Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gene Shay's last broadcast after 60 years!

Today, from 3:00 to 6:00 is Gene Shay's last broadcast after a 60 year career in radio.  He also founded the Philadelphia Folk Festival in Schwenksville, Pa. in 1962.  I went there for 25 years!  If you have loved folk music, then you know Gene Shay's name.  

But, we have our own venerable musical site - Albert Hall.  I haven't been there this year due to vision problems driving at night, but I LOVED it when I went regularly and hope to get back again when the days grow longer.  If you haven't ever been there, you should go.  The music is wonderful!  It is a mix of folk, country, and local plus musician traveling the area.  

Here is the address and they have an excellent web site:
GPS Address: 131 Wells Mills Road (Rt. 532)
Postal Address: P.O. Box 657
Waretown, NJ 08758


Monday, January 26, 2015

Train Show at Brooklawn American Legion Post #72

On Sunday, January 25, I joined the throngs out on the highways and byways of this corner of South Jersey.  I don't know exactly whey there were so many people on the road, but the Dollar Store was jammed with lines 15 to 20 people long and the same for ShopRite, although I didn't venture into the grocery store.  I was warned off by the people in line with me at the Dollar Store where I had stopped for sun glasses which I haven't needed for a month.  We guessed that it was so crowded because the tv news had so hyped the snow storm on it's way that people were taking advantage of their one day off from work to shop and get what they needed in case they couldn't get out for a couple of days.

Anyhow, I crossed Route 130 and headed into Brooklawn using my gps to get to 11 Railroad AVenue.  I had a pink slip announcment of the Train show from when I visited the little American Museum on Main Street in Glassboro.  The train show was hosted by the Strasburg Model RailRoad Club and there were the advertised "Over 50 Tables of Train Items."  They sold everything from the trains themselves, to books about trains,  train tracks, hats, whistles, and other accessories.

My interest, of course was the running train displays.  I love the platforms and the villages, the trees and the trains.  I was wishing I had remembered to bring my photo of my N gauge platform set up at Christmas, but I didn't have it.  So all I could do was admire and listen to the owners as they discussed their sets.

In regard to the Strasburg Model RailRoad Club, I wonder how many of you have ever ridden the big Strasburg train in Lancaster County, Pa. http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/ originally I rode the train with my family when I was a child, then with my family and my child, then with my child and just me.  We went a dozen or more times.  I love a train ride.  I've also ridden many trains such as the Cass steam train in West Virginia.  http://www.cassrailroad.com/  And in Petersburg, West Virginia, there was a dinner train that ran in October that I rode with my father.  He was the one who started my interest in trains.

My father's company put the train in the Smithsonian. (*see below) He was an ironworder in his youth and later, a cost estimator for the same company, Hake.  He loved trains too, and he bought both of my brothers model trains for our Christmas platforms, but as is so often the case, I was the one who developed the interest, not so much my brothers.  They sold their trains, but I sold my daughter's trains, so don't think I'm making judgements.  You can't hold on to everything, and, perhaps, only the happy memories.

And, you can go to the train shows and re-live those happy memories.  I didn' get to Railroad Days in Bordentown this year but a friend did.  I will try to make it again next year and I strongly suggest that you go to the Train Show in Brooklawn next year too.
Happy Rails!
Jo Ann

Southern Railway No. 1401
 from http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/object_15.html
*"The locomotive was retired from service in 1952. A Regent of the Smithsonian, who was also on the board of directors of the Southern Railway, headquartered in Washington, D.C., persuaded the Regents to accept the 1401 in 1953 as a gift from the Southern - to represent the 'age of steam railways' in American history.
From 1953 to 1961, the 1401 was stored at Alexandria, Va. When the new National Museum of History & Technology (now NMAH - under construction from 1959) was ready, the Southern gave the 1401 and its tender a full external restoration, with new paint and striping, in October-November 1961.
Two 250-ton-capacity railway steam cranes of the Southern lifted 1401 from a rail spur located about two miles from downtown, where 1401 had been moved. The two cranes set the engine (sans tender) on a special, 200-ton-capacity, multi-tire trailer. Late on the night of Nov 25/early on the morning of Nov 26, 1961, the engine and its tender were moved (part of the way on Constitution Ave.) to their new home in Washington.
Another eleven days were required to place the engine and tender in the museum. The east end of the new museum was completed around the installed 1401. In January 1964, the museum opened to the public."

