Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Custom House at Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey

By Frank H. Stewart

Little Egg Harbor was a port of entry and a great deal of the importations from Europe and the West Indies came into Gloucester County via that section. Ebenezer Tucker, Esq., a Revolutionary soldier, was collector, surveyor and inspector during the last decade of the 18th century. His books of records cannot now be found but many manuscript letters and printed circulars of instruction, copies of U. S. laws from Alexander Hamilton, Tench Coxe, W. Eveleigh, Comptroller, Joseph Nourse, Register, Oliver Wolcott, Timothy Pickering, Aaron Dunham and others still exist.

Numerous blank forms for various kinds of reports to be made under the different laws, and forms for expense reports, fees, drawbacks, imports, exports, bonds, gauging, measuring, are carefully filed and saved.

The earliest blank reports were for the last quarter of the year 1789, and the first letter was a manuscript circular signed by A. Hamilton, dated Oct. 10, 1789, to the effect that manifests of cargoes must be delivered to the Collectors of the Ports from which they are to sail. The object of this provision was to obtain a knowledge of the exports.

On February 27, 1790, N. Eveleigh wrote Surveyor Tucker requesting that his oath of office and bond with sufficient security be transmitted as early as possible. He said they were already six months beyond the three months allowed by law. The communications were transmitted by means of business men travelling back and forth.

The settlement of Chestnut Neck on the southerly side of the Mullica or Little Egg Harbor River extended to Nacot Creek and probably got its name from the trees that predominated there. It was an important community composed of seafaring people and traders.

Further up the Little Egg Harbor River at its forks was the center of merchandise distribution.

Among the well-known Captains who in 1793 sailed to Amsterdam, Bilboa, Antigua, Nantz and other ports were Joseph Jones, Benjamin Adams, John Burrowes, Thomas Walker, Jeremiah Somers. Among the places where boats were built, Raccoon Creek, Nacot Creek and Great Egg Harbor are mentioned.

Several lists of ships whose papers were taken by force and retained, together with printed lists of American seamen detained abroad because of lack of citizenship papers, are filed with the custom house papers of Little Egg Harbor.

In a controversy between Silas Crane, a judge and soldier of the Revolution, who succeeded Ebenezer Tucker as Collector, and Collector Winner of Somers Point, we gain a small list of ships and masters of 1808, viz.:

Ship "Regulata," Wm. Clark, Master
Sloop "Orange," John Endicott, Master
Sloop "Liberty," Richard Leeds, Master
Ship "Dolphin," Richard Risley, Master
Sloop ''Juno," Augustus Sooy, Master

A little later the names of Samuel Loveland, Thomas Rose, Bennett Rose and others appear.

The records contain much about wrecks, sales of boats, tariffs, privateers of the war of 1812, prisoners of war, and a few signatures of famous men like James Monroe and James Madison, are conspicuous. The early records of the port of Great Egg Harbor (Somers Point) seem to be mislaid or destroyed. Diligent effort on my part to find them availed nothing. It is quite possible that a thorough investigation would determine their fate.

New Jersey AHGP

Source: Custom House at Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey Society of Pennsylvania, Volume 1, Compiled by Frank H. Stewart, 1917


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