Atsion: Old and Renewed

Tracker Jim

Scout
Dec 18, 2014
94
72
18
Leeds Point NJ
I thought it would be worth mentioning, that in addition to his cotton mill enterprise, Raleigh purchased the Waterford Glass Works & connected it with his vast Atsion estate. For a short time, Raleigh operated the three glass factories there - two of which manufactured window panes, and the other made hollow ware.

After the discontinuance of the glass works, Raleigh converted one of the glass factory's into a Hosiery mill where a large number of people found work for several years. He also oversaw a three- story shoe factory, where a hundred operatives were at work for about a year. In 1882, four months after Raleigh's death, a fire swept through and destroyed all the works.

I wonder if Raleigh's hosiery factory used any of the cotton products made at the cotton mill at Atsion. Likewise, I wonder, could there have been any use for the waste cotton in any of the processes performed there.

Image of a hosiery factory in an advertisement from 1885
image.jpg
 

Don Catts

Explorer
Aug 5, 2012
461
258
63
79
Indian Mills
I just got electric back today. I'll have to catch up with what has been going on later tonight.

Yes, Raleigh had several factories going in NJ, but his main operation was in Phila. Don't know if you are familiar with this map.

http://www.philageohistory.org/rdic-images/view-image.cfm/HGSv10.0923-924

I am sure the raw material for the hosiery factory came from one of his mills. It's possible they used waste cotton, it was right down the road from Atsion. They didn't reuse the waste cotton in the Phila mill either.
 
Last edited:

Tracker Jim

Scout
Dec 18, 2014
94
72
18
Leeds Point NJ
Last edited:

Tracker Jim

Scout
Dec 18, 2014
94
72
18
Leeds Point NJ
Don, and anyone who might have some input regarding this photo from the above collection.

Atsion 1906.jpg


The metadata has this as a description: "Deserted house at Atsion, N.J." -- "Lantern slide showing a river with a dilapidated house on the right bank. Two canoes pass with two rowers in each canoe. The branches of a fallen tree extend over the water next to the house. Contains MCM's stamp. Possibly Thomas C. Potts second from right (per 5/22/14 email in Morrris Collection folder)

In the background of this photo, I see a road and a possible spillway. Beyond that there appears to be a good deal of open sky that could indicate the location of the lake. If so, and if this photo is oriented correctly (mirrored), could this be the location of the Saw mill?
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Don Catts

Explorer
Aug 5, 2012
461
258
63
79
Indian Mills
Don, and anyone who might have some input regarding this photo from the above collection.

View attachment 6369

The metadata has this as a description: "Deserted house at Atsion, N.J." -- "Lantern slide showing a river with a dilapidated house on the right bank. Two canoes pass with two rowers in each canoe. The branches of a fallen tree extend over the water next to the house. Contains MCM's stamp. Possibly Thomas C. Potts second from right (per 5/22/14 email in Morrris Collection folder)

In the background of this photo, I see a road and a possible spillway. Beyond that there appears to be a good deal of open sky that could indicate the location of the lake. If so, and if this photo is oriented correctly (mirrored), could this be the location of the Saw mill?
Tracker-jim, these photos are great, Willy has a nice find here.
First they are not on the Atsion River as the title of the picture says, don't know why but they are canoeing in the mill race. Several of these pictures were taken on Atsion Lake. It looks like they were coming from Atsion Lake and went over the mill race spillway, maybe easier than going over the Atsion Lake Dam. Maybe it was standard procedure to use the race way when canoeing the Atsion in those days.

The dilapidated house (that is still there today, see attached map for description) is the mill race house or "RACE HOUSE". You are correct about the spillway, to the far left of the photo you can see part of the bridge on Route 39, a gravel road (Route 206 today) over the mill race spillway. To the right of the house, still on Route 39 you can see rail fence (guide rail if you will) approaching the Atsion Dam. The button wood on the other side of the house is still there today also.

Nice pictures, thank you for sharing, Don

Race House.jpg


IMG_7840.JPG
 

Don Catts

Explorer
Aug 5, 2012
461
258
63
79
Indian Mills
Don, and anyone who might have some input regarding this photo from the above collection.

