Our School Name
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FOUNTAIN WOODS
by Paul W. Schopp – Historical Consultant
Post Office Box 648
Palmyra, New Jersey 08065-0648
While space does not permit a complete history of the area called Fountain Woods, some of the earliest settlers in this area included members of the Antrim Pope, Rogers, Stevenson and Woolston family.
During the Revolutionary War, 400 Hessian soldiers reportedly sought refuge in the area of Fountain Woods during December 1776- These men were under the command of Colonel Count Von Donop and Capt, Johann Ewald, both of whom were dining in Burlington with Mayor John Lawrence. Local tradition indicates that several cannon balls were found in this vicinity over the years since the American Revolution.
Fountain Avenue was, during the 1870s, called Wood Street; but it is a much older road. At one time it was part of the Old York Road or Lawrie’s Road, a highway laid out in the late 1600s that led to Amboy, where travelers from could then proceed by boat to New York City. The portion presently known as Fountain Avenue was named such because it provided access to Fountain Woods. Another early road was Springfield Road. This road ran out through Jacksonville (then called Slabtown) and Jobstown, thence turned southward to Ong’s Hat and went on to the coast, terminating at Manahawkin. In 1808, a portion of Springfield Road was abandoned and replaced by the road, today, called Jacksonville Road.
About 1870, a subdivision named Laurel Hill first began to appear on maps. Situated along Jacksonville Road just north of Fountain Woods School a few streets of this development still exist, most notably Poplar, Olive, Pine and Willow streets. A much older name for this hill is Pope’s Hill, named for Joseph Pope, who owned eight acres in the late 1600s. During the second half of the 1700s, the hill received the moniker of Gallows Hill, when it became the official place of executions for Burlington County. In 178 1, Joseph Mulliner, the infamous highwayman of the Pine Barrens, was hanged at this place. The Pope name is continued through Popes Run, a small tributary stream to City Ditch.
Across Jacksonville Road from Fountain Woods School was, at one time, a very strange-looking house called Nosilla. This home belonged to William D.T. Travis, who was an artist during the Civil War era. Specializing in large oil paintings of horses, Travis modified an existing farmhouse by adding a third-floor studio and a large square tower to the comer of the house. This tower contained an elevator, used to move horses and other items to Travis’s studio. This unusual house disappeared from the local landscape in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
By the 1870s, the land west of Laurel Hill was owned by James McNeal, proprietor of the McNeal Pipe Foundry in Burlington, now U.S. Pipe, and was quite a picnic ground. Paths lead through the woods as a source of entertainment and the place was called Fountain Woods by the 1890s. While some historians presume the name Fountain Woods was derived from some long-forgotten spring, it is my belief that the McNeal family may have erected a cast-iron fountain for the amusement and edification of the many picnickers in the grove.
Beginning in 1849, the Burlington & Mt. Holly Railroad and Transportation Co. operated their trains through the area known today as Fountain Woods on their runs between East Burlington and the county seat–Mt. Holly. In 1895, the Pennsylvania Railroad, by now the owner of the Burlington and Mt. Holly rail line, decided to experiment with a new form of motive power- electricity. By the beginning of June of that same year, a trolley was operated as far as Fountain Woods and full service began within two weeks. Unfortunately, the electric powerhouse for the line in Mt. Holly burned to the ground in 1901 and trains reverted to being pulled by steam locomotives. A station was established for Fountain Woods to accommodate the many summer visitors who sought the sylvan setting of the picnic grounds. The station also served the farm families in the area and, beginning in 1920, was the official stop for Springside. However, the automobile was already having a serious detrimental effect on railroad passenger service when Springside was laid out as a community and the Pennsylvania Railroad operated the last train in 1924. The following year, permission was granted for removing the rails and the Burlington and Mt. Holly Railroad ceased to exist.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, the site now occupied by Fountain Woods School was the farm and homestead of Peter Still.