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Great blog and a great man

1.  A Great blog - Today, Monday, January 19, 2015 I had several e-mails from friends telling me about an Inquirer article about a blogger who travels the roads in South Jersey.  I checked her out and it is GREAT!

I hope you will check it out and enjoy! 

2.  A Great man - On Saturday, I enjoyed a fascinating lecture on Brevet Brigadier General Elias Wright born in 1830, died in 1903.  He served in the Civil War but he was also land agent,  surveyer and friend to Joseph Wharton of the Wharton Estate, Batsto, New Jersey.  Needless to say, I am always interested in the Wrights!  
After the lecture, we took a tour of Batsto Mansion which I have done many times, but it is always new.  Our guide was Alicia whom I had met several times at Hancock House further down south along Alloways Creek.  She gave an excellent tour.  We hiked around the village a little afterward and I bought several items in the gift shop for valentine gifts to send my daughter.  It was a delightful day!
Oh yes, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day connection.  General Wright commander of the 10th U. S. Colored Troops!  As you know, it wasn't until the final year of the war that African American soldiers were permitted to fight and brave and noble men who trained and became their leaders and commanders. such as Capt. Robert Shaw.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

TRAINS! And more....

You know I love trains, and sadly, I missed Railroad Days in Bordentown this year.  BUT, I was delighted to visit the little American Museum at 123 Main Street in Glassboro last week to see the collection of trains on display there and I think I enjoyed it even more because it wasn't as overwhelming and because it brought back memories of my childhood platforms.  The museum director ran the trains for us and there were chairs to sit in for a longer meditation on the memories and the information he provided about the age and type of his trains.  For more information and a picture of the trains, go to the website.  I forgot to take a photo (entranced by the trains, I lost my photojournalist professionalism).


Before the train exhibit, my two friends and I had lunch at the Lake House and it was delicious.  We had spinach ravioli and a delightful view of the snow covered Iona Lake.  The snow is gone now, so I'm glad I got to see it when it was picturesque. 

This is another example of a simply delightful way to spend a winter day.  Hope you have had many wonderful days following these tips!  Also, I hope to discover and share even more wonderful places to go and things to do in historic South Jersey. 

Oh, by the way, there is another train show coming, and I'll be there - Sunday, January 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Brooklawn American Legion, Post #72, 11 Railroad Avenue, Brooklawn, NJ 08030 Hosted by the Strasburg Model Railroad Club - Over 50 tables of TRAIN items.  For more information, call Dave Luciano (856) 988-0689

And for really good food, I can't praise Illiano's Restaurant enough.  They are located in the Shamong area and I often eat there with my author friend, Barb Solem, who recently finished her book on BATSTO:  Gem of the Pinelands.    Illeanos is in the Village of Taunton Forge, 200 Tuckerton, Rd. Medford, NJ (856-985-2975, website 222.illianocucina.com

By the way, the Paul Schopp lecture on Timbuctoo that was held on Saturday at Medford Leas was deeply enlinghtening and the story of Perry Simmons was heart stirring.  Paul never disappoints in his lectures.  He is a brilliantly knowledgeable historian and I try to go to any lecture he is giving when I can.  

Happy Trails and in view of the subject, Happy Rails
Jo Ann

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Wow, I just realized when I checked my stats that I am approaching 50,000 views and this is my 5th anniversary since starting the blog!    My first entry was in December 2010 and I have 313 entries.  I think this year, I'll try to round it off to an even 500 to match the year and the eventual # of visits.  Glad you joined me! 
Jo Ann

Family Tree Magazine

As I have mentioned many times before, my interest in history has, perhaps, its roots in my place of birth, Philadelphia, and my own family history.  To help me in the search, I have turned to a great many books, often mentioned in this blog, and to Family Tree Magazine to which I have subscribed for several years.  The current issue, January/February 2015, celebrates the 15th Anniversary of Family Tree with many useful articles including 101 BEST Genealogy Tips, which I found very interesting and which, I am sure, will come in handy in the future.

