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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Tuckerton Side Car Photo Mystery

I received an email from a history buddy, Pete Hamilton, the Web Master of the West Jersey History Project web site. He also hosts a sister site on Facebook where Richard Gibbs posted a photo of an interesting Tuckerton scene from the 1890's. Richard knew the photo was taken in Tuckerton but could not identify where it was taken. Pete was hoping that I could help.

Tuckerton, 189_ was written on the back of the photo.

Unfortunately, I had no idea where the photo of the horse drawn railroad side car was taken. There were; however, some obvious clues: railroad tracks, a gravel road, a farmhouse nestled in trees, a barn, and a windmill. I decided to take the photo to the Tuckerton Historical Society. Perhaps, someone there could put the clues together and figure out where the photo was taken.

There were many clues on the 189- photo.

I was not disappointed. Patti Richmond, President of the Tuckerton Historical Society, took one look at the photo and said that it was probably taken on Route 9 just north of the present day 7-Eleven. She remembered hearing from old timers that a spur of the old Tuckerton railroad crossed Rt 9 at that location on its way from the main track to Edge Cove on Little Egg Harbor Bay. She also said that the house in the photo was still standing.

Following is a map showing the Tuckerton Railroad route from Tuckerton to Whiting, New Jersey. Take note of the spur which run down to Edge Cove.

The Tuckerton Raidroad by John Brinckman, p 108

My next task was to document Patti's opinion of the photograph's location. Was it at the intersection of present day Rt. 9 and the old Edge Cove railway spur?

The Woolman and Rose 1878 map of Tuckerton reveals some important clues.

Woolman & Rose 1878 Atlas of New Jersey Coast
Partial Tuckerton map, page 309

The map shows that the Edge Cove spur crossed two roads on its way from the main line to Edge Cove - Wood Street and Main Street (present day Rt. 9). An onsite visit to both of these locations with the photo and the 1878 Woolman and Rose map in hand indicated that the building locations and styles and the road angles at the Wood Street intersection did not line up with the photograph. The Main Street intersection was more promising!

Following is a present day aerial photo of the Main Street-Edge Cove spur intersection site. Unfortunately, there are no existing remnants of the old spur to exactly pinpoint where it  crossed Main Street. However, clues from the old photo and the Woolman and Rose map, when placed on the aerial map, give a good indication of the spur's location.

Present day aerial map courtesy of Bing Maps

The spur ran parallel to a creek which passed under Main Street. The creek is not there today; however, the creek bed can still be seen in a wooded area west of Main Street. 

The creek in 1878
Woolman & Rose Atlas of New Jersey Coast

The Captain's Carpet property, at the intersection with Tip Seaman Drive, now covers the old creek bed to the east of Main Street. A swale can be seen to the right of the building, its indentation a remnant of the old creek bed. It is likely that Tip Seaman Drive was built over the old Edge Cove spur roadbed.

Captains Carpet now stands at the corner of Tip Seaman Drive and Rt. 9.
It sits on the old creek bed which ran parallel to the Edge Cove spur.
August 29, 2012 photo by Pete Stemmer

A comparison of the roof line and chimney location of the farmhouse in the old rail car photo to that of an existing house also matches. The barn in both the old photo and the Woolman and Rose map are long gone.

The farmhouse in the old photo, today.
August 29, 2012 photo by Pete Stemmer

Perhaps the most famous owner of this house was Frank Austin, the first mayor of Tuckerton. 

Frank Austin, the first mayor of Tuckerton

I believe Austin lived in this house in the 1890's when the old horse drawn rail car photo was taken. The 1900 Little Egg Harbor census confirms this as Frank, his wife, Sophia, two children, and a servant were listed as living on the north side of East Main Street.

A review of his neighbors listed on the surrounding census pages, which are too large to post here, show that two Jones families lived adjacent to Frank's home and the Lippincotts lived across the street. This agrees with the surrounding families listed on the 1878 Woolman and Rose map. Austin had to have moved to this house between 1878, when the 1878 Woolman and Rose map shows A. Parker living there, and the 1900 census. 

Shirley Whealton, my genealogy mentor and history buddy, told me that she either read about or saw a photo of Frank Austin's house with a windmill in the yard. Unfortunately, she couldn't remember specifically where she got that information. I have not been able to document her claim; however, the windmill in the old photo Tuckerton side car photo tends to confirm it.

I took the following photo from the spot that, I believe, the photographer stood who took the rail car photo. The old Edge Cove spur would have run just past the Rt. 9 cross walk. Somehow, I believe the view looked better a hundred or so years ago.

Well, that's my tale of the mysterious Tuckerton side car photo. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I have.

