Church and Family History Research Assistance
for Primitive Baptist Churches in the State of New Jersey



The Middletown Church is mentioned in the records of Lower Dublin (Pennypack) Church in the year 1687. Some accounts give 1688 as the date this church was organized. It is believed that James Aston and James Brown were very early ministers here, and in 1690 Elias Keach lived one year amongst them, and Thomas Killingsworth also visited them. In 1713 John Burrows became their minister, followed by George Eaglesfield, John Coward, Abel Morgan, and others.

David Benedict's History of the Baptists states: "For the origin of this church we must look back to the year 1667; for that was the year when Middleton, containing a part of Monmouth, and part of Sussex counties, was purchased from the Indians by twelve men and twenty-four associates; their names are in the town book. Of them the following were Baptists, namely Richard Stout, John Stout, James Grover, Jonathan Bown, Obadiah Holmes, John Buckman, John Wilson, Walter Hall, John Cox, Jonathan Holmes, George Mount, William Cheeseman, William Layton, William Compton, James Ashton, John Bown, Thomas Whitlock, and James Grover, Jr. It is probable, that some of the above had wives and children of their own way of thinking; however, the forenamed eighteen men appear to have been the constituents of the church of Middleton, and the winter of 1688, the time."


The constitution of Piscataway Church dates back to the period of our Colonial history when New Jersey was under the proprietary form of government, to the very year that William and Mary of Orange came to the throne of the mother country. The records of the Church, from the time of its constitution till 1781, a period of nearly one hundred years, were either lost or willfully destroyed during the Revolutionary War.

The names of Drake, Stelle, Smalley, Runyon, Martin, Dunham, FitzRandolph, Sutton and Smith were prominent on the register of the Piscataway Church. Of these early settlers tradition will allow only six to have been professed Baptists, namely: Hugh Dunn, John Drake, Nicholas Bonham, John Smalley, Edmund Dunham, and John Randolph. These persons were constituted a Gospel Church in the spring of 1689, by Thomas Killingsworth, who came to this country soon after his ordination in England, and became the first pastor of the Cohansey Church, which was constituted the following year (1690). (Note: The History of the Philadelphia Association says this church was planted in 1686.) The name of no female appears among the constituent members either of this Church or of the Middletown and Cohansey Churches. Of the six constituent members, three were exhorters or lay-preachers, namely: John Drake, Hugh Dunn, and Edmund Dunham.


The Conhansey Church was planted by Thomas Killingsworth about the year 1690 (according to a paragraph in the records of Pennepack Church book, page 7). Early pastors included Timothy Brooks, William Butcher, and Nathaniel Jenkins.

The first Baptists known to have settled in South Jersey came from Ireland and were members of a Baptist Church at Cleagh Keating in the County of Tipperary in the Province of Munster in the south of Ireland. They arrived here about 1683 and settled Back and Shrewsbury Necks, in Fairfield Township.

Morgan Edwards, from whose history of the Baptist Churches of New Jersey all the early history of the Baptists of this part of the state has been drawn, visited the different churches in 1789 and 1790 in search of material for his work. He was at Cohansey on July 6th, 1789. He states that the early records of the church had been destroyed, but the loss was partly supplied by a historical sketch which had been sent him many years ago (as he then said) by Robert Kelsey, pastor of the church from 1756 until his death, May 30th, 1789. He further says that in the year 1683 some Baptists from the County of Tipperary in Ireland settled in the neighborhood of Cohansey; particularly David Sheppard, Thomas Abbott, William Button, etc. Those names are all English names and their parents were probably among the large number of English citizens who settled in Ireland after the subjugation by the parliamentary forces under Cromwell in 1651.


Cape May Church was constituted in June 1712, with Nathaniel Jenkins as their pastor. Meetings had been held here for several years before the church was organzed.


On April 23, 1715, a meeting was held at the home of Joseph Stout, at which time a church was constituted. There were twelve charter members, viz., Joseph Stout, Jonathan Stout, Thomas Curtis, Benjamin Drake, Hannah Stout, Ann Stout, Ruth Stout, Sarah Fitzrandolph, Rachel Hyde, Ann Curtis, Mary Drake, Sarah Smith. The presbytery was composed of Elder Abel Morgan (from Pennypack), Elder John Burrows (from Middletown), and brethren Griffin Miller, Joseph Todd, and Samuel Ogborn.

After many years of meeting in homes and having problems securing a place to meet, it was decided to build a meeting house. Twenty members were baptized from 1715 to 1728 and by 1747 there were 65 members. A meeting was called on June 19, 1747, held at the home of Henry Oxley in Hopewell (then known as Columbia) at which time David Stout, Benjamin Stout, and Henry Oxley were chosen managers to build a meeting house. After agreement to build a meeting house, a great revival took place in the church which put a stop to frolicking and gaming in the neighborhood. The first church was built of stone. As quoted in the records, "they went to work to draw stones in August 1747 and sometime that winter following got it fit for meeting."

As most persons came a long distance, they did not want a short sermon and preaching might last two hours. They held their business meeting on Saturday which consisted of a sermon, reviewing prospective members, disciplining members and matters concerning the expenses of the church. Persons were baptized on Sunday in a nearby brook. Sermons on Sunday were one to two hours.

