Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Upcoming Historian's Roundtable

First, I want to say the guest lectuerer from the US Military College who presented on World War I last night was EXCELLENT.  I finally understand to some degree what started that war.  Like my understanding of the Civil War, there was a hazy, foggy impression in which a few names stood out in neon and that was it.  I knew that a Servian Anarchist had asassinated the Austro-Hungarian leader Franz Ferdiand, which was the spark that set the European world ablaze, but that's all I knew.  In another post, I'll talk more about that, but I wanted to let you know that the Historian's Roundtable will be held at Batsto.  Here is the text of the e-mail from the new head of the Roundtable.  I had blogged earlier this summer about the tragic death of Joe Laufer, the brilliant and charming former head of the group and Burlington's gifted County Historian.

The Roundtable will be held at Batsto Village.  The meeting will be approximately 45 minutes with a tour of Batsto  Village to follow.  They have a lot going on there and it will be great to see what they have been up to and learn more about this part of our County’s history.

If your organization has an event or program coming up that you would like to promote please send a digital file by September 17 and it will be included in the presentation.  Also, please bring any brochures/flyers/upcoming events that you would like to share.
Please RSVP by replying to this email.

Hope you can all make it.
Marisa Bozarth
Burlington County Division of Parks

Also, here are the directions posted at the Batsto web site:
Historic Batsto Village is located on Route 542 in the Wharton State Forest, Washington Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. It is about 45 miles Southeast of Philadelphia and approximately 25 miles in a Westerly direction from Atlantic City. The nearest significant town is Hammonton, NJ 08037 which is about 8 miles to the West.

Directions from Philadelphia:
(Walt Whitman Bridge) 
Take Walt Whitman Bridge  to North/South Freeway, Route 42, to Atlantic City Expressway. Continue to Exit #28 (Hammonton). Exit to Route 54 & turn left.  Go to the 5th traffic light and turn right onto Route 30 East (White Horse Pike). Go to the 2nd light & turn left. Go the end of the road and turn left at the "T" intersection onto Route 542. Go 9 miles and the Historic Batsto Village is located on the left.
(Tacony Palmyra Bridge)
Take the Tacony Palmyra Bridge to Route 73. Continue to Route 30 (White Horse Pike and exit right to go East. Continue to a railroad overpass and then drive to the 4th traffic light (approximately 3 more miles), and turn left. Go to the next light & turn left. Go the end of the road and turn left at the "T" intersection onto Route 542. Go 9 miles and the Historic Batsto Village is located on the left.
Parkway Directions from South Jersey:
Take the Garden State Parkway North to Exit #50, exit to Route 9 North. Proceed to Route 542 & turn left. Follow signs about 12 miles to Batsto Village.

I have registered and will be going.  I usually take the Pike, but I'll be putting it in my gps and following that.  It is free and you don't need to be attached to an organization to attend.  If you want to know what is going on in some of the state's most interesting historic places, you should drive to Batsto and join us!  Hope to see you there!  You could add a fine hike in the early autumn woods to the day's adventure.  That's what I'll be doing!
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Family History Military History

When you stop to think of it, if you do family history, you find that a good deal of your family history is tied up with military history in one way or another - even your personal and present day history.  For example, I lived in Europe for 3 years, two of them in Germany, because I was married to a Lt. in the army in 1967.  At the same time that we were in Germany, my brother, Joseph, was in Vietnam.  My father served in the navy in World War II and my childhood was spent enraptured by popular series Victory at Sea on tv.  WWII was my father's big research project during his life. 

Last night I took a class in a 15 week course at Camden County College, on Wednesdays with Dr. Pesda at Madison Hall.  It is FREE, and even though it has already begun, I'm sure you could come if you wanted.  I know next to nothing about World War I though I believe my Great Grandfather's only son died as a result of lung damage from the war.  His stone is beside his father's stone in one of the cemeteries I visited in Philadelphia, Fernwood.

My sister and I were in the car today and we both said that neither of us could remember a thing we learned in History in school, and neither of us could even remember our History teachers.  I do remember two courses in college:  Supreme Court Cases that Changed History (EXCELLENT) and History and Growth of Scientific Ideas (Life Changing class).

So, anyway I am about to begin a chapter on milityar family history for my Family History Christmas Project, and I must say I know next to nothing about the conflicts for which I have family photos of my male ancestors:  On the Mexican Border 1916, World War I, but I have been studying both the Civil War for the last 5 years, and World War II most of my life, though in a very casual fashion.  Today, I'm going to write a Family History Chapter on the subject beginning with the Cheesman ancestors, several of whom served in the American Revolution, then in the War of 1812, which is where Major Peter T. Cheesman (whose namesake road runs beside Camden County College) got his officer's stripes. 

The course at Camden County College features guest lecturers, always a fascinating addition to their courses, as well as movies (Last night's movie was Paths to Glory).  I hope you can join us!  Last night the class was half full 
(Room 210 an amphitheater room) and then when the movie began, there was standing room only - 90 attendees!  Pretty good draw.  And it is nice that it is a mix of ages.  
Next week the course moves to the Connector Bldg for our guest lecture by Prof. Neiberg, Center for the Study of War and Society, Univ. of Southern Mississippi.  

Keep your powder dry and make sure you aren't third on a match!
Jo Ann

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thinking of beginning a family history search?

If you are thinking of beginning a family history search, go to Friend's Village in Woodstown, tomorrow night, for the Genealogical Society of Salem County Meeting.  There will be a lecture on how to use the free research web site Family Search.org.
I plan to be there with a friend of mine who is just starting out on her journey and we are both looking forward to learning something.  Here is the address and I use my gps, which is what I'd recommend for you or google maps - I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with the area to give directions.

Genealogical Society of Salem County

I copied this little blurb from their web site:
September 97:00 p.m.
"Using FamilySearch 2014" presented by Cam Casper
Come learn how to use FamilySearch.org, the free genealogy website, at our first meeting of the year! Dr. Wm. Camron Casper will be speaking on Family Search-2014, the free genealogical website. Family Search has over eight million hits per day, three million+ users and over three billion searchable names. Come learn how to search for your ancestors using familysearch.org. The public is welcome to this free event. For more information, please contact Esther Pierson at programs@gsscnj.org or 856-299-9051. 
Happy Hunting!
Jo Ann

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The 78 Project

On Friday, Sept. 5th, I, along with my sister Sue, took the train from 30th Street Station in Phila., to Washington D.C. to see the screening of the documentary my daughter co-created with Alex Steyermark.  Their presentation was the kick
-off to a series called the "Botkin Lectures" at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, the Folklife Center.

Lavinia and Alex, using  1930's and 1940's recorders called the Presto, record live on the spot 78 rpm records of contemporary musicians singing and playing traditional songs that have some meaning for them from their personal history.  Sometimes it is a song taught by an ancestor, sometimes a song picked up while the musician was growing up or a traditional song learned from a work setting.  I was reminded of the oral history project down at Bivalve where they recorded the work songs of the oyster shuckers as they worked and the memories of their descendants who once lived in the  ghsottown Shellpile.

Anyhow, at this presentation, they were introduced by the FolkLife Center then they screened their documentary, then, they recorded a choral group singing a Ukrainian song from the Lost village of Chernobyl, and a song from the Republic of Georgia.  We were all thrilled when they played back the 78 recording of the folk singers.  The clarity and integrity of the recording were stunning.

The choral group spoke of the music they were singing, then Alex and Lavinia took many enthusiastic questions from the audience of about 50 people, many of whom were experts in folklore, music, recording technology, and 78 records.  Some were musicians and others were field recordists in their own right.  It was a varied and interesting audience.

It was fun to ride the train, as any of you who have followed this blog would know, I am a train enthusiast (not an expert, mind you, simpy a person who loves trains - among many other interests) but I hadn't been on a train in years and I took great interest in the stations as well:  30th Street Station to Union Station. 

There are no words to describe my joy and pride in my daughter's accomplishment.  It was a big risk for her to quit her job at ASCAP and take this big leap of faith into creating a work of art and raising the money on their own, but they did it and now they are starting off on another tour.  They have already screened their film at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, a music and film festival in Nashville, and in Boston.  For more, please visit their website.  Next stop for them is LONDON!