Also recently arrived is the FENWICK COLONY GAZETTE,  the newsletter of the Genealogical Society of Salem County, to which I am a member.  They are holding an Old Photo Contest
genelogicalsocietysalemcounty@gmail.com (Jpg format)
The topic is ancestor who fathered the most children and the deadline is the last day of February.  the Web site for the organization is
www.gsscnj.org and they have a facebook page as well.

I may submit my ancestors Adam Young and Catherine Sandman who had four sets of twins and three singles, of which my grandmother, Mabel Wright was one.  She was a twin.  Only six of the children reached adulthood.  The photos date to 1886.  

The society meets monthly at the Fenwick auditorium at Friends Village, Woodstown, NJ at 7 p.m.
January 13, Searching Newspapers, presented by Bonny Beth Elwell (President)
Feb.10 (Archaeology at Wistarburgh, presented by Bill Liebknecht
March 10, Blueberries New Jersey's Wonder Fruit, presnted by Judith Krall-Russo
April 14, Irish Research, presented by Claire F. Keenan

The people in the society are enormously helpful and welcoming and if you are starting out, they can offer a great deal of help.  Membership dues are $17 a year for singles.  Attend a meeting and see if you like it.

If only all the hunting could be for ancestors and knowledge:  Happy Hunting and Happy New Year 2015!
Hope to see you on the trail.
Jo Ann

ps.  I have written two essays to send to Reminisce Magazine, wish me luck!  One is on charm bracelets and the other on German Christmas Tree ornaments.  Maybe I'll publish them here as well!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Reminisce with me

If you want to reach me and can't work the comments of blogspot, here is my e-mail:
and you can always reach me via facebook as well.

I love old stuff.  I swear to you, it speaks to me.  An old toaster, an old business machine like the addressograph, a pill box hat, a 45 record player, they tell me stories and they remind me of my youth.  So, I love Reminisce Magazine.  I subscribed this year for the first time because  friend of mine has had her essays published there very often (Dorothy Stanaitis).  They say they want to hear from us, some topics they have recommended are:  Extraordinary Moms, The Sound of Music, Retro Recipes, Capri Pants, My First Computer, The End of the Vietnam War, and Pillsbury Doughboy Turns 50.  

e-mail submissions to 

or mail to
750 Third Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10017

The piece I am going to work on is about my charm bracelet.  I know there are modern versions such as Pandora, but I love the old ones and in particular, mine, which reminds me of major life events such as:
  • My High School Pennant charm - for graduation from Merchantville High School in 1963
  • A 21 charm for turning that age
  • my Unisphere charm for going to the Worlds Fair in NY in '64 (my boyfriend gave me his high school ring that day to go steady)
  • a Charm for the Expo in Montreal, where we spent our honeymoon
  • a Cuckoo Clock charm for when we lived in Germany for 2 years while my then-husband did his military service.  I was able to go because he was an officer and officer's wives could travel with them.  I lived in a  village called Heilbronn on teh Neckar River and he was stationed at Wharton Barracks.
  • There is a charm of the Aztec Calendar that I bought when I was 19, and went on my first vacation, to Mexico, as an adult, with a work colleague from W. B. Saunders Publishing Company, a girl my own age.  We were so daring!

My house has many sentimental objects from my family and from my life.  One of my favorites is a mahogany ship's deck chair from my grandfather, Clyde Franklin Wright, who was a Merchant Seaman, a ship's cook.  Also, I have a chocolate pot from occupied Japan that belonged to my grandmother Lavinia Lyons, who gave it to me when my then-husband and I bought our first house.  I had loved it since I was tall enough to look at it in her china cabinet.  Now I look at it in mine.  There are other things and perhaps in other essays, I'll talk about them.  I'd love to hear what precious and unique old items live with you!  Make this a two way street - get in touch:  wrightj45@yahoo.com
or contact me on facebook at Jo Ann Wright.  Hope to hear from you!  Check out Reminisce Magazine when you get a chance. Jo Ann

Monday, January 5, 2015

Remembering Hisorians and Friends

Yesterday, I received the notification via e-mail of the passing of a great old friend who was a wonderful historian.  It made me think, again, of all the unsung heroes working away on their own at home or in little historical societies, saving family history, local town history, and making it available to others.

