Iron, Glass and Horses at Stockton

Pinelands Short Course 2023

John Hebble, Historian at Batsto Village, gave a presentation at Stockton University’s Pinelands Short Course on March 11, 2023 entitled Iron, Glass, And Water: Industry And Natural Resources In The Pine Barrens. After giving an general overview of the ecological region known as the Pine Barrens and the area covered by the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, John discussed how the ample supply of water in the Pine Barrens enabled several major industries to thrive leading to the establishment of industrial towns such as Batsto Village.

John Hebble, Wharton State Forest historian, in uniform, in front of Atsion Mansion in Shamong, NJ
John Hebble, Wharton State Forest historian (Photo by Beach and Barrens)

Batsto Village was founded as an iron furnace in 1775, utilizing ready access to water and pitch pine for charcoal to process the bog iron ore found in the Pine Barrens. John displayed photos of advertisements of the era, describing how the furnaces at both Batsto and Atsion produced and sold such items as iron cookware and tools “of the best quality.” John also described the system of indentured servitude that provided workers for the ironworks.

Next, John discussed the importance of South Jersey glass, which developed after the bog iron industry declined. Three major natural resources allowed the glass industry to thrive in the Pine Barrens: sand, wood, and navigable waterways. From 1840 to 1860, almost one-third of the glass in the United States was manufactured in New Jersey. Glass-making became one of the oldest and most successful industries in South Jersey. 

The Batsto Glass Works operated from 1846 to 1867. Jesse Richards and his son Thomas H. Richards constructed the glassworks near the furnace. John said Batsto produced glass primarily for windows and street lamps such as the thousands of street lamps installed in Camden in 1852.

In addition to John’s presentation, I registered for two other classes during the day, including  Where the Pinelands Meet the Bay: the Unnoticed Symbiosis of Shellfish and Pinelands, presented by Rick Bushnell, Chair of ReClam the Bay. Rick discussed the relationship between Barnegat Bay and the Pinelands where the eastern edge of the pines touches the western edge of the Barnegat Bay estuary and explained how shellfish help protect against erosion. 

“Everything’s connected,” he said and described the mission of his organization. According to the Reclam the Bay website: “We grow and maintain millions of baby clams and oysters in the Barnegat Bay Watershed which includes Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin Bay and Little Egg Harbor bay. We want people to understand the services that shellfish provide. They filter water, provide habitat, stabilize shorelines, and TASTE GREAT. Help us give them a better home so they can give us a better home”

I also attended a presentation of live raptors from Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, including a broad-shouldered hawk, great horned owl, and turkey vulture. Cedar Run rehabilitates injured wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. When an animal is not able to recover sufficiently to allow for that, as was the case with these three birds, Cedar Run gives them a permanent home and sometimes takes them on educational trips such as this one. I have visited Cedar Run several times and volunteer my assistance with their grant writing activities.

One of Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge's resident Great Horned Owls at the 2022 Lines on the Pines
Cedar Run’s Great Horned Owl (Photo by Beach and Barrens)

At the end of the day, I listened to a performance in the Campus Center cafe by Jackson Pines. Founded in their hometown, the Pine Barrens municipality of Jackson in Ocean County, this folk band played New Jersey folk songs on guitar, stand-up bass, fiddle, and harmonica. Tunes covered included Mt. Holly Jail, the Unquiet Grave, Depression Song, Love is a Gamble, Beulah Land, and Clam Diggers Blues.

Lines on the Pines 2023

The next day I attended Lines on the Pines, also at Stockton, an “annual gathering of artists, authors and artisans whose passion is the Pines!”. This year’s theme was “Hoof n’ Tell,” paying homage to horses, the state animal of New Jersey since 1977. 

I was honored that Linda Stanton, founder of Lines on the Pines, asked me to contribute two articles, Ghosts of Horse Racing’s Past and Our Gal Sal, to a short book she compiled for the event entitled Horses of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens: Stories and Tall Tales By the Pine Barrens Celebrities of Lines on the Pines. Linda dedicated the book to her late husband, Jim Stanton. I got to meet Linda in person for the first time, and she was kind and gracious enough to sign my copy of the book for me.

The book contains articles and poems with a horse theme along with photos and artwork. Other contributors include South Jersey Horse Rescue in Egg Harbor City, Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary in Mays Landing; C. Paul Evans Pederson, Jr. (Mount Misery Music, BMI and Pine Barrens Diamonds); historian John Hebble; Wes Hughes of the Batsto Citizens Committee; and Budd Wilson. The book’s introduction explains that a group of students from Our Lady of Victories School in Harrington Park suggested designating the horse as the state animal where it is now proudly represented on the state seal as a horse head, symbolizing “speed and strength.”