A brief history of the lives of people who lived on the property called Lumberton Leas.
By Os Cresson, March 2005
The Lenape lived in a longhouse and huts made of saplings and bark. The families were organized around the female line of descent, with men moving to the woman’s longhouse upon marriage. Here they carried on much the same range of activities we do today. They sang and enjoyed the music of flutes, rattles, and drums. The children played games and the adults told stories. They had community meetings and religious ceremonies. Nature was sacred for them and they laid their dead to rest in burial grounds and believed in an afterlife that depended on how you lived your life on Earth.
The Lenape wore buckskin and furs, carefully sewn and adorned. They painted and tattooed themselves and wore jewelry. They wove nets and rope from hemp but made no textiles, not having cotton, flax, or wool. They made baskets and pottery and stone tools of many kinds. Canoes were carved from tulip trees, which still grow at Lumberton Leas. The Lenape planted gardens of corn, beans, and squash and collected wild nuts and fruits such as strawberries, plums, peaches, cherries, cranberries, and grapes. They ate roots and tubers and had medicinal herbs and tobacco. They took many kinds of fish from the rivers such as rockfish, catfish, shad, sheepshead, sturgeon, and herring. There were also mollusks and crustaceans, and in the spring they went to the Atlantic coast to catch the salmon swimming up the rivers. They ate bird eggs and fledglings and trapped quail and turkeys. In the forest around the village they hunted rabbit, deer, and beaver. There were also large mammals such as bear, elk and mountain lions. Life in these woods and rivers was hard but rich in many ways.
There are many books on the Lenape. I found these particularly helpful: The Lenape or Delaware Indians, Herbert C. Kraft, Elizabeth NJ: Lenape Books, 1996 (for children as well as adults); The Lenape: Archeology, History & Ethnography, Herbert C. Kraft, Newark NJ: NJ Historical society, 1986; The Lenape-Delaware Heritage, Herbert C. Kraft, Elizabeth NJ: Lenape Books, 2001 (the most complete, a stunning book). I used two general histories: History of Burlington County, New Jersey, Evan Morrison Woodward, Burlington NJ: Burlington County Historical Society, 1980 (reprint of 1883 edition); and The History of Burlington, New Jersey, William E. Schermerhorn, Burlington NJ: Enterprise Publishing, 1927. In general I use three libraries: the Burlington County Historical Society; the New Jersey Room in the Burlington County Public Library Headquarters; and the genealogy section in the library at Burlington County College. I also use the internet: ancestry.com; lds.org; and google.
In 1677, along these trails from the Delaware River coast, came word of the arrival of hundreds of English settlers. For several decades the Lenape had seen Dutch and Swedish traders come and go but this was different. The settlers called for a parlay and five peace chiefs were selected from our area. They were Katamas, Sekappie, Peanto, Rennowighwan, and Jackickon. On October 10, 1677 these five chiefs sold the right to live on the land between Rancocas Creek and Timber Creek, from the Delaware River to the headwaters of the two creeks. In exchange they received a large amount of blankets, clothing, kettles, tools, food, tobacco, rum, guns, and bullets.
The result was a disaster. Within 25 years only one small band of Lenape were left in Burlington County. They had emigrated to Pennsylvania and New York, or had died of smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, malaria, and influenza. One witness was Mary Murfin who arrived as a small child in 1678. Since there was a lot of contact with the Lenape, who brought her family corn and venison, she grew up speaking their language as well as she spoke English. She lived among them as a pioneer settler for 72 years, raised a family of nine children and became a distinguished Quaker minister, but, sadly, even she fell prey to the prejudices of her times. She wrote, “It may be observed how God’s providence made room for us in a wonderful manner, in taking away the Indians. There came a distemper among them so mortal, that they could not bury all the dead. Others went away, leaving their town.”
No doubt there were also friendships. Many early settlers had Indians living with them as servants. A particularly respected Lenape leader named Okanickon was buried in the Burlington Friends Meeting cemetery in 1681 with great numbers of Indians and English in attendance.
The Lenape were replaced by thousands of European immigrants who formed large, interlocking family groups. One such was the Moore family who bought land on the outskirts of the old Indian village of Mispenninck. These were the first Europeans to live at Lumberton Leas, but that is a story for another day.
