Person of Interest: Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt
Relationship: Currently undetermined but tied in through my great-grandfather Ebenezer Hunt
Source Citation: Sussex County, New Jersey, Deed Book M: 459-462, Jonathan Hunt and wife Rebeckah to Ebenezer Hunt, indenture, 01 May 1805; Hall of Records, Newton.
Document Description: This is a 4-page document on legal paper written in lovely, old-school cursive. It is a deed recorded in 1805 with the clerk at the Hall of Records in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. The cursive is legible. The pages are in good shape and there are no missing pieces of the pages or damage visible. Original ledger pages are numbered at the top from 459 to 462.
Background information regarding land measurements: I picked this document because it is a rousing example of the land measurement methods called “metes and bounds” used on the east coast of the county. The system had been used for centuries in England and, like common law, was transplanted to what eventually became the United States. It was used in the original 13 colonies and other jurisdictions based on English common law.
I like the description given from Wikipedia:
“Typically the system uses physical features of the local geography, along with directions and distances, to define and describe the boundaries of a parcel of land. The boundaries are described in a running prose style, working around the parcel in sequence, from a point of beginning, returning to the same point; compare with the oral ritual of beating the bounds. It may include references to other adjoining parcels (and their owners), and it, in turn, could also be referred to in later surveys. At the time the description is compiled, it may have been marked on the ground with permanent monuments placed where there were no suitable natural monuments.
- Metes. The term “metes” refers to a boundary defined by the measurement of each straight run, specified by a distance between the terminal points, and an orientation or direction. A direction may be a simple compass bearing, or a precise orientation determined by accurate survey methods.
- Bounds. The term “bounds” refers to a more general boundary description, such as along a certain watercourse, a stone wall, an adjoining public roadway, or an existing building. The system is often used to define larger pieces of property (e.g. farms), and political subdivisions (e.g. town boundaries) where precise definition is not required or would be far too expensive, or previously designated boundaries can be incorporated into the description.”
Metes and bounds is quite different from the cadastral (a.k.a. public land or rectangular) system of surveying used in the western United States. After the end of the Revolutionary War, the United States began to expand westward. The survey method encompasses major portions of the land area of 30 southern and western States. According to the BLM:
“The BLM’s Cadastral Survey Program provides one of the oldest and most fundamental functions of the U.S. Government. Originating with the Land Ordinance of 1785, cadastral surveys create, define, mark, and re-establish the boundaries and subdivisions of the public lands of the United States. (The word “cadastral” is derived from cadastre, meaning a public record, survey, or map of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation.)”
This new way of surveying was first tested out in Ohio and then moved west. It is based on principal meridians (running north and south) and baselines (running east and west). When you see a deed that describes the land by township and range, it is the cadastral system being used.
Document Scan/Transcription: There are a few notations [like this] where I have added some comments or explanations. Capitalization and spelling are as found within the documents.
This Indenture made the first day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, Between Jonathan Hunt, and Rebeckah his wife, of Bryam Township in the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey of the one part, and Ebenezer Hunt, of the Same place of the other part, Witnesseth, whereas the Council of Proprietors of the Province of East New Jersey, did by this warrant bearing date the twenty fifth day of August A.D. 1750, grant unto William Barnet, the Just and full quantity of two hundred acres of Land to be taken up and surveyed in any place unappropriated in the Eastern Division of New Jersey except Ronnspock, which said warrant is Recorded in the Surveyor Generals office at Amboy in Lib. W.3 fol. 12. And whereas the said William Barnet by his deed bearing date the twenty ninth day of March 1751 and Recorded in Lib. AZ.3 fol.182 did grant, bargain and sell unto Peter Drago, the lot of Land hereinafter more particularly described, being part of said two hundred acres, granted to the said William Barnet as afd and which was taken up and Surveyed for the afd Peter Drago by Ebenezer Bryam who for that purpose was duly deputed and sworn, as by the return thereof Recorded in book S. page 176 may appear, and when the Said Peter Drago by his deed bearing date the fourteenth day of February 1769 did grant, bargain and sell unto William Crooks the lot or parcel of Land being part of the above mentioned two hundred acres, as by Deed may more fully appear. And Whereas the Said William Crook’s by his Deed bearing date of the Eleventh day of March 1775 did grant, bargain and sell unto the aforesaid Vincent Bishop, the lot or parcel of Land, being part of the two hundred acres afd as by Deed may more fully appear. And Whereas by Deed bearing date the eighth day of August 1775 the Said Vincent Bishop did grant, bargain and sell unto John Eddy, the lot or parcel of Land being part of the two hundred acres afd as by Deed may more
