A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, April 28, 2014

21st Annual Family Fishing Contest - 10 May 2014

Aberdeen Township Environmental Board will be hosting its 21st Annual Family Fishing Contest at Cliffwood Beach on 10 May 2014 between 4 - 7 pm. For a description of last year's event, see the 25 April 2013 edition of The Independent.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Matawan Downtown Clean Up Event - 3 May 2014

The Borough of Matawan's Recreation Commission has scheduled its annual Downtown Clean Up event for Saturday 3 May 2014 at 8:30 am. Last year's event involved "sprucing up and planting flowers in the large flower pots along Main Street." Contact Dierdre Ring at Borough Hall at 732-566-3898 ext 130 if you'd like to volunteer. They'll probably rally in the Bank of America parking lot again at the corner of Main and Ravine if you want to just show up. Bring some work gloves and gardening tools and I'm sure she'll be happy to put you to work on spring cleaning.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Former "The Office" Site in Keyport To Become Dunkin Donuts Drive-Thru/Gloria Nilson Real Estate Office

UPDATE 4/27/2014: I noticed some major renovation work going on at the long-vacated The Office Beer Bar & Grill on Route 35 North in Keyport on Saturday morning. It is in the same parking lot with Stop n Shop and IHOP. I put out some feelers and did some research.

While Dunkin Donuts headquarters weren't prepared to say anything yet but would be making an announcement soon, my friends at IHOP confirmed what I read in a recent discussion in the "Keyport, NJ" Facebook group that Dunkin Donuts will be using a third of the building for a new drive-thru business and Gloria Nielson Real Estate will occupy the other two-thirds for a new agency office.

Too bad. I mean it's nice that the space is being occupied, especially because it is one of the last vacancies along Route 35 lingering since the recession. But I wish there was a Chipotle or Panera or something like that going in that spot. Seems a waste to add yet another DD. We're saturated with them in the area. Like drug stores.

The Keyport Facebook group also discussed Up the Creek, which may be rebuilt soon. The parking lot there routinely flooded, so needless to say the bar was nearly washed away during Sandy. It will be built with a 14' boost in its height off the ground, which could offer a nice view of the harbor. Perhaps they should change the name to Above the Creek?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

History: Henry E Ackerson (1880 - 1970) Clears Legal Hurdles for Matawan to Create Artificial Lakes (1915)

The 20 May 1915 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that New Jersey State Senator Henry E Ackerson, Jr, introduced a bill in Trenton that would allow municipalities to build and maintain artificial lakes in their communities. Matawan's legal counsel Elmer H Geran helped draft the bill, apparently with Lake Matawan and Lake Lefferts in mind.

Henry Elijah Ackerson was born on a dairy farm in Holmdel, NJ on 15 Oct 1880, son of Cornelius and Anna B (Stillwell) Ackerson. (He was the namesake of his paternal grandfather, which should have made him Henry II, not Henry, Jr.) About 1890, the family moved to Raritan (Keyport), where Henry graduated from Raritan High School.

In the 1900 Federal Census, Cornelius had a job as a bank cashier and sons Henry (19) and Cecil (12) were in school. (Henry's obituary said Henry briefly clerked at People's National Bank in Keyport.) Henry graduated New York University Law School in 1902 and passed the New Jersey bar in 1904. Cornelius was still at the bank in the 1910 Federal Census, and his sons were both lawyers in his Keyport household.

Henry married Edith D Calef about 1912. Edith was born in Connecticut to Connecticut parents, and  she bore sons Cornelius and Calef in her home state. Henry was tied to New Jersey, so it seems unlikely they were living there. This suggests that Edith delivered her children at her parents' home in Connecticut.

Henry served in the NJ Senate (1915 - 1919), according to the NJ Historical Society Biography Index.

He was appointed to the newly-created Court of Errors and Appeals in 1919, according to his obituary. The 1920 Federal Census showed Henry and Edith with sons Cornelius (7 CT) and Calef (3 CT). Henry was listed as a judge in the court of errors in that record.

