Pinelands Connections VI

Running the numbers

……continued from “Pinelands Connections I.

Genealogy is a numbers game, in part. Looking back from myself the number of progenitors increase by the formula x = 2^y (2 raised to the y power) where y is the number of generations back. Generation one (my parents) is 2^1 = 2. We have 2^4 = 16 double great grandparents, 8 pairs. Four pairs on my father’s side, four pairs on my mother’s. Saint Mary of the Assumption Cemetery contains one pair of my father’s side, James McCambridge and Ann Milley. The cemetery in Tabernacle contains the other, George Wills and Mary Dellett.

A dry ledger entry reveals a side of Great, great grandmother Ann McCambridge (Milley). The wife of James McCambridge had, under her own name, a savings account with the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society. Ann was a forward thinker to invest in this, the first savings institution of the United States, in the twentieth year of its existence. Work outside the home, as a cook, was her source of funding. We can also infer from the ledger information Ann’s employer was Atison furnace.

Times were prosperous in Atsion. Thomas Gordon, in his Gazetteer of the State of New Jersey, tells of the size and scope of the works at Atsion in 1834:

Atsion, post-town and furnace, on the Atsion River, partly in Galloway Township, Gloucester County, probably in Washington Township, Burlington County, 9 miles above the head of navigation, 12 miles from Medford, 17 from Mount Holly, on the road leading to Tuckerton, and 57 from Trenton. Besides the furnace, there are here, a forge, gristmill, and three sawmills. The furnace makes from 800 to 900 tons of casting, and the forge from 150 to 200 tons of bar iron annually. This estate, belonging to Samuel Richards, Esq., embraces what was formerly called Hampton furnace and forge, and West’s Mills, and contains about 60,000 acres of land. There are about 100 men employed here, and between 6 and 700 persons depending for sustenance upon the works.

Nineteen years later, Ann passed away two days after Christmas at the young age of 51, her savings may have provided for the elaborate headstone inscription. She left her husband of twenty six years and nine children, the family is listed below with ages from the 1850 U.S. census. Her fifth child, Margaret, my great-grandmother, was sixteen at Ann’s death. The youngest, Catherine, was eight.

James McCambridge Age 44

Ann McCambridge Age 44

John McCambridge Age 20

Mary Ann McCambridge Age 16

James McCambridge Age 15

Sarah Jane McCambridge Age 14

Margaret McCambridge Age 11

William McCambridge Age 8

George McCambridge Age 6

Edward McCambridge Age 5

Catherine McCambridge Age 3

James McCambridge and Ann Milley were born the same year, 1805, in or near the Pinelands. The married at the age of twenty two, February 25, 1829. A son, John, was born 18 months later, August 7, 1830. In 1850 James supported his wife and nine children as a “collier”, producing charcoal for the furnaces. He lived on for 31 years with their children.

From Bog Iron “ironmasters of the Pine Barrens made cannonballs by the thousand and sent them by wagon over the sand roads and on to the Continental Army at Valley Forge and elsewhere. They brought in seashells for flux, and used charcoal from the pinewoods to fire their forges and furnaces. They made cannon as well as shot, and they ordnance the War of 1812 as well as the American Revolution. The twenty-four-pounders (cannons) with which Stephen Decatur armed his flagship when he took his Marines to Algiers, Tunisia, and Tripoli were cast at Hanover Furnace (later named Atsion),in the Pine Barrens, in 1814, and Decatur himself were there to supervise the casting and test the product……Ironworkers in the pines made the steam cylinder for one of John Fitch’s experimental steamboats, and they made the wrought-iron fence that once surrounded Independence Hall….Iron stoves that bear the town name Atsion over their fuelling doors were made in a community that had a population of seven hundred in the early nineteenth century and has a population of fifteen today.” from “The Pine Barrens” by John McPhee, November 25, 1967.

References

Atsion Furnace https://www.njpinebarrens.com/atsion-part-2-prosperity-and-decline/

Philadelphia Saving Fund Society Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia | PSFS (philadelphiaencyclopedia.org)

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Dawson’s Magnolia?

A 2021 Blessing

The Magnolia genus has been around for eons, come characteristics are protective from beetles as they existed before bees and relied upon beetles for fertilization. Our’s may be the species Magnolia dawsoniana (Dawson’s Magnolia), it shares many of the published characteristics: among them tolerance to our hardiness zone 5, flower color and shape, tree growth pattern.

This was an exceptional year for blooms. starting late April, lasting into May. The fence around trunks is for protection against bucks (male deer), from rubbing their horns in autumn.

