Sunday, March 22, 2015

Those Places Thursday - Where Was Gallow Hill?

Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
Doing research on Clan Bain in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, I came across the marriage record of my third great-grandparents, John Bain and Anne Kemp, in the old registers of Dingwall parish. The two were married on November 30, 1805, and the handwritten record identifies Anne as “daughter to John Kemp in Gallowhill.”[1]  But where was Gallowhill, or, as I later learned to write it, Gallow Hill? 

In order to understand Gallow Hill, one needs to know a bit about the town of Dingwall. It was the poet Robert Southey who, while in Dingwall in 1819, indicated to the engineer Thomas Telford that Dingwall reminded him “in its name of the Icelandic capital Thingvalla.”[2]  Archaeological research has proven Southey’s instinct to be true: Dingwall has Norse origins.

To be specific, the name Dingwall derives from the Norse Þingvöllr, which means field, or meeting place, of the thing.   The thing (sometimes spelled Þing) was the Norse representative assembly where political decisions were made and legal disputes settled.  Other places in Scandinavian-controlled areas with similar names are Tynwald on the Isle of Man, Tingwall on Orkney, Tingwall on Shetland, Thingwall on the Wirral Peninsula, Þingvellir in Iceland, Tingwalla in Sweden, and Tingvoll in Norway. 

To determine the exact site of the thing in Dingwall, the Highland Council commissioned the chairman of the Dingwall historical society, David D. MacDonald, in 2012.  By using Scottish historical records, knowledge of Norse practice regarding the thing, and even ground-penetrating radar, MacDonald and his team were able to conclude that the site of the Dingwall thing was a mound in city center already marked with an obelisk, erected in 1710 by Sir George Mackenzie, the 1st Earl of Cromartie.  (Following his death, the earl was actually buried next to the obelisk, meaning that today he is completely surrounded by a parking lot.) 

That the obelisk mound might have been the site of the assembly is confirmed by the fact that in the vicinity of the thing there was normally a church, which may, in the Christian era, have replaced a pagan shrine of old.  (In the case of Dingwall, the absence of pagan burials in the vicinity suggests that the establishment of the thing in that area occurred after the coming of Christianity.[3])  In Dingwall, St. Clements Church stands just opposite the site of the the earl of Cromartie’s obelisk, and though the current church dates only from the first decade of the nineteenth century, it was raised on the site where a church called St. Clements had stood since medieval times. 

Now, in addition to a church, there was one other site associated with the Scandanavian thing: a gallows. When a court case at the thing resulted in a sentence of death, the condemned man would be taken to a place called in the Norse language a galgeberg, or, in English, Gallow(s) Hill.  A continental example of such a site is in Oslo, Norway, in the  neighborhood called Galgeberg (Gallows Hill), which in medieval times lay outside the town.[4]   The execution site, though typically within view of the thing, was normally separated far enough from it that the smell of death would not taint the vicinity of the dignified assembly.[5]  Dingwall’s Gallow Hill was no exception, being “600 m. west from the medieval town,”[6] according to MacDonald.  

Tulloch Castle
When antiquarian Robert Bain wrote his History of the Ancient Province of Ross in 1899, he mentioned Gallow Hill in this way (he mistakenly believed the thing was located hear it):  “The historic hill itself is situated at the west end of Dingwall, and, we are sorry to say, has lately, to its great disfigurement, been in the hands of the Vandals; the profits arising from its use as a gravel pit outweighing every other consideration whatsoever.”  According to MacDonald, this is a reference to the gravel pit opened on the Tulloch Estate in 1892, which he identifies as “immediately west of Mill Street.”[7]  (The Tulloch Estate is associated with Tulloch Castle, which lies to the north of Dingwall.  The castle was acquired by the Bains in 1513 and the surrounding lands in 1542, when Duncan Bane was made 1st Laird of Tulloch by James V.)

Now, there remains only one point to nail down: the Kemp connection to Gallow Hill.  Sometimes after intuition and hard work, one finds a golden nugget that answers questions about the family tree.  Other times, it’s just dumb luck.  So it was that as I was researching Gallow Hill, I stumbled across a charter whereby in 1506, William Kemp, burgess of Dingwall, was granted lands by Sir John Dingwall, vicar of the churches of Petty and Bracholy (or “Brachowy,” as the scribe had written it).  Among these lands was “an half acre lying near the Gallowhill between the lands of the [Munro] laird of Foulis on the west and the lands of William Dingwall on the east.”[8]  One of those little light bulbs must have appeared over my head.  The Kemps, it turned out, had had an association with Gallow Hill long before there was ever an Anne Kemp (b. 1780) or her father John (b. 1750). 

