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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Who is Harrison Allen?

I love to read old newspapers from the late 1800's into the early 1900's. It's one of my favorite things to do on the net. I really get a hoot out of some of the old ads, especially those hawking patent medicines. Back then they seemed to have a self cure for everything. Who needed doctors or dentists?

I don't know if the Lloyd Manufacturing Company's cocaine toothache drops cured your toothache or got you so high that you didn't notice the pain. Either way, I guess it was a success.

While reading old medicine ads in upstate New York newspapers, I was surprised to find mention of a New Gretna resident in a 1910 Syracuse newspaper. After all, Syracuse is quite a distance from New Gretna, especially in an era when automobiles were in their infancy and most people didn't venture too far from home. In those days, going from New Gretna to Egg Harbor or Atlantic City was considered a major trip.

But, here with have it. It seems that a Harrison H. Allen from New Gretna, N.J. had an acne problem that was cured by Poslam Pimple Cream, and he was not shy in recommending the product.  

I wonder how Harrison's name came to be chosen for the ad and whether he was paid for his testimonial. Or, was Harrison Allen a fictitious name made up by a company whose scruples in selling their product left much to be desired? However, if that's the case, why chose tiny, unknown New Gretna as his residence? Surely, mention of a larger, well known town or city would sell more pimple cream. 

The name, Harrison Allen didn't ring a bell with me. I got to wondering, if the ad was true, just who this Harrison was and how he fit into the New Gretna Allen families. Was he a short Allen or a Tall Allen, who were his parents, and where in New Gretna did he live?

Since I've been working on a genealogy of the New Gretna Allen families with my history buddy, Shirley Whealton, I figured that it wouldn't take long to track down Harrison Allen's pedigree. After all, I've got family records of hundreds of New Gretna Allens from Robert Allen, who was the first Allen to settle in Bass River in the early 1700's, to the present. Finding Harrison should be a piece of cake.

How wrong I was! I couldn't find mention of a Harrison Allen anywhere in my notes. I turned to the 1910 census. Since the ad appeared in November, 1910, surely Harrison would be listed. Wrong, again! There were 57 Allen's listed as living in Bass River in the 1910 census, but nary a Harrison. There were; however, two Harry Allens. Perhaps, one was our Harrison whose name had been shortened by the census taker to the more familiar Harry. 

The first Harry Allen was single, 20 years old, and lived with his parents, John L. and Sarah F. Allen on West Greenbush Road.

The second Harry Allen was also single, 21 years old, a head of a household with no family listed, and resided on East Main Road which would have been the present day Route 9.

There was no information in the 1910 census to a conclude that one of the two Harrys might be our Harrison, so my next step was to go to the 1920 census to look for a Harrison. If not one of the Harrys, he may have been missed in the 1910 census and perhaps appeared in the next census 10 years later.

Finally, I hit pay dirt! The 1920 Bass River census lists a Harrison Allen with his wife, Rose, and Virginia, a 4 year old daughter. It's not enough information to tie the family in with a New Gretna branch of the Allen family, but it does confirm that Harrison did live in New Gretna as stated in the ad.

The census doesn't list the street or neighborhood in which the Harrison family resided; however, a review of Harrison's neighbors listed on the same census page gives us a clue. Five Corlis households are also listed. There is only one place in Bass River Township where you would find a concentration of Corlis homes. That would be Sym Place in the far western area of Bass River where a small, isolated community grew up around a cranberry plantation.

Postcard from Sym Place

A visit to provided more evidence that Harrison was indeed a New Gretna resident as stated in the medicine ad. I was able to find a 1917 World War I Draft Registration Card for a Harrison Allen from New Gretna. It lists him as a Bayman with a wife and 2 year old child, information that agrees with the 1920 census data. Unfortunately, it doesn't list his parents which would be valuable information in connecting him to a New Gretna Allen family.

So, after our serendipitous journey from a Syracuse, New York newspaper ad, through the 1910 and 1920 Bass River Township census, and ending with a World War I Draft Registration Card, we have verified that Harrison Allen was, indeed, a resident of New Gretna as the pimple cream ad stated. My faith in truth in advertising has been restored!

However, while I now know that the Harrison Allen family resided in New Gretna, I still don't know how they fit into the New Gretna Allen families. There are still some outstanding questions to be answered. Was Harrison a short Allen or a tall Allen? Who were his parents? Was he one of the Harrys listed in the 1910 census? 

