Recrossing at Crosswicks

From Henry Charlton Beck’s 1939 “The Jersey Midlands,” a chapter about the rich history of the village of Crosswicks. Beck’s books have been republished by Rutgers University Press and are still widely available.


From almost the very moment of the recalling of the traveling cannon ball of Crosswicks [in Beck’s earlier “More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey”], odd rumbling came from that section of Burlington County. There were some who said the wrong people had done the most talking. There were others who claimed that our informants, unaware of the facts, made some stories better than they should have been. Others said there was a great deal more to Crosswicks than any had chosen to reveal.


Miss Charlotte Rogers, whose home had been Crosswicks, brought the good-natured complaints as far south as Riverton. However, objections soon were lost in a Crosswicks we had never heard about. There was the man who rode in a carriage with his five wives. There was the parade in which so many took part that there was no one left to watch. And there was the Quaker preacher who once had loved to dance and—


But wait! That story of the cannon ball must be cleared up first of all. The version given us first was that the ball remained in the wall of the old meeting house years after it had been deposited there in a skirmish at the bridge; then, suddenly, it vanished. It was replaced later on where the cannon had left it, they said, when the man who had taken it home for safekeeping finally died. In the interim a reporter had been assigned to find and write about the ball in the wall and had been doubted upon returning with the assertion that the ball was not there.


In the main, the story was accurate enough. Now, however, there are names and details to add to it. The house standing in Crosswicks today, splendid example that it is, is the third to stand on the site. Thomas Foulke, Samuel and John Bunting, Frances Davenport, Thomas Gilberthorpe, Thomas Lambert, William Satterthwait, William Black and Samuel Taylor were the leaders of those who, “instead of going west as most did, came east and took up the rich lands along Crosswicks Creek.”


The quotation is from a record of Joseph Middleton, whose [North] Crosswicks home was a station on the Underground Railroad. Gordon spells the first name of Crosswicks in what he says was the original, the Indian Clossweeksung. The Barber and Howe Historical Collections appends a list of definitions of Indian names and in defining Crosswicks says: “Criswicks Village—The house of separation. It was the custom among the Indians to cause their young women at certain periods to separate themselves from the men, and go to a hut made for their reception at some distance, and there to remain a certain number of days, before they were permitted to return. One of these places was upon a high bank of the creek where the village now is, and hence the name of the creek.” This is as far as any historian could hope to go, with any delicacy, but it should end, once and for all, the silly explanations of “a divided creek” or “a place of women.” Every Indian village had such a hut, says Dorothy Cross, a well-known authority, the distinction going to Crosswicks only because the name recalls the custom.


When Mr. Middleton recorded his recollections, the cannon ball was not in place. “Did thee see the imprint of the four-pound cannon ball in the brick wall, just above the second floor?” he is quoted as asking his interviewer years ago. “When the British were on their retreat from Philadelphia in June, 1778, a detachment sought to cross the bridge over Crosswicks Creek just within the village. The Americans had a small battery of four-pounders stationed on the north of the creek and drove them back the first day. But on the second day they returned in force and gained a passage. In the melee the Americans fired three shots, two of which went through the roof and one into the wall.”


Often the stories heard at Crosswicks say that the ball, now safely back in its place, is British, and that is wrong, you see. The ball, says Mr. Middleton, “stayed where it struck until some fifty years ago when it was taken out by Samuel Middleton, who climbed up while workmen had a scaffold raised to put on a new roof and removed it surreptitiously. I have been trying to have it put back as a valuable and interesting relic for a number of years. It is now in the possession of Frank Ellis who, no doubt, would give it up for so laudable an object.”


Whether Mr. Ellis gave it up or not doesn’t matter. The ball is back where it was from the Revolution to the Civil War and Mr. Middleton’s ghost can be at peace. “I can remember,” Miss Rogers said, “when the ball was a doorstop in Frank Ellis’s home. I can remember Morris Lippincott getting up on the scaffold to put it back for the 150th anniversary. That was a feature performance!”


Today, the site of the bridge at which the skirmish took place in that early summer of 1778 would be difficult to find unless one asked more information than that supplied by the historic sites marker on the main road some distance away. The old Revolutionary bridge stood until 1832 when it gave place to a covered wooden structure placed on the same foundations. This remained until 1908 when the present concrete span was erected several yards further down. The old crossing is plainly seen from the new although it is hardly as picturesque as the old covered bridge, remembered by only too few.


