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The Maurice River Reaches Map is easy to interact with the simple controls and features provided.
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The map is fully draggable. Simply click anywhere on the map and begin dragging your mouse to move the map to specific areas.
move up click to navigate the map "up".
move down click to navigate the map "down".
move left click to navigate the map "left".
move right click to navigate the map "right".
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Maurice River Recollections Project
River Reaches

The Maurice River Reaches Project
Port Creek
Reach #28

Port Elizabeth was a flourishing center before Millville even became a town. But in its humble beginnings, it was "a vast wilderness," wrote W.F. Bowen in his 1885 book, History of Port Elizabeth.

 In 1771, when Elizabeth Clark purchased the land that became Port Elizabeth, there were just a few log cabins. In the earliest deeds from the Maurice River valley, Patrick Hoy, is listed as the owner of one of those log cabins. Not many other records reveal this history of the untamed lands.

The few names that are associated with the land near Manumuskin River have more to do with the local landmarks that cropped up in the area. One of those names, Board Landing, was located near Eagle Glass Works, the first glass manufacturing site of the Maurice River region. Historian Herbert W. Vanaman discovered a deed that documents the existence of a school at Board Landing as early as 1783.

Another name attributed to this vicinity is The Store.  Bowen wrote that Nathan Hand's store brought people "from far and near, on foot and on horseback, to get their groceries and do their trading in general." 

After a dam was built over the Manumuskin, known as the Menowskin in the late 1700's, the location became known as The Dam

History  - and names, changed when Elizabeth Clark came from Pilesgrove Township to settle the Maurice River. She and her husband Cornelius Clark purchased "a large tract of land near the mouth of the Manumuskin Creek, extending down the river a considerable distance," wrote historian Herbert W. Vanaman. 

The history and lore of Port Elizabeth expands as Elizabeth Clark faces the tides of her life. Early in her first marriage, her husband died, leaving her with four children - and the meadow and marshlands that needed tending.

Clark married again. She and her second husband, John Bodly, had two children. Bodly passed away and Elizabeth was once again left alone to fend for her family.

In the 1780's, Elizabeth Bodly (sometimes spelled Bodley, which Bowen and Vanaman informs us is incorrect) had her land surveyed. The plots of the "30-rod square" (Bowen) grew to be the downtown section of Port Elizabeth, named in honor of its founder. 

According to Bowen, a dam was built "from the fast land of Henry Reeves to the fast land of Elizabeth Bodly sometime before 1782. A subsequent  legislative charter established a meadow company for management of the land. In 1821, a bridge was built over the Manumuskin Creek in Port Elizabeth, and was replaced by a covered bridge in 1838.  The footings from the covered bridge are evident a few yards southwest of the current footing.  This is an angled stone foundation.

In his 1936 presentation to the Vineland Historical Society, Philip Nutt talked about the modern concrete bridge that spans Port Creek (Manumuskin Creek). He referred to the time when it was a covered bridge. "This was one of the oldest one-lane bridges, with a foot bridge or path attached, in NJ," Nutt reported. A second covered bridge had to be built here. "A man by the name of Chambers has preserved the lantern which once lighted the entrance," Nutt explained.

In 1789, an Act of Congress established the new town as a port of delivery, which brought a period of prosperity to the area. Large vessels carrying merchants and goods brought trade from the West Indies to the Maurice River. During this era, local entrepreneurs and businessmen capitalized on the opportunity.

In more recent history other names became associated with this Maurice River Township location and surrounding lands. (In 1935, Vanaman referred to the place called the Pointers, which Vanaman described as the intersection of Manumuskin Road and Delsea Drive.) He mentioned that the Henderson and Henderson Boat Shop, manufacturers of "very fine power yachts”, opened at the old "Dam" site in 1931. Vanaman also mentioned that in 1921 the DuPont Corporation acquired about 2000 acres in the vicinity of Jones Mill for a proving ground. Other landmarks during this era were the Alps Restaurant (Delsea Drive and Ferry Lane) and a restaurant called the Windmill Inn.

Forty years later, in 1976, Vanaman updated his History of Maurice River Town, lamenting that so many of the people and establishments he had written about earlier had faded into history. Sand mining companies (Warner Bros, George Pettinos, Owens Illinois, Port Silica, Menantico Sand and Gravel, and Whiteheads) have replaced the farms that defined an earlier landscape. Vanaman wrote that only two farm markets remained in operation- Gus Kettlemen and the Camp Family farm market, which still operates today. In his 1976 update, Vanaman included another well-known establishment. Vanaman wrote that "located one mile NE of the Port is the 'world famous Holly Farm, operated by Mr. Daniel Fenton'." 

By 1976, much to his dismay, Vanaman was witness to the demise of The Port's local business enterprises and its personality.