fully appear. Now this Indenture Witnesseth, that the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife in Heirship as Sole heirs of John Eddy, deceased, in and for the consideration of one hundred and fifty Dollars to them in Land paid by the Said Ebenezer Hunt, at or before the Sealing and delivering of these presents, the receipt where of the Said Jonathan Hunt, and Rebeckah his Wife doth hereby acknowledge and to be therewith fully Satisfied, contented and paid and Thereof and every part and parcel thereof doth acquit, release and discharge him the Said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs, Executors and Administrators and every of them forever by these presents, hath granted, bargained and Sold, aliened, enfeoffed, Released, conveyed and confirmed and by these presents doth fully, freely and absolutely grant, bargain and Sell, alien, enfeoff, Release, convey, and confirm unto the Said Ebenezer Hunt (pursuant to the Act of Assembly of the State of New Jersey made for the Transferring of Uses into possession) and to his heirs and Assigns forever, with the rights and appurtenances thereof, All the lot of Land above named to be described Situate, being and lying in the Township of Bryam
in the County of Sussex aforesaid lying on the brook called Sunnepink brook, Butts, bounds as follows, Beginning at a butternut, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, Standing on the South Side of the brook, thence measuring (1) South five degrees East seven chains and fifty links, thence (2) North eighty five degrees East Sixteen chains and thirty seven links, thence (3) North five degrees West seven chains and fifty links, thence (4) South eighty five degrees West Sixteen chains and thirty seven links to the beginning Containing Twelve acres and twenty eight hundredths of an acre
strict measures. Together with all and Singular the Rights, privileges, Lands, Meadows, Commons, Pastures, Trees, Woods, Ways, Waters, Watercourses, Mines, Minerals, Easements, Profits, Commodities, Advantages, Escheatments, Hereditaments, and appurtenances whatsoever to the Said Tract or parcel of Land any wise belonging or appertaining, and also the reversion and reversions, Remainder and Remainders, Rents, issues and profits of and Singular the lot or parcel of Land and premises above mentioned and described and of every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances, and also all the Estate, Right, Titles, Interest, use, possession, property, claims and demand whatsoever, as well in equity as in Law, of them the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife, of, in and to all and Singular the Said Lot or parcel of Land and premises and of, in and to every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances thereof – To have and to hold the Said Lot or parcel of Land and all and Singular the premises above mentioned and every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances unto the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns, to the only proper use and behoof of the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns forever, And the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife for themselves, their heirs, Executors and Administrators doth covenant and grant to and with the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs or assigns, that they the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife and their heirs the Said lot or tract of Land described hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned to be granted with all the hereditaments, unto the Said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns, against whom the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife and and [repeated word] Their heirs and against all and every other person or persons whatsoever lawfully claiming or to claim shall and
will warrant and defend forever these presents.__ In witness whereof the Said parties have to these presents interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year first above written. N.B. the Words “and fifty” was wrote before the signing and delivering of these presents, between the 18th and 19th lines.__ Jonathan Hunt, [his seal symbol here] Rebeckah Hunt [her seal symbol here]
Sealed and delivered in presence. Ewd Hunt__ Jno Holmes__
Be it Remembered that on the fourth day of July 1805, personally appeared before me, John Holmes, one of the Judges of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife the Grantors who sevirally signed sealed and delivered the Same as their Voluntary Act and deed for the purposes therein expressed, and further Rebeckah Hunt having been examined separate and apart from her said husband by me acknowledge that she executed the same freely without fear or any threats or coercion on the part of her Said husband acknowledged the state above before me. Jno Holmes
Brought to the office the 4th day of July 1805 and Recorded the Same day.
Jacob S. Thomson, Clk
Analysis: My Dad sent these to me so I am unsure if they are actual copies of the books or digitized copies that the Hall of Records has available for the public. Either way, I’m confident that I’m looking at unaltered copies of the original recording in 1805.
Before we look at the deed and its contents, some terminology discussion needs to happen first. This is an example of a transcription; a written or printed representation of the entire document with spelling, language, punctuation, and arrangement preserved. By comparison, an extract is a portion of text quoted verbatim out of a document and it is enclosed in quotation marks. An abstract is a condensed version of the document that pulls out all the important details in its original sequence. A translation converts the document’s text from one language to another.
Let’s look at parcel itself. The size is 12.28 of an acre. Ebenezer paid $150.00 for this parcel. The metes and bounds description of the parcel is:
Being and lying in the Township of Bryam in the County of Sussex aforesaid lying on the brook called Sunnepink brook, Butts, bounds as follows, Beginning at a butternut, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, Standing on the South Side of the brook, thence measuring (1) South five degrees East seven chains and fifty links, thence (2) North eighty five degrees East Sixteen chains and thirty seven links, thence (3) North five degrees West seven chains and fifty links, thence (4) South eighty five degrees West Sixteen chains and thirty seven links to the beginning.
Byram Townhsip within Sussex County, New Jersey as of 2017. Source: Google Maps.