For most of these 2021 photographs I used the lens Canon 24 mm f/1.4L II USM, the one captioned 50 mm I used Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the Manfrotto Studio tripod with hydrostatic ball head for all.

The last great year was 2018……

For these 2018 photographs the Canon 24 mm and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L “Macro” lenses with Canon’s EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

On the Tain Way

A place of myth and wonder on foot and approachable

On Monday, June 9, 2014, cousin John Mills dropped his son, Sean Mills, myself and Pam Wills off at the foot of the western slopes of Slieve Foy on the Tain Way.  Sean, Pam and I walked the way over the mountain and into Carlingford in the footsteps of epic Irish heroes.

Our guide, Sean Mills, proposed the walk and it fell on our last full day in Ireland. Sean’s father and our host for this visit, John Mills, transported the group including my wife Pam to the starting point at the foot of Slieve Foy.

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On the Tain Way– CLICK ME!!!!

Yes, if there is any part of the Tain Way the the mythic Irish heroes trod it is this one over Slieve Foy mountain. The saga, in Irish “Táin Bó Cúailnge” and “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” in English, features this bull, “Donn Cuailnge” “The Brown Bull of Cooley”, here as a statue erected 2011 by the Grange and District Residents Association.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

Donn Cuailnge raged over the very slopes we walked this day. The myths themselves fill a volume and I am unable to do them justice here.

On the way, John stopped at the Old Aghameen School he attended in the late 1930’s early 1940’s 70 years before and we pass through the country soon to grace our views.

Many thanks to the Glenmore Athletic Club, the Cooley Walking Forum and land owners who provide access to the Tain Way.

We had our leave taking with John, who planned to stay near the phone for our call from Carlingford, if all went according to plan. That same year Pam had the first of two total knee replacements. This was our longest hike in Ireland and Pam was not likely to miss it, regardless of any pain. Pam is always ready to smile.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

At start, the Tain Way is broad, green and welcoming.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

The western slopes of Slieve Foy hold views of a valley among the Cooley Mountains with Dundalk Bay of the Irish Sea to the south / southeast. It was not long before the view started to open and, then, opened and opened the entire walk to the top. We were graced with a lovely, cloudy, June day. Mist only, no rain. Plenty of wind, not strong.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

Farms are all about. Here a farmer attends to the flock. They know who he is.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford The lower slopes hold many small stream among granite stones. Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

I will continue with our walk on the Tain Way soon enough.

Click for the next chapter of our time on the Tain Way

Here’s a previous Ireland posting……

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Robin Nest Build

An American Robin prepares a home for her offspring.

Our backyard robins returned this year. Pam, remembering the “miss” they made on her roses, tore down the first bits of nest on our carriage light. They persisted and I implored her to “have a heart,” agreeing to look after their mess. Here she is in the second day, note how she shimmies to form the nest bowl.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved, Michael Stephen Wills

Skellig Peek

A Trinity of Skellig Images

Now’s time to share a trinity of images from a morning spent about the Skellig Islands May 2014.

Pam and I have many stories from that day, a favorite is from the parking lot of Portmagee where we met the fast boat to the island. I prepared for the day by making a reservation for our ride. We traveled from Killarney, where an early morning breakfast feast spread by The Killarney Royal Hotel fortified us for the adventure. Throughout our tour, experiencing Ireland was like taking blinders off, this first experience on The Ring of Kerry was no exception, driving on a tight timeline to reach Portmagee with minutes to spare, every turn of the road presented a new delight.

Grateful to have made it to Portmagee, we quickly pulled our kit together. As I closed the bonnet, Pam exclaimed “our umbrellas.” At this point of the story we laugh together. Umbrellas indeed. I had a dim clue of what lay in store for us and insisted the umbrellas be left behind, a counter-intuitive decision for a rainy Irish day the Wild Atlantic Way. Regardless of the time, we needed a bathroom break as there will be no facilities on the fast boat or the World Heritage Site where there is no space for human waste products.

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Skelligs from Valentia Island
I was here perched on a cliff of Valentia Island across from Portmagee looking southwest across Valentia Sound.

The humor is in our welcome aboard the fast boat, like a fishing boat with a small cabin and small deck dominated by the engine hatch. We crowded on, handed a full set of fisherman slickers. This is a heavy coat with hood and pants, all waterproof. Our close timing guaranteed the worse seat, away from the cabin in the open. It was a new experience for us and we felt a sense of dread as the craft left the protection of Valentia Sound into the open Atlantic Ocean.

We faced a west wind, driving 12+ foot waves, as the boat breached each wave the crest went over the cabin in a waterfall of salt water. Up and down, up and down. Thankfully neither of us lost breakfast as some did. I do not have photographs of the trip out or the approach to the island, my equipment was safely packed away.

