Revolutionary Soldiers at Ellisdale (Allentown Messenger 8/14/24)
[The following is an extract from a paper by Judge William A. Slaughter, telling of the retreat of the British Army across Burlington county in June, 1778. The complete paper was published in the Mount Holly Herald.]
The column of His Excellency Lieut. General Knyphausen, with the provisions of baggage trains, bat horses and reserve artillery extending in a line nearly twelve miles long, moved out on the Ellisdale road and bivouacked somewhere between Crosswicks and the Iron Bridge road. The best position for a bivouac in that neighborhood is the Satterthwait’s Level, which possesses all the requisites of defense with space, wood and water. That night their videttes extended as far a Walnford, their officers and men moving continually on the road. Two of them came to the farm house of Alexander Howard to inquire as to the residence of some noted Whig. Mr. Howard received them on the porch, in his fluttering robes, was exceedingly polite, but very ignorant as to the whereabouts of the individual sought. They informed him it was quite refreshing to meet with a gentleman, for they had just been over to the house on the other side of the road, where they received from an old lady the greatest scolding they had ever had in their lives. The lady referred to was Mrs. Steward. She was a staunch patriot, who believed the times tried the women’s as well as the men’s souls.
Early next morning the column moved forward, passing through Ellisdale, then called Gibbstown, to Walnford on the Crosswicks Creek. Here the bridge was broken down, and the pioneers worked hard for two hours to throw another across. Heavy trees were felled for sleepers, and smaller ones with branches were placed over them with a good coating of dirt for the roadway.
The division was all day passing this point and was accompanied by a large crowd of camp followers. A number of officers dined at the house of Richard Waln, near the Mills. General Knyphausen arrived rather late, and finding the table full, ate in the shed. Pigs’ feet was the principal dish served, and when he finished he for a moment contemplated in silent admiration the vast pile of bones he had left. Then with his knife sweeping them off the table, he remarked, “I’m am done.” It was the general impression of the Waln family that he was. Watson in his “Annals of Philadelphia” says, “He used to spread his butter on his bread with his thumb.” But we must not judge the general by his Hessian eccentricities.
We can well understand why the army had a train of nearly twelve miles long. During its passage through the Jerseys they visited nearly all the houses on the road and took therefrom one-half of all the blankets, sheets and provisions and many of the cattle and horses. Their plundering and wanton destruction marked their destructive march from one side of the country to the other and to this day when a particularly trying or wanton piece of destruction is done by a small boy or little dog for apparently no reason whatever, we frequently hear – “He is a regular little Hessian.”
When Ellisdale Had a Hotel (Allentown Messenger 6/9/21)
Directly opposite the large and well stocked general store of H. H. Wright, in Ellisdale, stands a large brick dwelling that in the long ago was known as the “Shelltown Hotel.”
Nothing can be positively ascertained as to who was the original owner or builder of this house. However, these facts have been collected from reliable sources.
It is said the building was erected about the year 1805, and from 1850, for many years, it had been a hotel, known as the “Shelltown Hotel,” and conducted by a Jacob Church – a large, good-natured man, who, it is said, did a large business.
At the time the building had an “ell,” or a large room flush with the front, but only extending half of the depth of the building. It was used as a bar-room, where liquors and lunches were served; but it has long since been removed.
In interviewing many older persons of the community, I find one woman who informs me she had been employed by Mrs. Church for many months when she was a young girl. This was a few years previous to our Civil War of ‘61-’65, but it continued as a public hotel until after the last gun had been fired during that conflict and peace fully restored. The building since that time has never been occupied as a business place. The property is now owned by Henry D. Schooley.
There are few persons now residing in the community who are aware that a hotel ever existed in “Shelltown,” now Ellisdale, and it has afforded the writer much pleasure to unearth the faded embers of some of the back history of the old landmarks of the village.
Ellisdale, N. J., June 8, 1921