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John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609-1682)



John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609-1682) - A Man of More Than Ordinary Mark

Jack Harpster


Now nearly forgotten, John Ogden was one of our country’s earliest patriots­­ – a man who stood tall against the intrusion of foreign intervention in colonial affairs, and who left a significant footprint in 17th century America.

An accomplished stonemason, Ogden was born in Lancashire, England in 1609. He emigrated to the New World in 1641, arriving in Rippowam (now Stamford, Connecticut) to build a dam and grist mill for the community. In 1642 he was hired to build the first permanent stone church in Fort Amsterdam, then but a small dusty settlement at the foot of Manhattan Island.

Leaving Stamford in 1644, Ogden spent the next twenty-one years on Long Island. Among his other accomplishments there, he established the first commercial whaling enterprise in America.

In 1665 Odgen became one of the original patentees on the Elizabethtown Purchase, the first English settlement in the Colony of New Jersey. For the next nineteen years, until his death in 1682, he led the community through the difficult years of conflict between the settlers – who had purchased their land directly from the Native Americans – and the English proprietors, who attempted to usurp the settler’s property and their government. On one occasion he risked almost everything he owned rather than accede to a foreign authority that he felt had no legal standing. This single act of civil disobedience should allow him to stand with the foremost patriots in our history.

Ogden’s service to his community included many stints as a magistrate, first at the town level, and later at the East New Jersey colony level. He was also chosen on many occasions to lead delegations to deal with the Native Americans, who trusted him completely.

His years in New Jersey also saw Ogden develop and pursue many business interests. He built with his own hands a gristmill, a lumber mill, a tanyard and a brickyard. He also conducted a successful trading business, and established another whaling company.

No accurate information has been previously published about John Ogden’s earliest years in England. A one-hundred year old genealogical study on the Ogden family in America – which has served as the foundation for much of our information about the man – is inaccurate. Using both direct and inferential information, Mr. Harpster has recreated that early time, providing the first ever look at the ancestral home of the Ogdens and explaining how they came to emigrate to America. The author has also delved deeply into early colonial records to discuss the Ogden family’s life and times in America during the mid- to late-1600s. The story is highlighted by many colorful incidents and descriptions, often told in the words of contemporary colonial Americans.

John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609-1682) – a Man of More than Ordinary Mark provides new history – and often rewrites existing history – about an important colonial American pioneer. It is an absorbing, insightful biography set in an exciting, but understudied, period of American history.


"Despite the absence of letters or journals . . . and the deterioration of early records on both sides of the Atlantic, A Man of More Than Ordinary Mark successfully evokes the life and milieu of this fascinating man. . . . Jack Harpster has produced a genial and scholarly reconstruction of ‘The Pilgrim’s’ life and significance rather than an uncritical panegyric. I heartily recommend this absorbing biography.”

- Kalman Goldstein, Professor Emeritus of History, Fairleigh Dickinson University


Format: 6" x 9" paperback on permanent paper, printed in the United States
Pages 250, including List of Illustrations, Preface, Acknowledgments, Introduction, Text, Chronology of the Life of John Ogden, Appendix, Notes, Works Cited, Index, About the Author
Illustrations: 20, including portraits and engravings, maps, copies of period documents
ISBN 10: 1-939995-13-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-939995-13-1
LCCN: 2015959011
Price: $19.95 (Bulk order rates are available upon request)

About the Author

Jack Harpster, author of "Lumber Baron of the Comstock Lode - The Life and Times of Duane L. Bliss"

Jack Harpster is a 10th-generation descendant of John Odgen, the Pilgrim. Jack was born in Burlington, Vermont, raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and earned his degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. He spent the next forty-two years on the business side of the newspaper industry, first in Torrance, California, and later in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now retired in Reno, Nevada he spends his time researching and writing history and biography books on important but little known people and institutions. Harpster currently has eight books published, with a ninth book coming out in mid- to late-2016.

Harpster's third book, a biography on his first cousin four times removed, William B. Ogden, was published in 2009 by Southern Illinois University Press. It is the biography of another Ogden family member, a very influential man in 19th century American history, but today all but forgotten. Ogden was one of Chicago's founders, its first mayor, one of the nation's earliest railroad builders, and a major force in the country's western expansion.

Harpster can be reached at

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 02 December, 2015.

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