If for some reason the link doesn't work, simply go to The 78 Project for recordings as well as the screening tour schedule. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Genealogy-Your family history

Friday morning was a super storm of chaos at my house - the phones were ringing from the juggling of auto repair garages and arrangements for my dead car, the dog was barking, the new cat was infected by the electric current of stress and he was knocking over lamps and books and anything in his wild way.  In the midst of all this clamour, Bonnie Beth Elwell, president of the Genealogical Society of Salem County, was working on my laptop cleaning up my ancestry.com files and helping me with standardizing my listings such as dates:  12 Nov. 1945 as opposed to 11/13/45.  
Bonnie works as a genealogist and she had done some research on her own after our last meeting, and more research at my house on a mystery branch of my family tree, the Goldy family, but more on that another time.
Family history is an endlessly fascinating subject and the further you go into it, the more engrossing and mysterious and satisfying it gets.  
If you don't know where to start, get a simple form off the internet, begin with yourself, then your parents, and their parents, birth and death dates and where they were born.  Also, you can hire someone like Bonnie to help you get started or get you out of a stuck spot or, as I did recently, help you get a frame-able attractive family filled out.  
This year for Christmas, I am giving each of my 4 siblings, a photo collage made of pictures that go back to the 1880's and stretch to the 2000's, plus a copy of that family tree I mentioned.  I had the photo collage scanned and printed at Bellia's Copy Center in Woodbury, and the family tree copied there as well.  Then I bought frames at the Columbus Flea Market and at yard sales and framed them all.  The last one will be completed today when I get back from the dog park.
Along with the framed photo collages and the framed family trees, I'm writing a chapter book on the journey of finding all this information.  It will run 12 chapters and I will have it photocopied and spiral bound at Bellia's Copy Center in Woodbury - very good quality copy center and good prices, helpful staff.
Anyhow, the reason for thi blog today is that I just got the Fenwick Colony Gazette and here are some dates you might find helpful if  you decide to begin a family history search:
All events are at at the John Fenwick Auditorium at Friends' Village, Woodstown, NJ at 7:00 pm and they are free, though you may wish to join the society for additional events, information and because they are a great group of people.  The lectures are invaluable.
September 9 _ How to make the best use of FAMILY SEARCH with Cam Casper  
September 30  Workshop on how to ue the Society's new website and help for beginners and networking. (great place to start your journey!)

the website is:

 Also, Bonny Beth Elsweel is a genealogist, historian and author.  To contact her for for her rates to help you on your family history search, e-mail - bonnybonnybeth@gmail.com

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann
ps.  My family names are:  Cheesman, Garwood, Goldy, Lyons, Wright 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Polish American Deli, Rennemede, NJ

Hello!  I haven't been taking any day trips lately, and my car is in the shop now, so I won't be going anywhere for awhile HOWEVER, before my car broke down, on the way to the Dog Park at Timber Creek, off Chews Landing Rd., I stopped in the Polish American Deli. 
I'm not Polish but my ex-husband was and his mother was an exceptional cook.  She made pierogi's, golumpki's, cherry soup, and any number of other delicious things the names of which I can no longer remember.  
Although I've passed that store a million times, this time, a sign spoke out to me.  It said Pierogi!  So I stopped in and I will tell you now, it isn't open on Monday, so be sure to go on another day.  I couldn't choose which pierogi to get, cheese, potato or sauerkraut, but I've had the others recently so I picked sauerkraut.  I like the contrast of tastes anyhow, the vinegar against the dough.  
In case you haven't ever had Polish food, a pierogi is a lot like a ravioli in that it is a pocket of dough with a filling.  A golumpki is a pepper or cabbage stuffed with a meat mixture  I used to make a vegetarian version that was brown rice - just as good.  But if you want the real deal, stop by the Deli and try some.
For dessert, I bought chocolate cheese rugelach (pronounced Roo gel ah.  So good.  Next time I plan to get the plum rugelach.  
The addres is 125 N. Black Horse Pike, Runnemede, NJ 856-939-9505 and their card says they also have babkas, kielbasy, and take-out and party trays.  Enjoy!
Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fall Festivals

I suddenly sprang from bed tonight, hoping I hadn't missed the annual artisan's fair in Greenwich, NJ.  It seemed to me it often fell at the end of August.  As it happens, I was wrong and it is held in September.  It is a favorite day-trip event for me.  Aside from the beautiful and unique objects crafted by the artisans at the fair (including musical instruments, pottery, baskets, wood-worked things like burl wood bowls, and many other hand-crafted works of art) there is also music, and sometimes the Gibbon House is open for tours.  Just strolling down The Great Street is a treat in itself.  If you've never been there, you should go, but if it isn't during the fair, take your lunch with you!  There is a nice little local cafe' but it closes relatively early.  I like to walk from the Historical Society Library  parking area to the the Cohansey River and read all the historic markers on the charming houses.  The Great Street has my vote for the most charming street in South Jersey.  And the Historic Society Library has hospitable and helpful people as well as a house and street map you can buy for added information on the historic houses many of which date back to the 1700's, the time of the "Tea Burning" for which there is a monument.  If you get there on a day when the Prehistorical Museum is open, you are going to enjoy another Greenwich treat in the great number of handsomely mounted collections of Native American artifacts.  
(Keep this in mind - only two locations with a restroom, so if the Library and the museum are closed, you are out of luck until you get back to Bridgeton.)
You can have lunch at Hancock Harbor and boat marina if it is open, but don't count on it - best to pack a picnic just in case, and if you get lucky and the harbor is open, you can save the picnic and take it  back home.  

That is only one of many fall festivals in South Jersey's remaining farm region.  Here is a link with lots of information on others:  Happy Trails!  Jo Ann


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Archeaology Lecture Coming Up

Just got an e-mail from the head of the James & Ann Whitall Volunteers group about this upcoming event:
"The Gloucester County Chapter of The Archaeological Society of New Jersey will meet on Wednesday, September 3rd at 7:00 PM, at The West Deptford Public Library, 420 Crown Point Road, Thorofare, New Jersey.
         Our guess speaker for this evening is Archaeologist and Curator Jeffery Norcross. His lifetime passion for archaeology can be seen at the South Jersey American History Museum in Glassboro. He will share this passion with us by presenting a lecture on  "What is Archaeology?" The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to share interest in this educational evening.'

Back a few blog entries I had written about visiting this museum.  Any one with a passion for collecting can appreciate it when someone gets to make an entire museum from his or her collections.  
Another museum created from the collections of private individuals that I have always enjoyed is the Prehistory Museum at Greenwich, NJ.  A dozen or more men who began collecting Native American artifacts that they found hiking the woods and beaches of the rivers and creeks of SJ put their collections together to make this outstanding museum.  This is from their web site:

"The museum is open on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 4, and Saturdays and Sundays, 12:30 to 4 PM. Group tours are available by calling 856-455-8141 during those times."

Tonight I'm meeting a couple of friends for a regular Wed. diner and walk evening.  We have the healthy platter at the Phily Diner on the Black Horse Pike and then we hike the upper pasture trail at the Timber Creek Park on Chews Landing Road.  There is  a near-the-end-of-the-season concert at the Haddon Heights Dell tonight at 7:30, but I don't know if I'll be up for that - busy day today.
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Purple Martin Migration at Bivalve and More

Just got back from Timber Creek Dog Park - Paradise for dogs and dog-loving people.  Met two fine young people there who just moved to NJ from North Carolina.  I was sorry I didn't have my 'card' on me because I wanted them to be able to access this blog so they could find lots of places to go and things to see in their new home!  Welcome Brandon and Shannon!  My e-mail is wrightj45Wyahoo.com.

