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

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