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Middlesex County, NJ

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St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is a historic church at Rector and Gordon Streets in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It is the oldest Episcopal parish in New Jersey and contains the oldest extant gravestone in New Jersey.

The congregation was organized in 1698 when twelve Church of England communicants designated themselves the Congregation of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. They erected a church using the foundation of an abandoned courthouse. That site is not far from the current church.  In 1706, Anne, Queen of Great Britain presented the parish with a set of communion silver that is still extant.

They received a royal charter in 1718 from George I of Great Britain.  The second building on the site was built in 1722 and was destroyed by a fire.  In 1770 Governor William Franklin was a vestryman in the congregation.  The current building was built in 1852.

*Thomas Mundy Peterson was the first black person in New Jersey to vote in Perth Amboy, New Jersey (c. Lawrence E. Walker Foundation)

The first black man to vote in America, Thomas Mundy Peterson, was a member of the church and was buried in the church graveyard. He voted in the Perth Amboy, New Jersey mayoral election on March 31, 1870. That was one day after adoption of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It was added to the National Register in 1977.

The Van Dyke Farm (Pulda Farm)

Henry Van Dyke (born 1838-died 1888) at VanDyke Farm (c. Lawrence E. Walker Foundatin Collection)

Update, 10/2009: Middlesex County officials announced on October 13, 2009, that they will purchase the 188-acre farm in its entirety from current owner William Pulda. The county and South Bruswick Township are splitting the purchase price, each contributing open space funds toward the purchase. The property is currently rented to local farmers who will remain on-site, according to the purchase agreement.

This property was deeded to the Van Dyke family in 1688, and it remained in their hands until 1957, when it was purchased by William Pulda. The property, which is today roughly 200 acres, contains a farmhouse and carriage house both in good condition, some other farm buildings, and a family graveyard.

The farmhouse is a mix of Federal and Greek Revival styles built in the eighteenth century and enlarged in the nineteenth. The farmyard includes the sites of early farm buildings that might yield important archaeological information. According to local tradition the family cemetery includes the graves of Revolutionary War soldier John Van Dyke and his family. It may also have an unmarked slave cemetery nearby.

Although eligible for listing in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places a developer has taken aim at the property. When his first proposal for a warehouse was rejected by the township he came back with the current plan for seventy-six single-family homes. Groundbreaking is projected for later this year.

A local group is working to save the property. The New Jersey Green Acres program, South Brunswick Township, and Middlesex County all have some funds available to purchase it, but they would need a willing seller. PNJ thinks this property could be saved if the parties would agree to talk with one another. It is not only of historical significance, but because it is adjacent to the Pigeon Swamp State Park it would be an important open space acquisition.

Advocates continue to work for its preservation. Middlesex Co working with State to secure funds for acquisition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Peter’s_Episcopal_Church_(Perth_Amboy,_New_Jersey)#History

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