Search This Blog

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Help from the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society

George Farris reported:
Since John’s research at the NJ Archives had pinpointed Hightstown, NJ as one of the specific places where Samuel Bonnell had lived, I contacted the Hightstown - East Windsor Historical Society to see if there might be any local information remaining regarding him or other members of the family there.  Cappy Stults is the current President of the Society and he did quite a bit of searching of the available records with very limited success.  

The one specific that came out of this is the exact location of the Inn and the fact that Samuel Bonnell lived there for a short time. 

Mr. Stults responded: 
Although I have not totally given up, everything has been a dead end. I have not found any Bonnell’s. Hightstown was a very small hamlet prior to the railroad in the 1830s. Although we had a mill and inn, there was not even a church until the 1780s. Years later many may have referred to Hightstown even though they may have been in Millstone or Cranbury Townships, or even what are now West Windsor or Plainsboro Townships, all within 5 miles of Hightstown.

Mr. Stults asked “the real expert,” Bob Craig, for help. Mr. Craig wrote 

On Samuel Bonnell, I have only one record of him as constable.  He was appointed constable for the year 1762-3 at the annual Windsor Township meeting in March 1762.  The surviving records on constables show that they were typically one-year assignments with almost no succession.  They often included a tavern keeper, usually in the first year of his license (evidence of a quid pro quo ?).  Thus John Hight was appointed constable in 1751, the first year of which there is record of him as tavern keeper.   Samuel Bonnell was first licensed as a tavern keeper in April 1761; before his first year of licensure was completed, he was appointed constable in 1762.  Bonnell was re-licensed in April 1762, while still constable.  In January 1763, before his year was out, he was succeeded as tavern keeper by Benjamin Ward in 1763.  Ward, in turn, was appointed constable in March 1763, in the first year he was licensed.  This pattern is strong enough that there was clearly something unstated going on.  

In the court minute when Benjamin Ward was licensed in January 1763, it was noted that the tavern was kept "in the house where Samuel Bonnel [sic] lately lived in Windsor ..."  Note the past tense, "lived."  This tavern stood on the site of Cunningham's pharmacy, the southwest corner of Main and Stockton streets, Hightstown.  The tavern was built about 1755, and stood (I think) until the late 1850s when it was demolished.

So I can only place Samuel Bonnell in Hightstown for this brief interval in the early 1760s.  These are the only references that I've found to Bonnell in my notes.

No comments:

Post a Comment