In 1857, after having experienced considerable success growing cranberries at a small bog called “Skunk’s Misery,” James A. Fenwick, a New Jersey farmer, purchased 108 more acres of bog and pineland along Cranberry Run south of Hanover Furnace. Fenwick must have known this land would give rise to great numbers of cranberries, as the land had been a natural cranberry meadow.
As Fenwick’s granddaughter, Elizabeth White, would note more than 80 years later in August 1941: The berries along Cranberry Run had previously been gathered by any and all comers, some of whom resented cranberry meadows being managed as private property. As one of various protective measures, Grandfather built a fence of cedar rails around what we now call the “Old Bog.”
Despite hard feelings, Fenwick was determined: He built his fence to let all would-be pickers know that the cranberries on this land were his.
Aside from determination, Fenwick possessed another advantage: he already knew a bit about the land he had purchased, as his cousin, Samuel H. Jones, had owned Hanover Furnace in its later days, and Fenwick had sold some of his produce there.
Still, the purchase was not without its problems. The summers were very dry during the first eight years of his ownership of his cranberry farm, and Fenwick soon realized that Cranberry Run did not provide an adequate water supply under such conditions. He began seeking additional water rights and offered $1,000 for a 6-inch pipe that would discharge water on a high part of his ground, but Fenwick did not solve the problem until 1879.
Around the same time, George Upton, who owned land adjacent to Fenwick’s, sold Fenwick about 500 acres, creating a 600-acre tract of Fenwick-owned land. This new property included Pole Bridge Branch (a much richer stream than Cranberry Run) and the site of the former canal and canal pond that had fed Hanover Furnace during its operation. These bodies of water, combined with Fenwick’s repairs to the floodgates and the old dam (which Upton had required as part of the sales agreement), afforded Fenwick adequate irrigation for his farm.
Besides taking over land and water rights formerly associated with Hanover Furnace, Fenwick also employed the remaining residents of Hanover Village. These individuals remained a main source of labor for the farm into the 1890s.