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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: 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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Bizarre History of Cape May: German POWs helped fight mosquitoes in Cape May County

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Friday, May 09, 2014 07:00 pm

Not too many people are still on this earth today who served in World War II or lived through it as civilians. Much of the war talk among veterans has to do with Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The big war of the world (1939-1945) was the most encompassing in history, though not as long as the one in Vietnam (1959-1975) or the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). With the passage of time some places and people tend to accept the war as a paragraph in this nation’s history. Actually it was a whole volume, especially in Cape May, which was always on the fringe of the war and its consequences.

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Early postal service was mostly an informal system

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Sunday, May 04, 2014 11:00 pm

While America was achieving its goal of independence during the Revolutionary War from 1775-1783, its leaders knew that starting a new nation was not to be all that easy. They were on their own then. Limited and oppressive that it had been, there was no help from the mother country anymore and, as the saying goes with a bit of alteration, now was the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

One of the problems facing the new kid in the world was the lack of communications. There were no e-mails then or telegrams or telephones and the postman did not ring twice or even once. In Cape May County, as elsewhere, the primitive roads were conversions from the paths of the Lenni Lenape Indians and were not conducive to general travel. Sometimes, in the era of the stage coach, it took four or five days, if at all, for messages to get from one end of the county to the other.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Easter parade tradition continues in Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, April 09, 2014 09:02 am

The Easter Parade has a long history of commemorating the holiday, some with good intentions, others with commerce in mind.

These parades do not include the usual fire engines or marching bands or floats carrying young women wearing crowns. Instead, they feature adults and children strolling in the finest of clothes. Irving Berlin described it in his “Easter Parade” song as “In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.”

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Bizarre History: Tourists weren't fooled by cold snap on April 1, 1923

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Friday, March 21, 2014 11:00 pm

It’s common during Easter time that tourism officials sit back and take a look at what has been, at what is now and at what they hope will be.

Easter, of course, is not the official opening of the tourism season. Some designate the grand opening as Memorial Day and others say it is the Fourth of July. There are still others who contend there is no such thing because Cape May County is open for tourism much of the year; well, maybe not in January when many locals evacuate to Florida.

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No separation between church and state in early Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Sunday, March 16, 2014 12:00 am

The freedoms for which colonists fought in the American Revolution were abused even in religion as far back as 1721 in the territory now known as Cape May, Lower and Middle townships.

People who were non-believers were often scorned and sometimes subjected to physical punishment if they did not abide by the laws of God. There was little separation between church and state then, as shown by the legislature governing this area. It introduced a bill that would punish those who “denied the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the inspiration of Holy Scriptures, etc.”

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King Nummy sold tribe’s land to settlers, forcing them to move

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Saturday, March 08, 2014 04:01 pm

If you can’t find Thomas Nummie in your history books, try King Nummy instead.

Probably in keeping with the European tradition, there were several American Indians called kings riding around in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 17th century. Trenton had its King Teddyuscung, Hackensack its King Oratam and Pennsylvania King Tamany. There is no record of a King Elvis, however.

King Nummy was no dummy. Somewhere along the line the one-time Thomas Numee became head of the Unalachtigo Tribe, a branch of the Lenni-Lenape. Part of his territory included what is now Rio Grande in Middle Township, Town Bank in Lower Township and Cape May. Still unsettled, the land and its waters from ocean to bay were ripe for real estate transactions. Nummy was right in the middle of the deals, sometimes with the Dutch who were there before the English.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Early cape preacher lost much, but not his faith

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, February 26, 2014 04:35 pm

Fifty-five years after the Cold Spring Presbyterian Church was founded, a pastor arrived who has become an important part of Colonial history for his missionary work with American Indians and for his attempts to convert them to Christianity.

The Rev. John Brainerd, who filled a vacancy at the now 300-year-old church during the winter of 1769-1770, has gone down in history as having given his days and nights to the temporal and spiritual good of the American Indians.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Two local churches have prevailed for centuries

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Friday, February 21, 2014 06:44 pm

While the Cold Spring Presbyterian Church proudly celebrates its 300th anniversary this year it could look back to almost two years ago when the Baptist Church of Cape May Court House marked its 300th birthday and established the claim to be the oldest church in Cape May County.

The Baptists, who celebrated their milestone by publishing a glossy 168-page coffee table book of text and photos about their history, started their local church on June 24, 1712. Two years later, about ten miles to the south in Lower Township, came the Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, its precise date of charter clouded by the passage of time.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Emancipation came for one Cape May County slave in 1790

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Saturday, February 15, 2014 08:45 am

Before, during and after the Civil War the people of Cape May and thereabouts spoke and acted on the subject of freedom, some of them enthusiastically, others equivocally. How to handle the freedoms was a big topic of conversation in the chambers of government and on the southern-influenced plantations of what was then called Cape Island.

The big issue, of course, was slavery. In 1790, some 14 years after the United States won its freedom from the United Kingdom, there were advocates for the abolition of slavery, but they nevertheless kept slaves under their ownership, selling and buying them just as they did cattle and real estate. The first American census in that year showed there were 141 slaves in Cape May County.

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