In 1821, a fellow named John Wood of Edinburgh surveyed the town of Dingwall and prepared a plan that researchers still use to study the history of Dingwall.  On the far west side of town, just at the point where Dingwall ends and Gallow Hill takes up, Wood’s plan shows twelve dwellings, eleven of which were occupied in 1821.  They are on Mill Street.  And about in the middle of the group there are two adjacent houses whose owner/occupants are identified as A. Baine and J. Baine.  I’m more than 50 % confident that the J. Baine of 1821 Dingwall in what has to be the Gallow Hill neighborhood is the John Baine who married Anne Kemp in 1805.  By this time, all of their children would have been born, except for the youngest, Katharine, born in 1822.  Could the A. Baine whose name is given as J’s next door neighbor actually be Anne Kemp Baine, who may have inherited the dwelling from her father (born in 1750 and possibly deceased by 1821)? 
John Wood's Plan of Dingwall, 1821
Gallow Hill area to the west on road running to the north.

The first valuation rolls in Scotland were not taken until 1865.  At that time, my direct ancestor, John and Anne’s son Donald, a shoemaker, had moved on to Wick in Caithness.  But the rolls still show another Donald Bain, a mason, in Dingwall . . . on Mill Street . . . in Gallow Hill. 

(c) Eileen Cunningham 2015

[1] OPR Marriages 062/00 0010 0242 Dingwall.  Scotland’s People.
[2] D[avid]. D. MacDonald. Investigating Dingwall as Þingvöllr. THING Project. Highland Council. 5. June 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.
[3] MacDonald, 40.
[4] MacDonald, 7. See footnote.
[5] MacDonald, 10.
[6] “Dingwall, Scotland.” Thing Sites. 2011-2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.
[7] MacDonald, 8. (See footnote p. 8 for Bain.)
[8] Calendar of Writs of Munro of Foulis, 1299-1823.  Cited in “William Kemp.” Kemp(e) Family History. 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Military Monday - Resurrecting Cpl. Walter Gard (1839-1864)

Corporal's Frock Coat
courtesy of
Note: The Morris County, New Jersey, Gards are sometimes found in the records with the spelling Gard and sometimes Guard.  Even a given individual might be found with both spellings.  As the family moved west, some retained the Guard spelling and others opted for Gard.  Walter Gard (1839-1864) is found in various records under both spellings.  In this narrative, I have elected to use the spelling Gard except when it is in direct quotes as Guard.

Now that I have traced my ancestors back about as far as possible on every branch on the family tree via, I have begun to focus more closely on nuclear families on the tree, following as much as possible the lives, loves, activities, calamities, deaths, and burials for every brother and sister in a given family, to the extent the resources allow.  And thus it was that I came to the sons and daughters of William James Gard (who seems to have been called James) (1795-1846) and his wife Keziah Wheeler Gard (1807-1859), who lived in Wood County, Virginia (later West Virginia).

Wood County, West Virginia
from Wikipedia
William James Gard was the son of my fourth great-grandfather, John Gard, Sr. (1742-1824), though not the son of my fourth great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dudley, but of John’s second wife, Elizabeth Watson. The list of the children of William James and Keziah and their (approximate) birth dates went something like this:

Mary Ann, b. 1824
Walter (either no birth date or 1824)
Chester, b. 1827
Marcellus, b. 1832
Minerva, b. 1832
Jane, b. 1834
Elizabeth, b. 1840
Drucilla, b. 1844
Emarilla, b. 1844
Jeremiah Theodore, b. 1848

As I looked at the information, I noticed that the sons were of the age typical of the Civil War generation.  However, no military information (or any other information, for that matter) was turning up for Chester or Walter.  I had just about come to the conclusion that these two must have died in infancy, an all too common fate for families before the twentieth century.  The father had died by the time of the 1850 census, but Keziah shows up as a widow with several children still living at home: Minerva, Elizabeth, Drucilla, Jeremiah, and Emarilla.  Jane Gard, age 16 in 1850, was living with the Lemly family (possibly as a servant).  Marcellus, age 19, was living with the Scofield family; his occupation is given as laborer.  But there was no trace of Chester or Walter.

Now, some researchers on show another son of William James and Keziah: John Wallis Gard (1830-1904).  I found John Wallis in the 1860 census, married and raising a family in Gallia County, Ohio, which is just a few miles southwest of Wood County, Virginia.  In fact, Gallipolis, the town where they resided, is on the Ohio River which serves as the border between the two states. 

Gallia County, Ohio
from Wikipedia
It was in that 1860 census record that Walter Gard turned up, age 21.  I have since determined that John Wallis Gard, with whom he was residing, was probably his cousin, rather than his brother, as “Jno W. Gard” turns up living with his father Jeremiah Gard (1810-82) ten years earlier in the 1850 census.  This Jeremiah, by the way, was another son of John and Nancy Watson Gard and was married to Elizabeth Wheeler, who may have been a sister to Keziah Wheeler, though I have found no trace of either woman’s parents.
Realizing that John Wallis and his cousin Walter were in the generation that fought the Civil War, I began to look for military service.  

