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History of the Early Settlement and Progress of Cumberland County By L. Q. C. Elmer - Chapter 2

 

22 GOVERNMENT AND OFFICERS

 

THE government of New Jersey was at first assumed by the proprietors. After the partition into two provinces, West Jersey was intended to be divided into Tenths, fronting on the Delaware, but only three or four were defined, and these were soon superseded by regular counties; and indeed the tenths seem to have been designed rather for the purpose of apportioning the land among the different proprietors than for the purposes of government. The General Assembly which convened at Burlington May 2, 1682, appointed Justices, Sheriff, and Clerk for the jurisdiction of Burlington, and others for the jurisdiction of Salem, and Courts of Sessions were directed to be held four times a year at each place. No definite limits were assigned to these "jurisdictions," it being probably the design that the officers designated should have power to act in all parts of the province. In 1683 the members of Assembly were elected separately, in the First, Second, and Salem Tenths, and the justices and sheriffs appointed as before. In 1685 an act was passed establishing the county of Cape May, and bounding it on the west by Maurice River, authorizing justices to try causes under forty shillings, but other actions, civil and criminal, to be tried in Salem County. This act states that the province had been formerly divided into three counties, but no act for that purpose is in print; indeed none of the acts passed in West Jersey were printed until such as could be found were published by Learning and Spicer in 1750.

In 1692 the boundary between Gloucester and Burlington was altered, but the next year the act was repealed. In 1693 Cape May was authorized to have a county court. In 1694 the boundaries of Burlington and Gloucester were established; and it was enacted that the jurisdiction of Salem court should extend from Berkeley River (now called Oldman's Creek) on the north, to the Tweed (now called Back Creek) on the south. The district between the Tweed and Maurice River was not included in any county.

 

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To remedy this it was enacted in 1700 that all persons inhabiting on the river Tweed, and all settlements below, unto the bounds of the county of Cape May, should from thenceforth be annexed, to, and be subject to the jurisdiction of the court and county of Salem. After the union of the two provinces by the surrender of the government to Queen Anne, an act was passed in January, 1709-10, still partly in force, ascertaining the boundaries of all the counties in the province of New Jersey, which reduced Cape May to its present dimensions, and extended Salem to the western boundary of Cape May.

The act establishing the county provided that whenever the freeholders and justices should judge it necessary to build a courthouse and jail, an election to determine the place should be' held at John Butler's in the town of Greenwich, on a day to be fixed by three of the justices, one of whom should be of the quorum. It being the prerogative of the governor to appoint the time of holding the courts, he issued an ordinance' directing them to be held in the meantime at Greenwich, four times a year. A small wooden jail was built in that place, and the courts were held for a time in the Presbyterian meeting-house and the tavern.

An election was held in 1748, by which a majority of those who voted declared in favor of Cohansey Bridge, and to this place the court held in December of that year adjourned. When the justices and freeholders met there in July of that year, the minutes state that "it was proposed to raise money for a jail and courthouse; but the major part of the justices and freeholders present were not so disposed-as to the location of the place where the said jail and court-house shall be built, and thought proper to settle the point first, before they consent to raise money for that purpose; but in order to settle the affair of the election, there was a motion made for to examine the voters by purging them by their respective oaths and affirmations, but the freeholders of the south side of Cohansey refused to comply with said offer. There being no business to do, the meeting adjourned." In 1749, a dispute arose as to the election of the freeholders in Hopewell. In 1750, there was a full board, and it was agreed that "there shall be a deed drafted and delivered to Richard Wood and Ebenezer Miller to peruse, and upon their approbation, then they, or more of the justices, are to summons magistrates and freeholders to proceed upon

raising money to build a court-house and jail. In 1751 and 1752,

 

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money was ordered raised. Wood and Miller both lived at Greenwich, but the latter had become largely interested in the property at Cohansey Bridge, and joined the south siders. The lot was a part of his survey, including the present jail, and extending across Broad Street; and a question being raised about the title, a number of the most prominent freeholders on the south side, as the eastern part of the county was then designated, including Miller, joined in .a bond in the penal sum of two hundred pounds, to several of the freeholders at Greenwich, to guarantee the title.

