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Buying Books and Videos about Burlington County

We mention numerous recently published books on this page. Many of them are available in the "local history" section of the major bookstores, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble. You can also get them on line, especially at Amazon.com. However, if you want to consider some of the lesser-known regional historical books, while at the same time helping our local organizations financially, here are some of the better museum gift shops in Burlington County with a wide array of these items:

1. Pinelands Preservation Alliance, 17 Pemberton Road, Southampton, NJ 08088 - 609.859.8860,

2. Historic Batsto Village Gift Shop, Route 542, East of Hammonton. 609.561.0024.

3. North Pemberton Railroad Station Museum, 3 Fort Dix Road, Pemberton. 609.894.0546.

4. Buzby's General Store, Cheshire Cat Gift Shop, Route 563, Chatsworth. 609.894.4415.

2011 Joe Laufer Student Volunteer Scholarships Awarded- Three Burlington County High School Students were awarded $2,500 each in scholarships for exemplary volunteer service. more...

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A fourteen page article about the Smithville Post Office appeared in the November, 2011 edition of the New Jersey Postal History (Vol. 39/No. 4, pages 197 to 210). We have created a link to this issue. The article was written by Doug D'Avino, who interviewed several individuals associated with the history of Smithville, including descendants of the last Postmaster of the facility that was located in the historic Industrial Village. Edith Vaughn, who was appointed Acting Postmaster in January, 1930, and then promoted to Postaster in July, serving in that position for 34 years until it was discontinued on June 5, 1964.

Click here for the link to the November, 2011 issue of NJPH


For the past four years and over 130 hand crafted editions, BACK IN TIME has been dolling out local history in spades through the pages of THE TOWN NEWS. In recent years, Burlington County Freeholders honored this column with its own History Preservation Award, recognizing that a town’s history is its heart and soul.


In the wake of THE TOWN NEWS closing, I am pleased to announce BACK IN TIME will continue in Regina Collinsgru’s wonderful monthly hometown newspaper THE POSITIVE PRESS. Regina has expanded the circulation of the paper to include Palmyra, Riverton, and Cinnaminson. The Newspaper is circulated at 16,000 copies and is mailed to every home and business in Riverside, Delran and Delanco. more..


Click here for Joe Laufer's remarks at the dedication



County officials open Warden's House

Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio, Freeholder Mary Ann O'Brien and Resource Conservation Director Mary Pat Robbie (front row - l to r) and Freeholder Joseph Donnelly, County Historian Joseph Laufer, and Freeholder Mary Anne Reinhart (second row - l to r) join in cutting the ribbon to reopen the Warden's House to the public. The newly-restored 1888 building will serve as an art exhibit for Hugh Campbell artwork.


Introduction Sequence to DE LUXE: THE TALE OF THE BLUE COMET from Robert A. Emmons Jr. on Vimeo.


New Jersey documentary filmmaker Robert A. Emmons Jr returns to dig up and bring to life another obscure tale in NJ history. Just as he did with Goodwill: The flight of Emilio Carranza, Emmons presents a lost but fascinating piece of Garden State history and culture in De Luxe: The Tale of the Blue Comet.

From 1929 to 1941 the Central Railroad of New Jersey train, The Blue Comet, captivated onlookers and riders from Jersey City to Atlantic City. The locomotive and its distinctive blue and cream passenger cars were the pinnacle of travel to the Jersey shore for a brief but splendid time. With the development of new modes of transportation, the expansion of highways, competition from the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the horrific crash of the Blue Comet in 1939, the mighty Blue Comet was authorized for abandonment on September 28, 1941. Despite its short-lived run, its glory has made it a unique and lasting memory in New Jersey history. From the individuals who remember seeing the train as children to its inclusion in The Soparno's, and its unique place in Pinelands history, The Blue Comet still blazes a trail. Emmons presents the distinct train not only as the CNJ's most famous flyer, but also as one of Lionel toy train's most memorable models.

Interviews feature Blue Comet historians Paul W. Schopp, Joel Rosenbaum, and Frank T. Reilly, and Lionel expert Ron Hollander.

Hop aboard for an unforgettable ride on the Blue Comet.

