How to add a posting below . . .

To add a new posting, send an email to me at with a comment, question, story, photo, observation, etc. It will be posted below, shortly after the email is received. To comment on an existing posting, click on the "comments" command below the posting and type your comment. Your comment will show up immediately.   Pete Stemmer

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shooting Thoroughfare Murder- Part 2

The March 25th Blog entry dealt with the murder of Jacob Knobe, a New York ganster whose body was found near Tuckerton at the end of Rt. S4A near Shooting Thoroughfare. A September 15, 1932 Tuckerton Beacon article described the finding of the body and the beginning of a subsequent investigation.

A small followup article appeared in the Beacon the following week with a headline announcing the charge of murder by the Coroner's jury.

The jury met on September 13th at the Coroner's funeral home in Barnegat where they concluded that ex convict Jacob Konova was found murdered near Shooting Thoroughfare having expired as a result of six bullet wounds to the head. The last name of the victim was reported as "Konova" at the inquest while the initial report in the Tuckerton Beacon reported the surname as "Konobe" while providing a number of known aliases. 

The coroner's jury was composed of six Barnegat residents who probably had a once in a lifetime experience. I'm wondering if any Blog readers recognize the name of a relative who served on the jury and, if so, whether they heard any family stories about the inquest.

The two doctors who performed the autopsy confirmed the original newspaper account that the six shots that killed the victim were fired at close range. Other than that they appeared to give no other testimony.

The coroner's jury evidently did not see the victim's body but were shown a "Rogues Gallery" photograph. I guess this was an attempt to shield the locals from viewing the actual corpse which would have been a much more traumatic experience. I'm sure the photograph was upsetting enough.

The Parkertown residents who were involved with the discovery of the body testified to complete the inquest.

It is not surprising that few new details of the incident came to light at the September 13th inquest as only a day had passed since the discovery of the body. However, the following week's Tuckerton Beacon would report on some significant developments in the case, including a connection to an associate of the infamous gangster "Legs" Diamond who was himself a victim of a mob hit on December 18, 1931.

 Legs Diamond courtesy of Google Images

Stay tuned for more breaking news in the next Blog entry.

Pete S

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Murder At Shooting Thoroughfare

Prohibition, the era from 1920 through 1933, was an interesting and exciting period in our nation's history. I've seen many television series with that era as a backdrop. 

The first series that I recall was in 1959 when CBS showcased The Untouchables a crime drama which took place in the Chicago of Al Capone in the 1920s. Robert Stack played the relentless Eliot Ness who tracked down a variety of mobster villains.

The most recent is Boardwalk Empire which centers around illicit prohibition related activities in Atlantic City, right here in our own backyard. It is loosely based on Nelson Johnson's best selling book about Enoch "Nucky" Johnson's iron clad rule including various nefarious endeavors in Atlantic City, the surrounding communities, and Southern New Jersey. The series takes many liberties with the truth, including changing the main protagonist's name to "Nucky" Thompson, while attempting to maintain the spirit of the roaring twenties era in New Jersey. The settings and costumes are particularly true to the time period. The history, not so much, but many find it entertaining.

These two prohibition series came to my mind the other day as I was browsing through back issues of the Tuckerton Beacon from the 1920's and early 1930s. Images of Eliot Ness and "Nucky" Thompson flashed through my mind, as I read the following headline from the September 15, 1932 edition.

I read on, expecting to find a story about an underworld hit in neighboring Atlantic City, and was surprised to find out that the body was actually found just a stone's throw from little old Tuckerton.

It seems that, somehow, a "gentleman" from New York with a few known aliases ended up in the meadows at the end of Route S4A by Shooting Thoroughfare, rubbed out by six shots to the head. Anyone besides me find the name of the location where they found the body ironic?

Never having heard of Route S4A out of Tuckerton, I was able to borrow a 1920 Ocean County New Jersey map from my history buddy, Shirley Whealton, which allowed me to locate the crime scene. It was obviously in a remote area.

The Ocean County authorities concluded that the crime probably occurred Sunday night or early Monday morning. By Wednesday, with the cooperation of the New York police, the body was identified as that of a known criminal who served some hard time at Sing Sing prison but had mysteriously been released.

The body was discovered by Edward Horner of Parkertown who was returning from a fishing trip. At first, Horner and his two companions believed the man was sleeping but suspected something was awry when the body appeared not to be moving. Image their surprise and horror when they encountered the grisly scene.

The authorities photographed and searched the body. No wallet was found to identify the body; however, robbery seemed unlikely as the victim's gold pocket watch and chain were found. A tattoo of the Statue of Liberty and a heart with the words "Love, Joe to Anna" seemed to offer promising clues regarding the body's identity.

