Stelle Family

Members of the Stelle Family owned and occupied the farmstead from 1794 until 1945.

Oliver Stelle (1756 – 1832) and his brother Samuel, stepsons of Col. Ephraim Martin, acquired the property in 1794.

Oliver Stelle, a farmer and investor, becomes sole owner and the property remains in the Stelle family for 150 years. Records show that Oliver acquired extensive property holdings in Bernards Township and vicinity, including farmland adjoining his homestead, several houses, a cider mill and a distillery.

Son Clarkson Stelle (1798—1850) inherits the property in 1832 and continues to run the farm adding a cow barn and an addition of hay barracks to the existing barn (likely the larger east section) 

• In 1851, Clarkson’s heirs are instrumental in founding the Millington Baptist Church and provide half an acre for the Millington Baptist Society meeting house. 

In 1852 the property is auctioned off and Isaac S. Runyon (1819 – 1892), Clarkson Stelle’s son-in-law, purchases the property and continues to farm.

• Isaac and wife Rachel (Stelle) Runyon deed part of the property to Thomas Stelle (Rachel’s brother). 

Daughter, Rachel (Runyon) Coddington (1864 – 1936) inherits the property in 1892.  Her husband, William Coddington (1854—1935), a lawyer, served as director of several companies and served 25 years as an attorney for Union county as well as two terms in the state assembly.  The Codington’s established a dairy operation at the Farmstead.  

Coddington’s children inherit the property in 1936. 

Oliver Stelle

Born on August 1, 1756, Oliver Stelle was one of nine children of Christiana Clarkson Stelle and Rev. Isaac Stelle (1718 – 1781). Rev. Stelle was a private in the Middlesex Regiment during the revolutionary war and was the third pastor of the old Piscataway Baptist Church. 

After his father’s death in 1781, his mother re-married. Catherine Wall married first, by license dated, 30 Jun 1755, Henry Green; second, by license dated 5 Jan 1780, Rev Isaac Steele; third, Mr. Ephraim Martin. 

Ephraim Martin sold the farmstead to Oliver and Samuel Stelle, the stepsons of his wife, the former Catherine Stelle, in 1794.  Oliver, a farmer and property investor, owned multiple house lots, a distillery and cider mill in the Basking Ridge and Piscataway areas. 

From approximately 1794 – 1832, Oliver Stelle owned the Farmstead. 

Oliver Stelle’s will and inventory identify several rooms and features of the farmhouse:

His 1829 will mentions the “west front room,” the “west back room,” the “middle back room,” and the “entry” and/or “entry chamber,” as well as the kitchen, cellar and well, indicating that his residence had a double-pile first-floor plan with a range of at least three rooms front and back, and thus establishing the configuration of the present house by that time. 

Although the upper stories of the region’s early one-and-one-half-story houses typically were unfinished or partially finished, the presence of a stairwell railing with an apparently late 18th/early 19th-century provenance in the upper hall certainly suggests that upper story was finished, at least in part, as living space during this period. 

Other features of the house that, based on physical or stylistic evidence, can be dated to c. 1800-1830 include the pilastered, late Federal style mantel in the present living room and brick cooking fireplace and bake oven in the southeast room. 

Oliver Steele may well have been responsible for remodeling the house and possibly for enlarging it to the east.

The inventory also identifies the “wagon house,” by name and is mentioned in three entries relating to the storage of lumber, scythes and “old harnesses,” presumably is the one extant for which physical evidence suggest a late 18th/early 19th-century construction date 

Oliver Stelle’s son, Clarkson, inherited the property upon Oliver’s death in 1832.   

He was married to Mary Runyon in 1778 and they had eleven children. She passed away in 1813 at the age of 54. He then married Sarah (last name unknown) before 1823.

Oliver Stelle is buried in the Mt. Bethel Church Cemetery located in Warren, New Jersey.

 Oliver Stelle: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10811493/oliver-stelle

 Sources & More information: 

Dennis Bertland Associates, Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead National Register Nomination, 2001 (Township of Bernards)

Somerset County Mortgages, Book D, page 52; NJ Tax Ratables, Bernards Township, Somerset County, 1794; Siegel, Cemetery Records of Warren Township Somerset County New Jersey, no page.

Snell, Ephraim R. Stelle biography after page 738; Somerset County Mortgages, Book E, page 131; NJ Wills, 10112S.

NJ Wills 10112L; Somerset County Mortgages, Book D, page 52.

Littel, 1851, page 403; Oliver B. Leonard, Outline Sketches of the Pioneer Progenitors of the Piscataway Planters, pp. 15 & 19; Siegel, Cemetery Records of Warren Township Somerset County New Jersey, no page; NJ Wills 3213R and 2389R; Somerset County Deeds, Book Q, page 178

 

Oliver Stelle: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10811493/oliver-stelle