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Title: Reminiscences of Colored People of Princeton, N. J.: 1800-1900
Author: Smith, Anna Bustill
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              REMINISCENCES

                                   OF

                             COLORED PEOPLE

                           of Princeton, N. J.

                               1800.-1900.

                                  * * *

                        _By Anna Bustill-Smith._



Reminiscences of Colored People of Princeton, N. J.

Copyrighted 1913 by Anna Bustill-Smith.


There are so few histories of colored people, so few records of their
brave and honorable deeds in history, that I feel constrained to record
a few facts relative to these people. It is only a cursory glance I can
give—I could easily enlarge the sketch to twice this size.

We are proud when we read in Nell’s “Colored Patriots of the Revolution”
that _Oliver Cromwell_ enlisted in a company commanded by Capt. Lowrey,
attached to the Second New Jersey Regiment, under command of Col. Israel
Shreve. He was at the Battles of Trenton, _Princeton_, Brandywine,
Monmouth and Yorktown. He was with the army at the retreat of the
Delaware on the memorable crossing of December, 1776, and relates the
story of the battles of the succeeding days with enthusiasm. He gives
the details of the march from Trenton to _Princeton_, and told with
much humor “that they knocked the British about lively at _Princeton_.”
His discharge (says Dr. McCune Smith) at the end of the war, was in
_Washington’s own handwriting_. He was very proud of it and often spoke
of it. He received an annual pension of $96 until his death, January
24th, 1853, aged 100 years. Had he been white, every newspaper in the
land would have been eloquent in his praise.

Henry Hill was also in the battle of _Princeton_. He was buried with the
honors of war in 1833.

_Caesar Trent_ was well known here in 1804. _Peter Polite_, as _Mr. Peter
Scudder_ was called, accumulated some property and owned and conducted a
confectionery on Nassau street, says Hageman. He died in 1848.

_Anthony Simmons_ was highly esteemed. He was the leading caterer and
his place of business was next to Princeton Bank. His will disposed of
half a dozen properties and devised to the Witherspoon Presbyterian
Church all the property at the corner of Green and Witherspoon streets,
worth now about $7000, and gave a legacy of $500 to Princeton University.

_Joseph Ten Eyck_, a Princetonian, was a celebrated caterer in New York
city. He had a summer home at 256 Nassau street. He died about 15 years
ago, leaving an estate of $100,000. The largest legacy to Tuskegee
Institute, from a colored person, was $38,000, from Mrs. Mary Hood Shaw,
his adopted daughter. Virtually his money.

_Gilbert Scudder, Sr._, operated a barber shop on Nassau street, and
rated professors among his patrons.

_Mrs. Catharine Scudder_, his widow, is still an active, energetic
woman, owning several properties. She is full of happy reminiscences,
and is one of the oldest members of the Presbyterian Church. She brought
with her, when a bride, the first piano owned by a colored family in
Princeton. Her daughter is a musician and elocutionist. Her sons are
well-settled in business. Eugene conducts a second-hand clothing house on
Baker street. Walter is a practicing physician in Philadelphia.

_Elias Hart_ owned and conducted a restaurant on Witherspoon street. His
widow still owns and occupies the property.

_Samuel Onque_ and his brother owned a farm opposite.

_Mr. Hoagland_ purchased a lot from it on which he built his home. His
widow was a great worker in the Presbyterian Church.

_Mr. John Voorhees_ was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He and his
wife, Amanda, owned a comfortable home, 23 Quarry street. He left his
estate in the hands of Mr. Joseph Bruere. After the death of Mr. Voorhees
the church received $400 from the estate.

_Elias Conover_ was for twenty-five years in the Seminary. _Robert
Hendrickson_ and _Charles Whychoff_ have followed him.

_Philip Scudder_ was for many years sexton at Cemetery.

_Isaac Stockton_ conducted a grocery store corner Green and Witherspoon
streets. He was a shrewd and successful business man.

_Mrs. Margaret Stockton_ was quite as well known as _Mrs. Craig_. She
and Mrs. Catharine Scudder are about the last of Princeton’s colored
aristocracy. Her daughter, _Miss Martie Craig_, was an accomplished belle
in her day. She was a great helper in the Presbyterian Church.

