An Old Upper Freehold Village (Allentown Messenger, 10/6/04)

“One of the oldest settlements in Upper Freehold is Imlaystown, situated near the central part of the township on Doctor’s Creek. Its site was part of the large tract of 2,100 acres patented by John Baker on the 24th of May, 1690.


“This tract was bounded on the west by the 4,000-acre tract of Robert Burnett (near the line of the Pemberton Hightstown Railroad), on the north by Cattail Brook, and on the south by Doctor’s Creek ‘to the Middletown’s Men’s Lots.’


“John Baker died soon after patenting the land, and the tract passed to George Willcocks, and soon after to Richard Salter, Sr., who built the mills at Imlaystown about 1700.


“A portion of this tract was sold in 1727 by Richard Salter, Sr., to Peter Salter, Jr., it being the ‘mill-tract.’ Another portion was sold about 1717, to Elisha Lawrence, who settled there.


“The family of Lawrence figured largely in this county for many years. Elisha was the son of William Lawrence, who, in 1668, was one of the proprietors of the Middletown Lots, and was the town clerk of Middletown. The said Elisha represented the county in the Provincial Assembly in 1708-9. He married Lucy Stout, of Shrewsbury, and had several children, of whom John Lawrence, who ran the East and West Jersey line in 1743, was one. His son John, who was born in 1747, was a physician, being the same Dr. Lawrence whose house was protected in the Revolution by the British at the request of Richard Waln, at whose house the officers were stopping. He graduated at Princeton College and studied medicine at the Philadelphia Medical College, and became eminent as a physician in Upper Freehold, his residence being near Imlaystown. Having favored the British cause by joining a company of Royalists in New York, the property was confiscated, but he lived and practiced in the county unmolested after the war, and died at Trenton April 29, 1830.


“John Lawrence, son of Dr. John Lawrence, was the father of the Captain Lawrence, of the United States Navy, who gained such renown in the war of 1812.


“The property in the village which is now the estate of the late George Imlay has been held in the Imlay family during a long period. Mrs.P. B. Pumyea, of Allentown, daughter of the said George Imlay, now represents the seventh generation in the family line. The property is part of the original tract purchased in 1727.


“The mill property was owned by Peter Imlay for several years, when it was sold to Benjamin Woodward, who, about the same time, opened a store. He operated the mill until 1845, when he sold it to Edward T. Hendrickson. The latter, in 1872, conveyed it to Reuben Hendrickson, the present owner.


“William Eugene Imlay, eldest son on Peter and Samuel Imlay, was engaged in mercantile pursuits in Imlaystown about 1785. He afterwards studied medicine with Dr. Samuel F. Conover, who was then in practice there. After attending lectures in Philadelphia, and receiving his license to practice, he settled at Toms River. His decease occurred at that place in 1803. He was a prominent Universalist, and was author of a pamphlet on Universalism.


“The Imlaystown postoffice was established in 1826 as a private office, and Benjamin Woodward was the postmaster. A hotel [the present ‘Happy Apple Inn’] was opened here at a very early period, but no account is obtained of the date, or who kept it. The property after many changes in ownership is now and has for several years been conducted by John Hendrickson the present owner.


“Among the prominent physicians who have practiced here were Dr. Edward Taylor, who studied medicine with Dr. James Newell of Allentown, and began in 1810; Dr. Kearney in 1829; Dr. George Fort (afterwards Governor of New Jersey), about 1830 – he lived half a mile south of the village. Dr. Robert Laird came to the place in May, 1838, and remained until December of that year, when he removed to Manasquan. Dr. William A. Newell [future Governor] succeeded him in April, 1840. Dr. William D. Newell after his graduation opened an office in partnership with his brother William A., who then removed to Allentown. This partnership continued until July, 1847, when it was dissolved, and a new partnership was formed, consisting of Dr. William A. Newell and Dr. Leison English of Allentown, and Dr. William D. Newell, of Imlaystown. The latter remained in practice here until his decease in 1869. He has been succeeded by Dr. Van Zandt, Dr. Peter B. Pumyea (afterwards of Allentown), Dr. Horace G. Norton, now of Trenton, and Dr. F. C. Price, the present physician.

“In September, 1897, the village was a sufferer from a disastrous conflagration, which destroyed nearly the entire business portion of the place. Seven buildings were burned, with a total loss of nearly $40,000. The buildings consisted of two general stores, two dwellings, including the hotel with all its outbuildings, one small store, a harness shop and the gristmill. The burnt district was soon rebuilt, however, with a greatly improved class of buildings.


“Another serious loss by fire was the recent destruction of the Upper Freehold Baptist Church. This was speedily replaced by a handsome up-to-date structure, which is at once an ornament to the town and a credit to the enterprising members of that denomination.


“The original Upper Freehold Baptist Church was erected on Cream Ridge in 1844. A few years afterward it was removed to Imlaystown, and in 1864 was enlarged to the dimensions of 40 by 70 feet. This society united with the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1766, and retained that connection until 1813, a period of forty-seven years. It then became a member of the New Jersey Baptist Association, and so remained until 1868, a period of fifty-five years. Now it is the Trenton Baptist Association.


Gordon’s ‘Gazetteer’ of 1834 says of Imlaystown: ‘It contains twelve or fifteen dwellings, a grist and sawmill, a tannery, the tavern, one store, a wheelwright and smith shop.”