Manuscript Group 78, Guide to the Brooklyn Supply Store and Brooklyn Forge (Sussex Co., N.J.) Records 1788-1791
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Inventory prepared by Kim Charlton as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. November 2005. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
The Brooklyn (or Brookland) Forge, in operation from ca. 1764-1828, was located on the Sussex County side of New Jersey’s Musconetcong River at the mouth of Great Pond (also known as Brooklyn or Brookland Pond). This pond was the second and larger of two bodies of water which, when the Musconetcong River was dammed, combined to make up what is now Lake Hopatcong. The Brooklyn Forge had three or four fires and was used to produce bar iron from the local mines. The forge was located next to, and sometimes run in connection with, a supply store, sawmill, gristmill, charcoal house, and smith shops.
Garret Rapalye (b. 1730), a New York City merchant, purchased a forge at the mouth of Great Pond from Benjamin and Thomas Coe on June 5, 1764. Tradition has it that Rapalye named the forge after the place of his birth – Brooklyn, New York. In 1768, the New Yorker leased the ironworks to two brothers, Joseph and John Tuttle, with the provision that they deliver to his New York shop the bar iron they produced. The Tuttles went out of business within five years, and at some point Rapalye moved to either Squire’s Point or Brooklyn in Sussex County to oversee his extensive lands and businesses there.
In 1777, Rapalye advertised for sale his Brooklyn plantations, the forge with four fires and two hammers, one large stone coalhouse, five blacksmith shops, and a large house – all located on 2000 acres of land. He advertised again the following year and seems to have mortgaged the forge to a London merchant sometime in the years 1778-1782. Although the ownership during this time period is unclear, from 1780-1782, Moses Yamans and his partners Samuel Williams of the Greenwich Forge in Sussex County (now Warren County), and Christian and William Butts of the Mt. Pleasant Forge in Berks County, Pennsylvania, leased and operated the ironworks. In the 1790s, Phineas Fitz Randolph (b. 1749), the son of Hartshorn Fitz Randolph (1723-1806), a prominent Morris County Quaker, leased the forge and oversaw its operation until 1811.
During Fitz Randolph’s tenure, the London merchant foreclosed on his mortgage and ownership was transferred in 1809 to Thomas Cadwallader, a Philadelphia lawyer. Cadwallader sold the ironworks two years later to James and John R. Hinchman who owned and ran it along with the supply store until 1816. During this time period the forge was also known as Hinchman’s Forge.
After two years of non-operation, the Hinchmans sold the ironworks to Charles F. Randolph, Phineas Fitz Randolph’s nephew, who employed William Zeek as manager. Upon Zeek’s death in 1828, the forge was sold to and dismantled by the Morris Canal Company.
The Records are made up of a single account book that dates from 1788-1791 and contains business transactions for the Brooklyn supply store, the Brooklyn Forge, the smith shop, and for charcoal, cordwood, and bar iron. Although the forge operator during this time period is unclear, it is probable that the volume was kept by Phineas Fitz Randolph, who was known to manage the ironworks later in the decade.
The various business accounts track each venture’s debits and credits and tally up total earnings or losses. The entries list customer names and give a good outline of the clientele. The volume also contains individual accounts for various Morris and Sussex County men, including Isaac Sharp, Morgan Drake, Jonathan H. Laurence, Matthew Vandine, John Martin, Richard Stephens, Samuel Stephens, Hartshorn Fitz Randolph and his sons, Phineas and Richard. With debit and credit entries, each of these accounts tracks a man’s business with the store, forge, and other operations. The store garnered the most business and the volume of transactions in the ledger reflects this.
The account book is labeled A and refers to a Ledger B and numerous folios that are not present. The pages are numbered but not indexed. The following are page numbers for various accounts: Bar Iron, pgs. 74, 215; Brooklyn Forge, pgs. 24, 189; Charcoal, pg. 68;
Cordwood, pg. 46; Hartshorn Fitz Randolph, pg. 41; Phineas Fitz Randolph, pg. 25; Richard Fitz Randoph, pg. 184; Smith shop, pg. 230; Store, pgs. 1, 127, 228.
Manuscript Group 1009, Manning Family Papers.Contains Fitz Randolph Family documents
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 78, Brooklyn Supply Store and Brooklyn Forge Records, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Gift of Ella W. Livermore, 1912.
Boyer, Charles S.,Early Forges & Furnaces in New Jersey.Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1931, pgs. 46-47.
Nelson, William..New Jersey Biographical and Genealogical Notes from the Volumes of the New Jersey Archives, Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, Vol. IX.Newark, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Society,1916, pgs. 178-181.