A descendant and I collaborate across the miles to research a Dreer employee

Rabbit hole awaits

One of the most common requests for help received here – family research – often results in a descent down a rabbit hole on a search that the questioner hopes will reveal some historical truth about their ancestor. That search seldom has had as satisfying an end as this one.

Last week Richard E. Shaw emailed me from his home in North Carolina to tell about a visit to Riverton he had made in October in a quest to find out more about the Dreer Nursery since William F. Dreer employed Shaw’s great grandfather, John Shaw, as superintendent of the Dreer estate in Rosemont, PA from 1900 to 1922. Another ancestor, Joseph Shaw, John Shaw’s brother, worked at Dreer Nursery in the 1910s-20s and resided in Riverton and later in Palmyra.

Wed, Jul 26, 1899, Woodbury Daily Times, Page 1

John Shaw, whose stated profession was “Gardener,” might have started his association with Dreer as an employee of the Dreer Nursery in Riverton sometime between 1883 and 1895. After immigrating the USA from England in 1882, Shaw may have been living in the Frankford section of Philadelphia or perhaps he resided at or near Riverton. From 1895 to 1900 he worked for Mr. G.G. Green in Woodbury, NJ.

Richard had already gleaned the above information from forays into ancestry.com and help from Gloucester County Historical Society Library, but he hoped to flesh out more details.

Understandably, Richard had some questions:
1) Are the records of Mr. Dreer’s 250 or so employees at Riverton during the 1880s or 1890s?
2) Did employees reside in (or near) Riverton or did some of them commute each day across the Delaware River from Philadelphia?
3) Does anyone happen to know whether the Dreer family papers and/or business records are archived anywhere, such as Riverton or Philadelphia?
4) Is there more than one cemetery in town for me to check next visit?

With Richard’s permission, I highlight here some of our correspondence to explain a bit about our research process.

Searching through our old hometown newspaper collection for “Shaw” yielded over 240 results – it’s a common surname. Halfway through, most results were not relevant. However, I found a few for John or Joseph and sent Richard a few news clippings that looked promising and answered his questions.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I wrote, “Regarding your questions:
#1 – I ONLY WISH we had Dreer employee and business records.
#2 Yes, many Dreer Nursery employees lived locally – probably most.
#3 If anyplace was given company records, Cornell Univ. makes a good suspect. There is a William Frederick Dreer Scholarship there. 
#4 There is no cemetery within the Borough. Morgan in Palmyra and Westfield in Cinnaminson are likely ones to try. 

New Era, April 14, 1932, page 3

This clipping from our historic newspaper collection showing a Palmyra residence and a burial, not locally, but in Philadelphia’s Oakland Cemetery, provided a breakthrough.

Richard replied, “Thank you so very much for navigating that rabbit hole on my behalf. I am most grateful… The Joseph Shaw obit that you shared was spot on.” 

We agreed to keep each other apprised of further developments and then Richard did the classiest thing… he used the PayPal button at left to make a donation to the Society!

His comment about the donation reads:

I am grateful for the fine assistance provided to me via email by John McCormick, helping me search for my great grandparents in the Riverton and Woodbury areas. Also for his gem of a ppt presentation about the former Dreer Nursery at Riverton.

We continued corresponding and when I found some more results, I sent him this:

Maybe nothing below. Just trying to follow breadcrumbs…

American Florist, Nov. 15, 1887, p15

(Google) searching for John+Shaw+Florist… see middle col., bottom, near GRAND PRIZE.

I thought we might be on to something with Shaw and chrysanthemum culture, so I searched further for John+Shaw+chrysanthemum and found more accounts of his prize-winning flowers in old trade journals.

The trade journals also listed other employers. Click on each image caption to view the source material.

Florist & Nursery Exchange, Volume 2, Nov. 15, 1890, p314
Gardener’s Monthly and Horticulturist, Volumes 29-30, 1887
The American florist – a weekly journal for the trade, 1885 , p155
The Gardener’s Monthly and Horticulturist, Volume 26, p383






That American Florist page mentions John and Joseph Shaw five times.

