The Maple Shade Train Station

In 1848 a charter was granted to the Mount Holly and Camden Railroad Company for a proposed railroad from Mount Holly to Camden passing through Moorestown. Not enough stock was sold for the project to be approved by the Camden and Amboy Division.

In 1859 the Camden, Moorestown, Hainesport, and Mount Holly Horse-Car Railroad was incorporated and planned to run the route using instead of steam power, two horses.

At that time, in 1859, there was considerable excitement in and around Mount Holly, NJ over the coming of a Horse Car Railroad. Obviously what they had in mind was a single car such as a trolley being pulled, not a train of rail cars. A 1859 Mt. Holly newspaper article stated the plan was to have two horses pulling instead of just one.

The horse-car railroad was not put through but they used the 1848 charter and were consolidated to form the Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company in 1866.

The Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company ran its first train in October of 1867 to the Mount Holly Fair.

On November 1, 1867, there was a meeting of the Camden and Burlington County R.R. The main discussion was the placement of the Moorestown Station. They wanted to put it at Mill Street. People from the township (or village) had formed two "groups" and made petitions for having it at the eastern and western locations. (Church Street and Chester Avenue.- See also Purdy's book) The R.R. decided that eventually in the long run they would have two stations there so went with putting one at Chester Avenue at this point in time. Then was brought up that there should be two platforms between Moorestown and Merchantville, One at John Wilson's farm (Lenola Road). and one at Thomas Wilson's farm (Forklanding Road). Below is an excerpt from the minutes of that meeting. (State Archives, Trenton, Penn Central Collection)

On motion of M. Markley it was ordered that a platform be erected at Thomas Wilson's and also one at John S. Wilson's between Moorestown and Merchantville, provided the land offered at these points as an inducement shall be conveyed to the company.

(From the New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, NJ, "Penn Central Collection," Box 11, Camden & Burlington County R.R. Board Minutes 2 May 1866- 11 April 1881)

Above is a segment of another paper from the Archives Penn Central Collection concerning our R.R. station describing the land in May 1869 as land at Forklanding Road of Nathan Perkins and Thomas Wilson.

(From the New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, NJ, "Penn Central Collection," Box 65, United N.J. Railroad & Canal Company Board Papers Jan. 1830- Dec. 1880, paper called "Description of Land at Styles Station C&B Co. R.R., May 1869.")

From the Burlington County Clerk's Office, here is when the land for Stiles Station platform at Forklanding Road was aquired-

June 2, 1869
Deed book C-8 page 285
Thomas Wilson to Railroad

June 2, 1869
Deed book C-8 page 286
Nathan Perkins to Railroad

First Station names of the Camden and Burlington County Railroad.

Stiles Station

The are since at least 1860 was a hamlet about the corner of the "Moorestown and Camden Turnpike" and the Fellowship Road or turnpike, called "Stiles Corners".

Thomas Wilson who owned the Mecray Lane "John Stiles" farmhouse was the father-in-law of Benajmin J. Stiles, who lived across from the toll gate where OLPH Church now is. When Benjaim J. Stiles died young, both families moved and Isaac had recently died (Collins Lane house). Only Joseph was left. So by 1874 it wasn't much of a Stiles Corners here. John Needles, another relative who lived in the Levi Lippincott farmhouse also moved!

June 1874- A New Railroad President who renames Stiles Station "Maple Shade"

Excerpt from a June 6, 1874 Mount Holly newspaper. Within weeks Stiles Station will be renamed "Maple Shade," and no reason was given in the newspaper, or R.R. records as the railroad was then a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the records now were purely about Money.

Some believe today that this was the time that the railroad built the station. They could be right. It makes sense, but they are still assuming this.

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So what about all the stories of "Stiles Crossing" and the Station being moved from Stiles Avenue?

Stiles Station was a platform built at Forklanding Road in June of 1869. It was never called "Stiles Crossing" and was never at, or moved, from Stiles Avenue.

Oldtimers remembered the large Joseph/Ben Stiles mansard roofed mansion which was at Stiles and Linwood Avenues, the site of the present day Municipal Building. They believed Stiles Station was named for the Stiles farm, repeat the Stiles farm there, and didn't realize there were many Stiles farms here once and it was the hamlet of Stiles Corners.

Several obvious factors would also refute their story- Forklanding Road is a main road which led to Fork Landing where lumber, coal, lime etc... was purchased. The Joseph Stiles' mansion was not built until the later 1800s and the Old Place of the Stiles at the end of Stiles Avenue was in an extreme case of disrepair.

The railroad stations of Stiles Station and Wilson's Station between Moorestown and Merchantville were named for the areas then. When the Railroad renamed the stations Maple Shade and Lenola, then the areas were named that.

Why the name "Maple Shade?"

There have been two stories of why the Railroad chose the name Maple Shade for the railroad station in June of 1874. We shall briefly look at each.

In the 1955 book, "Place Names In Burlington County New Jersey" by Henry H. Bisbee, Maple Shade Township is said to have been named for the numerous maple groves in the area.

