Bedminster History – Look To the Old Mellick Farmhouses

Story of an old farm by Andrew Mellick - Nr. Local History

If you live in the Somerset Hills area around Bedminster and Tewksbury you hopefully have heard the name Mellick. The Mellick name goes back to one of the founding family names in the area. In fact, the name Mellick acquired three different spellings. In those days the people in charge of registering land titles and other legal documents spelled names as they sounded. The Bedminster branch became Mellick, the Tewksbury branch Melick, and a few spelled it Malick. There was a standing joke in the Melick family that the Mellick’s had enough money to afford 2 ‘l’s’ in their name.

Mellick ‘Old Stone House

The Old Stone House – the 1752 original Mellick home.

The Old Stone House is one of the oldest homes in the area. Situated on a sloping hill near the Raritan River, the stoic home still stands today.

The Mellick boys followed their father’s way and were farmers and tanners. Gottfried went on to settle in Warren County. Johannes, who arrived here with wife Mariah, and children Aaron, Andrew, Fanny, and Maria Catherine had a tannery north of Far Hills. They built the, “Old Stone House,” in 1752 on which the book, ‘The Story of an Old Farm,’ by Andrew Mellick is based.

There are a number of documents from the Mellick family that were found in the attic of the house and turned over to the Somerset County Historical Society. But if you’d like to go back in time, Google has digitized the book “The Old Farm” – a great local read.

From the book; “The Peapack Patent Includes Nearly all of Bedminster Township — Distinguished People Associated with Somerset Freeholds — Interesting Facts •Concerning Governor Morris and the Duchess of Gordon — The First Real Estate Purchase in Bedminster — Daniel Axtell, a Son of the English Regicide Buys a Large Slice of the Peapack Patent — Some Corrections as to Generally Accepted Beliefs in the History of Somerset Land Titles — The Value of Bed minster Acres in 1726 a purchase from George Leslie, in 1744, receives a Grant of 2,000 Acres Out of the Patent — Its Area Includes the present site of Bedminster and the Old Farm — the Deed from George Leslie to Johannes Moelich.” As they say, the rest is history.

Bedminster History – Mellick’s Windfall Home

Mellick Farmhouse / Blairs Pre-Blairsden/  The White Cottage

In 1897 – Mr. Clinton Ledyard & Florence Blair of 123 East 63rd St, NY bought 423 acre farm known as the Mellick Farm in Peapack. Called Windfall, the old Mellick Farmhouse (different from the Old Stone house above), also was known as White Cottage. (Photo- early 1930’s pg 98 A Journey thru Peapack and Gladstone)

In 1897 before the Blairsden Estate was completed, Mr. Clinton Ledyard Blair lived in the Mellick Farm in Peapack. This home was called Windfall.

The Blairs (including the daughters Majory, Florence, Edith, and Marise), spent their time in Peapack during the construction of Blairsden at the White Cottage.

C. Ledyard Blair built the famed Blairsden Estate in Peapack, New Jersey.
C. Ledyard Blair built the famed Blairsden Estate in Peapack, New Jersey. Learn more about the Blairs – Click Here

The Keith Family & the Manhattan Project

After the Blair’s, the house was owned by the Percival Keith family. Percival C. “Dobie” Keith, from the engineering firm MW Kellogg Ltd, along with Crawford Greenwalt of Dupont, were noted for their work on the Manhattan Project and the development of the first atomic bomb.

Another twist to the Mellick story was Percival C. Dobie Keith, a resident of the 2nd former Mellick farmhouse. Read more

The White Cottage was later separated from Blairsden when Percival Cleveland Keith, a chemical engineer famous for his work on the Manhattan Project, purchased the property in 1933. We had a conversation with Keith’s son who stated his father’s Manhattan Project involvement was very “hushed” and no one knew about it.

Altered by the Percival Keith Family – Ian McLaughlin purchased the house in 1990’s.The home recently came up for sale in 2007 for $2,565,000. See Details. Discussions with Percival’s son Dennis about Windfall. The listing agent was Ian McLaughlin of Far Hills, NJ.

Sadly, we heard that the home burnt to the ground on December 24, 2009. The 16-room mansion on Highland Avenue was unoccupied at the time of the fire around 9 p.m. Peapack-Gladstone Mayor William Horton, who lives next door, said he saw flames 50 feet in the air.

White Cottage after it burnt to the ground in 2009 – Source: NJ.com

Melick Ties to Willie’s Tavern in Bedminster

The building was erected in 1780 by Aaron Melick for his son, John, who was returning home from the Revolutionary War. Since that time it has served as a pub, a polling place, a pool room, a package store, a political forum, a speakeasy, a hotel and a restaurant. There have been numerous proprietors over the years and we honor its most colorful owner, Mr. Willie Howard. In 1893 Willie came to Gladstone with Charles Pfizer and served as huntsman for Essex Hunt. In 1898 Willie and his wife, Bertha, purchased the Bedminster Hotel, as it was called, for $5,000. The hotel was renamed the “Howard Hotel” and in 1912 the first indoor plumbing was installed.

Additional Information

Feel free to search “Bedminster” on the menu to find additional research articles about Bedminster, New Jersey.

Geneology Study – http://www.geocities.com/rmelick/melick.html

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