2002-12-26 / Front Page
Buggy rides take residents on trip through old J’burg
Highlights of boro
Buggy rides take residents
on trip through old J’burg
By sandi carpello
The only thing missing was the snow. Residents caroled through Jamesburg’s downtown streets, Santa Claus took inventory of Christmas wishes, and more than 100 people lined up along East Railroad Avenue Thursday evening for free horse-drawn carriage rides through the town which was dressed up for the holidays.
"I think it will be fun. It’s my very first time," said Taylor Ludwig, 8, who eagerly awaited his climb onto the horse and buggy rented by the borough’s Chamber of Commerce.
Kevin McMinn, the owner of Greyhorse Carriage Co., Allentown, manned the carriage while lifelong borough resident and Jamesburg Historical Society member Roger Dreyling narrated the tour.
Jamesburg began as a mill site. Originally part of Monroe Township, which completely surrounds it, Jamesburg was incorporated as a borough in 1887.
The tour began at the Lakeview mansion on Buckelew Avenue, the former home of James Buckelew, for which Jamesburg was named. The back part of the restored house was previously the home of an early farm, circa 1680.
When Buckelew moved in around 1829, Lakeview was altered into a two-story mansion with wide center hallways, parlors, mantelpieces and a pillared verandah overlooking Lake Manalapan.
Buckelew was the driving force in the establishment of the Camden and Amboy Railroad in 1831, and the establishment of the Jamesburg & Freehold Agricultural Railroad in 1853.
"Jamesburg really flourished in the late 1800s," Dreyling said.
Making a right turn onto Willow Street, passengers could see residential lots on the former site of the Downs-Finch Shirt Factory, Dreyling said. Established in 1871, the factory produced more than 1,000 shirts per week — a world record in its time — and served as a workplace to many Chinese immigrant employees. Cinders caused a fire that burned the factory down in 1900.
As Dreyling pointed toward the professional buildings on Gatzmer Avenue, which formerly housed the borough’s original grist and silk mills, he recalled when the site was home to a butterscotch factory in the 1950s.
"We used to line up outside," said Dreyling. "[The workers] took pity on us and gave us some butterscotch."
On the corner of Church Street and Gatzmer Avenue, where the Presbyterian manse now stands, was the borough’s very first schoolhouse.
Because authorities in Monroe at the time would not admit a colored boy into the township’s school, Buckelew built the first brick school house and declared it open to all children, Dreyling said.
Turning onto Harrison Street, Dreyling pointed out the site of Billy West’s early tavern, which was once the Buckelew Cannery. In 1847, Harrison Woodhull Crosby, chief gardener at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, invented the original canned tomato there. Crosby made an industrial achievement by placing "stewed tomatoes in a beach bucket and putting a lid on it," Dreyling said. Crosby’s accomplishment earned him an invitation to visit the Queen of England.
As the tour concluded at its starting point, residents expressed pride in the borough’s rich history.
"Jamesburg in the best kept secret in New Jersey," said Greg Ludwig.