Salem Township, NJ


Salem, the seat of justice for the county, is on the east bank of Salem river, 3½ miles from its mouth, 65 miles S. of Trenton, and 34 SE. of Philadelphia. The township is level, in form nearly circular, and about 2 miles in diameter. It is bounded on the N. and E. by Mannington, S. by Elsinborough, and W. by Elsinborough and Lower Penn's Neck.

On the right of the engraving is the jail, a plain stuccoed building. The brick edifice, with a cupola, is the courthouse; and the small building, partially seen in the distance, is the clerk's office. There are 8 houses for divine worship in the town, viz: 2 Friends, 1 Episcopal, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, and 2 African Methodist. A large Gothic structure, formerly used as a masonic hall, stands in the central part of the village. There are also in the town the Salem Bank, a market, 2 fire-engines, 2 public libraries, a lyceum, an academy, a newspaper printing-office, 17 stores, 3 hotels, and about 250 dwellings. Population, in 1830, was 1,570; in 1840, 2,006. Salem is well built, the houses neat, the streets beautified with trees, and its general appearance thriving and pleasant. Considerable business is done here, and a daily communication had, by steamers and stages, with Philadelphia.

Although the first successful settlement made in the state, by the English, was in Elizabethtown, in 1665, yet the first attempt at settlement by them was made in this vicinity. In 1641, some English families, (probably emigrants from New Haven, Conn.,) embracing about 60 persons, settled on Ferken's creek, (now Salem.) About this period, the Swedes bought of the Indians the whole district from Cape May to Raccoon creek; and, in order to unite these English with the Swedes, the Swedish governor, Printz, who arrived from Sweden the year after, (1642,) was to "act kindly and faithfully toward them; and as these English expected soon, by further arrivals, to increase their numbers to several hundreds, and seemed also willing to be subjects of the Swedish government, he was to receive them under allegiance, though not without endeavoring to effect their removal." In 1654, the Swedes were compelled to yield their possessions on the Delaware to the Dutch, and they in turn submitted to the English, soon after the redaction of New Amsterdam, (New York,) in 1664.

In 1664, the Duke of York conveyed to John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret, the province of New Jersey. The claim of Lord Berkeley was then an undivided half, subsequently known as West Jersey; which was, in 1673. purchased for £1,000, by John Fenwick and Edward Byllinge, members of the society of Friends. The conveyance was executed to Fenwick, in trust for Byllinge. This tract was afterward divided into 100 parts, called tenths; nine of which belonged to the latter, and one to the former.

"In 1675," says Smith, "Fenwick set sail to visit the new purchase, in a ship, from London, called the Griffith. Arriving after a good passage, he landed at a pleasant, rich spot, situate near Delaware, by him called Salem; probably from the peaceable aspectit then bore." "He brought over with him three daughters, Elizabeth, Anna, and Priscilla; also John Adams, the husband to Elizabeth, with three children, Elizabeth, Fenwick, and Mary. Also Edward Chamneys, the husband of Priscilla, with two chil dren, John and Mary; with his ten servants, viz: Robert Turner. Gervas Bywater, William Wilkinson, Joseph Worth, Michael Eaton, Eleanor Gëere, Ruth Geere, Zachariah Geere, Sarah Hutchins, and Ann Parsons. The servants of Edward Chamneys were Mark Reeve, Edward Webb, and Elizabeth Waites."

Fenwick, well knowing that it would greatly advance his interest here if he could effect a purchase in a friendly and peaceable manner with the natives, convened their chiefs, and a contract was entered into with them for the sale of all their right and title to the lands now known by the name of Salem and Cumberland counties.

The first purchase was for the lands included within Salem and Old-man's creeks.- which creeks were callcd by the Indians Mosacksa and Forcus. The grant to these lands was made by the chiefs Tospaininkey and Henaminkey.

