Our Bucks in New Jersey


Lionel Nebeker


We actually know very little about our Buck family as it passed through the “colony” of New Jersey sometime between the years of 1740 - 1775, except that we know that they did.  This paper will present the very few things that we do know, with the hope that this article will grow over time as we seek additional material on this family.  Before we begin, we will also point out that we are aware of other families by the name of “Buck” who were living in New Jersey during this same period.  We do not know of any connections between us and these other Bucks, and the purpose of this paper is not to try to cover all the Bucks in this location, but only to attempt to share leads relating to our particular line.

To set the stage for this discussion, let’s first reconfirm what we know about the origin of our family.  We are certain that our Thomas Buck and his wife, Elizabeth Scott are our direct ancestors, as their granddaughter, Elizabeth Buck Garlick (EBG), gave their specific names as her grandparents while doing “baptisms for the dead” in Nauvoo in 1841 [Nauvoo Baptismal Records of the Dead, Book D32, found in the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, UT]; and then again in 1872 when she performed “sealings” and “baptisms for the dead” in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City [Sealings were done on 24 July 1872 in the Endowment House--see microfilm #0183398 Vol. H and the baptisms were done on 25 July 1872 in the Endowment House--see microfilm #183384, p.396 for the males and p.368 for females.]  In these records, our ancestor, EBG, clarifies the names of her parents and both sets of grandparents, as well as her two brothers and some aunts and uncles.  Their names and relationships are given but no dates were provided for any of them.  Still, this clearly identifies our earliest known Grandfather in this line as “Thomas Buck” and his wife as “Elizabeth Scott.”  It does not give any dates for this couple either.  The only date given in this record is the birth date of Elizabeth Buck Garlick herself, and that is shown as 2 May 1795, in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.     

However, we have been able to go back and find a specific marriage record for Thomas Buck and Elizabeth Scott in Glastonbury, Connecticut.  That marriage was performed on 4 May 1738 [Glastonbury, Connecticut Vital Records Vol 1, p.83, and this comes from p.226 of the Barbour Collection and is available on Ancestry.com.]  This same vital record of Glastonbury, also gives the birth record of Elizabeth Scott, the daughter of Thomas Scott and Marcy Goodale, as 30 July 1717 [ibid. Vol. 1, p.1.]  The vital record of this community is quite accurate but, sadly, it does not list any birth for our Thomas Buck.  He was not born in this town, nor can we find any definitive record of his birth anywhere.  There were several babies born in New England about the same time that he would have been born who had the same name as our Thomas Buck, but we cannot connect him, for certain, with any of them. 

As mentioned, the vital records for Glastonbury appear to be quite complete. They go on to list the deaths of both of Elizabeth’s parents, the births of her siblings, the births of some of her nieces and nephews, but there is no mention, what-so-ever, about the births of any of her children.  From this we must assume that she and Thomas Buck left Glastonbury very shortly after their marriage and went someplace else... someplace that did not keep records as precisely as did church or town officials in New England.

We know from other records [1814 Tax Record for Bedford County, Pennsylvania] that their oldest known son, and surely their oldest child, who was also named “Thomas Buck” (and who we shall call, “Captain Thomas Buck”--because of his service during the American Revolution as a Captain in the Pennsylvania Militia) was born about 1740.  This tax collector did us a great service when, in the margin of his 1814 record, he added the note that this man was age 73 at the time of that collection.  Not knowing whether his birthday had already passed for that year, or whether it was about to come up, we have simply estimated the year of his birth to be 1740.  This fits reasonably well with the marriage of his parents in 1738 back in Glastonbury.  But, where was this Thomas, the Captain, born? 

In fact, we have no original source record of the births of any of the children of Thomas Buck and Elizabeth Scott that was made at the time of the event.   We do have a secondary source document  by their granddaughter, Elizabeth Buck Garlick, which mentions the birth of her father, and we will discuss that as item #1 below. 

