Life in Vincentown
A recent article in The Philadelphia Inquirer began this way: “In Southampton Township, life goes on and on and on. This is a suburb where family roots run knotted and deep, and townsfolk live securely knowing that tomorrow will offer the same comforts as yesterday…. Southampton is the kind of town Atticus Fitch, the laid-back, respected attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird, might settle in. Generations live across the street from each other. Change arrives slowly…. Southampton is a suburb, but its people are devoted to retaining the rural look and feel. Though it is only 45 minutes from Philadelphia, the township lacks the fast-food, mini-mall image found in many communities closer to the Delaware River.”
“Even so, there are other places where the locals go to trade talk and to eat — two diners, a cafe*, and the Red Lion Inn, where the owners still make their own pasta.” *Editor’s note: Since this article appeared, the cafe on Main Street has closed.
People in Southampton like their space. “I can drop out of society when I pull into my driveway,” said one resident. “All my neighbors are four-legged, and that’s the way I like it.” he said. “No, I hope a lot of people don’t decide to move here. It’s very rural, very private.”
Vincentown? Oh … Well … You Wouldn’t Like It There
In 1977, a reporter for the Burlington County Times, Dan Eisenhuth, wrote an article about Vincentown which has been a classic description of the town. At the time, Dan lived on Mill Street. The article has been reproduced in local newsletters and has been read publicly at Historical Society meetings and is quoted frequently by people desirous of preserving the unique attributes which make Vincentown special. We have reproduced the article, as well as a commentary and update, some twenty years later, by another transplant to Vincentown, Joe Laufer. Click below to read both these articles.
Vincentown?…You Wouldn’t Like it There
The Vincentown Mill Pond
The Vincentown Mill Pond has long been the centerpiece of the community of Vincentown. The creation of an early saw mill and grist mill along the South Branch of the Rancocas were essential to the growth and development of Vincentown. On December 2, 2005, a formal ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of a new $2.5M dam and bridge on Race Street in Vincentown. A previous temporary dam, which the new structure replaced, was constructed in 1996 after the earlier dam failed in 1994. That dam had originally been constructed in 1891, with the main spillway being constructed in 1919. Reconstruction of that dam took place in 1924. The 1996 reconstruction was not without controversy. Some citizens felt that the reconstruction of the dam was an unnecessary expense. Other citizens argued for the historic, recreational, health, safety, ecological, and economic value of the dam to the community, and set up a citizen’s committee to ensure that the dam would be restored. The temporary dam of 1996 is what resulted.
The new Race Street dam and bridge. Opened in 2005.
As plans were being made for the construction of a permanent replacement for this dam, the NJ State Department of Transportation (NJDOT) became involved and applied for a grant from the federal government. The cost of the project was about $2.5 million funded mainly by a federal grant to the NJDOT. The NJDOT began replacement of the Race Street bridge and dam in August, 2003. The Preservation Commission of Historic Southampton became involved in the project due to the fact that it impacts the Vincentown Historic District. The NJDOT worked with the Commission to identify and solve concerns about the visual characteristics of the design. One design objective was to provide a sense of consistency with the new Main Street bridge by using similar materials and colors. Another was to maintain the human-scale of the bridges in order to ensure that the Mill Pond Park retained its strong sense of place. The project included substantial landscaping improvements to the Mill Pond Park. Until the new dam construction project interrupted it, the Mill Pond was the site of an annual Triathlon for the benefit of the Sally Stretch Keen Memorial Library. It is used by the citizenry for fishing, canoeing, ice skating and swimming. On the evening of September 16, 2000, tragedy struck, with the first reported drowning in the Mill Pond, a young woman from Race Street, who went under during an evening boat ride with her husband.
A Rich History
Originally called Brimstone Neck, Southampton was settled by Quakers. In 1758, Vincentown, the core of the township, was founded. Named after plantation owner Vincent Leeds, Vincentown was first known as Vincent’s Town. George W. C. Drexel, the Philadelphia newspaper mogul and member of the famous banking family, married Mary Irick, a Vincentown native, in the Trinity Episcopal Church on Mill Street on November 18, 1891. Vincentown has been placed on the New Jersey and U.S. National Historical Registers because of its rich history.
The article which appears below was written by town historian,
Dorothy Best, and sums up the history of our town.
Bed Bug Hill Road
Only in Southampton! Our community is unique in many ways, not the least in the names of some of its roads. Besides “Bed Bug Hill Road,” you’ll find names that probably don’t exist in any other communities: Beaver Dam Road, Bent Tree Trail, Big Hill Road, Hog Farm Road, Miss Mabel Drive, Ongs Hat Road, Possum Hollow Road, Purgatory Road and Sooy Place Road. We even have two streets with names that reflect exactly why people like it here: Serenity Court and Tranquility Court!
“Stop the Jade Run”
Perhaps the only stream in the world with a name reflecting an incident involving a runaway horse, “Stop the Jade Run” meanders through Southampton Township, sometimes overflowing its banks and causing inconveniences to local cows, pedestrians and motor vehicles.
The Red Lion Story
One section of Southampton which prompts inquiries is the area of Red Lion, just off the intersection of Routes 206 and 70. The common explanation of how Red Lion got its name appeared in “Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey” by Henry Charlton Beck.
Vincentown is the only community in New Jersey to be chosen by Reminisce Magazine to display a set of nostalgic Burma-Shave signs. In 1996, five Burma-Shave sign replicas were placed on Landing Street along the Jack Allen Farm just outside the village of Vincentown. They read: TODAY’S KIDS…SURE MISSED A TREAT…NO MOONLIGHT RIDES…IN A RUMBLE SEAT. The final sign contains the logo of the sponsor, Reminisce Magazine. Town Historian Dot Best entered Vincentown into Reminisce’s unique contest at the urging of Jack Allen, on whose property the signs are located. Click below for the article which appeared in the January-February, 1997 issue of Reminisce Magazine concerning the choice of Vincentown as the only New Jersey town selected as a location for the Burma-Shave signs.
For 14 years, Southampton Township has been designated as a Tree City USA community, based on criteria established by The National Arbor Day Foundation. To qualify, a town must have in place a Shade Tree Commission, A Tree Care Ordinance, A Community Forestry Program with an Annual Budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation. Southampton Township proudly displays the Tree City USA logo at the entrances to our community.
For more information on the Tree City USA program, visit their web site: Tree City USA