The second purchase was for all the lands lying between Forcus creek, (or, as it was afterward called, Game creek, or Fenwick's river, and now Salem creek,) and the Canahockink creek, now called Cohansey; and by some of the first settlers it was called Cohanzick, from a chief who resided on the south side thereof. This grant was from the chiefs whose names were Mahoppony, Allaways, Necomis and his mother Necosshehesco, Myhoppony, and Shuccotery. Of all the water-courses within the county of Salem, only the names of six arc recollected which at this day retain their primitive or Indian names: they are- 1st, -the Allaways; 2d, - the Necomis, the run at the side of which are the marl-pits now the property of John Dickenson, Esq., near Sharptown; 3d,-the Mahoppony- that branch of Pledger's creek opposite to Clayton Wistar's house, and on which there was formerly a tide-mill; 4th,-the Mackinippuck, on which Richard Seeley's mill stands, miles NW. of Greenwich; 5th,- the Manimuska, the branch on which is built the village of Port Elizabeth; 6th,- a small branch of Morris river, called Menantico, situate about half way between Millville and Port Elizabeth.

The third purchase was from the Canahockink, now Cohansey, to the Wahatquenack, now Morris river. The grantors were, Mahawskcy, Mohut, who styles himself the king, Newsego, Chechenaham, Torucho, and Shacanum. So far as information has been obtained, the tract of country included within the bounds of Old-man's creek and Morris river, was purchased from these chiefs for the following-described goods, viz: 4 guns, powder, and lead; 10½ ankers of rum, equal to about 336 gallons; some shirts, shoes, and stockings; 4 blankets; 16 match-coats; 1 piece of match coating, and other English goods. This purchase was made in the years 1675 and '76.

Emigrants were now arriving, and Fenwick having become the chief proprietor of this large tract of country, which he called Fenwick's colony, sales were rapidly made of large as well as small tracts of land, and so continued until his death, which took place between the months of August, 1683, and April, 1684.

The following is extracted "From the First General Order, as agreed upon by Fenwick and the first purchasers:"

And as for the settling of the town of New Salem, it is likewise ordered that the town be divided by a street ; that the SE. side be for the purchasers, who are to take their lots of 16 acres as they come to take them up and plant them, as they happen to join to the lots of the purchasers resident, who are to hold their present plantations, and all of them to be accounted as part of their pm-chases; and the other part, on the N. and by E. and by S., is to be disposed of by the chief proprietor for the encouragement of trade,-he also giving, for the good of the town in general, the field of marsh that heth between the town and Goodchild's plantation; and, -

Lastly, we do leave all other things concerning the setting forth and surveying the said purchases, unto the chief proprietor, to order as he sees fit.
Signed accordingly, the 25th day of the 4th month, 1676. FENWICK.

Edward Wade, John Smith, Richard Noble, Sami. Nicholson, John Addams, Hypolite Lefevre, Edward Champnes, Richard Whitacar, William Malster, Robert Wade.

Tide-mills and Wind-mills.- Many of the emigrants brought out with them handmills for the purpose of grinding their grain, but the settlers soon found it essential to their existence to turn their attention to the immediate erection of grist and saw mills. Accordingly, there was a horse-mill erected for the grinding of grain, near what is now called Kent's corner, in the upper part of the town of Salem. Of water-mills, the first kind made use of were tide-mills. They were located in this now called Salem county, in several places,-such as at Mill creek, in Elsinborough, Mill-hollow, near Salem, Mahoppony creek, in Mannington, formerly Hill Smith's, Cooper's creek, in Beesley's Neck, on the south side of Allaways creek, and at Carney's point, in Upper Penn's Neck. There were also 3 wind-mills,- one near the old wharf in Salem, in Bradway st., another at Kinseyville, in Penns Neck, and the third on the farm of Samuel L. James, Esq. The first saw-mill was erected by William Hampton, in the year 1682.

Salem a Port of Entry.- Salem, about the year 1682, by the increase of population, had, by this time, become a place of some foreign trade,-so much so, that it was made a port of entry for vessels entering and clearing therefrom, by exacting from all vessels under 100 tons, one shilling for entering and one shilling for clearing, and all vessels of more than 100 tons, double that amount.

