Historic Medford Township is nestled on the edge of, and within the South Jersey Pine Barrens in Burlington County. Burlington County, NJ’s largest county in acreage, is the only county that spans from the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware River.
Medford Township is approx. 40 square miles and borders Evesham Township (known as Marlton), Mount Laurel, Lumberton, Southampton, Tabernacle, Shamong and Camden County. Medford Lakes Borough is an independent municipality encircled within the boundaries of Medford Township. Medford is within 40 minutes of Center City Philadelphia, Trenton NJ and many Jersey shore points, with a population of approximately 24.000.
Medford Township History
These excerpts of Medford’s history are presented with the permission of the Medford Historical Society.
1670: William Penn and others, acting for Edward Billynge, sells 900 acres of land, what is now known as Medford Township, to Samuel Coles. Other large land owners in the area during that time were Simon Bozorth, John Goslin, John Haines and William Hewlings. The Braddocks, Pricketts, Wilkins, Strattons and Branins were among many who came to the area during the next few years.
1767: Medford, then known as Upper Evesham, began to resemble a village. The Shamong Trail (Stokes Road) had grown from the footpath that the Indians used to become a narrow, sandy, soggy and sometimes impassable road between Burlington and the busy seaport of Clamtown (Tuckerton). The Village continued to develop through the 1780’s largely due to the founding of the Etna and Taunton furnaces by Charles Read. Etna furnace (Medford Lakes) went out of blast in 1773 but the grist and sawmill operated into the 20th century.
1800’s: After the Revolution and into the 1800’s,Upper Evesham struggled as a little village with a few houses strung along Main Street. In 1800, an important merchant named Mark Reeve arrived in Upper Evesham. It was Mark Reeve who, as the story goes, called a town meeting to propose the name Medford after a visit to Medford, Massachusetts. In1820, when the Post Office opened, the town was officially called Medford of Upper Evesham. On February 4th, 1847, Medford Township was “set apart from” Evesham by act of legislature.
One of Medford’s biggest boons began with the coming of the railroad in 1869. A glass factory on Mill Street was booming and there were sawmills and grist mills running full tilt. Now they had an easy way of getting their products to Philadelphia and New York – Medford was in its “heyday”. In 1889 the Camden and Atlantic Railroad came to town connecting Camden and Medford along a route now occupied by Route 70.
1900’s: During the 1920’s passenger service declined with the coming of the automobile; the glass factory had closed and, Western sawmills were putting local sawyers out of business. In 1927, passenger service was discontinued and the tracks of the Camden branch were taken up when Route 70 was built. Kirby’s Mill, originally known as Haine’s Mill, was an operating saw and grist mill long after Medford’s many other mills had shut down. Kirby’s Mill ran on water until 1961 when it was converted to electricity. In 1972 the mill was entered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Click here to find out more about Medford Township, NJ