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, December 30, 2010

The Lima Bean Man and the Giant Icicle

Around the New Gretna area Howard Ware, who is well into his eighties, is known as the Lima Bean man. This moniker resulted from his growing the most delicious pole Lima beans every summer. People literally line up to buy them by the bushel, and Howard's hard work and green thumb never disappoint.

Howard Ware (left) and his brother Nelson have been fixtures around the Wading River - New Gretna area for 8 decades. (February 7, 1996 photo courtesy of Howard Ware.)

Every summer Howard proclaims "This is my last year fur plantin' Limars. They're too much work!" but, when the next summer rolls around, Howard is out plowing and preparing his garden for another mouth watering crop.

Howard's Lima bean garden on North Maple Avenue.
(Map courtesy of Bing Maps.)

Not being content to merely growing record setting "Limars", Howard has set his sights on a winter record as well. This morning, while driving to the Post Office I spotted a remarkable icicle hanging from the front roof of Howard's North Maple Avenue home. It hung down so far that it nearly touched the ground. I said to myself that "Howard doesn't like to do things half way! Why should his icicles be any different?"

Icicles hanging from Howard Ware's front roof.
(December 30, 2010 photo by Pete Stemmer)

A close up of the giant icicle that nearly touched the ground.
(December 30, 2010 photo by Pete Stemmer)

I took a photo of the remarkable ice projectile and continued on my way to the Post Office. I had planned to return home for my tape measure, so that I could measure it and submit the photo and measurements to the "Guinness Book of New Gretna Records", a little known local publication.

Much to my regret, on my way home, I noticed that the likely record-setting frozen appendage had lost its grip on the roof, fallen, and lay on the ground in little pieces. Alas, Howard's probable record now must go undocumented. Oh well, it's a long winter, so there is still hope.

Pete S

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 26, 2010 Snow Storm

Well, we sure got quite a snow storm last Sunday and Monday here in New Gretna. By my reckoning we got from 14 to 16 inches.

I thought I would share a few photos that I took from inside my North Maple Avenue home. It's too cold and windy to venture outdoors. I'm just sitting here admiring the beautiful view, sipping warm apple cider, and counting my blessings.

Pete S

Swans walking on the frozen Bass River.

A closer look at the swans

Snow on the bench

The bird feeder but no birds

A view of the garage

Another river view from our living room

Monday, December 27, 2010

The old Souders-Miller House

I got the following email requesting information related to the house on the Bass River at the end of Miller Lane in New Gretna.

I stumbled on this blog and thank-you for it. I was wondering if anyone knows the history of the property on the river on Millers Lane? My friend owns it and we had the pleasure of speaking with Benny Allen a few times about it in the years before his passing. He had said there was a "town dock" where the current driveway is located. He said he moored a boat there before going off to fight in the war. (I assume WWII). I have been looking for pictures of what the property looked like back then as well. I was trying to catch up with Steve Potter, but he is always on the move and hard to pin down most of the time. I am just very curious about the rich history of such a small town and a great place to live.



The Miller Lane area off North Maple Avenue in New Gretna.
(Courtesy of Bing Maps.)

Unfortunately, I don't have any old photos of the property David asked about nor do I have much more information about it, other than that provided by Bennie Allen and mentioned in David's email.

According to Elaine Allen, Lillie and Joe Miller lived there in the 1950's and early 1960's, hence the name "Miller Lane." Lillie was the Bass River Township Tax Collector for many of the years that the Millers lived at the end of Miller's Lane. She ran the Tax Office on the side porch.

Robert and Marian Souders lived in the old house around the early 1900's and the road was called "Souders Lane." The Souders were Marian Broome's grandparents.

The old house is now gone, having been replaced by Phil and Edith Clark in the 1980's.

The old Souder-Miller house was replaced by Phil and Edith Clark in the 1980's. (Courtesy of Bing Maps.)

Any photos of the old house or the Millers or other information from out in the Blog-O-Sphere concerning the Souders - Miller - Clark house would be appreciated.

Pete S

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

May you and your family have a Merry Christmas, and let us not forget the reason for the season

Pete S

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bootleggers and Rum Runners on the Mullica River

The HBO Cable Network has just finished televising its hit show, "Boardwalk Empire" this past week. The show was a fictionalized account of the reign of Nucky Johnson in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, and New Jersey politics during the prohibition era of the roaring twenties.

Bootlegging and rum running played a dominant role in the rise of Atlantic City as a tourist mecca and was emphasized in the HBO series.

Rum runners landing their cargo in small boats.
(Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

Since the New Gretna area is relatively close to Atlantic City, it is not surprising that rum running was prevalent along Great Bay and the Mullica River. Illicit cargo landed here could be easily transported to Atlantic City by car or truck along the Shore Road, now Route 9.

It's a short drive from the New Gretna area to Atlantic City
along Shore Road. (Map courtesy of Google Maps.)

For those of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere who doubt that the New Gretna area played a part in bootlegging and rum running during prohibition, the following 1924 newspaper article should erase your skepticism.



