Vandyke Farm & Titus Farm, New Jersey
Vandyke Farm & Titus Farm
Vandike Farm (c. Lawrence E. Walker Foundation Collection)
The Vandyke Farm in South Brunswick is a 300 year old farm. The land was deeded to the Vandyke Family by King George III in 1688. It remained in the Vandyke Family until 1957 when it was purchased for land speculation by William Pulda of North Brunswick.
The farmhouse, built in 1713 by Simon Van Dyke, whose ancestor Jan Thomassen Van Dyke immigrated to New Amsterdam from Holland in 1652. The house is intact and occupied by a tenant/caretaker. A carriage house is also in good condition. Of the numerous barns once on the farm, one still stands in poor to fair condition. The family owned slaves, and original slave quarters are still intact over the farmhouses kitchen. The slaves and family lived together, not separately.
A family cemetery, with gravestones, is located on the farm. A Revolutionary War soldier is buried there with his family. All of the graves predate 1859, a requirement for historical preservation.
A slave cemetery is located near the family plot at the right of the end of the lane as you approached the Davidsons Mill Road, as sworn to by one of the last surviving members of the Vandyke family. That member of the family remembers the patch of land on the edge of the property as the homes slave cemetery and has records that prove slaves once worked the land. A bill of sale found inside the family home documents the 1813 purchase of a slave name Amy, by the Petti family for $150. Amy had about five children, Alfred (born July 19, 1823), Rose (born September 17, 1825), Sylvester (born June 7, 1827) and/or Herman (born June 22, 1829. And its a real possibility that she and maybe some of her children are in that graveyard. There were still wood markers there that have long since disappeared and the family at Vandyke Farm believes that when the road was widened the graveyard was dug up. However, the cemetery was covered by an earthen roadway overpass ramp in the early 1980’s. There is a good chance that the graves were not disturbed, but covered with abut 8ft. of earth. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority did this travesty despite protest by Arthur Vandyke, who no longer even owned the property.
In the 1800’s, slaves comprised 7.6 percent of the population of New Jersey and many were active in the Revolutionary War, little known facts not widely taught in schools. The 200 acres of land is right next to Pigeon Swamp State Park, and would be a perfect addition to this ecological wonder. The land is still farmed as it was for the last 300 years. A farmer leases the land for growing corn that is processed as a biofuel additive for gasoline.
The farm is an amazing piece of early New Jersey history and that of America itself. It has withstood the centuries and must not be destroyed for the sake of just another builders development. It is in imminent danger and we are desperate for help.
The family cemetery plot meets the criteria for historic preservation but it does not yet have that status. The African-American cemetery needs to be investigated, and if confirmed, moved to another location on the farm. They built it and worked it.
TITUS DEAN FARM SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
Dean Farm of South Brunswick, (1888) slave that paid for 15 acres of land in South Brunswick, New Jersey (c. Lawrence E. Walker Foundation Collection)
TIMELINE OF TITUS FAMILY
1817- Thomas Titus is manumitted by his master Geradus Beekman
1817- Thomas purchases 2½ acres from Ferdinand Van Dyke.
1818- On August 3rd Thomas Titus Jr. is manumitted by his master Geradus Beekman.
1819- Thomas Titus dies at 65 years old and buried on the family farm. Thomas Jr. and Wife Sarah takes over farm.
1849- Thomas Jr. dies.
1850- Charlotte one of 6 children of Thomas Jr. and Sarah Ten Broeck buys farm of $600.
1859- Charlotte dies suddenly and wills the farm to her son Allen Hooper and wife Janey and son Arthur.
1876- Sarah moves in with grandson Gertrude Raddle of nearby Plainsboro dies.
1870- Allen Hooper sells the farm to Christopher Columbus Beekman for $480.
The Property includes corncrib, outhouse, smoke house, chicken coop, barn, shed, tool shed with very old tools. A steam generator and very old wagon, possibly one in Thomas Jr. inventory 1849. No historic search of structures or equipment has been done. Property is now owned by South Brunswick Township and has a clause of no building on land. I have seen the bill of sale between Titus and Van Dyke. I have a copy of the will, which releases Thomas Titus. The manumission written for Thomas Jr. The headstone for Thomas is in the public works building in a broom closet. Thomas Jr.s will. Charlottes will. Deed of sale between Allen and Christopher C. Beekman.
SLAVE CHILD NAME SLAVE OWNER SLAVE CHILD MOTHER CHILD BITHDATE REGISTERED
Alfred John Van Dyke Slave, Amy July 19, 1823-August 1829
Rose John Van Dyke Slave, Amy September 17, 1825-August 1829
Sylvester John Van Dyke Slave, Amy June 7, 1827-August 1829
Herman John Van Dyke Slave, Amy January 22, 1829-August 1829
Sally Henry Van Dyke Slave, Martha September 12, 1815-January 1822
Anthony Henry Van Dyke Slave, Martha October 28, 1816-January 1822
Albert Henry Van Dyke Slave, Martha November 11, 1818-January 1822
George Henry Van Dyke Slave, Martha August 12, 1821-January 1822
Sal Matthew Van Dyke Slave, Florough December 8, 1805-May 1806
Charis Matthew Van Dyke Slave, Peg January 20, 1819-Febrary 1821
Ellen Seuare Van Dyke Slave, Lucee ? February 11, 1835-March 1838
Hannah Isaac Vanpelt August 1, 1812-April 1813
Nance John, Jr., Wetherill August 24, 1806-May 1807
Lydia Thomas Wetherill Becky (Rebeckah) Black woman July 14, 1804-May 1805
Rachel John Wickoff Slave January 24, 1804-October 1805