Chairville

MikeBickerson

Explorer
Feb 8, 2004
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A few months ago, I bought myself a copy of Henry Bisbee's Sign Posts; place names in history of burlington county, n.j.

I've finally had a few minutes to myself thanks to the holiday weekend, and began to read this one. Despite the English teacher in me flipping out over the capitalization issues in the title, I have fallen in love with this book, and I'm only up to the Ds!

Have found some gems so far (like Black Run in Evesham actually being a corruption of the name Back Creek), but the name that has jumped out so far is Chairville, listed as being in Southampton, where the Prickett Chair Factory was located next to Chairville Mill Pond. The book also lists one of the graves there as marking the final resting spot of "A. Peacock, killed while making gunpoweder for Gen. Washington."

Anyone have any idea where the mill pond or that grave might be located (if they were still around)?

From Google Earth, it looks like Chairville must have been at least partially located in what is today Medford, as a school in town is named "Chairville" and there is a Chairville Road (near Prickett's Mill Road). Are these the same Chairvilles?

A google search came up with the information from the historic marker in Medford courtasy of westjerseyhistory.org:

Part of it -

By the 1840s a two-story turning mill with steam powered lathes was making legs, rungs and spindles from maple trees cut in the area. The chair parts were carted to Philadelphia to be assembled. Near the factory were owner John Prickett's farm, the worker's houses and two general stores. The chair parts factory burned down in 1874.
For the whole explanation on the sign -
http://www.westjerseyhistory.org/books/medsites/ - #53, have to scroll down until you see it.

Anyone know anything else about Chairville?

I can't imagine anything is left, but I might drive around there sometime this week and see if I can spot anything (other than the closed down gas station on Route 70 there).
 

46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
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The book also lists one of the graves there as marking the final resting spot of "A. Peacock, killed while making gunpoweder for Gen. Washington."

Anyone have any idea where the mill pond or that grave might be located (if they were still around)?
This may help.

PEACOCK, Adonijah, born Aug. 5, 1724, died 1777 by explosion while making powder for George Washington.

http://www.newhorizonsgenealogicalservices.com/new-jersey-genealogy/burlington-county/peacock_family_burying_ground_chairville_nj.htm

http://www.interment.net/data/us/nj/burlington/peacock/index.htm

http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.898592496621646&lng=-74.78839644466558&z=15&type=topo&gpx=

There are some humungus homes back in there.
 
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46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
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More info on Adonijah; the mill referred to appears to be a gunpowder mill;

http://revolutionarywarnewjersey.com/new_jersey_revolutionary_war_sites/towns/medford_nj_revolutionary_war_sites.htm

"The Taunton furnace supplied shot and shell to the Continental armies and Adonijah Peacock manufactured gunpowder for Washington's armies at his farm on what is now Branin Road. On January 20th, 1777, according to John Hunt's diary, Adonijah was killed when gunpowder he was drying in his kitchen exploded. Excerpts from Hunt's diary report "It was said that the roof of the house was blown off and very much shattered to pieces with the blast of the powder heard for ten miles around." Adonijah is buried in the Peacock graveyard in Chairville." - Medford Historical Society

Mill location;

http://www.colonialamerica.com/site/map.cfm?primary_site_key=25A4967B-A124-5853-E14953576D117058
 
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Mike:

Here is a brief history of Chairville, albeit with many research holes, I prepared for a friend last year:

