The Old Parsonage
(1770 House)
Jonathan Hampton, Newton’s original benefactor, contributed to the construction of the Old Parsonage House on Dunn Place. It is the only building to survive from Hampton’s original Town Plot. This old stone manse was reportedly built for Reverend Uzal Ogden by John Pettit (1726-1796), a land agent and rent collector employed by Governor John Jay of New York to manage a large tract of land northeast of Newton. The southwest portion (three bays) of the Parsonage comprises the original structure, built of native limestone, two and a half stories tall, one and a half rooms deep. Other surviving examples of this type of West Jersey stone house within Sussex County (including two greatly altered versions at Andover Forge, later Waterloo) indicate an original floor plan with side hall flanked by a parlor to the front and a small "borning room" to the rear. This backroom had a triangular, corner fireplace, evidence of which still survives. Such dwellings were commonly accompanied by a stone Out Kitchen and the rear stone ell m
ay have once served this purpose.

Uzal Ogden was born in Newark, New Jersey about 1744, a son Of Uzal Ogden, one of the town’s leading merchants. He was ordained in England and, on June 3, 1770, entered upon his charge as missionary of the Church of England to Sussex County, New Jersey. According to a letter that Reverend Ogden addressed to the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel on July 8, 1771: "About one third part of the church members dwell in New Town (at this place I have taken lodging) and have formed themselves into a society...Here also the Parsonage house is building, and it is here likewise the County Court House is built, which is very commodious and serves us to perform Divine Service in." On December 14, 1774, Jonathan Hampton of Elizabethtown deeded lands to Christ Church "for the encouragement of the Episcopal religion...and toward the maintenance & support of a Parson officiating in said church... "By this indenture, Christ Church received a ten-acre Parsonage Lot situated on the New York road, about a quarter mile from the Court House.

Reverend Odgen was one of very few ministers of the Church of England to remain at his station during the Revolution and to support the cause of American independence. In June 1781, when General Washington requisitioned provisions for his army, the State Legislature ordered local contractors to purchase 12,000 pounds of beef or mutton from the County of Sussex. According to tradition, Reverend Ogden quartered sheep in his basement prior to their journey to army kitchens. In 1784, Reverend Ogden transferred to Trinity Church, Newark. He died at Newark on November 4, 1822.

After Parson Ogden’s departure in 1784, the Newton Pastorate remained vacant for forty years until Clarkson Dunn (1794-1870) was ordained and instituted Rector on November 20, 1823.

Clarkson Dunn was born near Woodbridge, New Jersey, in 1794. At twenty years of age, he began studying for the ministry and soon entered the Theological Seminary of New Jersey. In 1820, he was anointed a deacon at Christ Church, New Brunswick. He was ordained at Christ Church, Newton, in 1823.

Reverend Dunn opened a select school at his rectory in December 1823. William Rankin became English teacher at the rectory school in 1828, while Reverend Dunn taught Classics. In March 1832, Reverend Dunn announced a continuation of his select English and Classical School, and his intention to enlarge it.

In May 1844, Rev. Dunn opened a Sussex Church School at Christ Church Rectory. In May 1858, he became rector of Grace Church, Elizabethport. Clarkson Dunn died January 11, 1870. In 1857, Reverend Nathaniel Pettit succeeded Clarkson Dunn as Rector of Christ Church, Newton.

Nathaniel Pettit(1824-1885) was a cabinetmaker’ s apprentice with Major John Kraber, while attending Dunn’s rectory school. He afterward graduated Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and was rector at Belvidere. In 1852, he became Rev. Dunn’s assistant and married the pastor’s daughter. In 1857, he became Rector at Newton. Reverend Pettit resigned April 1, 1867, and was appointed the first County Superintendent under the new mandatory public school law. He assumed rectorship of Christ Church at Bordentown in 1868. He was succeeded at Newton by Rev. William Welles Holly. Nathaniel Pettit died July 27, 1885.

On August 27, 1868, the Sussex Register reported: "the Episcopal Parsonage -which by the way is, we think, the oldest building in town, having been built originally in 1769, nearly a century ago -has been thoroughly repaired at a cost of about $2,500, and presents a handsome appearance. It is ready for occupation." The building was enlarged by a limestone addition to the north, creating a center-hall house, five bays wide The marble fireplace in the north parlor dates to this time. A second story of frame construction was also added atop the stone ell at the back of the house. The remodeled Parsonage was sold to Levi Shepherd, a prominent lawyer, on October 31, 1868. He served as County Collector (1869-] 875) and was a director and vice president of the Sussex National Bank. He died August 11,1875.

On April 1, 1890, the Shepherd heirs sold to Wyatt Wright Pierce, president of the Franklin Zinc Company, who built the Pierce Colonial Mansion at 122 Main Street in 1891. Helen Pierce sold the Old Parsonage to Harold Coriell in November 1927. Mr. Coriell died in February 1958. His wife Mabel died in November 1972 Charles and Gale Tice purchased the Parsonage House on October 19,1973.

Copyright 2000 Kevin W. Wright. All rights reserved.

About the Photos in the order they appear:
1. 1770 House, postcard view
2. Watercolor depiction of Ogden's Parsonage by artist Ray G. Ellis.