With the name of Dennisville adopted in 1854, this villiage is on the south side of Dennis Creek. It’s the most prominent community within Dennis Township and it site on NJ Rt 47 (Delsea Drive).
Dennisville was founded in 1726 by Anthony Ludlam. The first post office in the area was Dennis Creek, established September 7, 1802, with Jeremiah Johnson as first postmaster. Johnson also owned a tavern which was located on the corner of what is now Main Street and Petersburg Road and is now a private residence.
James Diverty was a ship builder and owner of the property that housed a ship’s chandlery. Jesse Diverty Esq. purchased part of the Johnson tract and erected many stores on Main Street in the heart of the village. Also located on Petersburg Road is the house in which Charles Pitman Robart lived. He was the last of the shingle miners. The shingles for the roof of Independence Hall were supplied by Charles’s father and John Anneley who won the contract for supplying 25,000 shingles needed for this construction. David Johnson built, owned and operated a saw mill opposite Johnson’s Pond.
Bounty of the Swamps
The swamps around Dennisville were a prime source of cedar that was used primarily for shingles. Standing trees were harvested in the usual fashion, and ancient, submerged trees were mined from the muck until the supply was depleted at the end of the 19th century. Most of the wood was shipped out of Dennis Creek Landing [Source: Geological Survey of the State of New Jersey, 1856].
About the Atlantic White Cedar
Scientific name: Chamaecyparis thyoides. The Atlantic white cedar is a tall, straight-growing tree. The settlers soon learned that its wood was resistant to rot and insects, light in weight, and easy to tool. They used Atlantic white cedar lumber for many purposes — shingles, flooring, furniture, buckets, barrels, shipbuilding, docks, and more. One of the largest caches of or buried Atlantic white cedar was discovered in the vicinity of Dennisville in 1812. Some of the trunks pulled out of the Dennisville swamps were as large as 6 feet in diameter, and it was common to find trunks 4 feet in diameter. The mining of the swamps provided employment to Dennisville residents through the late 1880’s. Many of the mined trees were used as shingles; well over half a million shingles were produced in some years. Some of the larger logs were cut into boards. Today, Atlantic white cedar swamps have been reduced to about 20% of their original area.