A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

History: Adoption of the Electric Chair in NJ (1906)

Edward C Stokes (Wikimedia)
The 12 Apr 1906 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that NJ Governor Edward C Stokes signed the "electrocution bill," taking murderers off the gallows and putting them in the electric chair. The new form of capital punishment, considered less harsh than hanging, would go into effect on 1 Mar 1907. On the occasion of the bill's signing, Governor Stokes said, "This is a good law and I am glad to have the opportunity to approve it. I believe in it, for I am convinced that death by hanging is a brutal method."

Experimentation on the use of electrocution for capital punishment was done by Harold P Brown at Thomas Edison's laboratories in West Orange, NJ in the late 1880s. While Edison's better-known name is sometimes associated with the device, Brown is the actual inventor of the chair.

The first execution using an electric chair took place in New York State in 1890. The execution took eight minutes and was quite messy, prompting George Westinghouse to comment that "they would have done better using an axe."A reporter on the scene commented that electrocution was far worse than hanging.

Edison and Brown demonstrated the effectiveness of the use of alternating current for electrocution by killing a circus elephant in 1903.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

History: County Sheriffs in NJ Lose Earnings from Bankruptcy Fees (1878)

The 28 Sep 1878 edition of The Matawan Journal said that county sheriffs in New Jersey had stopped receiving an "additional twenty-five cent fee" related to their duties related to Federal bankruptcies as of 31 Aug 1878.

After the Federal government passed the Bankruptcy Act of 1846 (An Act to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States), Trenton passed a statute authorizing a schedule of fees for state officials handling bankruptcies. When the 1846 Act was revised 2 Mar 1867, Trenton revised its fees the next year.

On 14 Mar 1871, Trenton passed a supplement to the state fee statute authorizing county sheriffs to receive a fee of "twenty-five percentum additional in each case for all services to be by them performed." (Doesn't sound like 25 cents to me.)

The 1871 supplement included a caveat that the fee to sheriffs would no longer be authorized if the original Federal Act expired. Wikipedia's History of Bankruptcy Law in the US (footnote 3) says the Act of Mar. 2, 1867 was recorded as section 11, 14 Stat. 521, amended in 1874 as 18 Stat. 182, and repealed in 1878.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Matawan Journal Online Archive (1878)

The online edition of The Matawan Journal has an incorrect link to the 1878 issues, linking instead to the 1869 issues. Here's a good link to the 1878 issues. Hopefully the link on the site can be fixed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

History: The Third Great Awakening (1869)

Lorenzo Dow (Wikimedia)
The Oct 1869 edition of The Journal Monthly Advertiser in Matawan featured a story of the itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834). Dow was an important figure of the Second Great Awakening, a religious movement that prompted the growth of Methodist and Baptist congregations in the early 19th century.

Reflecting back on the ministry of Reverend Dow, whose legacy was immensely popular in the US, would have been a logical exercise for the local newspaper at this time. Prominent figures in post-Civil War Matawan would have been agitating for prohibition of alcohol and other social ills, aiming to rid their community of sin to clear the way for the Second Coming of Christ and the New Millennium -- the agenda of the Third Great Awakening

In this story, which figured prominently on the front page of Matawan's monthly ad journal, Reverend Dow was in South Carolina pondering a local revival he was to hold the next day when he came upon a young African-American boy playing a tin horn. Reverend Dow asked him to assist with what we would call today a "special effect" in his sermon. The boy was to hide in a tree near the revival and blow his trumpet at a critical point in Dow's oration. The horn would evoke the legend of Archangel Gabriel blowing his trumpet to signal the onset of the Final Judgment and stir the flock to repent of their sins and prepare for coming of their Lord.

The boy earned every penny of the dollar paid him by the Reverend, who got the effect he wanted but put the boy in considerable danger in the process. (Dow had to prevent the crowd from pulling the lad from the tree to whip him.) I suspect that the use of a black boy in this story to represent the Archangel Gabriel suggests the editor's anti-Slavery sentiment, a social ill dealt with in the recent war.

I've included below much of the original text of The Preacher's Stratagem so you can see the use of jargon to characterize the boy's manner of speech. The low station of the boy in the eyes of the congregation is contrasted with his position with Dow, who refers to the boy as his brother and endows him with virtual wings.


