A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

History: New Jersey Bell Telephone Post-War Advertisement (Feb 1946)

The 28 Feb 1946 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the following post-war advertisement from the New Jersey Bell Teleephone Company.

 "Here Goes For Another Big Day on Long Distance"

You'd scarcely know the war is over. . . . the way long distance calls keep pouring into our switchboards. One reason is that New Jersey's Camp Kilmer is now the major debarkation center of the East and thousands of returning servicemen continue to make their "first calls home" over our lines. Business and personal calls, too, remain very heavy.

We're building additional circuits to help carry this load. Until they're ready, however, we hope you'll use Long Distance sparingly -- and be patient when your calls are delayed.

Listen to "The Telephone Hour"
9 P.M. Mondays, NBC

New Jersey Bell Telephone Company


History: Matawan Journal Blurbs (2 Dec 1932)

A few small articles from The Matawan Journal's 2 Dec 1932 edition:


"Ernest Peterson has established a riding academy in the service station back of the show room in the old Washington Market building. Matawan has developed many enthusiasts for riding in recent years which has prompted Mr Peterson to make the sport more convenient for them by having the horses near at home."


"A number of Matawan people partook of the rabbit and roast pork supper served by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Cliffwood Fire Company in the fire house Wednesday night. About seventy-five persons were served."

"FREE to every subscriber who pays his subscription between now and Christmas we will give a box of Chritmas cards which regularly sell for a $1.00."


"Mildred Kunath Roebling, who as a young girl lived in Matawan, filed suit for divorce on Saturday in Reno, Nevada against Siegfried Roebling, grandson of Colonel Washington Roebling, and who is vice president of John A Roebling Sons, famous bridge builders of New York and Trenton. She charged cruelty. Mrs Roebling is a society aviatrix, and while residing in Trenton made it a practice to fly her plane over Matawan very often, it being the home of her mother."

The 1920 Federal Census showed Mildred Kunath, age 14, living with her parents on Cheesequake Road in Madison. The text is difficult to read, so I can't figure out her father's name -- perhaps Anzo or Otto -- but her mother's name, Katherina, appears again in the 1930 Federal Census, also in Madison. The 1930 record said Katherina was still married, but her husband was not enumerated. Perhaps he was out of the country? The family had German roots. The newspaper made reference to Mildred's mother, so perhaps he had indeed died or left her? This is unclear.

New York Passenger Lists show the couple boarded the Majestic at Cherbourg, France on 25 September 1929 and arrived at the Port of New York on 1 October 1929:
  • Siegfried Roebling, born 28 Dec 1890 (age 38) in Morris Plains, NJ
  • Mildred Roebling, born 24 Dec 1905 (age 23) in Newark, NJ
The couple had been married a year and were living at 11 Belmont Circle, Trenton, NJ at the time of the 1930 Federal Census. Their property was worth $30,000. He was vice president of a company that made iron rope, perhaps for suspension bridges. They had a 34 year old English servant named Minnie Goodwin.

A family tree online shows Mildred remarried to a Watson Laurence Stillwaggon, was enumerated in Matawan in the 1940 Federal Census, along with Watson and a 3-year old daughter Margaret, and died in Winter Park, Florida on 28 March 1999. Watson was born  17 Sep 1906 in New Jersey and died 20 Feb 2007 in Eatontown, NJ.


The State of New Jersey passed a law on 2 May 1931 allowing schools to establish safety patrols to assist children negotiate automobile traffic as they make their way back and forth to school. The Matawan School Board discussed the issue. Board member James Van Brakle recommended that the school janitors help out with the traffic congestion outside the school at the end of the day, but Superintendent John S McCurdy wanted to pursue the safety patrol idea.


"Work on the repair of the dirt fill which forms a part of Lake Lefferts dam is under way. In order that the work might be carried on without delay it was necessary to lower the water level three feet. The repairs will consist in raising the road across the dam, known as Ravine Drive, eighteen inches and the placing of drains to carry off the water when it reaches more than its normal level. It is estimated the work will require several days.

The work is being done under the supervision of the borough and the Board of Freeholders."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

History: Red Bank and Keyport Armories (1877 -1923)

Below are some of my research notes on the armories built in Red Bank and Keyport.

The Red Bank Armory was used by the NJ National Guard and US Army Medical Corps as well as for local exhibitions. It was relegated to storage of old tanks in the 1950s and fell into disuse. It was repurposed in 1998 as an ice skating venue.

The Keyport Armory was built by local militia in the late 1800s by a local organization. It was used as the main entertainment venue, eventually becoming a movie theatre in the 1920s. It became a shady movie house at some point and was eventually closed as Keyport revitalized Front Street. It is now a bank with an oddly grand frontage.

There are 235 editions of The Matawan Journal between 1900 and 1924 with online database hits on the word "armory." The notes below represent only the first dozen or so newspapers from that search, plus the result of a search on "Red Bank Armory," but do not include any research notes from The Red Bank Register. I'll update this research from time to time.

