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History of the Early Settlement and Progress of Cumberland County By L. Q. C. Elmer - Chapter 4

 

72 MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

CHAPTER IV.

MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

THE Indian name of the principal river running into Delaware Bay was Wahtquenack, and there has been a tradition, which like many other errors has passed into history, that its present name Maurice, was derived from the circumstance that a vessel called the Prince Maurice was burnt at an early date by the Indians, in the reach since called, "No Man's Friend." Whatever may be the truth, as to the burning of the vessel, while she was repairing, according to one version of the story, it is much more probable that the name was given to the river either by Mey, or DeVries, captains of Dutch vessels, who visited the bay, the former in 1623 and the other in 1631. A map of "Nieuw Nederland," published at Amsterdam in 1676, including New Jersey and Zuyd Revier, or South River, as the Dutch called the Delaware, marks very distinctly the entrance of Maurice River into the bay, and names it Mauritius Revier. The same name, evidently the Dutch or Latin name for Maurice, Prince of Orange, was given by some of the Dutch writers to the Hudson. When the county of Cape May was established by the legislature of West Jersey in 1692, they bounded it on the east side of Morris River, so spelled in the printed law. In the act of 1694 it is called Prince Morris' River. When the county was set off from Salem, the law describing the township, bounds it on Prince Maurice' River; but the township is called Maurice River precinct.

In 1691 John Worlidge and John Budd, surveyors from Burlington, in the employment of the principal proprietors of West Jersey, visited the streams on the lower part of the Delaware in a vessel, and set off large surveys on both sides of Maurice River. On the west side at the mouth they set off 10,000 acres for Wasse, on the east side one of 20,000 acres for Robert Squibb, most of which afterwards became the property of Thomas Byerly. Above Byerly's survey, 2500 acres were set off for a town plot and called

 

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Dorchester; it includes Leesburg, but no town was built or even commenced until more than a century afterwards. Above this was a survey to Bartlett, afterwards John Scott's, located for 10,000 acres, but containing more than double that quantity. All the early surveys contained many more acres than were returned.

But few permanent settlements were made on either side of Maurice River until after the formation of the county. There were, however, a sufficient number as early as 1720, to require the appointment of a constable "for Morris River," by the court of Quarter Sessions at Salem. Ten years after this one was appointed for the upper part and one for the lower. The old Cape Road, or as it was commonly called the King's Road, originally followed the Indian paths, crossing the Cohansey and Maurice Rivers above the tide, that is to say, the former at or near Bridgeton, and the latter about where the Union pond now is, thence across the Menantico at Learning's mill, and the Manamuskin at the mill where Cumberland furnace was afterwards placed, now called Manamuskin Manor, and thence over Dennis' Creek swamp, near where the railroad now crosses the same. The mill afterwards owned by and called Learning's mill, was built as early as 1720 by Rawson. Scott commenced selling parts of his tract, about this time, adjoining Manamuskin and Maurice River. The site of Port Elizabeth was sold probably about this time to John Purple.

Thomas Chalkley, a Friend from England, who married a sister of Jacob Spicer, states in his journal, 2d Month (April) 1726: "From Cohansey through the wilderness over Maurice River, accompanied by James Daniels, through a miry, boggy way in which we saw no house for about forty miles except at the ferry; and that night we got to Richard Townsend's at Cape May." Townsend lived in the upper precinct, not far from Tuckahoe but where the ferry over Maurice River was, at which Chalkley crossed, is unknown; it was probably below Port Elizabeth.

A road was laid out in 1705, from Salem to Maurice River, which crossed Alloway's Creek at Quinton's Bridge, the Cohansey at Greenwich, thence to Henry Brooks' at Fairfield, then keeping the road by the meeting-house, on the bank of the river, at New England Town to Grimes' bridge (probably over Rattlesnake Run at Fairton) then keeping the old road until it cometh to the road going to Daniel England's saw-mill, to two oak trees marked M. M. Daniel England's mill was at Buckshutem, and was afterwards

 

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called Carmack's mill. It was probably this road that was travelled by Chalkley. Although all the roads were originally laid out for six rods, or four rods wide, they were seldom opened, and until long after 1720 were only travelled on horseback.

Wasse's tract west of the river was not sold out in parcels until after 1738. Prior to 1750, William Dollas, a Friend, purchased the land at the place since called Port Norris, and. for many years a ferry was maintained there, this being one of the thoroughfares from Greenwich to Cape May, and may have been the ferry mentioned by Chalkley.

