Sunday, September 26, 2010


by Jerseyman ©2010

While conducting some etymological research on local colloquialisms and idioms a year or two ago, I came across the incredible source provided below, which I have completely reformatted for blog posting. Since the publication of this material first occurred in 1896, it serves as a bridge between our modern twenty-first century age and the language employed by nineteenth- and even eighteenth-century New Jersey citizens. I hope you enjoy this information as much as I did. If you are aware of any historic Jerseyisms that do not appear below, please submit them in the form of a comment to this page.

The following text extracted from Dialect Notes, Vol. 1, 1896, pages 327-337, 382-383:


Mr. F. B. Lee, of Trenton, assisted by various persons throughout the state, has collected the following list. He writes: “It will be understood that these are mostly to be found in Cape May and other lower counties. I have not gone far from the coast. In the preparation of the collection (which will doubtless be found incomplete), I have included words not distinctly local with those which are undoubtedly provincial. To many friends in various parts of the state I am indebted for words which appear in these pages. Those who have materially aided me are —

Benjamin F. Lee, Trenton,
Hannah L. Townsend, Dennisville,
William E. Trout, Dennisville,
Mary L. Townsend, Trenton,
Marie Bryan Eayre, Vincentown,
Dr. J. S. Brown, Vincentown,
Charles G. Garrison, Merchantville,
William Garrison, Camden.”

Jersey is the form used by the natives, instead of the New Jersey of the geographies. We have followed the usage in editing the list; our abbreviations, N.J., C.J., and S.J., mean, therefore, North, Central, and South Jersey respectively.