A History of Chairville


Jonathan and Richard Haines constructed the first sawmill along the Little Creek branch of Haines Creek during the early part of the eighteenth century and they continued using the mill until 1730. Mssrs. Haines then sold the sawmill and attendant land and relocated their operations to the sawmill at Friendship, which they had established years before (Haines 1902:413). John Peacock reportedly sawed the first log at Friendship Mill in 1714. Peacock, born in Scotland during August 1698, was kidnapped while onboard a ship to entertain the sailors. When he awoke the following day, the ship had already set sail for America, where he remained (Peacock Genealogy). It appears Peacock, the sawyer at the Little Creek mill and the Friendship mill, acquired the Little Creek mill property after Haines & Company moved over to Friendship. His wife, the former Elizabeth Prickett, continued overseeing timber cutting at the Little Creek mill, based on a quote in the Haines book, which reads, “John Peacock was sawyer at Haines’ [Little] Creek Mill till Friendship Mill was built, then John was sawyer at Friendship, and his wife at Haines’ Creek Mill, and sawed more than John” (ibid.). The Little Creek mill reportedly burned several times during John’s lifetime. John Peacock died intestate during June 1759. Under the estate laws in effect at that time, his real property descended to his sons Adonijah and John Peacock Jr. The two brothers rebuilt the sawmill in 1761 and continued to operate it in partnership, even though they both had the primary occupation of blacksmith (Peacock Genealogy). Adonijah died in January 1777 when the gunpowder he was drying near the fireplace exploded. John Peacock Jr. died intestate during 1790. Without conducting title work, it is unclear who owned and operated the sawmill after the two Peacock brothers had both died, but Thomas Gordon’s 1828 map of New Jersey depicts the sawmill as “Prickets:”

Gordon 1828.jpg

Figure 1 Detail, Gordon, 1828

According to Burlington County local historian Nathaniel Ewan, John N. Prickett established the chair stuff factory in Chairville prior to 1844 (Cridland 1975:85). It is currently unclear exactly when he did establish it, but it certainly was before February 1843. In the 18 February 1843 edition of Philadelphia’s Public Ledger newspaper, the following advertisement appeared, offering the factory complex and equipment for sale:

Public Ledger ad.jpg

Figure 2Public Ledger 1843:1

Without conducting a full title chain for the property, it is unclear how Samuel Nicholson came to own the property, but the advertisement provides an excellent description of the manufactory. It appears Thomas Gaskill purchased the factory from Nicholson, as the 1850-51 publication, Kirkbride’s New Jersey Business Directory lists Gaskill as a “Chair Maker, Clairville [sic], near Medford” (Kirkbride 1850:134). The same volume also lists Gaskill as a sawmill operator (ibid. 1850:140).

The first map providing any detail of Chairville is a circa 1844 manuscript map of the proposed Coaxen Township, predecessor of Southampton Township, Burlington County:

coaxen map.jpg

Figure 3 Detail, Cosxen Township map, c.1844

Four years later, Otley and Whiteford published the first commercially printed map of Burlington County, which depicts Chairville, but provided very little cadastral information about the factory and village:

Otley and Whiteford 1849.jpg

Figure 4 Detail, Otley and Whiteford, 1849

Thomas Gaskill continued to operate the chair stuff factory until his death in July 1851 from bilious fever at age 67 (New Jersey Mirror 1851:3). It is unclear who operated the manufactory and sawmill after Gaskill’s death, but a check of the 1850, 1860, and 1870 Census of Manufactures non-population schedules would yield that information and much more about operations at the property.

In 1859, Parry, Sykes and Earl produced a new wall map of Burlington County, and, again it features a depiction of Chairville:

Parry, Sykes and Earl, 1859.jpg

Figure 5 Detail, Parry, Sykes and Earl, 1859

While nothing appears in Talbott and Blood’s 1866 New Jersey business directory, operations apparently continued unabated at Chairville until 25 March 1874, when the complex burned to the ground. The 3 April 1874 of Trenton’s Daily State Gazette carried the following squib: “The factory at Chairville, Burlington county, was burned to the ground, on the morning of the 25th ult. It is supposed to have been set on fire. There was no insurance except on part of the machinery which belonged to Frank Higel, and had lately been used in making button moulds” (Daily State Gazette 1874:2).

