A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

History: Four Boys Rescued From Frozen Lake Lefferts (1952)

A story in today's Matawan-Aberdeen Patch about Matawan emergency responders receiving ice rescue training prompted me to check our local history for stories of such situations here. I found the article below from the 3 Jan 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal about a human chain rescue that saved four boys from a frozen Lake Lefferts but imperiled the rescuers.

Four Rescued From Plunge Through Ice  
Use Of Rope After Human Chain Fails Is Means Of Saving Boys Floundering In Lake

Earle V. Whitney, Keyport's recreational director, was one of those whose prompt action Saturday saved the lives of two teen-age boys struggling in the icy waters of Lake Lefferts after a break through the ice. Two others were plunged into the lake also, in trying to form a human chain to reach the boys floundering in the icy water.

The near-tragedy was brought about when Allen Johnson, 14, of 250 Jackson St., Matawan, skating in the Buttonwood Manor area, sought to cross the lake to join boys playing hockey in Scadis Cove. The ice, three inches thick in the cove, had melted to half that thickness farther out and broke under the weight of the Johnson boy.

Richard Bader, 17, of 24 Park Ave., Matawan, one of the hockey players, skated out towards the floundering youth and then tried to reach him by sprawling on the ice and extending a hockey stick. The ice gave way more when Bader sought to pull Johnson, who seized the stick, to him. The larger boy was then clutched by the smaller one and they went down. When they came up, Bader managed to tread the icy water long enough to give time for them to be saved.

A human chain formed, but the two boys at the end of the chain, Robert Demmery, 14, of Morganville, and William Clifton, 18, of Main St., Matawan, plunged into the lake up to their chins when they put their weight on the crackling ice.

Whitney Secures Rope

Mr. Whitney, skating in the area, raced, off the ice and secured two ropes from the property of William Beedle. Mr. Beedle is said to put the ropes out each winter in anticipation of just such need. Mr. Whitney returned to the ice and cast the ropes at the boys struggling in the waters. Bader had secured grip on the hockey stick by then but was calling out he could hold on no longer when a rope was cast to him.

Matawan patrolman Robert McGowan and Special Officer John Berbrick appeared at the scene and joined the others trying to pull the weight of the four boys clutching the ropes to safety.

Shivering and blue with the cold, the four boys were rushed to the nearby home of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Barker, Ravine Dr. Police and the Matawan First Aid Squad arrived soon after. The boys were stripped of their drenched clothing and wrapped in blankets. Mrs. Barker and Mrs. William Brown, a nurse of nearby Grant St., provided hot water bottles and hot drinks.

They were later .examined by Dr. Aram Captanian and apparently found none the worse for their icy ordeal.

Matawan Fire Department also was called to the scene.

The Johnson boy is reported to have had two younger companions with him when he was skating in the Buttonwood Manor area, but they are said to have disappeared when he fell through the ice. Their identities are not known.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

History: Gypsies in Oak Shades (1920)

The 12 Aug 1920 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that the recent sale of the Metsgar tract at Oak Shades would end the use of the property by gypsies..

"This will put an end to the happy hunting ground of the wandering Gypsies that have frequented it for many years."

Mrs Holmes Stilwell, the most recent owner of the tract, broke up the property into building lots and sold them to individuals named in the article, many of whom were already building homes on the property.

The sale of these lots did not end the unwelcome visits. The gypsies returned to Oak Shades the following year, according to the 12 May 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal.

"Gypsies have again settled in Oak Shades for their annual summer stay. Instead of the picturesque van of days of yore they now travel by automobile."

There is scant evidence of the gypsy problem in Oak Shades in earlier editions of the newspaper.


Melissa Stilwell, age 28, was the wife of Holmes M Stilwell, age 33, huckster, in the 1880 Federal Census. They were boarders in the home of Benjamin and Jane Carhart in Raritan Township. Their son, Daniel Stilwell, was 8 years old.

Holmes and Melissa Stilwell were enumerated in Matawan Township in the 1895 State Census.

From 1906 to 1910, Holmes Stilwell was listed in the city directories of Asbury Park. The Stilwells were living in Bridgeton, NJ in a 1913 city directory.

As for the Metsgar tract in Oak Shades, the origins of that description of the property are unclear. Perhaps there is some connection to a prominent resident of Keyport named Capt Peter Metsgar?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

History: Matawan Mayor Allows Women to Wear Shorts, Limits Police Actions to Those Indecently Exposed (1952)

What women could wear on the streets of Matawan became an issue in the summer of 1952 when the chief of police challenged their wearing of shorts. The text below appeared on the front page of the 24 Jul 1952 issue of The Matawan Journal.