John Peterson, of Swedish origin, located the land where Mauricetown now is and settled there in 1730. He laid surveys on several tracts in the neighborhood. Subsequently Luke Mattox owned the property, and from him it was called Mattox landing, until about 1814, when three brothers named Compton became the proprietors, laid out the village of Mauricetown, and built several handsome dwelling-houses. It is now a flourishing place, the principal inhabitants being engaged in the coasting and river trade, which although subject to occasional depressions, has been in the main prosperous.

The site of Dorchester was purchased by Peter Reeve just previous to 1800, and he laid out the town and commenced selling lots. At that time there were but three houses in the vicinity. A sawmill had been erected at an early date. Most of the original settlers here, as has been stated, were Swedes. Some of them appear to have taken leases under the proprietors. The names of Peterson, Lord, Errickson, Hanneman, Reagan (corrupted to Riggins) Hoffman, and others still remain.

Leesburg was established by two brothers named Lee, ship. carpenters from Egg-harbor, some time about the year 1800. An old graveyard on the bank of the river, partly washed away, indicates that there were several settlers in the neighborhood at a much earlier date. William Carlisle, now one of the wealthiest proprietors, went there in 1795, and found only two or three houses. It has been a place for building coasting vessels from the beginning. In 1850 James Ward built a marine railway, and now there are two there, besides one at Dorchester. Vessels are constantly on the stocks and undergoing repair at both these places. This region has advanced during the last year more perceptibly than any other part of the township. There is much good land in

 

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the neighborhood, capable of great improvement a an agricultural district. The new railroad to Cape May passes through an uncultivated district where, although most of the land is poor, there is much that is good, which it is believed will be settled and cultivated soon.

The bay shore and up the river for several miles was naturally a salt marsh. Above Port Norris it was banked and reclaimed at an early period. And it must be remembered that the first settlers established their farms on the banks of the streams, and depended on the natural marshes or embanked meadows for their hay. Lays were passed as early as 1760 for erecting banks by the joint efforts of the proprietors on the Cohansey. Until within the last thirty years, since when the introduction of lime and other fertilizers has enabled the farmers to raise hay of a better quality on their upland, the reclaimed meadows, notwithstanding the great expense generally attending the maintenance of the banks, were almost indispensable, and commanded a high price. Those on Maurice River, which are easily renovated by the muddy sediment deposited from the water when allowed to flow over them, are of an excellent quality, and are still of much value. The relative price, however, of upland and meadow land has undergone a considerable change, the former having risen and the latter depreciated in value.

About the year 1809 Messrs. Coates & Brinton commenced an embankment on the east side and near the mouth of Maurice River, about four miles in extent. In 1816 they extended their bank at great expense along the shore of the bay to East Creek, placing a dam at the mouth of West Creek, making a bank about fifteen miles long and inclosing several thousand acres of land. The promise of remuneration for this great outlay, which was never very encouraging, was entirely disappointed by the great storm of 1821, still remembered and spoken of throughout South Jersey as "the September Gale," which swept away the greater part of the bank. It occurred on the first Monday of September, nomination day for members of Assembly, and blew down and injured much of the woodland in the county. Many of the Lombardy poplars, then very common around our dwellings, were blown down; but this proved to be no loss, the tree, although for a time very popular, not being desirable for any purpose. No attempt to repair the bank was made until 1849, when Gen. Cadwallader, of Philadelphia, who had

 

76 MAURICE RIVER, Millville, AND LANDIS.

been owner of the property, inclosed about 1200 acres, at the mouth of the river, which are now of much value.

Besides the natural oyster beds near the mouth of the river, this product of the waters has been greatly increased, by planting them in the cove. These oysters are esteemed the best that are found in the Delaware, owing no doubt to the fact that the water which flows out of the river has in it much vegetable sediment upon which they live and fatten. The proper habitation of a good oyster is where the salt water of the ocean is diluted by fresh water from an inland stream, bringing with it a sufficient supply of vegetable matter. A very considerable business employing many small sloops and schooners, has grown out of the planting, gathering, and carrying to market of oysters produced in Delaware Bay, which is susceptible of great increase, and would undoubtedly be far more advantageous to the citizens of this State, if the property of the soil under the water, suitable for producing them, could become private property. The tenacity with which the privilege of holding a right to common property in the upland and in the water has been held not only in this country, but in Europe, although perhaps natural enough, has always proved detrimental to the community. Those commons which were adjacent to all the villages in England, and which it cost years of conflict to divide by means of inclosure acts, have entirely disappeared to the great benefit of the people. And it cannot be doubted that the many thousand dollars expended by this State, in obtaining the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Martin vs. Waddell, decided in 1842 that the land under the navigable waters of the State is public property up to high water mark, and does not belong to the proprietors, was sadly 'misspent. Happily, however, the whole subject is in the power of the legislature, and will some time be properly regulated. The right of private property, as human nature is constituted, is indispensable to induce an energetic and profitable use of the land, whether covered with water or susceptible of cultivation, and suitable for the habitation of man.