Canning Factory Lot Purchased for Keyport Armory (1877) 

Uriah H Dudley sold his canning factory lot in Keyport in 1877 for the use of the Keyport Armory, according to an index of The History of Monmouth County, by Franklin Ellis, 1885. (pp 706, 717)

Keyport Armory Listed as Ice Skating Rink (1907)

Billboard Magazine dated 7 Dec 1907, pg 45, listed the Keyport Armory, First Street, Keyport, as a skating rink with the capacity for 300 skaters and 400 audience. The venue was under the management of Sidney L Kane. The Skating Rinks section begins on pg 44 and is sorted by state. (See Google Books)

State Funding of Armories (1909)

The Vredenburgh Armory Bill authorized counties in the State of New Jersey to spend up to $25,000 to erect armories to house local troops of the state militia, according to the 22 Apr 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4, col 1..Monmouth County freeholders were pondering building an armory for Troop H at Asbury Park. The newspaper's editor urged caution in making such an expenditure as the state militia disbands its troops without warning, making the investment a risk. The article noted that Keyport had had an armory of its own yet was disbanded by the state.

Keyport Armory Served as Entertainment Venue

The Young American Concert Band of New York would deliver an upcoming performance at the Armory of Keyport according to the 21 Mar 1901 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 14 Feb 1907 edition of The Matawan Journal said the armory in Keyport would host the Twentieth Century Dramatic Club of Keyport for an upcoming performance of "By the Enemy's Hands." The 11 Apr 1914 edition of The Junior Eagle, Brooklyn, NY, described the play as a four-act military drama.

The Armory Theatre would show "A Slave Girl in New York," a modern comedy drama about corrupt cops and the underground in New York, according to the 28 Aug 1913 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The Armory Theatre would host a local St Patrick's Day ball in Keyport, according to the 17 Feb 1916 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4 col 2.

Keyport Armory Destroyed by Fire (1909)

The 1 Apr 1909 edition of The Matawan Journal featured a page 1 story about a major fire that destroyed the Keyport armory. Its metal ceilings and slate tile roof contained the fire and saved the nearby Pavilion Hotel and D. B. Mahoney's store.

"The Armory was built by the old members of Company G, Third Regiment. After their return from the railroad riots of 1877, most of the members put the money they received from the State for their services in a fund and bought the lot where the Armory stood. Contributions of cash from citizens of the place, timber by some of the farmers, and the work of the ladies of the town and the soldiers themselves brought about the building. The title to the property was held by the Raritan Guard Library Association, composed of members of the company who had contributed to its erection."

The destruction of the armory left no place for public entertainment in Keyport, according to the paper. The association that owned the building planned to consider whether to use the insurance money to rebuild it.

A facility called the Armory Theatre appeared in the newspaper in the years to follow, presumably the Keyport Armory risen from the ashes.

Red Bank Armory in Wikipedia

The Red Bank Armory was built in 1914 to house Troop B of the Red Bank Cavalry, a branch of the National Guard, according to Wikipedia. It is located at 76 Chestnut Street in Red Bank, New Jersey. It featured a large equestrian riding hall. It was converted to an ice rink in 1998.

Freeholders Approve $6,000 Funding for Red Bank Armory (1913)

The 1 May 1913 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4 col 3) reported that the Monmouth County Freeholders voted to approve the expenditure of $6,000 towards the purchase of the site of the new armory in Red Bank, but they were concerned that the State follow through on the arrangement and worded their resolution to include a number of caveats. 

Red Bank Armory Under Construction (1914)

The Red Bank Armory had been under construction for about a year and was expected to open on 1 November 1914, according to the 20 Aug 1914 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 7 col 1. The building would initially be 42 x 134 feet, as well as a 100 x 200 foot riding hall. Another 64 feet of space was hoped for, but only if $30,000 for the construction could be obtained.

Friction After US Army Medical Corps Begins to Share Red Bank Armory (1915)

 The United States Army Medical Corps assigned an ambulance company to the armory in early 1915, not long after the new armory opened, according to the 22 Apr 1915 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 2 col 2. Captain Peter P. Rafferty headed Ambulance Company No 1. His unit was overseen by Captain R. V. R. H. Stout, leader of Troop B of the New Jersey Militia at the time. The article -- Friction Over Armory -- discussed the tension between the troopers and the ambulance company personnel. Troop B had worked for years to get the armory and were annoyed that the medical unit were taking up so much of the space. The two groups didn't get along. The struggle finally manifested itself when Captain Stout filed official charges against a Colonel Hess of the ambulance company, who had conducted what Stout called an unauthorized inspection of the armory on 11 March.

Annual Automobile and Truck Shows Hosted at Red Bank Armory

The armory was used for the Annual Automobile and Truck Show for the week beginning 6 April 1918, sponsored by the Monmouth County Automobile Dealers Association, according to the 15 Feb 1918 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The annual auto show was scheduled to be held at the armory for the week beginning 16 April 1921, according to the 14 Apr 1921 edition of The Matawan Journal. 48 exhibitors from across the county were to participate, including a number of local garages that would now be considered auto dealerships. The event would include the usual orchestra music and dancing in the balcony.

The armory hosted the 12th annual auto show  was scheduled to be held 5 - 12 Mar 1927, according to the 18 Feb 1927 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4. The event was held under the auspices of the Monmouth County Automobile Dealers Association.

West Furniture Company Used Keyport Armory to Warehouse Overstocked Rugs (1921)

An advertisement run by West Furniture Company of Keyport in the 2 Jul 1921 edition of The South Amboy Citizen said that West was overstocked with rugs and had resorted to using the Keyport Armory's 12,000 square feet of warehouse space to store its carpets. Sounds like the facility had momentarily reached its nadir as an entertainment venue.

