What follows is a discussion originally posted on the PIATT-L Rootsweb list regarding Conococheague, PA

Laverne Ingram Piatt writes;During the recent Piatt Researchers' Conference in Doylestown PA (June 2004) a few of us had the opportunity to examine a small portion of the papers of researcher Oliver B Leonard which are now held by the Historical Society of New Jersey in Newark NJ.  Time was too short to even begin a full examination of the Leonard papers but a couple of items of importance came to light nonetheless. Oliver B Leonard researched not only New Jersey history but also families of the Woodbridge and Plainfield, New Jersey, areas.  He wrote articles for the newspaper and his work was mentioned by Orra Eugene Monnette in his own publications.  Letters which I saw in the Leoanrd files were from 1897.  The Historical Society of New Jersey purchased Leonard's papers in 1919. Leonard's papers fill several file boxes.  I was particularly interested in his file on church history.  In that file was a typed transcript of two letters between Seventh Day Baptist congregations.  It is the policy of the Historical Society not to photocopy any papers from the manuscript collections.  Therefore, time permitted only brief notes pertaining to these two letters. In the first letter the congregation at Conococheague (PA, believed to be near present day Greencastle, Franklin Co) sent greetings to the congregation at Piscataway NJ.   The letter gave praises to God and was carried or at least presented to Piscataway "by the hand of Brother James Dunn," whom Conogocheague "recommended" and of whom Piscataway "approved." It may be that Brother Dunn also presented a verbal report to Piscataway for in it's response to  Conococheague, Piscataway admits, "It was a great cause of great grief to us that your case seems to resemble that of Israel in Judges 17:6 and yt [that] some of you are wavering concerning ye Sabbath and mode and subject of baptism." [Judges 17:6, KJV, "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."] This second letter from Piscataway to Conococheague was signed on 6 May 1748 by: Jonathan CurtisWilliam JamesLewis WilliamsThomas DavidMeshak JamesJoshua EdwardsJob CurtisJoseph Davie (or Davis)Joseph WilliamsVictor BaileyThomas Dunn  A second copy of the typed transcription of the two letters, found in the back of the same file, had pencilled identifications of three of the above men as to their congregations.  This second transcription indicated that Jonathan Curtis was of Piscataway, but William James and Lewis Williams were of the French Creek congregation.  A history of Chester Co PA gives the establishment of the French Creek Seventh Day Baptist congregation as 1726 and it's location as being on or near present day PA 23 west of Phoenixville, between Knauerville and the Warwick borough (or township) line.  The site would be near French Creek State Park. Discovery of these two letters brings to light the fact that a Seventh Day Baptist congregation was in existance at an early date in central Pennsylvania and that the Conococheague congregation was likely an offshoot of the Piscataway congregation, or at least in close contact with them.  In other words, Piscataway knew about Conococheague and the two communicated with each other, despite the distance.   The Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Piscataway was pastored for many years by the two Revs Dunham, father and son, Edmund and Jonathan, the latter being the son-in-law of Rene Piatt.

Laverne Ingram Piatt writes;
Oliver B Leonard's file on church history (see posting on Conococheague-Piscataway Connection) contained another item of interest to Piatt researchers. Four handwritten pages relate biographical information concerning Rev Edmund Dunham and his son Rev Jonathan Dunham of the Piscataway (NJ) Seventh Day Baptist Church.  A reference at the top of the first page indicates that these four pages were, in turn, pages 129-133 of a publication titled "Morgan Edwards Materials...," Philadelphia, 1772.  A trip to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia revealed that Leonard's notes were indeed copied from Morgan Edwards' 1770 [sic] publication "Materials Toward a History of the American Baptists in xii volumes."   (Actually only 2 volumes were published and both are bound together in the book held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, or rather in the collection of rare books next door at the Library Company of Philadelphia.) Because of the restrictions on photocopying both Leonard's materials and the original book at HSP/LCP, in the time I had I could hand copy only the information concerning Rev Jonathan Dunham. <<Rev Jonathan Duham He succeeded his father in the partnership in 1745, but had preached to them as a licentiate for many years before.  He continued in partnership till March 11, 1777 when he died of smallpox in the 86th year of his age.  He also left behind him an excellent character:  he was first ordained as a deacon the year that his father died, Nov 2 [1732]: received holy orders the year he commencing (?) pastor: the ordainers were Rev Messrs Davis Williams and William James: the place Conococheague in Pennsylvania, His wife was Jane Pyaat [sic] by whom he had children Elizabeth, Azariah, Jonathan, David, Ruth & Samuel:  these married into the families of the Dunns, Thomases, Fords, Randels, Martins, & Lucases and have raised 41 grandchildren.  His ancestor [sic, should be 'descendant'] is the present pastor, Rev Nathan Rogers.>> Jane Pyatt is thought to be the 9th child of Rene Piatt and Elizabeth Sheffield.  Jane was born 15 Sep 1695; d 15 Sep 1779, buried in the Dunham Burial Ground in Piscataway NJ.  She married Rev Jonathan Dunham on 15 Aug 1714 at Piscataway NJ.  It is interesting that Edwards spelled the name Pyaat.  Jane's brother Thomas Pyatt's tombstone spells the name Pyaat, too, the only two instances I've seen that spelling. Could it be possible that Rene Piatt's son-in-law, Rev Jonathan Dunham, was ordained at Conococheague?  If so, it indicates that there was a far closer connection between Conococheague and Piscataway than I had ever imagined, due to the distance.  And it would suggest that the second and third generations of Piatts in the two locations likely knew of one another, that one branch of the family was not really lost from the other. A letter in Leonard's files, dated 18 March 1896, from Alfred, New York, inquired about the place of ordination of Rev Jonathan Dunham.  This particular letter did not have the name of the writer, but other letters from Alfred NY and in the same handwritting were from C H Greene.  Alfred State University began as a Seventh Day Baptist instutition.  Copies of Leonard's replies to Greene don't seem to be among Leonard's files, but we could hope that Greene's correspondence may have been preserved in Alfred NY. Some of us have expressed the concern that we have found everything we can under the Piatt name and have suggested that by following the colateral family names we might turn up something new.  Indeed research on these lines may turn out to be fruitful.

John Keilch writes;In my notes, I have Rev. Jonathan Dunham (b1695, d1779 NJ) as a member in1722 of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Piscataway (I think hisfather, Rev. Edmund Dunham, was the founding minister), and as ordained inConococheague, PA, in 1845. I had never read the full account you quoted,so my information was from another (now forgotten) source, though of courseit may have derived from the Leonard file. The division of the 1st Day and the 7th Day Baptists was central to Pyattfamily history; Thomas Pyatt's young widow, Mercy Hull, remarried to Rev.Benjamin Stelle, head of the 1st Baptist Congregation, while other Pyattsand inlaws joined the 7th Day offshoot.  I suspect there may be more todiscover about Pyatts by examining the two congregations and associatedfamily clusters.  For example, 7th Day Baptist John Doty (born ca 1680)married an unnamed Pyatt as his second wife around 1730; and Isaac Doty(born 1683) may have also married an unnamed Pyatt about 1716 (one of thesetwo women may have been the Frances Pyatt named as a co-grantee with JamesPyatt in 1701). As I am sure you recognize, the Conococheague connection also raisesinteresting questions about the as-yet undiscovered migrations of Rene'seldest son Jacob Pyatt I, and of his own eldest son, Jacob Pyeatt II, theIndian trader who operated in the Conococheague area in the 1730s and 1740s.

back to people
back to documents