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Historic Clinton
Town History


Hunterdon County gave much to the cause of the Revolution, and Clinton had two prominent patriots.  One was Captain Adam Hope, who was married to Sarah Dunham, daughter of Nehemiah Dunham.  Captain Hope (3 Jun 1741 - 26 Sep 1821) had settled about 200 yards west of where the Clinton House now stands. Captain Hope commanded a company of New Jersey militia of the Second Regiment in the Battle of Monmouth.  

Another patriot was Colonel Abraham Bonnell, who established a tavern at the west end of town in 1767.  By 1770, Bonnell's tavern had become the meeting and voting place for the northern section of the county.   The political activities at the tavern became even more important when, in the latter part of 1775, Charles Steward return from attending the Provincial Congress of New Jersey as delegate called a meeting of the local inhabitants at the Bonnell Tavern and organized a regiment of minutemen, supposedly the first of its kind in the colony.  This was the regiment which was ordered by the Provincial Congress on February 15, 1776 to march to New York under the command of Charles Stewart, by then a colonel.  These patriotic militiamen then joined forces with Major General Lee.  In the following year, Abraham Bonnell was made Lieutenant Colonel of the Second Regiment of the Hunterdon County Militia.  By this time, Bonnell had taken part in discussions that culminated in the Declaration of Independence, and was selected as one of the delegates to the Sons of Liberty meeting at Ringoes Tavern in the southern part of the county.

However, there were people who supported the Tory or Loyalist side of the Revolution here.  One family was the Voughts.  Christopher Vought served as an officer in the NJ Volunteers, a British Provincial unit of loyalists.  The Vought family had bought from Kirkbride a 480 acre tract, part of which was in North Clinton.  In March 1774, at the annual meeting of Lebanon Township, Christopher Vought was appointed as one of Lebanon Township's Committee of Correspondance.  Yet, two years later, Vought was to become one of the leading Tories of the area.  

Christopher Vought and three of his family were arrested and imprisoned.  His son, John, led a raid on the Jones Tavern, near what is now Clinton Point.  They attacked and beat Thomas Jones and plundered the tavern. An ardent Patriot, Jones became a captain in the Hunterdon Militia during the Revolutionary War and used his tavern as a recruiting station. Captain Jones helped Daniel Bray of Amwell acquire the Durham boats for General Washington's Army to cross the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to Trenton in 1776.

Living in Hunterdon County became quite dangerous for Tory sympathizers.  Adult males who refused to sign an oath of allegiance were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the British held areas.  Christopher and John Vought went to the British during the winter of 1776-1777.  On June 2, 1778, inquisitions were found against Christopher and John Vought and their property was ordered forfeited and sold.  Part of this farm was to become Daniel Hunt's property.

The grist mill operated through the Revolutionary War years and was doubtless in service to Moore Furman, Deputy Quarter-Master General of New Jersey, who had an estate five miles away at the former Hoff's Mills, which he renamed Pittstown, where he carried out his duties.  Abraham Bonnell's tavern was the major landmark shown for nascent Clinton on Revolutionary War maps made of the area, except for one map by Robert Erskine, which also showed "Taylor's" with the mill symbol.   Dunham's had a large cattle farm on his 600 acres and was also a source of supplies for the Continental Army.  

Next... Hunt's Mills

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