Historic Timeline Details

Oliver Stelle’s inventory indicates that the house was 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 listed was an “8 day clock” worth $25. With the exception of the clock, Oliver Stelle’s household goods included no indicators of elite lifestyle, although three lots of books may reflect some level of household education. The listing of “Andirons Shovel & Tongs” and “Andirons…Shovel & Trammel” implies that open fireplaces were 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.[32]

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.” 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, the inventory item more likely refers to a neighborhood schoolhouse for which Oliver had provided a heating stove. An 1823 deed records the existence of another farm building on the Stelle property, a hay barracks located near the road and the boundary of a 56-acre tract conveyed by Oliver to his son Clarkson.[33]

Upon Oliver Stelle’s death on June 3rd 1832, at age seventy-six, his son Clarkson inherited the homestead farm (located between the Passaic River and present-day King George Road) and an adjoining tract to the south on the west side of the road. Clarkson also received an undivided one third share of the lots “purchased of Oliver Woodward” and of the “cider and still works with the appurtenances thereunto belonging” (sharing the same with brothers John and Ephraim), along with his father’s “small black boy” and one third of the estate remainder. John Stelle’s inheritance included property lying west of the road and the homestead, which adjoined land previously deeded to him by his father; Ephraim Stelle similarly inherited the “remainder of the farm whereon he ….lives” (located west of John’s property on the road to Liberty Corner). Later maps corroborate the location of the three brothers’ farms.[34]

Oliver Stelle’s provisions for his unnamed widow and unmarried daughter Christiana included, among other bequests, the use of specified portions of his house. His wife was to have “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,” along with $70 a year as long as she did not remarry. She was also 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 was “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 she brought to the marriage, as well as that which she made subsequently and “all and every description of goods that she brought” in accordance with “an agreement made with her before our marriage.” Lastly, two new woolen blankets were to be provided for her one year after his decease “should she be living.” In addition to a bequest of $650, Christiana received 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,” his “riding chair and harness” and the use of a horse. She also was to have “the use of [his] 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 was to be kept by Clarkson as long as she remained unmarried.[35]

Clarkson evidently made his father’s homestead his residence sometime after inheriting the property and lived there with his family until his death in 1850. His wife, Lucinda, died in 1838, leaving him with several young children. In 1840 his household had eight members: two white males (one 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). Clarkson must have been the white male in his forties, the four girls and one boy his children and the oldest female his unmarried sister. Clarkson and the free black male undoubtedly were the two household members given as agriculturists.[36]

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