Perhaps, there is an Allen out in the Blog-O-Sphere who remembers hearing about an ancestor with an acne problem and can answer some of these questions. I sure could use some help!

Pete S

PS- For information concerning the short and tall Allens of New Gretna, please CLICK HERE.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

LaRue Mizelle - Where are you?

Last week two ladies were walking through Miller Cemetery looking for the grave site of LaRue Mizelle. My history buddy, Steve Eichinger, happened to be in the cemetery, and they asked him if he knew where LaRue was buried. Seems they were working on a genealogy project for a friend with a family connection to LaRue.

LaRue Mizelle was a likable, easy going guy.

Steve was able to take the ladies to LaRue's wife Vola's grave in the West section of Miller Cemetery. Hers is the only gravestone on the four grave plot which caused the two ladies to ask, "Where is her husband, LaRue, buried?"

Not knowing the answer to their question, Steve called me from the cemetery and asked me to look up the location of LaRue's burial on my computer database of New Gretna burials. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that LaRue was not listed. 

There are no official burial records for Miller Cemetery. They either were not kept or were lost many years ago. The database we presently have was constructed by reading information on the existing grave stones, so if someone was buried in Miller Cemetery without a tombstone we would have no record of their burial.

So, the obvious questions concerning LaRue's where-a-abouts are "Is LaRue buried in Miller Cemetery without a stone or is he buried somewhere else?" and "If he is buried in Miller Cemetery without a stone, in what plot is he buried?" As Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying at the beginning of each case, "The game is a foot!"

The first place to begin our investigation into the life of LaRue Mizelle is on the internet. Here we find information from the Social Security deaths records that tell us that LaRue was born December 24, 1898 and died in February, 1970 while living in New Gretna. It's not a lot of information , but it's a start!

Census records give us additional information.

The June 9, 1900 census tells us that LaRue was one year old and living in Columbia County, Florida with his parents, William and Carrie.

LaRue's 1917 World War I draft registration card gives us more information. It confirms his birthdate listed in the Social Security records; tells us that he was living on Cleveland Street in Riverside, New Jersey in Burlington County; was employed as a jointer's helper at the Traylor Shipyard in Bucks County, Pa.;  and his middle name was Deleon. His closest relative is listed as his father, William, which indicates that he was not yet married.

I was unable to find 1910 census records on LaRue, so we pick up the Mizelle family in the 1920 census where they are living in Riverside Townhip, New Jersey. LaRue, now 21 years old, has two brothers, Ercel and Percy, and a sister, Coletta.

The 1930 census shows us that LaRue has moved out of his parents house, is married to Vola B., has a daughter, Lois, and is living with his father-in-law, William Loveland, on Greenbush Road in Bass River Township.

A young Vola Loveland before her marriage to LaRue

The 1940 census shows that LaRue and Vola are still living in Bass River Township but have moved out of the William Loveland house to a home on North Maple Avenue. They now have two daughters, Lois (age 13) and Fay (age 8). Tolbert Loveland, Vola's younger brother, is living with them. LaRue's occupation is listed as "Bayman". Note that Vola's name is mispelled as "Viola".

Fay (left) and Lois Mizelle

In 1940, the Mizelle family lived in an old house on North Maple Avenue which was across the street from the present Municipal Building. It was known as the "Owl's Roost" by the old timers. The house was torn down sometime in the late 1960's. The property is now a gravel parking lot.

The "Owl's Roost" just before being torn down

Location of the Owl's Roost
(Photo courtesy of Bing Maps)

LaRue, in addition to working the bay, also ran a charter fishing boat as evidenced by the following undated clipping from a local directory. The last boat he owned was called the Evelyn which he kept at Allen's Dock which is just a stone's throw from the Bass River Bridge..

(Right to left) LaRue, Tom Newell, and Lib Shutte.

We've been fleshing out LaRue's life but still haven't solved the problem of where he is buried. A review of records from the Woods Funeral Home narrows down this mystery with a notation that LaRue born December 24, 1898 in Jacksonville, Florida, died on February 17, 1970 and was buried in Miller Cemetery in New Gretna. This is not surprising, as his wife, Vola, is buried in the West section of Miller Cemetery with a headstone.  The funeral records also tell us that his daughter, Lois, married name is "Ready" and Fay's married name is "Venti".