Lots of searchable Dreer catalogs online. I hoped to find a mention of Shaw, but no luck.

Have you tried searching for a connection to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society or Radnor Historical Society? Radnor High School has an award named for Dreer.

After several email exchanges with attachments between us, Richard concluded with…

…your most recent email included two additional clippings I had not received, including the one from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Each of these helps fill gaps in our family information. I’m very pleased and am grateful for your assistance.

Your search unearthed much more than bread crumbs. You’ve provided several meals worth of information for me to chew on and digest. You found my great grandfather showing his chrysanthemums at several flower shows, and winning awards!. And, you’ve revealed that he was employed by G.G. Green (of Woodbury, NJ) many years sooner than I had known from previous documentation (1889, rather than 1895). So you have helped add color and close temporal gaps in my knowledge. In addition, you found that John Shaw in 1887 had been employed by another prominent Philadelphian, Clarence Howard Clark. So, in addition, you have pointed me in other directions for additional information.

And I was glad to help.

I thank Richard Shaw for his generous donation and for allowing us to share this experience with our readers.

Please know that we welcome submissions of information and images from the public.

Indeed, much of what you encounter here is the result of contributions from scores of persons who have helped us document local history.

Each one enriches this online resource and helps search engines find us. How else do you think Richard Shaw found us from Hillsborough, NC? -JMc

Historic House Party in 8 days – please attend or contribute

Yes, it’s a party, but one with a noble objective: to establish cash prizes to encourage student authors to use primary sources to write about local history.

Event tickets are on sale for $50 at Riverton Library and the Guitar Guild of Palmyra. The Guild has a credit card reader. You may also purchase tickets by calling or texting Heather Huffnagle at 856-505-7087.

You don’t want to miss this. But, if you must, please support the Society’s goal to better connect with families and young people, for that is where our hope for the future survival of this Society lies.

Just click on the PayPal button at left and follow the prompts. Or send your check, payable to The Historical Society of Riverton to:

Historical Society of Riverton
PO Box 112
Riverton, NJ 08077

Only 9 days ’til the Society’s House Party – more details below

Great Party, Great Cause!

On Saturday, November 23, from 6pm ’til 10 pm, the Historical Society of Riverton will host a very historic house party at 100 Lippincott Avenue to raise funds for cash awards to students at Riverton School and Palmyra High School who use the HSR’s archives to write about aspects of local history.

Ticket price is $50 per person and includes an open bar and dinner buffet of smoked pork and beef brisket, roasted vegetables, pickled vegetables, cornbread and an assortment of seasonal pies.

Kids under 18 admitted free, but let us know that you’ll be bringing them so that we can plan properly. Bounce house and kid-friendly snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Tickets are on sale at the Riverton Library and the Guitar Guild of Palmyra. The Guild has a credit card reader. You may also purchase tickets from me by responding to this email or calling or texting my cell: 856-505-7087. 

More Info

In 2020, HSR will be celebrating it’s 50th birthday, and we’ve been thinking about how to recognize this benchmark and better connect with families and young people in Riverton. At the same time, we’ve been cleaning up our archives, improving how we store them (these are currently in the Riverton Library’s basement) and putting a lot of archival material online (see http://www.rivertonhistory.com). The most recent Criterium Bike Race’s proceeds went toward our archives project.

Each year, the HSR’s Betty Hahle Award has recognized a Riverton School student who excels in history. We’re looking to build on this with an expanded program that spotlights our archives and includes Palmyra High School students.

Hope you can make it!
Heather MacIntosh Huffnagle
Membership and Ways and Means Chair
Historical Society of Riverton

The Cold War Era Ballistic Early Warning System had local roots here

After almost fifty years of documenting the rich and varied chapters in Riverton’s history, it is a rare treat for the Society when we encounter a new one.

