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

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.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pinelands Connections III

A presence today

“Driving along a sand road between the vanished town of Calico and the vanished town of Munion Field, we passed a house that was so many miles from any other house that Fred said, with evident admiration, “He got well in away from everybody, didn’t he?” Fred made a similar remark every time we passed a house or cabin that was particularly deep and alone in the weeds. Getting — or staying — way from everybody is a criterion that apparently continues to mean as much to many of the people in the pines as it did to some of their forebears who first settled there. Tories, for example, fled into the pines during the American Revolution. People with names like Britton and Brower, loyal to the King, and sometimes covered with feather and tar, left that homes in Colonial cities and took refuge in the Pine Barrens. Also during the eighteenth century, when the farmlands of western New Jersey were heavily populated with Quakers, the Pine Barrens served as a catch basin for Quakers who could not live up to the standards of the Quaker code….” From The New Yorker magazine, November 26, 1967, “Profiles, The Pine Barrens I” creative non-fiction by the great John McPhee.

……continued from “Pinelands Connections II.

Vanished like the towns of Washington, Calico, Munion Field are the reasons that led to the union of the Quaker George Wills and Mary Dellett, daughter of James, emigrant from Northern Ireland. It is reasonable to surmise George, separated from the Quakers, sought refuge in the pines as a young man.

We can tease grief and loss from the records and landscape, When Joseph C. Clark visited George and Mary on August 24, 1850 to record the persons living there, if the U.S. Constitution prescribed the recording of the grief he experienced, the record would show Charles missing from the list. Follow the sand path, “Eagle Road” three miles north where he lays in the ground of the family cemetery, having passed just days before the 1850 census was taken.

The loss of a cherished presence can be inferred from the use of precious marble to mark his resting place. The heavy pine slabs of his companions long since vanished.

As with the Wills Hotel, the Wills Family Cemetery is best found through global coordinates: 39°45’49.7″N 74°34’01.4″W

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Framed Convex Mirror, Killarney Royal Hotel

The morning of our day on the Dingle Peninsula I left the room early, my Sony Alpha 700 in hand, while Pam finished her preparations.  The elevator deposited me in the lobby and I proceeded to capture images of the Killarney Royal Hotel, our base for three nights.

This marvelous “antique” mirror caught my eye. We are used to seeing convex mirrors in the upper corners of elevators, strategically located at hallway junctions, automated teller machines and parking garages all with the intention of providing a wide, fisheye, view to detect unsavory, lurking types and danger.

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This spotless, framed convex mirror is from a older, saner time.  Such objects came in use from the 1400’s (15th century). When all glass was blown, a convex surface was easier to produce than a flat and, since all glass was expensive to produce, a convex mirror was a popular luxury item, an expensively framed status symbol.

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As the mirrors were an element of elite surroundings, art came to include them as objects in the midground, the surface reflecting back to the viewer a different viewpoint. An opportunity for an artist to demonstrate virtuosity. Examples are Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait” and the left wing of the Werl Triptych by Robert Campin.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

Known as the “sorcerer’s eye” from the all encompassing view and, in keeping with our modern uses, even back then also called a”banker’s eye.”  Symbolically, the 15th century paintings used a pristine mirror to represent the Immaculate Conception.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

The five images here are the final result of trial and error, working out the details of using a flash in the relatively low light of the morning lobby, avoiding my reflection, maintaining a sharp focus throughout the field, capturing the unique details of the frame without distortion and the mirror’s wide angle view.  I gave up on the flash and, instead, did this series at f5.6 and the ISO incremented 800 to 3,200. As such, the exposure ranged from 1/5 to 1/25 of a second. All shots were handheld.

Framed Convex Mirror– CLICK ME!!!!

I hope you enjoy the results. This was a promising start to our memorable day of exploration.

Here’s the next installment of our Dingle Exploration….

Here’s a previous Ireland posting…..

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Hag’s Chair or Mass Rock?