The autopsy indicted that the victim had been shot repeatedly at close range by a right handed man packing a 32 revolver. Someone clearly wanted this man dead.

Many theories emerged regarding the crime; however, it was generally believed that the victim was murdered elsewhere and driven to and dumped in an isolated spot adjacent to Shooting Thoroughfare.

Other information regarding the incident filtered in over the next few days. Arthur Mathis, who was in the area fishing around the estimated time of the incident, reported that he saw a low flying airplane which came from the direction of Atlantic City circling overhead at the end of Rt. S4A before turning in the direction of Philadelphia. This added an intriguing twist to the unfolding story.

The prosecutor's office was becoming convinced that the shooting was committed by Atlantic City gangsters and reached out the authorities in Atlantic City, New York, and Philadelphia for leads into the mystery. 

It would't be the first time gangsters traveled through Tuckerton. Route 4, also known as New York Highway and now Rt. 9, was the main route in the 1920's and 1930's to travel from New York to Atlantic City. Local residents were generally unaware of the unsavory travelers, as they usually quietly passed, unnoticed through town. This time; however, it appeared they left a "package".

I couldn't help wondering why the killer or killers choose to dispose of the body on the meadows in Tuckerton. After all, thousands of acres of Pine Barrens wilderness beckoned nearby which, over the years, proved to be the mob's dumping ground of choice.

This story was to play out in the Tuckerton Beacon over a few months with a variety of twists and turns. Stay tuned for further developments as it unfolds in the next few Blog entries!

Pete S

PS- Lest some Blog readers disbelieve my contention that it was not uncommon for noted gangsters to pass through Tuckerton on their way to and from New York to Atlantic City, click in the photo of Al Capone to read about his sighting at a gas station in New Gretna. Fortunately, he did not leave a package!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Unexpected Disappearance of the Bass River Bakery

I got the following email from Barbara C. asking when the old bakery on Rt. 9 was torn down.
Is it possible that you know what year the old bakery was demolished? I thought in was sometime in the early 90's but someone said, no, it was in the 70's.    Barbara C.

Wow! That's a 20 year difference between the two estimates. How soon we forget!

Well, Barbara, you are correct. The bakery was torn down in the spring or early summer of 1994. Franklin W. Gray, who lived diagonally across the street from the old bakery, was "Johnny on the spot" with his camera and took the following two photos as the building was being demolished.

Can anyone identify the people in the photo?
I believe it may be Walt Roberts on the bicycle
and, perhaps, Steve Potter on the left.

Unfortunately, I don't know the exact date of Franklin's photos. 1994 was printed on the photos but the month and day was not included. Perhaps someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere remembers this historic incident and can be more specific concerning the date.

I took the following photo of the empty lot where the bakery had been about ten years after it had been demolished. It looks much the same today. 

July 21, 2004 photo by Pete Stemmer

My favorite story regarding the demolishing of the bakery involved Burrel Adams (photo on right), a good friend of mine and a photographer of historic sites in our area, who has since passed away. Burrel decided to take a photo of the old bakery building to preserve a record of its existence, as he had done with many area buildings. When he got home to examine the photo on his computer, he found that the sun was at an unfortunate angle which caused three bright spots to appear on the roof and top floor which, Burrel believed, ruined his shot. 

3 bright spots ruined Burrel's bakery photo

He returned to New Gretna the next day to retake the photo and was surprised to find that the building had vanished. Talk about bad timing!

Pete S

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

West Tuckerton's 15 Minutes Of Billiards Fame

Andy Warhol once said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." 

Andy Worhol

I submit that the same applies to towns as well as people, and present the following Tuckerton Beacon articles as evidence for West Tuckerton's 15 minutes of fame. 

The world spotlight in Billiards briefly shined in late January, 1933 on a hitherto unknown small billiard parlor on Route 9 in West Tuckerton owned by Arthur Speck. Somehow, Speck enticed undefeated world billiard champ, Thomas A. Hueston to appear in West Tuckerton for an exhibit of trick and fancy billiard shots. Undoubtedly, anticipation of this unprecedented sporting event swept the little village of West Tuckerton, as local residents lined up to pay their 25 cent admission charge to view this historic event.

Thomas A. Hueston
World Billiards Champ

If you travel along present day Route 9 looking for Speck's West Tuckerton Billiard Parlor, you will find the small building directly across the street from Doyle's Pour House. "Oppie" Speck, Arthur's son, confirmed the location for me.

