Metuchen Edison History Features
In Old Metuchen
David Trumbull Marshall
Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930
(Second Edition)- (c) 1930
For a good many years Mr. Noah Mundy ran a farm up near Oak Tree.
Some years before the Civil War Mr. Mundy bought an old colored woman by the name of Katy from a farmer near Plainfield for the whole of five dollars.
When Miss Louise Mundy told Katy that the President of the United States had set all the slaves free and that now she was free to go whenever she wished, she declared that she never had been a slave and so was quite unimpressed by the good news.
0nce in a while old Katy used to walk up to the grocery store near Oak Tree and get herself a package of tobacco. She used to tell the grocer to "charge it to Jesus Christ."
Afterward when Mr. Mundy gave up the farm and moved to the north-east corner of Amboy Avenue and the Lincoln Highway, he was a near neighbor of ours.
I used as a child to be afraid of this very old and very black woman.
She was very fat and very decrepit.
She used to have a little room off the kitchen at Mr. Mundy's house and could do such light tasks as peeling potatoes, etc.
Mr. Mundy lived near the Pennsylvania Railroad, or as it was in those day, the New Jersey Railroad. When the engine whistled as it passed the house old Katy used to say, "that is the Devil."
When asked how old she was she used to say "most a hundred."
Mr. Mundy had the impression that Katy was older than he. He was 86.
Once when Mr. Mundy came to our house and was sitting in the parlor I passed in front of him.
My Father said "David, it is not polite to pass in front of a guest."
I do not think I have ever passed in front of a guest since without thinking of Old Noah Mundy, bent with his eighty years or more, and of that admonition of my Father's.
That was sixty years ago.
Some years afterward Mr. Mundy moved to 315 Main Street where his daughter Rebecca lives now.
Mr. Mundy had a fat horse which he kept in a little stable back of his house on Main Street.
One summer about 1876 when we lived in the house at the west end of Metuchen, three of my cousins, young Yale students, came to our house to spend part of the summer.
My Father made arrangements with Mr. Mundy to have the use of his horse and carryall to take the cousins for rides.
We used to ride to Bonhamtown to the Mill Pond to take a swim and to various other places.
It was my job to walk the mile or more to Mr. Mundy's house and get the horse and after the drive take the horse home and walk back.
The fat old horse could, if the weather were not too hot, reel off about five knots an hour.
If one were in a great hurry it was quicker to get out and walk.
In 1885 Richard Trumbull, one of the cousins mentioned above, espoused the side of the Junta which overthrew the president of Chile; Balmaceda.
Richard, or Dick as we called him, was born in Santiago, Chile, where my mother's brother had practiced medicine for some years.
Richard came to San Francisco to buy a steamer for the Junta, which steamer was to be converted into a gunboat.
A reward of $5,000 was offered by the Balmacedists for Richard, dead or alive, but as the Junta won, Richard's stock went way up.
The other cousin, Albert Trumbull, was afterward a member of the Chilian Senate.
If you piece together the recollections of three old people you can stretch back a long time.
Mr. Noah Mundy told us that his mother told of seeing a cart loaded with dead bodies passing her house after a battle between British soldiers and Continentals which had taken place up around Oak Tree on June 26th, 1777. That is about 153 years ago. I am not dead yet at that.
Ellis Ayers told me that his own father told of a group of women and children being gathered in a barn up on the Oak Tree road when a cannon-ball came crashing through the barn.
We get into history very rapidly.
I remember many Civil War soldiers still wearing their army coats about Metuchen. I was born in 1865, the year Lincoln was shot.
I constantly catch myself asking boys of fifteen or younger if they remember prominent incidents in the World War.
I forget that a boy of fifteen cannot remember much that happened twelve years ago.
The Mundys are an ancient tribe around Metuchen.
Metuchen was settled by immigrants from England, Scotland, and the north of Ireland, in 1665.
There is a deed on record at Trenton given by Nicholas Mundy, dated 1734.
The Mundys probably settled in Metuchen long before that.
Rev. G. S. Plumley said once in my hearing, that when he came to Metuchen in 1858, that when he met a man he was safe in addressing him either as Mundy or Ayers.
Years ago Miss Rebecca Mundy, a daughter of Noah Mundy, used to take my sister Bessie to ride.
Miss Mundy bowed to almost everybody she met.
My sister would say, "Who was that?" she would answer, "Oh, a cousin of mine."
A story is told of an old bachelor belonging to the Mundy tribe that he proposed to leave $3,000 to the Dutch Reformed church on condition that his relatives should thereafter have free seats in the church. Some one asked him if he thought it would be fair to let Mr. Blank, who had left the Reformed church and gone to the Presbyterian church have a free seat. Mr. Mundy got up and said, "He hadn't ought to never have went," and then sat down.
Mrs. Amanda Edgar Grimstead, who told me that story says, "We were giggling school girls in those days and had to get up and leave the meeting but to this day you may sometimes hear some one quote "He hadn't ought to never have went!"
When I was a child and went to Noah Mundy's house I always had doughnuts given me.
In the summer of 1929 I called on Miss Rebecca Mundy in Metuchen.
The first thing I asked when I got in her house was whether she had any doughnuts for me.
With tears in her eyes Miss Mundy answered, "No, Dave, there aren't any. There is no one here now to make them."
I could easily buy a thousand dozen but they would not taste as good to me as the ones I got at her house sixty years ago.
Speaking of doughnuts reminds me of the big brown ones my mother used to make for her family of nine. We always distinguished between doughnuts and crullers.
Doughnuts with us were nearly spherical masses of sweet dough which were dropped into boiling hot lard and when done were about as large as a tennis ball.
When I was a young boy it was customary for the young men to go calling on New Year's day.
Sometimes very young boys made calls around the neighborhood just for the eats they could get.
When we lived at the Parsonage one such small boy called at our house on New Year's morning.
There was no one to answer the door so we boys told the kid to go round the house to the kitchen, where Mother was making doughnuts.
Mother gave him two or three big, fresh doughnuts. He didn't have to make any more calls for he was full up.
Noah Mundy died at the age of 91.
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Lasted updated 5/13/99 by Jim Halpin.