A Brief History of Mt. Holly

by V. Van Antwerp/Editor | Jun 19, 2006
A Brief History of Mt. Holly Mount Holly is one of the oldest settlements in South Jersey, with numerous historic sites to be enjoyed. It found its beginning around 1677 when a gentleman by the name of Walter Reeves settled along the Rancocas. It is believed that he may have arrived from the West Indies. At the time of his appearance in Mt. Holly, many English colonists were settling Burlington.

Reeves acquired a great deal of land and seemed to have trouble maintaining its boundaries with adjoining neighbors. His land was located about 1 ½ miles west of Mt. Holly and joined certain lands owned by Cripps, Shinn, and Haines. Apparently he was quite successful in the export business when, in 1691, a bill of lading describes that he shipped beef, cheese, and flour to Barbados. This was a true testament to the rich and bountiful soil of South Jersey.

Walter Reeves had ten children through two marriages. His first wife was named Susannah; she died in 1682. That same year he married Ann Howell. His descendants joined the migration to the west, settling in every state along the way except Mississippi and Maine. Reeves died in 1698 but his son Walter Reeves, Jr. continued the plantation business.

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One of Reeves’ neighbors can be found throughout Mt. Holly history. His name was John Cripps. He not only gave Mt. Holly its name but also built the first house there. The exact location is still under dispute. Late 1600 and early 1700 deeds show that the major landowners of the existing town of Mt. Holly were Cripps and Edward Gaskill.

Gaskill was from Massachusetts, but eventually decided that Mr. Holly was where he would make his home. He lived near the Friends Meeting House on Gaskill’s Lane, now Wood Lane. He also owned a portion of land near the Rancocas just south of Mill Street. Land surveys show the “Neck” which was known as “Gaskill’s Neck”. In 1748, Edward Gaskill died and was buried in the Quaker cemetery near his homestead.

Though the Reeves, Cripps, and Gaskill homes may be gone, the town has been able to preserve much of its wonderful history. Some great sites still standing are the Washington House, which was a tavern in 1749; the Old Courthouse, which was built in 1796; and the Burlington County Hospital, which was built in 1881. The famous Burlington County Prison on High St was built in 1811. The prison is the oldest prison in continuous use in the nation.

Like many towns that suffered the economic down falls by the rush to the suburbs, Mt. Holly has found recovery and still managed to maintain its integrity of the past.

For more information about Mt. Holly, visit the town's official web site at www,mainstreetmountholly.com.

For more South Jersey History, visit our SJ History page.


Author: V. Van Antwerp/Editor

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