Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I'm going to work my way back over the past couple of weeks and the interesting history events I was able to attend. Yesterday, October 2nd, I went to the Collingswood Book Festival which was well attended as the weather was cool and sunny after warnings of a 60% chance of rain. I met a couple of acquaintances and friends there: Barbara Solem who wrote one of the most popular Ghosttowns in the Pines books, and Paul Schopp, noted architectural historian.
My best finds were Iron in the Pine by Arthur Pierce (sorry grammarians, I can't figure out how to italicize on blogspot) The Way We Lived, a photographic look at common occupations in turn of the century America by Martin Sandler. There were a couple of other books I might have liked to own but their prices were out of my pre-set limit for the day.
Many book sellers had their books subject organized which made it easier to find those NJ and History gems I was looking for.
On Thursday, the 29th of September, a group of Whitall House volunteers toured Christ Church Cemetery and the church itself. We had marvelous tour guides. At the cemetery, our tour guide was the Sextent, whose enthusiasm was evident. He gave us updates on the newest discoveries which made the cemetery even more fascinating and mysterious. Since my latest read is BRING OUT YOUR DEAD by J. H. Powell, a book about the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic that devastated Philadelphia but also spread across the river to New Jersey. Ann Cooper Whitall survived the Battle of Red Bank but succumbed to the Yellow Fever as did one of her sons and two of her grandchildren.
Many of the main characters in the book BRING OUT YOUR DEAD are buried in Christ Church cemetery including the then mayor, Clarkson. Also a number of church members felled by the disease are buried with stones giving the death date as that of the epidemic.
George Washington and Betsy Ross both rented pews in Christ Church. pew rental was the form of church donation of the period. Many of the leading lights of Revolutionary Philadelphia worshiped in this historic and beautiful church which, in its time, was the tallest structure in America.
The week before, I enjoyed the Burlington County Historians' Roundtable at Batsto, though getting there was similar to a road-rally challenge. The bridge was out coming in from the west, so I had to find my way through Weekstown and Green Bank to 542 on the East side of the village, which I did with a little help from kind strangers. It was a day of many bicycyle rallies as well and the back roads in the pines were jammed with bikes. I spent a good deal of time driving on the wrong side of the road due to cyclists riding 3 and 4 abreast.
The Roundtable as always was informative and I'm hoping somehow someday something similar can be done, even if only one time, for South Jersey Historians.
There was an interesting pair of overview photographs on the gift shop counter of Batsto village rooftops over the flooded grounds.
In the afternoon of that day, I visited one of my personal favorites the Burrough Dover House in Pennsauken (off Haddonfield Road) for the Apple Festival which included a Civil War encampment. The House features a tool museum in the basement and furnished bedrooms as well as informative and welcoming volunteers. It is a delightful place to visit and a simply gorgeous house of native fieldstone.
Next - I plan to make my way to Bivalve which has several openings. This past week the shed gallery and shops opened and in November the Delaware Bay Museum and Folklife Center's inaugural exhibit will premier in the new space. The second Friday of each month in October there will be interactive exhibits. Enjoy!

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