Some will deny there was a covered bridge at all. Some will say there was only one and not three cannon balls. It’s the old story of denial because of uncertainty. It is like the story which newcomers at Crosswicks tell, that the village gained its name from an Indian Chief of the area who even on his good days was extraordinarily cross!


Some will deny that the big oak in the meeting-house yard [since gone] is in any way remarkable. And yet—“about the big oak,” wrote Mr. Middleton long ago, “we claim it is the largest in New Jersey although there is one in the yard of the Friends meeting house in Salem which, they claim, is larger than ours. I measured ours the other day and have sent to a friend in Salem to measure theirs, with a view of comparing measurements. Ours measures, three feet from the ground, seventeen and one half feet in girth. The spread of its branches is one hundred and twenty-two feet and its height eighty-two feet. I haven’t a doubt but that it was standing when the Indians were roaming the forests.”


What results Mr. Middleton gained from his comparison of measurements will never be known. But the assertion is often heard that there have been a number of large oaks and other trees discovered which compare favorably, if they do not outstrip, the boasts of the Salem giant and its ardent defenders. Despite the passage of time, there remains under the present meeting house a stump, the relic of an oak which, if it was not the parent of the one referred to Mr. Middleton, was at least an older brother. This one, those who have crawled under have declared measures at least eight feet across. That would thrust its rise long before the Indian name for Crosswicks, long before the trail the Red Man trod to become the winding street of the quaint, cozy little town today, long before an invading white man was dreamed of.

Crosswicks seems to have had a way of concerning itself with historic events. Although the skirmish at the bridge [June 23, 1778] commends itself to ardent patriots, what Mr. Middleton called “the chief claim of Crosswicks to national fame” is missed altogether. This is the fact that Crosswicks was an important “station” on the celebrated “underground railroad” by which early Abolitionists aided fugitive slaves to escape to Canada.


“It is well known,” Mr. Middleton said, “that the Friends of New Jersey and Pennsylvania were hearty supporters of it, if indeed they did not originate it. Their ‘station’ in Crosswicks was the fine mansion of Enoch Middleton, standing very much today as it stood then, on the north bank of the Crosswicks Creek, the first house on the right as one crosses the bridge on the way to Trenton.”


Enoch Middleton was, at that time, a retired Philadelphia merchant who had become imbued with the principles of the Abolitionists. He was a friend and almost daily associate, personally or by correspondence, with Isaac T. Hooper, Lucretia Mott and others of the inner circle in Philadelphia [including New Jersey-born William Still, their leader]. Enoch and his twelve children actively engaged in the dangerous enterprise. His youngest son, Rudolph, was a conductor on the “railroad” and a few in Crosswicks today recall his stories.


Rudolph Middleton was proud of his father. “My father retired from business in Philadelphia about 1836,” he once wrote. “He was worth ninety-five thousand dollars, which was quite a sum in those days. He bought that beautiful corner site and built the dwelling you can see now, then by far the finest in the countryside. The news got out that a rich Quaker from Philadelphia was building a fine mansion on Crosswicks Creek and people drove out from as far as Trenton and Bordentown to look at it. There it stood, fronting both ways, a portico on each front, four chimneys, dormer windows in the roof. What do you suppose it cost? Four thousand dollars! It would cost ten thousand today. Father had it built by day work at a dollar and a quarter a day, fifteen hours a day in the summer time.”


The Underground Railway had various routes. One was from Delaware Breakwater, along the Delaware River to Bordentown and across New Jersey by way of New Brunswick or Allentown to New York. This route handled slaves mostly from Maryland and Virginia. There were “stations” every thirty miles or so where the runaways were concealed by day and passed along to the next “station” by night. “It was a pretty efficient system everywhere,” said Rudolph, who had been one of the officials, “but I think the machine was better oiled among the Friends and so worked more smoothly.”


Enoch Middleton was an Abolitionist to the core. It was natural that his new house in Crosswicks should become “one of the most important and popular stations in the Breakwater up.” “Mother disliked it,” Rudolph recalled in speaking to a friend one time. “The tremendous risks Father ran kept her in agony of fear and apprehension most of the time. ‘Father,’ I’ve heard her say again and again. ‘thee’ll have us all sold out here—let’s quit!’ ‘I’ll never quit!’ Father would reply. “The poor creatures are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and I’ll never quit.’”


