3Interview with Edward and Lehma Gibson, Port Norris, New Jersey, 29 May 1991; Interview with Art Handson, Joe Smith, and Loretta King, English Creek, New Jersey, 7 October 1991; In the Geology of Cape May County, State of New Jersey, the state geologist reported that 11,227 tons of salt hay had been cut in Cape May County in 1857. In 1921 according to the Soil Survey of the Millville Area, between 10,000 and 12,000 acres of salt hay were cut each year along the Maurice River. The better grades of hay, which were usually cut before the first frost, brought between $5 to $6 a ton locally and $8 to $10 a ton at more distant markets.
5Weiss and Weiss, 64-65; The number of farmers who cut salt hay for their personal use is unknown, but local historians comment frequently on how every farmer in the study area, especially in Salem County, rented or owned meadows for the sole purpose of cutting the salt hay to be used for bedding and fodder.
6It should be noted that when Lizzie Ray Steelman Force (1895-1987), a resident of Somers Point, was a child she helped her father cut salt hay along English Creek and on the southern side of the Great Egg River at Cedar Hummocks. In an interview, conducted by members of the Atlantic County Historical Society, Force described the use of a scow to transport her, her father, a horse and the machinery across the Great Egg River to the meadows. At the end of the day everything including the salt hay was loaded onto the scow and taken back across the river. Her father sold the hay in Atlantic City, possibly to stables, for $8 a load. It should also be noted that Issac steelman (no relation to Lizzie Ray steelman Force) cut hay for his livestock and for commercial use.
9Since there is no need to sow any crop, harvesting is the main component in salt hay farming. Salt hay grows naturally on the marshes and replenishes itself annually. Farmers did perform certain steps to aid nature in producing a better crop of hay. Atlantic Coast farmers followed the same harvesting methods as the Delaware Bay farmers, but the length of their seasons depended upon tides in the summer and freezing weather in the winter.
10Interview with George Campbell, Eldora, New Jersey, 25 June 1991; interview with Henry Hayes, Port Norris, New Jersey, 23 July 1991; Gibson related the dangers of burning the meadow. When burning the meadows, farmers waited until a northwest wind had settled in and then started the fire; it was up to the wind to push the fire to the bay in order for the fire to extinguish itself. Once when Gibson was burning his meadows just south of Berrytown and southwest of Port Norris, the wind shifted and the fire turned toward Port Norris. Gibson commented on how the wind picked the fire up, formed a tornado-type cloud, and dropped it in another part of the meadow. The local fire companies had to help stop the fire.
13Betsy H. Woodman, "Salt-Hay Farming and Fishing in Salisbury, Massachusetts," Essex Institute Historical Collection (July 1983). According to Woodman, after the hay was cut it sat several days to dry. Then it was hand raked into windrows, or long rows that paralleled the drainage ditches. Once this occurred, the hay was raked with loafer rakes, rakes with 5' wood handles and elongated teeth that measured more than a foot and were spaced 3" inches a part, into haycocks or hay mounds of 100 to 150 pounds. Two willow-wood poles approximately 9-10' with pointed ends were then laid parallel and slid under the haycock; this allowed the haycock to be carried in a litter fashion to a hay staddle. A staddle was a group of wood poles placed in the marsh which provided an open surface where the air could circulate under the stack of hay; this kept the hay dry and well elevated above the marsh and high tides.
To make a stack of hay, five single haycocks were poled to the staddles and placed in a circle around its diameter. Another cock was then dumped in the middle to form the bottom; after that more cocks were brought to the staddle where a stacker would then begin to build a stack with the cocks brought to him. It was the stacker's job to make sure the hay was tightly packed, well shaped, and level. The first layer was leveled out and the successive layers were placed so the stack would be larger in diameter by several feet than the supporting staddle underneath it. At the end, the stack tapered in conically to finish off the top. This top kept the rain and snow off the inner hay. Further waterproofing was accomplished by covering the stack with a layer of thatch or cord grass. Tarred rope was then thrown over the stack and its free ends were weighted down with bricks or stones.
Woodman's description of this New England process is similar to that which occurred in New Jersey.
15Hayes, originally from Durham, North Carolina, was 17 when be arrived in the Port Norris area. He immediately began working for a local oyster house gathering shells in a wheelbarrow and dumping them outside; they would later be put on an oyster schooner and returned to the bed. Over the years Hayes worked for many Bivalve oyster houses, and continued shucking until about 1985. On the off season he worked for area salt hay farmers; perhaps the two largest were Leaming Berry and Stewart Campbell and their descendants.
19George R. Campbell, Sr., "Salt Hay Farming in Pinelands Saltwater Marshes," paper presented at the Third Annual Pinelands Short Course, sponsored by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, New Brunswick, New Jersey, March 1992.