Cumberland County from

CUMBERLAND COUNTY is bounded SSW. by Delaware bay, NW. by Salem co., NE. by Gloucester and Atlantic co., and SE. by Cape May co. It is about 20 in. long, B. and W., and its extreme breadth, N. and S., is 28 miles. It was included in Fenwick’s tenth, and was part of his colony. It formed a portion of Salem county until 1747, when it was erected into a separate county, and named by Gov. Belcher in honor of the Duke of Cumberland.. The county was, at its formation, divided into six townships, viz., Greenwich, Hopewell, Stow Creek, Fairfield, Deerfield, and Maurice River,—to which Miliville and Downe have since been adaed. Along on its SW. boundary, on the Delaware bay, is a tract of marshy land, varying from one to six miles in breadth. This marsh extends up the principal streams, Maurice river and Cohansey creek, for several miles. The surface of the county is level—its soil of alluvial formation, and generally a sandy loam, with some clay. A large portion of the NE. part is covered with a pine forest. Cumberland county is divided into eight townships, viz:

Deerfield (on seperate page)
Greenwich (on seperate page)
Maurice River
Millville (on seperate page)
Stow Creek

In 1810, the population was 12,670; in 1820, it was 12,688 ; in 1830, it was 14,093; in 1840, it was 14,363.


This township is about 11 miles long, E. and W., and 9 broad N. and S. It is bounded N. by Millvile and Fairfield, S. and SW by the Delaware bay, E. by Maurice river and township of that itame, and NW. by Fairfield. A great portion of the township, that bordering on Delaware bay and Maurice river, is marshy land. Downe was probably first settled by Swedes, between 1637 and 1654. Egg island, in the Delaware bay, belongs to this township. From an original draft of a survey, made in 1691, it seems this island then contained 300 acres; but the continual encroachment of the sea has reduced it to one acre and a half. The township contains 4 stores, 7 grist-m., 4 saw-m.; cap. in manufac. $20,850; 7 schools, 250 scholars. Pop. 1,920.

The village of Mauricetown is on the river, about 11 miles from its mouth, and 18 SE. of Bridgeton. It was settled at an early date, by the Petersons and Mattocks, and was known as Mattock's Landing, until about 1812. It is pleasantly situated, on a high bank, above the river; and contains an academy, a Methodist church, and about 30 dwellings. The following account of an extraordinary den or burrow of rattlesnakes, found in this village, about 40 years since, was lately published:

"In the early part of summer, Mr. Ichabod Compton, father of Mr. S. Compton, was attracted, by the noise of some crows, to a small island, in a swamp, lying contiguous to his farm. While in pursuit of the crows, he was startled by the sight of a large rattlesnake. He killed this, and another of the same kind, that afternoon; and, returning the next day, he killed seven more, the last of which he found coming out of a hole in the ground. This circumstance led to the suspicion that this might be the place where the whole battalion had their usual winter-quarters. In the winter, young Compton, ac. companied by two of his brothers, repaired to the spot, with implements for digging; and after removing about eight inches of the turf; or upper surface of the ground, they found immersed, in three inches of clean water, and lying side by side, twenty..oight rat.. tlcsnakes, one large spotted snake, and four black-snakes. And, to complete this 'interesting group,' there was, at least, a peck of spring-frogs associated with them. All of these reptiles were in a torpid state. For several years, immediately preceding the period above alluded to, from ten to twelve rattlesnakes had bccn destroyed, annually, m the neighborhood.

"it is also stated that several dens, of a similar description, had been discovered in the neighborhood of Buckshutem; in all, or most of which, several kinds of snakes, and also frogs, were found grouped together."

Dividing Creeks is near the central part of the township, on a creek of the same name, and 16 miles from Bridgeton. It has a Methodist and a Baptist church. and about 40 dwellings. One of the present members of the United States senate, from Mississippi, was bred a shoemaker in this village, and by his enterprise and industry won the way to his present station. Charles Brown, Esq., now a member of congress from Pennsylvania, was also bred here. A Baptist church was very early established at Dividing Creeks.

"It was formed about the year 1749, from Cohansey, by Jonadab Sheppard, Thomas Sheppard, William Dallas, with their families, and some others. About the year 1760, Rev. Samuel Heaton and John Terry removed there, from Cape May. Mr. licaton's wife's name was Abbey Tuttle. They had ten children. These roamed into the families of the Colsons, Reeves, Lores, Garrisons, Clarks, Cooks, Johnsons, Terrys, and Kelseys, From these have sprung a numerous people in the county. Heaton was succeeded by the Rev. David Sheppard, in 1764; and he by Rev. Peter Peterson Vanhorn, and he by Rev. John Garrison."

