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H I S T O R Y  o f
M O U N T   R O Y A L

Current day Mt. Royal NJ
Current day Mt. Royal. Click on graphic to see larger version. Photograph by J. Brown
Mount Royal has been known
as Sandtown, Village at
(it is written as Berkeley
in some sources), Mantua Creek,
and in several very early deeds
is even referred to as the
"Village at the Crossroads."

SEE entire "History of Mount Royal" in PDF format, scanned from the original 1981 Town Centennial booklet. (2210 KB)

Early records indicate that this town had been settled since 1650 or perhaps earlier. The village was named "Sandtown" or "Sand Town" because of the abundance of sandy soil found in this area. Sandtown is mentioned by both British and Americans as a place where skirmishes took place during the Revolutionary War.

Henry Rees, in his book, "Revolutionary Services" states:
November 1777, General Cornwallis at Billingsport sent his First Light Infantry over Berkley Road to Sandtown to repair the bridge over Mantua Creek, which the Americans had destroyed. On November 21st, 1777, the main army crossed the repaired bridge and proceeded north, but the Seventh and Sixty-third Regiments were left behind to occupy the town; guard the bridge, keep up communications with Billingsport; and to collect cattle.

Hannold's Wheelwright Shop
The town pump and Hannold's wheelwright shop in Mount Royal
in the early 1900's. Mr. Hannold, the wheelwright stands in the door.
[Note: this is probably Charles Holmes Hannold]
Photograph graciously donated by Pete Miskofsky

In those early days, boats were the main means of transportation, and because of its location near Mantua Creek, this area was considered a thriving settlement. Transportation was by boat, on horseback, or on foot. The charter of the old Gloucester-Philadelphia Ferry provided for horses and foot-passengers-no mention of carriages. Carriages did not come into general use until after the Revolutionary War. At that point, the now named Berkley was a stagecoach stop where weary travelers found food and lodging at the Berkley Hotel (see below). There was a toll gate along Kings Highway, just north of the intersection.

Historic Sign at Mantua River Bridge
Photograph by J. Brown
On November 1777 General Cornwallis sent his First Light Infantry over Berkley Road to Sandtown [now Mount Royal] to repair the Mantua River bridge, which the Americans had previously destroyed in order to stop their progress.

In 1821, the name of the town was changed from Sandtown to Berkley, after Lord John Berkeley of England, and once owner of this land (one of the proprietors of West Jersey). Berkeley was at one time a stagecoach stop for weary travelers where they could find food and lodging at the Berkley Hotel. There was a toll gate along Kings Highway just north of the intersection, according to many residents.

Old McGills store in Mt. Royal NJ
Photograph of Gill's Store
[some call it "McGill's"]
in Mt. Royal, N.J.
from circa 1923 postcard
courtey of Jim Milsted
of Paulsboro. Click on photo
to see larger view.
A newspaper article in the Village Herald, dated 1825, said "George W. Gill, proprietor of a store in Clarksborough, has opened a store at Sandtown." [This store in "Sandtown" was located in Mt. Royal, where the current C&P Auto is now, on the corner of Kings Highway, Berkley Road, and North Street].
See photo at left. SEE 2nd version and 3rd version of this store. My thanks to Pete Miskofsky for these 2 additional photographs.

Mount Royal's original one room schoolhouse stood on the same site as the larger school built after 1836.

In Cushing and Sheppard's "History of Salem, Gloucester and Cumberland Counties" it mentions an article about the village at Berkley in 1884. It states: "There is at this place, an old Baptist meeting House, a school house, a store owned by David Owen, Jr., the hotel of William Keen, the harness shop of Charles Test, the blacksmith shop operated by Robert Eldridge, the wheelwright shop of Charles G. Higgins, and a coal and lumber yard operated by George Parker."

