1820 Cranberry, New Jersey Census Substitute

There are no extant United States Federal census population schedules for the state of New Jersey prior to 1830.1 Therefore, any surviving list of inhabitants before that time will be a welcome addition to the scholarship for genealogists and historians researching in the Garden State who are trying to pinpoint residents of a particular community. I recently discovered one such list for Middlesex County.

While reviewing early newspapers for any mention of my New Jersey Carson family, I ran across an entry for one General Charles Carson of Cranberry, New Jersey, nominated as a Representative to the 17th U.S. Congress.2 Despite the fact that my ancestor shares a name with this man, I am unaware of any relationship to him at this time. It is possible my ancestor was simply named for this officer in the War of 1812.3 The mention piqued my curiosity nonetheless because of the sheer number of names included in the article. It appears to be a comprehensive listing of adult male residents of the town of Cranberry, Middlesex County, New Jersey and can stand in as a census substitute.

Responding to an article dated 19 Sep 1820 in which Carson’s character had been allegedly impugned, sixty male petitioners of the town affixed their name to a letter sent to Messrs. Tuttle & Co., presumably the editors or printers of the newspaper. I have transcribed the complete article below.

From The Centinel of Freedom, published in Newark, New Jersey, dated 25 Sep 1820, p. 1, col. 4. Courtesy New Jersey State Archives.

Messrs. Tuttle &. Co.

   A publication has appeared in your paper of the 19th inst., wrote no doubt with an intent to injure me in public estimation. In justice to the feeling of my friends, my family and myself [illegible] following a place in your paper.


  We the undersigned, inhabitants of the village of Cranberry, in the county of Middlesex, state of New Jersey, understanding that a publication has appeared in the Newark Centinel derogatory to the character of Gen. Charles Carson of this place, wherein the writer makes the following remark — “I trust his standing at home will be inquired into by the gentlemen who compose the Convention.” In justice to the individual whose character is thus publicly assailed, we have no hesitation in saying that we believe him to be a man of the strictest veracity, in whose honesty and integrity we have the fullest confidence.

Cranberry, 25th Sept. 1820.

  Nathaniel Hunt, Samuel Disbrow, George Barclay, Amos Shaw, Cajah Voorhies, John W. Perrine, William Jordan, Aaron Disbrow, John N. Lewis, Aaron D. Shaw, James Clarke, Elias Bayles, Joshua Edwards, Rescarrick Ayres, William H. Mershon, Cornelius Voorhies, Timothy Horner, Reuben Vanderbeak, Clement Hooper, Peter Sutphin, John Voorhies, Joseph M’Chesney, Charles R. Brindly, Andrew G. Vankirk, Henry Silcox, Daniel Ervin, Joseph Conover, Aaron Dewitt, jr., William Newton, jr., Lewis Carman, John Jordon, Ralph P. Lott, John Van Dyke, Matthew Gilland, William Logan, James Debow, William Newton, Aaron Lane, John Clark, Jacob Brown, Ezekiel Ervin, Joseph M’Chesney, jr., James Vanhart, Randolph Hunt, John Vankirk, Horatia Sansbury, Syrennes C. Henry, Aaron Dewitt, David Conover, Peter Conover, Joseph Mount, John Voorhies, jr., Amos Coriell, Geo. Naphey, Okey H. Vankirk, Anthony Appleget, George Shaw, Henry Perrine, James Stephenson, George Davis.

   We do hereby certify, that Gen. Charles Carson, was born in the village of Cranberry, and has resided therein ever since, and that his recommendation is signed by all the free white male inhabitants of said place above the age of twenty one, with the exception of one young man who is from home at the time.  [Emphasis mine.]



1 Alice Eicholz, ed., Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd. ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1992): 448.

2 “A List,” Centinel of Freedom (Newark, New Jersey), 19 Sep 1820, p. [2?], col. 4.

3 Although called a General in this article, he was a Captain of the 15th U.S. Infantry in the War of 1812, a rank he held from March 1812-April 1813. It is unclear when or whether he may have attained the rank of General. See Francis B. Heitman, Historical Record and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903 (Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office, 1903), 1: 286; digital image, HathiTrust Digital Library (http://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 25 Nov 2017).

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