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Bizarre History of Cape May | Cape May Gazette

The Bizarre History of Cape May with Jacob Schaad Jr.

Bizarre History of Cape May: Early settlers sought whales at sea and God on land

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, January 15, 2015 01:56 pm

Three centuries ago, when times were simpler but not as convenient, groups of men spent many hours at sea looking for whales, and the rest of their time on land looking for God.

These men were appropriately called whalers when they arrived from Connecticut and Long Island in the 17th and early 18th centuries to the territory along the banks of the Delaware Bay. It was hardly a thriving municipality, just 13 dwellings.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: History, and punishments, have a way of repeating

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, December 30, 2014 12:00 am

Three centuries ago, as the calendar progressed from 1714 to 1715, the territory we now know as Cape May and Lower Township was quietly celebrating the transition of the years. It was no big deal at the time because there weren’t that many people living there, some American Indians, a few Englishmen, and a group of whalers who migrated from Long Island and Connecticut and were seeking wealth derived from the whales that were spouting offshore.

Being so few inhabitants there, crime was not a major concern. Oh, some rowdiness and fighting did stem from drinking too much rum from the Caribbean (one Presbyterian minister was ousted from his role because he was carried away, figuratively speaking). And there were squabbles about the whales and who legally were the rightful beneficiaries of their quests. But compared to what was happening on the other side of the big pond in not always merry, old England this was all small stuff.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Modern Christmas celebrations started in Victorian England

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, December 18, 2014 09:26 pm

The lights of Christmas are shining brightly in Victorian Cape May. Attached to the history of the colorful celebration will be the name of Alexandrina Victoria. If that doesn’t grab you, try Queen Victoria instead.

Cape May promotes its Victorian image throughout the year but at Christmas it is something special, the celebration modeled after those events held during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837, when she was 18 years old, to 1901 when she died at the age of 63 – the longest reign of any English monarch.

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Cape May not immune to history’s epidemics

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Friday, December 05, 2014 06:00 am

Tourism people, even those dating back to colonial times, have often wooed visitors with the claim that southern Cape May County is a healthy place to live or visit. They talk about the weather, the ocean, the unpolluted skies and the laidback atmosphere they say exists here.

“It is the most delightful spot the citizens can retire to in the hot season,” boasted proprietor Ellis Hughes, who wasted no adjectives in an 1801 newspaper advertisement about his Cape Island establishment by the sea.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Oscar Wilde’s appearance in Cape May went little noted at the time

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, November 20, 2014 04:00 pm

The trouble is when researching history that the obvious is not always as obvious as it seems. A case in point is the story of playwright Oscar Wilde, who visited Cape May on a national lecture tour on Aug. 26, 1882.

Crowds awaited him at the railroad station and outside the Stockton Hotel, and another 600 curiosity seekers paid admission prices inside the hotel to see him if not to appreciate his words of wisdom.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Cape May took to the skies in the 1920s

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, November 06, 2014 01:57 pm

People were getting high in more ways than one during the 1920s

On land and out to sea they were defying the law of government while in the air they were defying the law of gravity. Just about anything went in those days, probably influencing the writing of the hit musical “Anything Goes” during the next decade.

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Sadly, ‘War To End All Wars’ was no such thing

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Saturday, October 18, 2014 11:50 am

Soon Cape May and its neighbors will revive a national holiday that history has revised from its original intent 95 years ago.

Today it is known as Veterans Day, but then it was called Armistice Day. It originally was celebrated on Nov. 11 because it was on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that the armistice was signed ending World War I. Later, when it became a national holiday, the date was moved to the fourth Monday of October to give federal employees and others a longer weekend and an opportunity to participate in the ceremony.

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Queen Anne’s physician was major land owner in Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, October 08, 2014 12:00 am

Their feet never touched American soil, but the doctor and the queen on the other side of the ocean were handily involved with the colonial territory that is now known as Cape May and its county.

The doctor was Daniel Coxe. He was the official physician for the English court and was considered an eminent practitioner of his time. He also was the governor of West Jersey in 1687 and 1688 although he never came to the land he was named to govern.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Hughes went from the Big House to the People’s House

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, May 21, 2014 11:00 pm

Thomas Hurst Hughes was born in the Cold Spring section of Lower Township on Jan. 10, 1769, seven years before the new nation declared its independence. He was blind in one eye, but saw more in his 70 years of life than most people do with perfect vision.

A tall, genial man, Hughes led a life that spanned from a humble beginning to that of a congressman who was to befriend one of America’s most famous presidents.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Lower Township’s borders have been constantly changing

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, May 15, 2014 05:20 pm

The Township of Lower, as it formally calls itself, has a peculiar geography that stretches from the ocean to the bay and that touches six of Cape May County’s 16 municipalities. Its history also shows that its early settlers believed in giving and taking back.

It was started as a precinct on April 2, 1723, but by Feb. 21, 1798, after the new nation was born, what is now commonly called Lower Township was among New Jersey’s fully certified 104 townships. Its land, so history has told us, has switched back and forth to others much like the game of Monopoly that was to be born out of Atlantic City years later.

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