Those looking for a well thought out, entertaining look at the origins of the Jersey Devil myth would be happy that they picked this book up.
THE HISTORY OF THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
The only one minor drawback to the book is that it can be hard to follow at times as the narrative jumps around, often back and forth in time, quite a bit between chapters. Several times a chapter will end, the next chapter will go on about something else entirely, and the chapter after that will pick up where the first left off. Between the 18th and 19th centuries the Pine Barrens were home to a number of industrial ventures. Iron furnaces, forges, glass, and paper factories dotted the landscape, springing up wherever abundant water power and natural resources were found.
The legacy of those industries and the towns that grew up around them is largely lost to time; the odd scattering of bricks and rubble in a clearing and names marked on old yellowing maps are the only witness to those ventures and the people who lived and worked there. Batsto Village is one of the few places that managed to avoid that fate.
Charles Read established an iron furnace there in Within a century all of the furnaces in the Pine Barrens had closed down, unable to compete with the Pennsylvania furnaces that were fuelled by less expensive anthracite coal. The owner of Batsto, Jesse Richards, realized that the days of iron production were over but that glass could be profitably made in the Pine Barrens. By the glassworks at Batsto was producing large amounts of window glass and the town was again bustling with life. In , after years of decline the Philadelphia industrialist Joseph Wharton purchased the Batsto tract.
Renowned Pine Barrens fine art photographer Albert D. Horner supplies beautiful full color photography for the book. If you have not had the pleasure of a mansion tour yet these photographs will surely get you excited to go on one. There are also a number of beautiful landscape photographs from around the village. Of particular note is a wide-angle shot of the mansion and general store after a fresh snowfall that succinctly captures the feeling of the village being frozen in time.
Jim Leeds (Author of Shattered Princesses)
Working through the book, one might wonder if there will be any mention of what happened with the village after the state purchased. Luckily Solem devotes a chapter going into detail about the various restoration plans for the village as well as the archaeological digs that have been conducted. An interesting fact presented is that the first building to be restored was the sawmill, which was then used to make boards, beams, and shingles that were used to restore the other buildings. That chapter alone makes this a valuable reference book.
Batsto Village: Jewel of the Pines is well written, fascinating, and is of interest to people who are interested in a casual history of Batsto. Manufacturing stories and tall-tales is an industry linked to South Jersey as much as iron making or growing cranberries has been.
Just like the Pine Barrens furnaces were obsoleted by new technology, you might think that the Internet and cable TV have supplanted the South Jersey storytellers. Paul Evan Pedersen, Jr. The subtitle of the book is a succinct description of what lays in between the covers.
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From the jump, Pederson wastes no time getting down to business. Leading off with a tale of a mad pirate; a beautiful strawberry-blonde woman; a magical Lenape Indian well; and a night of passion, Peterson weaves a splendid, if not somewhat racy, reboot of the famous Jersey Devil legend. Not all of the stories in the book are retellings of old legends. The same thing goes for Dr.
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Pederson is at his best here, weaving a tale of the friendship of four boys who discover a secret hidden in a pond deep in the Pines. Bookstore shelves sag with the weight of New Jersey themed books. This is entertainment, pure and simple, made all the better by being set in the Pinelands. The characters are interesting and fresh, the stories flow nicely, and the writing is superb. This is the final article in a three part series looking at the history of the ghost town of Atsion.
You can find part one of the series at this link , and part two at this link. In , the future looked bleak for Atsion. Competition from iron furnaces in Pennsylvania, fueled by cheaper and more efficient anthracite coal, meant that furnace towns like Atsion were no longer able to compete. Patterson envisioned the rebirth of Atsion based around agriculture rather than industry. Beers map of , planned to lay out the streets in his new town in a grid pattern.
The main crop was to be sugar beets, however the experiment ended in failure when the beets would not grow in the sandy, acidic soil. The real estate venture was also a flop — Patterson sold less than a handful of lots across the lake along Atsion Road. On May 10, Maurice Raleigh purchased the town. One of his first orders of business was to rename the town back to Atsion. He then rebuilt and enlarged the paper mill building — long abandoned and empty — and converted it to a cotton factory.
The cotton factory was a moneymaker and the promise of steady employment brought people back to the area. By Atsion boasted over residents — nearly as many as when the iron furnace was in operation. This newfound prosperity did not last. Raleigh died on January 10, and ownership passed to his heir, who had a different vision for the town. The houses that stand near the intersection of Route and Atsion Road are the only remnants of this real estate venture. Within a year the cotton factory closed and residents moved away. Reverting back to a ghost town, Atsion was mostly unoccupied until Joseph Wharton bought it in Wharton purchased large tracts of land as part of a plan to bring fresh water from the lakes and streams of the Pine Barrens to Philadelphia.
When the New Jersey Legislature caught wind of this plan and passed legislation banning the export of water from the state, Wharton turned his attention to agriculture. He built a number of large cranberry bogs near Atsion and entrusted the management of the town to Andrew Etheridge of Batsto. Wharton did not invest much money in the maintenance of the buildings at Atsion. He put it to use as a storehouse and erected a large concrete barn nearby. The cotton factory was converted to a packing house for the his cranberry bogs. Wharton died in but his estate still carried on with the management of his properties.
Another was to build a recreational facility on the southern shore of Atsion lake.
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The stewardship of Atsion under the State of New Jersey has been somewhat controversial. A number of railroad-era buildings near the cotton factory were bulldozed after the state gained ownership. The school, converted into a private residence in , fell into disrepair after the residents were forced to leave. The final ignominy happened in when the cotton mill building was destroyed in a fire. While officially labeled as arson, there are many who feel that the state was complicit in letting the unsafe and tumbledown building burn down. Recently, things seem to be turning around.
In a new roof was put on the long empty schoolhouse. Between the Atsion Mansion was carefully restored after years of neglect at a cost of over one million dollars.
The porch on the north side of the mansion was rebuilt, cleverly hiding a handicap access ramp. The interior walls were patched and repainted, with each room having a square or two of wall unrestored so that visitors could see the original state of the plaster and woodwork prior to the restoration. Long shuttered to the public, tours are now held allowing people to view the interior of the impressive old house.
For over two centuries, Atsion has found success and suffered decline. Each time the town bounces back and has a revival. Rutgers University Press, Batsto Citizens Committee, Many thanks to Jerseyman and Terry Schmidt for their invaluable assistance in this article series. This is part two of a three part series looking at the history of the ghost town of Atsion.
Related Introduction & Chapter One - Thomas Leeds (Quakers, Politicians, and a Pirate (or two) Book 1)
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