Friends of the Hancock House

Friends of the Hancock House The Friends of the Hancock House is a non-profit organization which works with the State of New Jersey to promote and educate the community about the William H.

Hancock House located in Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County New Jersey. The Friends of the Hancock House are a group of volunteers who originally organized in 1995 to advocate the reopening and restoration of this state-owned site which had been closed to the public in 1991. Our first activity was a Commemoration of the Hancock House Massacre on March 21, 1998 - exactly 220 years after the event.

Hancock House located in Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County New Jersey. The Friends of the Hancock House are a group of volunteers who originally organized in 1995 to advocate the reopening and restoration of this state-owned site which had been closed to the public in 1991. Our first activity was a Commemoration of the Hancock House Massacre on March 21, 1998 - exactly 220 years after the event.

Operating as usual

From a page dedicated to the memory of the 111th New York Volunteers:
07/15/2021

From a page dedicated to the memory of the 111th New York Volunteers:

Thank you to all who came out and supported our Cornelia Hancock Day!  We were able to avoid the rain most of the day an...
07/08/2021

Thank you to all who came out and supported our Cornelia Hancock Day! We were able to avoid the rain most of the day and even had the guided tour.

If you missed this one, we hope to have a few pop-up living history events in the near future!

Come out and see us today!  A Civil War living-history to commemorate the 12th New Jersey Volunteers at Gettysburg and C...
07/03/2021

Come out and see us today! A Civil War living-history to commemorate the 12th New Jersey Volunteers at Gettysburg and Cornelia Hancock who left Hancocks Bridge to care for their wounded.

The event is from 10am-4pm. A special caravan-style tour will take place at 3pm to visit sights associated with Cornelia in LAC.

Rain or shine, so bring an umbrella!

In light of this Saturday's "Cornelia Hancock Day" here is a program put on by the Gettysburg National Military Park.  I...
07/01/2021
Gettysburg: After the Battle- Nurse Conrelia Hancock

In light of this Saturday's "Cornelia Hancock Day" here is a program put on by the Gettysburg National Military Park. It is nice to know Cornelia is not forgotten.

If you are planning on coming to the event please remember:

The Hancock House will be open to one visitor group/family at a time and per NJ DEP guidelines masks must be worn inside the house. (Masks are not required outdoors)

This is a rain or shine event, so dress accordingly.

We hope to see you Saturday!

Frederick Ladies Relief Society educator Sherry presents the first person experience of American Civil War nurse Cornelia Hancock at Gettysburg National Park

Thank you to all who came out for our 1st "pop-up" living history event on Memorial Day!  We hope to have more of these ...
06/06/2021

Thank you to all who came out for our 1st "pop-up" living history event on Memorial Day! We hope to have more of these small events throughout the summer. And don't forget we have Cornelia Hancock Day scheduled for Saturday, July 3rd. (More info can be found on the events page). Hope to see you there!

The Hancock House Historic Site will OPEN to the public THIS SATURDAY!!!  Starting May 29th interior tours of the house ...
05/27/2021

The Hancock House Historic Site will OPEN to the public THIS SATURDAY!!!

Starting May 29th interior tours of the house will begin again.

Tours will be offered Wednesday through Saturdays, 9am - 4pm and Sundays 1pm - 4pm. The house will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

NOTE:

As per DEP guidance, masks will still be required for an interior tour of the house until further notice.

One visiting group will be welcomed in the house at a time. (Upstairs will be closed to visitors)

We are also planning some "pop-up" living-history events for the near future, so stay tuned!

We are excited to welcome you back and hope to see you soon!

The Hancock House Historic Site will OPEN to the public THIS SATURDAY!!!

Starting May 29th interior tours of the house will begin again.

Tours will be offered Wednesday through Saturdays, 9am - 4pm and Sundays 1pm - 4pm. The house will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

NOTE:

As per DEP guidance, masks will still be required for an interior tour of the house until further notice.

One visiting group will be welcomed in the house at a time. (Upstairs will be closed to visitors)

We are also planning some "pop-up" living-history events for the near future, so stay tuned!

We are excited to welcome you back and hope to see you soon!

The foraging expeditions of 1778 were not the first time that Salem locals felt the effects of the war first-hand.  The ...
05/14/2021

The foraging expeditions of 1778 were not the first time that Salem locals felt the effects of the war first-hand. The British Navy had raided the coast of Salem and Cumberland Counties prior to the capture of New York City in 1776. Two war ships, The Roebuck and Liverpool, entered the Delaware River on May 5th, 1776. They had been patrolling the Delaware Bay for weeks in order to blockade enemy supplies from entering the river and reaching Philadelphia. The British ships began to run low on supplies and the first foraging took place in Salem and Cumberland Counties. Captain Andrew Snape Hamond of the H.M.S. Roebuck wrote:

“[Roebuck, Delaware Bay, Sunday] 5th May.
As I now began to grow short of water, and had lighten'd the Ship to as easy a draught of water as I could… I took the Liverpool with me & sailed up the River in order to fill my empty Casks, and reconnoitre the enemys force of the River.”