afeared: afraid. Common in all parts of the state.
afore: common in all parts of the state.
ague: pron. eigar.
alluz (olǝz): common pron. of always.
anen, anend, anan, nan: interrogative word used to a limited extent in S.J. Halliwell says it implies “How ? What did you say?” In this he is correct. Cooper uses the word, and undoubtedly learned it in his old home at Burlington. Cf. DeVere.
anxious seat, anxious bench: the seat or bench near the altar where persons concerned for their spiritual welfare may sit during revivals. Preserved by the Methodist and Baptist communities in S.J. and C.J. Fast falling out of use.
apple palsy: “plain drunk” caused by too much “jack” (q.v.). (Burlington County)
aside: used in an expression “Are you aside?” meaning, “Have you your household goods in order after moving ?” (C.J.)
asparagus: pron. spærǝgrǝs.
ax: old form of ask. Retained in N.J. as well as in the South. Cf. DeVere.
back-load: maximum quantity of game which a man can carry on his back; as, “a back-load of ducks.” (Coast.)
bag o’ guts: a useless individual; a “bum.” (S. and C.J.) Also implies a big man with little brains.
barnacle: in Cape May used incorrectly for limpet found on oysters.
bateau: used only by oystermen. A small, flat-bottomed boat.
be: used for both am and are; as, “I be going,” “we be going.”
beant: negative form of above; used for both am not and are not.
beach: sand islands on Jersey coast. “Young” or “little beach” is new-made beach containing younger timber; “old beach,” parallel ridges crowned by old timber.
beard: the byssus of mussels or the fringe on an oyster’s mouth. (S.J.)
belly-wax: molasses candy. (S.J.) Often pron. Bailey-wax.
belly-whistle: a drink made of molasses, vinegar, water, and nutmeg, used by harvesters at the daily nooning.
bender: common in N.J.
blatherskite: common in N.J. Cf. DeVere.
blicky (blickie, blickey): a small bucket or pail. Said to be Dutch in its origin, but used extensively in S.J., where there are no Dutch.
blister: an oyster smaller than a quarter dollar. Used from Barnegat south to Cape May.
blocks: used in North Jersey for streets or squares (q.v.). [Influence of New York City, where the “block” is the regular unit of distance — 20 blocks = a mile.]
bloomeries: iron forges in S.J. (Law of 1779.)
blowhard: a noisy, demonstrative, self-important person.
board-bank: floor of boards, placed on the bed of a creek near the shore, on which oysters are laid to “fatten.” See floats.
boom-pole: pole used to hold a load of hay on a wagon. [Binding-pole is used in this sense in Connecticut. — E. H. B.]
boughten: that which has been bought, as distinguished from what has been given. DeVere confines it to New York, but it is very common in N. J. E.g. “Were those melons boughten or guv to you?” [Known in N. E., but generally used in distinction from home-made.]
boyzee: boy ; as, “when I was a boyzee.”
brackwater: salt water of bay or river, near shore, modified by flow of fresh water. The adjective “brackish” is more commonly used.
braes: burned and charred wood in a charcoal pit.
buck: a fop. Used contemptuously; “he’s a pretty buck, now ain’t he?” Also bucle-a-dandy, with the same meaning.
back-darting: a zigzag method of sailing employed on tide-water creeks.
bull: terrapin 3 or 4 inches across the belly. Five are required for a “count,” or 60 to a dozen. (S.J.)
bull nose: a useless hard clam. (Cape May County.)
bulldoze: common in Jersey. [See Century Diet, and Murray.]
bullrag, bullyrag: to tease, domineer over. (S.J.) [See Murray, s.v.]
butterfingered: an adjective used to describe a person whose powers of retaining an article in his grasp are not great. (C. and S.J.) [Known elsewhere, but generally confined to base-ball.]
by-and-by: pron. baim bai.
calk: pron. kork.
careful: pron. karfl.
chaw: common pron. for chew.
chinkin: boards, sticks, or clay used to fill spaces between logs in cabin building.
chunker: coal boat used on the canal. (N.J.)
cions, scions: pron. science (saiǝns) in S.J. Young growth of oak timber. Pines and cedars have no scions. To “science” (verb) is to cut off these sprouts.
clink: used of two chairs which are tilted so as partially to support each other, each having two legs on the floor.
clucker: frozen oysters. (S.J.) See rattlers.
cluttert: for cluttered. E.g. “cluttert into heaps.”
coal: charcoal. (S.J.)
collier: charcoal-burner. (S.J.) A place in Ocean County is named “Collier's Mill.”
coon oyster: small oyster attached to the sedge rather than to the usual more solid supports.
count: terrapin six inches across belly, fit for market. (S.J.)
count clams: quahaugs, 800 to the barrel.
cow: six-inch female terrapin. (S.J.) (One “count.”)
cowcumber: for cucumber
crib: horizontal sticks piled triangularly around the “fergen” (q.v.) in charcoal burning. (S.J.) Sticks of cord-wood placed at right angles (usually in fours) to form a column against which cord-wood may be piled in “ranks.”
crock: earthenware vessel. (Common in S.J.)
cubby: a little hollow-square cabin. (Charcoal industry.)
cubby-hole: place in a garret where refuse is stored. [The word is familiar to some New Englanders in the sense of a little cosey place, behind furniture, or in a hay-mow, for instance, where one or two children might hide.]
cull: to assort (oysters). Poor oysters are cullins.
culls: the grade next to the poorest.
cullinteens: bushel oysters ; like callings or cullens.
curricle: two-horse chaise. (Law of March 20, 1778.)
damnify: to injure. Law of 1677 (referring to hogs running loose) “in damnifying meadows by rooting.”
daubin: mud between the logs in a log house.
dicked: arrayed. Possible corruption of “decked.” Not very common.
dod (dod blasted, dod slammed, etc.): for “God” in quasi-profanity. [p. 84.]
dominies: common in Jersey in an adjective sense. E.g. “a dominie-lookin’ feller."
double up: to marry.
downcome: a fall or attendant disaster. Used with reference to politics.
down felowyers: used in Cape May County to indicate people from the southern part of the county. (Corruption of down belowyers.)
dreg, drudge: pronunciations for dredge among the oystermen.
drugged: pret. of drag.
dubersome: doubtful. (C.J.)
durgen: old horse, worn out by use. (S.J.)
Durham boat: used on Delaware River till 1835. Washington probably used them in crossing before the battle of Trenton. They were sharp-pointed, flat-bottomed scows, built to run the rapids in the hill country. They were common in the colonial period between the “Forks” at Easton and Burlington City.
earnest: pron. aerrast.
errand: pron. erant. [Known also in N. E.]
extra meetins : certain periods devoted, in Baptist and Methodist circles, to special religious services of the nature of revivals.
eye opener: big drink of liquor; say, “four fingers.”
fag eend: the end piece of anything.
fast land: upland near coast. (S. J.)
faze: to injure. As noun in “he went through and nary a faze.” (S. and C.J.)
fellies: pl. of felloe. (Law of 1766.)
fergen: centre pole in a charcoal pit, forming the central part of the “crib” (q.v.). (S. J.)
field: deserted farm overgrown with pine, scrub oak, and brambles. Some of these fields — the term is equivalent to plantation —are from a century to a century and a half old. Distinguishing names are Broomstick Ridge Field, Lawrence Field, etc. (Cape May County names).
firing place: spot suitable for charcoal burning.
fist: “to make a bad fist of it”; to make mistakes or do work incorrectly.
flirch: abundant. (S. J.)
floats: (charcoal industry) irregular sods laid on “four-foot lengths,” over which sand is placed. (Oyster industry) pens of boards placed in fresh water, upon which oysters fatten during one tide. They are then marketable by the thousand.
folks: immediate family. [Also N. E. In Connecticut I have heard men say “my folks,” meaning strictly “my wife,” though there were others in the family. —E. H. B.]
footy: small, insignificant. [Professor Sheldon knows the word in Maine as a noun = simpleton. There is also a N. E. expression “footin’ around” (û) = fussing, busying one’s self uselessly.]
funeral: “his funeral was preached” = “his funeral sermon,” etc. (S. J.)
gad: small whip used to drive cows to pasture. (S. J.) [Known in N. E. in sense of whip.]
garvey: a small scow. (Barnegat region.)
glommox, glummlcks: a muss, or a conglomeration of matter. (S. and C.J.)
go by water: to follow the sea as a calling. (Coast.)
golly keeser: oath heard in S. J.
goodies: a fish of peculiar delicacy, much eaten on the coast. The “spot fish” of Virginia. (Atlantic and Cape May.)
goody-goody: contemptuously applied to an over-fastidious person. (S. J.)
gorramity (gorǝmaiti): for God Almighty. (S. J.)
goster: to domineer.
gosterer: one who boasts or brags.
grass: spring of the year. “I'll move out o’ here next grass.”
gravel: to steal sweet potatoes (the act identified by the newly turned earth).
green head: a fly common in the coast district.
ground oak: to inflict injury on the person, or threaten to do so ; a sort of duress per minas. (A ground oak is a small oak of little value.)
gulf weather: warm, moist, cloudy weather, attributed on the Jersey coast to the influence of the Gulf Stream. It is felt as far west as Trenton.
heifers: young cow terrapins. Two or three to “counts.” (S. J.)
hether: equivalent to peddy whoa, q.v.
hike: of clothing, to be uneven or not to “set well.” [p. 61.]
holdfast: a sore, eating to the bone, which may come from various causes.
honey-fogle: to allure by traps.
horse coursers : defined as drovers in law of 1682.
horse-proud: adjective used of a man who has pride in his blooded stock. Similar words are used made up with names of other animals; e.g. hog-proud.
housen: plural of house.
hyper: to hurry about; to bustle at work. (Little used.)
Indian bread: fungus found underground in the pine woods. The Tuckahoe. (S. J.)
jack (apple): in Salem, Sussex, and Burlington counties, where apple whiskey is made, it is commonly called “jack.” “Jersey Lightning” is hardly used by natives for this article. [How widely is the word “apple whiskey”  used ? “Cider brandy” is the natural word to New Englanders.]
jag: a small load. In S. J. a load of hay. Not used among the country people in its present slang sense. [Century Dict. See p. 216.]
Jersey blue: color of uniform worn by Jersey troops in the French and Indian War.
Jimminy crickets: common in Jersey, [p. 49.]
kerf: [see Webster] word not used in North Jersey. When employed in the Supreme Court it was not understood by the judges.
ketchy: changeable (weather).
kettereen: a kind of carriage. (Law of 1779.)
killick: small anchor. (Very common on coast.)
kink: used in N. J. for kinky. Used as noun = idiosyncrasy.
lap: a “hank” of thread.
lashin(g)s: plenty; abundance. “Lashins o’ money.”
lenter: for “lean to” = an addition to a house. Pron. lentr, lintr, and lintr.
lift the collection: take up the collection. In common use in some localities.
lug: bark. “The dog lugs at the waggin.”
main, mom, mae: for mamma or mother.
marsh : pron. mœʃ. [Also in N. E.]
meadow: salt marshy tract used for grazing and “shingling” (v. infra) in S. J.
menhaden: called “moss bunkers,” “mossy bunkers,” “green tails,” “Sam Days,” and “bony fish,” in Cape May County, and “mud shad” in Cumberland County.
milchy : adjective applied to oysters “in milk” —just before or during spawning.
molasses: pron. merlassers, merlasses, millasses.
mosey: to leave suddenly, generally under doubt or suspicion.
mought (maut): for might.
mudwallop: to soil one’s self with mud. To play in the mud when fishing.
my: pron. mi.
nary: never.
nothing: pron. nəƿin.
nubbin: imperfect ear of corn.
nutmeg: muskmelon (generic). (S. J.)
O be joyful: hilariously drunk. (Common.)
ordinary: innkeeper, in laws of Lord Proprietors. Now out of use.
ornery: common in use.
overly: used in speaking of health, etc.; e.g. “not overly good.” Generally in negative use. [Known in Maine. — E. S. S.]
oyster grass: kelp found in oyster-beds. (Cape May.)
oyster knockers: culling tools. Double-headed hammer used to separate bunches of oysters.
pap, pop, poppy: for papa or father.
patent thread: linen thread. (S. J.)
peddy whoa: teamster’s word = haw; go to the left.
perianger: oyster boat. Law of 1719 (DeVere, p. 137).
petty chapman: itinerant vender. (Law of 1730.)
pile, piling, pile driver: often pron. spile, etc., in N. J.
piners: those who live in the Jersey pines, — the “ridge” sections (eastern and southern) of the state.
pit: wood stacked for charcoal burning.
platform: planked floor where oysters are freshened. (Atlantic County.) See board-bank and floats.
pool holes: holes, two to six feet deep, full of “mucky” water, found on meadows. (See Shingle Industry below.) Often spool holes.
pretty: pron. pərti, puti.
pretty middlin’ smart (smcert): indicates a fair state of health. Common in N. J.
progue: pron. prog. To search for anything imbedded in the mud, as clams, terrapins, or cedar logs, by means of a sounding rod.
quiler: holdback strap (see Webster). [Side-strap is used in Connecticut. — E. H. B.]
quite: not a common word in S. J. Common in C. J. in such expressions as “quite some.”
rattlers: oysters in poorest condition. So called because they rattle in their shells. See clucker.
reach: that portion of a circuitous creek in the tide-water district between two sharp turns. Reaches are from 200 feet to a mile or more in length.
salt holes: pool holes of small size filled with salt water. Frequent in marshes.
scions. See cions.
scoot, scoat, skeet: to leave suddenly.
scrub oak: a low-growing species, usually the first timber growth on a burned district. As soon as the larger timber grows above it, the scrub oak dies out.
set offs: sugar and cream in coffee; “trimmings.”
shacklin’: shiftless; lazy; going from one job to another.
shell bed: collection of oyster shells in S. J., where Indians made wampum, or dried bivalves for food.
shelters: those who open clams for market.
shenanigan: fooling or playfulness. Also expressed by “monkey business.” [Known in N. E.]
sherk: for shark. [ Also reported from coast of Virginia. ]
shoots: spaces between concentric rings of oyster shells, showing years of growth.
shuck, shock: to open oysters. To husk corn.
singing sand: sand found on Long Beach, Ocean County, which emits a peculiar musical tone when the wind passes over it rapidly. It is found on a portion of beach made since 1818.
sistern: pl. of sister. Used in Baptist and Methodist churches.
skeins: for skene. A dagger (see Webster). (Law of 1686.)
skift: for skiff. A yawl used in E.J.
sky scraper: one who reaches high ; one who is exalted in his own estimation.
slash: swale filled with water. (Cape May.)
slews: (corruption of sluice) a thoroughfare (q.v.). (Coast.)
slug: a big drink of whiskey.
snag gag: to quarrel or have an irritating controversy.
snail bore: a mollusk, also called “drill,“ “borer,” etc.
sneathe: snath of a scythe (see Webster).
snew: pret. of snow. (N. J.)
snoop: to pry into another’s affairs; to sneak.
snub: to “canal it” on a boat. (C. J.)
Snubbin’ post: post around which rope of boat is fastened in lock.
soft shells: crabs with soft shells.
spoom: to run before the wind. [See Webster.] (Coast.)
spung: piece of low ground at the head of a stream in the tide-water district.
squares, streets: used generally in S. and C. J. as unit of distance in cities, like blocks (q.v.) in N. J. Philadelphia influence.
stepmother: a ragged nail or a roughness of the skin.
stick up: a long, thin oyster; so called in Cape May from the fact that it “stickups,” as oystermen say, in the mud.
stone horses: stallions. (Law of 1709.) [Used in this sense in Robinson Crusoe.]
stuffy: close and sultry, like a “Gulf weather” day (q.v.).
sun down : sunset; very common.
sun up: sunrise ; not common, but still in use.
swale: low land between sand ridges on the coast beaches.
sward: prou. sôrd.
swing seat: a seat used in a wood wagon, hung from the sides. Used after unloading.
tacker: small child. The adjective little generally precedes the noun.
tar kiln: place where tar is tried out of pine knots.
ten fingers: oystermans slang for thief. Not very common.
thawt: for thwart; rower’s seat. Used to a limited extent.
thill horse: shaft horse. Not very common.
thoroughfare, throughfare (see also slews): long, narrow body of water connecting the bays which separate the sandy islands of the southern coast from the mainland. [Reported as proper name for such passages from Maine and Virginia.] In law of 1695 a “thoroughfare” was a wagon road.
three-square: a kind of grass found on S. J. meadows.
thunder-heads : cumulus clouds piled above the black mass of the storm. [In Connecticut, heavy cumulus clouds which appear before a shower.— E. H. B.]
tickly (tickely, ticklish) bender: running on yielding ice. 
ticky : Rio coffee. (S. J. traders).
tittavating (v = w): repairing; e.g. “The housens need tittavating.”
tongs: oyster tongs.
toxicatious: for intoxicating. (Law of 1679.)
traipse: final e pronounced. The word has a good use in Jersey; no idea of “slackness” is attached to it, as Webster would imply.
truck: to barter or to trade. (Law of 1688.)
upheader: horse that holds his head high. Applied figuratively to men.
v is often pronounced like w by the older people in S. J. A Gloucester County saying is,“Weal and winegar are good wittles to take aboard a wessel.”
wain: wagon. (S. J.) Not much used.
wherries: for ferries. (Law of 1716.)
wind breaker: a screen or the like used to break the force of the wind.
winders: an instrument used on the oyster boats for winding the dredge line.