Nantuxet, on a creek of the same name on the western line of the township, has a Methodist and a Baptist church, and about 40 dwellings. Buckshutem, where there is a Methodist church, and Port Norris, both on Maurice river, are small villages.

The annexed brief account of an action in Maurice river, oppo site Port Norris, is from a paper published Aug. 29th, 1781 :-

"Last week, 7 refugees were brought to town from New Jersey. They were taken in. Maurice river, a few days before, by a few Jersey militia commanded by Capt. James Riggins. The militia were in a shallop which the refugees attempted to board, when a sharp contest ensued, during which 7 of the refugees were killed, when the rest submitted. There were 15 in all; and it is said their captain called out that he would give no quarter, which occasioned the action to become desperate."

The following additional particulars of this event, are derived from Mr. Thomas Beeseley, of Cape May, then a boy, and a witness of the action. The brunt of the fight was sustained by Capt. Riggins and John Peterson, several of the militia having at the comrnencement jumped overboard and swam ashore, while others sneaked into the cabin. Riggins killed 4 or 5 of the enemy on their attempting to board. He fired his musket twice, and then made such good use of the breech, that at the end of the contest there was little left besides the barrel. Peterson was wounded by one of the refugees, who, thereupon, was about finishing him by cleaving his head open with an uplifted broadsword, when his little son shot the man dead. Every refugee not killed was wounded, and some desperately. A boy only escaped, and a fox which was brought on board the day previous by one of the slain, who had joined them at the mouth of the river. There were a number of fowls on board, all of which were killed. The brave Capt. Riggins lived to a good old age, having died only a few years since.


This township was named from Fairfield in Connecticut, from which it was partially settled. It is about 11 miles long, 6 broad, and bounded northerly by Deerfield, Greenwich, and Hopewell, from the two last of which it is separated by the Cohansey river, E. by Miliville, and S. by Downe and the Delaware bay. The land in the township produces good crops of corn, wheat, and other grain. There are some excellent tracts of land on the Delaware bay. The surface is generally level. Many of the present inhabitants are descendants of the Harrises and Ogdens from Fairfield, Connecticut; and the Batemans and Diaments from Long Island. About the year 1695, the first road laid out in the county was made from Fairfield to Burlington, and passed through an Indian settlement, a little east of Bridgeton, at a locality at present known as the "Indian Fields." The township contains 7 stores, 2 grist-m., I saw-m.; cap. in manufac. $44,015; 5 schools, 114 scholars. Pop. 1,935.

Cedarville, on Cedar creek, 8 miles SE. of Bridgeton, is a village scattered a mile and a half on the road, and contains 2 Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Baptist church, 2 stores, an oakum factory, a tannery, saw-m., &c., and about 100 dwellings. Fairton, 4 miles from Bridgeton, has a Methodist church, and about 50 dwellings. New England Town is a small scattered settlement where there is a Presbyterian church.

The three Presbyterian churches in this township were until a few years since one. The original church was constituted by emigrants from Fairfield, in Connecticut, in the year 1697, who purchased that tract of land lying on the south side of Ctcsaria river, or Cohansey, and the Delaware bay. It has been generally supposed that their minister matte one of their number, whose name was Rev. M. Bradnor; next to him was Rev. Mr. Exile. About the year 1705, the Rev. Howel Powel, from Wales, became the pastor-then, in 1719, Rev. Mr. Hooker-then, in 1727, the Rev. Daniel Elmer, from Connecticut, became the settled minister until 1755-then, in 1756, the Rcv. William Ramscy bacame the pastor, until 1771, when he died. in 1773, the Rev. William Hollingshead became the pastor, and so continued until 1783, when he removed to Charleston, South Carolina.-Johnson's Hist. of Salem. In 1789, the Rev. Ethan Osborne, from Litchfield, Connecticut, was settled over this congregation. In 1839, ho preached his half-century sermon. He still continues pastor over the original congregation, now much dIminishcd by the division.


Hopewell is 11 m. long by 4 in breadth,-and is bounded N. by Upper Alloways Creek, Salem co., S. by Fairfield, E. by Fairfield and Deerfield, and W. by Greenwich and Stow creek. The Cohansey forms its eastern and southern boundary line. The surface is slightly rolling,-the soil, a clay loam. The township contains 5 stores, 1 forge, 1 flouring-m., 2 grist-m.; cap. in manufac. $25,150; 12 schools, 973 scholars. Pop. 2,220.

Bridgeton, the seat of justice for the county, is partially in this township. Roadstown, on its western border, about 4 rn. from the courthouse, was early settled by the Mulford family, from Long Island. It contains a Baptist church and about 40 dwellings. Shiloh, 2 m. NE. of Roadstown, has about 25 dwellings and a Seventhday Baptist church.

