As we wander around our beautiful town of homes in search of historically interesting buildings or places, let us not overlook our Town Hall the front half of which was erected in 1812. We do not, as a rule, call the attention of “the stranger within our gates” to this unpretentious home of our Town Fathers, yet in its day and generation it was considered a credit to the community. Dr. Joseph Stokes of Moorestown has the original account book of the Commissioners who had charge of building the Town Hall, showing that the lot was purchased from Thomas Hooton for One Hundred and Thirty-eight Dollars and that the entire cost of the original building was approximately Fifteen Hundred Dollars. His ancestor, Dr. John H. Stokes, a member of the Commission, had charge of the disbursement of the fund.
Moorestown has a number of fine old colonial homes most of which were built in the early days of the Nineteenth Century or during the latter part of the Eighteenth. The attractive old frame house, for many years the residence of Mrs. Mary W. Sumner, which was torn down in 1926 when, the Community House, the splendid gift of Eldridge Reeves Johnson to the people of Moorestown, was erected, was built by Thomas Ewing of Philadelphia in 1804. Thomas Ewing also laid out the interesting old garden in the rear. Fortunately—thanks to the foresight and enterprise of the Women's Garden Club—this quaint and attractive old English garden has been preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. The paths bordered by hedges of Boxwood and the beds of old fashioned flowers suggest, perhaps more than any other spot in Moorestown, the days of our grandparents.
The fine old brick mansion next to the Community House on the east formerly the home of Edward Harris, Jr., was
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built in 1820 by Charles French, a direct descendant of Thomas French, who settled in West Moorestown in 1694. Charles French died in 1834 leaving his widow a life tenancy in the property and at her death in 1845 it passed into the hands of Edward Harris, Jr. It is now the Friends Home, a delightful retreat for those who have passed the meridian of life and do not care to be cumbered with the cares of housekeeping or business. The small brick houses adjoining the Friends Home are supposed to have been built by Edward Harris, Jr.
The beautiful colonial home located at 245 East Main Street, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. J. Whitall Nicholson, stands on the original tract purchased by Nehemiah Haines in 1741. The eastern portion of the house was built by John Haines, grandson of Nehemiah in about 1700. The original house was quite small, apparently being not more than one room in width as indicated by the wall separating the hail from the library on the east. This is a solid brick wall and evidently at one time was an outside wall. The house was enlarged by Dr. Spencer who purchased the property in 1818 and also enlarged and greatly improved by the present owner. It is not definitely known where Nehemiah Haines’ first home which was supposed to have been built of logs was located. The farm extended westward to Chester Avenue and his son, Ephraim, who inherited the property built a stone house at the northeast corner of Main and Chestnut Streets a little in the rear of the residence of the late Henry Perkins. When the present road to Mount Laurel was laid out in 1796, the record of the survey read “starting at King’s Highway from a stake in front of John Haines’ (son of Ephraim Haines) stone house.” The Nicholson home with its large and beautiful lawn is one of the most attractive in Moorestown.
The attractive little brick house located at 404 East Main Street, now owned by E. Leslie Nicholson, was erected in about 1800 by Asher W. Stokes, grandfather of our towns
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man, Harry T. Makin. The interior as well as the exterior of this artistic little home is quaint and attractive.
We will now leave Main Street for the moment and wander out Chester Avenue. The railroad station erected in 1867 gently reminds us of the time when Moorestown was a country village. Just before reaching the Field Club grounds we will find two of the most attractive colonial homes in this locality. The residence of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph L. Freeman, 607 Chester Avenue, was built by Samuel Stokes, great great grandfather of Dr. Joseph Stokes of Moorestown in 1753. He was the father of Dr. John Hinchman Stokes who began the practice of medicine in Moorestown in 1786. Dr. Stokes was the first physician in Burlington County to accept Jenner's theory of vaccination and was so confident of its efficacy that he inoculated his little daughter Hannah and laid her on the bed with one of his smallpox patients in order to convince his skeptical friends and patients. He must have been a man of remarkably strong character to be willing to risk the life of his child in order that others might be saved. It is interesting to remember that we have been cared for by a Dr. Stokes since 1786 with the exception of an interval of ten or twelve years when Dr. John H. Stokes, Jr. was too young to practice. Dr. S. Emlen Stokes, son of “Dr. Joe” as he is affectionately called by his friends now a practicing physician in Moorestown has two sons, therefore, let us hope the succession will continue.
The beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Brown which is located almost directly opposite the Freeman homestead, was erected by George M. Haverstick in about 1845. It shares with the Freeman and Nicholson homesteads the honor of being one of the most attractive old homes in Moorestown. Many of us remember it as the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Henry W. Doughten and prior to that as the residence of Mrs. Doughten's father, Theodore Chamberlain. The fine old trees in the front lawn, some of which may have stood in the primeval forest are espe
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cially interesting and attractive. These beautiful old colonial homes were originally plain farmhouses which have been greatly enlarged and improved by their later owners. The spacious and splendidly kept lawns and gardens give a most attractive setting to the homesteads all of which have retained the beautiful simplicity of “ye olden times.”
“Here's Home Farm” the home of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Rhoads on Riverton Road a little north of Moorestown, is one of the most attractive old country homes in this part of the County. The homestead which has been greatly improved by the present owner was built by Jonathan Williams in about 1855. The house sets back from the street probably a quarter of a mile and the front lawn comprising many acres as well as the beautiful trees and shrubbery surrounding it, gives the homestead an especially attractive setting.
The house now standing on the south side of Main Street next to the Friends’ eastern Meeting House was the home and shop of Morgan Hollinshead, one of the famous clockmakers of that name. The Hollinshead grandfather clocks are cherished heirlooms in many Burlington County homes and perhaps a brief account of them will not be out of place in this sketch. Fortunately the name and location of the maker appears on the dial of the Hollinshead clocks. Morgan and his son George, who settled in Woodstown, usually numbered their clocks and as the date of their marriage is known it is comparatively easy to approximate the time when each individual clock was made by the number on the dial. The following list of Hollinshead clock makers includes all that I have thus far discovered. It is interesting to note that they are all direct descendants of John and Grace Hollinshead, who settled on the south side of Rancocas Creek about 1680. Hugh, Morgan, Jacob and John were first cousins.
JOSEPH HOLLINSHEAD—Burlington, N. J., son of John and Agnes Hackney Hollinshead and grandson of John and Grace. He married Sarah Pearson, daughter of Isaac Pear
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son, the famous clock maker of Burlington in 1740 and doubtless began his career as a clock maker at that time or shortly afterwards. Charles Evans of Westfield has a fine specimen of his handiwork. It is made with a square face and brass dial which indicates its antiquity. Joseph was probably the first of the family to manufacture clocks.
JOHN HOLLINSHEAD—Burlington, N. J., probably the son of Joseph and Martha Howell, his second wife. William E. Schermerhorn, the author of The History of Burlington, published in 1927, informed me that the clock in the old Court House, erected in 1794, was built by John Hollinshead. J. Howard Mickle of Moorestown has a clock made by him which doubtless was made early in his career as it has a brass dial. The name John Hollinshead, Burlington, appears on a circular brass plate in the lunette. Mrs. Mary E. G. Linton of Moorestown also has a very handsome John Hollinshead clock. It is made with a white enamel dial and his name appears on the lower part of same. There was another John Hollinshead, the fourth in line from the original settler, who lived during the same period but I am convinced he was not the clock maker as he settled on a plantation on the south side of the Rancocas about Bridgeboro. It is natural and reasonable to assume that John, the son of Joseph Hollinshead the clock maker, who lived in Burlington, followed the profession of his father.
HUGH HOLLINSHEAD—Mount Holly, N. J. According to Woodward and Hageman’s “History of Burlington County” and other old records, Hugh Hollinshead, the clock maker, lived in Moorestown at the southwest corner of Main Street and Petit’s Lane where Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Cadbury now reside. The only Hugh Hollinshead clock, however, that I have yet located, is owned by J. Linton Engle of Haddonfield and is marked, “Hugh Hollinshead, Mount Holly.” This clock, which has been in his family for many generations, has a white enamel dial with lunette and was probably manufactured in about 1780. The following appropriate verse appears on the dial:
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“I labor here with all my might, To tell the hour by day and night, Therefore example take by me And serve thy God as I serve thee.”
