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

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Jersey Caviar and the New Gretna Connection

I got a telephone call from my History and Men's Breakfast buddy, Jim McAnney, the other day alerting me to an article in the Atlantic City Press about restrictions being placed on sturgeon fishing in the Delaware Bay. He suggested that it might make an interesting subject for the Blog. 

Wondering what present day sturgeon fishing problems in the Delaware Bay had to do with the Blog, I got out the paper and found the following headline in the Region Section.

Reading through the article, I couldn't help wondering why Jim thought it may be of interest here at the Blog. It wasn't until I got to the end of the article that I found the historical connection. The article ended with a few paragraphs (transcribed below) dealing with Bayside, New Jersey, which was once known as the caviar capital of the world.

Excerpt from the Atlantic City Press
February 13, 2012

The article pointed out some pretty interesting info regarding New Jersey history. Imagine a southern New Jersey town being the caviar capital of the world!

Sturgeon fishing docks at Bayside, NJ
Photo from Rutgers University collection

Click on the above photo to read about sturgeon fishing at Bayside, known in the old days as Caviar Point.

Landing a sturgeon at Bayside, N.J.

Suddenly, a New Gretna connection to the article popped into my head. I remembered reading a May, 1886 Tuckerton Beacon article about some New Gretna boys doing some sturgeon fishing in Delaware Bay. Seems they made some news back then when their fishing boat, owned by the New Gretna Fishing Company, was involved in a ship wreck rescue. Capt. Oscar Hickman and his crew were the heroes of the day. 

Another 1886 Tuckerton Beacon article shed some light on the New Gretna Fishing Company and it's officers, all from New Gretna.

It's not unusual for commercial fishermen to bring some of their catch home for the family dinner, so it would not be a stretch to envision some Mathis, Hickman, and French  families feasting on caviar during the evening meal in their modest New Gretna homes. Ah, the good life of a simple fisherman!

Pete S

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ethel Wiseman Sprague's 102nd Birthday Party

I got a telephone call from Myrtle Wiseman Falkinburg this past week inviting me to her sister Ethel Wiseman Sprague's 102 birthday party on February 7th at Seacrest Village Manor on Center Street in Little Egg Harbor. Ethel is the oldest living person born in New Gretna, so I accepted, as I was eager to meet and speak with her. 

I had written a Blog entry on Ethel on December 3, 2008 when she was merely 98. You can read that Blog entry about her family background and see some old Wiseman family photos by clicking on the photo below.

Baby Ethel with her mother, Olive Wiseman, 102 years ago.
Photo courtesy of Myrtle Wiseman Falkinburg

It was a pleasure meeting the 102 year old birthday girl and her loving family. 

Ethel Wiseman Sprague, 102 years old

I spoke with Ethel about her childhood in New Gretna. She was born on the Wiseman family farm on West Greenbush Road. She spoke of Rev. Ginter at the Presbyterian Church and mentioned many residents, long passed away, who she remembered. Her memory was remarkable!

Rev. Ginter was the New Gretna Presbyterian Church's minister
when Ethel was a young girl.

Following are some photos that I took at the party.

Ethel's daughter, Helen Sprague Toole, shows Ethel her birthday flowers.

Ethel with her sister, Myrtle Wiseman Falkinburg. Myrtle is 92 and a big help
to me in relating her memories of growing up and living in New Gretna. Ethel
is holding up a birthday congratulations certificate from President Obama.

Myrtle is known by the family as "Dolly", a nickname that was given to her by Ethel shortly after Myrtle was born. Ethel said that Myrtle looked like her dolly and the name stuck.

Ethel scratching off lottery tickets she received for her birthday.
She won $2.00.

Ethel got some beautiful presents.

Ethel blows out her birthday candles.

Ethel enjoying her birthday cake.

Ethel with her grandson, John Nelson, who operates a Jitney service in Atlantic City.

