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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1924 Methodist Directory

While going through a box of old papers and photos from Marian Broome's attic, I came across a 1924 Methodist Directory. It was stored in Marian's parent's attic and ended up across the street in Marian's attic where it sat untouched for decades.

Ben and Lizzie Broome, members of the Methodist Church, stored the 1924 Methodist Directory in their attic for many years. Upon their passing, it eventually ended up in their daughter Marian's attic just across the street from their North Maple Avenue house. (1945 photo courtesy of Marian Broome.)

The 1924 Methodist Directory was first stored in Ben and Lizzie Broome's house.
It is presently the home of Joan Bowers.

Marian Broome's North Maple Avenue house where the 1924 Methodist Directory was found in the attic. (February 1, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Marian Chestnut Broome stored the 1924 Methodist Directory in her attic for many years. Since it came with other papers and photos from her parents attic, she may not have been aware it was there. (Photo courtesy of Marian Broom.)

The Directory was chocked full of information (list and photos of ministers, church officers and committee lists, history of the church, local business ads, list of membership, etc.) There are too many pages for one Blog entry, so I thought I would share those pages that listed the church membership. It gives us a good snap shot of the families that lived in New Gretna in the 1920's.

Methodist Church - Route 9, New Gretna, circa 1920's

Note: To enlarge the pages from the 1924 Methodist Directory below, Hit your Control and plas key simultaneously.

Some of you old New Gretna old timers out there in the Blog-O-Sphere should recognize the names of relatives or friends of the family who appear on the list. If so, let's hear from you!

Pete S

PS- If you would like to see more pages from the 1924 Methodist Directory, drop a comment. I found the ads particularly interesting, as they showed some of the businesses that were in New Gretna and the surrounding area in 1924.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Mystery Ladies

I received the following email from Beverly Mathis Robinson and hope that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere is able to help her with some photo identifications.

Hi Pete:

The recent picture of the four people from the Old Home Society [See June 9th Blog entry.] made me remember a picture I have and wonder if one of them is the same person, Margaret Adams.

(l-r) Estella Mathis, unknown, Julia Mathis, unknown.
(Courtesy of Beverley Mathis Robinson.)

As you can see from the description, the first person on the left is my grandmother Estella Adams Mathis. The second is unknown. The third is my aunt, Julia Mathis DeChristofaro, and the fourth is the one I suspect is Margaret Adams.

Can anyone out there say for sure if that is her? And, would anyone know who the second person is?


Beverly Mathis Robinson

Well, Beverly, one thing I can say for sure is the woman on the right is definitely not Margaret Adams. She looks nothing like the photo you mentioned of the four people on the Old Home Society photo nor any other photo that I've seen of her. I don't know who the woman is nor the other unknown woman.

Pete S

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Gretna - April 20, 1939

We took our first time travel trip back to visit old New Gretna in the December 18, 2008 Blog entry and have taken a few trips since then. We haven't stepped into Ye Old Time Machine in quite a while, so I thought it was time for another adventure into the past.

Today, we are travelling back to the New Gretna of April 20, 1939. If you would like to join us, put on your time travel goggles and come along. We're just about ready. We're just waiting for Jim McAnney and his buddy, Ricky "White Shoes" Steele, to jump on board.

New Gretna - April 20, 1939

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Warsitzka who have been located in New York City for many months have returned to their home on South Maple avenue for an indefinite time.

Donald Cramer, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Pratt Cramer, celebrated the an­niversary of his 1st birthday, Monday, April 17th. He was the recipient of many nice gifts and received several beautiful cards.

Mrs. Kathryn Peers and nephews, Billy Buetner, Fred Westner, of Brook­lyn, N. Y., have returned to their home after spending the Easter va­cation at Mrs. Peers home.

Mrs. Henry Updike who entered the Atlantic City hospital Sunday after­noon for a major operation is doing very nicely and her friends wish for a speedy recovery.

Miss Helen Cramer of Tuckerton, visited her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Cramer for the week end.

Sunday callers of Mrs. Mable Cra­mer were Mr. and Mrs. E. Sager, of East Orange, Mrs. Sager's mother, Mrs. Julia Kelley and daughter Reba of Tuckerton, Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Cramer and son Edward Everett of Tacony, Pa., Dr. and Mrs. J. Hil­liard and Mrs. Clara Holman of Mana­hawkin.

Mrs. Lucy Allen is suffering from three fractured ribs caused by a fall while strolling through the Miller cemetery, she is improving slowly at her home on New York Road, her grandson Francis Sears also met with an accident when he mashed three of his fingers while working on a truck last Tuesday.

Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Preebs and children of Collingswood, were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Mathis, Sunday.

Mr. and Mrs. Seldon Campbell and daughter Beverly Rae left for Scranton, Pa., Monday, Mrs. Campbell has been in New Gretna for three weeks.

Miss Frances Wheeler has been en­joying a week's vacation with friends in Garwood and New York City. While in Garwood she was tendered a party in honor of her 22nd birthday.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Earle Cramer en­tertained at a dinner party Saturday evening, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Updike and mother Ida Vincent.

Mr. and Mrs. Larue Mizelle and family spent the week end with Mr. P. S. Mizelle in Arlington.

Mrs. Alice Mathis and sons Robert and Elvin who have been spending a vacation in Trenton have not been able to return owing to the illness of the children.

The card party which was held in the Civic Hall, Wednesday evening, by the youth of our village was a very great success financially and socially and the boys wish to thank the com­mittee in charge and all who helped to make it possible to hold the party.

Announcements were received last week of the marriage of Miss Anna Ware and Dr. H. Cory Walling, Sat­urday, April 8th at the St. Paul Pres­byterian Church in Philadelphia. They will reside in Morristown.

Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Seery of Phil­adelphia returned to their home on Monday and their mother Mrs. Mabel Cramer accompanied them and will remain for a short visit.

Mr. Edgar Matlack suffered a heart attack Monday and is very ill at the home of Mrs. Lorena B. Kestler.

April 20, 1939 Tuckerton Beacon transcript

Don Cramer, who celebrated his first birthday just before our April 20, 1939 New Gretna visit stopped by my house last October 4, 2009. We had a long chat about Don's working at the Cramer Oyster House in New Gretna and running a party fishing business out of Townsend's Inlet for many years. Hopefully, I'll do a Blog entry on our conversation one of these days.

Don Cramer pulled into my driveway in his 1955 Ford.
October 4, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.

Don told me many stories about his childhood in New Gretna, the Cramer Oyster House, and the party boat business in Townsend's Inlet. (October 4, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.)
Working at the Cramer Oyster House on the Bass River in New Gretna. (l-r) Don Cramer; Arnold Pratt Cramer, Don's dad; and Harold French Cramer, Don's uncle. (Circa 1940's photo courtesy of Arnold Nathan Cramer.)

If anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere has a relative mentioned in our trip back to April 20, 1939, let's hear from you!

Pete S

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Visiting Harrisville's Ruins

Two of my history buddies, Steve Eichinger from Bridgeport and Budd Wilson from Green Bank are currently working on a research project involving evaluating 1880's field notes from surveyor Samuel Downs origional field notebooks. It appears, at a quick glance, that the notes give the location of buildings at Harrisville and neighboring Martha. The measurements are in chains and links and are difficult to decipher but, if anyone can make sense out of the old field book scribblings it would be Steve and Budd. Both know a lot about Harrisville and old Martha.

We are hoping that an analysis of Downs' field book will yield some heretofore unknown buildings and/or reveal some new location information. Hopefully, Steve and Budd will be able to draw maps of Harrisville and old Martha from Downs' notes that will reveal some unexpected historical tidbits. Stay tuned for more information as the project progresses.

Last night I got to thinking about the old Harrisville ruins. The little that is left is hidden among the Pine Barrens vegetation and is fenced off making it unaccessible to interested visitors. Such was not always the case, as the ruins were a favorite sport for family outings and visits by young lovers from the local area.

Following are some photos from our Harrisville collection showing New Gretna and other local residents enjoying the ruins at Harrisville. They should bring back many pleasant memories for many of the old timers out in the Blog-O-Sphere who also visited the old Harrisville ruins. Anyone with any photos of locals at the Harrisville ruins are encouraged to email the photos to the Blog. We'll post any that we receive. Also, let's hear from you if you have any memories about visiting the Harrisville ruins.

Bob Mathis

Elaine Weber Mathis

Sabrina Downs

Tom Newell -1946

Len Sooy with grandsons, Steve (l) and Paul Potter.

Alice Adams Weber (r) at the Harrisville artisan well - 1953

Horace and Harriet Cramer - 1933

Joe and Sadie Ware from Greenbank.

Joe Ware (r) by the Harrisville dam

Harry Headley with sons, John and Harry at the Harrisville dam - 1950

David (l) and John Headley

Steve Eichinger experiencing the wonder of Harrisville - 2007

Pete S

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Gretna Old Home Society

Two weekends ago, New Gretna celebrated another Memorial Day in its unique way. Most towns have parades and dedication services honoring the many veterans who sacrificed so much in the service of their country in wars from the American Revolution through our present conflicts in Irag and Afghanistan.