Had an e-mail today from my friend Barbara Spector who is an animal shelter volunteer and a bird watcher, a hiker and all around nature-lover.  I told her I was going to post her Purple Martin Message, so here it is:

"Just got back from an unbelievable day.  Frank and I went to Millville, went to the Irish Pub on High St.   Very good veggie burger!  Then we drove to Port Norris and decided to follow the signs to Bivalve....there is a boat there called the Bodacious that goes out to see the Purple martin Migration.  It was so amazing to see the sunset on one side, the full moon on the other, a weather perfect night and then swarms and swarms of Purple Martins.  A naturalist was on the boat to talk about it and answer questions.  He said it was peak migration time, estimated close to a half million birds that we saw. Spectacular 
sight!!!!  It is absolutely something not to be missed.  There is one last boat going out next Friday night.  Call in advance for tickets as the boat sells out."  Barb

I wish I could join her but I'll be in Ocean City that day and don't think I can make it back in time.   You need to be there before 6:00 and it is an hour and a half drive from here and FRiday Night and seashore traffic.  Oh well, maybe next year.

I hope some of you can make it however! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


August 3rd was International Friendship Day and I celebrated it with three friends having lunch aboard the River Lady on Tom's River and then riding the ski lift along the beach at Seaside Heights - a great way to spend the day. Coincidentally the dessert that day was cheesecake.

Also, July 30 was National Cheesecake Day and I cannot praise the Phily Diner more highly - theirs is light, fluffy, flavorful and the best cheesecake I have ever eaten and I've had home-made in Germany!  The Phily Diner is on Black Horse Pike just beyond Clement's Bridge Rd. at Barrington.  Although cheesecake originated in Greece, and is famous in France AND Italy, and has a version invented in our own New York, I always connect cheesecake with Germany, maybe it is my ancestry.  The cheese they use in Germany is called quark (pronounced Kvok) and it is a version of ricotta.

Most recently, I had the adventure of searching out the graves of the aforementioned German ancestors in Philadelphia, Pa. at New Cathedral Cemetery at 2nd and Luzerne Sts.  We stopped in a local bakery on the way, my sister Susan and I, for almond coffee cake and seeded rye bread.  We found our ancestor's graves, sadly unmarked by stone or marker, but close by a handsome and ancient tree and near a lucky fairy circle of mushrooms.  Also at the cemetery, I met a cat, a friendly fellow rubbing my legs and making his wish known to come home to New Jersey and live with me.  He is now my new cat, named after the German Great-Uncle that I knew from the Young family when I was growing up, Uncle Yock.  Being a young fellow however, I am calling him "Little Yock" to avoid disrespect o my ancestor and avoid identfication problems when I refer to the cat in the future.

Although I usually end with Happy Trails and Happy Tails, this time I'd like to offer the advice I take myself which is to CELEBRATE for any reason you can find.  Life is short, let's live it to the full and enjoy every day of it.  I might add, my cats and dog most definitely help me to enjoy every day that I have on this earth.  Jo Ann 

PS.  I wanted to add the BEST VET in South Jersey, while I'm on the subject of the cat - Dr. Ed. Sheehen in Fiarview.  His web site link is under the cat, but you can look him up.  He is truly the most compassionate, and the most talented vet I've ever met and I've had cats and dogs all my life.  He is wonderful.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Timber Creek

The best part of every day is when I take my dog, Trixie, to Timber Creek Dog Park in Gloucester Twp. off Chews Landing Road.  I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it is and how wonderful, warm and friendly the people are.  
Yesterday, a trio of young people were gathered at the dog beach and pond and one of the young men, after being reassured that the pond isn't polluted, was ferrying his dog to the middle of the pond to teach her to swim, which she did very well.  He was kind and generous enough to take my dog out to the middle of the pond as well, which made her very happy.  She swims remarkably well, as she should being a Lab mix, but having had little or no experience with water before (I'm guessing) she is timid to try it on her own.

The young man's name was Greg and his dog was Scout.  Hope to see you at this great dog park with your best friend one of these days.  There are great people to meet, and an endless array of interesting dogs  Among my regular favorites are dog walker Stephanie, and her best pal,  Barb.  They bring Lily, Apollo, Takara and her puppies, and a couple of other interesting dog (I'm sorry, I'm bad with names).  There are many exceptional dog rescuers, too who always inspire me.  A good conversation really makes the miles and hours fly by.  

Happy Trails and Happy Tails!  Jo Ann

Contact Info.

Periodically I check my 'stats' and comments.  Many people told me they had trouble with the comment function (over which I have no control - this is all run by blogspot) so here is my e-mail address for anyone who wants to contact me to talk further about any of the entries including family history for the Cheesman, Garwood families of the Turnersville area:

Thank you for your kind comments and your time and interest.  It is a pleasure to share all the wonderful things I find in New Jersey with you!

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Joe Laufer One of a Kind

Joe Laufer, Burlington County Historian, passed away this week (July 2014) at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer.  He will be sorely missed by his many many friends and admirers in the history community.  For several years, I enjoyed his bus trips such as the One Room Schools of Burlington County, his lecture series and his always entertaining and enlightening Burlington County Historians Roundtable.

There was really no one quite like Joe due to his extraordinary set of gifts.  He was charming, warm, a natural performer, witty, knowledgeable and humble.  His love for history and for sharing with people was always evident.  He is irreplaceable.  We were all uniquely lucky to have known him and to have enjoyed all the ways he found to bring the richness of history to us. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beverly Cemetery

Today, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, I'll be headed over to Beverly Cemetery in Edgewater Park, Burlington County, NJ.  The address is 915 Bridgeboro Rd., Beverly, NJ 08010.

My mother and her sister were raised by their Great-Aunt Lavinia Lyons, after their mother died.  I always called her Grandmom, and I loved her very much.  My 'Grandather' Joseph Lyons served in the Mexican Border Campaign and is buried at Beverly also.

Here is a little information from the website:
Beverly National Cemetery is located in Burlington County’s Edgewater Park, in the city of Beverly, N.J.

"The original cemetery was only one acre, purchased from a local resident in 1863. The plot was located in the northwest corner of the town cemetery surrounded by a picket fence. Additional land was acquired in 1936, 1937, 1948 and 1951.
The cemetery was established to provide a burial site for veterans who died in one of two nearby hospitals. Of the original 147 Union soldiers buried at Beverly National Cemetery, only 10 are unknown. For much of its history, the cemetery handled relatively few interments. The number of interments grew dramatically, however, when space became unavailable at Philadelphia National Cemetery. Beverly National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997."

Even if you have no one buried in one of these grand old cemeteries, they are excellent places to visit and walk.  My sister and I like the one near where she lives, Eglington.  I believe it is the oldest still in use in New Jersey.  The headstone architecture is always interesting as are the plantings and landscaping.    You've probably seen my blog on the fascinating cemeteries in Camden County:  the two old Quaker cemeteries in Collingswood and the one with Walt Whitman's tomb in Camden, Harleigh Cemetery.  Also Bary C.'s ghosttowns web site has many conversations on cemeteries in the Pines.  My favorite in the Pines is at Estelle, the old Ireland cemetery almos swallowed by teh woods again.  
"As you are now, so once was I; as I am now, so shall you be."  My favorite stone ephitaph.
Happy Trails,
Jo Ann

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hiking the D & R Canal at Bordentown

Just yesterday, after having commented to my long time hiking buddy Barbar Solem, that I wish I knew a good hiking trail (out of the woods) near Bordentown, she replied, "Well, there's the D & R. Canal tow path."  So, with our other staunch hiking compadre, Barb Spector, we were off.  First we stopped for lunch at the Tabernacle Inn, which I strongly recommend for good food and courteous service, as well as vegetarian choices:  we had the grilled vegetable wrap with cole slaw.  

At Bordentown, which we reached coming from Shamong, by taking 206, we drove down Farnsworth, one of the main streets of the town, to the end where it reaches Crosswicks Creek, then parked in a small area set aside for just that.  There is a marker with information about the trail which is parallel to the River  Line train tracks.  Follow the wooden boardwalk to the packed dirt path and you will find a shady, clean and scenic walking path.  We walked for about an hour which, for us, is roughly 3 miles. 

