Van Pelt House

189 Freneau Avenue

(Built c. 1735)

The property on which the Van Pelt house stands was purchased by Wouter (Walter) Van Pelt and an in-law in 1717 from Hendrick Van Guelder, the miller next door (on what is now Mill Road).  Wouter lived in New Utrecht in what is now Brooklyn, where the Van Pelts originally settled in the 17th Century.  He did not move to this property himself but his son Teunis did, in about 1735–that’s when Teunis and his wife started baptizing children in Monmouth County and when part of the Van Pelt house was built, based on a tree ring (dendrochronology) study done on one of the beams by Prof. Richard Veit.  Starting with Teunis, the house was passed down from father to son for 4 generations, all of whom lived here and farmed the land.  The 5th generation owner, Jacob, was a nephew and grew up nearby.

Teunis’ son Peter Van Pelt was a soldier in the Revolution and fought in the Battle of Monmouth; Peter’s son Hendrick served in the local militia. Peter became the owner after his father Teunis died and Hendrick would have grown up in the house.

Some of the Van Pelts who remained in Brooklyn helped Matawan’s whale boat navy capture Red Coats on one of its raids.

The last of the original Van Pelts, Jacob, sold the house and land in 1886 to Almira Black, an in-law.  Thereafter it passed to Walter Brown and Clara Turner.  In a strange twist of fate, Clara’s daughter Beatrice Van Pelt inherited the house in 1963.  Beatrice’s husband John Van Pelt was a direct descendant of that Peter who fought in the Revolution.  Beatrice and John thus became the 6th generation of Van Pelts to occupy the house; they lived out their lives there.  She was an active member of the Matawan Historical Society.

With its wood shingle siding, low sloping roof, and knee wall windows, the Van Pelt House is a good example of the early cottages in Mount Pleasant, the oldest settled area of Matawan now known as Freneau.



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