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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

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