What alerted us to the role played by Riverton in the establishment of our nation’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System was a Facebook post made last week in which Sara Sinexon Gual asked, “Does anyone remember where RCA/BMEWS was located?”

It was the BMEWS (pronounced be-muse) radar arrays that provided the capability to detect an incoming ICBM attack and provide 15 minutes warning.


Resident John Hartnett got the ball rolling when he commented, “East Riverton, banner st”.

However, it was former resident Rob Gusky‘s link to an essay by Gene McManus that really opened up the story. Mr. McManus, a former USAF radar technician recounts his training experience at Riverton (actually, East Riverton) in February 1961, for BMEWS training and his subsequent BMEWS deployment at Thule, Greenland.

RCA BMEWS El Paso Herald Post, El Paso, Texas, US, December 2, 1960, Page 51

Here, a classified ad, perhaps similar to the one to which Mr. McManus responded, outlines the need for positions of engineers, technicians, and technical writers at Riverton and on-site in the Far North.

BMEWS classified ad, Aug 02, 1959 Trenton Evening Times, Page 46

If you know Riverton geography, you know that there is no Bannard Street within its boundaries. While all of the news clippings we found listed the address of RCA Service Company as 1908 Bannard Street in Riverton, Bannard Street actually lies within East Riverton, an unincorporated community located within Cinnaminson Township.

The following screen capture from google maps shows the location of 1908 Bannard Street, East Bannard Street, Cinnaminson Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. Can anyone tell us more about the RCA operations that once took place there?

google maps screen capture
Built in 1959 and maintained by RCA under contract to the US Air Force, FPS-49 was the prototype for BMEWS

Other clues to the beginnings of the BMEWS story were once in plain sight.

Remember Moorestown’s “golf ball”? That now-gone landmark, located on Centerton Road in Moorestown, was a radar station built by RCA and a prototype for the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System,

As any school child of the 1950s and 60s who experienced a “duck and cover” drill can attest, the possibility of a nuclear attack was something for which we prepared. It caused anxiety and fueled our nightmares.

The undated RCA produced color film linked below (probably from the late 1950s-early 1960s) mentions RCA Moorestown shortly after 3min:53sec.  The construction process at Thule commences at 8min:05sec.

Another USAF produced video, Eyes of the North, explains the difficulties of constructing such an installation in the harsh conditions above the Arctic Circle. Look for one of those “golf balls” and the radar array inside it at about 2min:19sec.

HSR Editor, John McCormick

Our purpose here is not to thoroughly examine BMEWS (other sources do a better job of it), but to simply provide a place for other readers from this area to tell of their first-person experience with this massive technological achievement that provided advance  warning to the United States of an enemy missile attack during the Cold War.

Please leave a comment below or contact us at rivertonhistory@gmail.com. -JMc

The New Era, June 8, 1944, p7

P.S. Speaking of long-forgotten stories, former Riverton resident Edith Harris once told me that she worked on developing bombardier sights at Optical and Scientific, Inc. in the Collins Building for the US Government during World War II. Can anyone corroborate that?







Camden’s Newton Avenue – Then & Now

Newton Ave, S. of Berkley St., Camden, NJ, Aug 16, 1910. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

Here’s one for the ages! A wonderful real photo postcard view at the intersection of Newton Ave. and Berkley St. in Camden, New Jersey. This item was placed in the mail stream and bears a Camden, N.J. postmark dated AUG. 16, 1910 6-PM, so it’s about 110 years old. (See over 150 more vintage views of Camden on our Camden, NJ images page.)

Things to look for include: the “Coca-Cola” and “Oysters In Every Style” signage; a large assemblage of school-aged boys in the street wearing their customary vintage-era knickers, caps, and ties; and a set of trolley tracks along with a horse-drawn wagon with a driver. One wonders what the occasion was for taking this photo at this particular moment in time. This characteristic street scene, a mix of mostly residential row homes and some neighborhood commercial businesses and corner stores, is located very close to the well-known Haddon Avenue.

