A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perth Amboy Notables

I found a couple of notable 19th century residents of nearby Perth Amboy, NJ in books I checked out from the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library this week.
  • Solomon Andrews (1806-1872) was an inventor, who at the beginning of the Civil War wanted to build airships for President Lincoln to help the Union Army with battlefield reconnaissance. He submitted his designs for the Andrews flying ship -- America's first dirigible -- in 1862, but the Secretary of War rejected his proposal, unable to imagine how it might be propelled through the sky. The Army was struggling with hot air balloons and failing miserably. Andrews requested and received his plans back from the government and eventually funded the construction himself, staking his extensive real and personal property on the venture's success. But without Federal interest, Andrews' successful if secretive test flights in 1863 did not lead to government acquisition of the aerostat before the end of the Civil War. On 5 June 1866, Andrews finally flew his airship from Perth Amboy to Oyster Bay, Long Island, amazing onlookers below. He died about six years later. (Source: New Jersey and the Civil War, by Earl Schanck Miers. Princeton: D Van Nostrand Co Inc; Volume 2, The New Jersey Historical Series; 1964, pp. 114-127) (Available at Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, general stacks, 974.9 M)
  • Thomas Mundy Peterson (1824-1904) was the first black American to vote (31 March 1870) after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. (Source: Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey, by Clement A Price. Newark: New Jersey Historical Society, 1980, pp. 132, figure 13.) (Available at Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, general stacks, 974.9 Fr) See also Find-A-Grave, which has photographs of Peterson and his gravestone, and the Newark Public Library site, which celebrates African-American "firsts" with a page dedicated to Peterson and the first black female pilot.


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