Bedminster Did Have Two Historic Vanderveer Homesteads
Both Somerset and Middlesex Counties have homes that boast the famous Dutch Vanderveer name. While both belonged to the Vanderveer family, there are two brothers of the Vanderveer family that bring interesting histories to the two properties. Who would have figured that corporate giant AT&T would be the one to ultimately separate the two. It's a strange note to history that both houses originated in Bedminster Township, while only one remains there today.
It all began back in the early 17th century. There was young Cornelius Janse Dominicus Vanderveer, who is said to be the first of this line of Vanderveer's to the new world back in 1659, landing in west Long Island arriving aboard the ship De Otter. Once settled in the town of Flatbush, he would have ten children with his wife Tryntie Mandeville. But it is the 9th child, Jacobus that this story is about.
This story is about Jacobus Vanderveer (Sr). son of Cornelius, and father of three children; Jacob, William, Hendrick. Jacob's name would change to Jacobus and his trek to Pluckemin began. Jacobus Sr. (son of Cornelius) seems to have been the one who wanted to explore and stake his claim when land opportunities began to open up west of Flatbush, New York. Other than his older sister Jacoba, who settled and started her family near Hopewell, New Jersey, Jacobus is the only other family member to break from Long Island and move west into the dutch farming country of what is known today as Somerset County, New Jersey.
Jacob Sr's Roots in Bedminster
Two of Jacobus Vanderveer's children stayed and continued to settle in the area known as Bedminstertown and Pluckemin. They were: Jacobus Vanderveer (Jr) and Elias Vanderveer. Elias resided on the eastern side of the North Branch of the Raritan River and Jacobus resided on the western side of the river which today is just West of Route 206. One house remains while the other was partially dismantled almost 230 years later and the original kitchen wing section being relocated to Piscataway, New Jersey.
We do know that based on research done by Holt Morgan Russel, Architects in Princeton, NJ, Jacobus Vanderveer Sr. purchased what can be referred to as the "western section" of the property back in 1743 from Daniel Axtell. It is on this 439 acres that Jacobus Vanderveer Jr. decides to build what is known today as the Jacobus Vanderveer/Knox house. But that was only because there was already an eastern homestead.
Both homesteads would stay in the Vanderveer family under Henry Vanderveer, the son to Elias until his death in 1868, when several people came forward claiming to have Henry's last will and testament. Testimony heard during the appeals process did describe both properties. Samuel S. Hartwell, who prepared a house inventory, recounted finding ten other wills, most of which were not properly executed. At the will hearings during the appeals process, the documents were contested and the house was left to be divided among five of Henry's first cousins.
The Western Homestead
The first homestead to Jacobus Vanderveer Jr, son of Jacobus Vanderveer Sr.and great grandson of Cornelius Jansz Vanderveer who came from Wemeldinge to settle in America. The house was built somewhere between 1772 and 1778 and stayed in the Vanderveer family until being sold at auction in 1875 (approx 103 years).
The Eastern Homestead
The original homestead of Jacobus Vanderveer Sr. and Elias Vanderveer's (son) home. Constructed originally around 1745 it stayed in the Vanderveer family for 130 years until 1875 when it was sold at auction due to a will dispute.
The first Vanderveer homestead in Bedminster.
The exterior has been restored to a c.1813 view, while the interior maintains a combination of it's original late 1700's design and incorporates some of the 1831 era design changes as well.
(click here for a more detailed house history)
The homestead has been restored to c.1745 view and the interior maintains its original design.
Jacobus Sr. purchased 439 acres along the
North Branch of the Raritan River where he established a homestead
where he also built successful grist and saw mills.
Jacobus Vanderveer Jr,
Brigadere General Henry Knox (1778-1779)
The property northwest of the North Branch of the Raritan River and west of the road leading to Black River Road (Present Route 206), after it had crossed the bridge was left to his son Jacobus.
Sometime between the fall of 1772 when Jacobus Sr. wrote his will, and the spring of 1778 when Jacobus Jr. is assessed £3738 for 575 acres of improved land, the Jacobus Vanderveer Jr. House was constructed.6 The original 1770s house is a 1½ story, three bay, frame structure with a kitchen wing attached to the west end.
Did you also know, that Jacobus Vanderveer Sr was Justice of the Quorum in 1749, 1752, and 1768; as Judge of Oyer and Terminer, 1766-1768; 1770-1771, and 1774; and as a Judge of Common Please in 1768
Henry S. Vanderveer (Jacobus's son)
Mary Hardenburg Vanderveer (Dr.Henry VDV Daughter)
On a sign posted inside the Vanderveer house in Piscataway mentions "Vanderveer's neighbor to the south, a farmer named Parker, testified (at Dr. Henry Vanderveer's will reading - he died in 1868) that the property consisted of two farms lying together by the North Branch of the Raritan; the saw mill and grist mill are on the homestead farm...All of the witnesses agreed that the doctor (Henry) had not devoted much money to improvement of the property for many years, although the gristmills had been in operation until death, leased to various tenants on an annual basis.
