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The Lauderbachs and the Seven Stars

The Seven Stars Tavern

Peter Lauderbach (also spelled Lauterbach, Louderback, Louder-Back, and Lowderback) was born around 1732 and immigrated as early as 1737 or around 1748.

It is said that he worked as a coachman in Newark and eloped with his employer's daughter, Elizabeth around 1750. She was allegedly born in Scotland and immigrated with her parents.

When the two of them eloped, they found their way to Pilesgrove Township in Salem County, New Jersey. The resided in a log cabin tavern, situated on the Kings Highway (south of Swedesboro), built in 1751 by Joseph Wood. Peter and Elizabeth purchased the land and the tavern around 1758 and began to build their own brick residence and tavern on the site. According to tradition, Elizabeth mixed the cement and carried it to the building in helping to erect the tavern. It features pattern brick work on the south gable that spells out their initials and the building’s date of construction: "LB P E 1762." The northern gable also displays the year 1762.

The Southern Gable

It was known as the Seven Stars Tavern, (or The Sign of the Seven Stars) and a signboard hung from the tavern which depicted seven stars. The small window next to the larger window on the right provided curb service for passing coaches.

During the Revolutionary War, the Lauderbach family supported the Revolutionary cause. Peter and Elizabeth apparently provided supplies to the Continental Army, possibly during the Valley Forge encampment when troops under Anthony Wayne’s command gathered food stuff from the population of Salem County in 1778. Their son John was a ardent patriot and strong supporter of the cause of Independence. His actions were noted by the British, who put a price on his head. The tavern was raided by British troops in 1778, but John and his family safely hid in the woods.

John later joined the Continental Army, specifically Casimir Pulaski’s Legion of Dragoons. He appeared on muster rolls as early as 1779.

Peter died without a will in 1780. His estate inventory was valued at over 9,667 pounds. John Lauderbach presumably took over operations of the Seven Stars Tavern. He died without a will in 1802 with an estate inventory valued at $1,271.

Elizabeth Lauderbach was named on the Upper Penns Neck Township tax list for 1789 as the owner of one acre of improved land, which she may have received as part of the settlement of her husband’s estate. Her son John appears on the same tax list as the owner of 170 acres of land. Elizabeth and her son John do not appear on any other tax lists for the township. It is possible that she lived with her son during her widowhood. As a property owner, Elizabeth Lauderbach exercised her right to vote in Upper Penns Neck Township in 1800. She is not recorded on any other surviving poll lists for the township. She is recorded as a widow in the 1806 list of communicants for Trinity Episcopal Church in Swedesboro. Seven years later she wrote her will. Her will stated that she lived in Pilesgrove Township, adjacent to Upper Penns Neck Township.

Elizabeth left her estate to whoever was taking care of her at the time of her death (her son John had died in 1802) and her daughter Sarah, who had married James Gardiner. The value of her estate was listed as $79.50. It is unknown where Elizabeth Lauderbach is buried.

The Seven Stars building still stands today, but it has been a private residence since December 1805 when it was conveyed to Nathaniel Robbins.

The Seven Stars today, from the Northern side


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