Deerfield, NJ History from
HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
BY: JOHN W. BARBER and HENRY HOWE
PUBLISHED BY S. TUTTLE (NEW YORK) 1844


This township is bounded NE. by Pittsgrove, Salem Co., NW. by U. Alloways creek, Salem Co., S. by Fairfield, and W. by Hopewell, from which it is separated by Cohansey creek. Its extreme length N. and S. is 11, with an average breadth of 6 miles. It contains 1 flouring-m., 2 grist-m, 2 saw-m. ; cap. in manufac. $97,975 ; 3 acad. 396 students,- 11 schools, 836 scholars. Pop. 2,621. The villages are Bridgeton, Deerfield, and Centreville. Deerfield is 7 m. N. of Bridgeton, and contains a large and flouring Presbyterian church, and. 30 or 40 dwellings. (Jentreville is on the line of Gloucester Co., and contains a Methodist church and about 25 dwellings. Carllsburg ‘is a hamlet in the central part of the township.

Bridgeton, the county seat, is pleasantly situated on both sides of the Cohansey creek, and therefore in the townships of Deerfleld and Hopewell. It is 60 m. from Trenton, 17 from Salem, and 8 from Delaware bay. There are in the village 4 churches, (viz. :2 Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, and 1 Methodist,) a newspaper printingoffice, the Cumberlanci Bank, a public library, 2 mutual aid associations, 2 fire engines, 2 academies, 1 woollen factory,. 2 grist-m., an extensive rolling-rn., foundry, and nail factory, 1 saw and 1 pa per-m., several mechanic shops, 10 stores, and a population of about 2,500. A large business is done here, and about 30 coasting-vessels sail from this port, which is at the head of navigation on the Cohansey river. The above view was taken on the eastern bank of the river, about 40 rods below the bridge which connects the two portions of the village. On the left are seen the extensive ironworks of the Messrs. Reeves & Whitaker, which at times employ over 100 hands. On the right is seen a small portion of the village on the eastern side of the river.

The original name Of this part of the country, on both sides of the river, was Cohansey,—from an Indian chief named Cohanzick, ‘who anciently resided here. The first settlement of Bridgeton was made at an early period: the precise date is utiknown There was, doubtless, a convenient fording-place across the Cohansey where the tQwn now is; and, in process of time a bridge being erected, and a settlement springing up, it was known by the name of Bridge Town,—and so continued until the establishment of ‘a bank, in 1816, when it was changed to Bridgeton.

The courts of the county were held at Greenwich until Dec. 1748, when they were adjourned to Cohansey Bridge, there then being a few houses there. Since the revolution, the growth of the town has been steady. Up to that period, and for several’ years after, the houses were principally on the bill on the west side of the river. The’ principal taverns, the post-office, courthouse, and jail, were all on the bill. The courthouse was erected about 1750, and the present jail about 1790. Of late years, the larger part of the town has been built on the east side of the Cohansey.

Until 1792, there was not any organized church in the town, neither was thcrea house for divine worship. Many of the inhabitants were connected with the congregations at Fairfield and Greenwich, and often bad preaching at the courthouse. In 1792, a Presbyterian church was organized in union with the one at Greenwich ; and it is worthy of noticei that the burial-ground was presented to the society by a member of the Society of Friends. The brick building at the west end of the town, now unused, was erected in 1794, and the expense partly defrayed by a lottery. The Rev. Dr. Clarkson was the pastor until 1801. In 1805 the Rev. Jonathan Freeman became the pastoro(the united churches, and continued until his decease in 1822. The churches were then separated, and in 1825 the Rev. B. Hoff became the pastor of that in Bridgeton, and continued until 1834. To him succeeded the Rev. John Kennedy; and after him, in 1839, the Rev. Samuel B. Jones, the present pastor. The number of members in regular ‘connection is 208. Number of the congregation, about 800. The edifice now occupied, on Laurel-st., was erected in 1838. A Methodist Episcopal church was organized in the town, as part of the Cumberland circuit, in 1806, and ‘a church erected in 1807. In 1823, this church became a station, and had the following succession of preachers: the Rev. Messrs. Chas. Pitman, Walter Burrows, John Potts, James Smith, Robert Gerry, William Wiggins, Bartholomew Weed, Thomas M’Carroll, Abraham Owen, Thomas Sovereign, John L Lenhart, and James H. Dandy. The number of members in full standing is 352, connected with 14 classes. Number of the congregation, about 850. The church on Commerce-st. was erected in 1833..