The bridge over the Oohansey was built, resting on cribs sunk in the water, as early as 1[date]1, it being referred to in a survey of that date; but whether it was then passable for carriages may be doubted, as probably there were no four-wheeled wagons at that time, or for long afterwards, in the county. Lumber was floated by water, or, when necessary, drawn for short distances on sleds. A very old man, named Murray, said forty years ago, that he remembered when there was a small store on the west side of the river, near the water, and a bridge [ferry?] for passengers only. When the tide was out the stream was fordable, and an old survey made in 1686, mentions the going-over place to Richard Hancock's mill. A road for use when the tide was in used to cross the stream about half way up the present pond, the marks of which were not long since visible.

When the courts were first held at Cohansey Bridge, it is supposed there were no more than eight or ten houses in the immediate vicinity. The road from Salem passed a little south of where the old Presbyterian Church stands, at the west end of the town, and entering Broad Street, passed down the same to near the corner of Franklin Street, then came down the hill a northeast course, past the corner of the large stone house, which stands a little back from and west of Atlantic Street, and thence to the foot of the bridge; passing the bridge, it ran nearly the present course of Commerce Street to near Pearl Street, and then a northeast course, a little south of the stone Presbyterian church, and so on through what was then woodland, to near the corner of East Avenue and Irving Street, and thence through the Indian Fields, over the Beaver Dam at Lebanon Run to Maurice River. A house stood on the brow of the hill, a little west of the run that crosses this road, next east of the railroad station, where there was at one time a tavern; and between that and the railroad, about opposite to East Avenue, there

 

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was a graveyard. At or near the place where Pearl Street Crosses Commerce Street, the roads forked, one branch running northwardly to Deerfield. It was necessary to go thus far east of the bridge before turning northwardly-, to avoid going up Laurel Hill, then impassable, without the outlay of much labor and expense. At the Indian Fields the road then and now running north and south, originally an Indian path, became the king's highway from Fairfield to the seat of government at Burlington. It is the most ancieut road in the county, and is even yet known to the old inhabitants as the old Burlington road, and in 1769 was laid out as, a public road, four rods wide.

The mill-pond, now owned by Jonathan Elmer, was in 1748 owned by Ephraim Seeley, commonly called Col. Seeley. The mill stood in the low ground back of the house occupied by Mrs. Du Bois, and the dam crossed above from the hill diagonally to the point where there is now a brick kiln. The old mansion house stood on the hill northeast of Mrs. Du Bois, near the pond, and the road from the bridge over Cohansey, to the house and mill, ran about where the back part of Jonathan Elmer's house now stands. There was a bridge across the saw-mill pond, back of the Methodist meeting-house lot, over which the road to Fairfield passed, which was laid out as a public road in 1763. This road crossed Mill Creek near Fairton, at Joseph Ogden's mill-dam, which was lower down the stream than the present dam.

Seeley's mill was erected at an early date, but when or by whom has not been ascertained; but the writer recollects that fifty years ago the remains of an old fulling mill were visible near the middle of the dam, and he has heard that Col. Seeley's wife was accustomed, in her youth, to ride on horseback as far 'as Cape May, carrying with her fulled cloth, and returning with a horse load of cloth to be dressed. At that time nearly all the clothing and the bedding used by the people was spun in the family, and often woven there also, or by persons who followed the business. The straight road to Millville, now a turnpike, was laid out in 1805, commencing at the bridge; and in 1809 Jeremiah Buck erected the dam and flour and saw-mills now standing, and it may be mentioned that Mr. French, the millwright, from near Bordentown, lost his life at the raising of the saw-mill, having been crushed by falling timbers.