Armory Theatre in Keyport to Join Local Movie Theatre Chain (1923)

Burns & Schaeffer, owners of the Strand Theatres at Red Bank and Freehold, purchased the Armory Theatre in Keyport and plan to remodel it into a "first class moving picture theatre," according to the 2 Feb 1923 edition of The Matawan Journal. Henry V Vreeland, owner of the armory building, transferred the property on Wednesday. Also included in the deal was Sam Chin's Chinese laundry and a shoe repair shop,, both of which would be torn down to make a "handsome entrance" to the theatre on Front Street. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

History: NJ Bell Wartime Advertisement (1943)

The 2 Dec 1943 edition of The Matawan Journal included this advertisement encouraging telephone customers to avoid using long distance service in the evenings while American soldiers fighting the Second World War might be trying to call home from the war zone.

NJ Bell Telephone Co advertisement, 2 December 1943
Help Him Get A Line to Home

About the only time he can get to the telephone is a few short hours in the evening. That's when thousands of other boys in the camps want to use Long Distance, too.

Any time you are not on the lines, there's a better chance for a soldier's call to get through. Save those hours for the service men.

So unless it's urgent, we hope you won't be using Long Distance from 7 to 10 o'clock at night. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

8th Annual Keyport St Patrick's Day Parade Set for 23 March 2013

"Annual Irish Season About to Get in Full Swing in New Jersey," by Carolyne Volpe Curley, at The Alternative Press, provides a useful calendar of Irish events taking place in February and March throughout the state. Carolyne included one of my photographs in her piece about the upcoming 8th Annual Keyport St Patrick's Day Parade, which will take place this year on 23 March.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

History: Monmouth County Recommends One-Way Routing Through Matawan (1969)

According to the 20 Mar 1969 edition of The Matawan Journal, Monmouth County Traffic Engineer Henry Ney recommended to the Matawan Borough Council that they consider routing traffic through downtown by means of one-way streets. Responding to Councilman Howard Henderson, who asked for suggestions on dealing with traffic congestion in the business district, Ney proposed making Main Street exclusively a southbound route through the borough, and Broad Street one-way northbound.

Matawan Boys Track Wins Group 2 Championships

Congratulations to the Matawan Regional High School boys track team for winning first place at the NJSIAA Group 2 Championships in Toms River on Friday. They edged out Rahway, which had won the event the previous two years. Matawan won its first state relay last month. See NJ.com for details.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cliffwood Beach Dunes Post-Sandy

Looks like Aberdeen Township is working in earnest to deal with the dune sand at Cliffwood Beach. They're removing a 3-foot wide section of sand that was pushed against the guard rail and into the roadway, and even across the road into the basketball.courts and parking lot. They are mounding this sand down along the beach towards the seawall, a stretch that lost most of its sand. Its not clear whether the bushes and small trees on the dunes can survive as they are buried deep in sand. The township's plan seems reasonable. The restoration of dune sand is vital to protect the roadway from becoming an inlet of Raritan Bay, something that could happen soon if steps were 't taken. Id like to hear more about this project through the township website if possible. It would be reassuring to hear some details on the thinking behind this project from a government official.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

History: Rev Charles Webster, Pastor, First Presbyterian of Matawan (1838-1849)

Reverend Charles Webster was the son of the late Charles R Webster of Albany, New York. He was born 4 April 1793. He graduated Union College in 1813 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1817. (Source: History of Long Island: From Its Discovery and Settlement. . ., pg 543, Benjamin Franklin Thompson, via Google Books)

Reverend Charles Webster, Pastor, Hempstead, Queens County, Long Island, conducted missionary work the area of Hempstead for three months in 1816 and 1817. (Sources: The Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, pg 312, 1816, at Google Books; The Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, 1817, at Google Books)

Reverend Webster, of Hempstead, Long Island, married Jane Wilson Brant, of Connecticut Farms, NJ on 4 Jun 1818 in Connecticut Farms, NJ (present day Union Township), according to the 9 Jun 1818 edition of The New York Evening Post. Rev Stephen Thompson conducted the service.

Reverend Webster was ordained at the Presbyterian Church in Hempstead, Long Island on 16 March 1818 and remained in charge there until 18 April 1837. He was followed there by Reverend Sylvester Woodbridge. Reverend Webster conducted Stephen Thomas' wedding at the Presbyterian Church in Hempstead in October 1831. (Source: Descendants of Stephen Thomas (1785 - 1859) Hempstead, NY; Ancestry.com)

Reverend Webster was pastor of Christ's First Presbyterian Church of Hempstead, Long Island, New York from 1818 to1837. (Source: History and Vital Records of Christ's First Presbyterian Church of Hempstead, LI, NY) (See also History of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, pg 97, 1864, via Google Books)

Reverend Charles Webster has sent the following account of his mission for three months, on missionary ground in the vicinity of the congregation of Hempstead, Long Island.