After our hike, we stopped in at the old book store and Barb Solem bought two books, one of which was Gone With the Wind, and Barb Spector bought six!  So, I didn't feel bad that for once in my life, I didn't buy any.  There were two pamphlets I wanted from the NJ pamphlets section but they were too pricey for me:  one was $35 and the other was $10.  The first was a history of the Presbyterian Church which had the names of a few of my Cheesman ancestors in it.  The second was another Gloucester County history pamphlet. 

It was a delightful day with my friends and in a charming old New Jersey town, Bordentown.  Hope you give it a try sometime soon.  We are avoiding the woods at present due to ticks and chiggers, which we have, all three of us, suffered from in the past.  It is one of the  many reasons to appreciate winter.
Happy Trails!
Today I'm off to Mount Holly to the Robin's Nest for brunch at 2 Washington St.  Later, when I get home, I'll download the photos from my camera and post a couple for the trail.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An awesome genealogist!

Today, Wednesday, July 17, 2014, I had a half day of genealogy help from Bonny Beth Elwell.  Bonny is a genealogist, historian and author.  She has written a local history book on the Pittsgrove, Upper Pittsgrove area.  She is also President of the Salem County Genealogy Society
Some highlights of their new website include:
  • Links to local historical societies and genealogy websites
  • Events calendars of our meetings and other local historical activities
  • Directions to our meetings and contact information
  • A list of the books and other items we offer for sale
  • Resources for researchers
  • Charts and forms to download
  • Guidelines for beginning family research
  • An index of the DVDs for members to borrow
  • PDF copies of old Ancestors' Attic articles
  • Helpful hints for genealogy research
Bonny most definitely provided the above mentioned "helpful hints for genealogical research" and got my 'tree-meant-for-framing' up and read to finalize.  I was stumped and couldn't seem to move forward without help.  She also found some treasures on the internet including a photograph of an ancestor in his Civil War uniform.  It was a very productive day thanks to Bonny.  

Should you be interested in Bonny's help, Phone 609-670-0407 
E-mail: bonnybonnybeth@gmail.com

Sometimes you just need a guide on the family history trail! Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Genealological Society of Salem County, NJ - new web site

 As I may have mentioned, I have been a member of the genealogical Society of Salem County for some years now.  Sporadically, I work on my family history, which I may also have mentioned, and it has ties to New Jersey which I have followed (Timber Creek area).  GSSCHNJ has great lectures during their meeting season.  They are not holding open meeting lectures in the summer, but when they resume in the autumn, I will try to remember to post the topics so you can drop by and hear some interesting talk on local history.  I actually did a talk for them myself last winter on the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Jersey.  It was well attended and a great audience to speak to.  

GSSCHNJ has a new web site that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Here is the link and a list of what they have to offer on it:
  • Links to local historical societies and genealogy websites
  • Events calendars of our meetings and other local historical activities
  • Directions to our meetings and contact information
  • A list of the books and other items we offer for sale
  • Resources for researchers
  • Charts and forms to download
  • Guidelines for beginning family research
  • An index of the DVDs for members to borrow
  • PDF copies of old Ancestors' Attic articles
  • Helpful hints for genealogy research
I hope you will pay them a visit and find something of use to you!  
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann
ps.  In case you wonder why I post in such large type.  I am having vision difficulties and it makes me aware that there are probably others out there in my age group who may also be having problems reading, so I make the type large enought to facilitate your reading as well as my own.

More Mullica Hill

Two stores I wanted to mention in regard to my recent visit and post on Mullica Hill are:
Lucky Dog Antiques where I  bought some nice things, and EARTHSHACK in the Amish Market Mall where I bought some beautiful tiles at a very reasonable price.  I love tiles and if I live long enough, someday I will study pottery and ceramics.  Next, however, I'd like to study spinning and new classes in beginning spinning will be opening at Woolbearers in Mount Holly:
Lucky Dog is Sharon Siegfried 856-858-6146
EarthShack www.earthshack.org
Woolbearers link is www.woolbearers.com/classes.htm

Happy Trails, Happy 4th of July!  What a wonderful Country we live in and how grateful I feel to those who, so many years ago, suffered and died to make us free and as prosperous and well off as we are!  History teaches you to respect the gifts the people of the past have bestowed upon us, not only historic figures, but ordinary people and our own ancestors.

Monday, June 30, 2014

More Mullica Hill - the Amish Market

On the way to Mullica Hill, my traveling pal of the day and I passed The Amish Market and decided to stop for lunch, which was delicious!  We also shopped around and I found a few things for Christmas.  I do think it is a good idea to get them when you see them.

Mullica Hill was likewise productive and I bought a few things there too - but this time, for me!  I bought cat salt and pepper shakers, for one thing, and some ornate vintage hankies for another.  There are such pretty collages in the Lady's Room of the Robin's Nest in Mount Holly, that are created from vintage hankies and postacards, that I always want to make one of my own. 

The Blue Plate is great, but if you want to stop before you get to Mullica Hill, give the Amish Market a try.  You can also buy wonderful things to take home while you are at it!  I plant to go back again before Christmas to buy gifts of food for people, cheeses and such.

Bon appetite!  and Happy Trails, Jo Ann

Oh, by the way, at the Old Mill antique shop, they gave me a great brochure -  Mullica Hill, NJ:  A Walking Tour.  Therein, I found interesting historical tidbits on various places in the town, including history of the Old Mill, which, it turns out was an old Train Station!
There is also a house called the Mullica House, at 20 N. Main, that was a family home of the founding Finnish family of Mullica, for whom the Mullica Creek as well as the town were named. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fun' Lunch and a HikeDay Trips List

Yesterday, Friday June 27, three friends and I had a fun day trip and I was thinking (on the way home, since I didn't have to drive this time) about all the fun day trips we take and I thought I'd jot down just a half dozen today on the blog.

1.Mays Landing and Ocean City:Yesterday, we took Route 559 which is a lovely road and never has been crowded in the years I've taken it, to Ocean City.  There is a detour for a bridge that has been out for months, but it is a simple detour easy to follow.  This route takes you by Lake Lenape and the antique store by the same name in Mays Landing.  A good place to stop for lunch is the Sugar Hill Restaurant with tables indoors and outdoors overlooking the water.  
The Ocean City boardwalk is 3 miles round trip to hike and also has a nice place to eat called the Ocean Cafe', for those who don't eat junk food (which is all  of my friends now that we are watching our weight and minding our health).

2.Millville:  Millville has a couple of great hikes.  One I'd save for winter when there are no ticks and that is the Maurice River Bluffs Hike, off Silver Run Road.
For all seasons, by all means stop at Wildflowers, on Main St. the Vegan restaurant and I guarantee you won't leave hungry.  For summer hikes, go to the river and hike the river path, then cross the walking bridge over the Maurice and there is another 2 or 3 mile trail that isn't as wooded and so safer from ticks.  Afterwards, stop at Bogarts' coffee shop for a tea or coffee refresher and music and maybe a book or two!  I like to visit the Botega Galleria across from Wildflowers, too - beautiful paintings at reasonable prices.

3.Mount Holly - I like to walk the streets and especially the Mill Race area then stop for lunch in the Robin's Nest.  In the fall they have the Battle of Ironworks Re-enactment.

4.  Tom's River has the River Lady paddle boat lunch which my hiking buddies and I plant to take in July.  We like to take the lunch excursion which does, fortunately offer a vegetarian choice - penne past in blush sauce, very good.  And you can walk around the historic town.  Haven't got a hiking trail for this trip yet as it takes us so long to get there and get back, that teh boat trip and lunch is usually enough, but the Historic Society is a good visit, too.

5.  Audubon and Haddon Heights offer fun places to eat and the Audubon Lake Haddon Heights 3 mile park to hike.  For lunch, you can stop in the Audubon side at Simply Soups on Atlantic Avenue, and in Haddon Heights, the Station House Restaurant.  Both of which are  close to the little local train stations which I love and wrote about recently.

6.  Needless to say, Burlington and Bordentown are excellent towns to visit, but I don't have time to go into them now and my favorite restaurant has closed - the Galleria.  So I need to do more research to talk about them, or you could go and find stuff to write to me about!

