Brave Men Follow Me, The Life of Patriot Samuel Meeker (Part 3 of 10)

III. The border farms of Samuel Meeker and Nathaniel Meeker.

Samuel Meeker went on to purchase a number of lands in Sussex County, NJ but the one which is most important to his story is a 173 acre parcel near the New York border he purchased in 1767 for £350 from Joseph Barton (1723-1788) who later fought as a Loyalist in the Revolutionary War.1 Prior to Barton’s ownership, this land was owned by Mary Alexander, an influential colonial era merchant in New York City. A survey of this parcel made for her in 1761 proves valuable in both locating the boundaries of the property and understanding how to fit together parts of the land which were later sold.

When Samuel moved to this border farm is unknown. Though he purchased it in 1767, he was already referred to as Samuel Meeker “of Wantage” in two separate 1764 documents.2 As his first farm (south of Branchville) was in Frankford Township and not Wantage Township, he must in 1764 have been either living on the border farm as a renter, or had purchased some other property in Wantage.

Living on another farm near Samuel was his brother Nathaniel. The first reference to Nathaniel Meeker is in the same 1767 deed where a “tract of land which Richard Gardiner divided of for Nathaniel Meeker” is mentioned. Nathaniel is also on a 1769 list of Wantage inhabitants.3 By that same year (and going forward for some years) Samuel was apparently residing on the border farm. Evidence of this is found in documents of 1769, 1770, and 1771 that have his signature alongside neighbors in that place including George Kimber (also spelled Cimber) and Daniel Rosenkrans.4 The location of Samuel’s house at this border farm is believed to be the farmhouse on today’s Stephen’s farm (known as the Christie farm for three generations in the 19th and 20th centuries.) According to Samantha Stephens, a niece of the owner, the farmhouse there has a “main house” section built in the Adam’s style popular from 1780 to 1820 and an older “original house” of approximately 17 feet by 19 feet. The date of this original house is unknown but could go back to Samuel Meeker’s residence there. Nathaniel Meeker’s house no longer exists but for some remains of a foundation now entirely buried on the property of Mark Wallace on Oil City Rd.5 The distance between Samuel’s house and Nathaniel’s house was only about a quarter of a mile. Nathaniel’s family was in the vicinity for multiple generations. Nathaniel’s son Jeptha inherited his lands, and when Jeptha passed away his lands were divided up among his living children: Phebe Meeker Elston, Sarah Meeker, Mary Meeker, and James Meeker.

1 March 2, 1767 indenture of Samuel Meeker from Joseph Barton. F-3 (EJ): Folio 351 (SSTSE023).

2 There is a mention of “Samuel Meeker of Wantage” under May 1764 in The minute book of Sussex County, New Jersey court records, 1764-1766, by Brad Stark. And the Sussex County tavern license application of “Samuel Meeker of Wantage” to “keep a publick house of entertainment where he now lives” is dated May 20, 1764.

3 1769 List of Wantage inhabitants. MG-237, OS-3, Folder 1, New Jersey Historical Society archives.

4 1769, Samuel Meeker and Nathaniel Meeker on list of Wantage inhabitants. MG-237, OS-3, Folder 1, New Jersey Historical Society archives. Alsp: 1769, May 18, Tavern License Application of “Joseph Walling’s in Wantage at the Drowned Lands.” Signed by Samuel Meeker, Nathaniel Meeker, George Cimber, John Crowell, Hezekiah Dunn, Elijah Inman, etc. Also: 1770, May, Tavern License Application for John Davis in Wantage. Petitioners: Nathaniel Meeker, Samuel Meeker, Daniel Rosenkrans, Jacob Cole, Josias Cole, John Whitaker, George Kimber, John Crowell. Also: 1771, May 28, Tavern License Application for John Davis Jun in Wantage. Signed by George Cimber, Sam Meeker, Nath Meeker, etc.

5 The description of the land in following deed matches the parcel today owned by Mark Wallace where a new house has been built. “Also one other Lot of land adjoining aforesaid lot including the house wherein the Late Nathaniel Meeker deceased formerly lived. Beginning at the East End of a bridge that crosses the brook in the great road near said house (1) north forty degrees east three chains, (2) north fifty degrees west one chain and fifty links, (3) south forty degrees west three chains, (4) south fifty degrees east one chain and fifty links to the place of beginning containing forty five hundredths of an acre of land.” – Deed of June 20, 1846 of Samuel Schoonover from Samuel Whitaker, Jacob Whitaker, and Benjamin Hayne.