Market.- The same year, a weekly market was by law to be held on every Tuesday, near what we now call the old wharf, then called the tower landing, and which had been heretofore designated for the market-placc. The grain, provisions, and other articles brought into the town, must be carried there, and no sale take place before 11 o'clock; and should any person buy any goods or provisions before that hour, any informer causing the offinder to be convicted of the offence, would receive time half, and the other half go for time public use.

Fairs.- Fairs were established by law, to be held in Salem on the 1st and 2d May, and the 20th and 21st October, annually, at which all persons were at liberty to buy and sell all manner of lawful goods, wares, and merchandise, and also were to be free from arrest for the two fair days, and for two days before and two days after the fair. But after some time this privilege came to be abuscd,- so much so, that a town meeting was held on the 15th April, 1698; "It beinig then taken into consideration, that since fairs have been held in this town, that foreigners do flock from other parts,- not only of this county, but of the neighboring province,- do sell liquor by retail during the time of such fairs, thereby encroaching upon the privilege of the inhabitants of this town, who only are authorized, and none else, to sell by retail as aforesaid:

Be it therefore enacted, that no person or persons, from and after the date hereof, do presume to sell liquors by retail during the time of the fairs, so held or to be holden,- either at the place of the fairs, or within the limits thereof,-but the inhabitants of this town only. And that whosoever persons presuming, contrary to this act, to sell liquors as aforesaid, shall, upon information, be found guilty of the said breach,-shall forfeit all liquors found in his custody at the said place of fair, or anywhere within the limits of this town or creek, to be seized by virtue of a warrant from the burgess of this town; whereof one half of the said goods is to be allowed to the informer, and the other half to the burgess.
"Signed with consent of the meeting, neminc contradiccntc.
"WM. HALL, Burgess."

Salem Incorporated.- In 1695, the town of Salem became incorporated, and the office of burgess was created, by which that officer was clothed with authority to hear and dctermine causes under 40 shillings,- was empowered to grant tavern licenses, and revoke them as he might see fit,-and to punish all persons who might be convicted before him of rudeness, profaneness. and vicious practices. The office of burgess was continued from 1693 10 1703. In the month of March, 1693, the officers first chosen under their act of incorporation, were John Worledge, burgess, Benjamin Acton, recorder, John Jeffery, bailiff. Richard Johnson, surveyor of the streets, bridges, and banks. All freeholders were required to be punctual in their attendance at all their meetings. Absentees were fined from ten pence up to five shillings.

There were five burgesses during the proprietary government of ten years, whose names were-John Worledge, Jonathan Becre, Wm. Hall, Richard Johnson, and Thomas Killingsworth.

Act passed May 12, 1696.- An act to qualify officers who are not free to lake an oat.- Whereas some persons, out of a principle of conscience, have not freedom to take oaths: Be it enacted by the Governor, with advice of his Council, and consent and agreement of the representatives in this present Assembly, met and assembled, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of. the same, That their not having freedom to take oaths shall not disable or incapacitate them for want thereof to hold or enjoy any office of the government within this province, whether magisterial or ministerial, to which he or they are duly elected, nor exclude him or them from any right or privilege which any of his majesty's subjects are capable to enjoy, he or they signing the declaration of fidelity, and profession of the Christian faith, following, to wit:

By virtue and in obedience to the said act of Assembly, we, whose names arc subscribed, do sincerely premise and solemnly declare, that we will be true and faithful to William, King of England, and the government of this province of West Jersey. And we do solemnly profess and declare, that we do from our hearts abhor, detest and renounce, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murthered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever; and we do declare that no foreign prince, prelate, state or potentate, hath or ought to have any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.

The Christian Belief. -We Profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed forevermore. And we do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, to be given by divine inspiration.

Here follow the names of the officers of the town of Salem, who subscribed the above faith or creed.


