Pitman is a borough, located in Gloucester County, New Jersey. It was formed
from land originally located in Mantua and Glassboro Townships, and is named after
Reverend Charles Pitman, D.D.
Charles Pitman was born in Burlington County, N.J. on January 9, 1796, and died
January 14, 1854. He was actively connected with the ministry from 1817 to 1850
in the Methodist pastorate, as presiding elder and missionary secretary.|
its early beginnings, Pitman was mostly part of Mantua Township, with some acreage
in Glassboro Township. In 1871, land in this section of Gloucester County was
chosen for a new Methodist summer religious camp, as it was "convenient and
desirable" land, which included good sources of water.
March 17, 1872, under the sponsorship of Reverend Perry, presiding elder of the
Bridgeton District of the Methodist Church, the New Jersey Conference Camp meeting
Association was formally chartered. They had the authority to adopt ordinances
governing people within the bounds of their area.
land that became known as "Pitman Grove," (most of which was west of
the railroad line) was purchased in several parcels by the New Jersey Conference
Camp Meeting Association. The first parcel was bought from West Jessup of Mantua
Township and contained sixty acres. Later on approximately ten more acres were
purchased from Joseph Jessup (just east of Broadway) in order to insure that the
Camp Meeting had land between the turnpike and the railroad. Even more parcels
of land were bought later and eventually the Association owned land at what was
later known as Summit Avenue (east of the railroad) and extending west through
the Grove section to Cedar Avenue, including a strip west of Cedar Road to Alcyon
Lake (along Lake Avenue).
Pitman Grove, in Pitman, N.J.
first, the only homes built on this land were for summer use, and were for the
use of Methodist ministers and their families. As time passed, these families
sold their buildings to persons not in the ministry.
As time passed,
greater numbers of people made permanent homes. Some of the summer residents in
the cottages began to stay year-round. By 1886 approximately 400 cottages were
present within the Grove and in outlying areas. In 1890 the directors of the Association
voted to build a drugstore on the camp grounds, and made provisions to open up
additional areas for development. The permanence of the population led to the
establishment of the first public school in Pitman, in a new school district,
on July 17, 1884. Residents of Pitman Grove began to feel unhappy about their
lack of automony, and newspapers of the time referred to issues of government,
education, road conditions, tax assessment and tax collection.
residents of Pitman Grove continued to be vocal about incorporation. On October
20, 1904, the Board of Trade called a town meeting to discuss same. 247 voters
met in the Knights of the Golden Eagle Hall. Of those in attendance, 122 were
for incorporation, and 35 against. The Board of Trade appointed a committee to
petition the Legislature for an act of incorporation, including I.W. Newkirk,
J.M. McCowan, J.C. Rulon and more. Issues arose with Glassboro Township over the
proposed boundary lines, especially in the Glen Lake and Pitman Hills sections.
To settle that dispute, and go forward with incorporation, eventually the new
borough contained mostly land originating from Mantua.
On February 29,
1905 the Borough Committee met with the Legislative Committee on Boroughs to finalize
the incorporation proposal. That Committee included those named earlier plus:
Harmon Dilks, Jr., S.P. Clark, R.M. Shoemaker, William Kerns, John Sayres, and
Pitman officially incorporated as a borough on May
24, 1905 when Governor Edward C. Stokes signed the Avis Bill.
the 1888 George Washing Carr purchased 192 acres of land (including what was known
as Wyne's Mill Pond) and with his brother, Dr. Henry H. Carr formed a partnership
to run what would become Alcyon Park. Dr. Henry Carr, whose house on Broadway
was built in 1908 by W.A. Lacy, became the site of the Broadway Theatre. He gave
the name "Alcyon" to the Lake and Park, [He dropped the "h"
from the word "halycon" because it was easier to pronounce] when it
was opened in 1892. Over time Alcyon Lake and Park included a lake for fishing
and boating, a boardwalk, bath house, merry-go-round, bowling alleys, casino,
roller-skating rink, and other asmusement rides. In July 1905, a sham naval battle,
"The Fall of Port Arthur," was performed on Alcyon Lake by the "cottagers."
Grange Fairs were also held at this location in the 1920's which included endurance
auto driving. Horse racing was held here in the 1930's. During the 1930's attendance
dropped. On July 7, 1945 the Park which had been taken over for tax liens, was
sold at public auction for $5,200.
Pitman Grove area of Pitman Borough is on the New
Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. American Memory describes
this area as "A large auditorium, the focal point of the religious activity,
is at the center of the meeting ground. Narrow walkways radiate from the central
common space, and are lined with small cottages which were constructed soon after
1871 to provide temporary accomodations for those people attending the meetings.
Some of these cottages were built by the Camp Meeting Association and rented to
the summer residents while otehrs were built by private individuals on rented
lots. In later years, the houses were equipped for permanent occupancy, and although
the camp meeting is still active, the residents need not have religious affiliation."
For additional history, visit the Pitman Library, and the Gloucester
County Historical Society.