Welcome to The Medford Historical Society
The Medford Historical Society is a non-profit organization that supports and promotes Medford NJ's general history, now for over 60 years. Much of who we are and what we do is reflected and featured on this website so we invite you to take some time to look around, find out about our events and activities and consider joining us!
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Kirby's Mill Historic Site
275 Church Rd, Medford NJ 08055

Kirby's Mill was declared a State Historical Site in July of 1971, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in September of 1972. The Medford Historical Society continues to restore the complex to working order so that our generation and future generations can wander back into the past and see part of early Americana. The Mill complex also includes a storage barn, sawyer's house and a carriage barn.

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MHS 2020 Calendar of Events

The Medford Historical Society hosts informative and educational programs and events throughout the year, designed to educate, inspire, and provide a glimpse of Medford NJ's rich history. Click the button below for the current schedule.

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Historic Cross Keys One-Room Schoolhouse
Mill Street, Medford NJ 08055

The Cross Keys School was built circa 1857. It was one of several one-room schoolhouses that provided early schooling for the children of Medford. The school stood near the intersection of Stokes Road and Dixontown Road where McDonald’s is currently situated. The building was moved to its current location on Mill Street in 1976.

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News, Notes and Remembrances
2020: A Challenging Year

The year 2020 has been unlike any other in the history of the Medford Historical Society. As the year began, the passing of Bill Stauts was a considerable loss. But the trustees and members have shown strength and determination in continuing, even in the face of the pandemic.

The first event of the year was the annual lasagna dinner in early March. This was followed by the cancellation of the regular spring and fall meetings and the major events of the summer and fall. Kirby's Mill remained open on most Sunday's and John Hines managed the Saturday milling days into October. Sadly the October Apple Festival was cancelled, which disappointed so many crafter's and lovers of apple cider donuts.

Our speaker presentations were all canceled with one major exception. Our previously scheduled Teddy Roosevelt historic interpreter made an evening visit to the porch of the Sawyer House, just above the Mill, on October 1st. I believe this outdoor speaker presentation was a first for the Society and may provide a bucolic and comfortable venue for future speakers.

As we look to the future, we have much to look forward to as you can see in the schedule of events for 2021. We hope to offer many more events at Kirby's Mill and the School House, maintain a relationship with the Dr. Still Project and grow our Membership. Let your friends and neighbors know about your Historical Society and encourage them to join and participate in the history and events of our town.

The Garden State
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This article is dedicated to the farmers throughout this nation who have experienced great loss during this pandemic.
Here is an excerpt from a poem written in the 1870’s by Samuel Thackara, a member of the Gager family, known as the “Bard of Medford,”
New Jersey state cannot be beat
In anything not even wheat.
It really beats all creation
In variety of vegetation.
We have five feet wheat and six feet rye.
And corn has grown so very high
That hucksters are entertaining fear
They will not be able to reach the ears.
Is there anyone in Medford who does not look forward to eating Jersey corn, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries? Once these fabulous fruits and vegetables were grown in Medford. Now these crops are mainly grown in Shamong, Southampton, and Tabernacle townships. Blueberries and cranberries are shipped all over the world. At one time all the lakes in Medford were cranberry bogs and Joe Hinchman employed three hundred and fifty to five hundred scoopers and packers.

Also, there were a lot of strawberry patches in Medford. My great uncle Bert, who had a booming voice, would go up and down the streets of Medford yelling, “STR-A-W-BERRIES,” and the housewives would rush out with their containers. The price was a quarter for three quarts. Uncle Bert never yelled anything but “STR-A-W-BERRIES” even in the wintertime when he was huckstering other fruits and vegetables. He was quite a character but so am I. I think it runs in the family.

Today, most of the farms in Medford grow soybeans and corn. Ninety percent of these crops are sent to the Purdue farm in Delaware. Mr. Purdue mixes his own chicken feed which consists of soybeans, corn, and marigolds. This feed is shipped to farmers in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia who in turn raise over a million chickens at any given time. These chickens become Purdue poultry products.

Enjoy your Jersey corn and tomatoes! Edmund R. Gager and
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Medford Historical Images Now Online!
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Stop by and visit our new digital archive and browse the galleries. You too can help with the project - review the photos and their captions, click "Share" and send us any additional comments to info@medfordhistory.org.

Click Below to visit the Archives:
Medford Remembered
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Medford Remembered - the Video

For 54 years the Medford Historical Society (MHS) has helped to maintain and share the rich history of Medford. An important way that we have shared our history is the creation of a video entitled Medford Remembered.

This was professionally made in 1996 and is now available in two ways: 1. You may buy the video for $10 at one of our events or 2.You may see it at our October 1 meeting when Ed Gager, who narrated the original, will be present to tell how the video was made and answer your questions.

We are fortunate to have capable volunteers and encourage others to join MHS. You make Medford history come alive.

