Historic Timeline Details

The black household member probably was the individual mentioned in a December, 1841, entry in the minutes of the Mount Bethel Baptist Church, which notes that “Our colored brother Bill, living with Clarkson Stelle, having left his master and having been guilty of immoral conduct, such as getting drunk, the church voted that he be excluded from the privilege of the church.” In the following April “Colored William, Clarkson Stelle’s boy, came before the church to make acknowledgements [and the] church voted that he be restored.”[37]

In 1850, the year of his death, Clarkson Stelle’s household contained five members: Clarkson, age 52, a farmer who owned real estate valued at $9,000; his three daughters, Mary Ann, age 25, Mercy, age 22, and Adaline, age 15; his son Thomas T., age 19; and his sister, Christian[a], age 72. No longer a member of his household, fourth daughter Rachel had married Isaac S. Runyon in 1843. [38]

The agricultural schedule of the 1850 census indicates that Clarkson Stelle was the proprietor of a general farming operation. The farm, consisting of 156 acre of improved land and 50 acres of unimproved land, was valued at $9,000, and the farm equipment, $500. His livestock, worth $1,000, included 5 horses, 9 milk cows, 7 other head of cattle, 2 oxen, 27 sheep, and 13 swine. Farm production encompassed 120 bushels of wheat, 90 bushels of rye, 700 bushels of corn, 250 bushels of oats, 200 bushels of buckwheat, 40 bushels of Irish potatoes, $30 worth of “orchard products,” 6 bushels of peas, 8 bushels of clover seed, 6 bushels of other grass seeds, 40 tons of hay, 600 pounds of butter, 60 pounds of cheese and 40 pounds of wool. The value of “home manufactures” was $75 and the value of “slaughtered animals,” $250.[39]

Clarkson Stelle died intestate on July 13, 1850, at the age of 52, having “committed suicide by hanging himself in the wagon-house.” His inventory, made on August 9th, provides limited information about his residence, naming only the “kitchen,” “kitchen chamber” and “milk room and cellar.” The reference to “lumber etc kitchen chamber” suggests that this room, presumably located either behind or above the kitchen, was being used for storage, and the listing for the “milk room and cellar” appears to confirm the location of this cold storage room in the cellar. The inventory identifies three other buildings by name, one of which the “wagon house,” mentioned in an entry relating to the storage of lumber, presumably is the one extant and the one mentioned in Oliver Stelle’s 1832 estate inventory. The two other buildings are the “new barn” and the “cow shed,” both mentioned in reference to hay storage. Three stacks of hay also are listed, suggesting the presence of hay barracks. The “new barn” may have been the west half of the present barn (which physical evidence suggests was a subsequent addition to the larger, east section, recycling the frame of a smaller barn) or another building which has not survived. In any case, it presumably is one of the “two large Barns” mentioned in an 1852 sale advertisement for the property, and the “cow shed” may well be the “Cow House” noted in the add, and possibly the extant cow shed/stable for which physical evidence suggest a c. 1825-50 construction date.[40]

The inventory gives the total value of Clarkson Stelle’s personal property as $2,359.66 (slightly less than that of his father), including $860,66 in notes and $100.90 cash. Livestock worth $608 constituted about 25% of his assets: 5 horses (3 mares and 2 colts) valued at $280, 18 head of cattle (8 cows and 10 calves or young cattle) worth $208, 1 “yoke” of oxen valued at $65, 10 pigs worth $38 and 9 sheep (5 ewes and 4 lambs) valued at $17. The inventory includes $395 in harvested crops: 10 bushels of buckwheat worth $4, 240 bushels of oats valued at $72, 100 bushels of corn worth $50, 150 bushels of wheat worth $150, 50 bushels of rye valued at $25 and an unspecified amount of hay worth $94. The inventory suggests that the house remained comfortably, but modestly, furnished with such items as tables and chairs, several beds, a “looking glass and wash stand,” several other mirrors, two “clothes presses,” a corner cupboard, and a “bureau.” The listing of 120 yards of carpeting (one lot of 80 yards and another of 40 yards) suggests that at least several rooms were carpeted. The inclusion of three stoves, one of them in the kitchen, indicates that stoves had supplanted fireplaces for cooking and heating.[41] Clarkson may well have updated the house after his father’s death, and the late Federal mantel in the present living room could have been added by him, instead of by his father.

The Stelle family remained staunch Baptists throughout the 19th century, and in the year after Clarkson Stelle’s death his heirs were instrumental in the founding of the Millington Baptist Church. In August, 1851, Stelle’s heirs-at-law (his children, Rachel & her husband, Isaac S. Runyon, Thomas T. Stelle, Mary Ann Stelle and Mercy Stelle) subdivided a half acre lot at the northwest corner of his homestead farm for the newly formed Millington Baptist Society to build a “meeting house.” The present church was finished and dedicated in October, 1852.[42]

To settle Clarkson Stelle’s estate, his farm was sold at a court-ordered auction in 1852, and the newspaper advertisement of the sale gives a general description of the property:

Splendid FARM for Sale. ….the Real Estate whereof Clarkson Stelle died seized, comprising the HOMESTEAD FARM of the said deceased, known as the “Oliver Stelle Farm,” containing about 200 acres of first rate Plough, Meadow and Grazing Land. About 30 acres of very heavy Timber on said Farm. The improvements are a large and good Frame House, two large Barns, Cow House, and every desirable out building, all in good condition. A road running through, divides the Farm, and will be divided or sold together. There is a great variety of fruit on said Farm. It is also well watered, and the Passaic River runs on the east side of said Farm.[43]

The farm was still divided into cropland, meadows and orchards as in 1767 when Rev. Kennedy advertised it for sale. However, little, if any, unimproved land appears to have remained, and its 30-acre wood lot was a significant asset in the mid 19th century, by which time the region had become much deforested.[44]

At the auction, the 199.79-acre property was sold to Isaac S. Runyon, Clarkson Stelle’s son-in-law, the high bidder at $41 per acre, for a total of $8,191.39, and on March 1st of the following year the property was conveyed to him. A few weeks later Isaac and wife Rachel deeded the portion of the property lying west of King George Road, which contained 111.52 acres, to Thomas J. Stelle, Rachel’s brother. Thomas evidently occupied and farmed that tract until his death in 1856, after which his unmarried sisters Mary Ann and Mercy lived there for a few years, followed by Mercy and her husband Thomas Terrell. The Runyons retained the 88.27-acre tract east of the road and the farmstead, which they made their residence and farmed throughout their lives. Possessing life rights to a portion of the house, Rachel’s aunt Christiana presumably lived there until her death in 1854 at age seventy-two.[45]

The 1860 and 1870 censuses reveal that German immigrants had supplanted slaves and free blacks as laborers on the farm. In 1860, Isaac Runyon’s household contained five members: Isaac, age 40, a farmer with real estate worth $6,000; his wife Rachel, age 38; their two sons, “Reuna” [sic], age 4, and Clarkson, age 1; Adam Smith, age 45, a German born farm laborer; and Harriet Ames, age 26, no occupation give, but possibly a domestic servant. The 1870 census lists seven household members: Isaac, age 51, a farmer with real estate worth $12,000 (double the valuation of 1860); his wife, Rachel, age 50; their son, “Runy Runyon” [sic], age 14; three girls, Josephine, age 16, Julia, age 12, and Rachel, age 6; and Adam Smith, age 60, the German born farm laborer. The two oldest girls, surnamed Runyon but not listed in the 1860 census, must have been relatives; son Clarkson listed in 1860 presumably had died.[46]

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