A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, June 17, 2013

History: Biddle Aviation Field, Matawan (1930)

Albert Biddle, 24, of Mamaroneck, NY and Red Bank, and two area residents were killed when Biddle's biplane crashed near Matawan on 27 July 1930, according to the 1 Aug 1930 edition of The Matawan Journal. The crash was also mentioned in the 30 Jul 1930 edition of The Red Bank Register.

Biddle, who had logged 400 hours of flight time, and another pilot had been providing joy rides to local thrill seekers throughout the day, carrying a total of 17 passengers over Matawan and neighboring areas in two biplanes. The flights -- $3 for one passenger, $5 for two -- took off from Biddle Aviation Field, a Matawan airport that young Albert and his brother, John Biddle, of Freneau, had opened only the Sunday before.

At 6:15 pm, as the daylong event was nearing an end, two exuberant Cliffwood passengers disembarked from Biddle's plane and quickly lined up to buy tickets for the next ride. Biddle then took two more passengers up to experience his stunt flying. He had completed one loop the loop and started a second when the plane stalled at about 1,500 feet. The plane went into a steep dive, engine off, and the pilot simply could not recover.

The plane lost its wings and trees their branches as the plane crashed into a fifty-foot deep wooded gully about a mile outside of Matawan. The plane came to rest with its nose embedded in a clay embankment on the John Orsha farm, property better known to locals at the time as the old Heuser farm. The crash site was  about a mile from the airfield.

The crash gravely wounded the pilot and Edward D Haseman, 22, of Wickatunk. Both were rushed to the Matawan Private Hospital, where they died. George Schrank, 19, of Freneau, died at the scene of the crash. Rescuers were quick to respond but the injuries were simply too severe to overcome.

At the airfield for this horrible occasion were Biddle's father, Albert Biddle, Sr; the young pilot's fiancée, Miss Gladys Snyder, of Red Bank; and Louis Branin, of Alice Place, Riverside Heights, Red Bank, at whose home young Biddle routinely stayed when visiting the area. Many local residents, eyes attracted to the skies above them by the planes' noisy antics, also witnessed the crash, but from various vantage points in the area.

The Red Bank Register mentioned that the Biddles were staying at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank at the time of the accident.


Albert N Biddle Jr was 22 years old and born in Mamaroneck, when he was enumerated in the 1930 Federal Census in the Mamaroneck, Westchester County, NY household of his parents, Albert N Biddle, Sr (64 born in NYC to NYC parents) and Nanette C Biddle (48 yrs old NY NY NY). Also in the household was a younger brother, George Biddle, 18 years old, and a servant couple from Germany, Emil and Augusta Ledogar. The elder Biddle was a retired stock broker with $40,000 in property. The younger Albert was listed as a pilot in the aviation industry.

Edward D Hasemann, 22 years old, carpenter, was enumerated in the Marlboro household of his brother Charles F Hasemann, a truck farmer, sister-in-law Gertrude, and the latters' seven children in the 1930 Federal Census. Edward and Charles' brother, Conrad Hasemann, also lived in the household. The three brothers were born in New York to a German father and New York mother.

Born 28 July 1911, George A Schrank would have celebrated his nineteenth birthday the day following the crash. He was the son of Ralph Jones Schrank and his wife Elizabeth Mary (DeLoskey) Schrank. In the 1930 Federal Census, George, 18, born in Pennsylvania, laborer, was living with his widowed mother in the Freneau section of Matawan.

John Johnson Orsha,  was born Ivan Umnikoff on 20 July 1887 in Russia and died in Matawan on 22 Oct 1954. He is buried at the Old Tennent Graveyard, according to Find A Grave.

The "Matawan Private Hospital" was likely the "Old Hospital" on Ravine Drive, a photo of which appears on page 62 of Around Matawan and Aberdeen, by Helen Henderson.

It is unclear where Biddle Aviation Field was situated. The plane crash seems to have ended the enterprise.

As for the Heuser farm, a couple of choices exist.
  • The 1880 Federal Census shows a Charles Heuser, age 50, wife Anna, age 42, and sons George, Frederick, August, Christopher, and Richard and daughter Annie with a farm in Matawan.
  • The 1910 Federal Census shows a James Heuser, 43, born in NJ to German parents, who was a truck farmer. James was enumerated in Matawan with a wife Margarite, 40, also from NJ with German parents, plus three daughters -- Ethel, Mabel and Nellie.


  1. Might the Heuser farm be one and the same with the "Old Hauser farm" located off of Greenwood and Ticetown Roads?

    Just happened to read your post and this one the same week: http://matawan-aberdeen.patch.com/groups/going-green/p/county-acquires-68-acres-for-proposed-marlboro-aberde183a36ccc1

    Thanks for the history!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the article. There were Heusers and Hausers in the area at the time. I don't think they would have been mixed up by the locals. I see a John Hauser, age 24, farmer in the 1900 Federal Census, living in Madison (Old Bridge today), Middlesex Co, along with his new bride Nettie, a younger brother Charles, and a 70 yr old uncle Peter Hauser from Germany. My Suburbia has a blog article that discusses the building of Cedar Ridge High School on the property of the old Hauser farm in the 1960s. Just another small clue. https://sites.google.com/a/readmywords.net/www/mysuburbia Thanks for writing. I'm interested in sorting out where the plane crash happened and where the airport was located. I suppose the airport could have been what became the Marlboro Airport on Rte 79. Someone told me there used to be a windsock hanging on Ravine Drive near the Rose Hill Cemetery before a housing development went into the area. That would have been in the 1960s. I've never heard of an airport in town, though. If anyone has any thoughts, I'm happy to hear.

  2. Hello....I am the grandson of the Charles F. Hasemann referenced in the story, who, in turn, was the brother of Edward D. Hasemann killed in the crash. The plane came down in a deep ravine that leads down to Lake Lefferts. Basically, it occured very near to where the apartment complex Tree Haven Village is located today off Ravine Drive. Both Charles F. and Edward D. Hasemann are buried in the family plot in St. Rose Cemetery in Freehold.