The area that is now Warren County likely did not include any European settlers until the 1650s but mines were already in operation, providing ores that were shipped back to Holland. In 1664 however, the Dutch lost control to the British the area that is now New York and New Jersey. In 1665 “Nova Caesarea” – New Jersey – became a proprietary government (meaning that the province could determine its own laws as long as they were in accordance with the laws of England), under Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret.
Another war with Holland in 1672 turned possession back over to the Dutch until a treaty signed in 1674 once and for all settled the territory in British hands. This time, though, the state was to be divided lengthwise into East New Jersey, granted to Sir Carteret, and West New Jersey, granted to Lord Berkeley. It is at this time when the area began its long and winding road to becoming Warren County, having been included in no less than four other counties (Burlington, Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex) prior to 1854! Carteret sold his interest almost immediately to Quaker owners who, in turn, were forced to turn over the area to William Penn and some other Quaker associates. They further divided land among other Quakers. Upon Carteret’s death in 1679, East New Jersey was sold to Penn and eleven other proprietors who affiliated themselves with twelve other prominent citizens of varying faiths. Thus, East New Jersey had 24 proprietors in 1682.
In 1685, the Duke of York became James II and he recalled the land grants in New England, New York, and New Jersey in an effort to unite the territories under one governor. But James was not to rule long and when William and Mary took the throne, this unified arrangement ended, leaving New York and New Jersey with no real government from 1688-89. A series of unsuccessful governors left the proprietors concerned that they would lose all rights to their lands so they determined it best to give control back to the crown in the hope that they would keep their properties. In 1702, Queen Anne finally united East and West New Jersey under one governor, twelve appointed counselors, and 24 elected officials. Proceedings alternated between the capitals of Burlington (West) and Perth Amboy (East).
From the beginning, the proprietors in New Jersey determined to negotiate with the Lenape for rights to lands before attempting to claim ownership. These sales began in 1677. Around 1704, 150,000 acres were secured in what is now Hunterdon County. The last of these purchases was in 1712 and that included the lands of Warren County.
From Mansfield (Woodhouse) to Port Murray
Morris Canal - tavern stop
A Simple Farmstead Becomes White Chimneys
White Chimneys has evolved over the years from an extremely modest one room structure (likely with equally modest out buildings) to the modern it is now. The farm has known its share of owners from the eighteenth century on. Deeds trace its ownership back to the mid 1700s:
1714 - 1748 Daniel Coxe
1748 - ???? Samuel Johnson
1760 - ???? Martin Ryerson
???? - 1808 Eleazer Smith, sold by his widow, Charity.
1808 - 1812 John Painter
1812 - 1816 Isaac Gray
1816 - 1865 Barney Bigler
1865 - 1881 James A Bigler, Theodore Bigler
1881 - 1905 Theodore Beatty, William Marlatt
1905 - 1905 Rebecca S, Long
1905 - 1923 Susan Nunn (nee Long)
1923 - 1939 Carl E. Rowley
1939 - 1960 The Jefferays
1960 - 1969 The Hoppings
1969 - 1971 The Halvorsens
1971 - 1974 The Smetanas
1974 - 1986 The Dunns
1986 - Present Lorene Lavora
The east side of the house, view from the road, circa 1910. By this time, a second room had been added to the west and both of those rooms were added to on the north side with one long, banked stone room (now referred to as the Tavern Room) with fireplaces at either end. This was a common practice in the nineteenth century that created a salt box appearance.
The west side of the house, view from the road, circa 1910.
(FYI - this page is a work in progress!)
In the Beginning
It is impossible to talk about the origins of this farmstead without understanding the history of Port Murray, or even Warren County and New Jersey. The area was inhabited long before European settlers arrived, with abundant Paleo-Indian artifacts dating back to approximately 10,000 BC having been found at the Plenge Site, in nearby Asbury. The Lenni Lenapes were the first residents of this valley but in 1609, the Netherlands (by virtue of Henry Hudson’s landing in New York Bay), laid claim to lands that reached from New England to Virginia. In the years to follow, treaties between the Lenapes and the Dutch and the English would relinquish rights to native lands.
"White Chimneys" by S.Wayne Opdyke - courtesy of Doug Halvorsen