Besides Seeley's mill and house, the old Hancock mill still re

 

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mained in 1748. It was removed to a site just below the present stone bridge, and the existing race-way cut in 1772. This saw-mill and the pond above, upon which the writer has often skated, remained until 1809, when Mr. Buck lowered the race-way and pond, as low as the tide would permit, to obtain a better head and fall at his mills above, and the mill was taken down. There was a house near this saw-mill on the northwest side of Pine Street, long owned and occupied by Col. Enos Seeley, a relative of Col. Ephraim, and grandfather of the late Governor E. P. Seeley, which probably stood there in 1748. It was long occupied by the widow Jay, and was taken down about 20 years ago. Col. Enos Seeley, in 1772, owned all the property where the glass-houses now are, his northern line being about where Jefferson Street now is, adjoining Alexander Moore's line, and included a house standing where Mrs. Buck's house now is, fronting Laurel Street. This house was there in 1748, and upon the creek, an old, wharf, the first erected, called in old writings Smith's Wharf, used, probably, in connection with Hancock's mill. At this time the dam leading to the stone bridge was not made, but the tide flowed up the old channel of Mill Creek to the neighborhood of the mill. Col. Enos Seeley put up the dam about the year 1774.

Nearly opposite Col. Seeley's house, now' Mrs. Buck's, was a good house facing the south, in which a store was afterwards kept by Mr. Boyd and his widow. There were also two or three houses nearly opposite, on the east side of Laurel Street. These are believed to have been all the houses on the east side of the river, until Alexander Moore built his dwelling-house, on the north side of Commerce Street, about half way between the hotel and the bridge. His store-house of cedar logs stood where Potter's storehouse now is. Judge White told the writer he took it down, and found in It an old horn book; that is to say, a printed card containing the alphabet and a short lesson in spelling, which was pasted to a piece of board and covered with a horn pressed flat and scraped thin, so as to be transparent enough to leave the lessons visible to the urchins who were to learn them, and thus protecting them from being defaced. Such books, made however after ' different patterns, were in common use a century ago. Moore is believed to have settled here between 1730 and 1740. He married a descendant of Mark Reeve. Most of the site of East Bridgeton, north of Commerce Street, was an open woods in 1748, and so continued until after the Revolutionary War.

 

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On the west side of the river, a good two-storied house, with what was commonly called a hip roof, stood a little south of Commerce Street, facing the east, the back part of which was about where the east side of Atlantic Street now is, in front of which was the road which ran a southwest course up the hill, having a south fork running down the river, and between the road and river was a garden. This was built about 1725, by Silas Parvin, and was for several years licensed as a tavern, and stood there about one hundred years, when it was removed by the late Smith Bowen. South of this and near the river, a little north of Broad Street, at the place now owned by James B. Potter and used as a ship-yard, stood a good house fronting the north, owned in 1748 by Capt. Elias Cotting. It was afterwards for many years owned and occupied by Enoch Boon, and as been taken down some twenty years and more. When first erected it was a mansion of considerable pretension. Another house stood a little back of where the court-house now stands, on a road early used to the marshes, upon which the early settlers depended almost exclusively for hay, and belonged to one Jeremiah Sayre, cordwainer. Neither Broad Street nor Commerce Street was opened up the hill until many years after this period. These three dwelling-houses and a small store-house of cedar logs standing north of Parvin's house and a farm-house on the property above Muddy Branch, were all the buildings on the west side of Cohansey Bridge.

The Court was first held at Isaac Smith's who probably kept a tavern in the Parvin house, in February 1748, old style, and generally met at eight o'clock in the morning. Cotting was commissioned by the Governor as clerk, at first to hold during the pleasure of the Governor, but in 1755 he presented a commission to hold during good behavior, which continued the mode until 1776. He died in 1757, and was succeeded by Daniel Elmer, who died in 1761, and was succeeded by Maskel Ewing, who, having taken an oath of allegiance to the king, declined to serve under the new government. In 17i Jonathan Elmer presented a commission from Governor Livingston as clerk, and in the ensuing fall he was elected by the joint meeting for five years pursuant to the constitution; Alexander Moore and Ephraim Seeley appeared as judges. The September term does not appear to have been held. The terms were held four times in the year, and until 1752 the February term is always entered of the same year as the preceding Decem.
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her term, it thus appearing that the old style was changed that year. According to the old style, the year commenced on the feast of the conception of Mary or Lady day, March 25th, which still continues to be the customary day of commencing leases in this county, although in other parts of the State it is the first day of April according to the Pennsylvania usage, and in some places the first day of May agreeably to the New York usage.