Usually the runaways came to Enoch Middleton’s house in groups of three, four and five. Rudolph once recalled a time when there were thirty-two in hiding at one time. Enoch would conceal them during daylight and at night either take them himself or send them to Allentown, Cranbury or New Brunswick. In later years he grew bolder still and guided them by day.


“I was s conductor on the route at eight,” Rudolph remembered. “It happened this way: We had an old darkey [sic] retainer named Ed McClow, who had one failing. He would get drunk if sent off alone. Father tried sending him with the fugitives but generally the team would come back alone, having spilled Ed out somewhere on the road. Ed was devoted to me, and Father, in spite of Mother’s tears and protests, hit upon a plan of sending me with him. It worked to perfection, for the old reprobate, having me to care for, wouldn’t touch a drop!”


Enoch was secretive about plans he made and what he knew of all that was happening around him. Rudolph said that the children rarely heard the Underground Railroad mentioned. Enoch would open a letter, read it, give his wife a wink and throw it in the fire. The old house in which those dramatic scenes were staged and which, today, stands much as it did then, was the Crosswicks host to the leaders of the system.


Lucretia Mott was often there. “She was a great woman, whether as preacher, lecturer, poet or writer,” Rudolph wrote of her. He remembered her at the old house on visits to his father and mother. “In her old age, I remember,” he said, “she was timid about sleeping alone and when she came to see us Mother would sleep with her.”


On only one occasion is there a record of Enoch Middleton’s having had personal contact with the slave masters. That was in the late Forties when a negro named Lou Sittles came up from the South. He was a bold, daring fellow and hung about Crosswicks several days although Enoch had made arrangements for him to push on. Finally he went to Canada but he only stayed a year. He liked Crosswicks so well he came back and got a job in a slaughterhouse across the creek.


Lou had been working six months when his master heard about it and, accompanied by the Burlington County sheriff from Mount Holly, went to the slaughterhouse to serve the warrant. Sittles was there, dressing beef. In less time that it takes to recount it, he knocked his former master down, threw the sheriff over the gate and, bolting out the back door, swam the creek and ran to Enoch Middleton, almost dead from his sudden show of spirit which, after the wetting, mingled with fright. “Oh, Enoch,” he cried, “they’re after me, they’re after me!”


Enoch Middleton had a barn full of new-mown hay and with it he covered the shaking negro. The he put on his coat and sauntered down to the end of the lane next to the bridge, where, he expected, the master and the sheriff soon appeared. The officials marched across the covered span. “We have papers to search your property for a runaway slave, Lou Sittles,” said the erstwhile master.


Enoch stood, with his right hand under his coat as if he carried a weapon there. Mrs. Middleton was certain the hour she feared had come. She stood in the doorway of the house atop the rise, crying. “Don’t thee set foot on my property,” ordered Enoch. They parleyed there for half an hour without gaining a foot. Finally, the sheriff and his companion went away. They knew, certainly, that the sheriff of Burlington County had no authority in Mercer and the creek was the dividing line. “What would thee have done,” Rudolph recalled his mother asking his father, “if those men had set foot on thy land?” Enoch Middleton shrugged. “I should have let them come,” he replied.


He knew that the invaders would lose no time in making a return visit and so he busied himself with getting Sittles off the premises. “We had a horse called ‘Old Yaller” that Father had brought from two strangers for twenty-five dollars,” Enoch’s youngest son remembered, years afterward. “He hadn’t a hair on his tail but he could go like a streak. We hooked him up, Father routed Sittles out of the hay mow half dead with the heat and bleached nearly white from fear, and started him on the road to New Brunswick without waiting for nightfall. That was the only time we had any appearance of trouble.”


Old Enoch lost sixty-five thousand dollars, it was estimated, in a few years after leaving Philadelphia, through endorsing papers for friends and relatives. He never “lost” anything because of the slaves he helped except in considerable sums he gave them from time to time. “They would come to us ragged, starving, without a cent,” Rudolph said, “and I have seen Father give them five dollars before starting them on their journey, as well as a suit of clothes. Some special Providence seemed to protect him in his breaking of the laws.”


Rudolph Middleton had his own story and he liked to tell it in his last years. “ I must tell you about my enlistment,” he used to say, “because it shows what manner of man my father was. There were nine of us young fellows who ran away to Bordentown and enlisted because we were afraid our fathers would refuse to consent if we asked them.” They were all good soldiers, Rudolph remembered, in days when he was the last of the nine on earth. “We were assigned to the Twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, Company B. We were all under age and I was just eighteen. In two days we were ordered to Woodbury to join our regiment.