Mayor Spafford W Schanck took up the cause of the fair sex wearing shorts at Tuesday's council meeting. The mayor announced the women of Matawan had his sanction to walk the streets with them on. He said only persons who were beyond question "indecently exposed" by scanty attire would be subject to questioning by police. Chief John J Flood, of borough police, announced last week women wearing shorts on borough streets had been asked to change to other garb as shorts were considered not in keeping with the atmosphere of a home community the type of Matawan.

There's an interesting discussion in the 28 Feb 1918 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 2 col 4) of the change in men's perceptions of women's wear from indecency to patriotism brought on by shortages of fabric during World War I.

Monday, January 21, 2013

History: Abortion in Monmouth County Newspapers (1883 - 1958)

With all the pressure to make legal abortions difficult if not impossible to obtain, it seems a good time to review the history of illegal abortions in Monmouth County and the many women who were hospitalized or even died after seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy. Below are an assortment of articles from The Matawan Journal and The Red Bank Register between 1883 and 1958 on the topic of abortion.

Ocean Grove druggist C. Huestis was being pursued on charges of seduction and abortion after evading capture, according to the 26 Sep 1883 edition of The Red Bank Register. The 4 Jun 1884 edition of the same paper elaborated on this, saying that Dr Cornelius Hustis had been captured earlier that week, adding that Hustis had been sought on charges placed by his victim, Emma Howell, of Ocean Grove.

The 13 Jan 1892 edition of The Red Bank Register said, "Thomas Timothy, Jr., of Holmdel township, was arraigned on a charge of abortion. He had betrayed his sweetheart, an immigrant girl named Ella Patrula, and had then induced her to take Paris green. He pleaded not guilty and will be tried on Tuesday, January 26th."

The Matawan Journal's coverage of upcoming arraignments in the Monmouth County Courthouse in ithe newspaper's 2 Feb 1895 edition, page 8, column 5 included a case of conspiracy to commit abortion. A woman named Rosalene Brady had sought and apparently received an abortion in Matawan. Those who performed the procedure were to be arraigned in Monmouth County court for conspiring with Ms Brady as well as for committing assault and battery against her.

Mrs Viola Bowers, a housekeeper in Howell, died of blood poisoning due to an abortion, according to the 11 Apr 1907 edition of The Matawan Journal. A coroner's jury was unable to name any culprits while hearing the matter at Freehold, but they were given only limited information. A doctor from Belmar and her employer in Howell were under bond to testify before the grand jury related to the matter.

The Monmouth County physician, in his annual report, cited one death in the county in 1925 due to abortion, according to the 8 Jan 1926 edition of The Matawan Journal.

Mrs Stella Patterson, of 14 West Main Street, Keyport, accused a juror of soliciting a $400 bribe to quash an indictment against her, according to the 20 Dec 1935 edition of The Matawan Journal, front page. Mrs. Patterson had been charged with performing an abortion on Mrs Eleanor Hopson, 24, of Long Branch. Mrs Hopson died in Hazard Hospital in Long Branch due to the alleged operation. The juror was indignant at her charge against him and called her a liar, while the other jurors called it a frame up.

Red Bank PD arrested one person for abortion in 1943, according to the department's annual report, which appeared in the 10 Feb 1944 edition of The Red Bank Register, page 2 column 1.

Patrick Santangelo of Red Bank was indicted in Monmouth County court for an abortion he performed in Red Bank in August, according to the 5 Sep 1946 edition of The Red Bank Register., page 3.

The Monmouth County Medical Society, at its February 1948 meeting, was to hear a presentation on the prevention of abortion and premature labor, according to the 4 Mar 1948 edition of The Matawan Journal, page 3, column 2.

NJ State Police and Bergen and Passaic County Police broke up a $2,500-per-day abortion ring operating weekends in Red Bank and weekdays in Paterson, according to the 16 Aug 1951 edition of The Red Bank Register..

A doctor from Atlantic Highlands was charged with abortion and tax evasion, according to the 9 Apr 1953 edition of The Red Bank Register, page 8 column 5. At the same time, the doctor was involved in a civil suit/counter suit involving the man who managed the doctor's dairy farm.