John Wallis Gard turned up as having served in the 18th Independent Battery of the Ohio Light Artillery.   Submitting a Google search for “Walter Gard Civil War Ohio,” I discovered an obituary for Walter Guard (with the u spelling ) from the Gallipolis Journal, dated September 21, 1864, and identifying his military unit as Co. G, 4th West Virginia Infantry.  This was the key that unlocked the mystery of what happened to Walter Gard, son of William James and Keziah Wheeler Gard. 
Gallipolis Journal

The obituary read: “Walter Guard, Corporal, age 22, enlisted July 21st, 1861, from Gallipolis, killed at Snicker’s [sic] Ferry, Virginia, July 18th, 1864—unmarried.”  The fact that he was unmarried and left no heirs goes some way toward explaining why few have searched for him on  Walter’s unit—Co. G of the 4th West Virginia Infantry—was organized at Mason and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, June 17 to August 22, 1861.  Since Point Pleasant is closer to Gallipolis and also the county seat of Mason County, West Virginia, which is immediately adjacent to Gallia County, Ohio, it was probably there that Walter Guard enlisted.  He entered service as eighth corporal, which is just above private, and had been promoted to corporal before his death.[1]

Battle of Vicksburg
from Wikipedia
The men of the 4th West Virginia Infantry had seen plenty of action in the war prior to the battle in which Walter Gard lost his life.  Some of the major conflicts included the Battle of Vicksburg (Mississippi),  May 18 – July 4, 1863, where a monument was raised in their honor (see below); the third Battle of Chattanooga (Tennessee), November 23-25, 1863 (also called the Battle of Lookout Mountain and the Battle of Missionary Ridge); and the Battle of Piedmont (Virginia), June 5, 1864.[2]

Col. Joseph Thoburn
In July 1864, Walter’s unit, led by Col. Joseph Thoburn and under the command of Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright, was asked to interfere with the movement of Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s defeated troops from the Battle of Fort Stevens near Washington, D.C., as they moved into the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  On the 17th, Early entered the valley and established his troops at Berryville, leaving a division led by Gen. John B. Gordon to guard Snickers Ford on the Shenandoah River.  Wright, under the mistaken impression that only a strong rearguard of Confederates was at Snickers Ford, ordered Col. Thoburn’s men—Walter Gard among them—to cross at Island Ford, and they set out at about 3:00 p.m.  While crossing, Thoburn learned from Confederate prisoners they had taken, that his men were about to face off not with a mere rebel rearguard, but with the greater part of Early’s army.  Sending word back to Wright, Thoburn pressed on across the ford.[3]

At this point, let us transfer the narrative to an eyewitness account of the battle, which appeared in the Gallipolis Journal on August 4, 1864:
Camp 4th Va.V.V. Inftry., in the field near Snickers Gap, Va., July 19th, 1864 Mr. Stewart: Sir: Thinking a brief statement of facts in regard to yesterday's fight may not be uninteresting to your patrons, many of whom have friends and relatives in the 4th Va. Inftry. I hereby subjoin one the source of which is perfectly reliable. I was not a participant. I will commence by stating the order of crossing the Shenandoah river at Snickers Ford, distant from Snickers Gap one mile and a half and about one mile below the crossing on the Turnpike.

Snickers Gap (Blue Ridge Mountains)
The 1st Brigade under Col. Wells in the advance followed by the 2nd Brigade under Col. Thoburn and 3rd Brigade under Col. Frost. The whole commanded by Col. Thoburn crossed at 3 o'clock P.M. Skirmishers were immediately thrown out to the front and the Div., formed as follows, 1st Brigade on the left, 3rd Brigade in the center, and the 2nd Brigade on the right. In this position they lay for nearly an hour without any show of hostility and indeed without scarcely any indication of the enemy in our front. Up to this time, not a shot was fired.—But now it was discovered that the enemy were massing on our right. The 4th Va. Inftry. was ordered on the double quick to the extreme right and formed near the crest of a small ridge running paralell [sic] with the river. Still further to the right and a little in advance of the 4th Va. was placed a strong body of Dismounted Cavalry as skirmishers and for the protection of the right flank of the line of battle. 

The Shenandoah River at Cool Spring
Courtesy of the Civil War Trust
Whilst the 4th Va. Inftry. were forming, the enemy were seen in a strong force moving to the right and into a dense woods.—They here threw out into the skirt of the woods and in full view, a small line in order to make a show of charging us, whilst the main body of the enemy passed on under cover of the woods until they got entirely clear of our line and within three hundred yards of the Charlestown road which runs parallel with the river and along which our line extended. They then filed out of the woods and marched directly toward the river bank. The dismounted cavalry, which were placed on our right to protect our flank seeing the enemy bearing down upon them in such heavy force, fell back without firing a shot. Col. J. L. Vance of the 4th Va. Inftry. immediately then took two companies to the right to protect our flank thus left wholly exposed. But the enemy availing themselves of the advantage thus gained had already taken position behind a stone fence running at right angles to our line. From this point they poured upon us a terrible enfilading fire. Simultaneously a galling fire was opened on us in front. Here Lt. G. W. Scott was killed, a loss severely felt by all.—He was an efficient officer and a perfect gentleman. His relatives and friends at home have the sympathy of the entire regiment. Here also Capt. W. S. Hall & Capt. C. A. Shepard and Lt. M. Christopher were wounded; indeed here it was that all our loss occurred.
Battle of Cool Spring, Confederate's First Attack, July 18, 1864
Image courtesy of the Civil War Trust