There is no head stone for LaRue in Miller Cemetery, but one might assume that he is buried next to Vola without a stone. This assumption; however, would be incorrect. A probing of the three empty grave sites on the plot where Vola is buried shows that they are unoccupied. LaRue is not buried with his wife. So the mystery deepens!

Realizing that I likely would find no documentation as to where in Miller Cemetery LaRue is buried, I turned to another source - oral testimony. Howard Ware, now 91 years old, remembers LaRue's death and burial next to Orville Hickman in the West section of Miller Cemetery, not far from Vola's grave site.

LaRue spent the last few years of his life with Lib Schutte in the old Hickman house on Hickman's Hill on North Maple Avenue, then called Allentown Road. Lib's brother was Orville Hickman who is buried in the Hickman plot in the West section of Miller Cemetery. LaRue was buried in an unmarked grave next to Orville. This information supports Howard's recollection.

Well, as Sherlock Holmes would say at the end of a successful case . . . "Case solved, my dear Watson!" And so it is with the where-a-abouts of LaRue Mizelle. May he rest in peace!

Pete S

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bass River News - July 3, 1919

Following is another installment of New Gretna News which will be published here on the Blog from time to time. The original scan from the Tuckerton Beacon is supplemented by photos and comments. Hopefully this approach will add interest and additional content to the original article.

The article begins with an announcement of the reconstruction of Job's Creek to eliminate a bad curve that was causing accidents. It shows that, even in the early days of the automobile, traffic safety was an issue.

A 1916 accident on the Job's Creek bridge was one
of many that caused the Freeholders to reconstruct the bridge.

The reconstruction of the Job's Creek Bridge, 1922
Notice the two girls in swimsuits at the project.

The news article continues with the July 4th celebration at the New Gretna Presbyterian Church. The churches were focal point of community activity in old time New Gretna. 

The Lodges referred to were fraternal organizations including the Knights of Pythias and the Sons and Daughters of Liberty.

Knights of Pythias Ribbon
belonging to Elvin McAnney

Elvin McAnney

Knights of Pythias stationary letterhead

The next entry reminds us of the sacrifice of our local residents in the fighting of World War I and the appreciation shown by the community.

Howard M. Allen (l) with his parents, Capt. Edward Allen and Margaret .

Howard Allen in the front yard of his
 parents North Maple Avenue home.

Unfortunately, Howard returned from the war two years later, a casualty of a gas attack in the trench warfare in Europe, as noted in the following June 16, 1921 Tuckerton Beacon article

The July 3, 1919 news article ends with the following.

Walter Atkinson ran a bus service out of Tuckerton which served the area for many years. It started with a horse drawn coach and evolved to a motorized bus service after the advent of the automobile.

Walter Atkinson by his horse drawn bus
at the old Mullica River bridge in 1903.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our July 3, 1919 news clipping from the Tuckerton Beacon. I know some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere are related to people mentioned in the article. If so, let's hear from you!

Pete S

PS- POP QUIZ. How did Job's Creek get it's name?

Monday, June 11, 2012

John H. Mathis Shipyard - Camden, NJ

I got the following email from Dick LeGates regarding John H. Mathis who owned the John H. Mathis & Co. Shipyard in Camden. He would like to link John H. to the Great John Mathis but has been unable to make the family connection.

Hi Mr. Stemmer,
I'm looking for any information you may have on a John H. Mathis. He was the owner of the John H. Mathis Shipyard in Camden, N.J. which merged with Trumpy Yachts. John H. Mathis died in 1939. That's all the information I have. The John H. Mathis Shipyards was a famous builder of yachts like the Presidential Yacht Sequoia. I would think with such notoriety, there would be a biography of some type. But I have failed to find any information on the man himself or any link to the Great John Mathis' family. Great John Mathis is my wife's 6th Great Grandfather. 
Appreciate any information you may have.
Dick LeGates

Click on the photo below to go to a Web Site that provides information on John H's Camden Shipyard. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide any family or biographical information that would help to link him to the Great John Mathis line.

The John H. Mathis & Co. Shipyard in Camden, NJ.
Notice the masts from various schooners in the background.

I'm hoping that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere might have some information on John H. (his parents, siblings, wife, children, etc.) that would shed some light on a possible link to Great John. My gut reaction tells me there is a connection, however distant.

Pete S

Monday, June 4, 2012

New Gretna News Project

It's been a while since I posted a Blog entry. Seems I've been struggling with a severe case of writer's block. I seem to be plum out of ideas as to what to write about.

