The history of Vineland, New Jersey, is very closely connected with that of the Vineland Colony and Vineland Association. It was in 1844 when a company of enterprising Englishmen sailed from Liverpool visited here and selected this place as the geographical location for their colony. The name "Vineland" was chosen in honor of Dr. Henry Ward Beecher who had delivered some stirring lectures in England, entitled "The Wine-lands of America."
The company landed at this place on September 26, 1844, and the following December their first house was completed. The colonists came from Manchester (Lancashire) and Nottingham (Nottinghamshire), England; were all religious people and were nearly all members of the Evangelical Union. They came to America fleeing from the "enclosures" which at that time were robbing workmen of their rights and causing great suffering. It was a grand scheme for these people to secure homes where they might live in peace, hoping that they could improve their condition materially as well as spiritually. They were all young people, averaging from twenty-two to thirty years of age. There were about one hundred in the party.
Town's Progress Decline
These settlers are known in history as "The English Settlement." The colony had its ups and downs, however, for some time remained in a crippled condition financially, but finally began to show signs of development and actually the settlement grew until the time of the American Civil War. It was about 1854-5 that an old gentleman named John Russell introduced Jersey cattle into this locality. These cattle were descendants from a cross between a polled Durham and a short horned Sussex, a very superior grade of cattle, and, when properly crossed with a common Jersey, made an excellent grade. They prospered in this partly open country and began to give the place a new feature. The descendants of these cattle are enjoying their third generation here today.
In 1863 a company was formed known as the "Vineland Cattle Company," composed of wealthy Englishmen, who purchased a large tract of land at a low price and began the actual development of Vineland. The company succeeded beyond all expectations in its work of reclamation, but the performance was not pleasant to all. Some were compelled to give up farms which they had purchased from this association, for it always paid well not only to purchase land from the company, but to sell to it any land you might have which the company wanted. The climax of this was reached when many families became dissatisfied with certain decisions made by the President of the association and they organized an opposition association known as "The Land League." The subjects at issue were, however, soon settled amicably.
Vineland is in the center of a large district where fruit growing has become, within the past eight or ten years, quite an important industry. It was found that this section had soils and climates well adapted to fruit growing. The New Jersey Southern Railroad runs through the town, affording excellent shipping facilities for this class of product. Fruit shipped from here finds a ready market among the large New York fruit dealers.
The population has increased very rapidly during the past few years and is now about 60,724. The settlement is not only noted as a place of great beauty but for its spacious streets lined with fine shade trees which provide delightful drives at all seasons of the year. The homes of these people are comfortable, conveniently arranged, and elegantly furnished. Churches of almost every denomination may be found within the limits of Vineland. There is no end to private schools, some very costly and fashionable in their appointments. The Vineland Seminary is a well-known institution for both sexes.
The town has not attained great age but it is one of the most important in the State, because of its large fruit production, unsurpassed climate, and general healthfulness. There are few localities where a more contented class of people may be found or where there is greater advancement in educational work. The fruit-growing district surrounding Vineland is noted for its beauty and is found in the center of one of the most accessible locations on the coast where fruit raising has become an important industry that is spreading out with great rapidity in all directions.