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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 > Ben Franklin’s connection to Cape May made through a woman’s cap

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Saturday, June 15, 2013 12:49 pm

 It can be said, albeit without certainty, that Benjamin Franklin and his wife Deborah have a historical connection with the bayside section of Town Bank, now part of Lower Township.

In his book, “Cape May County, New Jersey, The Making of An American Resort Community,” author Jeffery M. Dorwart says Franklin “according to tradition visited kin on the Jersey Cape.” He adds that Franklin encouraged Jacob Spicer, one of the first white settlers and land owners here, to develop a knitted mitten, cap and stocking industry that was to employ Cape May County women on their spinning wheels. It turned out to be a profitable business in the 1750s.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > Slavery in Cape May County lasted 146 years

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, June 05, 2013 02:50 pm

 The first reported slaves were brought to the area now known as Cape May and Lower Township in 1688. The last slave was said to have been freed in 1834.

During those 146 years, the territory to become Cape May County was to tell its own story of slavery, some of it more moderate than the South, but all of it negative in its final summary.

The man who started it never lived here, and never even set foot on the soil, but still was a powerful influence in the early development of the cape.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > Cape May’s first high school was located in pastor’s kitchen

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, May 29, 2013 03:57 am

For Cape Island, the years before the Civil War were different than the rest of the county.

While the other communities were struggling economically, Cape Island, later to be named Cape May, was enjoying a tourism boom. While the neighboring towns were building modest structures, entrepreneurs of Cape Island were building huge hotels to house visitors, some of them the high and the mighty in government, some even presidents of the United States.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > 1850s brought a number of firsts to Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, May 21, 2013 02:51 pm

Ominous as the signs were on the issue of slavery, the years before the Civil War did provide some historic recognitions for Cape Island, which was still years away from being known as Cape May.

It was during this period of the 1850s that the first newspaper was printed in the county. The first school superintendent in Cape Island was appointed in 1851, a decade from the start of what some called the “big rebellion” and others identified as the “war between the states” or a name to survive longer and in prominence, the Civil War.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > Telegraph helped to bring Civil War home to ambivalent Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, May 14, 2013 08:53 pm

 At the beginning, after the Confederates seized Fort Sumter in April 1861, the freeholders of this county weren’t all that supportive of the Civil War. Although the local voters had endorsed Abraham Lincoln, politics being what they were and still are, enthusiasm for the new president was not shared by all members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders

When in May, less than a month after the first shots were fired, the freeholders were asked to help in the restoration of a cannon used in the War of 1812, they rejected the request. They also turned down a plea to help the newly appointed Cape Island Home Guard, which was intended to defend the area in case there was an invasion or other enemy activity.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > Religion played important role in early Cape May life

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, May 07, 2013 04:51 pm

Religion was an important part of community life in the early 18th century in what was then referred to as Cape Island. It could be said that it played a bigger role proportionately than today when church and state are supposed to be separated.

Some of the styles of the church services were similar to today’s although many modifications have taken place since then. The pulpits stood high, it was said, because the pastors were expected to stand far above the people, and “to be shining examples of Protestant principles.”

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Patriots and Tories fought for their causes in Cape May

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Thursday, May 02, 2013 12:55 pm

The tragic events in Boston on Patriot’s Day have ignited historical recollections of a time in Cape Island’s early years when Patriots and Tories fought their causes before and during the Revolutionary War.

Since 1969, Patriot’s Day has been commemorated as the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the first battles of the American Revolution, which lasted until 1783. It also is officially commemorated in Maine and Wisconsin and encouraged in Florida, although not official there.

In his comprehensive book on the history of Cape May County from 1638 to 1897, historian Lewis Townsend Stevens devotes a full chapter to those he claims were the local Patriots, and another chapter to a Tory.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > What’s in a name? Plenty of history

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:32 am

How, when and by whom Cape Island/Cape May was discovered and named have been frequent topics of discussions in the long history of what is now called the nation’s oldest seashore resort.

There are undisputed claims that the Lenni Lenape were here first, but questions remain whether they came as tourists or year-round residents. Some archeological evidence contends that once they found the hunting territory and its fishing waters they never left. Others counter that the Native Americans could not have stayed here throughout the year because of the lack of potable water.

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Bizarre History of Cape May > Assemblyman was cast out for absences, but voters cast him back in

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:10 pm

Along with the Hands, the Hughes and the Leamings who made an early impact on the history of Cape Island there was another family of father, son and grandson whose lives and careers were linked for three centuries from colonial days until after the Revolutionary War.

They were the Spicer family and all three were named Jacob. Written history has treated them kindly, although the son, Jacob the second, was to complain in his 39-page will of “the unjust treatment by the populace” and that he was “vilely defamed and grossly abused on account of the natural privileges of which he claimed to be entirely ignorant.” What those abuses were has not been expounded.

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Bizarre History of Cape May: Cape May County was strong for Lincoln in 1860 and 1864

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Written by Jacob Schaad Jr. Wednesday, April 10, 2013 04:13 pm

Predicting the outcome of presidential elections and analyzing their results has been a popular political pastime in the history of the nation, especially since 1936 when a highly respected magazine went off the deep end and predicted that Alfred Landon would defeat Franklin Roosevelt for president.

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