A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

History: Bedle's Row, Mount Pleasant (c 1840-1930)

Bedle's Row was a row of five houses located at the corner of what is now Route 79 and Route 516. The houses were supposedly built by Joseph D Bedle (1831-1894), son of Thomas I and Hannah (Dorsett) Bedle of Matawan. Three of the houses were torn down in 1930 to build a gas station at the corner, while the other two houses were merged and renovated to become the home of the station owner.


Joseph D Bedle (NYPL)
A row of five houses was built in Mount Pleasant (now Freneau) in the mid-19th century, supposedly by Joseph D Bedle (5 Jan 1831 - 21 Oct 1894), the 23rd Governor of New Jersey ((1875-1878). (It seems more likely to me that the property belonged to Bedle's father, Thomas I Bedle, a local merchant born about 1806. The elder Bedle would have been in a better position and a more appropriate age to be acquiring property and building homes on it at the time it must have occurred. A check of land records and local atlases is in order.)

William L Dayton (Wikimedia)
The property, eventually known as Bedle's Row in apparent tribute to the Governor, was acquired by a prominent local man named Dayton. Two possibles are listed below.

1) Joseph Bedle's legal associate William L Dayton (17 Feb 1807 - 1 Dec 1864). Dayton was an attorney for the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Freehold and a judge in Trenton then moved into politics. He served as New Jersey's US Senator (1842-1851) and was then chosen over Abraham Lincoln in 1856 to be the first Vice Presidential candidate of the recently formed Republican Party (paired with John C Fremont). After that unsuccessful bid, he served as New Jersey Attorney General until 1861, when President Lincoln made him our emissary to France. Dayton was instrumental in protecting US interests in Paris during the Civil War, especially by keeping Napoleon III from recognizing the Confederate States of America. Dayton died in Paris before the war ended.

2) Alfred B Bedle (b abt 1811) was a local physician living in Matawan  In the 1870 Census, he had $40,000 in property, including $20,000 in real estate. His son Rensselaer Bedle (b abt 1843) was a lawyer living at home.

Dr Nathan Ervin (b abt 1863) bought Bedle's Row from the "Dayton Estate". (Since William Dayton died in 1864, the land transaction was unlikely to have been between Ervin and William Dayton's estate.) Ervin lived with his wife Georgiana at 103 Main Street in Matawan in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses. They lived in the Borough in 1910, but in Madison in 1870 and 1880.

Gaston Colot and wife purchased Bedle's Row from Dr. Ervin about 1927. Mr Colot was born in Brussels, Belgium about 1885 and died in Matawan in 1965.


The 7 January 1882 edition of The Matawan Journal provided this brief obituary under the caption Mount Pleasant:

Jacob Horner, who resided in one of the dwellings known as "Bedle's Row," died at 4:30 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. He was married, and was the step-son of Mr George Hiser. He has been afflicted with consumption for some time. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon, and the remains were interred in Rose Hill cemetery.

The 26 July 1899 edition of The Red Bank Register provided this short blurb under In and Out of Town: Short and Interesting Items From All Over the County:

A house in Bedle's row at Matawan, occupied by a family named Heyer, was struck by lightning on Sunday of last week. The occupants of the house received a slight shock.

The 8 February 1929 edition of The Matawan Journal announced Gaston Colot's intention to open a modern gas station at the corner of present-day Route 516 and Route 79 in Freneau.

Three Houses Are to be Removed to Make Room for the New Station

Gaston Colot has extensive plans prepared to build an up-to-date gas and supply station at the intersection of Middlesex and Main Streets, where the present row of yellow houses now stand. Three of the houses near Middlesex Street will be torn down to make room for the new gas station. The building will be of the modern gas station type but considerably larger than most of them seen on the highway. Beside gas and oil service Mr and Mrs Colot will continue to handle tires and automobile accessories as well as their former battery service work. Work will be started about the first of March, or as soon after as the tenants in all five houses can locate elsewhere. The sidewalk will be widened and the corner of the road cut back in circular fashion to give greater width to the road and ease in turning the corner.

