BOROUGH of PAULSBORO
New Jersey is an industrial town located on the
Delaware River across from Philadelphia. It is bound
by the Delaware River on the north, the Mantua Creek
on the east, Greenwich Township on the west and East
Greenwich Township on the South. 1904 is considered
the beginning date for Paulsboro, but its history
actually begins with the Leni Lenape Indians who
inhabited the area then known as Crown Point.
The first settlement on the Delaware was made in
1623 when Captain Cornelius Mey sailed to the mouth
of Big Timber Creek. His men established Fort
1642, Lieutenant John Printz of Sweden, with the
help and consent of his sovereign, set out with four
vessels for the new world, Sailing up the Delaware
to the Tinicum Island, he built a fort and a home,
claimed the country for Sweden, and named it New
Gothenberg. Instructed to treat the Indians fairly
and to buy any land that they would sell, he bought
land from the Mantua Creek to the Raccoon Creek. In
1652, he returned to Sweden, leaving his son-in-law
Charles of England, in 1664, granted the land from
the Delaware River to Connecticut to his brother.
Lord Berkeley became the proprietor of West Jersey.
In 1672, after much dispute among the settlers, the
land was given to England. Settlers came and a
yearly rent was charged. West Jersey progressed
slowly and Lord Berkeley sold part of the land to
John Fenwick and Edward Byllings. There was a
dispute over the division and William Penn was
called in to settle the disagreement by setting the
boundaries. ayllings was awarded the land between
Oldman's Creek and Timber Creek to the river.
Paulsboro just missed becoming a part of Penn's
Philadelphia in this division. The deed was recorded
on September 22, 1677. Two hundred and thirty
settlers who came with Penn and Hyllings bought land
for one penny an acre. The place was named ayllings
Port, now Billingsport. Penn stated that this land
would never became a great industrial center because
it was an island with a swamp on one side and a
creek on the other.
1686, Gloucester County was formed. Greenwich
Township became the first township incorporated on
March 1, 1694.
September 5, 1685, John, Philip and Joel Paul left
Edinburg, Scotland for America. After a ten year
stay in Virginia, Joel settled in Pennsylvania and
Philip and John settled near Mantua Creek. Samuel P.
Paul, son of Philip, bought a 100 acre tract of land
bound by the Delaware River on the north and the
Mantua Creek on the east.
1764, England claimed all of New Jersey. When the
English took possession, they found many Swedes
living in the area. The Swedish name of Billingsport
was Manta's Hook and it was a shad fishing center.
The homes of the Swedes were built of logs, chinked
with clay and were one story dwellings consisting of
one room. The doors were so low that one had to
stoop to enter. The windows were holes cut in the
logs with sliding boards to cover them. The men and
women were dressed in animal skins. Their shoes were
of skins which they dyed red with berries. They
brought horses, cows, sheep, hogs and seed with them
from Sweden. They kept many national customs and
every Saturday night they bathed in the creek.
July 5, 1776, Margarett Paul, widow of John Paul and
her son, Benjamin Weatherby, sold 96 acres of
Billingsport for 600 pounds of Pennsylvania currency
to the Council of Safety of Philadelphia. The land
was charged to Congress. This was the first piece of
land bought by our federal government.
1777 a redoubt and fort was erected at Billingsport
by troops from Virginia, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina and New Jersey in accordance with plans
prepared by the Polish patriot Kosciuszko. Part of a
defense system established for the lower river, the
purpose of this fort was to build and maintain the
chevaux-de-frise on the Delaware to prevent the
entrance of the British to Philadelphia. The
chevaux-de-frise were made of poles from 30-40 feet
in length. On the point of each stick was fastened a
long, sharp piece of iron for piercing the bottom of
any vessel which passed over it.
defense system consisted of the fortification of
strategic points on both sides of the river, a chain
of alarm guns from the Capes to Philadelphia, the
chevaux-de-frise, and a navy of vessels, from armed
row-galleys to seagoing ships. Two posts were
erected on the New Jersey side of the river. The
other post was Fort Mercer at Red Bank.
August 1, 1777, the fort was inspected by General
Washington and Lafayette and the men were commended
by them for their work. Washington had moved his men
from Morristown to Philadelphia at the time because
he had learned that Admiral Howe`s fleet had sailed
from Sandy Hook, a spot then controlled by the
British, and were headed for Philadelphia. Lord Howe
did sail up the Delaware but he was stopped at
Billingeport by the naval stockade. The outnumbered
Americans later burned their barracks here and went
to Red Bank. Billingsport was tenth alarm post on
the Delaware, equipped with a small cannon which
warned other poets of the arrival of enemy ships.
The fort was briefly occupied by the enemy, but it
was evacuated in 1777.
fort was again occupied by American troops in the
War of 1812. The Blues of Gloucester County, a
volunteer infantry regiment was recruited on August
27, 1814, the day news arrived that the British had
burned some public buildings in Washington. Randall
Sparks led this group. They were stationed at
Billingsport for three or more months. After peace
was declared, the fort was deserted and forgotten.
