Stop the Jade Run

Stop the Jade Run


Every now and then I am asked about the origins of the name of the creek which runs along Vincentown-Pemberton Road and empties into the Rancocas in Vincentown: “Stop the Jade Run”. I recently asked Dot Best, town historian, if she had a copy of an article I had seen years ago which explained the origin of the name. Following is a column which appeared in the Camden Courier Post on Sunday, August 5, 1973. It was written by James Smart.

Burlington County is full of picturesque names that intrigue new residents who come across them. There are places like Comical Corner, Mary Ann Furnace and Turpentine. And there are streams with names like Bread and Cheese Run and Feather Bed Branch.


One little stream that people often ask about is Stop the Jade Run. Stop the Jade Run rises in Pemberton Township, north of Ongs Hat. It flows west through Buddtown into Southampton Township, where it spills into the Rancocas Creek northwest of Vincentown. I’ve never found a record of how old the name is, but Stop the Jade Run is obviously an old name.


An old history of Burlington County explains the origin of the name this way: “There is a tradition extant that ‘Stop the Jade’ creek derived its name from persons chasing a wild horse down the stream, called out in the excitement of the chase, ‘Stop the jade! Stop the jade!’ Jade being an ancient name for horse.” The information in that paragraph is as vague as the syntax but it’s probably the best explanation of the name.


“Jade” is not exactly “an ancient name for horse.” The Oxford English Dictionary says it is “a contemptuous name for a horse.” A jade was a weary, wornout, broken down horse. The word can be found in Goeffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century “Canterbury Tales”: “Be blythe, though thou ryde vp-on a jade, “What though thine hors be both foule and lene.” Later, the word “jade” was whimsically transferred from horses and got to be an uncomplimentary description of a certain type of woman.


By the 18th century, anything or anybody who was exhausted, worn out or broken down might be described as “jaded.” But the word “jade” was still being applied specifically to horses, in much the way people now say “nag,” as late as the 1820s. So it is impossible to guess when a bunch of early Jerseyites might have chased that wild horse — presumably a horse both foul and lean — down the banks of that little Burlington County stream, shouting, “Stop the jade!”


Perhaps some old-time cartographer was lurking in the bushes when they ran past, and he decided that “Stop the Jade” was as good a name as any for a creek, and put it on his map. At least, there is some sort of explanation on record for the name. Names like Bread and Cheese Run and Father Bed Branch are nonchalantly placed on maps and mentioned in histories without so much as a guess as to where the names originated.

For years, I accepted this story as the best explanation of the unusual name of this waterway in Southampton. Then came an e-mail from Gene Finneran, indicating that he had another version.

“It’s my understanding the “jade” referred to was an indentured servant. One such jade ran away, and the “sponsor” put a full page ad in the Philadelphia newspaper: STOP THE JADE!! My understanding is this tickled the fancy of some of the locals, who changed the name of the creek to “Stop That Jade” Run. I ran across this story while camping in the area quite some time ago, and even wrote a song:

Click Here for Gene’s Song

(My version is a bit “earthier”.)
Gene Finneran