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, August 30, 2009

Photo ID Help Needed

I got the following photo, today, from Betty Archer Cochran via Pat Steinhaurer. Unfortunately I can only identify two people in the people- Ry Allen, seated on left on the steps, and his wife, Rita, leaning against the porch post on the right. We have met them a few times before, here at the Blog.

Meadows can be seen in the immediate background with water in the far background. Can't tell if it were taken on a river or a bay. I was thinking that, perhaps it was taken at an oyster watchman's cabin on Great Bay or a clam house on a local river.

Any ideas as to who the unidentified people might be and where the photo may have been taken?

Pete S

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Principal Edward Petitt - Lost and Found

Last Wednesday's Blog dealt with a box of old New Gretna PTA records that Kemp Wetmore dropped off at the Bass River Community Library a short while back. I reproduced a 1966-67 PTA Program Booklet and asked if the names of Teachers, students, or parents brought back any old school memories.

John Allen wrote the following comment, asking if I had any information on "Teddy" Petit who became principal of the New Gretna School.


Your blogs are great. They put life into the past of New Gretna for me. When I graduated from Pleasantville H.S. in the 60's, I had a summer job with W.R. Fisher and Son delivering frozen food to restaurants in South Jersey. I worked with "Teddy" Petit, who, was later a Principal in New Gretna. Any information or memories of him in your stash?

Thanks for the education and entertainment.

John Allen

I responded that I had no information on "Teddy" Petit and "had no recollection of ever hearing about him." Well, it seems that I spoke too soon. I did have some information on Principal Petitt after all. I just hadn't uncovered it.

Yesterday, I dug a little deeper into Kemp Wetmore's PTA box of goodies and came up with a few more PTA booklets from the late 1960's and the early 1970's. Two, in the late 1960's mentioned Edward Petitt as both the sixth grade teacher and the principal of the school. Back then, when times were simpler and government regulations didn't choke a horse, the principal could multitask, handling both a classroom and the needed administrative duties. It was a win-win situation, keeping the principal more in touch with the students and saving the tax payers a bit of money.

The newly found booklets revealed that Edward Petitt, spelled with two "t's", was the principal and sixth grade teacher at the New Gretna School for a short two school years: 1968-69 and 1969-70. I reproduced a few pages from those booklets below to document Principal Petitt's presence. The 1967-68 and the 1970-71 school year booklets had no mention of him. Elaine Allen, who was the Bass River Board of Education Secretary at the time, tells me that Ed Petitt left New Gretna to become the principal in Chatsworth, the Piney capital of the world.

While I was not living in New Gretna when Principal Petitt ran the New Gretna School, I recognize, in the pages below, many names of people who were to become cherished friends and welcomed acquaintances. They include Lila Cramer, who helped during many elections as we both worked the polls at the New Gretna fire house; Phyllis Briggs who is a regular Blog reader and contributor; Betty West, Claire Allen, and Millie Potter whom I see at weekly New Gretna Presbyterian Church prayer meetings; Kathleen Gray who shared many of her old memories of New Gretna with me in her later years; Naomi Maurer who I always enjoy visiting; Pat Steinhauer, a geneology buddy; Almira Steele, a sorely missed friend and fellow "Bass River Gazette" columist and mother of my Men's Breakfast buddy, Rickie "White Shoes" Steele; and Grace Forgach who is presently a teacher's aide at the New Gretna School. The memories are bitter-sweet as some of these friends are no longer with us.

The 1968-69 School Year

The 1969-70 School Year

I'm wondering if looking through the above pages may have jogged the memories of others out in the Blog-O-Sphere who might now recall Principal "Teddy" Petitt, either as their sixth grade teacher or school principal. If so, let's hear from you.

Pete S

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The New Gretna PTA - 1960's Style

One of my concerns, when I decided to do the Bass River History Blog, was how I was going to come up with ideas to write about. I decided that I would just write about what naturally came to me, either in thought or in the daily events of my day. It would be a serendipitous journey back into New Gretna's recent, or not so recent, past. I knew everyone would not be interested in every Blog posting, but I was hopeful that, now and then, I would hit on a topic of particular interest to someone. It's like a smorgasbord. I'll put a lot out on the table. Take what you like!

