Morgan Memories – 1882 NY Sun Newspaper Interview with Charley Applegate
A huge shout out goes to Alycia Rihacek, a very good friend of this web site from the Thomas Warne Museum in Matawan, for providing us with the August 3, 1882 New York Sun article about Cheesequake Creek. Alycia has been doing massive research on her passion, the history of Laurence Harbor, and ran into the below article.
The article was written seven years after the railroad through Morgan and the railroad station in Morgan opened up and four months before construction and dredging began on the present day channel and jetties at Morgan Beach which connect Cheesequake Creek to Raritan Bay. A noted Morgan resident, Charley Applegate, was interviewed and featured in the article which was primarily a report about the $15,000 appropriated by the US Congress to create the channel and jetties. Also mentioned was the 100+ year old inn Mr. Applegate ran which we all knew as the Old Spye Inn.
If you have yet to visit the Thomas Warne Museum at 4216 Route 516 in Matawan, I encourage you to physically go there. It is one of those little gems that we are lucky to have available. Until you are able to actually get there, you can visit their web site or see them on Facebook.
Here is the article in the New York Sun, from Thursday, August 3, 1882:
CHEESEQUAKES’ BUSY CREEK
THE NOW FAMOUS STREAM WHICH HEADS NEW JERSEY’S RIVERS.
What is to be done with the $15,000 Appropriated by Congress for the Opening of the Chanel-The Future of Cheesequakes.
Cheesequakes’ Creek doesn’t appear in any atlas, but it heads the list of rivers and harbors in New Jersey for which Congress has just made appropriation. The village of Cheesequakes however, does appear, not on any known map of New Jersey, but in a printed list of the towns of Monmouth County. The Post Office is given as at Keyport, and thither a reporter of THE SUN went yesterday, to see Cheesequakes Creek. He did not know till later that he had inadvertently crossed Cheesequakes’ Creek on the New Jersey Central Railroad. A well-informed young man in Keyport was asked how to get to Cheesequakes’ Creek.
“D’you know where Morgan Station is?”
“Well, you get off there.”
“Is Cheesequake there?”
“Bless you. no; it ain’t anywhere. The creek’s there.”
The reporter took two lines of cars back into New Jersey. The train stopped near an iron bridge and a cove of Prince’s Bay [VJ: should be Raritan Bay].
“Morgan,” shouted the brakeman, and the reporter left the train, and as it moved quickly away he felt that his last hold on civilization had gone.
It seems that Morgan station on the Central Railroad of New Jersey was so called out of respect to the worth of a wealthy landowner of that name who once lived thereabouts. It, in fact, marks the spot where the village of Cheesequakes is said to exist, at the mouth of Cheesequakes’ Creek. Besides the railroad station, but one solitary house is visible, a low white cottage half hidden under the willows at the base of the wooded bluff, overlooking the railroad track, which in its turn runs along the very shore of the bay. Some half-wild rabbits hop about the place and a swarming brood of young chickens peep as the old hens scratch gravel, the one thing besides oyster shells which is found there in abundance.
Cheesequakes’ Creek opens into Prince’s Bay [Raritan Bay] a mile or more south of South Amboy. From its mouth it winds back into the interior. It is about as wide and as winding as Pearl Street. The outlet into the bay is at a right angle to the general course of the stream. A broad stretch of beach lies across what would be the direct channel. From the iron railroad bride which spans the creek the reporter looked up the stream and nearly across New Jersey. South of the water is a broad salt marsh. On the other bank a wooded bluff rises thirty feet.
As far as the eye can reach across the waste of salt grass not a house or other evidence of population is visible, excepting only the wreck of a canal boat which went aground here years ago, and half a dozen flat-bottomed skiffs drawn up on the bank. Around a bend in the road which skirts the base of the bluff is a house which was built over 100 years ago. Everything about it tends to this belief. The principal room is used as a kitchen, where yesterday an unfettered monkey sat upon the hearth of the stove, a pair of squirrels is kept the treadmill in a wire cage over the door in a constant whirl, six dogs of as many varieties lay about listless, and unconscious of the veto. The name of Applegate has long been identified with this ancient house, for it is a sort of inn. A bar, which has the appearance of not having been entered for many months, was the room which the reporter first invaded in search for some information as to what Cheesequakes’ Creek was useful for. The host was not at home, but back at the little white house under the willows “Charley” Applegate could be found, and he could tell all that was known of this creek.
The venerable Charley Applegate is the oldest, as he is almost the only, inhabitant of Cheesequakes’. He said he reconed he could tell all there was to tell about the creek, and he led the way out to the ditch through which it runs.
Why, this is a right smart little creek,” He said. “there’s thousands of dollars worth of stuff goes out of here.”
“Potter’s clay, brick clay, and sand. Those are for different firms digging here. You can’t see from here, but about four miles up the creek they have their places. You see this is the oldest place in the country for sand and clay. They send it down the creek in canal boats. They’ve been doing it for 100 years.”
“What is the $15,000 for?”
“Well, you see, the creek’s all right; there’s six or seven or eight feet of water in it. They might dig out a few oyster pints, but it’s my opinion they’d fill up again next morning. But what they want is to cut away a channel through that beach across the mouth of the creek. That’s 200 yards. Then they’d have to jetty out twice as much farther into the bay to get into deep water. The trouble is all at the mouth of the creek now. Unless there is a good high tide and the wind is westerly, we can’t get over five or five and a half feet of water to save our souls. Gen. Newton says “tain’t worth while to begin with less than $10,000 [$40,000?]. Don’t you see then that those people up the creek have to put smaller loads in their boats and wait for high tide? Why, if that creek was dug out they could carry 500 or 1,000 tons more of sand to a boatload than now.”
“How will the digging out of the creek help the neighborhood?”
“Oh, it won’t make any difference to any one but these four companies. It’ll help them to send off bigger loads, but it won’t bring any more business here.”
“What is the feeling about the veto?”
“Feeling”? Why, bless you, there ain’t any one here to care. The people up the creek, they’re rich, and they can get along as they’ve been doing for a hundred years.”
The old gentleman turned about and pointed to a white cupola which shone among the treetops upon the bluff to the south and overlooked the bay.
“The fact is,” he said, “this whole thing was begun by the people over there. They stood by Miles Ross for Congress, and then they got up a lot of maps of this salt marsh, and cut it up into building lots, and sold them to New Yorkers. You see that stream? It’s a branch of the Cheesequakes, and empties into it as its mouth. The right name of that stream is Stump Creek. These fellers printed it out Roan Rover on their maps. Then they were going to get an appropriation to dig out Cheesequakes’ Creek and Stump Creek, so that they could run a steamboat down here with people. If they could get ‘em up on that point I recon ‘twouldn’t take ‘em long to make all the money the excursion parties should bring down. I tell you they are at the bottom of this thing. I’d like to see $15,000 put into the creek as well as any one, if it could be spent right. But it’s only throwing money away,” said the old man, in a sudden burst of candor. “It won’t do any good and when $15,000 is gone they’d want $15,000 more, and so on always.”
The old inhabitant added at parting that there was a cargo of sand or clay sent out of the creek pretty near every day. But the trouble with the whole coast was, he said, that the bay was too shallow to fill up the streams along that part of New Jersey.
Originally posted on February 24, 2013.