Friday, August 31, 2018


Source: Revised (1976) Book of Boylan's by John A. Boylan.
The Descendents of Aaron Boylan and Catherine Parkinson Shilton. Pg. ii.

Aaron Boylan, who was married to Katherine Parkinson Shilton built the
Boylan House or Mansion in 1751. Aaron who pronounced the name "Bullion" had
a store in Basking Ridge before coming to Pluckimin. The first year he used
the ground floor for his store, but as soon as a new store was erected the
house was his residence only.

At first the house consisted of the front portion with a lean-to kitchen
in the rear. As the family became more affluent other sections were added to
make the fine structure which can be seen today.

Historical records show that George and Martha Washington attended a
dinner and dance held at the Boylan Mansion during the Revolutionary War.
There is also record of an order issued by General Lincoln to James Boylan,
Physician and Surgeon, directing Doctor Boylan to use the Boylan Mansion at
Pluckimin as a hospital to care for the wounded.

The land around the building is also historic. The rear boundary is
General Know Lane, built by his orders during the Revolutionary War
for access to the Continental Army's artillery encampment in the fields back of the property.
The north lawn is reputed to be the site of the temporary ballroom for the Grand Alliance Ball,
held in 1779 in Pluckemin to celebrate the first anniversary of the Alliance with France,
which ended in victory at Yorktown.

The home has been completely restored and is now open to the public as
"The John Boylan House". John son of Aaron was the second owner.
The present owner, an antique dealer has his handsome shop
attached to the rear of the house.

James Boylan And Aaron Boylan Born In Ireland Around 1710

The three Boylan brothers; Roger, James, and Aaron were left orphans in
Ireland. Roger, the eldest was appointed guardian of the two younger boys,
James and Aaron. The two boys became dissatisfied with this arrangement and
came to America from the seaport city of Colerain in northern Ireland. One
record stated that they paid for their transportation by selling their
services in America, while another reported that they paid their way by
working on the ship. At any rate when Roger heard of their plight, he made
arrangements for their release. Later divisions of family property left the
boys in a good financial position.

Roger was educated for the Church, but became a teacher in a classical
school. What education James and Aaron had is not recorded, but evidence
points to a good basic education.

Not much is known of the later activities of James 1st as he moved to
North Carolina. According to William Boylan, a grandson of Raleigh, North
Carolina, James 1st married and had several children.

In this History we will concern ourselves with the descendents of the
brother Aaron Boylan and his wife, Catherine Parkinson Shilton, widow of
Richard Shilton and daughter of Rev. Samuel and Elizabeth Parkinson. Aaron
settled near Liberty Corners in 1732. War records show he was a soldier
in the French and Indian War, serving under General Wolf in the battle of Quebec in 1750.
In 1752 Aaron built the Boylan House one of the first homes in
Pluckemin, New Jersey. At least three children were born to Aaron 1st and
Catherine; James, John, and Aaron.

James became a doctor in and around Vealtown in New Jersey. When
fighting of the Revolutionary War came to this area General Lincoln issued
orders for Dr. James Boylan to care for the wounded, using the Boylan House as a hospital.
James' marker in the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church bears this inscription:
"Dr. James Boylan of Vealtown (1743-1828)
son of Aaron Boylan and Catherine Parkinson and brother of John Boylan."

John, the second son followed in his father's footsteps and became a
merchant. He also became the second owner of the Boylan House or Mansion as
it was later called. He became the owner of four stores as well as an active
civic leader in his community. John is also buried in the Basking Ridge
Presbyterian Lot. Inscribed on his marker we find: "John Boylan Esq.
(1746-1793) son of Aaron Boylan and Catherine Parkinson and brother of Dr.
James Boylan of Vealtown; merchant and civic leader of his day."

Aaron Boylan the third son was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, in the Battle of Princeton,
Jan 3, 1777, he served under Capt. Daniel Piatt. Hemarried Sarah McDade
and they had nine children; five sons and four daughters.
After the war Aaron practiced his trade of Master Weaver
in Fayette County, Cookertown on Redstone Creek,
Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties all in the state of Pennsylvania.
He finally settled in Mercer County, Pa.
which was a wilderness area at that time.
He cleared the land, planted an orchard of apple and peach trees,
and continued his trade as a Master Weaver.
It is recorded that customers came from many miles away to get his goods.
Aaron 2nd and his wife, Sarah McDade are buried in Fairfield Cemetery in Mercer County,

Special Note

In the late 1930's the section of the Fairfield Cemetery containing the
graves of Aaron Boylan 2nd, a Revolutionary War Vetern, and Caleb Boylan, was
scheduled for destruction. This was prevented from happening through the
efforts of Harry Boylan of Sandy Lake and Edith Boylan Braymer of Beaver
Falls; who spearheaded a committee to raise money and secure title and deed
for the lot. This was done and is so recorded in the Recorder's Office in
Mercer County Court House: Deed Book C, Vol. 17, Page 370, and dated July 10,
1940. The document is signed by Stephen Lukacs, Recorder.
This deed was made out to (Boylan Heirs).