The present site of Port Elizabeth was purchased of John Scott by John Purple, about the year 1720. The land on the west side of the Manamuskin was purchased by different persons soon after. Among the purchasers was John Hoffman, who made the deed for the property on which the Swedes church was erected. The grand

 

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father of the late Jonathan Lore purchased and moved on to his farm about the year 1750. At that time he owned the only horse on the creek, and there was but one ox. He built a barn which is still standing, the frame of which was cut and hewed at Antuxet and floated down to the bay and to Maurice River, and thence up to the farm. When it was raised, it being about 25 by 40 feet in size, the people assisting said there never would be enough hay cut on the river to fill it. In 1771 John Bell, who bad become the owner of the property, sold it to Mrs. Elizabeth Clark, afterwards Bodley, from whom the name of the place originated. A darn was put across the mouth of the Manamuskin, for the sake of the valuable meadows above before 1782, in which year a law was passed authorizing it. Mrs. Bodley laid out the town about the year 1785. When in that year the act of Congress was passed establishing districts for the collection of the duties imposed on imported goods, the eastern side of the Delaware from above Camden to Cape May was constituted the district of Bridgeton, and the towns of Salem and Port Elizabeth on Maurice River were made ports of delivery. All vessels requiring a license, the owners of which reside in this district, are required by the laws to letter them as belonging to one of these places, or to Bridgeton, which is the only port of entry. For a few years after this act was passed there was some trading out of Maurice River and the Cohansey to the West Indies; but for the last thirty years or more, this has entirely ceased. The tendency of canals, railroads and other modern improvements, is to concentrate trade in the great marts of business, where there' are greater facilities for carrying it on.

The road from Port Elizabeth to Tuckahoe was laid and opened in 1796. In the year 1794 an act of the legislature appointed commissioners to lay out and open roads from Bridgeton to Cooper's Ferry, as Camden was then designated, and also from Roadstown and from Port Elizabeth to Bridgeton. These commissioners laid these roads, but only that from Roadstown to Cooper's Ferry was opened. That from Port Elizabeth to Bridgeton passed through Buckshootem, but it was never opened. One nearly in the same place was afterwards laid in the usual manner.

Joshua Brick, a son of John Brick, a prominent citizen of the county, who at one time owned what are now Sheppard's and Wood's mills, went to Maurice River about 1795. He, and his son Joshua, who died at an advanced age in 1860, were leading

 

78 MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

Inhabitants of Port Elizabeth, especially the son. He laid out the town called Bricksborough, and sold lots there in 1807. Neither place, although they are well situated for trade, has attained the importance that was expected. They may indeed be characterized as decayed villages. There is no reason, however, to doubt that they will hereafter greatly improve.

James Lee, of Irish descent, removed to this place from Chester County, Pennsylvania, about the year 1797, and in 1801 his half brother Thomas came. James, who was an active enterprising man, too spasmodic in his efforts to succeed well, established glassworks in connection with Philadelphians, near where they still remain, in the year 1801. They made window glass. He did not, however, long remain an owner, having after a few years engaged in works at Millville and at Bridgeton. About 1817 he removed to the west, and died at New Orleans. In 1816 the glassworks at Port Elizabeth were purchased by a company of Germans, of whom the Getsingers were prominent members, who carried them on nearly thirty years. About 1813 works were erected on the east side of Manamuskin, just south of the road, which were carried on several years, but have long since been taken down. About 1830 glassworks were established at Marshallville, in the extreme eastern corner of the township, on the Tuckahoe River, and are still continued.

