WESTFIELD AND NEIGHBORHOOD
OUR neighbor, Westfield, formerly known as Lower Chester, is pleasantly located at the intersection of Burlington Pike and the Road leading from Riverton to Moorestown. Not a few of those living in or near the village are descendants of the pioneer settlers. The Conrows probably were the first of these to settle in the neighborhood. In 1683, Matthew Allen, who purchased three thousand two hundred acres of land on the Delaware River between Swedes Run and the Rancocas in 1680, conveyed by deed of gift five hundred acres each to Jacob and Isaac “Conoroe” alias Allen, who apparently were his step-sons. Nathan Conrow, whose home is located on the New Albany Road near Burlington Pike, is descended from Isaac and Sarah “Conoroe.”
The Westfield Lippincotts are descended from Thomas Lippincott, son of Freedom and Mary Curtis Lippincott and grandson of Richard and Abigail, the progenitors of the family in West Jersey. Thomas Lippincott purchased a tract in the neighborhood containing 1034 acres from Thomas Stevenson on Eighth month 24th, 1711 for One hundred and Seventy-six Pounds. This tract lay between the Pensauken and Pompeston Creeks and extended northward to the headlands of the farms fronting on the Delaware River. The southern line started on the Pensauken a little above Fork Landing and ran in a northeasterly direction to Pompeston Creek “at the corner of Joseph Stokes’ land.” Thomas Lippincott married Mary Haines, daughter of John and Esther Haines, in Ninth month, 1711 and settled on the “Samuel L. Allen farm” near Westfield, now owned by Harry Shea. This farm is part of the original Lippincott tract.
The farm at the southeast corner of Burlington Pike and the Riverton Road, now owned by Benjamin Lippincott,
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also is part of the original Lippincott tract and portions of it have been in the family from the time his pioneer ancestor settled in the neighborhood in 1711. The present homestead is the second that stood on the premises. It was erected in 1859 and according to family tradition, the family lived in the wood shed while their new home was being erected.
Joseph Stokes, the ancestor of Dr. Joseph Stokes and the Stokes brothers, Bispham, Cheston and James of Moorestown, was one of the earliest settlers in the vicinity of Westfield. In 1708, he purchased a two hundred acre tract fronting on the Riverton Road a little south of Westfield and extending back to Pompeston Creek. The Thomas Lippincott tract of 1034 acres surveyed a few years later joined the Stokes farm on the north. Joseph Stokes’ first wife, Judith Lippincott Stokes, was a sister of the pioneer, Thomas Lippincott. The beautiful estates of Alexander C. Wood, Jr., Edward S. Wood and Charles Evans, whose homes are adjoining, are part of the original Joseph Stokes farm. According to family tradition the first Stokes' homestead was located on the eastern side of Pompeston Creek near the old house now standing on the Campbell Soup Farm No. 2. Alexander and Edward S. Wood and their sister, Mrs. Charles Evans, are direct descendants of Joseph and Judith through their mother, Mary Emma Stokes Wood.
“Ivystone” formerly the home of Samuel L. Allen, now owned by Harry Shea, historically speaking is the most interesting building in or near Westfield. This old homestead stands on or very near the site of the first house erected by Thomas Lippincott in 1711. The western end which is the frame part was erected about 1756 and the eastern end built of native Sandstone in 1800.
There is also a very interesting old brick building standing on the farm on Garwood Road now owned by Frank Jessup and used by him as a tenement house. This building was erected by Darling Conrow, great-randfather of
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Nathan Conrow at the time of his marriage to Deliverance Stokes in 1740 and was enlarged by him in 1751. The date stone on the western end reads, “D. and D. C. 1751.”