Newton Ave, S. of Berkley St., Camden, NJ, July 2017 CREDIT: google maps screen capture

Compare that 1910 scene with the google maps image taken in 2017 at the same intersection.


Now, if you really had a tech-savvy HSR Editor here, he would upload a short video in which one view dissolves into the other. This would be interesting to do with some of our scenes of old Riverton. – JMc

Best I could do… see the 7 sec. dissolve on Facebook.


Suffrage memorabilia needed for educational project

Gen. Rosalie Jones and gospel wagon Miss Alice Freeman in the background, Steel Family Album

Regular visitors here may remember a post seen here and a subsequent piece in the November 2016 Gaslight News that featured photos documenting the 1913 women’s suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, DC.  A series of hand-captioned photos in an old family album owned by Bill and Nancy Steel provided the catalyst that activated our research for that article.

We hope that our readers may have more old family photo albums, letters, diaries, and other such primary sources that may further illustrate the struggle of South Jersey suffragists who fought to secure the right to vote for women.

Lisa Hendrickson of Mt. Laurel’s Alice Paul Institute asked for our help in finding items from folks that the organization can photograph to reproduce on educational banners. These banners will travel to local libraries, historical societies, corporations throughout 2020.

Ms. Hendrickson writes:

Was an ancestor of yours a suffragist? Do you have family photographs of suffrage events in southern New Jersey from 1905-1920 that you would be willing to share?

Please help the Alice Paul Institute and the Riverton Historical Society find information on local suffragists and some of the suffrage events that happened in southern NJ. The Alice Paul Institute is creating a traveling exhibit about the suffrage movement for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020. We are looking for photographs, voting memorabilia, newspaper articles, etc. that show local people and events. Items would be photographed for the two-dimensional exhibit.

You might just see an ancestor in the following list of suffragists’ names that appeared in newspapers of the time.

Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery
Miss Annette Campbell
Miss Amelia Coale
Miss Edith Coale
Mrs. E. S. Cole
Mrs. Catherine B. Lippincott
Miss Helen Lippincott
Miss Elizabeth Lippincott
Mrs. Mary W. Lippincott
Miss Beulah Parry
Miss Susanna Parry
Mrs. Mary L. Thomas
Mrs. E. R. H. VanValin
Miss Elizabeth Williams
Mrs. D. Henry Wright

These were excerpted from a much longer list of suffragists from throughout South Jersey that Ms. Hendrickson provided. Look for dozens more names from Beverly, Bordentown, Camden, Clayton, Collingswood, Florence, Franklinville, Haddonfield, Glassboro, Merchantville, Millville, Mt. Holly, Palmyra, Pennsauken, Princeton, Riverside, Trenton, Westfield, and Woodbury.

If you have any items that you could share, please contact us. Questions? Call the Alice Paul Institute at 856-231-1885.

Alisa Dupuy, professional storyteller and historical reenactor, will return in October to portray Alice Paul, American suffragist, feminist, and women’s rights activist. Details to follow in another post.

Millside Farms Remembered by Karen Ruza

Millside Farms, Riverside, NJ   message side

Johnny Ola, a reader who has before left several comments and observations about Millside Farms, has given those of us interested in Millside Farms a wonderful gift by providing the link below to “Millside Farms Remembered” by Karen Ruza, a 7-page PDF with text and photos.


Millside Farms ad, The New Era, 1939 50th Anniversary Issue

Old posts and comments often get buried back within this website so I highlight this recent one along with a couple of dozen others here so they are easier to find.

See also, these two clippings from our online archive of The New Era:
short history of Millside Farms from 1939 and a 1934 newspaper ad.

Please know that we would like to post more accounts of things that aren’t there anymore – local history topics such as Millside Farms, Riverside’s Watchcase Bldg., Cinnaminson Bank, Cinnaminson’s Children’s Home, among others, plus any of Riverton’s many clubs and civic and religious institutions, even topics about Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore.