Anthony "Tony" Siciliano of Eatontown was charged in Monmouth County court of performing an abortion on Miss Jane Harrison of Long Branch, allegedly causing her death, according to the 25 Feb 1954 edition of The Red Bank Register. Harry Neuwirth, of Long Branch, allegedly aided and abetted the abortion by soliciting Mr Siciliano's services. The defendants were seeking a delay in the court proceedings to prepare their defense, according to the 24 Jun 1954 edition of The Red Bank Register. Mr Siciliano was found guilty two years later, as can be found in the 11 Oct 1956 edition of the Register, pg 2. That edition included a second abortion charge against Mr Siciliano, as follows,"Another indictment against Siciliano, charging him with performing an abortion on Miss Joan E. Rollins, 20, Falls Church,. Va., a college student at Lakewood, is also pending. Miss.Rollins died during August, 1954, after an abortion in an Ocean township motel. Prosecutor Vincent P. Keuper has said he would wait for the sentencing of Siciliano and review of the pending Rollins case before deciding whether to proceed with a trial in the second one."

Dr Leopold Brandenburg of Middlesex Road, Matawan, was found guilty in Hudson County court of conducting an abortion 12 years earlier in Union City, according to the 17 Nov 1955 edition of The Matawan Journal. The woman testified that she and her ex-boyfriend visited this doctor in 1943 and he had charged her $200 to conduct the operation. Dr Brandenburg lost his license in 1947 and served 44 months in a federal prison on narcotics charges.

The 16 Feb 1956 edition of The Red Bank Register carried the following story:
"Abortion Ring Trio Arrested
FREEHOLD — Mrs. Harriet (Hattle) Marks, 38, Southard, charged with performing an abortion and being the central figure in an abortion ring, pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was held in $10,000 bail for grand jury action.
   Prosecutor Vincent P. Keuper said Mrs. Marks had performed about 200 illegal operations during the last 20 years for a statewide ring.
   Identified as one of the key persons in the ring is Robert J. Croameans,, 35, Neptune City, who operated a soda fountain in Red Bank and is free in $10,000 bail awaiting a hearing Monday before
County Judge Elvln R. Simill.
   The complaint in this case is based on an alleged abortion performed last Sept 8 in a Wall township motel on Miss Gladys Bennett, 22, Plainfield. Mr. Keuper said Cremeans has been the go-between in many of the cases in which Mrs. Marks allegedly performed the abortions."

Susan Seward was in Monmouth County court charged with performing a $50 abortion in July 1956 on Mrs Helen Leonard, of Montclair, at the New Shrewsbury home of Sarah Jackson, according to the 15 Nov 1956 edition of The Red Bank Register. Ms Seward claimed that Mrs Leonard conducted the operation on herself with the help of Ms Jackson. Mrs Leonard spent three weeks in a Mountainside hospital recovering from the operation.

Mrs Anna Trzaska of South River was charged with performing an abortion in August in a Keyport home on a 21-year-old Keansburg woman, according to the 2 Oct 1958 edition of The Matawan Journal, page 15, columns 7-8.. Trzaska initially pleaded not guilty but ultimately did not contest the charges, according to the 8 Oct 1959 edition of The Matawan Journal, which noted that the Keansburg woman had been hospitalized but responded to treatment and was released.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

McDonald's Seeks to Demolish/Rebuild Route 34 Restaurant in Aberdeen

 McDonald's plans to approach the Aberdeen Township Zoning Board on Wednesday 23 January 2013 seeking to demolish their current restaurant on Route 34 at Cambridge Drive and build a new 2,452 sq ft restaurant with two drive-thru windows, new signage, etc. (Agenda)

It would be nice if the Board could encourage McDonald's to connect its lot with the Bank of America lot next door so BOA's customers could take advantage of the light at Cambridge Drive.

The McDonald's restaurant in Hazlet was extensively remodeled some weeks ago. I haven't visited since the work was done, but I suspect Elvis has left the building.

Monday, January 14, 2013

History: August Kattner Electronics, Matawan (1928)

The 13 Jan 1928 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4) contained an advertisement by an electronics shop operated by August Kattner on Main Street in Matawan. He was promoting the ownership of the latest electric radio by the Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia. Electricial appliances were still a novelty in the Roaring Twenties, so having an "A. C. set" (alternating current) in one's own home would have been quite fashionable and modern.in those days.

Radio Manufacturers of the 1920s, by Alan Douglas, pg 82, contains a large Atwater Kent ad providing more information about their products.

August Kattner, age 35, born in New York to NY parents, was enumerated in Matawan in the 1930 Federal Census. His occupation was retail merchant - electric. He had $15,000 in property. His wife was 39 and born in NJ to NY parents. They'd been married 12 years. They lived on Main Street, but the census enumerator said the building had no number. Surrounding addresses on the page were 160 Main and 144 Main.

The Matawan Borough history written in 1936 said on page 39 that August Kattner was the current occupant of 146 Main Street, a building which used to house the offices of Farmers and Merchant Bank. He was living at 146 Main Street when he registered for the draft during World War II in the early 1940s. 

