A Letter from J. G. Colson
The first Purchaser of Land in Vineland
Vineland, Cumberland Co., N. J.
September 3, 1866. Gentlemen of the Historical Society of Vineland:
According to the request made known to me through your secretary, I herewith send you a few of the incidents of my life. I was born in St. Margaret's Parish, Westminster, London, England, March 27th, 1806, directly opposite Westminster Abbey and where the Session House now stands. My paternal grandfather was an English farmer near Winchester, Hampshire; my maternal grandfather a skillful mechanic from Lancashire. Father and mother were industrious and respectable people.
I received my education in a foundation school where fifty-four boys and thirty-four girls were received, it being the first school of the kind established in England, in the year of the glorious Revolution of 1688. At sixteen years I was put to the book selling business, which I left to learn the percussion cap-making business. These caps were then made by hand, one at a time, and I have frequently made 27,000 and 30,000 of a day. I left this business to go to sea, but finding that if I went it would in all probability break my poor mother's heart (and she was the best friend that I ever possessed), I gave up the intention.
When a little child, standing listening to some music, I was knocked down and trod upon by a horse. Several times I have been nearly drowned.
At twenty-five years of age I took steam from London to Boulogne, and walked from Boulogne to Paris. I had a great desire to visit the field of Waterloo in Belgium, Rome and Naples in Italy, and Madrid and Seville in Spain; but was obliged to give up the intention for want of means, for which I was very sorry.
Twenty-four years ago I came to America, stopped one year, set out again for London, stopped three years and came again to America, where I have now been twenty years.
I bought some years ago 80 acres of land in Columbia County, Wis. I sold out and bought again in the same county and state 47 80/100 acres, stopped there a few months, then returned to Rochester, N. Y., where I have lived eighteen years.
Still looking out for a home and to be settled, I went to the Manchester tract, but did not like it; then went to Hammonton with the same result. I came on to Vineland and bought my place in half an hour, on the 24th of October, 1861, being the first purchase on the Vineland tract.
I was brought up in the doctrines of the Established Church of England (Episcopal). I hate Popery and religious intolerance. Socially, I generally endeavor to do as I would be done by, upright and down straight, tell the truth and shame the devil. My rule is always to speak as I find, and I would always much rather speak good than evil of any one.
Politically, I am an English Radical, but in America I am an adopted citizen. I voted myself, and induced others to vote, for that good man, Abraham Lincoln.
Further, I am for just and good laws for all. Aristocracy, theologically, politically and socially is a hateful abomination in my eyes. To conclude, I hate monarchy as I hate the devil, and love with all my heart a republican form of government. Lastly, I am unconditional Union and no surrender.
Wishing the greatest success to the settlement of Vineland, and a life of happiness and prosperity to its noble founder, I am, gentlemen,
J. G. Colson.