Speck's Billiard Parlor building today.
(Photo by Pete Stemmer)

In addition to a trick shot exhibition, Speck had arranged a match between local billiard champ, Charles Pullen, and World Champ Hueston. Pullen, to his credit, was able to rack up 24 points before Hueston scored the match winning 125th point.

I wonder if any of Charles Pullen's relatives recall his 15 minutes of fame or have any billiards memorabilia from the historic match. If so, it would be interesting to see.

Pete S

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Joseph Hickman Family of New Gretna

The January 30, 2014 Blog entry featured Gerald "Skeets " Hickman and his Jumbo Egg. For those of you who missed this story, you may read it by clicking on the giant egg below.

I was delighted that Skeets grand niece via Eliza Hickman and daughter, Louise Hickman Dillon, responded in the comments section and seemed eager to learn more about the family.

Thank you for the Gerald Hickman post. He was my great uncle and I never knew the story of hi lost arm. I am his sister, Eliza Hickman Maxwell Mathis' grand daughter.

Louise Hickman DillonFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:14 AM
Hello to Eliza's granddaughter. I just read the blog of my father, Gerald Hickman. Thank you for posting. I enjoyed reading the blog and I never heard the story of the jumbo egg. Do you have any pictures of my father?

Louise Hickman DillonFebruary 24, 2014 at 8:19 AM
Hi Pete,
Really enjoyed reading the blog of my father, Gerald Hickman. I knew the story of how he lost his left hand just below the elbow, but never heard the one about the jumbo egg. Thank you for posting and especially the picture of my dad with Richie (his nephew). Richie has a daughter (Sharon) who is the same age as I. Where did you get the picture of my dad and Richie. I certainly would like to attain any pictures that anyone out in the blog area might have, as I do not have many pictures of my dad. Thank you again for posting and for writing the blog. It is always interesting to read.

The relationships in the Hickman clan can get confusing, so I thought I would present a brief genealogy of the Joseph Hickman family to put things in perspective. Hopefully, descendants of the Joseph-Lida Hickman clan and others out in the Blog-O-Sphere will find it interesting and, perhaps, add information. All photos came from Joseph and Lida Hickman family photo albums, courtesy of Betty Schutte Kalm, Joe and Lida's grandaughter, unless otherwise specified.

Joseph M. Hickman, born 1868, married Lida Cramer, the daughter of Joseph Bareford and Eliza Johnson Cramer, born 1867. The marriage took place on March 1, 1891 in the Methodist Church parsonage adjacent to the church on Route 9 in New Gretna.

Methodist Church and Parsonage, Rt. 9, New Gretna
Photo courtesy of St. Paul's Methodist Church.

Joseph and Lida Hickman raised their children in Saint Paul's Methodist Church as evidenced by the following listing of names and birth dates on page 116 of the Baptism Section of the New Gretna Methodist Record Book.

Scanned by Pete Stemmer

Joseph and Lida eventually built a house on Allentown Road, now North Maple Avenue, and raised a large family. The small rise on Allentown Road where the Hickman house sits was called Hickman's Hill by the old timers.

The old Joseph Hickman house on Allentown Road

Following is a photo of the Hickman house today.

The Hickman house today
March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

The 1910 Bass River Township census lists the the Joseph and Lida Hickman family as living on Allentown Road with nine children.

Joseph and Lida Hickman

Joe Hickman was a sea captain who piloted many a vessel in his seafaring career.

Captain Joe Hickman, marked by the X, with his crew from the menhaden
fishing steamer Adroit sailing from the Crab Island Fish Factory in Great Bay.
Photo courtesy of Helen Billsborough 

Lida passed away in February, 1929 at age 62.

Captain Joe's daughter, Elizabeth Hickman Schutte (See Hickman Child #7 below), and her husband, George, held a gala 70th birthday party as reported in the in March 3, 1938 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon. Many family members and New Gretna friends of Captain Joe attended.

A small news item regarding some disturbing news of Joseph Hickman's deteriorating health condition appeared in the June 28, 1951 Tuckerton Beacon.

Regretfully, Captain Joe passed away on July 2, 1951 in the old Hickman homestead on Allentown Road.

Captain Joseph Hickman

Contrary to a typographical error in his obituary, Captain Joe was placed to rest in the family plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery in New Gretna where he is resting beside his wife, Lida.

March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

Some information and photos that I have collected about Joseph and Lida Hickman's children are found below. 

