Pine Island History: Black Rock

This week, harvest has progressed to the bogs behind our main office: the system called Black Rock.

CEO Bill Haines is a movie buff, and named the system Black Rock back when it was first built in the mid 70s.

Back in 2012, Black Rock suffered some damage after the region caught the edge of Hurricane Isaac.

New Jersey caught the tail end of Hurricane Isaac, who brought us over eighteen inches of rains (along with funnel clouds) and left us with an enormous amount of clean-up. . . we lost twenty dams on seven major reservoirs, irrigation main lines were damaged where dams washed out, and 50% of the farm was underwater at some point. Some bogs were only under for 24 hours, some for 48, and at Sim Place, where damage was heaviest, some of the bogs were under for almost 72 hours.

In 2015, Black Rock became the next set of beds to undergo renovation, where we experimented with some new forms of erosion control and some changes to our sanding process. They were planted with Mullica Queens in the fall of 2015, which means they’re just about up to full production!

It’s been an eventful few years for Black Rock, but things are looking good!

Pine Island History: Bog names

While Ocean Spray knows our bogs by number for record-keeping purposes, our team at Pine Island mostly knows them by their names. We’ve mentioned some of them in passing, particularly with our posts on bog renovation, but with one minor exception, we haven’t gone into much detail about the story behind them.

Some bogs, of course, are named after family. There’s Billy, for CEO Bill Haines, Jr., and Holly, for his sister, who is also our previous CFO.

We also have Nadine, a set of five high-production bogs built in the late 80s in a former blueberry field and named for Bill’s wife. Not too far from our office are Stef, Becky, and Tug (also known as the SBT bogs), named after Bill’s three oldest children. We can’t speak for Bill and Holly and their own namesakes, but this blogger can reliably report that every year at harvest time, Stef, Becca, and Tug have a (mostly) friendly rivalry over whose bog is the highest producer. (Nadine stays out of it entirely, as she always wins!)

We also have bogs named for former team members and residents. The best recognized is probably Fred Brown, a section consisting of four bogs located near Brown’s former home on the property. Fred is, of course, most well-known to readers of The Pine Barrens, by John McPhee, and was a highly colorful character, to put it mildly. From the first chapter:

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me, but there’s got to be something the matter with me, because drink don’t agree with me anymore,” he said. He had a raw onion in one hand, and while he talked heshaved slices from the onion and ate them between bites of the chop. He was a muscular and well-built man, with short, bristly white hair, and he had bright, fast-moving eyes in a wide-open face. His legs were trim and strong, with large muscles in the calves. I guessed that he was about sixty, and for a man of sixty he seemed to be in remarkably good shape. He was actually seventy-nine. “My rule is: Never eat except when you’re hungry,” he said, and he ate another slice of the onion.

It’s not possible to improve on McPhee’s prose; if you haven’t read The Pine Barrens yet, it’s a fantastic book. You’ll come away from it wondering why the only thing we named after Fred is a cranberry bog. But cranberries are a perennial fruit; much like McPhee’s evocative writing, those vines will still be here as a memorial and a testament to our own history as well as that of the pines and its residents.

Pine Island History: The Birches

Pine Island has recently bought back some of the acreage known as the Birches (originally purchased by our founder, Martin L. Haines, in the late 19th century) and this week took a tour with botanist and historian Ted Gordon to chat about the farm’s history.

According to Ted:

. . . the first cranberry bogs were set out in wilderness about five miles southeast of the Burlington County village of Tabernacle by Pemberton’s legendary pioneer grower Theodore Budd just prior to 1859. Around 1880, Budd sold these bogs and the nearby Goose Pond to Martin L. Haines of Vincentown, who set out additional bogs. . . On the sudden death of Martin in 1905, management of the Birches and its satellite holdings passed to sons Ernest M. and Ethelbert Haines. In 1920, Ernest became the sole owner and manager, while Ethelbert (Bert) presided over the company’s holdings at Hog Wallow.