In the above photograph you see the entire course of our approach to the island, a bit more than 10 (land) miles from Portmagee. We toured Valentia Island that afternoon.

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Skellig Steps
Climbing the side of Skellig Michael, approach to the peak and monastery.

There is a fair climb to the top to view the former monastery buildings. The steps are uneven and, when wet as it was that day, slippery.  I wore a waterproof North Face shell with hood for the low threatening clouds.  There was no rain as such, a constant fog on the top kept all exposed surfaces wet.

From the point on, until the top, was the most exposed and uncomfortable (frightening, chilling…you get the idea).  Spare yourself the experience if you are afraid of open spaces and heights.  Here was a stiff wind blowing from the right, on the left the cliff falls away to the ocean.  Ahead, the path narrows to about 10 inches with a cliff wall on one side, the precipice on the other.  Then come the monastery entrance and rock wall safety.

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Monk Cell
Monk Cell, Grave and Cross

This single image gives a succinct impression of the monastery setting.  The bee hive shaped stone monk cell requires a stooped crawl to enter.  Inside, the space is small and, thankfully, dry.  The structure keeps out the rain and wind, a marvel of stone construction. This cell is off to the side, on a cliff balcony, over the wall an ocean precipice.

My closing advice is to plan your time wisely.  The ship boards in less than an hour, in that time you climb the 700 steps and explore.  There are people all over the place, in waves. To capture the structures without humans, you need to wait until the cohort become bored and leaves.  There will be a space before the next wave of tourists breaks. Leave enough time to descend the steps safely.  People have suffered fatal falls on the steps and cliffs, it is easy to do.  Make your personal safety a priority.

Click for another Ireland Posting, “On the River Cong.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserves

Gulf of Penas

Rounding the Aisen Headland

Entering Penas Gulf
Rounding the Aysen Region headland of the Penas Gulf. Next land will be the Magellian Region extending to Cape Horn. In the Penas Gulf we will enter the Messier Channel and the fjords.

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Taken with a tripod mounted Sony DSLR A 700 DT 18-200 variable lens set to 18 mm.  1/40 second at f4.5 ISO 6400.  The sun was still low, after sunrise with gathering storm clouds from the terrace of our state room (a moving ship).

Our early morning traverse of the Penas Gulf was smooth sailing in route for Tarn Bar, entrance to the Messier Channel. We’ll pass Wager Isle where May 14, 1741 the H.M.S. Wager wrecked, stranding the crew. Speaking to the conditions on board, immediately some of the crew broke into the “Spirit Room, got drunk, armed themselves and began looting, dressing up in officers’ clothes and fighting,” many drowning the next day when the Wager flooded and sank.

The original fronts piece to Byron’s Narrative; “Being an Account of the Shipwreck of The Wager and the Subsequent Adventures of Her Crew.”

The remaining 140 officers and crew manned the boat to make for shore in the Patagonian winter. Five years later, midshipman John Byron, grandfather to the poet Lord Byron, made it back to England with the Captain David Cheap. Just west of Wager Isle is the larger Byron Isle, named in his honor.

On this south heading our cabin on the port side faced east. In these early morning hours, I set up on the stateroom balcony, so for better or worse there is no views of either Wager or Byron Isle.

Entering Messier Channel from the Gulf of Penas is the next blog in this series.

Lighthouse on Cape Rapier is the previous blog in this series.

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills

Pinelands Connections V

Saint Mary’s of the Pines (St. Mary of the Assumption)

……continued from “Pinelands Connections I.

The Pinelands chemical reactions / iron furnaces of Part III are elements of the warp and weft of our family’s story. Saint Mary Assumption (“Saint Mary’s of the Pine”) Roman Catholic church was another. Family members comprise 60% (60 percent) of the burials, comprising these family names: Dellett (see Pinelands Connections I), Milley, Wills, McCambridge.