Three maps in the Burlington County Historical Society were useful: Map of New Jersey, Vanderdonck, 1656; A Map of New Jersey in America, John Seller and William Fisher, 1677; Indian Trials and Early Paths, Charles S. Boyer, 1938. An historic marker at the entrance of Rancocas State Park, in Hainesport gave the location of the village and the name of Chief Ramkok. The Dutch map of 1656 names our stream the Kemkockes. A Swedish map of Peter Lindstrom, drawn about the same time, calls it the Rancoques Kijl. Some sources call the village at the fork of the Rancocas, Sandhicky or Sankhikan but others give that as the name of the band of Lenape living north of the Rankokas band. Mispenninck was the name of this village on one map (Seller and Fisher, 1677), but another placed Mispenninck in the Evesham area (Vanderdonck, 1656.) In any case, the largest local settlement was about two miles downstream from Lumberton Leas. Charley Johnson of Lumberton says that when he was a boy you could find Indian artifacts anywhere the land was high above the creek and flat.
As the European population boomed in the early 1700’s, people pressed into the interior along the rivers that served as highways. Rivers were so important that you could only own a limited amount of shoreline in proportion to your total acreage and you couldn’t own on both sides of the river. They cleared forest for pasture and set up lumber mills. Where there were no mills logs were simply floated downstream. Paths became roads and bridges and ferries were built. Their farms produced corn, wheat, oats, rye, hay, flax, apples, peaches, plums, and vegetables. They raised horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and chickens. As well as the farmers there were millers, storekeepers, carpenters, brick makers, tanners, tailors, teachers, doctors, ministers, and lawyers.
It was a land of opportunity, but people died young. Parents lost children and children grew up with stepparents. Large families were useful. They provided workers with a variety of skills for the farm, allies through marriage, and caretakers for old age. People married cousins and neighbors because they knew them and it kept the farm intact and extended the ring of people you could call on in need. Women went to live with their husbands when they married, and land was inherited by the sons with financial arrangements for widows and unmarried daughters.
Benjamin and Sarah Moore came to have nine children and 47 grandchildren. They married into other large, local families with names such as Eayre, Eves, Fenimore, Gaskill, Haines, Lippincott, Mason, Powell, Wills, and Woolman. Together they formed a band of the European tribe, as the Rancocas had been a band of the Lenape tribe.
One thing Benjamin and Sarah particularly liked to do was buy land and they came to be among the largest landholders in West Jersey. They acquired four large tracts in Burlington County and others in Salem and Gloucester Counties. In 1747, Benjamin Moore, Carlile Haines, Amos Wilkins, Enoch Haines, and Amos Austin bought about 2000 acres along the south branch of the Rancocas Creek from Charles Read who had gotten it two years before from Thomas Budd, John Prickett, and Levy Shinn who had surveyed it in 1729. A saw mill, mill pond, and log dwelling house was included. In a pasture on the farm, near the creek, was a small log stable, 21′ x 25′ feet with a loft and mangers. It stood for almost 225 years, being the oldest such building in Burlington County when it finally burned down in 1963. This was the first structure at what would later become Lumberton Leas, and Benjamin and Sarah and their children and grandchildren provide the first consistent set of European footsteps for us to follow.
A history of the ownership of this property with pictures and drawings of the old stable are in the Library of Congress and available online (go to http://memory.loc.gov/ and search for “Moore Stiles Farm”). The Moore family genealogy is found in The Benjamin Moore Family of Burlington County New Jersey (revised edition), Edmund F. Moore, Woodbury NJ: GCHS, 1998.
It would be nice to know where Benjamin and Sarah Moore and their family lived before the first Moore home was built in Lumberton property in about 1745. Were they members of the library in Burlington City? What medical illness were common and what medical care was available? How did the life spans of men and women compare? When Creek Road was laid out and what names did it have. So you see, there is lots to do!
