Official Maple Shade Township History Proposal

by Dennis Weaver
This is a draft. We can see from here where to shorten (if really needed)


Maple Shade Township, located between the north and south branches of the Pennsauken Creek, was first settled by the Roberts, Hancock and Matlack families. Their land was surveyed in 1682. They came to live here about 1684. They were followed by the Clark, Rudderow and Stiles families. Also the Burrough family bought land here.

The Kings Highway was the first and only road for almost a hundred years going from Burlington to Salem. The waterways would provide routes for most of early travel.

In 1794 a straight road was laid out from Moore's Town to Cooper's Ferry which crossed the Delaware River to Philadelphia's Market Street. The importance of going to Philadelphia would supersede going to Salem so much that it resulted in the birth of Camden.

This stage road was of poor quality until it became the Moorestown and Camden Turnpike in 1850 and was gravelled. Two tollgates were first placed. One near Fellowship Road and the other in the Camden vicinity.

By 1860 the area of the turnpike around Fellowship Road became known as "Stiles Corners" for the many Stiles family farms in the area. The Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company purchased a right-of-way and ran its first train in October of 1867. They bought land at Forklanding Road in 1869 for "Stiles Station." They renamed the station "Maple Shade" in 1874.

A industry here was brick making, a brickyard can first be seen on a 1859 map. There was for a time two brickyards operating in Maple Shade. The Graham brickyard operated until 1956 when the clay supply ran out. Another industry was wagon making. Christian Frech came to live here in 1870. His son William ran the William Frech Wagon Works until it was destroyed by a fire in 1940. Clothing manufacturing started here in 1917.

Charles Shuster began the development of Maple Shade with the subdivision of the Benjamin J. Stiles farm in 1887. Then came the "Zane Tract" and the "Maple Shade Land and Improvement Company" land which ran along the north side of the railroad tracks. This would be the only tract to have an artesian well.

The Chesterford Schoolhouse, built as a neighborhood school in 1811, once served people on both sides of the south branch of the Pennsauken Creek. In time it became a county district school. Sometime between the 1894 Township Act and 1900 it was renamed the Maple Shade School. It closed in 1909 when it was replaced by a school built on Poplar Avenue.

Suburban growth was further encouraged by the trolley service which began in 1901 and lasted until 1932 when it was replaced by bus service. The town's growth was still slow until Thomas Barlow and his sons formed Barlow & Company in 1912. Barlow Built Bungalows were built in great number in the early 1920s. As Camden grew it provided many jobs such as working at the New York Shipyard or at Victor Talking Machine or Campbell Soup Company. Then came the Delaware River Bridge in 1926 now called the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Maple Shade would see more housing development after World War Two with ranch house developments and in the late sixties and early seventies with apartment complexes.

Maple Shade had a post office in 1887. Its first Police Chief started in 1914. The Fire Department was incorporated in 1912.

Maple Shade began in the late 1800s as a village in Chester Township. In 1922 Moorestown with Lenola separated from Chester Township due to Maple Shade's rapid growth and its need for a waterworks and sewage system and other improvements.

In 1925 Maple Shade established a water works. In 1927 a sewage system. In 1927 a Municipal Building was built which housed the Police and Fire Departments. About 1930 a library was added. In 1945 the township, legally Chester Township, was incorporated as "Maple Shade Township."

The town for many years had 20 liquor licenses or even more for a few years. Main Street was the shopping center until department stores and shopping malls arrived on the highways. The early seventies saw a Main Street urban renewal project which tore down over a block of old stores and the old Roxy Theatre. Many new stores came along. Also around this time the Maple Shade High School was built on Frederick Avenue.

Today we have a new Post Office on Main Street and a new Municipal Building on Stiles Avenue. Maple Shade stands as a fine community to live in.