Jonathan Beere, 1697

Reyneer Van Hyst, 1700

John Bacon, 1703

Richard Darking, 1698

John Holmes,

Thomas Woodruff, 1706

Obadiah Holmes, 1699

William Rumsey, 1702



William Hall, 1697

Richard Johnson, 1699

Saml. Hedge, Jr., 1703

Jonathan Beere, 1698

Jept. Woodruff, 1700

Thos. Killingsworth, 1706

Wm. Hall, Recorder.

Hugh Middleton, Sheriff.

Saml. Hedge, Clerk and Coroner.

Saml. Hedge, Recorder, 1702.



1697.-Fairs were established at Cohansey, and to be held there on the 24th and 25th April, and 16th or 17th Obtober, with the same privileges as Salem.

Visits and refreshments.- In those very early days, neighbors usually paid friendly visits to each other, with a portion of their family, more generally in the winter than at other seasons of the year. They commonly spent a few hours of the afternoon and a part of the evening together, in the most sociable manner; and while the men would be talking over their farming affairs, and discussing the market value of the articles they had for sale, their wives and daughters would not be sitting in silence, but chattering freely about their yards of homespun linen and linsey woolsey, while their nimble fingers gave rapid motion to their knitting needles; for be it known, that in those early times it would have been considered a stigma in a woman to have been sitting idle, while all the rest were employed in knitting. That. kind of innocent and rural amusement afforded the most perfect zest to their evening's gratification; and instead of tea, coffee and chocolate, as the fashion is now-a-days for our usual refreshment, they were regaled with plenty of good dough-nuts, cheese, fine cider, or home-made beer.

Annexed are the histories of the religious denominations at Salem, from Johnson's History.

Friends at Salem.- Shortly after Fenwick, and those who were of that denomination called Friends, had arrived from England, (which was on or about the 12th December, 1675,) and had settled themselves and their families, they resolved to associate together, and organize a meeting to be held in the town of Salem, twice in every week, for divine worship, and also once in each month for church discipline. Among these associators were John Fenwick, Robert Zane, Saml. Nicholson, Edward Wade, Samuel Hedge, John Thompson, John Smith, and Richard Guy. During the first five years of their residence, they held their religious meetings in private houses. In 1680, they purchased a house of Samuel Nicholson, and had it titled up for their better accommodation. In 1700, they erected a brick house on that lot now their burying-ground, at a cost of £415 13s. 2½d.

In 1772, the Friends found themselves under the necessity of providing more amply for their accommodation, and purchased a lot of land fronting on Fenwick street, and opposite to South street, on which they erected the present commodious and extensive brick building. The architect was William Ellis.

Methodist Episcopal church in. Salem.- This church was consecrated in 1784. The coustituents were, Henry Firth, Cornelius Mulford, Hugh Smith, John M'Claskey, Benjamin Abbot, Isaac Vaneman, John Murphey, Levi Garrison.

Salem Prostesant Episcopal Church.- I cannot say at what precise time the Episcopal church at Salem was instituted, but I have reason to think that worship of that order was held there in a wooden building, a considerable time before the brick building was erected, which was about the year 1720. I am inclined to believe that Doctor Dyer, Doctor Alexander Gaudovitt, John Kidd, and William Wetherby were members of the church previous to the erection of the brick building; and after that, I am induced to think that the first wardens were Benjamin Veining and Joseph Coleman- There were other active members, such as George Frenchard, John Holbrook, John Rolph and others not now recollected.

About the year 1772, the edifice being much dilapidated, and the wood-work gone to decay, the congregation resolved upon having it put into a complete state of repair; cordingly a committee was appointed to solicit. subscriptions to procure such a sum of money as might be considered sufficient to complete the work. That committee was composed of Edmund Wetherby, Robert Johnson, Thomas Sinnickson and John Carey,

Esquires who contracted with John Maxwell, the carpenter, to complete the building.

The names of ministers who, through the lapse of years, officiated in that church were, as now recollected, the Rev. Messrs. Coleman, Allen, Pearson, Wixcell, Thompson, Parker, Grey, Higby, Cadle, Smith.