The next records we have for anyone in this family, that was made at the time of the event, was when, what appears to likely be the entire family, arrived in Colerain Township, Bedford County, PA. in 1775 when the local tax collector recorded their payment of taxes at that time.  We cannot find a record of any tax payers in 1774 in this county, but in 1773 there is a record and none of our Buck family was residing in Bedford County, PA at that time.  From this it seems apparent that the family of Thomas Buck first arrived in Bedford County sometime between 1773-1775.  The huge gap between their marriage in 1738 and their arrival in Bedford Co., PA in 1775 is completely void at this time, but we know they must have lived some place.  It was during this gap that each of their children were born (and from EBG’s record of ordinances performed in the Endowment House) we know that they had at least five or more children.  There also would have been grandchildren born during this same span of years.

Well, in fact, we know that this family migrated westward and spent at least part of their time in the colony of New Jersey, but we have not yet found a single record for any of them within the archives of that state.  There are however, three records that point us in that direction.  Some of these are secondary source records, and others are not much better than logical hints, but here they are in the order of their reliability:

  1. 1.In the 1880 US census for the state of Utah, city of Springville, Thomas and Elizabeth Scott Buck’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Buck Garlick, by then 85 years old, told the census taker that her father (David Buck, Sr.) was born in New Jersey.  There is no further detail about where in NJ, nor do we have any good documentation for exactly when David was born.  However, from our best calculations (as described in other works on this man, and based primarily on the 1800 US census for PA in which he said he was then over age 45, meaning that he was born prior to 1755; and also to match the year of birth of his wife, Catherine Kirschman/Cashman, which occurred in Holland in 1752) we have estimated David’s birth to also be about 1752.  Surely it would have fit within the range of about 1750-1754.  We know that he had a brother, Jonathan, who recorded in his own family Bible that he (Jonathan) was born on 12 January 1755, and we believe David was slightly older than Jonathan.  So, based upon this document, we feel the family was living somewhere in the New Jersey colony during the early to mid 1750s. 

  1. 2.The next support for our New Jersey residency is not as strong, and is drawn from a deduction only.  We know that Thomas and Elizabeth Scott Buck’s son, Jonathan (mentioned above) purchased and kept his own family Bible in which he recorded events beginning with himself.  Sadly he did not record anything about his parents or siblings, but he began with himself and his wife.  He gives his own birth date, but not the place of his birth.  However, he recorded that his wife, Zuriah Covalt, was from Sussex County, New Jersey, and that they were married on 16 March 1775.  That would mean that he was just barely 20 years old at the time of his marriage.  He does not record the place of his marriage, so we are left to wonder if it took place near her parent’s home in New Jersey, or in Bedford County, PA.  Remember that the records in Bedford County had their very first mention of Thomas Buck’s taxes being paid there in that same year--1775.  So, either young Jonathan arrived in a totally new country and immediately, by March of that year, married someone he would hardly have known within that brief time span, or else he married, in New Jersey, a girl whom he may have known for many years as they grew up together and then brought her with him to the new country of Bedford Co., PA when his family chose to move to that frontier locality.  In fact, it may have been the anticipated departure of his family that gave young Jonathan the courage to propose marriage to his new bride to bring her with him.  The latter version seems more plausible.  Regardless of whether they married in NJ, or in PA, they may still have known each other well and the two families may have agreed to move to Bedford Co. together.  We know that her father, Abraham Covalt, together with his family, also moved to Bedford Co., PA at about the same time as the Bucks.  They may have been good friends prior to their move.  While this is far from positive proof of our folks living in NJ, it is a good hint in that direction, and if a valid deduction, then it may be very likely that Sussex County, NJ should be a focal point of our future research.  Sussex County was created from Morris County in 1753, and consisted of the New Jersey frontier in the northwest corner of that colony.  In 1824 this county was split in two and the southern half was split off to create Warren County.  If our ancestors resided in this county, it could have been in either the northern half, which is still Sussex County, or in the southern half which is now Warren County.  A search of records in Morris County is also warranted as our Bucks may have purchased land in this area prior to the creation of Sussex County.  The wild frontier of any colony was the place least likely to keep, or maintain, records that would be of benefit to our genealogical search.  It does not appear that anyone in our direct line died during their stay in NJ, but we need to make a thorough search of the tax records and the purchase and sale of land.  Additionally, it would be wonderful if we could find the marriage records of any of the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Scott Buck.

