Letter from Hon. John A. Ackley
New Smyrna, Florida.
Mr. Frank D. Andrews, Sec.
Vineland Historical Society.
My dear Andrews:
I was very much interested in reading the address of the late George Hampton of Bridgeton, published in the Jan. 1924 number of the magazine, as I am well acquainted with some of the roads and places named. I wish to correct a statement in regards to the old "Black Water saw mill" on page 161 where he states that the mill "was standing, but not in use in 1861." My father, William Ackley moved from Bridgeton to Vineland in 1864. We lived in the "Gillett" farm house which stands on the N. W. corner of Malaga and Garden Road; (Garden Road was not open at that time) the old mill was then operated and in use. It stood on the west side of the dam. The men who were the sawyers were—"Pete" Cassaboon and an old man named "Licket," (I don't know if this is spelled right but that is the way it was pronounced) they lived in cabins on the north side of the Black Water stream, west of Malaga Road about 200 yards and on the road that runs parallel with the Black Water, west to the west line or boundery of the "Gillett" farm, where it forked, and the south road continued along the Black Water to the, or near the, junction of the Maurice River, then rah north to Cobb's Landing. The north fork of this road ran north-west to "Cobb's Landing" which is on the east bank of Maurice River, about 500 feet or more south of Garden Road bridge. I have fished from it many times. These old roads followed north paralleling the river, crossing "Manaway Branch" by corduroy road and a slab bridge to Willow Grove mills, and was used for hauling logs to the mills and cord wood to "Cobb's Landing" where it was. made into rafts and floated down to Millville, to be shipped to Philadelphia, for fuel, by sailing vessels. My father has carted many cords of wood to this landing when he was a young man, (he was born in 1811) and to another landing that was on the west bank of Maurice River north of "Maul's bridge" now Almond Road bridge, and I have carted logs to the Willow Grove Mill over the old Manaway Branch road.
In the spring of 1865 C. K. Landis had the old Black Water saw mill abandoned and the Township had Benj. C. Skinner, the Road Superintendent cut the dam and build a new bridge where the present one is now, in the middle of the dam on Malaga Road, and the old channel, that supplied water power to the mill, was filled in. This was done to drain the low swampy land that lay along both sides of the Black Water as far east as the old "Horse Bridge" on Main Ave. where it extended into Gloucester County. By doing this he reclaimed hundreds of acres of good tillable soil.
It might be of interest to know that my great grand father, John Ackley, operated the old Black Water saw mill about 1822. He lived in a house that stood on the east side of Malaga Road, south of the Pond. Father has shown me the place where it stood, as he remembered it.
The original trail, or road, crossing the Black Water before a dam was built and water power developed, my father told me, was east of the present location of Malaga Road. This he told me of when the Pond was at full head, and after the new bridge was put in and the Pond drained I was anxious to see it, and found it at a point about 100 feet west of the present West Ave. bridge. It was a road bed built out of large logs from the south and north sides of the stream, to the channel of the same. I can easily locate it now. As it is grown up with cedar trees that are getting quite large, this spot should be marked. The road bed can easily be found by a little digging, as time has covered it by decayed vegetable matter.
Thinking this might be of some interest to you, I felt I would be justified in sending you the above statements.
With kindest personal regards, I am yours truly,
John A. Ackley.