History of Frelinghuysen, NJ
From History of Warren County, NJ
By George Wyckoff Cummins, Ph. D., M. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company 1911


Frelinghuysen is named in honor of the Hon. Theodore Frelinghuysen, attorney-general of New Jersey, a United States Senator, and president of Rutger’s College. The township was created from a part of Hardwick in 1848.

I quote from Judge Swayze’s address:

“In 1760, Jonathan Hampton advertised for sale 6,000 acres of land at Hardwick, in the County of Sussex, about two miles from the old jail, on both sides of the Pawling’s Kill, within half a mile of Samuel Green’s mill. He describes it as well stored with white oak timber, of which quantities of staves and headings are made and transported down Pawling’s Kill and Delaware to Philadelphia.”

Early settlers in Frelinghuysen were the Shafer, Wintermute, Armstrong, Van Horn, Thompson, Lanning, Hazen, Lundy, Dyer, Edgerton, Green, Luse, Rice and other families, some of whom were English Quakers, some Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, some German, and others Dutch.

Samuel Green, who chose to make this township his home, had been a deputy surveyor of West Jersey for many years, and as such located for himself and his family some valuable tracts in Hope, Oxford and Frelinghuysen. He was the first white man to tread the soil of this township, and later settle on it. On May 17, 1715, he was one of a party of three surveyors to go along the old Indian path leading from Allamucha to “the cleft in the bill where the Minnisink path goeth through,” taking him past Pahuckquapath, which was the name of the region about Johnsonburg, and on to Marksboro, where the Tohockonetcong Indians would not let them survey any land.

Samuel Green was a voter in Hunterdon County in 1738, and died in Frelinghuysen in 1760. One of his sons was Samuel Green, Jr., who settled at Hope, and sold one thousand acres of land to the Moravians in 1768.

Richard Lanning settled near the Yellow Frame Church before the Revolution. His sons were Richard, Edward and John. Edward bought three hundred acres of land, from which he cleared the original forest. He was born in 1764, and died in 1841. His children were: Richard, born 1793; Jeremiah, 1794; David, 1795; Isaac, 1797; Levi, 1799; Peggy, 1801; Sarah (Dodder), 1803; Huldah (Teel), 1805; Edward, 1806, and Hannah (Hart), 1810.

Nathan Armstrong, a Scotch-Irishman, came from Londonderry about 1740, and settled in 1748 on the farm bought of Samuel Green and others, which is one mile northwest of Johnsonburg, and was held by three generations of the family till 1880. All of the Armstrong families of this region are descended from his twin sons, George and John, between whom the homestead was divided. George Armstrong (1749-1829) was town clerk, assessor, county collector, clerk of the board of freeholders, a member of the Legislature, and an elder in the Yellow Frame Presbyterian Church. One son, John, was father of William Armstrong, Sheriff of Warren County, and of Richard T. Armstrong, whose son, William Clinton Armstrong, A. M., was educated at Princeton, is Superintendent of Schools at New Brunswick, and is the author of the Armstrong and Lundy genealogies.

Johnsonburg first came into prominence in 1753, when it became the county seat of Sussex, under the name of “The Log Jail.” The first courts were held in the log hotel of Jonathan Pettit, who, to accommodate his increasing trade, built a row of log houses as annexes to his hotel. The log jail, which gave its name to the place for many years, was the first county building erected for Sussex.County.

On March 21, 1754, an election was ordered to be held at the house of Samuel Green, on the 16th, 17th and 18th of April, “to elect a place to build a jail and Court House.” A jail was ordered built near Pettit’s tavern, on lands of Samuel Green. Jonathan Pettit and Richard Lundy were to superintend its construction, but no Court House was ever built here, the courts being held in the tavern of Pettit or of Wolverton. The log jail cost thirty-seven pounds two shillings and ten pence, but soon had to be made stronger at an expense of forty-one pounds three shillings one penny. This building was used for nine years, and had a watchman night and day to watch prisoners, most of whom were in for debt. Many. escaped and rendered the county liable for their debts to the amount of six hundred pounds. The log jail continued in use until 1763, when a new one was completed on the present site of the Sussex County Court House, on Hairlocker’s plantation, that being on lands owned by Jonathan Hampton. It is said that only one execution ever took place at the log jail, that being the hanging of a negro wench.

The first store was a log structure built by William Armstrong, who was succeeded by a Carr, and he by a Johnson, from whom the town received its present name. This store was on the site of the one now kept by Elbridge Hardin. It was kept for many years by Robert Blair, brother of John I. Blair. He purchased the farm on which most of the village now stands, of William Armstrong.

Johnsonburg is at present the seat of much activity, owing to work on the D., L. & W. R. R., whose new main line will have a depot here. There are four stores, one owned by George Van Horn, others by Elbridge Hardin and Frank Garrison; a hotel, whose landlord is Mr. Kice; a grist mill, run by Edward Hardin, and build originally by William Armstrong before 1774; two wheelwright shops, and two blacksmith shops.

The Christian Church at Johnsonburg was organized on July 15, 1826, as the result of the labors of Mrs. Abigail Roberts, a missionary, who had been here for two years. It is the mother church of those in Hope, Vienna and of some in Sussex County. The building was begun in 1838 and finished ten years later. The parsonage was built in 1878. The present pastor is the Rev. Joseph McManniman. One of the evangelists of the Christian connection came here in 1838 and died of smallpox, after preaching one sermon. He was known as “the white pilgrim,” who rode a white horse and dressed all in white, even to his shoes.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Johnsonburg resulted from meetings held at the house of Amos Mann and of B. S. Kennedy. The Rev. George Banghart and others who rode on long circuits came here frequently and preached in the groves in summer and in barns or large houses in winter. This continued until the Episcopal Church was built, in which the Methodists were allowed to hold services. The present church was built in 1850, on a lot given by Isaac Dennis. The present pastor is the Rev. J. L. Brooks. An Episcopal church was here before the Revolution.

Marksboro is named from Colonel Mark Thompson, who at one time owned the site and built a grist mill here before A fulling mill had previously been erected on the other side of the Kill. A son of Mark Thompson, named Jacob, later had charge of the mill, and in 1787 we find Mark in charge of a forge at Changewater, where he made pig iron into bar iron.

William Shafer kept the first store here. He was a descendant of Caspar Shafer, who came to this region with his father-in-law, Bernhardt, in 1742.

An academy was built here, but not being a success, the building was used as a hotel as early as 1810 by a Mr. Shepherd, who was followed by Crockett Hunt, Wildrick, and Ball.

The Marksboro Presbyterian Church was organized November i, 1814, as the Second Congregational Church of Hardwick. The services were held in the barn of Frederick Snover for one year, by which time a bSck church had been built. It was dedicated in 1822, the present building replacing it in 1859, under the pastorate of Rev. William C. McGee.

Shiloh is the name applied to a locality about two miles east of Hope, and in the extreme southwestern corner of Frelinghuysen. A saw mill and a grist mill formerly flourished here.

Southtown is a locality a mile and a half southwest of Johnsonburg.

Kerr’s Corners is at a cross roads a mile or more southwest of Marksboro. The new line of the D., L. & W. railroad passes through it.

The Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, on the road from Hope to Marksboro, was built in 1859, on an acre given by Thomas West. Meetings had been held in the White Stone school house for six years previous to this.

The town of Paulina dates from the building of the first grist mill there by William Armstrong, about 1768. There was a grist mill on the site for more than a century, or until the water power was utilized by Blair Hall for the generation of electricity and for a laundry.

The Yellow Frame Presbyterian Church was until 1904 situated on the border line between Sussex and Warren counties, in such a way that the pastor. was in one county and the congregation in the other. It was organized about 1763, and was known as the Upper Hardwick Presbyterian Church until 1782, when it became the Hardwick Presbyterian Church. In 1859 its name was changed to what it had always been called locally, and which name refers to the fact that it was one of the earliest frame buildings in the county, and was painted yellow. The original log church was replaced by the frame structure in 1784-86, which was remodeled in i 841, and finally torn down in 1904 to be replaced by the present beautiful structure, visible with its parsonage and cemetery for miles around. At present the church and parsonage are in Sussex County, and the cemetery in Warren. The first stated pastor of the church was Rev. Francis Peppard, who was installed pastor of this church and of the one at Hackettstown in 1773, and served for ten years. Rev. B. I. Lowe was pastor for thirteen years after 1824. Rev. William C. McGee was installed pastor of this and the Marksboro Church in i 841, and served until his death in 1867. He was the father of Dr. William H. McGee, of Belvidere, and of Flavel McGee. Levi Lanning, in 1871, gave a parsonage and land to the church.

The Dark Moon Tavern was many years a place of ill repute, situated one and one-half miles east of Johnsonburg. It gave its name to the neighborhood. A cemetery is near the spot, and known by the same name, and also as the Dyer Burying Ground, which contains a great many dead of a nearly forgotten generation. Here was once a log meeting house before Yellow Frame was built.

The earliest physician in what is now Warren county was Samuel Kennedy, who was born about 1740 spent all his professional life at Johnsonsburg, whither he came before the revolution and died in 1804. Dr. William P. Vail came to this vicinity in 1828 and followed his profession at Johnsonsburg, Paulina and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He married Miss Sarah Locke, a sister of Mrs. John I. Blair, and was the father of Dr. William Vail and John Vail.

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