depicted on the map.
William Mackdowell’s map embraces the limits of the first purchase bounded on the south by the Raritan River and extending north beyond the Bleu Mountains, or ‘stony hill’ as defined by deed of the Indian. Nine homesteads are shown and colored in charming perspective as are ‘The Church” (First Dutch Church donated by Van Veghten) and the ‘Bleu Mountains’. The nine land owners are clearly called out at each homestead including ‘Micheel Van Veghten’s House’, ‘Cornelius Van Horne’s’ and ‘Mr. Joseph Reade’s House’. Several land features are also depicted and colored including a ‘Pond’, “ditch’ and two ‘Bank of Upland’. A most handsome ink and gouache rendering in the 17th century English map-makers style.
Historic events would unfold on these lands during the Middlebrook Encampment in the winter of 1778-9 when General Nathaniel Greene made his headquarters of the Van Veghten house and American troops were encamped on the farm. In a letter to Colonel Wadsworth, Greene describes a dance at the Van Veghten house 19 March 1779 when General Washington “danced with Mrs. Greene for three hours without sitting down” and stated “upon the whole, we had a pretty little frisk”. At the time General George Washington was headquartered nearby at Mrs. Wallace’s 12 miles from Brunswick – New York Gazette 21 Dec 1778. In the spring of 1779 the Greene’s presented Mrs. Van Veghten with a mahogany tea table in appreciation of the Van Veghten’s hospitality.
The Van Veghten house survives and is today home of the Somerset County Historical Society.
The document is signed at the binding fold by Cornelius Van Horne, Elizabeth Van Horne, Joseph Reade and Anne Reade and signed on the verso witnessed by Phillip French, Sussana French and Thomas Farmer.
References: James P. Snell, “History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey” 1881 – pp.24, 559-561, 648-653, 820; Seymour Williams, “Historic American Buildings Survey, The Van Veghten House” 1940 – pp.1-12 & a tracing of this map illustrated p. 5a.