This church arose about the. year 1737. The founders were John Swinney, Dr. Elijah Bowcn, John Jarman, Caleb Barrett, Hugh Dunn, Rev. Jonathan Davis, Caleb Ayres, and some others, with their families. About the year 1790, a schism took place among them-one part of the society holding the doctrine as promulgated by Winchester, (which was that of Universalism,)-the other party retaining the creed of their forefathers.


This, the eastern township of the county, is, in extreme length, 19 m., breadth 10 m. It is bounded NE by Hamilton and Wey mouth, Atlantic co., SE. by Upper and Dennis Creek, Cape May co., S. by Delaware bay, W. by Downe, and NW. by Miliville. The soil is light, excepting on the margin of the streams, and a considerabie portion of its surface covered with pines. There are in the township 6 stores, 2 glass-houses, 7 grist-m., 4 saw-m.; cap. in manufac. $48,060; 8 schools, 280 scholars. Pop. 2,143.

This township derives its name from the river forming its western boundary, called by the Indians the Wahatquenack. Its present name was given to it from the circumstance of a ship, "the Prince Maurice," being burnt by the Indians, and sunk, about half a mile below Manricetown, at a reach in the river known as the "no man's friend." The Swedes very early formed settlements on Maurice river, at Dorchester and Leesburg,-probably between 1637 and 1654. There was, anciently, a Swedish church a quarter of a mile above Spring Garden ferry, on the eastern bank of the river. Some tombstones in the graveyard still exist. Among the descendants of these people are the Mosslanders, Vanamans, Peter sons, Millers, Cobbs, &c.

Port Elizabeth, the principal village, is on a small creek about half a mile E. of Maurice river, and 16 m. SE. of Bridgcton. The following is a view of the place as it appears on approaching it from Millville. The large structure on the left of the engraving is the Methodist church, the building with a spire is the academy, and the covered bridge on the left is over the Manarnuskin creek. There are also in the village extensive glass-works, for the manufacture of window-glass, managed by Germans,-a Friends meeting-house, and about 800 inhabitants. The village was laid out about 1790, by Elizabeth Bodeley, a widow lady from Salem Co., who owned the land. There were then a few houses in the place. it was thercupon made a port of entry, and named in honor of this lady. The Methodist church was erected soon after. In 1827, the old building was taken down and the present substantial edifice reared. A few years after the Methodist church was built, the Frieüds erected their meeting-house. There are also 4 other churches in the township-viz., 1 Methodist at Leesburg, 1 do. at Cumberland furnace, 1 do. at Morris River Neck, and a Baptist, in the southern part of the township, which is used for a schoolhouse. Marshallsville, in the extreme eastern part of the township, on Tuckahoc river, 25 m. from Bridgetoti, has about 40 dwellings, and. extensive glass-works, for the manufacture of window-glass, owned by Dr. Randolph Marshall and others. Considerable ship-building is carried on there. Bricksboro, (founded by Joshua Brick, Esq.,) Leesburg, and Dorchester, are small villages on Maurice river.

The principal portion of the following, relating to witchcraft, &c., in this vicinity, was delivered in a lecture before the Camden Lyceum, in the winter of 1841-2.

In 1817 or '18, the hotel in Port Elizabeth was supposed to be possessed by an invisible spirit. At. dusk there commenced, at intervals, in differant apartments oh the house, a clattering of the windows, as if the sash had been violently struck with. the hand. The neighborhood, alarmed, nightly assembled to witness this strange occurrence. More than a week elapsed ere the imposition was detected. Its author was discovered to be a young and artful colored girl, who, soon as it became dark, would skip from one room to another, give the terrifying knock, and then hasten back to the family with a countenance expressive of fear. On detection, she declared she had been bribed by an old witch in the village. Them is another dwelling at Ewing's Neck that, about the same time, bad been successively abandoned by two tenants on account of its being haunted; and there was one room so particularly favored by invisible spirits that not any one dared occupy it. The door would mysteriously fly open, sometimes a dozen tImes an hour, without the intervention of human agency. The building stood tenantless for several months. At last a person was found who had the hardihood to occupy it. As our in. formant was one day passing, lie was invited by the tenant to examine iuto the mystery. It was soon solved. The door was not hung perpendicularly-the upper part having an inclination backward-and, the latch being rather loose; any little jar would cause it to suddenly fly open and forcibly strike against the wail. The evil was remedied, and the spirits returned no more.

