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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Return To John's Diner

I'm having a scanner problem, so I won't be able to post the last installment of Appleby Estates until it is resolved.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd see if anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can identify the two waitresses in the John's Diner photo (see below) that I just came across. I'll give you a hint. The brother of one of the girls occasionally writes in to the Blog with some old New Gretna stories. 

Click on the photo to go to a previous John's Diner Blog post.

I don't have any prize for the first person to correctly identify the two New Gretna girls, as the Blog is a low budget operation. Just knowing that you are first will have to be reward enough. Let's hear from you!

Pete S

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spam Problem

You probably noticed that we have been experiencing a spam problem in the comments section here at the Blog. It has been both annoying and offensive.

In an effort to stop this spamming, I've added an extra step necessary to post a comment. After you type your comment and click on the "Publish" button, an extra screen will pop up asking you to type a string of characters. Do so, then click the "Publish" button and your comment will be published on the Blog.

The extra screen will look like this . . . 

I'm sorry to have to add this extra step. Hopefully, it should stop the unrelenting stream of spam that we have been getting. I have my fingers crossed!

Pete S

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Journey To Appleby Estates

The March 9, 2013 Blog entry dealt with a Philadelphia Bulletin reporter's 1901 trip from Tuckerton twelve miles into the Pine Barrens to visit the site of Appleby Estates to investigate the veracity of the following advertisement placed in the Bulletin by J.R. Appleby from New York City.

I thought it would be interesting to trace that reporter's journey and take a look at Appleby Estates for myself. My first step was to trace the 1901 trip from Tuckerton to Appleby Estates. I was able to do so on a 1872 map where you can see the route marked in yellow.

Beers 1872 Topographic Map of Southern Ocean County

It quickly became obvious to me that the road names and patterns are different today from those at the turn of the century. The road north out of Tuckerton labeled "Straight Road" on the 1872 map is North Green Street, or Rt. 539, today. At the first fork it veers off to the left going toward an area known as Munion Field. Today the road from that fork on to Munion Field is no longer passable. It was abandoned with the construction of Rt. 539 which traveled northward  through Warren Grove.

I realized that I would need some help if I were to find Appleby Estates due to the road changes and the difficult and confusing Pine Barrens terrain. 

I called my history buddy, Steve Eichinger, and asked him if he were up to a journey from Tuckerton through Munion Field and on to Appleby Estates. Steve worked for the State of New Jersey at Bass River and Wharton State forests for many years surveying and maintaining many of the woods roads in this area and knows the Pine Barrens roads like the back of his hand.

Steve and I set off from Tuckerton last Friday, armed with the Bulletin story of the reporter's journey and a few maps of the area. Our goal was to retrace the reporter's steps as closely as we could, given the fact that some of the roads traveled by the reporter are no longer passable today.

The reporter's article stated that he spoke to the proprietor of the Carlton House Hotel in Tuckerton who loaned him an old buckboard and introduced him to a guide to take him to Appleby Esates. They left from the hotel the next morning at 8 AM.

The following circa 1910 postcard shows the Carlton house in the center of Tuckerton at the south-east corner of present day Rt. 9 and South Green Streets.

The Carlton House Hotel is long gone. Today the Ocean East Buffet, a Chinese restaurant, stands on that corner lot.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

After leaving the Carlton House the reporter mentioned passing the Tuckerton Railroad station.

The 1878 Woolman-Rose Atlas map of Tuckerton shows that the Tuckerton Railroad station is just up the street from the Carlton House.

1878 Woolman-Rose Atlas

The following postcard shows the Tuckerton Railroad station in 1940. It has since been torn down.

Courtesy of the Tuckerton Historical Society

Today, the Concrete Depot stands at the corner of North Green Street and Railroad Avenue where the Tuckerton Railroad station formerly stood.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

The reporter stated that they passed the railroad station and plunged into a sand road that went into the pines. That sand road is up the road from the Concrete Depot at the site of the present day Hartley Pro Park pictured below.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

The sand road would have veered off to the left where the Pro Park waterfall is now located and traveled into the pine woods in a north-westerly direction toward Munion Field. If you walk diagonally back in the woods at that point, you can make out the remnants of the old road.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

The following section of a 1951 New Jersey DEP Quad map shows the first stage of our journey from the Carlton House to the unpassable sand road leading to Munion Field.