August appeared in the 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 Federal censuses in Matawan. He lived with his parents on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in 1900. His father was a designer at the time.

He was living with his parents at 27 Park Avenue in Matawan when he registered for the draft in World War I. That form showed his birth date as 17 Jun 1894 and place of birth was New York City. At the time (5 Jul 1917) he was a self-employed electrical contractor. He was tall, slender, had brown hair and brown eyes.

August's parents, August, Sr (62 NY) and Anna (57 NY) Kattner, lived at 27 Park Avenue in the 1930 Federal Census. They'd been married 37 years. Their parents were from Germany. He was a foreman at a tile factory.

August's father was elected as President of the Deutscher Club of Monmouth County, according to the 23 Mar 1910 edition of The Red Bank Register, pg 15.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hudson Trail One Day Will Cross Garden State Parkway

The Hudson Trail doesn't really "stop" just north of Church Street in Matawan and resume at Lloyd Road and Clark Street in Keyport. It's just sitting dormant, with quite a bit of work to be done before that section can be opened. One day it will cross the Garden State Parkway, passing through Aberdeen Township. Check the images on Google Maps, especially the crossing at the Garden State Parkway. Contact the county freeholders to press this issue.

Below is a map of the Hudson Trail, south to north, viewable in three sections. The straight line from bottom left to top right in each picture is the Hudson Trail, both open and closed sections.

Hudson Trail at Matawan (1 of 3)

Hudson Trail at Aberdeen (2 of 3)

Hudson Trail at Keyport (3 of 3)

History: Matawan Township War Dead, World War II

Page 54 of "Township of Matawan (1857 - 1957)," published by the Matawan Township Centennial Celebration Committee, contains a list of six (6) Matawan Township honored dead from World War II.
  • Robert H. Bennett
  • William T. Gross (sic - should be William T. Cross)
  • George A. Durante
  • Charles A. Kaleda
  • John J. Short
  • William F. Starkey, Jr.

The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

"Major Robert H. Bennett, 37, husband of Mrs Mildred (Kelly) Bennett, Wilson Avenue, Matawan, and son of Mr and Mrs Walter Bennett, of Dorcester, Massachusetts, was killed in action in Germany April 18, 1945. He was attached to the 44th Infantry Division as a member of the Allied Military Government."

Robert was born about 1909 (age 31) in Massachusetts when he was enumerated in Brooklyn, New York in the 1940 Federal Census. The census said his occupation was Assistant Executive of a trust company. The census said he had been a resident of Matawan in 1935.

Robert's relationship to Gilbert Bellows, head of household, was enumerated as "partner" in the 1940 Federal Census. Gilbert was 25 years old and a clerk at a meat packing company. Gilbert's younger brother James was also in the household. Robert was listed as married, while Gilbert and James were single.

Robert's widow was born Mildred Kelley about 1909 (21 NJ), according to the 1930 Federal Census, when she was enumerated in the Matawan household of Thomas (51 NJ) and Marie (47 France) Kelley. The census showed that her father, a farmer, was born to English parents, while her mother was born to French parents. Mildred had a sister Isabel (22 NJ) in that enumeration.

Below is an excerpt from the chronicle of the 44th Infantry Division, which suggests that Robert might have been killed during an onset of an Allied attack on Ehingen, Germany.

"Moving across the Rhine at Worms, 26 March, in the wake of the 3d Division, the 44th relieved the 3d, 26-27 March, and crossed the Neckar River to attack and capture Mannheim, 28-29 March. Shifting to the west bank of the Main, the Division crossed that river at Grosse Auheim in early April, and engaged in a 3-week training period. Attacking 18 April, after the 10th Armored Division, the 44th took Ehingen, 23 April, crossed the Danube, and attacking southeast, took Fussen, Berg, and Wertach, in a drive on Imst. Pursuing the disintegrating enemy through Fern Pass and into Inn Valley, the 44th set up its CP at Imst, Austria, on 4 May." (Combat Chronicle, 44th Infantry Division, Center for Military History)

Ancestry's World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas says Maj Robert H Bennett died 15 Apr 1945 while serving with the Headquarters of 44th Division. He earned the Bronze Star, the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Gilt Star, the Purple Heart, and additional US Army awards. The French medal was awarded for being mentioned in despatches at the corps level.

He is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Monument in France.


The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

"Pfc. George Durante, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Durante, 49 Gerard Avenue, Matawan Township, was killed in action on August 2, 1944 in France. He was a member of the 23rd Infantry Division."