"I have laboured within the vicinity of Hempstead, comprehending Rockaway, Christian, Hook, Merrick, and Harricks; each of these are distinct societies, in which I preach in rotation. Our meetings during the past year have increased in numbers and solemnity. Several have become hopefully converted to the Christian faith, and have connected themselves with the church at Hempstead, and are walking in the order of the gospel. More attention has been paid to Biblical and catechetical instruction than formerly. We have had four Bible classes, containing in the whole about 75 youths.. In two of these classes we have made use of Dr. McDowell's Bible Questions. They have proved very beneficial in exciting a spirit of religious inquiry in the neighborhood of these classes. And the Branch Bible Society have disposed of a larger number of copies of the scriptures in those places, than in the three former years. Three prayer-meetings have been kept up in the week within the mission, beside two meetings for the monthly concert. The Sabbath schools, mentioned in a former report, still continue to flourish. The one at Rockaway has been blessed in the conversion of several of the blacks. One of the most interesting was a child of about ten years old, who gave very satisfactory evidence in his death, that the Spirit of God had operated on his heart.

"I have preached and lectured 69 times, attended funerals, and visited the sick, reading the scriptures and praying with them. (to be continued)"
(Source: Presbyterian Magazine, Vol 1, pg 427, 1821, at Google Books)

Reverend Webster of Hempstead was a member of the Presbytery of New York in 1829 when he and two others signed an application for the Sweet Hollow Presbyterian Church of Huntington Township to be brought under the care of the presbytery. Reverend Joseph Nimmo was the first pastor (1829-1836).(Source: Melville Presbyterians' Century Celebration, The Long Islander, 26 July 1929, pg 7, Section 2)

Other local histories suggest that Webster was the first pastor at Sweet Hollow. (Sources: a church history; Half Hollow Hills Patch, 11 Jul 2011)

Charles Webster was enumerated in South Hempstead, Queens County (now Suffolk County), New York in the 1830 Federal Census. He and his wife were 30-39 years old (b 1790-1800). They had what appeared to be two daughters less than 5 (b 1825-1830). There was one free colored person, a female age 10-23 years old (1806-1820).

Reverend Webster was installed on 6 November 1838 at the Mount Pleasant Church, which was situated at the corner of Main Street and New Brunswick Avenue (Route 516)  in the Mount Pleasant (now Freneau) neighborhood of Middletown Township (now Matawan).

Built in 1798 with the proceeds of a lottery, it was the second Mount Pleasant church on this site, the first having been burned down by the British during the American Revolution. Mount Pleasant stumbled along without a permanent pastor until 1820. After Reverend George S Woodhull died on Christmas Day 1834, there were rumblings in the congregation to erect a more centrally located edifice in downtown Matawan. The stated supply, Reverend Joseph L Shafer, led a petition drive in 1836, but money was tight and the subscription plan went nowhere. The cash-strapped congregation couldn't even pay the salary of the stated supply, so Reverend Shafer left in 1838. It was into this situation that Reverend Webster entered the scene in Matawan.

Presbyterians Pioneer At Matawan, a history of the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan, says the church's chimney malfunctioned one winter Sunday early in Reverend Webster's tenure. With a sanctuary filled with smoke, Webster cancelled services. By the next Sunday, worship had been relocated to the recently constructed Middletown Point Academy, operated by Philetus Phillips at the corner of Church and Jackson Streets in downtown Matawan. Also known as the Phillips Academy, the church would meet there for two years while Webster sought a more permanent location for what had become a growing congregation..

Middletown Point Academy

The Phillips Academy would have many names and become a rather prominent private school.  It would be the Collegiate Institute of Middletown Point (1857), the Glenwood Institute (1874, pictured above), and the Matawan Military Academy (early 1900s). The growth of public schools forced the academy to close in 1915.

Webster was enumerated as head of household in Middletown Township, Monmouth County, in the 1840 Federal Census. He was 40-49 years old (b 1790-1800). The woman in the household who was presumably his wife was 30-39 years old (b 1800-1810). (Note: Possibly an enumerator error, as the age is wrong for his wife.) There were three young females, presumably daughters, in the household: one less than 5 years old (b 1835-1840), one 5-9 years old (b 1830-1835), and one 15-19 years old (b. 1820-1825). There were two boys, one less than 5 and one 5-9 years old. There was also one free colored person, a male 10-23 years old (1816-30). The household was associated with a school (academy or grammar school) with 60 students and 1 learned professional.

Webster's congregation continued to grow, exceeding the available space, so the Reverend encouraged a movement to build a new church along Main Street. A great effort would be required, so one Sunday his sermon topic was "For the people had a mind to work." This sparked the women to hold a fair and raise several hundred dollars. The men tried the then-current fad of sericulture, which involved growing mulberry trees and silkworms to produce silk, but the project failed. The rest of the necessary funds were raised the more traditional way through subscriptions and pledges.

The old church building was sold to meet part of the obligation to Rev. Shafer. Simon Arrowsmith bought the building at sheriff's sale and moved it to his farm, which was located where the Buttonwood Manor currently sits. It first served as a warehouse building associated with the farm's dock near the head of Matawan Creek. It later became a barn and was eventually razed. Robert Little paid the balance of the debt to Rev. Shafer -- $60.

In March 1841, a half-acre of property at 216 Main Street was acquired for the new church building from Elizabeth and Eleanor Covenhoven at a cost of $650. The deed (Monmouth Deeds, C-4, p. 86) described the property as having been designated Lot 14 on a map made by Leonard Walling. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on 17 July 1841, and the new building was dedicated on 6 January 1842.

