Joseph J. White, Fenwick’s son-in-law, was also an up-and-coming cranberry farmer, and in 1882, when Fenwick died, White took control of the cranberry operation, although it would belong to Fenwick’s widow until her death in 1911. At the same time, White began to acquire properties adjacent to his father-in-law’s and farm them for cranberries as well. Elizabeth Coleman White, his eldest daughter, assisted him, beginning her career at Whitesbog in 1893.
As a young, enterprising woman, Elizabeth became interested in the idea of growing blueberries in the land between cranberry bogs; after all, since blueberries ripen earlier than cranberries, their July harvest would complement cranberries’ September harvest. There was one problem, however: many New Jersey farmers had tried to cultivate blueberries in their fields, but these attempts had all culminated in failure. In fact, it had become widely accepted that blueberries were simply not a profitable crop for New Jersey farms.
In 1857, after having experienced considerable success growing cranberries at a small bog called “Skunk’s Misery,” James A. Fenwick, a New Jersey farmer, purchased 108 more acres of bog and pineland along Cranberry Run south of Hanover Furnace. Fenwick must have known this land would give rise to great numbers of cranberries, as the land had been a natural cranberry meadow.
Joseph Josiah “J.J.” White, son of Barclay and Rebecca Lamb White, was born on his father’s farm, Sharon, in Springfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey on January 22, 1846. Barclay also owned pine and swamp land on the Wading River, about 25 miles from the family homestead. It was here that he attempted to cultivate the wild cranberries growing there.
As a boy, J.J. would visit Wading River; it was during these years that he first became interested in cranberry culture. Later, in 1860, when he was fourteen, his maternal grandfather, Restore S. Lamb, deeded him 100 acres of land near Rake Pond near New Lisbon. At this time, White’s uncle, Restore B. Lamb, was having considerable success growing cranberry vines on seven acres of land nearby, and this success surely imprinted itself on young J.J White.
Elizabeth Coleman White was born to Joseph J. White and Mary A. Fenwick White in New Lisbon, New Jersey on October 5, 1871. She spent her early years in Springfield Township and Smithville. Around 1881, the family settled permanently in New Lisbon at Fenwick Manor, where Elizabeth would live until 1923 when she built her home Suningive at Whitesbog.
Elizabeth Coleman White’s efforts to cultivate blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) began in 1910 when she read the U.S.D.A. publication “Experiments in Blueberry Culture,” researched and written by Dr. Fredrick V. Coville. Realizing the potential value of such work, Elizabeth and her father decided to contact Coville and offer him their support.
Cranberry Packing and Storage Building
Since the goal of cranberry villages was to produce, pack, and sell cranberries, the cranberry packing and storage building was an important part of each settlement. J.J. White designed Whitesbog’s cranberry packing and storage building, which was the largest in New Jersey, and built in three sections between 1890 and 1900.
The Historic Whitesbog Tract encompasses all 3,000 acres of Whitesbog, including cranberry bogs (both active and fallow), blueberry fields (both active and fallow), woodlands and waterways, and the Village, which includes Elizabeth White’s residence, Suningive, and its gardens.
The Whitesbog Museum Archives acquires and preserves artifacts in a variety of formats that document the history of Whitesbog Village, the cranberry and blueberry industries of New Jersey, and the individuals who contributed to that history. The Archives’ volunteer staff is in the process of organizing, processing, and cataloging multiple collections to make them accessible to researchers.