Speaking of milk bottles… here are a few from my personal collection.

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Francis “Franny” Cole August 2010

See more about Cole Dairy in the November 2010 issue of the Gaslight News. Follow links below to download a video interview in three parts, about 30 minutes total, with Franny Cole.

Mr. Francis Cole Remembers Cole Dairy Part 1Part 2Part 3.

We invite your comments and encourage you to add what you know of the history of any of these local milk suppliers. -JMc

added 9/14/2019: Well, that didn’t take long! A few folks checked in with their recollections of Millside Farms.

Matt Mlynarczyk writes:
Hello John,
Saw the Millside Farms story on the HSR website and thought I’d forward you a few pics to post from my collection.

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Ok… now I’m just jealous. Those are some choice collectibles. -JMc

Don Ulmer, another frequent flyer here, contributes this:
Early thirties we concluded a song sang in grade school; “My Garden State. We’ll sing thy praises evermore. I want to live and die in dear old Jersey on the blue Atlantic shore.” Your superb collage validates these lyrics.

Three readers commented on Facebook:

Marilyn Hahle writes: We (went) there for class trips. Also, when our family got together we would go there for ice cream and order a “Lost Weekend” which was a huge sundae which we all shared.

Michael Gilbert wants to know: …where was it located? (see below*)

Deb Hammond reminds us: September 28 is Delran History Day. Stop by 900 Chester Avenue between 11-4 browse our collection. From 12-2pm will have appraisals. Enter your name for chance to win Ancestry DNA kit.

*Regarding the location – Delran Historical Society shows a map with hiistorical sites here. I get that the highway shown in the lower right of the postcard was Route 25, now Route 130, but I can’t get my bearings on the placement of the farm. Was it where Delran’s Millside Shopping Center is now or was it on the other side of the highway? And why do all of the product containers credit a Riverside location instead of Delran, as Ms. Ruzo cites in her article?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Millside Farms sign – Evie Moorhouse

added 9/15/2019:

When Evie Berlin Moorhouse mentioned on Facebook that she has the Millside Farm sign found after the fire I replied and asked for a photo. She obliged with the photo at right.

Evie writes: The sign is about 3×5 feet made of pressed board. As a toddler I lived around the block from the farm in Delran. We would walk to see the cows often.

Later we moved to Cinnaminson. Went to Millside for birthdays and class trips. Best ice cream sundaes ever!

After the fire I lived in Millside Manor Apts. for a while. So many changes to that memorable property. Great local history.

Thank you to all who contributed to this post. Come back anytime. -JMc


Strolling the South Jersey Boardwalks and Beaches of Yesteryear

article contributed by Harlan B. Radford,
images from his collection


If it weren’t for picture postcards, think of all the local history that would be lost forever! Vintage postcards are indeed a treasure trove and those moments preserved in time offer us a glimpse into what life “down the shore” was like 75-100 years ago.

Souvenir folder of Atlantic City, NJ

Come one and all, and discover the unique and enduring aspects that lured so many folks to flock to the Jersey Shore. See the ways we got there in the early days, stroll old boardwalks and promenades, enjoy the expansive sandy beaches, and swim in the ocean surf. Various personal postcard messages written by vacationers further illustrate for us what it was like back then.

Each of New Jersey’s resort communities promotes its unique charm with an attention-getting motto and seeks to lure tourists and vacationers during the summer months. Can you match the shore towns below with its slogan?

  1. Avalon                             a. “The Seashore at its Best!”
  2. Stone Harbor                 b. “Residential Community by the Sea”
  3. Atlantic City                   c.  “The Jewel of the Jersey Coast”
  4. Margate                          d.  “The Playground of the Nation/World/America”
  5. Wildwood-by-the-Sea  e. “America’s Greatest Family Resort”
  6. Ocean City                      f. “World’s Finest and Safest Bathing Beach”


Just how did people actually get to what were then remote seashore communities in their early development? The limited methods of transportation in the late 1890s and the early 1900s were both innovative and adventuresome.