The two houses remaining after the three end houses are torn down will be completely renovated and turned into one dwelling in which the Colots will make their home when completed. Just what will be done with the present garage building has not been determined.

This property was bought by Mr and Mrs Colot a couple of years ago from Dr Nathan Ervin. It has been known for a number of years as Ervin's row. When Dr Ervin bought it from the Dayton Estate, the buildings were in a bad state of repair. He greatly improved the corner. Now the new owner plans to make an even greater improvement in line with the general improvements now taking place on all sides in Matawan. Mr and Mrs Colot and family are Belgians and moved to Matawan fifteen years ago. They have been fine citizens and through the dint of hard work and good business practice have progressed.

The 22 August 1930 edition of The Matawan Journal provided this front page article about the end of Bedle's Row:

Gaston Colot has given the tenants in the five houses owned by him and known as Bedle's Row, notice to vacate. He plans to raze the row of houses which are said to have been built by Governor Bedle, the only Governor of New Jersey to have come from Matawan. In their stead a fine super gas station will be erected along the line of the one-stop gas stations of the present day. The road will probably be widened and a great improvement will be made on the site when it is completed. Work on demolishing the end house will be started next week.

The 17 October 1930 edition of The Matawan Journal provided this update to the razing of Bedle's Row:

The construction of a new gas station has been started on the site from where the old building known as Bedle's row was removed recently.


The 16 November 1916 edition of The Matawan Journal included an advertisement (bottom, right) for Standard Oil that said Gaston Colot was selling their products in Freneau.

Gaston Colot Auto Repair Shop, Freneau, NJ (1919

The 7 August 1919 edition of The Matawan Journal included an advertisement (above) for the Gaston Colot Auto Repair Shop in Freneau.

Colot 1922
The 3 November 1922 edition of The Matawan Journal included an advertisement (left) for Exide car batteries and battery testing and charging at Gaston Colot's repair shop in Matawan. Ford Magneto ignition systems provided an inconsistent flow of current from non-rechargeable dry cells and were difficult to maintain, so customers were moving to rechargeable batteries. Mr Colot's shop sold A and B batteries for wireless, self-starter and generator and recharged Ford Magnetos while you waited. A similar ad appeared in the  4 May 1923 edition of The Matawan Journal. 
Standard Oil, 1916

The 22 February 1924 edition of The Matawan Journal included an advertisement saying that Gaston Colot offered a full array of Chervolet parts and repair services in Matawan.

The 18 February 1965 edition of The Matawan Journal included an obituary for Gaston Colot, who razed Bedle's Row and built a gas station in its place, an enterprise which he operated in Matawan for many years. The article suggested that Mr Colot operated an auto repair shop as early as 1916 but didn't build his gas station until 1930.

Gaston Colot, Matawan, Succumbs In Hospital

Gaston Colot, 80, of 348 Main St., Matawan, who opened the first service station in Matawan Borough, died Tuesday night, Feb. 16, 1965, at Monmouth Medical Center after a long illness.

Mr. Colot was born in Brussels, Belgium. He was the son of the late Felicien and Elvinia Colot. Mr. Colot had been trained for the diplomatic service. He attended Sorbonne University, Paris, and The University of Bonn in Germany and also took advanced studies in the diplomatic field at Nottingham, England. He served as a student officer in the Belgium Navy.

When he was a young man, Mr. Colot and his family came to this country. He had lived in Matawan since 1914 and opened the service station in 1916 which is still in operation, the business being carried on by his son, Robert Colot, a former Matawan councilman, and his grandson, Matawan Councilman Robert R. Colot.
Mr. Colot and his wife, Mrs. Clarisse (Suchet) Colot, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1957.
Surviving in addition to his wife, son and grandson are two other grandsons. Lt. Comm. Peter Colot, U.S. Navy, Alexandria, Va.; Raymond F. Colot, Matawan, and eight grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. from the Bcdle Funeral Home, Matawan, to St. Joseph's Church where at 9 a.m. a requiem mass will be offered.


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