When was Eveland’s Tavern Established and who was the Original Owner? Part 1

Admittedly I am too invested in this project, but I love the Inn. It’s a beautiful building and one of the gems of our tiny town. In Spring, it’s particularly stunning; approaching the Pony Pratt bridge, the scene is perfect. The Bridge, The Inn, and the home to the Inn’s immediate left are a coordinated trio; each has the same shade of green, which is nicely offset by the dogwoods’ pink blooms.

The tavern has been vacant for a few years, but it is reopening this week as The Inn at Glen Gardner. I wish the new proprietors the best of luck. In light of the reopening and the fact that I owe an Eveland descendent some information, I thought it would be a perfect time to write about my obsession. I’ve been researching the Inn and the Eveland family for years, and though I’m not complete, I feel it is time to present my version of the Inn’s early history.

Background

Many written accounts indicate that the Inn was started by a man named John Eveland in the 1760s and was operated by his family for over one hundred years. No references or evidence; simply a statement. Anyone who performs historical or genealogical research knows this is an all too common scenario and that the statement will need proof. The earliest source of the 1760 date that I have found was from History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, published in 1881, which I will refer to as “Snell,” as we advance:

[i]

According to Snell, “John Eveland built and kept a tavern as early as 1760.” The chain of ownership provided was that John Eveland owned the tavern for fifty-five years, his son Peter held it for forty years. The founder’s grandson, John, owned it for ten before selling it to E. [Edward] Humphrey. Snell’s statement was published in 1881, well after-the-fact, and is not based on first-hand knowledge.  

Tavern License Applications

Inns and Taverns were essential for travel, and the communities in the Colonies, therefore highly regulated. The first comprehensive law governing taverns was enacted in 1739. One of the requirements was that each tavern owner must apply for a license every year.[ii] I expected to search the Hunterdon County records and find John Eveland’s first application for a tavern in Lebanon Township as early as 1760. 

I searched the tavern license applications and court records, and the earliest application located was in 1795.[iii] The document wording is consistent with a first-time application. The Inn is near the Musconetcong River, the dividing line between Hunterdon county and present-day Warren county. In 1760 Warren County was part of Sussex County. I expanded my search to neighboring Sussex County, but there was no reference to an Eveland in the records there.

Figure 1 Tavern Application

Photo of the original document taken by the Author

The law required Freeholders who resided within the town to vouch for the applicant’s character and their ability to meet the minimum requirements. The application was an annual process conducted by the Court of Quarter Sessions, typically in April. In Hunterdon County, the Quarter Session minutes are co-mingled with the Court of Common Pleas. If an Inn-Keeper allowed too much drinking and rowdiness, it might be challenging to find neighbors willing to sign off on their annual application.

John Eveland’s earliest license application was made in 1795, which conflicts with Snell’s date of “as early as 1760.” It doesn’t mean that 1760 is incorrect, but the answer will require more research.

Next Post – The Eveland Family

Cover Photo – Special thanks to Sean Butler for allowing an image of from his Post Card collection to be used.


[i] James P. Snell, History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, New Jersey, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881), 447 digital images, Internet Archive, (https://archive.org/ : accessed 14 February 2014). Link

[ii] Samuel Allinson, Acts of the General Assembly of the Province of New Jersey, from the Surrender of the Government to Queen Anne, on the 17th day of April in the year of our Lord 1702, to 14th day of January 1776 (Burlington, Isaac Collins, printer to the King, 1776), 102-107. [Requirement freeholder neighbors to sign the Tavern application]

[iii] Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Hunterdon Court of Common Pleas; Tavern Licenses, Applications and Recognizances, “Loose Licenses/ Applications (1762-1799),” John Eveland (1795), Box 11, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

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