Obviously, Steve and I couldn't follow the old sand road traveled by the Bulletin reporter. Steve told me not to worry, that there was more than one way to skin a cat. We hopped back in the truck and took a little detour, continuing north on Rt. 539. 

We passed over the Garden State Parkway and came to an intersection with Stafford Forge Road on our right.

Stafford Forge Road
March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

A sand road was across from Stafford Forge Road. We made a left onto the sand road and traveled west toward Munion Field. 

The sand road across from Stafford Forge Road.
March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

Notice on the map below that the unpassable sand road is an old extension of North Green Street before the building of Rt. 539 and that the sand road that Steve and I took eventually meets up with the unpassable sand road before going to Munion Field. Steve was right. There is more than one way to skin a cat!

Red Line = 1901 route • Blue Line = 2013 route
1951 Quad Map

We traveled slowly down the sand road toward Munion Field.

Riding toward Munion Field
March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

After a ride of just over two miles, Steve and I came to an intersection of five roads at Munion Field. The locals call this Five Points. Approaching the intersection at 6 o'clock, Oswego Road would be at 11 o'clock and Andrews Road would be at 1 o'clock. Both of these roads lead to Appleby Estates.

Approaching five Points at Munion Field
March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

1951 Quad Map

We first tried taking Oswego Road but quickly came upon a deep hole filled with water. Turing back we took Andrews Road with better luck. 

Suddenly, Steve stopped the truck and announced that we were in Applyby Estates. You could have fooled me! As I looked out the truck window at the endless scrub pine, I tried to imagine how a 1901 Appleby Estate's land purchaser must have felt upon seeing that their dream home with a bay view was actually a scrub pine disaster.

Appleby Estates off Andrews Road
March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

We continued on a spell until we could go no further. We found ourselves facing a concrete and steel barrier.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

Steve and I got out of the truck to read the signs posted on the barrier.

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

The signs read:
Restricted Area - Unlawful to enter this area without authorization of the Installation Commander.
. . . on this Installation all personnel and the property under their control are subject to search. Use of deadly force authorized.

After Steve read that last line, he hightailed it back to the truck. For a man with a bad back, he sure could move! Needless to say, we got out of there pronto. 

March 15, 2013 photo by Pete Stemmer

Tune in next week for the last installment of Appleby Estates. Find out what was beyond that concrete and steel barrier and the status of Appleby Estates today.

Pete S

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Appleby's 10 for $25 Special

Today, it is not unusual to see companies making special offers to lure customers into spending their hard earned money on a particular product. They produce ads touting package deals that give you more bang for your bucks. Last night I saw a TV commercial heralding a two for one deal from Applebee's offering two meals plus an appetizer for only $20.00. Actually, that's three for one. What a bargain! How could I pass that up? It made me want to jump right in my car and hurry on down to Applebee's.

Well, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The other day I was thumbing through an old scrapbook of newspaper clippings and came upon a 1902 ad offering a 10 for $25.00 deal from Appleby's. Granted, Appleby's was spelled differently and the deal was for land instead of steak or burgers, but the advertising gimmick was still the same. A deal was offered that appeared too good to pass up - ten plots of land at a summer resort for only $25.00 and great terms to boot! How could anyone pass it up?

Philadelphia Bulletin - October 4, 1902

As I read through the article my interest was peaked. Unlike the present day Applebee's ad which actually produced the product as advertised, this old Appleby's ad offered land that was not what it was purported to be. The headline in the story following the ad shouted out the true nature of the deal. It was scam!

While the ad said that the lots were in a summer resort, the headlines stated that the lots were actually in a swamp. Clearly, something was awry. The mention of strange stories told by Tuckerton residents and misleading letters promised an interesting tale, and I was not disappointed. 

The article began with the newspaper suspecting that something might be fishy regarding the land offer ad and an investigation ensued. It seems that the Bulletin was serious about its policy of not knowingly publishing false advertising.

The investigation revealed that the tract of land in question, known locally as the "Applyby Estates" and called "Bay View Park" in North Tuckerton for advertising purposes, was not on the seashore but was actually largely swampland 12 miles from the bay in the Jersey Pine Barrens.

The article went on to say that about 2,000 acres of the Appleby Estate had been sold and that only one man was living there but would be leaving shortly as the property is uninhabitable.