Local historian Nathaniel Ewan prepared the following about the Chairville factory:

Chair Stuff” by Nathaniel R. Ewan

Located on the eastern boundary of Medford Township at Route 70 is a small village whose name has lost its significance. Chairville in the nineteenth century was the site of a busy manufacturing establishment in which the turned part, such as the spindles, rungs, legs and backs of chairs and settees were produced. One may visit the spot now and find little evidence of its former prosperity. The village originated with building of the turning mill founded by John N. Prickett before 1844, who not only owned many of the workmen’s houses and one of the two general stores but also the adjoining farm property where he lived in the house still standing about one-quarter of a mile east on the road leading to Red Lion.

The product of the mill was known as “chair stuff,” and as maple wood was universally used for the purpose, the proximity of that timber in the nearby swamps of the pine section undoubtedly determined the location of the mill at this point. A number of small turning mills were operating during this period by various owners in other parts of Burlington County, but their output was negligible as compared with the Chairville factory.

The mill was operated by steam power and it seems that a certain Elwood Prickett, who was engineer for many years before and up to 1870, established an exceptional reputation for blowing the steam whistle very accurately and promptly at high noon, and this signal was accepted by everyone living with in hearing as absolute standard time, without question, and kept their time-pieces regulated accordingly. The boss sawyer was Ezra Peacock. The mill, a two-story frame structure with basement where the saw mill was located, was totally destroyed by fire on April 17th, 1874 [incorrect, please see information provided above].

No completed chairs were made at the Chairville plant, but the “stuff” was carted to a Philadelphia warehouse for distribution to the regular chair factories, where the turned parts were assembled with the seats and other flat or bent portions into finished furniture. Older residents of Medford yet recall the wagon loads passing through the town. (as quoted in Cridland 1975:85-86)

Within a year of the factory’s fiery destruction, the firm of Hinchman & Reeves had purchased the area around and including the mill pond for cranberry production, ending the original purpose for the pond. That partnership’s name is found at Chairville section of the Medford Township plate from the 1876 Scott atlas:

Scott 1876.jpg

Figure 6 Detail, Scott, 1876

While historians and antiquarians of past generations have conjectured that Chairville only produced chair parts or “stuff,” a recent review of census data suggests that Chairville did manufacture complete chairs for at least a portion of its history and performed custom work.

References:
Coaxen Township map
c.1844 Manuscript map. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Cridland, Margery
1975 “Earning a Living.” Published in Medford: Pioneering Township. Medford Township
Historical Society, Medford, New Jersey.

Daily State Gazette

1874 “State Items.” Published in the 25 March edition of the Daily State Gazette, microform edition. Daily State Gazette, Trenton, New Jersey.

Gordon, Thomas
1828 A Map of the State of New Jersey with part of the Adjoining States. Thomas Gordon, Trenton, New Jersey.

Haines, George and Richard Haines
1902 Ancestry of the Haines, Sharp, Collins, Wills, Gardiner, Prickitt, Eves, Evans, Moore, Troth, Borton and Engle families. S. Chew & Sons Company, Camden, New Jersey.

Kirkbride Jr., Stacy B.
1850 Kirkbride’s New Jersey Business Directory …. Stacy B. Kirkbride Jr., Trenton, New Jersey.

New Jersey Mirror
1851 “In Chairville ….” Published in the 17 July edition of the New Jersey Mirror, microform edition. New Jersey Mirror, Mount Holly, New Jersey.

Otley, J.W. and R.Whiteford
1849 Map of Burlington County. Smith & Wistar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Parry, Wm., Geo. Sykes and F.W. Earl
1859 New Map of Burlington County. R.K. Kuhn and J.D. Janney, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania].

Public Ledger
1843 “A Great Bargain.” Published in the 18 February edition of the Public Ledger, microform edition. Public Ledger, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ron Ritchie’s Peacock Genealogy:
1999 http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/r/i/t/Philip-Ronald-Ritchie/GENE8-0001.html accessed 6
March 2016.