This situation however was not to be endured. Col. Vance seeing there was no other alternative, gave the command to fall back, whereupon they fell back in some haste to a stone fence some fifty yards in our rear and immediately upon the river bank. The whole line, as well upon the left as upon the right fell back to the river bank. A great many especially Dismounted Cavalry, rushed into the river and I have learned many were drowned. At the stone fence on the bank of the river Col. Vance rallied the 4th Va. and others and formed line, the advance of the enemy was now checked and driven back, that body on our right however, continued their flank movement until it was discovered they were in the road and on the bank of the river. At this movement the 116th O.V. Inftry., commanded by Col. Washburn came to our assistance and while moving to the right its noble commander fell probably mortally wounded. But the men drove the rebels off the road and took up position. And here let me in praise of the 116th say that better soldiers are nowhere to be found. We maintained our position at the fence until dark and then under imperative orders recrossed the river bringing all off safely. We could have held the position all night and Col. Vance requested it but it was denied him.
Cool Spring Battlefield
from Wikipedia

During the time we lay along the fence the enemy made repeated charges upon us and each time were handsomely repulsed. They did not once attempt a swooping charge of their whole line else they must have certainly taken us. But they charged first at one point and then at another. We were compelled when the enemy charged on our right to take men from the left to strengthen the right and thus the men were kept continually changing from point to point. At one time the enemy charged on our left with a strong line and was repulsed by less than fifty men. As they retreated fresh men were brought up and they were punished severely.

Battle of Cool Spring Marker
The officers and men of our Regt. behaved nobly. In bringing off our little command Col. Vance withdrew a few men at intervals along the line and sent them over on to a little island that lay near the middle of the river.—He then selected a few more and ordered them to the main bank on the opposite side of the river and this he continued to do until all had passed over except himself and six men, these he crossed successfully having accomplished all without the loss of a man. The heroic conduct of Col. Vance in the trying ordeal cannot be too highly extolled. He labored incessantly to beat back the insolent foe and after having accomplished his object was the last man to cross the river.

Co. F—1st Lieut. George A. Scott; Private Daniel McNeer
Co. D—Corporal George Howsen
Co. I—Sergt. Francis M. Clendinen
Co. G—Corpl. Walter Guard, Privates Moses Knapp and Isaac N. Kitterman
Co. B—Private John Kinser

Co. G—Privates George Wallace in leg, slightly; George W. Flesher, also in leg, slightly
Co. B—Privates Joseph B. Pursinger, in shoulder, severely; Lewis P. Cubbage, in shoulder, severely; Andrew Roberts, in arm, severely
Co. K—1st Sergeant John C. Hailay, slightly; Corp. Anthony Betts, in face, slightly
Co. C—Corp. John Samson, in arm, severely; W.W. Edmonds, in arm, amputated; Privates John Terrill, in hand, George W. Townsend, in hand, slightly Co. H—1st Lieut. Michael Christopher, in leg, severely; Private I. Terrill, in hand, slightly
Co. A—Sergt. Thomas Pascoe, in thigh, slightly; N. N. Knight, in face, slightly
Co. F—Capt. W. S. Hall, in side, severely; Sergt. F. D. Chalfant, in side, severely; Privates: David Hamilton, in right shoulder, severely; B. A. Safreed, in knee, severely; Allen Robinson, in shoulder, severely
Co. D—Private J. A. Lewellen, in hip, slightly
Co. I—Capt. C. A. Shepard, in foot, severely

P. S. By later intelligence I learn that Lieut. Scott was not killed, but was most probably fatally wounded.      Very Respectfully Yours &c.,

Winchester National Cemetery
from Wikimedia Commons
According to the U. S. Burial Registers for Military Posts and National Cemeteries, Walter Gard (listed as W. Guard) was initially buried at Cool Spring, no doubt alongside others who fell that day.[5]  However, after the war, the government established national cemeteries for the war dead, and in 1866 Walter’s body was re-interred at Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia (Section 83, Site 3887).[6]
West Virginia Monument at Vicksburg
Dedicated to the West Virginia 4th Infantry
National Park Service Image

Walter’s cousin, John Wallis Gard, was mustered out of the service at Resaca, Georgia, on June 29, 1865, and returned to Gallipolis, where his last child, Mary Jane, was born in 1866.  He eventually returned with his family to West Virginia, where he died in 1904.  Walter’s memory was honored by his younger brother, Jeremiah Theodore Gard, who named his son Otis Walter.  Otis later became Reverend Otis Walter Gard and served the Baptist Church in Willow Island, West Virginia, a small community in Pleasants County, where many Gards resided.  He is buried in the church graveyard there.