Their son Calef D Ackerson (1916 - 1920) died soon after the 1920 census and was buried at Holmdel Cemetery, according to Find A Grave.

Henry was appointed to the Hudson County Circuit Court in 1924 and served there until 1948. The 1930 Federal Census listed him as a judge in the circuit court. He and his wife, Edith (44 CT) were living in Keyport with their son Cornelius (17 CT) and Edith's mother, Laura Calef.

When he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, Henry was working for the "New Jersey Court House" at the "Hudson County Court House" in Jersey City. He was 61 years old and living at 116 Maple Place in Keyport with his wife Edith.

Henry served on the NJ State Supreme Court (1948 - 1952), according to his obituary and the NJ Historical Society Biography Index.

After his retirement from the court, Henry served as a Rutgers University trustee until his death. As chairman of the law school committee for 15 years, Henry spearheaded the building of a modern structure on the Newark campus dedicated to the study of law. What became known as Ackerson Hall served as the home of the Rutgers School of Law from 1965 to 1979, according to a 2008 centennial history of the law school. The building currently houses the Rutgers University College of Nursing.

Henry also served on the board of governors of Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch for nearly two decades and was honorary vice president of the board at the time of his death.

Henry died on 9 December 1970 at the Arnold Walter Nursing Home in Holmdel, according to his obituary in the 11 Dec 1970 edition of The Red Bank Register. His final arrangements were handled by Bedle Funeral Home and his funeral was conducted on 13 December 1970 at the Reformed Church in Keyport. He left son Cornelius and grandson Henry E Ackerson, III.

Henry's wife, Edith (1885 - 1969)  predeceased him a year earlier. She was buried at Holmdel Cemetery in Holmdel, NJ.

Henry, his brother Cecil (1887 - 1963), and their parents Cornelius (1852 - 1921) and Anna (1852 - 1929) are all buried at Holmdel Cemetery in Holmdel, NJ.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Route 35 Improvement Project in Full Swing

The long-awaited road improvement project on Route 35 in Aberdeen Township and Old Bridge Township has been underway for over a year now. New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJ DOT) issued a press release in March 2013 announcing its imminent start, but it didn't specify when it would end nor did it describe the full extent of the project.

All I can say is that the project is in full swing. Cliffwood Avenue and Amboy Avenue intersections are the focus of attention at the moment, with new curbs installed, sidewalks torn up and being replaced, new storm drains and pipe installed, and new traffic lights hanging over the intersection but not yet operating. The school crossing guards must be having the devil of a time getting the kids safely across the intersection with the sidewalks gone.

Route 35 northbound commuter traffic is backed up most weekday mornings through Keyport due to a right-lane closure, which forces traffic to merge into a single lane at Prospect Avenue just east of Wendy's. Lots of traffic cones, barriers, flashing lights, etc, make it hard to find your way if you need to turn at Amboy or Cliffwood Avenue. I imagine the evening commute is just as messy southbound through Laurence Harbor. Lucky for me, I ride the train and have no children currently in school.

I've avoided Route 35 north of Cliffwood Avenue for the duration of the construction, so I don't know exactly how far they've gotten with raising the road surface and adding culverts under the roadway in the notorious flood plain at the county border. But I can say the stack of concrete culverts and pipe they piled at the corner of Route 35 and Cliffwood Avenue, where Burlew's Pizzeria used to stand, has all been used up and different supplies are now sitting there. It will be great when the mounds of tarp-covered materials are gone and the gateway to Cliffwood Beach can begin to look less like a war zone.

I'm anxious to see exactly what they plan to do with the north side of Route 35 at Cliffwood Avenue, where the traffic gets snarled every morning during the morning rush. They tore down Burlew's and Moore's Bar, presumably to make room for some aspect of this project, so they have plenty of land to develop a better intersection there. They've not started adding curbs on that side of the highway, so it is hard to say what is shaping up. They're doing the curb work on the south side of Route 35 at Amboy Avenue, across from McDonald's. I'm optimistic that vehicles exiting Route 35 North at Cliffwood Avenue will be able to make their way without a struggle, but we have no details on the state's intentions for the intersection so far.

