Mary Ann Silvers was recently honored at the Holy Eucharist Church Pine Barrens Festival with the Volunteer Service Award for Tabernacle. She has been president of the Historical Society of Tabernacle Township for the past six years.
As president, Silvers is busy cataloging all the THS’ items, along with giving tours, fundraising and researching the town’s history.
Spearheading the committee in 2014 to establish the Tabernacle Community Tree Lighting event was one of Silvers’ brightest moments. THS, along with the Tabernacle Woman’s Association and the Tabernacle HSA, invited the Tabernacle School District’s choruses and hand chimes, Tabernacle Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and Santa to make their appearances at the event. Every year it seems to grow bigger and better, according to Silvers.
“I am honored to have received this award,” said Silvers. “I am very grateful for the support of the community.”
Silvers currently serves as the fourth president in THS. Rick Franzen, the past mayor and committee member, will be the next president after he is sworn in during the group’s September meeting.
THS is caretaker of three properties in Tabernacle. It maintains the 1860 Knight-Pepper House with the help of the township. Gilbert Knight built the two-room, two-story house for his family of six – Gilbert, his wife Elizabeth and their four children. Gilbert served in the Civil War from 1861-1865. He was the town’s blacksmith and is buried with his wife and one daughter in the Tabernacle Cemetery.
The 1890 Friendship Schoolhouse was brought to the town from Friendship. The Society refurbished it in 1985 and placed it on the grounds of what is now known as the Lenape Regional High School District Sequoia Alternative High School. Tabernacle’s original Friendship School on Powell Place Road was later used as the Amity Cranberry Packing House and then a private home and business.
In 2016, THS started to care for the 1803 Tabernacle Cemetery located across from Town Hall on Carranza Road from Rickey and Eileen Haines, who were also caretakers of the property. Twenty-eight citizens bought the two-acre property for the burial sites of them and their families. In 1894, the last of the Lenape tribe in this area, Indian Ann Roberts, was buried there along with her daughter.
“Keep history alive!” said Silvers after mentioning her appreciation and thanks to the involvement of community members.
Besides her work with THS, Silvers also taught in the Tabernacle School District as a first- and second-grade teacher, then as the librarian at the Elementary School for 28 years. She is now retired.
She’s also been involved with the Virtua (West Jersey) Hospital Auxiliary Board, Stover-Tatum Auxiliary since 1972. She was their president twice for the auxiliary and now holds the vice president position with the board. Silvers has volunteered for the hospital as a general clerk and NICU Baby Cuddler.
She is married to Harry Silvers for 52 years. They are proud parents of sons Brian and Steven Silvers and their families, especially their granddaughters, Ava, Aubrey and Georgia.