Historic Timeline Details

Clarkson Stelle dies intestate on July 13th at the age of 52 [Siegel, 1998, no page]. His death by suicide is noticed by a local newspaper:

We regret to learn that Mr. CLARKSON STELLE, a very respectable and wealthy farmer residing near Millington, Somerset Co. committed suicide by hanging himself in the wagon-house. He was assisting to unload hay in the barn, when he remarked that he felt dizzy headed and would go to the house. The hands finished unloading and were about returning for another when they found him dead. He was about 52 years of age [Plainfield Gazette, July 18, 1850, as quoted in Somerset County Genealogical Quarterly, IV, page 339].

Clarkson Stelle’s inventory, made on August 9th, provides limited information about his house, 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 “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 (see 1832 entry). 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 [New Jersey Wills, 3211R].

The “new barn” conceivably could be the west half of the present barn, which physical evidence suggests was a subsequent addition to the larger, east section, 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 (see 1852 entry), and the “cow shed” may well be the “Cow House” noted in the ad, and possibly the extant cow shed/stable for which physical evidence suggest an early 19th-century construction date [“Commissioners Sale of Real Estate,…June 15, 1852” Somerset Messenger, July 23, 1852, page 3].

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 constitutes about his 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 remains 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 are carpeted. The inclusion of three stoves, one of them in the kitchen, indicates that stoves had supplanted fireplaces for cooking and heating.

1851 Clarkson Stelle’s heirs-at-law (his children, Rachel & her husband, Isaac S. Runyon, Thomas T. Stelle, Mary Ann Stelle and Mercy Stelle) sell a half acre lot at the northwest corner of his homestead farm to Ephraim Stelle (Clarkson’s brother) and John Worth for $50 on August 13th, and seven days later Ephraim R. Stelle and John worth convey the same to the newly formed Millington Baptist Society for $50 with the provision that if the society did not build a “meeting house” for its use on the property within three years the lot would revert to the grantors [Somerset County Deeds, Book N2, page 438; Snell, 1881, Ephraim R. Stelle biography after page 738].

1852 Somerset County Orphans Court issues an order, dated April 30th, appointing commissioners to sell the real estate of Clarkson Stelle in order to settle his estate [Somerset County Deeds, Book Q2, page 361]. The three commissioners, Joseph DeCoster, Alvah Lewis and Daniel Annin, advertise on June 15th the sale of the “HOMESTEAD FARM of the deceased, known as the ‘Oliver Stelle Farm’” at public auction to take place of August 10th [“Commissioners Sale of Real Estate,…June 15, 1852” Somerset Messenger, July 23, 1852, page 3].

The advertisement describes the property as follows:

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.

The 199.79-acre property is sold at auction to Isaac S. Runyon, Clarkson Stelle’s son-in-law (see 1843 entry), the high bidder at $41 per acre, for a total of $8,191.39. The orphan court confirms the sale on December 31st [Somerset County Deeds, Book Q2, page 361].

1853 In accordance with court orders, the Commissioners convey the Clarkson Stelle property by deed to Isaac S. Runyon of Morristown, N. J. (husband of Clarkson’s daughter Rachel) on March 1st. Corresponding to the two parcels which Clarkson had inherited from his father Oliver (see 1832 entry), 199.79-acre property consists of two tracts: #1 located between the road and the Passaic River, containing 88.27 acres and the farmstead, and #2 located on the west side of the road on the north side of the Dead River to the south of the former John Stelle farm, containing 111.52 acres [Somerset County Deeds, Book Q2, page 361].

Isaac S. Runyon & wife convey a 111.52 acre tract (parcel #2 of the property conveyed to Runyon by Clarkson Stelle’s Commissioners) to Thomas J. Stelle (his wife Rachel’s brother) on March 23rd [Somerset County Deeds, Book Q2, pages 375 & 361].

1854 Christiana Stelle, unmarried daughter of Oliver Stelle, dies on December 15th, aged 72 years, 11 months and 5 days, according to the inscription on her gravestone [Siegel, 1998, page ?].

1856 Freeman Stelle purchases “the real estate lately belonging to [his father] John Stelle deceased,” from his brothers Jeptha M. and Jacob K. for $5,532 on October 10th; conveyance includes the 138.68-acre “homestead farm of the deceased,” and other property inherited from Oliver Stelle [Somerset County Deeds, Book N2, page 438; Snell, 1881, Freeman Stelle biography after page 738].

Thomas T. Stelle, son of Clarkson and Lucinda Stelle, dies on May 11th aged 25, according to his gravestone inscription [Siegel, 1998].

Thomas T. Stelle’s executors sell his 111.52-acre farm, in accordance with the dictates of his will, to his unmarried sisters Mary Ann and Mercy Stelle for $3,680.16 [Somerset County Deeds, Book A2, page 82].

1860 The 1860 map depicts one house on the subject property as belonging to “I. S. Runyon,” the house of “Miss M. & M. Stelle” on west side of the present-day King George Road a short distance to the south, that of “F. Stelle” to the north (the former John Stelle property), another house belonging to “F. Stelle” just north of the Passaic bridge road corner and the “Baptists church” on its present site. The property of “G. W. Coddington” is depicted to the west of the second F. Stelle [D. J. Lake & S. N. Beers, Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia and Trenton, 1860].

Household of Isaac Runyon, as listed in the 1860 census, contains 5 members: Isaac, age 40, a farmer with real estate worth $6,000 (no figure given for personal property), 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 [US Census, Bernards Township, 1860].

Household of Freeman Stelle, son of John Stelle as listed in the 1860 census (just after Isaac Runyon), contains 8 members: Freeman age 40, a farmer with real estate worth $10,000 and personal property worth $2,000; his wife Martha A., age 36; their children, Reuna R., age 17, and Sarah, age 15, Esther R., age 13, Abel, age 10; his mother, Ann, age 66; and Emanuel Keister, age 20, a German born farm laborer [US Census, Bernards Township, 1860]. Freeman Stelle evidently had acquired title to property which his father, John, had inherited his father, Oliver.

Household of Mary Ann Stelle, daughter of Clarkson Stelle, as listed in the 1860 census (two entries before Isaac Runyon), contains 4 members: Mary Ann, age 36, presumably unmarried with real estate worth $2,750 personal and property worth $250; her presumably unmarried sister, Mercy, age 34, with real estate worth $2,750 personal property worth $250; Thomas Terrell, age 20, a farmer with personal property worth $600; and Oscar Goltra, age 14, occupation unknown [US Census, Bernards Township, 1870]. Mary and her sister occupy the portion of their father’s property acquired from their brother’s executor’s in 1856, and have engaged Thomas Terrell as their farmer (see 1856 entry).

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