Early records have listed one of the first residents of Medford as John Haines. John Haines lived in a cave on the South Branch of the Rancocas Creek called "Haines Bank.” John Haines, the cave dweller, was the first recorded farmer of early Medford who could sign his name. Many of the early settlers of Medford could not even write or sign their names but could at least make their mark (usually an X or some other simple symbol).
The complication came when such signatures had to be witnessed this was done by adding their own mark, again, usually an X or other symbol. Unfortunately, this makes it almost impossible to trace early inhabitants of Medford.
The Quakers who came from the Burlington area first settled the area along Haines Creek. The clearing of the land along Haines Creek was left to the first settlers of Medford. These pioneers had to clear the land in order to plant their crops and as a result, trees were sometimes cut down needlessly and burned.
However, the conservative Quakers when clearing land; cut trees, then sawed them into lumber afterwards floating the lumber down the river on rafts. After the rafts arrived in Lumberton the lumber was then loaded onto larger rafts and then floated on to Philadelphia.
Lumber was one of the first major products of the soil that had commercial significance. While the clearing of woods was taking place the capacity for water retention was greatly affected. In June 1766 a board of directors was created to keep the Rancocas Creek free for transportation from Oliphants Mill (today’s Hartford Rd and Taunton Blvd) to Lumberton. In order to obtain this goal a toll was charged for utilizing the Rancocas for travel; the toll money was used to maintain the Rancocas, pulling out logs, sunken barges, and other obstruction.
Lumbering was so profitable for the farmers that many times they did not stop removing trees when enough land had been cleared for their crops. After removal of the trees from the swamp, the water retention of the ground was gone, and this formed some of today’s lakes. Because the water retention was gone, floods and erosion were more destructive. Traveling by water was now even more scarce. In 1840, twenty vessels of different kinds were traveling between Lumberton and Philadelphia. Forty years later there were only a few remaining vessels carrying freight.
The growing and harvesting of hay was a product of commercial importance because of the need to feed livestock during the winter. The harvesting of hay was time consuming, back breaking work because it was harvested loose and not baled as today. When hay was to be done additional help was hired from outside sources.
The Star Glass Works provided much of this needed labor force. This labor was only available because Star Glass Works shut down during the hottest months of summer. Farmers would often discuss the wage that the were willing to pay their hired help. This would often take place at where ever people gathered.
The first step of hay harvesting was to cut it with a sickle, leave it to dry and then rake by hand with wooden rakes or forks, forming windrows. A flat horse drawn wagon was followed by a flat bed wagon with a man on each side. They would then pick up the bunches of hay tied together, called haycocks. Men of this time period were tough and rugged, withstanding the heat and discomfort of harvesting hay. The scratches and itching that went along with the harvesting of hay may it an undesirable back breaking chore. The type of hay called Alfalfa was not introduced into this area until sometime in the 1900's.
Fifty years ago Medford and its surrounding lands were dotted with big old barns with large hay lofts for storing the loose hay. Today most of these barns with their large lofts are gone, however to one looking across the Medford countryside a few still remain. The tall cylindrical shaped silos which stored corn silage used for cow feed can also be seen dotting Medford’s countryside.