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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Gretna I.Q. Test Answers

Last Sunday, April 26th, we published a New Gretna I.Q. Test. Below are the answers for those of you who took the test. Remember, 15 or more correct answers entitles you to join the New Gretna Menza Club. As far as I know, only Donald Maxwell and Bob Mathis qualify to be members, as of this morning. Donald got all 17 correct and Bob got 16 out of 17 correct, only missing the last question. Great job guys! Please let me know if anyone else out there got 15 or more correct, so that I can acknowledge your membership in the New Gretna Menza Club. Maybe we'll have membership cards printed.

The answers posted below were largely taken from Bob Mathis' email. Thanks for saving me a lot of typing, Bob.

New Gretna I.Q. Question Answers

1. What did Harry Kid have in common with the Great John Mathis? Last name of both is Mathis.

2. Who were the Gray brothers? Bill and Frank. They had an oyster and clam business.

Frank (1896-1986), left, and Bill Gray (1897-1954) as youngsters.

3. Which of the clammers was noted for his gigantic hands? Delbert Robbins

Del Robbins (1893-1967). Big hands and big boots!

4. Who on the list owned and operated a saw mill? Milton Kauflin

Mutt Kauflin (1911-1987) had a saw mill on Eel Street.

5. Who was "Keever"? Edward Allen.  Father of Woodrow, Leslie and others.

Edward Keever Allen (1875-1965) cutting his birthday cake.

6. Who on the list captained an America's Cup winning Yacht that was, at times, anchored off Allen's Dock area? Can you name the yacht? Tom Mathis and the Yacht Columbia.

7. Who was "Rue"? LaRue Mizelle.  He captained Chet Allen's boat the "Evelyn".

Rue Mizelle

8. Who captained the "Saphire Lady"? Otto and Fred Kalm. It was built by Otto.

Otto Kalm (1899-1989) built and captained the "Saphire Lady."

The "Saphire Lady" was also captained by Otto's son, Fred.

9. Who on the list was related to the famous VanSant ship building family? (Hint: He was a good ship builder, also, when you could get him to work. He was known to march to the beat of a different drummer.).  Joe Cramer

Joe Cramer (1906-1976)

10. Who was nicknamed "Sach"? Hillary Robbins

A young "Sach" Robbins (1896-1952).

11. Helen Carty presently lives on Route 9 across from the Speedy Deli. Her uncle, who lived in that house before her, is on the list? Who is he? Washie Allen

Caleb Washington "Washie" Allen (1882-1960)

12. Who later operated the marina at Cape Horn? Ferron Lamson

Ferron Lamson (1905-1977)

13. Who on the list was an oyster watchman? Washie Allen and Otto Kalm.

14. Who lived on New York Road, in Mathistown, just a stones throw from Munion Field Road? Ben Chew (1868-1947)

Ben Chews Rt 9 house is no longer there.

Who can name its last resident?

15. Who lived on Allentown Road, across the street from the New Gretna School? Jess Loveland

Jesse Loveland (1859-1952)

16. Who on the list was born in New Gretna, became a New Jersey State Senator, and was the New Jersey Secretary of State from 1931 to 1940? Tom Mathis

17. What was Charles Henry's last name? Allen

Charles Henry Allen (1854-1937)

As I stated in the "Comments" section of the April 26th I.Q. Test Blog post, Donald Maxwell pointed out an error in my construction of questions #6 and #16. This comment is posted below.

Don also held my feet to the fire by pointing out that I was mistaken with questions #6 and #16. The name on Chet's gas list is the same as my answer to those questions, but it is not the same person. It's a case where two men had the same name, a common occurrence in New Gretna families. I'll be posting the answers to the questions and an explanation of my mistaken identity in questions # 6 and # 16 in a few days. 

Seems that there was more than one Tom Mathis. I assumed that the "Tom Mathis" on Chet's list was the more famous of the two but, after reflection on Donald's comments in our telephone conversation, I have to agree with him. Interestingly, they were both born in New Gretna in the same year.

Thomas A. Mathis, known affectionately as Captain Tom, the son of Alfred and Abigail Loveland Mathis, was born in New Gretna on June 7, 1869 and later moved to Tuckerton and Toms River. He captained the America's Cup winner Columbia and later became a New Jersey State Senator and New Jersey Secretary of State. He died on May 18, 1958. Who can tell me where he is buried?

