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Monday, September 6, 2010

Isaiah Johnson's Watchman's Log Book

I attend a breakfast every other Friday with a group of men from the New Gretna - Little Egg Harbor area. We call ourselves the ROMEOS, Retired Old Men Eating Out. We discuss a wide range of topics including world events and local happenings; however, my favorite discussions revolve around the local history in our area.

A few weeks ago, Carl Joorman mentioned that he had an old Log Book from his great grandfather, Isaiah Johnson, who was a shellfish watchman on the watchboat "St. Paul" that patrolled Tuckeron Bay in the late 1890's and early 1900's. Naturally, my curiosity was peaked, and I made arrangements with Carl to borrow the Log Book, so that I could scan it into my computer to add to our local history collection.

The Log Book was meticulously kept by Isaiah Johnson who lived in West Creek with his wife, Emma Thomas and daughters, Clara and Martha.

Isaiah took great care to daily enter the weather, direction of the wind, names of Baymen that he encountered, and the names of various creeks, points, and other landmarks around which he patrolled in Tuckerton Bay. The Log Book is a treasure trove of information, chronicled from November 10, 1897 through January 22, 1900.

The following page from October 14, 1897 gives us a glimpse into Isaiah Johnsons' world. It tells us that he sailed to Rose's Point on a calm, foggy morning. After a 9 AM breakfast, he was joined by Ruck Parker, the local Oyster Commissioner who helped him locate the following Baymen's lots - Oscar Parker, Charles Seaman, Walter Seaman, Anne Shinn, Harry Shinn, and Hiram Parker. His long day ended when he anchored at Alex Kelly's oyster lot where he spent the night.

Unfortunately, the pages of the Log Book have become discolored and darkened over the years, making Isaiah's pencil entries difficult to read. However, it's worth the eye strain. The 247 page Log Book is full of local resident's names and places connected with Tuckerton Bay and well worth reading, particularly for those interested in Parkerton, West Creek, and Tuckerton Baymen.

Another interesting item that Carl loaned me was a card advertising party boats at Beach Haven, including Isaiah Johnson's boat, the "N King".

Pete S

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