Ancient Tradition

Part of our day in County Meath, Ireland  
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Known as the Hag’s Chair in some contexts, K29 or the Mass Rock, in others, set as a Cairn T, Loughcrew kerbstone thousands of years ago the carved symbols on front, rear and seat are very worn. There is no surviving record to inform us of the stone’s purpose. The upper side appears carved to enhance the form as chair.   Set to the north of Cairn T, not in front of the entrance as with Newgrange, even this is a mystery.  It is the third largest curbstone.

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The popular name refers to the hill itself, “The Hill of the Witch” (In Irish, Sliabh na Caillí).   In lore sites such as this are associated with The Others (“fairies”), living lives parallel to ours.

Tradition holds that, during times of the Penal Laws, Catholics gathers on for Mass using this curbstone as the altar.   By this it is known as the Mass Rock.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pinelands Connections II

Hotel Keepers

“There are many hundreds of miles of unpaved roads through the pines–two tracks in the sand, with underbrush growing up between them. Hunters use them, and foresters, firefighters, and woodcutters A number of these sand roads have been there, and have remained unchanged, since before the American Revolution. They developed, for the most part, as Colonial stage routes, trails to charcoal pits, pulpwood-and-lumber roads, and connecting roads between communities that have disappeared from the world. In a place called Washington, five of these roads converge in the forest, as if from star points, and they suggest the former importance of Washington, but all that is left of the town is a single fragment of a stone structure..” From The New Yorker magazine, November 26, 1967, “Profiles, The Pine Barrens I” creative non-fiction by the great John McPhee.

……continued from “Pinelands Connections I.

That “single fragment of a stone structure” of 1967 may be all that’s left of the hotel run by Great-Great Grandparents George and Mary (Delette

U.S Census for Washington township, Burlington County, New Jersey, August 24, 1850 Nine (9) children living: William Henry and Aaron, both 16 though not twins. William Henry, born late in the year 1833, October 16, leaving Aaron with a birthday before the census date, making his birth year 1834. My great grandfather, George, 14 years. James (12), Moses (10), Mary Ann (8), Amos (6), Martha Jane (4), John Bishop (2).

As near as I can tell, their hotel was located at these coordinates near a place called Hawkins Bridge: 39°42’58.88″N, 74°33’57.81″W Today, the site is surrounded by cranberry bogs.

Click me for Pinelands Connections III

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“Grosse Isle quarantine station was on an island near Quebec in what is now Canada. It was one of the principal arrival ports for emigrants.

Emigration peaked in 1847 when nearly 100,000 Irish landed at Grosse Isle, straining the resources to breaking poinit. Severe overcrowding and an outbreak of typhus caused enormous suffering the the result was a large number of deaths amongst both immigrants and doctors.

New stricter laws were passed to encure that the catastrophe of 1847 was not repeated. Irish emigrant traffic increasingly flowed towards the United State inthe post-Famine period”. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

In that horrible year of 1847, strict quarantine could not be enforced and many passengers, some carrying disease, were taken directly to Montreal or Quebec city. At least 5,000 died on Grosse Isle in 1847 and thousands more in Quebec, Montreal and during the voyage across the Atlantic.

The unprecedented crisis made it difficult for accurate records to be kept. Some lists were compiled giving details of the possessions of those who died. These lists make sombre reading as they describe the personal belongings of Irish men and women whose hopes of a new life in North America were never fulfilled.

The objects in this showcase provide an representation of the possessions of famine emigrants. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Spillway Falls with Hemlock

hemlock grace and water

The Dry Creek dam is across the upper, eastern, end of Fillmore Glen. Historical records of the dam construction must exist someplace. My opinion is, somewhere in the federal bureaucracy there is a record proving this dam was constructed by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. That is when the gorge trails were dramatically improved and it is logical a dam was necessary to control water flow during times of heavy rainfall and the spring thaw, to allow a full appreciation of the gorge beauty. It is a substantial concrete structure with cast iron controls, two spillways: one never, the second always flowing. This day the reservoir is full, frequented by beavers, stocked trout, herons, blue jays, crows, hermit thrush. The reservoir banks are thick with wildflowers of the season. This afternoon I noticed purple flowering raspberries: a past prime bloom or two, ripe fruit growing in the late afternoon shade on the south side of the dam.

