The Third Port of Entry
Tuckerton has the distinction of having been the third Port of Entry in the United States. After the formation of this Nation, Philadelphia, the then largest city, became the first Port of Entry. This was followed by New York and then by Tuckerton. The commission is dated March 21 1791, and is signed by George Washington as President and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State.
Ebenezer Tucker was the first Collector of the Port of Tuckerton and since his time the Collector’s Office has always been in the home of the man holding the appointment. Collectors following Tucker were Charles Bartlett, John T. Burtan, Samuel Bartlett, George W. Mathis, George Crammer, James E. Otis and William Allen, Jr. Several of these men held office when more than a hundred schooners registered Tuckerton as their home port.
Tuckerton Schooners and Ebenezer Tucker
Great forests of fine hardwood trees which once surrounded Tuckerton made it an important ship building center, thriving under the enterprise of early Quaker settlers. Tuckerton built schooners were well thought of by salt water sailors and many were engaged in a substantial coastal trade.
Bartlett’s Coaling Dock was located on the west bank of Tuckerton Creek about midway to the Bay, and a century ago was a place of considerable importance. Here teams brought their loads of cord wood and large wagons brought their bushels of charcoal. Two masted schooners carried this fuel to Philadelphia and Boston to heat homes. All that now remains of this once busy dock are a few rotting timbers and short piling stumps in the water.
According to the records of the Post Office Department a post office was established at Tuckerton on August 18, 1797. The early postmasters and their dates of appointment were: Reuben Tucker, August 18, 1797; William Watson, February 25, 1801; David Stoute, July 1, 1805; and Ebenezer Tucker, December 28, 1805. He served until May 8, 1840.
Ebenezer Tucker performed many services for his community, state and nation. He served in the Continental Army during the Revolution and was elected to Congress in 1825-1829, serving in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses. He was appointed a judge of the Common Pleas Court and Orphan’s Court and was a justice of the court of Quarter Sessions.
Around 1800 he built and established “Union Inn” at Tuckerton, a portion of which is incorporated in the present “Carlton House.” He owned several schooners, some of which were engaged in the West Indies trade, loading lumber at Tuckerton and returning with sugar and molasses. In addition to this he was one of the original directors of “The Burlington County Bank,” organized in 1837 at Medford, Burlington County.
Ebenezer Tucker died September 5, 1845, and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery at Tuckerton, his grave being marked by the dominating obelisk of the burying ground.
Edward Andrews and Willow Landing
The buildings at Main and Water Streets, Tuckerton, are supported by portions of the foundations of the original Edward Andrews glist mill. Tuckerton is like that – the new is built upon the old and looks to the old for support and finds it.
Edward Andrews, the reputed founder of what is now Tuckerton, was born on the 16th of the First Month, 1677. When he grew up he acquired some ftve hundred acres on the east side of Tuckerton Lake. He married Sarah Ong, a daughter of Sarah Ong, Sr., believed to have been a widow at the time of her daughter’s marriage. The wedding took place at the home of Thomas Revell in Burlington on February 8, 1694.
Edward Andrews tired of taking his grain to Burlington to have it ground and in about 1704 erected a grist mill at the beaver dam, where today’s shore road curyes around the south end of Tuckerton Lake. This was the first grist mill in the area.
In 1708 Edward Andrews conveyed two acres of land on the east side of the Lake, well back from the road, to the Trustees of the local Quaker Meeting. A one story meeting house was immediately built on this land, John Crammer being the head carpenter. This original meeting house remained in constant use until 1865 when it was torn down and the present meeting house erected. Meetings are still held here at 11a.m. on First Days during the summer months.
The window frames of the first meeting house were brought from England, the srnall diamond shaped panes of glass being set in lead. These leaden window frames were taken down and hidden during the Revolution so that they would not be seized and melted down for shot
Tuckerton, like most mainland towns near salt water, had its salt works during the Revolution. These were located on the Bay Shore so that a wind-mill could pump salt water into the boiler and ultimately into the salt pans. British restrictions and taxes had made the importation of salt prohibitive, so the colonists manufactured their own salt by the simple process of evaporating sea water. Many New Jersey bog iron furnaces cast large shallow salt pans for the ffnal evaporation. Old maps of Tuckerton show the road leading to the salt works as Salt Works Lane. It has now been renamed Marine Street. The largest salt works in Tuckerton were operated by a substantial company and produced some eight hundred pounds of salt a year.
Boats still tic up at willow Landing, the grand old name for the town dock about a block down Tuckerton creek frorn where Andrews’ Mill once stood. Tuckcrton creek was known to the Indians as “Pohatcong” aftcr the lake on the upper side of the beaver darn. Later it had rnany names, being generally known by the name of the then mill owner. On variors maps it is shown as Andrews’ Mill Creek, Jacob Andrews. Mill Creek, Shourd’s Mill Creek, Shord’s Mill Branch and plain Mill Creek.
The hugc willow trees that once shaded Willow Landing, and gave the place its name, are all gone the last twisted trunk blew down in June of 1950. The Landing once extended for some distance arong the creek bank. It was a scene of great activity with business being done in large timbcr, lumber, cord-wood, split shingles, charcoal, salt, flax and molasscs.
Boarding Captain Smith’s boat at Willow Landing and going down Tuckerton creek to the Bay was an interesting and rewarding experience. As we came out of the Creek, to the left, beyond some cottages, we saw Gaunnt’s Point, named for Hananiah Gaunnt, husband of Ann Ridgway Gaunnt, Tuckerton’s distinguished female Quaker preacher. Down the channel a couple of miles, on the left, was a large island, once easily recognized by a big brick chimney of the abandoned moss-bunker fertilizer plant on Storey’s Island. This landmark crashed to the ground early in April, 1954.
Across the channel from the fertilizer plant site was a broad salt meadow. This meadow has been called Fox Burrow since before the Revolution. Many years ago the drifting ice fields piled the meadow sod up at this point in such a manner that it was above high water and even above storm tides. Foxes made their dens or burrows in this higher meadow land. The place is sometimes referred to as Foxborough.
Not very far from Fox Burrow is another location where a Revolutionary War name still applies to a winding back channel. This is “Soldier’s Hole” and it may be found on present day charts. The Continental Army established a sentry post on the back of this narow channel to observe ships entering Little Egg Harbor Inlet. The location was ideal for this purpose since the view was unobstructed. The observation point was comparatively safe because it was impossible to reach Soldiert Hole except in a small boat and then only by one familiar with the shoals of the winding channel.