7.  Today, after I walk the dog at Big Timber Creek Dog Park, I'm off to Mullica Hill for the Red Mill Antiques and the Blue Plate for lunch.  (I have written that the Murphy's Book Loft barn of books is now closed - sorry about that, so that's off the list of favorites to visit in Mullica Hill)  We'll walk the main treet and check in the shops and admire the houses and gardens.

Happy Trails - walking and hiking are the excellent ways my friends and I stay healthy and have fun!  Hope to see you on the trail or to hear from you at my e-mail -

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Funny Picture

I know the Whitall Volunteers picture looks like a Colonial dame is being held at gunpoint.  It is an entirely unplanned funny photo and I was perfectly safe!

Whitall House Flower Show June 22, Sunday 2014

I just returned from doing my two hour shift of tour guiding at the James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.  We had a steady stream of visitors on this exceptionally lovely summer day.  It couldn't have been nicer.  There was a gentle breeze and a mild and friendly sun - no humidity.  It was the flower show in the house and in the gardens, which added immensely to the pleasure and beauty of the day.  

The visitors were interested and polite and it was a sheer delight to offer this small amount of my time to help people enjoy a priceless treasure of American and New Jersey history.

Speaking of history, yesterday at Monmouth Battlefield couldn't have been nicer either.  Same thing, cool breeze, intoxicating summer grass aroma and shade under the trees, colorful costumes that made me green with envy, well stocked suttlers that made me sorry I left my purse in the trunk of the car.  The stirring battle re-enactment  makes me marvel every time I see it how the men of that time suffered and struggled to make us free.  We also enjoyed the well done performance of the Molly Pitcher character interpreter.  She is so believable and interesting.  When I got home, I had to watch a couple of episodes of TURN on AMC - on demand (less commercial interruptions) to continue the Revolutionary theme.

It is my hope that this blog helps others to find fascinating and INEXPENSIVE entertainments right here in our own backyard all year around!  AND, people who have businesses that I hope you will patronize:  my friend harry bought a wonderful costume shirt from
"Knightingales & Gibson Glassblowers, Lisa Lambert & Phil Gibson, Sutlers: contact -  brunswickcastle@hotmail.com
Today I bought pinelands wildflower honey at the Flower show from:  Hudons's Sweeties, Wenonah, NJ 856-468-1367
Happy TRAILS!  Jo Ann

"Back In Your Own Backyard"

The bird with feathers of blue
Is waiting for you
Back in your own backyard
You'll see your castles in Spain
Through your window pane
Back in your own backyard
Oh you can go to the East
Go to the West
But someday you'll come
Weary at heart
Back where you started from
You'll find your happiness lies
Right under your eyes
Back in your own backyard


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monmouth Battlefield Annual Weekend Event

On Saturday, June 21, a volunteer buddy from the James and Ann Whitall House in Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, and I will be driving up to Monmouth for the weekend re-enactment.  In case you are interested, here is the link with an activity schedule for the day:

On Sunday, the Whitall House hosts the annual flower show; it is a beautiful way to spend the day and I'll be tour guiding at the house for the first 2 hours, from noon to 2:00.  Hope to see you there!

Tonight I missed my first of 4 classes on the Great Civil War Battles, which are being given at Camden County College.  It is from 4:00 - 6:00.  I was really looking forward to it but I was out hiking with a friend, then I ran some errands, went out to eat, and fixed a broken turn signal on my car.  When I got in the house, it was already 45 minutes too late to go.  Well, I'll go next week.

Hope you are all finding ways to keep cool these days, a buddy and I hiked Audubon Lake/Haddon Heights Park today, 3 miles and it was cool and pleasant. 

I have another entry ready to go with pictures, but I will save it because I want the title to reflect it.  I'll post it tomorrow - it will be "Little train stations along the Atlantic Avnue"

Till we meet again - Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flag Day, June 14, 2014

Happy Flag Day!  First of all, I like to celebrate:  my birthday, every holiday, and I like to REMEMBER as in Memorial Day and D-Day and other days when important events have happened in my history or our nation's history.  If that weren't reason enough to enjoy and celebrate Flag Day, here's another - it was started by school teachers!  As any of you more frequent visitors may remember, I was a school teacher for 32 years before I retired.  Naturally, I did other kinds of work before college and teaching, so I actually worked for over 40 years before I retired.  But, anyhow, I want to support the efforts of my fellow teachers in creating another reason to celebrate - AND - I love this country and I love this state!

Now, it is common knowledge that there is no solid proof that Betsy Ross actually made the first American flag - and there are bits of evidence pointing to other flag makers of the period, however, Betsy Ross is a much loved American Icon and she serves as a symbol of all the other artisans who were working for our nation in the Colonial period and who suffered during the Revolution.  She lost her husband, Ross, and she endured the British occupation of Philadelphia and the many privations that everyone suffered in that time of civil strife.  We do know, solid evidence in the form of receipts, that she sewed shirts for George Washington and made flags for various branches of the military.  Flags were a very important communication tool both on and off the battlefield.  

In my mind the blue stands for hope and as a metaphor ("Blue Skies" for happiness) and well-being, the red for the blood shed by the tens of thousands who died to make us free, then to hold together the Union, and then in foreign wars.  To me the white stands for shirts, bandages and bed sheets and the homely things made by women to help the soldiers and the wounded in their time of need.  For example, Benjamin Franklin's daughter Sarah Bache, raised a fortune to buy material and then organized womens' sewing circles to make shirts for the starving and half naked men in the Continental Army. 

On the subject of remembering the behind the scenes but ever so important efforts by New Jersey women, we should not only remember Betsy Ross, maiden name Griscom, who was raised on her family's farm near Glucester City in New Jersey, but also Clara Barton, who taught school for a time in New Jersey and her little one-room school can still be seen in Bordentown.
She went on, after her teaching career, to work diligently in Washington D.C., to see to it that as many of the Civil War Union dead as possible were identified.  To anyone who has had a loved one in the military in a war zone, you know you'd want to know your loved one was found and buried and not be in perpetual torment with a Missing In Action mystery.  She formed a clearing house for information for families of missing soldiers and identified more than 10,000 of the missing buried in unmarked graves over the battlefields of the Civil War.  

a digression:  Megan Smolenyak of ancestry.com fame, who lives in Haddonfield, NJ, also works, in this very period, to help identify remains of war dead which are still being found and brought home for burial.

Well, these are just a few of my thought today, on Flag Day!  I'm off to Millville now to have a delicious vegan lunch at Wildflowers, then a  boatride on the Maurice River with Captain Dave, and several friends and a more beautiful day for such an excursion, could not be imagined.

Some Fun Flag Facts:
The oldest American Flag is the Forster Flag of 1775, which was a field of red with 13 white stripes in the corner.
In 1914, Franklin Lane, Secretary of the Interior delivered a Flag Day Address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning:  "I am what you make me, nothing more.  I swing before your eyes as a bright glean of color, a symbol of yourself."
On August 3rd, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th a National Flag Day.
My favorite American Flag is the DON"T TREAD ON ME flag.

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Monday, June 9, 2014

Medford Friends Celebrated 200th Birthday

The Medford Friends were actually worshipping in a building in 1759, but their "new" building was constructed in 1814, so on Sunday, June 8th, they celebrated 200 years of "people from the generations who have lived lives of faith and service" and have met to share their worship at the Meeting house at 14 Union Street, Medford, NJ.

I arrived early which gave me the opportunity to read the display boards that described some of the many worthy programs the members have set their hearts, hands, and minds to over recent years.  There was a program to collect useful home items for the needy, a letter campaign for various causes including the ceasing of nuclear weapons proliferation, a writing campaign from the youngest members to survey members thoughts over what they would be willing to give up or go to jail for, the way various worthy social heroes have, such as George Fox and Mahatma Gandhi,  as well as what things we might feel were essential to take with us if we had to flee.    

My answer was that I would be willing to go to jail for what I believed in and in jail, I would use my college degrees and experience to work in literacy programs.  The things I would take with me if I had to flee would be my dependent animal companions who love me and need me.

