c1713 – 1779
I was a signer of the Declaration of Independence before the war came through my farm.
I was baptized in Hopewell New Jersey in 1713, and in 1739 I married Deborah Scudder. As the Revolution was taking form, I supported the protest movement and was appointed to the local Committee of Safety and the Committee of Correspondence. The people of Hopewell called me “Honest John” and looked to me to lead. I was elected to New Jersey’s Provincial Congress in 1775, represented New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress, and I was proud to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Later that year, in the fall of 1776, as the British army pursued Washington’s retreating army through New Jersey, I was forced to leave my home and hide out in the nearby Sourland Mountain to escape the British forces searching for rebel leaders. Later, in 1778, about 12,000 American soldiers camped out on our local farms in rainy weather, creating a huge amount of damage.
On June 24, 1778, General Washington held a council of war at the nearby home of John Price Hunt, where plans were made to attack the British army that was retreating north from Philadelphia toward New York City. This led to a great victory at the huge Battle of Monmouth.
But then I got sick. In November of 1778, I fell ill from an attack of kidney stones and suffered at home from the pain for over six months. I died on May 11, 1779.