Louisa Llewllyn was my high school teaching mentor in the 1980's when I first went to Gloucester High School to teach English.  No one ever needed a mentor more.  She was also my inspiration.  She was undauntedly optimistic and hard-working.  She wrote a local history called FIRST SETTLEMENT ON THE DELAWARE RIVER, GLOUCESTER CITY, which made me and many other people aware of the lost history of that remarkable river port.  She was Citizen of the Year many times for her wide-ranging volunteer efforts in numerous community programs.

Recently, I was searching via google for the other woman history writer who had so impressed me when i was a volunteer at Bivalve.  Margaret Louise Mints had independently published at least two histories that I found after a good bit of searching since they are out of print and rare now.  Louisa's book is also out of print and impossible to get.  That is a shame because both of their books were repositories of invaluable information on lost worlds.

I never met Margaret Louise Mints, but I am grateful that I had the honor to know Llouisa Llewellyn.   Someone swiped my copy of her book from my classroom where I often referred to it when doing lessons on local history.  I wish I had a copy of it now.  

If you want more information on Louisa Llewellyn, you can probably refer to the Gloucester City News (online or in paper format) which I buy from Carr's Hardware Store on Broadway in Gloucester City.  I used to subscribe, but I've been retired for so long now ( a dozen years already) that I have grown away from those employment roots and just buy single copies from time to time when I'm shopping at the hardware store.  

Some day in the future, perhaps I'll do a piece on Gloucester History, what a deep rich history there is in that town.  Check out the Historical Society on King Street opposite the historic Mill HOuses if you are ever in that area.  You can also take a picnic lunch down to Proprietor's Park, a few blocks from the historical society, and enjoy the wide and beautiful Delaware River as it glides by with it's barges and ferry boats, container cargo ships and storm torn logs.  At that very beach many years ago, some parts of the old British War Ship August were still visible in the mud, but they are gone now. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lake House in Clayton, NJ

What a great discovery!  A friend, Barb Spector,  and I were on our way home from Barbara Solem's book singing at Bogart's in Millville when Barb Spector asked if I'd like to see Iona Lake.  Now, it is one of those odd things, I had, many years a go, a friend with a farm near there and I often looked for Iona Lake and couldn't find it.  I know, you are probably wsaying, how could you miss it!  But, I did.  Until we drove there yesterday, Saturday, December 20.  What a pretty lake.  We stopped in at the Lake House and the hostess gave us a tour.  There was a very happy Christmas party going on in one room and jolly groups of friends having holiday lunch in other areas.  The view was spectacular.

Of course when i got home I tried to get some history on the lake and whatever mill I presume must have been there for the lake to have been formed but no luck so far.

Meanwhile there was some slightly suspect and familiar scandal/haunting history to be found.  Apparently, at the turn of the century, a Polish family started the hotel and restaurant that has now become Lake House.  However, when prohibition caught up with them, the once popular music and dancing road house became an illegal drinking spot and the tourist rooms became (allegedly) brothel rooms.  Since prostitution often followed on the heels of speakeasies, it is plausible though in no way proven as factual.  Personally, I like the history of old mills better than old brothels.  When I find out more, I'll add it.
Meanwhile, Lake House looks like a very good place to do some holiday celebrating with friends and family. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mastodon Molars and More

Today, Tuesday, December 16, 2014, I dropped by the blog to post the photo of the mastodon teeth that we were lucky enough to view, fresh out of the water at the Prehistory Museum in Greenwich, NJ, and I saw the photograph of my old cat, Seamus, on the afghan that I bought at the Fiber Arts Cafe in Millville.  It made me think of two things:

1.  Barbara Solem will be holding a book signing of her new book BATSTO:  Jewel of the Pines at Bogart's Book Store in Millville, at noon, this Satuday, December 20.  I'll be there and I hope you will too.