After an one hour un-programmed worship (which is like meditation in that you free your mind to allow the inner light to show you something meaningful) in true Society of Friends tradition, we enjoyed a very well researched lecture by a Friend who is a professor of religion and an author of several books on religion.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find my pen during the lecture to take notes, and I've forgotten his name, but two of my friends attend this meeting and when I talk to them, I'll get the name and add it.  He did a marvelous lecture on writings of published Quakers who had visited the Medford Meeting as they traveled in the ministry.  He was entertaining, well spoken, charming and enlightening.  

This was followed by a delicious lunch.  Two other friends of mine, who are also vegetarians, were there and we wondered if there would be anything vegetarians could eat, but as is so often the case these days, most of the many tempting dishes provided were vegetarian.  

After this delicious luncheon, we were treated to a folk music concert by a very talented couple who are members of the Meeting.  

There was outdoor fun for all ages following the concert but both my back (the hard benches and long time sitting) and responsibility to my dog, demanded that I get in the car and head home.  It was a wonderful day.  And during the Meeting for worship, with my mind clear and my attention free to relax, I was given the thought that a birthday is a signal of new life and that every minute of every hour of every day is an opportunity for a beginning, a new birth, a chance to change, to be changed, to start anew.  

Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oliphant's Mill Has Lost its Wheel

Today two friends and I went to the Smithville that is in Atlantic County, not to be confused with the historic Smithville that is in Burlington County.  My purpose was to have a better look at Oliphant's Mill which I had been reading about in Old Mills of Camden County by Charles Boyer.  It had been the last standing mill in Gloucester County until it was moved to Smithville.  Here is a quote from a website about it:

"In my part of New jersey these things (old mills) are getting harder and harder to find. This one is on its last legs after being moved here from Gloucester County. When new sources of power replaced these things, mills were eventually abandoned for easier ways to run equipment. Many mills just decayed where they stood which seems to be the case with this wheel. Storms, especially a September 1, 1940 storm, demolished the remaining mills as well as bridges and mill dams in our area. The last mill in Gloucester County was this mill, Oliphant's Mill, south of Swedesboro along Kings Highway. Samuel Morgan's will mentioned his grist mill. Samuel Oliphant purchased the mill in 1871. It operated until 1937. In 1964, the mill was dismantled and moved to Smithville in Atlantic County. There you may see Gloucester County's last standing mill reconstructed. It needs some help"

Yes, indeed, it does need some help, in fact the wheel is now gone which was there the last time I visited Smithville.  I can only hope it was removed for repair and will be returned.  Speaking of mills however, I had the great good fortune to see two in operation.  While at a hsitory symposium at Walnford, I saw their functioning grist mill in operation and when I visited the Daniel Boone homestead in Pennsylvania, I saw a very primitive small one saw mill in operation.  Every since I was a child and had one of those tin bucket water wheels for the beach, I have been fascinated with waterwheel technology.

Also it was a lovely day at Smithville and I enjoyed the many saved historic buildings.  Tomorrow, I'll post one of the little red schoolhouse of 1871. 
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Lovely Way to spend a day - HOPEWELL, NJ

Yesterday, with my regular hiking buddies, Barbara Spector, and, Trixie, my Lab mix,  Itook a delightful ride to Lambertville, NJ with a great stop at Gravity Hill Farm (www.gravityhillfarm.com), located at 67 Pleasant Valley Road, Titusville, NJ.  It is a Certiied Organic Farm, where we refreshed ourselves with a taste of a delicious frittata and fruit smoothies. 

We also checked out the wide assortment of delicious looking mushrooms.  Outside, while we enjoyed our smoothies, we bought some things made by Seeds for Change (www.seedstosew.org).  They were selling lovely fabric gift bags, and since both of us had birthdays coming up, we bought some.  They were such pretty fabrics, that you could actually buy an assortment of bags as a gift in themselves, which I plan to do by ordering off the internet.  I bought a set of six bags, in vintage fabrics, 3 small, 2 medium, 1 large for $27.   The small bags would be perfect for a gift book, the medium for a shirt or something, and the large, well it is big enough for a winter coat.

There were also two especially handsome Polish chickens singing out on the patio as we browsed the beaded jewelry and other charming things that might make nice gifts. 

We didn't stop to shop at the Flea Market because we didn't want to leave the dog in the car since it was nearly 80 degrees, but we both have shopped there before and can vouch for both a wide array of wonderful things and very reasonable prices. 

This time we headed for the Delaware and Raritan Canal and did a 3 mile hike on the shady, breezy canal tow-path. 

Traffic on the road wasn't bad either going or coming home (especially in consideration of the day, Sunday, and the weather - delightful) although there were many bikes on the canal path.  I'm sorry to confess I did not get the name of the little deli where we always stop for a sandwich, which is right on the canal path, and the sandwiches are made with the freshest of ingredients, and can be eaten at the picnic tables outside the deli.

The Seeds For Change organization makes trade and profit possible for women in Kenya, Africa, but aside from the gratification of spending money with an organization that does good in the world, wrapping gifts in pretty reusable bags instead of wasting paper is also attractive!

Happy Trails, Happy Tails & Tales, and Good luck with considerate shopping!   Jo Ann

ps.  Next Stop:  Beverly National Cemetery, where a grandfather and grandmother are buried:  It is a National Cemetery located near Edgewater Park, NJ

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Brunch at the Telford Inn, Mantua, NJ

Today I took a friend with whom I was a volunteer for a few years at the Gloucester County Historical Society Library in Woodbury, to a 90th Birthday brunch at the Telford Inn in Mantua.  
The history of the Telford Inn is as follows:  (adapted from a sheet available from the hostess)  In 1812, the Tonkin Brothers owned a large frame farm house that later became the Telford Inn.  It stood in the forks of the highways, Mullica Road and Glassboro/Mantua Road, as it does today.  Names of residents of Mantua which at the time was home to 16 families are familiar to anyone from these parts, Heritage (of the dairy farms), Collins (ancestors to my William C. Garwood), Ashcroft (of the cemetery in what is now Glendora, where some 60 Hessian soldiers were buried after the Revolutionary battle at the Whitall family farm at what is now Red Bank Battlefield , National Park, Eastlack, and of course, Tonkin.
It was kept as a tavern by a widow named Mrs. Taylor in whose name the property remained.  One of the Tonkin brothers married her daughter.  The tavern was also the postoffice, which I gather was a common practice in the time.  
The Tonkin brothers also ran a store in the same location in the fork of the road.  That fork in the road had also been home to a blacksmith, Samuel Archer, and another store, owned by Richard Clark.  The blacksmith business later was run by Curry and Pancoast and a wheelright shop there was run by Denn and Wallace.  
At some point, a planing mill owned by Samuel Sooy (a name familiar in the Pine Barrens) stood near the forks on Mantua Creek  which later became a lumber company and even later, a canning factory for fruit.  In 1881, Henry Leppee ran a steam grist mill there.  
Needless to say, whenever I have a chance to enjoy a meal in a historic tavern, I am happy, and the Telford Inn had no disappointments.  The food was plentiful and delicious in their buffet which is open from 9:30 to 1:p.m., reservations requested but not required.  We made reservations.  I didn't want any hitches in a 90th Birthday event.  The Inn is located at 145 Bridgeton Pike and it is open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and late night fare.
Take-out is also available and you can order a specialty cake with 24 hour notice.  Call 856-468-0535. 
Personally, I can't wait for a return visit!
Happy Trails, Happy Meals, Jo Ann

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Hike at Estelle Manor

Both my hiking buddy Barb Sp. and I agree that route 559 is a beauty.  It is never crowded, always scenic and peaceful and it goes to so many great places such as Lake Lenape and the Sugar Hill Restaurant and Egg Harbor City.  Today, though, it was taking us to Estelle Manor for a hike.

The woods were beautiful, the ferns incredibly new, lush and stunning.  They were huge, thanks to the moisture in this swampy, fertile forest.  It was peaceful in the woods, not very many people hiking, though a happy group of revelers were in the picnic/playground area of the park.  

