Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette was born in a French noble family in 1757. Lafayette’s father was killed by the British in 1759, leaving the very young Lafayette a large inheritance and the title of Marquis. He got married at the age of 14 to the daughter of one of the most well-connected families in France.
Lafayette wanted to avenge his father’s death. In 1777, he hired a boat and sailed towards America to wage a war against England. George Washington, upon acknowledging Lafayette’s power and French connection, took him under his wing.
In September 1777, the British attacked New Jersey with a large army of troops to capture Philadelphia. This was the golden opportunity Lafayette had waited for all along. Lafayette fought as a part of the Continental Army alongside American colonists against the British in the American Revolution. When the British army charged, Lafayette valiantly attacked with his troops. He was injured on being hit by a bullet in the calf. The incident conferred him the status of a French hero who shed his blood for America.
By 1780, Major General Lafayette commanded the American troops. With his noble French influence, he also served as the French Ambassador in the US. Eventually, Lafayette returned to France where he started a revolution against the government. He became one of the most powerful men in France during the initial years of the French Revolution.
Lafayette was later caught and imprisoned in a Prussian cell where he was eventually joined by his wife and two daughters. After 5 years of inhuman treatment, Lafayette was released in 1797, after letters of recommendations from George Washington and James Monroe. Years later in 1830, he took part in the third national revolution and placed Louis Philippe, the so-called “citizen king”, on the throne.
In 1824, Lafayette again visited America where he was felicitated by the government with cash and acres of land. On his trip to North Carolina, Lafayette learned that many towns in the US had named themselves after him.
Finally, on May 20, 1834, Lafayette passed away after suffering from a long bout of pneumonia, with a medallion bearing a portrait of his wife Adrienne, pressed to his lips.
The Township of Lafayette derived its name from Marquis de la Fayette, on his visit to America, in 1824. The hamlet amidst the town was the first place in the US, to be named in honor of the distinguished soldier.
The Lafayette Township spreads over 11150 acres of land. The first settlement on this land was made in 1750 by a German Named Henry Bale. He established a log grist mill in the hamlet, a first in the county. The first settler of Lafayette, a large part of the development and progress of the town is credited to Mr. Bale’s name.
Lafayette was bestowed with an individual township status on 20th March 1945. The oldest remaining landmark in Lower Lafayette is the old mill now known as Messrs. Collvcr & Huston’s foundry. This building is believed to be at least one hundred years old, and, the validity of this statement has never been disputed.
The founder of Lafayette, Henry Bale had seven children. Their children married into families living in and around Lafayette namely the Strubles, Kays, Hull, Morris, Ryerson, Bell, Rose, Price, Warbasse, Tuttle, Snook, Lantz, Washer, Long- core, Huffman, Haggerty, Shotwell, Howell, Jones, Young, Hopkins, Case, Marr, Dwiner, Dusenberry, Stickles, Widener, Current, Ships, Havens, Huston, Drake, and Hardin. Presently, most of the families living in Lafayette can trace their roots to this old settler and his wife.
Some other prominent families of Lafayette that are worth mentioning, are as follows:
Peter Warbasse, an early settler in Lafayette, was a native of Jutland, in Denmark. His son, a blacksmith owned the homestead farm, in Lafayette. John D. Ackerson came from Paramus, N. J., in about 1800, and lived on a farm until his death. The farm was later bought by John P. Sigler. John’s son, Peter Ackerson, was also a resident of the township.
George Lantz, a thrifty man, settled in the township in the early 1900s and went on to become a very successful farmer. His children were William, Jacob, John, David, Peter, George, Susan Ann, and Maria.
Peter Demorest settled in Lafayette in 1790, his farm was later inhabited by his son, Gilliam Demorest. Samuel Ingersoll, an early settler, a farmer by occupation belonged o the same family as the renowned Robert G. Ingersoll, of Illinois.
Capt. Abram A. Richards, a well-known merchant in Lafayette, was one of the early arrivals in the village. He had five children, — Elisha, Hiram, Jane, Hester, and John.
John Kaltz a Dutchman and David Hopkins were two early settlers engaged in farming pursuits. The ‘Hopkins corner’ was named after the successful David Hopkins. Capt. John Snyder was actively involved in the affair of the township and lived on a land that was later occupied by Joseph Vought.
Hazlet Slater was one of the first landlords in town owning two farms and a hotel. George Sharp moved to Lafayette from New Jersey and died at the home of his son, Morris Sharp. Charles Mackerley who came to Lafayette in 1839, was responsible for many advancements in the township.
The Old Mill- The old log mill changed several hands of ownership before coming into the possession of a Widow Nyce, who sold it to Robert and Samuel Price, and they to John Price, as per a deed recorded in the archives of Sussex County. John Price constructed a house near the new mill, and that was later purchased by the late William Armstrong.
In 1820, the mill went into the possession of James Ludlum who carried out some reconstruction in 1822. He built a new frame mill with three runs of stone. Parts of the foundation of the log mill remained visible quite recently. Ludlum also constructed a distillery near the mill, which existed till recently.
The property passed to Richard R Morris from Ludlum and was then transferred to Northrop, Jr., in November 1885. Northrop built the storehouse that existed to date. After he died in 1846, William Armstrong of Frankford township, became the proprietor.