Baptist church in Salem.- At the first settling in and about the town of Salem, there were but few Baptist families. The most prominent were those of Judges Holmes and Killingsworth, at whose houses their meetings were held. Killingsworth lived on and then owned the property now in the possession of the Keasbey family; and Holmes lived at Allaways Creek, on the farm some years ago belonging to the late Stephen Willis, hut now the property of George Hall. After the death of Holmes and Killingsworth, meetings were held by ministers from Cohansey, at the house of Samuel Fogg, near Quinton's bridge-at Daniel Smith's, Edward Quinton's, and Abner Sims'. In 1743, the Baptist meeting-house was built at Mill-hollow, and in 1757 the church was constituted, and the following named persons were the constituents, to wit: Job Sheppard, the honorable Edward Keasbey, Esq., Edward Quinton, Samuel Sims, Daniel Smith, Temperance Quinton, Sarah Sims, Catharine Sheppard, Kerenhappuch Blackwood, Sarah Smith, Prudence Keasbey, Phebe Smith, Rachel Sneathen, and Patience James. The Rev. Job Sheppard then became their pastor, but lived only two years; he left eleven children,- their names were Elnathan, Belbe, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Job, Daniel, Katharine, Martha, Kesiah, Ruth, and Cumberland. Some of these married into the families of the Pedricks, Townsends, Grays, Bowens, Mulfords, Kelseys, Matloeks, and have helped materially to populate the township of Allaways Creek. Rev. Mr. Sheppard was succeeded by Rev. John Sutton, and he by Rev. Abel Griffith- he by William Worth, and he by Rev. Peter Peterson Vanhorn.

The congregation having greatly increased, it was thought necessary to build a new house; accordingly subscriptions were put into circulation, and that large and commodious brick building was erected on York street, in the town of Salem, in 1787-when the Rev. Dr. Isaac Skillman, a graduate of Princeton college, became their pastor in 1791, and so continued until his death. The pulpit was supplied for some time by the Rev. Obadiah Brewen Brown, now of Washington city- then by Rev. Thomas Brown- then by Rev. Horatio G. Jones-then by Rev. Joseph Sheppard.

Judge Holmes, spoken of above, died in 1701, leaving four sons, of whom the youngest settled here; his name was Benjamin; his first wife was a Smart, his second wife an Elgar, by whom he had six children; and from them descended several children and from then the name has been perpetuated to the present time.

Extracts from the County Records.

The first court of sessions began at Salem on 17th day of September, 1706.

Sept. 1609.- Court orders, that no ordinary keeper in this county shall be allowed to trust any transient person, or laborer, or single person, above ten shillings, upon penalty of losing their debts. Grand Jury present that an assessment be laid on the county, for repairing courthouse and prison, and finding constables' staves, paying for wolf and panthers' heads, hawks, woodpeckers, blackbirds and crows; the value of £100 to be paid in money, wheat, butter, or cheese, at money price.

June, 1712. Gregory Empson, attorney. Grand Jury present Edmond Morphey, for holding John Quiuton under the water until almost drowned; fined 5s. with costs.

December, 1713. Timothy Brooks, of Cohansey, Anabaptist preacher, came into court and took the oaths, and signed the declaration according to law, and did acknowledge and did allow of the thirty-nine articles excepted in an act for exempting her majesty's Protestant subjects, dissenting from the Church of England, from the penalties of certain laws made in their majesties' reign, May 24, 1689.

September, 1713. The grand jury present Eliza Windsor, with force and anns upon the body of Elizabeth Rumsey, wife of Isaac Ramsey, of Salem, in the peace of God and our said lady the queen, then and there being, an assault did make, and her with a paddle over the head did strike, and also over the neck, and her collar bone did break, to the great damage of the said Elizabeth Rumsey, &c.

Nov. 17, 1716. Mary Hawk, of Cohansey, spinster, was publicly whipped in the town of Salem, by order of the justices.