“The Baptist, church on Pearl-st. was first opened for divine service in 1816, the church worshipping there remaining connected with the Roadstown church until 1828. In that year thirty-eight individuals were constituted a separate church, and the Rev. George Spratt chdsen pastor. He was succeeded in 1831 by Rev. John C. Hopkins, and he in 1835 by the Rev. Michael G. Frederick, who died in 1837; and in 1838 the Rev. Charles Hopkins was chosen, and continues the pastor. The àumber of comniunicants is 210, and that of the congregation about 400. In Oct. 1838, a second Presbyterian church was formed, with seventeen members; and in 1840 the stone church on Pearl-st. was erected. Large and fionthbing sabbath-schools are connected with ali the churches.”

Johnson thus gives the history of the Deerfield Presbyterian church:

“About the year 1732, a number of Presbyterian families, from different places, settled in Deerfield. They were early induced to organize themselves into a religious society. They therefore united in bwlding up a good and convenient log-building, about the year 1737, in which worship was held, and supplies afforded them from time to time; and in the absence of a minister the people regularly attended for worship on the sabbath-day, and conducted the same according ‘to the established order of the church. About the year 1740, the Rev. Samuel Blair, then the Rev. Gilbert Tennant, then, after him, Rev. Samuel Finley, and a few others not recollected, dispensed the word of life to this people; and their ministrations were abundantly blessed, and there wasa glorious ingathering of many precious souls, through their instrumentality of preaching. The Rev. Andrew Hunter, having labored here as a supply, accepted a call from the united congregations of Greenwich and Deerfield; and ho was now constituted their first pastor 4th Sept. 1746. In the year 1760, the pastoral connection with Mr. Hunter was dissolved, and was destitute for four years, being dependent for supplies from the presbytery until the Rev. Simon Williams came, in 1764, and resided with them for about the space of two years; when, on the 9th June, 1767, the Rev. Enoch Green was installed pastor of the Deerfleld congregation, and so continued until Nov. 2d, 1776, when he died. In the following year, 1777, the Rev. John Brainard (brother of David, the celebrated missionary) assumed the pastoral charge; and died on 18th March, 1781, greatly lamented by his congregation. Rev. Joseph Montgomery, and others, officiated as supplies until June 25th, 1783, when Rev. Simon Hyde was ordained the pastor, and by a sudden il ness died 10th Aug. 1783. The congregation were now dependent upon supplies until June, 1786, when William Pickles (an Englishman) was installed their paster. He was very eloquent, and for some time exceedingly popular; but his conduct becoming loose, and unbecoming the character of a Minister, he was deposed by the presbytery of Philadelphia. The church was again assisted by supplies for almost eight years, when, on the 12th August, 1795, the Rev. John Davenport was installed pastor; but, through age and other infirmities, be was dismissed, in Oct. 1805. Again the church became dependent on supplies for about three years, when the Rev. Nathaniel Reeve was installed pastor, Oct. 1808; where be continued until he was dismissed, at his own request, by the presbytery of Philadelphia, April 17, 1817. Afterward the Rev. Francis G. Ballentine was installed the pastor, June 22, 1819; and so continucd until, at a meeting of presbytory, held at Salem, Juno 8th, 1824, at his request, his pastoral relation with that congregation was dissolved. Then the Rev. Alexander MeFarlane was ordained and installed, April 27, 1826, where he continued to dischargc his duties as their pastor until ho was dismissed from his charge, in 1830, and accepted of a professorship in Dickinson College, Carlisle. The Rev. John Burt then took the oversight of the church for some months, when Rev. D. McCuenno was installed the pastor of this church; and on 19th Oct. 1836, was dismissed from his pastoral relation, at his request On the 18th Oct. 1838, the Rev. Benjamin Tyler was ordained and installed the pastor tbereoL

“Names of ruling elders since 1779, to wit: William’ Tullis, Rccompence Jeake, William Smith, John Stratton, William Garrison, Abner Smith, Joseph Moore, Ebenezer Loomis, Joseph Brewster, Nathaniel Diaments, Ebenezer Harris, Epbraim Loomis.”