This turns out to be a fairly simple plot and works out to be a rectangular lot of land slightly off kilter from true north. I used a very handy online tool called Plat Plotter to map out the plot. Since the tool works with feet and does not have links and/or chains in the drop-down menu, I needed to convert the surveyor measures to feet. It turns out that 7 chains 50 links = 494.9724 feet and 16 chains 37 links = 1080.3996 feet. Since I needed a beginning, I chose a random spot in Byram Township to start. The initial information entry looks like this:
One plotted, the parcel looks like this. You can see that I’ve got all the points connected, beginning point connects to end point. The total acreage of 12.3 matches the 12.28 in the deed description of the land. So, I’ve got the size and inclination of the property. The flag would be the actual starting point if I hadn’t been using a random spot just to get this plotted.
The hard part about this little exercise is finding the true starting point. Where the heck is Sunnepink Brook? And what are the chances that the butternut (also known as a white walnut) tree, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, is still standing 213 years later?! Not much of a chance. A Google search of “Sunnepink Brook NJ” yields nothing useful. I pulled out a gazetteer which is a geographical index or dictionary of place names. The one I consulted from my library, Sussex County…A Gazetteer by Wayne T. McCabe, had no listing for a Sunnepink of any sort. I feel that a thorough search of the History of Sussex and Warren Counties by James P. Snell for Sunnepink or mention of any of the Hunts listed in the deed is in order. Given that this deed was recorded 213 years ago, the brook may not even exist anymore. So, just using the information in this document won’t give me a starting point. To-do list meet another entry…
Timeline of the Parcel
There are a number of different dates listed within this deed from which I constructed a simple timeline:
- 05 August 1750 – From the Council of Proprietors to William Barnet – two hundred acres
- 29 March 1751 – From William Barnet to Peter Drago – portion of the two hundred acres
- 14 February 1769 – From Peter Drago to William Crooks – same portion of the two hundred acres
- 11 March 1775 – From William Crooks to Vincent Bishop – same portion of the two hundred acres
- 08 August 1775 – From Vincent Bishop to John Eddy – same portion of the two hundred acres
- 01 May 1805 – From John Eddy’s sole heirs, Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt, to Ebenezer Hunt – same portion of the two hundred acres
Some items to note about the timeline. The Revolutionary War started and concluded by the time Ebenezer came into possession of this land. John Eddy died sometime between 08 August 1775 and 01 May 1805 since Johnathan and Rebekah Hunt are mentioned as his sole heirs in this deed.
Places mentioned in the Deed
A good family historian will read up on the geographical areas they are studying related to their family. Just because Sussex County is currently configured the way it is, doesn’t mean it was always that way! New Jersey was originally split into two large pieces, East and West Jersey, and even included some portions of current New York State. Counties line changed when new counties were carved out of existing ones. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide’s book called a Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920 is a great starting point in understanding how counties within states changed as the Federal decennial censuses were conducted.
My questions based on the places listed in this deed would include: What geography did the Province of East New Jersey encompass? How has Bryam Township changed over the years? What did it look like in 1805? Does the Surveyor’s Office in Amboy, New Jersey, still exist? If extant, where are their records stored now? Why was Ronnspock singled out as not being available to be deeded 1750? And the most important question, where is Sunnepink Brook?
Persons Mentioned in the Deed
A list of persons can be pulled from the deed with varying roles. Owners of the parcel include, in order of ownership, the Council of Proprietors, William Barnet, Peter Drago, William Crooks, Vincent Bishop, John Eddy, Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt, and Ebenezer Hunt. A surveyor, Ebenezer Bryam, is mentioned. A county clerk, Jacob S. Thomson, was involved in the process as the recorder. Witnesses, Edward Hunt and Jonathan Holmes, were identified. Jonathan Holmes was also stated to be one of the judges of the Inferior Court of Common Please for Sussex County, New Jersey.
One thing missing that may have been useful in placing this parcel are some neighbors. It is quite common within the property description to use neighboring property lines as the bounds part of the metes and bounds method.
Familial relationships are almost nonexistent within this deed. The only direct (explicit) evidence that we know for sure is that Jonathan and Rebekah are husband and wife. Everything else falls into the indirect evidence bucket. Other documents/information/evidence must be combined with this deed to prove familial relationships. Perhaps Ebenezer was Jonathan’s son or maybe his brother. Perhaps John Eddy was Rebekah’s father or brother. Perhaps witness Edward Hunt is a brother, son, father, uncle, or cousin.
Deeds are like puzzle pieces. One just isn’t enough to give you the entire picture. Since Ebenezer died in 1814, it would be an excellent next step to track down the disposition or transfer of this particular parcel in later records. There is a possibility that locating other properties owned by the Hunt family could help place this parcel in a more specific place than just Byram Township, Sussex County, New Jersey. Additionally, this deed could be combined with old property maps to find the correct location. Until then, the search for Sunnepink Brook continues.