The family gathers around to sing Happy Birthday.
Front Row: Ethel and sister, "Dolly"
2nd Row (l-r): granddaughter, Jane Keams; sister, Cassie Wiseman Heinrichs;
granddaughter, Cindy Lucas; and daughter, Gladys Sprague Moody.
Back Row (l-r): daughter, Helen Sprague Toole; grandson John Nelson,

and son-in-law, Larry Moody.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

William Gray Obituary

I received the news of the passing of William Gray from his daughter, Cindy Gray Dickey. It's always sad when we lose another connection with old time New Gretna. Our condolences go out to the family.

Pete S

William “Bill” Gray

            William Gray was born to William and Virginia (Darby) Gray on September 2, 1931, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  He died Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in Enid.

            Bill grew up in New Gretna, New Jersey, across the street from Jean Marie Atkinson, whom he married on June 21, 1953. They married at the Methodist church in New Gretna. Bill served in the National Guard from 1950 – 1956. He began his construction career in 1952 with Raymond Concrete.  Bill joined Bechtel Corporation in 1959, working in New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Wyoming until 1975.  From 1975 to 1984, Bill worked with Fluor Corporation as a construction manager on the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, and completed construction projects in South Africa, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  In 1989 Bill was called to oversee the building of sleeping/cafeteria barges for the cleanup crew of the Exxon Valdez oil spill at Prince William Sound, AK. Until 2000, Bill was a self-employed general contractor.  He loved his two dogs, Dudley and Scotty.  Bill was a history buff, and his other interests included Fox news, politics, reading, collecting stamps, and the New York/New Jersey Giants. 

            He is survived by his loving wife Jean of 58 years; daughter  Cindy (whom he delivered on the way to the Atlantic City hospital) and her husband Mike Dickey of Enid; two sons, William Gray (named after Bill),  and Joseph Mathis Gray (named after great-grandfather Joseph K. Mathis), both of Festus, Missouri; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

            William was preceded in death by his parents and infant sister.

            There will be a family memorial service at a later date.  Memorials may be made to SPCA of Enid.  Condolences online at or mailed to 120 S. Mission Road, Enid, OK 73703.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tuckerton Water Park

I've noticed an increase of Florida water park commercials on TV lately. Most show families frolicking in a variety of water related scenes. It makes you want to head to Atlantic City Airport and hop a plane to Disney's Water Park in Orlando, Florida.

In today's tight economy, most of us don't have the funds for a trip to Florida, so I have a low budget suggestion - How about a trip to Cedarwater Park on Lake Pohatcong in good old Tuckerton? The price is right, only 15 cents on weekdays and 25 on weekends. 

E. Moss Mathis, owner of Clearwater Park
Photo courtesy of Russell & MaryLou Mathis.

It may be a little chilly this time of year, so you may want to don your wooley bathing suit for our Lake Pohatcong frolic. 

Local girls in their wooley bathing suits.
Photo courtesy of Steve Eichinger

How about we meet at the lake this coming Saturday? I hear my Men's Breakfast buddy, Rickie "White Shoes" Steele, has a wooley speedo that he bought just for our Tuckerton Water Park trip and plans to do his famous cannon ball. That, alone, should be worth the price of admission. 

Rickie has good credentials for being a water sports star, as his dad, Budd, was an outstanding swimmer and the first lifeguard at Lake Absegami in Bass River State Park.

Budd Steele on the sandy beach at Lake Absegami
Photo courtesy of Almira Cramer Steele

Hope to see you all at Cedarwater Park this Saturday.

Pete S

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mystery Photo

I got the following email from Patty S. and hope that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can help to identify the location of the photo. I haven't a clue; however, I think we can say that it definitely was not taken in New Gretna. 

Pete S

Do you or anyone out there on the blog knows where this might have been taken? This was in my Grandmother's pictures. There is nothing written on the back. It might have been part of a larger picture as the right side has been cut as it's wavy, not straight like the left side. She was born and raised in New Gretna. She was a McCambridge, her mother a Loveland, and her mother a Gaskill and her mother an Allen. All these families lived in the area so I'm sure it's from Burlington County somewhere. 
Patty S.

PS- Interested in old Burlington County scenes? You may want to take a look at the old postcard collection from the Burlington County Library by clicking in the postcard below.