1. Stella Richardson Hickman was born November 4, 1891. 

She married, sometime between 1910 and 1916, Charles H. Pendleton who lived with his parents, Charles and Eva Pendleton, in 1910, on Allentown Road in New Gretna, just up the road from the Joseph Hickman homestead. Charles, Sr. and Eva are listed as being born in Connecticut. Charles H. is listed as being born in Iowa.

By the 1920 census, Charles H. and Stella were renting a residence on Toms River Road in Jackson, N.J.  They had a 6 year old son, Charles F., and a 3 year old daughter, Elinor M.

By the 1940 Federal Census, Stella, noted as divorced and listed as the Head of the Household, was living in Lakewood with her two children, Eleanor, age 23, and Fred, age 26, and listed as Charles F. in the 1920 census.

Stella stayed in contact with her father, Joe Hickman, and the rest of her Hickman family by making many visits to the New Gretna family homestead throughout the years.

Unfortunately, I have no definitive information regarding Stella's death, except the following Social Security death record which seems likely to be Stella Hickman Pendleton as her name, parents, and her birth year match the New Jersey Birth Record listed above. Her place of burial is unknown.

2. George Orville Hickman - born August 15, 1894, died 1925.

Following is Orville's World War I Draft Card, issued June 5, 1917, which lists him as single and living in New Gretna and self employed as a bayman.

Orville married, in West Creek, Theora Lillian McAnney, daughter of John V. and Sophie Ford McAnney. 

He worked for the Atlantic City Electric Company and was killed in a tragic accident when sawing a tree limb which touched a live wire.

Orville and Theora had a son George Richard Hickman, known as Richie by the family.

Little Richie Hickman with his uncle Gerald.

Richie died on October 25, 1983

After Orville's death in 1925, Theora married at West Creek on September 5, 1926, Richard G. Cramer, son of Charles and Laura Elberson Cramer.

Miller Cemetery, New Gretna, NJ
March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

3. Joseph Aubrey Hickman - born April 6, 1897. Married Della Loveland McAnney, daughter of Reuben A. and Mary Eliza Mathis Loveland.

Following is a copy of Aubrey's World War I draft card which shows his first name as Joseph. He was living on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City and employed by Edward L. Bader at the time of the card's issue on June 5, 1918.

 Aubrey Hickman with stepdaughter.

Aubrey passed away on October 16, 1959.

J. Aubrey and Della Hickman stones on the McAnney plot
in New Gretna's Hillside Cemetery. Photo by Pete Stemmer

4. Walter Hickman, born March 24,1898. 

Walter Hickman

I don't know much about Walter. A brief mention, in the February 17, 1938 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon, of Walter and his wife and daughter, of Rahway, NJ, visiting his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. George Schutte, indicates that Walter had previously moved out of New Gretna.

A look at the 1930 Federal Census finds Walter living on West Lake Street in Rahway, NJ with his wife, Martha Schutte, and 5 year old daughter, Dorothy. 

Walter's widowed mother-in-law, Sophie Schutte, is living in the household. She is also the mother of George Schutte who married Walter's sister, Elizabeth (See Hickman Child #7 below).

The 1920 Federal Census confirms that  Martha and George Schutte were siblings. We see their widowed mother, Sophie, raising her two children at their residence on Armstrong Avenue in Jersey City. Little did they know, at that time, that they would marry into the same New Gretna Hickman family.

5. Gerald Willetts "Skeets" Hickman - born September 23, 1900 and married Leola Stackhouse, daughter of Edmund B. and Cora J. Stackhouse. Leola was a school teacher in New Gretna for many years. 

Gerald "Skeets" Hickman

Leola Hickman, wife of Gerald

The Stackhouse family - circa 1916
(l-r) Erwin, Cora, Edmund, Leola, and Harry
Courtesy of Find A Grave

Gerald and Leola had two daughters, Lora, born October 27, 1934 who married a McDowell, and Louise, born December 29, 1945, who married a Dillon. Louise responded with a Blog comment (see above). Hopefully, she can tell us more about her childhood and present family.

Lora Jean Hickman celebrated her 5th birthday on November, 1939, with a party given in her honor by her parents.

Skeets was active in many civic organization, including the New Gretna Fire Company where he served as a Fire Captain.

Gerald was also a member of the Bass River Defense Council and involved in a door to door drive to collect aluminum for the country's war effort. The drives slogan was "Give Till It Hurts Hitler."

Sheets, third from the left, was instrumental in the success of Bass River Township's
scrap aluminum drive to support our country's war effort.
(l-r) Doug Lambert, Sr.; Eugene "Booter" Mathis; "Skeets" Hickman;
Walter Loveland; Norman G. Mathis; Charles Kauflin; Russell Adams;
Zeb Mathis; George Cramer; and Stanley Wiseman.