According to Donald Maxwell, this is the New Gretna childhood home of Captain Tom. Identify the location of the home and its present owner and receive a bonus New Gretna I.Q. Test point. Hint: It's in Frogtown. (April 27, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Thomas S. Mathis, who Donald Maxwell believes is on Chet Allen's gas list, is the son of Elizabeth White and DeWitt Clinton Mathis, Sr. He was born March 1, 1869 and died September 18, 1951. He and his wife, Ida Deacon, are buried in Miller Cemetery in New Gretna.

Well, that's just about it for our New Gretna I.Q. Test review. Hope you did well.

Pete S

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Gretna Snowflakes

A few weeks ago I stopped by the Bass River Elementary School Library after school and was pleased to see a group of enthuiastic Girl Scouts working on various craft projects. They invited me to sit with them and talk for a while. What a delightful group of girls.

As I was driving home, my mind wandered to a group of girls 4-H photos that Phyllis Briggs had sent to me a few years ago. They called themselves the Snowflakes. I turned on the trusty computer when I got home and quickly found the photos. I know many of those girls, today. Of course they, like I, are a wee bit older now. Some are mothers and some even grandmothers. Where does the time go? Perhaps some of you out in the Blog-o-Sphere know some of them too.

I asked Phyllis Briggs to write something about the Snowflakes for the Blog. I thought I would share her comments and some of her Snowflake photos. They sure do bring back memories of a much simplier time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

     The New Gretna Snowflakes 4-H Club started in 1970 under the guidance of June Eichinger and Phyllis Briggs. We asked the Atlantic County 4-H headquarters in Egg Harbor City if New Gretna could join since Burlington County didn't have any 4-H clubs nearby. We were warmly welcomed into the Atlantic County 4-H; this was the beginning of many exciting experiences for New Gretna's young teens.
     The 12 to 14 year old girls learned to knit, sew, model, cook, make root beer soda and twirl a baton.

Snowflakes modeling nightgowns that they sewed. (l-r): Mandy Mickens, Debbie Eichinger, Cherie Gross, Pam Adams, Joan Cramer & Connie Sue Briggs. (1974 photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

Snowflakes wearing their hand made kerchiefs. They look like little Russian peasant girls. Makes me want to hum a tune from "Fiddler on the Roof."  (l-r):Cindy Wunsch, Maureen Potter, Kim Zeritt, Connie Sue Briggs & Vicki Wetmore. I wonder if any of the girls still have their kerchief? It would be neat to see them model it, today. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)
     May 31, 1971 the New Gretna Snowflakes 4-H Baton Group won a 2nd place trophy in Tuckerton's annual Memorial Day parade. Strutting and twirling along Rt 9 the girls looked crisp wearing short green and white stripe 4-H uniforms each had sewn. The group competed in the August 1971 Egg Harbor 4-H Fair twirling competition. Many awards were won for their clever Fair Booth entries in the yearly 4-H Fair.

The Snowflakes march in the 1971 Tuckerton Memorial Day Parade. They won a 2nd place trophy that day. I wonder if someone still has that trophy today?(r-l): Mary Longo, Cindy Wunsch, Connie Sue Briggs, Maureen Potter, Vickie Wetmore, Melinda Allen, Debbie Ayres, Kim Zeritt & Debbie Eichinger. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

     The girls participated in many events held in the Egg Harbor 4-H auditorium and at the 4-H Fairs including square  dancing, talent contests, sewing competitions, pumpkin decorating contests, Favorite Foods Show and attending 4-H camp in Stokes State Forest.

The Snowflakes do some high stepping at the 1971 Egg Harbor 4H Fair. (l-r) Kim Zeritt, Cindy Wunsch, Connie Sue Briggs & Maureen Potter. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

     Two events the club did locally was a trash pickup at Fir Bridge and a bike ride to Crowley Landing.
     These were four years of fun and learning, a time in their lives the girls will always remember.

