The Historical Society of Moorestown is dedicated to preserving the history of Moorestown Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, and to providing opportunities for the community to learn about the past and further understand and appreciate the history of Moorestown and the surrounding area.
The Historical Society is an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 organization with headquarters in the historic Smith-Cadbury Mansion house museum. Financial support comes from membership dues, fund-raising activities, the house plaque program and donations. Members are welcomed and encouraged to volunteer on our many committees such as Museum/Docents, Textile, Special Events/Activities, Library, Gift Shop, House and Grounds, Fundraising, Publicity and Finance/Grants. A quarterly newsletter, From the Front Porch, keeps members up to date with Historical Society happenings.
There are two open meetings a year at the Moorestown Community House — the Annual Meeting in April and the Fall General Meeting in October, where a brief business meeting is conducted followed by a special historical presentation. At Smith-Cadbury, periodic themed exhibits are displayed at the house for the enjoyment and education of our members and visitors. The NJ History Speaker Series offers guest lecturers on a variety of historical topics throughout the year. In the spring, special tours of Smith-Cadbury are provided to all third grade students in the township. A special program for home-schoolers is also offered.
The Historical Society library, housed in the Smith-Cadbury Mansion, serves as a local repository for all things Moorestown including genealogical resources, local and state historical documents, photos and books, local family scrapbooks, information about historic buildings and houses in the area, historic maps, local school yearbooks, and city directories.
The Society was formed in 1969 when the Moorestown Rotary Club and a group of like-minded individuals came together to establish an organization that would become a repository for a variety of Moorestown historical documents, artifacts and memorabilia that had been collected by local residents over the years. Among these items were original land grants and deeds, some from the King of England on sheepskin or parchment. There were receipts from the turnpike on which stage coaches traveled on their way from Camden to Mt. Holly and records of a Pursuit Company formed to recover stolen horses. And there was an old Stetson hat belonging to Percy Lovell, the former owner and editor of the Moorestown Chronicle and later associate editor of the News Chronicle. Mr. Lovell was best known for his column “Under the Old Hat of the Country Editor” in which he continued until his death (at his office desk) his habit of reporting nothing but “good” news which earned him the nickname, “the happy editor.” On July 4, 1969 a volunteer committee was appointed to look into ways and means of establishing a place for Lovell’s old hat to reside – a “Percy B. Lovell museum” for the community of Moorestown. The committee included former State Senator Bill Haines, John Buehler, Cal “Bun” Ellis, Dick Ford, By Nichols, Sr., Win Parker, John Pazarian, Art Peacock, Johnie Powell, Norm Seddon, Emlen Stokes, John Thompson, Ralph Van Meter and Ralph Shockey. That effort eventually led to a broader “historical society of Moorestown” which was organized October 8, 1969 and incorporated November 19, 1969. The purpose of the society was “to collect and preserve data and to engage in historical research touching on the history of Moorestown Township – and the surrounding area, – to collect and preserve articles, specimens and material things illustrative or demonstrative of the customs, – habits and history of the times – and – to perpetuate the memory of those who by their labors and heroism contributed to make the history of said municipality and surrounding area.” The first Board of Trustees consisted of William Coles, Jr., Roy Conrow and the original “ways and means” committee. William Coles was the society’s first president along with Emlen Stokes, vice president, John Thompson, Treasurer, and Dick Ford, Secretary. One of the Society’s first acts, in 1970, was to purchase one of the oldest houses in Moorestown which happened to be for sale at the time. Today the Smith-Cadbury Mansion sits off of Main Street in Moorestown on a tiny pie-shaped lot, surrounded by 19th and 20th century homes. To read more about Smith-Cadbury Mansion click here.
Photo top left: Painting by B.Eisenstat
Photo right: William Lovell, editor of the Chronicle. Holding a large turnip in front of the Chronicle office.
Photo bottom left: Under the Old Hat painting by Alice Doughton