Millville, NJ History from
HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
BY: JOHN W. BARBER and HENRY HOWE
PUBLISHED BY S. TUTTLE (NEW YORK) 1844



Millville is in extreme length N. and S. 16 miles; B. and W. 15; and is bounded NE. by parts of Atlantic and Gloucester counties; southerly by Maurice river, and Downe; and westerly by Fairfield, Deerfield, and Pittsgrove, Salem co. The township contains 5 stores, 5 glass-houses, 5 grist-m., 9 saw-m.; cap. in manufac. $183,920 ; 5 schools, Pop. 1,771.

MillviIle is at the head of tide, and principally on the B. bank of Maurice river, 20 miles from its mouth, and 11 E. of Bridgeton. The village and vicinity consists of about 150 dwellings, and 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, and 1 Presbyterian church. The land on which it stands was purchased about the year 1796, by Joseph Buck, Ezekiel Foster, Robert Smith, and Eli Elmer, by whom improvements were commenced. Previous to this period it was known as the Maurice River bridge; a tavern having been here a greater part of a century. At that period rattlesnakes abounded on the margin of the river, but now have disappeared. The Methodist church, the oldest in the village, was built in 1822; and the dedication sermon preached by the Rev. Charles Pitman. The Presbyterian church was built in 1838, and the Rev. John M’Coy was the first settled clergyman.

The following view was taken on the western bank of the river,
a short distance above the bridge. On the left are seen the extensive glass-works of Scattergood, Harverstick, & Co.; on the right the central portion of the village; and on the extreme right, the large glass-works at Shutterville, in. the lower part of the village. There is also near the village an iron furnace, belonging to D. C. Wood, Esq. These three establishments unitedly employ about 300 men. About 3 miles above Miliville is a dam in the river, from which a canal is cut to the village, for the supply of waterpower for the works. Large quantities of wood, lumber, and charcoal, are exported from here; and the river is navigable for vessels of 100 tons. Miliville is thriving, and inhabited by a hardy, industrious population.

The following extraordinary incident was communicated to the editors of the Christian Advocate and Journal, by the Rev. Mr. Purdue, of Millville, in Jan. 1843.

Mary Coombs, the subject of the following biographical sketch, was born in March,
1794; and when about 10 years of age, she was convinced of her sinful state, and brought to serious reflection and prayer by hearing her mother read the Holy Scriptures.
One passage particularly, the recollection of which she still retains, made, even at that tender age, an indelible impression Upon her mind. It. is Isaiah iii. 11: “ We unto the wicked, it. shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”

At the age of 13 years she experienced a clear sense of God’s pardoning mercy, at a Methodist quarterly meeting at Tuckahoe. For two years after this happy change, so strong were her religions consolations, and so uninterrupted her peace, that, to use her own language, she “bad neither troubles nor trials.” This truce, however, was succeeded by a season of severe trial; and she was reduced to “great heaviness through manifold temptations.” She was much harassed with a fear that she should never again enjoy the same consolations, or be able to endure the trials and difficulties of life. At a class-meeting, held at the dwelling-house of Richard Penn, about 5 miles from this place, on the 20th of November, 1808, she was unusually blessed, fell under the power of God, and remained for seven days and nights, in one of the most remarkable raptures of which I have ever read or heard.

There was an unusual coldness of the extremities, and an unnatural rigidity or stilt. ness of the muscular fibre of the whole body. But a very singular phenomenon was, that every day, precisely at 6 o’clock, P. M., consciousness, and the powers of speech, and voluntary motion, returned for a short time.

This was gradual, however, and always preceded by paroxysms of trembling, in which her whole frame was violently agitated, accompanied by opening of the eyes, half-articulated words, and other signs of returning animation. The first words which she usually
uttered so as to be distinctly understood, were, “Blessed Jesus !“ “Lord, give me more
strength !“ and some others of a like description.

