The Buzby Place

(Originally published as “Some Interesting Local History,” in the Allentown Messenger dated September 12, 1918)


The brick [now stucco] farm house near Allentown, just over the line in Mercer county, and that for a long time has been known at the Buzby place, was built in the early part of the last century by Joseph Imlay, a resident of Allentown.


The house is a well-known landmark in this section, it being visible from several different points in the surrounding country. The interesting view eastward from the dwelling takes in the range of the distant Stone Hills, and as this portion of the township is almost devoid of elevations the scene always attracts attention from visitors to the farm.


In 1861 the late George Buzby, formerly of Moorestown, became the purchaser of the place through the conveyance of Martin L. Dunn, one of the successors to Mr. Imlay in the ownership of the farm. Several improvements were afterwards made by the new owner. One of these was a unique lattice fence built along the roadway in front of the dwelling. The posts of this fence were of locust, the railing of pine, while the latticework was of cedar. The whole of the fence was then treated with a preparation of hot gas tar. For about 45 years this carefully built piece of work withstood the effects of time and weather, and portions of it were still in fair condition when taken down a few a years ago.


The farm is bounded on the eastward side of Indian Run, the main branch of which has its source on an adjoining farm. This stream has an appropriate name, as along its course have been found in past years some interesting relics of the Red Men. These consisted largely of various stone implements found beneath the surface of the meadowlands. To the finders of these relics the most prized was a large oval-shaped bowl with handles, and which from its form and the marks of fire on the under side, would seem to indicate that it had been used for cooking purposes by Indian women.


Mr. and Mrs. John Forman (the latter being the daughter of Mr. Buzby and the owner of the farm), after renting their property at the seashore for the summer usually spend a portion of the year at this farm home, where Mrs. Forman passed most of her early years. Mrs. Buzby, after the death of her husband, continued to reside in the old mansion that had been her home for over 55 years. On February 26, 1917, at the age of 90 years, her decease occurred while on a sojourn at Asbury Park.


Mr. Buzby was one of the original stockholders of the Inter-State Fair Association. He took much interest in track matters and was an enthusiastic lover of fine horses. His own favorite matched team always attracted attention on the track, and it was seldom that they did not carry off a blue ribbon for their stylish appearance and gait. For several years past the above mentioned farm has been rented by Melville Burtis, the present occupant.

C. H. F[idler].

Also, found in the Messenger Press dated February 25, 1988, Hazel Herman writes:

In May 1702, Nathan Allen was named as a trustee and executor of the estate of Benjamin Field, deceased, of Burlington. He is said to have built the mill on 116 acres in Allentown in 1706. Presumably, it was around that time he married Margery Burnett, one of Robert Burnett’s two daughters, Nathan and his wife receiving from Burnett 528 acres at the north side of Doctor’s Creek. On this land, now part of Washington Township, he built a home along the present Allentown-Robbinsville Road. At one time known as the Vahlsing Property, it is today the residence of Dr. W. F. Wittenborn and family. Allen’s original structure was subsequently added to by John Imlay of New Sharon, builder of Allentown’s noted Imlay House, later a successful Philadelphia merchant.


Nathan’s wife appears to have died not too long after her marriage, her husband afterwards marrying Francis Newberry’s daughter Martha. Isabell, Robert Burnett’s second daughter, while at school in Edinburgh, met and married William Montgomerie, subsequently settling with her husband on 500 acres, near [New] Sharon conveyed May 20, 1706, be her father. There they built picturesque “Eglantine” or Eglinton which remained in the Montgomerie family for many years, until vandals set fire to the unoccupied building, early in the 1970’s.


Robert Burnett, a Quaker from Lethantie, Scotland, one of the 24 East Jersey Proprietors, owned considerable holdings at one time: in Perth Amboy, Woodbridge, “the pretended bounds of Elizabethtown” etc., with a tract “between the Province Line and Cattaile Brook” – now in Washington Township. A document, dated London, May 1673, notes “his Majesty (George II) has been pleased to grant unto Robert Burnett, Esquire, the Office of Secretary to Nova Caesarea, or New Jersey, in America, in room of Joseph Smith, Esquire, deceased.”


Burnett died November 16, 1714, at Monmouth County. His will listed his living children as John, Robert, Patrick, Mesdie, Allen and Isabell Montgomerie,” and was recorded in Monmouth County Records with an inventory of his personal estate, which is not included in the N. J. Archives listing.