I have to say it's amazing how long it takes for such an endeavor to get started. I first reported on the impending project in this blog four years ago this week, but planning had been underway since at least 2006.

As for when the roadwork will be completed, I expect the bulk of the project will be done by the end of summer. The state initially budgeted through FY 2013 for this project, I believe, so presumably they are already late getting this done.

If someone knows more details or can refer me to a website with the information I'm seeking on the project, please be in touch.

Beach Cleanup Set for Saturday 26 April 2014 - Cliffwood Beach and Other Sites

Clean Ocean Action (COA) will be hosting its semi-annual Beach Sweeps in our area next Saturday morning, 26 April 2014, from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Be sure to volunteer! Bring gloves, hard-soled shoes or boots, and dress for the weather.

You will find volunteer team leaders at our regional rally points as designated below. Click here for many other rally points in New Jersey, sorted by county.
Fishermen's parking lot at Cliffwood Beach is accessible by taking Cliffwood Avenue north, left on Greenwood Avenue, right on Lakeshore Drive, and a right into the lot (red arrow, above). Old Bridge's Pirate Cove beach sweep is being held just across the Whale Creek bridge on Ocean Boulevard (blue arrow, above). Both sites are accessible from Route 35.

Beach Sweeps at Cliffwood Beach in previous years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

History: John Travers, Founder of Trinity Episcopal, Matawan (1791 - 1882)

John Travers (30 October 1791 - 26/27 May 1882) was only briefly in the Matawan area, but during that time he played a significant role in the establishment of Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street.

The Madison Township Historical Society at the Thomas Warne Museum in Old Bridge, NJ has been conducting extensive research on John Travers in support of Laurence Harbor history. I am pleased to play a small part in that project and wish them well in their venture. Below is my review of Ancestry.com for birth, baptism, marriage, census and graveyard records on John and his Wall Street trader son William, as well as historical information from selected church websites.

Support your local historical societies.


John Travers was baptized on 4 April 1792 at St Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. John's father, also John, is said to have been an Englishman who was a wine merchant along the US mid-Atlantic coast.

John went to England as a teen to apprentice at his uncle's shop in London. He returned to Baltimore in 1812, according to research notes at Gen Forum.

He married 1) Susan Rebecca Hanson Moale on 3 April 1816 in Baltimore County, Maryland.

John and Susan had son William Riggin Travers in July 1819 in Baltimore.

John's wife Susan died 27 January 1822 in Maryland.

John could be identical with a man with this name in the 1830 Federal Census in Acquackanonk, Essex County, NJ. The family member ages could fit the available data from the enumeration. This would support the idea that the family moved to New Jersey in the 1820s, as suggested in research notes at Gen Forum.

He married 2) Harriet Riggin on 26 October 1835 in Somerset County, Maryland.

They had a daughter, Harriet Emily Travers, about 1837 and a son, Robert Travers, about 1840, both born in Maryland.

The 1840 Federal Census for New Jersey showed John Travers as head of household in South Amboy, New Jersey. The household includes 1 M 40-50 (John, 49), 1 M 20-30 (UM, probably a servant), 1 M 15-20 (William, 20), 1 M >5 (Robert, infant), 2 F 30-40 (Harriet, 38; UF, probably a servant), 3 F 15-20 (UF, all probably servants), and 1 F >5 (Harriet Emily, 3).

The 1850 Federal Census for New Jersey showed John (59 MD) as head of household in South Amboy. He was a farmer with $20,000 in property. The household included his wife, Harriet (48 MD), daughter Emily (13 MD), and son Robert (10 MD); the soon-to-be first pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Matawan, Ferdinand C Putman (35 MA);  three laborers, who were probably working on the construction of the church; and two adult women.