This intermediatc state was generally of about from 30 to 45 minutes duration; and as soon as she could sit up on the bed, she would commence exhorting those about her, particularly the unconverted, to forsake their sins, and “flee the wrath to come.” This was done in the most earnest and serious manner, with an almost unearthly pathos, and in the use of language, appeals, and arguments, altogether beyond her degree of mental cultivation and intellectual capacity. This will seem the more remarkable, when it is considered that she had scarcely any education, said but little on all occasions, and was naturally diffident and retiring in her manners.

The singularity of the case, as might reasonably be expected, produced great excite.. ment in the neighborhood, and attracted crowds of people, even from a distance, to witness her exercises. The knowledge of “sins forgiven” was not considered the privilege of believers, even by a majority of those who made a profession of religion in the neighborhood. The miseries of the damned; the necessity of immediate repentance; and the fact that sinners might know their sins forgiven in this life, were the principal themes of her discourses. The effects produced by these exhortations were truly astonishing. From Wednesday until the close of the week, the house was filled to overflowing every night; and but little was heard except the cries of the penitent, the prayers of the pious, and the shouts of new.born souls till long after midnight.

Such was the state of excitement upon this occasion, and such the influence that attended these exhortations, that persons, upon approaching the house, would be seized with conviction for sin at hearing the sound of her voice, before entering the door. After speaking about one hour, if the interval lasted so long, her voice would gradually become more and more faint, until it ceased to be audible, and she would fall back upon the bed, and remain apparently insensible to all external objects till the samc time the next evening. The sister, at whose house she remained, (now an old and worthy member of the Church at Port Elizabeth, in this state, assured me that she asked for neither food nor drink during the week; and that the only nourishment she received was a few spoonfuls of thin gruel, which was forced into her mouth at three different times. This she received reluctantly, and would finally resist their efforts to force it upon her by closing the teeth firmly together.

One circumstance which served greatly to excite the curiosity of the people, and draw them to the place, was, that early in the week she stated that she would be exercised in this way every evening till the next sabbath; and that at the same hour on that day that she had fallen into this rapture the previous sabbath, she would have finished her work, and would return home. That consciousness, and the powers of speech, and voluntary motion, should return every evening precisely at 6 o’clock, (as was found to be the case,) when she could by no means have access to any time-piece, was perfectly unaccountable upon natural principles. Upon the following sabbath, (November 27, 1808,) the day which she bad designated for her return home, it. was estimated that not less than five hundred people were present to witness it.

At 2 o’clock precisely, ono week from the time she had fallen into this rapture, she seemed to recover as out of a sweet sleep, and quietly returned home with her friends. On being asked, before she left the house, some questions relative to the subject which had occupied her whole attention during the preceding week, she calmly replied that she had nothing more to say—that she had finished the work assigned her for the present. I inquired particularly what influence this circumstance had upon her appetite and general health, and was informed that there was no perceptible change.

A physician from Bridgeton, who visited her during the rapture, was asked his opinion, upon which he remarked that he did not “understand the case.” Sister Surran (her flame by marriage) is still living; and although she has been called, in the providence of God, to pass through the fires of temptation, and the waves of affliction, still retains her integrity, and sustains an unblemished reputation for consistent piety. I sought an opportunity to converse with her, and requested to know all that she felt free to communicate concerning her feelings and spiritual perceptions at the time.

She is, and always has been, reserved on this subject. So much so, that her nearest relations have seldom ventured to converse with her concerning it. She stated to me, however, that while speaking, she seemed altogether under the influence, and subject to the control of a supernatural power; that to speak required no effort, either of thought or reflection, on her part. To use her own language, “The words were all put into my mouth, and I had to speak them.”

She described her sensations during the seasons of repose as peculiarly agreeable. She heard the commingling of distant but. harmonious sounds, such as would be produced by
numerous voices and instruments of music; which seemed to be wafted upon every breeze of heaven, and fell upon her ear in tones of enchanting melody. With reference to this world, she was in a state of perfect intellectual abstraction. Not one of its difficulties, cares, or even thoughts, intruded upon the sanctuary of her heart. In conclusion, I would remark, that the circumstances of the case utterly preclude the suspicion of collusion.


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