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Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter J


JACKSON SAWMILL (General Jackson Sawmill, Coopers Folly, Richards Sawmill)
One of the small tracts set off to Benjamin B. Cooper, in the 1812 division of Marples Big Mill Tract, with Wallace Lippincott and Martin Gibbs Jr., was 208 acres just upstream from the mill pond (now Atco Lake) on Marples Mill Stream, bounded on the northeast by the road from Longacoming to the mill, which is today part of White Horse Pike (Woodbury, Q-425) (see MARPLES MILLS and Waterways of Camden County, p. 5). In 1815 Cooper bought from Sebilla Buzby Nichols 150 acres adjoining on the northwest (Woodbury, X-3l), also bordering on the road. On 1 April 1818 Cooper mortgaged a number of tracts to the State Bank of Camden (Woodbury Mortgages, H-396), including both of said tracts, revealing that there was then erected on the 208 acres a new mill called General Jackson. [General, later President, Andrew Jackson was the popular hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.] On 11 January 1823 Cooper sold or transferred to the State Bank at Camden several tracts, including the 208 acres and the l50 acres (Woodbury, KK-11), and the bank caused them to be split up into lots for sale (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 5, p. 93). These were not house lots—they were wood lots, and the availability of the nearby sawmill would have increased their value.

On 5 February 1823 the bank advertised for sale the “saw mill called General Jackson” (Herald and Gloucester Farmer). On 27 February 1823, the bank transferred the “dam and saw mill called General Jackson, ” located on 26 acres known as lot No. 28: one-third to Cooper and two-thirds to Thomas Richards (Woodbury LL-369); on the same date the bank sold to Cooper lots 4, 5 and 9, which were just below the “new saw mill called General Jackson” (Woodbury, PP-219). A legal description in this latter deed starts in “the road leading to the new saw mill called General Jackson and in the line of No. 28 called the mill lot.” This is the first reference to such a road, which eventually became known as Coopers Folly Road. The following year, on 25 March 1824, Cooper sold his one-third of the saw mill to Richards (Woodbury, SS-268).

Why did Cooper, an experienced entrepreneur, build a sawmill so close to the Marples Big Mill? Perhaps the answer to that is why it became known as “Coopers Folly.” On a Clement map made in 1852 (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, p. 80), he locates “formerly the saw mill called ‘General Jackson’ or Cooper’s Folly.” It is possible however that the derisive name “folly” was applied only long after Cooper had any connection with the mill. The mill and the “Road to Jackson Mill” are shown on a plan of lots containing a memorandum signed by Cooper in 1832 (Warrants & Surveys, No. 419). The mill was on the north side of the stream and the west side of the road, the site now (1993) occupied by “Maple Lake Bar.” Today the remains of the millpond can be characterized as nondescript.

Another Coopers Folly was the large Italianate mansion at 75 State Street (Front and State Streets), Camden built by Joseph W. Cooper in 1853, which was razed in 1925. Further information about the Copper mansion can be found at CCHS.




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