Between the properties of Joseph and Samuel was a tract of 450 acres for the third son, Benjamin, Jr. and his wife Rebecca Fenimore (the great-aunt of James Fenimore Cooper.) Their home, built in about 1745, still stands at 18 Crispin Road. Here they raised eight children. When Rebecca died, Benjamin, Jr. married the widow Mary Butcher Allen. Later, the farm was divided between his sons Bethuel and John. The house went to Bethuel who lived there with his wife Martha Allen. Their daughter Martha Moore married Isaac E. Fenimore (her 2nd cousin) who bought her father’s farm. Their daughter Martha Fenimore married her stepbrother, Benajah Powell, and they built Powell’s Mill that gave its name to the stream running through the property.
The rest of Benjamin Jr. and Rebecca’s farm, including the Lumberton Leas land, went to their son John Moore. In 1775 he and his wife Hannah Eayre built the home at 72 Creek Road (the llama farm). Lumberton was still a small village, with 11 dwellings in 1795, but it had a tavern. Mount Holly was larger with 200 buildings in 1776. At first there were few schools; both Benjamin and Benjamin, Jr. signed their wills with a mark. On the other hand, in 1760 a library was established in Burlington and in 1777 they had their first newspaper.
In 1811 John Moore and his second wife Sarah Gaskill Powell Lishman (who had outlived two husbands) sold 100 acres of their farm to his son Stacy Moore who moved in with his wife Sabilla Austin. They built a house at what is now 47-49 Woodside Drive that survived until 1987. Stacy and Sabilla had three children; then she died and he married Drucilla Tomlin and they had three more children. This was probably the first family to actually live on the property since the time of the Lenape.
By 1839 Stacy and Drucilla wanted to sell the land but two of their sons had moved away and the third was mentally ill. Stacy Stiles and Susannah Ballinger, a young couple with four children, bought the farm. She was family, being his sister’s daughter. Thus began a new century in the history of Lumberton Leas, that of the Stiles family.
There are brief descriptions of the Moore homes in Burlington County Inventory and Survey of Historic, Architectural, and Cultural Resources, Keith W. Betten (ed.), Mt. Holly NJ: BCCHC, 1979. A group might wish to interview the people living in these homes and perhaps take photographs.
Signs of the old Mill are still visible on Powell’s Mill Stream near where it passes under Crispin Road.
Some wills are available for study with lots of pleasant details such as this by John Moore in 1806: “I give and bequeath to my dear beloved Wife Sarah Moore all the property She brought with her & also the privilege of the West Room below stairs in my mantion house and also the priviledge in common of the Kitchen, cellar, pump and oven, and also good oak wood fire ready, cut and halled to the dore of a suitable length for her fire place, by my son Stacy out of the Real Estate herein devised to him.”
The home built by Stacy and Sabilla Moore survived until 1987, so there may be photos somewhere. Are there people still alive who remember growing up in it?!
Susanna was the daughter of Joshua Ballinger and Rebecca Moore (daughter of John Moore and Hannah Eayre.) Susanna’s siblings married into the Wills, Haines, Troth, Lippincott, and Wilkins families. Her first cousin, Richard Haines Ballinger, and his wife, Mary Ann Haines, were prominent landholders in the village of Lumberton.
Stacy was the son of John Stiles and Elizabeth King. His sister Matilda married Richard Edwards and they had five children. Perhaps this was the Richard Edwards who, with his brother Joseph, ran one of the first stores in Lumberton. Stacy’s other sister, Ann, married Job Haines. Unfortunately, he had an alcohol problem and died at 36 in 1830 leaving his widow with four children under the age of seven. Ann died eight years later and Stacy was appointed guardian of the children.
In 1839 Stacy and Susanna Stiles bought the farm on Creek Road. By now they had three children of their own: Rachel B. (8), John M. (4), and Stacy C. (2). Sadly, little John was deaf.
Lumberton was growing fast. It was the last navigable point on Rancocas Creek and by 1840 there were 20 vessels making the daily run to Philadelphia. The post office opened in 1848. Schools, factories, and churches were built. The railroad came through in 1866. Lumberton was a popular recreation spot with hotels, restaurants, and taverns near the creek. One of them, Boxwood Lodge, can still be seen at 516 South Main Street. The village was incorporated as a township in 1861 and Stacy Stiles served on the Township Committee from 1868 to 1870.