(c) Eileen Cunningham, 2015

[1] “Civil War Soldiers.” 2015. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.
[2] National Park Service. “Union West Virginia Volunteers: 4th Regiment, West Virginia Infantry.” The Civil War.  28 Feb. 2015. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.
[4] Transcribed by Eve Swain Hughes. Gallia County Genealogical Society.  Accessed 5 Mar. 2015.
[5] U.S., Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012
[6] National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Workaday Wednesday - Jeremiah Gard and the Iron Men of Morris County, New Jersey

Jeremiah Gard (1717-1783) and his siblings were all born in Stonington, Connecticut, to Joseph Gard (1675 - c. 1726) and his wife Mary Ball (1675 – c. 1724), where they grew up in the First Congregational Church of Stonington, a Puritan church in a Puritan colony. How it came to pass that several members of the family would find their way from Stonington to Morris County, New Jersey, may, in fact, be tied up a bit with colonial theological conflicts. 

Jeremiah’s sister Mary (b. 1697) married a man named David Culver (sometimes spelled Colver), whose family were also members of the First Congregational Church (Am. Gen. 144; History of First Cong. Church 200).  Presumably the couple were married in that church, but the published historical records of the church do not contain a record of their marriage.
First Congregational Church, Stonington, CT

Now, David Culver had a brother named John Culver, Jr., who married a woman named Sarah Long.  These two (John and Sarah) left the Congregational Church and associated themselves with the Rogerenes, a Quaker-like sect which had been outlawed by Puritan Connecticut.   Notes about the actions of the Rogerenes in the community of Stonington, Connecticut, depict them as a rather troublesome folk who would interrupt church meetings by shouting disagreeable things and making themselves a general nuisance.  Be that as it may, being a bit disorderly does not merit the kind of punishment that the Rogerenes would receive—including incarceration and  flogging, men and women alike (Williams 34). 

Though the Rogerenes remained in Connecticut for some time, they left for the Morris County region of New Jersey sometime in the 1730s—some sources saying 1730-32; others, 1734; and still others, 1735 (Colver 60; Pitney 503; Williams 272).  They settled on the east side of Schooley’s Mountain, where they remained for three years before removing to Monmouth County (they eventually returned to Schooley’s Mountain eleven years after that). 

John Culver, Jr., and his wife Sarah were the leaders of this group, which was actually the second wave of Rogerenes to settle in Morris County.  Apparently, there was enough distinction between the groups that the latter-arriving group were, in fact, referred to as “Culverites.”  

Morristown Presbyterian
Now, since the Stonington Gards also made their appearance in Morris County, New Jersey, at about this time, one has to wonder if there was a connection.  Mary Gard Culver was not a Rogerene, and neither she nor her husband joined the movement to New Jersey.  Still, it is possible that through this Culver connection, Jeremiah and his brothers Daniel, William, and Joseph (all of the male children of Joseph Gard) “lit out for the territory,” so to speak, around the same time as the “Culverites.” 

In Morristown, New Jersey, the Gards affiliated themselves with the Morristown Presbyterian Church, which would have been more closely aligned with the theology of the Congregationalist Church than with the Rogerenes, and there is nothing to indicate they were ever part of the Rogerene sect.  Still, it is possible they might have disagreed with the draconian punishments being inflicted on the sect in Stonington, or possibly they were just ready for a change and heard about opportunities in New Jersey. 

From a strictly economic point of view, there was certainly an attraction there to young men willing to work—the ironworks industry.  Here it would be worthwhile to drop back and review what had been going on in the area for about thirty to thirty-five years prior to the arrival of the Gard brothers.

Beginning as early as 1695, first the Dutch and then the English had begun settlements along the Whippany River.  Local historians state the Dutch were soon “making iron from Succasunna iron ore,” (Sherman).  

The names Whippany and Succasunna (sometimes rendered as Suceasunna) both derive from Native American words.  The word whippenung, which meant “place of willows,” became associated with the river since the willow trees from which the Indians made their arrows grew along its banks.  The word whippenung had also become the common word for arrow among the Indians of the region (Sherman 25).  The language of the Lenni-Lenape provided the word Succasunna, meaning black rock, a reference to the abundant iron ore in the area.  This ore was readily available on the surface of the ground and “was to be had by simply picking it up.” Archaeological discoveries have shown that the Indians were the first to use the ore, making weapons and other implements needful to them (13-14).
Whippany River of Morris County

By 1710, the forges of Morris County had become well enough established that new settlers arriving from Newark and Elizabethtown would refer to them to as “the old iron works,”  and the first church in the area was built on the banks of the Whippany “100 rods below the forge.”  The first forge on the Whippany was that of John Ford and Judge John Budd.  In 1845, a former resident of the area recalled the forge, saying, “I was born in 1778. I have seen old timbers said to have been a part of the old forge at Whippany. It stood at the west end of the cotton mill dam, between the river and the road.”  The smelting process by which pure iron was extracted from the ore was conducted in a “small and rudely constructed building” on the site (Sherman 12-13).  

From the mine at Succasunna (later owned by Captain Peter Dickerson’s family), horses were used to haul the ore in leather bags a distance of twenty miles from the mine to the forge.  Then, after being converted into iron bars, “it was bent to fit the back of a horse, and in the same way transported to Newark and Elizabethtown, and thence by small sailing vessels and rowboats to New York,” a two-day journey (Sherman 14).

