Mills Methodist Episcopal Church
adjacent to Batsto Village, Burlington County
Batsto was a mining and manufacturing village in the eighteenth century.
Bog iron was mined and the Batsto furnaces were the major supplier
of cannons, munitions and tools for the Continental army. The restored
contains a sawmill, general store,
blacksmithy, and some thirty other period buildings.
The original congregation was formed by Scottish
exiles, according to Derry, in 1707 at the forks of the Mullica and Batsto
rivers. The fabled Presbyterian minister John Brainerd preached here in 1762
and recorded a substantial description of the second meetinghouse in his
diary. This meetinghouse was erected in 1808, supposedly on the foundation
of that second church, and was dedicated by Methodist Bishop Asbury, although
it was then a non-denominational church and available to any passing Protestant
preacher. The building was remodeled later, but it is not a part of the Batsto
operation (It is immediately adjacent, though.) Derry disputes that the
church was built by the proprietor of the industrial works, but acknowledges
I doubt that much is original here.
Ellis Derry, Old
and Historic Churches of New Jersey (Union City,
N.J.: William Wise, 1979) for additional information.