Parties of British Marines “engaged in land forays… Cattle were butchered and the area foraged in general to replenish depleted larders...” (The Pennsylvania Navy, 1775-1781, The Defense of the Delaware, pg. 48) This was the first time that New Jersey militia formed to defend their own homes. An “Extract of a Letter from an Officer in Cumberland County, West-New-Jersey. May 6th, 1776” was printed in a Whig newspaper, The Pennsylvania Journal on May 8th:

“This serves to inform you of an alarm we had about 11 o'clock this day, of a party of regulars landing on Findle's Island, in Bacon's Neck, about four miles from Greenwich, supposed to be about 30 in number; shooting down the cattle, taking them on board, &c. whereupon I called the militia together as soon as possible, and upon our appearance, a gun was fired from on board one of the vessels for them to repair on board, which they did with the greatest precipitation. Our men pursued so closely, that they were near taking 3 of them prisoners, one of whom left an excellent musket behind, which we got, with some cartridges. They hollowed to our men to go on board the King-Fisher and they wou'd pay for the beef. It is supposed they took off between 20 and 30 cattle, 5 they left dead on the shore, and wounded many others, which, with all the others, we have drove from the water side. They have taken, this morning, a shallop belonging to Daniel Richard's, bound from Philadelphia to Morris's river; but the hands escaped to shore.”

David Read, along with his brother James, joined the Cumberland County Militia in response to the enemy naval threat. Both would be at the Battle of Quinton's Bridge later. When David applied for a pension in 1832 and recalled:

“I volunteered in the company of Capt. John Barker, Lieut. Jeremiah Mills. Met at or near Bacon’s Neck near the River Delaware, before our being called out the British had landed and were destroying the cattle, and burning the houses. Two ships: the Liverpool and Roebuck had arrived in the River. Before we had collected a force sufficiently strong and come up with them, they had burnt the house of Col. [John?] Holmes, and another just below, belonging to a Capt. of militia then on duty whom we did not remember. We then marched from place to place, to prevent their landing and obtaining provisions as well to keep the disaffected part of the inhabitance giving them any information and assistance…”

Joseph Sayre was a Salem County Militia member called out as well. He would later be captured at the Hancock House "Massacre". He applied for a pension in 1833:

“…he was with his brother [Reuel] and went out when the British warships the Roebuck & Liverpool came up the Delaware River to procure cattle that in the Spring of year were turned out upon the marshes on the Delaware near Findle’s Island the British landed their marines to shoot the cattle to provision their troops[.] We were out a week or ten days guarding the shore and driving back the Marines.”

The movement of the British up the river culminated in a two-day naval battle on May 8th and 9th off of Helm’s Cove (modern day Penn’s Grove), Salem County. Pennsylvania row galleys were sent down river to engage the British ships. Helm’s Tavern, near the shoreline, reportedly received a cannon ball from the Roebuck during the fighting. Alexander Wilcox wrote the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety on May 8th:

“…about 2 O'clock an Engagement began between our Fleet the RoeBuck & another Ship of War which continued upwards of two Hours and believe very successfully on our Part in the Course of the Engagement the Roe Buck run on Shore and is now fast on the Jersey Shore at Kearney's Point a little above deep Water Point - Our Fleet has suffered no Injury but by a Single Shot which struck the Cambden but has done her little Damage - We expect In an Hour's Time she will be on a Carreen when a second Attack will be made upon her and we hope it will be crowned with Success - The other Ship has come too under the Roe Buck’s stern within Musket Shot - All the Powder in Cartridges is expended - It is absolutely necessary that you send down an immediate Supply of Powder in Cartridges with Ball.”

Though indecisive, the action forced the British to withdraw down the river and anchor off of Reedy Island to repair damage sustained in the fighting. On May 16th they set sail and went out to sea, ending the first naval meeting of the war in the Delaware River and first incursion by the British into South Jersey.

