Written History – Author Unknown – 1980's vintage

Tabernacle – In Times Gone By – Author Unknown

No Date Given (possibly around 1980’s as this essay refers to the restoration of the Pepper House being worked on.)


The name, “Tabernacle” may be credited to a dedicated Presbyterian minister named John Brainerd who named his simple log church, “Tabernacle in the Wilderness”. It was built primarily for the large Native American contingent in the area the Lenni Lanapes (meaning real men) also know as the Delaware Tribe. It was with the Delaware Tribe that William Penn made his famous treaty. Rev. Brainerd was greatly concerned with not only their spiritual needs but their material ones as well. He objected strongly to the sale of liquors to his Indian flock and wrote to Chief Justice Frederick Smythe in 1776.

Many of the Indians had become basket and broom makers and those who had learned to read and write English had John Brainerd to thank for it. They trusted him implicitly for he had proven to be one of the few white settlers they could trust.

The first white settlers in the northeastern section of Shamong Township were mostly Quakers of English descent – one of the earliest being Isaiah Haines whose descendants still live in Burlington County. The prosperity of Isaiah Haines’ farms induced others to settle nearby such as the Wills, Burr, Beaumont, Ridgway, Budd, Bozarth, Bowker and Sooy.

Early colonists in the area referred to this wilderness that had to be cleared for farming the “Pine Barrens” – probably because the sandy, acidic soil was not suited to the crops they had raised previously in their homeland. Wild blueberries and cranberries were used by Indians and whites alike but the cranberry did not come into its own until 1835. The blueberry wasn’t cultivated until 1916.

In 1850, the first store in the village was built by Henry Peters near the little church.

Between 1760 and 1850, iron, charcoal and glass industries were spread throughout the Pines. Speedwell Furnace was opened by Benjamin Randolph in 1785. A forge called Union Works made bar iron using so-called pig iron, which is very rust resistant, obtained from the Speedwell Furnace.

Residents gathered sphagnum moss, wild grapes, laurel, pine cones and other native grown materials to sell for profit. This enterprise continued into the 20th century.

In 1901, Tabernacle became a township – being formed from portions of Southampton, Woodland and Shamong Townships. By that time, people who lived in the remote wooded sections and made their living from the land were being referred to as Pineys. Strictly speaking, a Piney is someone who can trace their roots back to at least two generations.

Carranza Road is noted for many historic sites. It has been called Red Lion Road and Hampton Gate Road – and winds directly through the Wharton State Forest. This tract was once owned by Joseph Wharton – between 1954 and 1964, the State of N. J. purchased 96,000 acres for three million dollars from the Wharton Estate. The name, “Carranza” is Hispanic and may seem strange in the company of “Patty Bowker” and Irick’s Causeway”.

This name is in memory of Emilio Carranza, one of the most celebrated aviators of his time – and more fittingly known as “Mexico’s Lone Eagle”. The 23 year old pilot undertook a good-will flight non-stop from Mexico City to Washington, D. C. in 1928. He had been involved in at least one crash and it had been necessary to set his facial bones with platinum screws after one such encounter. He had been advised by Roosevelt Field in New York that a line of thunderstorms pervaded the area but he perhaps believed that he could outfly the storms in his Ryan monoplane. Evidently, he could not and his plane crashed near where the Carranza Monument now stands. The Mt. Holly American Legion Post #11 instituted a service for the gallant captain in 1929. That service has set a precedent and is followed each year in the United States and Mexico and politicians, local dignitaries and representatives from the Mexican Embassy attend the ceremonies. Wreaths are placed at the monument made possible by contributions from the children of Mexico; the Fort Dix Army Band provides the solemn music, (and) military color guard. Afterwards there is a picnic.

Tabernacle Cemetery stands on the corner of Route 532 and Carranza Road. In 1803, when Rev. Brainerd’s little church was still standing, William and Sarah Wilkins who owned land around it deeded two acres for the sum of eight dollars to the twenty-eight residents of the town for use as a church yard and cemetery “as long as wheels of time shall not cease to flow”. The old deed is still extant. Family names such as Moore, Alloways, Bowker are listed on the document. Many visitors start tracing their Piney roots in this cemetery.

Previous stereotypes of Pineys perpetuated by the new media of bygone eras caused most people to look down on them. They were pictured as reclusive, illiterate, immoral and possibly feeblemeinded from family inbreeding by many who had never been to the Pinelands nor encountered a Piney. Due to a widely circulated report published in 1913 by a psychological researcher named Elizabeth Kite about a small portion of the early twentieth century Pineys, many New Jerseyans as late as the 1960’s believed that residents of the Pinelands were hostile, weird and paranoid about privacy, fugitives from justice and as such ought to be avoided at all costs.

It is true that many of the early Pinelanders chose to settle in the vast wilderness because of its remoteness from the clutches of the law. More than a few Hessian soldiers found their way to the Pinelands from Trenton where General Washington had launched a successful surprise attack against their employers. Several Quakers from Philadelphia and Moorestown who refused to bear arms in the Revolution took refuge in the Pines from the wrath of their militant neighbors.

The name Bozarth is reputedly a Hugenot name. Hugenots settled nearby Mt. Misery, calling it Misericorde. Sooy can be traced to Captain Yoos Sooy of Amsterdam employed by the famous Dutch East India Company and in 1696 was a friend of Swedish Explorer, Eric Mullica.