_Charles Craig_ was the pioneer hackman, and his wife a famous cook.
Their son, _Prof. Walter Craig_, was New York’s most famous colored
violinist, and their daughter, _Jestina_, was school teacher and skilled
pianist.

The _Gordons_ were a large and influential family, like the _Simpsons_.
_Mr. Simpson_ was the pioneer second-hand clothes dealer.

Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Williams were the pioneer club-house keepers. Their
numerous family still survive and reside in the homestead on Harrison
street.

Mr. Thomas James was a familiar figure for some years. He was related
to one of the oldest and most aristocratic families in Philadelphia. In
his early life in Princeton he was thrifty and prosperous. His children
buried him quite recently.

_Mrs. Elon Berry_ is our “shut-in,” but sends out sunshine.

“Some are and must be greater than the rest.”

As early as 1816 a Mr. Boardman, a colored student, was here. Many have
since graduated from the Seminary. Revs. L. Z. Johnson and G. S. Stark
received the degree of A. B. on examination.

_Betsey Stockton_ was one of the first members of the Presbyterian
Church. Hageman tells us “she was a woman of sterling qualities and an
excellent teacher.” She was the first colored missionary to the Hawaiian
Islands and, on her return, taught school. One of her pupils, _Mr. Thomas
Schenck_, attended Lincoln University, graduating in 1869. A bronze
tablet to her memory was recently unveiled in the Presbyterian Church
by Mr. Weber, a former pupil, Gen. A. A. Woodhull making the address. A
stained glass memorial window, the gift of her pupils, adorns the church
and attests to her ability and their love.

_Rev. Chas. W. Gardiner_ was pastor of the First African Presbyterian
Church of Philadelphia for 12 years, and an early record says “he was
no mean expounder of the Word of God.” He was a man of high mental
attainments. His preaching was eloquent, impressive and effective. He was
ever regarded as a profound thinker and leading ecclesiastical. In 1857
he was invited by my father, Joseph C. Bustill (then teaching there), to
help form the First Colored Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg, Pa. He was
pastor there several years. A fine portrait of him still hangs in the
lecture room, evidencing their veneration for him. He spent the remaining
years of his life at his home, corner Green and Witherspoon streets. Dr.
Ashbel Green was always interested in him and remembered him in his will.
His grandchildren, _Mrs. Till_ and _Mrs. Boyer_ are still among us.

_Rev. Mahlon Van Horn_ was graduated from Lincoln University and, for
twenty-five years, was pastor of a congregational church at Newport, R.
I. He was appointed U. S. Consul at St. Thomas Island, and filled his
position with honor to himself and with satisfaction to the Government.
He died in office.

Who could write of Princeton colored people and omit _Uncle Jimmy
Johnson_? “He was at one time the oldest person connected with the
university, because he had known Dr. Duffield s-s-since he was in
kn-kn-knickerbockers.” He came here a fugitive slave, was recognized by a
student and soon was fleeing from the dreaded slave catcher. Mrs. Provost
paid the $1000 demanded and the students paid the cost of the sensational
trial. Mr. Johnson often showed with justifiable pride his account of the
_repayment of every cent_. He lived long to enjoy his freedom and was
ever affectionately regarded by the students. A granite stone “erected
by graduates of Princeton University” marks his grave. His widow was a
woman of fine presence, cultured and refined. She died less than a year
ago.

_James Titus, Sr._, who owned his home on Green street, was for many
years the trusted messenger of the university. His son, _James, Jr._,
was twenty-eight years gold melter and refiner for M. F. Cronin, Seventh
and Sansom streets, Philadelphia. His son, _James, III_, owns several
properties and resides in our town. His son, _George P. Titus_, was
associated with his father till his death, when he succeeded him. He
is now practical and consulting metalurgist for the Deuber Watchcase
Manufacturing Co., Canton, O. His son, James, IV, graduated from the high
school and business college of Canton, and is his father’s assistant. A
son of James, III, holds a position in the same company.