One of the well known citizens of this place was Dr. Benjamin Fisler, who died at the advanced age of eighty-five in 1854. His father and mother were natives of Switzerland. Their eleven children were remarkable for their longevity, one only dying at forty-five, the others from seventy-three to ninety-three, and the aggregate of their ages amounting to 883 years. The Doctor was admitted as a preacher among the Methodists in 1791, and was for a time a missionary in Nova Scotia. He settled in Port Elizabeth in 1798, and was the leading and most of the time the only physician of the place for about fifty-five years, being at the same time a very acceptable local preacher. His descendants are quite numerous, but none of them remain at the old homestead. Thomas Lee married his sister.

The first tavern stood near. the creek, just below Oglee's store. The present tavern house was built in 1803.In 1838 the present truss-bridge over the Manamuskin was built by the Board of Freeholders.

 

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The districts of country bordering on the Menantico and Manamuskin, the most important tributaries of Maurice River, were originally covered with pine and other trees, and produced much good lumber for market. Saw-mills were erected on these streams at an early day. Eli Budd, who was originally of the family of Friends of that name in Burlington County, but who became a Methodist as early as 1785, in this year purchased the property at the head of the Manamuskin, and afterwards put up a forge for manufacturing iron. About 1810 his son Wesley, in company with one or more persons in Philadelphia, established, a blast furnace at the place now called Manamuskin Manor, formerly Cumberland Furnace. In 1818 they failed, and the property went into new hands. Subsequently the iron manufacture was profitably maintained at this place by Edward Smith, of Philadelphia, and continued until 1840, when the coal on about 15,000 acres of' land connected with the establishment, being entirely consumed, the business was abandoned, and the works went to decay. The large transportation of ore and other materials consumed, and of the iron manufactured, was carried on by the channel of Menantico Creek up to Schooner Landing, and thence by the ordinary road. A furnace was established on the Tuckahoe River about 1820, but did not long continue in use.

For the first forty or fifty years f this century the production of iron in blast furnaces was a very important branch of business in the southern part of New Jersey. The ore used was principally what is called bog ore, much of which was dug in the swamps of Downs Township, and other parts of the county, and in Gloucester and Burlington Counties. It appears to have been iron held in solution by water, and deposited during a long succession of years in the sand or mud of low places. The quantity found in this county was not large, and was soon exhausted. Afterwards the ore was brought from the State of Delaware, and from Burlington County. It was smelted by the use of lime as a flux, either in the shape of oyster-shells or of stone-lime, and was of so good a quality as to be run directly from the furnace into stove and other castings. The stoves used in Philadelphia, the northern part of New York, and in the Eastern States, were to a large extent made in New Jersey. What could not be made into castings, was run into pigs; but this was only an inconsiderable portion of the whole. As the charcoal used was the most bulky and most im-

 

80 MAURICE RIVER, XILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

portant article, the ore was taken to the places where this* was produced. The manufacture of iron in this manner is believed to have entirely ceased. Castings are now made almost exclusively by melting pig and other iron, in what are called cupola furnaces.

Schooner Landing, on the Menantico, about a mile below where the railroad crosses that stream, was at one time a place of considerable business. The road from Millville to Port Elizabeth passed through here originally. In the year 1793, Fithian Stratton, afterwards well known as an energetic but eccentric Methodist preacher, purchased the property, and in 1800 laid out a town of considerable size, which he called "Stratton Burrough," the last part so spelled for borough. He made efforts to have a bridge over Maurice River, west of the place, and a direct road to Bridgeton; hoping thus to get ahead of Millville. The project however failed, and although some dozen houses were erected, they have all been removed, the borough has disappeared, and the name passed into oblivion. The bridge, over the creek was abandoned and sold, and the road vacated. This was the result of the final establishment, after e long contest, of the present straight road, and the bridge over the Menantico, not far from its mouth, which was completed in 1820.

There was no town at the place now called Millville, until after the commencement of the present century. Until 1756 the road travelled from Cohansey Bridge to Maurice River Township and Cape May, called-as the roads laid out by the public officers usually were-the King's highway, passed over Chatfield branch, at a dam made by the beavers, and still known as Beaver Dam, where, in the olden time, there was a tavern, and thence across Maurice River, above the tide, a little below the entrance of Lebanon branch, and thence across the Menantico at Learning's Mill. Some time before 1754 a bridge had been built over Maurice River where this king's highway crossed, which, at the May term of this year, was presented by the grand jury as a nuisance for being out of order; and the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Mr. Justice Neville presiding, ordered the township of Maurice River to pay a fine of ten pounds, unless it was repaired by the next term. Shortly after, and probably in consequence of this proceeding, a public road was laid from Berriman's Branch, near Learning's Mill, to Shingle Landing, on the east side of the river, a little below the present bridge; and a bridge, resting on log cribs, was

 

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built over the river. In 1756 a road was laid from this new bridge, commencing at Lucas Peterson's house, supposed to have been the house on the west side of the river, afterwards kept as a tavern, to the beaver dam, which soon superseded the old King's highway, now entirely disused and forgotten. After this, for many years, the place was called the New Bridge.

