7. The Original Houses of Blawenburg: The Nevius/Van Zandt Homestead, Part 2

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

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How the Van Zandts Acquired the Nevius Farm

This is the second blog in the Original Houses of Blawenburg Series. In Part 1 we learned how Peter and Altje Nevius came to Blawenburg and built the first farmstead.

Much of life is happenstance. Unpredictable things happen because we are where we are at the time. Some call it fate, and others say that things that happen were meant to be. The events that led to the transfer of the Nevius farm to the Van Zandts were certainly unforeseen.

Peter and Altje Nevius, original builders of the farmstead, had nine children. Two daughters passed away in childhood, an unfortunate common event in earlier times. There is no trace of what happened to their son, John. It was the custom to pass farms along to sons. The eldest Nevius son, also named Peter, was a very successful farmer who owned 2,677 acres of farmland in Middlebush, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, and Kentucky. Imagine taking care of those farms with no modern plows, phones, or trucks! He didn’t need any additional farmland.


The second son, Tobias, preceded his father in death in 1754, so when Peter passed away in 1767, he left the farm to his third son, James.

Meanwhile, Peter and Altje’s daughter, Joanna Nevius, married John Sutphen, a boy whose family occupied part of the Nevius farm. John's parents were immigrants from Sutphen, Holland. They had a daughter, Sarah Sutphen, who also married a local boy, Captain Bernardus Van Zandt, grandson of the patriarch of the Van Zandt family for whom he was named.

The senior Bernardus Van Zandt, the son of Johannes Van Zandt, was the first of a long line of Van Zandts that settled in Montgomery. He was born in New Netherland (New York) on October 3, 1700, and was baptized on Nov. 3, 1700. He was the grandfather of Captain Bernardus Van Zandt, who inherited the Nevius farmstead. He had a large farm along Skillman Road where Captain Bernardus grew up. Captain Bernardus was the son of Nicholas Van Zandt, one of Bernardus Van Zandt’s ten children. (Keeping track of these large families that gave their offspring similar family forenames is a tall order!)

A portion of the original Van Zandt farm became the State Village for Epileptics in 1898. While some of the land on the north side of Skillman Road has been developed for housing, a large portion was placed in farmland preservation and is currently owned by Hunter Farms, which uses it for equestrian events, and Selody Sod Farm. Much of the State Village is now Skillman Park.

It has been said the senior Bernardus shared a pew with one of the Skillmans in New York. He and his family followed the Skillmans to Montgomery and became their neighbors on Skillman Road. Word of mouth was the social media of the 1700s!