Death Comes to Ten Mile Hollow

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
0
6
The former settlement of Ten Mile Hollow is about a mile from my house as the crow flies, and although I have lived in this location for almost 20 years, yesterday was the first time I visited the graveyard there.

Ten Mile Hollow must have been one of the hardest places to eke out a living in the pines. There is only the barest trickle of water running near it. In fact, the stream is usually dry, as it is right now. The closest appreciable stream is Cedar Creek, about a half mile away through the woods.

There are no abandoned fields or bogs, or any signs of former industry. There is only the graveyard, and it is the smallest, most desolate graveyard I ever saw. The stones are mostly gone, with only pieces remaining.

To get a sense of how austere this settlement was, the following portion of a letter (dated July 9, 1818) authored by botanist John Torrey is quoted in "Iron in the Pines"....

..."After we left Quaker bridge we fared pretty hard. Some places called taverns that we were put up at were not fit for an Arab. At a place called Ten Mile Hollow, or Hell Hollow, we expected to sleep in the woods, for it was with most difficulty that we persuaded them to take us in. This was the most miserable place we ever saw; they were too poor to use candles. No butter, sugar, etc. A little sour stuff which I believe they called rye bread, but which was half sawdust , and a little warm water and molasses were all we had for breakfast. For supper, I could not see what we had, for we ate in the dark"....(Pierce, 57).

The graveyard (deep in the woods at one end of a clearing with tall pines scattered about) is approximately 40 feet long by 15 feet wide. Somebody long ago had positioned the post from a street sign into the ground with a piece bolted on at a 90 degree angle near the top to form the shape of a Christian cross, and then painted the entire thing white. There are also the remnants of posts for a fence that has long rotted away.

As I stood there taking this scene in while the wind moaned through the tops of the pines, I couldn't help thinking about what kind of people they were that tried to tame this hardscrabble pine barren land into something good for them and their children. They must have been thinking that it may have been a mistake of their ancestors to come to this "New World".

Father Beck did some research into Ten Mile Hollow, and he himself came upon the same graveyard..."Once we found the grave of Zebulon Collins at Ten Mile Hollow..(and)..a childs grave was marked with some pieces of terra cotta, surrounded by the mounds of Brittons, Bransons, Pattons, Grants, and Hilliards...(Beck, 178).

There are descendants of the above hereabouts in Forked River, but I doubt there are many left who even know where the graveyard is. What a different world it is that we live in now, and think of how much has passed since they have been at peace underneath this small knoll in the woods; the Civil War, the Westward Expansion, the Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, World War 2, Vietnam,...and on and on.

Nothing like this kind of experience to highlight how short life is. And that is why I get the feeling that the former citizens of Ten Mile Hollow have been cheated out of something that could have been better, or (as I hear the cars whiz by on Dover Road), if only they had been born later.

As I turned to go, the wind picked up and whispered through the tops of the pine trees, carrying with it any secrets of this forlorn place deep in the pines.

Pierce, Arthur D. "Iron in the Pines" Rutgers University Press, 1957.

Beck, Henry Charlton "Jersey Genesis" Rutgers University Press, 1963.