The 24 Aug 1944 edition of The Matawan Journal had the following article:

"Pfc. George Durante Missing In Action
Had Been In Invasion Of France; Brother Injured In Pacific

Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Durante, 40 Gerard Ave., Matawan Township, for the second time in about six weeks, have received sad news concerning their sons in the armed forces. Monday a telegram came from Adjutant General Ullo advising them that their younger son, Pfc. George Durante, 20, had been reported missing in action in France since Aug 2.

On July 7, Mr. and Mrs. Durante were notified that their other son, Pfc, I.uke A. Durante, 23, a Marine, had been wounded in action somewhere in the Pacific war theater, presumably in the Marshall Islands. However, subsequent word from Luke revealed that  he is recovering from the foot injury which he received. (See 13 Jul 1944 edition of The Matawan Journal for reporting on Luke's injury, including a photograph.)

George, who attended St. Joseph's Parochial School and was graduated from Matawan High School, entered the army July 13, 1943. He was previously employed by the Hanson-Van Winkle-Munning Company in Matawan and later by the Central Railroad in Elizabethport,

An infantry man, he received his basic training at Camp Wheeler, Ga, and was stationed at Fort G. Meade, Md. prior to leaving for overseas in January of this year. He participated in the invasion of France and in his last letter to his parents, written on his birthday, July 28, told them he had been awarded an expert rifleman medal which he was sending home.

George and Luke are the Durantes only sons. They have three daughters: Loretta, living at home, and two who are married, one residing in Perth Amboy and the other in Paterson."

George lived in his parents' 49 Gerard Avenue household in Matawan Township in the 1940 Federal Census. Lawrence (51 Italy) and Rose (48 Florida) Durante Lawrence was a laborer with the steam railroad. George's siblinlgs were Helen (29), Loretta (24), Luke (18) and Lawrence (12).

George T Cross is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France, according to Ancestry's World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas records. He was with the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

I found the following map of northwestern France in early August 1944 and a chronology of the 2nd Infantry Division's actions leading up to George's death circa 2 August during the St Lo breakthrough.

Northwestern France: The Breakout, August 1944
"After training in Ireland and Wales from October 1943 to June 1944, the 2d Infantry Division crossed the channel to land on Omaha Beach on D plus 1, 7 June 1944, near St. Laurent-sur-Mer. Attacking across the Aure River, the Division liberated Trevieres, 10 June, and proceeded to assault and secure Hill 192, the key enemy strongpoint on the road to St. Lo. With the hill taken 11 July 1944, the Division went on the defensive until 26 July. Exploiting the St. Lo break-through, the 2d Division advanced across the Vire to take Tinchebray 15 August 1944." (US Army History, Combat Chronicle, 2d Infantry Division)

The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

 "Sgt. William Cross, 26, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Cross, 105 Atlantic Avenue, Matawan, was killed in action on June 9, 1945 (sic) in the invasion of Normandy. He was a member of the 12th Infantry, 4th Division."

The 29 Jun 1944 edition of The Matawan Journal announced that a requiem mass had been celebrated that morning at St Joseph's Church for Sgt. Cross, who was killed in action in France on June 9, 1944. The newspaper said that William was the first Matawan man killed in the Allied invasion of Europe.  He had been serving overseas since January 1944 and was part of the 12th Infantry, 4th Division when he died. He graduated Matawan High School and was operating his own Esso station on Route 9-4 when he signed up for the military. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Cross of 105 Atlantic Avenue. His sister, Martha, lived at home and worked for the Matawan War Price and Ration Board.

The 1930 Federal Census showed Thomas (36 NJ) and Ruth (33 NY) Cross with son William (12 NJ), daughter Martha (5 NJ), and Thomas' uncle, Albert Ryder (64 NY). They lived on Atlantic Avenue in Matawan. Thomas was employed by Standard Oil Co. Albert was a laborer at Matawan Tile Co.

I found this detailed account of what the 12th Infantry Regiment was doing on 9 Jun 1944, which could be what William was doing if he died in battle that day.

"On 9 June the regiment took the enemy strong point at the Chateau de Dodinville near Joganville. The chateau, a large walled-in stone building, was stubbornly defended. Six Sherman tanks from Company B, 746th Tank Battalion, outflanked the chateau on the west, while the 1st and 2d Battalions, at the cost of heavy casualties, fought into it from the south. Both battalions then continued northward and reached positions 2,000 yards northwest of Joganville. The 3d Battalion made a spectacular advance and reached positions 1,500 yards northeast of Montebourg, on the edge of the regimental objective and far in advance of units on either flank." (Breaking the German Line in the North: Utah Beach to Cherbourg, US Army, pg 103)

I could find no record of a gravesite for William, either overseas or locally, including St Joseph's Cemetery in Keyport.