Cohansey Bridge is mentioned in the minutes until fl'65, when Bridgetown is first named. Constables for the town were first appointed by the court in 1768. It may be noticed that the whole region from the source of the river near Friesburgh, to its mouth at the Delaware Bay, was commonly called Cohansey, up to and even after the Revolution. It was common to write Fairfield in Cohansey, or Greenwich Cohansey. Upon the establishment of the Bank in 1816, its first president, Gen. Giles, had the name of the town printed Bridgeton on the notes, and this soon became the adopted name. Bridgetown, however, still remains the official name of the port, under the laws of the United States.

The following named persons have been the clerks, after those above named, from 1776 appointed by joint meeting for five years, vacancies filled by Governor, until 1846; and since by election in the county :

James Giles, appointed in 1789
Dr. Axel Pierson, " 1804 died
Jonathan Holmes, by Governor 1812
Dr. Edw. Ogden, appointed in 1813 died
Ebenezer Elmer, by Governor 1813
Ebenezer Seeley, appointed in 1814 died
Samuel Seeley, " 1833
Josiah Fithian, appointed in 1838 died
Enos Seeley, by Governor 1842
D. M. Woodruff, appointed in 1842 " elected 1847
Ephraim E. Sheppard," 1852
Providence Ludlam, " 1857
Theo. G. Compton, " 1862

The following named persons have been surrogates, appointed. until 1822 by the Governor to hold at his pleasure; then until 1846 by the joint meeting of the legislature, to hold for five years, vacancies happening being filled by the Governor to hold until the legislature met; since 1846 by election in the county:

Elias Cotting, appointed 1748
Daniel Elmer, " 1757
Maskel Ewing, " 1761
Jonathan Elmer, " 1776
George Burgin " 1804 died 1810
Ebenezer Elmer " 1810
Jonathan Elmer, " 1812
Sam'l M. Shute, app'ted 1813
Timothy Elmer, " 1815 died 1836
Wm. S. Bowen, " 1836
H. P. Merseilles, " 1837
Joseph Moore, elected 1852
H. H. Merseilles, " 1857 died
Alphonso Woodruff," 1861

 

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At a session of the Assembly in 1690, an act was passed "that the tract of land in Cohansey purchased by several people, lately inhabitants of Fairfield, in New England, be erected into a township." One of the vessels containing these immigrants came up the creek now called Back Creek, and gave it the name of the Tweed. Their tract was at the head of this stream, and between it and the Cohansey, which probably occasioned the extension of Salem County, so as to include them. The precise date of the arrival of these New Englanders is unknown, but it was probably from 1682 to 1690. The Bellers tract was first surveyed in 1686, and. it was from Thomas Budd, agent of that proprietor, they leased. No records of the town-meetings-prior to the early part of the present century-are -extant, but there can be no doubt that these inhabitants, isolated as they then were, instituted a local government sufficient for their immediate purposes, after the model of the towns of Connecticut-from which province most of these came in which the affairs of church and state were curiously blended, with a most happy effect. Several of them-consisting of Congregationalists, or Presbyterians and Baptists crossed the river to Greenwich, and were joined there by settlers from England, Scotland, and Ireland, mostly of the Presbyterian order.

It appears by the court records at Salem that at least as early as 1720 Fairfield and Greenwich were recognized as regular townships. The inhabitants in other neighborhoods, not considered as belonging to those townships, were provided with precinct officers appointed by the Court of Quarter Sessions. In 1709, the grand jury ordered a tax of 75 pounds to be levied, for county purposes, and appointed an assessor and collector for the north side of the Cohansey, and the same for the south side. In 1720, officers were first appointed for the precinct of Maurice River, and afterwards they were appointed in like manner yearly, until the county was organized. The Quarter Sessions in England were accustomed to appoint constables, where they were considered necessary, to prevent a failure of justice, and the same custom prevailed in New Jersey, except where townships were regularly organized and empowered to choose them.