Tour of the Presbyterian Churchyard Reveals Bernards Early History

Among the dignitaries resting in the curchyeard are :

Dr. James Boylan, 1743 - 1820, personal physician of Lord Stirling

Eleanor Boylan, 1749-1795, wife of John B Boylan, Esq, worked at Lowden's Press in Valley Forge, PA which printed materials for the Revolutionary Army under George Washington.

Frontier Farmer:  AutobiographyAutobiography and Family History of Aaron A. Boylan: 1827-1923 by Katherline Lytle Sharp donated by Manning Lee.

White, John G. A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County, Pennsysvania. Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1909.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1779 – Grand Alliance Ball – Pluckemin New Jersey – T3C Idea Exchange

1779 – Grand Alliance Ball – Pluckemin New Jersey – T3C Idea Exchange

“The entertainment began with a discharge of 13 cannon at 4 o’clock in the afternoon”
Sunday, February 18, 1779 , Pluckemin, New Jersey
One of the most noted events in Pluckemin was The Grand Alliance Ball of 1779 in Pluckemin.(Sometimes spelled Pluckamin) General Washington and 400 others attended the celebration held on the grounds of the Boylan House in 1779. The ball celebrated the first anniversary of the alliance with France, which ended in victory for the allies at Yorktown. The ball was attended by more than 400 dignitaries.

Home of John Boylan, built in 1750. Washington and his wife Martha stayed at the house in February 1779 after the French Alliance Ball that commemorated the alliance with the King of France and the American Colonies
Home of John Boylan, built in 1750. Washington and his wife Martha stayed at the house in February 1779 after the French Alliance Ball that commemorated the alliance with the King of France and the American Colonies. c1890 Source: Bedminster History Room

George and Martha Washington attended the ball that took place on grounds of what was the John Boylan home (see left), near the northwest side of the Cornelius Eoff farm. (Somerset County Historical Quarterly October 1917) A fuller description of the Grand Alliance Ball in Pluckemin can be found in General Knox’s letters. The Ball is also part of George Washington’s writings that are at the Library of Congress and now part of the American Memory database. This letter is one of 20 letters from Washington that mention Pluckemin or Pluckamin.
Fireworks were devised by Colonel Stevens and set off from the top of the frame. The entertainment began with a discharge of 13 cannon at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which was the signal for the commencement of the supper at which many toasts were drunk to patriotic sentiments. After the fireworks display, the ball was opened by Washington and Mrs. Knox in the Academy building in the village of Pluckamin.”
On February 28, 1779, General Henry Knox wrote a letter to his brother describing the Grand Alliance Ball:
“We had above seventy ladies, all of the first ton in the State, and between three and four hundred Gentlemen. We danced all night–an elegant room, the illuminating fireworks were more than pretty.”The entertainment was given by the artillery corps, which erected a temple, or frame, of 13 Corinthian arches, about 100 feet in length and proportionably high, each arch containing an illuminated painting emblematic of the Revolution.


BM_Map_1873_smMr. Lossing quotes;  “the aged widow of Alexander Hamilton as having said that Washington never danced; that though he frequently attended balls and assemblies, and always honored some lady with his hand, he merely walked through the figures. The general’s evening dress is said to have been of black velvet, with knee and shoe buckles, a steel rapier, and his hair, thickly powdered, drawn back from the forehead, and gathered in a black silk bag adorned with a rosette. He opened the ball with Mrs. Knox. Cannot you see him, with his imperturbable face and kindly, grave mien, as, holding aloft his partner’s hand, with all the graceful dignity of a nobleman of nature he steps with her down the room. Another partner of the commander- in-chief was a daughter of Judge Linn, and more than one beauty of that period, now sleeping under crumbling headstones in Pluckamin and other churchyards, was made happy, in after- years, by the remembrance that she danced that night with the ” Father of his Country.”
The society reporter is not, as is so generally supposed, a modern feature of journalistic enterprise. He was an institution in the last century, and the one who figured among the guests at this Pluckamin fete was evidently not far behind his brothers of the modern press in liveliness of fancy.
In the ” Pennsylvania Packet,” of the sixth of March, he describes Mrs. Greene, Mrs. Knox and the other ladies who surrounded Mrs. Washington, as being a ” circle of brilliants, the least of which was more valuable than the stone which the King of Portugal received for his Brazilian possessions.” I cannot refrain from giving a further extract from this Revolutionary ” Jenkins’s ” account of the festivities on this anniversary occasion. It is interesting as showing that in those patriotic days the affairs of the country even gave color and direction to the pleasantries and ball-room badinage of young girls and gallants :
— As it is too late in the day for me to follow the windings of a fiddle, I contented myself with the conversation of some one or other of the ladies during the interval of dancing.I was particularly amused with the lively sallies of a Miss * * *. Asking her if the roaring of the British lion in his late speech did not interrupt the spirit of the dance ; ” Not at all,” said she, ” it rather enlivens, for I have heard that such animals always increase their howlings when most frightened. And do you not think,” added she, “you who should know mere than young girls, that he has real cause of apprehension from the large araia Loading…Loading… ments and honorable purpose of the Spaniard ?” ‘• So,” said I, ” 700 suppose that the King of Spain acts in politics us the ladies do in affairs of love, smile in a man’s face, while they are spreading out the net which is to entangle him for life.” ” At what season,” replied the fair, with a glance of ineffable archness, ” do men lose the power of paying such compliments ?”
I do not recollect that I have ever been more pleased on any occasion, or in 10 large a company. There could not have been less than sixty ladies. Their charms were of that kind which give a proper determination to the spirits and permanency to the affections. More than once I imagined myself in a circle of Sammies, where beauty and fidelity were made subservient to the interest of the State, and reserved for such citizens as had distinguished themselves in battle. Is it that the women of Jersey by holding the space between two large cities have continued exempt from the corruptions of either, and preserved a purity of manners superior to both ? Or have I paid too great attention to their charms and too little to those imperfections which observers tell us are the natural growth of every soil ?

