Speedwell

johnnyb

Explorer
Feb 22, 2013
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Searched this site, how did Speedwell get it's (strange) name? Someones's surmame?
 

Oriental

Explorer
Apr 21, 2005
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Often furnace and forge sites were named after a different iron works in another state (or country for that matter). Though there were several Speedwell Furnaces (one in Virginia and one in North Carolina) it would seem that a sawmill site along the Wading River was possessed of the name Speedwell prior to a furnace being built there in the middle of the 1780s. Incidentally, the notion that Benjamin Randolph actually constructed the furnace at Speedwell may be erroneous. Certainly Randolph operated the sawmill prior to the furnace being built and he did in fact become "ironmaster" at Speedwell for several years before his death in the early 1790s. However, the furnace seems to have been built by two partners who may have been leasing the property from Randolph at the time.
 

Ben Ruset

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Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
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Monmouth County
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I can't find anything to explain why Benjamin Randolph picked the name Speedwell. There were several ships named Speedwell - including one that was supposed to accompany the Mayflower - that brought settlers from England to New England. I'm not sure why Benjamin Randolph would name his sawmill after a fairly obscure set of ships.

Speedwell is also one of several members of the Veronica species of plants.

Germander_speedwell_flower.jpg veronica_longifolia_2.jpg
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
2,861
993
I have a copy Ben. Named after a wildflower, Veronica virginica. Sawmill and iron furnace of Benjamin Randolph, 1760.
This is a really nice book. I got it at the Shamong Diner for $20. They have quite a selection.
BTW the roads are very passable here.
 

ecampbell

Piney
Jan 2, 2003
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I looked googled plant and speedwell, the names are apparently related but not native to the PB's. Botanists want to chip in?
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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Unless there is actual writing somewhere from that era where it is mentioned how the town got it's name, I would not believe it.
 
Unless there is actual writing somewhere from that era where it is mentioned how the town got it's name, I would not believe it.

You are so right, Guy! Virtually all of the more recent books on the Pine Barrens are a regurgitation of previous works and most of the modern authors do not possess the necessary discernment to sort out what is correct and what is not within the older texts. God forbid these same authors should do some original research to find new information and to verify the accuracy of what past historians have written!

I read through the sections of texts related to Speedwell in Ghost Towns and Quirky Places and it is rift with the errors promulgated by previous authors. As Oriental suggested in his post above, the story at Speedwell is more complicated than that presented by most authors, including Boyer. Regarding the name of Speedwell, in a review of John Harshberger's text, I could not find a single species of the Veronica genus native to the Pines, let alone Veronica virginica. Perhaps other members here have more comprehensive works on Pine Barrens botany that contains some species of Veronica. If so, please let me know.

Compounding the errors repeated in a number of these modern books, some of the volumes provide explicit directions to extremely fragile cultural sites in the Pine Barrens. If you combine these directions with the WNJ crowd, paint ballers, and idiots determined to perform acts of vandalism, you have a recipe for irrecoverable loss, with many cultural sites disappearing before our eyes. I don't have to recount to anyone here what has occurred at Brooskbrae.

Modern authors may hold egalitarian and possibly a naive view of other people, but time and again, enough folks have proven they cannot be trusted to do the right thing relative to the Pines.

I have pulled my files on Speedwell and hope to post a story about it in the near future.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
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A cursory internet search isn't showing any holdings of Randolph's diaries or other personal papers. I have a hard time believing that it doesn't exist though.

Ben:

The Winterthur Museum holds a small collection of Randolph papers because of his work as a fine furniture maker. I believe the Historical Society of Pennsylvania also holds one or two items from Randolph in their manuscripts, but Winterthur holds the better collection, particularly as it relates to Speedwell. There are deeds and surveys available elsewhere, if someone knows how to identify them and what repository holds them. It is, no doubt, a paper chase, but I am up to the challenge and I hope to add many of the missing pieces to my file in the near future, allowing me write the correct account of Speedwell.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
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Pines; Bamber area
Although likely not native to the pines, Veronica could easily have been at Speedwell early on since it is weedy, and likes disturbed/cultivated ground. It came in with the people.
 

oji

Piney
Jan 25, 2008
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Browns Mills
Witmer Stones The Plants of Southern N.J. has Veronica peregrina occuring in Landisville in the Pine Barrens and considered a weedy plant growing in disturbed areas. He also has Veronica virginica as a synonym of Leptandra virginica but with a common name of Culvers Root, not Speedwell.
 
Although likely not native to the pines, Veronica could easily have been at Speedwell early on since it is weedy, and likes disturbed/cultivated ground. It came in with the people.

I'm sure such accidental (invasive) propagation occurred, Bob, but the area we now know as Speedwell was not surveyed until 1760 and likely few if any people lived there or nearby prior to that time. So, how quickly could Veronica spread in the preceding 80 years from some distance or in the subsequent 15-20 years after settlers did arrive there?

Thanks, Tom! I have the book but forgot to check it.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
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