"In 1850, Silas Richards had a shoe repair shop at the corner; Amos Peaslee had a tannery shop on Kings Highway, and the town pump was located in front of Mrs. Livezy's house near the wheelwright shop, also on King's Highway."

coming soon

Another clipping dated 1869, says: "Joseph Livezy sold a small house and lot to David B. Cloverdale for $225.00. Amos Peaslee sold his double house adjoining the Baptist Church to Emmeline Platt for $1150.00. James Munyan sold a 1/2 acre lot on Mantua Creek to George Steelman for $100.00, and George Sigan purchased a 1/2 acre lot from John Sigan for $80.00 and has nearly completed a neat and comfortable property. John Siven sold a farm of 44 acres owned by the late Elizabeth Lippincott to William Locke for $85.00 per acre, and Joseph Locke purchased nine acres from Jacob Hughes for $1,000.00. There are still many fine building lots to be had in this quiet pleasant village, and anyone looking for a homesite would do well to visit and see the many advantages to be offered. Lots atop the bluffs near Mantua Creek, are much sought after because of its fine location."

An article in the Gloucester County Times titled, "Notes of Yesterday" said "Berkeley was a thriving community and a place of some importance in earlier days. Small lots atop the bluffs near Mantua Creek commanded high prices, and it was an important shipping point. Farmers started sending their crops to Philadelphia, and it wasn't long before those living along the creek built small sailing vessels and started hauling these loaded sloops to Philadelphia on a regular basis."

In early 1880, James Gould, Sr. sailing from Philadelphia to Berkeley with a load of lumber and coal, was the business opportunity and started hauling produce from both Hoffman's and Green's wharfs to the Dock Street wharf, Philadelphia.

About 1890, the boat captains of Mantua Creek secured the additional services of a tugboat owned by Capt. Benjamin Bramell to help tow their schooners to Philadelphia as well as to the Campbell Soup Co. wharf in Camden. These schooners were later replaced by barges, or 'Lighters' and this means of transportation continued until after the Second World War. In 1980 many men still living in the township recalled driving their wagons to the boat landing and helping to load these baskets of tomatoes onto these barges.

In 1890 when the post office was established, the name had to be changed in order to avoid confusion with another town named Berkeley in the northern part of the state. [Tercentenary; Centennial

One old oral tradition states that the village of Mount Royal was named after a can of baking powder. This has never been confirmed, since there appears to be no written reason for chosing this name.Old advertisement for Royal Baking Powder

Heart in Hand Tavern | Lacy House | Sickler Hotel | Blue Anchor Hotel | Berkley Hotel | Mt. Royal Inn
Location: North West corner of intersection of Rt. 551 [Kings Highway] and Mantua-Paulsboro Road, in Mount Royal, NJ

Mt. Royal Inn in 2003
Mount Royal Inn in 2003 - photograph by J. Brown

This brick tavern, located at the crossroads in Mount Royal village, was kept in earliest years by Theophulus Hillman. In 1813 it is known that William Sailer was granted a license for the tavern at the Cross-Roads or Sand Town. Sailer was also the proprietor of Death of the Fox Inn in Clarksboro N.J.

The old Berkley Hotel in Mount Royal
The Berkley Hotel in 1923 - used with permission
thanks to Dolores Claeys of Sewell for this photo

Later is was called the Heart 'n Hand Tavern. In 1869 it was called the Lacy House -- it was here that Brigadier General William T. Cozens issued a general order, as it was serving as the Army Headquarters of New Jersey.

The Hotel in Mt. Royal NJ circa 1910

In 1899 it was known as the Sickler Hotel/House and then later was called the Blue Anchor Hotel, and then the Berkley House/Hotel. It is currently called the Mt. Royal Inn. Additions over time have changed its original appearance.

