Bass River Twp, Wharton State Forest


Martha Furnace was founded in 1793 by Isaac Potts; had 40 to 50 structures and a population of 400 in its heyday.

The history of Martha Furnace (1793-1845), located on the lower Oswego about two miles north from Rt. 679, on the east side of Harrisville Lake, nearly opposite the old Harrisville paper mill ruins.  In 1741 a sawmill, known as the Oswego Sawmill, was established here.  

In 1793 Isaac Pott's new bog-iron furnace went into blast at this same location.  Isaac named the furnace for his wife, Martha.  Martha Furnace was built in 1793 a few miles southeast of Jenkins. Only a large earth-covered mound remains where once stood a high double-walled pyramid of bricks. The spillway runs back to a broken dam on the Oswego River at Martha pond. In the town there were about 50 houses. The men of Martha would vote at one of the popular jug taverns of the Pine Barrens, Bodine's Tavern, a few miles south of the town on the Wading River (where the Tuckerton Road crossed the river). The only reminders of the town are some catalpa trees planted by the townsfolk. (McPhee 1968:30&33)

John Bodine established a tavern shortly after the Revolution on the easterly end of Wading River Bridge. It was the last stop of the stages going from Philadelphia to Tuckerton. The tavern was visited a great deal by the iron workers of the period from 1808 to 1815. The tavern was kept by the Bodines until the late 1830s. (Boyer 1962:81-83)

In 1800 Potts sold the area to four men, who formed the Martha Furnace Company. The company's interests were run by the Quaker Jesse Evans, Washington Township's most distinguished citizen. Not much remains of the buildings, but a lot is known about Martha Furnace thanks to its clerk, Caleb Earle, who kept a journal from 1808 to 1815. Most of the workers were Irish. The chief entertainment was fishing, hunting, and getting drunk. The workers would get the liquor at Bodine's Tavern (the Washington Tavern of Nicholas Sooy) or at Boots (said to have been on the road from Martha to Chatsworth where it crossed Bucks Run). (Pierce 1957:88-89)

In 1808 the furnace came into the ownership of Joseph Ball and Samuel Richards.  They had a work force of 60 with about 50 dwellings for 400 persons.  They shipped the pig iron downstream to the Wading River Forge and Slitting Mill.  (Boyd 1991)

After 1808 most of the iron products were shipped via "the landing" which was not far from Bodine's Tavern (about 3 miles away from the furnace).

Isaac Potts had a forge and slitting mill on the Wading River near the site of Harrisville. The Wading River Forge had used pig iron from nearby Martha Furnace, which Potts also owned. In 1832 William McCarty bought the forge and slitting mill. He developed a paper mill. In 1851 William D. And Richard C. Harris bought the property and renamed it Harrisville. The papermaking operation declined when the Raritan and Delaware Railroad (later the New Jersey Central) built the line to Harrisville, 8 miles to the west of the plant. (Stinton 1987:103-104). Each worker got a rent-free house, a garden and free ice. The workday was from 6 to 6. Still around are the ruins of the great paper factory (crumbling arched stone wall three feet thick). (McPhee 1968:39)

The site of Martha Furnace was purchased by Joseph Wharton in 1896.

On a trip with the Philadelphia Botanical Club, at and around the site of the mansion in Martha, the group found an adder's tongue fern and Loesel's twayblade orchid. Other plants found on the trip was the foxtail moss, thread-leaved sundew, ebony spleenwort, Calopogon pulchellus, cinnamon fern, marsh fern, royal fern, Indian shoestrings, Turk's cap lily, spreading pogonias, swamp azalea, swamp hyacinth, wild magnolia, cassandaras, prickly pear cactus, and candy root. (McPhee 1968:127-132)


Karl Anderson, Ted Gordon and others (latter marked with *)

Aug. 3, 97 Martha Furnace & slough on Oswego River, Wharton St. For., Burlington Co., N.J.
Torrey Botanical Society & Audubon Wildlife Society of N. J. trip. With Karl Anderson (leader).
Nomenclature follows Gleason & Cronquist (1991). Common names from various sources.
var. ... = unspecified variety. (Vars. listed in Gleason & Cronquist do not match Kartesz's interpretation.)
F Flowering specimen(s) found. [C.] Cultivated.
Fr Fruiting specimen(s) found. [E.] Escaped from cultivation.
* = Not yet learned, but identified by Karl Anderson.

