A Short History of Batsto Village:
Historic Batsto Village, a nationally recognized historic site,
is located in Wharton State Forest in
Southern New Jersey. The Village has changed and survived during several
different periods of American history. Archeological investigations have also
discovered evidence of Prehistoric life in the Batsto area. Evidence shows land
use dating back several thousand years.
Early Iron Years:
Charles Read is credited with building the Batsto Iron Works
along the Batsto River in 1766. Batsto had the natural resources necessary for
making iron. There was bog ore which was
"mined" from the banks of the streams and rivers, wood from the
forests became the charcoal for fuel, and water became the power for
manufacturing. John Cox, a Philadelphia business man, became part owner in 1770
and full owner by 1773. The Iron Works produced household items such as cooking
pots and kettles. During the Revolutionary War years, Batsto manufactured
supplies for the Continental Army. Manager Joseph Ball became owner of Batsto
Iron Works in 1779.
In 1784, William Richards, uncle of Joseph Ball, became a major
owner of The Iron Works. This began the Richardsí era at Batsto which would
last for 92 years. William was ironmaster until he retired in 1809. Son Jesse
was in charge until his death in 1854; and he was followed by his son Thomas H.
By the mid 1800ís, iron production declined and Batsto became a glassmaking
community known for its window glass. Soon the glass business was also finished,
and Batsto was in receivership.
Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia businessman, purchased Batsto in
1876 at a Masters Sale. Wharton continued to purchase property in the area
surrounding Batsto. He made improvements on the mansion,
and on many of the village buildings. He was also involved in a variety of
forestry and agricultural endeavors. Joseph Wharton died in 1909. From his death
until 1954, the Wharton properties in the Pine Barrens were managed by the
Girard Trust Company in Philadelphia.
New Jersey purchased the Wharton properties in the mid 1950ís.
The state began planning for the use and development of the property. The few
people still living in the Village houses remained as long as they wanted. It
was in 1989 that the last house was vacated. Today Batsto Village is a New
Jersey Historic site and is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of