A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

History: 19th-20th Century Electrification In The Matawan Journal

Here's a bit of the history of the introduction of electricity in our area and around the world, as reported in The Matawan Journal:

The 4 Sep 1886 edition says that ships with running lights were now able to pass through the Suez Canal in 16 hours instead of 48 because the passage could include the night time hours.  (page 3)

The 8 Oct 1887 edition says that Red Bank may soon have streets and stores lit with electricity. Asbury Park's electric street railway cars were operational and running well. (page 3)

The 23 Jul 1892 edition includes an article called Electricity for Matawan. The Journal's editor had become acquainted with the use of electricity in Pennsylvania to run trains more efficiently than by locomotive, plus the same dynamos were being used effectively to provide lighting. The newspaper suggested a discussion of the potentials locally. "We see no reason why Matawan, Freneau and Keyport should not be united by an electric road, as well as enjoy the benefits of a complete system of electric lighting."

The 14 Apr 1898 edition contains a public notice of a county ordinance allowing the Monmouth Traction Company to construct and operate an electric train system in Freehold (town and township), Marlboro (township), and Matawan (borough and township). Section 5 of the ordinance requires the use of electricity as the sole motive power for the propulsion of the trains. This section also provides for the proper construction of utility poles and indicates that a map exists showing the exact spots for each pole.

The 12 Oct 1899 edition has a front page article boasting the first operation of street lights on Main Street in Matawan on 10 Oct 1899. The arc lights were brilliant, greatly outshining the kerosene lamps still in place nearby, but the lights were spaced inefficiently because some owners objected to their placement in front of their properties. The newspaper urged a resolution so the lights could be placed properly and avoid additional installation costs to move some poles later.

The 19 Sep 1901 edition indicated that Matawan Borough was paying a bill of $184.75 to the Electric Light Company. The borough was also entertaining a telephone francise for the Inter-State Telephone Company.

The 1 Sep 1910 edition and 8 Apr 1915 edition have the above advertisement by Alexander H Sands and Son, Electrical Contractors, encouraging the public to install electricity at home. Light your home by Electricity, the safest illuminant known. The most approved and up-to-date appliances used in all our work. Iron, Wash and Cook by Electricity. Burglar Alarms, Annunciators, Bell, Electrical Fixtures Installed and Repaired. Orders received at J A Lewis' Stationery Store in Matawan, NJ. The company's office and shop was located at 93 Main Street, Keyport.

The 23 Mar 1916 edition says the Atlantic Coast Electric Light Company was invoking another change downward in electric lighting and power rates in the Long Branch area to coincide with its offer to install wiring and fixtures in homes and offices at wholesale prices. The company's clear intent, The Journal commented, is "to place electricity both for household and commercial purposes within easy reach of all."

The 2 May 1918 edition offers a cleaning remedy for gas lamp-stained ceilings in a piece titled "Remove Smoke Stains." The suggestion will be beneficial to housewives who have not the convenience of electricity or the modern gas fixtures. Frequently the ceiling above an old-fashioned gas jet becomes discolored from smoke and heat. The discoloration may be removed if a layer of starch and water is applied with a piece of flannel. After the mixture has dried it should be brushed slightly with a brush. No stain or mark will remain.


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