Lots of people joke about South Jersey being a bunch of Pineys. Well, living not too far from the Pine Barrens and knowing a little bit about "those people," I consider it a compliment.

William J. Lewis is a proud Piney. He is from a long line of Pineys whose family has been living int the Pine Barrens for generations. He's also a Rider University graduate, a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and has traveled around the globe. So, he's no narrow-minded country bumpkin.

Lewis published a book a couple of years ago called New Jersey's Lost Piney Culture and he's now turned that book into a 90-minute documentary.

He hopes to shed some light on exactly who Pineys are.

One of the messages in the film is that to be a Piney isn’t about race or color, several on-camera Pineys are African American, Lithuanian, and so on.

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And they’re not just country bumpkins or backwoods people — as NJ Governor James Fairman Fielder in 1913 labeled them as "menaces to society."

Courtesy of William Lewis
Courtesy of William Lewis

William has sent several copies of his book, out of his own pocket, to the governor’s office in hopes that they could acknowledge some of the heritage the Pineys have collectively contributed to NJ’s historical tapestry.

There sure ain’t no Piney Museum and when the Pinelands Commission celebrated its 40th anniversary, they never mentioned the Piney.

William is trying to get people in the state to recognize who these folks are and their contributions to the region and the state of New Jersey. He is showing his film at various venues from now until July.

You can watch the trailer here.

You can find out where you can see the film on his Facebook page.

He founded an environmental nonprofit to get kids outdoors and has served in leadership roles for both governmental and New Jersey nonprofit organizations.

Photo courtesy of William Lewis
Photo courtesy of William Lewis

The man in the photo is the most photographed hermit in America. Originally from North Jersey, he was in John McPhee's 1967 book The Pine Barrens.

He was also in a National Geographic article, a Time Life magazine article and various newspapers.

His name is William Wasiowich. His story is wrapped up in this film along with other Pineys. Pictured with him is the author, William J. Lewis. The book and film are definitely worth a look!

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