Our knowledge of Jeremiah Gard’s association with the forges of Morris County comes from a deposition given in 1852 by eighty-six-year-old Jacob Losey, whose name is strongly associated with the ironworks industry of the area.  Losey was called to the courthouse as an old-timer in hopes that he could recall some details relating to the Gard family in the period shortly before and after the Revolution, this being part of a twenty-year-long struggle of Daniel Gard’s heirs to receive his military pension.  On December 15, Losey stated that before the Revolution, Daniel “was at that time a young and unmarried man and worked in his father’s forge at a place called Ninkey in Morris County.  After the close of the war he returned home with a wife and one or two children and again worked in the family forge” (“Gard or Guard” Image 144) [emphasis mine].

The Ninkey forge was located in the southern portion of Denville township on Den Brook, a tributary of the Rockaway River.  It was one of four forges on that stream, the others being Shongum, Franklin, and Coleraine (earlier called Cold Rain) (Pitney 27). Interestingly, the Ninkey site actually sat on the 3,750 acres in southern Denville township which had been in the possession of William Penn from 1715 to his death in 1718 (Bianco 9).

It is not known who built the Ninkey forge, and I have come across no books or manuscripts related to the forges of Morris County that specify Jeremiah Gard’s ownership of the forge.  Without the sworn statement of Jacob Losey, the association of the Gards with the Ninkey forge would, no doubt, have been lost in the mists of history, as they say.

In the mid-1770s, when the tensions between the Crown and the colonies became a full-scale revolution, the mines and forges of Morris County were uniquely poised to assist in the war effort as part of what today we’d call the war industry. 

Speedwell Iron Forge Owned by the Vail Family of Morristown
As the colonists had begun to defy the English king in his prohibition of industrialization in the colonies, ironworks had flourished to such a degree that “beginning in East Jersey, the iron industry. . . eventually led the combined Atlantic colonies to rank third in the world in iron production, a full fifteen percent of the total output” (Kennedy), and by the time of the Revolutionary War, Morris County had become “the principle smelting center of the United States” (Cooney).  During the war, Rockaway township forge men at Hibernia, Mount Hope, and Split Rock played a significant role in producing shovels, axes, cannon, cannon balls, and grapeshot for the Continental Army (“About”).
Dickerson's Tavern

As matters with England deteriorated, many in Morris County rallied to organize regiments.  Peter Dickerson’s tavern in Morristown became a hotbed of the patriot cause, and all involved knew of the vital resource they had nearby in the ironworks industry.  For example, they would have known that Col. Jacob Ford, Jr., was mixing and granulating saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal into gunpowder (Sherman 122).  Notably, at the second meeting at Dickerson’s tavern, on May 2, 1776, the men voted to purchase 500 pounds of powder and a ton of lead “to be kept in a magazine for the use of the regiment of 300 men soon to be organized” (167).  In addition, the provincial government lent Ford £2,000 to increase production, asking that the loan be repaid in gunpowder, one ton per month (123).

Ford Mansion at Morristown
In October 1779, the Continental Army settled in at Jockey Hollow in Morris township, in which Washington’s capital at Morristown, New Jersey, was located.  During those harsh winter months, which Washington himself described as “intensely cold and freezing,” military supply came in large part from the iron forges in Roxbury and Randolph townships, and it was prosperous mine owner  Col. Jacob Ford, Jr., who gave shelter to Washington and his entourage during that time  (Seidel; “Mining”).  The army remained encamped in the Morristown vicinity until the following summer, and, as an aside, it is interesting to note that the tavern owned by Captain Peter Dickerson was the site of the court-martial of Benedict Arnold on charges of profiteering from military supplies in December of that year.

Of course, at the same time the local resources were a boon to the American cause, there was always the danger that the British would try to seize control of them.  Tories, those who remained loyal to the monarchy, would have been ready enough to inform British spies about the war materiél being produced near their homes.  Still, discovering and seizing the mills would not be an easy task.  

For one thing, nature itself provided some protection.   Just to reach Ford’s powder mill on the Whippany, for example, one had to negotiate a path through an “impenetrable thicket.”  It was never discovered by the British (122). 

Revolutionary War era
powder keg
Trickery was also used.  “Bustling” Benoni Hathaway, a colonel whose family was long involved with the ironworks industry in the region, had charge of Ford’s mill during the war, and if the output of gunpowder was lower than usual, he would have barrels filled with sand and placed about so that spies would think the production was ongoing (123).

The early attempts by the British to seek out and destroy these mills were normally undertaken by small detachments of horsemen.  Colonel Jacob Ford, Jr., and his battalion of Morris County militia successfully foiled their first attempt to use Ford’s own gunpowder to destroy his mill (199).  However in December 1776, the British General Alexander Leslie brought with him a much larger force than usual.  When Ford got wind of the General’s movement, he marched his battalion to Springfield, where he encountered Leslie’s men on the fourteenth.  As Andrew Sherman wrote, “The British commander received so convincing a demonstration of the high quality of Morristown gunpowder, and of the corresponding efficiency of Morris County militia, that he unceremoniously retreated toward Spanktown . . .” (200).