While researching pension applications, some interesting accounts have surfaced about the attack on Hancock's Bridge, wh...
04/18/2021

While researching pension applications, some interesting accounts have surfaced about the attack on Hancock's Bridge, which leave new and unanswered questions:

After taking over the Hancock house, Major Simcoe set about securing his position. Still unaware of the strength of the enemy, he sent out detachments to guard the perimeter. He recorded:

“The roads which led into the country were immediately ambuscaded; and Lieutenant Whitlock was detached to surprise a patrole of seven men who had been sent down the creek: this he effected completely. On their refusal to surrender, he fired on them, only one escaped. The firing gave the first notice of the success of the enterprise to the 27th regiment; with so much silence it had hitherto been conducted.”

Samuel Westcott, of Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, may have been the soldier fired at by Lt. Whitlock’s troops. Wescott applied for a pension in 1832. He stated:

“In March 1778 volunteered in Captain Westcott’s company (father of the applicant) Lieut. James Howell commanded by Genl. Ellis Col. Halman Major Mattock: marched to Haddonfield and there had a battle with a company of British came from Phila in which he got wounded in the left thigh was out this term three months. After being home three days hearing the British had come to Salem, New Jersey, volunteered in the same company met them and had a Battle at Quinton’s Bridge in which we had a number killed and wounded and the second night after had a battle and was at the massacre at Hancock’s Bridge where he swam the creek while the Tories were firing at him. Next day marched to Thompson’s Bridge after being there some time and the enemy leaving Salem marched back to Cumberland. Was out this term three months after being discharged a number of us volunteered and stood guard along the shore of the Delaware Bay two months at which time the said applicant acted as Sargent.”

David Gandy, also a militia member from Fairfield Township, testified on Wescott’s behalf:

“Saw him in the service at Hancocks Bridge and Quintons Bridge. The said David Gandy was with the said Samuel Wescott at various times and places in the Revolutionary War...”

David applied for a pension in 1832, placing himself at the attack:

“Volunteered in Capt. Jackanias Wood’s company Liuet Reuben Callis commanded by Genl. Furman Col. Holmes… was in the battle an[d] massacre at Hancocks Bridge in Salem County N.J….”

Another Cumberland County resident, Furman Shepherd, stated in his in his 1832 pension application:

“That while the British lay in Philadelphia he was out in the service as a volunteer in Salem County New Jersey, and was at the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge and also in the Battle at Hancock’s Bridge and was out as a volunteer for some days…”

The above three accounts pose a question as to who was actually guarding the bridge that morning. It has long been believed that only Captain Sheppard’s company of Salem County militia were at Hancock’s Bridge at the time of the attack, but these men were in at least two separate Cumberland County militia companies.

Is it possible that the militia system was taxed to such an extreme that men were being temporarily assigned to different companies based on numerical needs? These men, along with others, may have been augmented into Captain Sheppard’s company at the time of the attack. They all say they were at the battle of Quinton’s Bridge and Hancock’s Bridge. This may lend credence that men were being shifted from one company to another.

It is also interesting to note that none of them report being captured or wounded. So how many actually escaped that morning?

Perhaps with further research, these questions can be answered.

Pictured is a depiction of a Queen's Ranger as they would have looked at the time of the attack.

While researching pension applications, some interesting accounts have surfaced about the attack on Hancock's Bridge, which leave new and unanswered questions:

After taking over the Hancock house, Major Simcoe set about securing his position. Still unaware of the strength of the enemy, he sent out detachments to guard the perimeter. He recorded:

“The roads which led into the country were immediately ambuscaded; and Lieutenant Whitlock was detached to surprise a patrole of seven men who had been sent down the creek: this he effected completely. On their refusal to surrender, he fired on them, only one escaped. The firing gave the first notice of the success of the enterprise to the 27th regiment; with so much silence it had hitherto been conducted.”

Samuel Westcott, of Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, may have been the soldier fired at by Lt. Whitlock’s troops. Wescott applied for a pension in 1832. He stated:

“In March 1778 volunteered in Captain Westcott’s company (father of the applicant) Lieut. James Howell commanded by Genl. Ellis Col. Halman Major Mattock: marched to Haddonfield and there had a battle with a company of British came from Phila in which he got wounded in the left thigh was out this term three months. After being home three days hearing the British had come to Salem, New Jersey, volunteered in the same company met them and had a Battle at Quinton’s Bridge in which we had a number killed and wounded and the second night after had a battle and was at the massacre at Hancock’s Bridge where he swam the creek while the Tories were firing at him. Next day marched to Thompson’s Bridge after being there some time and the enemy leaving Salem marched back to Cumberland. Was out this term three months after being discharged a number of us volunteered and stood guard along the shore of the Delaware Bay two months at which time the said applicant acted as Sargent.”