Prior to 1790, Henry Drinker, Joseph Smith, and others, forming a company called the Union Company, had purchased 24,000 acres of land, comprising the principal part of the 19,563 acres survey laid for Thomas and Richard Penn, and of their 6000 acres survey, and of several small surveys to other persons. The site of Millville is on the first-named survey. This company put up the dam, and raised the pond still known as the Union Mill Pond, and established mills. Large floating-gates were put in this dam, and since maintained for floating down the lumber; and until the last twenty years a considerable quantity was taken to market in that way.

In 1795 the Union property was purchased by Eli Elmer, Joseph Buck, and Robert Smith, and they sold one-twelfth part to Ezekiel Foster. Joseph Buck, who had been sheriff of the county, soon removed from Bridgeton to Maurice River Bridge, where he died in 1803. He laid out the town, and called it Millville, the object being to bring the water from the Union pond, and to establish the mills and other works on the banks of the river. This plan, however, was not then carried out. In 1801 the township was set off by law as it remained until Landis Township was formed.

The tavern-house at the northeast corner of Main and High Streets was built by Mr. Buck for his residence, but was not used as a tavern until several years afterwards. A house on the west side of the river, near the bridge as it then existed, with a considerable tract of land, was owned by Alexander Moore, of Bridgeton, and in this a tavern was kept. In 1813, when it was owned by his grandson, Alexander T. Moore, a law was passed authorizing him to dam the river at that place, but the work was never commenced. At a later date a law was obtained to authorize the construction of a navigable canal from Malaga, but the project shared the same fate as the other.

The tavern-house at the northwest corner of Main and High Streets was built by Bernard M'Credy, about 1811. After the death of Mr. Buck, his executors sold the lots of the town as he

 

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had laid it out, of which, however, no authentic record is known to exist. So slight was the prospect then considered that the town would increase, that several of the purchasers neglected to take their deeds, and so the property remained for more than thirty years, until his heirs claimed, took possession of, and disposed of it. In 1858 a survey and map of the town were completed under the directions of the township committee, and in March, 1859, a law was enacted, that, upon the map being filed in the clerk's office, showing the location of the different streets, they should become public highways.

Union Mill, and much of the land originally belonging to the company, became the property of Thomas Stone, and in 1806 was purchased by Keyser & Gorgas. In 1813 they sold to James Lee and others, and they to Smith & Wood, of Philadelphia. The firm of Smith & Wood commenced the extension of the canal, which had been previously begun, and brought down the water, and erected a blast furnace, which for a time they carried on. In 1822 Smith sold out, and the property was owned and carried on by David 0. Wood until 1850, when it and the appurtenant tracts of land, comprising near twenty thousand acres, became the property of Richard D. Wood, of Philadelphia. Iron castings continued to be made until about 1849, when the manufacture of iron directly from the ore was discontinued. The annual product was about '800 tons.

Two large establishments for smelting and moulding iron from the pigs have been substituted, at which very heavy, castings are made, the whole annual product being from four to five thousand tons.

The canal having been enlarged, a cotton mill was put in operation in 1854, at a cost of about 250,000 dollars. There are over 18,000 spindles, 430 looms, employing 350 hands, to whom wages are paid exceeding sixty thousand per annum. The average monthly product is about 160,000 yards of cotton cloth, which may be largely increased. The main building is 280 feet long four stories in height, lighted with gas, which it is proposed shortly to introduce into the town.

