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History and Background Information
|(from a flyer given to us when we moved in in 1991.|
|Portions of the discussion of the Old Taunton Colony Club may be outdated.)|
For more than two hundred years there has been a man-made lake at Taunton, but its uses have varied. in 1765 when Charles Reed purchased land from David Oliphant it was "laid off [starting] at the east end of the Taunton dam in a long square." Reed, one of Tauntons most famous property owners, has been called "the Benjamin Franklin of New Jersey." He was politically powerful and busy with many enterprises of his own. At Taunton, Etna (Medford Lakes), Atsion, and Batsto he hoped to realize his latest project, "an iron works scheme." Within three years he built a whole chain of furnaces and forges, acquired thousands of acres and purchased rights to dig ore and cut timber on thousands more. He exhausted his energies, his own fortune, and the capital of many investors. In 1773 when his iron empire crumbled, Reed fled to the West Indies. Under various other owners Taunton furnace and forge continued to make pig iron, hollow ware, and during the Revolution, cannon shot. However, in the nineteenth century it became increasingly difficult for the bog iron industry to compete with cheaper ways of making iron in Pennsylvania using anthracite instead of charcoal as a smelting agent. In 1842 at sheriff sale Taunton was awarded to the lone bidder, "a Philadelphia merchant." The only reminders of an important chapter in Tauntons history were the Iron Masters house (dismantled c. 1950), the ice house (restored c. 1960), and a heavy pear-shaped iron salamander on the present Larsen property.
In 1851 a Medford man, Charles Collins, Jr., became part-owner of Taunton and converted the millpond to a cranberry bog. The new enterprise proved profitable, and the bogs were later owned and operated by Joseph Collins Hinchman -- also of Medford. He kept up the old Taunton mansion, installed fountains and lily ponds, and built a bathhouse at the present bathing beach. A bear pit and deer park were added attractions for church picnics. "Uncle Joe" died at the end of the century, but until World War I Taunton remained a favorite spot for local outings.*
(* For the above information we are indebted to Carter Larsen whose family retained the headquarters of the Taunton tract: namely, the site of Taunton furnace, the cranberry house, the Larsen house (built c. 1830), and the adjacent acreage.)
In the early 1920s Joseph Hinchmans scattered heirs sold out to Edward Murray, a Philadelphia businessman who hoped that the completion of the Delaware River Bridge in 1926 would ripen Taunton for development. He laid out lots, converted the bogs to lakes, and printed a flamboyant flyer headed: When Civilization Frets You, Mankind Gets You, and Ennui Besets You, Take a Trip to Taunton Lakes. Because of the depression and World War II development lagged; in 1947 the Murrays decided to sell. It was apparent to the residents that Taunton would eventually be attractive to other developers, and should they succeed in acquiring the property, the things that made Taunton such a desirable place to live would (to a large degree) be lost. Therefore, the Taunton Lakes Company was formed by the residents and through an elected committee successfully negotiated the purchase of Taunton Lake and the unsold lots around it. The Lakes Company continues to own the undeveloped land, and strives to keep Taunton a desirable place to live.
OLD TAUNTON COLONY CLUB
In 1950 the Taunton Lakes Company deeded the present bathing beach to the newly formed Old Taunton Colony Club for the use of its members and their guests. A nonprofit corporation, the Clubs membership is limited to the residents and property owners at Taunton Lake. The Club is governed by twelve Trustees whose term of office is three years. They are elected by the members on the first Sunday in May at the Clubs annual meeting. Notices of the meeting are sent out well in advance, and each household is entitled to one ballot. From the Trustees are selected the Officers who serve for one year. Most of the Trustees also serve as Chairmen of various committees, and much of their work is done with the assistance of volunteer help from various members of the club. No Trustee or Officer receives any pay. Annual dues are used for the following:
1. The purchase of chemicals to treat the lakebed and control the growth of weeds and waterlilies.
2. The upkeep of the Community Beach including insurance and real estate taxes.
3. The purchase of beach tags which are issued annually to all members.
4. Policing the Community Beach and the lake area by a special officer on weekends and holidays during the summer.
5. The maintenance of all the road signs with the names of Colony Club members in good standing -- also the cost of electricity for the main sign and the beach lights.
