Walkers Forge Mansion

buckykattnj

Scout
Feb 22, 2010
39
6
Atlantic County At-Large
I've spent the 18 or so years out of the South Jersey history business. I used to be fairly well read up, from spending hours at the Atlantic County Libraries trying to learn everything about everything concerning local history. Exhausting the resources at the time, in the library and my wallet, the interest faded, and there was real life to deal with. It was only recently that I've noticed that a critical mass of local history information seems to be available online, so I'm really excited to join the NJPB website, and hopefully will be able to contribute, and at a minimum learn more.

That said, I have a new thoughts about some distance memories, the first being: What happened to the Walker's Forge Mansion? Shortly after the Mays Landing McD's renovated in the early '90s, they had some great historic art on the walls, and seeing the Mansion, I thought... uh, I think I know where that is. Sure enough, I drove past it in the dark sometime later.

Me and my friends decided to investigate it further during the light, and months later when we made some time and showed up, it was gone!

My memories of the condition of the property were that it wasn't in the most dire of shape... so why was it suddenly torn down? I also wonder exactly when it was torn down, because my memories of the time frame are very blurry... and sometimes I wonder if my memory was playing tricks on me...

Thanks in advance.
 

buckykattnj

Scout
Feb 22, 2010
39
6
Atlantic County At-Large
Welcome to the site Bucky. You've got me interested, since I live near Walkers Forge but have never heard of the mansion (I moved to the area 4 years ago). Are you familiar with the NJPB LiveMaps? Where was the mansion located? http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.440335990328414&lng=-74.75473165512085&z=16&type=nj1930&gpx=


The mansion was at the southern terminus of Walkers Forge road... at Rt. 50. In the map link you posted, follow the road to Rt 50, and the map is marked Estellville. The house is just above and towards the left of the T in Estellville.

Of course, from my memory, the road is not very passable between the forge and the mansion. In fact, the road, which was quite long once, is now just a few short sections... I've followed the road all the way up to 559.

Its funny, I haven't driven down 40 Wire Rd or that section of Walkers Forge Road in years. I had recalled that someone was going to develop the area where the forge was... so back in the early '90s, we tried pretty hard to find it. Barely found more that a few rocks, so I'm unsure if I looked in the wrong place or if its just completely gone. Very soggy back there, IIRC. Nice to see that the area where the forge likely was is still undeveloped.
 

turtle

Explorer
Feb 4, 2009
651
204
a village...in the pines
Walker's Forge Mansion

Hi Buck and welcome.....
This is the answer as it was told to me by a friend who works at Estell Manor.....
About 1/4 mile south of the entrance to Estell Manor Park is a large mansion/house on the left side referred to as the Estell Manor Mansion. Directly across the street is Walker's Forge Road. Travelling south on Rt. 50, turn right onto Walker's Forge Rd. and then almost immediately look to your left you would be looking at the pile of rubble that was once the WF Mansion. However, the WF mansion was actually the orginal Estell Manor House I am told. The location is now a private game preserve and the whole property is fenced in. The house burned to the ground 10+ years ago. Boyd, it was located here:

http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.39596003628939&lng=-74.74777936935425&z=16&type=topo&gpx=

No knowledge of what became of the contents.....sorry.

Turtle
 

buckykattnj

Scout
Feb 22, 2010
39
6
Atlantic County At-Large
The location is now a private game preserve and the whole property is fenced in. The house burned to the ground 10+ years ago. Boyd, it was located here:

Turtle

I could believe that is burned... I'm just surprised I didn't read it in the papers back then.

Private game preserve, thats funny... its marked QFARM in the Atlantic County GIS. Permanent Pasture, I guess...
 

Boyd

Administrator
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
8,608
2,135
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Ah, yes I am familiar with that place - I live just down the road... didn't make the connection since Walkers Forge is north of there. There is rubble visible there, but I would have guessed it the house had been gone for more than 10 years since it's pretty overgrown. It is mentioned in the book "Atlantic County Ghost Stories": http://www.amazon.com/Atlantic-Coun...068370-5302554?ie=UTF8&qid=1183226181&sr=11-1

I posted this quote here before. There was more, but now I can't find the #$@& book.

"Over at the Daniel Estell House, which we refer to as 'the mansion,'" John Hansen said, "people have also reported ghostly sightings. Apparently Daniel's wife, Rebecca, walks on the third floor of that place. She died at an early age."

The tax map says it is 2,795 acres owned by Lenape Farms c/o Frank Burns in Leeds Point. I think it is part of the Estell Manor Game Preserve - there are signs posted along the road. It's a huge piece of land - I found this: http://www.scottsbt.com/hunting/huntmisc/clubs.htm

The Game Preserve Of Estell Manor
Meeting Location: Club House
Address: Steelman Landing Road
Estell Manor, NJ 08319
Contact Name: Jack Quinlan (856) 691- 8639
Contact Name: Frank Elbertson (609) 412-2966
Website: -N/A-
Information: South Jersey premier hunting club is looking for a few new members. 4700 acres, clubhouse, trap, skeet and 5 stand shooting, rifle and archery ranges, great fishing and outstanding deer hunting. Commercial license allowing pheasant and quail hunting on Sundays. Membership options to fit every budget. Located just south of Mays Landing, NJ.
 

Chrisr

Explorer
Sep 14, 2008
295
2
Cinnaminson, NJ
Great Thread!!!! I drive past these locations on my way to the shore every weekend!!! Since joining the site, I'm making it point to stop in at Estell Manor Park, and do a little exploring. Bucky - The photos in Mickey D's that you mentioned are still there, I believe. I stopped in there on my way to the firefighters convention in Wildwood back in September and did see the pics. I always stop in that Mickey D's on the way to the shore for a burger!!!
 