View attachment 6369

The metadata has this as a description: "Deserted house at Atsion, N.J." -- "Lantern slide showing a river with a dilapidated house on the right bank. Two canoes pass with two rowers in each canoe. The branches of a fallen tree extend over the water next to the house. Contains MCM's stamp. Possibly Thomas C. Potts second from right (per 5/22/14 email in Morrris Collection folder)

In the background of this photo, I see a road and a possible spillway. Beyond that there appears to be a good deal of open sky that could indicate the location of the lake. If so, and if this photo is oriented correctly (mirrored), could this be the location of the Saw mill?
To Canoe the mill race they would have to go through the east wing of the cotton mill.
Upon reaching the wall of the east wing they would have to go under a red brick archway and travel 39 feet through the dark and empty wheel house and spreader room before emerging into sun light again. Must have been fun, maybe that's why the mill race was part of the Atsion River trip? Then a short paddle down the tail race to the Atsion River and they were on their way.
The water wheel was gone from the wheel house by now (1906) making the ride through the old mill easy, dark, and uneventful, that is unless you were lucky enough (or unlucky) to encounter the ghost of Johnny O'Dea in the darkness. Johnny's ghost was often seen in and around the old cotton mill before it burned down.
Old Sam Giberson saw him several times, the Etheridge girls also saw Johnny's ghost in the mill.

On many Saturday nights back to the 70's, after the Tumble Inn closed at 2:00AM we would go down to the old mill to look for Johnny O'Dea's ghost, just my luck, never saw anything but an empty old mill.

the race going through the east wing of the old mill
IMG_7890.JPG


the archway for the race going under the east wing of the mill. the race was dry in this later picture the water was cut off when they built of Route 206
Cotton Mill-002.jpg
 

Tracker Jim

Scout
Dec 18, 2014
94
72
18
Leeds Point NJ
To Canoe the mill race they would have to go through the east wing of the cotton mill.
Upon reaching the wall of the east wing they would have to go under a red brick archway and travel 39 feet through the dark and empty wheel house and spreader room before emerging into sun light again. Must have been fun, maybe that's why the mill race was part of the Atsion River trip? Then a short paddle down the tail race to the Atsion River and they were on their way.
The water wheel was gone from the wheel house by now (1906) making the ride through the old mill easy, dark, and uneventful, that is unless you were lucky enough (or unlucky) to encounter the ghost of Johnny O'Dea in the darkness. Johnny's ghost was often seen in and around the old cotton mill before it burned down.
Old Sam Giberson saw him several times, the Etheridge girls also saw Johnny's ghost in the mill.

On many Saturday nights back to the 70's, after the Tumble Inn closed at 2:00AM we would go down to the old mill to look for Johnny O'Dea's ghost, just my luck, never saw anything but an empty old mill.

the race going through the east wing of the old mill
View attachment 6389

the archway for the race going under the east wing of the mill. the race was dry in this later picture the water was cut off when they built of Route 206
View attachment 6390
Thanks Don. I thought, once reaching the mill, they just portaged over to the main channel, but passing through the building sounds like fun if it were possible.

I have a couple requests. 1. I would like to know more about the person/ghost of Johnny O'Dea; 2. Old Sam Giberson - any relation to the notorious fiddler? 3. Tell us more about the Tumble Inn and your experiences there.

Thank you for sharing all your knowledge Don Catts!
 

Don Catts

Explorer
Aug 5, 2012
461
258
63
79
Indian Mills
Thanks Don. I thought, once reaching the mill, they just portaged over to the main channel, but passing through the building sounds like fun if it were possible.

I have a couple requests. 1. I would like to know more about the person/ghost of Johnny O'Dea; 2. Old Sam Giberson - any relation to the notorious fiddler? 3. Tell us more about the Tumble Inn and your experiences there.

Thank you for sharing all your knowledge Don Catts!

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles season is over, back to "NJPB"

Yes, they could have walked around the mill but that would be a long walking with canoes. Wouldn't make much sense to use the mill race there would be more walking than paddling. Don't forget there was also a bridge between the Mill Race House and the Cotton Mill, although I think they could have duck under the bridge.
There aren't any pictures of the mill or their entrance into the Atsion River. I don't know what kind of camera she had, whether it was hand held or had to be set up on a tripod. But, it looks to me like she would take a picture whenever they had to get out of their canoes. However, I don't think they would have any problem canoeing under the mill in 1906, and I'll tell you why.
In 1973 when the historical society was formed Atsion was a hot topic. I would go down there look around I little and try to talk to the old folks that lived there, most were living down Dutchtown by then. At first they would not talk to me, (they were in their 70's and I was in my 20s) but it's funny how fast a six-pack or so can start a conversation. I soon became one of the gang. Wish I could have recorded everything they said, but I do remember Sam Giberson, who worked on roads and highways (retired), telling me as a young boy he played around the mill. At that time Wharton owned it and kept it locked up except you could get in the back room [first floor of the east wing] through the tunnel. He said there was nothing in there even the floor planks were taken up. You couldn't get to the second floor the staircase to the upper floors was in the main building and the door to the main building was metal secured from the inside. During the cranberry season the mill was open and he had the full run of the place. Sam said, there was water in the race until it was cut off when they built the highway [route 206] around 1931.
I was told by another person that the water wheel from the mill was made of chestnut, about 12 feet in diameter and that Grandfather Etheridge took it apart either for the wood or the scrap iron, maybe both I can't remember what she said.

