Cokesbury History

The village of Cokesbury is located on the western border of Tewksbury Township; part of the village overlaps into Clinton Township. Take Water Street out of Mountainville and you'll be there in ten minutes. The first settler in this area that we know of was Mindurt Farley, a German immigrant who became owner of 200 acres here in 1779, long before the village of Cokesbury came into existence. Mindurt Farley, after he acquired this property, served Tewksbury Township as Township Committeeman and then Freeholder. He died in 1790 and his farm was passed on to his son, Joshua. Joshua's brother John also owned farm property in the same area. Other early settlers were Jacob Apgar who married Mindurt Farley's daughter; and Jacob's brother, Conrad. When Conrad Apgar came to this area before the village existed, he lived in, and operated, a tavern until April of 1812, when it was destroyed by fire. He and his wife, Charity, then sold the property to their friend, John Farley, who built a new building there as a hotel.

At about the same time the Methodist Church applied for and obtained the right to construct here the first Methodist church in Hunterdon County. On March of 1814 the construction of the Cokesbury Methodist Church, named in honor of two outstanding Methodist Bishops in the United States, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, got underway. In August of 1815 the Cokesbury Church was ready for services and shortly thereafter the settlement was also named Cokesbury. The post office department complicated things by misspelling the name of "Cokesbury" as "Cokesburg" but this was corrected with typical governmental promptness.

One of the early records of this village notes that it was typical of the German-American families that the women work in the fields along side the men, and accomplish as much. It was also noted that among German-American farmers, male and female, the most important and handsome structure was not the home, but the barn.

By the middle of the 19th century, the population of the village almost doubled and the Methodist Church could not handle the crowd. A fine new church was built in 1851 and is still in use today. In 1855 a portion of the old tavern building was purchased by John Johnson and used as a wheelwright shop, and, with some help from the local blacksmith, began building carriages and sleighs. And for many years there existed in this area an iron mine and furnace, first operated by the British before the Revolutionary War. After the war the mine became inactive until 1870, when it was reopened by yet another member of the Farley family. This was the only successful iron mine in the township. From 1851 to 1873, twelve new homes were erected in town, and the Methodist Church in 1875 had to open a new cemetery, this one on Water Street. This burial location is still open for business, but is almost filled with Farleys, Hoffmans, Suttons, Apgars, and Lindaberrys.

But by the 1880s, it was obvious this display of expansion was over. A publication that came out in 1881 stated that the community now consisted of 'a hotel, store, blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, two churches and fourteen dwellings." Thus, several business had ceased to exist, and as the new century approached, matters got worse. The old hotel closed at last, the wheelwright shop shut down, and in 1915 the post office moved away. Shrinkage was in progress and it continued through the Great Depression and World War II.

At the present time Cokesbury stands proudly at the intersection of Water Street, Cokesbury Road and High Bridge Road. The fine Methodist Church still stands near the center of the village with its cemetery nearby on Water Street. A group of 150-year-old, immaculate, frame homes cluster around the little intersection. The roads are paved now; otherwise the village dates back a hundred years or more.