Pete S

PS- Those of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere who enjoy New Jersey History should pay a visit to Pete Hamilton's web and Facebook site. The Facebook site has tons of interesting New Jersey photos and post cards. You can visit them by clicking on the links below.

CLICK HERE to visit the
West Jersey History Project Web Site

CLICK HERE to visit the
West Jersey History Facebook Site

PPS- The 189_ photo of the railroad side car is reminiscent of the Clamtown Sail Car May 6, 2009 Blog entry. Click on the sail car photo below to see that entry.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great Underwear Heist of 1940

Government theft and fraud cases scream out in many of today's TV news shows and newspaper headlines. We sometimes think that it is something new due to a falling of our national moral values, but that may not be the case. I've heard it said that human nature doesn't change and, the following may be a case in point.

A CCC Camp was run at the Bass River State Forest in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Its purpose was to provide jobs and constructive work for the nation's unemployed. It was part of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Men lining up at the Mess Hall at the Bass River CCC Camp
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

The Bass River CCC Mess Hall
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

Inside the Bass River CCC barracks
(Photo courtesy of John Nisky)

Men came to the Bass River CCC Camp from all over the Atlantic region. City types were mixed with country and farm boys making Bass River a little melting pot as the newcomers interacted with New Gretna locals. It was generally, a positive situation as much could be learned in this mixed cultural environment; however, what I said previously about human nature, is illustrated in the following February 22, 1940 article from the Trenton Times.

The stakes, clearly, aren't as big as today's $900 toilet seat type thievery used by today's modern era, sophisticated crooks, but the motive is the same .   .   . GREED!

Seems that a certain Preston Hoyt, a CCC employee, likely a city boy, sold some CCC property to Towers Loveland, a local boy, to make a few bucks. The caper was somehow uncovered, and the matter went to court.

The case untimately boiled down to a pair of Long Johns. 

Judge Forman, evidently mindful of the value of the pilfered goods versus the cost of the operation of the justice system,  dismissed the case.

Did justice prevail? I don't think so. Somehow, I believe the case could have been better served by Judge Judy. She'd never be caught with her shorts down!

Pete S

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Gretna's Rt. 9 Mansion

Not a month goes by that I don't get 3 or 4 emails asking me for information on the Rt. 9 walled mansion that is constantly evolving with a collection of interesting statues and sayings painted on the wall. 

Unfortunately, I didn't know much more than the inquisitive emailers. That is until my men's breakfast buddy, Carl Joorman, a former New Gretna resident presently living at the Four Seasons at Harbor Bay in Little Egg Harbor, gave me a copy of the Harbor Bay Breeze, a monthly newsletter published by the adult community.

The July, 2012 edition of the Breeze contained an article and photos of the New Gretna mansion. It seems that John Ways and Arnold Scharfstein, who collaborate on a monthly story and photo column, were getting repeated questions from Harbor Bay residents concerning the mansion. The dynamic duo decided that a story on the mansion was in order.

I met John and Arnold the other day for lunch to get the skinny on how they got their story and photos. They graciously shared their adventure at the mansion with me. 

One day they decided to stop at the mansion and take photos of the statuary. As Arnold was poking the telephoto lens of his Nikon through the iron gate, Adalid Gomez, the caretaker of the property, walked up to them and asked what they were doing. After hearing their explanation, he invited them onto the property and introduced them to the property's owner, Byung Taek Kim.

Mr. Kim proved a friendly, hospitable host and took John and Arnold on a tour of the property. The following story and photos evolved from that tour.

The Wonderful Homestead on Route 9
Written by John Ways. Photos by Arnold Scharfstein.

Many of you have driven up or down Route 9 on your way to or from the Garden State Parkway and you saw an amazing sight. Near mile marker 58.5, you probably saw dinosaurs on a long wall with canons on each pillar and super hero transformer action figures in front of its gates. Mr. Byung Taek Kim, owner of this 60 acre homestead, was very kind to invite Arnold and myself into his facility for a walking tour along with Adalid Gomez, his property caretaker.

The author, John Ways, standing by the steam engine
at one of the gates to the property

We learned that this property was once a farm owned by Benjamin Franklin Headley in the mid to late 1800's and later owned by the Bush family. Then in 1970 it was purchased by Eddie Sims of Brigantine who decided to restore the farmhouse and enjoy the property for his own use. It seems that Eddie owned some worthless bay property in Brigantine which Harrah's Casino decided to buy. With his new found wealth, Eddie purchased the farm and started renovations in 1970.

