Manuscript Group 78, Brooklyn Supply Store and Brooklyn Forge, Brooklyn, NJ Records, 1788-1791
Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 78, Brooklyn Supply Store and Brooklyn Forge, Brooklyn, NJ Records, 1788-1791, 0.25 linear feet / 1 volume
Call Number: MG 78
Records for a Sussex County
supply store and the Brooklyn (or Brookland) Forge. Probably kept by Phineas Fitz Randolph.
Gift of Ella w. Livermore,
The Brooklyn Forge, in operation from ca.
1764-1828, was located on the Sussex County side of New Jerseys 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 Squires 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 Randolphs 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 Hinchmans Forge.
After two years of non-operation, the
Hinchmans sold the ironworks to Charles F. Randolph, Phineas Fitz Randolphs
nephew, who employed William Zeek as manager. Upon Zeeks death in 1828,
the forge was sold to and dismantled by the Morris Canal Company.
Boyer, Charles S. Early Forges
& Furnaces in New Jersey (University of Pennsylvania Press:
Philadelphia, 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 (New Jersey
Historical Society: Newark, New Jersey, 1916), pgs. 178-181.
The volume was donated by Ella W.
Livermore in November, 1912.
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
ventures 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 mans 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
-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
See other ironworks’
Manuscript Group 1009, Manning Family
Papers: Contains Fitz Randolph Family documents
Processed by Kim Charlton, April 2000 as part of the “Farm to City”
project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records