General and Mrs. Knox tasted sorrow as well as pleasure, while living in the Van der Veer house. About twenty-five feet west of the Reformed Dutch church a tombstone is still to be seen, upon which is the following inscription: Under this stone are deposited the Remains of Julia Knox, an infant who died the second of July, 1779. She was the second daughter of Henry and Lacy Knox, of Boston, in New England.
Mrs. Knox was, in all the mother of ten children. Seven of them may be said to have been laid on the altar of her country, as that number died in infancy ; due without doubt to the excitements and severe bodily and mental strain incidental to campaigning. Bedminster traditions preserve an unhappy story connected with the death of this Revolutionary babe. Notwithstanding that Knox was in the township defending the homes and liberties of the people, the consistory of the Reformed Dutch church refused to allow this little one to be buried in the churchyard. In their ignorance and superstition the Dutch fathers considered the fact of Knox being a member of the Congrega- , tional church of New England sufficient to warrant their refusing his child a sepulchre. The general’s host, old Jacobus Van der Veer — himself one of the consistory — was very indignant at the stand taken by his co- trustees. He, poor man, had suffered from the same bigotry. A few years before, on the death of an insane daughter a burial place had been denied his child ; this, too, in the face of the fact that the church-grounds had been a gift to the congregation from THE STORY OF AN OLD FARM. Loading…Loading… STEUBEN AS A DISCIPLINARIAN. 471 the man they were treating so harshly. The worthy elders reasoned that the girl’s infirmities would endanger her salvation in the next world, consequently her body in this one could not be permitted to crumble into dust among those of the elect. Van der Veer buried his daughter in a field just beyond the line of the ” God’s acre.” He is said to have taken Knox by the hand, and leading him to the lonely grave outside the fence, ejaculated with a choking voice, ” Gen’ral, this is my ground, bury your child here.” The prejudice of the church people seems to have lessened, as a few years later the fence was moved, so that the burial-ground now includes the once excluded graves of the children of honest old Jacobus Van der Veer and the brave Evolutionary soldier. From This Old Farm (Book) The Story of an Old Farm or Life in New Jersey in the Eighteenth Century by Andrew Mellick, Jr. – The Unionist Gazette, Somerville, NJ (1889) pgs. 469 – 470.

Anniversary of the Anniversary

“An Anniversary Celebration at Pluckemin (Somerset County Historical Quarterly, 1913) Seventy-five of the most patriotic citizens of Pluckemin and vicinity met in the Presbyterian parsonage on Friday evening, February 21, to commemorate one of the most notable social events in the early history of the place. This event was the grand fete and ball given February 18, 1779, in honor of the first anniversary of the French Alliance, which was attended by General and Lady Washington, and a distinguished company. The parsonage was selected as the most appropriate place for the celebration, as it faces the old camp ground, which was beautifully located on a high piece of ground in the northern part of the village. The decorations on this occasion would have done honor to the first celebration. Andrew Compton, who owns and resides in the house where Eleanor Boylan entertained General and Lady Washington, appeared as the stately Commander-in-chief and Mrs. Martha Powelson assumed the honors of Lady Washington. The distinguished couple served bountiful refreshments from a large center table lighted with tallow candles, and the blue ware used had seen service during the trying days of the American Revolution. The young waitresses appeared in the gowns of their great grandmothers. Revolutionary tales were told, and the occasion will long be remembered as one greatly enjoyed by all.”
(Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 2, April 1913, p. 155-156.) Two hundred years later on February 18, 1997 at the Bedminster Inn (also known now as Willies Tavern) a bicentennial dinner celebration was attended by guests wearing 18th century costumes. A fireworks display also took place near the Park of Artillery (the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment).

Links to Other Information about Pluckemin and Bedminster History