The Kay-Evans House @ Croft Farm - Cherry Hill, NJ
N 39° 54.011 W 075° 01.191
18S E 498303 N 4416678
Quick Description: This historical sign can be found affixed to the front of the house to the right of the front door. From 1697-1897, four different mills earned the Kay and Evans families their livelihood.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 2/16/2008 4:50:03 PM
Waymark Code: WM363T
The centerpiece of Croft Farm is the 16-room farmhouse. Built in several stages, the original section of the house was erected in 1753 by Issac Kay and exists today as the dining room, "tight winder" staircase and the primary facade facing Evan's Pond.
Through the years, the farmhouse has gone through many changes, including the addition of rooms on the northern side of the house in 1816. This changed the orientation of the home away from the pond and toward the road, a symbolic and functional acknowledgement of the development of roads and new transportation lines in Southern New Jersey.
It was reported by a descendent of Thomas Evans that Croft Farm "was one of the stations to which runaway slaves were brought. The slaves came from Woodbury and were received by Thomas Evans, then quickly hidden in the attic of the house so that no one could find them. Then, in the middle of the night, they would be given something to eat and hurried off in a covered wagon to Mount Holly, where they were received and hidden again." No one knows for sure how many people on the underground railroad were housed and fed at Croft Farm.
Records show that Josiah Evans arranged to purchase the freedom of two fugitive slaves, Joshua Sadler and Jefferson Fisher, rather than have them picked up by a bounty hunter. They remained at the mill, working to repay Evans for his kindness. Sadler went on to become the leader of a small settlement of freed slaves who established "Sadlertown" in what is now Haddon Township.
In the 1920s, with the once flourishing saw and grist mills no longer functioning, the Evans family sold the land to John W. Croft, Jr. who, along with assistant Thomas McCargo, farmed the land until 1981.
In 1985, the Croft family sold the 80-acre property to Cherry Hill Township. In 1995, a new era began as the Cherry Hill Arts Center was dedicated on the grounds of Croft Farm.