“Most of the settlers in the early 19th century were either Presbyterian or of a denomination that resulted from the Protestant Reformation. The Catholics that lived in this area, many of whom worked at Batsto, were at the time practicing their religion by gathering privately in their tiny homes. They had no money with which to buy land or build a church and were only able to have a mass in their homes if a priest from the Philadelphia area came to visit Pleasant Mills, which was not often. Set within the background of religious intolerance, the creation of St. Mary’s of the Assumption was due to one man’s compassion for his workers. That man was Jesse Richards of Batsto, a Protestant. In 1826 he donated a plot of land to his Catholic workers so that they could build their own church. It took a year for them to collect enough money to build St. Mary’s and supposedly Jesse Richards donated some money for the church, as well. The parishioners worked together with a young reverend, Edward R. Mayne, and erected St. Mary’s of the Assumption, which became known as St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in the Pines in Pleasant Mills and eventually St. Mary’s in the Pines. Father Mayne, a convert from Protestantism, became its original priest. The church was dedicated August 15, 1830. Bishop Francis Kendrick of Philadelphia performed the dedication. It was the first Catholic Church south of Trenton and probably the third in the state of New Jersey. Upon Jesse Richards’ death in 1854, Batsto’s industries, especially the glass factories, went into a decline. Many of the workers went elsewhere for employment which caused a decline in the number of St. Mary’s parishioners. The church closed from approximately 1860 through 1865 and after that only sporadic services were held because the area’s population was decreasing. Eventually, in 1867, the glass factories at Batsto were shut down permanently, which further affected St. Mary’s parishioners. In 1885, the Hammonton Parish was formed and St. Mary’s became part of that parish. St. Mary’s in the Pines remained empty until it was destroyed by forest fire around 1900.” From the sign “St. Mary’s Cemetery, St. Mary’s in the Pines”).

The historical sign includes an offer in support of the preservation and restoration of the cemetery and church site. An original water color (pictured above) by Carol Freas, 11×14 color print and mat, Price $40.00. For information, write or call Carol Freas, 39 John Street, Tuckerton, NJ 08087 (609) 294-0218

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lighthouse on Cape Rapier

Skirting a dangerous cape of the western pacific ocean

While most of our fellow passengers were sleeping, as usual I woke at 5 am to pull the gear together, dress warmly, step out onto our magic window on the world.  Our decision to request a port side cabin continues to pay off.  The Cape Rapier lighthouse flashes every few seconds.  One of these shots caught the light.

Lighthouse on Cape Rapier
Since 1914 the lighthouse on Cape Rapier, Aysen Provence, Chile, has protected ships on the northern approach to the Gulf of Penas.

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Lighthouse Cape Rapier
Before dawn, February 17, 2016, the light protected us on the Oceania Regatta as we rounded Cape Rapier to enter the Gulf of Penas on route of the Messier Channel, the Fjords of Chile and an encounter with the Iceberg Glacier of Fjord Tempanos.

Gulf of Penas is the next blog in this series.

A mini-interview with Michael Wills is the previous blog in this series.

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills

Pinelands Connections IV

Bog Iron

This series starts here “Pinelands Connections I.

“There was also iron in the Pinelands. Most of the now vanished towns in the pines were iron towns — small, precursive Pittsburghs, in every part of the forest, where fine grade of pig and wrought iron were made. One of the geological curiosities of the Pine Barrens is that rainwater soaking down through fallen pine needles and other forest litter takes on enough acid to leach out iron from the sands below; the dissolved iron moves underground into the streams, where it oxidizes on contact with the air and forms a patch of scum on the surface that is partly rust brown and partly iridescent blue, and resembles an oil slick left by an outboard motor; drifting over to the edges of the streams, this iron-oxide film permeates the sands and gravels of the riverbanks and cements them together into a sandstone composite that has been known for centuries as bog iron. From it ironmasters of the Pine Barrens made cannonballs by the thousand and then them by wagon over the sand roads and on to the Continental Army at Valley Forge and elsewhere.” From The New Yorker magazine, November 26, 1967, “Profiles, The Pine Barrens I” creative non-fiction by the great John McPhee.

“In 1770, a Philadelphian named John Cox was a member of the first Committee of Correspondence and a member of the Council of Safety. With the coming of war, he became a lieutenant colonel and, eventually, assistant quartermaster general of the Continental Armies. His ironworks at Batsto flourished on war contracts from the Quartermaster Corps. In 1778, Cox sold Batsto for forth thousand pounds — a capital gain of about sixteen hundred per cent……Batsto was to reach its most developed stage in the eighteen-thirties and eighteen-forties, when the town had a population of eight hundred. Batsto is one of the few iron towns that remain in the Pine Barrens. …..The state has restored its water-powered sawmill, and sawyers cut white cedar there and make cedar shingles for use in restoration of Batsto buildings.” From The New Yorker magazine, November 26, 1967, “Profiles, The Pine Barrens I” by John McPhee.

Competition from more productive sources of iron and the coal-fired Pittsburg furnaces brought down the Pinelands iron works at their height. By 1848 the furnace at Batsto was cold.

Click me for Pinelands Connections V

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A mini-interview with Michael Wills

This is the first blog in this series.

Lighthouse on Cape Rapier is the next blog in this series.

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills