7 Alloway’s Creek Area

The Reeve Brothers’ Shipyard
In 1849, when the Smith & Wistar map was published, ­Thompson’s Bridge was a ship-building yard on Alloway’s Creek in Salem County. At the time the business was critical to the economic success of Salem County. The owners of the plant, two brothers named Reeve, maintained the shipyard without fail throughout the 1840s. Unfortunately, their ships were primarily made from white oak, and due to a shortage of this wood, business declined and the yard closed by 1859.

A Dirty Little Secret
The ships built at Thompson’s Bridge were not without controversy. The Pons, a ship originally built at Thompson’s Bridge for a firm of lawyers in Philadelphia, was used to smuggle slaves from Africa into America. A search was issued by the crew of the Yorktown when the Pons returned to its harbor on the Delaware and over a hundred potential slaves were found hidden below deck, half-starved and frightened. The government immediately emancipated these individuals. Some returned to their homeland and some decided to stay in the United States. All members found to be involved in the smuggling were prosecuted, including the captain of the ship.

Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
Close by Thompson’s Bridge and also on Alloway’s Creek is Quinton’s Bridge, the site of the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge on March 18, 1778. In response to American forces foraging for supplies in the South Jersey countryside, the British army, then stationed in Philadelphia, sent an expeditionary force into ­Salem County. New Jersey militia, attempting to keep the British hemmed below Alloway’s Creek, placed defensive forces at both Hancock’s and Quinton’s Bridge. On the day of the engagement, the British lured the Americans to leaving their positions and crossing the bridge where they were surprised by the superior British force. The Americans suffered 30 to 40 casualties – the British appear to have suffered 1 – but the retreating Americans managed to hold the bridge and stop the advance of the British.

Details of the Maps
The atlas that is open to the left is the Combination Atlas Map of Salem & Gloucester Counties, New Jersey (Philadelphia: Everts & Stewart, 1876). Note the location of Hancock’s Bridge and the Reeve properties on Alloway’s Creek.

Above is a detail of Thomas Gordon’s Map of the State of New Jersey (1828). Note also that Gloucester County stretches from the Delaware to the Atlantic. It was not until 1837 that an act of the State Legislature established a separate Atlantic County and erected Camden County in 1844. To the south and east see the approximate future site of Stockton. To the left is a detail of the Smith & Wistar Map of the Counties of Salem and Gloucester (1849). Note the location of Quinton’s Bridge.