On October 30, 1748, Elder Isaac Eaton was called from the Baptist Church of Southampton, Pennsylvania. He was ordained November 23, 1748. Elder John Gano was a member here, and was ordained here in 1755. John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried beside the meeting house; he was not a member of the church, but gave land to the church on which the building was erected. Many veterans of the Revolutionary War are buried in the cemetery by the church.

In 1769 a new law required that church societies be granted a charter in order to own land, buildings, monies and goods. A petition was forwarded to then Governor William Franklin of New Jersey for a Charter from King George III of England, which was received Dec. 11, 1769. By this act the governing body received this name - The Trustees of the Baptist Congregation of Hopewell. Eight Trustees were chosen. Cost of Charter - 7 pounds 15 shillings. In 1798, by an act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, the church was incorporated as a "body politic" which gave it authority to own land.

In 1811 the First Baptist Church of Hopewell was dismissed from the Philadelphia Association to join an association in New Jersey, called the Delaware River Association.

The church was rebuilt in 1822 on the foundation of the first church and appears today as it did in 1822. From the stepping stone of the first meeting house, in April 1775, Col. Joab Houghton stood on a Sunday morning and announced, "Men of New Jersey, the Redcoats are murdering our brethren in New England! Who follows me to Boston!" and the lady folks watched as their men rushed to the aid of Lexington and Concord, where the battle ensued which would become legendary as the one in which the shot was heard around the world. Col. Joab Houghton is buried near the church, and an inscription with this message is recorded on the stone on the front of his crypt.

There were visiting ministers until 1721, when Thomas Simmons came and stayed three years. He was followed by Jenkins Jones, and Joseph Eaton. Later pastors included Elders Isaac Eaton (1748), Benjamin Coles (1774), Oliver Hart (1780), James Ewing (1796), John Boggs (1807), William Curtis (1845), Philander Hartwell (1853), William J. Purington (1879), F. A. Chick (1896), Charles Vaughn (1914), H. M. Bennett (1953), Arthur Warren (1959).

Historical Sketch of Hopewell Church, Delivered April 23, 1882, by Elder William J. Purington.


Alderson, Allen, Allison, Anderson, Arnal, Arthur, Barton, Beedle, Bennett, Biggs, Black, Blackwell, Blue, Boggs, Bonham, Bontiera, Boss, Bray, Brinson, Britain, Brush, Bryant, Buchanon, Buckhanon, Burcham, Burkelow, Burt, Burtis, Campbell, Carr, Cate, Chamberlain, Chandlers, Chetester, Clayton, Cochran, Coles, Collins, Compton, Cone, Corwine, Coulter, Craven, Curtis, Danbury, Durah, Davis, Davison, Disborow, Drake, Dunn, Eaton, Evans, Every, Ewing, Exine, Farley, Farnsworth, Fitzrandolph, Foster, Fowler, Frank, Friday, Gano, Gary, Gillmore, Goodwin, Green, Guthrie, Hannah, Harder, Hart, Haugh, Herin, Herren, Herrin, Herring, Hickson, Higgins, Hill, Hilsey, Hixon, Hixson, Hoff, Hough, Houghton, Howell, Howton, Hudnott, Huff, Hunt, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jewell, Johnson, Jones, Kife, Kise, Knowles, Labaw, Labeteaux, Lambert, Lane, Larison, Larrison, Lebough, Lee, Lefeever, Lock, Longley, Lott, Lyon, Manners, Mather, Mathes, Matthews, McCrery, Merrell, Morgan, Opdyke, Osborn, Osborne, Ott, Oxley, Pain, Palmer, Park, Parks, Petitt, Philip, Phillips, Pierce, Powell, Prawl, Prince, Quick, Randolph, Read, Risenbarrach, Roberts, Rose, Ruckman, Runnell, Runyan, Saltore, Salyer, Saxton, Schauck, Servey, Service, Servis, Sexton, Shaw, Shered, Smart, Smith, Snook, Snowden, Sorter, Staneland, Stephens, Stogden, Stone, Stout, Sutfin, Thompson, Titus, Trout, Van Kirk, Van Pelt, Vandike, Vannoy, Vanpelt, Voorhies, Wallen, Warford, Weimer, Weycoff, Whitehead, Whitehouse, Willgose, Williams, Williamson, Woolverton, Wycoff, Young (list is incomplete).

SHILOH (1734)


Kingwood Church was organized in 1742, by members dismissed for that purpose from Hopewell Church, who were early settlers of the area of Locktown (or Baptisttown). A log building was erected in 1750 in Delaware township. A frame building was erected, and then a stone building, in 1819, which is still standing, and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

The Baptist Church of Kingwood, now worshipping at Locktown, was organized July 27th, 1745, at Baptisttown. The original or constituent members were: Elder Thomas Curtis (also first pastor), John Walter (church clerk), William Fowler, John Burt, David Drake, Jas. Wolverton, _____ Ruckman, Job Warford, Thomas Hill, Eleanor Hunt, Edward Slater, Elsie Curtis, Martha Curtis, Agnes Drake, Abigail Wolverton, Elizabeth Warford, Elizabeth Collins, Ann Larue, Elizabeth Harris, Mary Still and Mary Green.