  1. 3.The next record (the 1850 US census record for Wood Co., OH) will be discussed later on after we build up the background for that item.  So, I’ll simply mention it here and note that we will return to it later. 

Now, let’s go back to the oldest child of this family for a while--Captain Thomas Buck (b. 1740.)  He would have been old enough to marry his first wife anytime after about 1760, or certainly by about 1765, or so.  I have searched the available marriage records for NJ for this time frame and have not found anything conclusive.  I did find a record for the marriage of a Thomas Buck in about 1760, but he was in Cape May Co., NJ.  Remember that there were a number of “Bucks” in that county at that time and none of the other names from that area seem to tie into our family names.  Still, that could possibly have been the first marriage of the “Captain” and he may have roamed far from home to find a wife, but there is nothing to give us sufficient confidence to claim that this was a part of our immediate family, so we will overlook that for now. 

However, this man (Captain Thomas Buck) did marry someone, somewhere, in the 1760’s and began his family before they moved to Bedford Co., PA in about 1775.  This gives us some additional family members to look for in our search.  Again, we certainly do not know where they lived prior to their arrival in Bedford Co., but the entire family seemed to stick closely together and probably moved to Pennsylvania as a group.  Within the first 2-3 years after arriving in Bedford Co., we find the names on the tax rolls of: Thomas Buck (who we assume was the father), Jonathan Buck, David Buck and Thomas Buck (the Captain.)  This leads us to believe that they all came together and began paying taxes as they spread out with their own claims to local property, and most likely, with the death of their father, Thomas Buck, Sr.  Recall that by the time of their arrival in Bedford Co., Thomas, the Captain, would already have had most, if not all of his known five children, Jonathan Buck was just barely married, and David, although older than Jonathan, did not marry for many more years -- till 1789. 

Let’s focus for now on the family of the Captain Thomas Buck (born 1740.)  He left a will in 1821 in Bedford Co., PA wherein he listed his five children and the spouses of two of them [his will is available in Bedford Co., courthouse, and on-line.  A copy is also on this web-site in the “Bucks of Bedford Co., PA” article.]  In his will he lists the following children who were either then living, or who had living issue:

  1. 1.  Sarah Buck Akers (wife of William Akers)

  2. 2.  David Buck  (unsure if he is still alive or not)

  3. 3.  Abigail (Abigal) Buck Jones (deceased wife of Levi Jones)

  4. 4.  Richard Buck (deceased)

  5. 5.  Thomas Buck

Will of Thomas Buck – written 9 Feb. 1821.  Proved 7 Apr. 1821, in Hopewell Twp, Bedford Co., PA

Now, let’s concentrate on his second child, and the oldest son, David Buck.  (Note, this is not “our” David Buck, Sr. the father of EBG, but rather it is a nephew of our David, and presumably named for him.  Our David being a younger brother of the Captain, whereas this David was his son.)  We should also mention that, as payment for military service during the Revolutionary War, officers and soldiers were given the right to claim lands in the newly opened territories of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Captain Thomas Buck received an award of land in Ohio.  That land is mentioned in his will as a grant to his oldest son, David, “if he is yet living.”  The will specifically states:

I Thomas Buck of the Township of Hopewell in the County of Bedford, In State of Pennsylvania yeoman being of sound and disposing mind and memory knowing the uncertainty of life and that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this instrument in manner and form following, that is to say I order all my just debts, if any should be at my decease, to be paid by my Executor herein after named...

Secondly I give and bequeath to my son David Buck my lands in the State of Ohio and all the property therein belonging to me if he is yet living if he comes to claim the same, and if he is deceased to his son Thomas Buck you (“younger”???)  [Italic and underline added by this author.]

