John Ogden was an extraordinary man, living in an extraordinary
time. Born in Lancashire, England, in 1609, he brought his family
to America in 1641 to accept a contract building a dam and mill
for the newly founded settlement of Rippowam, now Stamford, Connecticut.
For the next forty-one years, Ogden made many significant contributions
to early colonial America.
very early map of American colonies and settlements, indicating
places where the Ogden family lived or worked. (Large
In 1642 he and his brother, both stonemasons, built the first permanent
stone church in New Amsterdam, now New York City. Leaving Stamford,
He founded the settlements of Hempstead and North Sea, on Long
Island, where he would remain for twenty years. In 1651 He was
granted the first commercial whaling license in America, establishing
what would become the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’
most storied industry. He also built and operated grist and lumber
mills, and a tannery; and operated a successful trading business
throughout the colonies.
In 1665 John Ogden was the leading founder of Elizabethtown, the
first permanent settlement in what would become the colony, then
state, of New Jersey. For the remaining seventeen years of his
life, he would lead his town and colony in their ongoing struggle
against the attempted seizure of their lands and government by
a succession of English proprietors.
His actions in this regard made him one of our country’s
earliest patriots. However, the rightful record of his deeds was
lost amidst early New Jersey’s tumultuous land struggles,
which were unique among America’s original thirteen colonies.
John Ogden and a group of early Elizabethtown settlers
meet warily with the new men send by the English proprietors
to govern them, in 1665.
The story of John Ogden’s life, and his heroic struggle
for justice, has never been told before. It is a story all Americans
should read, particularly extended members of the distinguished
American family of Ogden.