Local Maple Shade, NJ History Research

Let me share with you some of my experience.
-Dennis Weaver

My Start-

I got interested in Maple Shade history by three things-

Historical Books and Newspapers on Microfilm-

I started my "den's Maple Shade History website" in 2002 and began researching to add content to the website.

Not too far in, someone told me that the "Maple Shade Progress" was on microfilm at Burlington County College (BCC) in Pemberton. That is another source of information- newspapers on microfilm. The Progress microfilm doesn't start until the 1930s so for earlier information you have to look in the Mount Holly, Camden or Philadelphia newspapers microfilm . Now there is also newspapers.com.

I guess the BCC microfilm moved with the school to Mount Laurel. There is microfilm at the Burlington County Library, Camden County Historical Society, Moorestown Library (Moorestown papers) but viewers or either ancient handcranked, broken, or all but one broken. The best place to view microfilms is the NJ State Archives in Trenton. All newer viewers in private booths with nice printers.

The last time I was at the Burlington County Library only one microfilm viewer was working and someone was already on it. According to this- https://www.bcls.lib.nj.us/news-updates/dig-past-burlington-county-librarys-new-jersey-room it looks like they have fixed them since. ? BCC in Mount Laurel should also be checked out.

Don't take other people's words as "Gospel Truth." I did well not to repeat things that the Cutler family said in their book. (Good book in many ways but there are errors here and there.) I would write what I researched and found out. My books are nice because they are "compilations." You are aware of where the information is coming from and can judge its accuracy to some extent by the sources.

There are local history books, old wall maps and atlas books at libraries and Historical Societies. There are digitalized books you can find with Google book search. There is the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, NJ. There are Sanborn Insurance maps which show house outlines.

The Maple Shade Library has most of my history books and some other ones.

How to trace a Chain of Title-

First of all, I am going to tell you the way it was-

The Burlington County Clerk's office in Mount Holly was in the court house building on the first floor and the basement for the oldest books. (For older than around the early 1800s, although deeds will recite older deeds within them, you must go the the NJ State Archives.

You started by looking in a Grantor or Grantee Index book for the deed book number and page number, then the further back you went the heavier and bulkier the books which sometimes got carried back upstairs to the copy machine that charged you 50 cents per printout copy! The newer deeds were on computer and now most all or all are on computer and you can go there or go to the Burlington County Clerk's website. If you go there printout copies are now only a dime! You can also get large printouts of subdivision plan maps. At least you could. I had the Orchards plan map printed for about 10 dollars.

My bill for Tax Rateables printout copies

Tax Rateables are at the Tax Office in the Mount Holly Courthouse. In some ways a tax rateable is better than a census. A census is mostly only every 10 years but a tax rateable is every year and tells you all the people living on a street. Early ones the people of Maple Shade did not yet have house numbers. I would love to have printouts of more of Maple Shade's tax rateables for say 1916 to about 1927.

The Burlington County Surrogate's office was also charging me fees and one day the lady at the desk said, "I am busy. Can you do it yourself?" (Which I well could do for a while but I thought I had to ask her.) Then she says later "Oh no fees. It was because if someone helps you it is a fee." (Got me there but no more after!)

The Cherry Hill area (Waterford Twp. then) used to be in Gloucester County. A will taking up 3 printouts cost 3 dollars!

OPRA set the fees in Nov. 2010-


The old County Clerk's office was in the court house building and the older books weren't on the computer until they started taking away books from the basement to be scanned over. This barely would affect the Real Estate Title Companies but more the local historians when the books were missing.

The new Burlington County Clerk's office and Surrogate's office is in a building across the street and you are well helped and everything as far as I went was on computer. All the time spent looking things up and returning books to shelves and getting the next book etc... is eliminated as you sit in air conditioned ease in a chair. Printouts a dime a sheet!

I am glad I did it the old way with all the heavy big books or smaller sized books- I think that is what they were scanning them for- to turn the big old books into smaller books. Then I didn't go there for a while and when I did go- New building and all books on computer look up.

It would appear that I paid a lot of money for copy fees but I always took about 10 sheets of paper and a pen and took notes when possible whether for chain of titles or newspaper on microfilm information.

