The Opdycke Cemetery

This cemetery is located on the Skeuse farm just south of Headquarters. The origin of the cemetery is described in an old Opdycke family tradition. It seems that John Opdycke and his wife Margaret Green were out walking their farm fields and stopped for a rest under the shade of a large tree. Margaret Opdycke looked around and decided that this was the place where she wished to be buried. And so she was, having died on March 16, 1775 at the age of 64. John Odpycke followed soon after, dying on August 10, 1777, age 68.

This is a private family cemetery without public access. However, some years ago, a visitor got a picture of John Opdycke’s grave stone. The picture quality is poor, but it is enough to show that John Opdycke could afford a fancy grave stone.

To write of the Opdycke Burying Ground is to write of the Opdycke family, and that takes far more space than is appropriate here. So—in short—Samuel Green, a surveyor, acquired hundreds of acres in Amwell Township and moved there with his family around 1710 or earlier. [I plan to write about Samuel Green next month on  my blog] About twenty years later, his daughter Sarah married Benjamin Severns of Trenton. About 1737, daughter Margaret Green married John Opdycke of Maidenhead (Lawrence) Township. Both couples also settled in Amwell, probably because Samuel Green gave each of them about 450 acres in the vicinity of Headquarters and Sergeantsville. When John Opdycke came to Amwell (Delaware) Township, he must have brought his spinster sister with him. Sarah Opdycke is buried in the Opdycke Burying Ground, having died in 1804, at the age of 80.

In 1738-39, Samuel Green and some of his family moved north to Warren County (part of Hunterdon at that time). Benjamin and Sarah Severns also moved north in the 1750s, but their son John Severns remained in Amwell. His land (probably from his father) was just south of Sergeantsville.

John and Margaret Opdycke also stayed in Amwell, and raised a family of nine children. As one of our pioneer settlers, John Opdycke did a lot of building, starting with the mill at Headquarters, and a mill on the Wickecheoke, and two handsome stone houses, one at the covered bridge and one at Headquarters, and finally a stone house on the Skeuse farm where he lived during his later years. John Opdycke was Constable for Amwell in 1744, Chosen Freeholder 1750-53, and a Justice of the Peace in 1755 and probably every year thereafter until his death. He was a member of the Amwell Township Committee from 1773 to 1776, so he was very much involved in the lead-up to the Revolution.

John and Margaret Opdycke’s eighth child, John Opdycke Jr., predeceased his parents, dying in 1773, age 20. He was buried in the burial ground his mother had selected and was probably the first person to be buried there.

John and Margaret’s youngest child, Thomas Opdycke, was born in 1756. In 1775, when he was 19, Thomas was given 267 acres south of Headquarters by his father. But Thomas seems to have left that property and spent some time in Pennsylvania, where I believe he married Annie Cowell (1757-1830) around 1777, about the time of his father’s death. Thomas Opdycke was not taxed in Amwell in 1780, and yet he did sell a small lot of 7 acres to David Johnes that year. In 1793, he bought a farm on Upper Creek Road of 248 acres from Jacob Rouser, but the family habit of milling would not be repressed. So in 1801, he sold that farm to Elisha Rittenhouse, and bought Rittenhouse’s mill on Old Mill Road. Thomas Opdycke died there on November 18, 1805, only 49 years old. His wife Annie Opdycke was living at their stone house on Old Mill Road when she died on January 12, 1830, in her 73d year. Both were buried in the Opdycke Cemetery.

The other sons of John and Margaret Opdycke were George (1743-1795) and Samuel (1749-1801). Neither of them are in the Opdycke Family cemetery, or at least, their stones have not been found there. George lived in Kingwood and ran the mill at Milltown. Samuel lived at the covered bridge and ran the mill there. It is not known where Samuel (1749-1801) or his wife Susanna Robeson (c.1750-c.1795) are buried, but it is quite possible they were buried near their home at the covered bridge.

Most of the daughters of John and Margaret Odpycke and their husbands can be found here. Margaret Opdycke (1751-1820) married John Besson in 1772. He fought in the Revolution as an ensign and died at the age of 92 in 1842. Both Margaret and John are here. John Besson ran the sawmill that used to stand at the northern end of Ferry Road. He was among the war veterans who marched in the Jubilee of 1826 in Flemington.

Daughter Sarah Opdycke (1741-bef.1786) does not have a stone here, but her husband does. She married John Buchanan about 1760, and he died December 1818 age 78. John Buchanan ran Buchanan’s tavern at the corner of Routes 523 and 579 from about 1775 until his death. There is a Levina Buchanan here who died in 1830, but I have not identified her. John Buchanan died intestate, so we do not have a full list of his children. There is also a stone that reads: “F. M. B. 1838.” This could also be a Buchanan or a Besson.

Sarah and John Buchanan’s son George Buchanan (1767-1826) was buried here, but his wife’s stone is not here. George acquired a farm from his father-in-law Jacob Fulper not far from Buchanan’s Tavern. George’s daughter Amy Buchanan was another spinster, who died on September 12, 1868 at the age of 60 and was buried in the Opdycke Burial Ground. George and his wife Elizabeth Fulper also had son John (1800-1890). He and his wife Catharine Williamson (1803-1891) had a daughter Amy who was born on March 28, 1808. She married Izer G. Rake in 1856. He fought in the Civil War with Co. D, 30th NJ Infantry. and died in 1875. Amy Buchanan Rake died in 1904. Both of them are buried in the Opdycke Burial Ground.

Margaret Buchanan Case is buried here. She was a daughter of Sarah Odpycke and John Buchanan, and died in 1808 at the age of 46. She is said to have married Johann Matthias Case, who left Amwell after his wife died and moved to Indiana.

John and Margaret Opdycke’s daughter Mary Opdycke (1747-aft 1830) married Agesilaus Gordon (c.1745-1815), another tavern keeper. Gordon’s tavern was in Skunktown, later known as Sergeantsville. There are no stones here for Mary and Agesilaus, but their son John Gordon is here. The stone says John Gordon died 1866, age 79. His wife was Sarah Fulper, who was probably related to Elizabeth Fulper, wife of George Buchanan, but I don’t know exactly how. However, Sarah Fulper Gordon (1795-1866) is also buried here.

There are two people here that I cannot identify: John and Harriet Hellier, died 1883. If anyone knows of their relation to the Opdycke family, please share your information.

Another Opdycke missing from this graveyard is Elizabeth (1738-1837), daughter of John and Margaret Opdycke. She married John Arnwine and was given a farm by her father, the farm that came to be owned by the Kurzenbergers on Lambert Road. They had a daughter Elizabeth whose second husband was Elisha Warford (1785-1872). Oddly enough, Elisha is the only one of this family whose stone can be found here. Before he married Elizabeth Arnwine, he was married to Elizabeth’s sister Mary (c.1768-1818). Neither Mary nor Elizabeth have gravestones in this cemetery, although it seems likely that Mary Arnwine Warford was buried here. Elizabeth Arnwine Warford died in 1867 at the age of 88, but the location of her grave is not known. [Note: The original post stated that Elisha Warford had a wife named Ann Holcombe, This was incorrect.]

One of these days, I’ll write an article about Elisha Warford, another amazing Delaware Township character. In the meantime, the next in the series of private cemeteries will be the Pine Hill Cemetery.