Scott, J.D.
1876 Combination Atlas Map of Burlington County, New Jersey. J.D. Scott, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Talbott and Blood
1866 New Jersey State Business Directory for 1866. Talbott and Blood, [New York City, New York].

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
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Mike,

If you stand on Route 70 behind the dentist you can see the steep hills which more than likely were the mill pond. I suspect Route 70 goes right through where the dam was. Maybe even walking behind the cemetery would be productive.
 

MikeBickerson

Explorer
Feb 8, 2004
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Teegate ~ I'm pretty sure that the first rule of cemeteries is NOT to dig in them. :confused:

I'm going to try to get out there this week, I'll look for the high spots and see if I can take a walk around :) Thank you for sharing the pictures!

Jerseyman ~ Thank you! This is far more than I could have hoped for.

It never ceases to amaze me how much history can be packed into a forgotten little corner of a town.
 

MikeBickerson

Explorer
Feb 8, 2004
740
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Barringtonl, NJ
www.southjerseytrails.org
So a buddy and I took the older kid and went to check out Chairville today.



I can't believe how many times I've driven past this place.

Going into the cemetery, the graves are mostly in two large clumps, with a few scattered along the edges (some oddly close to the edges - why were these folks buried so far away from everyone else? Or were some graves lost over the years?)


Entering cemetery.


Clump to the right.


Clump to the left, which on average are older graves.


Adonijah Peacock grave... still in really good shape.


This one has sunk in quite a ways.


Grave of a young child there. This grave struck me as odd, as the child died in 1880. I can't remember seeing a grave of this style from so late, it looks like the type that should have been long out of style by 1880.

Behind the graveyard is a depression where Little Creek is.



We wandered down to Route 70 to check this out as well.



On the far side of the road, where the topo maps show a pond that looks a lot like the mill pond on the map -



There was definitely a drop in the land height on this side, but certainly no pond today.

Oddly, the other side of 70 (you can see the closed down gas station in this picture) looked like it had a much bigger drop.



This could just be from Rt 70 being constructed though.

So, I didn't really learn or work out anything, but it was still fun exploring!
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
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Jerseyman, was the sawmill at Friendship in the area of Tabernacle near the Bread and Cheese Run or all the way out by Alloway's Rock? I have always been confused by the two local Friendship.

Thanks,
Ed
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
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millville nj
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There is an old graveyard at Sheppards Mill near Greenwich that had a standing church till recently.The church was abandoned and I went in it and in a drawer of the pulpit was a phone book and a bunch of Polaroids all of black folks so I assume it was a black church.The tombstones outside some of them were actually in the ground right next to the foundation of the church,touching it actually.The church is gone now but the foundation and stones are still there. Aslo there is a small Catholic cemetery in a persons yard in Port Elizabeth that has many sunken stones like this one.Many just the tops are protruding.You can visit it but the cemetery actually sits in a persons yard.
 
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Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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Jerseyman, MikeBickerson, great stuff. Is there any record of a “little mill” on Little Creek? This creek’s length really isn’t that short. Uncle Budd suggested that the old meaning of the term “little” had more to do with water-storage duration than mill size. The concept was that a little mill lacked a continuous head of water needed to operate full time (despite Nicholson’s advertising claim of a continuous supply of water). Smith’s Little Mill at Weymouth is a good example of this, where Smith’s New Mill relocated for better head. In Smith's case the original Little Mill pond was dammed by a pure sand dune levee that probably leaked like a sieve.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, one meaning of little is “In predicative use with of. Having the quality or performing the action specified to a slight extent only.”

On the Cosxen Township (c.1844) map I also like the old spelling of Myrey Run for Mirey Run, which means swampy or boggy ground.

Just testing out a possible meaning for the toponym. Chairville made chair components. Sandtown is in a sand deposit. Myrey Run is boggy. What makes Little Creek little?

S-M