“Ernest was a very good carpenter,” Ted says. “He built the house that’s still standing here as a foreman’s house originally.” There are also several buildings still in existence that were moved from other cranberry farms at Burrs Mill and Johnson Place. Ernest died in 1935 and ownership of the Birches passed to his sister, whose children and grandchildren continued to manage the farm until the death of Mary Ann Thompson in 2015.

The Birches’ centerpiece is a 120′ by 40′ cranberry sorting barn, the construction of which began more than a century ago. It is one of only three such buildings in continuous operation in the Burlington County cranberry district.

The Haines family is very pleased to return to the land that gave us our start; it’s wonderful to be able to come full circle. We have a lot of ideas for the Birches, and plan to hold steadfast to our core values while also doing its history justice. In this effort, we have a tremendous advantage: Ted Gordon’s knowledge of local history is exceeded only by his enthusiasm for it, and we are truly grateful for his willingness to share it with us!

Pine Island History: Ralph W. Haines – Second Generation

Ralph Waldo Emerson Haines, youngest son of Martin L. Haines, is part of the second generation to run Pine Island Cranberry.

After Martin’s death in 1905, the property passed to his sons Ethelbert, Ernest, and Ralph. Ethelbert and Ernest took over the everyday operation of the cranberry bogs, continuing to expand the property, along with the others at the Birches, Burrs Mills, and Goose Pond. This partnership continued for a few years and then another division was made: Ethelbert took Hog Wallow and Ernest the other properties. Eventually Ralph, the youngest son (and CEO Bill Haines’ grandfather) purchased a part interest in Hog Wallow and was a partner until Ethelbert died in 1953. During their thirty year partnership they greatly expanded the area and planted many more acres of bogs.

The farm wasn’t Ralph’s main interest, however. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he became an attorney practicing in Mt. Holly, NJ. Ralph never really considered himself a cranberry grower; his brother Bert did the majority of the farm work, while Ralph was more of a “behind the scenes” man who kept it all together.

“Bert was the oldest brother, so he was the boss, by age and personality,” says his great-nephew CEO Bill Haines. “He was the visionary and a pretty colorful character. My grandfather was the more sober-sided one who made sure the books were balanced. Uncle Bert had the dreams and schemes; Grandfather was the one who pulled the brake when he needed to.” Ralph was an intellectually curious man who loved to read and had a keen interest in history, and passed that along to his grandson. “He had a broad perspective and a lot of insight,” Bill says. “He loved the business and loved that it was a family business, but he was also interested in how it connected to the rest of the world. And I think he passed that on to the succeeding generations. He was the only brother to have children, and it’s his line who kept the business going.”

It was under Bert and Ralph’s stewardship that Pine Island (then known as Haines and Haines) decided to join the Ocean Spray cooperative in 1948, which has remained a fruitful relationship ever since! And when the business was at its lowest point and the brothers wanted to sell, it was Ralph’s younger son, third-generation grower Bill Haines, Sr., who convinced them to give him a chance to turn everything around. . .and that’s exactly what he did.

Bill Sr had a vision as well as the work ethic to help make Pine Island what it is today, and that’s in no small part thanks to the groundwork done by his father. Ralph’s practical nature made everything we do possible, and we all benefit from his willingness to do whatever it took to keep the family business going through the hard times!

Pine Island History: Martin L. Haines – First Generation

Everything you need to know about the founder of Pine Island Cranberry is noted in the minutes from the January 1893 meeting of the American Cranberry Growers Association:

The first topic for discussion, “Failures in Cranberry Growing and their Cause”, was opened by Capt. Haines, Mr. Budd being absent.

He said he had never failed in cranberry growing and hence was not a good judge.

cap-haines

Martin Luther Haines was born in 1837 in Vincentown to John and Lydia Woolston Haines, and lived in Vincentown for most of his life. Before he was a cranberry grower, he was a teacher, a soldier, a lawyer, and an entrepreneur. After serving as Captain in the Union Army during the Civil War with Company C of the New Jersey Volunteers infantry, he became interested in growing cranberries and owned several bogs in Southampton and Tabernacle Townships including the Birches, Two Bridges, and Burr’s Mill. But the Pine Island story begins in 1890, when he and his friend George McCambridge bought some bogs as well as some uncultivated land at Pineworth and Hog Wallow.