Nowadays, most people are proud to trace their ancestry back to those hardy, industrious settlers who were hardworking farmers, merchants, blacksmiths and sawyers. Today, the Haines Brothers operate a sawmill on their homestead.

The cemetery records indicate two known suicides, one death by drowning, one from diphtheria and most curious of all, 288 unknown children from equally unknown causes, no dates are given – along with some English women.

There are probably more unmarked graves than marked. Of course, the most famous grave of all is that of Indian Ann. Many legends exist about her – she was the last of the Lenni Lenapes to live in Tabernacle. She was born in 1804 on the Brotherton Reservation in Indian Mills – many of the tribe accepted an invitation from other tribesmen to relocate to Oneida Lake, New York. Ann was the daughter of Elisha Ashatama – some say she was born on the John Woolman, a Quaker, farm. One of these lovely legends say the (that) a young white girl named Mary met Ann in the woods one day and Mary offered her some of her lunch of bread and cheese and they sat down near a stream to eat it – today that stream bears the name of “Bread and Cheese Run”. When Ann introduced the white settler to her father, perhaps it was the chief who named the area “Inawendiwin” or friendship – the Camden County Girl Scout Council had called their camp just that. Ann became a basket weaver and married a reputed former slave named Peter Green – after his death, she married John Roberts. Roberts served in the Civil War and died in 1864. In 1880, Ann began to receive a widow’s pension of $8 per month – six years later, it was increased to $12. John and Ann Roberts lived in a small frame house on Dingletown road and had 7 children. She is said to have worn shirtwaist dresses and smoked a clay pipe – she wore her hair in long braids and was of average height. One her walks she was accompanied by two dogs. Her basket sales territory was Tabernacle, Vincentown and Medford. She died in 1894 at the age of 90. The simple marker on her grave was put there by the Burlington County Historical Society. Each Memorial Day, the president of the Tabernacle Historical Society places flowers on her grave. The Society is privileged to have one of her baskets donated by Mrs. John Cutts.

The Tabernacle Town Hall was built in 1874 by the Order of St. Mechanics. This social organization was for men only – there were 17 charter members. Membership dwindled considerably after World War II making it impractical to keep the Hall and by unanimous vote, it was donated to the Township for a municipal building.

The Tabernacle Historical Society is now in the process of restoring the “Pepper House”. The first owner was Gilbert Knight, a blacksmith. An ice cream shop was operated by the next owners Sam & Carrie Scott – it was also the site of a filling station.

The Tabernacle Methodist Church was built in 1880 – before we had a volunteer fire company, the church bell was rung to call fire fighters to the scene and for air raid drills during World War II.

A one-room school was once located on what is now Friendship-Fox Chase Road. Old Union School as some now call it, was located on Indian Mills-Tabernacle Road – it closed in 1917. A teacher, Anna Haines Barthold, was frank about her lack of experience during her job interview. Mr. Tustin, her interviewer, couldn’t have cared less about her lack of experience – he was concerned as to whether the young teacher was a stern enough disciplinarian to prevent the students from, as he put it bluntly, “tearing the school house down”. Mrs. Barthold and Mrs. Harriett Haines remembered the wood stoves to heat the two rooms, the iron pump in the hall and the outdoor toilet. For $90 a month, less a deduction for a Pension fund, the teacher was expected to build the fire – heating soup or cocoa so the children would have something hot for lunch. She was quick to praise her students for taking the cold weather in stride and she thought it worth mentioning in her diary on January 19, 1926, “Charles Yates cried all day”. The school was moved from its site, enlarged and renovated with indoor lavatories. The Burlington County Education News noted the modern amenities including an oil burner and two splendid school buses.

The little building facing Flyatt Road on the grounds of the Intermediate School is known as “Friendship School” – Herb Gerber attended school there until it was abandoned in 1917 for lack of pupils – it was rescued by the Tabernacle Historical Society after being abused as a goat barn and chicken coop. Now visitors may see firsthand what a one-room school prior to World War I looked like. It is open on the first Saturday from April to October or by appointment. 2 – 4 P. M.

Carlton Yates lives in what was once called, “Englishtown” in a 115 year old house. Perhaps he is the only one left who pursues, by choice, the identical lifestyle of his grandfather and father and cares little for modern improvements. He has been offered electricity for his house and barn which he politely declined. He is not troubled that he has no television, electric stove or indoor plumbing. “You don’t miss what you never had”, he comments. Carlton is a bachelor and 82 years old. There has been a Yates on his parcel of land since 1875. He still uses wood for heat, gets his water from a pump and cooks his meals on a kerosene stove. He attributes his long life with a straight face – to his confirmed bachelorhood.

Apple Pie Hill reputedly got its name from its resemblance to the pie crust. The U. S. Treasure Atlas, Vol. VI says retreating British soldiers having robbed some colonials buried two chests of treasure on Apple Pie Hill, 3 miles south of Chatsworth – nothing has been unearthed to date (You many not dig in the Pines-State Forest).

On June 28, 1979, Governor Brendan Byrne signed the Pinelands Protection Act and created the 556,000 acre Pinelands National Reserve. The act has sparked controversy – but most are aware that something had to be done to preserve a unique ecosystem unlike anything to be found elsewhere on our planet.

%d bloggers like this: