Jacob Kent was born on October 1st in the year 1753, in the Horseneck tract of Newark Township (which encompassed most of the area we call "West Essex") in Essex County in the colony of New Jersey. He was born to Maritje Maria Spier of Second River, now Belleville, and Simon Kindt of the Newbounds section of Newark Township. He was the sixth of their eight children.
Jacob led a long and busy life as a farmer in Horseneck. He married for the first time at 19 to a girl of about the same age, Abigail Edwards. She was called Effie. Together they had13 children before Effie passed away in 1797, at the age of 45. Jacob married again soon after to Keziah Dodd, who was 21 years old at the time of their marriage. Together they had six more children.
Unfortunately most of the information that is passed on with time are the tragic events in our lives. Keziah and Jacob lost one of their youngest children, Nancy, in 1816 when the seven-year-old was struck by lightning. At some point over the years at least two of Jacob's sons from his first marriage moved out west.
Pension applications in the Court of Common Pleas provide a fascinating look into the experiences of Revolutionary War veterans. They occurred after an 1832 Act offering pensions to these veterans. In 1833, Jacob Kent testified, to the best of his recollection, about his service in the Revolution. He was in his mid-70s and suffering from some infirmity at the time, but his general recollections are noteworthy. He was born and raised in what is now Livingston. He entered the service in the summer of 1776 and served for 2 months under Captain Thomas Williams, stationed in Elizabethtown, which is now Elizabeth, New Jersey. He continued to serve on and off, as was the custom for the milita, throughout the duration of the war. He recalled serving at different times under Captains Thomas Williams, Elijah Squire, Isaac Gilliam, Robert Nichols, Henry Joralemon and a Capt. Pierson.
During the course of his service he was stationed in several areas of Northern New Jersey including Elizabethtown, Newark, Belleville, Springfield and Hackensack, as well as, on Long Island and Staten Island. He recalled building redoubts and fortifications in the early part of the war on Long Island. He fought in the Battles of Springfield and Connecticut Farms (now Union, NJ) under Captain Elijah Squires and helped them drive the enemy into Elizabethtown. He recalled battling the Jaegers near Springfield and having two men killed a few feet from him. Under the command of Captain Squire, he was in a party of men who captured 17 British prisoners near Elizabethtown Point after the Battle of Springfield. He also recalled fighting the Refugees in Bergen County. The Refugees were Loyalist bandits who looted through the countryside.
Jacob told the judge of a time when he engaged with the British and the Refugees near Belleville and chased them to the area known as Hackensack, returning to Slaughterdam which had already wisely been renamed Fair Lawn. Jacob told of frequent skirmishes in the area of New Brunswick during the winter that the enemy was in possession of that town. He was frequently injured in skirmishes. He served under several field officers: General Maxwell, General Wynes, Colonel Van Cortlandt and Major Hays. [Jacob Kent, pension year 1833, NJ, Survivor’s Pension Application File, Archive Publication #M804, Archive Roll #1474, total pages in packet - 31.]
Jacob also served at Valley Forge from December 1777 through 19 Jun 1778, and was promoted to Sergeant 28 Feb 1778. He was with the 3rd NJ, Maxwell’s Brigade, Capt Jeremiah Ballard’s company. [http://valleyforgemusterroll.org/muster.asp?id=NJ28168 and https://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=hswc&id=I24340]
After spending a good deal of his young adulthood fighting in the revolution and his middle years working as a farmer and supporting his growing family, Jacob Kent passed away at the age of 87 on June 2, 1841. The Newark Eagle newspaper reported at his death, "He has had, by 2 wives, 20 children (18 of whom are now living with their families), 121 grandchildren, 126 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild -- making in all 268 direct descendants at the time of his death." [Ancestry.com Army and navy chronicle, and Scientific repository, Vol 11 by William Quereau Force.]
Jacob Kent's final resting place is in the Old Burying Ground by the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell. His epitaph reads, "A soldier of the revolution, a man of strict integrity, an affectionate husband and father of a numerous family." Jacob’s wife, Keziah, passed away the next year. She and Effie also rest in peace in the Old Burying Ground with their dear husband. [Lockward, Lynn G. A Puritan Heritage; The First Presbyterian Church in Horse-Neck (Caldwell, N.J.). 1955. P. 462 ]