Ferry at Stone Harbor, NJ

Before the railroad, the only access to Avalon, and the neighboring beach town of Stone Harbor (which together are dubbed the Seven Mile Island) was by boat.

As demand began to increase, newly constructed roads all up and down the coast accommodated motorized vehicles. New railroads and bridges that crossed the channels and bay soon linked the mainland with the island resorts.

RR Station, Stone Harbor, NJ

In 1934, the Cape May County Bridge Commission began to build a series of toll bridges to connect the various coastal islands creating the well-known “Ocean Drive.” Trains and railway depots sprang up in the seashore towns.

Regularly scheduled seasonal rail services connected the cities of Philadelphia, Camden, and many other South Jersey towns to provide a direct link to the shore. Eventually, by the 1930s, except for those bound for the larger towns of Atlantic City and Ocean City, the trains would all but disappear.

Imagine going back in time and getting in on the ground floor of investing in Stone Harbor.

The New Era, August 2, 1912, p1

These vintage era picture postcards show some of those means of transportation for the seashore area. These early views show causeways, draw-bridges, boats, trains, omnibuses, trolleys and automobiles. Remember, there was no Atlantic City Expressway or Garden State Parkway then to facilitate travel.


Looking out to Sea, Atlantic City, NJ

Completed in 1870, Atlantic City’s boardwalk was the first in the world. When it first opened, commercial businesses were prohibited anywhere near the boardwalk.

Rebuilt bigger and better after storms in 1884 and 1889, the commercial restrictions ceased, and visitors soon enjoyed a medley of entertainments, places to shop, and food!

These open-air promenades sprang up in other shore towns and made saltwater taffy, homemade fudge, amusements, concerts, and the purchase of souvenirs synonymous with visiting the Jersey Shore.

A happy group on the boardwalk, Stone Harbor, NJ

These vintage postcards depict some of New Jersey’s boardwalks of yesteryear. All told, some 44 coastal Jersey towns once had a boardwalk.

See many more shore images displayed on our IMAGES tab, including those of Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, Avalon, Atlantic City, Cape May and Wildwood, Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Seaside Heights, and Stone Harbor.

Walking the boards with us back then; enjoy the sights and the ocean breeze.


A happy crowd on the beach, Sea Isle City, NJ

Spending time on the beach, bathing in the ocean and having fun were the primary reasons why so many ventured to the seashore.

A number of personally written messages inscribed on the backs of some of the postcards clearly convey the real reasons for vacationing at the Jersey Shore.


Spending time on the beach, bathing in the ocean and having a fun time were the primary reasons why so many ventured to the seashore. In the absence of telephones, the penny postcard was the sure way to stay in touch with the folks back home and let them know just what was going on. Those simple notes indelibly recorded their authors’ splendid moments.

Reading these simple missives today, we realize that messages about kids digging and playing in the sand, bathers swimming and riding the waves, taking photos, and even complaints about mosquitos are not terribly different than those one might post today on Facebook.

