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Watermills of Camden County - by William Farr - Chapter A






During the first half of the nineteenth century, Josiah Albertson (b. 1770, d. 1859) bought and sold many tracts of land in the lower part of Camden County, and engaged in a number of enterprises, including his long tenure as innkeeper of the Blue Anchor Tavern, after marrying Elizabeth Mattox, daughter of the previous owner, Robert Mattox (Prowell, p. 697; Old Inns and Taverns, p. 149).

In 1827 Josiah bought several tracts of land along Pump (Albertson’s) Branch below BATE’S SAW MILL, in which he also owned a substantial interest. He dammed the stream and built a sawmill (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 3, pp. 31, 32, 34, 36; Vol. 4, p. 36). The 1828 extension of [Old] White Horse Pike below Waterford Works (Glo RR C-130) used his “new saw mill” causeway to cross the stream. Next year he sold the land and sawmill to his son David (Woodbury, YY-151 and YY-157). When the Spring Garden-Winslow Road was laid out in 1838 (Glo RR D-32), it began “at the end of the causeway to David Albertson’s Mill.”

David, who was assessed for the mill in 1841 (CCHS, 1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book), died intestate in 1844 (2 D), and his properties passed to his son Josiah E. Albertson, but David’s widow, Rebecca, retained possession of the sawmill and their nearby Spring Garden Hotel, also known as Albertson’s Tavern (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 3, p. 32). That map and another in Vol. 6, p. 2 show the sawmill` on the west side of the [Old] White Horse Pike. Central Avenue, laid out in 1853, started “near the causeway...over Bates Mill Branch” (Cam RR 62). The accompanying map shows the sawmill and Spring Garden Hotel.

The sawmill was located near Ancora, and near the present, complicated intersection of the new White Horse Pike, Central Avenue, and Spring Garden-Winslow Road (the old White Horse Pike), with the nearby railroad right-of-way. On a visit in May 1999, going down the Waterford Works-Spring Garden Road, with the old Spring Garden Hotel [now a private residence] on the left, the writer came to a bridge over Pump (Bates, Albertsons) Branch, under which the stream, coming out of a swampy area on the right, runs eastward. If one backtracks 50 feet, goes west a similar distance, an embankment is met, by which one can walk south a few steps to the creek. At the near bank and in the bed of the stream are concrete chunks embedded with sizable pieces of ironstone; across the stream is a similar pile on the continuation of the old embankment. This was undoubtedly the causeway and dam, or their successor which created the sizable pond which used to exist upstream. The sawmill was nearby, on the north bank. Several of the maps mentioned above show the mill there but visible traces of a millrace were not found.

The upper part of the old sawmill pond and property are now the location of Camp Haluwasa (see Don Wentzel’s “The Haluwasa Railroad,” South Jersey Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 2; also the Hammonton Quad [1981 rev.]).
A few years before he died, David Albertson’s father, Josiah E., sold most of what he then owned (about 3500 acres) in that section of the county, in one transaction, to developers Isaiah V. Williamson and Levi Dickson, of Philadelphia, 27 August 1853 (Camden, S-452).

The account in Old Mills, (p. 66) seems to have confused this sawmill with WILTSEY’S SAWMILL, located down the road below Elm.








People who are casually acquainted with the history of Atsion might think of it as being in Burlington County. But some of its various enterprises from time to time were in fact in Waterford Township in Old Gloucester County. Until 1902 the boundary between those two counties was the Mullica River, which ran through Atsion.

By an Act of 20 June 1765 (NJA, 3rd. Vol IV, p. 372) John Estelle was given permission to dam the Atsion [Mullica] River for a sawmill, and Charles Read was authorized to dam the Batsto Creek for an “Iron Work.” Boyer, in Early Forges & Furnaces (p. 167), wrote that Charles Read soon bought the Estelle tract and in 1767 -1768 built a forge on Atsion River. A furnace produced pig iron, which a forge converted to wrought iron. A furnace was put into operation in 1774, and three new sawmills and a gristmill were built (Pierce’s Iron in the Pines, pp. 33-34). When the whole property was sold at auction in 1805, there were two furnaces, a sawmill and two gristmills (ibid., p. 35). No specific locations were given for any of these facilities.

Waterford Township ratables show that a furnace was taxed to Joseph Saltar & Co. by that township in 1784 and again for the years 1791-1797 (to Joseph Saltar—the surname is frequently spelled Salter. The Saltar family became involved in Atsion in 1766 (Iron In The Pines, p. 31). In 1802 a gristmill as well as a furnace were taxed by the Township of Waterford (to William Saltar & Co.). Presumably all of these establishments were located on the southerly side of the river, in Old Gloucester County. All these operations needed water power, including the furnace, whose bellows were driven by it.

In 1902 legislation was passed which had the effect of putting all of Atsion’s facilities into Washington Township, Burlington County by ceding jurisdiction to that county of all land northeast of a straight line extending northwest, from where Sleepy Creek empties into the Mullica River, to where Ephraims Bridge crossed the same river below Goshen Pond Camping Area (P. L. 1902, Ch. 131).

The southeast line of Waterford Township, which is the northwest line of the Town of Hammonton (and still the boundary between Camden and Atlantic counties), is straight and formerly ran right into the heart of Atsion, intersecting the new northwest line on the way. On 13 May 1761 the Freeholders of Old Gloucester County had ordered that line to be run from “the southerly branch of Little Egg Harbour [Mullica] River” southwest to the Gloucester-Salem boundary (Stewart’s Notes I, p. 111). Local historian Harry Marvin drew a map showing the lines and the ceded area. He wrote a note to the late Nathaniel Ewan (a fellow local historian) expressing his opinion that in running the northwest-southeast line, the target at Atsion was the furnace, the glare of whose blast at night could be helpful for a night sighting.


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