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Dallas Ferry and Coffee Jones
In the 1600s, the area now known as Port Norris, Bivalve and Shellpile were settled by the Lenni Lenape Indians. Later they were moved aside by English settlers looking for fertile ground along the Delaware Bay and River. The settlement was eventually taken over by William Dallas, a farmer who found that he could float cordwood over the waterways to the cities north, including Philadelphia. He established a ferry business and renamed his new venture Dallas Ferry. He soon added hay farming and shipping. After Dallas' death in 1784 his son Jonathan sold the area to Philadelphia coffee merchant Joseph Jones, who renamed it Port Norris after his son Norris.
Coffee built a tavern near the ferry landing for John Ogden and Norton Harris. The area was known as Peak of the Moon, as this is the highest ground in the area so the first place to see the moon rise. Coffee had the largest sheep ranch on the east coast, with almost 7,000 in his heard, though most were lost to disease.
During the War of 1812 with England, the British captured one Coffee's boats, the Plowboy, which was carrying lumber to Philadelphia. They held it the ransom of $1,000 in gold, a small fortune in those days. These events discouraged Coffee and he auctioned off the town, most of which was won by John Ogden.
It is not known what happened to Coffee and his family after the auction, though it is presumed that they left the area.
Port Norris is Sold!
Name That Town!
The following is an article from the Rural Visitor, a newspaper from Burlington City NJ., published weekly by D. Allinson, dated July of 1810. It describes the sale of "a valuable grazing farm" that would soon be known as Port Norris. Transcribed verbatim. Read More.