The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

"Pvt. Charles A. Kaleda, 25, son of Mrs. Antoinette Kaleda, 33 Broadway, Matawan, was killed in action in Italy on January 25, 1944. He was attached to the chemical warfare division."

The 27 Jul 1944 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Charles Kaleda's mother had just received a War Department telegram announcing that her son was no longer missing but had been killed in action. The newspaper provided some background as follows:

"Pvt Kaleda was inducted.in the army on Apr. 1, 1943 and received his training at Camp Wheeler, Ga., and Texas, and was sent overseas in September 1943. He was in North Africa and Sicily and was then transferred to Italy. He was attached to the Chemical Warfare Division.

The Kaleda family moved to Matawan about three years ago from Shenandoah, Pa., where Pvt Kaleda was born. He attended the public schools there and upon moving to Matawan, he was employed by the Architectural Tiling Co., and was with the New Jersey Shipbuilding Co. in" Perth Amboy at the time of his induction. His father, Peter Kaleda, died several years ago."

Peter (55 Poland) and Antoinette (49 Poland) Kalezta lived in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in the 1930 Federal Census. Peter was a coal miner. He and his wife came to America in 1904 and 1906, respectively. Charles (12) was the youngest of five children in the household.

Ancestry's World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas records say that Charles served with the 83rd Chemical Battalion and went missing 26 Jan 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart and is missing and presumed dead. A monument in his honor is located at the Rome and Sicily American Cemetery and Memorial, which is in the Anzio Province of Rome, Italy. Ancestry records show him being inducted into the Army from Pennsylvania, which seems to be an error.
CWS soldier deploying smoke along the Rapido River, Jan 1944. (CMH Pub 10-1, pg 71)
The chronology of US involvement in Italy during World War II suggests that Charles died in the first Battle of Monte Cassino, which began 17 January 1944 and involved a number of attacks into early February. The third phase, which began 24 January and lasted eight bloody days, involved an attack on Cassino from the north. Attempts to ford the Rapido River with heavy equipment were frustrated by heavy flooding.

Charles would have been involved in the deployment of smoke pots to mask the advancement of forces, much like the man in the photograph above during the same battle. CMH Publication 10-2, pg 202, includes the following excerpt regarding the deployment of smoke in battle situations (including river assault crossings) by the Chemical Weapon Service:

"In Italy pots also graduated from harbor defense and invasion defense to forward area defense. Troops employed them to screen supply routes, bridge construction, river assault crossings, tanks, ammunition dumps, troop concentrations, ground operations, and even to hide mortar flash."  


The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

"Pvt. John J. Short, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Short, Sr., 2 Gaston Avenue, Matawan, is assumed to have been killed on October 4, 1944 in France. Private Short was first declared wounded and later as missing."

The 5 Apr 1945 edition of The Red Bank Register (pg 3) featured this tribute:


The War department has informed Mr. and Mrs. Charles Short, Sr., of Matawan, that their son, Pvt. John J. Short, previously reported as wounded and missing, must be presumed dead. He went overseas early last summer and was reported to have been wounded October 4. He was reported missing January 22. He was a graduate of Matawan High School and was employed by the Bendix corporation in Red Bank prior to entering the service.

A family tree on Ancestry.com says John J Short was born 1 Dec 1923 to Charles Henry and Margaret (Bogardus) Short. The tree says he died 4 Oct 1944 in France.

The 1940 Federal Census shows John Short II, age 10, born in NJ, living with his parents, Charles Sr (51 NJ) and Margaret (49 NJ) Short, sisters Helen (21) and Patricia (3), and his father's brother (John's likely namesake) John S Short (49 NJ). They lived at 19 Gaston Avenue in Matawan Township and had lived in the same town in 1935. Charles and his daughter Helen worked at the tile factory, he as a laborer and she as a tile sorter (for one-third the wage).

Note: In the 1940 Federal Census, 2 Gaston Place belonged to Grace Della Pietro and family. Grace was widowed and her four sons ranged in age from 17 to 28 years. Presumably the house came available in the next five years and the Shorts acquired it. Perhaps the boys went to war and/or married and the house no longer suited them?

John enlisted in the US Army for World War II on 29 Dec 1943 at Camden, NJ, according to Ancestry's enlistment records.

John is buried at St Joseph's Cemetery, Maple Place, Keyport, according to a headstone application filed by the cemetery in 1948. The application said Private Short served in the 2nd Infantry 5th Division..