The first meeting house was built in 1750, of logs, on a lot donated to the church by George Burket. The second was a frame building, and the present structure, of stone, was built in the year 1819. The first two stood on or near the site of the present edifice.

Thomas Curtis remained pastor from its organization till his death in 1749. He was succeeded in 1749 by Malachi Bonham, who remained until February 17th, 1757. The next minister, David Sutton, from March 26th, 1764 to August 3, 1783, when he resigned. He was succeeded by Nicholas Cox, who ministered from November 4th, 1784 to June 5th, 1790. He was followed by Garner A. Hunt, October 5th, 1795, who continued until May 1st, 1807, when he left the Baptists and joined the Presbyterians. The next pastor was James McLaughlin, November 1st, 1808, for about one year. In the spring of 1813, the church called John Ellis, who continued till the spring of 1817.

He was succeeded in the spring of 1818 by Elder David Bateman, who officiated until August 10th, 1832. On April 1st, 1833, William Curtis was chosen, but he resigned at the end of six months. August 30th, 1834, James W. Wigg came and continued till February 2d, 1839. April 1st, 1840 Elder J. Felty took charge, but resigned at the end of one year. In January 1841, Elder William House became pastor, continuing till April 1st, 1845. Elder G. Conkling was his successor May 16th, 1846, and remained until his death April 16, 1868. May 28th, 1870, the church called Elder A. B. Francis to the pastorate, which he retained until November, 1881. He was a Virginian by birth, a devout Christian and an able speaker. He was succeeded in the above named year by Elder Balas Bundy of Otsego, New York, and remained in charge until his death, 1901. Elder D. Marvin Vail was then called, and is still in charge. He is very highly esteemed by all who know him.

This church, whose history stretches back into other centuries, has never forgotten Him to whose honor and glory it was reared and dedicated. All through the misty years of Time the Cross of Jesus Christ has been kept in view, and those who follow the founders of the sacred edifice are faithful to the trust which comes to them as the heritage of their forefathers. May the old church continue the good work so long ago undertaken by a noble ancestry, and may the spirit of David Bateman be as the guiding star to all generations yet to come.

J. M. Hoppock, 1906.

This conclusion gives us a glimpse of the sincerely devout feelings attached to the old churches of Hunterdon County. In 1906, there was reason to think the church and its congregation would continue on indefinitely. But that was not to be. The church closed its doors in 1967. But it was saved from conversion to a residence in 1973 and again in 1986, and is now a public building under the care of the Friends of the Locktown Stone Church .



The Scotch Plains Church was organized September 8, 1747, with the following members who were dismissed from Piscataway Church, viz., William Darby, Recompence Stanbery, John Lambert, John Dennis, John Stanbery, Henry Crosley, John Sutton, Jr., Isaac Manning, Mary Brodwell, Mary Green, Mary Dennis, Tibiah Sutton, Catharine Manning, Sarah De Camp, and Sarah Perce.

In February 1748, Benjamin Miller was ordained to be their minister, by Elders Benjamin Stelle, and Abel Morgan. The church joined the Philadelphia Association. According to the Minutes of the Philadelphia Association, corroborated by Morgan Edwards' "Materials," these persons, "appointed to come together on the 8th day of September, 1747, and having Abel Morgan and James Mott of Middletown for their assistants, they spent the fore part of the day in prayer and fasting; and afterwards gave themselves, in a solemn manner, to the Lord and to one another, by the will of God; and, after the usual solemnity, were owned as a sister church."


Morristown Church was organized August 11, 1752, by members dismissed from the church of Piscataway (Piscataqua), by a presbytery composed of Elders Benjamin Miller, Isaac Steele, and Isaac Eaton. The names of those thus constituted were Daniel Sutton, Jonas Goble, John Sutton, Malatiah Goble, Jemima Wiggins, Daniel Walling, Ichabod Tomkins, Sarah Wiggins, Mary Goble, Naomi Allen, and Robert Goble. At the same time six persons were added to the newly constituted church by baptism. The church united with the Philadelphia Association the following October. Elders John Gano, Ichabod Tomkins, John Walton, and Reune Runyon were the first four pastors of the church.


Rocksberry Church was organized May 12, 1753, at Rocksberry, by a presbytery of Elders Isaac Stelle and Malachia Bonham. The church united with the Philadelphia Association in October following.


August 20th, 1803, twenty-four members of Hopewell Church made a request to be organized into a church in the neighborhood of Harbourtown, which was unanimously granted.


The Canton Church was organized October 17, 1818, by twenty-six members from Salem Church, and five members from Cohansey Church. Elder Thomas J. Kitts was called to serve the church, was ordained, and served as the first pastor, but only for a few months. During the pastorate of Elder John Miller, 1834-1837, the church divided over the modern mission system and its doctrines and practices. Part of the church remained Old School Baptist in belief and practice, while the remainder went into the new institutions and inventions of the day. An account was published in some detail regarding this trouble, in the Signs of the Times.


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