Much inconvenience being experienced by the inhabitants living remote from Salem Town, several unsuccessful efforts were made to obtain a new county, which were rendered the more difficult by

 

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the desire of the royal governors to keep up the equality of representation in the Assembly, between East and West Jersey. In January, 1747-8, the attempt succeeded, but with the condition that members of Assembly should continue to be elected in conjunction with Salem. It was not until 1768 that two members were allowed to be chosen in Cumberland, which were balanced by two chosen in Morris County. It was not, however, until 1772 that writs were issued for a new election.

The act divided the new county into six townships, assigning to them their respective boundaries three on the west, or north side of Cohansey, and three on the east, or south side. At least half the inhabitants then resided west of Cohansey, although the territory east of that river is about five times larger. Only Deerfield and a part of Fairfield contained more than a few settlers. Fairfield at first included all the present township of Downe. This township was set off by letters patent granted by Governor Franklin, in the year 1772, recorded in the Secretary of State's office at Trenton. This power was occasionally exercised by the governors of the province as a part of the royal prerogative, delegated to them by their commissions. His wife's maiden name was Elizabeth Downes, and the new township was named in compliment to her. It is spelled Downes in the record, but by a clerical or typographical error, the name was printed, in the law passed in 1798

* incorporating the township, Downe, and has been so printed in all the laws since.

*Some of the old surveys call for the line of the township of Pamphylia, at or near the place where the line between Fairfield and Deerfield was established; but this old Grecian name is retained only by the spring so called on the banks of the Cohansey, about a mile below the bridge. Maurice River contained originally all the large territory east of the river so called. Millville was set off from it, including parts of Deerfield]d and Fairfield, on the west of the river by a law passed in the year 1801. Bridgeton was set off from Deerfield by law, in 1845; and Cohansey from Hopewell by law, in 1848.

*The legislature of the colony was convened, adjourned, and dissolved at the pleasure of the Governor and his Council, and the members of the Assembly were elected by virtue of writs under the great seal of the colony, directed to the sheriffs. By a law passed in 1725, the sheriff was required to give notice of the day

 

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and place of election, and then to proceed by reading his writ; and he was not to declare the choice by the view (that is, merely from a vote by holding up of hands), nor adjourn without the consent of the candidates; but if a poll was required, proceed from day to day, until all the electors present be polled; and he was required to appoint a clerk, who should set down the names of the electors, and the persons they voted for. There was, of course, but one place of, election-generally the court-house in the county-and the election commonly closed the first day, but was occasionally kept open several days or even weeks. The voting was, of course, viva voce, ballots not being introduced until about 1790.

This power of the candidates to control the election, in some respects, gave rise to the system of making nominations in writing, which, prevailed from 1790 until 1839, and was, it is supposed, peculiar to this State. At first the names of candidates were required to be posted up in some conspicuous place the first day; then they were required to be nominated on the election day before three o'clock, by some person entitled to vote; the name was then enrolled by the clerk, and fixed up in full view at the door of the house where the election was held. Elections being required to be held in each township in the year 1790, the clerk of the. county was required to attend at the court-house on the first Monday in September, and there receive, from any person, entitled to vote, a list of the persons proposed as candidate and the clerk then made a general list of all the candidates nominated, a certified copy of which was sent to each of the township clerks, and no person could be voted for unless he had been thus nominated. Of course, many were nominated who were not expected to be voted for, but occasionally the person who would have been preferred was found to have been omitted. After newspapers became common, it was customary to publish the list of nominations, often containing many names of low and vicious characters, nominated by way of joke by foolish persons, and the names of those who declined were so marked.