Bootleggers Caught After

Gun Fight in Great Bay

Early last Tuesday morning thru the fearless work of the captain of the Bonds Coast Guard Station, Captain Rogers and an equally brave crew of men composed of Percy Mathews, chief boatswain mate, Marsden Cranmer, chief mechanics mate, and Leslie Rogers, surfman, one of the largest hauls of contraband liquor ever taken in this section was captured. 170 cases of liquor, three boats, and one gun was the net result of the battle with the smugglers about of a quarter mile off Oyster Creek on Great Bay.

The captain and crew had been out early last Thursday morning in the new fast rum chasers, with which the coast guards are now provided, patrolling the nearby waters when about 3:40 they sighted this small fleet of rum runners, composed of one high powered sea skiff, a good sized garvey and a tender in tow of the large boat.

Captain Rogers signaled for the boat to stop but instead of doing so the crew began to hustle around and try and make the boat go faster, after two signals had been given to pull up, Capt. Rogers gave the order to fire across the bow of the boat and try to stop it, this order was carried out but still the boat kept on, the Captain then gave the orders to fire at the boat and about the same time the rum runners opened with a volley of shots at the coast guards and a lively battle then ensued for several minutes with the coat guards using Springfield rifles and the rum runners using automatic revolvers and shot guns, but the coast guards decided the issue when they brought into play the rapid fire machine gun which they carry on these patrolling expeditions. The machine gun raked the smugglers craft fore to aft and after several rounds of ammunition had been emptied at them they were seen to pile over the sides of the boat and swim foe the shore, like a bunch of water rats, deserting their boats and their cargoes to the coast guards and thinking only one thing and that was of getting ashore out of that rain of lead.

After the smugglers deserted the boats the coast guards drew up to the abandoned boats and taking them in tow started homeward. Evidently the rum runners had a party waiting on the shore for as the coast guard boat hooked on to the other boat a crowd of men emerged from the woods in an attempt to frighten the coast guards by their superior numbers into deserting the captured boats. However nothing daunted these men and although they had failed to capture the crews of the boats they had at least taken a load of whiskey and three boats had been confiscated.

The boats and their cargoes were taken to Bonds C.G.S. where the liquor was unloaded and stored in the station house to await its deposition by federal authorities. The federal agents did not remove the whiskey until Monday morning when it was laoded into a large truck and taken to the federal warehouse in Phila., where after it was tested as to its purity it is to be distributed to the hospitals.

The one large boat captured is a thirty foot sea skiff painted a dark gray to make it a harder color to see by the revenue cutters and coast guards. It is equipped with a 300 H.P. Sterking Dolphin Special Motor and is capable of making a speed of thirty five miles an hour. It has evidently been used for the sole purpose of smuggling judging from its equipment. The garvey is a fairly good-sized boat with a Palmer engine. The small tender fastened on to the larger boat contained 3 quart bottles of liquor. The rest of the load was on the other two boats.

The seized liquor which amounted to 170 cases and made up of a number of one time very popular brands: Old Crow, Canadian Club; John Haig; Black and White; Green Stripe; Old Smuggler; William Penn Pure Rye; White Horse; Peter Lawson; White Label; Lawsons' Haig & Haig and one case of champagne was estimated to be worth about $15,000 and the value of the three boats was placed at $9,000 making a total loss to the smugglers of about $24,000. One automatic revolver was also found on the boat when it was captured, evidently the rest of the firearms were cast overboard.

The register numbers of the two larger boats were L7280 and M33, the small tender was not registered.

An interesting sight on the captured rum runner was the marks where the machine gun bullets had riddled it, at one place on the gunwale about two inches was completely cut away where the bullets had cut through. It is miraculous how the crew on the rum runner escaped being killed by the flying lead.

The place where the boat was captured was about opposite Chestnut Neck on the shore road which is considered a noted place for bootleggers to ply their trade.

The escaped crew of the boats is thought to have been from Atlantic City as this was the direction they were seen to go in cars that were following along on the shore road after they had given up hope of recovering their boats.

The coast guards when interviewed by the Times reporter, expressed the experience as a “Hot Time” and admitted that it sure was exciting a few minutes before the smugglers took to the water. Capt. Rogers and his crew are to be commended for the courageous work done in running down this set of smugglers.

Transcription by Pete Stemmer from an Unknown Newspaper

October 9, 1924

While the headline suggests that the incident took place on Great Bay, it actually occurred on the Mullica River which winds past Chestnut Neck and flows into Great Bay. It is the border between Bass River Township and Port Republic and, also, the border between Burlington and Atlantic Counties.

Anyone reading this who has family roots in old New Gretna may have ancestors who were engaged in the rum running trade. It was not uncommon in our area, given that most families had boats and were familiar with the local bays, rivers, and creeks and could always use some extra cash. If you have any New Gretna bootlegging and/or rum running stories, let's hear from you.

