Days of Yore
.
as recounted by

Bill Day

 



Joe Mulliner, the Pirate
Every book ever written dealing with New Jersey Pine Barrens has a chapter about Joe Mulliner, the pirate of the Mullica River.

Long before Haddonfield¹s Henry C. Beck wrote his Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey books, the story of Joe and his gang was a bit of favorite folklore whenever thee was a gathering of old "Pineys" down there in the deerwoods, now a region known as the Wharton Tract.

Going down the Pleasant Mills Road along the Mullica River a short distance from the old mill at Sweetwater, a sharp watch at the right shoulder of the road would disclose, ten yards into the trees, a small clearing. A path led to the spot in the center of which was an old stone and a three foot high white painted wooden cross. Inscribed on it in black letters was printed, "Joe Mulliner 1781." The grave was within easy walking distance of the Indian King Hunting and Fishing Club that was owned by ten Haddonfield men.

Mr. Bill Mackin was the President of the Club and for years Mr. Mackin was the President of Haddon Fire Company No. 1. He often told the story of Joe Mulliner as it had been related to him by his old "piney" cronies. Joe and his pirate gang raided barges and boats along the Mullica and also broke into any house in the area. They never harmed anyone, but their actions made them wanted criminals. One night Joe was captured, stood trial in Woodbury, and was sentenced to be hung. This sentence was carried out near his mother¹s farm on the Pleasant Mills Rod. Joe was buried on his mother¹s property.

The stone marking the grave was surmounted with a cross made by Mr. Mackin. He had to keep replacing the cross as souvenir hunters continually kept carrying his handiwork away. Mr. Mackin passed away and soon there was no more cross and the clearing became overgrown.

It is interesting to try to locate the old site. A landmark to start the search from would be High bank there on the Mullica River which is where the old gasoline pump stands on the shore.

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