Searching for Matthew McConnell, Sr in New Jersey
Information on this page includes documents pertaining to Matthew McConnell
in New Jersey. The below quote which originates from a letter on file with the DAR written in 1931 by Rose E. Elliot
(a descendant of Matthew) and contains nearly all the information known about Matthew, Sr.;
"From another source comes the information that Matthew McConnell, Sr emigrated from Scotland in
1735 and settled in Essex County, N.J. He built a log house at a place called Lubbors Inn, after
wards called the Reservoir. The change in name took place when the Morris and Essex Canal was
built. A tract of land was bought by them and an artificial pond was made to supply the place with
water. The house he built was nearly in front of the one now standing there, alongside of the water
course leading from the reservoir to the canal. The D.L. & W.R.R. built a branch road thru this
section and changed the name from Reservoir to Cranberry Lake. They now use it as an excursion point
where parties from New York and vicinity spend the day. Here was born to Matthew McConnell and wife
three sons, Matthew 2nd, Charles and John. This Matthew (2nd) is the one who later was a sergeant
during the Revolutionary War."
Cranberry Lake is an artificial lake which was created for use as a reservoir when
the Morris Canal was constructed about 1825 (the canal operated between 1831 and 1924). This artificial lake was
referred to as "The Reservoir" for many years until the name was changed (around 1898) when the railroad built a
tiny station/shelter by North Shore Road. So, during the time Matthew, Jr. lived in the area there wasn't a
Cranberry Lake nor a canal - this would account for why he felt compelled to make an "artificial pond."
Modern day Cranberry Lake is in Sussex County, not Essex County. In 1710 both Morris and
Sussex county did not exist; this region was simply "unassigned." The county adjoining this "unassigned" region was
Essex County. When Sussex County was formed in 1753 there were only 600 people living is this part of New Jersey.
So, at the time Matthew, Sr lived in this area it was "unassigned" wilderness, perhaps refered to by
the name of the closest county, Essex County and with only a handful of settlers within miles.
There is no record of a "Lubbors Inn" but local residents would immediately point
out a stream called Lubbors Run about three miles south east of Cranberry Lake. Alongside this stream is the oldest
known house in the area as well as the Byram homestead, from whom Byram township took it's name. Matthew probably
did not build his log cabin on Lubber's Run as other early settlers did. If he had there would plenty of fresh water
from the stream and no need for an "artificial pond." Most likely his cabin was where Mrs. Elliot stated in 1931, at
a place called Lubbor's Inn (an Inn, not a stream) at what is now days called Cranberry Lake, New Jersey.
If Matthew had owned land as stated in Mrs. Elliot's letter there would be a record of
the land deed as well as a record of his probated will. A thorough search of Sussex county records showed no colonial
records of Matthew McConell in the modern day Sussex County area. However, in October 1768 one Matthew McConnell paid taxes on
10 acres of land in Morris Township Morris County, New Jersey. Morris Township is about 20 south east of Cranberry
Lake. It is not known if this is Matthew, Sr or Matthew, Jr. In 1768 Matthew, Jr would have been 29 years old and
Matthew, Sr would have been about 59 years old. It's interesting to note that this 1768 tax assessment for Morris
Township also lists 3 taxpayers named Ludlom; Abraham, Creed and Samuel Ludlom. Since Matthew, Jr wife's name was
Elizabeth Ludum it's possible that this is her family - perhaps Abraham the father since he's listed as owning 25
acres of land and his two sons Samuel and Creed (both of whom pay taxes on livestock but do not own land).
The Cranberry Lake area of New Jersey is poor farming land. Matthew Sr, or his son, might
have moved east some twenty miles in search of better land for farming. The Cranberry Lake area is know for
its rich mineral desposits. Mining became the local industry during the 1800s and the entire area is dotted with mines.
A map from 1860 which shows the A.C. McConnell homestead a few miles to the east of Cranberry Lake in close proximity to an
In 1984 a researcher by the name of A.J. McArthur did extensive research on the McConnell
surname in the Sussex County area. She compiled data gathered from census data, archives, publications, Revolutionary War
records, wills and DAR applications. This information is in the "McCONNELL" file at the Sussex County Historical Society.
At the end is an list of all known McConnell marriages in Sussex County between 1795 and 1853.