Stacy and Susanna had five more children: Susanna (born in 1839 one month after they bought the farm), Rebecca (1844), George (1847), Serena (1850), and Henry B. (1855). Stacy’s mother, Elizabeth, was living with them in 1850 and 1860. Hearing continued to be a problem: four of the eight children were deaf and did not attend school (John, George, Serena, and Henry.) One child died young (George) but the other seven siblings lived long lives together on their farm until the early 1900s. Apparently few people wanted to marry into a family with congenital deafness, but there was one exception. In 1850 a young girl was a student in a school for the deaf in Philadelphia. She will soon join our story.
From here on, my primary source of information was John and Miriam Brush’s search of deeds, wills, and census records done in January, 1998. Their careful work showed me what to look for and is much appreciated.
You may have noticed that one Stacy sold the farm to another Stacy. This was a common first name for men in New Jersey. One of the original proprietors was Mahlon Stacy. He and his wife, Rebecca Ely, did not have sons and their daughters continued the Stacy name by giving it to the grandsons as a first name. The tradition was taken up by many other New Jersey families of that time.
One more detail: Stacy Stiles might have been married before. On October 21, 1824, Stacy married Priscilla Stiles (who had the same last name), according to an index of New Jersey Marriages. She probably died before 1830 when Rachel B. Stiles was born, perhaps named for Susanna’s sister, Rachel Ballinger. I have not found a record of Stacy and Susanna’s marriage, but he was 10 years older than his wife which is consistent with this being his second marriage.
Then something happened and the little family broke up. From now on John appears in the records with his parents on the farm or living alone in the village of Lumberton. In 1880 Charlotte was in New Egypt in Ocean County with her two younger children. She was listed as the housekeeper in the home of Andrew Pierce, an unmarried deaf man. Nearby was Eleanora, now married to Dilwyn Margerum, who had been a neighbor in Lumberton. They had two children, Julia and Reading.
Later, Mary Ann and Charles each married and had children. Charles moved to Mount Laurel and in 1910 his sister Eleanora, now a widow, and her children were living next door. Charlotte was in New Egypt with a granddaughter, Emma Bromell, who was also deaf. In 1920 Charlotte Fisher Stiles appeared in the records for the last time, at the age of 86, living with her daughter, Eleanora, and her granddaughter, Emma. She had endured much.
John continued to live in the village of Lumberton but his parents and siblings kept a certain distance. In their wills they arranged for him to have the use of the house on Main Street and an income, but they did not give any property or money directly to him. John’s son, Charles, was appointed to administer his father’s estate when John died in early 1919.
Back on the Stiles farm, Rachel, Stacy, Susanna, Rebecca, Serena, and Henry lived out their long lives together. Finally, the last member of the family was 80-year-old Susanna, living in the farm house with a servant and a friend. She asked to be buried in the Easton Burial Ground on Fostertown Road with her parents, grandparents and siblings and this was done on October 28, 1919. She left small bequests to a hospital, a home for aged women, and a children’s home in Burlington County, and to The Estaugh, a corporation recently established to operate a Quaker retirement home in Haddonfield.
A new wave of European immigrants had been making their way to Lumberton during the last years in the lives of the Stiles siblings. Names such as Kandraecki, Seborawsky, and Protosewitsz appeared in the census rolls. This determination to build a new life brought us the next occupants of the old farm house on Creek Road.
Useful information is found in a chapter of The Stiles Family in America (Henry Reed Stiles, Jersey City: Doan & Pilson, 1895, pp. 632-650.) This is mainly about a large Stiles family of New England and New Jersey that is unrelated to our Stiles, but the book includes a chapter on Stacy’s family. Interestingly, the two Stiles families now living in Lumberton Leas come from the other part of the book!
I also received assistance from Leon Stiles who is creating an archive of everyone who ever carried that name.
Eleanora Stiles may have been conceived before the marriage of John and Charlotte on July 24, 1859. On September 10, 1860, she was listed as one year old (the practice was to give the age in months if the baby was less than one year old.) Similarly, in 1870 Eleanora was listed as 11 years old.
