Mount Laurel in the 1800's


At the beginning of the 1800's, Mount Laurel was made up of several small villages with much land in between each village. Goods such as vegetables, wheat and lumber were transported to market by several means.


The Rancocas Creek was used for transportation by the Indians who traveled in birchbark or dugout canoes. The first settlers also tried the Indian's method. After a while, the canoe was replaced by a scow or flat-bottomed boat. The scow had square ends. A rudder on the back end was used to steer and push the boat down the creek.

Rancocas River

Scow or flat-bottomed boat

courtesy Franz Neumeier

Learn more about steamboats!

 Later on, the Rancocas was dredged out so that larger boats could travel in its waters. In 1824, the steamboat "Lafayette" was used to carry goods and passengers between Mount Holly and Philadelphia. The fare was 50¢.

 Another means of transportation was the Moorestown-Mount Holly Turnpike. People traveled by foot, horse, wagon, buggy and stagecoach. See a picture of a stagecoach.
This was the original tollhouse where travelers stopped and payed a fee for traveling on the turnpike. Quite often, they were greeted with drinks and cookies. "Tollhouse cookies" became a favorite treat of the travelers.

Tollhouse on Moorestown-Mt. Laurel Road

Camden-Burlington Railroad Line

 The Camden-Burlington Railroad Line was running through the village of Masonville by 1863 where there was a small passenger and freight station. This view shows the present tracks which are across the street from Rancocas Woods.


 The Lenni Lenape Indians sent messages from the mount by means of smoke signals. After 1800, a stockbroker operated a signal code system on the mount. Signals were sent from New York to Philadelphia about stock market information. Operators at stations on high points across New Jersey signaled to each other using flags by day and light flashes by night. In 1844, after Samual Morse invented his code, the mount became a signal tower for Wall Street reports.

View of the mount from Hillside School

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange had its start in the London Coffee House
located in Philadelphia (1754-1790).

At the top of the mount there is a tall metal tower with disks. This is the Western Union Microwave Radio Relay Station. This how messages are sent today.

The Western Union Radio Tower

The Black Doctor of the Pines

James Still

Jacob's Chapel on Elbo Lane

  James Still was a famous African-American who lived in this area from 1812-1825. He was the son of former slaves who traveled throughout Burlington County helping people who were sick. He became known as "The Black Doctor of the Pines." He had no real training in medical school but he was able to make medicines using herbs and plants. With his help, many people got well. People from Philadelphia and from other parts of New Jersey began to learn of Still's cures. Even medical doctors began to ask his advice about cures.

Mount Laurel During the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln

 Abraham Lincoln was elected president of our country in 1860. At that time, the northern states hoped that he would end slavery in our country. Many southern people wished to own slaves to work on their farms. People on both sides strongly believed that they were right so they fought each other in a battle called the civil war.
  In 1846 the state of New Jersey outlawed slavery. Since the Quakers believed that no man should own another, they were very happy with this decision. The Quakers decided to expel all members who refused to free their slaves. The Friends (Quakers) helped at least 40,000 slaves escape to freedom.

Click to see images from the 19th Century

Click to travel on the National Geographic Undergound Railroad!

There is a story told about slavetraders, who kidnapped a family of African American people and hiding them near the mount. The slavetraders wanted to sell them to southern farmers. The Friends raised $1000 to buy the family's freedom.


Home | The Lenni-Lenape Indians | The Settlement by Friends (Quakers) 1688
The American Revolutionary War 1775-1781 | Mount Laurel in the 1800's
Education in Mount Laurel 1850 - Present | Mount Laurel Historic Places
Mount Laurel Today | Maps | Glossary | Bibliography
This page is maintained according to Mount Laurel Township School District's
Web Publishing Standards and Guidelines by
District Web Manager Marie F. Reynolds. ©2010 Mount Laurel Public Schools. All rights reserved.
Kristen Vassos 4/10/10