Reverend Webster and his son Charles were mentioned in the 29 Jun 1843 edition of The Monmouth Democrat. "Then there is a long programme of how the 4th is to be celebrated at Middletown Point (now Matawan). There was a parade, followed by exercises in the Presbyterian church, Rev. .Charles Webster to make the prayer; his son, Charles (a lawyer and afterward Vice Consul at Tehuantepec) to read the Declaration and William L Terhune, Esq, to make the oration. On the committee of arrangement were Tunis Hubbard, John H. Hubbard, aud others, and we know that more than half of the eight who were on the committee are now dead."
(Source: The 28 Nov 1891 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 4)

Reverend Webster left the church on 24 April 1849. His replacement at the Matawan church, Reverend John M Rogers, was installed on 20 February 1850. (Source: History of Monmouth County, pp 489-90)

Reverend Webster was enumerated in Raritan Township, Monmouth County in the 1850 Federal Census. His occupation was Presbyterian clergyman. He was 56 years old and born in New York. His wife was Jane was 55 years old and born in New Jersey. His daughters Anna (18 NY) and Jane (13 NY), as well as Daniel P Stilwell and wife Elizabeth, Charles' son-in-law (34 NJ) and daughter (23 NY), were also in the household.

The 1854 Union College school directory showed Charles Webster, A.M in the Class of 1813 - profession: clergyman; original residence: Albany, NY; last residence: Middletown Point, NJ.

Charles (66 NY) and Jane (66 NJ) Webster were enumerated in Matawan Township, Monmouth County, in the 1860 Federal Census. Middletown Point was the nearest post office. Charles was an Old School Presbyterian (OSP) clergyman. He had $3,000 in real property and $1,500 in personal property. In their household were daughters Anna (26 NY) and Jane (23 NY) Webster.

Charles died 28 Dec 1862 in Middletown Point.

The 16 Mar 1892 edition of The Red Bank Register carried this obituary for Charles' daughter. "Mrs. Elizabeth W. Stilwell, widow of Daniel S Stilwell, died at her home at Matawan on Monday morning of last week, aged 68 years. She was the daughter of Rev. Charles Webster, who was once pastor of the Presbyterian church. She was married in 1850 to Daniel S. Stilwell, who died in 1866. She leaves five children."

UPDATE: Reverend Webster's father was a prominent printer and publisher in Albany, according to a biography by Stefan Bielinski. Charles R Webster was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1762, son of Matthew and Mabel (Pratt) Webster.

He was apprenticed at age 7 to a printer, served briefly in the Connecicut militia, and then moved to Albany in 1781. He made some shrewd business deals and was soon running a newspaper and a major printing company with government contracts. The printing office suffered loss in a major fire in 1803 but was reborn in what remains a landmark site known as "Webster's Corner."

He served on societies and corporate boards. He was a Federalist and didn't shy from expressing himself in his newspaper, The Albany Gazette. He served as a captain in the local militia mobilized for possible war with France circa 1800.

He had two children with his first wife, Rachel Steele, whom he married in 1787. She fell ill and died in 1794, a year after young Charles was born. He next married his first wife's sister, Cynthia Steele, in 1796.

Young Charles would have been raised in the home his father built after the infant's mother died. That house was situated along the Hudson River in Schaghticoke. The Websters were active members of the First Presbyterian Church and a number are buried in its cemetery.

Charles' father died in Saratoga Springs in July 1834.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

History: Monmouth County Fugitive Killed By Bounty Hunters in Virginia (1900)

In the articles below, an African-American vegetable peddler kills the Red Bank night marshal in November 1899 as the marshal attempts to serve him a summons on a five dollar debt as a favor for a constable acquaintance in Freehold. Convicted of first degree murder and facing the hangman's noose, the peddler escapes the county jail and becomes a fugitive, settling down on a farm near Portsmouth, Virginia. He is ultimately located and killed by bounty hunters, who disguise themselves as hunters and fill him with buckshot. One of the bounty hunters is later indicted by a Grand Jury in Norfolk for the peddler's murder, much to the surprise of the editors of The Matawan Journal.

The circumstances surrounding both shootings are far from clear.. Certainly there is more about this story in The Red Bank Register and the local Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia papers. For now, here's what I've unearthed.

The 16 Nov 1899 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that William Bullock had shot and killed James Walsh while the latter was serving Bullock a summons as a favor for a Freehold officer who had had difficulty locating Bullock on multiple previous occasions. The summons was on a debt of five dollars related to a property matter, something Walsh reportedly thought would be easily resolved. Walsh, who was 60 years old, had served on an off as constable or local policeman for the past fifteen years, even as Red Bank chief of police for one term. At the time of the shooting, he was the night marshal in Red Bank.

An argument ensued as Walsh presented the papers and as many as five shots rang out. Walsh received two bullets in the groin and one through the eye and into the brain, the latter killing him instantly. Bullock fled the scene. He ran halfway to Fair Haven, hired a boat to cross the river into Middletown, then later caught a freight train to South Amboy, where he pulled a large knife on a night watchman. The watchman subdued and detained him overnight.

Bullock was taken to Matawan by train the following morning, and then to Freehold in the company of four law enforcement officers. The article described both Walsh and Bullock in some detail.