1700 and 1800 settlers came into the area and spread
settlements over the County. Records show that
Gloucester County was governed at this time by
representatives for the township called justices who
seemed to act as court judges and freeholders. In
1800, Paulsboro was still called Crown Point, It
then consisted of a stone farm house occupied by
Samuel Paul, who owned property from the creek to
Delaware Street. Below Delaware Street was owned by
Henry Myers. Paul's land along the Delaware was
called Paul's Fishing Place. In 1805, the Paul
family owned half of the town.
1811, there were three houses, two stores and two
shoemakers in the town. In 1798, Mr. Paul sold two
acres of land to Michael Loudenslager, who in 1804,
built a tavern on the corner of Commerce and Broad
Streets. That was the second house in town. There
was no road along Broad Street, although one had
been surveyed, so Mr. Loudenslager closed his hotel
until 1809 when the turnpike, a toll road, of which
Broad Street was a part, was built. The third house
in Paulsboro was built in 1811 by John Bowers.
Benue, the first shoemaker, opened his business in
1811. The first postmaster was, Jacob Price in 1844.
In 1812, a small bridge was built across the creek.
Before this time the creek was crossed by boat. The
first schoolhouse was built in 1820. Benjamin Lodge,
the first schoolmaster, dispensed learning and
hickory oil for three cents a day. In 1825, Dr.
Charles Clark, the first Physician, came to town.
Thomas Ware was the first preacher in Crown Point.
The first religious meeting was held in 1825 in the
schoolhouse. The Methodist Church was incorporated
in 1827 with twelve members. The first church was
built of stone in 1838. Samuel Paul, for whom the
town was named, gave the land adjoining the church
for a burial ground. He was the first to be buried
in the new cemetery.
1843, there were only eighteen houses in Paulsboro.
Some inhabitants earned a living as farmers, many
transporting their crops by way of Mantua Creek and
the Delaware to Philadelphia to be sold.
Billingsport was now a well-known shad fishing
village. This industry thrived until manufacturing
companies settled on the waterfront and allowed
their waste to pollute the river.
1858, the population had increased to 450. A hotel
was built on Main Street and another school was
built at Buck Street. The streets after the school
were named Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and
country became involved with the Civil War at this
time. Paulsboro was also involved because it sent
young volunteers to serve in Company E, 24th
Regiment of New Jersey. Paulsboro has seen no action
in any war since the Revolution, but it has sent its
young men to serve our cause on distant soil.
churches were formed during this time. The
Presbyterian Church began in 1868, The St. James
Episcopal Church was built in 1873.
this time the main means of transportation had been
by boat on the river. In 1876, the railroad entered
Paulsboro. It was a private company called the
Delaware-Shore Line. After suffering financially, it
was taken over by the DuPont Company and called the
Delaware River Railroad. It later became part of the
Pennsylvania Railroad. As in other areas, the coming
of the railroad spurred bueiness and settlement in
1800 the government decided that Billingsport was an
excellent location for a lighthouse and one was
built here on an elevated point a short distance
from the old fort. The government named Benjamin
Hannold the first lightkeeper. In the same year, Coe
and Richman bought a farm of 120 acres from Samuel
Davis and built one of the largest phosphate works
in the United States at that time.
All-Thomson baseball team brought fame to the town
around this time. It was the first all brother
baseball team in the world and all of its members
lived in Paulsboro. They began with no uniforms and
no equipment. The catcher caught with his bare
hands. The team played the Cuban Stars in Gloucester
and offered a challenge to any team in the world
composed of all brothers. They gave exhibition games
at the Chicago World's Fair.
1890, St. John's Roman Catholic Church began. In the
same year, Lincoln Park was built by Robert
Patterson. It was settled on a 28 acre plot along
the river. Formally opened on June 14, 1890, it was
an amusement park with concerts and fireworks every
two weeks. It was the only entertainment at that
time, because the automobile was not yet in use and
transportation was necessary. People came from all
over to swim, hold picnics and enjoy the amusements.
The park attracted large crowds from Philadelphia.
It was particularly famous for its carousel and was
kept orderly by Captain Linden of the Pinkerton
Detective Agency. "The Jersey Blue," a
ferry, handled the rivertraffic between Philadelphia
1892, the Methodist Episcopal Church was started.
The Taylor Memorial Baptist Church started in 1897.
The fire company was organized on April 14, 1899 and
was incorporated in 1900. The first piece of
equipment was purchased and kept in Armstrong's
Livery Stable. When the alarm rang, Mr. Armstrong
provided the horses for the company.