There are several important clues here.  First, the Captain has a son named David, but he is not sure where that son is, or IF he is still living.  Why would that be the case?  Perhaps he was out in Ohio surveying the property he knew he was to inherit, and may have been out there sufficiently long that his father is concern about his well-being and wishes to provide for his heirs if that son does not survive.  Next, the Captain makes it clear that that son, David, also has a son, by the name of Thomas, who seems to be old enough to inherit property, and is to be his heir if David is dead.  And, lastly, he confirms that he owns property in Ohio, and that it is to go to David, and/or Thomas.

From this, and other documents, we have tried to estimate the ages of the various children of the Captain.  If he married in the mid 1760s, his five children were probably spaced out between the mid or late 1760s up until about 1776, or so.  Most were probably born before the family moved to Bedford County.  We won’t try to give all the reasoning in this document, but only that summary.  Since the will intersperses sons with daughters, that is a good indication that each child is being listed in birth order.  There may have been others who died prior to the date of this will and left no issue.  But, let’s speculate that David was likely born about 1770, and that his son, Thomas, was either his only child, or at least his oldest living child.  Let’s estimate the young Thomas’s birth to be somewhere in the range between about 1790-1795.  If so, he would have been about 26-31 years old in 1821 when his grandfather, the Captain, made out his will, and certainly old enough to inherit the land in Ohio.

We recognize that there are a lot of assumptions and speculation with the above, but here is the point.  If This young Thomas was born in the early 1790s, he may have been young enough to still be living in the 1850s (at about age 55-60) which was the year of the first US census to list all residents of a household.  With that thought in mind, we searched the 1850 US census for Ohio and found that there were 19 men listed with the name of “Thomas Buck.”  But, only seven of those were born in Pennsylvania.  The record does not say where in PA these men were born.  One of these however, the Thomas Buck who was living in Wood County, Ohio, said he was 58 years old.   This means that he was born about 1792, which is exactly within the range we estimated for the age of our Thomas Buck.  He is listed together with his wife and children, but at the bottom of the listing for this household is a “David Buck” -- age 78 (which means he was born 1772--if the census taker was accurate, and they were notoriously inaccurate on ages.)  This year is awfully close to the 1770 round figure that we used as an estimation for David’s birth. 

But, the really exciting part of this record is the statement that this David Buck, the father of the Thomas Buck in this census (and perhaps the son of the Captain Thomas Buck) was born in New Jersey!  This then relates back to our point #3 above trying to connect our Buck family back to New Jersey.  We are still short of being able to say with absolute certainty that these two men, father and son, are the same father and son, David and Thomas Buck mentioned in the Captain’s 1821 will, but they surely match it in every particular.  And, if they are our family, then they give us one more reference connecting our family to New Jersey.  We still do not have any specific locality within that state, but at least we can concentrate on that state, and perhaps more particularly on Sussex County, at least to start with. 

If this is our family, then it seems to show that for the time gap mentioned earlier, of 1740-1775, not knowing where our Buck family was, that we now know they were living someplace in New Jersey by the early 1750s (at the time of the birth of our David Buck, Sr.--the brother of the Captain); and were probably still there around 1770-72 (for the birth of David Buck, the son of the Captain); and may still have been there as late as 16 March 1775 (for the marriage of Jonathan Buck to Zuriah Covalt.)

We are thankful that this David Buck lived at least until 1850 so we could find him with this family in the census.  Ten years later, in the 1860 census for Wood Co., OH, we find his son, Thomas Buck, still residing there, but it appears the father, David Buck, had passed away by that time.  In fact, in the next census, 1870, it appears that Thomas had also died.  We can continue to trace his posterity but that is the end of the record for these two men. 

The likelihood for these being the son and grandson of Captain Thomas Buck seems so good that we are sorely tempted to say they are the same, but a little more work still needs to be completed in order to say so with sufficient certainty. 

1850 US census for Wood County, Ohio

Family of Thomas (aged 58 born in PA) & Elizabeth Buck (aged 44 born in Ohio according to this census, but others indicate she may have been born in PA too.)

Note the last entry in this household is for a David Buck, aged 78, born in N.J.