We stopped to pay our respects at the Veterans Cemetery.  I walked among the markers for the veterans of the Korean Conflict and stopped at the World War II markers.  All the graves were decorated with flags.  This is something my brother does where he lives in West Virginia.  My brother, Joe is a veteran of Vietnam.  Each Memorial Day weekend, he and other members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars group in Maysville, place hundreds of flags on the graves of those who came forward when their nation asked them to and served.  Our father was a veteran of World War II.   He was in the Navy, my brother was in the Marines.  We also have veteran ancestors from World War I,  the Spanish American War, the Civil War and the Revolution.  As for me, I, too, served in a very small way with the Red Cross at the army clinic at Wharton Barracks in Heilbronn, Germany, when my ex-husband was stationed there from 1969 to 1971.

My heart goes out to all the members of the US services currently serving and to those who gave when their help was needed and are now in civilian life in our magnificent land of freedom and plenty.  Marking the Memorial Day weekend by showing the flag and honoring veterans is one small way we can express our gratitude to those who have signed on to keep us free.  THANK YOU!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pink Ladyslipper orchid at Maruice River Bluffs

My Mother's Day Adventure began two days earlier on Thursday, when Barb Sp. and I hiked the Maurice River Bluffs after a delicious lunch at Wilflowers Vegetarian Restaurant on Main Street in Millville, NJ.  It was delightful to chat with the baker as she prepared banana mango cupcakes for the weekend bakery case.  
After our delicious,healthful, and plentiful lunch, we headed down Silver Run Road for the bluffs and joyfully hiked the orange trail, the blue trail, the red trail and the white trail.  Somewhere on the connection between the red and white trails, we got lost, and disoriented.  This doesn't usually happen to us as we are frequent hikers but that day we could not find our way back to the parking lot or the blue trail for anything, so our hike turned into a 4 hour exhaustion.  Finally a nice kid on a scooter out on the roadway, where we had wandered after giving up on the woods trails, pointed us in the right direction and we were saved.  In what I thought was an overly dramatic gesture, my dog threw herself flat on the ground and refused to go one step further, fotunately we were only yards from the car when she quit.  

On Saturday when my daughter came to visit for Mother's Day, we headed back for the same experience, minus getting lost.  This time I brought the trail map and hoped to find the orchids again to show her, but, no luck, they were elusive.  I think you had to be lost to find them.  They were probably off the beaten path as we were on Thursday.
We had the usual wonderful time however, with lunch at Wildflowers again, and the hike, followed by coffee at Bogart's Book Store where a talented guitarist/singer was performing.  A Perfect Mother's Day experience in every way!  And I bought a charming Mother's Day card at Bogart's for my sister.
So here is some information on the interesting orchid that we found:

"Pink lady’s slipper is more reclusive and shy than most other Jersey flowers—perhaps because it knows it’s special. It’s a wild orchid."
"For novices and casual wildflower gazers like myself, native orchids can be tricky to locate without a guide. Compared to your run-of-the-mill wildflowers, orchids are a rarity and usually found off the beaten trail. Plus, these flowers have a network of human bodyguards. In an effort to shield native orchids from being picked, dug up or trampled, naturalists tend to guard orchid locations as if protecting the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s supposed buried treasure at Sandy Hook. "

So as you see, the woods were being very kind to me this year and paying me a great compliment in displaying for me one of their gems.  To be honest, I have a feeling I may have seen pink ladyslipper orchids somewhere out near Whitesbog once, too.  I feel honored!

HAPPY TRAILS!  Jo Ann  Happy Tails!  Trixie
and to those of you who have brought offspring into the world, Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pottsgrove Connection

Last week, the Whitall volunteers group took a field trip to Pottsgrove Manor in Pottsgrove, Pa.  You may wonder what the connection is between an historic house in Pa. and my blog on SJ.  It's IRON!  The volunteers are interested in all sites that relate to our period and Pottsgove Manor, built in 1752, is certainly our period.  They had a remarkable show of clothes from the Colonial period in each room, displayed on dress dummies, depicted both male and female attire. 
John Potts was an ironmaster who established several iron forges in Pennsylvania.  Incidentally, those of you who have visited Batsto or Atsion are aware that Pennsylvania was the cause of the demise of the iron industry in the Pines of New Jersey.  They had ready access to hot burning coal whereas we were forced to denude our forest lands and make charcoal to keep our forges ablaze. 
Washington used Pottsgrove Manor as his headquarters for a period during the Revolutionary War, as well.
The clothing display, comprised of both recently sewn authentic replica clothing and original 18th Century pieces on loan, will be running from March 8th through Nove. 2nd if you should wish to visit.  We had no trouble finding it and it was less than an hour drive.
Tours are on the hour and stop at 3:00 p.m.  There are places to have lunch in the town of Pottstown, nearby, which was, of course, named for the ironmaster, John Potts  The address is 100 West King Street, Pottstown, Pa.  Phone 610-326-4014 and website:
Happy Trails!  Jo Ann

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Margaret Mitchell in Camden, NJ

On February 6, 1944, Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, visited Camden, New Jersey, to christen the U.S.S. Atlanta.  
Lately, I've been reading Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh which is an excellent biography of the years when Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind, and a bautiful portrait of a wonderful marital partnership. 
Gone With the Wind sold more books than any another in the 20th Century.  It was a huge smash hit and in its own time, a literary success as well.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937.  The movie made from her book " set a record for Oscar® wins and nominations. It took eight awards, with 13 nominations, winning for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration and Best Editing."
Both the movie and the book have always been among my top 3 in favorites and I was surprised to find that my writing hero had visited my state, and indeed my county.  New Jersey is the Crossroads in more than the Revolution!
Speaking of the Revolution, I wish someone could have written a novel of the stature of Gone With the Wind, about our own state, we deserve it - where is our Margaret Mitchell?
For those of you who don't know much about her, Margaret Mitchell was not only a woman of her time and place but ahead of her time as well, in that she had a job in her youth as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal, in a day when women didn't work often and most especially Southern women.  She had many accidents and illnesses which plagued her throughout her short life.  In 1949 she was hit by a drunk diver as she and her husband crossed the street where they lived on their way to the movies.  She was only 48 at the time but had, at least, had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of her labor.  It had taken her ten years to write and edit her book with the exceptional editing help of her husband who did it for a living.  She wrote and read to him and he edited.  It was a chance meeting with Mr. Latham of McMillan publishers that brought the novel and the reading world together.
As my regular visitors know, I am an avid history fan and a lifelong book lover, so both of these passions come together in this particular book which makes history live.  I have three Civil War ancestors, all, of course, on the Union side, and all survivors, though one was wounded (Hiram McQuiston) and one was imprisoned in Andersonville (Robert Jaggard).   One of the things I love about this novel is that we so rarely get the view from the ordinary people over whom the war swoops like a tornado.  That is what happened at the house where I am docent, James and Ann Whitall Hosue, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park.  They were Quaker farmers, pacifists, and yet the war, literally, dropped into their side yard.  I wish I were younger and had more energy, I'd write a Revolutionary War novel set there, but I'm tired and having written two independently published novels, don't feel as though I've got enough ink left in my veins. 
Well after a few more months at the gym and Weight Watchers, who knows, maybe I'll find the energy and take a shot at it - even if it is just another independently published and personal work like my others.
Happy Trails, I'm off to the Cranberry Trail and Pakim Pond with friends on this glorious spring day!
Jo Ann

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Stories that Stick

Okay, I apologize, I was supposed to have posted some Eastern State Penitentiary photos by Sunday, but I've been busy hiking at Pakim Pond on the Cranberry Trail both Saturday and Sunday and today, at Parvin State Park to celebrate EARTH DAY!

My pals Barb Spector and Trixie and I enjoyed a picnic lunch alongside Thundergust Lake in this deliriously delightful spring weather then did the 3 mile hike.  

While the days have passed since the trip to Eastern, though, I had time to let the information settle and I'm always interested in what stories stick after time has sifted.  For one thing, I am a docent at a historic site, as many of you know, James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, so I like to know what aspects of a historic site experience stay with people.  As always, it is the individual stories.  I was most interested in the story of the Jewish group that provided a synagog so Jewish prisoners could attend an appropriate religious service, and then the Jewish prisoner I read about who was a poison expert and poisoned 30 people in scams engineered with spouses to kill and collect insurance.

