|Friendship United Methodist Church|
The Methodist Way had its beginning in England. Its roots go back to the early years of the life of founder John Wesley (1703 - 1791). At age 6 years he was rescued from a fire that destroyed the family parsonage (1709). His mother Suzanna was his and the other nine children’s teacher in the kitchen of their home in Epworth, England. He became a student at Oxford University and later he returned as a teacher and a fellow there of Lincoln College. He also became the leader of what was called the Holy Club where religious discipline not only became a part of his life, but carried over into the life of what has become today’s United Methodist Church.
Some might say that the beginning of the Methodist movement occurred on an evening in 1738, when the fire of the Holy Spirit touched John Wesley’s heart and life at a meeting house on Aldersgate Street, in the city of London. John said that night, "I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." That was May 24th. The fire of evangelical revival begun that night stirred England, and they experienced one of the greatest religious awakenings of all times. That same year another member of the Oxford Holy Club, the Rev. George Whitefield, came to America and effectively preached to persons of all faiths in the New World.
Following Wesley’s Aldersgate experience he consented to preach in the
open, in the fields and town squares (1739); then came an increase in organizing
the Class Meetings and Societies, and the beginning of lay preaching (1740).
These events helped foster the religious explosion called the Methodist
Way, which was to bridge the Atlantic by the mid-1700’s.
Comes to America
At the same time, the Methodist Way was spread into New York City by a housewife, Barbara Heck. She, like Strawbridge, had been converted and became a Methodist in Ireland. Living in America since 1760, Barbara was disturbed at the lack of spiritual zeal on the part of many former Methodists. It came to a head one morning (1766) when she came into her kitchen and found some of her friends sitting at the table playing cards. She scooped up the cards and threw them into the fire and said, "If you’re not more careful about your souls’ salvation you will all burn in hell."
Barbara then marched over to her cousin Philip Embury’s home. He was
a carpenter and had been a lay preacher for some of the time back in Ireland.
Barbara said, "Philip, you must preach to us, or we’ll all go to hell,
and God will charge it to your account." He asked, "Where can I preach?"
She said, "I’ll get the congregation." And that's what she did, and he
preached. This group was the beginning of the John Street Methodist Church
(near today’s Wall Street) starting there in 1766. Later, they were joined
by another lay Methodist from England, Army Capt. Thomas Webb.
John Earley of
In 1773, John purchased land along "Still Run Creek," near today’s Aura. Later he bought a two-thirds interest in a sawmill, and still later purchased the balance. His house was a log cabin, located about one mile northeast of today’s Aura United Methodist Church. At a later date the house was enlarged and remained standing until 1911 when it burned. One’s being a Methodist in the early days was not easy. They were often persecuted, misunderstood, and frequently were considered "Tories." Note that Earley did serve his adopted country during the Revolutionary War.
The operation of the sawmill gave John the opportunity to meet people from near and far. He regularly took occasion to expound the teachings of Methodism. He used his God-given business talents in organizing Classes and Societies throughout today’s Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties. Rev. Jacob Fisler of Clayton speaks about going to Quarterly Meetings ten to fifty miles distant, and reported, "Our practice was to work ‘til ten o’clock, take our horses or oxen from the plow, hitch them to the wagon, then all hands traveled to Earley’s for meeting. At twelve o’clock let the animals eat while we went to hear a good sermon; have a powerful Class; then hitch up again and go home rejoicing. On Sundays we went to Father Earley’s again. Some weekday nights went either to Earley’s, Samuel Ledden’s, or Joseph Jackson’s for prayer meeting."
When a Missionary Society at Bethel (Hurffville) was organized, March 14, 1824 (Note: Preaching there from 1770), John Earley was the first named manager, together with fourteen others. He was also named trustee of Bethel, the Friendship Church (near Monroeville), the Adams Meeting House (the Old Stone Church) near Swedesboro, and the Union Meeting House (Aura). They took their religion seriously, often signing the oath of office before a Notary with their own blood.