[A]s Lorenzo was entering the neighborhood the evening preceding his appointment, he overtook a colored boy who was blowing a long tin horn, and sent out a blast with such rise and swell and cadence, which waked the echoes of the distant hills.

Calling aside the blower, Dow said:

"What is your name, sir?"

"My name? Gabriel, sir!" replied the brother in ebony.

"Well, Gabriel, have you been to Church Hill?"

"Yes, Massa, I've been dar many a time."

"Do you remember a big spruce pine tree on that hill?"

"O yes, massa, I knows dat pine."

"Did you know that Lorenzo Dow had an appointment to preach under that tree to-morrow?"

"O yes, massa, everybody knows dat."

"Well, Gabriel, I am Lorenzo Dow, and if you'll take your horn and go to-morrow morning and climb into that pine tree, and hide among the branches before the people begin to gather, and wait there until I call your name, and then blow such a blast with your horn as I heard you blow a minute ago, I'll give you a dollar.. Will you do it, Gabriel?"

"Yes, massa, I takes dat dollar."

Gabriel, like Zacheus, was hid away in the tree top in fine time. An immense concourse, of all sizes and colors, assembled at the appointed hour, and Dow preached on the judgment of the last day. By his power of description he wrought the multitude up to the opening scenes of the resurrection of the grand --, at the call of the trumpet peals, which were to awaken the nations.

"Then," said he, "suppose, my friends, we should hear at this moment the sound of Gabriel's trumpet." Sure enough, at that moment the trumpet of Gabriel sounded. The women shrieked, and many fainted; the men sprang up and looked aghast; some ran; some fell and called for mercy; and all felt for a time that the judgment was set and the books were opened.

Dow stood and watched the driving storm until the fright abated, and some one discovered the colored angel who had caused the alarm, quietly perched on a limb of the old spruce, and wanted to get him down and whip him, and then resumed his theme, saying, "I forbid all persons touching that boy up there. If a colored boy with a tin horn can almost frighten you out of your wits, what will you do when you hear the trumpet of the arch-angel? How will you be able to stand in the great day of the wrath of God?"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

African-American Series: Metal Worker Murdered Over Woman (1917)

The 20 Sep 1917 edition of The Matawan Journal reported the murder of Lige Carrington by Archie Henderson at the Cliffwood Brick Company on Sunday 16 Sep 1917. The two men had argued over a woman -- Bessie Dennison -- when Henderson shot Carrington through the heart, killing him. Henderson fled and was on the loose at publication time, but Ms Dennison had been taken into custody as a material witness soon after the shooting, along with an unnamed man and a valise full of Mr Henderson's clothing.

Carrington had come from Haverstraw, New York, and was working at the Matawan Iron and Steel Company at the time of his death.

Restaurant Inspections, Monmouth County Health Department

The Monmouth County Health Department attended Aberdeen Day yesterday. I hope you had a chance to visit their booth. The Health Department conducts routine inspections of restaurants in the county (except where a municipality has its own health department - Colts Neck, Freehold Township, Manalapan, Long Branch and Middletown) and posts derogatory results at their website until the violations are fixed and the place is fully inspected (without prior notice) at a later date.

Only the most egregious conditions earn an UNSATISFACTORY rating, according to the county's definition:

“Unsatisfactory”: Whenever a retail food establishment is operating in violation of this chapter, with one or more violations that constitute gross insanitary or unsafe conditions, which pose an imminent health hazard, the health authority shall issue an unsatisfactory evaluation. The health authority shall immediately request the person in charge to voluntarily cease operation until it is shown on reinspection that conditions which warrant an unsatisfactory evaluation no longer exists. The health authority shall institute necessary measures provided by law to assure that the establishment does not prepare or serve food until the establishment is reevaluated. These measures may include embargo, condemnation and injunctive relief.

Most violations earn the CONDITIONAL SATISFACTORY rating, which is also derogatory, just not to the degree of UNSATISFACTORY.

“Conditionally Satisfactory”: At the time of the inspection the establishment was found not to be operating in substantial compliance with this chapter and was in violation of one or more provisions of this chapter. Due to the nature of these violations, a reinspection shall be scheduled. The reinspection shall be conducted at an unannounced time. A full inspection shall be conducted. Opportunity for reinspection shall be offered within a reasonable time and shall be determined by the nature of the violation.