In olden times, when the belief in witchcraft was prevalent, and the power of charms admitted, it was customary to hang upon the neck by a string a piece of dried beef cut in the shape of a heart, with two needles stuck on in the form of a cross, as a protection
against witches. Another safeguard was in the horse-shoe, which originally was nailed boldly over doors, and in places open to the eye; but as superstition dispelled before the light of a later day, those who pertinaciously clung to the ways of their fathers placed it out of sight, under the door-steps, or in some other covert spots; or else they would apply it to some ostensibly useful purpose, such as a hook to the weli.swcep, or as a catch to receive the gate-iatch. It is well known, that in the spring it is customary to take off the shoes from horses, and allow them to roam over wet meadows, so that their hoofs, which become hard and brittle in the winter, maybc softened by the dampness. In those times, instead of taking off all the shoes, one was left to answer the valuable purpose which this piece of iron was supposed to eflbct. Another favorite place for the shoe, was on the inside of the hinder axle of wagons; and even to the present day it may be found nailed to the under side of the wheelbarrows of the negroes in the Philadelphia market.

Another harmless piece of superstition was in powowing. When a person was afflictcd with the fever and aguc, or a burn, some individual invested with a knowledge of this secret was called in to operate. It consisted in mumbling over in a confused manner, certain unknown texts of Scripture, when, if the patient had faith, a cure would instantaneously follow This secret could not ho imparted by the possessor, excepting to one of the opposite sex. The author of the lecture gives an anecdote of an occurrence witnessed by himself, tending to show that even in our time humiliating instances of such weaknesses are found. While waiting on one occasion, at Philadelphia, for the ferry to Camden, lie overheard two young ladies in the room with him, express impatience at the delay of the doctor. In a few miuutcs this individual appeared, in the person of a valgar looking colored man. He rubbed his hands over a sort of cancerous wart on the lips of one of the females, and after muttering some gibberish language, pronounced the sore healed: and then pocketing $5 as his foe, disappeared. Whether the wart was healed, our informant has neglected to testify.

Among the Dutch it was considcred a bad omen to sweep the house after sunset, or to sweep dirt into the fire. It was a good omen, when using eggs, to sprinkle salt on the shells and throw them into the fire; and bread they thought would not be light, unless the sign of a cross was made on the dough.


Stow Creek is about 5 miles long B. and W., and 4 broad N. and S. It is bounded NW. by Upper and Lower Alloways creek, Salem Co.; E. by Hopewell; S. by Greenwich; and W. by Lower Alloways creek. It is 4 miles W. of Bridgeton; soil arid surface, diversified; the township abounds in excellent marl. It containS 2 grist-m., 1 saw-m.; cap. in manufac. $32,220; 4 sch., 100 scholars. Pop. 846.

A considerable trade is carried on in this country In the skins of muskrats, which sometimes are sold as high as two dollars fifty cents per dozen. This animal is a native of almost all parts of Amcrica. It is about the size of a small rabbit, and has a, thick short head, resembling that of a water-rat; its hair is soft and glossy, and beneath the outward hair is a thick, fine down, very useful in the manufacture of hats; it is of a reddish brown color; its breast and belly are ash, tinged with red; its tail long and flat; its eyes large; ears short and hairy; and it has two strong cutting teeth in each jaw,-those of the under jaw are about an inch long, but the upper ones are shorter. In their habits they in many respects much resemble the beaver, and are remarkable for sagacity and cunning. They are amphibious, and their tails being broad and feet nearly web-footed, enables them to swim with great facility. In travelling near the seashore, their houses are seen numerously scattered over the salt marshes, resembling so many hay-cocks in miniature. At the approach of winter, several families associate together, and build their little huts, commonly from three to five feet in height, composed of herbs and rushes cemented with clay, forming a dome-like covering, externally covered with rough reeds. They have each' several cells, whose tops are above high water, and are lined with soft grass: in each of which there is, in the time of breeding in the spring, a pair with their progeny, usually consisting of three or four young ones.. These dwellings are commonly built near the margin of a creek or ditch; from which there are usually two passages, one near the top, and the other under ground from the bank of the creek. In fresh marshes they have no houses, but burrow in the banks. This animal lays up a stock of sedge roots for winter consumption. They are neat' in their habits, and wash these roots.. very clean previous to storing them, by holding them in one paw and rubbing them in the water with the other. They are caught in traps or speared in their cells. The hunters sometimes take them in the spring, by opening their holes and letting the light suddenly in upon them. At that time their: flesh is excellent. They make good pot-pies," and taste much like ducks. In summer, the scent, of musk is so strong' as to render them unpalatable. 'When hard pressed they run to the water, and dive to the bottom;. but soon come up to breathe. If taken when young, they are easily tamed, very playful; and perfectly inoffensive.. Their mortal enemies are minks.

Return to [ New Jersey History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]