For information on purchasing the 90-minute video, go to the Robert A. Emmons website: http://www.robertemmons.com/

REVIEW by Joe Laufer:

On Saturday, February 20, 2010, along with about twenty-five local history buffs, I had the pleasure of viewing this 90-minute documentary in Chatsworth, the Burlington County community forever linked to the eventual premature demise of this glorious example of railway "advertising, creativity and spunk." It was on August 19, 1939 that the Blue Comet left the tracks at NJ Central Railroad's milepost #86 near the village of Chatsworth (mile post #85). Within 2 years it would be abandoned and enter the archives of New Jersey history and folklore.

I was introduced to the Blue Comet 25 years ago during the last return of Halley's Comet. Each of the Blue Comet's cars bore the name of a famous comet -- and I was hyping the return of Halley's Comet, latching onto every unusual story I could find to associate with this famous comet, since astronomically, it wasn't putting on a very good show. A friend in my hometown of Vincentown was a model train afficionado, and he shared with me articles about the Blue Comet, of which, being a transplant to New Jersey, I had been totally unaware.

As publisher of "The Halley's Comet Watch Newsletter", a publication which was sent all over the world, I wanted to include a story about the Blue Comet. The opportunity came when, included with my May, 1986 telephone bill, came an insert with a story about the Blue Comet written by Dorothy Voss. I re-printed it as she wrote it in the July, 1986 newsletter.

Just as he did with the story of Emilio Carranza, Robert Emmons captures another piece of Burlington County History, wrapping it in the emotions, the drama, and the excitement of the period through the eyes of witnesses and experts who possess the knowlege and the passion to bring together the various threads of rail history, pinelands and New Jersey history, and the overall history of change precipitated by the introduction of the highway system, the automobile, the Great Depression and the imminent onset of World War II.

The story of the Blue Comet is a uniquely New Jersey story, weaved by a master story teller. The audience was definitely captivated during the screening in Chatsworth. In Emmons' hands, it is not just a story about a train -- but one about an era, a spirit, a people and the way they lived and played. The colors of the Blue Comet represented Sea, Sky and Sand -- and somehow, the film captured the sights, sounds, and smells of the 125-mile route of the Blue Comet from New York to Atlantic City during its short 12-year lifespan. Eighteen of those miles were through the Pine Barrens of Burlington County between Woodmansie and Atsion, making it another piece in the mosaic of our County history. Watch for local screenings - or better, go to Emmons' website and buy a copy of the DVD.

JML 2/20/2010

Lionel version of the "Blue Comet" on display at the restored White Horse Inn, Chatsworth. The Blue Comet suffered a major wreck just a mile west of this spot enroute from Atlantic City to New York on August 19, 1939 during a major downpour which washed out the tracks. Emmons' devotes an informative segment of his documentary to the story of the Lionel Company's fascination with the Blue Comet and its introduction into its product line. In fact, the documentary opens with a clip from the next to last installment of the Soprano's which features the Blue Comet.

The White Horse Inn, Chatsworth - Before restoration and after. That's me at the steps, and Betsy Carpenter of Chatsworth in the foreground .



The Crossroads of the American Revolution Association of New Jersey, responsible for the management of New Jersey's Crossroads Heritage Area, has created a comprehensive website with information, photos and maps that is worth viewing. We here in Burlington County have been working behind the scenes on our participation in the aggressive project and will create our own link to similar local information. Here's the link:



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  • "SHAMONG" by George Flemming. Local Historian, George Flemming, of Southampton, author of the well-received book, "Brotherton," has contributed another book to the history library of Burlington County which pictorially records the story of Shamong and Indian Mills. Shamong Township, incorporated in 1852, was originally a part of Evesham Township. It is one of many communities that make up the Pinelands National Reserve. Shamong is a Native American word meaning place of the horn or place of many deer. From 1758 until 1802, 3,284 acres of the township were home to the first and only Native American reservation in New Jersey. Prominent citizens of old Shamong included John B. Gardner, former mayor of Atlantic City, Civil War veteran, and United States congressman. James Still, the famed black doctor of the Pines, was born in Shamong in 1812, and his younger brother, William Still, is celebrated as the father of the Underground Railroad. This 128 page book is a part of the "Images of America" series published by Arcadia Publishers. The photographs in Shamong provide a visual reminder of the past and celebrate the history of this community, which remains a vibrant rural and residential area. In addition to being available on line, the book can be purchased at the Shamong Diner on Route 206 at the entrance to the community of Indian Mills at the corner of Willow Grove Road, just north of Atsion.
  • "PARALLEL COMMUNITIES - The Underground Railroad in South Jersey" by Dennis Rizzo For slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad, names like Springtown and Snow Hill promised sanctuary and salvation. Under the pressures of racial prejudice, free blacks, runaway slaves and even many Native Americans formed island communities on the periphery of South Jersey towns. Dennis Rizzo validates their role in the preservation of tradition, definition of extended family and creation of a social bond between diverse peoples; together they formed parallel communities based on, but independent of, the larger towns and villages familiar to us all.
  • THE LITTLE BOY AND HIS STARS: A Memoir of a Little Boy, by Henry Moore. 197 pages. $22.95 - Vantage Press, 419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016. Southampton Resident, Henry Moore writes about growing up in Vincentown during the Depression and World War II. The second half of the book tells the story of the famous Vincentown Baseball Team ("The Vincentown Merchants"). There will be a special book signing at the Vincentown Library on Februar 11, 2006 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Copies of the book will be available for $20 and Auther Henry Moore will sign them. Click here for a review of the book by Joe Laufer.
  • BROTHERTON , by George D. Fleming. The story of New Jersey's first Indian Reservation, Brotherton,(Shamong) recently in the news again because of the interest of an Indian Tribe in getting the land back for a Casino, is told by Southampton resident George D. Fleming. $34.95 hardcover or $24.95 softcover. Plexus Publishing Inc., Medford.
  • GHOST TOWNS AND OTHER QUIRKY PLACES IN THE NEW JERSEY PINE BARRENS by Barbara Solem-Stull. Barbara Solem-Stull has written a book about the New Jersey Pine Barrens that will hopefully keep alive the rich history of this area and provide more people with the opporunity to visit the sites to see for themselves (in keeping with New Jersey's new travel motto) what a rich history lies hidden there. 350 pages. $19.95 - Plexus Publishing Inc., Medford.


The Saturday issue of the Burlington County Times - September 24, 2005 - contains the first installment of an excellent two-part feature story by Lauri Sheibley on Roebeling. Entitled "An old company town comes of age", the main story features interviews with two families, the Vargas and the Mitres. Another story takes a quick look at Roebling's unique place in history, and a third is a photo essay providing snapshots of the village: Then and now.

Sunday's Burlington County Times - September 25, 2005 -published the second installment in the series entitled "A Village history worth preserving", wherein plans of the Roebling Historical Society to restore the old mill's Main Gate building and open a Roebling museum are described. A second article, entitled "Search continues for new mission at site of old mill" is also a part of the feature.


The Monday issue of the Burlington County Times - January 30, 2006 - carried a story about the possible restoration of the Atsion Mansion in Shamong Township. Within 3 years (2009), the project was completed. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protaction coordinated the restoration of the 180-year-old Atsion Mansion to its original appearance. The facility is open to the public and operated as a museum by the Wharton State Forest staff located at the site.

  • The newly restored Atsion Mansion is open for tours on Sunday’s only from May until the end of October.
  • Limited to 15 people per tour at: 11:30, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30.
  • Call 609-268-0444 before going. Due to lack of electricity, shutters must be open – so there are no tours on rainy days or if docent is ill. You can also reserve a place in advance on one of the tours.
  • The tour is strictly architectural – there is no furniture inside.
  • There is no charge for a tour at this time.
  • Gift shop has leaflets on Batona Trail, Wharton State Forest, and Batsto, literature on camping and hiking, and sells a booklet on Atsion for $1.07.
  • The Atsion Office, located in the former General Store, is open daily from 9 to 4. Cindy is in charge. 744 Route 206, Shamong, NJ 08088.




© 2005 Burlington County Historian. All rights reserved.