The 6 Sep 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal featured this tribute, including the photo to the right:

"Pfc. William F. Starkey, Jr., 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Starkey, Atlantic Avenue, Matawan, was killed in action in Germany on November 17, 1944, while serving with the infantry."

The 1930 Federal Census shows William Starkey, age 10, born in NY, living with his parents, William (35 NY) and Lillian (29 NY) Starkey and sister Helen (8 NY).William was a laborer at the tile factory..

The 1930 Federal Census said William and Lillian married about 1918. Perhaps William served in WWI andthey married after William returned from that service?

The 1920 Federal Census shows William (24 NY) and Lillian (19 NY) living in Brooklyn, New York, where he was a laborer in a brass foundry. William Jr had not yet been born when the census was taken in January 1920.

Ancestry has a copy of the application William's father submitted to the US Government in 1949 to obtain a gravestone for his son at Cedarwood Cemetery, Keyport, NJ. The form provided the following: William F. Starkey, Jr, was born 19 Apr 1920, died 17 Nov 1944, and served in Company B, 406th Infantry Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division. Check out Find-a-Grave for a photograph of his gravestone.

The US Army's history of the 2nd Armored Division in the European Theater of Operations (pg 428) says the First Battalion of the 406th Infantry was attached to the 2nd for only a few weeks in the month of November 1944, when William was killed.  This history mentioned that the 2nd's Headquarters in Rhineland, Germany moved from 1/2 mile east of Palenberg on 11 November to 1 mile southeast of Ubach on 17 November. (Wikipedia has an article on Ubach-Palenberg.) William very likely was killed in early fighting in the second phase of the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, an Allied offensive known as Operation Queen. The Germans offered unexpectedly heavy resistance because they were massing seasoned troops in preparation for what the Allies would call the Battle of the Bulge.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Free Smartphone App Guide to NJ Wildlife Released

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has developed a smartphone app that serves as a guide to finding the best spots to find our state's wildlife, whether you want to watch them frolicking in the wilderness or hunt them down with your weapon of choice and kill them. The press release reads, in part:

The free Pocket Ranger® New Jersey Fish and Wildlife application is a cutting-edge mobile app
that provides on-the-spot information on the state’s fish and wildlife species along with extensive
mapping of public open spaces, showing and providing site information on access points for
hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife watching.

Pocket Ranger has social networking capabilities, and provides an advanced map-caching feature
that allows users to continue to navigate even if mobile service is lost. In addition, advanced GPS
technology allows users to keep track of where they are, how far they’ve gone and to mark
favorite hunting spots, fishing holes or wildlife sightings.

It's All Downhill From Here

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wright's Law - NY Times

I listen to podcasts on my commute. Occasionally I come upon a really good one. Wright's Law is a wonderful and touching story about a teacher. I highly recommend this New York Times piece.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

History: Matawan Garage, By Train Station (1911 - 1924)

The Matawan Garage, which was located across the street from the Matawan train station at 17 Main Street, advertised in the 22 Sep 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal. It was operated by D. S. Martin. Its telephone number was 12.

David was the son of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Martin. His parents married about 1881. Jerry was a farmer and Elizabeth reported 6 of 7 children still living when they were enumerated in Lurgan, Franklin County, in south central Pennsylvania in the 1900 Federal Census. Ten years later, when the Martins were enumerated in Hopewell, NJ in the 1910 Federal Census, Jeremiah was a house carpenter.

David S Martin, born 28 Sep 1898, was living in Old Bridge when he registered for the draft in WWI. He listed his occupation as mechanic.

The 1920 Federal Census showed David Martin, age 22, born in Pennsylvania, as head of household at 83 Main Street in Matawan. His wife was Helen, age 18, born in NJ. His 6-month old daughter's name was Esther. David was a machinist at a garage.

In the 1930 Federal Census, David was still at 84 Main Street. His occupation was road contractor. Helen and Esther were in the household, too.

The 1940 Federal Census showed David and Helen living at 287 Main Street in Matawan. David was a coal retailer, working from his "own yard."
Source: Wikimedia

The 14 Sep 1911 edition of The Matawan Journal contained an ad for the Matawan Garage on page 8. The garage, which was selling the Hupmobile, was not associated with David Martin at this early date. (The Hupmobile was guaranteed for life, btw.) The earliest placement of this ad seems to have been in the 1 Jun 1911 edition.

The 1 Apr 1915 edition of The Matawan Journal contained an ad for Matawan Garage showing it to be under new management. Samuel C Towler. The same ad appeared in the 22 Jul 1915 edition.