Usually, I have no idea what I am going to write about when, suddenly and unexpectedly, I receive a visit, an email, a photo, an invitation to take a history related trip, or something else having to do with Bass River's past. Then, I just "Go with the flow." Such is the case today.

The other evening, Kemp Wetmore stopped by the Bass River Community Library to give me a box of old New Gretna PTA records. The oldest was a minute book from the 1930's, but most of the miscellaneous papers were from the 1960's. It was an unexpected treasure!

I thought I would share one of the 1960's PTA Program Booklets with you. Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere with roots in New Gretna should recognize names of teachers, students, parents, etc. In fact, you might even find your own name mentioned.

Hopefully, reading through the booklet has brought back some fond, or not so fond, memories of a forgotten school experience. If so, let's hear from you.

Pete S

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lucy the Elephant and the New York Syndrome

I came upon an interesting survey the other day while reading the newspaper. Seems that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty. "How could that be?", I wondered, "It's a piece of history right in their own backyard."

I got to thinking that it must be human nature. We take the things around us as commonplace, not special in our lives. Also, with the advent of T.V. and, fairly recently, the internet, things that were mysterous and special just a few generations ago are now taken for granted. We've become jaded.

Lucy, the Margate elephant, is a good example. I wonder how many people out in the Blog-O-Sphere who are or were from New Gretna or a surrounding community have visited Lucy or even know who she is? Yet, with today's modern transportation, she is practically in our backyard.

An ariel view shows Lucy at the corner of Atlantic and South Decatur avenues in Margate. For my history buddy, John Yates, the GPS coordinates are N39.3206/E-74.5117. (Map downloaded from Bing Maps.)

Lucy as she looks today, towering over an adjacent house on the Margate beachfront. (Photo by Bob Jagendorf downloaded from

Lucy is the world's largest elephant, and the only one in America designated as a National Historic Landmark. She was built in 1881 by James V. Lafferty, a Philadelphia real estate developer with a knack for promotion. Lafferty hoped that Lucy would draw people from bustling Atlantic City to buy property from him in Margate which, at the time, was in the middle of nowhere. She was so unique that the United States Patent Office gave Lafferty a patent giving him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for seventeen years.

Lucy was originally named "Elephant Bazaar" until 1900, when she was rechristened Lucy. She was, and still is, an imposing sight, standing six stories tall, weighing 90 tons, covered with 12,000 square feet of sheet tin, and containing nearly one million pieces of wood. Lucy's body is 38 feet long and 80 feet in circumference; Her head, 16 feet long and 48 feet in circumference, sits atop a six feet long neck is that is 48 feet in circumference. Her body stands on 22 feet long legs that are10 feet in diameter with ears that are 17 feet long and 10 feet wide, each weighing 2,000 pounds. She has 22 feet long tusks at one end and a 26 feet long tail on the other end. Her glass, 18 inch round window eyes gaze out toward the Atlantic Ocean, and she is visible to the naked eye up to eight miles.

Lucy showed her versitility over the years, serving as Lafferty's real estate office and then becoming a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern which was closed down during prohibition.

A turn of the century postcard shows Lucy during her glory days. (Postcard downloaded from Google Images.)

Lafferty constructed two other elephant-shaped buildings after Lucy. The Elephantine Colossus, also known as the Elephant Hotel, was built at the Coney Island Amusement Park in Brooklyn, New York. The mamouth (Pardon the pun) structure dwarfed Lucy. It stood 12 stories (122 feet) tall, with legs 60 feet in circumference and housed a cigar store in one leg and a diorama display in another. Hotel rooms were located within the elephant's body, and an observation area at the top presented a panoramic view of the nearby ocean. It was destroyed by fire in 1896.

The Elephant Colossus at Coney Island. (Photo downloaded from Google Images.)

Lafferty's third elephant was was built in Cape May, New Jersey in 1884. Officially named the Light of Asia, it was dubbed Old Dumbo by locals, It was torn down before the turn of the century, giving Lucy the honor of being the sole surviving elephant building.

Artist's rendering of the Light of Asia at Cape May, New Jersey. It could pass as Lucy's twin sister. (Photo downloaded from Google Images.)

Lucy nearly didn't survive. Over the years her owners did little or no maintainance, and she became long in the tooth. By the late 1960's, she was an abandoned wreck on the verge of collapse.