David Gandy, also a militia member from Fairfield Township, testified on Wescott’s behalf:

“Saw him in the service at Hancocks Bridge and Quintons Bridge. The said David Gandy was with the said Samuel Wescott at various times and places in the Revolutionary War...”

David applied for a pension in 1832, placing himself at the attack:

“Volunteered in Capt. Jackanias Wood’s company Liuet Reuben Callis commanded by Genl. Furman Col. Holmes… was in the battle an[d] massacre at Hancocks Bridge in Salem County N.J….”

Another Cumberland County resident, Furman Shepherd, stated in his in his 1832 pension application:

“That while the British lay in Philadelphia he was out in the service as a volunteer in Salem County New Jersey, and was at the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge and also in the Battle at Hancock’s Bridge and was out as a volunteer for some days…”

The above three accounts pose a question as to who was actually guarding the bridge that morning. It has long been believed that only Captain Sheppard’s company of Salem County militia were at Hancock’s Bridge at the time of the attack, but these men were in at least two separate Cumberland County militia companies.

Is it possible that the militia system was taxed to such an extreme that men were being temporarily assigned to different companies based on numerical needs? These men, along with others, may have been augmented into Captain Sheppard’s company at the time of the attack. They all say they were at the battle of Quinton’s Bridge and Hancock’s Bridge. This may lend credence that men were being shifted from one company to another.

It is also interesting to note that none of them report being captured or wounded. So how many actually escaped that morning?

Perhaps with further research, these questions can be answered.

Pictured is a depiction of a Queen's Ranger as they would have looked at the time of the attack.

We must look at both sides of the "Hancock House Massacre" to get the full picture.  The story of those militia members ...
03/26/2021

We must look at both sides of the "Hancock House Massacre" to get the full picture.

The story of those militia members that guarded the Alloway Creek is well known, but what may be less know is that of the Loyalists who attacked them. Why did these men join Major Simcoe and the Queens Rangers? Below is an excerpt that may explain some of their reasoning.

Lieutenant James Moody was a New Jersey farmer who joined the New Jersey Volunteers in 1777. He wrote a narrative of his experiences that was published while the war was still in progress (1783). His views shed light on why so many in the colonies where branded "tories", refused to support the Revolution and even joined the ranks of the British Army:

"...it [the rebellion] did not originate with the people of America, properly so called. They felt no real grievances, and therefore could have no inducement to rifle substantial advantages in the pursuit of such as were only imaginary. In making this declaration, he is confident he speaks the sentiments of a great majority of the peasantry of America. But, in every country, there are multitudes who, with little property, and perhaps still less principle, are always disposed, and always eager for a change. Such persons are easily wrought upon, and easily persuaded to enlist under the banners of pretended patriots and forward demagogues; of whom also every country is sufficiently prolific.

"In America, these popular leaders had a set of men to assist them, who inherited, from their ancestors, the most rooted dislike and antipathy to the constitution of the parent-state ; and, by means of their friendly co-operation, they were able to throw the whole continent into a ferment in the year 1774, and maddened almost every part of the country with Associations, Committees, and Liberty- poles, and all the preliminary apparatus necessary to a Revolt. The general cry was: Join or die!

"Mr. Moody relished neither of these alternatives, and therefore remained on his farm a silent, but not unconcerned, spectator of the black cloud that had been gathering, and was now ready to burst on his devoted head. It was in vain that he took every possible precaution, consistent with a good conscience, not to give offence... He was perpetually harassed by these Committees: and a party employed by them once actually assaulted him. [A] person, having first flourished their tomahawks over his head in a most insulting manner. Finding it impossible either to convince these associators, or to be convinced by them, any longer stay among them was useless..."

There is always more than one view on an issue. Those that defended the Alloway thought they were in the right on the side of "liberty". Those that attacked at Quinton's Bridge and the Hancock House thought they were in the right on the side of "law and order."

Pictured is an interpretation of what the Queen's Rangers may have looked like during their occupation of Salem, NJ, in March of 1778:

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Front Street
Hancocks Bridge, NJ
08038

General information

Call 856-935-4373 for current information and to schedule group tours. It is suggested that you email [email protected] to check availability of the Ranger In Service due to State furloughs, conferences, and meetings. More information about the Hancock House can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/historic/hancockhouse/hancockhouse-index.htm

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From Saturday, you may use
Historical Collections of the state of New Jersey https://archive.org/details/collectionsofthe00barb/page/426
Found this pic here in black and white........figured I give it a touch up!
The story I wrote about the recent living history at the Hancock House has been accepted for publication in the Civil War News. It should appear in the October issue. In about a month I will post a digital version here.
Joseph Bacon was married to Margaret Hancock and they were my 6th great grandparents.