In 1858, William Armstrong 1858 sold the entire estate with water power including the mill, distillery, store-house, and about ten acres of the land, to his son Obadiah P. Amstrong and Thomas Kays. The old dam was demolished and the present one was built along with a new mill, by Messrs. Armstrong & Kays in 1859. Mr. Kays disposed of his interest to Dr. Franklin Bmitli in 1860, which he turned to Obadiah P. Armstrong, in 1864. The old mill was later run as a foundry that used water power and manufactured all kinds of machinery for milling purposes.
The old foundry was established in 1830 by Jonathan Owens. The foundry, for many years, was run by Alexander Boyles, who conducted very enterprising business until 1842. After many succession of changes, the foundry was owned by Messrs. Collver & Huston.
Gustin’s corner was a mercantile store run by George Gustin. It was situated at the crossroads on the old turnpike leading to Sparta and was undoubtedly the spirit of the town. Later, he lived in a house adjacent to the mercantile store site.
The years 1838 to 1842 hold special significance for the thriving of business activities in Sussex County. During this time Alexander Boyles conducted business at the ‘old foundry’ before mentioned, employing 40 men and sometimes even more. There were three stores, two in Upper and one in Lower Lafayette, two flouring and grist-mills, a clover-mill, a saw-mill, a distillery, blacksmith-shop, etc.
Joseph Northrop and George H. Nelden were two eminent businessmen of their era conducting business activities in Lafayette under the firm-name of Northrop V Nelden. Wellesley Cummins was their competitor. Both mills were owned by Joseph Northrop, the upper one run by him and the lower one by George II Nelden. Later George purchased his partner’s share in the mercantile business, and sold it to Thomas Lawrence, of Hamburg.
The records of the Baptist Church are derived from a chronicle stating the spiritual condition of the church, but it does not outline other signs of progress. On May 19, 1830, a council composed of the following delegates was constituted for the formation of a church in the township of Newton (now Lafayette): Wantage, Leonard Fletcher, Humphrey Martin, Thomas Teasdale, Sr., Reuben F. Randolph, and Nathaniel Martin from Warwick, John C. Murphy, Jeremiah Morehouse from Kingwood, David Bateman from Amwell, Charles Bartolett, William Merrill from Lower Dublin, Wilson Crane, Xcloiiis Grencll, Matthews. The church was constituted by the council under the name of “The First Baptist Church of Newton, New Jersey .”
Moses Northrop was chosen deacon, and Jacob B Maxwell, the church clerk. Through the diligent efforts of Rev. John Teasdale, who had been conducting religious services, the church edifice was erected, completed, and dedicated in the same year. Rev. John Teasdale was the first settled pastor, and under his ministry, the church witnessed growth and prosperity.
For a few intermittent years, the services of the church deteriorated. At a later date, efforts were made to restore the services of the church, a pastor was employed, and regular administration was established. And gradually, the former prosperity of the church was restored. The church was refurbished for $600.
The church functions without a settled pastor, although it is still thriving and prosperous. Richard Vaughan is the acting clerk of the church. The deacons are Joseph Y. Vought, Chauneey A. Kinney, David Kinney.
The initial efforts of establishing the Methodist Episcopal denomination in Lafayette were made on Dec. 9, 1837, when a meeting was held at the house of Isaac- Van Gelder for the election of trustees. The following officers were chosen: Samuel Ingersoll, Isaac Van Gelder, Mahlon B. states, James Peters, Joseph Northrop, Jr. Until 1840, no further progress was made, when Joseph Northrop, Jr., and his wife, purchased 0.75 of an acre of land.
At a meeting held on Feb. 6, 1841, James Peters, James C.Hagaman, and Joseph Northrop were chosen as members of the building committee, and labor upon the new edifice was begun soon after. The completion of the building was celebrated with impressive ceremonies that cost less than $1600. In 1859, the church was further extended, renovated, and beautified. The earliest pastor, Rev. Warren C. Nelson, began his labors in 1848.
The valuation of church property, including a parsonage, is $6000. A Sunday-school is conducted with 95 scholars in attendance, of which P. L. Crispell is the efficient superintendent. An additional Sabbath-school is established at Harmony Vale, with N. E. Benjamin as superintendent.
While efforts to establish a church at Lafayette started as early as 1842, it was only in 1856 that the church was formed. The church comprised of the following 13 members: John D. Ackerson and Charity Ackerson, his wife; George Sharp and Elizabeth Sharp, his wife; Catharine Ackerson and Mary Richards, were received from the Frankford Church; while Daniel Gunderman, Abigail Demorest, Martha Demorest, Tallmage Woodruff, and Phebe Woodruff, his wife, Martha Simmons, and Agnes Ackerson were received from the church of North Hardyston.
A house of worship was erected, and dedicated on May 12, 1857, at 11 a.m., the services were conducted by a committee of the Presbytery of Rockaway. Rev.Joel Campbell officiated as the first pastor, and passed away while still in office, in May 1872. At a special meeting of the Presbytery of Newton held in May 1872, Rev. Jethro B. Woodward was ordained and nominated.