By now with social media injection into our daily lives we all have seen an image of the forest sky. You know when your hiking through a forest and you look up and see nothing but trees you take out your camera and snap a photo of the view above your head. Why do you think that is so interesting to folks?
The image above captures the dark mood of an Atlantic cedar grove with a cedar burl nicely. So what is the mood or feelings that the hiker is experiencing while staring at the forest canopy above? I’ll wager its a combination of things. If they are alone and new to the trail area it may be a bit of fear as the trees of the forest eclipse the sun. Giving the person a feeling of confinement. Hopefully that is but a fleeting emotion one that is hardwired into our caveman’s DNA.
Another feeling or mood that captures my thoughts at these moments can be described in a song lyric by Leon Russell. He sang, “And I love you in a place where there’s no space or time. I’ve loved you for my life, you are a friend of mine”. I find happiness in that moment. A sense that the trees are forever. That each single tree is but a part of the one living thing- the forest. The trees at the top they all got there over years of growth but that growth was together. Each tree’s presence inspired the surrounding trees to reach for the sky. The sunlight was their goal their reward was a long life surrounding by family.
If you know the forest trees that you are looking at well enough you may feel and understand your own life’s timeline and the space that it takes up. The trees above may stand as a reminder to you that your short time on this earth is dwarfed by the time these green sentinels enjoy. When one stands in a Florida Bald cypress forest and realizes the trees towering above are over 500 years in age one can not but feel young and question one’s own use of time on Earth. It’s definitely time well spent when one wanders into the woods!
I’m in love with the woods. Leon Russell explains it so well, “I’ve loved you for my life, you are a friend of mine.” I hope everyone looks up when in the woods and a new budding romance takes hold of their lives with nature. The forests are worth fighting for when you truly understand all that they mean to the people.
Humor me here and play along. The game below is to figure out what forest canopy are we looking at. I’ll list the forest types and you figure out if; A) you’ve seen and experienced that glorious view before and B) what tree type dominates the view. Three are Jersey inspired and two are Florida inspired. List of names are: Atlantic White Cedar, White Pine, Pitch pine, Slash pine, and Pond Cypress. Till we run into each other in Leon’s “place where there’s no space or time” take care of yourself.
Interesting, folks are still commenting and reading a post about the stone I found in the woods somewhere in Ocean County. The story behind it plagues my sleep as well. You know we all suffer from the Henry Beck condition. Henry Charlton Beck was a newsman who captured details of old abandoned or lost towns of New Jersey both in the North and the South. HCB says, “It is my honest belief that in all of us there still lingers something of the early explorers, a something which in some measure may be appeased in retracing these journeys we have made.”Its that HCB condition that makes me wonder about what others have told me could be a 1700s property marker.
In Henry Beck’s book More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey I let my imagination wonder and it finds two new possibilities. I have little credence that they match the evidence but are entertaining to think of. They are; 1) John Buckingham and or 2) John Bacon. Both are original characters in their own right and described in Henry’s book.
On page 89 John Buckingham is mentioned. I’ve personally visited a private hunting club that was part of Buckingham in Manchester down savoy road. Around 1873 he was in South Jersey area doing what Beck calls, “cedar-swamping.” Buckingham’s lumber camp turned into a town and lasted over 15 years but after the tragic death of Buckingham’s daughter who died by way of a cow trampling so too did Buckingham’s desire to run the business in the Pines. The thing with the stone marker with the initials of JB on it is in a thick band of elder Atlantic cedar.
More farfetched is John Bacon discussed on page 86 of said Beck book. What if it wasn’t a property stone but a grave marker? Beck describes John Bacon as a refugee and a Pine Robber that eventually got shot. Supposedly by Mr. Cornet Cook in Egg Harbor. He was the leader of the Refugees and his death at Cedar Bridge Hotel was brought on by his own action in killing a local militiaman named William Cook prior to his own demise. Cedar Bridge Hotel was held by Penn Producing Company which also owned a chain of blueberry and cranberry plantations throughout the bog country.
Well the reason my dad and I went to that area where we found the JB stone marker is to see if we could relocate the Hessian Island. Grandpa Emery had passed onto his kids that a certain area in Ocean County was called Hessian Island. That is where the robbers hid out after holding up the local stage. Some of Becks writing makes me believe Hessian robbers may have been the deserters that became known as Refugees and Pine Robbers. In my research it seems the Hessians got a bum rap even though they were mercenaries they were not in America under their own free will. And that once colonists had close experiences with them they were surprised by their humanity.
In a weird connection could one of John Bacon’s fellow outlaws have taken his body back to one of their hideouts,on a map as a cranberry bog, and buried him there? Note the area also had an overgrown blueberry patch that was planted. Who knows but it sure is fun thinking about the possibilities isn’t it? But at least we know others are aware of Hessian island who apparently are also litter bugs.
You ever have to go back to your roots to realize who you are? It’s an odd thing but I’ve been on a personal journey to rediscover my past and the past of many others who came from the evergreen woods of the Pine Barrens. This website will be a place for me to share ideas, stories, photos, and other rambles about the Pines and the Piney people.
My quest is to define what truly is a Piney today in 2020 and to tell the untold stories of so many great Piney families. Whatever I do before I ascend or descend to that gate I want to have this man’s story told. John Richardson is intrinsically to Piney life past and present. Pineys of today and of yesterday come along with me and you’ll see we have a lot to be proud of. In the works for me as a budding author is a two book series on the topic. I’ll share book release dates and exclusive offers here as well as the Piney Tribe Facebook page.