The Glass Industry.

Mr. William Marks, of Millville, and Mr. Charles Simmerman, chief of the State Bureau of Labor and Statistics, furnish the following list of words. Some of them are used only in the flint glass houses, others in the green glass works as well.

all aboard: used in flint glass works as order to begin and quit work.
batch: the mixture of soda and sand of which the glass is made.
bench stones: resting-place for pots inside the furnace.
blast: the ten months of the year when fire is in the furnaces.
blower: one who forms or “blows” molten glass.
blowover: bottle finished by grinding its mouth on a stone. Fruit jars are usually finished in this way.
bounty jumper: a cylindrical mould.
breast stones: sides of the furnace.
bull: glass unfit for use after the melt.
cap: top of the melting furnace.
carrier in: one who takes bottles to the annealing oven.
cordy glass: bottle glass containing strips resembling fine cords, caused by glass not being thoroughly melted, or being kept too long in pot.
cullet: waste glass.
draw pickle: wooden stick used in pot setting. (Flint glass manufacture.)
fiddle: a fulcrum for the “sheen” (q.v. below) in pot setting.
fire out: end of the ten months’ blast. Factories close during July and August.
fire over: cessation of work for the day.
flip flop: bladder of thin glass used as a toy.
flip up: an old-fashioned style of mould.
foot bench: bench around the furnace, upon which the workmen stand.
furnace: where the glass is melted in the pots.
gaffer: one who finishes bottle by putting mouth upon it.
gatherer: one who takes the glass from the pots.
get-up: one day of labor; e.g. “Ten get-ups (ten days) before fire out.”
glory hole: small furnace where bottles are finished.
goat: two-wheeled wagon used to carry the pot to the furnace from where it is first tempered.
heel-tapped: unevenly blown (bottle).
Henry: a lie (in Millville glass houses). Perhaps the name of some notorious liar.
lamp workers: Bohemian blowers who work glass by a lamp.
lazybones: iron machine used for resting iron bars when the furnace is being cleaned or repaired.
leer: annealing oven, where glass is tempered for 24 hours.
mauer: iron plate where blower rolls his glass.
melt: process of reducing the “batch” (q.v.) to molten glass.
mill hands: those who make the clay stone.
monkey: small pot used in flint factories.
necktie: imperfect bottle wrinkled in the neck.
pot: the clay jar where the batch is placed during the melt. The pot is from 32 to 64 inches in diameter, and 2½ feet high; from five to ten of them go in one furnace.
pot shells: pieces of broken pots which are ground up for the making of new pots.
presser: one who presses glass in the mould.
presto: an exclamation which implies “Be careful of your language, as visitors are in the works.”
puntey: iron rod with holder used to finish bottles. [Pontee in Webster.]
rack on: term used to imply the blower’s loss of ware through imperfect work.
ring hole: hole in furnace where blower gets his glass for bottle work.
ring stone: stone to close the ring hole.
salt water: salts in soda which rise to surface of molten glass, and after being skimmed off, harden into cakes.
sandy glass: glass poorly melted.
shears: cutting tool used in glass making.
shear hole: hole where fire is “set.”
shear to: to heat up the furnace.
shearer: the “master shearer” has charge of the furnace during the melt. His assistant is the “shearer.”
sheen: long iron bar used to set pots on edge of furnace.
slocker: refuse glass.
slow fire: commence work.
snap: iron rod used to finish bottles. See puntey.
snapper up: boy employed in glass works.
stone: clay. There is no stone in S. J., and clay takes its place.
tap: to open tone of furnace to take away refuse glass, which when it cools becomes slocker (q.v.).
tempo : a cry implying cessation of work.
tone: central space of furnace around which pots are set The flame melting the batch circulates therein.
tube blower: one who makes tubes for lamp works. (Flint works only.)
tuck stone: stone (clay) sustaining arch over furnace grate.
yink yank: equivalent to necktie, q.v.

