A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mandeville and Pomfret on Local History

The Matawan Aberdeen Public Library has some interesting local histories with mentions of places of interest to us here in Aberdeen and Matawan. If you grab a book and take a seat in the library, you can leisurely peruse these and not even have to take them home. Frankly, I don't recommend a full reading of either unless your summer agenda is embarassingly open.

1) The Story of Middletown: The Oldest Settlement in New Jersey, by Ernest W Mandeville, Rector of Christ Church, Middletown (Middletown: Christ Church, 1927, republished 1972 by Thelma K Jelliffe) can be found in the general shelves under code 974.946 MA.

Mandeville provides a key to the historical rendering of local town names (p. 14):
  • Baptist Town (Holmdel)
  • Chanceville (New Monmouth)
  • Leedsville (Lincroft)
  • Middletown Point (Matawan)
  • Morrisville (Everett)
  • Riceville (Navesink)
  • Waackack (Keansburg)
Mandeville has a whole chapter on pirates (Chapter VI, Pirate Days in Middletown, pp. 54-59). Given the local lore that Captain Kidd buried some of his loot in Treasure Lake in Cliffwood Beach, it might be interesting to read about how Captain Kidd used Ideal Beach in Port Monmouth as his home port and many of his crew settled in Middletown and environs when their wild days came to an end.

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Mandeville's section on Captain Jacob Conover of Middletown is borrowed nearly word for word from p. 289 of The Bergen Family; or the Descendants of Hans Hansen Bergen, One of the Early Settlers of New York and Brooklyn, L.I., written about fifty years earlier by Teunis G Bergen. Capt Conover reputedly disabled the lighthouse at Sandy Hook prior to the arrival of the British fleet to occupy New York City during the American Revolution. Conover was captured at Middletown Point, taken aboard a British ship and threatened with hanging but ended up being held prisoner instead in the Rhinelander Sugar House in New York. (Mandeville, pp. 65-66)

Mandeville's book contains the image of an advertisement from the 1 December 1852 edition of The New Jersey Standard - An Independent Family Journal. J. Lewis & Company, a shoemaker with 9 years experience, was selling fine boots and shoes next door to E. H. Dayton's store at Middletown Point. I was able to locate a John Lewis, age 29, shoemaker, $700 in property, living in Raritan (Keyport) in the 1850 census, along with his wife Margaret (29), son William A (5), daughters Sarah Jane (6) and Lydia Ann (2), blacksmith Daniel Carhart (22), coachmaker Samuel Baker (21), and Margaret Carhart (18). Enumerated next in the census was (John's brother?) Daniel Lewis, age 31, also a shoemaker, along with wife Catharine (26), son James H (4), blacksmiths James Coovert (19) and Bentiman Knowland (19), and shoemaker John Hughes (16). John Lewis left his Middletown Point shoemaking business in the next decade. By the time of the 1860 census, John Lewis was a farmer in Marlboro with $4,500 in real property and $400 in personal property. By the way, Lewis had three more daughters by then.

The New Jersey Proprietors and Their Lands, by John E Pomfret (Princeton: D Van Nostrand Co, Inc, Volume 9 of the New Jersey Historical Series, 1964) appears on the general shelves under code 974.9 PO.

As if any of us needed to be told, Jersey is a corruption. More specifically, Jersey actually means Caesar's Island (Caesaria) and is derived from Jer- (a corrupted form of Caesar) and -sey, which signifies island. (p. 8)

Pomfret discusses the 1665 land grant that eventually formed Monmouth County. The original Navesink land grant reached from Sandy Hook to the mouth of the Raritan River, then went up the river about 25 miles and thence down to Barnegat Bay. In 1675 the grant lands were renamed Middletown, and they became Monmouth County in 1682. (p. 11 ff)


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