The Matlack Family Historians

Asa Matlack-

Asa Matlack was born October 21, 1783 to Reuben and Elizabeth Matlack. He died March 12, 1851. His father Reuben ran a blacksmith shop which was located on the old Gardner farm, now Maplewood Apartments in Maple Shade, NJ.

Asa grew up and learned blacksmithing but he also had a cabinet shop type small saw mill. He became very active in recording local genealogies, Church records, and history of the area.

Portrait drawing from "Chester Township" book.

From the Genealogy of the Matlack family by Asa Matlack Stackhouse-

ASA MATLACK, as I remember him, was a mild man and genial disposition, kind, forbearing, good-tempered, and fond of children. I was only five years of age when he died, but I remember climbing on his knee and listening to his stories of antiquarian lore, and especially of the Early Friends, for whom and for whose principles he had a deep and abiding reverence. In my childish mind those ancient worthies, George Fox, William Dewsbury, William Penn, Thomas Parnel, and others were clothed with a hale of righteousness and glory, which they have lost with me.

"--Stalwart Old iconoclasts, Unconvinced by axe or gibblet that all virtue was the Past's."

His mind was well stored with Friendly lore. He pored over the writings of the early Friends, and the time discolored pages of the many volumes of their works he has left are interspersed with his manuscript notes. He took a deep interest in the troubles in the Society of Friends, which culminated in the "Separation" in 1827 he going with the followers of Elias Hicks.

But it was in the line of genealogical investigation that he delighted, and he commenced early in life to gather up the scraps of local history, which would otherwise have been lost. Wherever he went, the old books, especially the family Bibles, were carefully examined, and family records of births, deaths and marriages copied. Nothing came amiss- meeting records, church records, court records-- all were examined and many of them copied entire. In some cases the original records are lost, and Asa Matlack's copy is now the only one known to be extent. He was a walking interrogation point as regards family history, and the results of his inquiries were copied on the first scrap of paper that came to hand and filed away.

His literary remains would appear to show he was deficient in method, but this is owing to the fact that his time was spent more in collecting and recuing from oblivion important material then in arranging it. So long as people are born and die the genealogist's labors are never completed and it is probable that he deferred arrangement until a more convenient season, which never came to him. It is difficult therefore for one unfamiliar with genealogical pursuits to make use of his labors.

And here is a quote from the book "Chester Township" by Clayton Lippincott-

The eldest, Asa, died in March, 1851, on the homestead. He was a blacksmith by trade and a farmer, a man of good judgement, well read, and during the latter part of his life became very interested in gathering valuable historical material bearing upon the early settlement of the township of Chester and West Jersey, which facts he carefully noted in unmistakable lanquage and systematic penmanship in his books he kept for that purpose.

This photo is from the Moorestown Chronicle Aug. 15, 1940.
A book on old saw mills actually states this newspaper article as a reference.

Some Asa Matlack Collection Notes-

Last Bear in Chester Township-

From the booklet John and Sarah Roberts Memorial Meeting of the Roberts Family 1898-

Note.- The deep interest in the story of John and Sarah Roberts inclines me to believe that the following little incident will entertain many and loses nothing in the quaint manner of its telling. The Joshua and Enoch Roberts referred to were the grandsons of John and Sarah. I copy from Asa Matlack's papers:
Joshua Roberts' son Joseph (my uncle) told an anecdote of his father's shooting a large bear, as follows: 'Sometime in the fall of the year 1761 my brother John and I were plowing a piece of new ground near to 'Clarke's Old Field' when we heard a hog squeal in a northwest direction from us. I told my brother to go and see what was the matter. He went, taking the dog with him, and soon discovered a large black animal biting the hog over and on the back. With some fear he went immediately and informed his father what he had seen. Father (being somewhat lame) got a horse and his gun and rode to the place, but could not then find anything, but on his return came across a sow in the woods with her belly ripped open and several hogs bitten. A night or two after this we heard a hog squeal at Jeremiah Matlack's pond, and on the Seventh-day Jeremiah came to our house and desired my father to join him in hunting out the destroyer of the hogs. They set out accordingly, and got Uncle Enoch Roberts to go along, but could not then find the animal they were in pursuit of, so parting, each going for their own homes,

