12. Faces in History

Mapping the Family Tree

Benjamin Abbot: In 1772 after hearing the traveling Methodist minister Abraham Whitworth, he said the “Devil and the Lord wrestled for his soul,” until finally, “I was saved from sin and filled with unspeakable raptures of joy.” For the next 24 years he helped spread Methodism in Salem County and beyond.

Dr. Samuel Dick of Scotch-Irish descent purchased a house on the corner of E. Broadway and Walnut Streets in 1770. In 1776 he was elected a member of New Jersey’s Provisional Congress and helped to draft the state’s first constitution. He was commissioned a colonel of militia serving through the Revolution. After he was elected to Congress of the United States and served 2 years.

John Fenwick was the second son of Sir William Fenwick, a manorial lord in Northumberland, England. He studied law at Gray’s Inn, London from 1639 to 1640. He was commissioned a major in Oliver Cromwell’s army in 1648. He underwent persecution and imprisonment because of his religious beliefs (Quaker) from 1666-1670.

He entered an agreement with Edward Byllynge on March 19, 1673, where he purchased, in trust for Byllynge, West Jersey from Lord John Berkeley. Byllynge lacked the funds and had to borrow the purchase price of 1,000 pounds sterling from Fenwick.

In 1674 Byllynge’s creditors claimed the land to pay off his debts. Fenwick also claimed the land because of his loan. An arbitration committee that included William Penn awarded Fenwick 1/10th of West Jersey and 500 pounds.

On September 23, 1675, Fenwick arrived in America and founded the oldest permanent English speaking settlement in the entire Delaware Valley. His colony, Fenwick’s Tenth, comprised of all of Salem and Cumberland Counties.

Disputes between Fenwick and Governor Andros of New York over the right to govern led to Fenwick’s arrest and imprisonment in New York in 1677 and again in 1678-79.

Fenwick was weary of the struggle. After he was released prison in New York, he returned to Salem County to live with his daughter, Ann. In March of 1682 Fenwick conveyed most of his land to William Penn to satisfy his debts.

He died in 1683, just eight years after he came to Salem. He had reserved for himself 6,000 acres that he called Fenwick Grove. It was to have been his country home. He is believed to be buried somewhere in that grove. A monument erected in memory of Fenwick was dedicated July 4, 1924. It is located on the corner of Salem-Woodstown Road (Route 45) and Compromise Road. It marks Fenwick Grove, the tract of 6,000 acres of land now part of Mannington situated between Salem and Mannington Creeks.

Grant Gibbon on October 13, 1774 he met with a group of Salem County residents to explain the plight of the people of Boston who were under siege by the British because of what we now call the Boston Tea Party. He raised the equivalent of $700. (also see Sinnickson)

The Goodwin Sisters, Elizabeth (1789-1860) and Abigail (17931867) were daughters of a Quaker farmer that freed, or manumitted, all of his slaves during the American Revolution. Their home at 47 Market Street in Salem was one of the first and most frequented stations on the Underground Railroad. Only Abigail, who was more well-known than her sister, lived to see the Emancipation Proclamation. They are included in the 7 Steps to Freedom web site.

The Hancock family Judge William Hancock and his wife Sarah built a house in 1734. The land upon which the house was built was purchased by a cordwainer (shoemaker), William Hancock in the year 1677. Records show that it was part of 1,000 acre lot for which he paid a yearly rental of one ear of Indian corn. The land was bequeathed upon his death to his widow who in turn left it to her nephew and servant, John Hancock. At his death in 1725, his son William inherited one of the largest landed estates in the colony. On March first 1778 British troops killed William Hancock and every male in his house. The later 1800s Judge William Hancock, a descendent of the William Hancock who was mortally wounded by the British and others finally perceived the quality of marl that was available in the county saving many of the community’s farms and farmers.

Benjamin Holme, a resident of Elsinboro in the eighteenth century. He was a colonel in the colonial militia who played an important role in defending the bridge over Alloways Creek in Quinton against the British during the Revolution. In retaliation, the British commander, Colonel Charles Mawhood, singled out Holme and other American officers and promised to “burn and destroy their houses and other property and reduce them, their unfortunate wives and children to beggary and distress.” Mawhood made good his threat. Mawhood took a clock from the house before setting it ablaze and carried it to New York. Years later the clock was discovered there by a Holme descendent and is now in the Salem County Historical Society. Holme rebuilt the house. See historical map index for detail.

John and Jane Johnson emigrated from Ireland in 1756 and bought a large tract of land in Pittsgrove Township. Their son Isaac expanded the holdings and built two flour mills. He also became county sheriff. Their son James served in the continental army during the Revolution and after became one of the county’s most successful farmers.

Richard Johnson came from Surrey, England arriving in 1674/5. Robert Johnson married Jane Gibbon eldest daughter of Nicholas and Ann Gibbon, their only child was born July 23 1771 and died Oct 2, 1850 was Robert Gibbon Johnson. His first wife Hannah Carney, youngest daughter of Thomas and Mary Carney – their son Robert Carney Johnson was born in Salem in 1811 and died in the same place in 1881. He lived in California while it was passing from a Mexican to American territory. He returned shortly after the death of his father and lived the rest of his life in Salem. Becoming possessed of a large estate he engaged in no other business than attending to its management. At the outbreak of the rebellion in 1861 he raised the first company of volunteers to go to Washington, the Johnson Guards.   After he was elected colonel of the twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, with which he remained in the field until incapacitated by sickness. He married Julia Harrison daughter of Josiah Harrison Esq. of Salem and at the writing of the 1881 history of Salem County their only surviving son Henry H. Johnson was living in the family homestead in Salem.