“It was tough back then,” CEO Bill Haines says. “Cultivating a cranberry bed at the time was all mostly handwork. The first area he and George planted was Worth Tract. When they split the partnership, Martin started taking cranberries out of the wild on the Hog Wallow side of the road. We think Mammoth bog was the first one he planted on that side.” Since cranberries are perennials, there is even a small patch of vines we believe may have been planted by him that are still producing.

One favorite family story: when he first started cultivating his own land, his wife, Ella, attempted to change the colorful name and call the place “Tranquility” after a large swamp on the property. But if you know Pineys (and Cap Haines), you know that wasn’t going to stick, and of course, the name remains “Hog Wallow” to this very day.

“He lived in Vincentown, mostly, but built a house to stay here,” Bill says. “He died 48 years before I was born, so I don’t have any real stories. My grandmother, though, grew up in Vincentown and remembered him from when she was a little girl on Mill Street. Her main memory was of him always sitting on his porch with his nose in a book while propping his ‘big feet’ on the porch railing.”

After Martin’s death in 1905, the property passed to his sons Ethelbert, Ernest, and Ralph. Ethelbert and Ernest took over the everyday operation of the cranberry bogs, continuing to expand the property, along with the others at the Birches, Burrs Mills, and Goose Pond. Eventually Ralph, the youngest son (and Bill’s grandfather) became more involved as well…but that’s a story for a future blog post!

martin-l

The best summary of Martin’s life, though, may be this amazing tribute from the Burlington County Bar Association after his passing.

Martin L. Haines, whose decease we mourn, was born at Vincentown, in our county and state, on the 19th day of March, A.D. 1837, and after a long and honorable career as a student, soldier, teacher, lawyer, and agriculturalist, died rather suddenly at the age of sixty-eight, and was thus removed from life’s active scenes. His death shadows his relatives, friends, and companions with a pall of grief.

Mr. Haines began life as an industrious student. At the age of twenty-three his studies were interrupted by his enlistment, on the 13th day of March, 1863, as a Union soldier in the war of the rebellion. His active army services extended over a term of three years. He rose to the rank of captain in Co. C, of the 34th New Jersey Volunteers, and after a valiant career was honorably discharged on the 18th of April, 1866. Returning to his home, he became a teacher and taught in the Burlington County public schools until 1870, when he entered his name with Justice Charles E. Hendrickson, at Mount Holly, New Jersey, as a student at law, and was admitted to the bar at the November term, 1874, being admitted as a counselor at law three years later. For twenty years he practiced law successfully, having an office at Mount Holly and residing at Vincentown. While Captain Haines never discontinued his office up to the time of his death, yet since 1893, he occupied a major portion of his time in cranberry culture, in which he was remarkably successful in securing bountiful yields and a considerable fortune.

Captain Haines was an extensive reader and more of a student than was generally known. He loved knowledge and held his profession, and its learning, as life’s greatest adornment. He hated sham, detested hypocrisy, and had a low estimate of those in his profession who stooped to technical and mean advantages. No characteristic stood out more prominently than his independence, and cast, class, rank or fortune showed no sycophant in Captain Martin L. Haines. Captain Haines’ life was clean and honorable, both private and public, and we are honored by his connection with us as a fellow member of the bar, and sincerely mourn the loss of our friend, companion, and brother.

Captain Haines married Ella Joyce, of Vincentown, and she, three sons and a daughter survive him, who have our sympathy and tender condolence in their great grief.

We move that this testimonial be made a part of the record of this honorable court and that a copy be forwarded to his family. Respectfully submitted, JACOB C. HENDRICKSON, SAMUEL A. ATKINSON, CHARLES EWAN MERRITT, SAMUEL W. SHINN, WALTER A. BARROWS.

Pine Island Cranberry is proud to be continuing our founder’s hard work!