_Rev. William D. Robeson_ was, for nearly twenty-five years, pastor of
the Presbyterian Church. He was a graduate of Lincoln University and
Seminary. His many superior qualities of mind and heart won for him many
friends and kept his work pre-eminent. He gave to Princeton the best
years of his life, made many improvements in the church methods and
church property. He is ever the defender of justice—standing firmly for
the rights of our race. He is a Christian gentleman. Two churches he has
pastored since are gratified to have him help them so much—financially as
well as spiritually. He is particularly successful in collecting funds.
He has built one church and liquidated a large indebtedness on the other.
He and his wife M. Louisa Bustill (a Philadelphia school teacher), are
of blessed memory to those who knew them. Their son, _William D., Jr._,
is the only colored Princeton graduate of the Trenton High School.
A graduate of Lincoln University, studied medicine at University of
Pennsylvania. _Reeve_ is doing well in Detroit. _Bennie_ graduated from
Biddle University and is now in the seminary. _Marion_ graduated from
Scotia and _Paul Bustill_ is a member of the baseball, football and
basketball teams and the Glee Club of Somerville High School.

“_Mom Stewart_” is a class by herself. Always jolly, sensible and
persevering.

_Mrs. Sarah Dillon_ is one of the oldest members of the Methodist Church.
She has taught in the Presbyterian Sunday-school more than 50 years.

Her neighbor, _Miss Mary Chew_, owns several Lytle street properties.

Of our young people, _Mrs. Annie Vanzant Moore_ and _Mrs. Lillian Scudder
Proctor_, have taught in the public school. _Miss Eva Royster_ is our
only graduate from the Trenton Art School. _Leah Lake_, _Bertha Hall_,
_Virginia Smith Rhetta_, and _Ethel Vanzant_ had partial courses in
Trenton High School. _John Richmond_, _Bessie Moore_, _Marie French_,
_Jenetta Watkins_ and _Laura Garner_ are the first colored pupils
to enter Princeton High School. Several boys and girls are pursuing
educational courses or following professions away from Princeton. _Dr. J.
E. Proctor_ is our only colored physician. _F. Louis Sperling_ our only
lawyer and Justice of the Peace.

The church music is of excellent character, being in such skillful hands
as _Mrs. Blackwell_, _Mrs. Lambert_ and _Mrs. Robinson_.

The Hoaglands, Sortors, Millers, Vanzants, Schencks, Lakes, Skillmans,
Scudders, Roysters, Hagamans, Conovers, Van Horns, Eustices, Tituses, and
many others were large and highly-respected families still represented.

The Witherspoon Presbyterian Church is the most flourishing. It has a
large auditorium and parish house and several properties, all in good
condition. They are valued at $37,000. Rev. G. S. Stark is pastor.

Mt. Pisgah A. M. E. Church maintains its usual high standard. It was
recently enlarged and remodeled. It is valued at $15,000—Rev. Sturgis,
pastor. The late Addison Gordon was a class leader and gave it a legacy
from his $30,000 estate.

The late Henry Shaw, Robert Hall, Mrs. Dowers, Mrs. Oakham and many more
are its helpers. Mrs. Letitia Blackwell was the oldest member.

Bright Hope Baptist Church has a commodious building, with lecture room
in basement—$12,000; Rev. Jones is pastor. All three churches have their
own parsonages, electric light and steam heat.

The Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Elks, Mooses and Good Samaritans are
trustworthy beneficial Orders. The Odd Fellows own their own hall. A
company of colored men own and rent Douglass Hall.

A Young Men’s Christian Association has been fitted up in a very spacious
and comfortable building. Meetings, books, entertainment, etc., appeal to
the men. Joseph W. Rhetta is secretary. The Women’s Club is successfully
teaching several branches of industry and furnishes entertainment for the
women.

Our business men are William Moore, John Williams, George Mention,
William Higgins, Theodore Williams, James Dickerson, Peter Brownley,
William Green, Andrew Melchoir, Robert Braxton, John Coy, I. R. Farrier
and Mr. Sheldon. Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Burrill are our business women.

Much I intended for this brief sketch is, of necessity, omitted, but I
hope another may write more fully of the colored people of _Princeton_.





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