Angelo Dellomo is a retired educator and accomplished author, whose fascination with the N.J. Pine Barrens’ hidden gems began during his youth, well before their current status as popular recreational destinations. As someone who is deeply connected to his heritage, Angelo serves the State of New Jersey as a Historic Sites Interpreter, dedicating his time to preserving and sharing the stories of the past. He lends his expertise as a docent at both the Historic Batsto Village and the Historic Atsion Mansion, extending his influence to the very places he cherishes. In the following article, Angelo Dellomo chronicles the histories of these forgotten towns but also establishes himself as a steward of their legacy, ensuring their stories endure for generations to come.
The once bountiful New Jersey town of Harrisville (aka McCartyville) is now just a shell of its former self. Back in the 1830s, it was an extravagant village with a thriving community. It housed a school, a church, nice homes, a picturesque woodland pond, and an ever-iconic paper mill.
How did it become a ghost town?
Offering an account of William McCarty and his legacy, the book (currently available at Biblio) immerses readers in a never-before-told story of the Pine Barrens ghost town history; putting together the missing pieces of the entire narrative including how McCartyville became Harrisville. More importantly, how Harrisville became the ruins it is today.
Angelo Dellomo Takes a Glimpse into the History of McCartyville
The original owner of the land was a known ironmaster named Isaac Potts. He built the town Martha’s Furnace, which was a couple of miles away from Harrisville. Named after his wife Martha Bolton, Martha’s Furnace was a bustling town that had about 400 dwellers at one point.
Angelo Dellomo of Mays Landing reports that when his wife passed away in the late 1700s, Potts sold the land. It went through several owners throughout the years until it was purchased by an entrepreneur named William McCarty in 1832.
The Rise and Fall of McCartyville
McCarty was a man with a vision.
The land came with a forge and a slitting mill, but he had other plans. At the time, the iron industry was booming; but McCarty thought that it was too competitive, with nearby villages like Atsion, Batsto, and Speedwell already in the business. He had his mind set on papermaking, an industry that was just beginning to flourish.
Angelo Dellomo of Mays Landing notes that he quickly set his plan into action and started the construction of a paper mill, which was built with brick and stone. By the time the paper mill was erected, McCarty had the town named after him – thus McCartyville was born.
Shortly after the paper mill was constructed, McCarty and his partners had a village built for the workers of the mill. It was a success; it became a productive and thriving community. McCarty’s luck didn’t stop there. He discovered that salt hay, which was in abundance along the nearby river and nearby marshes, could be used to make paper. Its ground pulp mixed with other materials yields brown paper which the company sells in sheets or rolls.
The business was lucrative and the paper mill was successful… until it caught fire in 1846.
From McCartyville to Harrisville
Angelo Dellomo reports that the fire engulfed most of the mill, but McCarty and his partners were not fazed. They strove to bring the business back to how it was, but it never did. Eventually, it became a financial burden and had to be sold at a sheriff’s sale.
The Harris family purchased the mill and its surrounding property in the 1850s. The father, John, and his three sons Richard, William, and Benjamin didn’t waste time and changed the town name to Harrisville. They modernized the mill and updated the machinery. More homes were added for the workers and they introduced gaslights to the people.
Harrisville was doing well until newer papermaking businesses began to outpace them in the late 1870s. Profits started to decline.
It was the beginning of the end of an era.
Angelo Dellomo of Mays Landing notes that in 1896, the land was purchased by Joseph Wharton. By this time, Harrisville was already like the ghost town it is today, with most of the mill workers and townspeople having moved on to find work elsewhere.
The final straw?
The 1914 Pine Barrens Forest fire.
Harrisville never recovered after that. Today, the paper mill’s ruins can only be observed from behind a chain-linked fence – the last remaining remembrance of a bustling, lively town at one point in time.
McCarty’s Paper Mill: Written From the Heart
Angelo Dellomo recounts that this is the most comprehensive version to date. He meticulously crafted it through diligent research, combing through documents, letters, and firsthand narratives. This topic holds a special place in his heart, as he has cherished recollections of his youth spent exploring the quaint ghost towns nestled within the New Jersey Pine Barrens himself.