That one man, C. W. Stegemann, was motivated to buy five acres of Appleby Estates property by a personal letter he received from the developer, J. Randolph Appleby. It's no wonder that he made the land purchase. The Wall Street address lent a certain amount of creditably to the enterprise, and Mr. Appleby's description of the property was inviting. I especially had to smile about the part which said "There is no place in the World where a person can get a more comfortable living with so little labor as here."

A Bulletin reporter was dispatched to Tuckerton to check out the veracity of the advertisement. Was Mr. Stegemann's conclusion that the property was unlivable correct or were Mr. Appleby's glowing descriptions accurate? I'm sure the reporter got his first clue when he had difficulty finding someone in Tuckerton to take him to Appleby Estates, the property advertised as Bay View Park, North Tuckerton.

Leaving Tuckerton, they began the 9 mile trek to Appleby Estates over an almost impassable sugar sand road.

If the reporter had hoped that things would get better as they approach the beautiful countryside described by J. Randolph Appleby, he quickly found out that he was mistaken. The journey became a nightmare.

He must have felt like a real city slicker when the wagon driver asked him if he had rubbed himself with kerosene.

Next, he got his first real taste of why they called the land the Jersey Pine Barrens.

They, again, entered the woods and the driver announced that they had arrived at "Bay View Park" and "West Tuckerton".

The only residents of Applyby Estates appeared to be snakes.

The advertised water view in the area turned out to be a swamp where the mosquitoes were so bad that the reporter became worried about contracting malaria  He wondered if he remembered to pack his bottle of quinine water in his bag that he left at the hotel in Tuckerton.

Surely the blueprints that the reporter brought along showing the street layout of Appleby Estates would reveal where they were. To his dismay there was not a street in sight nor any evidence that the area had been surveyed.

The reporter couldn't believe his eyes and must have been wondering how anyone could call this desolate landscape "Bay View Park". He couldn't wait to get back to Tuckerton and civilization. Neither could the driver.

Tuckerton sure was a welcomed site as was the balm that the village druggist applied to the reporter's plethora of mosquito bites .

The reporter discovered that he wasn't the only one to show up in Tuckerton and ask to be taken to Appleby Estates.

In fact, taking Appleby Estates purchasers to see their dream  properties became a cottage industry for Lloyd Smith who, although he denied being an agent for Appleby Estates, never-the-less was not adverse to making a few bucks off the situation.

The reporter concluded that the Applebys had been perpetrating this real estate scam for seven years and had made a profit of about $19,000, quite a tidy sum in those days. 

Based on the reporter's estimate of more than 1,000 Appleby Estate purchasers visiting Tuckerton to view their land, it appears likely to me that the Applybys probably sold some land more than once. Somehow, I won't put that past them!

The Bulletin article closes with a few stories obtained from unwary purchasers, the first from a Scranton, Pa. coal miner whose first visitor was a black bear.

The second is a brief mention of a Texan who arrived with a wagon full of furniture and farm implements for his dream home.

The last was from a Philadelphia doctor who purchased his "estate" as a summer home present for his wife. He produced a letter he received from a friend in Tuckerton who outlined the scam and mentioned that the fraudulent company was selling land throughout the United States. Unfortunately for Dr. Hunter, he received the letter after his purchase of the property.

Advertising of Appleby Estates property was not limited to the Philadelphia Bulletin. A history buddy, Paul Schopp, sent me Appleby ads from two other Pennsylvania newspapers, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Harrisburg Patriot. The July, 1901 Inquirer ad references a Wall Street address while the December, 1901 Harrisburg ad refers to a Philadelphia address. This confirms that the firm did expand from New York to Pennsylvania as Dr. Hunter's friend stated in his letter.

The Appleby Estates story is not an example of American capitalism at its finest moment. It should remind us of an important legal principle expressed in that Latin saying, caveat emptor, meaning "Let the buyer beware." Evidently that principle was a good guideline for yesterday as well as being applicable for today. I'm sure those Appleby Estates purchasers would agree.

Some of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere may think that the Appleby Estates saga is too outlandish to be true. To you I'd like to say that I've got some inside information on some cheap land up in the Jersey Pines where a very good friend of mine has found some golden nuggets in a small out of the way stream. Word of this has not leaked out yet but, when it does, that land will be worth a fortune. If you are interested in making an investment drop me a line here at the Blog.

Pete S