Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jacob Sovereign (1759-1845), Pioneer Canadian Tavern-Keeper

Jacob Sovereign was born 06 November 1759 in Schooley's Mountain, Warren County, NJ; died 1845 Charlotteville, Norfolk County, Canada West. He was the son of Frederick Zavering/Sovereen and Ann Waldruff. He married 01 March 1781 in Oldwick, Morris County, NJ to Elizabeth Pickle, born 03 November 1764 in Hunterdon County, NJ; died 02 January 1849 in Delhi, Norfolk County, Canada West. She was the daughter of Henry Pickel and Elizabeth.

A description of the life of Jacob Sovereign is provided in "Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement" by E.A. Owen, published Toronto 1898. This book describes the settling and building of Norfolk County, Ontario, mostly by Loyalist immigrants from the United States. The section on Jacob is entitled "Jake Sovereign, the Pioneer Tavern-Keeper" and reads:

"About a hundred years ago, Jacob Sovereign, one of eight German-American brothers who came to Long Point settlement before the present dying century was born, built a log cabin on a ridge in the unbroken forest that crosses east and west the front part of Lot 14, in the 6th concession of Charlotteville. Here with his brave New Jersey wife -- formerly Miss Elizabeth Pickle -- and his three children, the eldest of whom, Frederick was only twelve years old, was planted one of the main branches of the great Sovereign family -- a family now widely scattered over the American continent by the many transplantings of a century.

"If the story of Norfolk's development during this first century of its history were written in detail from the time the sharp 'click' of the settler's axe first broke the long and awful stillness down to the present time, what a wonderful tale it would be! We can see in our imagination these primitive log cabins, one here on the shady bank of a babbling brook, and one there on the sunny side of a chestnut ridge, and all intervening space covered with a dark and forbidding forest; and around the cabin door and underneath the wide spreading branches, we see little bare-footed and bare-headed children skipping about. What of the life in these lonely cabins? The days were full of toil, and the nights, oh, how long and dark, and full of strange, startling sounds for young mothers and timid children. If the veil were lifted, what fears, hopes -- eye, and tears -- would be revealed in the inner life of those rude dwellings in the struggle to meet the crying demands of the hour, and in planning for the unknown future! We shall never know the full meaning of such a life; we can only catch a faint glimpse of it through our imaginations. We never saw the brave old pioneer fathers and mothers who erected the first log cabins in Norfolk, but we distinctly remember the bent forms of our grandfathers, and the wrinkled, saintly faces of our grandmothers; and they were the little tots that gambolled around those first cabin doors, and sometimes cried for bread when there was no bread for them. But we have no more space in this sketch for our imaginations.

"After Jacob Sovereign had effected a clearing and made a start in the world, he made his home into a tavern and kept it for several years. It was one of old Charlotteville's first taverns, and the rough-and-ready settlers who used to gather at 'Jake Savreen's tavern' and spin yarns and crack jokes before the big open-mouthed fire-place have long since passed away. The old sand ridge remains, but the people who occupy it at present live in another world and know nothing of the old scenes enacted there so many years ago, or the conditions of life that prevailed at that time. Many a funny story was told at this old tavern, inspired by copious drafts of 'Uncle Jake's grog'; and sometimes our grandfathers exhausted their fund of good humor by indulging too freely in pioneer 'bitters', and then the curtain would drop on the funny part, and the spectators would witness something more tragical. A resort to the old game of fisticuffs was the usual way of settling all disputes in our grandfathers' days; and the fellow who could wield his fists the most effectively was considered the most convincing disputant in all argumentative controversies -- political, religious, or otherwise.

"Jacob Sovereign lived to a good old age, and left two sons -- Frederick and Henry; and one daughter, Elizabeth. When Elizabeth was married her father told her he would give her a span of horses and a wagon if she had a family of twenty children. She came within two of it."

Children of Jacob Sovereign and Elizabeth Pickle are:

i. Elisabeth Sovereign, born 15 December 1783 in Schooley's Mountain, Warren County, NJ; married Jonathan Wade 17 November 1799 in London Dist, Upper Canada.
ii. Frederick Sovereign, born 14 February 1786 in Schooley's Mountain, Warren County, NJ; died 14 June 1875 in Middleton, Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada; married Mary Jane Hutchison 17 May 1810 in London District, Upper Canada.
iii. Henry Baltis Sovereign, born 30 August 1787 in Schooley's Mountain, Warren County, NJ; died 23 July 1878 in Fredericksburg, Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada; married Margaret Brown 04 January 1815 in Charlotteville, London Dist, Upper Canada; born 08 April 1793; died 02 February 1877 in Fredericksburg, Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada.


My line from Jacob Sovereign to myself is:

* Jacob and Eliza (Pickle) Sovereign
* Frederick Sovereign (1786-1875) married 1810 Mary Jane Hutchison (1792-1868)
* Alexander Sovereign (1814-1907) married 1840 Eliza Putman (1820-1895)
* Mary Jane Sovereign (1840-1874) married 1861 Abraham James Kemp (1831-1902)
* Georgianna Kemp (1868-1952) married 1898 Charles Auble (1848-1916)
* Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977) married 1918 Lyle Lawrence Carringer (1891-1976)
* Betty Virginia Carringer (1919-1902) married 1942 Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1986)
* Randall J. Seaver (moi)

Jacob and Eliza (Pickle) Sovereign are two of my 5th great-grandparents. Jake sounds like he was quite a guy. He's probably my most famous (perhaps infamous) Canadian ancestor!

I really appreciate the detailed stories about many of my Norfolk County, Ontario ancestors in the book Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement.


Kathryn Lake Hogan said...

Greetings Randy,
Perhaps your Sovereign ancestors knew my Ryckman ancestors since they all seemed to be in Norfolk County around the same time. I'm sure Jake was well known in the county. Glad you participated in the CGC. Thanks.

Cousin Russ said...

Randy - I lived on Schooley's Mountain and now live at the base of it. I'll have to visit the Schooley's Mountain / Long Valley Historical Society to see what I might find.

We have No Exits in this part of New Jersey.


Randy Seaver said...

Russ pointed out in email that my use of Warren County for births in the 1700's is in error - it was Morris County at the time, and Schooley's Mountain may still be in Morris county.

This is a "leftover" from my early genealogy work wherein I used the current county of the locality, rather than the county where records may reside due to boundary changes.

Russ points out another place for me to visit - the Historical Society near Schooley's Mountain. Cool. I can hardly wait, but don't know when I'll make it to NJ again.

Thanks, Russ! -- Randy

Cousin Russ said...


If there is anything you wish specifically from Schooley's Mountain, I'd be happy to give it a try. Just "over the hill".

Oldwick is over three "hills".

Please let me know if you get back this way.



Anonymous said...

If the Souvereign name is German, I'd guess the most likely original spelling to be Zuverink, Suwerink or Z├╝werink, as occurs in the Bentheim region.

Cousin Russ said...


Thank you for that. Schooley's Mountain is just above Long Valley, which used to be German Valley. So it fits. When I visit the Historical Society, I'll take these names. Thanks,