A group of Snowflakes work on a paper mache project for the 1971 4-H Fair. (l-r): Susan Allen, Kim Zeritt, Vicki Wetmore, Connie Sue Briggs, Maureen Potter & Cindy Wunsch. I wonder if more paste got on the girls than on the projects. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)
     New Gretna Snowflakes 4-H Club members were: Pam Adams, Melinda Allen, Susan Allen, Cherie Gross, Debbie Ayres, Connie Sue Briggs, Joan Cramer, Debbie Eichinger, Mary Longo, Mandy Mickens, Maureen Potter, Vickie Wetmore, Debbie Wilson, Cindy Wunsch, and Kim Zeritt.
Phyllis Briggs

Snowflakes enjoying a warm summer day, in 1971, on the Bass River. Whose dock do you suppose they're sitting on? (l-r): Cindy Wunsch, Maureen Potter, Connie Sue Briggs, Vicki Wetmore, Susan Allen & Kim Zeritt. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

I wonder if we have a 4-H club in our area today and, if so, do they do the same things that the Snowflakes did back in the early 1970's?

Pete S

PS- Not to be out done, the New Gretna boys also had a 4-H Club. Unfortunately I only have one photo and don't know much about their group experiences. Perhaps, someone out there who was a member could fill me in and provide additional photos.

The 4H Bass River Roughnecks on a June 17, 1968 trip to the Stokes State Forest 4H Camp. (l-r): Doug Cramer, Greg Cramer, Benny Adams, Gary Petzak & Teddy Briggs. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How's Your New Gretna I.Q.?

The other day at our Men's Breakfast, Jim McAnney gave me some old papers from Allen's Dock when it was owned and operated by Chet Allen. Two items that I was particularly interested in were a sign advertising the price of gas and a small scrap of cardboard that Chet used to keep track of who bought gas. Evidently Chet used scraps of paper for much of his record keeping rather than formal account books. Unfortunately, there were no dates on either of these items, but I suspect they were likely from the 1930's. Maybe someone out there can help pin point the dates.

This card board sign was probably placed in the window near the gas pump. (Sign courtesy of James McAnney.)

Ruby McAnney, Jim's dad, pumping gas at Allen's Dock. Ruby worked for Chet and took over ownership and operation of the business after Chet passed away in 1966. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Cramer McAnney.)

The following record of gas purchases gives us a good idea as to who Chet's regular customers were. They were all baymen, clammers and party boat captains. Most, if not all, kept their boats at Allen's Dock.

Looking through the names on Chet's list, I got to thinking how much a part of New Gretna's history these men represent. I decided to put together a list of questions, sort of a New Gretna I.Q. test, to see how well the Blog Readers know their New Gretna history. Send your answers to the Blog for scoring. You can email them to me or place them in the comments section below. Just type the question number and the anwser. Let's see who is first with a 100 % score. Who knows, I might even come up with a trophy. Any disputes will be settled by Professor James McAnney.

New Gretna I.Q. Test questions

1. What did Harry Kid have in common with the Great John Mathis?
2. Who were the Gray brothers?
3. Which of the clammers was noted for his gigantic hands?
4. Who on the list owned and operated a saw mill?
5. Who was "Keever"?
6. Who on the list captained an America's Cup winning Yacht that was, at times, anchored off Allen's Dock area? Can you name the yacht?
7. Who was "Rue"?
8. Who captained the "Saphire Lady"?
9. Who on the list was related to the famous VanSant ship building family? (Hint: He was a good ship builder, also, when you could get him to work. He was know to march to the beat of a different drummer.)
10. Who was nicknamed "Sach"?
11. Helen Carty presently lives on Route 9 across from the Speedy Deli. Her uncle, who lived in that house before her, is on the list? Who is he?
12. Who later operated the marina at Cape Horn?
13. Who on the list was an oyster watchman?
14. Who lived on New York Road, in Mathistown, just a stones throw from Munion Field Road?
15. Who lived on Allentown Road, across the street from the New Gretna School?
16. Who on the list was born in New Gretna, became a New Jersey State Senator, and was the New Jersey Secretary of State from 1931 to 1940?
17. What was Charles Henry's last name?
I'll be posting the answers in a few days. Anyone getting 15 or more correct is eligible for the New Gretna Menza Club. Maybe we can all meet at Allen's Dock!

Pete S

PS- Want to learn more about Allen's Dock? Check out Jim McAnney's article, "Boyhood Memories of Allen's Doc" in the latest Bass River Gazette issue by clicking on the link below.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NOW AND THEN- The Lafayette Gerew Store

We tend to think that the things we see around us don't change much. The truth is that they do but, often, the changes happen so slowly that we tend not to notice. Such is the case with the old Lafayette Gerew store on Hammonton Road, the subject of today's NOW AND THEN Blog commentary.