Lucy fell into disrepair and was on the verge of callapse in the late 1960's. A "For Sale" sign hangs on her left front leg. (Photo by Yahonza downloaded from

Edwin T. Carpenter and a group of Margate citizens formed the Margate Civic Association, in 1969, to save and restore Lucy to her former grandeur. The group eventually became the Save Lucy Committee which, happily, was able to raise funds and move (2 blocks south) and restore Lucy in 1970. She was honored by the designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Today, for a small admission fee, you can tour Lucy's innards, entering via a spiral staircase in one of her hind legs.

Lucy's entrance door. (Photo downloaded from Google Images.)

Once inside, you may view a video and some photos of Lucy's facinating history. The tour finishes with a stop in the open-air "howdah" atop Lucy's back. From here you can get a breathtaking view of the Margate beachfront and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lucy looking toward the Atlantic Ocean. Bet you never thought you'd get mooned by an elephant. Now there's a window I'd be a little uncomfortable looking out of. (Photo downloaded from Google Images.)

You can take a video tour of Lucy, if you have high speed internet service, by clicking on the PLAY ARROW (>) below:

Following are a few old postcard views of Lucy that I downloaded from Google Images and thought you might enjoy.

A thirsty Lucy takes a drink.

How does one get room service on an elephant?

Getting back to my original point concerning the "New York Syndrome", I'd like to take a poll of all our Blog viewers who live or have lived in New Gretna and/or a surrounding community to see how many of you have actually seen Lucy. Drop a comment below, starting "Yes" or "No". If yes, I'd appreciate you sharing your Lucy experience.

A double test would be my friend, Linda, a native New Yorker who now lives at Bartlett Landing in Tuckerton. I wonder if she has ever been to see the Statue of Liberty or Lucy. How about it, Linda? It's time to fess up!

Pete S

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Greetings From" plus "Who is Katie Gerber?"

I've spent parts of the last few days looking through a stack of old area post cards that were loaned to me by Pat Steinhauer. Most of them were from the early 1900's and were either sent or received from members of her family, both on the Allen and Corlis sides.

In the early through the mid 1900's most towns had small mom and pop stores that sold local postcards. Mail was delivered twice a day and most people used postcards to communicate short, simple messages much as we would use the telephone, email, texting, or Twitter today.

Following are old postcards from specific towns in our area. I thought many of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere would enjoy looking at them. I know that I did.

A variation of the "Greetings From" postcard.

Now, regarding this last postcard, I thought we would have a little quiz. Most people know where the above places are, but who will be the first to tell me where Randolph was and why it isn't there any more? The answer to this question is important to everyone doing serious geneology in our area.

Hope you enjoyed a look back at an early, popular form of communication.

Pete S

PS- While not a "Greetings From" postcard, the following is the oldest postmarked postcard that I have seen from our area. It's a birthday card from Katie Gerber that was mailed from Batsto on October 9, 1896 and delivered on the same day to Miss M. Etta Corlis. Actually, I believe M. Etta Corlis was Marietta Corlis who eventually married Ruy Allen from New Gretna, as her marriage certificate lists her as "Miss MaryEtta Corlis" and the photo of Katie Gerber (See Below) was scanned from a photo album which came from her family. She would have been seven years old in October, 1896 when Katie Gerber sent the Happy Birthday postcard.

The very early postcards had no space for writing a message on the back of the card, so the writer had to be creative in writing a message on the card's front. Katie wrote the following message around the border - Keep this card until Dec. 27 and then think of me. I will arr [arrive] as soon as I can. Give my love to all the people. Remember me Dear. from Katie Gerber. Batstow.

Interestingly, the card was routed through the Elwood postoffice . . .

Another reason that this postcard is special for me is that I have a photo of a Katie Gerber. I always like to put a face on a name from the past. The question will become, we will soon see, "Is this the Katie Gerber that wrote the postcard?"

Katie Gerber (Photo courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

I am unaware of the relationship between Katie Gerber and Marietta Corlis; however, I've done a little detective work on the Gerber family at Batsto that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere might be moved to follow up on and, perhaps, discover a relationship between Katie and Marietta. But first we must determine "Who is Katie Gerber?"

