Jul 04 2017

Looking Back: The Rediscovery of the Tuccamirgan Pipe — Part 2

Patricia Millen and William Van Natta

(In anticipation of our Farmers’ Market’s upcoming History Day this Sunday (July 9th), we are sharing a few tales about the historic Case-Dvoor Farmstead we thought you might find interesting. This story is also part of HLT’s 20 Stories for 20 Years, where we share, through words, images and audio, information about HLT and the places we all love in the Hunterdon County area.)

To read part 1 of this article, please go here.

His Blue Brother

Johan Philip Kaes (later Anglicized to Kase and then Case) had  purchased 374 acres from the sons of William Penn, and settled along the Walnut Brook on what is now the Hunterdon Land Trust’s Case-Dvoor Farmstead.

Local tradition holds that Case erected a log cabin somewhere between the present bank barn and the brook. Case lived there for a few years before building a stone house on the east side of the brook, near the location of St. Magdalen Roman Catholic Church.  (This home – similar in appearance to the existing stone house that serves as HLT’s headquarters – was demolished in the mid-1800s.)

Historian Elias Vosseller wrote in 1891: “A strong friendship sprang up between Mr. Case and (Chief Tuccamirgan). The Chief called him his blue brother, the significance of which is not clear. They smoked the pipe of peace together and the bowl of that pipe, which the chief gave to Mr. Case, is now in the possession of John B. Case of Flemington, his great-grandson.”

Tuccamirgan and his wife might also deserve credit for running the Flemington area’s first baby-sitting service: According to Vosseller, the chief and his wife had no children but would frequently visit the Cases to borrow some of their kids and “take them to her wigwam and keep them all day.”

Before dying around 1750, Tuccamirgan asked to be buried in the Case family cemetery on Bonnell Street. Supposedly, he said they had all lived together in peace and he wished to be buried together in peace. The Chief’s grave was dug very deep, and he was buried in a sitting position with his war and hunting implements, Vosseller wrote.

On Oct. 19, 1925, locals gathered in the Case family cemetery to dedicate the marble shaft created to honor Chief Tuccamirgan. According to the Hunterdon Republican account, “At 3 o’clock the Flemington Concert Band, escorting Wickcheoche Tribe and Wickcheoche Council, Daughters of Pocahontas, both organizations in Indian regalia, marched to the ground where a large number of people had gathered.” The Case family gave HCHS the pipe around the time of the monument’s dedication.

More than 90 years later, the pipe bowl was reunited with a Johan Philip Case descendant when William Van Natta visited the Hiram E. Deats Memorial Library. Van Natta discovered he was related to the Case family that once owned the Case-Dvoor Farmstead while reading an article in a Hunterdon Land Trust’s newsletter one Saturday afternoon.

Van Natta’s face beamed as he held the pipe that once belonged to his great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

“This is so cool — I’m just beside myself,” Van Natta said as he gently turned the pipe bowl over in his hands, marveling at this historic treasure.

HCHS plans to display the pipe in the future.

(This article is adapted from a piece that appeared originally in the Hunterdon County Historical Society newsletter, Summer 2017.)


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