JOHANNES PETER APGARD, a/k/a JOHANNES PETER ANTGER
born 1714, assumed patriarch of the Apgars, who came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on board the ship 'Hope'. This ship had as captain Daniel Riedt. It docked on 23 September 1734. According to the captain's list, there were one hundred and twenty seven passengers on board, seventy four of whom were men over sixteen years of age. Of these seventy four men, only forty nine took the Oath of Allegiance on arrival. Their wives and children became citizens automatically, because of the oath taken by their head of household. An excerpt from the Minutes of the Provincial Council, printed in Colonial Records, Volume III, page 570, states "at the courthouse of Philadelphia, September 23, 1734, 49 Palatines, who, with their families, making in all 127 persons, were imported in the Ship Hope, Daniel Reed, Master, from Rotterdam, but last from Cowes, as by clearance thence, were this day qualified as usual".
The question promptly arises at this point, "What about Johan Adam Ebert, who arrived in 1749?" A perusal of the lists of immigrants from the Palatinate region of Germany reveals no less than seventy seven adult Eberts that came to America, not counting their families. To select just one of these Eberts, and attempt to trace his very own descendants, and not confuse them with the other seventy six, seems to me to be an impossible task. Besides, no mention is made in the 1749 list of any of his half-grown family. By then, Johan Ebert should have had a family of at least six sons and one daughter, if he were the father of the Apgars we now trace.
The difference between the Captain's list and the Court Clerk's list is very marked. Joanis Peter Apgard on list 37A becomes Johannes Peter Antger on List 37B. The first list was written phonetically by the Captain. The second, or Court Clerk's list, was signed by the immigrants, after they took the Oath of Allegiance to King George II.
A researcher in Germany is presently attempting to trace the German family background of Johannes Peter Apgard. Although there have been Apgars found in the 1700 Church Records there, none of them fit into the proper lineage for our Johannes Peter Apgard. If such a family does show up soon, we will include this information in Volume II of this Apgar Book.
We are left to presume that the Germans in Germantown, Philadelphia, gave advice to these immigrants. Otherwise, why would they come to a little settlement in the woods of Northern Hunterdon County . . . a place that has so litle contact with the mainstreams of traffic of that era? Also, we are left to presume that our forefather chose the water route as his means of travel. Once beyond the rapids on the Delaware, he went upstream to the Musconetcong River, which borders the northern boundaries of our presently known Hunterdon County. He probably left the river before reaching Beattystown, N.J. This saved him a long trek over the Schooleys Mountain trail, down into German Valley. If he left the river near the present New Hampton, a ten-mile overland trek would land him in Cokesbury.
Here, surrounded by German-speaking friends, he acquired property, probably on the "quit-rent" arrangement. This meant that he should pay rent for twenty or more years, then he could quit paying rent, because the land was then his own. This was infinitely better than the serf-like conditions in Germany. All went well until Allen and Turner came on the scene. They heard about the rich iron ore deposits of the area and came from Philadelphia to lease, then buy, the land. It was sold right over the heads of the tenant farmers. Allen and Turner tried to pacify the farmers, because they needed the farmers to supply them with the charred hardwoods that fueled their furnaces. By the end of the Revolutionary War, both Allen and Turner had died. Their heirs wanted their inheritance so they could convert it to cash. Surveyors were told to map out the area, dividing it up into lots for sale. Then the four heirs met and cut the map apart, putting all the pieces into a hat. Then, alternating, each of the four heirs kept pulling pieces out of the hat. This seemed to them a fair way to select their lots. Then came the unfair part. Approaching the farmers, they asked them to buy their property with "cash on a barrel head". The worst of it all was the prices they were charging. They wanted the farmers to buy these lots in their then vastly improved condition. These farmers had bought from the "quit-rent" people a piece of woodlot. They had cut down the trees and pulled out the stumps with their own back-breaking toil. They had removed the boulders, put the stones in fencerows, plowed and planted the fields, built the barns and house, and now were being told they had to pay for their own labors. Those who could not come up with the money lost everything they had worked for. This is what started the westward migration for these dispossessed farmers. Of course, the younger folk went west for the sheer adventure of it all.
The homestead of the immigrant Apgard seems to be far in from the main road between Cokesbury and Lebanon, N.J. However, when he settled there, the present road did not even exist. He was really closer to what is now termed a "back road".
The house is still standing, and amazingly well preserved. The original section is of stone, stuccoed, complete with huge fireplace, and Dutch door. Behind the fireplace was a full width room, probably used for the parent's bedroom. Above was the loft for the older children, partitioned for Catherine's privacy. This was warmed by the huge stone chimney. The structure is almost two hundred and fifty years old. It stayed in the Herbert family until the early 1900's. Then it was probably rented out of the family for a few years. Later it was back in the family occupancy until the deaths of Howard and Zetta Apgar Sutton in 1967.
There is a private burial ground on the property. Herbert's will made provision for a square rod of land, back of the house, to be kept for that purpose. According to the anecdotal accounts of living descendants, this is the last resting place for Johannes Peter Apgard, his wife, and son, Herbert. A stone plaque on the property marks the homestead.