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, January 31, 2013

Another Civil War Walton & The Case of the Confusing Obituary

Last week's Blog featured an obituary on Alexander Walton, a Tuckerton native who grew up in the Nugentown neighborhood in Little Egg Harbor, eventually moving to Toms River in Ocean County. He was particularly interesting in that he was involved in shipping and supply aspects of the Civil War and claimed to have personally known Lincoln and McKinley.

The 1860 census of the Walton family lists the family members who lived on the Walton homestead on Stage Road. Alexander's parents, Joel and Margaret, had six children ranging from 8 to 18 years old. Here we see Richard as a 10 year old brother of Alexander.

Just as Alexander's obituary highlighted his Civil War era experiences, Richard's March 28, 1941 obituary did not disappoint in this regard. However, there are caveats.

The obituary states that Richard fought at Gettysburg. 

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

While it is true that his regiment was at Gettysburg where it lost 150 killed, wounded or missing, Richard was not part of the regiment at that time. The "Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861-1865", Vol. 2, p. 1175 documents that Richard enrolled in New Jersey Company I, Fortieth Regiment as a private on February 28, 1865 for a one year enlistment period. This was two years after the Battle of Gettysburg, so his obituary was clearly false on that point. He was mustered out of service on July 13, 1865, having served about 4 1/2 months of his one year term.

The obituary also has other inconsistencies with the facts. It states that he was 18 when he enlisted. If he were 10 years old at the 1860 census, he would be 18 years old in 1868, three years after the end of the war. He actually joined the service when he was about 15, probably lying about his age which was not unusual in the Civil War era. It also states that he served for three and a half years when New Jersey records list him as serving 4 1/2 months.

Also, the obituary places Richard in the 4th NJ regiment when he actually served in the 40th. 

Finally, the 1941 date of the obituary does not jibe with his death at 98 years of age. His tombstone in Riverside Cemetery in Toms River lists his birth date as September 4, 1851. If we add 98 years to that, we would have a death year of 1949, not 1941. Unfortunately, the tombstone does not have a death date to verify the death year. It does; however, verify that Richard fought in the N.J. 40th Volunteer Regiment.

Richard Walton's tombstone
Courtesy of

Richard must have had one fantastic memory. His obituary says that he remembered the organization of Ocean County from Monmouth County. Ocean County was formed from land taken from Monmouth County by the New Jersey State Legislature on May 1, 1850, just a year and a half prior to his September 4, 1851 birth. I can't remember what happen last week, let alone what happened when I was a year and a half old!

Ocean County was formed from Monmouth County in 1850

The one good thing I can say about the obituary is that  Richard's name was spelled correctly. It just goes to show you that you can't take all items placed in an obituary as fact. They merely reflect the information provided by family members who may be mistaken or prone to embellishment. So, all you genealogists out in the Blog-O-Sphere, beware, and be sure to cross check your sources!

Upon his passing at his grandson Burley's home in South Toms River on March 28, 1941, Richard had the distinction of being the last surviving Civil War veteran in Ocean County. 

Hopefully, I'll come across more Civil War obituaries from the Little Egg Harbor-Bass River area, as we are still celebrating the war's sesquicentennial anniversary . . . so, all you Civil War buffs, stay tuned!

Pete S

PS- After reading Richard's obituary, I'm enthusiastic about writing my own. It might go something like this: "Pete Stemmer, a cousin to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a member of Mensa, who traveled on the third trip to the moon, an economic advisor to President  Obama  .  .  ." Oh well, you get the idea! Wouldn't that drive future historians and genealogists crazy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuckerton and the Abe Lincoln Connection

My genealogy buddy, Shirley Whealton, and I are working on clipping, digitizing, and organizing obituaries of family members from the Bass River-Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor area. They cover eras from the late 1800's through the present day. So far we have collected in excess of 6,000 and are still clipping.

Every now and then we come across an obituary that is particularly interesting. Such was the case the other day, as an obituary of Alex Walton caught my attention. Walton passed away in August of 1937, shortly before his 97th birthday. Born in Tuckerton, he was one of the oldest residents of Ocean County. Alex led an interesting life, particularly his involvement in the Civil War and his relationships with Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley. 

I've inter-spaced some background information in the following August 19, 1937 news item from the Tuckerton Beacon which highlights some interesting aspects of Alex's life journey.

The Giffordtown neighborhood where Alex was born is in the area of the present day Acme shopping center and is commonly referred to as West Tuckerton today. Joel and Margaret's home can be seen on the following 1858 Kuhn-Janney map of Burlington County.

Alex was one of eight children born to Joel and Margaret (Adams) Walton who lived on Stage Road in the Giffordtown section of Little Egg Harbor. The 1860 Little Egg Harbor census lists the Walton family members with Alex at age 15.

Alex's whereabouts from a fifteen year old living in the Giffordtown section of Little Egg Harbor in the 1860 census until appearing in the 1930 Toms River census (see below) as a 77 year old stable hand is a mystery. I could find no mention of him in 1870 through 1920 census data. Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere who can locate him during those in between years is invited to leave a comment.

Alex's connection to the Mathis family was through his oldest sister, Mary, who married Benjamin Churchwood Mathis in February of 1858. Mary doesn't show up in the Joel Walton household in the 1860 census, as she was already married and had moved out of the family homestead. Her husband, Benjamin, was the great-great-great grandson of the Great John Mathis through his son Job's line as follows: Job to Daniel, Sr. to Daniel, Jr. to Benjamin Churchwood. That would make Alex a relative of anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere who is a descendant of the Great John Mathis.

McKindley shot September 6, 1901
Died September 14, 1901

Based upon the fate of Alex's acquaintances, Lincoln and McKinley, I'm not sure I would be inviting him over for lunch to get better acquainted.

Well, that's the Lincoln connection to Alexander Walton, a Tuckerton native. I hope you have found his life as interesting as I have.

Pete S

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Gretna Christmas Past- 1936

We are just ending another Christmas season here in New Gretna. It's now the first day of 2013, and Jackie and I are contemplating taking down our Christmas Tree.

Stemmer 2012 Christmas Tree

Taking down the Christmas tree always makes us reflect back to Christmas pasts that were memorable for one reason or another. That tradition is one that is noteworthy to start here at the Blog, so let's go back to the New Gretna Christmas of 1936 as reflected in the December 31, 1936 edition of the Tuckerton Beacon

Many of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere should remember some of the local people mentioned. Some might even be relatives. Hopefully, some pleasant memories will be rekindled!

Henry and Minnie Updike

Jeanne Broome

Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Pennebakker
(Marian is daughter of Ben & Lizzie Broome)

Ben & Lizzie Broome with daughters,
Marian (l) and Jeanne (r)

A young Charles & Eva Kauflin in 1920's

Milton and Mildred Mathis Kauflin

Hen & Minnie Updike and a young Anna Ware

Mr. and Mrs. Harry Mathis


Harold and Lizzie Gerew with son, Harold

Walter and Alice Mathis on their wedding day

Doughty and Alberta Cramer

Mrs. Winfield Salmons, nee Ann Downs

Pauline Mathis

J.C. "Jim" MacDonald
Superintendent of Bass River State Forest

New Gretna Firehouse
Presently Bass River Municipal Building

New Gretna Presbyterian Church

That ends our trip back to the 1936 New Gretna Christmas  season as seen through the eyes of the December 31, 1936 Tuckerton Beacon. There sure are a lot of pleasant memories of that time.

Pete S