The origin of the names Westfield and Cinnaminson is quite interesting. The first Friends’ Meeting House erected in 1801 stood in Thomas Lippincott’s west field. The Meeting became known as the “west field” Meeting and gradually the name Westfield was applied to the village. When the Post Office was established in 1835 it was called Cinnaminson as there was already a Westfield Post Office in Union County. Cinnaminson is an Indian name meaning “sweet water.” Judge William Parry in a paper read at a meeting of the West Jersey Surveyors’ Association many years ago, gave a most interesting account of the origin of the name. There was a group of sugar maple trees on the bank of the Delaware near Westfield and in the early Spring the Indians came from far and near to tap the trees for sap which they called “Se-ne-men-sing” meaning sweet water, and the neighborhood was known by that name. One old account states that the old Indian trail leading from the Delaware River to the seashore through Moorestown and Mount Laurel was known as the “Se-ne-men-sing” Trail in the early days. Judge John Clement, in his sketch of the Lippincott family printed in his “First Settlers in Newton Township” refers to a No-se-men-se-on tract “reserved for the Indians” but thus far I have not found a record of an Indian Reservation in this locality. The early Friends were very much interested in helping the Indians and it is entirely possible that a small tract was reserved in this community for some particular family or small group of Indians.
The first Friends’ School in Westfield was established about 1788. It was taught by Abraham Warrington who married Rachael Evans in 1785 and probably was held in their home near Westfield. Abraham Warrington was the son of Thomas Warrington and grandson of Henry Warrington who arrived at Philadelphia in about 1700 and shortly afterwards settled on a farm located on the north branch
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of Pensauken Creek a little above Fork Landing. A minute of Chester Preparative Meeting in 1789 reads as follows: “Trustees appointed in Twelfth month last to have the oversight of the school taught by Abraham Warrington made a satisfactory report.” The following minute was recorded at Chester Preparative Meeting held on Sixth month seventh, 1791: “Proposal made by Abraham Warrington for procuring a lot of ground off of the upper corner of Samuel Shute’s lands for erecting a school house thereon. The Meeting united and a committee was appointed.” The Meeting records further show that this lot was purchased from Samuel Shute on Seventh month 27th, 1791 and doubtless the school house was erected shortly afterwards. This school stood on or very near the site of the present brick school house on the Riverton Road.
The original Meeting House erected in Thomas Lippincott’s west field was located on Riverton Road where the present Friends’ Meeting House stands. It was burned in 1859 and some of the old walls are supposed to be in the present building. The following quotation from a minute dated Third month 25th, 1797 taken from the records of Chester Preparative Meeting seems to definitely establish the location of the first Quaker Meeting and the first Quaker School House in Westfield :—“Purchased lot containing two and one-half acres between the Burlington Road (laid out in 1747) and Chester Lower School House lot for sole use of Friends in the compass of Chester Lower School.”
At the time of the Separation in 1827, the Meeting House and the Friends’' School near it were retained by the Hicksite Friends. The Orthodox Friends erected a small School House which stood on Branch Pike a little west of the present Orthodox Meeting House and for a number of years meetings were held in this building. The frame Meeting House was erected in 1848.
The atmosphere of Westfield from the earliest days has been distinctly literary and the Lyceum and Literary Society flourished in the days of our parents and grand
parents. The Westfield Lyceum was perhaps the best known and most active of these societies. It was organized about 1876 and its meetings were held in the Friends’ School House or in “Jake Harris’ Hall” over the blacksmith shop. The leading men and women of the neighborhood were members of this Association. Perhaps the most active members were Dr. Joshua O. Janney, William R. Lippincott, father of Judge William D. Lippincott of Moorestown and Benjamin Lippincott of Westfield, Samuel L. Allen, Clayton Conrow, Charles and John Parry, Joseph Thomas, and Charles Stokes of Rancocas. The Warringtons were a prominent family in the neighborhood at that time and doubtless many of them were active in this Association.
The Westfield Reading Circle also was quite famous in its day. It was organized shortly after the Civil War and continued its activities for about ten years. It met at the homes of its members in and around Westfield and Moorestown and its entertainments consisted of debates, readings, essays, etc., by its members. It had a. rule that all meetings should close at ten o'clock but according to tradition this rule was frequently broken or perhaps some Quaker lad slyly moved back the hands of the grandfather clock.