The Shingle Industry. Carried on in the cedar swamps of South Jersey.

bolt: piece of cedar, 2 feet long, 6 inches wide, 2 inches thick.
break down and windfall are terms describing conditions in which cedar logs are found beneath the surface. The log is chipped and its condition is indicated by the odor of the chip.
butting: the process of levelling shingles.
dug ups: shingles made from logs fallen and covered with soil. Called also mud, rove, and split.
froe: instrument, used to rive cedar into bolts. A blade 16 inches long and 3 inches wide, with a handle 6 inches long at right angles to one end.
horse: contrivance for holding shingles while they are being shaved.
pool holes (q.v.) are caused by removing cedar logs.
progueing iron or progue: iron rod 4½ to 7 feet long used to progue (q.v.) for cedar logs.
rive: to cut cedar bolts into pieces ½ inches thick.
shave: to prepare rived bolts for use on roof.
shingling: the process of taking cedar logs from the meadows or swamps and converting them into shingles.
straight rift and twisted are two conditions (as to grain of wood) in which cedar logs are found.
tap or cut: a piece sawed from the log beneath the surface.
wind shakes: trees which have been twisted by the wind so that the effect is shown by the twisted grain of the wood.

Trenton, March, 1898.


This list contains a few more items from Mr. Lee, which have been sent since his list went to press, some words collected by Rev. W. J. Skillman of Philadelphia, who is a native of New Jersey, and a few from miscellaneous sources.

age: to take one’s age = to come to a birthday.
anxious seat: dele “Methodist and.” (The Methodists use the term “mourner’s bench.ֹ”)
bay truck: used “along shore” for food from the bays which indent the coast; in distinction from “garden truck.”
blickey: the variety is distinguished by an adjective, as “wooden” or “tin” blickey. In Vincentown and vicinity this word is used for a coat or “juniper,” such as workmen wear with overalls — a Garibaldi jacket of jean.
bounder: to scrub or wash thoroughly (the person).
braes: the definition given should have stood, “imperfectly burned,” etc., and applies to the word brands, which was omitted. Braes is to be defined as “bark partially charred that slips from the wood in a charcoal pit.”
cooster: to “potter around,” fuss. “What you been coosterin’ at all day?” Also to caress, coddle.
dike (cf. dicked): “on a dike” = showing one’s finery in public.
dip: pudding-sauce.
do-ups: preserves.
down country: New York City and vicinity (Sussex Co.).
dubersome: also in form jubersome.
Dutch cuss: term of contempt. Metuchen.
footlin’: an adjective with meaning similar to footy.
gooseberry fool: an old-time dish of gooseberries and eggs; eaten with cream.
gravel: also grabble: definition should read, “to steal potatoes without disturbing the hill.”
Halifax. Mr. Skillman thinks that the common enough expression, “Go to Halifax!” is a survival from Revolutionary times, and meant originally “You are a Tory; go where you belong!” This, because he has heard “Go to Nova Scotia !” in the same way (and also, “Go to Haverty-grass (Havre-de-grace), which he cannot explain historically. Can any one account for this, or for “go to grass,” which suggests a connection?)
hetchel: to tease, to call to account. Metaphor from the days of the domestic flax industry.
homebringen: first coming of newly married to the house of the groom’s parents, where a feast was prepared and guests were invited. “Volunteers” (uninvited but not always unwelcome guests) often came. There was music and dancing and rather free hospitality, but no drunkenness. (See infare, below.)
hull: to gad about, wander, roam. “He went a-hullen all over the country.” [v. Cent. Dict, hull, II.]
Infare: bridegroom’s party (see homebringen, above). A somewhat later word than homebringen for the same festivity.
jagger-wagon: light, open farm-wagon used on the roads for light work, such as carting small truck and going for the mails. Central Burlington Co.
kink: also in sense of pain, “a kink in the back” = lumbago.
kip: young chicken. (Used also as call — “kip, kip.”)
lay-overs for meddlers: answer to prying, curious children. “What’s that, ma? Do tell, won’t you?” “Why, didn’t I say it’s lay-overs for meddlers?” [v. Cent. Dict, layer-over.]
lobscouse: an awkward, hulking fellow.
loper: a worthless, intrusive fellow.
noggin: a wooden dipper.
noodeljees (nûdltʃîz): “noodles,” — thin strips of dough like macaroni, used in soup. [Bartlett.]
passel (for parcel): number, quantity in general. “They acted like a passel o’ hogs.”
perfect love: an old-fashioned intoxicating drink.
perianger: should read “periauger ” (pirogue).
pick (pique?): a spite, grudge “He's had a pick at him for months.”
pinxter: Whitsuntide.
pinxter-blossoms: azalea (Albany Co.)
riz bread: yeast bread (not raised with soda).
rollejees (rolitʃîz): chopped meat, stuffed in “sausage-skins” to be sliced and cooked. [See De Vere, p. 64.]
side up: to clean up, put in order (a room). (Cf. aside) [Also N. B. — W. M. T.]
slank: low place at side of river, bay, or cove, filled with water at freshet.
slummock: a dirty, untidy woman.
souse: slangy for ears. “Bounder your souse well” = wash your ears well.
spack: pork.
springers: cows about to calve. (C. J.)
stirrup (n. and v.), stirrup oil (n.): shoemaker’s term for a whipping, or punishment administered with the stirrup, or knee-strap.
strull: female tramp. Strulling is used of women, not in the worst, but generally in no favorable sense. “She’s gone strulling to town to-day.” Sometimes used of children, without regard to sex.
winklehawk: triangular tear in cloth. [Cent. Dict, and Bartlett.] Barn-door is reported from Massachusetts in the same sense. [Cf. trappatch]

I look forward to receiving any additions to this lexicon, so feel free to comment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Hugg/Harrison/Glover House (New Saint Mary’s Cemetery), Borough of Bellmawr, Camden County, New Jersey

by Jerseyman ©2010


In April 1677, Robert Turner, Robert Zane, Thomas Thackara, William Bates, and Joseph Sleigh, all Quakers and residents of Ireland, purchased one whole share of proprietary (one tenth of West Jersey) from Edward Byllynge and his trustees. These proprietors chose to locate their settlement in the third tenth, located between Pennsauken and Big Timber Creek—today’s Camden County—which became known early on as the Irish Tenth (Prowell 1886:30). This group of Quakers had originally fled from England to Ireland to escape religious persecution, but nonetheless they soon became known as Irish Quakers. During 1681, the group arranged to sail to West Jersey on board YE OWNERS ADVENTURE, arriving at John Fenwick’s Salem Colony late in 1681, where they spent the winter. The following spring, the settlers moved north along the Delaware River until they arrived at the mouth of Newton Creek. Moving up the stream, the Quakers chose a site on the north shore of the rivulet and founded Newton Colony (Leap 1982:6).

As part of his proprietary holding, Newton colonist Robert Zane took up 500 acres of land in the fork between Little Timber and Big Timber Creek and then sold the same land to newly arrived John Hugg in 1683, recorded in February 1686 (Clement 1877:284; West Jersey Deed Book B:103; Surveyor General’s Office, Revel’s Survey Book, 55). This transaction represents John Hugg’s first land purchase in the New World and his plantation extended more than a mile up Big Timber and Little Timber Creek (Clement 1877:284). He continued adding to his property holdings until he possessed more than 1,300 acres (Surveyor General’s Office Survey Book H:261).

John Hills 1809/1814

John Hugg remained tenured at his farm until his death in 1706. In his will, John devised the homestead plantation to his sons, John and Elias. He ordered that the two brothers share the land with each possessing a moiety or half-interest in the entirety divided evenly along the lane leading to the Hugg Plantation (now Browning Lane) (New Jersey Wills 6H). Son John received the half on the Big Timber Creek side and Elias the portion along Little Timber Creek, which included the father’s homestead. At this house, Elias maintained a store for the watermen who navigated Big Timber Creek in flatboats and scows. Whiskey and tobacco sales were plentiful at the store, and many unseemly events occurred here as the rough and tumble clientele waited for the wind and tide to change (Clement 1877:289-290). Secondary genealogical sources indicate that Elias’s birth occurred in 1668 and that he married Margaret Collins, daughter of pioneer settler Francis Collins, sometime prior to 1695 (Hugg Family Genealogy website; Clement 1877:76). Elias and Margaret’s children include three daughters: Sarah, Mary, and Rebecca; and a son, John. Margaret died in 1723, perhaps in childbirth with John or Rebecca (New Jersey Wills 6H; Hugg Family Genealogy website; West Jersey Deed Book EF:145).