2.  I didn't mention because it bore no relation to historic places but I feel compelled to honor the passing of my old Cat Seamus pictured on the afghan.  He was my friend and companion for seventeen years.  Every night as I sat and read or watched a tv show, Seamus sat on my lap, softly purring and simply being with me.  He was a kind and compassionate cat who was forbearing with the young annoying kittens that I rescued, and  with the dog.  He was a composed and meditative cat and everyone loved him.  He was uncomplaining in the pains of old age.  He is buried in my yard with a small Celtic cross over his grave.  He came to live with me in June when a boy, a student at the school where I taught, brought a box with two kittens to school to give away.  The kids were all manhandling the kittens as you might expect, and as I was on yard duty, I stepped in and said, "I'll give them a home."  It was a gift to me for which I was grateful for many years.  I loved watching them play and grow and enjoyed their warmth and companionship.  They are both gone now, one, Padraic, to a sadly early death from a disease he picked up from an outdoor cat, and this winter, his twin, Seamus, to old age.

My life has been blessed over the years with many kinds of friends, some human friends I've known since junior high school, some friends from each of the places where I've worked, and of course, my friends who are also relatives  and whom I have known my whole life, but not least of all these friends have been my animal companions who consoled me in childhood sorrows, and made me laugh when I was anxious or worried as an adult, who sat with me year in and year out in sickness and in health.  They asked so little and gave so much, they will all live forever in my heart. 

On every holiday and on the birthdays of my parents, who also loved animals and always had dog and cat companions, I donate to various animal charities and shelters.  When I was  a teacher, I ran several kinds of charitable giving programs for animal shelters, too.  Aside from providing a home to the occasional animal who comes into my life, giving to the animal rescue and charity groups is my way of saying thank you to all the animals who have warmed my life and support to the humans who are trying to help them.  Finally, two of my friends are staunch and generous volunteers in animal shelters and in spay neuter clinics and animal protection programs, chief among them is Barbara Spector who deserves an award for all she does for love of our animal neighbors on the planet. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Merry Christmas to and God Bless the Volunteers!

On Wednesday, aughor Barbara Solem, and our best pal, Barb Spector visited the Prehistory Museum in Greenwich, NJ.  (located at 46 Bridgeton Rd., Greenwich, NJ 08323 - 856-455-8141)

I had called ahead to be sure someone was there but after meeting these gentlemen, I can tell you that if they say they are open and the museum is manned, you can count on it.  They were so warm and welcoming and knowledgeable and made me think on how much volunteers give to our community. 

WHAT A LUCKY DAY!!!  When we got to the museum, a local oyster dredger out of Bivalve (Port Norris) was there with several jaw parts of a Wooly Mammoth he had dredged up while dredging for clams.  These enormous black fossil teeth were in human hands after thousands of years buried in the silt of the Maurice River.  He planned to sell them to a museum or on ebay.  Not for the first time, I was wishing I had the money to buy them, but I don't and they belong where many people can admire them, anyhow. 
What a treat to be there at just that opportune time.

Barbara Solem is doing research on her next book on the rivers of the NJ Pinebarrens, from the ancient history of the watersheds to the preent.

Other places you can visit at Greenwish are:
Gibbon HOuse, (1730) 960 Ye Great Street

John DuBois Maritime Museum 979 Ye Great St.

Warren Lummis Genealogy and Historical Library 981 Ye Great St.

Potters Tavern Museum W. Broad St.

There is a litle luncheonette but get there early, they close early.

It is a wonderful hike down Ye Greate Street to the Cohansey River and the sad and melancholy ghost of the Shepherd Manor House.  If you go the other way, and walk far enough you will come to the Stone School House, and the 2nd Society of Friends (Quaker) Meeting House.

Merry Christmas to All!ps.  This year a friend bought us tickets to the Hddonfield House Tour - my favorite part of it was the church with a collection of creches and cookies and punch refreshments!  And he company of my friend.