Feb 28 2014

The Case Family: Pioneer Settlers of Flemington

Part 1 of an ongoing series: The historic Case-Dvoor Farmstead, which serves as the Hunterdon Land Trust’s headquarters, tells a fascinating story of our county’s agricultural heritage, local architecture from the mid-18th century, and the history of the region. This property is one of the last remaining examples of the farms that once ringed Flemington. We tell this story in celebration of Hunterdon County’s 300th anniversary.)

A view of the Dvoor Farm House built in 1798.

A view of the Dvoor Farm House built in 1798.

The site of the Case-Dvoor farmstead lies near the eastern end of a 5,000-acre tract that stretches along the northern edge of the Amwell Valley. Pennsylvania founder William Penn owned the land, and when he died in 1718, his three sons inherited it. Those sons — John, Thomas and Richard — subdivided the property, selling a 374-acre portion straddling Tuccaminjah Creek (later Mine Brook) to German immigrant Johan Philip Kaes (later Anglicized to Case) in March of 1738.

Johan Philip Kaes was born sometime between 1673 and 1680 in Anshausen, Rheinland, Germany. He married his first wife, Anna Elisabetha Jung, on Nov. 29, 1703. The couple likely arrived in America between 1718 and 1721.

According to local legend, Johan Philip built a log cabin not far from encampment of Chief Tuccamirgan with the help of local tribesmen. The childless chief and his wife grew fond of Case’s children and had a gum log scooped out to serve as a cradle. The chief’s wife cared for Case’s babies as if they were her own, according to local history.

Historic marker honoring Chief Tuccamirgan.

Upon his death in 1750, Chief Tuccamirgan was buried in the Case family graveyard. His funeral took place at sunset, and he was buried facing east in an upright position with  blankets, pipes, knives, etc. — such things that he might need in the afterlife. His resting place is marked today by a stone monument at the burial ground along Bonnell Street, Flemington, inscribed “In memory of the Delaware Indian Chief, Tuccamirgan: This lasting memorial was erected by patriotic and historical organizations in 1925.”

A rather peculiar story handed down in the Case family evokes the frontier conditions current throughout much of Hunterdon County well into the 18th century. One of Johan Philip’s sons:

used to tell about his mother getting lost in the woods.  She went to hunt her cow and wandered around for several hours and finally saw a column of smoke curling above the tops of the trees.  Going in that direction she came to a house, and, after knocking at the door, discovered it to be her own dwelling. . . The wolves would often howl around the Case house, and one of these animals came on the door step and attacked the dog, when Mrs. Case drove him off with a stick.

Johan Philip Case replaced his pioneer dwelling with a substantial stone house cemented with mud that stood on the east side of the creek (the land currently owned by St. Magdalen di Pazzi Roman Catholic Church). When Hugh Capner tore the house down around the 1850s, he found the walls solid and strong.

Johan Philip Case married twice and may have had eight children with his first wife and four with his second, Rachel Hauser.* He died in 1756 “at an advanced age” and presumably is buried in the Case family graveyard on Bonnell Street in Flemington, although no stone marks his grave.  His property was divided among his heirs and portions of it were sold. (You can read his will here.)

Philip Case (Johan Philip’s son) acquired the property on the west side of the creek encompassing the present farmstead, which had been sold out of the family some years earlier. He lived and farmed here throughout his life.

The land on the east side of the creek, including Johan Philip’s stone house, was sold to John Capner, whose family had recently emigrated from England. We know much about the Case family thanks to the Capners, who corresponded regularly with the relatives and arrived in America with a trunk full of letters from them. These letters now belong to the Hunterdon County Historical Society. (To be continued…)

*Family genealogical records list: Eva Maria, Anna (married Henry Dilts), Maria Catharina (died June 11, 1722, age 12), Johan Valentin (died July 21, 1721, age 8 and the twin of Johan Wilhelm), Veronika Frona Catherine (married Heinrich Winter), Anna Elizabeth (married Peter Aller) and Johann Jacobus.

(Information for this blog was compiled from online genealogical records, the Case-Dvoor Farmstead filing on the National Register of Historic Places and various other sources including: Case-Dvoor Farmstead: Historical Assessment Report, Dvoor Farmstead Feasibility Study by Dennis Bertland Associates, Dec. 2001; James P. Snell, History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, 1881; Henry Z. Jones, Jr., More Palatine Families-Some Immigrants To The Middle Colonies 1717 – 1776 & Their European Origins Plus New Discoveries on Germans Families who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710, 1991.)

12 Responses to The Case Family: Pioneer Settlers of Flemington

  1. William May 17, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Fascinating, I just became aware of the farms history and that the Case family owned it. I have traveled by it numerous times and never knew that this Farm was owned by Johan Case and his son Philip Case my 6x and 5x great grandfathers. Looking forward to visiting for sure.

    • hltadmin May 19, 2014 at 10:24 am

      That’s fascinating — thanks for sharing! A few months back we had another Case family member from the Philly area stop by the house so we set up an impromptu tour. We love it when descendants of the families who lived here visit us!

  2. Alexandrea Pavlica October 24, 2014 at 3:15 am

    do you give tours of the house?

    • hltadmin October 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks for your note! Yes, we do. In fact, I wish I had seen your email sooner because we gave two tours yesterday during our Farmers’ Market. We offer tours several times during the year; however, if you are going to be in the area on a given day and can give me some advance notice, we could work a date/time out and I’d be happy to take you through the house. You can reach me at dave@hunterdonlandtrust.org

  3. Leslie A. Winters March 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    This very interesting because I am a descendent of Veronika Frona Catherine (married Heinrich Winter). I have been trying to trace my family tree back as far as I can and to find this out is very helpful. Thank you very much, Les.

  4. Lisa Avellan June 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    As a Case family descendent I would love to tour the home as would my Daughter. Please advise when the next tour dates will be offered. We have traced back the family history all the way to Germany during the 1500’s!
    Thank you,

  5. Les Wilson December 21, 2015 at 10:51 am

    When and why was Mine Brook changed to Walnut Brook??? Les Wilson mercyles@comcast.net

    • hltadmin January 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi Les,
      We had a long discussion about this at one time because the brook apparently had several different names over the years. In addition to the names you mention, it was also referred to as Tuccamirgan Brook in the historic records. We didn’t change the name but had to pick one. I’m not sure — and maybe you would know the answer to this — but Walnut Brook was perhaps an older name, as it’s my understanding that the name Mine Brook stuck after the mining companies came here in the mid-1800s. Thanks! Dave

      • Les Wilson January 14, 2016 at 7:55 pm

        The first name on early maps was Tuccamirgan, later it was Mine now Walnut. I would have thought Mine was best because of the copper mines and since the Mine Brook Stock Farm used the name and it looks like the barn will be there for a long time to come since it’s in the hand of ths Land Trust. If you lookat old (1850) maps there was a Wlnut Brook but it was what is now the First Neshanic Brook I think. Les

        • hltadmin January 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

          Right, and because behind us is Mine Brook Park. I’m partial to Tuccamirgan myself although it’s much easier to spell Mine. I’d like to find out where Walnut originated from.

  6. Les Wilson December 21, 2015 at 10:52 am

    When and why was Mine brook changed to Walnut brook????

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.