In the journal of Ebenezer Elmer, he enters under the date of September 21, 1775, "County met to choose two delegates and a county committee. Delegates chosen by poll, when Theophilus Elmer had a great majority, and next highest Esq. Jona. Ayres." Theophilus Elmer had been previously elected in 1772. To entitle a person to a seat in the Assembly at this time, he was required

 

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to have 1000 acres of land in his own right, to be worth 00 of real and personal estate. A voter must be a freeholder, and have 100 acres of land in his own right, or be worth 50 in real and personal estate. The members chosen for Salem and Cumberland in 1749 were William Hancock and John Brick. In 1751, William Hancock and Richard Wood. In 1754, Hancock and Ebenezer Miller. In 1761, the same. In 1769, Ebenezer Miller and Isaac Sharp. In 1772, for Cumberland, John Sheppard and Theophilus Elmer. Afterwards one member of Council, and three members of Assembly, were chosen annually. For 1776, they were Theophilus Elmer, Council, Ephraim Harris, Jonathan Bowen, and John Buck, Assembly. In 1778, Ephraim Harris, Council, Buck, Bowen, and James Ewing, Assembly. In 1779, Buck, Council, Jas. Ewing, Joel Fithian, and Timothy Elmer, Assembly. In 1780, Jonathan Elmer, Council, same members of Assembly. In 1781, Samuel Ogden, Council, Joshua Ewing, Joshua Brick, and Josiah Seeley, Assembly. In 1782, Theophilus Elmer, Council, Joshua Ewing, Ephraim Harris, Speaker, Jonathan Bowen, Assembly. Theophilus Elmer was a member of the Council of Safety during most of the Revolution.

The following persons, residing in the county, have been members of Congress:

SENATE.-
1789 to 1791, Jonathan Elmer;
1826 to 1827, when he died, Ephraim Bateman.

HOUSE.-
1776-7--81-82-83-87-88, Jonathan Elmer;
1801 to 1806, Ebenezer Elmer;
1815 to 1821, Ephraim Bateman;
1831 to 1835, Thomas Lee;
1843 to 1845, Lucius Q. C. Elmer;
1845 to 1849, James G. Hampton;
1859 to 1863, John T. Nixon.

The Constitution, adopted in 1773, instead of requiring every voter to be worth fifty pounds of real and personal estate, required only that he should be an inhabitant of the State, of full age, and worth fifty pounds clear estate. The word inhabitant was probably adopted instead of citizen, under the impression that as a new government was initiated it was proper to recognize all the inhabitants as citizens thereof. Under this broad provision, females and colored persons were allowed to vote if worth the requisite sum, and cases occurred when the voter presented himself or herself with fifty pounds, $133 33 in hand in cash. No married females voted, and few others. Very few colored persons were worth the requisite sum. In 1807 an act of the legislature was passed, re-

 

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citing that doubts had been raised, and great diversities of practice obtained throughout the State, in regard to the admission of aliens, females and persons of color, or negroes, to vote in elections, and also in regard to the mode of ascertaining the qualifications of voters in respect to estate, to remedy which it was provided that none but free white male citizens of the State should vote, and that every person who should have paid a tax, and whose name was enrolled on the tax list, should be adjudged to be worth fifty pounds. The late Dr. Lewis Condict, of Morristown, who recently died at a very advanced age, was at the time an active member of the Assembly, and had the credit of bringing forward this measure, which, however questionable as to its strict accordance with the Constitution, met the views of a great majority of the people of all parties, and continued the law until the adoption of the present Constitution, which contained substantially the same provisions. It was, however, occasionally decided by officers of the election that the law was unconstitutional and void; and it was under such a decision that at the contested election for the court-house, votes of aliens were admitted in one or more of the townships, and the same thing was done at a subsequent county and congregational election, which, with other circumstances, brought on what was called the broad seal war in 1837.