In December 1712, Richard Bull and Thomas Sharp, two of the Highway Commissioners for Gloucester County, received petitions for a road between the head of Timber Creek near Upton and the original crossing of the Salem Road over to …the King’s Roade to Gloucester” (Stewart 1917:15-16). The road began at …Porter’s Mill [near the head of navigation on Big Timber Creek] and from thence falling into the Old Roade that went to Burlington and along the same over Sheeyanees Run from thence to other [Otter] branch and thence over the hills to Beaver Branch by John Huggs land thence to the brick kills [kilns] upon Elias Huggs land and from thence upon a straight course to the little Bridge [bridge over Little Timber Creek]… and on the Kings Road to Gloucester (ibid.). The blazing of this road followed, in part, the lane leading to Hugg’s plantation and now known as Browning Lane, changing the already extant Hugg’s Lane into one course of an official public road.

Elias Hugg and his son, John, finally disposed of the Little Timber Creek side of the old Hugg plantation during January 1741, selling it to Bristol, Pennsylvania, merchant, William Buckley (West Jersey Deed Book EF:145). It is appears Buckley purchased the property an investment. It seems certain that Buckley did not reside in the house as he had a solid record of serving as a burgess for Bristol Borough in Pennsylvania between 1742 and 1758 (Battle 1887:434). The sale proceeds amounted to £100 and the deed described the property as

…a Certain Massuage Plantation or Tract of Land thereunto belonging situate in Gloucester County aforesaid Bounded Northward with little Timber Creek and on the other Sides with the Land late of John Hugg deceased, brother of the said Elias and Lands of some other person or persons It being the moyaty of the Land later of John Hugg ye father of ye Sd Elias which he devised until him by his last Will and Testament of the Twentieth day of December in the year 1706 and containing be Estimation four hundred Acres…. (West Jersey Deed Book EF:145)

It seems unusual and perhaps significant that Elias Hugg’s son, John, is listed as a party of this transaction, since Elias alone held the property as a devisee of his father’s will. The oldest portion of the house on the property, and the section featuring a gambrel roof, could have served as Elias’s residence prior to his father’s death in 1706. At some point subsequent to Elias’s moving into his deceased father’s house after 1706, Elias’s son, John, became of age and likely moved into the house and resided there until he and his father sold the plantation to Buckley. Elias included his son in the transaction presumably because John was the de facto possessor of the house and farm. If the house did not serve as a one-time residence for Elias, then he probably had it constructed for his only son, John, upon reaching his majority. Since the property hosted brick kilns and Elias’s nephew, Gabriel Hugg, is listed as a bricklayer in his will and other legal documents, Gabriel’s participation in constructing the house is strongly suggested (New Jersey Wills 205H). Buckley received less than the estimated 400 acres in Elias’s share of his father’s plantation because the Huggs sold 100 acres to John Jones, 30 acres to William Crowes, and 12 acres to Enoch Allison (West Jersey Deed Book EF:246). After the sale, Elias Hugg reportedly relocated across the Delaware River and took up residence in Philadelphia, although no documentation could be found to confirm this contention (Hugg Family Genealogy website).

Buckley retained the property for ten years before selling it to Samuel Harrison in November 1751 for £300, making himself a tidy £200 profit (West Jersey Deed Book O:103). Perhaps during Buckley’s ownership of the property, he added the new rear section to the original gambrel-roofed house, thus increasing the property’s overall value. Samuel Harrison and his wife Abigail held the plantation until December 1756, when they sold it to Samuel’s brother, Joseph Harrison, for a mere 5 shillings and …the kind love and natural affection which they have to bear unto the said Joseph Harrison…” (West Jersey Deed Book N:475). In 1759, Joseph Harrison and William Hugg applied to the West Jersey Proprietors for a resurvey of the original John Hugg Plantation as it was devised to John and Elias Hugg in 1706. The resurvey verified the chain of title for the property, the boundary lines, and the acreage contained within those boundaries. The written record of the resurvey reveals small parcels that were added to and subtracted from the plantation over the years. The deputy surveyors also confirmed that the land contained an overplus of 31 acres and 11 perches or 31.069 acres, which Joseph Harrison dealt with by subtracting the same amount from another untitled proprietary land grant given to him in November 1755 (Surveyor General’s Office Survey Book H:261).

Joseph Harrison retained ownership of this plantation until his death in November 1761. In his will, written during the same month and year as his death, he devised the property to his two daughters, Mary and Rebecca, to be equally divided between them when they reached their majority age. It appears Joseph’s wife predeceased him. He directed his brother Samuel to provide care for the two girls until the reach maturity and, as a reward, Joseph granted his brother the right to …possess my Little Place untill [sic] my Daughter Rebecca arrives to age (which lies on ye Little Creek)…” (New Jersey Wills 747H). It is unknown who rented Joseph Harrison’s “Little Plantation” after Joseph’s death. However, acting in his role of possessor and caretaker of the Little Plantation, in 1764 Samuel presumably contracted for an addition to be constructed on the west side of the gambrel-roofed house on the plantation, perhaps to make the property more attractive to a tenant. Built in a similar patterned brick style as the original house with a modified Flemish bond, the addition almost doubled the size of the dwelling space. The construction date is clearly shown in the western gable of the addition, but no initials are present, which strongly suggests that the person who ordered the addition constructed did not reside in the house. Amazingly, a comparison of this house, after completion of the 1764 addition, with photographs of Harrison Manor, Samuel’s residence in Gloucester Town, reveal the two houses are strikingly similar in appearance. Harrison Manor underwent demolition in 1941 and inexplicably did not become a structure selected for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) prior to its destruction.

Facade, Harrison Manor, Gloucester City, New Jersey

Facade, Hugg/Harrison/Glover House, Bellmawr, New Jersey

West wall of 1764 Addition,
Hugg/Harrison/Glover House,
Bellmawr, New Jersey

Rebecca Harrison, Joseph’s daughter, was born in February 1757 and in January 1780, after reaching her majority, married Robert Blackwell, an Episcopal minister from Philadelphia (Wallace Papers, Vol. 4). Her sister Mary married Israel Morris Jr. in May 1774, but died before reaching her majority (Gloucester County Deeds H:492). Unfortunately, Rebecca met a similar fate as her sister, dying quite young in February 1782, two days after giving birth to Rebecca Harrison Blackwell (Wallace Papers, Vol. 4). As a result of her death, Robert Blackwell gained title to the lands that Rebecca received from her father. Blackwell continued his ownership of Joseph Harrison’s homestead as a rental property. In July 1800, he advertised the property for rent and indicates in the advertisement that John Burrough resided there (Pennsylvania Gazette 16 July 1800). Five years later, Blackwell and his daughter and their respective spouses, sold the former Joseph Harrison homestead, located west of the cemetery house, to Benjamin B. Cooper and John Gill for $6,600 (Gloucester County Deed Book H:492).

