Historic Timeline Details

Operation of a large farm may have proved onerous for such a busy man as Rev. Kennedy, or perhaps its distance from the church and center of the community proved inconvenient. For these, or other reasons, he offered the property, along with his livestock and farming equipment, for sale at auction less than three years after the announcement of his school. The auction advertisement of April, 1767, provides detailed documentation as to the well-established character of the farm at that time and its substantial improvements, which encompassed seventy-two acres of “plough land” (more than one third planted in Timothy and other meadow grasses) and over two hundred apple trees, along with a small house and “good barn” with stables. At the same time a considerable portion of the farm, including 100 acres of “very rich bottom” land, appears to have remained undeveloped, probably either woodland or scrub:

To be sold at public Vendue, on Wednesday the 17th Day of June next, by the Revd. Samuel Kennedy, of Bernard’s-Town … his Plantation on which he now lives, containing 300 Acres of Land, more or less, well watered and timbered, … on which Plantation there is a Dwelling-House with three Rooms and two fireplaces on the lower floor, situate at a small Distance from the Brink of said Passaic-River, and a good Quarry for building may be opened at the Distance of a few Poles from said House: There is also on the said Plantation, a good Barn, and a Stable at each End of it, and an Orchard containing 57 old Apple Trees, and 136 young Ones, some of which are grafted; there is about 72 Acres of plough Land cleared, 12 and half of which have been mowed for a considerable Number of Years, and about 2 Acres of it has been mowed for two Years past, and about 11 Acres the sowed with Timothy Seed, together with one and half Acre more, are expected to be mowed this Summer, 100 Acres more of good Meadow may be made on a very rich Bottom, being the Plantation whereon Mr. Moses Doty formerly lived. On said Day Samuel Kennedy proposes to sell Horses, Cattle, Sheep, and Utensils of Husbandry, &c &c. when good Attendance will be given, and the Conditions of Sale made known.”[11]

The western, and earliest, portion of the house, with its three first-floor rooms and two fireplaces, conceivably is Kennedy’s dwelling. The eastern half of the main barn with its dropped east end-bay stable (along with the physical evidence of an appendage at its west end predating the extant west addition) similarly could be the “good Barn, [with] a Stable at each End” noted in the advertisement. Certainly, features like the bead-edged clapboards surviving on what was the original east gable of the western portion of the house (visible in the attic) and the hewn-timber common rafter/pegged wind brace framing assemblage present in the east half of the barn are suggestive of an early construction date.

Whether or not the sale took place as advertised on June 17, 1767, is unknown. However, one can infer from various sources that the Kennedy plantation became the property and residence of Col. Ephraim Martin by the late 1770s, although no recorded or unrecorded deed of conveyance to him has been found. While he may have acquired the property earlier, Ephraim Martin most likely moved there sometime between June, 1776, when he received a militia commission in Sussex County, New Jersey, and May, 1778, when he appears on the Bernards Township tax role, the earliest surviving for that municipality.[12] Genealogical sources suggest that Martin, a native of central New Jersey, may have been living in Sussex County as early as 1760.[13] That he was in Sussex County as late as the spring of 1776, is clear from a May newspaper advertisement, describing property for sale in Hardiston Township, Sussex County, as located “about one mile from …Col. Ephraim Martin’s,” as well as his June Sussex County militia commission. That in 1778 he was assessed for 340-acres of “improved land” in Bernards Township, along with livestock, one slave and a riding chair, establishes his residency in the township by that time.[14] Furthermore, military maps of 1779 and 1780 depict a house on the subject property as that of “Col. Martins.”[15]

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