The French government had been watching the movements of the Americans closely, trying to determine the degree to which they should become involved—if at all, and this first battle at Springfield was definitely convincing.  As one writer put it, “When the French Government heard of the battle of Springfield, fought as it was, by militia alone, they made up their minds to assist our struggling forefathers” (200).

Hibernia Mine, Morris County, NJ
Naturally, as more and more men from Morris County joined the militias and the Continental Line, fewer men were available to work the mines and forges.  Therefore, Charles Hoff, manager of the Hibernia mine, wrote Governor William Livingston on July 27, 1777, seeking an exemption from military service for his employees.  He noted that General Washington had once given such an exemption and reinforced his request by quantifying the importance of their work to the war effort, saying, “We made the last year for public service upwards of one hundred and twenty tons of shot of different kinds” (History 51).  The legislature responded on the following October 7 by exempting several Morris County ironworkers (perhaps as many as twenty-five) from military service. 

Still concerned that twenty-five exemptions were not enough, Hoff hit on another idea to bolster the number of iron workers.  Hearing that deserters from King George’s troops—both British and Hessian—were languishing in Philadelphia, Hoff sent a message to Brigadier General William Winds, a Morris County man himself, requesting that men from this pool be allowed to work for him. The bearer of the letter was Charles’s brother, John Hoff, who would “engage as many men as he thinks proper, such as are used to cut wood in the winter season and can assist in the coaling business during the summer season, and a few other tradesmen” (History 51).  He particularly requested men who could speak English, but it is known that Hessians were amongst the men who returned to Morris County with the deserters-turned-Jerseymen as the names of their descendants are well represented in county records in subsequent years.  Apparently enough Hessians were willing enough to become POW mine workers that some were sent to another mine owner, John Jacob Faesch (McGlynn). 
Hessians captured
at Trenton taken to

From Losey’s testimony that Daniel Gard returned to his work in “the family’s forge” after the war, we can conclude that Gards' forge at Ninkey maintained its production during the war years.  One can only speculate as to whether the men Hoff brought from Philadelphia worked there.  Of the Gard family itself, fifty-nine-year-old Jeremiah and most of his sons, left the area to fight the British.  Jeremiah and Daniel both entered the service as privates in Captain Dickerson’s Company, Daniel being wounded at Staten Island about a year and a half later but continuing in service to the war effort as a Commissary scalesman. 

It is perhaps a bit difficult to imagine the exact duties of a nearly sixty-year-old man on a military campaign, but since recruits were desperately needed, George Washington observed that older men “had been inlisted upon such Terms, that they may be dismissed when other Troops arrive.”  He went on to note that, despite the challenges of recruitment and supply, “there are Materials for a good Army, a great Number of Men, able-bodied, Active, Zealous in the Cause and of unquestionable Courage” (Washington).  This suggests that perhaps Jeremiah was up to the task of serving his country as long as he was needed, but may have been allowed to return to Morris County and continue at his forge in the war industry when a replacement could be found. 

Revolutionary War era Conestoga wagon
Ephraim, 40, died of dysentery on November 21, 1776 (his mother dying the same day of the same disease), and he appears not to have been in military service before that.  Daniel, 19, who has already been mentioned, served as a wagoner in the New Jersey line.  Gershom, age 40, was a minuteman in the eastern regiment of the New Jersey militia and a continental paymaster in New Jersey until 1783.  Jeremiah the Younger, 32, was a private in the militia from Westmorland County, Pennsylvania, where he resided at the time.   John, 34, and Jacob, 26, both served in the New Jersey militia, John as a wagon master and Jacob as a captain in the western battalion. Persons under the age of eighteen were excluded from service, which explains why Jeremiah’s youngest son, Timothy, 14, remained at home, but Alexander, only 15, somehow managed to bypass the age-limit and served as a private in the militia as well. 

That leaves Jeremiah’s sons Cornelius, then 27, and Moses, 38, still on the home front during the war, probably protecting the women and children and perhaps keeping the Ninkey contribution to the war effort going.

The war ended in February 1783.  Losey states that Daniel returned to his work in “the family’s forge” when he went back to Morris County after his discharge on June 5, 1783.  A month and a half later, on July 19, his father, Jeremiah Gard, died.

Three years later, the Gard brothers became part of the great westward expansion of the post-war period.  At that time, Gershom, David, and Alexander Gard (three of Jeremiah’s sons) sold the Ninkey forge to Judge John Cleves Symmes (“Gard or Guard” Im. 183).  Then, when Symmes went west to manage the area in the Miami Basin that goes by his name (the Symmes Purchase), the three Gard brothers went westward to Ohio with him.  But one brother, Daniel, remained in Morris County and continued to work as a forge man at what was called the “Valley forge” in the Berkshire Valley, later known as Baker’s forge (“Gard or Guard” Im. 190). 