Today there is little evidence that the large, yellow sided house that huggs Hammonton Road was originally a store servicing the Frogtown area of Bass River Township.

The old Lafayette Gerew store on Hammonton Road is now a private home. (November 9, 2005 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

In the early 1900's, this building was a store belonging to Lafayette Gerew who was listed as a sea caption in the 1900 census. That census shows Lafayette as the head of the household with six children - Ira (16), Lewis (13), Walter (11), Harold (6), Owen (5), and Beatrice (3). Lafayette's first wife, Ellen Hickman, who he married in 1883, had passed away on January 10, 1900. The 1910 census shows that he was married a second time to Matilda [Gaskill] in 1903. Matilda died in 1919. Both wives are buried, with Lafayette, in the family plot in Hillside Cemetery, not far from the family store.

Lafayette Gerew and his second wife, Miltilda Gaskill. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Wood Lehneis.)

Lafayette fell ill in the mid 1920's and his daughter, Beatrice and her husband, Tom Wood, moved in with Lafayette to take care of him. Lafayette died January 12, 1928, at age 68. The Wood family took over running the family store for a short time.

The Lafayette Gerew store, circa early 1930's with the Tom Wood family and some friends on the porch. The sign on the right reads "Thomas Wood - Standard Gasoline." The lettering on the truck at the left reads "Fred Hess & Son - Photographers." It was common for photographers to travel from town to town taking family and scenic photos that were often made into post cards. Fred Hess or his son likely took this photo. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Wood Lehneis.)

Tom (1) and Beatrice (2) Wood and their children Betty (3), Lucy (4), and Tom (4) moved in with Lafayette to help with the store when Lafayette's health started to fail. Two unidentified friends (6) and (7) are also in the photo. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Wood Lehneis.)

(l-r)- Ira Gerew, Sr. (Beatrice's brother); Beatrice Gerew Wood; Betty Wood Kmetz (Beatrice's daughter); Mary Gerew; Ella Gerew (Ira's wife); and Jesse Thomas Wood, Sr. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Wood Leheis.)

The 1930 census shows the Wood family living on Hamonton Road at the Old Lafayette Gerew store with Tom listed as "Jesse Thomas Wood", a "carpenter", and Beatrice as a "Proprietress." This can be somewhat confusing, as Tom never went by his first name, Jesse. The census indicates that Beatrice ran the store while Tom worked outside the home as a carpenter. I don't know how long they operated the store. Perhaps some "old timer" out there can enlighten me as to when the store changed hands.

The store was eventually sold to the Schroeders and then to the Louis Sears family, but those are stories for another time.

Pete S

PS- For more information on the Lafayette Gerew family see John Allen's article "The French Connection: The Allen and Gerew Families" on page 8 of Issue #12, June, 2002, of the Bass River Gazette. You can read it by clicking on the link below and going to page 8.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The New Gretna "Two Fors"

I was reading the local restaurants ads in the newspaper the other day and noticed that many were advertising "two for" dinners, two for the price of one. I guess it's a way of encouraging business in today's slow economy.

That brought to mind our own New Gretna "Two Fors", Murray and Jean Harris. They both received college diplomas at Rutgers University at the same ceremony held on June 6, 1962. You could call it a "Two For" degree day, a very unusual event for a husband and wife, which earns the Harrises the Blog's 15 MINUTES OF FAME AWARD. Congratulations, guys!

Tuckerton Beacon - June 14, 1962

The Harrises are also mentioned in the "Peaches and a Plane Crash in the Pines" story on the Wednesday, December 10, 2008 edition of the Blog. You can read it by clicking on the link below.

I hope Murray and Jean can find a place on their mantle for the 15 MINUTES OF FAME AWARD. I plan on delivering it to them when they return from wintering in Arizona.

Pete S

Monday, April 20, 2009

4 Generations in the Bartlett Family

Just a few days ago I posted a 4 Generation Allen photo and said that it's the first 4 generation photo that I had seen with only men. Last Friday I was at a New Gretna Friendly Senior's luncheon (Yes, I finally have to admit that I am a senior citizen.) at the New Gretna Presbyterian Church where Georgine Bartlett gave me two 4 Generation photos involving Bartlett men. So, now I have multiple men's 4 generation photos. How exciting!

