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|
|West wall of 1764 Addition, |
Bellmawr, New Jersey
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.
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