I encourage you to check from time to time to see if restaurants you frequent have come to the county's attention.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

History: Call for Network of Stone Roads in New Jersey (1899)

The 21 Sep 1899 edition of The Matawan Journal included a lengthy front page article discussing The Red Bank Register's call for a network of county stone roads to facilitate both commerce and recreational travel. Cars were becoming more popular, so people needed roadways spanning the state, as well as local roads connecting to these arteries. Construction costs would be shared between the state, county and local governments, but the roads would eventually be managed by the state.
  • Red Bank to Eatontown (this year, to complete route to Belmar)
  • Belmar to New Brunswick (2 sections need to be completed next year)
  • Atlantic Highlands to Matawan (next year?)
  • Oceanic to Red Bank (next year?)
  • Belmar along the coast to Atlantic City (a few miles each year)
  • Atlantic City to Cape May (existing)
  • Two northbound routes from New Brunswick
  • A major north-south route is underway in the western part of the state
  • A major north-south route is underway in the central part of the state
  • Asbury Park to Freehold (future, after shore road completed)
  • Shrewsbury to Freehold (future, after shore road completed)
  • Matawan to Freehold (future, after shore road completed)
  • Eatontown to Tinton Falls (future, to complete E-W route to shore)
  • Freehold southwest, west and northwest to major road in western part of the state
  • Oceanic bridge to Atlantic Highlands (planned)
  • Matawan to Old Bridge (planned)
  • Old Bridge to New Brunswick (completed)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Aberdeen Day 2012 - Sat 22 Sept, Noon to 4 pm at MRHS

Plan to attend Aberdeen Day. It will be held this Saturday from noon to 4 pm at Matawan Regional High School, which for newcomers is situated on Atlantic Avenue between the train station and Church Street/Bethany Road. Matawan-Aberdeen Patch wrote an article about the event back in August.

Bring the kids. Get something to eat. Check out the vendors and social organizations. Salute the troops. Meet a politician. See your neighbors. Celebrate Aberdeen, New Jersey!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

History: Libya in the Matawan Journal

Libya became the world's newest nation on 24 Dec 1951, according to a photo caption in the 10 Jul 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal.
Given the recent stories about Libya, I thought I'd check for articles in the old Matawan Journal that mentioned Libya. There were more than I thought.

The 30 Jul 1942 edition of The Matawan Journal noted that Mayor James C Auchencloss of Rumson was of the same Scottish clan as Major General Auchinleck, commander of the British army in Libya.

The Strand Theater in Red Bank was playing A Yank in Libya as part of a double feature, according to the 1 Oct 1942 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The United Nations General Assembly established an Advisory Council to aid and consult Adrian Pelt, the UN Commissioner for Libya, who was consulting Libya on its post-war transition from an Italian colony to an independent state, according to a front page photograph caption in the 16 Nov 1950 edition of The Matawan Journal. 

Libya became the world's newest nation on 24 Dec 1951, according to a photo caption in the 10 Jul 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 19 Apr 1956 edition of The Matawan Journal announced the engagement of Beverly Ann Ellery to a Libyan diplomat at their Embassy in Washington, DC. Miss Ellery was working at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. She graduated from Keyport High School.

The 28 Mar 1957 edition of The Matawan Journal said that John F McClosky, of 4 Dibling Street in Union Beach, attended a reception at the Grand Hotel in Tripoli, Libya on 15 Mar 1957. The reception was hosted by US Ambassador Tappin and his wife in honor of Vice President Richard Nixon. McClosky was identified in the article as a civilian worker for the US Government.

First Sergeant William W Rinear of Matawan was a 17-year veteran of the US Air Force assigned to Libya when he was photographed with First Sergeant John Coraczi of Milwaukee, Wisconsin discussing nearby El Uotia, Libya firing range operations. The accompanying article, on page 13 of the 6 Mar 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal, discussed firing range operations in a bit of detail.