About the year 1806 James Lee and others started a glass manufactory above the bridge, and afterwards the business was continued by successive firms. For several years window glass was made, but for some thirty years past the establishment made only

 

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hollow ware. In 1832 the works at Schetterville, south of the town, were commenced, and made window glass until 1854, since which time only hollow ware has been made. The two establishments are now carried on by one firm, who produce annually glass of the value of 250 to 300 thousand dollars. Until within the last three or four years these works used only wood, of which, of course, large quantities were consumed. Now much the largest proportion of the fuel is coal, the annual consumption being about 4000 tons, and 1500 cords of wood. There are six furnaces in all, of which five are kept in operation, producing about 4000 dozen bottles daily. About 150 tons of sand, 95,000 pounds of soda ash, 1250 bushels of lime, and 150 bushels of salt, are used monthly. A manufactory of flint glass ware is in the process of erection.

Contemporaneous with the introduction of glassworks was the discovery of immense beds, or rather banks, of fine sand on the west side of the river, from two to five miles below the town. This is of so good a quality that besides the domestic consumption, from eight to ten thousand tons are annually exported to Boston and other places.

Until 1807 the bridge was without a draw for the passage of masted vessels. In that year a new one was built, containing a draw or hoist, a little above the site of the original structure, the timber and other materials of which were sold. In 1816 it was found necessary to build a new bridge, and considerable effort was made to have it placed so as to conform to the main street of the town, but after much contention the Board of Freeholders decided to build on the old site. So imperfect was the structure, that in 1837 a new one was found necessary, and a law having been obtained for the purpose, and the road on the west side being laid to conform, it was put as, it now stands; in a line with the street. This bridge as well as that over the Cohansey being much used and having until, recently been badly constructed, have been very expensive affairs. The existing bridge was finished in 1861.

The site of the town was a sandy knoll, so that the roads through it were always bad except a short time when frozen, and the sidewalks were unpleasant until by the aid of clay and gravel they have been made good. While swing wells were in use a bet was made that an excavation large enough to hold a barrel could not be filled by drawing water and pouring it from the bucket from sunrise to sl2nset; a wager, the unlucky operator of the swing was

 

84 MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

glad to acknowledge he had lost long before the set time expired.

Until after the commencement of this century, there were not more than five or six houses in the neighborhood of the bridge. This being the bead of navigation, the same causes that produced a town at Cohansey bridge operated here. Large tracts of land covered with wood and timber had only this outlet to market. Until the erection of the furnace and the glass-house, almost the only employment of the people in this vicinity was the cutting and carting of wood, and, taking it to Philadelphia, then the only market accessible. This business still continues to a considerable extent, but the prosperity of the place is no longer dependent on it, the business of manufacturing iron castings and glass, and more recently cotton, being far more important and productive. The population, for many years, increased very slowly. In 1840 there were about 1000 inhabitants, in 1850 about 1500, and in 1860 about 3200, and they are rapidly increasing. Up to 1815 the stage route to Philadelphia was by the way of Bridgeton, since then by Malaga, and for several years there had been a daily line, until the railroad to Glassboro, brought into use in 1860, directed the travel in that direction. In 163 the railroad to Cape May was opened.

A steamboat to Philadelphia was started by a joint stock company in 1846; but the route was found too long, and the business proving unprofitable was soon abandoned. Recently a steam propeller has commenced running regularly to New York, making nearly a trip each week, and carrying the various manufactures of glass at Glassboro and Millville, as well as other articles to that great market. Considerable capital is also invested in the coasting trade, the vessels engaged in it coming to the place for repairs and to winter. The country around, not being naturally very productive, and remaining until recently unimproved, the supply of provisions was, for many years, by no means abundant, but with increased demand, the supply has also increased, until there is now, by the aid of easy access to. Philadelphia, no deficiency. The health of the place, which was once by no means good, has greatly improved.

In 1857 a bank with $50,000 capital commenced, which at the end of the first year reported $10,000 deposits, and now $100,000, although the large manufacturers make but little use of it. The institution is well managed, and makes regular half-yearly dividends.

 

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A town hall was erected in 1856, affording good accommodation for public meetings, lectures, and concerts.

The graveyard, at the corner of Second and Sassafras Streets, dates back to the commencement of the settlement. About 1800 a house was erected on this lot1which was used as a school-house, and for religious services, the different denominations worshipping there, the Presbyterians having preaching perhaps more statedly than the others. The Rev. Abijah Davis, of that denomination, who resided in the township, published a new version of the Psalms, and was no mean poet, and wrote a good deal for the newspapers over the signature of Happy Farmer, ranking among the earnest supporters of the Democratic administration, was accustomed to hold service there for several years pretty regularly. The first meeting-house erected was that at the corner of Second and Smith Streets, commenced for a dwelling, but converted into a house for religious worship by the Methodists in 1822. It was rebuilt in 1845. The Presbyterian house on Second Street was built in 1838, and enlarged in 1855. The Baptist house on the same street in 1843. In 1858 a second Methodist church was finished on McNeal Street, in the northwestern part of the town. In 1862 the Catholics erected a chapel in the same neighborhood. Preparations are making to build an Episcopal church; stated worship is maintained in all the houses; and there is besides a Protestant Methodist society which holds its meetings at Schetterville, but has as yet no house.

