SPEEDWELL FURNACE


Benjamin Randolph of Philadelphia owned the Speedwell Mill, a sawmill. In 1779 he wanted to sale the place. Although he sold it twice it came back to him twice. His daughter Mary married his "cutter" and overseer at Speedwell, John Jacob Sluyter. They lived at Speedwell from 1779 onward. (Pierce 1964: 212-213)

In 1784 Benjamin Randolph moved to Burlington and constructed a furnace at Speedwell. The furnace, making pig iron primarily, proved moderately successful.

Randolph married Mary Wilkinson Fenimore and moved into the Fenimore home in Springfield. The marriage did not last long for by 1790 Randolph was giving Speedwell as his address. Randolph died in 1791.

Sluyter carried on with the furnace until 1797 (under lease) when he failed. He and his family then moved to Augusta, Georgia.

Randolph's daughter, Anna, owned Speedwell for 44 years.

In 1798 the property was leased to Joseph Walker and John Youle, who owned the Wading River Forge and Slitting Mill.

Mark Richards then leased the property. In 1829 he ceased operations at Speedwell, the furnace remaining idle. Anna Randolph soled the property in 1833. It came into the hands of Samuel Richards, operator of Martha, Atsion, and Weymouth ironworks. But even he could not make the furnace profitable. He abandoned the works before his death in 1842. The property was sold to James McCambridge, who had been proprietor of the Eagle Tavern (previously Barnhart's Tavern), not far to the southwest. In 1868 the property was sold to Stephen Lee and the property stayed in the Lee family.


Speedwell

south of Chatsworth and Jones Mill

originally known as Speedwell Furnace.

Here there was a little log building that was known as the old Indian schoolhouse. Once this area was the home of the Edge-Pollocks, a part of the Delaware tribe. It was said that the schoolhouse educated the children of white settlers and those of the few Indians around the area. Later the building became a blacksmith shop. 50

From where most of the bog ore came from for Speedwell iron furnace has now become a beautiful lake, favorite of local fishermen. 51

The only thing remaining of the old furnace was a stone wall about four feet in height. Most traces including the slag pile has been over grown with vegetation.

Once there was here the old Eagle Hotel which sold liquor.

Beck, Henry Charlton. 1983. 1936 original. Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.


From Melissa Miele's website: http://www.ash.udel.edu/ash/exhibit/mmiele/Legends.html

 

My source is the book, "Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey", by Henry Charlton Beck

Speedwell is located south of Chatsworth and Jones Mill. It was originally known as Speedwell Furnace. The road to Speedwell is a dark and dreary one. To get there you would have to travel through the blackened pines, charred stumps, and stunted trees.

On the road to Speedwell there is a corner known as Tom's Grave. There in the "L" of the intersection is a little mound, surrounded by undergrowth and swampy muck. This is actually "Tom's Grave".

Nobody knows who Tom was. He was African-American, the story goes, and he was found stiff and staring one morning in the middle of the road. People figure it was just a hit-run driver, but to the towns folk that could never happen on the road to Speedwell.

No one had ever seen this fellow before. He was fairly dressed and carried no identifications. There was little excitement. It wound up that somebody conceived the idea of calling the dead man "Tom", and he was buried right on the spot. They laid him to rest and placed a rude cross and called the corner of the street "Tom's Grave". The marker has fallen away over the years.