I'll share what little I know about Johnny O'Dea, Sam Giberson and Tumble Inn at another time if you don't mind, right now I am bleeding Eagles Green.
thanks, Don
 

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,225
1,684
1,093
Pestletown, N.J.
You all will love this! This series of Photographs was recently brought to my attention my forum member Willy.

Let's take a trip back in time - back to May 18th, and 19th, 1906 and accompany this river party as they paddle down the Atsion Branch from Atsion.

http://lcpdams.librarycompany.org:8881/R/76DD5Y4SB99FIISGKYFTITTHMSBRK3X83RP3D1LHSS7C8IQ1LJ-00519
Fascinating is the only word I have for this thread.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed and I look forward to more !
 

Don Catts

Explorer
Aug 5, 2012
461
258
63
79
Indian Mills
Thanks Don. I thought, once reaching the mill, they just portaged over to the main channel, but passing through the building sounds like fun if it were possible.

I have a couple requests. 1. I would like to know more about the person/ghost of Johnny O'Dea; 2. Old Sam Giberson - any relation to the notorious fiddler? 3. Tell us more about the Tumble Inn and your experiences there.

Thank you for sharing all your knowledge Don Catts!

There are many stories of ghosts sightings at Atsion, in the mansion, many people saw ghosts dancing in the cemetery (and still do), but my two favorites are THE LADY ON THE DAM and THE GHOST OF JOHNNY O'DEA. I don't know when the lady on the dam was first seen, but Johnny was seen not long after his death in the cotton mill.

Maurice Raleigh opened his Cotton Mill at Atsion in the fall of 1872. At that time or shortly thereafter he brought in Johnny O'Dea to supervise and run the operation. The mill was so successful that Raleigh stated in his will that Johnny O"Dea was to continue running the mill, or maybe he just liked Johnny. However, that fondness was not shared by the workers.
An old friend of mine told me a story that was told to him by his aunt who worked at the mill when she was a very young girl. Everyone at the mill hated Johnny, it seems he liked his booze and was always drunk and yelling at the worker. Then one day Johnny took the elevator to one of the upper floors. When he returned to the elevator and stepped in it was not there and Johnny fell to his death.
Johnny, being an Irishman was given a wake, a traditional Irish wake. [For anyone not familiar with a traditional Irish wake, believe me this one sounds like an old time Irish wake].

The night of the wake the young girl's mother told her to stay home and don't go near O'Dea's house. [Well, the best way to get kids to do something is tell them not too]. Along about 10:00PM with the music playing and folks dance and O'Dea's house all lit up she decide to go peek in the window. The aunt said when she looked in she saw Johnny O'Dea propped up in the corner of the room with his pipe in his mouth and one of the men pouring whiskey in his mouth. [It's traditional for the departed to drink along with everyone else,I don't know about propped up in the corner though]. Boy the Irish know how to give you a send off.

Note: All the history books that say the mill closed when Maurice Raleigh died have to be rewritten to say the mill closed when Johnny O'Dea died, which is true.


As for old Sam Giberson you just had to know him, what a character, a good ole friend of mine, he was the definition of a real piney, if you like old pineys you would love Sam. He lived in Atsion all his life. He was a cousin to the Giberson's in Indian Mills. I asked them one time if they were related to the fiddler, they claimed they were but could not give me a connection, so Sam may be related in some way but not closely I don't think. Sam lived in the house across from the church [Gloucester County Stag Club], in 1942 he sold it to the Gloucester County Stag Club and moved to Dutchtown. The Gloucester County Stag Club has the oldest house in Atsion, as old as the Mill Race House and probably older.
The Tumble Inn, I just know the history and ownerships like everyone else. Just a local watering hole that all the farmers in the area went too. On rainy days when they could not get in the fields it was standing room only. When I moved to the area in 1971, I went in one Friday night, got that stranger look from everybody so a had a couple of beers and left not feeling to welcomed to Indian Mills. I went back the next night, Saturday night, thought maybe there would be a different crowd, but the same folks with that same stranger look. So I bought a round for the house. I got some reaction so a little later a bought again. Before I left I know everyone in the place and went from the stranger to the new guy. Today 45 years later, I am still the new guy, but one of the boys. I guess that's where I got the idea to take a six pack with me to Atsion to break the ice.

