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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Batsto Historian John Hebble speaks to HSH

Kristin Guglietti/THG Batsto Historian John Hebble stands with Historical Society of Hammonton (HSH) President Greg White on March 7 at the Hammonton Canoe Club. Hebble gave a presentation about “Rascals of the Pinelands” during HSH’s monthly speaker series.

HAMMONTON—Batsto Historian John Hebble held a presentation about “Rascals of the Pinelands” during the Historical Society of Hammonton’s (HSH) monthly speaker series on March 7 at the Hammonton Canoe Club.

During the presentation, Hebble discussed different historical characters of the Pinelands who’ve gotten in trouble.

First, he discussed the Pine Robbers during the American Revolution (1764-1789).

Pine Robbers were primary loyalists where many claimed to be neutral opportunists, but most operations were carried out against Patriot supply lines. They used forests to hide after robbery, raiding, murder or horse and cattle theft.

One Pine Robber named Captain John Bacon held a notable raid near Forked River and would spend the fall and early winter raiding throughout South Jersey.

After killing the crew of “The Alligator” in 1782, Bacon was considered a known criminal.

When Bacon died, his death was big news throughout the Pine Barrens.

“As with most Pine Robbers, we don’t know where his body is,” Hebble said.

Next, Hebble discussed Joseph Mulliner who was known as “The Dancing Bandit of the Pines” and “The Robin Hood of the Pine Barrens.”

Mulliner raided Patriot supplies throughout the Pine Barrens. Stories of his misdeeds first appear in October 1779.

Mulliner and his bandits would hide at different spots located in the Pine Barrens.

“Like other Pine Robbers, Joe Mulliner did not like to stay in one place for very long. Think of all these militias hunting you; you don’t really want to stay in one spot. You don’t want to give them the opportunity to come find you,” Hebble said.

According to one story, Mulliner’s wife passed him information hidden in his dog’s collar.

“She was passing information using their dog. They trained their dog to swim across the Batsto and Mullica, swim across the rivers and they would hide information in his collar,” Hebble said.

However, it is unclear if this story is true.

Eventually, Mulliner was captured.

Today no one is sure where Mulliner is buried. Some reports suspect a location in Sweetwater, but no citation is given.

Hebble said some historians say that a group of workers from Batsto found Mulliner’s body sometime around 1850 and after a night of partying, the workers decided to bring the body back to the village to continue the revelry. Later in the night, Batsto’s Ironmaster made the workers get rid of the body.

Later in the presentation, Hebble discussed Andrew Rider, the President of the New Jersey Cranberry Growers’ Association.

In October 1916, a car containing Rider, his brother Henry, his daughter Elsie, an employee and $4,000 to $5,000 cash was stopped near Atsion. A group of highwaymen opened fire on the car, wounding three and killing Henry.

Rider kept the story in the national spotlight for more than a decade after the shooting.

For more information about HSH, visit their website and follow them on social media. Videos from previous speaker series can be viewed on the HSH’s YouTube.


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