Henry Ludlow (owner 1875-1909)
Frank Ballantine (owner 1909-1916)
Schley Family (1917-1989)
Bedminster Twp (1989 - present)
Jacobus Vanderveer Sr.
Elias Vanderveer (Son)
Dr. Henry Vanderveer (Elias's Son)
The homestead remained in the family, being purchased by John F. and maria Louisa Vanderveer. It then when from Israel Scheneck to Henry Ludlow. The mills, unused, burned down in the 1870's and were not rebuilt. In the early 20th century the east and west properties were rejoined being purchased by Grand B. Schley in 1917.
in 1743, Jacobus Vanderveer Sr., the elder, whose father had come
to New York from North Holland in 1659, became the first Vanderveer
to settle in the Bedminster area. He built the house you see above c.1745
The house pictured above was located on the east side of the North Branch of the Raritan River, near the present intersection of Routes 206 and 287 in Bedminster Twp. Elias Vanderveer, brother of Jacobus Vanderveer Jr. and son of Jacobus Vanderveer Sr., who lived in this house, was killed in the Revolutionary War at age 33 in 1778 and survived by his wife.
This sign refers to Jacobus Vanderveer Sr., father of Jacobus Vanderveer Jr.
Jacobus Vanderveer Sr. was an active citizen. He built powered mills and was known as a civic leader. Before owning this property, he certainly was in the area. As far back as 1739, he was Justice of the Peace in Pluckemin.
Upon Jacobus Vanderveer Sr.'s death in 1777, the Bedminster property was divided between two of his sons, Elias and Jacobus Jr.
Elias received the "Plantation whereon I now dwell" according to the Will of Jacobus VDV Sr. (the East Old Jersey Towne House). Elias died in 1778, leaving this property to his son, Hendrick (Dr. Henry).
Henry (Hendrick) Vanderveer, son of Elias, in 1820 constructed a three story Federal style addition to the farmhouse which he called "Vanderstade". The original house became the kitchen and servants quarters.
The Vanderveer house and property were sold to New Jersey Bell in the 1970s. As part of an agreement between New Jersey Bell and Bedminster Township, the Vanderveer house was fully documented.
The federal style front of the house was razed and the rear section of the house was moved to East Jersey Olde Towne Village in May 1976.
East Jersey Olde Towne Village is funded in part by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission,New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of National Endowment for the Arts New Jersey Historical Commission a Cultural Division in the Department of State.
Throughout the 18th and 19th
centuries the Vanderveers were well-known members of the community.
Jacobus, the elder, served in several ways. He was Justice of
the Peace, an active member of the Dutch Reformed Church and instrumental
in forming the church's Bedminster congregation.
In 1759, Vanderveer
donated land where the church was built north of Pluckemin. Aside
from their civic and religious contributions, Vanderveer family
members were staunch supporters of the American struggle for
independence. Elias Vanderveer, "an active and spirited Whig," was
taken prisoner during a British cavalry raid on Pluckemin
Lawrence Vanderveer served as a surgeon during the
war and was also taken prisoner by the British. Jacobus Vanderveer,
the younger, is known to have helped supply the army.
Download the Digital Timeline of the Vanderveers and the Vanderveer house. Click Here
About the Vanderveer/Knox House & Museum
& the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment
For over two centuries, the Jacobus Vanderveer House has been at the center of Bedminster Township’s rich and colorful history. The house is the last surviving building in Bedminster associated with the Vanderveer's, a family prominent in Bedminster Township history from its earliest settlement through the mid 19th century.
The Vanderveer house served as headquarters for General Henry Knox during the winter of 1778-79, when the Continental Army artillery was located in the village of Pluckemin during the Revolutionary War's Second Middlebrook Encampment. The house is the only known building still standing that was associated with the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment. The artillery park and military academy is considered to be the first installation in America to train officers in engineering and artillery and predates the United States Military Academy at West Point (est.1802) by twenty four years.
The Vanderveer family house was later enlarged with two additions in the nineteenth century, remodeled in the twentieth century, and subsequently abandoned. The Township of Bedminster purchased the home and the surrounding area as part of River Road Park in 1989. The home has been restored by The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, a non-profit group of inspired volunteers dedicated to use the home as a museum and educational center.
The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House
P.O. Box 723, Bedminster, New Jersey 07921-0723
908 - 212 - 7000 ext. 611