Coffins Corner – Voorhees, NJ

Edward Winslow Coffin & Coffin’s Corner – History of Voorhees, NJ

From the 1857 Barnes map .

Updated: 4/24/21 – the house was knocked down earlier this week.

The Coffin family can be traced back to 12th Century England, but entered into South Jersey history in the 1800s with William Coffin, whose father had come down from New England (where the family had roots going back to the Mayflower).  William Coffin became, among other things, the proprietor of the tavern at Long-a-Coming (now Berlin) before going into the glass making business.  As part of this business, he went on to found the towns of Hammonton (named in honor of his son John Hammond Coffin) and later Winslow (in honor of another son, Edward Winslow Coffin).

From Annals of the Sinnott, Rogers, Coffin, Corlies, Reeves, Bodine, and Allied Families


And it’s this second son that interests us.  Born in 1824, Edward attended schools in Burlington and Woodbury.  He later followed his dad and brother into the glassmaking business and was married in 1844.  He later sold out his shares in Hammonton Glassworks in 1851, exiting the glass making business.  He went on to become postmaster at Hammonton and later Winslow, helped found a local branch of the International Order of Odd Fellows,  and spent some time in mining in Pennsylvania.

From Biographical Review: Volume XIX: Containing life sketches of leading citizens of Burlington and Camden counties, New Jersey


But he really came into his own when he enlisted in the Union army with US Volunteers on March 24, 1862.  He was commissioned as a captain and put in the “commissary of subsidence”, which provides food for soldiers.  In 1862, he took part in the ill-fated Peninsula Campaign as far as Yorktown, and remained on the peninsula in 1864.  He later served at Fort Monroe (which became famous later for imprisoning former Confederate President Jefferson Davis), Fort Fisher, back to Yorktown, and then and with the Army of the James.  He has been credited for developing the first field ovens used to bake break for Union troops, which was later adopted widely in the army (while I haven’t found any documentation for this, it certainly fits with the type of person that he was) .  He was brevetted as a Major in March of 1865 “for meritorious services in his department during the war” before being mustered out in December of that year.  After the war, he joined the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

View of Coffin house from Evesham Road.  Taken by the author.

After spending some time in Arizona, Winslow began working for the Camden & Atlantic Railroad in 1870 (which had reached the future town of Voorhees in 1854), by which time he was living at the intersection of White Horse Road and Haddonfield-Berlin Road in what was then Waterford Township, now Voorhees Township.  According to the US Census in 1870, Coffin was worth $2500 with a land value of $6000.  He continued to work for that railroad after it’s merger with Pennsylvania Railroad in 1883, and retired in 1890.

Camden & Atlantic Railroad in 1872, shortly after Coffin went to work for them. From History of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad and Associated Railroads 1852-1897

At the same time, he farmed his land in Ashland, and was known to grow strawberries, which grew well thanks to the nearby Kirkwood marl pits.  According to the Camden County Courier, Major Coffin majorly expanded the farm buildings on his farm, building a large barn that he planned to keep cows in.

Camden Courier, 29 November 1884. Thank you to Paul Schopp for finding this.

He must have taken this route, because he received a patent in 1888 for a milk cooler.

Drawing of milk cooler from Major Coffin’s patent application.  Thanks to Paul Schopp for finding this.

Major Coffin passed away on December 12, 1912 at the ripe old age of 88, thirteen years after Voorhees Township was founded.  He is buried at Colestown Cemetery in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Coffin grave at Colestown Cemetery in Cherry Hill, NJ.  Author’s image.


Author’s image.

According to a History of Voorhees no longer available on the Township website, “The Coffin house dates circa 1850 with one section built even earlier. Over the years the Coffin house has served as a residence, school, store, post office, stagecoach stop and commercial office.”  That house was sadly knocked down years ago, and funeral home currently stands where it was.  However, that history may have been somewhat mixed up with another interesting home just across the street..

