Village of Clermont Page 1
Clermont, once know as "Squedunk" after a Lenni Lenape brave who lived in the area. Many of the inhabitants derived their living from the products of the Bay. Clams were abundant locally but oysters were brought in from the Chesapeake Bay in sloops and were replanted in the sound. After three years they were harvested. Before shipping, they were taken to the depot in South Seaville and freshened on the platform with spring water. They were then placed in barrels, covered with burlap and shipped to Philadelphia where they were known as "Cape May County Salts". In the small village of Clermont, Robert Fulton, inventor of the first steamboat, the "Clermont" worked on his invention of one of the first submarines in the late 1700's, prior to his steamboat invention. Fulton's submarine, the "Nautilus" was built of steel, in the shape of an elongated oval and similar to the structure of our modern submarine. His model was superior to any model built at the time. In 1811, Jaycox (Jaycocks) Swain and his two sons, Henry and Joshua invented the Lee Board, a device which revolutionized sailing.
Crying Wolf! In Clermont
In colonial days, the Great Cedar Swamp was a place of mystery and danger, filled with rattlesnakes, black bears, and wolf packs. In the late 19th century, Clermont was a land of plenty. Self-sufficient farmers grew corn, wheat, and rye. Their orchards ripened with fruit, especially yellow skinned apples. In addition to growing food, Clermont families raised sheep for wool and meat. Here's where the wolves come into the story. Wolves love sheep but wolves are not healthy for sheep to be around. Apparently, local wolves helped themselves quite regularly to local sheep, to the point that sheep raisers took action to protect the livestock. They dug a large pit in a field located about halfway between Clermont and Dennisville. The place was called Wolf Pit Hill. The pit was open, its bottom lined with sharp stakes. The opening of the pit was camouflaged with cut tree branches and a sacrificial lamb was placed in the center to attract the predators. When the wolves came they fell through the covering into the spikes. Investigating at the Cape May County Museum on Route 9, I found a reference to Wolf Pit in Louisa Van Gilder's memoir about the area near Magnolia Lake. But she does not mention the sheep farming or wolf trapping technique. So the mystery continues. Anyone with the knowing the exact location of Wolf Pit Hill is encouraged to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. [Source: DT Museum newsletter Winter 2013 & Cape May County Dateline, a book by Bill Robinson]