The public school-house on Sassafras Street was completed in the year 1849. In 1832 the number of scholars returned was 124. In 1863 the number was 1648. There are now three houses occupied. The number taught in the first named, by a male principal, and six female assistants, was 394. The new. house, known as the furnace School, is situate on Dock Street. There are three teachers who had in 1863 an average attendance of 124 pupils. There is also a public school on Second Street, in the southern part of the town, at the place commonly called Schetterville, with two teachers and 60 pupils. It thus appears that a little more than one-half the youth of a suitable age are under tuition.

Millville was incorporated as a city with a Mayor and Common Council in 1866, and three wards, comprising all the township which remained after the setting off of Landis. The city has since


86 MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

rapidly increased in business and population. The inhabitants in 186 are estimated to number 5600.

Charles K. Landis, Esq., became the proprietor of a large tract of the land in the upper part of Millville Township, and extending into the adjoining counties of Gloucester and Atlantic, and commenced selling to settlers in October, 1861. The inhabitants then residing on his purchase probably did not number fifty, and on the whole of what was set off as Landis Township did not exceed two hundred. He laid out a town situate on both sides of the railroad to Glassboro, about two and a half miles east of Maurice River, and about seven miles north of Millville City, which he called Vineland. The first house was erected iii February, 1862, on Landis Avenue, which has been recently purchased by the Vineland Historical Society, and removed to Peach Street, to be preserved as a memento of Vineland's commencement. A post office was established upon the condition that Mr. Landis should pay the mail, which he continued to do for nearly two years. The office was kept at the residence of Andrew Sharp, the only good house then in the tract, situated at the corner of Park Avenue and Main Road. The receipts for the

.50. They have since exceeded two thousand dollars per quarter. Roads were extensively opened, so that there are now on the whole tract about one hundred and sixty miles. At Christmas, 1862, it is stated by a recent historian of the settlement, that such progress had been made that "seventy-five settlers and one fiddler could be rallied at a Christmas festival."

An Episcopal church and academy were erected in 1863, and a considerable number of private dwellings. Emigration became brisk, so that by January, 1864, one thousand acres of land had been sold. This was mainly the result of an extensive system of advertising by means of a weekly sheet called The Vineland Rural and other publications, whereby the real and supposed advantages of the location for a prosperous settlement were made known throughout the Northern and Eastern States.

In March, 1864, a law was passed setting off more than half the township of Millville into a new township, to be called the township of Landis. This law embodies most of the peculiar features of the system adopted by the founder, which it is believed have

 

MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS. 87

aided very materially in promoting its rapid growth and its continued prosperity.

Besides the usual powers of the inhabitants and officers of the townships in New Jersey, this act gives authority, to the township committee to appoint overseers of roads and authorizes the election of one superintendent of roads, with a salary, whose powers are very ample, and who is required to have work on the roads done by contract. The side of the roads in front of all improved lands, are required to be seeded in grass within two years, and kept clear of noxious weeds; and shade trees are to be planted at such distances apart as the committee shall direct. The committee may require all buildings to be set at a distance not exceeding seventy-five feet from the side of the road outside of Vineland, and not exceeding twenty feet in the town. These powers have been exercised to the great benefit of the settlement, adding very much to its symmetry and beauty. The roads called avenues are 100 feet in width, and have generally two rows of trees, mostly maples, but in some cases fruit trees on each side, while the other roads are from 50 to 66 feet in width with one row of trees on each side, the road-beds for carriages being thirty feet in width. No person is required to inclose his ground with a fence, no cattle, sheep, or swine being allowed to run at large. The absence of fences and inclosures about the dwellings is a marked feature of the place, causing it to present as yet a naked appearance to eyes accustomed to these hitherto indispensable incumbrances, but when the hedges and ornamental trees and shrubbury which are being very generally planted shall have time to grow, this absence will no doubt be found to be a great improvement.

