Local Town’s Historical Tavern: An Interview with Tom Budd

Barnsboro Inn, Sewell New Jersey
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Tom Budd is the owner of the restaurant, Barnsboro Inn. This allegedly haunted tavern in my town turned out to be quite fascinating to learn about. This Q&A is a great way for locals to learn what is truly behind these closed doors. Even the name holds history. Here is my interview with Budd:

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your connection to the restaurant.
A: I purchased the real estate and business from Michael Aliberti, whose family had it for 32 years, in March of 2002 and have operated the business since.  It is an interesting industry and it can be both loads of work (seven day weeks) and lots of fun.  The business is organized as an LLC and my title is Managing Member.

Q: What does your logo mean when it says it was established in 1720 but licensed in 1776?
A: 
John Budd built the original structure as a log cabin in 1720.  By 1776 and several owners later, the house had been expanded to include the two downstairs rooms of a traditional colonial with a second story.  John Barnes petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions for a Tavern License (March of 1776) and it was granted.  So, on Independence Day 1776, we were an operating tavern where discussions were likely taking place.  We do not know if our tavern favored the Tories or Rebels.

Q: I know the tavern has been licensed since 1776 which is really amazing. What’s the history behind Barnsboro Inn?
A: The most interesting story is that John Budd (builder of original log cabin) is my ancestor.  My family came from England in the 1670s (as Quakers looking for religious freedom) and my ancestor William Budd was part of the West Jersey Company that settled New Jersey.  He would graze his cattle on Absecon Island — which is now Atlantic City!  In my genealogy chart you can trace from Reverend Thomas Budd who died in prison in England in 1670 (he was sentenced for praemunire which is somewhat like Religious Treason. It appears the original Thomas appealed to the Pope for some relief and the King took offense.) to John Budd alive in 1720 on up to me, also Thomas Budd.  I discovered the family connection shortly after buying the business.  Kind of cool, isn’t it!

Q: I’ve heard it’s haunted but don’t know of any stories; do you know or hear about any cool sightings or tales?
A: We hear stories about ghosts all the time and I’ve heard many from old-time connections to the property.  Personally, I’m not convinced.  I allowed South Jersey Ghost Research to come in one evening and do an investigation.  It is still listed on their webpage but the link seems to be broken.

(I am currently waiting to hear back from South Jersey Ghost Research about their investigation.)

Q: I’ve been to Barnsboro several times; I appreciate the way the tavern stays true to its original architecture. How do you keep the building so well preserved?
A: I like old buildings and our business depends upon the experience.  It is costly!

Q: I love how our town has a building so longstanding and historical. Do you believe it will thrive for years to come? What do you see for the future of the business?
A: Hard to know what the future brings.  I’m at the end of my career (over the next several years) so eventually I will sell it and it is hard to know what happens then.  Hopefully, the future is bright and long.

Other interesting facts: Teddy Roosevelt spoke from the back of a wagon in our parking lot in 1912 when he was running for president on the Progressive ticket (Bull Moose).  We have been an operating tavern since 1776 with the only exception being prohibition.  I’m told we awaited repeal as an ice cream parlor and bordello.  Interesting combination.

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