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Van Dyke Farm Earns Preservation

Part two of a three-part column.

Built in 1713, the Van Dyke farmhouse stands on 229 acres of rich Jersey soil suitable for farming corn, soy and many other crops. Deeded to the Van Dykes in the 1690s, this property sits adjacent to Pigeon Swap State Park and the New Jersey Turnpike on Davidson Mill Road.

The farmhouse stands along side of the original carriage house and a nineteenth century barn. Other barns on the property have collapsed or are in the process of collapsing now. On my first trip to the homestead, I could see the house was built in three separate sections added at various times over the years.

The main section is the oldest, when walking inside you can feel the slanting of the floor boards and see the shifting the home has experienced over the years. On the left is the newer section, which is larger but still carries that same floor slant.

The right section was peculiar, hardwood walls and floor boards. The rooms were small and quite cold and did not maintain the level of care that the rest of the house has received. This section was living quarters for migrant workers who traveled up from the south to work the farm in the 1940s.

Further research placed this section as a freestanding out building used as a slave’s quarters. The family burying ground about one-quarter mile north of the home and the slave burying ground about 800 yards from there were verified by family elder Arthur Van Dyke, who knew the existence of slaves within his family.

Arthur provided a bill of sale for the slave named Amy to the EVA, which was eventually crossed referenced by me using the Birth of Slave Children’s records showing Amy with children Alphio, Rose, Silvester and Herman owned and living with John Van Dyke in 1823. The property having existed for this long with a documented, rich history earned its right for preservation.

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