Prior to the erection of the Union Meeting House (Aura), built in 1806, Earley’s home was the regular Sunday afternoon preaching place on the Bethel Circuit (which was set off from the Salem Circuit in 1790), this according to the diary of the Rev. Richard Sneath, who served this circuit 1798 and 1799. Excerpts from his diary in reference to John Earley follow:
"Sunday, June 10, 1789: Preached at Bethel at 10, and had a meeting time. At 3 preached at Earley’s and the power was greater than at Bethel - I added 6 to the Society. Sunday, July 8, 1789: Preached at Bethel to a large congregation. Many of them were happy. At 3 preached at Earley’s and had a good time - joined 2 in class. Lodged this night at Jacob Fisler’s."2
Bishop Asbury records in his Journal, "Tuesday, April 14, 1807: Rode to Salem, and preached; rode home with Father Earley." On the Sabbath, April 9, 1809, he writes: "With difficulty we got out of the city of Philadelphia and ran some risk in crossing the river into Jersey. I preached at two o’clock at Carpenter’s Bridge (Mantua). We lodged with Father Earley, twenty four miles from the city. Here I take a little rest."3 Note: John Earley maintained in his home a room known as "the preacher’s room."
John Earley raised a family of six sons and three daughters. Son, William, born October 17, 1770, was converted at a revival in the Friendship Church in 1789 at the age of 19. In 1791, at the age of 21, he entered the ministry and served until his death in 1821. On January 20, 1828, John Earley died at the homestead near Aura. "The Village Herald and Advertiser" reporting his death stated in part: "He had been an exemplary member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for sixty years." "The Methodist Christian Advocate" account said, "He was a Class Leader and Steward for forty years," and described him as "a consistent Christian, a faithful friend, an obliging neighbor, a kind husband, and a fond parent—devoted to the interests and welfare of those whom providence had committed to his care. His long life of fidelity contributed much, doubtless, to the prosperity of the cause of Christ in the region where he lived; and in the history of Methodism in the State, his example appears like a lone star shining in a clear place in the heavens, and shedding its serene effulgent light upon the darkness, clouds, and tempest of a dreary and fearful night." Mr. Earley’s first wife, Mary, died March 16, 1801 and his second wife, Hannah, died April 20, 1828. They are all buried in Bethel Cemetery.
Also in 1766, there was another lay Methodist who came from England, Army Captain Thomas Webb (1725-1796). Webb was distinguished by preaching in his red regimental uniform and a green eye patch, covering the right eye that was lost in the French and Indian War. Thomas Webb, with the money he had available, with his several friends, and with his contacts with John Wesley in England, did a great deal to cement this early work and to spread it into Staten Island and Long Island, up the Hudson River and across Jersey, into Philadelphia and Baltimore, and down on to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.
In 1767 Capt. Thomas Webb came to Philadelphia. He met the Class there who were using a rigging loft on the waterfront for services. Webb was given their leadership and they grew rapidly, soon obtaining a house at Loxley Court. By 1769 they were able to obtain the unfinished building which became St. George’s Church. During these years as Webb traveled between the two big cities, he helped establish Societies at Burlington, Pemberton, Trenton, and New Brunswick. Because of his early preaching in Jersey, Webb can rightly be called "the Father of Methodism in New Jersey."
In October, 1769, two of the first Circuit Riding Preachers came from John Wesley’s Methodists of England—Reverends Richard Boardman and Joseph Pillmore. Pillmore was stationed in Philadelphia, Boardman in New York. About the same time Robert Williams came on his own from Ireland. On Sunday, August 12, 1770, at 10:00 a.m., Pillmore preached in Gloucester, New Jersey at the Court House—the first of many times. Also about this time (1770) the Bethel Society build their first chapel. They also were regularly meeting in area homes. The trustees for the 1794 deed of land were: Bishop Asbury, Daniel Bates, John Earley, William Dilkes, Andrew Dilkes, John Turner (carp), Benjamin Turner, Joseph Jackson, and John Porch. Note: In August 1774 the first of the Quarterly Meetings for southern New Jersey was held in the home of Jesse Chew living in nearby Sewell.
