Newspaper Archives can be a treasure trove for the genealogist. A bound copy of The Archives of the State of New Jersey, First Series Vol. XXIX, (Newspaper Abstracts Vol. X), happens to be in our family archive, and within its pages, covering the years 1773 and 1774, are several references to my ancestors that add a bit more color to their already burnished family record:
- (Pg. 51) The New-York Gazette, and the Weekly Mercury, No. 1146, October 11, 1773. Dateline Princeton, September 30, 1773.
My ancestor Aaron Ogden (1756-1839) graduates from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton). The commencement exercises included "An English Oration by Aaron Ogden, from Elizabeth Town, On true Honour." He went on to compile an illustrious war record as a staff officer in Maxwell's New Jersey Brigade and in Lafayette's Corps of Light Infantry at Yorktown, served briefly Congress and a term as governor in 1812, and practiced law in Elizabeth. Just about every American lawyer practicing today has encountered the landmark Supreme Court judgment Ogden v. Gibbons (which my ancestor lost) that affirmed Federal regulation of interstate commerce.
- (Pg. 373) Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, No. 54, April 28, 1774.
My ancestor Jonathan Dayton is named as one of four people named by the executors of the last will and testament of the Rev. William Mills, of Jamaica, on Long Island, as those to whom "such persons as have any demands upon the said estate are requested to send them, on or before the third day of May". He is listed as Jonathan Dayton, at Springfield, which those who have been following my series of posts on Knyphausen's Raid know lies northwest of Elizabeth Town, NJ. The Jonathan Dayton in question is not the one who later became the youngest youngest Signer of the US Constitution, who would not yet be 14-years-old when this will was probated, but his grandfather (1701-1776), who came to New Jersey from Long Island and was born in East Hampton.
On page 412, the sale of land owned by Reverend Mills in Roxbury, Morris County, NJ was later advertised in the The New-York Gazette, and the Weekly Mercury, No 1184, July 4, 1774 with "Jonathan Dayton, 2nd, at Springfield", named once again as one of four overseeing the disposition of the estate. This "2nd" is perplexing, as the father of the elder Jonathan Dayton was Samuel Dayton (abt. 1666 - 1745/46), and it is highly unlikely that it refers to his 13-year-old grandson.
Finally, on page 488 there is this item from The New-York Journal; or the General Advertiser, No. 1656, Sept. 29, 1774:
To be run for, on Tuesday next, at Elizabeth Town, a purse of twenty-five pounds New-York currency, free for any horse, mare or gelding (full blooded excepted) carrying weight for age...The best of three two mile heats. All horses, &c. to be shewn and entered at the stand, the day before the running, paying twenty-four shillings entrance, or double at the post. No owners of horses to start more than one horse, or to be concerned in any confederacy. No less than three reputed running horses to start for the above purse; and certificates to be produced from the breeders, or such as the judges shall approve of.
The entrance money to be run for the day following the above race, by all except the winning and distanced horses. the said horses to be entered by Jonathan J Dayton, Broughton Reynolds, or Noah Marsh. Sept. 7th, 1774
Intriguingly, this notice was printed in the New York Journal well after the race was run. These are among the few biographical documents I have found relating to this ancestor Jonathan Dayton (1736-1801).
- (Pg. 324) The Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 2362, March 30, 1774.
Aaron Ogden's father, Robert Ogden (1716-1787) is named in this article as one of those responsible for running the Delaware Lottery, the proceeds of which were to help fund the College of New-Jersey (Princeton), among other institutions in New Jersey and Delaware. Robert Ogden had committed what amounted to political suicide during the Stamp Tax Congress when he argued that each colony should write a protest separately rather than signing a joint document of opposition. For this he was burned in effigy, but in the 1770s he regained a modicum of approval and his sons Matthias and Aaron became Revolutionary heroes.
- (Pg. 432) The Pennsylvania Journal, July 27, 1774.
My ancestor John Chetwood (1736-1801), a judge from Elizabeth Town and future father-in-law of Aaron Ogden, is named to "a Standing Committee of Correspondence for the Province of New-Jersey." These committees allowed the various towns and colonies to communicate with each other on the eve of the American revolution, and coordinate their efforts. This Committee was established at "a general meeting of the Committees of the several counties of the province of New-Jersey, at New-Brunswick, on Thursday the 21st of July, 1774", in which it was resolved:
"We think it necessary to declare that the inhabitants of this province (and we are confident the people of America in general,) are and ever have been firm and unshaken in their loyalty to his majesty King George the Third..."
Just about everything resolved after this point supported the rights of the Colonies, including the right to tax themselves (and opposing Parliament's claim to be able to do so, and opposing the harsh penalties imposed on the people of Boston as
"not only subversive of the undoubted rights of His majesty's American subjects, but also repugnant to the common principles of humanity and justice."
These newspaper references offer fascinating snippets of my New Jersey ancestors' lives in the last colonial years.