Boyd

Administrator
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
8,608
2,135
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Revisiting this thread... I just got another copy of the Atlantic County Ghost Stories book. From page 36:

Across from the old Daniel Estell house, at the intersectioin of Walkers Forge Road and Route 50, a mound of rocky rubble rises beyond a rickety fence with ancient "No Trespassing" signs dangling from it. It is all that remains of yet another Estell family mansion.
_______________________________________

It is impossible to ignore the impact the Estell family had on Weymouth Township's history. They maintained several handsome homes, owned much land, and made many ethereal imprints on it.

One was in the old mansion that is now rubble at Route 50 and Walkers Forge Road.

"The story is that there was a little girl who lived there and drowned in the lake that was on the property. It was her ghost that resided there," Bonnie said as she recalled several adolescent adventures she and many others had there.

"When I was young, the house was still standing and was used as a hunting lodge in hunting season. Most other times, you could get in the house and it was kind of spooky. We would say we'd go there and stay overnight, but we never did because it was so scary."

Kind of a fun book (ISBN 1-880683-17-2), and part of a series on different NJ Ghost stories. I think I must have loaned my old copy to somebody who never returned it. But I found another at Bay Antiques on Main Street in Barnegat, and the owner told me that her shop was also mentioned in another of the series. She said she had two resident ghosts. :)
 
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Bonnie Gandy

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Apr 25, 2014
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Can someone please help me, I'm looking for an email address or phone number for whomever either caretaker or owner or historic society that is able to make decisions on behalf of the mansion . I am the founder of our paranormal group here in cape may county NJ Midnight Whispers Paranormal Investigators / M.W.P.EVENTS both pages you can check out on facebook... we would like permission to host a paranormal event there which would benefit both our group and the mansion... we also understand theres talk of reopening the place as a museum... we would also like to be the representing paranormal group once opened I feel we could both promote attention once its opened for business , but also attention for us ... I hope someone reading this would know who to speak to or could even better pass this on to whom I need to speak with Thank you for any help you may have in advance please contact my email
 

Bonnie Gandy

New Member
Apr 25, 2014
2
0
and apparently I need someone to like my profile and I need to figure out how to like two others before I can leave a link to my email im gonna try to type it so it doesn't look like an email lol... Gandy Bonnie 1 at google all lowercase
 

Boyd

Administrator
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
8,608
2,135
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Aren't these the ruins described in my post above? That property is part of the new Lenape Farms Wildlife Management Area now. You can enter the WMA there and park right across from the ruins. I believe this dot on the map is the location:

http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.395956379327814&lng=-74.74773235591886&z=15&type=topo&gpx=

Or maybe you're talking about a different place?

<EDIT> Haha, just read the earlier part of this thread again, and Turtle already posted the same information and same map link back in 2010. :) The private game preserve she mentioned was purchased by the State a little over a year ago and is now open to the public as the Lenape Farms WMA.
 

GermanG

Piney
Apr 2, 2005
1,081
392
Little Egg Harbor
OK, I had to resuscitate this thread one more time, since I'm still a bit hazy on the Walker mansion. The ruins at the southern terminus of Walker Forge Road (not the structure still standing on the opposite side of Rt. 50, currently being converted into a veterans museum) which have been referred to in the past here and on other sites as the Lewis Walker mansion are actually those of a house built by John Estell Jr., as indicated by Turtle above and by the sign erected in front of the ruins which I viewed yesterday. But within the park nature center is one of a series of wooden plaques with historic images on them showing what appears to be the very same structure, labeled as the Walker mansion. I should have taken a cell phone photo of that image, but it seemed to also match the images of the Walker mansion I've seen elsewhere, including on the the Historic American Building Survey site.

So, was this a mistake of assumption due to the structure being located on "Walkers Forge Road", even if somewhat of a distance from the forge? If so, was there actually a similar or even dissimilar looking structure located in the vicinity which Walker did build or live in?
 

buckykattnj

Scout
Feb 22, 2010
39
6
Atlantic County At-Large
As far as I know, its the same house. Many famous old houses end up going by more than one name, especially if multiple well known historical figures were involved.

To me, it will always be the Walker Manson, as that's what I first saw it labelled as... and because I approached SJ history from the perspective of the forges and furnaces and their influence... though I never did find Walker Forge.

Interestingly, Walker's Forge Rd is quite long... today, only the southern end is labelled as such... but the road continues north... becomes part of Forty Wire Rd for a short bit, cuts across RT40 and Bear's Head Rd where Avenue Of The Pines is and continues north until it ends on County 559 Weymouth Rd. a little north of its crossing Mare Run.
The path is pretty easy to follow, except between Cedar Branch and the WJSS ROW.

BKNJ
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
941
603
63
Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
The house burned down some years ago and the property owner salvaged the ironstone to build a house up along the eastern shore of Lake Lenape by Dry Run. I've marked the Walker Mansion site (white arrow) in the figure below. Monroe Forge is also known as Walkers Forge, not to be confused with the old Black settlement of Walkers Ford (red arrow) on Post Road (a.k.a. Cohansey or South River trail) at the intersection of a trail north to the Old Baker Place livery (blue arrow). The old paths still show up on the c.1931 aerial photomosaics. The South River was forded and Mare Run was crossed at Dan's Bridge. The A. Phifer Place on the Baker trail I believe is the very old Simpkins Place maybe going back to the Iliff plantation (1730s?). Simpkins were among c.1630s Town Bank settlers. The early history of the Bears Head area (head pond or spung of Bear Branch) is sketchy but put out here for discussion.

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 4.33.23 PM.png

Beers, F.W., 1872: Topographic Map of Atlantic County, New Jersey, from recent and actual surveys. New York: Beers, Comstock & Cline. 1 sheet.


S-M
 
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