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WHEN the writing of the "Story of an Old Farm" was undertaken it was not anticipated that the completed volume would find readers beyond a limited circle. The narrative it was supposed would prove interesting only to the descendants of the founder of the homestead which had been the inspiration of its pages, and, perhaps, also, to a few local readers. But as the work progressed its scope broadened, until the compilation gradually assumed a character calculated to interest lovers and students of general history. Finally, valuable material accumulating, the author found embodied in the chapters so much fresh information relating to colonial and Revolutionary times in New Jersey as to warrant his seeking readers beyond the realm of kinsfolk and township residents. It was still necessary to preserve the original plan of the narrative, but it is hoped that, the general reader will take in good part, and not find objectionable, the slight filament of family annals that runs through the successive chapters. After all, it is but a gossamer thread, and one that has served an excellent purpose—now as a silken clue To the labyrinth of historical research, and always as the continuous cord upon which has crystallized a mass of interesting facts, traditions and incidents, illustrative of times and customs now long bygone.
If there is any virtue in writing from an inward impulse, the pages of the "Story of an Old Farm" should furnish easy reading and bear the marks of a "free and joyous expression." Though not by birth a son of the soil, heredity, environment and sympathy had made the author a Jerseyman to the core, and in telling the story of this old Somerset farm he brought to the task an enthusiastic love for the subject. Throughout boyhood and youth all summers were passed in Bedminster township, in which this ancestral plantation is located; thus was imbibed a deep affection for its waving grain fields, breezy uplands, broad meadows and babbling streams—an affection that has grown with each year of later life. This love for its physical aspects and natural beauties inspired a corresponding interest in, and regard for, the memories of those men and women of previous generations who had passed their lives on this old homestead. So it was that a desire for investigation and research was incited, tending to divulge all that could be learned of the daily walk and conversation, not only of such persons as had called the "Old Stone House " home, but of their contemporaries throughout the county and state. This resulted in the collection of material that, though the writing of this book was not in contemplation at the time, ultimately powerfully promoted the completion of the work.
All of the foregoing is not properly a preface but an explanation. The true preface is to be found in the two chapters that open the story. They will tell of this Jersey homestead and its early founder, and make plain the inspiration of this volume. And yet, all things considered, it is for these opening pages that the reader's most indulgent criticism is desired. The book contains forty chapters. Of thirty-eight but little apprehension is felt as to their accuracy, for the statements therein have been subjected to the most rigid tests of severe scrutiny and repeated investigation. But for Chapters I. and II. it is confessed that allowances must be made. The picture they present of the farm, of its approach, and of the surrounding country, is painted by the hand of affection—an artist always prone to be too lavish with color. Scenes that were witnessed by the boyish eyes of nearly thirty years ago are now reproduced with a faithfulness that is of the past, rather than of the present. While writing these chapters the walls of the author's chamber, under the touch of a loving remembrance, fell away, disclosing the sunny slope of a Somerset hill on which an old country house, with low eaves and thick stone walls, lies back from the meadows that border the north branch of the Raritan river, just where Peapack brook loses itself in that stream. This sturdy dwelling—seen with the eyes of memory—has a wealth of old-fashioned accessories, and