We have over 150 veterans buried in our cemeteries. Four lost their lives in the service of their country and are honored on the War Memorial located between the Fire House and Municipal Building on North Maple Avenue.

The War Memorial honors Bass River Townships fallen heroes - Orval Gerew (1894-1918), WWI; George Heun, Jr. (1894-1919), WWI; John H. Sears (1919-1945), WWII; and William F. Ayres (1938-1966), Vietnam. May 22, 2009 photo by Pete Stemmer.

New Gretna has a unique Memorial Day tradition which centers around it's cemeteries and is run by the organization, the New Gretna Old Home Society, which owns and operates New Gretna's two largest cemeteries, Miller and Hillside Cemeteries. This sure is an odd name for an organization that owns and operates cemeteries. It sounds more like the name of an old age home.

The cemeteries were originally owned and operated by the two churches in town, the First Presbyterian Church of New Gretna (Miller Cemetery) and St. Paul's United Methodist Church (Hillside Cemetery). Over the years, the churches had difficulties maintaining the cemeteries and a group of concerned citizens with old New Gretna family roots got together in the early 1920's and formed an organization to maintain the cemeteries.

They called the group the New Gretna Old Home Society because New Gretna was their old home. The purpose of the organization was to maintain the cemeteries and to gather together at least once a year at Memorial Day at the "Old Home" town. It was called Old Home Day, to keep the old family ties alive through future generations and to honor the veterans in the New Gretna cemeteries.

I found the following three newspaper articles about some of the early Old Home Day meetings. They were all day affairs attended by hundreds of people with New Gretna family and cemetery ties and consisted of a dinner cooked and served by the ladies of New Gretna, baseball games, programs, and a Society meeting. Reading through the articles many familiar New Gretna names will appear. Many of them are ancestors of some of our Blog readers.

New Gretna Old Home Day Drew Visitors

New Gretna, May 30.—Several hundred former residents of New Gretna, now living in Atlantic City, Philadelphia, New York, and other places, gathered here today to cele­brate Old Home day, the tenth an­niversary of the New Gretna Old Home Society. This society numbers 450 members, the larger number of them living away from this but natives of New Gretna.

The day included exercises at the two cemeteries which are kept in fine condition by the society this being the original purpose in the formation of the association. A chicken dinner was served from 12 P.M. to 2:30 P. M. in the Community building by the women of New Gret­na and none left the table hungry. In the afternoon there was a busi­ness meeting in the hall, and on the school field next door was a base­ball game. In the evening, after supper, was put on an unusual fea­ture. Photographic slides had been prepared by Prof. Moore of Atlan­tic City, from old pictures showing the old homesteads and other old scenes in New Gretna, and were flashed on the screen. Prof. Maja Mathis, supervisor of schools at Florence, N. J., described the pic­tures and gave bits of history about the families who formerly dwelt in the homes.

At the annual meeting officers were chosen as follows: President emeritus, Leonard K. Algar; presi­dent, Kirk Loveland; vice president, Samuel H. Headley; treasurer, Hir­am Mathis, all of Atlantic City; sec­retary, Mrs. Lela F. Hilliard, of Manahawkin; assistant secretaries, Miss Margaret Adams and Mrs. Helen Mathis of New Gretna.

Directors were re-elected as fol­lows: Harry Headley, Joseph B. Cramer, Augustus Cramer, Wm. E. Mathis, C. Stanley French, Russell Adams, S. Crowley Loveland, Rollin A. Cale, Augustus R. Miller, Joshua Hilliard, Arnold Cramer, J. H. Leek, Norris Sears, Thomas A. Mathis, Maja Mathis, John S. Mathis, Rich­ard M. French, Thomas A. Cale, George Leek and P. K. Hilliard.

The treasurer's report showed a balance in current funds of $384.80, and receipts for the year of $697.20. The endowment fund amount to $2419.03, and there are also shares in both the New Gretna and Atlan­tic City, amounting to several hun­dred dollars.

Remarks were made by City Com­missioner Harry Headley of Atlan­tic City, Kirk Loveland, Samuel Headley, Maja Mathis, George Leek, Miss Margaret Adams, Norris Sears, Postmaster R. A. Cale of Pleasant­ville, and Wm. H. Fischer of Toms River.

