Early Settlers of Vineland West of Malaga Road

Mrs. Mary E. Schley


Mr. Mootz contributed the following account of his experiences: "I was born in Heilmas Kries Harsfart, Hesse Cassel, Germany in 1822. I worked for the farmers. In 1850 I came to America. I lived eleven years in the State of New York. I lived in Ulster, Greene and Otsego Counties, then I went to Cooperstown, while there I worked in a stone quarry. Many Irish were in this town." Mrs. Mootz here interrupted by saying "I came over the last of December, 1854, and made my fortune right away. We were married at once." Mr. Mootz resumed, "I came to Vineland December, 1S63 and bought ten acres of Mr. Landis on the north side of Chestnut between Orchard and Mill Roads. In January, 1864 I moved my family to Vineland. We had one son. Mr. Churchill owned a place west of mine. His family all died, and he moved into town. In 1888 I bought twelve and one half acres of him. He then went west. I bought of Oriander Worden fifteen acres on the east side of my farm in 1890. All the ground had to be cleared and berries and fruit trees set out. We raised a little fodder for the cow and some food for ourselves. We planted a little of everything. For a few years grapes were good, but they failed. Our first house was sixteen by eighteen feet. It stood on posts without any cellar under it. In 1890 I made sixteen hundred dollars on sweet potatoes. I built a large chicken house with brooders and incubators and raised fowls for market. I made most on sweet potatoes and blackberries. When we first came to Vineland we had to work out to get money. I took a job of clearing ten acres of land at twenty dollars per acre. My wife took in washing and worked in the fields. She was brought up on a farm in Hesse Cassel. I sold my farm about ten years ago and moved into this house on Landis Avenue."

Mr. Mootz is almost helpless with rheumatism. His wife cultivates the garden and works out whenever she can get a job. The son Simon went to Colorado and engaged in wool business. Unsuccessful there, he returned to Vineland and established himself in his trade as a barber.

On the northeast corner of Walnut and Mill Roads Mr. Below, a native of Germany, bought a farm containing twenty acres of C. K. Landis. This purchase was made in the early sixties. Mr. Below built a good house and barn, cleared his place and set out fruit trees, a vineyard and berries. In 1875 he decided to move his family to California. He sold the farm to William Sauer. This gentleman sold in 1876 to Mr. Frederick Leschke. Mr. Leschke came over from Germany in 1871. He was a weaver by trade in Germany. The use of machinery rendered his business unprofitable. He came to America and found employment as a woolen weaver in Connecticut. Here he remained five years. In 1876 he came to Vineland and purchased the Below farm of Mr. William Sauer. His family consisted of himself his wife and four children, two sons and two daughters. He died in 1881. His eldest son retains the farm.

In 1864 Mr. Wigfall bought of C K. Landis forty acres of land situated on the east side of Mill road south of Walnut. Here he put up good buildings and cleared and cultivated his farm. In 1876 Mr Wigfall sold the premises to Henry Sauer. Mr. Sauer came over from Germany in 1863. His trade was that of a woolen weaver. He lived twelve years in Fall River and worked in the woolen mills. In 1875 he came to Vineland. In 1876 he purchased the Wigfall place and became a farmer. Both Mr. Sauer and Mr. Leschke came from Hesse Cassel. They understood the cultivation of fruits. They made large quantities of wine. When grapes failed in Vineland they bought them by the car load in Philadelphia, brought them here and continued to make wine for their customers in the city. The Germans were all prosperous. They seemed to understand how to make their fruits and berries yield the best returns. They were a patient, hard-working people who deserved the success which rewarded their efforts. Mr. Sauer died in 1902. His son takes the place of the father on the farm. One daughter became the wife of Paul Leschke. They have a shoe store in town.