The 25 Jan 1900 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that a jury was selected to hear the case against Bullock. The case started Tuesday the 22nd, closing arguments were delivered Thursday the 24th, and the jury returned a verdict the following morning, Friday the 25th. They found him guilty of murder in the first degree and the expectation was that Bullock would hang.

"Tuesday the trial of William Bullock, the colored man who shot James Walsh, chief of police of Red Bank, on Nov. 13 last, was commenced at Freehold. . . .

Dr Edwin Field testified that Walsh's death was caused by a bullet penetrating the brain. This and two other bullets found in the dead man's leg were shown in court.

Herman Frost, a colored boy, said he was near at the time of the shooting. He said that Walsh read a summons to Bullock to appear in an action of debt. A dispute followed. He heard Walsh tell Bullock that he would take him to Freehold jail dead or alive. Four or five shots followed.

The defense opened with the statement that the shooting was done in self-defense. It was also argued that Walsh's bond having expired he was no longer an officer, and was a trespasser when he was shot.

Bullock has said that he intended to shoot the officer and that he expected to hang for it.

Bullock went on the stand and told his story of the killing. He declared that Walsh told him he would take him to Freehold, dead or alive, and that he thought that Walsh was about to kill him when he shot him."

Tthe 13 Sep 1900 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Bullock punched a hole in the cement floor of his cell at Monmouth County jail, dug a passage under the jail and made his escape to parts unknown. A $500 reward was issued for his return. A hole under his bunk, partially covered by a newspaper, was discovered after breakfast was delivered to his cell and Bullock was found missing. An investigation suggested that Bullock was aided in his escape by an accomplice outside the jail, who used a pickaxe, threw dirt, and pulled Bullock through an amazingly narrow passage.

The 6 Dec 1900 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Bullock had been cornered outside of Portsmouth, Virginia by bounty hunters, who intended to collect the $500 reward. When Bullock tried to escape, they shot him and critically wounded him. He was not expected to live.

"Two strange men, who said they were detectives, brought to Portsmouth, VA last night and lodged in the county jail a severely wounded negro who they said was William Bullock. . . . He broke jail and came here. They said they tracked him and discovered that he was working on the farm of Millard Parker, five miles from Portsmouth. Disguised as hunters, with shotguns they sought him there.

They ordered him to halt when they saw him; he ran and they shot him. They fired low, riddling him from the waist down with buckshot. Bullock will hardly recover, so severe are his wounds. That the detectives convinced the officials that their story is true was evident. The detectives said there was a reward of $500 offered for Bullock's arrest.

The above appeared in this morning's New York Sun, sent from Norfolk, VA." 

The 21 Feb 1901 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that the revolver that Bullock used to shoot Walsh, as well as a photograph of Bullock in handcuffs, was on display in a curiosity case maintained by Red Bank Chief of Police Stryker. The article catalogued the various weapons used in the Red Bank area, as well as related miscellany, which could be found in the glass case.

"The revolver with which William Bullock killed Chief James Walsh is just below the center of the case, and beneath the revolver is the picture of Chief Walsh. To the right is the picture of Bullock with the handcuffs on, being escorted from the court room back to his cell in the jail by Chief of Police Stryker and Joseph Johnson. The picture was taken about half way from the court house to the jail without Bullock knowing what was being done."

The 25 Apr 1901 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that one of the bounty hunters who shot Bullock was being brought up on charges of murder based on evidence presented to prosecutors by Bullock's attorney.

"A. E. Dorsett, a North Carolina lumberman, has been indicted by the Norfolk County, Virginia, grand Jury, for the murder of William Bullock, the slayer of Chief of Police Walsh of Red Bank.

Dorsett and a man named Meyer planned to secure the $500 reward offered by Sheriff Davis for the arrest of Bullock, who escaped from Freehold jail while awaiting his fourth trial for shooting Chief Walsh. On the afternoon of December 5th they trapped him in a small store near Portsmouth, Va., and leveling their short guns at him, demanded that he surrender. Instead of giving himself up, Bullock ran and Dorsett fired the full charge, striking the negro anil causing wounds which killed him.

The reward was paid over to Dorsett and it was supposed that this ended [the] matter, but early last week evidence was presented to the Norfolk County Grand Jury, which resulted in the indictment. It is said that the evidence was secured by a Monmouth County lawyer named Leonard, and it is supposed that William J. Leonard of Atlantic Highlands, who was one of Bullock's lawyers and who was in the South, was the man who worked up the case against Dorsett. Just what grounds there were for the indictment are not known."

Note: The quotes above are passages from larger articles. View the linked images of the newspaper for a complete accounting.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Inkspeare Reviews Aberdeen NJ Life

Thanks to Inkspeare for a wonderful review of Aberdeen NJ Life!

History: Triple Murder on Farm Near Wickatunk (1908)

The 21 May 1908 edition of The Matawan Journal had a three column front page story about the murder of a Wickatunk farmer, his wife and their house maid by a recently hired farm hand. Frank Zastera shot and killed William B. Sheppard, his wife Josephine, and their maid Jennie Bendy using the farmer's own rifle.

Sheppard came from New York City three years earlier, leaving his job at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company seeking a life out of doors. He purchased a 100-acre farm in Monmouth County and raised squab. He was having trouble finding farm hands locally, so he hired Zastera and a couple of other young in New York. All of the boys seem to have been troubled in one way or another..