The Rising Sun Tavern
According to Lorena Headley, in "East Greenwich Centennial--1881 to 1981," there were two taverns in the early village of Sandtown (now Mount Royal). She quotes from Charles S. Boyer's book, "Old Taverns and Inns of West Jersey," of an older tavern located near Mantua Creek and Kings Highway, named "Rising Sun Tavern." Just when this tavern was first established is not known, but John Ramb, also referred to as John Rambo, was the proprietor in 1784. Micajah Clement kept it in 1806. John Paul was the owner in 1809, and Joseph Heppard was the proprietor from 1811 to 1817. Little information could be found about this early tavern, but the John Ramb (Rambo) property, was once part of a large tract located along the banks of Mantua Creek. In 1689 John Parker, yeoman, purchased this tract from Andrew Robeson, a Swedish settler. Robeson had been the Surveyor General of New Stockholm (Swedesboro area). John Parker gave parcels of his land to his three sons: James, Reuben, and John Jr. The balance of his property he left to his wife, Hester Parker. When Hester died, their son Reuben inherited this property.

John Parker, Jr. sold his lands to James Currie. Reuben Parker's holdings were inherited by his three grandsons: John Toms, Reuben Toms, and William Bright. Possibly James Parker kept all or part of his land, because the census map of 1850 shows a J. Parker owning land in this area, and in 1887 Mr. George Parker sold his lumber and coal business located along the creek to Mr. Henry G. Green. John Toms sold his tract of land to Robert Currie, who in turn sold a parcel of this land to John Ramb. According to descriptions, this land bordered the south side of the creek near where Kings Highway is now located, and bordered or adjoined lands owned by Currie and Reuben Toms.

Mt Royal Lumber Yard

An old two story weather-beaten house once stood just off Kings Highway, down in a gully near Mantua Creek, Lorena Headley mentioned above, had the occasion to visit this house back in the 1960s. An open front porch surrounded most of the house, and the front door and main entrance faced the creek. The large main room had a deep fireplace along one wall, and the opposite wall had a small window-like opening with a small room on the other side. The only way to gain access to this smaller room was through a separate entrance from the front porch. There was no means of getting into this room from inside the house. The floor was constructed of wide wooden planks held together with wooden pegs.

The occupants told Lorena Headley that the house has been a hotel in early times, and patronized by travelers coming up the creek by boat. The small room had been a tavern and dispense alcoholic drinks through this window-like opening to the guests in the main room. Charles Hill, a former resident, told Lorena Headley that this house was indeed the old Rising Sun Tavern. The Hill Family purchased this farm from George White in 1914, and moved the old tavern down near the creek. It originally stood atop the hill where the Joseph Higgins residence is [in 1981]. This old house was demolished about 1970, and only underbrush remains. NOTE: If anyone has a photograph of this building, please contact me at jan@jwbrown-home.com.

The Lodge Estate
The entire block along Kings Highway from Mantua Road to Lodge Ave. was once the Lodge Estate, and the house on the corner was once the Lodge residence. The house later was converted to apartments, and a store front added. Previous owners were Dave Hickman, Harry Cook and Ed Bell. In 1981 it was owned by Bill and Rita Lerch, being known as "Lerch Deli." Prior to the Lerch's, Barney and Thilda (Bell) Nathan operated this store for more than twenty years.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church was founded here in 1770, with its first permanent rector being Rev. Robert Blackwell, D.D. A new church was erected in Clarksboro in 1846. The old churchyard still exists near the site in Mount Royal.

The Berkeley Baptist Church was built here in 1887, with the first rector being Rev. John Dussman.

Angel Visit Baptist Church
was first built here in 1904, then demolished and rebuilt in 1974. The congregation is celebrating their 100th Anniversary in June of 2004.

Leslie's Cove in Mt. Royal was once a popular summer resort for about 50 years. Summer cottages were located on an island in Mantua Creek near Kings Highway.

Photograph of Leslie's Cove
Photograph of Leslie's Cove in Mt. Royal N.J.,
generously donated by Pete Miskofsky

Philadelphia residents arrived at the resort by train on weekends. Its has been reported that the cottages were built by wealthy people and were expensively furnished. Unfortunately, the homes and the island were washed away about 1933 by floods during a severe storm (no lives were lost). Reportedly this was a horseshoe-shaped island in the middle of the creek. Access to the island was by a small bridge near Kings Highway. A tall flag pole stood at the entrance just over the bridge, and each cottage had flowers out back.

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