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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

House Hunting with Leah Blackman

February is Women In History Month in New Jersey. I can't think of a more fitting woman to acknowledge here at the Bass River Township History Blog than Leah Blackman. She clearly is the most influential and reliable figure in the chronicling of our area's history and genealogy. Most people with even a casual interest in Bass River and Little Egg Harbor history and genealogy recognize her name.


Leah Mathis Blackman
(Photo courtesy of Arnold Cramer.)

Her 1880 writing, "The History of Little Egg Harbor Township", republished in 1965 by the Great John Mathis Foundation is considered the "Bible" of local history and genealogy. It's a necessary addition to everyone's local history library.

Leah Blackmsn's "History of Little Egg Harbor Township" is available for purchase at the Bass River Community Library and the Tuckerton Historical Society. The cost is $35.00.

The Tuckerton Historical Society's compilation of some of Leah's additional writings, published under the title "Leah Blackman's Old Times and Other Writing", provides many interesting and enjoyable stories of what daily life was like in Little Egg Harbor in the 1800's. Leah's descriptions are so vivid, you can close your eyes and almost see what she is describing. She's an artist with words with your mind as her canvas.

"Leah Blackman's Old Times and Other Writings" is available for purchase at the Tuckerton Historical Society. The cost is $22.20.

Most people don't realize that Leah was born in Bass River Township. She was born January 21, 1817 to Elihu and Amelia Seaman Mathis on the family farm in Little Egg Harbor. You're probably thinking about now that I'm a little confused. How could she be born in both Little Egg Harbor and Bass River Township? Well, today's Bass River Township was a part of Little Egg Harbor until 1865 when it was created by an act of the New Jersey State Legislature. 

Leah's girlhood home, although located in Little Egg Harbor Township when she was born, would be within today's Bass River Township boundaries. It was located in the woods, about a half mile North-East of the walled mansion on Route 9.


Leah's birthplace and girlhood home was located about a half mile in back of the walled mansion on Route 9 in Bass River Township. (July 22, 2004 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The following 1925 aerial photo shows the location of Leah's birthplace in reference to many known landmarks. It was located along the present Millie Road on a homestead currently owned by Chris Mathis. The location is still rather remote today.

1926 aerial photo showing the location of Leah Mathis Blackman's birthplace.

Chris Mathis (right) shows Steve Eichinger the corner stone to the survey of Leah Blackman's childhood homestead. Measurements from this stone pin point the placement of Leah's home on the property. (August 23, 2004 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Chris Mathis waves over the area where Leah's girlhood home stood. Unfortunately, there is no trace of the home or it's foundation. The home location is on private property and is only accessable with Chris' permission. In fact, it's doubtful that anyone could find it without Chris' help. (August 23, 2004 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Leah married Ezra Blackman. They lived on Ezra's farm off Mathistown Road in Little Egg Harbor. The farm was located in the area of the present Shop and Bag strip mall.


Leah and her husband, Ezra Blackman. (Photo courtesy of June LeMunyon.)


The approximate location of Ezra Blackman's farm where Leah lived after her marriage. (Map courtesy of Google Maps.)

After Ezra's death in 1872, Leah had a home built on Marine Street in Tuckerton where she lived until her death in 1886.


Leah Blackman's last residence was on Marine Street in Tuckerton. (Map adapted from Scott's 1876 Atlas)


Today, Leah rests next to Ezra in Tuckerton's Greenwood Cemetery.


Leah sleeps to the left of her husband, Ezra, in Greenwood Cemetery, Tuckertom. (Photo by Burrel Adams.)

For more information on Leah Blackman, click on the following links:

• Brief biography of Leah Blackman in the October, 1998 edition of the "Bass River Gazette" Go to the last page. -  http://bassriver-nj.org/pdf/h-gazette02--oct-1998.pdf

• Leah Blackman's genealogies of major Little Egg Harbor families from her book, "The History of Little Egg Harbor Township." - http://bassriver-nj.org/history/-bass-river-family-genealogie.php

• Leah Blackman's "The Old Friends Meeting House" poem - http://tuckertonlehhs.org/friends-meeting-poem.php

Hope you enjoyed our little house hunting journey, today.

Pete S

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your information.
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  2. Thank you, Pete, that is a fabulous article. I am Leah Blackman's great-great-grandson, John Somers Blackman. My father was Somers Elihu Blackman, Jr. and his father, Somers Elihu Blackman, was Leah's grandson. I have a copy of the West Jersey Surveyor's Association book of 1880, with Leah's History of Little Egg Harbor in it - hand-inscribed by Leah to her grandson, Somers. It also has a few interlineated corrections in Leah's hand.
    I and some of my family are going to Tuckerton at the end of this April 2016. I have been in touch with Barbara Bolton, she has my contact info.
    Thanks!

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