Zastera provided an eerie verbal walk through of the evening's horrible, senseless events.

Jennie Bendy's father lived in Matawan. The 1900 Federal Census showed Edward (38) and Elizabeth (30) Bendy living in Matawan with children Jennie (10), Phebe (8), Maria (5), Edward (3) and Ada (2). Head of household was a farmer. He and Elizabeth had been married 14 years. 3 of her 8 children had not survived at the time of the census enumeration.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

History: New Jersey Bell Advertisement (Jun 1945)

The 21 Jun 1945 edition of The Matawan Journal contained this advertisement for New Jersey Bell. It asked their telephone customers to.be understanding when the long distance lines were particularly crowded with traffic. The ad said an operator might interrupt a long distance call under such circumstances to request the speakers to keep the conversation short. Here's the text of this ad:

Sometimes There's Quite a Crowd

Most of the time we can handle the thousands of Long Distance calls all right, but sometimes we need a little help from you.

That's when a Long Distance line is crowded and the Operator says -- Please limit your call to 5 minutes."

New Jersey Bell Telephone Company
NJ Bell advertisement, 21 Jun 1945, The Matawan Journal

History: Matawan Journal Advertisers (Feb 1908)

Here is a sampling of the advertisements that appeared in the 6 Feb 1908 edition of The Matawan Journal (pp 4-5).

  • W. D Bailey sold hardware in Matawan. His shop had recently suffered a fire, so he wanted his customers to know he could still fill orders if provided sufficient notice. "I wish to say to our customers, one and all, that notwithstanding our misfortune in burning out, we still have on hand a fair stock of doors, mouldings, trim, etc, in our store room and we think plenty of hot bed sash for all demands, and with a little more than the usual notice we can furnish anything in our line as usual."
  • W. D. Bailey served local fruit growers with tree sprayers and other supplies. "When you have to spray your trees come and look at the "Little Wonder" Standard Spray Pump, and get with it the formula for Spray Mixture. Also get your Maine Guano, Ground Fish and Potato Fertilizers. . ."
  • M. L. Miller sold men's clothing on the commercial block of Matawan. In this ad, there was an illustration of Sweet-Orr Trousers.
  • Trainer's Private School provided co-ed business training in Perth Amboy. The ad promised 100% placement for graduates.
  • Pearson Brothers was a shoe store on the post office block in Keyport.
  • D. E Mahoney's sold groceries.
  • Sift and Loesch offered blacksmithing.
  • Harry Blogett provided shorthand training in Long Branch.
  • R. F. Schock of Matawan was selling Goodyear elastic rubbers.
  • Moulton Manufacturing Co of New Brunswick was selling Moore's tiptop hoofdressing.
  • J. A. Walling's offered paints and varnishes, painting supplies and stationery on the commercial block in Matawan.
  • William A Fountain was a real estate and insruance agency in Matawan.
  • Alonzo White, Jr installed hot water and steam heating systems in Matawan.
  • T. S. R. Brown, corner of First and Atlantic Streets in Keyport, carried roofing supplies.
  • Duckworth and Britton, on the post office block in Keyport, were electricians.
  • Alexander H. Sands and Son, electrical contractors in Keyport.
  • George Walker installed stoves, ranges, heaters. He was successor of W. A. Fountain.
  • A. J. Cartan's Department Store.
  • M. A. White sold dried fruits, flours, molasses, syrups in Matawan.
  • Glenwood School of Business, W. Edward Lamb, principal.
  • Alfred Hardy, Morganville blacksmith.
  • John T Geran, heating.
  • Robert Armellino, shoemaker.
  • S. P. Tomkins, fire extinguishers.
  • W. A. Close, coal, lumber, grain, hay at Matawan railroad station. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

History: The Ravine Farm, Matawan (1876)

W. H. Hankinson ran an advertisement in the 5 Feb 1876 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4, col 3) to sell farm equipment. He was selling a new Ingersoll's portable hay press, perhaps like the one (image, above) described in an 1856 advertisement held in the Duke University library collection. Also for sale was a 1-horse iron arm farm wagon, with accompanying pole and shafts. Those interested in making a purchase were asked to stop by the Ravine Farm, formerly owned by R. D. Fielder.


This Old Monmouth of Ours, by William S. Hornor, pg 104, said the Ravine Farm was on 70 acres of land on the northern bank of Matawan Creek, across from Matawan Village. It was the remains of the 1,000 acres that made up the original Matawan Plantation. The article details the history of the land, including its occupancy by the Fielders and Hankinsons. See Google Books for details.

The 1880 Federal Census showed William H Hankinson, 49 years old, living in Matawan as a carpet renovator. His wife Phebe was 40 years old. Their children were Annie, Wilford, Albert and Grace. They had two female servants.

The 3 Aug 1904 edition of The Red Bank Register (pg 5) contained this obituary: "William Henry Hankinson, owner of the Ravine farm at Matawan and a summer resident of that place, died on Saturday a week ago at his home in New York. Mr. Hankinson went to New York from Matawan when a young man and engaged in the carpet cleaning business, first by hand and later by steam power. His trade increased rapidly and he built up one of the largest establishments of its kind in New York. About thirty years ago he bought the Ravine farm at Matawan, which had been in the possession of the family for several generations back. He spent his summers with his family at the farm, but he had always employed a manager to look after the details of the farm management. He was 78 years old, and his death was due to kidney trouble and dropsy."

