Historic Timeline Details

Mrs. Geier died in 1994, and in the following year her husband transferred title of the two tracts to a limited liability corporation, presumably controlled by him. On October 13, 1999, the Geier corporation sold the two tracts to the Sterling Properties Group, LLC, for $5,000,000. On the same day, the Township of Bernards purchased the portion of the property containing the farmstead from Sterling for $3,500,000 using funds raised by the municipal open space tax, the remainder being retained by Sterling for development as senior citizen housing. Recognizing the historical importance of the property to the community, as well as its open space and recreational value, the township currently is engaged in planning for the farmstead’s preservation and adaptive reuse as a cultural facility.[57]

3. Chronology

1717 John Harrison “of Rockie Hill,” reportedly acting as agent for the East Jersey Proprietors, obtains a title deed (dated June 24, 1717) from “Nowenoik, an Indian chief,” for a tract of 3,000 acres, bordered on the east by the Passaic River and on the south by the Dead River, which encompassed the southeastern portion of Bernards Township, along with the site of the subject property [J. P. Snell (ed.), History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, 1881, pp. 735 & 736].

1740 Nathaniel Rolph acquires from “the proprietors or their heirs,” (as recorded in Schedule No. 3 in the Elizabethtown Bill of Chancery) title to lot #117, a tract of 83 acres of land “on Harrison’s Purchase” on March 28th [J. P. Snell (ed.), History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, 1881, pp. 562 & 736].

Nathaniel Rolph (or Rolfe) probably was the Nathaniel, born c. 1712, identified by genealogists as the son of Moses Rolph, a New Englander who migrated to Woodbridge, New Jersey, in the late 1600s. Nathaniel had an older brother Samuel, probably the Samuel Rolfe who was one of the seven trustees receiving title to the lot occupied by the pioneer Presbyterian house of worship at Basking Ridge in 1731. The Henry Rolfe cited by local historians as a pioneer settler of the community might have been their cousin [Snell, 1881, page 742; email communication, Ann Parsekian, June 17, 2002].

1741 James Alexander acquires from “the proprietors or their heirs,” (as recorded in Schedule No. 3 in the Elizabethtown Bill of Chancery) title to lot #121, six tracts comprising 785.48 acres of land “in Harrison’s Neck” on September 17th [J. P. Snell (ed.), History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, 1881, pp. 562 & 736; the survey dated September 17, 1741, being recorded in Book S, page 206 of East Jersey surveys].

1747 Nathaniel Rolfe of Somerset County conveys to Moses Doty of Somerset a 87.25-acre tract property in Somerset adjoining the Passaic River (presumably encompassing the above mentioned 83-acre tract) on March 31st for 180 pounds [Secretary of State’s Deeds, Book A-3, p. 206]. Moses Doty (c. 1702 – 1775) was already settled in Basking Ridge. His name first appears in 1732 in church records, and family records indicate that his son, Moses Doty, Jr., was born in Basking Ridge in 1730 [Ann Parsekian, “A Preliminary Report on the Reverend Kennedy Parsonage Farm, Bernards Township, New Jersey,” p. 3].

1751 James Alexander (Surveyor-General of New Jersey, and father of General Lord Stirling) conveys to Moses Doty “of Baskinridge [sic]” on June 4th for 204 pounds a 204-acre “Tract of land and meadow at Baskinridge [sic] lying upon Pasick [sic] river and dead river,” and subject to the yearly payment of “an ear of Indian corn,” if demanded; [Secretary of State’s Deeds, Book A-3, p. 208]. The deed further describes the tract “being part of the fourth tract in a return of Survey to said James [Alexander] dated the seventeenth of September 1741 and recorded in Lib: S. fol. 206” and its boundary running in part by “a corner of Nathaniel Rolfes Survey thence along Rolfe’s land.”

1751 Reverend Samuel Kennedy (1720-1787) becomes the minister of the Presbyterian congregation at Basking Ridge on June 26th [Snell, page 743].

1762 Moses Doty “Yeoman” of Bernards Township conveys to Samuel Kennedy “Minister of the Gospel” of the same place a 300-acre tract bordering the Passaic River on the east and the Dead River on the south, which presumably includes the subject property, on June 14th for 1,200 pounds [East Jersey Deeds, Book H3, page 301].

1764 Reverend Samuel Kennedy advertises a school to be conducted “under his Inspection in a School-House now built on his own Plantation.” [The New York Mercury, August 27, 1764, as quoted in New Jersey Archives, 1st Series, XXIV, Newspaper Extracts, V, 1902, page 407].

The complete advertisement is as follows:

The Rev. Samuel Kennedy, of Baskinridge, or Bernard’s Town, in the County of Somerset, and Province of New-Jersey, designs to have the learned Languages, and liberal Arts and Sciences, taught under his Inspection, in a School-House now built on his own Plantation; where Persons may be fitted to enter any Class in College; Any convenient Lodgings may be had near the said School-House. N. B. There are Scholars now learning the Latin and Greek Languages in said School.

1767 Reverend Samuel Kennedy of Bernards Township advertises his 300-acre “Plantation on which he now lives.” The advertisement describes the property’s improvements as including a ”Dwelling house with three rooms and two fireplaces on the lower floor” located near the Passaic River bank, “a good Barn, and a stable at each end of it” [The New York Mercury, No. 807, April 20, 1767, as quoted in New Jersey Archives, 1st Series, XXV, Newspaper Extracts, VI, 1903, page 350].

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