Trinity Episcopal Church's website quotes from the Churchscape website, which mentions John's role in the founding of the church:

"Construction of the old church was initiated by Colonel John Travers, who lived at the mouth of the Cheesequake River in what was then Middletown Point. The cornerstone was laid on April 24, 1850, by the Rt. Rev. George W. Doane, Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. The Church was incorporated on May 11, 1850, and admitted into union with the Convention of the Diocese at its annual meeting in Newark that month. Bishop Doane consecrated the Church on June 10, 1851."

Note 1: The mouth of Cheesequake Creek was in South Amboy in those days, not Middletown Point. Today, a drawbridge carries Route 35 over that creek, the north bank being in the Morgan section of Sayreville and the south bank in the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge.

Note 2: The reference to John as Colonel is rife in local records but all seems to draw from limited sourcing. He was the right age to serve in the War of 1812, but would have been too young to attain such a rank. He would have been too old to suddenly lead troops in the Mexican War (1846-48). So just where does this military rank come from? His father could have been a colonel in the US Revolutionary War, but the English emphasis in his background hints more at Tory than Yankee.

The 1860 Federal Census for New York showed John (70 MD) as head of household in New York City. He had no occupation, apparently retired. He had $60,000 in real property and $5,000 in personal property. His household included wife Harriet (58 MD), daughter Harriet E (21 MD) and three domestics, who were from England and Ireland.

I had no luck finding John in the 1870 or 1880 Federal Census. He reportedly returned to Baltimore by 1867, according to research notes at Gen Forum, but I was unable to surface his census records. John owned property on Main Street in Matawan in 1873. According to a map of the borough, his property was adjacent to the Trinity Episcopal Church.

John died in May 1882 at the Baltimore home of his niece, a Mrs Wright, according to obituaries appearing in the 26 May 1882 edition of the Paterson Press and the 27 May 1882 edition of The Baltimore Sun.


A reference in the online history of the St Lawrence Roman Catholic Church to a John Travers as being married to the only sister of James Provost, must pertain to John's father.

"In 1684, the region became incorporated as part of South Amboy Township (which at that time also included the land of modern day Sayreville, Old Bridge and Monroe Townships). During the 18th Century, the area of Laurence Harbor was the private estate of the Provost family. Major General Provost, who had been an officer in the British Army, built a house on the bluff. His son, James Provost, had a disagreement with his father, and so the land and holdings were willed to James' only sister, who was married to Colonel John Travers (tax assessment records list Col. Travers as the owner of the estate in the 1830s). The Travers family were Episcopalians, and funded the building of Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street in Matawan in 1850."
Note: This early connection to South Amboy by John's father would explain the younger John's relocation to the area circa 1840.

Dr Frank K Travers (1840-1873) came to Matawan from Baltimore in late 1868 to join a medical practice and died about five years later. Frank's line of the Travers family came from Dorchester County, Maryland. While there is likely a connection between the John and Frank's father Samuel (born about 1787), they are more likely cousins than siblings.

Son - William Riggin Travers

John's son William R Travers attended the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. He was registered at the school, according to US military post returns filed in August 1836 and February 1837.

He married Maria Louise Johnson about 1846.

The 1857 New York City city directory showed William as a broker on Wall Street. He listed work addresses at 1 Exchange Place and 30 Merchants Exchange and a home address of 179 West 23rd Street.

The 1860 Federal Census for New York showed William (40 MD) as a broker living in New York City. He was head of household with wife Louisa (39); daughters Mary (12), Louisa (11), Hattie (10) and Ellen (7), Matilda (5) and Susan (3); and son John (8). All were born in Maryland, except the last two children - Matilda and Susan - who were born in NY. He had four female Irish domestics working/living in the household.

The 1880 Federal Census for New York showed William (60 MD) as a broker living in New York City. He was head of household with wife Louise (50 MD); daughter Mary Grey (33 MD) and her two daughters Minnie (11) and Louise (10); son John (28 MD), cotton merchant; daughters Matilda (24) and Susan (22); and sons William (19) and Reverdy J (16). They had seven live-in servants from England, Ireland, Germany and New York.