Mary Ann had a son, Sidney Stryker, who was born out of wedlock in Plumsted Township, Ocean County, on October 11, 1881. Perhaps his father died before he was born, since there was a man of the same name, born c. 1849, in the census records of 1850 and 1870 in Middletown and Shrewsbury Townships, Monmouth County. After Mary Ann married William Bromell, her son Sidney remained with her (in 1910 and 1920, but not in 1930).
In the past, deaf people were identified as such in census and marriage records. The terms used were deaf, dumb, mute, or idiotic. This stopped after about 1900. We only know that Emma Bromell was deaf because the 1910 census taker wrote “DD” in the margin, following the tradition of an earlier day.
Two doors away on Marne Highway were Eleanora Margerum and Charles F. Stiles, two of the children of John and Charlotte Stiles. In 1921 Joseph and Maggie bought the Stiles Farm from the estate of Susanna Stiles and the Sage family lived here for the next 50 years. They also acquired the Joseph Moore farmhouse on the other side of Creek Road in what is now called Sage Run Development. Finally, in 1951 Maggie died and Joseph followed in 1955. They were buried in the Brotherhood Cemetery on Marne Highway near the Route 541 Bypass. The Brotherhood of America was a beneficiary society organized to provide financial support for its members in times of need.
Of the next generation, only Gloria Sage, the widow of Stanley, is alive today. She is a cheerful woman who likes to talk of the old days, but she says her in-laws rarely spoke of their lives before coming to Lumberton. The Sage children attended school on Chestnut Street in a new building that was considered quite luxurious because it had four rooms for eight grades, plus a cafeteria and nurses quarters in the basement. The principal was Florence Walther, a small, feisty woman known for dragging big boys around by the ears. Several of Joseph and Maggie’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren still live in the Lumberton area. They enjoyed visits to the farm and hunting and fishing here. Sadly, during a heat wave in the 1960’s a piece of broken glass started a fire that destroyed several farm buildings including the old log stable.
In 1970 Robert and Frances Sage sold the farm to William and Sara Bowman Haines. They planted a peach orchard that was productive for 25 years. Bill Haines was a member of the New Jersey State Senate, the last active farmer elected to that body. Every fall he arrived in Trenton with baskets of peaches and apples as gifts for his colleagues. During this time the old farmhouse, built in about 1815, was rented out to tenants. It soon became run down and had to be abandoned. Bill Haines died in 1996, but his widow, Sara, is still living in Moorestown.
From 1982 to 1995 the peach orchard was owned by a company called Creek Road Farm. Surprisingly, the land was farmed by Tak Moriuchi. Tak and his wife, Yuri, were among the founders of Medford Leas where they still live. Thus we near the completion of the history of the land on which the Lumberton Leas community was established.
The property search done by John and Miriam Brush told me a lot about the 20th century owners of the Lumberton Leas property. Census records filled in more and then Gloria Sage and her nephew Robert G. Sage, Jr. were kind enough to speak with me.
The middle names of the first two Sage children, Gilmore and Boyd, may point us toward Maggie’s maiden name. On the record of her burial she is listed as Margaret G. Sage, but the G. may refer to a second given name rather than her maiden name.
I was also able to speak briefly with a grandson of William and Sara Haines and with Tak Moriuchi about his memories of working on this property. The good folks at the Lumberton Historical Society put me in touch with local people who remembered the old Stiles farm and the Sage family. There is a lot more still to be done. We need a search for pictures of the farm and its buildings, and it would be pleasant to invite the Sage and Haines family members to visit us and reminisce.
For Medford Leas, the land had the advantages of location, size, and price. It was somewhat isolated from its neighbors and there was a creek and woodlands. Some issues had to be worked out because the planned house lots were small. Permission was needed to have the houses near the street, without sidewalks, and with smaller than normal trees in the yards. It helped that each resident had access to a large amount of communal land. For safety, Creek Road had to be widened at the entrance and a retaining wall was built on the other side, and then rebuilt a few months later when it began to shift. We needed a sewer pumping station with a generator for emergencies and a drainage basin to hold rain water and release it slowly into Powell’s Mill Stream.
Who were the people particularly responsible for creating Lumberton Leas as we know it? There were the board members of The Estaugh and, in the Medford Leas administration, Lois Forrest and Kate Kwiecinski. The Project Manager was Bill Murphy, Director of Maintenance at Medford Leas. Bob Gutowski of Morris Arboretum did the initial design of a winding road with homes on either side, small private yards, a large common area in the center, and plenty of woodlands. The trail system was laid out by Ted Gordon, a local expert on pinelands biology. John Schweppenheiser, Jr. was the civil engineer responsible for lighting, landscaping, mapping and, with Bill Murphy, zoning approval. The architect was John G. Martin and Gary Gardner was the builder. John Siminski’s team did the gardening and Tom McKenna’s housekeepers did the final cleaning. Marianne Steely, Marge Sagett, and Judith Fenimore found people to live here. These are just a few of the hundreds of people whose labors produced the 42 buildings with 110 living units that is Lumberton Leas today. The first residents arrived on June 10, 1999 and they kept coming. There are about 180 of us here now, leaving footsteps for others to follow.
As we near the end of this survey of those who have gone before us on this land, it is time to look back at what we have learned and consider what we might do in the future. That is the project for next month.
Most of the information in this chapter came from conversations with Jack Bier, Lois Forrest and Bill Murphy. Several others contributed bits and pieces which is typical. Throughout the last year of work on this project, I have been peppered by comments and suggestions. This has been a huge help.
Looking back at this survey of people who lived on this property during the last 300 years, it is surprising that we did find out a little, and the little we know tells us a lot about the people’s lives, and yet there is still so much that could be learned. We know something about the Lenape, and four generations of Moores, and three generations of Stiles (who were cousins of the Moores), and three generations of Sages, and the people who later owned the property but did not live here. Unfortunately, there are some serious gaps. We don’t know how the land passed from the Proprietors to Budd, Prickett, and Shinn in 1729. There is a mystery as to the family of Elizabeth King Stiles, Stacy’s mother, who lived here in the 1850s and ’60s. People rented the farmhouse in the 1970’s but we don’t know who they were. And so on.
In a family, it is not uncommon to find an activity that members contribute to over many generations. We at Lumberton Leas have the advantage that “generations” pass unusually quickly. New people who might pitch in keep joining the family. Projects can gradually build up over time.
Here are some topics Lumberton Leas residents could take on for further study. (Surely you can think of more!) The Lenape: The lives of the Lenape before the arrival of the Europeans, how they used the Lumberton Leas land, and where the local villages were. Their lives immediately after the arrival of the Europeans, and since then. Entertainment: How the farm families on this property entertained themselves over the years, the music they listened to, their dances and games and celebrations. Education: Where the local schools and libraries were and what they were like. Medical Care: What illnesses people had and how they were treated. Who were the local doctors were. The problem of alcoholism. Crafts: The skills of the people who lived here. Farming: The crops and farm animals and the tools and farming methods. Clothing: What people wore and how this changed through the years. Food: What they ate and their recipes. Religion: Where they worshiped. The Local Village: How the surrounding community developed. The effect of wars and changes in the economy. Town celebrations. Natural History: The plants and animals that live here now and have lived here over the years. How the soil and the ecology and the weather has changed. Photos And Paintings: We could look for photographs and paintings of this property and its buildings. We know of a few and there are many places to look for more. Interviews: A delegation could interview people who used to live here or who owned this property and they could be invited to visit us.
If one of these topics interests you, let others know — you may have allies! Lumberton Leas News is a good way to keep in touch and it is open to publishing longer reports in serial form. This can be our contribution to those who follow in our footsteps.
Much of the research for this history was done in the following five locations: the New Jersey Room of the Burlington County Library; the Burlington County Historical Society; the Genealogy Collection of Burlington County College; the Lumberton Historical Society; and the deeds office in the Burlington County building in Mount Holly. On the computer I used ancestry.com, usgenweb.com, genforum.genealogy.com, and internet search engines. This can be done on a computer reserved for genealogy research at the Burlington County Library. Also, the Medford Leas Family History Group meets in the meeting room on the 3rd floor of Haddon, 4th Wednesdays at 3pm. The contact person is Russ Haley, 654-3286. And of course I simply asked questions. A lot of people helped and it was a lot of fun.