“The Greatest Agricultural Colony on Earth” March 11, 2019

Spung-Man

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The Atlantic County Historical Society will present:

“The Greatest Agricultural Colony on Earth”: Daniel Risley, the Estelle Colony and the founding of three Atlantic County communities, by Samuel Avery-Quinn, PhD. Visiting Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

Free Admittance.

Monday, March 11, 2019, 6:30 PM.
Atlantic County Historical Society
907 Shore Road
Somers Point, NJ 08244

Sam grew up in South Vineland. The talk is based on his recently published paper:

Avery-Quinn. 2018, “The Greatest Agricultural Colony on Earth”: Landscape and Community Development of the Estelle Colony, Atlantic County, New Jersey, 1895–1910. Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. 85, 4: 488–529.

Abstract

In 1901 the Chancery Court of New Jersey heard arguments in one of the largest property lawsuits ever held in Atlantic County. The suit, filed by the Estell Family, alleged that Philadelphia businessman Daniel Risley had failed to repay mortgages held by the Estells on thousands of acres of pinelands along the Tuckahoe River. Risley had developed the lands as the Estelle Colony. The lawsuit opened a window onto the economic decline, real estate speculation, and demographic changes transforming the landscape of the southern New Jersey Pine Barrens. As the colony’s mostly immigrant residents struggled with building homes, farming the sandy pinelands soils, and filling a vacuum of governance with a unique example of a village improvement association, they transformed their landscape and crafted community identity out of hardship. The first years of their settlement present a significant story of placemaking in Philadelphia’s nearest wilderness.​

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Spung-Man

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Yes! Avery-Quinn has meticulously laid out the early "pioneer" lots of the Estelle Colony in his study. It's a complex story. Here's my take, in hopes of simplifying the story. Originally, about 20,000 acres of former Cumberland Furnace land was laid out in farm lots by Edward Randolph Wood, with Richland (first called Deerton—thanks Jerseyman) as its railroad center of place for the Cumberland Colony. It is my understanding that New Italy was part of that original venture. Later, Wood partnered with the Estell (Bourgeois) family by adding Walkers Forge and Aetna Furnace lands to begin a joint venture in anticipation of a planned Philadelphia & Seashore Railway (Winslow–Sea Isle City). After the Railway's 1891 bankruptcy the colony was passed off to Risley, who laid out five- and ten-acre lots to start Milmay, Dorothy, and Estell Manor. According to Avery-Quinn, Risley's brother, a self-taught civil engineer, was the surveyor.

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