Medford was once a Cowtown
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If a certain politician wants to get rid of cows due to flatulence that pollutes the environment, she definitely would have disapproved of Medford in the forties and fifties. At that time there were 37 dairy farms in the township.
Prickett’s Express picked up the cans of “Udder Delight,” and farmers were paid by the creameries where the milk was homogenized and pasteurized. Besides quantity the farmers were paid according to the amount of butter fat in the milk. No 1% and 2% in those days. If you didn’t have a cow, like we did, the milk was delivered by truck to the people of Medford. The only time my family of ten needed this service was when Susie was dry.
No one worked harder than the dairy farmer. He toiled 15 hours a day, 365 days a year. When they were not milking they were sowing hay and corn, baling hay, fixing tractors, and filling silos. On Friday night Medford was filled with farmers who came to town to cash their milk checks at Burlington County National, the only game, pardon me, the only bank in town.
It was quite a chore to lift so many milk cans that held about 50 pounds (yes, it was pounds) of milk. Creameries thought life would be easier if stainless steel tanks that held thousands of pounds were used. Hoses were used to transport the milk to a truck. This was part of the reason that many dairy farms went out of business. To begin with milk prices were low enough and the extra added expense of the tanks put the farmer’s profits in the tank.

Pictured is Albert H. Forsythe at his Locust Lane Farm on Church Road with his prized Guernsey
Albert was the father of Congressman Edwin B. Forsythe (1970-1984). Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge was named in honor of him.

Columbia Bank and MHS Support Medford Police

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Columbia Bank Foundation recently contributed $3889.00 towards the purchase of a new security metal detector to be used by the Medford Police Department. The Medford Historical Society facilitated the transfer of funds. We thank Columbia Bank for their support of the Medford Community!
Medford Historic Quilt
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Click Here to download a PDF of the Medford 1900 Era Resident Quilt.
At The Mill
By John Hines
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The "Milling Day" at Kirby's Mill this summer was a popular outing for the Medford community. Thanks go to Bill Phlug, Kyle Mason and Rick Young for making it possible.

The "Milling Day" will begin again in April.

Boy Scout Josh Maquire did volunteer work at the Mill for his Citizen in the Community Merit Badge. Josh cleaned, scrapped and painted the "watch house" wagon. This house on wheels was used as a shelter out in the pines when charcoal was made.

HELP WANTED! The four period rooms in the Museum need to be freshened up. Also, several of the cases need an exhibit upgrade and object ID. If interested in lending a hand, please contact John Hines at 609-531-1825.
CrossKeys School Update
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With the closure of the Medford Township Public Schools due to the Covid 19 virus, the schoolmarms and docents of the Medford Historical Society were unable to offer their One Room Schoolhouse Living History Program to the Township’s 3rd graders. Over 300 students from both public and catholic schools annually visit the Cross Keys One-Room Schoolhouse on Mill St. each spring. This year was the first time in 10 years that the program was not offered. For those volunteers who donate their time and energy to provide a meaningful experience, these students were definitely missed.
Despite the lack of students, the schoolhouse was not empty. A lone Historical Society volunteer, Bill Pflug, worked to repair and update the building. Bill worked to replace the glass inserts in the inner door with plexiglass. Completing this project addressed an issue which was a safety hazard for the children. In addition, rotted windowsills were restored and painted. Bill also tried to outsmart the carpenter bees by plugging their numerous holes in the front door. All of us associated with the schoolhouse are so thankful for Bill’s fine efforts. - Aug 2020
A 50-year Restoration Project is now open at Kirby's Mill
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After 50 years of restoration, the centuries-old Kirby’s Mill in Medford has reopened to the public.

Visitors can now experience the water-powered millstones grinding corn every second Saturday of each month until October.

The land has been owned by the Medford Historical Society since it acquired the property from the Kirby family in 1969. Since then, members adopted an ambitious goal: to restore the mill as living history. Countless volunteers over five decades took part in engineering complex mechanisms, recasting gears and building a new water wheel.

Over the years, the Society garnered several important grants and awards, including one from the New Jersey Historical Commission and a special 1976 Bicentennial Award.

But even before then, the mill had a long and vast history, one that the MHS hopes to share to the electronic-savvy visitors of today.

“Nowadays, everybody just turns a switch on and something runs. You got to remember back then that without electricity when this mill was started, they depended on the man power,” said the mill’s curator, John Hines.

The mill was completed and opened in 1778, during the Revolutionary War. According to Medford Historical Society records, workmen at the mill could hear the roar of the cannons during battles at Red Bank.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the mill was grinding flour to ship to markets such as Philadelphia. But since the big factories in the 1920s were able to make loads of flour for a cheaper price, the mill quickly turned to just making animal feed and grinding corn.

Hines said that the mill’s place in living history is testimony to the work of the volunteers since 1969. According to Hines, the work continues as others step up. A more recent contributor, Bill Pflug, is an engineer by profession with many hours on the project. Every second Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., visitors can witness this team happily at work.

“Bill has unselfishly applied his expert engineering skills in so many ways to help bring the grinding operation back to life,” Hines said. “He’s been invaluable to us.”

Included in what the multi-generational crew accomplished over these five decades to get the mill working was re-establishing the water course from the mill pond, to the mill race to the water wheel. They also replaced the water wheel, the driving force for complex mechanisms, according to MHS. Gears were recast and restored, including adding wooden teeth to the principal massive gear for a simpler replacement in case of breakage. Even a new foundation had to be built just to hold the building in place.

The Society maintains an extensive calendar of popular annual events, including Apple Festival, House Tours, Quilt Show, Flea Market, Country Day and more. These sustain the mill project as well as the Society’s other undertakings.

The group also has restored the Historic Cross Keys One-Room School House where volunteers demonstrate education history to local schoolchildren. More information about all of these projects, events and open dates can be found on the Society’s web site www.medfordhistory.org.

The Sun Newspapers
(click each to download)
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Medford Historical Society, PO Box 362, Medford NJ © 2020 MHS ~ Website by Vdesigned.com
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