Joseph Gould

1737-1810 and 1745-1820


When researching records that are two centuries old, it is difficult to distinguish one person from another of the same name. Sometimes you can guess from the town they live in or the family around them or by their age at a certain time. But, when you find first cousins with the same name, in the same town, 8 years apart in age, there are some things that cannot be distinguished. And so, Joseph Gould and Joseph Gould, sons of John and Thomas, two of the first settlers of Horseneck, are presented here together, so that we will not lead the reader astray with our own assumptions as to which one is which.

Much more is known about Joseph Gould, the son of John and Abigail Woodruff Gould. He was born on July 16, 1737, in what is now Caldwell, New Jersey. In his early 20s, he married Rebekkah Paxton and the two went on to have 11 children over the next 25 years. The first 7, Sarah, Daniel, Abigail, John, Thomas, William and Anthony, were born before the War. Three were born during the War, Stephen S., an unnamed son and Joseph Paxton and finally Mary was born after peace had been declared.

Like so many others in his family, Joseph joined the Essex County militia during the Revolution. Records show that he served in Captain Squire’s Company, Second Regiment, Essex Battalion, New Jersey, as a private.

Joseph lived out the rest of his days in Caldwell. He died in his home on the 7th of December, 1810 at the age of 73. We know this is Joseph, the son of John, because the age matches his date of birth and because of references to his family in his Will. (NJ Abstract of Wills, written 29 Sept 1808, proved 20 Mar 1811.) Therefore, we know that it is his obituary in the Centinel of Freedom newspaper, which describes him; “Mr. Gould was a man of very domestic habits, had been born where he died, an affectionate husband, a tender parent, a friendly and obliging neighbor and an honest man.” The text goes on to report that Joseph was an “exemplary member of the Church… Which Church he contributed in an eminent degree to institute and establish.” The Reverend Stephen Grover gave his eulogy. (Gould, Joseph – death, Centinel of Freedom, Newark, 18 Dec 1810, Vol. XV, Num 13, p. 3)

From this obituary, we might be safe in assuming that it is this Joseph Gould who was one of the original trustees for the Church at Horseneck and whose name is among those on the document that incorporated the church in 1787 changing the name from First English Presbyterian Congregation of Horseneck to the First English Presbyterian Congregation at Caldwell. (A Puritan Heritage, Lockward p. 84-86)

Joseph Gould, the son of John and Abigail Gould is buried with many members of his large family, in the Old Burying Ground in Caldwell.

Joseph Gould, the son of Thomas and Sarah Johnson Gould is more of a mystery. He is thought to have lived from 1737 to 1820. He married Sarah Ward in 1768 in the Hanover Presbyterian Church in Morris County, New Jersey. It is said that he drowned in the Passaic River in Little Falls on 24 August 1820. Since there is no record of his burial in the Old Burying Ground, he might have been left out of this collection, but because of his extensive family connection and the possibility that his records are lost, it was thought fitting to give him mention.

As to Joseph Gould’s service record during the Revolution, it is also mysterious. There is a private by this name listed on the Bounty Roll of Col. Philip VanCourtlandt’s Regiment, Essex County Militia, commanded by Capt Thomas Williams. Horseneck neighbors William Sandford, David Ogden and Enos Martin appear on this same page.

There is a more unusual story of patriotic service that has, at times, been attributed to both of these men. Joseph Gould is said to have been a spy for General Washington, sent to drive cattle to Elizabethtown Point, swim them across the Hudson River and sell them to the British army stationed in New York City. By this means, he was supposed to gain intelligence for Washington and the Continental Army. (, Joseph Gould 1737-1810, Joseph Gould 1744/45-1820)