Dr. Joshua Hilliard of Manahawk­in gave the historical review of the society. He said about ten years ago Mrs. Hilliard and Kirk Loveland got some old time New Gretna friends together to clean up the ce­meteries in that village. The result was this society. Five years ago it was reorganized, and since then had been incorporated and had flourish­ed. It now has 450 members scatter­ed all over the United States - some of them descendants of old New Gretna families, who have them­selves never been in New Jersey. The society has lost 35 members by death.

Mrs. Hilliard, R. A. Cale of Pleas­antville, Maja Mathis and others are gathering historical data, and carry­ing out the genealogies of the old families.

The society the year round meets once a month for dinner on Satur­day nights, in summer at New Gret­na, and in winter at Atlantic City.

Transcription from a June 5, 1931 Toms River Newspaper
Editor's Note: The glass slides mentioned in the above article, prepared by Professor Moore and discussed by Maja Mathis, were found in the attic of F.A. Gray on Route 9 in New Gretna. Unfortunately they were not labeled and there were no notes with them. Steve Eichinger and Budd Wilson took photos of the slides which were then scanned into my computer. We were able to identify most of the the scenes, homesteads, and people in the slides, but about a half dozen homesteads have not been identified. It is likely that they no longer exist. Perhaps at a future Old Home Society dinner we will show the old slides and see if anyone can identify the mystery homesteads.
An example of an unknown homestead from Professor Moore's glass slides.

Here's another of the glass slides, one that we were able to identify. Can anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere identify the four people?

New Gretna Old Home Society
Held 15th Reunion Sat.
Annual Memorial Day Gatherng Most Successful
in History of Organization

The New Gretna Old Home Society held its Fifteenth Annual Reunion in New Gretna on Memorial Day, Saturday, May 30, 1936, and it proved to be the most successful in the history of the organization which was found­ed in 1921.

More than 300 people came to New Gretna to take part in making the occasion such an outstanding; success and to renew old acquaintances.

The program for the day was as follows:

Dinner 12:30 to 3:00 in the New Gretna Civic Hall, sponsored by the New Gretna Civic Society.
Brief Memorial Services.
Election of officers of the organiza­tion for the ensuing year.

In the evening the entertainment was presented by the New Gretna Civic Society and was in the form of presentation of plays which received the hearty approval of those assem­bled.

The officers and directors of the organization were re-elected and the only change in the official staff was for the office of Assistant Secretary with Mrs. Laura Loveland assuming the duties which had been previously car­ried on by Mrs. Hiram Mathis.

The officers and directors of the organization are as follows: Leonard 11. Algar, President Emer­itus; Kirk Loveland, president; Sam­uel H. Headley, vice president; Hiram Mathis, treasurer: Mrs. Lela F. Hil­liard, secretary, Manahawkin, N. J., Mrs. Laura Loveland, assistant secre­tary.

Directors- Harry Headley, Joseph B. Cramer, Augustus Cramer, C. Stan­ley French, Russell Adams, C. Crow­ley Loveland, Augustus R. Miller, J. Hilliard, Arnold Cramer, J. H. Leek. Norris Sears, Thomas A. Mathis, Maja Mathis, John S. Mathis, Richard M. French, Thomas A. Cale, George Leek, P.K. Hilliard.

Transcription from Tuckerton Beacon - June 4, 1936

1939 news article

Last Sunday, May 30th, the 89th Annual Old Home Day was held at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. It's still held in the old tradition. It has been scaled back, however, to a catered dinner followed by a Memorial church service to honor our New Gretna veterans and the acknowledge those with New Gretna ties who had passed away since last Memorial Day, and the Annual Society business meeting. Forty eight people attended, renewing old acquaintances and reminiscing about old New Gretna.

The present Trustees and Officers of the New Gretna Old Home Society are listed below. Most have old family ties to New Gretna while others have relatives buried in New Gretna Cemeteries.

Helen S. Carty
Steven Eichinger
Franklin A. Gray
Jean Harris
Murray T. Harris
Betty Jean Keufer
William Keufer
Ann Mathis (Emeritus)
Elaine Mathis
Brian Maxwell (Emeritus)
James McAnney
Carol Kauflin Nicklow
John Sears
Jane Shuff
Woodley E. Shuff
Peter H. Stemmer
Howard Ware

Woodley E. Shuff, President
Stephen Eichinger, Vice President
Peter H. Stemmer, Secretary/Treasurer

Anyone who has family ties to old New Gretna, relatives buried in New Gretna cemeteries, or an interest in helping to maintain our cemeteries is welcome to join the New Gretna Old Home Society and/or to attend our annual New Gretna Old Home Day on Memorial Day Sunday. Anyone interested can contact me through the Blog comments or email.

Pete S