The property was abandoned some 15 years ago so Mr. Kim, of Fort Lee, NJ, purchased it in September of 2010 to provide a fun summer home for his family. Mr. Kim, Chairman of the Taekwondo Association of Greater New York said that "He purchased the property for the sole enjoyment of himself and his family and not for any commercial venture." For the past year, Mr. Kim has been renovating and remodeling the buildings, redoing the landscaping, and adding many new features that add to the fun nature of the property. He said it would probably take another year or so to complete all of the renovations and additions that he has in mind; he will keep his gates closed until completion.

Byung Taek Kim

Our tour started in the rear of the house on the north side where we saw a large raised, covered wooden dog run approximately 100 feet for a collie and a German shepherd. It included a large dog bed with brass header and footer and other amenities for the dogs. On our right was an amazing 75 foot replica of the famed Korean Turtle Ship built by Admiral Yi Sun-sin during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 and used successfully to defeat the Japanese Navy. It features a dragon head, iron plating, guns on all sides, and spikes on the curved upper deck to prevent the Japanese from boarding it.

Turtle Ship

A little farther toward the rear we entered a large enclosed area that included numerous chickens. Although the chickens were roaming outdoors, there were two new large hen houses with glass doors and a pond within this enclosure. We think the chickens were of the Araucanas or Ameraucanas breeds because they were laying blue eggs. Our last stop at the rear of the property was a lake with clear blue water, a dock with a ladder and a large covered but open cabana with seating facing the lake. Although this lake was stocked with bass, there were others stocked with goldfish and koi.

On the north side of the property was the barn which housed Batman, a black stallion who had a large fenced in pasture in which to run and play. Mr. Kim enjoys riding and he rides Batman around the property on his riding path.


Near the main house, which has completed renovations, is a large swimming pool with a wooden bridge spanning across the middle of it. On one side of the pool is a three story castle-like building with place for pool furniture storage and other items. Along the side of this structure is a waterfall that straddles the left side of the structure. On the top are two bright metallic knights and in between is an elephant head.

The three story main house on the south side of the property was built in three phases and has been renovated to Mr. Kim's specifications. Around the back there are various sculptures sitting atop the pillars of the rear fence. On one side is a vegetable garden; on the other a fully lighted tennis court. In front of the house is a bright red dragon accompanied by two stone angels. On one side is a 20 foot giraffe along with four smaller ones.

In front of the house and in its garage are 400 year old sculptures including pagodas, Buddhas in stone and brass, and Christian sculptures of Christ and angels, 15 foot black stallions, and colored dragons that are awaiting placement. These sculptures come from Korea, Texas and local South Jersey artists.

Arnold and I thoroughly enjoyed our tour and are so grateful for Mr. Kim's hospitality.

Reprinted with permission from the Harbor Bay Breeze.

I hear various opinions from local residents regarding Mr. Kim's whimsical endeavor. As for me, I think he is a welcomed addition to our community. I always smile when I pass the mansion, and I look forward to what the future might bring.

Well, that's the scoop on the mansion. Perhaps, now, I won't be getting any more email inquiries.

Pete S

PS- Click on the photo of the mansion below to read a previous Blog post that provides some background information on the mansion property.

Following are a few photos that I took today.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Typewriter Artist

Occasionally, I come across a story or an article that is not particularly related to the history of our area but feel that it is inspiring and worth including on the Blog. I got an email the other day from a church friend, Sister Gertie Blount, about such a story and thought I would share it with you. 

The story is about Paul Smith who passed away about three years ago at the age of 85. Paul was born with severe cerebral palsy which made even the simplest tasks in life difficult and, often, impossible. His parents were told that he had no chance of surviving infancy; however, Paul was able to cope with his problems and have a productive, meaningful life. Despite his severe handicap that kept him out of school, he developed a unique talent that touched and inspired millions. 

Paul at his "Easel"

With only a simple typewriter, perseverance, and a drive to be a productive member of society, Paul, who was unable to brush his teeth or button his shirt, was able to teach himself to "paint". His motor skills and coordination were so bad that he had to use his left hand to steady his right. Since he couldn't press two keys at the same time, he almost always locked the shift key and made his pictures using the symbols at the top of the number keys. His pictures were mostly based on the @, #, $, %, ^, &, (, ), _, and . symbols. 

As his mastery of the typewriter grew, Paul was able to develop techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his artwork resemble pencil or charcoal drawings. He created hundreds of pictures over a span of almost seven decades.

A self portrait

Click on the arrow below to watch a video of Paul and his remarkable artwork. (Note: After video has played, you will have to refresh your screen to replay.)

Following are a few more samples of Paul's work. 

The next time you find yourself in a situation that seems insurmountable, hitch up your belt, think of Paul and move ahead! Also, a few prayers will also help, as the grace of God can flow through your life as it did through Paul's.

Pete S