This historic farm has been occupied by only two families since 1756, the Garretsons & Hagemans. Their Dutch roots fit in nicely with the Dutch community that was developing in what is now Franklin Township. The first Garretsons moved from Gravesend, Brooklyn, to the Piscataway area of New Jersey in 1668. Barnardus Garretson was the son of Gerrit Garretson (b. 1698) and Marytje Wyckoff (b. 1701). Barnardus purchased the property in 1756 from Cornelius Wyckoff, a cousin of his wife. It was part of his holdings in the original Wyckoff Lot 5 of the Harrison Tract.
Barnardus served as a Revolutionary War soldier and as a local constable after the war. He was married to Leah Suydam and farmed the property for over four decades. When he died, Leah continued to farm, mostly under the supervision of her four maiden daughters. The fifth daughter, Magdalena, married Benjamin A. Hageman II. They had two sons, Bernardus (b 1810) and Benjamin (b 1812). Magdalena died in 1814 leaving two very young sons without a mother. Benjamin then persuaded her Garretson sisters to take care of them, as he could not run his farm and take care of two young sons. So the young boys moved to the Garretson Farm and lived there into the 1840s.
Adrian and Catherine Hageman emigrated from Dutch Amsterdam to New Amsterdam either late in 1652 or early 1653, settling in Flatbush, New York. By 1701 farmland was not available for growing Dutch families. In 1702, four grandsons of Adrian moved to the Six Mile Run area. A great-great-grandson, Adrian, purchased 350 acres. He had seven sons and three daughters. One of their sons was Benjamin B. Hageman, who married Magdalena Garretson. Benjamin moved to the Bridgewater area to farm in 1845 after he married Jane Van Wickle, a direct descendant of Symen Van Wickle. He farmed there for sixteen years. While there, they had two sons, Garretson and Samuel (who died in 1876).
In 1861, Benjamin was persuaded by his aunt Elizabeth, the last living Garretson sister, to return to the Garretson homestead on South Middlebush Road. That very year he built the regal Italianate-Victorian house that we have today. His son Garretson graduated from the Rutgers School of Engineering in the class of 1867. Garretson kept a journal for over forty years in which he chronicles 19th- century rural life. He also went into some detail as to where he got his ideas for the barns. One of statement was “We raised the barn in one day and no one was hurt”. He was responsible for the design and construction of the dairy, horse, and wagon barns. He finally got them built in 1876-77. There are no other barns like them anywhere else in the world. Their design was influenced by a combination of Dutch, English, and Victorian design styles. Garretson Hageman became the area’s land surveyor, civil engineer, and notary. The house passed to his son Peter in 1933, after the death of his grandmother. Peter was the Franklin Township Tax Collector from 1928 until his death in 1943; his wife assumed his duties, continuing for another 24 years.
For nearly 40 years the large room off the right side of the south porch served as the official office of the Franklin Township Tax Collector. Peter’s son Garretson continued to live on the farm with his family until 1972, when the threat of the proposed Six Mile Run Reservoir and state pressure forced the family to sell and leave.
The Hageman Farm remained deserted for five years, deteriorating from the weather, neglect, and extensive vandalism. Public concerns and the postponement of the Six Mile Run Reservoir moved the state to agree to dispose of the farm buildings. On July 13, 1978, the Franklin Township Council passed an ordinance authorizing the purchase of the farm and outbuildings for $100 and an annual lease of the surrounding 1.5 acres to be returned to the Township in lieu of taxes.