Northwest Burlington County New Jersey

Middle Colonies

Americans have often prided themselves on their rich diversity. Nowhere was that
diversity more evident in pre-Revolutionary America than in the Middle Colonies,
which included Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. European ethnic
groups as varied as English, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Scots-Irish and French lived
in closer proximity than in any location on continental Europe. During the early
years, the middle colonies contained Native American tribes of Algonkian and Iroquois
as well as African slaves. The middle colonies presented an assortment of religions.
The presence of Quakers, Mennonites, Lutherans, Dutch Calvinists, and Presbyterians
made the dominance of one faith next to impossible. The middle colonies served as
important distribution centers in the English mercantile system and as the crossroads
of ideas during the colonial period.

In contrast to the South where the cash crop plantation system dominated, and New
England whose rocky soil made large-scale agriculture difficult, the middle colonies were
fertile. Land was generally acquired more easily than in New England or in the plantation
South. Wheat and corn from local farms would feed the American colonies through their
colonial infancy and revolutionary adolescence.

Trade in the New Jersey Colony used the natural resources and raw materials available
to develop trade in corn and wheat and livestock including beef and pork. Other indus-
tries included the production of iron ore, lumber, hemp, coal, textiles, furs and
ship building. The iron industry was very strong in New Jersey and the iron works in
the colony did well.

Slavery in New Jersey

Slavery in New Jersey began in the early 17th century, when Dutch colonists imported
African slaves for labor to develop their colony of New Netherland. After England took
control of the colony in 1664, its colonists continued the importation of slaves from
Africa. They also imported "seasoned" slaves from their colonies in the West Indies and
enslaved Native Americans from the Carolinas. But while slaves were encouraged, free
blacks were not. Free blacks were barred by law from owning land in colonial New Jersey.
New Jersey's slave population grew to nearly 4,000 in 1738. Slaves accounted for about
12 percent of the colony's population up to the Revolution. From 1713 to 1768, the colony
operated a separate court system to deal with slave crimes.

Most Dutch and English immigrants entered the colony as indentured servants. As conditions
in England improved and the number of indentured laborers declined, New Jersey's colonists
imported more Africans for needed labor. After the Revolutionary War, many northern states
rapidly passed laws to abolish slavery, but New Jersey did not abolish it until 1804, After
which, slaves were freed by a process of gradual emancipation.

By 1790 Burlington County had the largest black population of the state's five southern
counties. But probably of greater import, it also had the largest free black population of
any county in New Jersey. This fact may be attributed to its being located in the Delaware
Valley, an area that has been termed "the Cradle of Emancipation" because it was that part
of America where slaves were first manumitted (formal emancipation from slavery) on a large
scale. It was the sizeable presence and influence in the Delaware Valley of Quakers,
America's first organized group to speak out against the evils of black bondage, that
enabled this region to be the pacesetter regarding black emancipation.

Burlington Friends Meeting House

In 1688 the first anti-slavery tract written in the American colonies, a document prepared
by Francis Daniel Pastorius of Germantown, Pennsylvania, was read at the yearly meeting of
Delaware Valley Quakers at the Burlington Friends Meeting House. That meeting house was
replaced by the present structure about 1786.

Northwestern Burlington County

Present View of Northwestern Burlington County Farmland

Anglo-European records of Burlington County date to 1681, when its court was established in
the Province of West Jersey. The county was formed on May 17, 1694. The county seat had been
in Burlington but, as the population increased in the interior, away from the Delaware River,
a more central location was needed, and the seat of government was moved to Mount Holly in 1793.

Most of the land in the county is coastal and alluvial plain with little relief. The majority
of the land is dotted with rivers, streams, and wetlands. Arney's Mount is the highest in the
entire county at approximately 240 feet (73 m) above sea level.

Peachfield Plantation

One of the very first farmsteads built in New Jersey still stands as a reminder of West Jersey's
Agrarian and Quaker roots. In 1674, John Skene, a Quaker from Scotland, bought 300 acres of
land in the Province of West Jersey and named the property "Peachfield."

Henry Burr purchased the property from Skene's widow in 1695. He and his wife built the east
portion of the house, made with South Jersey bog ironstone, on the present site in 1725. Their
son, John Burr and his wife, Kaziah, built the west part of the house in 1732. The property
remained in the Burr family for 200 years. The farmstead was very profitable; the Burrs raised
cash crops for years. Surrounding farm lands adjacent to the house are still farmed as they have
been for more than 200 years.

In 1931, Norman and Miriam Harker purchased Peachfield. The house had virtually been destroyed
by fire two years earlier. They engaged the services of a well-known Philadelphia architect, to
restore the home. In 1965 Mrs. Harker bequeathed Peachfield and its surrounding 120 acres of
land to the New Jersey Dames.

Crosswicks Inn at Chesterfield

For more than 300 years, the trim, clapboard Crosswicks Inn had been a tavern, a Prohibition-
era speakeasy and a restaurant. The building opened as a tavern in 1681, a respite for travelers
headed between New York and Philadelphia, but lost its liquor license in 1689 when owner John
Bainbridge sold alcohol to neighboring Lenape Indians. The building saw new life in the 1700s,
when Thomas Douglas took over management of the building and renamed it the "Douglas Tavern,"
as it would remain throughout the Revolutionary War and 1800s.

Chesterfield (Crosswicks) Quaker Meeting Houses

The Crosswicks Meeting House was built in 1773 on the green in the center of Crosswicks, the
third such structure at that site. This meeting house is currently used by the Crosswicks Friends.
It is located at the intersection of Front and Church Streets in the center of Crosswicks. After
the Quaker schism in 1827, the Hicksite faction occupied the meeting house, while the Orthodox
wing built its own meeting house on Ward Avenue in the Crosswicks section of Chesterfield. This
meeting house is today in possession of the now-unified Quaker Meeting and houses the Chesterfield
Historical Society's museum.

Battle of Brookdale

Taylor-Newbold House (Brookdale), Chesterfield, Burlington County

During the Revolutionary War, a small skirmish fought at this house illustrates the extent to
which that conflict was actually a civil war. Samuel Taylor, uncle of Brookdale's owner, was a
Tory. About thirty Whig militia set out to collect fines from Samuel Taylor. At Brookdale, this
contingent encountered a party of some forty Tory men and eleven women. An intense but inconclu-
sive battle ensued, with the combatants employing brickbats, axes, hoes and boiling water. British
troops stopped twice at Brookdale during the Revolutionary War, but because they were well treated
there, did not damage the house.


URL Subject middle-colonies.htm Middle Colonies
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Delaware Valley Map County,_New_Jersey Burlington County
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Plantation_ Westampton_NJ

Peachfield Plantation
Jerrye and Roy Klotz - Own work,
Peachfield - Mount Holly Township - Burlington County.
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Slavery in Burlington County newjersey.htm
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Slavery in New Jersey
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