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As told by historian Herbert Vanaman, it was on the Maurice River in Dorchester where the Dutch ship, the Prince Maurice, is reported to have sunk and to have given the river its name. In 1799, Peter Reeve bought the land Dorchester occupies from the West Jersey Proprietors and made lots for sale. Shipbuilding has always been the principal industry in Dorchester. The A.J. Meerwald was built at Dorchester Shipyards in 1928 when it was owned by Charles H. Stowman & Sons. Dorchester United Methodist Church was built in 1856. There used to be a variety of stores and services in Dorchester, including Sickler's Hotel which catered to stagecoach and river travelers. There was once a ferry connecting Dorchester to Mauricetown.
According to the historian Lucius Elmer, Leesburg was established around 1800 by the brothers Lee, ship-carpenters from Egg Harbor. However, the Leesburg area must have been settled before then because George Heisler, Sr. moved there with his family in the 1700's. A Methodist "class" was organized in 1792 and in 1812, Leesburg Methodist Church was built. In 1849, the Leesburg Windmill was built by William Carlisle at the site of present-day Allen's Steel Company. "Oak Leaf Academy"- a two-story, four-room schoolhouse, in use until June 1958, when it was converted to the Maurice River Municipal Building - was built in 1856. Whibco Shipyard was once the home of Delaware Bay Shipyard, founded in 1928 and eventually employing over 500 people in five separate businesses. Once diked farms lined the Maurice River all the way from Leesburg to Millville.
The "Glade" separates Delmont from Heislerville, known until around 1860 as Maurice River Neck. Heislerville's history is connected to its outlying neighbors: East Point, Matt's Landing, Thompson's Beach, Maurice River and Menhaden. Indians migrated south to East Point from their winter quarters along the Manumuskin and the Menantico. Their name for the Maurice River was "Wahatquenak." European settlement began in the early to mid-1700's. Along with fishing, agriculture was Heislerville's other main industry early on. Train loads of Heislerville strawberries were shipped from "Link City", a railroad station on Matts Landing Road, which also served the oyster packing operations located in the "ghost" village of Maurice River, on the river opposite Bivalve. Salt hay also was harvested in parts of the huge area formerly known as the Cadwallader Estate, now the Heislerville Wildlife Management Area. Around 1793, George Heisler, Jr. homesteaded in Heislerville and held Methodist meetings there. Heisler Memorial Methodist Church was built in 1855.
Delmont, until 1891, called Ewings Neck, has been home to its earliest European settlers since 1770. To explain the name: the Ewing family was one of the first to settle in the area and a "neck" is a name often given to a stretch of higher ground surrounded by marshes and low-lands. Delmont's post office was established in 1851; mail first came by stagecoach and later by train after the Cape May-Millville Railroad opened in 1863. Its first church was a one-room wooden structure which also served as the village's first school. Delmont United Methodist Church was built in 1872. Delmont School - a two-story wood-frame structure now in disrepair- was built in 1887.
Time Line Of Significant Events In Maurice River Township
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