Pete S

PS- When we first bought our house on the banks of the Bass River, we had the family over for a backyard picnic. The first thing that my grandfather Stemmer said when he looked out over the beautiful river view was "Looks like a great spot for rum runners." Shortly after that we bought a sailboat which we named the "Rum Runner." Little did I realize how appropriate that name was.

Myself and nephew, David O'Brien, with the "Rum Runner" in my backyard in the early 1980's.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Leah Blackman's Tuckerton House Identified

I got the following email from my history buddy, John Yates identifying the correct location of Leah Blackman's Tuckerton house on Marine Street. It is the first house south of Tuckerton High School


Following is my guess regarding the location of Leah Blackman's house in Tuckerton.

John Yates

Cudos, John! You win the Bass River History Blog cigar.

Following is a present day aerial view of Leah's Tuckerton house.

Leah Blackman's Tuckerton house
(Courtesy of Bing Maps.)

Following is a street view of Leah's house.

Leah Blackman's Marine Street house.
(July 24, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The next time you are in Tuckerton, see if you can drive by and spot Leah's house. If you find it, maybe John will give you a puff from his cigar.

Pete S

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where's Waldo? - Leah Blackman Style

Where's Waldo? is a series of books and puzzles where you have to find where Waldo is in the picture.


Well, here's a spin off of "Where's Waldo" that I call "Where's Waldo? - Leah Blackman Style".


The following circa 1950's aerial postcard of Tuckerton shows Leah Blackman's house. Can you find it?

Pete S

Hit your Control and + keys at the same time
to enlarge the photo.

PS - Can't find it? I'll give you a hint - It's on Marine Street.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Crab Island Fish Factory and the Ebbets' Field Connection

The Crab Island Fish Factory, the skeleton of which can still be seen on one of the Seven Islands in Great Bay, has gone through many owners before being purchased by the State of New Jersey in 1965.

The Crab Island Fish Factory is located on Great Bay.
(Map courtesy of Google Maps.)

The skeletal remains of the Crab Island Fish Factory
(August 27, 2010 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The McKeever Brothers, Edward and Stephen, who were builders from Brooklyn, New York, owned the Crab Island Fish Factory from 1910 to 1926.

Edward and Stephen McKeever, contractors from Brooklyn, New York owned the Crab Island Fish Factory in the early 1900's.

They had a business relationship with Charles Ebbet the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and eventually became co-owners of the baseball club.

Charles Ebbets, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers sold a half interest in the ball club to the McKeever Brothers to finance the building of Ebbets' Field.

Edward McKeever (r) and his wife, Jennie, with Charles Ebbets on the infield at Ebbets' Field.

The McKeever Brothers were the general contractors in the building of Ebbet's Field during the time that they owned and operated the Crab Island Fish Factory. When it became time to build the playing field and plant the grass, fish guano (fertilizer) was transported from their Crab Island Fish Factory to the stadium project, thus establishing the Fish Factory - Ebbet's Field connection.

Ebbet's Field, shortly after it's grand opening.

Well, that's the story. Now, every time I sail past the Crab Island Fish Factory, it reminds me of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ironically, the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets' field are no more, but the skeleton of the Fish Factory still stands.

Pete S

PS- You can read more about the Crab Island Fish Factory on the Tuckerton Historical Society's Web Site by clicking on the link below:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Return to Clark's Landing

Murray Harris, John Yates, and I took a walking trip to see the old graves at Clarks Landing in Galloway Township, N.J. which was chronicled in the June 9, 2009 Blog entry. This trip can be revisited by clicking on the link below.

I recently came across some UTube videos of another trip to Clark's Landing, taken by Barry Caselli, and thought that I would share them with you. The videos are well done and very informative, particularly regarding the vegetation on the cluster of islands leading to Clark's Landing.

Clark's Landing, Part 1

Clark's Landing, Part 2

Clark's Landing, Part 3

Well, I hope you enjoy the video excursions to Clark's Landing as much as I did. I wonder if Murray Harris broke into a cold sweat while viewing the videos, as he experienced a flashback to his getting lost in the phragmites during our June, 2009 trip to Clark's Landing.

Pete S

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bass River Sixth Grade Class of 1973

I got the following email from Carlo Campo regarding the 1970 Bass River Elementary Yearbook photos that I posted on the September 13, 2009 Blog entry. You can see that Blog entry by clicking on the link below.

I was in Bass River School the same time of my class mates like Rick Adams, Joan Cramer, Kenney Rose, and Peter Hogan, but I don’t see all of us in there. I also had Mr. Crawford.

Conrad Campo

I checked out my files for other Bass River Elementary School Yearbook photos, I only have the photos from the 1970 and 1973 Yearbooks, but I hit pay dirt. I found photos of Carlo and his 1973 6th grade classmates and teacher which are posted below. Mr. Crawford was a fifth grade teacher in 1973. Hope you enjoy them.

If these photos bring back and memories for those out in the Blog-O-Sphere, let's hear from you.

Pete S

PS- If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere wishes me to post photos from another 1973 grade level, just drop a line in the comment box with the grade level you would like posted.