Also interesting to me was the coincidence that the only woman prisoner I could find info on was also a poisoner who killed her husband.  So these were the stories that stuck.  Also, that they kept prisoners in solitary confinement so that they could be penitent and think about their crimes but they learned that was inhumane so they put prisoners together and that begat sexual exploitation that plagues the weaker prisoners in prisons up to this very day.

Hope you had a happy Earth Day and spent it in the woods or gardening or in some way communing with nature!
Jo Ann

Friday, April 18, 2014

Eastern State Penitentiary

Today, Good Friday, two friends and I toured Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  It was a fascinating experience that raised many questions in my mind.  First, I wondered about the women who had been imprisoned there for almost a hundred years, until 1923, then I wondered what were the most commonly committed crimes.  Last, I wondered what had happened to Riverfront Prison on the Camden City waterfront?  That prison was only built in the mid 1980's, so why was it closed, demolished and disappeared in such a short time?

When I looked up New Jersey State prisons, I discovered that there were 13, and in addition, county prisons are also still being used.  I didn't find out much about women at Eastern except for the name and story of one woman who was the last one incarcerated at Eastern.  Her crime was murder.  She poisoned her husband and was given 20 years.  They moved her to Muncy. 

Naturally I took a lot of photos, but it is late and I'm tired so I'll be posting the photos on Sunday because tomorrow I'll be hiking in the Pine Barrens with friends while the beautiful weather is here.

I recommend you visit Eastern, though it is a depressing place, full of the residue of shame, regret, and wasted lives.  

As for what happened at Riverfront in Camden, the closes I can come to an answer was that it was cheaper  to move the inmates into other crowded prisons and close this one, saving several million dollars a year in operating costs, and opening the possibility of selling the site for residential property development which was a deeply hoped for outcome on the part of Camden residents.  I didn't figure out how much they spent building that prison but it was only 20 years old - what a waste!  That is an economic crime in and of itself.

Something I like to do in museums is pick my favorite one item, or lace or fact.  All of us chose the tiny, doll size set of eating utensils in the "Pop-Up Museum" as our favorite item.  It was carved from bones found in the carver/inmate's soup.  We also found the synagog interestin.  It was created by the benevolence of Philadelphia for Jewish businessmen for Jewish inmates so that should they desire a spiritual retreat, they wouldn't be forced to attend a Christian service.  Naturally I wondered how many Jewish inmates there were - not many!  But one, Morris "the Rabbi" Bolber, was head of a  poison ring that was accused of killing at least 30 people in a scheme to get spouses to conspire in the murders to collect insurance money.  

In my opinion, it is NOT the appropriate place to hold a party, which I understand is a fund raising strategy there.  To party in a place still redolent of despair, hopelessness, depravity and human damage, seems improper.  I'm glad I visited during the day and in the spring.  On a dark day or during their scary Halloween tours, this could be a deeply disturbing historic site visit.  Nonetheless it stirs many other interests such as the history of society's methods for dealing with crime, and the architecture of separating criminals from the public and either punishing or rehabilitating them.  

Another opinion:  We could save a LOT of money if we let the pot-smokers out of jail.  Also, sentence them to community service where they can be of use to the public instead of a drain on our over burdened tax payers.
Happy Trails, Stay out of Jails!
Jo Ann

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Riverton Writers & Friends

I have been a member of Riverton Writers for about 15 years.  My guess would be that the group has been in existence for about 30 or more years.  There are four of us left from the eight who were regular attenders when I began.  At present, we meet at Dorothy Stanaitis' house each month.  We are all writers.  Dorothy has published well over 100 essays, Ed has published at least three books, most recently "Lost Philadelphia" and Carol was a long time New Jersey Journalist who still writes articles and memoir pieces.  Tom, is our poet, though, like Emily Dickenson, he shies away from the glare of publication.  Dorothy and I also have in common history performances.  She is a Philadelphia Tour Guide and a New Jersey Storyteller for all ages with stories for children and historic tales for adults.
As for yours truly, Jo Ann Wright, I have published two novels independently, and have three collections of short stories and two collections of poems.  Over the years, I have also written and performed several historical pieces, most recently, the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Jersey.  I have kept diaries for 40 years.
Also, there is this blog.  I have had 35,187 views, 910 visitors last month, nad average about a dozen a day.  That's plenty for me, just enough pressure to keep at it, and not too much pressure.  I like the Independence of it too.  
I'm off to Riverton Writers today, which is why I decided to post this essay.  Over the years, I have been a member of one or two other groups and I'm always surprised and interested in people who write.  I have a number of other writing frends, two who have published books of poetry, and one who has published three books of South Jersey history, plus numerous acquaintances who have written and published.  
This year, I am working on family history and writing an essay on each of the relatives who "speak to me" and about whom I have something to say, either some biographical information, or a living memory.  That is what I'll be presenting today.  It's a piece about my Grandmother Mabel Wright, who lived in Ocean City, on 6th and Asbury and 11th and Bay,  when I was growing up and with whom I was very close.  I have her diary.  Next, I'll be writing about Joseph Lyons, my grandfather on my mother's side, and I'll be posting more family history on this site as well, since this year is devoted to fitness and family history.
At Bogart's Book Store in Millville, they often entertain local writers such as Marianne Lodz, whose family history memoir I bought and very much enjoyed reading.  I think I blogged about it at the time.  
"There are a million stories in the naked city, this has been one of them."  That is a quote for a memorial if ever I heard one.  Just so you know, it came from a movie called the Naked City, which is a film classic now, and was based on a book by Martin Wald.  That was about a murder mystery, but, I like to think that every one of the 300 million Americans or so of us has a story to tell, we are living stories.  Every family adds hundreds of other interesting stories too.  I hope you are writing yours!
Happy Traiils, Happy Tales!  Jo Ann

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone With The Wind

One of my favorite forms of coincidence is when events coincide with my reading.  I mentioned in my last entry reading a funny book called MAN OF WAR about a journalist who does several time periods of Re-enactment.  I was reading his Civil War chapter when Gon With The Wind came on tv last night for the Turner Classic Movie Channel and celebration of their anniversary.  I often thought that if I took a phd, I'd combine history and literature and study Margaret Mitchell and that immortal novel GONE WITH THE WIND.  Each tiem I watch it, I focus on some other facet, this time, I took special note of the African Americans and their portrayal and also the criminal chain gangs working in the saw mill.  The free to cheap labor aspect of the movie was of interest since I watched 12 YEARS A SLAVE this year, the Oscar winner.

Also of interest is the attitudes of men towards women, personified of course, by Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler.  The 'classic Southern Gentleman" and the arrogant, selfish, "realist" both of whom are iron-bound to their perceptual framework and unable to see beyond or through it.  For some years, I was taken with the post Civil War women writers such as Ellen Glasgow, who wrote about survival after the war and adapting to the new world as well about agriculture and ecology and the impact from the way the land was used.
We didn't learn enough however, because right after that came The Great Depression and the combined ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl (bad farm practices) and the Stock Market Crash (bad financial practices that cripple us today - The Wall Street fiasco best posinified in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.

The re-enactment scene is so interesting I've just ordered another book CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC, by Horowitz about the modern South and the attachement to this tragic period of history.  I've only attended one Civil War re-enactment myself and it was an encampment not a battle.  It was at the Parker Press Park near Perth Amboy, and since the Revolutionary War is my period, I was as much interested in the Parker Press as the encampment, but I have attended numerous lectures and other events (since this is the commemorative years of teh Civil War) and also visited Gettysburg, once as a child, and recently with my daughter for my birthday.  That most recent visit was especially interesting since it coincided with the realization from family history that I had 3 male ancestors who served in the Union forces, one at Gettysburg.

I have more to say about Gone with the Wind, and the Irish factor, but no time left to continue.  As always my epmail is wrightj45 @yahoo.com and I wish you
Happy Trails and Wagging Tails
Jo Ann