As they were about to leave for battle, Rudolph got leave and seized upon the twenty-four hours to return to Crosswicks and bid his parents good-bye. “I was two hours in the parlour saying good-bye to Mother,” the old soldier recalled that day of his youth. “I was the youngest and it was pretty hard for her, I guess. ‘Mother,’ I said, ‘I don’t dare bid Father good-bye. I enlisted without his consent and I’m afraid he’ll cuff me.’ ‘Son,’ said she, go and bid thy father good-bye.’”


Rudolph found his father setting out cabbages. “I can see him now as though it were but yesterday,” he said, when he had returned to spend many years in the old village. “I was in soldier clothes and, trembling all over, I marched up and said, ‘Father, I have enlisted without asking thee.’ He lifted himself up without saying a word, as straight as a ramrod. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘thee ran off and enlisted without a word to me about it!’”


There were tears in Enoch’s eyes. He took his son by the hand. “Rudloph,” he said, “I want to give thee fair warning. Don’t thee ever come back home shot in the back!”


“That was the kind of man my father was,” said Rudolph, an old man, recalling the incident to his friends. “His religious principles made him a man of peace. Just the same, if I was to be shot, it must be with my face to the enemy. I often thought of that in the next three years.  My regiment was in thirty battles and I was in twenty-eight of them. At the battle of Cold Harbor our corps was forced to retreat before a superior force and with bullets singing around me I remember thinking, ‘If I should get shot in the back, I wouldn’t dare go home!’ Several other times the same thought came to me—but I wasn’t shot. I might have been, at Chancellorsville or Gettysburg, but I missed them. I was sick in a Washington hospital.”


The records of all these things were found in the old Middleton house, where slaves were once quartered in the attic when the barn was full. Edwin Alexander Newbold lived there when we hurried to Crosswicks one sultry June Sunday, in response to Miss Rogers’ invitation. Mr. Newbold’s wife was Clara Middleton, daughter of Joseph. Miss Rogers had arranged a picnic, with various members of the family ready for an excursion to a shady corner, the site of an old schoolhouse. “You must meet Uncle Edwin,” she said, “even if he won’t come along on the picnic. Just listen in and you’ll hear some interesting things.”

Since Mr. Newbold won’t mind being called “Uncle Edwin” and since it sounds so much friendlier, that’s what he’ll be. As we talked to him his daughter was producing forgotten samplers and books from far corners of the famous old house. One sampler, unframed, was signed Phoebe Ann Chapman. Another, bearing the name of Phebe Willits, gave her birth date as September 10, 1797, and carried out, with the conventional alphabetical and numerical design, the rhyme beginning, “Jesus, permit thy gracious Name to stand…”


Suddenly someone was talking of the old spring [known as Brainerd’s Spring, after David who preached to the Indians there], crystal clear, which once celebrated old Crosswicks. It was surrounded by a wooden barrier on which was painted the inscription, “Free For All.” Travel wasn’t hurried in earlier days and little dust whirled up from such vehicles as went by. Not that Crosswicks was intending to fight the encroachment of modern times, for almost at the beginning of the automobile age three intrepid motorists emerged, Dr. Charles L. Dye, Jack Braislin and Edgar Brick, dusters, goggles, and all. Uncle Edwin remembered the spring, however, when it not only appeased the thirst of the casual passer-by but also inspired a sermon by a parson [Brainerd?], who at once changed the topic of another he had previously prepared.


“But there’s only a drain there now,” he said sadly. “The platform’s gone. The spring was all smashed up during the World War [I] when soldiers from Camp Dix put up their tents in a near-by field. I raised harry about it and the officers said they would fix things back the way they were, but they never did.” The “Free-For-All” spring of old Crosswicks is lost forever, victim of a wartime fee-for all.


Even Uncle Edwin called Scrabbletown “Scrappletown” as he cast doubts on the repeated explanation that Pointville once was Scrabbletown and that the name once was Scrambletown because of a scrambling of the roads there. Then, suddenly, he rattled off a great many names which, if they were ever on maps, disappeared quickly with few to remember them.


“There was Comical Corner, near Pemberton,” he said. “And there was Fiddler’s Green, on the road from Pemberton to Vincetown—I used to go there with Father to cut wood. There were only a few shacks and the Piney children ran barefoot in the snow. There was another place we used to call Sheep Pen, on the road from the shore to Forsythe’s Bog. Then there was Froggie’s, and Duke’s Park, too.”