On the northeast corner of Walnut and Orchard Roads Mr. Siler bought a farm of C. K. Landis in 1865. He erected good buildings and proceeded to clear and cultivate his land. His farming did not prove remunerative and at the end of two years he sold to Mr. Silas N. Hallock. Mr. Hallock came from Long Island. He was a market gardener. At the end of a year he left in deep disgust with Vineland farming. In 1868 the place was bought by Charles Nordoff. Mr. Nordoff came from Germany and was for many years a correspondent of the New York Herald. He wrote a work upon California and published many magazine articles. He did not reside upon the farm. An aunt of Mrs. Nordoff and her husband, Mr. John B. Anderson, occupied the farm. Mrs. Nordoff s invalid sister resided with her Aunt. John B. Anderson had been a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. He came from southern Ohio. In the Columbian Exposition the state of Ohio was represented by a group of statues representing Cornelia and her sons with the inscription "These are my jewels." Several of these jewels have located in Vineland. Mr. Anderson was a stalwart specimen. King Frederick William of Prussia, the father of Frederick the Great, would have been delighted to enroll him in the regiment of giant grenadiers. Mr. Anderson's strength of muscle corresponded with his six feet, four inches of stature. He had a most impressive way of shaking hands although I never heard of any broken bones. Mrs. Anderson was from Kentucky. They had no children of their own, but adopted several at different times. Mr. Anderson brought from camp life a fondness for intoxicating drinks. He would go off on sprees with companions similarly inclined. Two horses had been killed by hard driving and ill usage. He would carry liquor home and conceal it in the woods. He was seen by Mr Scheer on one occasion hiding a small cask. Mr. Scheer removed the cask, placing it in Mrs. Anderson's keeping.

Revival meetings were being held at this time in the Methodist Church. Mr. Anderson was induced to attend them. His feelings were much wrought upon. He united with the church, signed the pledge and kept it. He was elected one of the Freeholders of the township and rendered useful service. Several years after his reformation when riding with Mr. Scheer, he was told by him about the removal of the cask of whiskey from its hiding place in the woods. Mr. Anderson grasped the hand of Mr. Scheer with a strength that was crushing and exclaimed, "You will go to Heaven for that good deed, It was the last whiskey I ever bought. I intended drinking it on Sunday with my companions. God will reward you for the good you did." Mr. Nordoff sold the place in 1890. Mr. Anderson went to Lower California to take charge of an extensive ranch belonging to Mr. Nordoff. After two years he came back to Chicago and superintended the lighting of the streets in the western division of that city. He died in Chicago.

In the immediate vicinity of Vineland there were no lakes or ponds. Some of the townspeople thought an artificial lake might be formed from some of the running streams that traverse the tract. Blackwater hear Malaga Road was the first considered for this purpose. Later it was found that west of Mill Road for a mile and a half, Little Robin ran between banks of sufficient width to form a lake of the desired size by building a dam from bank to bank and flooding the whole valley with the water of the stream. The land was of little value and easily obtained, A company was formed and stock issued. The shares were fixed at five dollars. Some of the stock was sold for cash to use as working capital. Much of it was taken by people who went with teams and tools to work out their shares. Mr. B. C. Skinner acted as Superintendent of the Work. By the first of July, 1885 the work was completed. The lake was a pretty sheet of water with an island in the lower part. A carriage road had been made around the lake and crossed over the dam. A boat house was built and small boats were ready to give pleasure to those who wished to go out in them. A picnic had been arranged for the Fourth of July. A large crowd was on the grounds. Mr. Horatio N. Green, a resident of Vineland, was the orator of the day. During his speech came the news of the tragedy in Washington and the shooting of President Garfield. Mr. Green made the announcement from the stand. Over all feelings of joy and gladness fell the shadow of that great calamity.

During the summer many visited the lake and used it to swim and bathe in. Twice Mr. James Green was fortunate enough to rescue bathers from drowning. In August a party of young men and boys were in bathing, when Harry Byers got out of his depth and went down. His companions tried to aid him and after a time took him out of the water insensible. He was taken immediately to town and placed in the care of a physician. It was impossible to resuscitate him. The physician pronounced him dead.

During the winter the lake was used as a skating rink. A shooting gallery was near it, but the Lake Co. found the enterprise disappointing, After a few years the small stock holders were "frozen out" and the property passed into the possession of the principal stockholders. It was proposed to use the ground as a cranberry marsh, flooding it by means of the dam. This project failed, and at the present time there is nothing but a ruined dam to show the site of the lake.