This building (most recently a real estate office) was never lived in by Edward Coffin, but once served as a tenant home on the Coffin Farm. According to an interview with Ruth Millman Stratton Engle on March 16, 1983, the parlor of this building served as a girls school in 1825 while owned by the Coffin family.  The 1857 Barnes map backs up that this was a school, as the property between what is now Evesham and Somerdale Roads is clearly labeled as a school.

View of Coffin house from Sommerdale Road.  Taken by the author.

Later on, this property would be owned by the Crawford family and in the 1940s or so was the home of local New Jersey historian Arthur Pierce, who wrote such books as Iron in the Pines, Smugglers Woods, and Family Empire in Jersey Iron.

Author’s image.

Unfortunately, if you want to go see this house, stop by sometime soon.  The property has recently been purchased and reportedly already has has their demolition permit approved, as the old home is to be replaced by an office building.   The new owners (who, by all accounts, are lovely people and do good work for charity locally) are sad to see the building torn down, but the days of the old Coffin tenant house and school are numbered.

UPDATE – knocked down April 2021

HUGE thank you to Paul Schopp and Pamela Brown for digging up a lot of great sources on Edward Coffin.

Want to learn more about Voorhees history?  Why not join the History of Voorhees, NJ Facebook group, where folks share stories, pictures, articles, and more.  Also, check out the History of Voorhees Township written in the ’90s and slowly being updated (and having pictures added).


Beck, Henry Charlton.  Jersey Genesis.  Philadelphia: Rutgers University Press, 1945. (Author’s collection)

Biographical Review: Volume XIX: Containing life sketches of leading citizens of Burlington and Camden counties, New Jersey. Boston : Biographical Review Pub. Co, 1897. Online (

Coffin, E. W. APPARATUS FOR AERATING AND COOLING MILK. E.W. Coffin, assignee. Patent No. 379,051,. 1888.

“Edward Coffin.” Find A Grave, 2019,

“Mr. E.W. Coffin.” Camden Courier. Camden, 28 November, 1884: 3. Online.

“NJ Civil War Record”.  New Jersey State Library, Accessed 2/21/19.  <>

Prowell, George.  The History of Camden County, New Jersey. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & co., 1886. Online (

Sinnott, Mary Elizabeth.  Annals of the Sinnott, Rogers, Coffin, Corlies, Reeves, Bodine, and Allied Families. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott company, 1905. Online (Library of Congress).

Towle, Charles L. “History of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad and Associated Railroads 1852-1897.” The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, no. 73, 1948, pp. 16–45. JSTOR,

4th and 5th Graders at Kresson and Osage Schools.  Voorhees Township, New Jersey: A Look at Our Past.  Self-published, 1984.



5 thoughts on “Coffins Corner – Voorhees, NJ

  1. I pass this every single day on my way to work and have seen it fall into dis-repair. The amazing brick wall, the little side building with the slate roof and the original part of the building with “indian shutters”. So sad to see another bit of history fall to the almighty dollar.

    1. The Coffin house IS the funeral home now. It remained in the Coffin family into the late 70’s. It was purchased by Bernie Platt in the early 80’s. The house was updated with new windows, siding, etc and A large sanctuary was added to the Haddonfield Road side but the Evensham Road side is every bit the original Coffin house.

  2. Interesting history! So sad about the house. FYI, you have two typos: Most importantly, #1, his date of death…you typed his wife’s date of death by mistake in the following sentence, “Major Coffin passed away on December 11, 1899“ (see the picture of their headstone). And #2, the word bread is misspelled in the sentence, “He has been credited for developing the first field ovens used to bake break for Union troops,”

  3. It was a shame that one of the oldest historical building in Voorhees Twp. was demolished. Now Voorhees Hardware is one of the oldest buildings still standing in the Township. The abandoned mall of stores stands while a real piece of historical value was disregarded!

  4. I am a descendant of Edward Winslow Coffin, I am William Edward Coffin sr. I grew up across the street from this house.the house across the street was my grandparents which is now a funeral home.that also was Edward Winslows summer home.his winter property was in Camden nj.Walt Whitman used to walk past the property and wrote about the lilacs that grew along haddenfield/Berlin house was also torn do and is now a parking lot for the Morman church next door

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