I've been working on a project to scan New Gretna news columns from back issues of the Tuckerton Beacon. Locals refer to these as gossip columns. The writers, usually not identified, were paid by the word or line, so a variety of items made the news in an effort to increase the paycheck. The more items, the more money made. It's American capitalism at the grass roots level.

Many of the news items are brief and may seem inconsequential, but such is not the case. They give use a peek at everyday life in old New Gretna. We learn who lived in town in a given year, what people did for a living, what church they attended, and a variety of other information that is not available from any other source. Piecing together these brief items over a period of time also allows us to get a sense of everyday life from other eras. Many of you with New Gretna roots many also notice the names of descendants mentioned. 

Over the next few weeks or so, I'll be featuring a variety of these New Gretna News columns, starting with a few from the late 1890's, the oldest ones that I have been able to find.  They are Out of the Past Columns made up of a brief selection of items reprinted from older columns.

The first column is a reprint from the November 26,1896 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon. I thought it was interesting in that it mentioned an Indian medicine show that was held at the town hall which was located on Route 9.

The old town hall was located on Route 9. It was later used by the Knights of Pythias
fraternal organization. I remember it as Hornberger's Bakery when I moved to New
Gretna in the early 1970's. It is now an empty lot. (Postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhaurer.)

Old timers have told me that Medicine Shows visited New Gretna into the 1930s . The following is a recollection from Dave Kalm.

I wanted to mention the traveling medicine show that used to come to New Gretna in the summer. I went with my Dad, I was probably 7 or eight at the time. It was in the mid thirties. The performers set up their stage on the back of an old model truck next to the Knights of Pythias hall, across from Donald Maxwell's home, on New York Road (Rt. 9). I remember that the performers were not locals. I also remember the older fellows in town throwing tomatoes at the performers. They kept the tomatoes hidden in a basket under the steps of the KP building. I can remember a tomato hitting a fat lady playing the piano, got her right in the back.

Dave Kalm

Lillian Arnold Lopez, a Forked River, NJ Piney, wrote a poem in "Pineylore" about the medicine shows that toured the Pine Barrens area. It gives a good mental picture of the type of Medicine Show that may have visited new Gretna.
The Medicine Show

Every summer, in the old days, they listened for a sound,
when they heard the ratt'lin wagons, it was time to gather 'round.
The medicine show they'd waited for was comin' down the road.
The horses' labored breathin' told they pulled a heavy load.
And when they pulled into the town the villagers looked on 
to see the show they'd waited for upon the village lawn.
A horseback rider's daring tricks, it made the people gasp.
A cowboy sang about his gal, his voice a whining rasp.

A juggler kept half'dozen plates suspended in the air.
A pretty girl in spangles danced with a big, black bear.
Then, after entertaining with acting and with song, 
the medicine man began his spiel, and brother, it was long!

"The elixir in this wagon you see lined up on the wall,
is guaranteed to help your kidneys, yur liver and your gall.
It cures a cough, it stops an itch, it eases aches and pains.
It calms your nerves, it strengthens bladders, use it on your sprains."

"Your horse's gimp, your husband's limp, ain't nothin' it won't cure.
A dollar for a bottle; of course, it's a hundred pure.
While we're here, might's well stock up; we'll soon be on our way.
Only a dollar for a bottle; sech a little price to pay."

Hard earned dollars changed hands, believing in its worth,
caught up in the fevor, the excitement, and the mirth.
Then, in a cloud of dust they watched the wagons disappear,
and went about their daily chores, until another year.

The next column from December 24, 1896 mentions Mrs. Joseph B. Lamson. She was the wife of the man who built the New Gretna House on the North-West corner of Route 9 and Maple Avenue which is also an empty lot today. It also shows how different schooling was in the old days, as the one room school was closed due to the absence of the teacher.  It appears that substitute teachers were not used in New Gretna at the turn of the 19th century.

Joseph B. Lamson built the New Gretna House in
the late 1880's. (Photo courtesy of Betty Lamson West.)

The last New Gretna News column from April 29, 1897 shows that New Gretna must have had a pretty good baseball team back in the old days, as they trounched Parkertown by a score of 26 to 11. Too bad that it didn't mention who played in the game.

Hope you enjoyed these old New Gretna News columns. Let me know if any of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere noticed the names of any relatives in these columns.

Pete S