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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: East Lynne name a link to the past

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, February 26, 2015 12:10 pm

It is a natural for a theater company with the historical name of East Lynne to set up its residence in Cape May which, American that it is,   has an English influence by way of Queen Victoria and long before her reign from 1837 to 1901.

In England in 1861, as the Civil War was heating up in the not so United States, author Ellen Wood was creating quite a sensation with her book “East Lynne.” It was about a woman who leaves her husband, a lawyer, and her infant children for another man. But eventually she bears another child from her new lover, who leaves her. So then she disguises herself and works as a governess in the home of her former husband and his new wife to keep track of them.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Before tourists, Cape May once was home to buffalo

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, February 12, 2015 08:59 pm

It may be difficult to imagine in these times, but there was a period when buffalo, bears, panthers and wolves were running loose in Cape May County on territory frequented by today’s tourists and those who live here.

The buffalo story is told by historian Lewis Townsend Stevens in his book “The History of Cape May County,” which covers a period from 1638 to 1897. He cites the year 1640 and a letter written by explorer Robert Evelyn and published in a London newspaper. Others may have passed the cape in their ships or have gone ashore for a brief visit, but Evelyn is said to be the first to have made a full exploration of the county. Another historian, Dr. Maurice Beesley, calls Evelyn “the king of the pioneers.”

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Cape May not always immune to criminal violence

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, January 29, 2015 10:27 am

The news in recent months has been dominated by stories of mayhem and murder from near and far. Cops have been shot and killed in this nation and in other instances cops have shot and killed others. In France, heavily armed terrorists, their identity hidden by black masks, attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people. The attackers were later tracked down and killed by police.

From American towns that are seldom heard of and are thought to be peacefully untouchable comes the shocking news that schools and shopping malls are being threatened.

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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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