I was interested to find the following want add posted by Gerald in the November 1, 1945 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon. As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying, "I believe something is a foot!"

It didn't take long to figure out why Skeet's posted the baby furniture want ad, as two months later, the following birth announcement appeared in the January 3, 1946 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon.

Gerald and Leona Hickman had a new baby girl and Lora Jean had a new baby sister. The name of the new addition to the Hickman's South Maple Avenue household was not mentioned; however, I have a pretty good idea who the new addition to the family was. I'll give you a hint. I believe she wrote the February 24, 2014 Blog comment found near the beginning of this Blog posting.

About a month prior to the start of the 1946 school year new mom, Leola, placed an ad in the August 1, 1946 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon for help in caring for the new baby. When it came to being a career woman, Leola was ahead of her times.

Gerald passed away at the Bridgeton, NJ home of his daughter, Louise Dillon on January 4, 1974.

Gerald is buried in his parents plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery.
March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

Leola passed away in 1991 and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Waretown NJ in the Stackhouse plot beside her parents.

Courtesy of Find A Grave

Leola's parents tombstones
Cedar Grove Cemetery, Waretown, NJ
Courtesy of Find A Grave

6. Nettie Hickman - born October 26, 1902, died October 8, 1917 from diphtheria.

7. Elizabeth "Lib" Hickman - born 1905 , died May 19, 1991, married on March 29, 1925 at New Gretna, George F. Schutte, son of Herman and Sophie Kulze Shutte of Jersey City, NJ. They lived in the old Hickman house on Allentown Road.

George and Lib Schutte

George and Lib Schutte had a daughter, Elizabeth "Betty" Mae, born 1922. Betty married David Hilliard Kalm, son of Otto and Monica Walker Kalm, at the New Gretna Presbyterian Church on September 17, 1950. They had a son, David.

Betty Schutte

I remember a story Betty told me about being struck by lighting when a little girl. She laughingly said, "Now I know why I'm so ditsy sometimes." I later found a 1938 Tuckerton Beacon article that confirmed her story.

Tuckerton Beacon - July 14, 1938

Betty survived the lighting strike and went on to become an excellent student. She was Salutatorian of the 1949 Tuckerton High School class.

Betty passed away on August 5, 2006. 

Elizabeth Hickman "Lib" Schutte, passed away on May 18, 1991.

Betty and her mother are buried in the Schutte family plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery in New Gretna.

March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

George Schutte, "Lib's" husband and Betty's father, is also buried in the Schutte plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery.

March 1, 2014 photo by Pete Stemmer

8. Pauline Hickman - born 1907.

Pauline Hickman

Pauline (r) and her sister, Eliza

Pauline married Thomas Savarese. They had a son, Robert, and a daughter, Jeanette. The 1940 census lists the family as living on Howard Street in Philadelphia.

Pauline enjoyed her visits back to the Hickman homestead from her home in Laffette Hill, Pa.

Pauline passed away in 1994 at the age of 87. Unfortunately, the obituary is not dated.

Pauline is buried in her parents plot in New Gretna's Miller Cemetery.

9. Eliza Hickman - the last of Richard and Lida Hickman's nine children was born in 1910.

Gerald Hickman and his sister, Eliza.

Eliza Hickman

Eliza, at age 16, married Lemuel Maxwell, born in Wading River on April 8, 1906, the son of Lemuel H. and Marletta Rossell Maxwell. Eliza and Lemuel had a large family: Bernard who married Laura Parker; Gerald Douglas who married Virginia Stephens; Kenneth who married Carol Tams; Ronald; Janet who married a Johnson and, later, a Hummel; and Beverly who married a Baginski and, later, a Phillips.

(l-r) Pauline Hickman Savarese, Eliza Hickman Maxwell,
George Schutte, Elizabeth Hickman Schutte, and Lemuel Maxwell

The Lemuel and Eliza Maxwell Family lived on New York Bouvelard, now Rt. 9, in Bass River Township in 1930.

Lemuel's passed away on April 14, 1964 and is buried in West Creek. Sometime after his passing, Eliza married Elton Mathis, born September 30, 1901, the son of Benjamin W. and Mary Berry Mathis. Elton died January 23, 1981.

Eliza passed away on August 19, 1995 at the age of 85.

That's about all for the New Gretna Hickmans for now. If anyone would like to add information to the New Gretna Hickman clan story or send a Hickman family photo, it would be appreciated.

Pete S