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3. The Settlers of Blawenburg

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

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Original Land Patents in Montgomery Township. Hand-drawn map by Ursula Brecknell.


You would think that the question of who settled Blawenburg would be a no brainer. Of course, you might say, it was the Blaw family. After all, the village was named after them. While the Blaws were among the first Dutch immigrants to settle near the village, you could argue that others had a greater impact on creating the village.


In 1700, all the land in Montgomery Township belonged to just three owners: Peter Sonman, Thomas Hart, and Walter Benthall. The only exception was a small parcel of land in the southernmost region along Cherry Valley Road that was owned by William Penn. The tracts were called patents, which means that they were given as exclusive land grants by a sovereign power. In this case, that sovereign power was the British, who had taken over many of the lands originally claimed by the Dutch. Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret received much of the vast land beyond the Hudson River, the region we now call New Jersey, from James, the Duke of York. They, in turn, granted land patents to various people. The land was then allowed to be sold. Even then friends “looked after” other political friends.


In 1700, all the land in Montgomery Township belonged to just three owners: Peter Sonman, Thomas Hart, and Walter Benthall. The only exception was a small parcel of land in the southernmost region along Cherry Valley Road that was owned by William Penn.

New York used to be called New Amsterdam, but when the British took over in 1664, they decided to name the settlement New York in honor of the Duke of York. They didn’t change the name of the primary residents of the colony, so we still have a large island in New York City named after the Manhattan tribe.


One of the first big land owners in the Blawenburg area was John Van Horne who purchased 6,979 acres from Peter Sonman. His holdings ran from Rocky Hill west to Province Line Road and from just north of Skillman Road to near Cherry Valley Road on the south side. He then split his holdings between his sons, Abraham and Garret Van Horne. See the land parcels within the Van Horne Patent on the map above. Abraham, in turn, sold 400 acres to John Blaw in 1739. Blaw also purchased another 95 acres from New Brunswick investor, Nicholas Lake, who was related to the Covenhoven family. This family ended up owning most of the village of Blawenburg and were instrumental in its settlement. In 1741/42, John Blaw divided his land between his sons, Michael and Frederick. Michael was given the land in the eastern section and Frederick was given the land to the west. What we know as Great Road was the dividing line between their properties.