From 1809 to 1845 the polls were kept open two days, and the town meeting which then and now fixed the place of holding the elections, were accustomed, in the larger townships, to order that they should be held on the first day at one place, and on the second at another, much to the convenience of the voters. It may indeed be doubted whether as many evils have not grown out of the change as have been cured. No careful observer can have failed to perceive that the practice of bribing voters, by means of direct payments of money, confined at first to a sufficient sum to defray the voter's expenses, but gradually enlarged until there are voters who are known regularly to sell their votes to the highest bidder, has greatly increased. Forty years ago a candidate for office was expected to remain quietly at home; now he would find favor with very few by such a course.

The county business was transacted by a board consisting of two freeholders elected in each township, as provided for in an act passed in 1714, and all the justices of the peace of the county, or any three of them, one whereof being of the quorum. All the

 

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justices for. each county were generally included in one commission, as is the practice in England, and one or more were designated as of the quorum, without whose presence no business could be done. In case any town or precinct should neglect to elect freeholders, the justices were authorized to appoint them. The name precinct appears to have been applied to neighborhoods, without definite boundaries, not included within a defined township. The justices were appointed by the Governor and Council, until 1776, and held their offices at their pleasure. A book containing the proceedings of the freeholders and justices is still extant. The boards of freeholders were incorporated and organized, as they now exist, in 1798.

The following named persons have held the office of sheriff. Before the Revolution they were appointed by the Governor and Council, to hold for three years or during the pleasure of the Governor; and since they have been elected yearly, but can only hold the office three years in succession :

I Sayre, appointed in 1747-8
Samuel Fithian, " 1750-1
Ananias Sayre, "1754
Maskell Ewing, "1757
Silas Newcomb," 1760
Howel Powell, " 1763
Theophilus Elmer, " 1766
Thomas Maskell, " 1769
Jonathan Elmer, " 1772
David Bowen, " 1775


Joel Fithian, elected 1776
William Kelsay, " 1779
Daniel Maskell, " 1784
Joseph Buck, " 1786 1787
David Potter, " 1790
Reuben Burgin, " 1793
George Burgin, " 1796
Jeremiah Bennett, jr., " 1799
Enoch Burgin, " 1802
Timothy Elmer, " 1805
John Buck, " 1808
William Rose, elected " 1810
John Sibley, " 1813
Dan. Sinipkins, " 1816
William R. Fithian, " 1819
John Lanning, jr., " 1822
Robert S. Buck, " 1825
Josiah Shaw, " 1828
Daniel M. Woodruff, " 1831
Cornelius Lupton, " 1834
David Campbell, " 1837
Levi T. Davis, " 1839
Harris B. Mattison, " 1842
Cornelius Lupton, " 1844
Stephen Murphy, " . 1845
Theophilus B. Harris, " 1848
James Stiles, " 1851
Nathaniel Stratton, " 1854 .
Jonathan Fithian, " 1857
Lewis H. Dowdney, " 1860
Charles L. Watson, " 1863
Samuel Peacock. " 1866

The first court-house and jail were small wooden buildings. In 1753 money was raised for building a jail, to be of brick, 34 by 24 feet, and also stocks and a pillory. In 1755 an account was allowed for digging a dungeon and for stone. Much complaint was made of the insecurity of the jail, so that in 1757 a petition was

 

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sent to the Chief Justice, urging him to solicit the Governor to appoint a special oyer and terminer, the messenger being required to go and return in five days. Jeremiah Buck was the messenger, who of course made the journey on horseback, and was paid for six days at five shillings per day.