A deed dated Second month 26th, 1786, refers to Hugh Hollinshead, watch and clock maker of Mount Holly. He married Eleanor French in 1775. They had a son, Hugh F. Hollinshead, who was born in 1786 and in all probability was the clock maker of Moorestown. The records of Chester Township show that Hugh Hollinshead was a member of the Township Committee from 1802 to 1806 and served as Township Clerk from 1812 to 1816. Our ancestors frequently did not use their middle name and this must have been Hugh F. Hollinshead, as his father died in 1786.
MORGAN HOLLINSHED—Moorestown, N. J., son of Edmund and Mary Hollinshead and great grandson of John and Grace. He married first, Rebecca Matlack on Ninth month 30th, 1775 and second, Jane Lippincott. Morgan Hollinshead died in 1832 and doubtless his clockmaking career extended from the time of his marriage to early in the Nineteenth Century. Mrs. W. Henry Evans of Moorestown has one of the first clocks made by him. “Morgan Hollinshead, Chester No. 2” appears at the top of the dial. The name Chester, formerly the name of our town as well as the brass dial indicates its age. It was probably built shortly after his marriage in 1775. It is a very beautiful specimen and is more ornate than some of those made later in his career.
W. Cheston Stokes of Moorestown possesses No. 107, which is the only Morgan Hollinshead clock of which I have any knowledge made with an alarm attachment. The dial and lunette are white enamel indicating a later period and the name “Morgan Hollinshead, Moore’s Town No. 107” appears near the bottom. This clock is especially beautiful because of the simplicity of its design. Mrs. Alice Perkins
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of Moorestown has No. 78 and Miss Marie J. Scott No. 96. These are both made with white dials and lunettes and are very beautiful specimens of the Hollinshead clocks. Benjamin Cadbury of Moorestown possesses an interesting old clock made by Morgan Hollinshead which is the only one that I have seen which does not give the name of the town in which it was made or was not numbered.
GEORGE H0LLINSHEAD—Woodstown, N. J., son of Morgan and Rebecca Matlack Hollinshead. He married Hannah Davis in about 1800 and died in 1820 consequently any clocks made by him doubtless were made between those dates. Nathan Conrow, whose home is located on the New Albany Road, has the first clock manufactured by him. It is made with a white dial and lunette and is marked “George Hollinshead, Wood’s Town No. 1.” Lester Collins of Moorestown has a clock made by him which is made with a white dial and lunette which is one of the only two grandfather clocks that I have seen made with the alarm attachment. “G. Hollinshead, Wood’s Town” appears on the dial.
JACOB HOLLINSHEAD—Salem, N. J., son of Edward and Millicent Townsend Hollinshead and great grandson of John and Grace. He married Jane Eldridge in 1772 and settled in Salem. He is mentioned as a clock maker in the genealogical sketch of the Hollinshead family written by Dr. A. M. Stackhouse but thus far I have not been able to locate a clock made by him. Mr. Walter Hall, President of the Salem County Historical Society, confirms the statement that Jacob Hollinshead of Salem was a clock maker. All of the Hollinshead clocks that I have thus far examined have been made from beautifully selected walnut wood.
Our Post Office does not have a very pretentious home and it it to be hoped it will be housed in a Federal building sometime in the near future. Isaac Wilkins, appointed by President Thomas Jefferson on July 1st, 1802, was our first Post Master but I cannot state definitely where the office was located. Gilbert Page, who lived in the house now standing at the southwest corner of Main Street and the
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Lane west of the Friends’ Meeting Houses was our second Post Master. He kept a store for many years in one end of his home and the Post Office was located in the store. He is said to have served under three Presidents, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. The old homestead in which he lived, now part of the Friends’ School property, was erected by Joshua Borton in about 1800. The Lane is still known locally as Page’s Lane.