  • Aug. 10, 1922 Boys are having a fine time. Uncle Eugene Mildred went fishing today. Expect fish for supper. Everybody is well. Boys dig deep holes in the sand. Bathe every day. Aunt Alice
  • Aug. 6, 1923 I am here over this week end and I am certainly having a fine time. I have even been in the ocean. I was in bathing and I got my eyes and mouth full of salt water. I came down by machine with relations and it was certainly a fine ride. I am going to Christiana next Sunday I think. Sincerely Helen Morton
  • Aug. 18, 1920 Dear Sister, This is our house. We would have room for you yet. Wish you were here. We were in bathing today. It’s great only it’s too cold. The nights are so very cool. We went to Wildwood this afternoon in a boat. The kiddies think it’s fine. Anna
  • 1917 Stone Harbor’s boardwalk built by the Borough at a cost of $35,000 is a mile and a quarter long and fully illuminated by electric lights. Dedicated July 4, 1916. A Pier, amusement and Business places are being rapidly built on this new Esplanade.
  • Sept. 1943 Tony has been having a grand time in waves and playing in sand. Susan is happier with her kiddie car so she can move around.
  • Aug. 18, 1941 Dear Friends, This is Monday morning and our last week. Time is going fast. We are having a very good time. The weather has been beautiful. I was only in bathing 3 times. But I am going in today. We were to Wildwood and Ocean City. Would like to spend a day at Atlantic City. Hope you are all well. Martins
  • June 29, 1910 Dear Florence, When I arrived down here I spent about a half a hour fighting with the skeeters. Carrie
  • Aug. 15, 1918 Eight of us are here in two bungalows. Are having a fine time. Spent yesterday at Wildwood. It is delightfully cool this morning. Hope you are both well. Lovingly, Laura Pierce
  • Aug. 8, 1922 Having a fine time in bathing. Gloria
  • Aug. 6, 1919 – Dear Friend, We arrived safely and we are enjoying the bathing although it is cool. We are going by boat to Wildwood tomorrow. Mabel
  • Aug. 12, 1915 I am in the water almost all the time. Having a nice time. George
  • Aug. 4, 1919 Stone Harbor’s matchless bathing beach, is absolutely safe, life lines being unnecessary.
  • Aug. 19, 1942 Greetings Marjorie, It is lovely down here. If you wish you could have come with me. Maybe you will next time? Gertrude

We invite your comments, recollections, and memories about the Jersey Shore of yesteryear.

Answers to shore towns and their slogans: 1-c, 2-a, 3-d, 4-b, 5-f, 6-e

For a modern perspective on what draws Philadelphia Inquirer writer, Kristen L. Graham to the Jersey Shore, see this article on inquirer.com

A historian adds details and corrects the record for the origin of the Seaside Heights carousel

The Seaside Heights Carousel IMAGE CREDIT casinopiernj.com

We quote below from a comment left on our Facebook page by Riverton Town Historian Paul W. Schopp that followed up on a post made here on July 29 about the historic Dentzel-Looff carousel in Seaside Heights.

In it, he further details its origin story and informs us that a photo thought to be that amusement was misidentified.

Contrary to prevailing folklore, no large fires that threatened the amusement park occurred on Burlington Island during the 1920s and certainly not in 1928. With the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing economic depression, coinciding with the demise of all Upper Delaware River steamboat travel, the various park rides and concessions closed down on the island.

The first fire to cause damage to the park burned with a fury on April 24, 1932, singeing support members on the Greyhound scenic railway and destroying several concession stands.

A second conflagration starting burning during the night of January 28-29, 1934. It brought additional devastation to the closed amusement park. Rides such as the Old Mill, the Balloon Race, and the Greyhound collapsed into piles of ashes as firemen stood by with little equipment readily available to fight the blaze except an old-fashioned bucket brigade. More than 300 firemen suffered burns and bruises. The Robert Merkle Company owned the park and a number of the amusements, while various concessionaires owned other rides and concessions. At the time of the fire, contractors had been preparing to disassemble the Merkle amusements and concessions and reconstruct them in Seaside Park, including the carousel.

original carousel pavilion – PWS

The original carousel pavilion was rectangular in design and could be completely closed up against the winter winds and elements.

A view of the second carousel house – PWS

At some point in time, management relocated the ride to a more traditional round carousel pavilion and repurposed the original pavilion as a casino for park visitors.

misidentified as Island Beach Amusement Park Carousel, may instead be the Eayerstown carousel – PWS

The carousel I first indicated as located on Burlington Island was incorrectly identified to me and I, in turn, repeated the error. I would posit that the carousel I incorrectly identified might be the carousel that operated in Eayestown for a number of years. – Paul W. Schopp