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House of Isaac Van Campen

Houses in Sussex and Warren Counties

Old Mine Road, Shapanack, Walpack Township

Extracted from "Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern N.J. and Southern N.Y.," by Rosalie Fellows Bailey, 1968; pages 548-550 and 580.

Plate 170

Isaac Van Campen was a leader of the community as had been his uncle Abraham.  It is interesting to compare their two houses, built within twenty-five years of each other in similar and nearby regions.  Such a comparison clearly shows the progress in ideas for the housing of wealthy and prominent men.

John Van Campen, bap. April 30, 1693 at Kingston, was an elder brother of Col. Abraham Van Campen of Pahaquarry (plate 169).  John Van Campen, Jr., of Marbletown married at Kingston Sept. 22, 1711 Madalena Van Garden of Rochester, and settled along the Delaware River near Milford, Pa.  One of their sons was Isaac Van Campen, bap. July 30, 1721 at Kingston, d. late in 1801;  he was living at Smithfield, one of the lower Minisink settlements on the Pennsylvania side of the river, at the time of his marriage in the Minisink Church on Oct. 20, 1741 to Madalena Rosenkrans of Walpack, who was still living in 1772; he married his second wife Sarah ---- by 1781.

On July 31, 1750 Isaac Van Campen bought a tract on the Jersey side of the Delaware River at Walpack from Joseph Stout of Hopewell, who may have purchased it from Joseph Kirkbride, who in 1718 had located here a 500 acre tract, embracing the Shapanack Flats seven miles above the mouth of Flat Brook, Count Zinzendorf travelled over the Old Mine Road in 1742 and wrote of coming to Samuel Depui and going to church at Walpack; he did not mention any house on the future Van Campen tract so it was probably not built at this time.  Neither did the Rev. Henry Muhlenberg make any mention of a house here in his scanty diary, in which he recorded traversing this region on Aug. 10, 1750.  It is probable that Isaac Van Campen built here this summer after purchasing the tract.  In 1752 he was drawn for the Grand Jury in Northampton Co., Pa., but did not appear, probably because he had settled recently in Walpack.  We know he had removed here by the time of the French and Indian War of 1755-58, as his place was one of the headquarters of the army during this war.  A series of forts was built along the Delaware River at this time, one on the hill above his house, another near his uncle's home to the south in Pahaquarry, and a third near the Westbrook house to the north in Minisink village.  On the map of the Delaware River survey of 1769 by Dennis are shown two houses here, owned by "Isaac Van Comps" and "Rosigrants."

Early in the Revolution all of eastern New Jersey fell into the hands of the British, and Gen. Gates, marching from Ticonderoga to reinforce Washington, had to make a wide detour from Kingston down the Old Mine Road.  He arrived at Isaac Van Camp's in Walpack in a snow storm on Dec. 10, 1776 and wrote from here to Washington, heading his letter "Dec. 12, 1776 Van Kemp's, 15 miles from Sussex Courthouse."  He joined Washington in time for the victory at Trenton on Christmas Day.  Isaac Van Campen was a member of the Continental Congress.  John Adams, while attending Congress in Philadelphia went down the Old Mine Road as late as 1800, as the best route from Boston!  He was accustomed to lodge at Squire Van Campen's in the Jersey Minisinks.

Isaac Van Campen had many children, of whom only three are said to have matured:  Abraham Jr., Isaac, Jr., and Catherine Rosenkrans.  On June 15, 1799 Isaac Van Campen of Walpack deeded to his son Abraham Van Campen, Jr., 111 acres on the Delaware River, part of the land he had bought July 31, 1750 of Joseph Stout of Hopewell.  Isaac had owned about 700 acres in all.  The son Abraham Van Campen married Coriany or Rosanny Rosenkrans and had two daughters, Lena, b. 1789, and Margaret, b. 1792.  He became involved financially and sold the homestead to the De Witts aout 1812, removing to the adjoining place, formerly Col. Rosencranz'.

Henry De Witt of Rochester bought the property for his son John H. De Witt, who died in 1827.  He had the last slave in Sussex County when slavery was abolished in the state.  The property has changed hands many times during the nineteenth centry.  It is now owned by B. F. Tuthill and leased to Tex Howard as the Diamond T. Ranch.

The house is sixty feet long and two stories high.  The front is of dressed limestone and the rear of very irregular cut stone.  There is an ornamental cornice and a steep gable roof.  The lines of a lower two story wing can still be seen in the stucco on the north end; it was torn down many years ago.  This was formerly the slave quarters.  The house stands on the east side of the Old Mine Road, opposite a small island in the Delaware River, directly over the mountains from Walpack Center, and five miles south of Dingman's Ferry.  This locality is called Shapanack.  Nearby are the sites of the fort and the Shapanack Church.

Plate 170

This house was built by Isaac Van Campen shortly after he purchased the tract in 1750.  Isaac was a member of the Continental Congress, and John Adams was accustomed to spend the night with him on his way from Boston to attend Congress at Philadelphia.  How completely are the houses of Isaac and his uncle Abraham Van Campen (plate 169)!  Both were prominent men and the houses were erected only twenty-five years apart, but the uncle's house was built when the region was an absolute wilderness and the nephew's not until this road was an accepted route of travel between the eastern and middle states.  Isaac's is a large two story mansion.  The front wall is of roughly finished limestone and the rear of very irregular stone.  It is surmounted by an ornamental cornice and by a steep gable roof reminiscent of the earlier houses.  The shallow arches over the first story windows are typical of West Jersey.  There was formerly a low two story wing on the north end, which was the slave quarters.


July 5, 2002