TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT BURLINGTON COUNTY
By Joe Laufer
1. Ever wonder why there are townships of Southampton, Eastampton and Westampton, but no Northampton. At one time, the entire southern half of Burlington County was called Northampton, from Mt. Holly through the Pine Barrens. In fact, the Rancocas Creek was once known as the Northampton River.
2. Even though other pioneers visited the region before them, it was the Quakers, escaping persecution in England, who were the primary settlers of Burlington County, arriving in 1677 and 1678.
3. William Penn had an interest in West Jersey -- primarily Burlington County -- six years before he turned his attention to Pennsylvania -- and was a major influence in the populating of Burlington County by Quakers. (Concessions and Agreements for West Jersey in 1677; Charter for Pennsylvania, 1681).
4. While only called "diversionary skirmishes", the Revolutionary War activities in Burlington County during the last week of December, 1776 (primarily the Battles of Petticoat Bridge in Springfield and Iron Works Hill in Mt. Holly) were major factors in the success of George Washington at the Battle of Trenton when he crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day.
5. There is a monument to the "Unkown Soldiers of the Revolutionary War in Burlington County" in the Upper Springfield Friends Burial Ground.
6. The Quaker belief in the primacy of education (for boys and girls) led to the proliferation of early schools in Burlington County, resulting in a great number of preserved one-room school houses throughout the county.
7. Before the Civl War there were several well-populated communities of freed slaves throughout Burlington County, thanks in large part to the Quaker belief in the rights of slaves, women and Native Americans and their pro-active efforts in the Underground Railroad movement.
8. The soil of the vast Pinelands region of Burlington County contributed to a natural succession of industries, including the iron bog factories, cultivation of cranberries and then the cultivation of blueberries. Despite the proliferation of 18th century iron, glass and paper factories, the resilliant Pine Barrens survive as a preserved precious natural resource.
9. A significant number of towns in Burlington County began as summer resorts for people escaping the heat, noise and pollution of Philadelphia -- including the river towns along the Delaware and several inland Pinelands Communities, including Birmingham, Chatsworth, Browns Mills, Medford Lakes and Ewansville.
10. Burlington County has the "first" and "oldest" of many institutions in New Jersey, including historic fire houses, schools, libraries, churches, "lock ups", prisons, court houses and even inventions -- too numerous to mention -- but preserved as museums and historical sites in local communities.
Post Script : Burlington County's interest in history and preservation can be credited to small, local historical societies operated by dedicated volunteers who appreciate the rich and unique origins of their towns. Impetus was given to their initiatives in 1976 during the nation's Bicentennial, when patriotic pride was enkindled through projects funded by state and national organizations. Many lasting local historical projects can be traced back to this period 30 years ago.