Samuel Lewis Kelty had one of the most successful canneries in the last decade of the 19th century. The farm and cannery were on Beasley Neck Road in Quinton. The tomatoes were hand-picked by 25 women. His brand was called Defy the World. He was said to have the highest quality stewing type tomatoes.

Thomas Killingsworth owned about 50 acres cornering on East Broadway and Yorke Streets was a scholar of theology and English law. A Baptist preacher he organized the first Baptist Society in Salem aided by Obadiah Holmes. The two were also judges of the first courts organized in Salem in 1708, soon after East and West Jersey were united under one government.

Thomas Marshall, an African-American who owned about as much land as any other man, and lived in a place where freed African-Americans did as well or better than any other place in Salem County in the middle of the 19th century. The area is still called Marshalltown. According to the 1840 census, Marshall, who not only was a landowner and speculator but who also owned and operated a general store, was one of 490 free black people living in Mannington Township. Ten years later, in 1840 he was listed as one of five black farmers. According to local historian Marshall first bought land in 1831 he continued to aquire land through 1856 accumulating nearly 100 acres in 10 parcels. He sold lots of land to other African American descendants. He was not the only African-American buying and subdividing land. Deed records show that, in 1840, Perry Sawyer, a black man, purchased 1 acre lot from Samuel Seagrave, white, in 1836 just two years after Marshall’s first purchase in this vicinity. Sawyer sold it to Samuel Hackett in 1840 and Hachett later subdivided to four grantees, all black. It is believed that Marshalltown figured prominently in the Underground Railroad that assisted runaway black slaves come across the Delaware River; it is also believed that a number of those fugitive slaves settled in or near Marshalltown and that Marshall himself had been freed by one of several white families named Marshall living in Salem County

Colonel Charles Mawhood, was the British commander during the revolution, who in retaliation for the local militia promised to “burn and destroy the houses and other property and reduce them, their unfortunate wives and children to beggary and distress.” While Holme was away from his house British soldiers ordered his family out of the house, pillaged the property and set fire to the house. It is said that Mawhood took a clock from the house before setting it on fire and took it to New York. Years later the clock was discovered there by a Home descendent and brought back to Salem County.

Samuel Nicholson His house on Amwellbury Road was built in 1752 of glazed brick and is now the home of Harold Smick.

Tobias Quinton came soon after Fenwick. He gave his name to 13,500 acres on Alloways Creek that was later bought up by Richard Johnson. Some became the site of Quinton Glass Works.

The Reeves brothers Josiah, William and Emmov started out using water power generated by Alloways Creek to run their saw mill and grist mill in early 1820. In 1824 Josiah decided ship builders in Philadelphia would buy planking cut from the oak trees in the area. Six years later they built a second mill pond that created a 150 acre pond. About 1832 they began building their own ships, first sloops made from Salem County white oak. They also built canal boats and side wheel steamers. The Reeve Brothers ship “John S. McKim” was the first commercial steamer in the US driven by a propeller. At its height their business employed 100 men.

John Richman came from Germany and lived in what is now Pilesgrove. He had sawmills, grist mill, fulling mill and later turned it into a foundry. (A good description of a fulling mill can be found at the Haddon Heights Historical Society web site www.hhhistorical.org )

John Stewart Rock (1826-1866) was born in Elsinboro into a free black family. Until age 18, he studied in the school Salem Quakers founded for black students. Rock became the head of the school in 1845. At the same time, he began studying medicine with several Salem Physicians, entering into an apprenticeship to become a dentist with Dr. Samuel Harbert, whose office was located at 81 Market St. in Salem. At age 22 he launched his dental practice and his reputation as a powerful writer and speaker began to grow. In 1850 he moved his practice to Philadelphia and studied medicine, completing his studies by 1852. He then relocated to Boston where he studied law. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1861 and in 1885 he became the first African American admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court. (see more about John Rock on the 7 Steps of Freedom web site.

Isaac Sharp came from Ireland in 1730. He took possession of six hundred acres that had been purchased for him by his father. The area became known as Sharptown. Eleven years later he was appointed a judge of the Salem Court.He died before the Revolution but his son Anthony joined the Army with Dr. Ebeneezer Elmer and reached the rank of Colonel. He fought even though he was a Quaker.

Sinnickson family Andrew helped defeated the British in the battle of Long Lane in 1778. Thomas delivered the Boston relief contribution in 1774. The brothers were descendants of Andres Sinicka both fought in the Revolution in New York’s Ft. Richmond, Stanton Island. Andrew built a large brick building on Fenwick Point in 1740 giving it the Indian name of Ohisquahasit.

William Tyler was about 18 when he apprenticed to Benjamin Acton of Salem for 4 years to learn the trade of tanner and currier. After the 4 years he sold some property out of town he had inherited and bought a new brick house in Salem where he carried on his own tanning business. His family kept the business going at least through the 19th century.

Caspar Wistar was a brass button maker in Philadelphia until he decided to move to Salem in 1738. The area had the kind of sand needed to make glass and the forests wood for feeding the glass furnaces. The British did not want the colonists to make anything that was also made in England forcing them to buy English goods. They charged the colonist a duty on goods made in England. Wistar brought glass blowers from Europe and began making window and table glass near Alloway. William Franklin, Benjamin’s illegitimate son, was royal governor of New Jersey during Wisterburgh’s most prosperous years. While he did raise taxes on colonial businesses, he protected the glassworks by under reporting its considerable success.

Caspar and Richard Wister not only established the first glassworks in New Jersey and one of the very few in all of America in the 18th century, they also set standards for succeeding glass manufacturing plants in later centuries.