John Pearce, on page 132 of his book, "Heart of the Pines", presents the following photo of a group of people standing in front of the Grist Mill at Batsto, around 1910. Three of the people are identified as Gerbers - Jules and his wife, whose name is not given, and Pauline. What is striking about the photo is that Pauline Gerber looks remarkable like the photo of Katie above. She even has the same hair style! I would surmise that they were sisters.

Circa 1910 - Photograph Taken in Front of the Grist Mill
Standing (L to T): Rev. Martha Jervis, Jules Gerber and his wife, Amos "Boney" Ford, and Ada Coleman
Seated: Pauline Gerber and Mag Love.
Herbert Adams is holding his brother, Percy, and their mother, Mary, is next to them.
Percy was still living in Batsto as late as 1976.
(Photo courtesy of Budd Wilson.)

A quick trip to produced the Gerber family in Washington Township in the 1885 New Jersey Census, the year before the Happy Birthday postcard was written. Since Batsto is in Washington Township, I'm sure this is the correct Gerber family. The 1885 New Jersey Census is particularly valuable as the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by a fire which leaves a 20 year gap in the Federal Census records in the late 1890's. It is somewhat difficult to read, but we can make out the following: Julius is listed at the top. This agrees with Pearce's photo and gives us the name of Julius' wife, Catherine. The children are listed as Julius, Jr.; Pauline (in the Pearce photo); Lewis; Willie; Katie; Philip; and George. This confirms that Katie and Pauline are, indeed, sisters. But, is this the Katie who wrote the postcard? At first blush it might appear so.

The 1900 Federal Census, below, lists much more data to help us in our quest to learn more about Katie Gerber and her family. The narrowness of the Blog format makes the small print difficult to read, but the effort is worthwhile.

We learn that Julius' wife, listed as Catherine in the 1895 New Jersey Census, is listed as "Kattie" in the 1900 census. The use of this common nickname for Catherine now gives us two "Katies" in the family. The younger Katie, 9 years old in the 1900 census, would have been only 5 years old when the postcard was written; therefore, I think it is safe to assume that her mother, also called Katie, wrote the postcard. The Katie in the above photo is the daughter. It's also important to note that three more children have been added to the family since the 1895 census - Charles, Edward, and Herbert.

Columns further to the right of the 1900 Census data shown above indicate that both Julius and Katie, his wife, emigrated from Germany, he in 1880 and she in 1881. Julius' occupation is listed as a farmer.

Hopefully, this Gerber information will some day lead to the discovery of a relationship between Marietta Corlis and Katie Gerber who were connected by our 1896 Happy Birthday postcard.

PPS- The nature of the message written on the front of the card does not sound, to me, as if it were written to a seven year old. It seems much too adult in nature to me. That gets me to wondering if M. Etta Corlis is really Marietta Corlis as I had assumed. But, then, maybe the Happy Birthday was for Marietta and the message for her mom. I'll leave that delema for another time. This genealogy business is never easy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Oak Island Photos

On last Friday's Blog we took a trip to Oak Island with Phyllis and Connie Sue Briggs. We also met Dewitt Clinton Mathis, the last descendant of the Great John Mathis to live on the island. He was quite a character.

Since that posting, I got a few emails and some people stopping me around town, asking if I had any more photos of Oak Island, particularly the old buildings that existed until recent years. I went through the Oak Island related photos on my computer and came up with the following photos and a 1858 map showing two houses on Oak Island. I hope you enjoy them.

Unfortunately, I don't have the dates the photos were taken or who they were taken by. I believe they may have been taken in the late 1970's. Not properly documenting photos is a poor practice for an historian, even an amateur one like myself, but that's how I received them. If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere recognizes the photos as ones you have taken, please drop a comment below, so that you can receive the proper credit. Also, if you have any knowledge or stories regarding any of the buildings in the photos, let's hear from you.

Pete S

This section from the 1858 Kuhn-Janney Map of Burlington County shows Oak Island with two houses, both belonging to a D. Mathis. It's likely that they refer to Daniel Mathis Jr. who occupied the island at that date. The French house along the Bass River was the second house built by the Great John Mathis in the area that is the Viking Boat works today. In 1858, it would have belonged to Thomas French, the oldest son of Francis French who bought the property from the Mathis family. The upper left portion of the map is the intersection of the present day Rt. 9 and Maple Avenues. Notice the Bass River Hotel on the South-East corner. The North-West corner is vacant as the New Gretna House has yet to be built.