The 1886 New York City city directory showed William as a broker working on Wall Street. He listed work addresses at 52 Broadway, 64 Broadway, 39 New Street, 25 William Street, and 10 West 23rd Street. His home address was 3 West 38th Street.

William died 19 March 1887 in Hamilton, Bermuda. He is buried at Island Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island, according to Find-a-Grave. The site provided this brief biography of William:

     "New York City lawyer, financier, and sportsman who was a member of the New York Stock Exchange, a co-founder and first president of Saratoga Racecourse at Saratoga Springs, New York, and the first president of the New York Athletic Club. The Travers Stakes, America's oldest major race for Thoroughbred horses, was named in his honor. Travers Island, part of the The Pelham Islands group in Long Island Sound, was also named in his honor. William Travers married Maria Louisa Johnson, daughter of statesman, Reverdy Johnson."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

History: Frank K Travers, Matawan Physician (1840 - 1873)

Dr. Francis K. "Frank" Travers (June 1840 - July 1873) was a medical doctor in Matawan from late 1869 to early 1873. He died quite young. Below are some resources on his life.

The 1850 Federal Census for Maryland showed Frank Travers, age 9, in the Dorcester County household of Samuel Travers, age 63, farmer, $8,000 in property, and Mary Travers, age 36. He was the sibling of William (16), Catherine (6), Ann (5), and Samuel (2). All were born in Maryland.

The 1860 Federal Census for Maryland showed Francis Travers, age 21, physician with $200 in personal property, living in the Dorcester County household of S Columbus Tall, age 28, born in Maryland, gentleman with $1,000 in real property. Tall seemed to be widowed with several young children and perhaps his mother and mother-in-law in the household. Also in the household was a Louisa Harris, age 20.

A 1862 US IRS Tax Assessment list showed F K Travers, physician, of Taylors Island, Maryland taxed $10 for a Class B license.

The Civil War Draft Registration as of 1 July 1863 showed Dr Francis K Travers, age 23, doctor, living at Taylors Island, Maryland. A number of men with the surname Travers appeared on the same page of the registration.

The 1868 Baltimore City Directory showed Frank Travers living at 162 South Charles St. 

The 1870 Federal Census for New Jersey showed Frank K Travers, age 30, born in Maryland, living in Matawan. He owned $4,000 in real property and $2,000 in personal property. He was enumerated as part of the household of Thomas R Ryer, age 60, born in New York, farmer with $30,000 in real property and $10,000 in personal property. He was likely a tenant.

The 26 Jul 1873 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 2 col 6) contained this plea to Dr Travers' patients to pay their overdue bills because he had been housebound for many months and unable to conduct his routine collection of payments.

To My Friends of Matawan and Vicinity: Having been confined to the house for five months, and making in that time but few collections, I am greatly in need of money. I therefore hope my patients will respond cheerfully to this call, and come forward promptly and settle their bills. Thereby oblige,
Yours Truly,
F K Travers

The 2 Aug 1873 edition of The Matawan Journal held Dr Travers' obituary:

"Frank K Travers, MD, was born in Dorchester County, Md about eight miles from Cambridge, the county seat, in June 1840. At the early age of ten years he manifested a fondness for medicine, and even then said he intended to be a doctor when he got to be a man. This desire increased with age, and after completing his educational course he commenced the study of the medical profession, and graduated from the Maryland University, at Baltimore, in the term of 1860, having been only twenty years of age. After receiving his diploma he practiced for a while at Baltimore, and then removed to Seaford, Delaware, where he remained until invited to become the partner of the late Dr Dayton in the winter of 1869 and '70. In this partnership he continued until the death of Dr Dayton, in July, 1870, when he took control of the entire practice. As a physician and surgeon, he gave evidence of ability and a love for his profession, and was recognized by official appointment by the Monmouth Co Medical Society, of which he was a member.

