A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

History: Suspicious Death of Thomas Lynch, 28, of Keyport (1900)

The last Keyport horse-drawn trolley before electrification. The car stable in background later became the home of Rollo Bus Company. (Courtesy Keyport Kid)

A front page story in the 6 December 1900 edition of The Matawan Journal concerned the suspicious death the previous Saturday evening of Thomas Lynch at "Jerry Shehan's hotel near the car stable." Witnesses said that Lynch fell out of his chair as if poisoned. He was removed to his home in the Apple Orchard section of Keyport, where he died the following morning. An autopsy on Tuesday revealed that Lynch had died from "alcoholism." Lynch, the step-son of Edward Brown, was about 28 years old and unmarried.

Thomas Lynch

The 1900 Federal Census for New Jersey shows Thomas Lynch, born Dec 1874 in New York to Irish parents, living in the Keyport, Raritan Township household of his cousin Edward Brown, born Jan 1850 in Ireland. Mr Brown was an oysterman and Thomas was a laborer at a brickyard. Also in the household were Mr Brown's wife, Mary, born Mar 1855 in Massachusetts to Irish parents, and Mr Brown's widowed older brother, James Brown, born Feb 1843 in Ireland.  James listed no occupation. James emigrated to the US in 1865, three years after Edward; both were naturalized as US citizens. It appears that they lived on Beers Street.

Thomas Lynch could be identical with Thomas G Lynch, 6 years old, son of Michael (30 Ireland) and Mary A Lynch (34 Ireland), who were residing in Castleton, Staten Island, New York in the 1880 Federal Census. Thomas G's father was a laborer. Thomas G had an older brother John (7) and younger brothers Michael (5), Richard (3), and Peter (1 mo, born in May 1880). All of the children were born in New York.

Car Stable

Today's automobile collectors and racing enthusiasts call a garage full of expensive vehicles a "car stable," but in the late 19th and early 20th century, the term referred to a place where a trolley service stored its passenger vehicles, whether horse-drawn or powered by electric lines.

On page 1243 of The History of Essex County, Massachusetts, Vol II Part 1, written by Duane Hamilton Hurd and published in 1888 by J W Lewis & Co, the author discussed an 18th century tavern in Wenham that used to be "situated where the horse-car stable now stands."

Column 7 of the front page of the 2 July 1889 edition of The New York Sun, available at Chronicling America courtesy of The New York Public Library, tells of an apparent sexual assault that occurred near the street car stables in Keyport. (The attacker was not only negro but black, seemingly double trouble in the mind of the New York reporter. And the woman was not only attacked but assaulted, apparently a subtle reference to what seems to have been an attempted rape.)

On Thursday evening of last week, about 9 o'clock, Mrs Mary Green, aged 63 years, of Keyport, was attacked near the street car stables by a large, black, powerful negro, who attempted to assault her. She managed to escape, though seriously hurt by the attack, most of her clothing being torn from her body. The negro escaped and has not yet been caught.

Page 10 of the 20 September 1899 edition of The Matawan Journal described how the "Keyport horse car line" lost one of its vehicles to fire while parked "on the track in front of the car stables."

One of cars of the Keyport horse car line was destroyed by fire last week. The car stood on the track in front of the car stables and a lighted lamp was placed in it as a warning to passers-by. The lamp exploded and caused the fire. The loss is about $800 and is partly covered by insurance.

With the development of electric-powered trolley service in the Bayshore in the early 20th century, the term car stable may have begun to refer to a storage facility for electric-powered trolley cars. For example, page 9 of the 20 May 1903 edition of The Red Bank Register mentioned the establishment of a car stable in the Keyport-Matawan area, the direct result of electric-powered trolley development in the Bayshore. Was the facility to handle remnants of the horse-drawn business or the budding new electric-powered cars? It's unclear from the following text.

The Jersey Central traction company, which is extending its [trolley] line from Keyport to Red Bank, is building a new power house on land between Keyport and Keansburg which the company bought from John Cottrell. The building will be of brick, 90x92 feet. All the machinery will be in duplicate, so as to insure power at all times. When the plant is completed the present power house between Matawan and Keyport will be abandoned for that purpose and the building will be used as a car stable.

The 28 June 1904 edition of The New York Times included an article title Big Hippodrome for Old Car Stable Site. The General Carriage Company had operated car stables along Sixth Avenue between 43rd Street and 44th Street in Manhattan until the city began construction of a subway in 1900. The trolley company's stock suddenly dropped to nothing and the stables and associated property had to be sold. The property was about a block north and east of Times Square, where the first NYC subway line, the IRT, opened the now famous 42nd Street - Times Square station in October 1904.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I think I met you on the Keyport Facebook page. My great grandmother's family lived right next door to the Sheehan's in Keyport around 1900. One of my grandma's first cousins married one of Jerry Sheehan's sons John H. Sheehan. They are buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Keyport.