Finally, How You can trace a Chain of Title-

Burlington County PRESS

The webpage stopped displaying and working in the Firefox browser some time ago. You have to use another browser such as Edge.

You want to choose "County Clerk" then "Property Records" or "Property Records before 1964" based on the name or deed you wish to look up.

You can download the PDF for free. It will have "Unofficial Document" across it but still good.

A "Grantor" is the seller of a property. A "Grantee" is the buyer of the property. The "Deed Recital" section has when the grantor was the grantee and who they bought the property from. It is not required by law for a deed to have a "Deed Recital" section. Some do not bother to put it. It is there to go back a "link" in the "Chain of Title."

It would go back to the builder, subdivision developer, farmer, pioneers, Indians. It might have also gone to Chester Township (Maple Shade) during the Depression in which case you run up against a wall as no deed recital and a mention of a Court of Chancery book.

Example of a Deed Recital. This was the first homeowner.
The previous chain link is Horace Roberts buying the farm.

Example of an Old Book of deeds- Book P-7, page 45 would be entered as above.

The Burlington County Clerk online before 1965 for the Index they only have Grantees. If they had the Grantor it could help comparing them side to side to trace a chain of title past being seized by the Twp. during the depression and the deeds not having a deed recital but only mentioning a Court of Chancery.

Here is two Grantees Indexes anyhow to possibly help get past a house or land seized by the Twp. during the depression or encourage a study.-

IndexChester.pdf   IndexMapleShade.pdf

It can be real hard to get past a house without a deed recital section. When you get far back it is easier as there are historical maps with names and deeds will mention the names of the surrounding land owners. A Census record might help find who previously owned the property. A tax rateable also. I might also try going forward from the beginning of the subdivision development or previous farm owner.

Another thing you can do is look at the survey of the property in the deed and use the program "Informatik Mapdraw" to plot out the survey when you enter the numbers. The software always was free up to a amount of entries and then it put its name across the plotting. It is no longer for sale but they kept the download link there.

Older deeds such as 1600s and 1700s, well they have all the deeds there as well, you go to the NJ State Archives.

Here you can buy photo scans of actual old deeds for a reasonable fee- https://wwwnet-dos.state.nj.us/dos_archivesdbportal/EarlyLandRecords.aspx

Here are some real good ones which I purchased-
Early Moorestown
Reuben Burrough land (Alden Park)

Surrogate's Office-

You can use the Surrogate's office to find out when a person died. Then having the date, search obituaries in whatever newspaper on microfilm which might have it. Then reading that you gather more information on their life.

Sanborn Insurance maps-

Corner of West Main Street and Coles Avenue in 1923 showing the old tollgate house still there.

I believe the 1923 has no copyright but the 1929 and 1944 ones are not public domain. A company owns them and sells for one thing that I know of the black and white PDF versions which I have which fell off a back of a truck. Anyhow you can download the 1923 Sanborns for Maple Shade here- https://maps.princeton.edu/catalog/princeton-ng451m430 or get them all at once from my OneDrive folder which I already downloaded. Just go back a directory to "Public" first to right click and download the whole folder. 1923 Maple Shade Sanborn maps

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has the 1923 Maple Shade Sanborn map book and also Asa Matlack's early 1800s historical notes. The Moorestown Library has a few Moorestown Sanborn books. The NJ State Archives has all the Sanborn maps on microfilm. The Asa Matlack notes were copied into books which are on microfilm on the second half of the Colestown Cemetery records microfilm reel at Camden County Historical Society.

Detail from a map in the First Atlas of Burlington County (I think 1876)


Burlington County Historical Society has Roberts saw mill account books and Enoch Roberts' cyphering books.
Old phone books are at Camden County Historical Society.
Census at FamilySearch.org (This lets you do a quick name search vs. microfilm which you will have to reel through.)
Road Returns are filed at the County Clerk's office.
Historical Aerials Viewer website
At Historical Societies you come across more of first hand stuff like in Moorestown Historical Society there is a few volumes of newspaper clippings scrapbooks (with an index) of, dated in order, birth, death and wedding notices. I have used those books, which someone made many years ago, several times like for some information in my Moorestown Out in the Country books.

New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, NJ

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