 He was connected with the Orders of Odd Fellows and Free Masons at Seaford, Del and continued in active relationship with Aberdeen Lodge F & A M at this place.
 Up to last fall he was in possession of as apparently good health as men generally enjoy, but the labors  of his profession told upon his constitution and developed a rapid hereditary consumption. For more than six months he has been unable to attend to any business, and on Friday evening, July 25th, as the sun was setting in the western sky, his sun sank beneath the horizon of human hope,  but only we dread to ----- forth in the realms where there is no night.

The funeral took place in the Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon July 29th at 4 o'clock, and notwithstanding the severe storm there was a large attendance of firm and sympathizing friends. At the conclusion of the service the body was left in the church until Monday morning, when it was taken to Old Bridge and thence conveyed to Glassboro in Gloucester County, where it was interred in the Episcopal burial ground."

The History of Monmouth County, New Jersey, by Franklin Ellis (1885: Philadelphia (R T Peck & Co), pg 345, contains the following biography of Dr. Travers, a text which I'm afraid would violate copyright law if it were to be published today:

"Frank K Travers, MD, was born in Dorchester County, Md about eight miles from Cambridge, the county seat, in June 1840. At an early age he manifested a fondness for the science of medicine, and after completing his educational course he commenced the study of it, and graduated at the Maryland University, Baltimore, in the session of 1860. After receiving his diploma he practiced for a time in Baltimore, then removed to Seaford, Del, where he remained until invited to become a partner with Dr A B Dayton, of Matawan, NJ, in the winter of 1869-70. In this partnership he continued until the death of Dr Dayton, in July, 1870, after which he remained in charge of the practice. Up to the fall of 1872 he was in possession of apparently good health; but his labors weighed upon his constitution, and developed a rapid hereditary consumption. For more than six months he was unable to attend to business, and he died on the 24th of July, 1873.

As a physician and surgeon, Dr Travers gave evidence of ability and love for the profession. In his personal relations he was friendly and courteous, just and upright in his dealings, and a firm advocate of professional etiquette. He was held in high esteem by his professional brethren, and by a large circle of sympathizing friends and patrons."

Ellis, pp 321-2, showed Dr Travers to be a member and officer of the Medical Society of Monmouth (1871-2).

Dr Travers is buried in the St Thomas Episcopal Church Burial Ground in Glassboro, NJ. A photo of his gravestone is captured at Find-a-Grave under the name Dr E K Travers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

History: Brickyard Payroll Ambush (1917)

The 16 Aug 1917 edition of The Matawan Journal Pg 8 col 3) told of five masked robbers who attempted to abscond with the payroll of The New Jersey Brick Company, which was being carried to the company's factory on Matawan Creek the previous Friday afternoon.

Ray Robinson, company treasurer, arrived from New York at Matawan train station with approximately $3,000 in pay receipts. He was met by Alfred Everham, who drove him by horse and buggy toward the brickyard. Highwaymen fired upon the carriage, winging both men, but the assault was thwarted by Robinson and Everham, who returned fire and prompted the attackers' hasty retreat. Investigation revealed the highwaymen to be a group of Italians from Newark. The case was cracked when the torn shreds of a personal letter were pieced together by an expert in Asbury Park and the letter translated in Newark, revealing the home address of one of the robbers. Soon the men were brought to Matawan for trial.

The ambush took place "near the junction of the road leading from the Morristown Road to Cliffwood Avenue at the H S Little farm." This sentence seems to describe Cross Road, which lies between the intersection of Ravine Drive, Morristown Road, and Aberdeen Road, and Cliffwood Avenue. (Remember that Ravine Drive was Morristown Road in those days.)

H S Little would have been Henry Stafford Little, born 17 August 1823 in Matawan, a prominent lawyer and politician. Mr Little died on 24 April 1904 in Mercer County, NJ and buried in Matawan. The H S Little farm seems to have been a known landmark.