Historic Timeline Details

Oliver Stelle’s will also identifies several rooms and features of his house by name: 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 has 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.

The inventory names two rooms in the house: the “west chamber” and the “milk room,” and the reference to “old casks and gums [?] in west chamber” suggests that this room was being used for storage. While the “west chamber” might have been either of the west rooms mentioned in the 1829 will, it might also have been located on the upper story, although the upper stories of the region’s one-and-one-half-story houses typically were unfinished or partially finished. The inventory lists a “lot of crockery” in the “milk room,” presumably a cold storage room, probably located in the cellar. The inventory identifies three other buildings by name, one of which the “wagon house,” 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. The inventory also lists the “stove at the School House,” as well as “lot of old iron at Still house” and “Barrels & hogsheads in Still house.” Oliver Stelle’s will indicates that his cider mill and distillery were not part of his farmstead but located on another property. The location of the schoolhouse remains unknown. While it is possible that Samuel Kennedy’s schoolhouse had survived (see 1764 entry), the inventory item more likely refers to a neighborhood schoolhouse for which Oliver had provided a heating stove.

The inventory gives the total value of Oliver Stelle’s personal property as $2,519 including $610 in notes and $84 cash. Livestock worth $1,192 constitutes his most valuable asset: 11 horses (7 horses and 4 colts) valued at $580, 24 head of cattle (15 cows, 5 steers, 3 calves and 1 bull) worth $287, 2 “yokes” of oxen valued at $148, 7 pigs and their shoats worth $148, and 28 sheep worth $42. The herd of sheep, along with a “loom and tackling” and a “lot broad cloth,” documents domestic cloth manufacture. The inventory indicates that the house is comfortably, but simply furnished with tables and chairs, several beds, two “clothes cupboards,” a corner cupboard, a desk and a “looking glass.” The single most valuable item is an “8 day clock” worth $25. With the exception of the clock, Oliver Stelle’s household goods include no indicators of elite lifestyle, although three lots of books may indicate some level of household education. The listing of “Andirons Shovel & Tongs” and “Andirons…Shovel & Trammel” suggests that open fireplaces are still in use for heating and cooking. The inclusion of few kitchen items and textiles in the inventory suggests that it may be only partial listing of items in the house, excluding property belonging to Oliver’s widow and unmarried daughter (see discussion of provisions of Oliver’s will below).

Clarkson Stelle inherits the subject property from his father, his father’s homestead: “all the residue and remainder of the Farm whereon I now live [in 1829] bounded on the westerly side by the highway on the south by the land bequeathed to my son John on the east by the Passaic river and on the north by the road and land of Peter F. Randolph,” containing about 160 acres, and another nearby lot “bounded on the east by the middle of the high way that passes over the dead river, and on the south by the dead river, on the west by land herein bequeathed to my son John and again on the west and north by land deeded to my said son Clarkson, as wells as an undivided one third share of the lots “purchased of Oliver Woodward” and others and of the “cider and still works with the appurtenance thereunto belonging and a privilege of carrying them on by my three sons Ephraim, John & Clarkson.” Oliver also left Clarkson “my small black boy that now [in 1829] lives with me,” and one third of the remainder of his estate [New Jersey Wills, 2389R]. Clarkson presumably makes his father’s homestead his residence sometime after inheriting the property.

John Stelle inherits the portion of his father’s property lying west of the road and the homestead, adjoining land previously deed to him by his father and containing about 82 acres, as well as two lots of 15 and 14 acres each, undivided third shares of the Woodward lots and the “cider and still works, and “the black boy that he now has” [New Jersey Wills 2389R].

Oliver Stelle’s unnamed wife (perhaps his wife, Sarah, identified in the 1823 deed, see 1823 entry) is left $70 a year as long as she remains his widow, along with “the use in common with the others of my west front room and west back room [,] the entry [,] kitchen [,] well and cellar for one year after my decease,” and is to receive for the same period “a sufficiency of grain meat and necessary provisions…and of firewood cut up at the door suitable for a stove or fireplace” to be supplied by Clarkson; the widow is “to live with my daughter Christian[a] or if she should elect to live with Clarkson” the latter’s two brother’s were to share the costs of her support for the one year. The will confirms the widow’s possession of “all the linnin [sic] Bedding etc. that my said wife brought to me,” as well as that which she made subsequently and “all and every description of goods that she brought to me” in accordance with “an agreement made with her before our marriage.” Lastly, two new woolen blankets are to be provided to her one year after his decease “should she be living” [ NJ Wills, 2389R].

In addition to a bequest of $650, Christiana receives her choice of one of the “cows on the home farm,” half of her father’s linen, her choice of “two Beds and Bedding,” as well as two “bedsteds [sic] & cords,” her father’s “black girl, Amy,” “riding chair and harness” and the use of a horse. She also is to have “the use of my middle back room and the use in common with the others of the entry chamber, cellar [,] kitchen and well so long as she shall remain single and wish to occupy them her self.” The cow is to be kept by Clarkson as long as she remains unmarried [NJ Wills 2389R].

