|History can be a lot of fun when there isn’t a teacher
forcing you to learn it. Medford’s history has been
documented back to the 1600's. In 1670 William Penn sold 900
acres on behalf of Edward Bylinge to Samuel Coles. Twelve
years later, Edward Bylinge sold another 100 acres of land to
Richard Haines. The son of Richard Haines, John Haines, lived
in a cave on "Haines Bank" on the South bank of the
Rancocas Creek. Most of Medford’s settlers could not read or
write. John Haines was known for being able to sign his name.
His descendants would later build what would be known as Kirby’s
The pioneers that settled and worked
here were Quakers. The Quakers did not believe that one man
could own another and in 1680 abolished slavery. The Quakers
were also the county’s first ecologists. In the South,
settlers would burn the forest to clear the land for farming.
The Quakers cut the trees down and sawed them into lumber.
They would load the wood on to rafts and barges and float it
down to Lumberton, where the wood was loaded on to boats and
sent to Philadelphia. Medford as abundant with virgin cedar
that thrived in our soggy soil.
By the 1700's we had already become a
pioneering town. In addition to the lumber that we were
selling to Philadelphia, hay also became one of our town’s
first cash crops. The animals in Philly had to be fed during
the winter, and Philadelphia was already too urbanized for
outside grazing. Kirby’s Mill was turning out flour, our
farmers were growing produce, producing milk and wealthy
Philadelphians were eager to buy. It took between 4 to 6 hours
to make the trip to the ferry in Camden by wagon. Not bad
time, considering that during rush hour it seems to take that
After a few years of farming, Medford’s
rich soil was depleted, and without fertilizer, the farmers
would either have to move on, or find a new way replenish the
soil. Rich marl deposits were discovered near Medford. Marl
contains the potassium, phosphorous and calcium need to build
up the soil. This spurred a new industry and the village of
Marlton. The right to dig the marl out of soggy pits were sold
In the 1700's manufacturing had come to
Medford area in the form of Etna and Taunton furnaces by
Charles Read. Etna furnaces that forged iron. The Etna furnace
(located in Medford Lakes) was destroyed in 1773, while the
Taunton furnace supplied shot and shell to the Continental
armies and Adonijah Peacock manufactured gunpowder for
Washington's armies at his farm on what is now Branin Road.
On January 20th, 1777,
according to John Hunt's diary, Adonijah was killed when
gunpowder he was drying in his kitchen exploded. Excerpts from
Hunt's diary report "It was said that the roof of the
house was blown off and very much shattered to pieces with the
blast of the powder heard for ten miles around."
At this time Medford was a part of
Evesham township, known as Upper Evesham. Mark Reeve arrived
in Upper Evesham in 1800. He built the first machine in the
country to manufacture cut nails. As a merchant of sundry
goods he kept his store specializing in tobaccotwists and
making cut nails. It was Mark Reeve who, as the story goes,
called a town meeting to propose the name Medford after a
visit to Medford, Massachusetts.
In1820, when the first post office
opened in Medford. The town was officially called Medford of
Upper Evesham and on February 4th, 1847, Medford Township was
"set apart from" Evesham by act of legislature. The
seat of township was at the Cross Roads (Route 541 and Church
Road) and on March 9th, 1847 the first township council
meeting was held there.
One of biggest things to happen to our
town was in 1869 when the Railroad arrived. In 1889 the Camden
and Atlantic Railroad connected to the existing railroad. The
tracks ran on what is now Route 70. With the new railroad they
had an easy way of getting their products to Philadelphia and
New York. The medical offices at 69 North Main Street
(formerly the police station) was the passenger station for
this line. At the time there was a farm on the site of the
Shop-Rite. In order for the farmer to get his cows to the
pasture on the other side of the tracks, a tunnel was built
under the railroad.
During the 1920's passenger service
declined with the coming of the automobile; the glass factory
had closed because of labor trouble and high costs of
automating; and, Western sawmills were putting local sawyers
out of business. In 1927, passenger service was discontinued
and the tracks of the Camden branch were torn up when Route 70
The land between Route 541 and Hartford
Road was owned by the Singer family.
In the 1940's American Stores opened an Acme Super Market on
Main Street. By the 1950's Acme’s "super
market" needed a larger location with more convenient
parking. American Stores was interested in part of Singer’s
property on Route 70. To seal the deal, a deed restriction was
placed on the remaining ground preventing anyone from building
another market on the other parcels. Soon a new Acme was open
in what is now the offices of the Central Record and Medford’s
first new major shopping area was named "Medford
Center". The Acme remained there until the 1980's when
expansion was once again needed, and a new store was built at
the current location of the
Future Fitness in the Medford Center. Other Singer
parcels became the Cedars of Medford Apartments and later
Sharp’s Run Plaza. The
Singer family homestead, built in the 1700's, is
located behind the Public Safety
Building and will be renovated to become affordable housing
William Penn: Former owner of
Medford New Jersey
Oliphant's Mill, built in 1685 by Daniel Oliphant. It
was the first of four mills in the Medford area. This
photo was taken around 1900.
Shopping at the Stacy Prickett
Store in 1900 Click to enlarge.
Horse and wagon in front of Ed
Warner's store on South Main Street. Click to enlarge.
Ivin's Blacksmith Shop in
1909. Current location of the Pinelands Library on Allen
Avenue. Click to enlarge.
The Indian Chief Hotel (now the
Stagecoach Building) at Main and Union in 1904. Click to
The Medford Field club (Bowling
Alley) on North Main Street in 1910. Click to Enlarge.
In 1875 this iron bridge was constructed on Main Street at
Allen Avenue. Click to Enlarge.
The Harry Allen Store at Main and Union Streets. Click
Esso Gas Station at 14-16 North
Main Street (destroyed by fire in 1958) with our original Acme
Market in the background. Click to enlarge.
The Cedars At Medford apartments were built on the swampy part of the Singer land.
They opened in 1969 with a "Move In Special" price of $99 a