A Brief History and Overview
Buena Vista Township
(updated March, 2001)

In 1692 this area was part of Cape May County. By 1694 we were part of Gloucester County. In 1695 our area was called Great Egg Harbor, which was also known as New Weymouth. In 1798 we became part of Weymouth Township until 1813 when we became part of Hamilton Township. In 1837 Atlantic County was formed. On March 5, 1867 Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County was established, separating from Hamilton Township. Buena Vista Township today is somewhat smaller than it was when it was originally established in 1867. At that time, the areas that we know today as Folsom and Buena Borough were part of Buena Vista Township. In 1906 Folsom and in 1949 Buena Borough were separated from the Township.

The earliest settlements in Buena Vista Township can be traced to a pristine body of water known as Deep Run in the Pancoast Mill area.  Wildlife and rare species can be found in this particular portion of the Township. Deep Run (part of the Great Egg Harbor River system) lent itself to an early sawmill being developed by John Campbell. Campbell originally bought land in Buena Vista Township in 1773. In 1779, he opened a tavern known as "Ye Olde Midway Inn". In 1773, the Methodist Church (Friendship Church) was established by Aguilla Down and Ambrose Pancoast. Friendship Church and the Midway Inn, which are now in Buena Borough, are amongst the earliest buildings in this area.

The Buena Vista School District was established in 1866, one year prior to Buena Vista Township being created. Several original school buildings in the Township still exist, though the earliest ones prior to 1900 are no longer standing. A school in Milmay which is now a home was built around 1915. The first school in Newtonville still stands on Jackson Road.

The area known as Newtonville was planned to be developed by an acquaintance of Charles Landis, the developer of Vineland, but it never bloomed to its anticipated level. The Collings Lakes area was originally cranberry bogs that were later filled to make lakes. A housing community was developed around the bogs there in the 1950's. Buena Vista Township's community was developed around the bogs there in the 1950's. Buena Vista Township's farmlands in Richland, East Vineland and Milmay truly put the word "garden" in the Garden State. Our area is noted for its tomatoes, corn, peppers and other vegetables. In this modern era, we also grow a variety of unusual vegetables for specialty purposes.  Buena Vista, which means "good vision", was originally introduced to this area after the Mexican War by George B. Cake, a hotel owner, in 1848.

Buena Vista Township has a diverse, cultural background.  Many Italian families moved here in the early years.  In 1953 a Russian community, New Kuban, was established on Weymouth Road.  We have residents of almost every culture and religion.  We have vast farmlands, beautiful Pinelands, wildlife, precious bodies of water and even beaches in Collings Lakes.  While most people perceive this area to be flat, we are actually on higher ground than many areas in South Jersey.  In the farmlands of Milmay, East Vineland and Richland, several rivers have their headwaters (starting point).  The Manumaskin Drainage Basin (part of the Maurice River) along with the Tuckahoe and South Rivers (tributaries of the Great Egg Harbor River) are significant in their environmental impact to the region.

Our modern economy is made up of people of all different backgrounds - from laborers and farmers to casino executives.

The original reason that people came to this area was the soil that was available for farming and the sand which helped produce sand mining operations and glass manufacturing plants.  Today, soil and sand are still the primary businesses in Buena Vista Township.  Farms are abundant and companies such as Comar and Wilmad Glass are examples that the specialty glass and plastics industry is still in Buena Vista.

Our children are educated by the Buena Regional School District which serves both Buena Vista and Buena Borough as well as students in Estell Manor, Weymouth and Newfield.

The logo on the Township banner shows an eagle that symbolizes the Townships strength and states the slogan:  "44 miles of Opportunity".  In actuality, the size of the Township is just under 42 square miles.  In 2000, we had a population of 7,655 and 2,727 homes.  As we enter the year 2002, our population has grown and is estimated to be around 8,000 residents.  Ninety percent of Buena Vista Township is located within the confines of the area known as the Pinelands.  The area to the west of Union Road in East Vineland is the only portion of the Township that is outside the Pinelands.  The Pinelands is a natural land reserve covering 53 towns in 7 counties in southern and central New Jersey.  Beneath the Pinelands is the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, the largest underground supply of water on the east coast of the United States.

The Township is served by the New Jersey State Police.  On November 8, 1996, the New Jersey State Police opened their Troop A Headquarters, serving all of South Jersey, on Route 54 in Buena Vista.  The facility includes barracks and administrative offices.  Five volunteer fire companies service the Township: Richland, East Vineland, BVT #3 (Newtonville), Collings Lakes and Milmay. Each fire district has commissioners that are elected by residents within their boundaries. Tax dollars are raised to operate the fire companies. Three volunteer rescue squads service the Township but do not receive taxpayer dollars, only contributions from the Township and public. The Collings Lakes Ambulance Association and the BVT-EMS are based in our Township.  The BVT-EMS is a joint effort of the Richland and East Vineland Fire Companies and started operations in 2000.  The Milmay area is served by the Dorothy Rescue Squad.  Mutual aid is also provided to the Township by the Minotola Rescue Squad based in Buena Borough.

Our community has a "Township Committee" form of government. There are five voting districts. Five Township Committee members are elected for three-year terms to serve our residents. Each committee member is elected "at-large", meaning that voters from all districts of the Township vote on their elected leaders. The Township re-organizes each January. A member of the Township Committee is selected to act as Chairperson/Mayor of Buena Vista. An additional member of the Committee is chosen to be Vice-Chairperson/Deputy Mayor. The Township Committee is the decision-making body for the government of Buena Vista Township. All daily operations are handled by the Township Administrator as well as the various department heads. All business for the Township passes through the Township Committee, which acts on laws applicable to our community that are established by the state of New Jersey.

Sometimes our community is faced with a geographical identity crisis. Many people identify Buena Vista Township by the area they live in, such as Buena, Richland, Milmay, East Vineland, Newtonville, Collings Lakes, New Kuban, Lake Ann, Buena Acres, and Pine Lake Estates.  Buena Vista Township is served by 10 post offices. Post office addresses like Williamstown, Newfield, Mays Landing, Minotola, Landisville, and Vineland add to the confusion. We are located in the western end of the Atlantic County on the border with Cumberland and Gloucester counties. Our voters cast ballots in New Jersey's 1st legislative district and nationally in the 2nd congressional district.

At the writing of this brief history, Buena Vista Township is 135 years old.  In 1967, the 100th Anniversary of the Township was celebrated and was quite a festive occasion. As a resident of Buena Vista Township, you can feel proud of the history and culture that your community has inherited.

Buena Vista Township
Copyright 1999 [Buena Vista Township]. All rights reserved.




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