Brave Men Follow Me, The Life of Patriot Samuel Meeker (Part 2 of 10)

II. Samuel Meeker’s First New Jersey Farm and Early Wealth

The first land Samuel Meeker is known to have purchased in Sussex County was a 157-acre lot south of present-day Branchville, New Jersey deeded to him on April 11, 1763. In the deed he is referred to as “Samuel Meeker of Newtown in Sussex County” showing that he had by that time left New York for residence in New Jersey.

It seems probably that it was while living on this farm that Samuel met and married his wife. In one deed her name is spelled Seruiah, but in all other documents she is Sarah. Her maiden was Colt as Samuel Meeker is called a son-in-law of Isaac Colt Sr. in the latter’s will in Sussex County.1 Sarah’s brother, Isaac Colt Jr. (1743-1837) is said to have settled about 1770 on a fam near the hamlet of Augusta, only a mile or two from Samuel Meeker’s first farm.2 If Sarah also came to Sussex County that year then Samuel’s marriage to her can be no earlier than 1770. And since Samuel and Sarah had the third of their four known children in 1781 their marriage must have been in the 1770s. [A genealogy of the family will be included at the end of this article].

Samuel Meeker started his adult life with some wealth and social status. In documents of 1761, 1763, and 1768 he is referred to as a yeoman farmer meaning he owned the land he farmed. His sale of land in New York in 1761 (probably an inheritance or grant from his father) returned him £730. The purchase of the farm near Branchville in 1763 was an expenditure of less than a third of that money, costing £232 15s 3d and leaving a considerable amount remaining. In at least one document his later Wantage farm is referred to as a plantation, perhaps indicating that it was of some size and profitability.3 In addition to farming, Samuel applied to Sussex County for a tavern license in 1764 to “keep a publick house of entertainment where he now lives.” His wealth, inherited and earned, put him in a position to dedicate much of his time to public service both in the militia and as a commissioner of estates for the county.

1 Colt, Isaac, Sr., of Newtown, Sussex Co., will of. Wife, Sarah, goods she brought with her; 1/3 of movables and use of 1/3 of land during her life. Son, Isaac, wearing apparel and ¼ of remainder. (Real and personal to be sold.) Children of daughter Rachel Smith, ¼ of remainder, when of age. Daughter, Hannah McNeal, ¼ part. Daughter, Martha Williams, ¼ part. Executors—sons-in-law, Edward McNeal and Samuel Meeker. Witnesses—Hannah Adams and Hannah Poole. Proved Aug 1, 1792. Lib. 34, p. 171.

2 Mary Depue Ogden, ed., Memorial Cyclopedia of New Jersey, Vol. 4, 1921,p. 281.

3 “Samuel Meeker’s plantation at the drowned lands in Sussex” mentioned in S7 (EJ Surveys): Folio 66 (PEASJ003) of Sept. 17, 1773.