Unlike its name, Dry Creek is perennial, fed by a broad drainage of pastures, cornfields and forests. Year round the spillway runs, feeding into the gorge a constant, reliable supply of water for the many waterfalls for which Fillmore Glen State Park is known. The very first waterfall is on the rocks supporting the north side of the dam, formed where water from the spillway flows over these rocks into a deep, east west gorge overhung on the south side by mature hemlock trees.

I first encountered Fillmore Glen in the 1980’s with my young son, Sean. On Sundays he and I walked as far as he tolerated, about half way to the dam site, where the gorge makes a turn to the south, the trail on an unstable clay bank against a crumbling shale cliff. Rediscovering the park in the early 2000’s, along with my interest in photography, I noticed the waterfall just below the dam many times and admired it for how the water caught late afternoon light over the many grace points created by rock crags like a wedding cake. The angle from the dam path is wrong for capturing this effect. Today was a first for me to leave the safety of the dam path to climb into the gorge, on the south gorge wall, for a shot.

Here is a view of the spillway fall on a mid-August afternoon, 2017. My photography kit for this walk with my wife, Pam, was minimal: a Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens, the flash and a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod. For this version of the spillway I climbed into the gorge on the south wall, about 40 feet above the creek. A hemlock tree branch fell across the view, incorporated into the composition. These hemlocks are not a biological relative of the Socratic, poisonous, hemlock. The relationship is a similar aroma when the leaves are crushed. The f stop is cranked to 36, ISO set to 100 so slow exposure time to 1.6 second. Post shot processing via Photoshop.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Assistance from America

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“The U.S.S Jamestown was the first ship to bring famine relief supplies to Ireland in 1847. Other vessels followed, notably the Macedonian which arrived in Cork July 1847. Captained by George C. DeKay of New Jersey, it carried supplies provided by the citizens of New York, Boston, Main and other parts of the United States. Captain DeKay was warmly welcomed in Cord and special events were held in his honor. Most of the cargo was distributed in Ireland, with some being brought to Scotland to relieve distress there. Other smaller supplies of famine relief goods were sent to Cork from the United States. In April the bark Tartar sailed to Cork with in late June the Reliance left Boston, also destined for Cork. Each carried nearly $30,000 worth of goods for famine relief. From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

United States frigate Constellation with relief stores for Irish distress off Haulbownline in Cork Harbor.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Peel’s Brimstone

during the Great HUNGER, from the Cobh Heritage Center

“In November 1845 the British government set up a Relief Commission for Ireland which imported Indian corn and meal from the United States. This arrived in Cork early in 1846 and was distributed around the country where local food depots and relief committees were established. Indian corn (maize) was not grown in Ireland and was an unfamiliar food. It was difficult to grind and in some areas was known as “Peel’s brimstone,” after the Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. Special leaflets were issued to describe how to cook maize.” From the exhibit (below), Cobh Heritage Center.

Instructions for how to cook maize. In the west of Ireland many people spoke Irish.

“On Saturday last, the Government Sales of Indian Corn commenced in Cork. Immediately on the depoys being opened, the crowds of poor persons who gathered round them were so turbulently inclined as to require the immediate interference of the police, who remained throughout the day.

Among the poor, who were of the humblest description, and needing charitable relief, the sales were but scanty. The occasion had become of necessity; for potatoes had risen to 11d. the market price for 14 pounds; and, some of the leading commercial men in Cork have made a calculation, which show that the Government can afford to sell the Indian Corn at a much cheaper rate.

We feel gratified to learn that a steamer has been dispatched from Cork to Dublin, laden with 600 sacks of Indian meal.

One half, by the orders, is to be dispatched by the Royal, and the other by the Grand Canal, to the interior. It must be acknowledged that her Majesty’s Government are executing their dury promptly and with energy. from the Illustrated London News, April 4, 1846″. ~ from the exhibit, Cobh Heritage Center.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved