An American Family History



Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Home of the George and Mary Fox Family
Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey by John Warner Barber, Henry Howe, published by Pub. by B. Olds, for J. H. Bradley, 1852
Kingwood Township is on the western border of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. It was founded in 1798.
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New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.

This township was formed in 1798. It is about 14 miles long, 4 wide, and is bounded NW. by Alexandria and Bethlehem, SE. by Delaware and Raritan, E. by Clinton, and W. by the Delaware river. . .

The tract known as the "Great Swamp" extends into the township. One would suppose from the name that this region was covered with bogs and fens, but it is the dead level of the surface, which at certain seasons retains water, that has given rise to the name. . .

The beginning of any local interest of the Baptists in this place [Flemington], as nearly as can now be ascertained, is as follows:—In the year 1765, Thomas Lowry and James Eddy gave a piece of land, about half an acre, for a Baptist meeting-house. This lot lies on the northeast corner of the main street, and the Now Brunswick and Somerville roads. The house was built in 1766, under the direction of Thomas Lowry, James Eddy, Gershom Lee, Jonathan Higgins, John Jewell, Esq., and others. This was the first Baptist meeting-house in Amwell township, which at that time, together with the adjoining township of Kingwood, was a part of Bethlehem; and latterly, Amwell being divided, now makes the house stand in Raritan.

There being no regularly constituted church, it was called the Baptist meeting of Amwell, and chiefly supplied with preaching by the neighboring ministers. David Sutton, pastor of Kingwood, supplied them some time during the revolutionary war, but he, though a very pious minister, was by Mr. Jewell shut out of the house, because he was thought to be too favorable to the British. About this time the American soldiers used the house as barracks and hospital, the marks of their firearms being visible on the floor not twenty years ago.

After this, Nicholas Cox, a minister of considerable talent, then at Kingwood, supplied a part of his time regularly, but in 1790/91, declared himself a Universalist. This gave a general shock to their interests for some time, and they had very little preaching for four years. Then Mr. J. Ewing, pastor of Hopewell, supplied them ten months. In 1795, G. A. Hunt, pastor of Kingwood, engaged with them for one third of his time. At this period the house was almost in ruins.

Their circumstances becoming more auspicious, the house was repaired, and in June, 1798, there were fifteen persons constituted into a regular Baptist church, called the Baptist church of Amwell. They now elected their deacons, their clerk, and a board of trustees. . .

Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.

Hunterdon County was originally part of Burlington County, West Jersey. It was set off from Burlington County on March 11, 1714. It included Amwell, Hopewell, and Maidenhead Townships.

Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.

The town clerk was one of the first offices in colonial America. The clerk recorded births, marriages, and deaths.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

A History of Baptists in New Jersey by Thomas Sharp Griffiths, published by Barr Press Pub. Co., 1904

.. .For the origin of this church, we must look back to 1722. When the tract began to be settled by persons, some of whom were Baptists; five of them. Three other Baptists came, in 1734. Mr. Thomas Curtis, a licentiate and a student at Hopewell (possibly a licentiate of Hopewell church). At Kingwood he and the aforesaid Baptists built a small meeting house.

The first fruits of his ministry went to Hopewell for baptism. In 1748, James and John Bray and his wife, members of Middletown (living at Holmdel), sons of John Biay who built the third house of worship and parsonage at Holmdel in 1705, arrived, which increased their number to twelve souls. Mr. Curtis visited the lower part of the township (now Kingwood) where another meeting house was built in 1741 on the spot where the present one stands. Here five were baptized by Rev. Joseph Eaton of Hopewell. His next converts in the lower tract were baptized by Rev. Thomas Davis, who succeeded Mr. Eaton at Hopewell. This increased the Baptists to twenty-two and made them think of becoming a distinct society. Having obtained release from Hopewell they were constituted a church July 31st, 1742.

Mr. Curtis was ordained for pastor October, 1745. He died in April, 1749. . . .Both Seventh Day Baptists and Dunkards (feet washing Baptists) had colonies nearby and were aggressive to win proselytes. More, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, new things of doctrine and of opinion were welcomed by good people as never before. . .

First printed in Boston 1745

Then as now, liberty drifted into the license of unrestrained opinion. Liberty of opinion is the most lawless of human rights. Since it has only the moral limit of the right to think and to believe that which it is right to think and to believe and one must determine for himself what is right to think and to believe. The Scriptures being the only authority on all moral questions of right and wrong. Mr. M. Bonham followed Pastor Curtis and was ordained in 1749. Rumors affecting his morality resulted in his exclusion from the church.

After many years Rev. David Sutton entered the pastorate in in 1764, remaining till August, 1783 and proved himself sent of God. Morgan Edwards says of him:

He has often been compared to Nathaniel of whom it was said, there was no guile in him.

Mr. Sutton was a son of John Sutton, a constituent of Scotch Plains church. He was a missionary pastor. In 1764, the year of his settling at Kingwood, he made an appointment at Flemington and no doubt influenced Messrs. Lowry and Eddy to give in 1765, (the next year) the lots on which to build a Baptist meeting house; he secured the erection of the house of worship in 1766, within two years of his coming to Kingwood and in his long charge at Kingwood, nearly twenty years preached in the house at Flemington. He was thus the first Baptist preacher at Flemington and laid the foundation for the later growth of Baptist interests there.

The New England Meetinghouse was the only municipal building in a town. Both worship and civil meetings were held there. It was customary for men and women to sit separately and the town chose a committee once a year to assign seats according to what was paid, age, and dignity.

The Dutch were the first Europeans claim land in New Jersey. The region became a territory of England in 1664 when an English fleet sailed into New York Harbor and took control of Fort Amsterdam.



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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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