It was at that forge on January 1, 1806, that Daniel Gard suffered a terrible blow to his right arm which resulted in the amputation of the arm near the shoulder (“Gard or Guard” Im. 121), ending his career as a forge man.  However, that did not end the involvement of the Gard family with the iron industry of Morris County.  The U. S. Census records of 1850 show that Daniel’s son Jeremiah Gard (b. 1801) was not only a miner in Morris County, but may have been a supervisor at some level, based on the fact that named at the same “residence” in Randolph township were not only his own family, but thirty men identified as miners.

Through marriage, the Gards became associated with other owners of mines and forges.  Below is a list of the marriages among the various folks who are known to have been involved in the ironworks of Morris County:

·        Jeremiah Gard (b. 1717) owned Ninkey forge.

·        Jeremiah’s son Gershom Gard (b. 1735) married Phebe Huntington, sister of mine owner Deacon John Huntington.  They resided at Ninkey.

o   Gershom’s daughter Jemima Gard (b. 1769) married Peter Keen, son of mine owner Captain James Keen.

·        Jeremiah’s son Alexander Gard (b. 1761) married Hannah Keen (b. 1765), the daughter of mine owner Captain James Keen.

·        Jeremiah’s son Daniel Gard (b. 1755) worked at Ninkey Forge and Berkshire Valley Forge.

o   Daniel’s daughter Rebecca Gard (b. 1746) married Nathan Hathaway, nephew of mine owner Jonathan Hathaway and cousin of “bustling” Benoni Hathaway.

An Iron Forge, Joseph Wright, 1772
The many stories associated with the mines and forges of Morris County put a human face on the men who labored in the iron industry to help build this nation before it even was a nation—Captain Peter Dickerson’s foresight in linking the forges to the war effort; Jacob Ford’s defeat of General Leslie and, later, his ton of gunpowder per month; Charles Hoff’s  initiative in recruiting Hessian deserters to help the American war effort in his forge; Benoni Hathaway’s sand trick; and Daniel Gard's crippling injury in a forge on New Year’s Day, 1806.  The great American poet Walt Whitman knew their story, as indicated in his poem “A Song of Occupations” (1855):

Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by the river-banks—men around feeling the melt with huge crowbars—lumps of ore, the due combining of ore, limestone, coal—the blast-furnace and the puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of the melt at last—the rolling-mill, the stumpy bars of pig-iron, the strong, clean-shaped T-rail for railroads.

Well, it’s true the rails came later, but it’s almost hard to imagine how differently things might have turned out on this continent had it not been for the role the mines and forges of Morris County played in the American Revolution.  It may be true that the motto of Morris County originated with the family of royalist Governor Lewis Morris, but it was the iron men of Morris County who made it true: Tandem Vincitur—At last it is conquered!

Works Cited

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The American Genealogist. Whole Number 123. 31.3. 3 July 1955. Cited in Accessed 18 Jan 2015.

Bianco, Vito. Denville’s Union Hill.  Portsmouth NH: Arcadia, 2003.

Cooney, Patrick L. “History of Rockaway Township, Morris County, New Jersey.” NY-NJ-CT Botany Online.  n.d. Web. 15 Dec 2014.

“Gard or Guard, Daniel. Number W-420.  BLW 8340-100. Rev.” U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations, 2010. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

History of Morris County, New Jersey with Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers, 1739-1882. New York: Munsell, 1882. Internet Archives. 8 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Dec 2014.

Hoffman, Philip H.  History of the Arnold Tavern, Morristown, New Jersey.  Morristown: Chronicle, 1903.  Internet Archive. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.  

Kennedy, Michael V. Forging America: Ironworkers, Adventurers, and the Industrious Revolution, by John Bezis-Selfa. EHnet. Economic History Association. May 2004. Web. 15 Dec 2014.

McGlynn, Joseph.  “Mount Hope New Jersey Hessians—Leopold Zindle.” AMREV Hessians L Archives. RootsWeb 27 Mar 2001. Web. 20 Jan 2015.

 “Mining in Morris County.” New Jersey Collection.  Morris County Library.  Morris County, New Jersey.  16 Jan 2005. Web. 15 Dec 2014.

Pitney, Henry Cooper.  A History of Morris County, New Jersey: Embracing Upwards of Two Centuries: 1710-1913. New York: Lewis, 1914. 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Pfister, Jude M. The Fords of New Jersey: Power & Family During America's Founding. Charleston: History Press, 2010. Google Books. 1 Dec 2010. Web. 15 Dec 2014.

Seidel, Maria. “Morristown, New Jersey.”  George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.  2015. Web. 20 Jan 2015.  

Sherman, Andrew M.  Historic Morristown New Jersey: The Story of Its First Century. Morristown: Howard, 1905. Digital Antiquaria. PDF. 2005. Web. 14 Dec 2014. /HMNJ001A.pdf

Smiddy, Betty Ann.  “A Little Piece of Paradise: College Hill, Ohio.”  2nd ed.  2008. Web. 18 Jan 2015.

Washington, George.  “General Washington to the President of the Continental Congress, July 10, 1775.”  Library of Congress.  Web. 19 Jan 2015.

© Eileen Cunningham 2015