Doesn't "The Ghost of Johnny O'Dea" sound like it should be a ballad?
 
Apr 6, 2004
3,114
176
1,043
Galloway
We will have to get Gabe working on that ballad. What say you Gabe ?

Very tempting. I had trimmed 2 songs from the album, but perhaps I can write two more in their stead. This is a great story and even a great song title.

Don, can you tell us about The Lady on the Dam? That too would make a great title.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Don Catts

Tracker Jim

Scout
Dec 18, 2014
94
72
18
Leeds Point NJ
There are many stories of ghosts sightings at Atsion, in the mansion, many people saw ghosts dancing in the cemetery (and still do), but my two favorites are THE LADY ON THE DAM and THE GHOST OF JOHNNY O'DEA. I don't know when the lady on the dam was first seen, but Johnny was seen not long after his death in the cotton mill.

Maurice Raleigh opened his Cotton Mill at Atsion in the fall of 1872. At that time or shortly thereafter he brought in Johnny O'Dea to supervise and run the operation. The mill was so successful that Raleigh stated in his will that Johnny O"Dea was to continue running the mill, or maybe he just liked Johnny. However, that fondness was not shared by the workers.
An old friend of mine told me a story that was told to him by his aunt who worked at the mill when she was a very young girl. Everyone at the mill hated Johnny, it seems he liked his booze and was always drunk and yelling at the worker. Then one day Johnny took the elevator to one of the upper floors. When he returned to the elevator and stepped in it was not there and Johnny fell to his death.
Johnny, being an Irishman was given a wake, a traditional Irish wake. [For anyone not familiar with a traditional Irish wake, believe me this one sounds like an old time Irish wake].

The night of the wake the young girl's mother told her to stay home and don't go near O'Dea's house. [Well, the best way to get kids to do something is tell them not too]. Along about 10:00PM with the music playing and folks dance and O'Dea's house all lit up she decide to go peek in the window. The aunt said when she looked in she saw Johnny O'Dea propped up in the corner of the room with his pipe in his mouth and one of the men pouring whiskey in his mouth. [It's traditional for the departed to drink along with everyone else,I don't know about propped up in the corner though]. Boy the Irish know how to give you a send off.

Note: All the history books that say the mill closed when Maurice Raleigh died have to be rewritten to say the mill closed when Johnny O'Dea died, which is true.


As for old Sam Giberson you just had to know him, what a character, a good ole friend of mine, he was the definition of a real piney, if you like old pineys you would love Sam. He lived in Atsion all his life. He was a cousin to the Giberson's in Indian Mills. I asked them one time if they were related to the fiddler, they claimed they were but could not give me a connection, so Sam may be related in some way but not closely I don't think. Sam lived in the house across from the church [Gloucester County Stag Club], in 1942 he sold it to the Gloucester County Stag Club and moved to Dutchtown. The Gloucester County Stag Club has the oldest house in Atsion, as old as the Mill Race House and probably older.
The Tumble Inn, I just know the history and ownerships like everyone else. Just a local watering hole that all the farmers in the area went too. On rainy days when they could not get in the fields it was standing room only. When I moved to the area in 1971, I went in one Friday night, got that stranger look from everybody so a had a couple of beers and left not feeling to welcomed to Indian Mills. I went back the next night, Saturday night, thought maybe there would be a different crowd, but the same folks with that same stranger look. So I bought a round for the house. I got some reaction so a little later a bought again. Before I left I know everyone in the place and went from the stranger to the new guy. Today 45 years later, I am still the new guy, but one of the boys. I guess that's where I got the idea to take a six pack with me to Atsion to break the ice.

Doesn't "The Ghost of Johnny O'Dea" sound like it should be a ballad?
Don, all of this is really great! Thank you so much for taking the time to relate so much of your knowledge and experience with us!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Don Catts