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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monmouth Battlefield

At the end of summer, I met my daughter in the town of Freehold and we went out to Monmouth Battlefield to hike around the meadow. It was vastly different from the last time I was there, a year ago, for the Battle Re-enactment. This time we were the only visitors in the park and it was still, hot and peaceful. During the Re-enactment visit, the lot set-aside for the encampment was filled with both visitors and re-enactors, sutlers hawking all sorts of Colonial wares, and camp followers. I would suggest two visits - one for the big Re-enactment and another one to simply enjoy the pace and beauty of the area. The visitor's center is excellent with a very good film to explain the battle and its significance to the Revolution. To those who work at Whitall House, it has significance becaue Hugh Mercer was killed here during the Battle. The Revolutionary Fort built on Whitall Land during the Battle for the Delaware was named after Mercer.

55 Parks Project

Here are two new parks project postings. I did say I wouldn't go backwards and use pictures from parks I already visited before I started this project, but I am going to use Monmouth Battlefield because it was so recent.
This week, October 10th, I returned to Parvin State Park and hiked around Thundergust Lake with a friend, Barbara Spector, and my dog, Blizzard. I took Rt. 55 to 47 and then a turn off to the park. There is camping, both cabin and tent and canoeing as well as hiking.
The most interesting information about the park to me, since I'm a big fan of Civilian Conservation Corps History, is that a camp was located here in the 1930's and the young men who worked here, pulled dead trees from the frozen lake, built the beautiful little white bridge and created trails and roads. In fact, the CCC of Belleplain State Park built the housing for the CCC of Parvin. There are many historical markers that tell you the story of this project.
Thundergust Lake like most lakes in Southern Nj is man-made and was made for one of the mills along the Muddy Run in Pittsgrove Township.
Interesting names are connected with this property including that of John Estaugh (of Haddon/Estaugh connection) the first purchaser of the land. He passed it to Captain Richard Parker who sold it to Elemuel Parvin in 1796. For more history check the link.
This fits with my growing interest in mills in South Jersey, founding families, and the waterways and their uses.
Hopefully next week, I'll get to Belleplain.
This is a wonderful time of year to visit the parks! Hope we meet on the trails one day!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

55 State Parks Project

This week I had one or two ideas. One was to make a list of all the state parks and then spend the next few months visiting them. There are 55 of them and about 11 I've already visited including High Point, and several others, so I'll search my picture files for photos from them. Meanwhile, this week, I visited two of them, Parvin State Park and Wharton State Forest.
The biggest and best trip of the week, however, was to Bivalve where the oyster sheds have been converted into a museum and art gallery. A friend and I enjoyed the beautiful paintings and then enjoyed the beautiful scenery by hiking the nature trails directly across the street from the Delaware Bayshore Project packing sheds site. The main opening will be November 11th but the 2nd Friday of each month they will have deomonstrations going on. I'll try to get to the one upcoming. The day couldn't have been more perfect and the salty air and the ships bobbing up and down on the blue bay water delightful. The docent was very helpful and informative.

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!