Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Oakford House, Alloway, New Jersey

The Oakford House was built about 1736 in Alloway, Salem County, New Jersey by William Oakford. The foundation is stone, with exterior walls of red and blue mottle brick. William Oakford was the grandson of Wade Oakford, one of the original settlers of Fenwick Colony.

The initials of the builder are on the east elevation, "W.M.O. 1736," standing for William and Mary Oakford. This was the customary practice in the Fenwick Colony. The intial of the husband was placed on the left and that of the wife on the right. This house is one of the few of its kind left in Salem County.

The lower floor is one large room with two fireplaces. The upper story has three small bedrooms; a lean-to was originally attached to the house, but was torn down.

When the British army invaded Salem County during the American Revolution, a number of refugees fled to this house to escape them. The dwelling was situated in a grove of trees, a part of the original forest. According to tradition, these refugees buried their gold and treasure in the cellar of the house and in the woods.

From this incident has come the story of the "Alloway Ghost," supposedly a continental soldier guarding the buried treasure of the refugees. Reportedly any attempt to dig in the cellar of the Oakford House has been foiled by the appearance of the ghost.

From: American Memory: HABS, with references to "History of Fenwicks Colony," by Thoumas Shourds, and "The Old Houses of Salem County," by J.S. Sickler. Jack E. Boucher, photorapher.