The following is what Leah Blackman wrote, in 1880, about Oak Island on page 232 of her book, the "History of Little Egg Harbor Township". It documents how the island became the property of Daniel Mathis, Sr. By 1858, however, the houses would have belonged to his son, Daniel Mathis, Jr., as Daniel, Sr. passed away in 1836.


In the year 1713, John Mathis, William Birdsall and Moses Forman, all of whom then resided on Long Island, purchased of Daniel Leeds, of Springfield, 250 acres ,of land, in which was included this island, which at that time was called Biddle’s Island. Soon after this joint purchase, Birdsall and Forman sold their shares to John Mathis, thus constituting him the sole proprietor of the island. In the year 1716 John Mathis married and settled on this island, which he soon made into a farm. He made extensive banks around the island in order to defend it against the encroachments of the tide, and also built causeways, bridges and other conveniences. This island is noted for it’s valuable fisheries and its extensive salt marshes. After Job Mathis married, his father, John Mathis, deeded him this island farm; and after Job Mathis’ death, the farm came into the possession of his Son Daniel, who spent a long life there, and bequeathed the farm to his sons, Micajah Smith Mathis and Daniel Mathis. Daniel bought his brother’s share of the farm, thus constituting himself the sole proprietor. John Mathis built a bridge across the creek, between the island and the Francis French farm, and thus had a convenient communication between his two farms. The ownership of this island has been in the Mathis name ever since John Mathis purchased it — one hundred and fifty-five years ago.

And now, some photos . . .

Oak Island is the patch of trees seen on the right of this photo taken from the Job's Creek bridge on Route 9. (July 22, 2004 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

PPS- We haven't heard from Clif Brown or Dave Kalm in a while. Hope they are well. They, surely, must have made a visit or two to Oak Island in the 1940's that they could tell us about.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Briggs and the Hermit of Oak Island

I got an account of a 1968 visit to Oak Island from Phyllis and Sam Briggs a few days ago and thought I would share it here at the Blog. But first, a little background.

Oak Island was originally called Biddle's Island when it was purchased by the Great John Mathis and two friends, Moses Foreman and William Birdsall, in 1713. Great John bought out his friends interest in the land, and built the first house in the area known know as Bass River Township on the island. He developed the island into a thriving plantation where he raised seven children with his wife, Alice Andrews Higbee, daughter of Mordecai and Mary Andrews from Tuckerton and widow of John Higbee from the Galloway Township area. They were married in the Little Egg Harbor Meeting house.

Great John purchased additional land and built a second house close by, overlooking the Bass River in the area now occupied by Viking Yacht Company. See the August 2, 2009 Blog entry for photos of this second house built and occupied by John Mathis by clicking on the link below:

See the January, 1999 edition of the Bass River Gazette for additional background information on John Mathis, Oak Island, and the Mathis family influence on Bass River Township:

Great John eventually gave the Oak Island property to his son, Job, after whom Job's Creek, which passes nearby Oak Island, is named. The island stayed in the Mathis family for many generations. I don't know when it was sold outside the Mathis family. It's on my list to research one of these days. Perhaps, someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere will take on this task.

Today, Oak Island is part of the Forsythe National Wildlife Sanctuary, and no one is allowed on the island without authorization. The days of locals exploring the island, as did Phyllis and her daughter, Connie Sue, are over. Of course, a major incentive of visiting the island, its old buildings, is now gone as a result of their demise due to neglect and various fires that swept through parts of the island over the years.

National Wildlife Refuge sign along Route 9, near the Job's Creek bridge, prohibits entry on the meadowland property leading to Oak Island. (August 13, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Oak Island is a patch of raised land in the middle of the meadows, not far from Job's Creek and the Bass River. It also has been called "Dan's Island" as a Dan, Dan Mathis Sr. and Jr., lived there for many years. Access was either by water from the Bass River side or overland by a raised causeway, labelled Mathis Island Rd. above, from present day Route 9. The causeway was built by Great John Mathis and maintained throughout the years by his descendants. It is now largely impassable. (Aerial photo by Google Maps.)