Sunday, October 27, 1771, the Revs. Francis Asbury and Richard Wright
arrived from England. In early 1772, Asbury expressed concern that
they should be working a wider field. A letter from John Wesley (October
10, 1772) assigns Asbury to oversee the work in America. Also that same
year, Captain Webb returned to England to appeal to the Methodist Conference
for more preachers.
America’s Methodism Begins to Grow
Abbott, almost as soon as he was converted, began to preach He did not even wait to receive the Methodist license to do so. God had done great things for his soul and he shared that faith and commitment. In time he did become licensed as a Local Preacher and did extensive work in ministry. He is credited as single-handedly keeping alive the flame of Methodism in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. After the war (1789) he became an ordained minister and a Circuit Rider, continuing until his death. He was instrumental in forming Societies in Friendship-Monroeville (1772), Olivet-Centerton (1773), Salem (1774), Pennsville (1775), Port Elizabeth (1778), Head of the River-Tuckahoe (1780), and Sharptown (1784).4
John Murphy began to work with Abbott, and John himself (1740-1813) started several classes in Salem County and in Bridgeton and Fairton. He is buried in the cemetery of First Church, Bridgeton.
Concerning the Abbott family, there
were several who were involved in the Methodist ministry.
Children of Rev. Benjamin Abbott:
Rev. Benjamin’s uncle, James (b.1730) m. Elizabeth Burroughs. Their children:
Children of Rev. Jeptha:
Also, there was a Thomas Abbott (1785-1839 Aura) m. (1808) Beulah (1789-1856 Aura) (Loc. Preacher 1830-1839 when he died.)
Elizabeth Abbott (b.1774) m. (1792) Daniel Parvin b.1770) (Lived in Fairton. He an Assemblyman 1816-18 and a Loc. Preacher). Fithian Stratton (1810-1870 Bgtn.) m. Mary Ogden (1810-1897 Bgtn.) was also from Fairton.
There were 6 pastors from the Abbott family.
At Wesley’s August 1772 Conference, Thomas Rankin and George Shadford responded, and they arrived in America in 1773. At this time, Wesley put Rankin in charge in America—to control irregularities.
On Wednesday, June 14, 1773, the first American Conference began with Rankin presiding. Note in January 1774, Pillmore and Boardman returned to England. At the Conference, Rankin lifted up Wesley’s Rules of Uniformity—again to control irregularities. Quarterly Meetings on the Circuits were instituted, and with the Classes and Societies being formed, people looked for circuit riders, offering them warm hospitality. The appointments to New Jersey in 1773: John King, William Watters. But Watters never came to New Jersey. He was later assigned to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and was effective there. Philip Gatch replaced Watters in New Jersey; shortly John King left him alone here.
Note the circuit designations: In 1773 there was just the Philadelphia and the New Jersey Circuit. In 1774 for New Jersey: Greenwich (south) and Trenton (north); in 1776 just New Jersey—the war; in 1781 West Jersey and East Jersey. In 1788 West Jersey was divided into the Salem Circuit and Burlington Circuit for southern New Jersey.
The 1773 Conference reported 200 members in New Jersey and 150 in the Philadelphia area. After the close of the Revolutionary War in the fall of 1784, Father John Wesley came to realize that America was to go on her own. (Note: At this time there were 963 Methodists in New Jersey.) In England, Wesley consecrated the Rev. Thomas Coke as a General Superintendent (Bishop), and then sent him to America to consecrate the Rev. Francis Asbury. A Methodist conference was called for December 24, 1784 and met in Baltimore at the Lovely Lane Meeting House. Here Coke consecrated Asbury. By the next spring, Coke had returned to England, and Asbury took up the reins and led powerfully for 22 more years.
As the local laity and the Circuit Riders spread Methodism, more circuits were formed. The Salem Circuit (1788) was formed to care for all of South Jersey, some 30 preaching places from Camden to Cape May. The work grew rapidly, so that after two years (1790) the Circuit was divided in half and the Bethel Circuit (350 members) came into being. This Circuit included today’s Camden, Gloucester, and Atlantic Counties. Also that year the Annual Conference was held in New Jersey for the first time. Note: In 1803 the Bethel Circuit’s name was changed to the Gloucester Circuit, now one of eight Circuits in New Jersey. Later, at the General Conference of 1836, New Jersey was made a separate Conference with 17,600 members - WOW!