It was apparent that a love of the pine country was heart-deep in Uncle Edwin, for as he talked his eyes grew dreamy as if he had been carried far away to where the warm air was pungent and the scent of the cedar water mingled with it to instill a feeling that nothing temporal really mattered very much.


Just at this point, one of us came upon the name of Still in a tattered old book loaned for examination. It was a thick book, dictionary-size, with a sandy-brown cover on which were the gold letters “U.G.R.R.” It proved to be The Underground Rail Road by William Still. Subtitled “a record of facts, authentic narratives, letters, etc., narrating the hardships, hairbreadth escapes and death struggles of the slaves in their efforts for freedom, as related by themselves and others, or witnessed by the author, together with sketches of some of the largest stockholders, and most liberal aiders and advisers of the road,” the reading of it made us pause for breath and then recall Dr. James Still, whose life and cures meant so much to the pine country in his time. The book, published in 1872 by Porter & Coates, is chock-full of material on the illicit philanthropy that made it so appropriate a find in the old Middleton house.


As we hurriedly thumbed the pages, we came upon the account of Peter Still, the hero of Mrs. Kate E. R. Pickard’s chronicles of 1856, and of Charity Still, who twice escaped from slavery. Struck by the fact that Charity and her two children are pictured as fleeing to Burlington County, to be joined later by her husband, we could but wonder if Enoch Middleton had known them and if he had had some part in their reunion. At the same time we spoke of old Dr. Still, whose story Warner Hargrove found for us, and we wondered what his kinship was. She spoke of his marvelous cures and how even the doctors who opposed his gaining credentials came to him for relief at the end—and that brought up mention of Crosswicks’ own herb doctor.


He was a German and his name was Dr. Moke—pronounced “Mokey” by his request. His work in the village is recalled by many who live there now. He could talk little English and understood little more. However, that made little difference with his patients whom he seemed to diagnose with a knowing glance. Those who were ill would try to reveal something of their symptoms. Whether he could not understand, or whether he did not want to hear, or whether some hidden power gave him immediate knowledge of what the ailment was, is uncertain. However, he would end conversation in the little house where his sister kept house for him, making an impatient gesture and saying, “Me know—me know!” The prescription would follow, probably already prepared and measured off in bottles. Often it was a mysterious potion steeped from the boiling of tiger lilies!


Miss Rogers, first of all, told the story of the man with five wives in his carriage and later, her brother, Howard M. Rogers, who lives in Crosswicks, confirmed it. However, schoolteachers are noted for their accuracy, when it comes to tales like this and confirmation came unsolicited. “This one’s too good to miss,” declared Miss Rogers— and she was right.


The man was Stacy Taylor, gone from Crosswicks these many years. Wherever he is, God rest him, for with five wives about him he needs divine guidance. Stacy had had four wives, it seems, and all had been buried at the time of their death, after the usual services. It may be that they were laid to rest in different burying grounds and that would add logic to what came after—but the story doesn’t runt that way. As far as Miss Rogers could determine, the bodies were in a Methodist Cemetery and Stacy decided to move them to that of the Friends on the Crosswicks-Robbinsville Road [more likely from the Friends to the new Methodist cemetery].


By this time Mr. Taylor had persuaded a fifth unattached female to become Mrs. Taylor, which is either a compliment to all four predecessors or an indication of hope that a new incumbent might prove more durable. All that is uncertain, as is Stacy’s motive for taking up what was left inside four black coffins and depositing them elsewhere. The legend is that Stacy drove the carriage in which the relicts of four wives had been placed and that the new Mrs. Taylor went along for the ride. There is every indication that he did the grave-digging job himself!


We have looked in vain for the proof we might discover such, as it would be, in six gravestones. However, the tastes of the Friends seldom run to imposing markers and it is not strange that we have had no success. What a strange procession that must have been made! It was sufficiently sinister, you see, to make the village remember it all this while. Whatever Stacy’s idea was, is as cloaked in cemetery mist, as the thought behind the decision of Mrs. Stacy No. 5 to go along. Perhaps she wanted to be certain that her husband, determined to reclaim his former helpmates, would put them back where they belonged!


