Sunday, January 17, 2010

Horses, Taxes, & Captain Samuel Meeker

Goethe zu Pferde
(Goethe astride his horse)
taken from “Frauen der Goethezeit in ihren Briefen"; Verlag der Nation Berlin 1966

The last post was about the possible misidentification of (the Stuart portrait of) John Ricketts as the Circus Rider; but what I would like to highlight here is the fact that before Ricketts actually opened his circus in the way we understand a ‘circus’ to be today, it was an eqestrian show. People were interested in horsemanship at the time, and at least initially, Ricketts gave riding and dressage lessons in the morning to the high society of Philadelphia.

Not only did the military depend on good horsemanship, but also at this time horses were part of daily life and riding skills were highly prized and admired.

Samuel Meeker came to Philadelphia from a well known & well-to-do family in the Westfields of New Jersey, and it can be certain he grew up with horses, and later activities provide the evidence that he was an excellent and energetic rider himself. Looking back at his family history, tax tables show that Samuel’s father, also named Samuel (he can be differentiated by the ‘Captain’ before his name, as he had been actively involved in the local militia) was relatively wealthy. Ownership of horses was reason for taxes to be levied.

Taxation from the Rateables in the Township of Elizabeth of Westfield Ward in County of Essex in the State of New Jersey show the residents "...shall be assessed, levied and raised on the several inhabitants of this state, their lands, and tenements, goods and chattles..."

Ownership of horses was noted more than once in these tax tables (I also show other items of interest which are assessed).

1. Acres of Land
2. Value of Land (in pounds)
3. Horses
4. Horned Cattle
5. Hogs
15. Single men w/ horse ("every single man, whether he lives with his parents or otherwise, who keeps a horse...")
16. Single men ("Every single man, whether he lives with his parents or otherwise,who does not keep a horse...")
17. Slaves
18. Servants
19. R Chairs, kittereens & Sulkies (R Chair - Riding Chair; kittereen - "A two wheeled one-horse carriage with a moveable top" [Webster's Unabridged])

The Tables from 1779 describe Captain Samuel Meeker as “owning one hundred and thirty–six acres, three horses, seven head of cattle, and a riding chair.” Capt. Samuel’s first son William (1762-1831), was shown to own (by the rateables in the years 1778 and 1780), 140 acres and one-third of a sawmill in the Mendham Township NJ.


Maureen said...

I wonder if when you started this blog, you thought you'd be going here.

emikk said...

If they didn't pay their taxes on there horses, did they have repo ment taking them away?

Rouchswalwe said...

The Centaur tax!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

is your rowboat packed and ready to go?

more later

rain soaked Kary

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