A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

History: Matawan Journal, A Week of Railroad News (1885)

The 21 Feb 1885 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the following items related in one way or another to the railroad:

1) There was notice of the sale of over 20 acres of land by the heirs of the late Mrs Mary Smith.

A house, barn, and 16 acres of land, also 6 acres of salt meadow, located near Matawan station, will be sold at public sale on Saturday, Feb 18th, by the heirs of the late Mrs Mary Smith. See posters for fuller particulars.
  • The Atlas of Monmouth County, by Beers, Comstock, and Cline, 1873, pg 17, shows Mrs Smith's property located on the east side of Atlantic Avenue just south of the railroad junction.
  • The Atlas of Monmouth County, by Chester Wolverton, 1889, plate 28, shows the property as part of a much larger block of land belonging to J C Conover & Co.
  • The 1850 Federal Census shows Mary Smith age 44 born in NJ as wife of William C Smith age 50. They were living in Raritan. Mary's husband was a farmer with $2,000 in real property. They had daughters Elizabeth, Angeline, and Charlene, ages 15, 13, and 10, respectively. Also living in their household were Elizabeth, James and Hannah Van Cleaf, ages 13, 10, and 7, resp. The relationship of the Van Cleaf children to the Smiths is not stated.
  • The 1860 Federal Census shows Mary Smith age 56 born in NJ. She owned $900 in real property plus $200 in personal property. She was living in Matawan. James, Hannah and Joseph Van Cleaf, ages 19, 17,and 11, respectively, lived in her household. James was listed as a farmer.
  • The 1870 Federal census shows Mary Smith age 65 born in NJ. She owned $1,200 in real property plus $250 in personal property. She kept house. She was still living in Matawan.
  • The 1880 Federal Census shows Mary Smith age 75 born in NJ to NJ parents. She kept house. She was still living in Matawan.

2) There was news of an accident involving one of the stage coaches running between the station and Keyport:

On Monday, during the heavy gale and storm, one of the stages running between Keyport and the Matawan station, was blown over near Brown's Point. Three or four passengers were in the stage, but none were hurt.
  • The Atlas of Monmouth County, by Beers, Comstock, and Cline, 1873, pg 23, showed Brown's Point as that area of Keyport between Luppatcong Creek, Matawan Creek, and Raritan Bay. The point is bisected lengthwise by Broadway. The stage would have been heading down Broadway towards West Front Street and possibly tipped while turning at the intersection of the two.

3) There had been a strong Nor'easter that Monday (16 Feb 1885), causing an unusually high tide in Matawan and undermining the tracks of the Freehold and New York Railway near East Freehold.

One of the highest tides known for years overflowed the meadows on each side of Matawan creek during the north easter last Monday morning. The Morristown road was submerged up to the bank by the lower gateway to Mr Hankinson's farm-house, and also the road loading to the "Henry Stillwell" farm, and away up the ravine. The meadows remained overflowed the entire day.
  • There was a farmer named Henry Stillwell born about 1842 who lived in Holmdel in the 1880 Federal Census. He lived in Raritan in the 1850 Federal Census.
A Narrow Escape

On Tuesday morning, as the 2 PM train from Freehold on the F & NY Railway, was near East Freehold, the engineer noticed some distance ahead a decline in the track and was sure something was wrong. The train was stopped and a serious accident was no doubt averted. By the heavy rain of Monday the culvert beneath the track as an outlet for the water from one field to another had become clogged with --- and a great pond of water four feet deep had accumulated. This worked its way along the side of the embankment until it had forced a way through, under the track. Had the train gone on, the weight would have crushed down the embankment and a serious accident must have occurred. The train waited until the arrival of the 1:33 from Matawan for Freehold, when the passengers were transferred each way, the respective trains returning. The breech was promptly repaired.

4) The Honorable James H Van Cleef of New Brunswick got the better of a Pennsylvania railroad company after being put off a train on his way home for what they claimed was lack of proper fare. When they offered him 82 cents to refund his remaining fare, he took them to court. In lieu of the $5,000 suit he filed against them, VanCleef accepted their apology for rudeness, their payment of his legal fees, and an annual pass to ride anywhere in the Pennsylvania rail system.
  • The 1880 Federal Census lists James Van Clief, age 35, lawyer, living in New Brunswick with wife Ellen (age 34) and son Schuyler (age 5) and a servant named Annie Scudder (age 25). His mother, brother in law, nieces, and an aunt were living with them.

5) The various railroads published their time tables in the newspaper.

The Freehold and New York Railway advertised trains from Matawan for Marlboro and Freehold, etc (7 trains); Matawan for Keyport (4 trains); Keyport for Matawan (6 trains); and Freehold for Matawan (6 trains). Their advertisement mentioned that stages would connect between Matawan station and Keyport, but only for trains between Freehold and Matawan.

The Pennsylvania Railroad New York Division advertised trains departing Rahway, Elizabeth, and Newark for Trenton and Philadelphia.

The New York and Long Branch Railroad advertised trains between New York and Newark and Matawan, as well as Matawan and Long Branch and Point Pleasant. They had stages connecting Red Bank with Oceania and Fair Haven.


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