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Miller-Cory House Museum

Interpreting America’s past 1740-1820

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Miller-Cory House: A Historical Summary

Until 1921 but two families were associated with the colonial farmhouse at 614 Mountain Ave, Westfield, NJ. Both families were among the original settlers of Elizabethtown, of which Westfield was part of until 1794.

The Miller Family, with its several branches, was one of the great landowning families in what is today's Westfield's north side and Mountainside. Samuel Miller (1718-1782) is believed to have built the house about the time of his marriage in 1740. Samuel left to his widow, Sabra, "the privileges of my two middle rooms and the chambers above them, privilege to go up in said chambers through the other rooms, and the privilege of one quarter of cellar and to go in and out of same and with what she pleases."

This Samual Miller is the son of William Miller (1698-1782), who in 1734 provided land to build the Presbyterian Church at the foot of Mountain Avenue; grandson of Samuel Miller (1675-1759), carpenter; and great-grandson of William Miller (1650-1712), weaver, who acquired Lot 62 in the "Clinker Lot Subdivision" of 1699-1700, when the fields were apportioned into 100 acre lots among the Elizabethtown Associates. There is a tradition that when he went to reside in this lot, adjoining Joseph Lyon's at Scotch Plains. "the parting was rendered very solemn by the expectation that they should seldom if ever seen him again in Elizabethtown. But on the following Sabbath they found him waiting on the church steps.

In 1784, the house was sold to Joseph Cory by Jesse Miller, son of Samuel, for 579 pounds, 15 shillings. It remained in the Cory family until 1921 (137 years). It was known into the 20th Century as the "Old Cory Farm". The Cory family too, is one of the founding families of Elizabethtown and Westfield-Mountainside.

Joseph Cory, an elder of the Presbyterian Church, died in 1802 at the age of 45. His widow (Margaret Darby of Scotch Plains) probably lived here until 1810, and his son William owner the house from 1802-1866. William learned the trade of carpentry but afterwards became a farmer. He was married to Charity Baker, also of Scotch Plains.

Levi Cory, William's son, became the owner in 1867 when his sisters signed over their share to him. Levi, who was born in the Miller-Cory House, farmed the land, served on the Township Committee and was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He married Harriet B. Clark of Rahway. Levi owner other land in the area, including 2 New Providence Road, the present Mountainside office of Barrett & Crain (which he leased in 1891 to the founders of the Childrens Country Home- today the Children's Specialized Hospital).

Three years after Levi's death in 1895, Harriet deeded the house to Theresa Cory (believed to be her adopted daughter) but remained resident until her death in 1903. Theresa sold the house in 1921 to Jennie Steans, widow of the Rev. W. Irwin Steans, pastor of the PResbyterian Church from 1903 until his death in 1919.

Owners since 1921 have included George and Lillian Burrows )1923-1962) Donald and Isabel Jones (1962-1972) and the Westfield Historical Society has held the deed since 1972.

The Joneses restored and renovated the house. The Society formed the Miller-Cory Association, which further restored the house into an authentic early-American museum and educational center. It was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1972.

Sources:

Hatfield, Rev. Edwin, History of Elizabeth, 1868.
Clayton, W.M., History of Union and Middlesex Counties, 1882.
Philhower, Charles A. Commemorative History of the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, NJ, 1928
Genealogical Files, Westfield Historical Society

Compiled and Written by Ralph H. Jones, 12/07/1985