"Hankinson Graveyard, western Matawan Borough - In 2003 Edward G. Fitzgerald of Aberdeen determined that this was indeed the Robertson Family Burial Ground (Aberdeen Township #2), which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was on property owned by William Henry Hankinson. Hankinson’s obituary in the Matawan Journal of 28 July 1904, 5, states that he was the owner of Ravine Farm — where the Robertson burial ground was located." (Miscellaneous Graveyards, Monmouth County Graveyard Locator, 2009 Addendum)

The 1870 Federal Census showed Robert D Fielder, 57 years old, living in Matawan as a farmer. His property was worth $30,000 and his personal property $8,000. His wife, Phebe A Fielder, was 52 years old. What appear to be four daughters -- Sarah (25), Elizabeth (21), Emma (17) and Isabella (12) -- lived in the household. The parents were born in New Jersey while all four girls were born in New York.

The Fielders were living at 108 84th Street in New York in the 1880 Federal Census. Robert was listed as D R Fielder, age 60, while his wife was recorded phonetically as Febie A Fielder, age 62. Daughters Elizabeth (31) and Isabell (21) were still in the household, as was a chamber maid.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

History: Morganville Woman Fatally Beaten With Tree Limb in Matawan (1952)

The 28 Aug 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal reported the arrest of James King for the beating death of Mrs Mary Lee Vann, 38, who had lived with King for two years. The paper reported that King, Vann and two others had been returning from visiting a home on Texas Road when King became angry at Vann. He stopped the car on Mill Road in Matawan Borough, dragged Mrs Vann from the vehicle, punched and kicked her, then beat her with a 4-foot long tree branch. King put her back in the vehicle and continued to beat Vann until they arrived at their home. King carried her unconscious body to their apartment and put her to bed. A few hours later he found that she had died. He summoned a Matawan doctor, whom King told that Vann had fallen down the stairs. The authorities were summoned and the body was removed to Bedle Funeral Home for an autopsy. The article's accompanying photo showed King being interrogated by county and state law enforcement officials.

The 23 Oct 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 1) provided the details of the crime as presented in the indictment.

The 30 Oct 1952 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 10) reported that King was assigned counsel from Asbury Park. King entered a not guilty plea.

The 15 Jan 1953 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 1) reported that King changed his plea to non vult (no contest) at the recommendation of prosecutors and put himself on the mercy of the court. King claimed to have been drinking when he became violent without cause and beat Mrs Vann. He would be charged with manslaughter instead of murder and face a recommended sentence of 7 to 10 years.

The 5 Feb 1953 edition of The Matawan Journal reported his sentencing at Freehold to 7 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison for the murder..

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Aberdeen Township Agendas and Minutes Lack Sunshine

Norman Rockwell suggests that our civic responsibility is to attend town hall meetings and other public events, shoulder to shoulder with our fellows, interested in public discourse and adamant to defend our right to assemble. But few of us actually go and do that. Well, unless the local sports club is making too much noise or a major development is planned down the block. Then we all go traipsing down to Aberdeen Square and raise a fuss.

Some people rely on word of mouth, but that only reveals the high profile actions of our government, especially those that have irked some individual or group. Actually, the next best thing to attending meetings is to monitor the agendas and minutes of the Township Council and its Planning and Zoning boards. It isn't ideal, but it provides some insights into what's happening in town and alerts you to either attend a meeting or make further inquiries.

I say all this to point out that the Town Council is providing less and less information online. Its agendas lack the detailed resolution attachments that I've grown accustomed to. And its most recent minutes were published over 4 months after the meetings they memorialize and lack any meaningful detail.

We have one party rule, few citizens are attending municipal meetings, and the agendas and minutes are uninformative and/or delayed to the point of uselessness. It's a bad combination.. I hold out little hope that we will flock to town hall for the next meeting, but consider the situation and think about what your response should be in the long term.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

History: Matawan Journal Applauds Red Cross Response to Hurricane Donna, Urges Reader Donations (1961)

The 23 Mar 1961 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 4, col 1) urged its readers to give generously to the Monmouth County Chapter of the Red Cross after its herculean efforts to help the Bayshore after the previous fall's Hurricane Donna.

Help The Red Cross

Our readers are urged to respond generously to the annual fund drive of the American Red Cross, now, underway throughout most communities in the bayshore area. The drive is conducted only once annually when all persons are asked to contribute to this worthy service.

We, in the bayshore area, after living through the violence and destruction brought by Hurricane Donna last fall, know fully the helpful and timely aid and service rendered by the Red Cross through its Monmouth County Chapter.

Immediate assistance was given, not loaned or sold, to families in distress those who lost clothing, bedding, furniture, and household goods, due to the floods that accompanied the hurricane. Many of these families were lucky to have escaped with their lives in view of the speed at which the tidal flood inundated the low-lying coastal regions from Keansburg to Madison Township.

The Red Cross mobilized its volunteer and professional forces rapidly and were in a position to give aid immediately after the storm. This year, when you make your annual contribution, think of the many families, possibly your neighbors, who were assisted by the nation-wide organization which eases the burden of stricken mankind, the Red Cross.