Friday, January 22, 2010

Captain Samuel Meeker, father of the sitter (con.)

Captain Samuel Meeker (c.1738/9-c.1800+)
4 children with wife Mary Clark---> Mary (1761) never married, William (1762-1831) m. Sarah Hays, Samuel (1763-1831) and Phebe (1763-1814), the twins.

A prominent citizen of the West Fields, Captain Samuel Meeker, father of the sitter Samuel Meeker in the Stuart portrait, was a timber trader and cabinetmaker; the family resided at Short Hills on the edge of Springfield, NJ. Captain Samuel was married in the Westfield Presbyterian Church on December 14th, 1760 to Mary Clark. At least one of his sons, William was baptized in the Westfield Presbyterian Church in 1762.

Despite the recent ravages of the American Revolutionary War, that Captain Samuel Meeker was well-to-do is indicated by the rateables of 1779 which describe him as “owning one hundred and thirty–six acres, three horses, seven head of cattle, and a riding chair.” In addition, Samuel’s son William (1762-1831), was shown to own (by the rateables in the years 1778 and1780), 140 acres and one-third of a sawmill in the Mendham Township. It seems likely that Captain Samuel had bought timber land in that area which was just opening up as well as a third interest in the sawmill, under William’s name. William may have been sent there to look after the family interest, but was back in Springfield in June of 1780, taking part in the Battle of Springfield. On March 31, 1782 he married Sarah Hays of Westfield in the Westfield Presbyterian Church.

Captain Meeker also served in the Revolutionary War as a first lieutenant and as vice-captain in the Essex County Troop of Light Horse. When the British retreated in the Battle of Springfield in 1780, burning and looting, Samuel’s house also went up in flames.

The “New York Gazette” on July 5, 1779, reported: "Last Tuesday night a detachment from his Majesty's 37th Regiment with a party of Col. Barton's and some refugees, went over from Staten-Island to a place called Woodbridge Raway, where they surprised a party of rebels in a tavern, killed their commanding officer Captain Skinner of a Troop of Light Horse, and another man and took the following prisoners, viz: Capt. Samuel Meeker...” …… “but by the timely exertions of a few militia, who collected immediately, they were released...”

Slavery had obtained legal sanction in New Jersey under the proprietary regimes of Berkeley and Carteret (c. 1665.) Captain Meeker and Thomas Jefferson had something in common

from 221. The Pennsylvania Journal, and the Weekly Advertiser (Philadelphia), #1066,
May 12, 1763 ---"Run away from Samuel Meeker, a Negro Man, Sampson, about 6 feet 4 inches, aged 24 Years, speaks good English: Had on when he went away two dark colour’d homespun Jackets, Leather Breeches, brown Stockings. Whoever takes up and secures said Negro so that his Master may have him again, shall receive Twenty Shillings Reward and all reasonable charges paid by Samuel Meeker."
"Pretends to be free": runaway slave advertisements from colonial and revolutionary New York and New Jersey By Graham Russell Hodges, Alan Edward Brown 1994

"Quite a number of slaves were held in this community [Westfield]. It was the custom, and few questioned the right for years .... Slaves were kept in many of the best Westfield families. They were well treated and happy. Many of them became members of the Presbyterian church. In the old session book of the Presbyterian church of Westfield the pastor, Benjamin Woodruff, writes as follows: “August 12 1759. Baptized my negro child......... and “November 8, 1778. Baptized a negro woman belonging to Samuel Meeker, N. Dorcas.”
History of Union County, New Jersey, Volumes 1-2 By Frederick William Ricord East Jersey History Co. Newark, NJ 1897 p.523


Maureen said...

This is so interesting, to watch you learn about your family history.

emikk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rouchswalwe said...

Attacking folks in a tavern just isn't right! That is sacred space! Bad bad dudes!

Allan Schmid said...

My late first wife was a descendent of Jotham Meeker, (1804-1855) Baptist pioneer missionary in Kansas. Jotham is descended from William Meeker (1620-1690). My Meeker tree is posted on
you may contact me at

Allan Schmid said...

Jotham Meeker (1804-1855) bio is on Wikipedia.

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