The 1910 Federal Census showed Samuel C Towler, age 38, born in Virginia, African-American, living on High Street (near the train station) along with his wife Susan (37 VA) and son Clarence (12 NJ). Samuel and Susan had been married 13 years. He was working in a livery stable.

Source: Wikimedia
There's a gap in ads between 1915 and 1919.

The garage was advertised on page 4 of the 29 May1919 edition of The Matawan Journal and on page 6 of the 25 Dec 1919 edition. Both showed D S Martin as proprietor and owner.

The garage was selling Overland Automobiles on page 3 of the 18 Jan 1924 edition of the newspaper.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

History: Wash Jackson, Cliffwood Beach, Arrested for Breaking and Entry (1931)

A store owner named James Johnson, Atlantic Avenue, swore out a warrant that Wash Jackson, a 19-year-old Cliffwood resident, and Clarence Taylor had broken into his store and stolen $150 and cigars and were seen by Lewis James as they exited the store. Taylor reportedly fled to relatives in Virginia to avoid arrest, while Jackson left town only briefly and was captured upon his return. According to the 11 Sep 1931 edition of The Matawan Journal, Jackson was out on $500 bail awaiting the results of a grand jury.

The 1930 Federal Census showed Washington Jackson, Jr, age 17 NJ, and five younger siblings living in in the Cliffwood Beach household of his parents, Washington and Mary Jackson, both 40 years old Virginians with Virginian parents. Wash and his father were both laborers at a local brick company.

The witness, Lewis James (38 VA), was a coal and ice laborer living in Keyport in the 1930 Federal Census.

I didn't find James Johnson or Clarence Taylor in the 1930 census. And the venue of the crime isn't mentioned.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Waterproofing Company Claims Vacant 84 Lumber Site in Cliffwood

Tom Roman's Quality 1st Basements Systems, a basement waterproofing company, is moving its offices this winter (2012-13) from Perth Amboy to 359 State Highway 35 in Cliffwood, the site of the former 84 Lumber. A glossy sign to that effect has been plastered on the old 84 Lumber sign suggesting that the move is imminent  or has taken place.

A news release at the company website says they sponsored the fireworks displayed after an Aberdeen Day softball game between the police and fire departments back in September. (Maybe Tom can have a chat with Fred about hosting fireworks within the Township limits this year?)

Aberdeen Township 2013 Reorganization Meeting Agenda Lacks Details

The Aberdeen Township Council reorganization agenda scheduled for 2 Jan 2013 lacks the necessary attachments to know who is being nominated and what policies are being proposed, etc. Who are the nominees for zoning and planning? What is the planned schedule for Council meetings this year? What are the official depositories for Township accounts? What is the interest penalty rate for delinquent accounts? What are the recreation fees? Will you be releasing the budgets and target enforcement zone designations? 

Over The Cliff

Here we go, over the cliff. They said it would never happen. They were all supposedly just playing politics and would kiss and make up at the last minute.

Oh, but don't you see, it will only be a short fall, then the House is going to catch us in their loving arms and put us down gently. Yeah, that's it. McConnell's and Biden's hands are already sticking out of the rocky crags offering a helping hand. Can't you see them? It was all on the news. Crisis averted. No worries. Right?

But why do I still have this sinking feeling? I don't like it when we go through this sort of thing without a safety net. And what if something unexpected happens on the way down? Like electronic stock and bond trades? Or foreign currency market fluctuations?

Ah, relax. What could happen?

What Happened in 513?

What happened 1,500 years ago?

First let me point out that some historians mark dates in that era according to the elapsed time since the founding of the city of Rome. So 513 AD (DXIII) is also known as 1266 AUC (Ab urbe condita), given the date of 753 BC as a uniformly accepted date for the establishment of Rome. Claudius was the first to recognize the dating system, celebrating Rome's 800th anniversary in 48 AD. Philip the Arab held a millennium event in 248 AD. The system was abandoned during the reign of Justinian in 537 AD.   

The dethroned Visigothic king Gesalec was executed after one last pitiful attempt at regaining his kingdom from Theodoric the Great. Gesalic had found temporary refuge in Carthage but so taunted Theodoric that Gesalec's host had to expel him and pay tribute to the offended ruler. This led Gesalec to make his last fateful effort to take his throne back. No one knows for sure who executed him.

Vigor, a French priest opposed to paganism, was named Bishop of Bayeux, replacing Contentius, who died in 510. He reputedly tore down an active pagan temple in Bayeux and built a church over it.

Coinage from the rule of Anastasius I.

The Byzantine general Vitalian rebelled against Emperor Anastasius I in response to negative changes in support to the troops and changes to religious dogma. Anastasius lowered taxes and made other changes that calmed the revolt.