The inhabitants of Bridgeton and vicinity were firm adherents to the cause of their country, in the war of the revolution. In 1775 a company of soldiers was raised here, of which the late Gen. Joseph Bloomfield was captain, and the late Gen. Ebenezer Elmer a lieutenant This corps marched to the north, and joined the army under Gen. Schuyler. Dr. Jonathan Elmer, who lived many years in the place, and died there in 1817, was a member of the revolutionary cc)ngress; and was one of the first senators under the present constitution of the United States. Simultaneously with the whigs of Salem, in the autumn of 1774, a committee of safety was appointed for the county, which consisted of two members from each township, who met occasionally, at Cohansey Bridge, to see that the association be properly attended to, and energetically and punctually observed, in every particular. Toward the close of 1779, and spring of 1780, an association of whigs of this and Sa1cm co. built and equipped, at Bridgeton, a fine schooner, as a letter-of-marque, which, in compliment to the governor of the state, was called the “Gov. Livingston.” She made but One successful trip; and when on her second voyage, on her return home, having a very valuable cargo on board, was captured, near the capes of the Delaware, by a British frigate. No other attempts, of this nature, were made here afterward.

The following notice respecting Gen. Elmer, of this town, is from the “Bridgeton Chronicle,” Oct. 21st, 1843:

"It is with deep sorrow that we recordthe death of our oldest and most estimable citizen, Gen. Ebenezer Elmer, President of the New Jersey Cincinnati Society, and the last surviving officer of the New Jersey line of the revolutionary army; who died on Wednesday last, Oct. 18th, aged ninety-one years.

“Gen. Elmer was born at Cedarville, Cumberland co., N. J., and was the grandson of the Rev. Daniel Elmer, who came from Connecticut to Fairfield, in the year 1727. He studied medicine with his elder brother, the late Dr. Jonathan Elmer, and was about establishing himself in practice when hostilities commenced between America and Great Britain. In Jan. 1776, he was commissioned an ensign in the company of continental troops commanded by the late Gov. Bloomfield; and served in that capacity, and as a lieutenant in the northern army, until the spring of 1777, when, the army being reorgan ized, he was appointed a surgeon’s mate. In June, 1778, he was appointed surgeon of the second Jersey regiment, and served in that capacity until the close of the war; never being absent from duty. After the war ho married, and settled in Bridgeton, as a physician. In 1789 he was elected a member of assembly, and in several succeeding years in 1791 and in 1795 he was speaker. In 1800 he was elected a member of congress, and sat in that body six years, during the administration of Jefferson, of which he was a supporter. He was adjutant-general of the militia of New Jersey, and for many years brig.. adier.general of the Cumberiand brigade. During the last war with England, in 1813, he commanded thetroops stationed at Billingsport, in this state. In the year 1807, and afterward in 1815, be was a member of the council of this state, and vice-president. In 1808, he was appointed collector of the port of Bridgeton, which office he resigned in 1817—was reappointed in 1822, and continued in that office until 1832, when he again resigned; and having arrived at the age of fourscore, whoUy declined public business. In his early years be was deeply impressed with a concern for his immortal interests, and has been for many years a member of the Presbyterian church. His great characteristic, through a long and useful life, was stem integrity. His generosity and benevolance are known wherever he was known, and ‘his praise is in all the churches.’

“Gen. Elmer was buried on Friday. The funeral proceeded from his late residence to the church in Broad-st., where the Rev. Ethan Osborne, one of his revolutionary compatriots, preached an appropriate sermon, from Matt. xxv. 21; and then the body was interred in the Presbyterian burying.ground”

It is stated, in a late number of the paper from which the above biographical sketch is taken, that Mrs. Sarah Smith, who recently died at Bridgeton, was a lineal descendant of the royal family of Sweden.

“Her great-grandmother Elizabeth, in the troublous times of that kingdom, was compelled to flee from her native country, when she was sixteen years old. She was concealed in a hogshead, on board of a ship, at Stockholm, for some time before the vessel sailed for America. She brought many valuable treasures with her across the water, which were also concealed on board the ship; but after the vessel had sailed over the Atlantic, she was wrecked on the Jersey shore. This lady, with a few of the crew, barely saved their lives. In her destitute condition, on the shore of a vast wilderness, as New Jersey then was, she fell in with a hunter, by the name of Garrison. Their acquaintance grew into intimacy, and ripened into love. She married him, and bybim had ten children. It is said that her youngest son, William, was born when she was in her fifty-fifth year. She died in the ninety-fifth year of her age. She has a grandson now living, in Bridgeton, who was brought up by her, until he was about nine years oT age, to whom she related this narrative, and many of her interesting adventures. This gentleman computes his grandmother’s descendants in the county at more than 1,000 souls.”

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