East Greenwich Township
East Greenwich Municipal Offices are located at 159 Democrat Road, Mickleton NJ 08056; phone: 856-423-0654.
Prior to European settlement, East Greenwich was inhabited by a sub-tribe of the Lenape (or Delaware) Indians who were known to the Swedish and Dutch settlers as the Mantese, Mantoes or Mantauk. The major village center was located in what is now Thompson's Point in Gibbstown. Another village stretched from the location of the current George Haines Farm on Berkley Road on Mantua Creek to the Robert Simon Farm on Cohawkin Road. The Cohawkin Road was one of the larger Indian trails in the region, running from the Delaware River to the New Jersey coast. Many smaller hunting camps are also known, including one in the area of the stream next to Colonial Drive and another upstream at Saunders Run behind the Bodo Otto house. Researchers at Rowan University have reportedly uncovered numerous artifacts at the Palermo Farm in Mount Royal, located on Mantua Road. Prior to the development of the Woodland Lenape culture, scattered bands of hunter gatherers resided in small hunting camps along both sides of Mantua Creek and Edwards Run. Primitive tools and various animal bones have been found at these sites. The discovery of soapstone artifacts indicate that the Native Americans traded with others in Pennsylvania.
In 1633, the first Swedish settlers arrived in New Jersey. Woola and Peter Dalbo were the first surveyors of Kings Highway. Initially, Dutch and Swedish traders settled along the Delaware River. By 1664, however, the English had asserted their claims of sovereignty and New Jersey became a colony of the crown. The discovery of the land's fertility led the traders to turn to an agricultural economy. Remnants of several mills can be found throughout the Township, including one between Jessup Mill and Pine Mill Roads and one on Whisky Mill Road.
In 1686, the population of the third and fourth tenths of New Jersey, which encompassed modern day Gloucester, Camden and Atlantic Counties, had reached approximately 1,400. The residents petitioned for their own county and Gloucester County was formed in 1695. The county was named for the shire in England and consisted of six townships.
Early Quaker settlers greatly influenced East Greenwich's development. The first recorded Friends meeting took place at Solomon Lippincott's home in 1756 on what is now Wolfert Station Road. In 1759 the Friends of Upper Greenwich built a meeting house near Lippincott's home and a cemetery was established (Solomon's Graveyard). The original meetinghouse was destroyed by fire and a new meetinghouse was completed in 1799 at the corner of Kings Highway and Democrat Road in Mickleton. This building is on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The lands of the meetinghouse and later the schoolhouse (1810) were donated by Samuel Mickle and Samuel Tonkin. The schoolhouse continued as a Friends school until 1908 and was a public school until 1928. In 1941, the Little Red Schoolhouse as it became known, was restored by Amos Peasley for a neighborhood recreation center.
Eglington Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in continuous operation in the United States. The land was originally set apart as a cemetery by John Eglington in his last will and testament in 1776. Eglington had fertile land, but no heirs to maintain it, so he decided to leave his legacy as a cemetery. When the original plot of ground was filled, an association was formed, and granted a charter by the NJ State Legislature in 1869 to purchase additional land. In 1970 the Garden State Cemetery Society purchased the cemetery (they are the owners of the Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Mount Royal). It is also believed that there are many private cemeteries scattered throughout the Township on private property.
East Greenwich has a rich Revolutionary War history. Records of war preparations and military meetings make reference to the hamlet of Sandtown (now Mount Royal) and the surrounding area. Also, the Death of the Fox Inn in Clarksboro was a noted meeting place for revolutionaries. The inn was also a popular gathering place for the hunters of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club (1766 to 1818), which is how it got its name. It is believed that the British camped on the land that is now a residential area known as Weathervane. In 1777, a pitched battle took place behind the Bodo Otto House in Mickleton between 1500 British troops and a much smaller contingent of militia under Colonel Silas Newcomb. Outnumbered, the rebels fell back to the Mantua Creek Bridge, which they then destroyed. In 1777, General Cornwallis sent his first Light Infantry over Berkley Road to Sandtown to repair the bridge over Mantua Creek, the main army later crossed the bridge. Dr. Bodo Otto was a surgeon in Washington's Army at Valley Forge. In 1778 the Battle of Saunders Run took place near Dr. Otto's home. The hill behind the house was known as Saunders Hill and the stream at the bottom was called Saunders Run, both were named after John Saunders who had bought the land in 1770. During this battle, the British partially burned the house of Colonel Otto and all of his out buildings. The burned portions of the house were later rebuilt. In 1881, East Greenwich was created by an Act of the Legislature of New Jersey, from the eastern portion of Greenwich Township and the western part of Mantua Township. East Greenwich has developed around the three villages of Mickleton, Clarksboro, and Mount Royal. East Greenwich was fairly insulated from the rapid growth of the late 19th century suburbs that developed closer to the Delaware River.
The Swedesboro Railroad originally opened its service in 1869 running from Woodbury to Swedesboro. The four stations on this railroad in East Greenwich were Mount Royal, Clarksboro, Mickleton and Tomlin and each station had its own building. The trains operated with passenger service until 1950, after which the line has been used exclusively for freight service. Farmers in East Greenwich were able to expand their trade area via the railroad.
Coincident with the elimination of passenger rail service was the widespread access to motor vehicles by the public. After World War II, post war development boom caused immense growth in nearby suburbs like Cherry Hill and Deptford. While single family housing has been constructed over the years, East Greenwich has maintained a rural ambience. Between 1950 and 2000, the population of East Greenwich increased from 2,336 to 5,430 people. In the 1970s a sign was posted at the Township border along Kings Highway avowing "Industry Welcome!" Despite such invitations, industrial growth in the Township was minimal. However, suburban residential development began in earnest and has slowly increased to the present. By 2002 the population is estimated to have reached 5,691. It is anticipated that the rate of growth will increase over the next five years as a result of numerous residential subdivisions.