Acer rubrum Red Maple common
Betula populifolia Gray Birch few
Catalpa bignonioides [E.] Southern Catalpa few
Chamaecyparis thyoides Atlantic White-cedar some
Juglans nigra [E.] Black Walnut few
Juniperus virginiana var. ... Red-cedar few
Nyssa sylvatica var. sylvatica Black-gum some
Pinus echinata Shortleaf Pine some
Pinus rigida Pitch Pine common
Quercus alba White Oak few
Quercus marilandica Black-jack Oak some; Fr
Quercus stellata Post Oak some
Quercus velutina Black Oak common
Ulmus americana [E.] White Elm, American E. few

Chamaedaphne calyculata Leatherleaf common
Clethra alnifolia Sweet Pepperbush common; F
Eubotrys racemosa Fetterbush few
Gaultheria procumbens Wintergreen, Teaberry some
Gaylussacia baccata Black Huckleberry common; Fr
Gaylussacia dumosa var. dumosa Dwarf Huckleberry some; Fr
Gaylussacia frondosa var. frondosa Dangleberry some; Fr
Hudsonia ericoides Golden-heather, Hudsonia few
Ilex glabra Inkberry, Bitter Gallberry some
Kalmia angustifolia var. angustifolia Sheep-laurel, Lamb-kill some
Kalmia latifolia Mountain-laurel some
Lyonia mariana Staggerbush common
Myrica pensylvanica Bayberry few
Quercus ilicifolia Bear Oak,Scrub O. some
Toxicodendron vernix Poison-sumac 2
Vaccinium corymbosum Highbush Blueberry common; Fr
Vaccinium fuscatum (Black Highbush Blueberry); according to Kartesz (94) - few, fruiting.
Vaccinium macrocarpon Cranberry common
Vaccinium pallidum Low Blueberry some

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia Creeper few
Rubus hispidus Swamp Dewberry few
Smilax glauca Catbrier few
Smilax rotundifolia Catbrier common; Fr
Toxicodendron radicans var. radicans Poison-ivy some
Vitis aestivalis var. aestivalis Summer Grape few

Antennaria plataginifolia (var. ?) Plantain Pussytoes 1 patch
Apocynum androsaemifolium Spreading Dogbane (With some hybrid features?) few
Arenaria caroliniana Pine-barren Sandwort 1 clump; F
Bidens connata Beggar-ticks 1
Chrysopsis falcata Golden-aster (Along entrance road) few, one site; F
Cirsium vulgare Bull Thistle few; F
Drosera filiformis Thread-leaved Sundew common; F
Drosera intermedia Spatulate-leaved Sundew common; F
Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew few; F
Eriocaulon aquaticum Pipewort few; F
Eriocaulon decangulare Pipewort some; F
Habenaria clavellata Green Woodland Orchid, Club-spur O. some; F
Hypericum canadense St. Johnswort some; F
Hypericum mutilum St. Johnswort few; F
Impatiens capensis Orange Touch-me-not, Jewel-weed few
Lepidium virginicum var. virginicum Peppergrass some; Fr
Linaria canadensis var. ... Blue Toadflax few
Lobelia nuttallii Nuttall's Lobelia some; F
Lophiola aurea Gold-crest common; near F
Ludwigia alternifolia var. ... Water-primrose 1; F
Lycopus amplectens Water-horehound, Bugle-weed some
Melampyrum lineare var. pectinatum Cow-wheat few; F
Mitchella repens Partridge-berry some
Narthecium americanum Bog-asphodel some; Fr
Nymphaea odorata var. ... Water-lily some;  F
Orontium aquaticum Golden Club few
Oxalis stricta Wood-sorrel few; F
Peltandra virginica Arrow-arum few
Plantago major Common Plantain some; F
Pogonia ophioglossoides Rose Pogonia few; Fr
Polygala brevifolia Short-leaved Milkwort common; F
Polygala cruciata Cross-leaved Milkwort few; F
Polygonum arenastrum Common Knotweed some
Rhexia virginica Meadow-beauty few; F
Rumex acetosella Sheep Sorrel, Red S. few
Sabatia difformis Lance-leaved Sabatia some; F
Sagittaria engelmanniana Arrow-head few
? Sagittaria graminea var. graminea Grass-leaved Sagittaria (Not checked carefully) some; F
Sanicula canadensis Sanicle, Black Snakeroot common, 1 site; F
Sarracenia purpurea var. purpurea Pitcher-plant some; F
Taraxacum sp. Dandelion 1; F
Triadenum virginicum Marsh St. John's-wort common
Triodanis perfoliata Round-leaved Triodanis some
Utricularia cornuta Horned Bladderwort common; F
Verbascum thapsus Common Mullein few; F
Viola lanceolata var. lanceolata Lance-leaved Violet some
Xyris difformis var. difformis Yellow-eyed-grass some; F
Xyris smalliana Yellow-eyed-grass some; F