Joshua on his, was near a pond, and saw a hog which had been killed that day. He was then sure the bear or animal was near. The dog began to bark- he riding around the cripple- out came the bear and dog. The bear began to climb up a large white oak tree and when up a piece the dog would jump up and bite him and the bear would turn around and strike at the dog. My father at a suitable moment shot- the bullet grazed the tree. The bear took to another tree, a black oak standing in a southwest direction from the house, and got up to a large limb that came square out of said tree, whereupon he turned several times as lissome as a cat, being somewhat wounded with the first shot. He soon received a second, whereupon he fell on the limb and into the crotch with his face towards my father, who shot the third time, and down he came. I was at the plough and hearing the gun go off, went immediately to see and got to the place before the bear was dead. I went and got a sled upon which I took the bear home. My father had just got up a new corn house wherein was a beef roller, upon which we hoisted the bear, being the first animal ever dressed in that house and last bear ever killed in Chester township. A report thereof being spread, more than fifty people from Moorestown, &c., came the next day- being the first day of the week, to see the bear."

Poplar Landing Rebuilt by Neighborhood-

Page 356 of big book-

[20] An account of conveining of a number of inhabitants on 26 of 4 m. 1821 "to build a wharf near the dam erected on South branch of Pennsawkin Creek to land ashes upon"

The men were principally Chester Township. Isaac Stiles (aged 64) George Matlack (51) Reuben Burrough (49) William Rudderow (46) John Stiles (son of Isaac 34) Asa Roberts (26) Reuben Matlack (28) & Asa Matlack (36)

[21 & 22] Samuel Rudderow the owner of the land refused to give a writing giving them the priveledge when requested. Three weeks later while they were working at the wharf, Peter Saxton, Samuel Rudderow's son-in-law came and told them S.R. was willing they should build in as not to exceed the width of the Landing Road.

[23] The wharf was completed this Spring (1821) the first one built of logs at this place. Joseph Burrough bro; to Reuben & Samuel their cousin "gave their attendance and I believe done an equal share in this wharf."

Some Early School Teachers-

(some sentences omitted)
In 1774 A Barroro kept school. Theophilus Fanning a school master kept school in a house near my house- I saw a picture worked by Fanning in this school house in 1756.
Richard Barrow school master lived with Samuel Burrough, at this schoolhouse, then at Roberts. Sometime drinked too much.

Burrough's Mill-

Page 571-572, a few sentences left out-
Joshua Humpherys, old man a carpendar came in 1759 live in Moorestown, entertained Friends. Had fine house, failed in business, left nothing to his children. Joshua built Samuel Burrough's Mill and died 3 of 1 m 1773.

An Old Matlack Family House-

Pg 471-
William Matlack, Cropwell Bishop Nottinghamshire England. Wm Matlack's house was built in 1709 as appears on the door, now in being I have seen the thumb latch of
pg 472-
I was at the old house in 1779. It was fast approaching decay. The thumb latch of the door at other end in which the family of John Stafford then dwealt was marked M, I&M, 1728-1721 which I think was done by his brother William, a smith.

The Asa Matlack Collection is at the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. Here is the Search for there-
Pennsylvania Historical Society OPAC

You can also see some of it at the Camden County Historical Society on the microfilm reel of Colestown Cemetery records.

The West Jersey History Website has a webpage of some-
Asa Matlack Letterbook quotes

Asa Matlack Stackhouse-

Grandson of Asa Matlack. He was the author of several historical short books. The books are recorded versions of his talks whether for "the Ramblers" or for the "Historical Society of Burlington County," which is not to be confused with the present day "Burlington County Historical Society."

The "Historical Society of Burlington County" was founded on February 28, 1908. The officers were-
President- George Cuthbert Gillespie,
Vice President- William R. Lippincott,
Curator- Asa Matlack Stackhouse, M.D.,
Recording Secretary- William D. Lippincott,
Corresponding Secretary- William Foster Reeve,
and Treasurer- William H. Roberts.