Park was now at its height. Sixteen trains brought
many passengers for the Philadelphia-Camden area to
Billingsport daily. Two ferries, and five steamboats
made the trip across the river daily. The Public
Library was started in 1900. The First National Bank
and Trust Company began on May 25, 1901. Capitol
stock was fixed at $30,000. Benjamin Paul was the
March 2, 1904, Paulsboro and Billingsport,
previously part of Greenwich Township, were
incorporated as the Borough of Paulsboro, taking the
name from Samuel Paul. Gill Hannold was the first
Park had lost its popularity and had closed. It
opened a second time, but was unsuccessful due to
the advent of the automobile, which now enabled
people to travel, and again closed, this time for
good. Summer homes were built along the Delaware and
occupied by people mainly from Philadelphia. These
were small resort homes on the shore and they
provided summer relaxation, swimming and boating for
1904, the Billingsport Volunteer Fire Company began
three days after the serious fire which totally
destroyed the Billingsport and Philadelphia Ferry
Company on the morning of October 5, 1904. Samuel De
Hinder, a Philadelphia businessman who had a summer
home in Billingsport, called a meeting at his
residence on October 8th to organize and initiate a
permanent organization to be known as the
Billingsport Volunteer Fire Association. The meeting
was attended by fifteen men.
meetings were held in members' homes until the hall
over the store of William H. Flowers was secured for
meetings. In 1905, the Company received a two-wheel
hose reel and 500 feet of hose, the beginning of
Billingsport's fire fighting equipment. Due to the
need to store this equipment, a five year lease was
obtained on what was called Cinnelly's Shop, a one
story frame building at the entrance to Lincoln
Park. The Company was incorporated on May 14, 1905.
1906, the second Baptist Church was built. A gas
plant was also built that year which supplied gas to
Paulsboro until 1953.
before World War I, the export business of Vacuum
Oil required a refinery on the east coast. A
location near Paulsboro seemed most suitable and
Vacuum purchased it in April 1916. The Paulaboro
Plant, which began in 1917, was designed to
manufacture lubricating oil. Gasoline and kerosene
were considered by-, products. Mobil, the plant's
present name, is actually located in Gibbstown and
it pays taxes to that municipality (Penn's
boundary), but it is referred to as the Paulsboro
plant and many of its employees live in Paulsboro.
also operates a research laboratory here, Some of
the great advances in petroleum processing were
first used commercially at the Paulsboro refinery.
The first continuous two-stage fractioning unit was
built in 1928. The first Duo-Sol unit for continuous
treating of lubricating oil stock was put into
service in 1936, In this year, the first commercial
catalytic cracking unit was also put into operation.
The main products oŁ Mobil are lubricating oil,
gasoline and motor oil.
was now changing from a residential town to an
industrial town. The first movie was shown on the
second floor of the Bailey Building. Movies were
shown in the "Auditorium" twice a week.
Friday was dance night and the young men brought in
girls from the surrounding areas because there was a
shortage of girls in town. A law was passed stating
that movies weren't allowed on the second floor and
Mr. Bailey built a movie house which opened to the
public on April 29, 1915. A high school of seventeen
rooms was built in 1916. The first principal was a
Mr. Burns. In 1918, Mr. Hill bought the movie house
from Bailey and named it the "Hill." On
April 12, 1921, money was appropriated to build a
system of drainage and sewage disposal. In 1924, the
Billingsport Grade School, with fourteen rooms, was
built. It accommodated 438 pupils and fourteen
teachers. In this year, Paulsboro bought and began
to operate the water company. Mail delivery began on
July 1st of that year. In 1928, the Atlantic City
Electric Company began to operate in town.
Electricity had previously been supplied by the
1935, the present bridge crossing Mantua Creek was
built because the former bridge, due to increased
traffic, proved to be too narrow. Mr. Hill built a
new movie theater. In 1939, the government built a
new federal post office which was located on
Delaware and Adams Street. The building was
dedicated on November 24, 1939.
population in 1950 was 7,840. The First National
Bank and Trust Company celebrated its 50th
anniversary in 1951. In 1953, the gas plant was sold
and the South Jersey Gas Company in Glassboro began
to supply Paulsboro with natural gas.
has many churches. There is one Catholic church,
three Methodist, two baptist, one Presbyterian, one
Episcopal, one Bethel A.M.E., one Mt. Carmel U.A.M.E.
and a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
are two elementary schools and a junior-senior high
school. There is also a Catholic School which
includes grades one through eight. As seen
throughout our history, Paulsboro has several
factories and many stores. It is located on Broad
Street and Route #130 and Route #295 goes through
the outskirts of town. It is connected to
Philadelphia and other towns in New Jersey by bus,
train and water. There are now two volunteer fire
companies with modern equipment serving the
community. Paulsboro is governed by a Mayor and six
Industrial town, Paulsboro is located in a prime
industrial and cultural area because of its
proximity to the Delaware River and to Philadelphia.
Paulsboro is looking toward the future.