Juncus caesariensis Rush few; near F *
Juncus canadensis Rush few; near F?
Juncus militaris Military Rush some, 1 site
Fr Juncus tenuis var. tenuis Path Rush common

Carex atlantica var. capillacea Sedge some; *
Carex folliculata var. folliculata Sedge few; Fr
Carex pensylvanica var. pensylvanica Sedge common
Cladium mariscoides Twig-rush few; Fr
Dulichium arundinaceum Three-way Sedge some
? Eleocharis ovata Blunt Spike-rush (Seen by Karl Anderson & others?) few
Eleocharis flavescens var. olivacea Spike-rush 1 patch; F
? Eleocharis robbinsii Spike-rush (Seen by Karl Anderson & others?) few
Rhynchospora capitellata Beak-rush common; Fr
Rhynchospora fusca Beak-rush few; Fr *
Rhynchospora gracilenta Beak-rush few; Fr *
Scirpus pungens var. ... Common Three-square few; Fr
Scirpus subterminalis Water Bulrush some, 1 site; near F

Andropogon virginicus var. abbreviatus Bushy Broom-sedge some
Danthonia sericea var. epilis Downy Oatgrass some
Danthonia spicata Poverty Oatgrass some
Digitaria sanguinalis Crab-grass some
Glyceria obtusa Coastal Mannagrass few; Fr
Holcus lanatus Velvet Grass some
Leersia oryzoides Rice Cut-grass some
Panicum virgatum Switch-grass few; F
Poa compressa Canada Bluegrass some
Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium Little Bluestem few
Setaria geniculata Knot-root Foxtail 2; F

Ferns & fern allies:
Lycopodium alopecuroides Foxtail Bog Club-moss some; near Fr
Lycopodium appressum Appressed Bog Club-moss some
Lycopodium carolinianum Slender Bog Club-moss locally common; near Fr
Asplenium platyneuron Ebony Spleenwort some
Dryopteris cristata Crested Wood Fern many small plants, one site
Onoclea sensibilis Sensitive Fern some
Ophioglossum vulgatum var. pseudopodum Northern Adder's-tongue few
Osmunda cinnamomea Cinnamon Fern some
Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis Royal Fern few
Polystichum acrostichoides Christmas Fern some
Schizaea pusilla Curly-grass Fern some; near Fr
Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens Marsh Fern common
Woodwardia virginica Virginia Chain Fern some

July 3, 1949

The prolonged drought's effects were very apparent at the Martha bogs this year. The Sphagnum moss stood far out of the water in many places -- dried and yellowish. There were few orchids compared with previous years though there was indication that the height of bloom for Pogonia ophioglossoides and Calapogon pulchellus had passed. Schizea was reduced to a few withered stands. Reversed bladderwort Utricularia resupinanta which was located in 1948 was not found this year. The large twayblade Liparis liliifolia is still present. There were hundreds of blooms of the bog asphodel Abama americana and eighty-four plants of the viscid asphodel Tofieldia racemosa an increase of about 35 over last year. This was the one redeeming factor of an otherwise below par Martha trip.

Attendance 15, Leader, David Fables.

May 31, 1952

We expected the Martha bogs to yield much more at this season than they did. One Arethusa was found. Plants of Habenaria blephariglottis were already up, buds of Pogonia ophioglossoides had formed as well as those on hundreds of Abama and a few Tofieldia. Utricularia respupinata remains difficult to relocate. Attendance: 10. Leader: David Fables.