1727. By order of court, the whipper's fees for whipping at the public whippingpost, be five shillings- in the house of correction, two shillings and sixpence.

1729. Ruled and ordered by the court, that each respective public house keeper within this county, take for their several measures of liquors hereafter named as followeth, and no more, viz.: For each nib of punch, made with double-refined sugar and one gill and a half of rum, ninepence- for each nib made with single-refined sugar and one gill and a half of rum, eightpence-for each nib made of Muscovado sugar and one gill and a half of rum, sevenpence- for each quart of tiff, made with half a pint of rum in the same, ninepence-for each pint of wine, one shilling-for each gill of rum, threepence- for each quart of strong beer, fourpence- for each gill of brandy or cordial, dram, sixpence- for each quart of metheglin, ninepence- each quart cider royal, eightpence- each quart of cider, fourpence,

Eatables for men- for a hot dinner, eightpcnce; for breakfast or supper, sixpence.

For horses- 2 quarts oats, threepence; stabling and good hay, each nighr, sixpence; pasture, sixpence.

Dec. Court, 1717. Ordered by the court, that the garret or upper part of the jail be for the use of a house of correction for the use of said county, and a. whipping-post be erected therein.

1718 Upon application of Richard Johnson, that Thomas Hill had lodged in has hands, being a magistrate, a remnant of silk, quantity 5½ yards, which the sand Thomas secured with a certain person to him unknown, upon suspicion of the said person being a pirate, which person afterwards made his escape from the said Thomas- Ordered, That the piece of silk in the hands of Richard Johnson, late sheriff, be delivered to John Rolph, Esq., collector of his majesty's custom, to be by hum disposed of for his majesty's use.
(Can't read this line)

February, 1733-4. Ordered the court, that Mary Kelly, for abusing the judge, Mr. Acton, in her misbehavior to him in the execution of his office, do receive ten laslics on her bare back, for her contempt, at the public whipping-post.

As mentioned on page 416, of this volume, the enemy from Philadelphia made two incursions into this county in the war of the revolution. Annexed are a few facts from Johnson, additional to those already given, relating to their entrance into this town.

On Sunday, the 15th March, 1778, Col. Mawhood put his picked regiment on board of his transports at Philadelphia, and dropped down to Billingsport, and there landed his men, (the transports went on to Salem, and by them the regiment returned to the city,) and then marched up to the Salem road at Mantua creek bridge, (the only place where he could cross the creek,) where he was opposed on Monday, the 16th of March, by Capt. Samuel Hugg, with his artillery, and other of our militia; the names of several from our county now recollected, were, Parker, Barrett, David Wctherington, John Corns, and the venerable James Johnson, who died but a few years ago. In that skirmish two or three of the enemy were killed.

Our people then retreated, until they came to the farm now the property of Mr. Tonkins, where they halted, and cannonaded the enemy. That estate then belonged to Dr. Otto, who was a colonel. The British burnt all his property during the fight, and, as a monument to that skirmish, there stood but a few years ago a large black oak tree in the middle of the road, and nearly opposite to the house of Tonkins, with the marks of the cannon shot visible upon it. Our people being overpowered by numbers, filed off from the man road, and gave up the contest.

After tine light, at Doctor Otto's, the enemy came down and encamped for the night near Sharptown, and came into Salem early in the forenoon.

SLAVERY.- There is reason to suppose there were slaves in the families of the early Swedish settlers in this county. And there is no doubt the Dutch imported and sold them wherever they could find Purchasers. After the English came, considerable numbers were imported from the West Indies, and disposed as merchandise to the agriculturists. "As early as 1696, the Friends in their yearly meetings brought the subject of trading in negroes before their society, and to their credit it is believed, were the first religious sect that advised its members to desist from and discourage the future importation of them. From about that time the traffic in slaves became the subject of notice in their annual meetings, until about the year 1758, when they passed a resolution denying the right of membership to any of their people who should persist in detaining a fellow-creature in bondage after that time; but the resolution was not strictly complied with until many years afterward."

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