Airman Third Class Charles F Sellick of West Keansburg, was to be transferred to Wheelus Air Base in the Kingdom of Libya, according to the 23 Jan 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal. His parents, Mr and Mrs Charles F Sellick, Sr, lived at 4 Thorne Place in West Keansburg. He had been trained in the maintenance and inspection of US jet fighter aircraft at Amarillo AFB in Texas.

Wikipedia says Wheelus AB was operated during the Cold War as a strategic bomber base and training center. Strategic Air Command and a detachment of the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing operated out of Wheelus until 1970. Perhaps Sellick was trained to service the then new F-4 Phantom II?

The US had already negotiated its withdrawal from the base when Muammar Qaddafi took over in 1969. Libya passed the airbase to the Soviets soon after the US left in 1970. The base became the headquarters of the Libyan Air Force.

The US Department of Defense was looking to hire teachers for their overseas dependent schools at the elementary, junior and senior high levels, according to the 28 Jan1965 edition of The Matawan Journal. Libya was one of the named destinations. Applications were being processed through Temple University in Philadelphia.

Airman Second Class James E Ross, Jr was to be assigned to the small unit of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) at Wheelus AB, having graduated technical training for emergency radio repairmen at Kesler AFB in Mississippi, according to the 25 Mar 1965 edition of The Matawan Journal. His parents were Mr and Mrs James E Ross, 9 Holly Street, Old Bridge.

MATS provided global airlift services of military personnel and equipment. MATS had transferred most of its operations to Rhein Main AB, Germany in January 1953, according to Wikipedia.

Airman First Class Bruce Makuk of Matawan had recently been transferred from Stewart AFB in Newburg, NY to the Administration and Finance Department of Wheelus AB in Libya, according to the 4 Apr 1968 edition of The Matawan Journal. His parents were Mr and Mrs George Makuk, 110 Ravine Drive in Matawan. Bruce graduated Class of 1962 from Matawan High School.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

McDonald's Restaurant Middletown (1963)

The 19 Sep 1963 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 12) included this ad for McDonald's restaurant on Route 35 just north of Five Corners in Middletown. The ad promoted french fries. "You never had 'em so good."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

History: William H Dilts, Presbyterian Minister at Matawan (1926 - 1935)

I've done some research on William H Dilts, who was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan from 1926 to 1935. The article appears on the church blog, where a number of my church history pieces reside.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

History: Car vs Horse; Red Bank Candyman Forced Into Ditch (1908)

The 6 Aug 1908 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that John L Hubbard, the Red Bank candyman, had been forced off the Middletown Turnpike and into a ditch by a big touring car. Hubbard's wagon came over on top of him, pinning the man underneath until some folks came along and freed him. Hubbard had noted the license plate number of the vehicle and planned to sue for damages, including the cost of the several days he was laid up recuperating from his injuries.

History: Middletown Turnpike Company (1900)

The 6 Dec 1900 edition of The Matawan Journal

Sale of a Turnpike

The Middletown Turnpike Company has bought out the Turnpike Company of Middletown. The turnpike is the road between Red Bank and Middletown, over which there have recently been so many legal disputes. It is the road which Ovid Tuzeneu made famous with his axe when he chopped down the tollgate. Since the axe chopping and subsequent suits, Mr. Tuzeneu and others have refused to pay toll over the road. The new company, which is made up practically of the same men who composed the old company, will probably begin suit against those who have not paid toll. The company advertises that it will demand and collect toll by legal process, if necessary. William W. Conover, Jr., is President of the new company and Henry C. Taylor, Secretary.

In anticipation of the move that has just been made concerning the sale of the turnpike, it is said that the opponents of the turnpike instituted suit in April 1898 in the name of George E Tilton against the Middletown Turnpike Company. It was claimed that the company was insolvent and had suspended operations for ten years past. A receiver was asked for and also the winding up of the company. The suit was allowed to remain in a state of suspense until ten days ago, when notice was served on the turnpike company's counsel to plead within thirty days. The claim is that the chancery suit makes liable to contempt anyone who undertakes to transact any business in the name of the alleged insolvent corporation.
I was able to find out a bit more about most of the people mentioned in the above article.

Ovid Tuzeneu was a farmer living in Middletown, according to the 1900 Federal Census. He was born in July 1843 in New York to a Canadian father and NJ mother. He and his wife Catherine had been married 25 years. Only one of their two children was still alive. A 15 year old grandson Frederick lived with them. 