Before the enactment of the public school law, Crosswicks maintained three sectarian schools, one by the Methodists and two by the Friends, the last of which was continued by the Orthodox group until 1901. There was once four mills operating in and about Crosswicks, Thomas Lambert building the first in 1679; by 1736 all four were going in a four-mile area. There was a tannery near the gristmill in early days, for John Middleton in his will, made in 1710, speaks himself as a tanner. As late as 1850, the tannery was still in the family, Edward Middleton being recorded as its operator. [A George Middleton, tanner and Democratic congressman, operated a tannery in Allentown, which disguised a station on the Underground Railroad.]


There is a legend in Crosswicks that the Provincial Council or Assembly met there under a tree, pointed out as still standing on the DeCou farm. The first Legislature of New Jersey, as your informant will probably call it, met in Crosswicks in 1756-1757 to examine the causes of, and suggest cures for, increasing intoxication among the Indians. This may have been the group of legislators who met beneath the tree but if it is, and if the months usually mentioned are accurate, perhaps there was a longing for some of the spirits which the Indians were accused of imbibing.


If the tree session would not have been so bad, and there might have been some reason for meeting out-of-doors, for the meeting in Crosswicks had been adjourned from Burlington because of a smallpox epidemic. At the other meeting referred to, in the Fall of the same year, there must have been some shivering between laws if the gathering had a tree for shelter, for adjournment did not come until January 17, 1717. No, the meetings must have been in the old meeting house, for history says some beneficial laws were passed.


No one seems to know who was the first tavern keeper in the village but everyone knows that John Bainbridge kept an inn that was forced out of business because he sold liquor to the Indian on the sly. Stories of old inns and their hosts have a peculiar fascination in the Crosswicks neighborhood where, today, the forces of temperance placard the roadsides with warnings as to what happens to those who imbibe. One public house, known much later as Stead’s Hotel, offers a whole series of interesting minehosts, John Douglass, in 1776, who was succeeded by his son, Benjamin, until 1804, when William McKnight took over. John Horsfu, Jacob Keiner, Richard Pierce and Joshua English had their turn, to be followed by Amog Robbins, a widow, who married Samuel Wilson, whose daughter married Joseph Stead, an Englishman, who bought the place and gave it a new name.


Stead’s Hotel, with “The Bird In Hand” near by, and the Red Tavern and Buttonwood Inn down the road, cast long shadows out of the past, reaching from Crosswicks to where, along the Bordentown Road, what at first appears to be a series of shaving-cream advertisements turns out to say, however disjointedly, “Liquor Destroys the Finest and Best in Man.”



Not given as much attention as it should have and as once was given it when firemen’s parades were more frequent, is the ancient hand engine the Crosswicks Fire Company bought shortly after its organization in 1822 from a pump concern in Seneca Falls, New York. Of more use than historic value in those days and in as good condition today as it ever was, it turned out to be equipment dated 1744, first used by the Union Fire Company, No. I, of Philadelphia, organized in 1736, formed through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin. Several of the original buckets, made of leather and inscribed “Un. Fire Co. No. I, Phila. 1744,” are part of the equipment Crosswicks folk have been taught to venerate, even though the purchase may have been part of an old trade-in.


Scenes have changed since then, the covered bridge has been taken away, many have come and gone. But the old Middleton house, Uncle Edwin Newbold’s when we were there, is much the same as it was before the Civil War. The third meeting house presides in what, even in this section of New Jersey, appears to be “the common.” The streets, lined with quaint houses of yesteryear, bend and twist with the turnings of the Indian trail that ran along the creek bank.


“But,” as Miss Charlotte said, “there’s a lot more to Crosswicks that you knew, a great deal more that the world will ever believe. Much has happened here that Crosswicks set store upon, marveled at, laughed about. Take the time the Community House was dedicated. They were going to lay the cornerstone and a big celebration had been planned. That was after the war, in 1921.


“Word came that the body of Harry Chapman, Crosswicks’ only casualty of the war, would arrive from France that week. The committee decided to make the burial a part of the program. A band was signed up. A squad of soldiers was engaged, with a gun caisson on which to place the body for the procession to the Friends Cemetery. Everybody was dressed up and waiting in line for what seemed to be hours.”


Miss Rogers smiled as she neared that climax. “I shouldn’t laugh, I know,” she said. “But would you believe it, so much of Crosswicks was in the parade that there was no one left to watch the parade go by? And did you know that the excitement was too much for Uncle Edwin’s cows? They all jumped the fence and ran away! We had to leave the ice cream at the Community House to go out and hunt for them!”