At some point in time, William Harrison Junior (relationship to Samuel and Rebecca currently unsure, but presumably a cousin), owner of an adjacent gristmill and plantation located easterly along Little Timber Creek, acquired the “Little Plantation” from either Samuel or Rebecca. If Samuel served as the seller, he fulfilled his role as guardian for an underage Rebecca during the sale; but if not, then this sale occurred sometime after Rebecca reached a majority but probably before she married Robert Blackwell. The deed for William’s acquisition is unrecorded and evidently non-existent today, as a thorough search for the document at numerous repositories has proven futile. However, it is documented that William Harrison held the property in 1782 when the Gloucester County sheriff received a writ from the New Jersey Supreme Court to attach all of William’s property after a number of creditors successfully won suits against Harrison for unpaid indebtedness. Thomas Denny, the sheriff, placed an advertisement in the 6 September 1783 edition of the Independent Gazette, a Philadelphia newspaper, detailing William Harrison’s properties:

It is bounded by lands of Samuel Hugg Esq., Daniel Smith, John Glover, Jacob Albertson, lands late of Joseph Harrison, deceased, and others. It lies on the main branch of Little Timber Creek, which runs through the tract, and contains 613 acres and three-quarters, being divided as follows: a plantation of 155 acres and three quarters with a brick house; a plantation adjoining containing 287 acres and one quarter with a brick house; a plantation of 70 acres and three quarters with a frame house and a grist mill built with stone; and three tenements adjoining the latter of 35 acres each. To view the premises and to see a map of the whole, apply to William Eldridge living on the first mentioned farm. Sale will be by vendue on 22d September at the house of William Hugg, innkeeper, in the town of Gloucester. (Wilson 1988:417-418)

The sale occurred at the time and place stated in the advertisement, but Sheriff Denny did not draft two deeds of sale for a portion of Harrison’s property until April 1784. One deed acknowledged Samuel Hugg’s purchase of a 35-acre tenement parcel for £126 (Gloucester County Deed Book D:182). The second deed transferred title of the 155.75-acre plantation to William Eldridge in exchange for the winning bid of £935. The Hugg and the Eldridge bid represent the only two successful partial purchases of William Harrison’s land, so Sheriff Denny scheduled a second Sheriff’s Sale, which occurred on 26 March 1785 and presumably at Hugg’s Tavern (Gloucester County Deed Book L:504). Ephraim Tomlinson placed the winning bid of £960 for the 287.25-acre plantation described in the advertisement (above) as possessing a brick house. Denny drafted the deed for this sale during April 1785 and Ephraim Tomlinson became the titleholder for Joseph Harrison’s former “Little Plantation” (ibid.). Of the three remaining parcels—two 35-acre tenement lots and the 70.75-acre plantation containing a gristmill and a frame house—only a deed for the gristmill property could be located; William Eldridge acquired this tract in August 1792 (Gloucester County Deed Book K:473).

Ephraim Tomlinson retained the former “Little Plantation” property and used it as his homestead farm. He died sometime prior to 22 March 1810, the date his heirs proved Ephraim’s will, drafted during November 1808. In his will, Tomlinson divided his plantation, the former Elias Hugg property, into two pieces with the upper portion devised to his grandson Warner Tomlinson and the lower section, including the Hugg/Harrison house, to his other grandson, Joseph Tomlinson, both sons of Ephraim’s deceased son, Joseph Tomlinson. Ephraim’s estate inventory value exceeded $6,300, indicating Tomlinson was a man of some wealth during his lifetime (New Jersey Wills 2790H). Joseph Tomlinson presumably worked and resided on the plantation his grandfather devised to him. His tenure ended in October 1835, when he sold the property, containing 119.70 acres, to Chalkley Glover, a resident of Deptford Township, probably as an investment and rental property (Gloucester County Deeds N3:484). Chalkley Glover died intestate sometime during late 1873 or early in 1874; his daughter, Sarah, applied for an estate administration bond in January 1874 (Camden County Estate Index). Since Sarah applied to the Camden County Surrogate’s Office for the Estate Administration Bond, it may indicate that Chalkley lived at the “Little Plantation” at the time of his death.

Chalkley’s heirs, Theodore and Sarah Glover, retained the “Little Plantation” for another 40 years.

G.M. Hopkins 1877

In January 1914, the siblings struck an agreement with John G. Scofield, a resident of Centre Township, to purchase their late father’s former property, including the Hugg/Harrison house (Camden County Deed Book 383:621). The agreement dictated a series of payments to be made monthly. Finally in August 1918, Theodore and Sarah issued a deed of purchase for the land and house; Scofield paid $15,000 to them (Camden County Deed Book 434:168). At this point in time, Theodore Glover and his sister, Sarah B. Glover, resided in Deptford Township, Gloucester County, perhaps in their father’s old house. Three years later, during August 1921, Scofield sold 63 acres of the former Chalkley Glover farm and the old Hugg/Harrison house to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church of Gloucester City for $41,300 for use as a cemetery (Camden County Deed Book 490:599). While the Camden Diocese controls New Saint Mary’s Cemetery today, the former Hugg/Harrison/Glover house continues to serve as the cemetery’s offices, as it did when the church burial ground first opened in 1923 (Giglio 1987:233).


Pioneering proprietors locating farmsteads along navigable streams represent the primary early settlement pattern in at least the northern portion of Old Gloucester County in West Jersey—known today as Camden County (Dorwart 2001:27-29). The waterways served as the initial thoroughfares of commerce for these early settlers and, as noted historian William Leap states, “it is difficult to find a settler who did not have access to tidal water in this area prior to 1770” (Leap 1981:21). Author Jeffrey Dorwart put the early settlement period of Camden County history in perspective when he wrote,

A select group of prosperous landowning families descended from and holding extensive kinship ties to the original settlers dominated life in Gloucester County during the eighteenth century. …This landed gentry held the largest tracts along the tidal creeks and tributary streams that defined the region’s distinctive cultural geography. Here they operated plantations of more than three hundred acres, partly cleared for planting and with meadows fenced for pasturage and wooded tracts and cedar swamps. Their estates were each valued at nearly £1,000.

The original proprietary families and their kin controlled the landing places on the creeks that linked the county to markets on the Delaware River and in Philadelphia. Near these creeks landings they built their two-story brick and frame houses with bricks produced locally by a kiln [already] established in 1712 by the Huggs near Gloucestertown.

…The most prominent plantation…owning families that dominated life between Timber and Pennsauken Creek in the upper part of old Gloucester County (forming the boundaries of modern-day Camden County) were even more tightly linked through kinship and business ties than those in the county below Timber Creek. …The Hugg and Harrison families dominated life at the county seat of Gloucestertown at the mouth of Big Timber Creek. (2001:27-28)

As the above quotation indicates, each of Camden County’s navigable waterways—the Pennsauken Creek, Cooper’s Creek, Newton Creek and the Big and Little Timber Creek system—once hosted numerous plantations and landings along their banks. However, today each of these streams retains only one or two colonial-era farmhouse to provide proper interpretation of the county’s early agrarian history:

Table of Surviving Colonial-Era Farmhouses along Tidal Waterways in Camden County

Common House Name...........Location............Associated Waterway.........Year Constructed
Burrough-Dover................ Pennsauken Twp.....Pennsauken Creek..................circa 1710/1793
Burrough-Lawrence...........Pennsauken Twp.....Pennsauken Creek..................circa 1728/1749
Ebenezer Hopkins.............Haddon Twp............Cooper’s Creek........................circa 1737
Pomona Hall.....................Camden..................Cooper’s Creek........................1726/1788
Thackara...........................Collingswood............Newton Creek.........................circa 1754
Stokes-Lee........................Collingswood............Newton Creek.........................circa 1761
Hugg-Harrison-Glover........Bellmawr..................Little Timber Creek.................circa 1720/1764

Gradually, the old farmsteads succumbed to twentieth-century developments. Along the Pennsauken Creek, the former 1775 Morgan/Hylton homestead, commonly called Mount Pleasant, met its demise in 1964 when the solid waste landfill operators sold the stone and timbers to a man from Moorestown, who built a modern house with the materials (Fichter 1991). All of the known colonial houses along the Burlington County side of the creek have been demolished as well. On Cooper’s Creek, the construction of a highway ramp between Baird Boulevard and Route 30 (Admiral Wilson Boulevard) circa 1940 caused the state to raze the 1699 Joseph Nicholson house (Bassett 1977:22-23). None of the farmhouses that once lined the Pennsauken and Cherry Hill Township side of Cooper’s Creek remain. These include dwellings owned by members of the Spicer, Browning, Morgan, Day, Champion, Spicer, Stoy, and Troth families. As indicated in the table above, only Pomona Hall and the Hopkins House remain on the south side of Cooper River (Sidney 1850; Sidney undated).