The 1880 Federal Census showed Ovid Tuzenew (36 NY Canada NJ) and his wife Catherine (32 NJ NJ NJ) living in Middletown with their 14 year old son Frederick and a young niece. Ovid was a farmer.

The 1860 Federal Census shows Ovid in the Shrewsbury, NJ household of his parents Stephen (47 Canada), laborer, and Amy (40 NJ). Ovid was second of four children in this census. The last name is pretty much illegible but looks to end in -eau, a reflection of the father's Canadian birth.

There was a farmer named George E Tilton, age 65, living in Middletown in the 1900 Federal Census. He and his wife Catherine had been married 32 years and had two sons, Malcolm (32) and George (30), both of whom were living at home. They had an African American servant from North Carolina named Julia Longest. She was born in Jan 1860.

The 1900 Federal Census showed a William W Conover and Henry C Taylor in Middletown, but both were farmers, not turnpike executives. The names are too common to say the Middletown farmers are a match to those mention in the article.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

History: Matawan's Response to Johnstown Flood (1889)

The 8 Jun 1889 edition of The Matawan Journal included a supplement full of particulars on the 31 May 1889 flood at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It also contained the following local blurbs:
  • Mrs G D White is spending the week with her brother in Philadelphia.
  • Peter V Hyer has purchased an elegant team of bays from Frank Bedle.
  • The rails of the Keyport and Matawan street railway were cast at Johnstown.
  • The US Express, by J S Harris, agent, will send packages or money free to Johnstown sufferers.
  • Excellent music and literary exercises at the Reform Club meeting next Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock.
  • We enjoyed a pleasant call from Mr William Reckless, son of the late Hon. Anthony Reckless, on Monday.
  • The lawn tennis ground on the lot fronting Main street of the Chapman estate is a popular after-ten resort.
  • John Albert has removed from Atlantic avenue to the house vacated by Edward Eastmond on Stilwell street.
  • The June meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders will be held at the court house next Wednesday morning.
  • Edward Eastmond has removed from Stilwell street to the house owned by Mr William Spader near the up town pottery.
  • John Stephens is building quite an addition to his house near the junction of the Freehold turnpike with the road to Old Bridge.
  • We are in the very cream of the strawberry season and are having a cream of a crop, and strawberries and cream are especially palatable.
  • The Matawan Building and Loan Association held its regular meeting on Wednesday evening. $1,000 was sold at 1 per cent premium.
  • Mrs Annie Pennington and Miss Emma Burnham, of Delaware, who have been visiting at the Presbyterian parsonage, returned home on Monday.
  • The Union News Co will erect a news stand at Matawan station, similar to the one at Red Bank and those being built at South and Perth Amboy.
  • Mr E S Hammell, editor of the Jamesburg Record, with his wife and child, spent from Saturday to Monday as guests at the residence of Mrs D I Stilwell.
  • Commencing next Saturday June 15, the steamer Minnie Cornell will leave New York every Saturday at 9:30 pm. On the other weekdays she will leave at 4 o'clock.
  • E I Brown will open in a few days in the store room formerly occupied by George B Shepherd as a furniture store, No 10 Commercial Block, with a large stock of new carriages, wagons, etc.
  • An effort is being made to secure a post office at Mount Pleasant, and it is proposed to name it Freneau, after the Revolutionary poet, Philip Freneau, who lies buried on the Hyer farm at that place.
  • J L M Dominick, agent for Adams Express Company, will receive and ship FREE to the flooded districts, any clothing, potatoes or other articles not perishable. They can be left at his express office, or he will call anywhere in Matawan.
  • The funeral services of the infant child of Mr and Mrs John S Woolley took place at the residence of the parents, upper part of Main street, at 3 o'clock last Sunday afternoon, and were conducted by Rev Mr Chattin. The remains were interred at Rose Hill Cemetery.
  • On Tuesday evening, at the regular meeting of the Washington Engine Co, Garrett Hendrickson was put in nomination for Chief of the Fire Department. Matawan Truck Co on Wednesday evening nominated Isaac T Rue. The two companies will meet this Friday evening to elect.