A Lost Town of Southern New Jersey
Imagine a picturesque farming community dotted with family farms, a quaint one-room schoolhouse and small store. Such a place was Baileytown. Located in Cumberland County about a mile southwest of Laurel Lake, it dated back to 1799 when the first Bailey built a log cabin along Ackley Road.
Today very few people know it existed, but as a child I often heard stories about Baileytown. My mother's ancestors settled there, turning wilderness into a tight-knit community of Bailey kin who built homes with their own hands, farmed the fertile land, and raised generations of Baileys.
By the end of World War II, it had all been erased from the map. Forced out by the War Department in 1942, its residents packed their belongings and left behind what for some was the only home they'd ever known. Baileytown was to become an aerial target range for the Millville Army Air Field. Young pilots shot up homes and barns, leaving the community in ruins. My mother’s version of these events was a phrase I heard repeatedly as a child: “They bombed the hell out of it.”
Today you can still find the name Baileytown on a few maps, but this represents nothing more than a frozen moment in time. The land area where Baileytown once stood is now part of the Bevan Wildlife Management Area. Old cellar holes and ruins bear testament to a once thriving community.