Now, on to Phyllis Briggs' account of a 1968 adventure on Oak Island:

Oak Island, one of our favorite places, holds mystery and memories for us.

I have 2 pictures of the Oak Island house in deteriorating condition taken May 1968. The color slide shows a front view of the house, windows & doors open to the elements, tree limbs & brush littering the roof. My daughter,Connie Sue Briggs Toce, and I are standing by the house.

Phyllis and Connie Sue Briggs standing in front of the old house on Oak Island in 1968. (Photo from colored slide courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

A black and white photo snapped a month earlier, April 1968, shows a side view of the Oak Island house. Two chimneys peek above the roof, a clump of distant cedar trees hide the path to the house. We were pistol shooting this cool spring day. I am standing in the winter-dead grass.

Phyllis Briggs target shooting near the big house on Oak Island. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Briggs.)

The last time we saw the house, someone had cut out the old-fashioned corner cupboard which was common in 18th century homes.

A small cabin or maybe it was a shack was on the island east of the main house. A mysterious old man named Clint DeWitt lived there alone.

He went into New Gretna each week for groceries. Did he walk into town, if so, how did he carry heavy groceries home and across the rough muddy woods road? Some people said he paid for his supplies with gold. Alston Allen or Donald Maxwell might provide information that would make this an intriguing story.

Phyllis and Sam Briggs

Phyllis' mystery man, Clint Dewitt, was actually Dewitt Clinton Mathis, Jr. who was born in April 1847, a twin and one of 9 children. Known locally as "Clint Dewitt", he was the great-great-great-great grandson of Great John Mathis and the last of Great John's descendants to live on Oak Island.

Unmarried, he lived the life of a hermit. Local tradition says that he lived in a cave which Phyllis stated in her Oak Island account.

Shortly after Jackie and I moved to New Gretna, in the mid 1970's, Murray Harris took me on a trip to Oak Island. Murray parked his car just off the shoulder on Route 9, not far from Job's Creek. We walked through a narrow band of woods, adjacent to Route 9, then headed south-west over the meadows toward Oak Island. We basically followed the route of the old causeway road outlined in the aerial map above.

Jumping over various small ditches and crossing the crumbling remains of a bridge over Wolf Run, we eventually found ourselves on Oak Island. Unfortunately, we didn't have a camera with us to take photos, as Phyllis did in 1968, but I remember a large barn, the brick remains of a foundation left from an ancient house, a large wooden house, a cabin, and some smaller out buildings. I'm sure that none of these structures belonged to Great John, but had been built by his descendants over the years. I have no information regarding their age or who built them.

When we approached the dilapidated small cabin, Murray pointed to a hole near the floor where he said that Clint DeWitt slept in a pile of old matresses, newspapers, and rags. This was what I believe was Clint DeWitt's "Cave".

Clint's appearance reflected his hermit like existence on the island. His clothes were often dirty, and he was usually in need of a bath. It's a good bet that he had no inkling that it was improper to wear white after Labor Day.

It would be kind to say that Clint DeWitt's appearance appeared disheveled. (1946 photo courtesy of Norman and Ann Mathis.)
Clint rarely left the island. Norman and Ann Mathis, told me that Clint came to New Gretna on some Sunday mornings to get food from Clarence Mathis store just off the south-west corner of New York Road (Route 9) and South Maple Avenue. Norman was Clarence Mathis' son.

Clarence's store was closed on Sundays, so Clint would walk, early in the morning, to Clarence's house behind the store and bang on the siding with his large wooden staff, yelling "Clar-ance! Clar-ance!"

Clarence, usually awakened from a sleep, would open the store for Clint. The local tradition that Clint paid for his supplies in gold is suspect. In this case, it's likely that, more often than not, Clarence added the purchases to Clint's tab which probably was often forgotten.

Clarence Mathis' store was opened six days a week but closed on Sundays, the day Clint usually chose to stop by for his groceries. (1941 photo courtesy of Norman and Ann Mathis.)

Clint with Clarence (left) and Orval Mathis, Clarence's son, out front of Clarence's Store on a rare weekday visit. A Public Service Bus Stop Terminal sign can be seen over Clarence's shoulder. (Photo courtesy of Norman and Ann Mathis.)