In 1759 it was agreed to build a new court-house of brick, two stories, 34 by 24 feet, with a cupola; Ebenezer Miller, David Sheppard, and Samuel Fithian, all north-siders, were the committee. During the years 1760 and '61 this house was built, and stood in the middle of what is now Broad Street, opposite the dwelling house of the jail keeper, and continued to be used until 1846, about eighty-four years. The bell was purchased by subscription, and for many years the house was used on Sundays and other days for religious meetings. Evening meetings continued to be held in it until but a few years before it was taken down. The jail yard was inclosed with the walls in 1765. In 1767 the townships of Greenwich and Stow Creek were authorized to have each a pair of stocks. In 1775 a fence was ordered to be put up at the west end of the court-house, and in 1777 one was ordered at the east end, to prevent ball being played there. In 1790 the present jail was built on the site of the old one. About 1809 a market house was built by private subscription, and by consent of the freeholders, at the west end of the courthouse. It was never much used, except on training or other public days. The pump in the street was put there by private subscription, aided by donation from the freeholders, the main purpose being to reach the lower springs, which only, in that vicinity, furnish good water. A liberty pole was put up by the Democrats about 1802, near where the flag-staff now stands, which remained for many years, and was sometimes degraded to a whipping-post, when that punishment was in vogue.' Up to 1815 the clerks and surrogates kept their books and papers where they happened to live, which was not always in Bridgeton. In that year the fire-proof offices on Commerce Street were erected, being originally. a low one-story building, more like a blacksmith shop than public offices.

About the year 1830 there began to be a desire to have a better

*Since this was written the old jail has been taken down. It stood a. little south of the existing brick sheriff's house and jail, erected in 1867. The street has been newly graded, and the flagstaff and pump have disappeared.

 

36 GOVERNMENT AND OFFICERS.

court-house; and in 1836 the lot on which it now stands was purchased, there being then standing on it a large three-storied house, built and used for many years as a tavern, but, after 1810, occupied by Rev. Jonathan Freeman. This produced an agitation to remove the county seat to Millville and, in pursuance of a special law, an election was held July 25 and 26, 1837, to determine the question. After' a warm contest, the result was 1284 votes for Bridgeton, 1059 for Millville, and 214 for Fairton. When the battle began to wax warm, and especially when it was found that the jealousy of some persons in Fairton would induce them o throw away their votes on that place, the people of Bridgeton were frightened, and issued hand-bills to the purport that the expense of a new building was useless, the old one being good enough. The result was a long contest in the Board of Freeholders, there being eight townships, four of which voted steadily against a new house, and the other four not only voted for a new house, but against selling the lot lately purchased. In 1843, by the efforts of two or three individuals, a law was passed establishing a new township at Shiloh, under the plea that it was a political maneuver, and so skilfully was the matter managed, that the real object was not suspected until it was too late. When the Board of Freeholders met, five townships voted to build a new court-house, thus overpowering the four who were opposed to it. Finding, themselves thus caught, the freeholders of the four eastern townships cordially united in building the present house, which was finished and first occupied in 1845. The next year the fire-proof offices on Commerce Street were raised and much improved. The existing fireproof record rooms in the rear were added in 1859. All disputes about the court-house and offices being thus happily ended, the inhabitants of the other parts of the county no longer opposed new townships being created on both sides of the river, which were found important for the convenience of a rapidly growing town. The new township at Shiloh, called Columbia, existed but one year.

The persons of all descriptions inhabiting Cumberland County when it was set off, did not number 3000. In 1745, there were only 6847 inhabitants in the bounds of Salem, as it then existed. An act of Assembly passed in 1752, affords some means of ascertaining the relative positions of the two counties after the separation. Of the sum of fifteen hundred and thirty pounds required

 

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for the state tax, the sum of one hundred and six pounds was required to be raised by Salem, and a very little more than half as much, namely, fifty-four pounds by Cumberland; and this proportion appears to have been substantially maintained until after the Revolution. In 1782, of ninety thousand pounds State tax, Salem was required to raise three thousand and fifty-seven pounds, and Cumberland about one-third less, namely, two thousand and twenty-five pounds. This last proportion still continues. The State tax of 1868 was 350,000 dollars, of which Salem raised 12,880 dollars, and Cumberland 8079 dollars.

It appears from the census of the two counties taken at different periods, that Cumberland has gained on Salem in population, but not in wealth.

Census of Salem and Cumberland
Date 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1835 1840 1850 1860 1865 est.
Salem 10,437 11,371 12761 14,022 14,155 16,024 19,467 22,458 23,162 24,000
Cumberland 8,248 9,529 12,670 12,668 14,093 14,374 17,189 22,606 26,233 33,000

 




 

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