Part of the Delaware Valley, Burlington County is the largest county in New Jersey with a total area of 915 square miles. About 449,000 people call the county home. Burlington County is bordered by Camden and Atlantic counties to the southwest and Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties to the east. It also shares a border with Bucks and Philadelphia counties across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Most of the county’s land is coastal plain, and the land is dotted with rivers, streams and wetlands. There are a few hills, such as Apple Pie Hill and Arney’s Mount, which is the highest of not only the county but also among the highest in South Jersey at approximately 240 feet above sea level. The low point is sea level along the Delaware and Mullica rivers.
Although officially incorporated in 1694, the rudiments of county government were established with Burlington County in 1681 and were in effect before William Penn laid out the city of Philadelphia. Rich in historic lore, with a developed system of highways, the county calls to travelers and tourists. While the county is principally known for its agriculture, there is considerable manufacturing, particularly along the Delaware Riverfront. Burlington County has always been one of the leading agricultural counties in the country.
Communities in Burlington County associated with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst include Mount Holly, Evesham, Pemberton and Wrightstown.
Township of Mount Holly
Mount Holly Township is the county seat of Burlington County as well as an eastern suburb of Philadelphia. The city’s 2.8 square miles are home to about 9,500 residents.
Northhampton, as the city was originally known, was formed in 1688 and eventually incorporated in 1798. The township is composed of portions of land gathered from surrounding counties over decades, and settlers were attracted to the area early on after the establishment of several mills. The township played an important role during the American Revolution. Not only was it a temporary capital of New Jersey, but the township was the site of the Battle of Iron Works Hill in 1776. This crucial battle distracted thousands of Hessian soldiers from Trenton, New Jersey, where Gen. George Washington would stage The Battle of Trenton on Christmas night. The victory at Trenton proved to be a much-needed boost of morale for the Continental Army.
During the 19th century, Mount Holly was established as the county seat and several important municipal buildings were constructed, including the county prison in 1819. In operation through 1965, the Burlington County Prison is now a museum on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Mount Holly Historic District. In 1849, the Burlington and Mount Holly Railroad was established, connecting communities along the Delaware River to Philadelphia, the major city of the area. The railroad supported industrialization along its route.
In 1931, the township held a referendum and renamed then-Northhampton as Mount Holly, based on nearby hills covered with holly trees. By mid-century, the city experienced economic challenges from industrial restructuring and loss of blue-collar jobs. Many traditional employers such as mills and dye factories struggled in the post-World War II period. However, increased activity at Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base helped offset those economic losses, especially during the Vietnam War era. Retail businesses suffered from the advent of shopping malls in the suburban Philadelphia area, but today shopping and dining developments on Main Street Mount Holly are increasingly attracting residents, businesses and visitors.
Homes in the area range from well-established neighborhoods to new developments. Median rent is $1,084, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,695. Mean travel time to work for those living in Mount Holly is 26 minutes.
The area now known as Evesham Township was originally settled by Quakers in 1672. Welsh and English settlers named the spot for Evesham, England, near Stratford on River Avon, but the name may also have been taken from one of the prominent settlers, Thomas Eves. The township was incorporated in 1692 and was substantially larger than it is today, originally including what are now Mount Laurel, Medford, Lumberton, Hainesport, Shamong and Washington townships.
Evesham is also known as Marlton, and the names are practically interchangeable. The Marlton area was recognized as a village in 1758. The name Marlton originated in the early 19th century. Marlton stems from the word “marl,” a naturally occurring mixture of green clay with remnants of shells that was used as a fertilizer. Its discovery in the area helped local commerce and fueled the township’s first building boom in the 1830s and 1840s. In 1845, the Evesham post office and the Evesham Baptist Church both had their names changed to Marlton Post Office and the Marlton Baptist Church. Marl continued to be mined locally until 1930, when the pits were finally closed. No trace of them remains today, but the name of the village endures. Many maps and directional signs refer to Marlton instead of Evesham. The historic village, Olde Marlton, remains mostly intact and is a locally regulated historic district.