The early circuit riding preachers’ appointments in southern New Jersey are given in the listing for the Bethel Circuit founded at the 1790 Conference. For the years 1798-99, there is a Journal of Circuit Pastor, Rev. Richard Sneath. From the Journal can be seen that in those early years it took approximately four weeks to travel the complete Circuit from Bethel to the shore and back to the Delaware and return to Bethel. With two preachers, Richard Sneath and R. Hutchinson, usually each would start two weeks behind the other. They were able to make each stop about once every two weeks. The Class or Society would gather whenever the preacher came. The preacher would conduct Holy Communion or Baptisms as scheduled or desired. Between these visits the Class Leader or a Local Exhorter would conduct the Sunday Service and Class Meetings.
How did these early evangelistic circuit-riding preachers work? As they traveled through southern New Jersey they would find places to stop; initially they would witness to their faith and offer a prayer. At later visits, if encouraged and a few were gathered, they would also preach If these folks became serious seekers of the Christian Way they formed a Class with a designated leader to meet weekly to share prayer and Scripture and how their life in Christ was changed, especially for the past week.
For the Bethel/Hurffville area 1770 there were Class Leaders and Local
The next day they moved on down today’s Rt. 40 to Mays Landing – again about 13 miles – a good day’s ride. There they had house meetings with Esquire Champion and Samuel Hewes at his Free Meeting House (built in 1780), used by all faiths.
In this fashion it may be that the Methodist work in Buena began.
1789 – The first record we have is the report of Quarterly Conference giving for the work on the Salem Circuit—here we find Campbell's noted. A. Campbell operated the Inn for travelers (licensed 1817-1832) - today’s Midway Inn.6
The old Buena Inn was erected about 1779 on the Stage Road from Philadelphia-Camden to the Cape May area.In the latter half of the eighteenth century, when the stage coach route cut through the dense woodlands from Philadelphia to Cape May to bring this area its earliest form of distant travel, there was only thickly wooded areas covered with swamplands.
Two stops were established in this, an ideal habitat for bears, wolves, panthers and wildcats, but the land looked menacing toward civilization. One was Campbell’s Tavern, built in 1779 by John Campbell (believe not John but Archibald Campbell, Sr.)7, and the other Doughty’s Tavern, probably built around the same time. Here drivers exchanged their tired teams for fresh horses and the weary passengers had a chance to rest from their long tiresome journey.
Like Campbell’s Tavern, Doughty’s Tavern, located farther down Tuckahoe Road at its intersection with Millville Road, consisted of a saloon and an inn and became the center of all social activity as a community grew up around it.
Probably the first settlement in the township, the Buena area was developed around the old stage coach stop known as Campbell’s Tavern. The area was known as Campbella and later Buena Vista. In 1932, however, the Vista portion was dropped because there was another town in the state with the same name. Of the first settlers, the more prominent residents were the Cake, Wray, Campbell, Veal, and Pancoast families. The first store in the town, Cake’s General Store (1880’s and 90s) was for many years the only store for miles and accommodated the post office as well.
Settled around a pond, the area known today as Pancoast Mills was initially built up by Archibald Campbell, Sr. When he first came to the area, which lies adjacent to Richland, he found it provided excellent resources for establishing a sawmill. With this in mind, he proceeded to dam up the stream known as Deep Run to form the body of water now called Pancoast Mills Pond.
With his source of power thus provided, they built a sawmill which continued to prosper for over a hundred years. Knowing that only large logs would be profitable to saw for lumber, area settlers decided to burn the smaller ones for charcoal. Thus they established a charcoal business which brought customers from as far as Philadelphia. There were no railroads in the area at that time so the charcoal was hauled to the far-away places by a six-mule team. About 1913, a new steam mill was built by the Pancoasts. The other mill was used only occasionally for several years, until a storm washed away its foundation. It was never rebuilt.
Also about 1800, Aquilla Down purchased 3,000 acres in the heart of the forest. Here he built a house and a barn of hewn timber and settled his homestead. He made his living by growing cranberries. This was the beginning of Downstown.
The Archibald Campbell, Sr. (1753-1852) family were the first to build and run the Inn8, then possibly his son, James Hunter Campbell (1808-1859). In 1848, George B. Cake, Sr. (1820-1887) purchased and ran the Inn. Next was William Veal (son or grandson of settler John Veal). Finally in the early days (later 1800s) Richard C. Cake (1850-1924) ran the Inn as well as the only country store in Landisville.
John and Susannah along with another Archibald Campbell (1848-1858 Fdsp.) all died in a house fire in 1858.
There is also Lafeyette B. Campbell (1884-1933 Fdsp.) m. Virginia (1880-1967 Fdsp.)
In addition, in Friendship Cemetery are Archibald II and Rosanna’s great-great grandson, Rev. Edward Bagwell Campbell (1877-1965 Fdsp.) m. Rebecca White Paris (1882-1969 Fdsp.).
Some added data was obtained at the Gloucester County Historical Society Library as follows.
Archibald Campbell, 1753-1852, came from Catawba, settling on the old Cape road, fifteen miles south of Cross Keys, in a great pine forest then standing on the plateau where four streams rise, flowing in different directions: Deep Run, to the Egg Harbor River; Blackwater, Manantico, and Panther branches, to Maurice River. Here Archibald Campbell lived in a log cabin, one of the seven built where he and six others, William Ackley, Jonathan Platz, John Smith Joel Stewart, John Veale and Platz Veale, engaged in making tar from the abundant fat pine knots, hearts, and stumps found in the old pine forest of that region. Note: Trustees of Friendship Methodist Church (1808) included John Smith, Joel Stewart, William Ackley, and John Veal. Archibald Campbell afterward built and occupied "Campbell’s (Buena) Tavern," one of the famous old line of public houses along the 1784 Cape Road. It was located at the crossing of the road from Winslow to Millville, the place later named Buena Vista.
James Hunter Campbell (1808-1859), son of Archibald, married ca1828 Mary Scull, then June 30, 1849, Elizabeth Newcomb. Thomas J. Campbell, son of James and Mary, was born at Campbell’s Tavern, February 18, 1830. He attended school at Weymouth and Glassboro, in boyhood, and in 1848 went to learn glass-blowing at Tansboro, finishing his trade apprenticeship in Philadelphia, at the works of Sheets and Duffy. He afterward worked as a journeyman blower in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Honesdale, Millville, Glassboro, Clayton, and Williamstown. He worked at the last place fifteen years and retired from the footbench and gaffer’s chair in 1903, and dying a few years later. While working at Honesdale he blew the first order of Mason fruit jars ever made (1856), two gross. There he boarded with Isaac White, the man who first devised the method of burning hard coal for melting glass by using the air blast.
Following are excerpts from 1898 written history,
"Perhaps it would be as well to state here, that the reason why there are no books or paper available is because the church has always been one of perhaps three or four or half a dozen stations on one circuit; in its earlier days a very long circuit, too, with many preaching stations. The records of all these churches were kept in one book, and that book was in the hands of the preacher in charge, who either retained the book in his possession after his pastorate had closed, or he left it with the Board of the principal church on the circuit, or in the hands of his successor.
"Friendship has always been a small church, therefore, the books or papers were never left with it. I also wish here to acknowledge my great indebtedness to various old members of the church, and old residents of this locality, for whatever may prove of interest in this history; and especially am I indebted to Bro. Ambrose P. Vanaman, without whose memory and knowledge of the later events connected with the church, this paper could not have been prepared.