1834 Clarkson Stelle and his wife, Lucinda, convey a 3.17-acre lot adjoining the Dead River to his brother, John, on April 10th for $36.75, probably a portion of the land he had inherited from his father [Somerset County Deeds, Book S, page 298].

1838 Lucinda, wife of Clarkson Stelle and daughter of Thomas and Mary Terrell, dies on January 22nd, aged 40 years, 6 months and 15 days, according to her gravestone inscription [Siegel, 1998].

1840 Household of Clarkson Stelle, as listed in the 1840 census, contains eight members: two white males (1 aged between 5 and 9, and one between 40 and 49), five white females (one aged between 0 and 4, one between 5 and 9, two between 15 and 19, and one between 50 and 59) and one free black male aged between 10 and 23); two members of the household are employed in agriculture [US Census, Bernards Township, 1840].

Clarkson must have been the white male in his forties, and the oldest female probably was his unmarried sister, Christiana. The four girls and one boy presumably were his children (including Thomas T., Mary Ann, Mercy, and Adeline; see 1850 entry). Clarkson and the free black male undoubtedly are the two household members given as agriculturists [US Census, Bernards Township, 1840].

The free black male member of Clarkson Stelle’s household presumably is the “colored brother, Bill,” attending the nearby Mount Bethel Baptist church. A December 23rd entry in that church minutes 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” [Siegel, 1992, pp. 18 & 19].

The 1840 census lists John Stelle’s household (enumerated just before brother Clarkson’s) as containing five members: two white males (one aged between 20 and 29, and one between 40 and 49), two white females (one aged between 5 and 9 and one between 40 and 49); and one free black female (aged between 10 and 23). Ephraim Stelle’s household (enumerated just after brother Clarkson’s) total seven members: two white males (one aged between 10 and 13, and one between 50 and 59), four white females (three aged between 20 and 29, and one between 40 and 49) and one free black female aged between 10 and 23 [US Census, Bridgewater Township, 1840, page 215].

1841 The Mount Bethel Baptist Church minutes note on April 13th that “Colored William, Clarkson Stelle’s boy, came before the church to make acknowledgements. The church voted that he be restored” [Siegel, 1992, page 19].

1843 Rachel, daughter of Clarkson Stelle and his late wife, Lucinda, marries Isaac S. Runyon on October 25th [Somerset County Historical Quarterly, VIII, 1917, page 61].

1845 The 1845 Passaic Valley map identifies “C[larkson]. Stelle” as the owner of property on the west bank of the Passaic River south of what became Millington with boundaries conforming to later deed descriptions (see 1852 entry) and with his house depicted on the site of the subject property. It identifies property and house on the west side of the what is now called King George Road as that of “John Stelle,” land to the north at the junction of the that road and Valley Road as that of “P. Randolph” and a small parcel to the south of Clarkson Stelle’s land on the east side of the road just north of the confluence of the Dead and Passaic rivers as belonging to “W. Boyle” [John Littel, A Map of Passaic Valley from Stone House Village to Chatham N. J…, 1845].

1850 The 1850 county map depicts the house of “C. Stelle” on the subject property and that of “J. Stelle” on the west side of the present-day King George Road a short distance to the north; to the northwest on either side of the road as the houses of “G. Randolph” and R. Randolph,” forming part of a loose cluster of dwellings named both “Stone House” and “Millington.” To the west of G. Randolph on the road to Liberty Corner is the property of “E[phraim]. R. Stelle [J. W. Otley and J. Keily, Map of Somerset County, New Jersey, 1850].

Household of Clarkson Stelle, as listed in the 1850 census on August 22nd, contains 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 [US Census, Bernards Township, 1850; Snell, 1881, page 738].

The agricultural schedule of the 1850 census enumerates Clarkson Stelle as the proprietor of a general farming operation with an important dairy component. The farm, consisting of 156 acre of improved land and 50 acres of unimproved land, is valued at $9,000, and the farm equipment is worth $500. His livestock valued at $1,000 includes 5 horses, 9 milk cows, 7 other head of cattle, 2 oxen, 27 sheep, and 13 swine. Farm production includes 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” is $75 and the value of slaughtered animals is $250 ” [US Census, Agricultural Schedule Bernards Township, 1850].

Household of Ann Stelle, widow of John Stelle, as listed in the population schedule of the 1850 census, contains seven members: Ann, age 56, identified as a farmer with real estate valued at $9,000, her three son, Freeman, age 30, his wife Martha, age 26, and their sons, Renne, age 7, and Abel, 9 months, and daughters Sarah, age 5, and Esther, age 3 [US Census, Bernards Township, 1850; Snell, 1881, page 738].

Household of Ephraim Stelle, as listed in the 1850 census, contains nine members: Ephraim, age 69, a farmer who owned real estate valued at $9,000, his wife Hannah, age 61, their daughter, Mary, age 36, son, Oliver, a 24-year-old farmer, and their presumably orphaned Terrell grandchildren (Mary Ann, 16, Ephraim, 13, Elizabeth, 8, and Margaret, 7) the children of their daughter Elizabeth and her husband Drake Terrell [US Census, Bernards Township, 1850; Snell, 1881, after page 738].

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