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.