On Newton Creek, the Champion House burned down in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Located in the Fairview section of Camden, this house was the reputed birthplace of Betsy Ross. Gone, too, are other Champion family homes, Harrison Manor (an almost identical twin to the Hugg-Harrison-Glover house), the Mickle House called “The Willows,” the Albertson House, Atmore’s domicile, and Collins family homes. Along the tidewater portion of the Timber Creek watershed, any vestige of John Hugg Senior’s house likely disappeared when the federal government constructed the Noreg Village (a World War I defense housing development) section of Brooklawn. Along Little Timber Creek, the Clement farmhouse is gone, as are two early Harrison dwellings and a Browning family home, leaving only the Hugg-Harrison-Glover domicile. Along the north side of Big Timber Creek, all of the farmhouses have disappeared, including the John Hugg Junior house, the Kay home and two Lippincott dwellings (Sidney 1850).

Beyond the ability of the Hugg-Harrison-Glover house to provide interpretation of the Timber Creek tidewater plantations, it is also the last known standing structure to be associated with the Hugg and the Harrison families. Hugg family members served in the colonial legislature, as sheriffs, judges, militiamen, and other officials in the government of old Gloucester County, and as judges in Camden County. All of these Huggs were either born within or can trace their roots to the Timber Creek watershed (Prowell 1886:705; Clement 1877:283-291). Writing in the highly-esteemed multi-volume biographical series on early Princeton University graduates, authors Ruth Woodward and Wesley Craven provide some crucial background information on the Hugg family:

William King Hugg, A.B., lawyer, belonged to one of the oldest and most influential families of Gloucester County, New Jersey. …The family, founded by one John Hugg in the seventeenth century, originally had been stoutly Quaker in its religious affiliation, but William’s father held a colonel’s commission in the militia and saw active military service during the Revolutionary War. He also served as commissary of purchase for West Jersey, and at different times as county clerk, clerk of the board of freeholders, member of the legislative council, judge, and justice of the peace. (1991:125)

The Harrison family has a similar history to the Huggs in fulfilling their civic obligations by serving as sheriffs, judges, freeholders, members of the legislative council, etcetera (Cushing and Sheppard 1883:119-142). William Harrison served in the Gloucester County militia and fought in the battle of Gloucester defending his own land (Munn). William’s grandson, Joseph Harrison Junior, would distinguish himself in the nineteenth century as a Philadelphia locomotive builder and mechanical engineer who also traveled to Russia to construct railroads for the Czar (Harrison 1869). Immediately associated with Hugg-Harrison-Glover house is Rebecca Harrison, who came to possess the house after her father’s death, married Philadelphia Episcopal minister Robert Blackwell. The couple met while Blackwell served the Anglican churches located in Gloucester County. Later, when the Revolutionary War began, Blackwell chose to side with the Americans. In January 1780, with the war beginning to wind down, he married …Rebecca Harrison, daughter of a long-prominent family of Gloucester County landowners” (McLachlan 1976:632).

The Hugg-Harrison-Glover house provides the last remaining vestige of these once-important families and the vital role they played in the early development of today’s Camden County.

Bassett, William B.
1977 Historic American Buildings Survey of New Jersey. New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, New Jersey.

Battle, J.H.
1887 History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. n.p., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois.

Camden County Deed Book
Camden County deed books. Camden County Clerk’s Office, Camden, New Jersey.

Camden County Estate Index
Camden County estate index. Camden County Surrogate’s Office, Camden, New Jersey.

Clement, John
1877 Sketches of the First Emigrant Settlers: Newton Township, Old Gloucester County, West New Jersey. Sinnickson Chew, Camden, New Jersey.

Cushing, Thomas and Charles E. Sheppard
1883 History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland New Jersey, with Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Citizens. Everts & Peck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dorwart, Jeffrey M.
2001 Camden County, New Jersey : The Making of a Metropolitan Community, 1626-2000. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Fichter, Jack H.
1991 The Pennsauken Story. The Pennsauken Township Committee, Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Giglio, Reverend Monsignor Charles J.
1987 Building God’s Kingdom: A History of the Diocese of Camden. Seton Hall University Press, South Orange, New Jersey.

Gloucester County Deeds
Gloucester County deed books. Gloucester County Clerk’s Office, Woodbury, New Jersey.

Harrison, Jr., Joseph
1869 The Iron Worker and King Solomon. J.B. Lippincott & Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hills, John
1808/1814 A Plan of the City of Philadelphia and Environs. Annotated through December 1814. John Hills, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hopkins, G.M.
1877 Atlas of Philadelphia and Environs. G.M. Hopkins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hugg Family Genealogy website: [accessed 25 September 2010].

Leap, William
1982 The History of Runnemede, New Jersey: 1626-1976. Borough of Runnemede, Runnemede, New Jersey.

Munn, David C.
A Visit to Gloucestertown. Unpublished manuscript. David C. Munn, Gloucester City, New Jersey.

New Jersey Wills.
New Jersey wills, Secretary of State Collection. Microform edition. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Gazette.
Pennsylvania Gazette. Microform edition. Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Prowell, George R.
1886 The History of Camden County, New Jersey. L.J. Richards & Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sidney, James C.
undated Map of the Township of Delaware Township, Camden Co., New Jersey. J.C. Sidney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1850 Plan of the Townships of Union and Newton, County of Camden. Richard Clark, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Stewart, Frank
1917 Notes on Old Gloucester County. Vol. 1. New Jersey Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Surveyor General’s Office, Burlington, New Jersey
Survey books. Microform edition. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

Wallace Papers
John William Wallace Collection, 1725-1854. Manuscript Collection. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

West Jersey Deed Book
West Jersey deed books. Microform Edition. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

Wilson, Thomas B.
1988 Notices from New Jersey Newspapers: 1781-1790. Hunterdon House, Lambertville, New Jersey.

Woodward, Ruth and Wesley Craven
1976 Princetonians : 1748-1768 : A Biographical Dictionary. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Upper Delaware River Steamer COLUMBIA

by Jerseyman ©2010

The Delaware River has had a long history of hosting steamboats, beginning with the very first steamer—John Fitch’s boat of 1787. Although Fitch operated three different steamboats on the Delaware River, including one that ran scheduled service to Burlington, America was not yet ready for steam-powered vessels. Finally, Robert Fulton introduced his steamer CLERMONT in 1807 and the United States began to awaken from its agrarian lifestyle and recognized the potentiality of steam and its attendant mechanical applications.

By the second decade of the nineteenth century, the Stevens family operated steamboats on both the Hudson and the Delaware as part of a through route between New York and Philadelphia. Steamers transported passengers from New York to South Amboy, where they boarded stagecoaches for the trip to Bordentown, and then transferred to river steamer for the trip to Philadelphia.

When the Stevens family constructed the Camden & Amboy Railroad to supplant the stage operation, the family still used steamboats on both rivers.

Eventually, the Union Line’s Delaware River boats succumbed to the more convenient steam ferries in Camden.

Beginning in the 1850s, Capt. Jonathan Cone acquired a large fleet of passenger and cargo steamers and his operations soon became the pride of the Upper Delaware, succeeding the Stevens Family’s Union Line. Initially, Cone employed the steamer THOMAS A. MORGAN for his Upper Delaware River Transportation Company’s passenger trips. In 1857, however, he introduced the iron-hulled JOHN A. WARNER.