Following is the line from DeWitt Clinton, Jr. back to Great John Mathis, for all you genealogy fans out in the Blog-O-Sphere. It was taken from Jean and Murray Harris' book, "The Mathis Family of Little Egg Harbor".

Dewitt Clinton Mathis, son of Daniel and Elizabeth (White) Mathis, born 1827, died December 25, 1902, married Hannah Allen, daughter of George and Abigail (French) Allen, born 1838. Children:

i Samuel H., born 1857, died August 18, 1932 at Dan's Island. He was a hunter and trapper

ii Daniel, born 1862

iii Catherine, born 1864, died 1937, married Paul Lonstein

iv Dewitt Clinton Jr., born April 1867, died March 20, 1947, unmarried, one of twins

v George A., one of twins, married Agnes E. Garrison(?)

vi Thomas S., born March 1, 1869, died September 18, 1951, married Ida Deacon, daughter of Ebenezer and Abigail (Cramer) Deacon, born September 13, 1868, died March 2, 1938, buried in Miller Cemetery.

vii William F., born 1872

viii Mary H., born 1876

ix Adra A., born 1879

Daniel Mathis Jr., son of Daniel and Phoebe (Smith) Mathis, born September 14, 1801, died January 14, 1890, married (a) Elizabeth White, daughter of Benjamin and Mary White, born May 20, 1803, died July 25, 1860, and (b) Sally Ann Cramer, born June 29,1816, died May 27, 1897, widow of Darius Cramer, who died September 13, 1858. Daniel lived on Oak ( or Dan's ) Island along the BassRiver. Children of Daniel and Elizabeth:

i Josephine Louisa, married Benjamin M.Butler

ii Dewitt Clinton, married Hannah Allen

iii Mary Ann, married Franklin Adams

iv Lewis Lane, married (a) Hannah Walton and (b) Anna Adair

v Benjamin Churchwood, married Mary Walton

vi Elizabeth H., married George Hickman

vii Daniel Edward, married (a) Charlotte A.Cramer and (b) Lois H.Eldridge

viii Sarah C., born 1846,( is this Cordelia who married Prentice Bugby son of Daniel Bugby of Barnegat on January 3, 1861 ?)

ix Watson S., (born 1856 ?)

Daniel Mathis, son of Job and Phoebe (Leek) Mathis, born July 21, 1761, died March 10, 1836, married 1786, Phoebe Smith, daughter of Micajah and Sara (Owen) Smith of Port Republic, born June 30, 1764, died September 1, 1836. They are buried in the Methodist Cemetery, Tuckerton. Children:

i Owen Mary, married Jonas Miller

iii Sarah, married James Downs

iv Aaron, married Margery Kirkbride

v Leah

vi Micajah Smith, married Nancy (Gamage) Mathis

vii Daniel Jr., married Elizabeth White

viii Phoebe S., married Captain William French

ix Anna Maria, married Francis French

Job Mathis, son of John and Alice (Andrews) Mathis, born May 13, 1719, died 1771, married May 15, 1760 Phoebe Leek, daughter of John and Phoebe (Deviney) Leek. He is buried at the Tuckerton Friends Meeting House with no stone. Children:

i Daniel, married Phoebe Smith

ii Enoch, married Nancy Gamage

iii Phoebe, married John Forman

iv Mary

I wonder how many of the Blog readers are descendants of the Great John Mathis and/or are related to Clint DeWitt. It would be interesting to hear from you.

Pete S.

PS- Just an aside. Murray Harris, who took me on my first trip to Oak Island, married Jean Shropshire the daughter of Walter Roy and Ethel Applegate Mathis. Walter Roy Mathis was the son of Lewis Lane Mathis who was the son of Daniel Mathis, Jr. who is Clint DeWitt's grandfather. That means that Jean Shropshire Harris, Murray's wife, is related to Clint DeWitt. Probabably a cousin several times removed. Strange that I don't see the family resemblance, and I'll have to say that Jean sure dresses better.

Murray, then, is also related to Clint, through marriage. There is some irony in that Murray took me to see Oak Island, the home of Clint DeWitt, and probably had no idea of his distant relationship to the eccentric hermit. Murray still may not have made the connection, in which case . . . SURPRISE !