An Ellisdale Road Farm


The farm lying to the southwest of Allentown, along the Ellisdale road, known as the Emerson Yard place, and to an older generation as the Samuel Killey farm, according to the records at Monmouth Court House was “taken up” by John Reid about the year 1700 A. D., or perhaps, a little previous to that date. Reid was a Scotch surveyor and map drawer who came to this country in 1683. He and William Emley established the “Province [or Keith] line” (a portion of which forms the western boundary of the Killey farm) in 1687. As compensation for his services Reid was allowed a certain portion of the land, as instanced in his tract (Hortensia) situated in Manalapan, a plantation consisting of over six hundred acres. The homestead portion of this tract is now owned by E. D. Probasco, of Freehold. It goes without saying that Reid acquired little poor land.


The old grant of the Killey farm included the place now owned by Charles Wemple. It contained two hundred and twenty acres. The original deed describes the property as “The tenth part, of the twentieth part, of the twenty-fourth part, of all the undivided lands of the eastern division of New Jersey.


September, 1715, Reid sold the tract to David Killey, who built his residence on the site of the present house. Many of our readers remember this old house, with its huge fireplaces, its wide hall and low, heavily beamed ceilings. Within its walls five generations of the Killey family lived and passed on. After watching the storms for nearly two hundred years it was replaced by a more modern structure, built on the old foundation.


For the next one hundred years records concerning the farm are silent. Tax lists of Upper Freehold township still extant for the years 1731 and 1756, respectively, give the name of Joseph Killey as paying tax on two hundred acres of land in that township. February, 1817, David Killey (probably a son of Joseph and grandson of the first David) died and his will was probated in the Monmouth courts. His personal property – other than the live stock and general equipment of the farm – he divided between his daughter Margaret Furman (wife of George Furman) and the children of a deceased daughter, the wife of Hartshorne Tantum. A farm in Chesterfield township he bequeathed to his son David, Jr. The homestead, together with stock, implements and crops, he gave his son Samuel. His cousin Edward Hendrickson is mentioned as executor.


It might be interesting to give here a list of the personal property bequeathed Samuel Killey, as showing the requirements of an up-to-date farm in 1817: Six horses, twelve cows, thirty-five sheep, sixteen hogs, four wagons, five plows, three harrows, wheelbarrow, grain cradle, scythes, harness, saddle and bridle, sleigh, wood sled, hay and grain in barns, growing crops, meat and meat casks, cider and whiskey in cellar, lot of cherry boards, loose lumber and all household furniture.


David Killey is said to have been a man of strong character. His farm was one of the most productive in Upper Freehold township. His horses, cattle, sheep and hogs were the pride of the countryside. He developed a new variety of oats that became popular throughout the adjoining counties. His apple orchard (the eighteen acres southeast of the house) was one of the finest in the county. He built a large addition to the house, and the stable and cow house as they stand to-day.


Samuel Killey occupied the farm until his death in 1870. For many years he had been physically unable to direct the farm work. A portion of the land had been rented to the late Abel Cafferty. The balance was either not farmed or was farmed in patches. Buildings and fences were in ruins, and the whole farm badly run down. Notwithstanding, at public sale early in 1871, the farm sold for nearly $24,000. The late Samuel Fowler purchased the Wemple place, Josiah Robbins the homestead.


Mr. Robbins, with characteristic energy, began improvements. He renovated the house and buildings, built new fences, dug out the old orchard and replaced it with a smaller one just west of the house. He removed the large oak stumps from the field south of the buildings, thus gaining a fine piece of arable land. [“Josiah Robbins and His Potato Planter,” New Jersey Agriculture, December 1930]


In 1878 Mr. Robbins sold to Emerson Yard, who occupied the farm until March 1, 1916. When he sold to Frank M. Smith, of near Freehold, the present owner, and retired to his beautiful new home on [102] South Main street, Allentown.


Mr. Yard is one of Monmouth’s progressive farmers. In his nearly forty years of residence he constantly improved the property. He brought the land up to a high state of cultivation, built the new house, grain barn, wagon house, feed house and garage. He moved and rebuilt the remaining buildings until all are in first-class repair.


Naturally a good soil combined with good farming has made this place one of Upper Freehold’s choice farms; yet one can but regret its passing from the Killey farm. Perhaps there they led a quiet, sheltered life, when compared with the modern standards; but that only made its wide shady lanes and gentle rolling fields more dear to them. For nearly two hundred years it was there home. Now the place knows them no more. T. A. S. [From the Allentown Messenger, December 18, 1919]