Evesham Township remained mostly unchanged until the 1950s, when developers began buying farms and building the township’s first housing developments. Today, no significant farmland remains. In 1955, the United States Army opened the PH-32 Nike Ajax facility on Tomlinson Mill Road. This battery was one of 12 used to shield Philadelphia from aerial assault during the Cold War. The base was decommissioned in the mid-1960s and used for various functions, including a civil defense center. The site of the base is now a housing development which was built in the mid-1990s.
The median monthly gross rent was $1,355, and median selected monthly costs for homeowners with a mortgage were $2,212, the U.S. Census says. Workers’ average commute time was 29 minutes.
Township of Moorsetown
The Township of Mooresetown is about 15 miles east of Philadelphia across the Delaware River and the border of New Jersey. About 20,565 residents within the township’s 14 square miles call the area home.
Native Americans occupied the area, drawn to its two springs. The first English-speaking settlers put down roots in 1682, and in 1686, three years after the founding of Philadelphia, the area soon became known as the Village of Rodmantown. In 1700, the first Society of Friends’ Meeting House was built on the King’s Highway. The community at that time probably consisted of a few farmhouses along the King's Highway from Stanwick Road to Locust Street.
Moorestown has been from its beginning a town of homes rather than industry. In these early days, the tanning industry was important probably because of the abundance of oak and hemlock bark that could be obtained from neighboring forests. The nursery and fruit business was also established at an early date.
Thomas Moore and his wife, Elizabeth, settled in the area in 1722. Moore set up a hotel on the northwest corner of King's Highway and Union Streets. With so much land eventually being owned by Thomas Moore, the name Moorestown gradually replaced Chester informally in what is now the center of town. Finally, Moorestown formerly split off from Chester and became a township.
Although Moorestown is more than 300 years old, it was incorporated by the New Jersey State Legislature in 1922.
The township had banned all liquor sales in 1915 and retained the restrictions after Prohibition ended in 1933. Referenda aiming to repeal the ban failed in both 1935 and 1953. In 2011, voters repealed the liquor ban; however, liquor sales in the township will be restricted to the Moorestown Mall.
In 2005 Moorestown was ranked No. 1 in Money magazine’s list of the 100 best places to live in America. Moorestown earned the top spot because of its community feeling, in addition to good jobs within the commuting area, excellent schools, a low crime rate, affordable housing and proximity to Philadelphia.
Median rent in the township is $1,124, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $3,084. Mean travel time to work is 28 minutes.
Township of Pemberton
Pemberton Township, with approximately 30,000 residents and 64 square miles, is one of the largest of Burlington County’s 40 municipalities. Pemberton was incorporated as a township in March 1846 from portions of New Hanover Township, Northampton Township (now known as Mount Holly Township) and Southampton Township. The township is named for James Pemberton, a property owner in the area.
Located adjacent to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the township developed as a mill town. During the mid-19th century, the Browns Mills section served as a luxury retreat for city dwellers who were attracted to the clean water of its streams, hailed for its medicinal purposes, and its healthy forest air. At this time, residents began growing cranberries, a crop which prospered in marshy land near the Township's creek and streams. Nineteenth-century Pemberton residents also manufactured charcoal, iron and glass. In the early 20th century, Elizabeth White began experiments which led to the area’s first cultivation of wild berries.
The U.S. Army’s Fort Dix, built during World War I and rebuilt and expanded for use during World War II, lies within the township’s boundaries. After the expansion of Fort Dix during World War II, the township’s character began to change from strictly rural to rural-suburban. Planned communities were built to accommodate the growing population, a few of the small communities of the 19th century disappeared or merged with newer developments, and the lines between individual communities blurred.
Mean travel time to work for residents of Pemberton is 29 minutes. Median rent is $1,167, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,538.
Wrightstown is a census place in Burlington County, New Jersey. It was incorporated as a borough by the New Jersey Legislature in 1918, from portions of New Hanover Township and North Hanover Township, based on a referendum in March 1918. The borough was named for John Wright, an early settler who contributed the land that became the settlement of Wrightstown.
The borough is one of 56 South Jersey municipalities that are included within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, a protected natural area of unique ecology covering 1.1 million acres that has been classified as a United States Biosphere Reserve.
According to the U.S. Census, Wrightstown had a total area of 1.768 square miles, all of which was land, with a population of 802 in 2010. Mean travel time to work is 17.4 minutes. Median rent in the city is $850, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,441.