Downloadable Books in PDF File Format-

Below are six links to Internet Archives books. Download each in PDF form. These are relatively small files and can be downloaded even with a dial up connection. The first is "Kings Highway and the Pensauken Graveyard" by Asa Matlack Stackhouse, containing his speeches before the "Ramblers." The next is two versions of the same. I like the second one which is shaded a nice green color. The book is "A Retrospect of Colonial Times in Burlington County." A good start to a PDF file "Library" would be all of the below booklets. The Internet Archives website has many more lengthy books of local historical interest also, but these are related to Asa Matlack Stackhouse and to the group he was in, the "Historical Society of Burlington County."

T. Chalkley Matlack-

Chalkley Matlack was the one who documented early Maple Shade and the Stiles family houses (Ben Stiles branch) in a series of photos and comments in 1897.

He did a lot of family geneaology mainly with the Thorne and Matlack familes.

Here is a few pages from his Book(s) of Thornes from the State Library in Trenton.

Chalkley Matlack lived with his niece, Emma Gardiner in the Lindley Gardiner homestead on Route S-41, now Maplewood Apartments in Maple Shade. On the property was Reuben Matlack's old blacksmith shop. Kings Highway once was close to where it once stood but was rerouted.

Lindley Gardiner-

Lindley Gardiner followed "the Matlack historians" himself in several interviews reminiscing of old by gone times! (One is in a Camden newspaper Wed. Nov. 1, 1939, another from the Moorestown Historical Society much later on.) He had an old cider press which he made cider the old fashioned way, through layers of straw.

I believe Chalkley's mother was a Thorne, but will have to check on this. Chalkley Matlack had alot of historical writings, one of which was a genealogy of the Thorne family called Chalkley Matlack's "Book of Thornes." Chalkley researched and photographed Friends Meeting houses and "the book" was never published. The Pennsylvania Historical Society has a copy of the notes and photos.

Chalkley Matlack was a school teacher for three years at the Chester Brick schoolhouse, which he also attended as a child. Here is a segment of a June 2, 1934 newspaper clip (paper unknown), interviewing him after the Chester Brick schoolhouse was destroyed by a fire.-

The first teacher, Matlack says he ever heard mentioned in connection with the Chester Brick School was Anne Stackhouse, who taught there in 1830.

"My own teachers- those who were women- were all Miss Sallies," Matlack said. "First there was Sarah White, then Sarah Devaul, later Sarah Borton and- Oh yes, Sarah Sloan. Of course I taught there three years myself."

The old pedagogue's eyes twinkled as he recalled his school days in the little red brick building.

Cousins Not Favorite Teachers
"Miss Sally Devaul was my first cousin and she was far from being my favorite teacher," he continued. "She once approached me with a needle and thread in hand, threatening to sew my lips up if I didn't stop talking during school hours."

"Another teacher of mine, and also a cousin, was Charles Lippincott. I remember one day when his whip snapped in two while he was thrashing one of the boys. I laughed uproariously at the episode- until Charlie turned around and whipped me for laughing at him."

When Matlack entered upon teaching at Chester Brick, he had just three pupils, two of whom were at the alphabet stage. Upon his departure three years later there were 35 students, among them Joseph R. Lippincott, J. Heulings Coles, Mrs. William K. Claypoole, and Albert D. Rogers, all of whom are well known citizens of Moorestown.

Last of the Line?
According to the former school teacher, one of the last, if not the last teacher of Chester Brick before it ceased being used as a school in 1917 was Anna B. Andrews, now Mrs. Raymond J. Prickitt.

The school which was a one-room affair, contained long, (old-fashioned) benches up until the time of Anne Bradley in 1884. Miss Bradley had "new fangled" ideas about teaching school and the first thing she did was to rid it of the ancient accoutrements.

In one corner of the room marked now only by deep crevices in the charred and broken bits of plaster and brick, was a large cupboard where the children stowed their lunch boxes. The doors of the cupboard were painted a dull black and used for blackboards. A large trap-door led to an attic which was seldom used.

Chalkley Matlack was none of the stern, harsh, schoolmasters which a great many men remember as eternally spoiling their youthful games. When recess time came, he went out and played with the others. Some of the games included "Anthony Over," played with two teams divided on either side of the school building; "Puss-in-the-corner," using the huge maple trees in front of the school as the "corners"; and often baseball and cricket in the adjoining field.

(The newspaper article continues for a few more paragraphs.)