6. Entertainment: The cost of prizes for the Fourth of July Celebration and partial underwriting of expenses of the annual Dinner-Dance.
Generally the receipts from dues just about cover the various expenses. From time to time if additional money is available, improvements are made to the Community Beach.
The Club has two social events each year. A Fourth of July Celebration is held at the Community Beach with games and prizes for the children. The annual Dinner-Dance, usually held the first Saturday in November, is an occasion for friends and neighbors to enjoy an evening together; it is also an excellent opportunity for new members to become better acquainted.
The purpose of the Colony Club is to preserve the natural beauty of Taunton, maintain a safe environment for residents and their guests, and be responsive to the needs and interests of the community. Meetings of the Trustees are held the second Wednesday of the month and are open to all members. If you have any problems, do not hesitate to contact one of the Officers or Trustees. They welcome your suggestions and the help needed to carry them out.
THE TAUNTON LADIES CLUB
Affectionately known as "T.L.C." the Ladies Club evolved from an informal group which met to play cards and held an annual Christmas party. The present organization still sponsors social activities such as the progressive dinner, trips to places of local interest, picnics, hikes, and the Easter Egg Hunt. Recently, however, it has developed some civic concerns: arranging swimming lessons at the beach, donating memorial benches and play equipment, holding an ice-skate exchange, and filling Christmas stockings for a boys home. The Club also acts as an auxiliary to the Colony Club helping with its projects when needed. In short, the Ladies Club tries to make Taunton a pleasant place to live by providing a little "tender loving care." All women are invited to join.
THE COMMUNITY BEACH
This area is owned by the Colony Club. It is especially useful to those members who do not have lakefront lots. The beach is open for the use of members and their guests from sunrise to sunset. Automobiles are not allowed on the beach area; parking is provided off Breakneck Road near the dam. Boats are not permitted on the beach or near the swimming area; use the dock next to the parking lot. Overnight docking of boats and motors of any kind are banned. Open fires and fishing on or near the beach are also prohibited. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, in fact, dogs are not permitted to run loose anywhere in Medford Township and must be licensed as well.
In order to control the use of the beach, yearly tags are issued to all Club members. During the summer months a special officer is on duty to deny admittance to anyone not wearing a current tag. Your cooperation in wearing beach tags and providing them for your guests is necessary. At times when the special officer is not on duty, Club members are urged to assist in keeping unauthorized people off the beach. Ask strangers to produce their tags or leave the beach; report violations directly to the police or a Trustee.
The maintenance of the beach area is by Club members who donate their time to keep the grass cut and the playground equipment repaired. The Trustees would appreciate your using these facilities with some care; volunteers to help with the work are always welcome.
Every Colony Club members name is posted on the large sign by the Community Beach. The name will appear on the east or west side of the large sign, depending on which side of the lake the member lives. Names also appear on the individual road signs so that those unfamiliar with Taunton need only start from the large sign going either east on Breakneck Road or west on Hopewell Road and follow the name on the individual road signs to the members residence.
LAKES VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
Taunton is served by the Lakes Volunteer Fire Company in conjunction with Union Fire Company, both forming the Medford Township Fire Department. Nine fire-truck pumping stations are marked on the map. For your safety it is important to keep the fire lanes leading to these stations open and clear of overhanging branches to ensure efficient operation of the equipment.
The woods around Taunton can be a fire hazard, particularly during dry weather. No open fires are permitted at any time without a permit from the Fire Warden. To report a fire, or any other emergency, phone 654-7511. We urge you to support the Lakes Volunteer Fire Companys annual drive for funds. Also the number assigned to your house should be clearly visible from the road so that the firemen can find you as quickly as possible if needed.