HOW DID THE SMALL BOROUGH OF SHILOH COME TO BE?
Only one square mile in area, this hamlet has been a thriving community since well before the American Revolution. But Shiloh started out as Cohansey Corners…
Shiloh’s Beginning Under a Jersey Oak
In 1705, in the midst of land clearing and house building between the two commerce centers of Greenwich and Bridgeton, plantation owner Robert Ayars purchased some 3,000 acres of land for his children and grandchildren. Most of that land is where Shiloh now stands. In that day it was not uncommon to use landmarks for establishing boundaries, and Shiloh was marked off from a single oak tree. Ayars’ children were Sabbath-keeping Baptists who built houses and established the borough of Cohansey Corners. Many of the roads in town today were original boundary lines. These Sabbath-keepers attended church a few miles away in Bowentown, which proved farther than it sounds when winter weather or storms arose. In the late 1730’s, one of the members deeded an acre of land for a new church at Cohansey Corners and a small wooden church was built. This was replaced by a brick church building in 1771 and the original wooden structure was moved. In those days you moved a building by rolling it on logs. The men toiled all day and by sunset on Friday the building was at the center of Cohansey Corners. With the approach of the Sabbath at sundown, the congregation decided to leave the building where it was until Sunday. With work ended for the day, Pastor Jonathan D. Davis referred to 1 Samuel, stating “and the ark rested at Shiloh” — and a new name for Cohansey Corners was born. From that day forward, the borough became known as Shiloh (and the church became the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh instead of the SDB church of Cohansey)!
In the coming years the nation would grow and Shiloh would, too. In 1848 the Shiloh School building was built and has served the borough as the Shiloh Academy, Union Academy, Hopewell Township High School, and the Shiloh Elementary School. The Borough of Shiloh has it’s own rescue squad and fire department. In fact, you can still see the original fire ‘gong’ in the center of Shiloh. Similar to ones in other towns, this was most likely taken off a locomotive driving wheel. If struck with a mallet or bar, the fire alarm could be heard throughout the borough.
Though much as changed, as they say, much has stayed the same. There are still descendants of the original settlers living here. There is still a comfortable feeling only found in small town USA. And there is still the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, growing like a Jersey oak tree at the heart of Shiloh.