Searching for New Columbia History

Tom Rizzo

New Member
Oct 7, 2015
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Camden, N.J.
I'd like to first say how happy I am to have found this site, and to be a new member.

Having lived in Nesco since 1987, until finally wishing to get serious about, and having the motivation to research the history of this village, many of our older residents have died, leaving me with a feeling of having missed my chance. Even though that is a reality, the opportunity to learn and discover the history is still quite present.

For the last month, I have spent hours each day searching the web, libraries, talking to a few neighbors and getting out to hike, bike and explore the area. My focus is Nesco and it's history, especially the history before the village was called Nesco. I still have to find out when and why the name was changed from New Columbia to Nesco, and am slowly wading through sources toward that particular goal.

Earlier, while reading one of the forums here, I realized that the question in my mind - "why on some of the early maps is New Columbia missing," was answered by the fact that it just did not exist by that name prior to 1845, when Jesse Richards and James M. Brookfield built New Columbia Glass Works. I have found two other references though: the possibility that it was known as Indian Mill, and also Wescoat's Neck. Does anyone have information concerning these last two names? I have yet to find a map that gives a name to Nesco, prior to it being called New Columbia.
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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You have come to the right place. That is if Jerseyman sees this thread. So lets sit back and see what happens.
 

Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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loki.stockton.edu
T.R..

Scots settled Nesco at the site of an Indian camp in 1707 (Green ca. 1920s?: 4–5). Green's account of the area is a pretty good start fore anyone who hasn't already read it. Has this been reprinted? If not, maybe we can get Jerseyman to reprint it through the South Jersey Culture and History Center at Stockton University. It is interesting to note that numerous Indian trails converge there:


This village was likely named for the spungs present, as this aboriginal name roughly translates to “wet, grassy, and muddy” (Becker 1964: 48). This was home to the geologist Peter Wolfe who first proposed that the Pine Barrens was affected by Pleistocene permafrost (Wolfe 1952; 1953), evidenced by the existence of spungs.

Also check out the Clement maps:


Old notes indicate these might be useful maps: Volume 3:4 (Desolation Pond to Westcoat); Volume 3:5 (Long Meadow Branch = Hammonton Branch, maybe savannah?); Volume 3:70 (SW Hammonton); Volume 3:74 (Coffin Hammonton); Volume 6:1 (Hammonton, but faint); Volume 6:21 (Collins Hammonton); Volume 6:66 (Westcoat house).


Becker, D.W., 1964: Indian Place Names in New Jersey. Cedar Grove, NJ: Phillips-Campbell Publishing. 111 pp.

Green, C.F., ca. 1920s?: A Place of Olden Days, Nescochague, Sweetwater, Pleasant Mills: a Historical Sketch. Hammonton: Hammonton Printing. 32 pp.

Wolfe, P.E., 1952: Periglacial frost-thaw basins in New Jersey (USA). abstract and discussion by Tj. van Andel. In International Geological Congress, Congrès Géologique International, XIXe session- livrets guides des excursions au Maroc. Algiers, Algeria: f.15.

Wolfe, P.E., 1953: Periglacial frost-thaw basins in New Jersey. Journal of Geology. 61: 133-141.

S-M
 
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Tom Rizzo:

It appears Spung-Man has way more time available than I do, given his recent presence on these forums! ;)

While I am a bit late to the dance here, I can tell you that Richards and Brookfield named the glasshouse New Columbia in deference to the older Columbia Glass Works up on the Delaware River near the Delaware Water Gap. As Spung-Man alluded to above with his reference to Charles F. Green's pamphlet, Nesco is a shortened version of Nescochague, the name of the creek and, likely, an areal indigenous name, or at least one assigned by the early Europeans. At least two generations of Daniel Wescoats resided in the area of Nesco, with senior a resident of "Wescoatville," located where Columbia Road intersects with Nesco Road. Daniel Junior's birthplace is listed as "Wescoat's Neck," which, I suspect is located proximate to Hammonton Creek, although this is purely conjecture on my part.

The Green pamphlet has seen several reprinting, and I think I have all of the editions in my library. You can access John Clement's Maps & Draughts at the Gloucester County Historical Society, or, if interested, you can PM me and I would be happy to give you access to my set of Clement microfilms.

I wish you success in your research endeavors. If I can be of assistance, feel free to PM me.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
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GermanG

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Apr 2, 2005
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Little Egg Harbor
I viewed most of those graves today while visiting the Batsto-Pleasant Mills Cemetery, not to mention quite a few "Westcott" graves. I wonder if they are a totally different family or another example of creative South Jersey name spelling ;). I also found what I was looking for, the grave of Fred Brown.
 
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GermanG

Piney
Apr 2, 2005
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Little Egg Harbor
How did you track that down? Wonder why he did not end up in Jenkins Neck or Chatsworth? Any clue?
Someone (I can't recall who) told me years ago that he was buried there. I couldn't locate him on the Find A Grave list of interments for that cemetery and didn't give it much more thought until recently. While visiting the site today with a few friends I used my favored "boots on the ground" search method and was thrilled to be successful. Emil's grave was beside Fred's so I know it was the right one. I have no idea why he was buried there rather than closer to home.
 

Tom Rizzo

New Member
Oct 7, 2015
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Camden, N.J.
Good Morning,

Thank each of you for your kind input into my search, and congratulations on finding the grave site.

When I first came across a reference to Green's booklet, I was fired up to find and read it, thinking that my questions would be answered, only to find that the book is mostly about Pleasant Mills. Pleasant Mills is close to Nesco, but at the time of the great activity at "The Forks," was in Burlington, while the area of Nesco was in Old Gloucester Township.

I'm going to have to do some digging to find out the construction dates for the oldest Nesco homes located along the Pleasant Mills Road. I'm thinking that they were built prior to the construction of the New Columbia Glass Works, but have read that those who lived in the homes, worked in the glass works. Was the hamlet already in existence prior to the glass works, or at the same time? We do know that the Indian Mills Tavern, existed long before the glass works. I have no proof yet, but am of the opinion that at least a few of the homes belonged to people who were in business, and wealthier? Perhaps some of the heavies at The Forks, in business with the Richards, lived in them?

Also, there are those who might confuse the location of Wescoatville with New Columbia. There are two Columbia Roads. One of them is known as Old Columbia Road, and is closer to Hammonton. It leads from Pleasant Mills Rd (rt. 542) out to rt. 206. This is the area where Wescoatville was located. New Columbia and its glass works, were located across from the Indian Mills tavern, a couple of miles east of Wescoatville, at the intersection of Columbia Road and Pleasant Mills Rd. That Columbia road leads to Elwood. While at the end of September glass bottle and antique show at Batsto, I met a Mr. Wescoat and his son. During our conversation, the father said that Wescoatville and Old Columbia were the same place, but they were not.

It's a new day, and I'm wondering what I might find today?