Our homes today are splendidly protected by two well organized volunteer fire companies, whose apparatus is of the most modern type, yet some of our oldest residents can recall the days when the “Franklin” a hand power engine and the “Bucket Brigade” were our only protection from fire. The “Franklin” at one time was owned by William Brock who lived at the southeast corner of Second and Mill Streets. It was afterwards purchased by the Township and is now owned and cherished by the members of Hose Company No. 1 on West Main Street. It is an interesting relic of “ye olden times” and the members of the Company are to be commended for recently declining a large cash offer for the old engine. The “Franklin” was pulled and operated by hand and obtained its supply of water from wells or cisterns conveniently placed near the curb in different sections of the town. One of these old wells was located in front of the Town Hall.
The Independent Fire Company, the first to be established in Moorestown, was organized on December 29th, 1876. Its first home was located on West Second Street where Public School No. 9 now stands. Hose Company No. 1, was organized on November 12th, 1888 and prior to the erection of its present home on West Main Street, it was located on Washington Avenue a little north of Second Street. Hose Company No. 2 was organized shortly after No. 1, and for a while had its home in the Rosamond Inn on East Main Street. In 1892 it was incorporated under its present name, The Relief Engine Company, and for a
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while its home was on Elm Street. In 1910 the Company erected its present headquarters on Chester Avenue.
Gilbert Aitken of Moorestown has the polling list of voters at an election held in the School House in Moorestown on Tenth month 13th and 14th, 1807, showing that the women of New Jersey voted at that time on an equality with men. Two hundred and sixty votes were cast at this election, twenty-nine of which were by women. Among these I find the names of Sarah Matlack, Hannah and Rebecca Coles, Miriam Conrow, Mary Stokes and Hannah Haines. On looking into the matter I find that our first State Constitution adopted in 1776, granted the vote “to all inhabitants of this Colony of full age who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money.” Under this liberal Constitution, the women of the State voted until about 1808, when a Republican,¹ Legislature, according to Alice Stone Blaekwell in an article published in 1892, changed the Constitution to exclude tax paying women and tax paying negroes from voting. According to her account this was done for the reason that it was found that the women of the State were strongly supporting the Federalist candidates. Mr. Aitken, however, has a clipping from an old newspaper which gives an entirely different reason. This clipping gives an account of a speech made by Senator Palmer of Michigan many years ago in which he stated that the vote was taken from the women shortly after a special election held in Essex County in February, 1807. This election was held to decide whether the new County Court House should be erected in Newark or Day’s Hill. Seven thousand voters registered at this election but it was found that fourteen thousand voted. The authorities claimed that the women did the repeating
¹The two great political parties of that period were the Federalist and Republican. Our first two Presidents, George Washington and John Adams were Federalists and Thomas Jefferson who served as President from 1801 to 1809 was the founder and leader of the Republican Party. The Democratic Party of today recognizes Thomas Jefferson as its founder and has adopted many of the principles of the old Republican Party.
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as it was very easy for them to go home, change their dresses and appear under another name. The Legislature set aside the election and changed the Constitution to permit “free white male citizens only” to vote. I cannot state which was the correct reason for the change.
Mrs. J. Whitall Nicholson of Moorestown has in her possession the original Minute Book of the “Female Benevolent Association” organized on Eighth month 8th, 1818. This organization is still in existence although its activities largely have been taken over by the Visiting Nurses’ Association which is doing a splendid work in Moorestown and vicinity. Its object as stated in the old Minute Book was “to discover and relieve the necessities of such needy persons as may not come under the particular care of the Overseers of the poor or be fully attended to by them.” The officers of the Association were a clerk, treasurer and steward. A committee for distribution and one for the reception of members were also authorized. When extra funds were needed a special committee was appointed to solicit donations of money, provisions or clothing.
The Association was incorporated under the Laws of New Jersey in Eleventh month, 1910. Its by-laws were revised and modernized and the annual dues raised to two dollars. The present officers are Mrs. J. Whitall Nicholson, President and Mrs. Joseph H. Matlack, Secretary and Treasurer. Very little work is now being done by this Association. All honor to this, our first community organization, and as far as I can learn our only association with a continuous record of service for more than one hundred years.