Constructed in Wilmington, Delaware at the shipyard of Harlan & Hollingsworth, the WARNER was the swiftest vessel to ever steam on the Delaware River. During the Civil War, the federal government pressed the WARNER into service and brought many wounded and dying Union soldiers from southern battles to the federal hospital in Beverly, New Jersey.

Capt. Henry Crawford, an old Union Line pilot, attempted to break Cone’s monopoly on Upper Delaware service by having the steamer TWILIGHT built by the Harlan & Hollingsworth yard in 1868.

Crawford maintained a Philadelphia –Trenton schedule using the TWILIGHT. Steamer operations to Trenton always proved perilous due to the Perriwig shoal just above Bordentown. As a result, the tide chart always governed the steamer schedules to assure enough water covered the shoal to prevent running aground. Crawford’s service had little impact on Captain Cone’s operations and profits.

In the Centennial year of 1876, Captain Cone ordered the steamer COLUMBIA from Harlan & Hollingsworth. Like the JOHN A. WARNER, the COLUMBIA also featured an iron hull.

According to the 1902 List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, her specifications included:

Official No.: 125507
 Gross Tonnage: 663
Net Tonnage: 535
Length: 220.0
Breadth: 34.0
Depth: 7.2
Home Port: Philadelphia, Pa.

The COLUMBIA featured more enclosed space than any other steamboat on the river and most people considered her to be the handsomest boat that ever plied the waters of the Upper Delaware. She became the desire of every moonlight cruise and always carried the best orchestra. The crowds on the COLUMBIA usually comprised a better social quality than other steamboats. The crew always kept her decks clean, the stools stacked in an orderly array, the interior paint always washed, the carpet brushed, the furniture dusted and the plush easy chairs and wide settees never had frayed upholstery. Amenities onboard included big comfortable rockers for grandma or grandpa, a large mirror at the head of the grand stairs, and the congeniality of the old, white-capped black stewardess, who looked after the welfare of the mothers and their babies. The onboard piano was always in tune and as a special attraction on Wednesdays, the steamboat company employed a blind man from Bristol named Summerfield to play music on the COLUMBIA.

Captain Cone became the COLUMBIA’s first master. After the press of business forced Cone to retire from the wheelhouse to the office, George C. Tyler assumed command of this fine boat. Tyler piloted the steamer on her usual circuit between Bristol and Philadelphia, making stops at a number of wharves—Burlington, Beverly, Andalusia, Delanco (occasionally), Torresdale, Riverton, and Tacony/Bridesburg.

Although reserved almost exclusively for the passenger and excursion trade, the COLUMBIA would carry a small amount of farm truck and express. The usual schedule called for two round-trips for the COLUMBIA between Trenton and Philadelphia during the week, with three circuits being completed on Sundays. The fare for a regularly scheduled trip was $0.25 one-way or $0.40 for a round-trip to Bristol or $0.50 to Trenton. The boat maintained a special summer schedule from June 1st to September 15th. Beginning in 1895, the COLUMBIA terminated upriver at Bristol, with the remainder of the trip to the state capital handled by the new steel steamer TRENTON. The COLUMBIA carried a full orchestra onboard for its daily 2 p.m. trip.

By 1892, the Upper Delaware River Transportation Company owned and operated all three river steamers mentioned in this monograph: the COLUMBIA, JOHN A. WARNER, and TWILIGHT. Under a common management, the three boats quickly and affectionately became known as The Three Musketeers of the Upper Delaware by those who lived along the riverbank. Many a fight ensued at the landings between the young men that hung around these wharves. Known as “wharf rats,” these boys would gladly suffer a shiner or torn shirt in staunch defense of their favorite Musketeer. A lad was not accepted into the ranks of the wharf rats until they could distinguish between the boat whistles from at least a mile away and name the steamer before it arrived.

The COLUMBIA became the queen of the excursion trade, operating innumerable trips to the various picnic groves along the river shore, moonlight dance cruises and, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, to the many amusement parks that dotted the Delaware River shore. She sailed proudly with fluttering pennants strung from stem to stern while loaded with Sunday School groups on their way to the temperance picnic grounds at National Park.

Sometimes these outings would require the services of more than one boat due to the large crowds. The amusement parks that made the excursion trade so lively included (from north to south): Island Park on Burlington Island; Washington Park on the Delaware (West Deptford); Lincoln Park (Billingsport); and Riverview Beach (Pennsville). The latter had the distinction of being the last amusement park to be served by steamboat on the Delaware River.

Captain Cone died at the turn of the twentieth century and his heirs sold the company and its boats, including The Three Musketeers. The new management reorganized the firm as the Delaware River Navigation Company.

In 1905, the new owners renamed the JOHN A. WARNER and she became the BURLINGTON.

But the passenger business on the Delaware River entered a downward spiral and the excursion trade could not sustain the company’s financial demands. The railroads, trolleys, and finally the exploding popularity of the automobile had all robbed the steamboats of potential fares. The summer of 1916 proved to be the final season of service for the COLUMBIA AND TWILIGHT as the Delaware River Navigation Company slipped into receivership.

The third Musketeer, the JOHN A. WARNER, a.k.a. BURLINGTON, had run aground on the Perriwig Bar in August 1911. The company left her where she grounded, her services no longer required and the recovery and repair bills too steep for her owner’s dwindling coffers.

After several months of ravaging by wind and tide, the Army Corps of Engineers declared her a hazard to navigation and stripped her hull of all superstructure and machinery. Her charcoal-iron hull remains extant today on the Pennsylvania shore of the river above the mouth of Crosswicks Creek and the Philadelphia Maritime Museum—now the Independence Seaport Museum—has conducted several archaeological surveys on the hull.

After being withdrawn from service, the company’s receiver tied up the TWILIGHT and COLUMBIA in the Camden Shipbuilding Company’s yard at Coopers Point, Camden. The COLUMBIA underwent an auction in 1918 and served as a floating boarding house for World War I dock workers while moored at Philadelphia’s Christian Street wharf. She did suffer some damage by fire during her wartime stationary service. The TWILIGHT remained at Cooper’s Point and the COLUMBIA returned there after World War I ended. A few years later, the TWILIGHT was sold and had just undergone a complete reconstruction in 1923 for new owners, when a disastrous fire swept through the Coopers Point yard and the TWILIGHT suffered total destruction. The COLUMBIA, tied up nearby, suffered some fire damage, but escaped complete burning.

Workmen at the shipyard repaired the fire damage on the COLUMBIA and she again began running excursions for new owners by 1925, only to be returned to Cooper’s Point after a year or two when expenses exceeded the ticket proceeds. Five years later, an unattributed newspaper clipping dated June 13, 1930 provides the following information:

The old steamer, “Columbia”, for many years a familiar sight on the upper Delaware River, where she plied between Philadelphia and Trenton, has been reconditioned at the Kensington Shipyard, Philadelphia, after being tied up at Cooper’s Point, Camden, for several years. According to reports the vessel, which has been renamed “Franklin”, will soon be placed in service as an excursion boat running between Philadelphia and Deamer’s Beach, new Newcastle, Delaware. [sic]

Owned by the Franklin Transportation Company, the COLUMBIA, a.k.a. FRANKLIN, only operated to Deamer’s Beach during the summer season of 1930. The new owners laid her up at a South Philadelphia pier until the Kensington Ship & Drydock Company purchased the steamer at auction in 1932 for $1,500.00 to satisfy their claims against the boat’s owners. On October 5, 1932, before the Kensington Shipyard management had the opportunity to move her, fire swept through the COLUMBIA, causing total devastation. Charles Haskell, a mate on the boat since 1910, served as the watchman and lived aboard the vessel. The firemen responding to the alarm call rescued the septuagenarian Mr. Haskell.

This fire brought an ignoble end to the COLUMBIA, a handsome and popular river steamer and the last surviving member of the Upper Delaware River’s Three Musketeers. She is remembered today through old photographs, faded newspaper articles, and steaming through the memories of the oldest of area residents.