Van Doren Settlement in New Jersey

Christian and Abraham Van Doren were the sons of Jacob Van Doren of Long Island.  They moved to the Middlebush area of Franklin Township around 1723 and purchased from Richard Salter, William Dockwra's attorney in America, 566 acres of land.  Christian purchased 400 acres, but soon sold off 41.  Christian is believed to have owned 359 acres fronting on Amwell Road.  Abraham Van Doren owned 166 acres north of Christian's land.

In 1735, "Abraham Van Dorn" was taxed for 150 acres, and "Christyaen Van Dorn" for 350 acres.  This adds up to 500 acres.  The missing 25 acres may have been sold off, possibly to Garret Voorhees, who is known to have purchased Van Doren land in the vicinity.  The Van Doren land extended approximately from the present-day Gates Road-New Brunswick Ave area to and including the old farms that once ran along Cedar Grove Lane, and down to about Amwell Rd.

Christian Van Doren married Altje Schenck and had 17 children.  When Altje died in 1801 at the age of 96, she left 352 descendants: 129 grandchildren, 200 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren. Christian's Van Doren's land was split into two farms by his 1780 will.  Benjamin, the youngest son, inherited the 200 acres at the west end that included the buildings.  Cornelius received the remaining land.  Many of the other Van Doren children settled in or near Franklin Township.  Alche (Wyckoff) and Nelly (Voorhees) stayed in Middlebush.  Jane (Sutphen) lived in Ten Mile Run.  Abraham settled in Griggstown.  John and Peter moved to Millstone.  Other children moved to Bedminster, South Branch, Neshanic, Ringoes, and Pluckemin.

Christian Van Doren built a house 150 yards northeast of the present site of the Middlebush Dutch Reformed Church.  The house was later replaced by one that stood for more than a century.  In 1850, Reverend J. L. Shultz lived there.  The house burned down in December, 1859.  A new house went up on the site.  That house was owned by John B. Walsh in the 1870's.

Abraham Van Doren, Christian's brother, also built a house on this property that he lived in all his life.  Abraham became a person of considerable local importance.  He served as sheriff of Somerset County from 1753 to 1771.  When he died in 1794, his land went to his sons, Abraham Jr., and Jacob.  Both sons later moved to New York State.  Abraham Van Doren Jr. was a captain in the American Revolution.  He became a merchant in Rocky Hill for some time as part of Van Doren & Grandine.

Aure (Aaron) Van Doren, brother of Christian and Abraham, also owned land in Franklin Township.  He purchased 300 acres from Thomas Davis in 1725.  This Van Doren however, never settled the land but moved to Monmouth County.

About 1753, Christian sold about 25 acres to Garret Voorhees.  Voorhees original house was burned by the British in 1777.  In 1793, Garret Voorhees jr., built another house on the site of the older building with war reparation money.  The Voorhees family sold the house to John Van Middlesworth after the Civil War.  For many years, it was Colonial Farms Restaurant operated by the Van Middlesworth family.  In 1976 it was purchased by O'Connors of Watchung, N.J. 

Bridgepoint Mill


    From: Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History................... by William B. Brahms