The law also provides that no ale, porter, beer, or other malt liquor shall be sold as a beverage, except at a regularly licensed inn or tavern; and that it shall be submitted to the people annually at their regular town meeting, to decide whether they shall apply to the court for a license for an inn or tavern to sell intoxicating liquors as a beverage in the township, and that no license shall be granted unless a majority of the votes shall be in favor o( the same. The result has been that no license has been granted, and at the last annual town meeting the vote against a license was unanimous.

Two other rules were adopted by Mr. Landis in making most of his sales, which, it is supposed, have materially aided his design.

 

88 MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS.

One is that he has sold his farm lands in small parcels, of from five to fifty acres each, and most generally not exceeding fifteen acres, so that the engrossment of the soil by speculators other than the proprietor himself has been prevented, persons of small means have been enabled to purchase, and the number of settlers has been largely increased. Another is that a 'full title to the land is not made until the purchaser has erected a dwelling, cleared up and cultivated a certain portion of his land, usually two and a half acres, and made the required roadside improvements. The combined influence of these measures, the extensive advertisements of the scheme, the favorable reports of invited visitors engaged in agricultural clubs and in writing for the newspapers, and the real advantages of the place, especially to persons whose residence was in the Northern and Eastern States, and whose liability to lung or other complaints, or other causes, made a change to a milder and dryer climate advisable, caused a rapid growth, probably unsurpassed in any place outside of a commercial' centre like Chicago or other cities in the United States, 'which have astonished the world.

Most of the land comprised in Mr. Landis's tract could have been purchased ten years ago at from two to ten dollars an acre, according to the growth of timber it contained. Now the unimproved town lots, having 50 feet front and 150 feet deep, sell for $150, and some on Landis Avenue have sold at $40 a foot front, while much of the improved land sells at $150 t $200 an acre. A large population has collected, and many very handsome dwellings have been erected, so that the town is selected by many persons possessed of means as a most desirable residence. Good church buildings have been-erected by the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists, who have stated preaching and a good attendance, and there are besides, Unitarians, Second Adventists, and Friends of Progress, who have organized societies. Two weekly newspapers are published. Education has been carefully provided for, there being Dow fourteen public schools in the township, and an academy for the higher branches. The Methodist society has located its seminary for South Jersey at this place, and have commenced a fine building estimated to cost about $T5,.000. Various manufactures have been established, operated by steam power, and much activity prevails. A leading object of the settlers has been to cultivate fruits, for which the soil and climate are supposed to be peculiarly

 

MAURICE RIVER, MILLVILLE, AND LANDIS. 89

favorable. While it cannot be affirmed that these efforts have been always successful, it is certain that there has been a large production of berries, grapes, and peaches, and a considerable amount of sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The number of inhabitants in Landis Township at this time (1869) may be estimated to be 600. On the whole tract of Mr. Landis in the three counties there are probably 10,000 inhabitants.

The area of Cumberland County is stated in the recent geological survey of the State to be as follows

Townships Tide Marsh Acres Total Acres
Bridgeton   9,849
Deerfield 2,1517 26,656
Downe 14,176 57,043
Fairfield   48,192
Greenwich 4,410 11,360
Hopewell 1,875 19,200
Landis   46,522
Maurice River 7,174 67,599
Millville 1,158 32,224
Stowe Creek 768 11,475
Totals   3,300,080

Area of the whole State. . 295,474 " 4,849,069 "

Prior to 1851 there was no attempt to assess taxes upon the tax payers in proportion to the value of their property. But in that year such a system was commenced, and with some variations has been since continued. The values returned by the assessors of the several townships have been as follows

Assessed Values for Cumberland County
Townships
1852
1860
1865
1868
Cohansey 300,000 401,000    
Bridgeton 900,000 850,000 2,279,000 2,303,000
Deerfield 443,000 500,000 742,000 773,000
Downe 580,000 657.000 681,000 715,000
Fairfield 705,000 875,000 1,059,000 1,000,000
Greenwich 556,010 571,000 631,000 656,000
Hopewell 561,000 686,000 1,000,000 1,200,000

Landis

    650,000 800,000
Maurice River 538,000 575,000 673,000 750,000
Millville 620,000 870,000 1,148,000 1,681,000
Stowe Creek 342,000 550,000 550,000 572,000
Totals 5,545,000 6,535,000 9,913,000 10,450,000



 

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