Georgine, born in New Gretna, is the first child of  Walter and Alice Shropshire Mathis. She has two brothers, Robert and Elvin. All three still live on Allentown Road, now called North Maple Avenue.

Georgine Mathis, shown above as a young teenager, grew up on Allentown Road in New Gretna. (Photo courtesy of Murray and Jean Shropshire Mathis.)

Georgine and her brothers, (l-r) Bob and Elvin. (Photo courtesy of Robert and Elaine Mathis.)

Georgine had a normal New Gretna childhood, including birthday parties that were reported in the New Gretna Local News section of the Tuckerton Beacon.

The Beacon's account of Georgine's 14th birthday party gives us a glimpse of Georgine's family and childhood friends, some of whom still live in New Gretna today. I wonder if they remember the party. POP QUIZ: Which person who attended Georgine's party was a teacher in the New Gretna Grade School?  (Tuckerton Beacon - June 7, 1945.)

Georgine met Walt Bartlett, from West Creek, at Tuckerton High School. After a proper period of courting, they were engaged, in September 1950. 

Tuckerton Beacon - September 28, 1950

Wedding bells followed on March 24, 1951 when Georgine Mathis and Walter Bartlett tied the knot at a ceremony in the New Gretna Presbyterian Church.

(Photo courtesy of Murray and Jean Shropshire Harris.)

The Tuckerton Beacon announced the birth of their first child, Edward Walter Bartlett, on April 17, 1952.

(Tuckerton Beacon - April 24, 1952)

All of the above lead us to the following two 4 generation photos of the Walter Bartlett family. Both photos involve Walt and Georgine's son, Edward. The first involves Edward's son Robert and his two children. The second shows his son, Raymond, and his son. That makes Walt and Georgine great grandparents. Wow, and they look so young!

(l-r) Walter, Edward, and Robert Bartlett in December, 2002. Robert's children, Jacob & Emily, are in front. (Photo courtesy of Georgine Mathis Bartlett.)

(l-r) Walter, Edward, Raymond & baby Andrew in December, 2002. (Photo courtesy of Georgine Mathis Bartlett.)

One of the reasons that I enjoy 4 generation photos is that they lead to collecting interesting facts and incidences regarding the subjects. The fun is in the hunt. You never know where it will lead, as Georgine found out in today's Blog entry.  See what came from the two 4 generation photos she passed on to me. I hope both she and you enjoyed today's Blog journey.

Pete S

Saturday, April 18, 2009

WHAT'S THAT? The West Creek Chair House

Today, we're starting a new feature at the Blog called "WHAT'S THAT?". Our readers may drop us an email and ask about things that they might see in our area but know nothing about. Things that you may be riding by and saying to yourself, "What's That?". We'll try to gaze into our "WHAT'S THAT?" crystal ball and come up with an answer for you. If we don't know, we'll post the mystery on the Blog for our readers to take a crack at. We should have some fun and learn something along the way, so let's hear from you.

We'll start the "WHAT'S THAT?" feature with the "Chair House" on Route 9 in West Creek. I don't know how many times I've passed that house on my way from New Gretna to Manahawkin and wondered, "What's that?". You've probably asked yourself the same question.

The West Creek "Chair House" on Route 9. (May 30, 2003 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Talk about a high chair ! (May 30, 2003 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The Victorian style structure was originally built, in the mid 1870's, to hide a water tower on the Fithian Estate in the Holgate section of Long Beach Island. It fell into disrepair, was dismantled, transported to West Creek by barge, and rebuilt by Albert Lindholm in 1933. 

Pauline Miller, an Ocean County Historian, claims that Lindholm, a steeplejack and carnival man, placed the chair on top of the building, as he enjoyed climbing the steep structure and used the chair as a resting place during his climbs. Others believe that it was simply placed there to attract attention. No one can argue that it certainly has done that. Perhaps, both answers are correct. Lindholm could have initially placed it there to facilitate his climbing escapades, and subsequent owners may have kept the tradition just to attract attention.

I'm sure there are many other explanations out there regarding the chair. If you have heard one, please let us know.

Pete S