"What was known as the Buena Hotel was used as a public inn and change house on the old stage route to Cape May, Tuckahoe and Philadelphia. About three miles east of the church there was an old saw mill, and in fact there is one there now, at what is known as Pancoast on the South Jersey R. R. It was located there over a century ago, by a man named Champion Campbell. He was what is known as a "squatter," and he lived there and operated the mill for quite a term of years. He did not farm any, except perhaps to raise some things for family use, but game of all kinds was plentiful, and a haunch of venison was not an infrequent or unappreciated addition to the homely viands of the family meals. He was only interested in lumber, for it is related of him that when told that the land he occupied had been taken up by Benj. B. Cooper, under the homestead or some similar land law, he said he did not care who owned it, as he had sawed up about all the logs there were on it that were worth anything. It is probable the lumber used in building the church was sawed in Campbell’s mill.
"None of the residents of that early day paid any attention to agriculture, except to grow a little for their own consumption. They were too far away from a market to make farming pay; for remember, in the late 1700s there were no railroads or steamboats in New Jersey, nor anywhere else in this great country, nor in the whole wide world, so a journey to Philadelphia in those days was quite a big undertaking.
"The people down here had to turn their attention and labor to lumbering, the manufacture of tar, charcoal, and kindred industries. To burn a charcoal pit or a tar kiln was a matter of eight or ten days, so there were at least two Sundays in that period, and some of the old residents, with perhaps some not so very old, either recall that it was customary to attend church in the morning, and then go to the kiln in the afternoon to see the tar run, if it was ready to be drawn. When the tar or the charcoal was ready for shipment, it was loaded onto the wagon, two yoke of oxen were harnessed to it and it was hauled away to Philadelphia for sale, the team bringing back such articles as were needed and could not be procured in this vicinity.
"The journey and return usually took three or four days, for oxen are but slow travelers, and the roads were far from good. Horses were scarce and too costly, and much of the church going was performed with the aid of that old, reliable, steady-going, easily-kept animal, ‘Shank’s mare.’ Apropos of that style of traveling, it is well known that an immense spreading, shady old oak tree, which, up to about twenty-five years ago, stood about half a mile east of the church, was known as the ‘Dinner Oak,’ from the fact that some of the old residents utilized it for the purpose of resting and eating their dinners there, when on their way to and from church.
"On account of the length of the circuit, it was found necessary to have preaching on a week day instead of Sunday, in 1798 on Tuesdays. This recalls an incident which proves that though the people down here in those times worked hard and lived economically, yet their industry and economy did not exempt them from financial trouble, for it is related that while one of them was seated in the church on a certain week day, prepared to enjoy the services, it was whispered to her (for it was a woman) that the constable had made preparations to seize her household goods that very day for debt, whereupon she immediately took her departure, and it is said she arrived at her home before the officer of the law, and succeeded in secreting her belongings where he could not find them, and no doubt she took to the woods herself, which was a very needful proceeding likewise, for those were the days of imprisonment for debt.
1. From “The Historical Trail,” 1976. An article on Earley by Emily Johnson, page 22ff.
2. Sneath diary in “History of Bethel Church,” 1945, pp. 37, 39.
3. Journal of Francis Asbury
4. "The Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbot," by John Firth, NYC
5. Gloucester County Historical Society records. Burial may have been on a family farm.
6. "Boyer's Old Inns and Taverns," p. 155; Atlantic County Historical Society, card-vault CB22. (appears to contradict who first built and ran the Inn)
Campbell's. "Campbell's or Veal's Tavern. There was a tavern early in the nineteenth century at what is now Buena (formerly Campbell's or Buena Vista) which because of its location was a noted place. Roads from Millville, Bridgeton, Tuckahoe, May's Landing, Woodbury and Berlin all converge here. Enos Veal is the earliest known tavern keeper in the house which then stood at the northwesterly intersection of these roads. Veal remained here until 1816, during which tenure it was called Veal's Tavern. When Archibald Campbell, Jr., on December 15, 1816, applied for a license 'to keep a tavern and inn in the house where he now lives in the township of Hamilton' he stated that it had been formerly kept by Enos Veal. Campbell tried to change the name to Hamilton Hotel, but this name was never very popular and it was soon changed to Campbell's Tavern."