Could this be true? Well yes it could, as the nearby township of Cinnaminson is named that for the same reason.

The river front of this township (Chester) was formerly called Cinnaminson, the Indian name for sweet water, there being many sugar maple trees growing there, to tap which the Indians came from the interior of the State, in early Spring, to draw the sap, Cinnaminson, or sweet water, and carry it home to mix with their food.

(From the book "Proceedings, Constitution, By-Laws, List of Members, &c., of the SURVEYORS' ASSOCIATION of West New Jersey," Published by order of the Society., Camden, NJ 1880. The topic is Cinnaminson, told by William Parry.)

As seen on a 1877 G.M. Hopkins Atlas map of "Part of Cinnaminson and Chester Township," a large portion of the back of Benjamin J. Stiles' former farm (Where OLPH now is) is woods. These were probably maple trees.

The other story is that Henry Patterson moved into the Mecray Lane farmhouse and called it the Maple Shade Farm and planted maple trees down his lane. Other stories add "down Forklanding Road" to the station. Other stories incorporate the "moving Stiles Station from Stiles Avenue" story etc...

Could this be true? I would think the earliest written down telling of this story is by Louisa Frech in a 1916 Maple Shade Progress newspaper. Here is a segment-

The hamlet derived its name from the fact that four brothers, named Stiles, owned considerable land in the vicinity. But along came a Mr. Patterson who bought a property to the north of the station. He planted trees on both sides of a lane that paralelled the railroad, a short distance away. The trees were maples, and a after awhile, Mr. Patterson, not being much for styles, named the place Maple Shade.

(From The Maple Shade Progress, No. 8, Friday, December 22, 1916, FORTY SIX YEARS AGO, The Hamlet of Stiles Station And What It Became)

Other 1950s stories add that Henry Patterson persuaded the railroad to move the station and change the station's name.

I doubt this story is true. Henry Patterson bought the farm from Thomas Wilson on March 18, 1871. If he planted the trees, how big were they only three years later to impress the railroad? Anyhow, a very interesting thing is that on March 25, 1871 John Needles Jr. sold his land across the Turnpike, to Levi Lippincott. The Stiles family realtives of Benjamin J. Stiles left! Also the G.M. Hopkins 1877 Atlas map has many names of farms listed, for instance Joseph Stiles' farm was called "Walnut Grove Farm," and they didn't give the name "Maple Shade" to the Patterson farm.

A long missed fact is that in 1914 Horace Roberts bought the "Maple Shade Extension" from the daughter of Alexander Mecray, and renamed the subdivision "Maple Shade Farms." He had another plan called "Lenola Acre Farms" in Lenola. One can imagine how the name Maple Shade Farms invoked people to say, "Well that was the original farm."

The Pennsylvania Railroad had a new President, Col. Thomas A. Scott, in June of 1874, and he was probably adding a station house to the Stiles Station platform and realized the need for a name change. No reason has been found in 1870s period writing. Here is the quote from the June 27, 1874 Mount Holly Herald newspaper-

Maple Shade is the new name given by the railroad authorities to Stiles's station on the Camden and Burlington county railroad.

I would think that the railroad would have been concerned with hamlet/village development along the Moorestown and Camden Turnpike with the toll gate, Frech Wagon Works starting to build their homes and shops there etc... verses a nearby farmhouse, and according to the 1877 G.M. Hopkins map there is a large patch of woods on the old Benjamin J. Stiles farm. Perhaps they were maple trees.

Whatever the reason for the name Maple Shade, whether groves of maples, a farm perhaps called the Maple Shade Farm, or maybe just a few maple trees nearby the railroad obviously saw some maple trees around. My personal theory is that the R.R. wanted to due away with peoples names and depersonalize as farms change hands. Ie. Deacon's Station, Wilsons's Station, Stiles' Station.

The village then became Maple Shade. Everybody planted maple trees down the streets. The Brubakers, for instance, had a row of huge Silver Maples planted down Main Street along their land.

In Early Maple Shade Days, the Station Wasn't A Big R.R. Priority

In pre-Maple Shade time as well as in its early village days, the train "station" was only a platform. The railroad wasn't going to construct a depot and hire a ticket agent to work there, because the area was just farms. Below is a depot listing.

Even after Maple Shade was a village and a large housing speculation of subdivisions, the Railroad kept behind what the people of the area wished for. The station as well as naming the area, brought about the first Post Office. This was due to the mail being carried on the train I believe.

May 1917- Residents of Maple Shade have asked the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to give it the same train service that is afforded Merchantville and Moorestownn and erect a new station. (Maple Shade Progress)

From the New Jersey Mirror newspaper, July 7, 1920- Moorestown- Maple Shade, near here, has just recieved its tenth promise from the Pennsylvania Railroad that the station will be rebuilt. The ? is about twenty times as large now as when the small shed that serves as a station was built.

Below is a mid 1920s Barlow Brochure picture of the Maple Shade railroad station. You can see that at this point in time it has been enlarged.

The Maple Shade Jaycees painted the train station in September 1968.