The Historical Society of Moorestown ended a season of living history and ghost tours last month.
“Traditionally, we would offer a ghost tour,” said Gary Ell, a historical society trustee. “ … But as a historical society, we just really weren’t addressing the historical themes of our town, with 340 years of history. We really weren’t selling the history, just ghost stories …
“We’re really dedicated to presenting the history of Moorestown through education and advocacy, so we were able to maintain some of the ghost stories but really focus on the core history of the founding of the town.”
According to Ell, all tours explored the arrival of the first Quakers in 1683 and the ideals of equality from perspectives of historic figures such as John Woolman and the abolitionists, Alice Paul and the passing of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
“After we put together the stories, the theme of Quakerism was remarkable, how for 340 years we continued to follow this theme of equality and it was tremendously successful,” Ell explained. “The actors that participated were very believable. It’s a great way to really share history because it’s entertaining, it’s fun, it’s amusing, and people walked away with learning not only history, but events that really reshaped the world as we know it.”
“It all happened right here in Moorestown.”
Ell noted the importance of sharing the township’s roots with the community.
“Any chance that we have to provide the history of our town, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, and it benefits all of us, because people walk away with something that they didn’t know before,” he pointed out.
“The worldly impacts of what the settlers here in Moorestown did … it affected the entire world, and that story isn’t really well known,” Ell added. “It isn’t known at all, so it presented a humongous opportunity for them to really understand the significance of this little town and how it (has) impacted all of society.”
Twenty-eight performers brought the shows to life.
“It’s only successful because of the volunteers; that’s what makes this work,” Ell acknowledged. “People sacrificing their own time to come out here to help tell the story, and without the volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to succeed. We’re very, very grateful for everybody that came out to support it.”
Historical figures such as Thomas Moore, Edward Harris and the Marquis de Lafayette were also featured, and Ell hopes the experience impacted attendees.
“I think the biggest takeaway is learning that we’re all equal here and we’re all the same, and we should recognize the value that all members of society have,” he said. “We’re all sharing the town – equality and stewardship really.”
“ … Recognizing the achievements of our people is the most important thing,” Ell added, “and I would think that understanding some of the Quaker values that still hold true …
“Those Quaker values of community and equality still run pretty strong through the blood of our veins.”
For more information on the historical society, visit https://moorestownhistory.org.