History of Tuckerton, NJ
Little Egg Harbor Township was settled in 1698. Some of the early settlers were Andrews, Falkinburgs, Shourds, Ongs, Willets and Osborns. Edward Andrews settled on the east side of the Pohatcong Creek; his brother, Mordecia Andrews settled on the west side of the same creek. Edward, tired of going to Mount Holly with his grain, constructed a cedar log grist mill on the site of a dam built by beavers at the mouth of what is known as Tuckerton Creek. He built the grist mill in 1704.
The Quaker Church (Society of Friends) was first built in 1709. It was rebuilt in 1863. The Methodist Church was first built before 1800 in the Methodist Churchyard. A larger church was constructed in 1867. It was destroyed by fire May 8, 1979. Ground is broken for the re-building of a new church. Earliest recorded burial date in the Methodist Churchyard is 1799. There are also Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal churches in our small town.
It was from Ebenezer Tucker that Tuckerton received its name. In March 1789, Mr. Tucker hosted a feast at 'Clamtown' for the residents at which time they officially changed the name to Tuckerton. Tucker was prominent as its first Collector of customs; a soldier of the revolutionary War and served at the battle of Long Island. He was a member of Congress from New Jersey 1825-1829; a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; Justice of Court Of Quarter Sessions and Judge of the Orphans Court. Tucker died in 1845, his grave marked by a most prominent obelisk.
Known in early times as Andrew Mills; Middle-of-the-Shore; Clamtown; Quakertown; Fishtown and Tuckerton, Tuckerton became the Third Port of Entry of the United States, with Ebenezer Tucker appointed Collector; his commission bearing date March 21, 1791 signed by George Washington, president and Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State. It was six years later that Tuckerton became a post town with Reuben Tucker as its first postmaster. We were part of Burlington County until 1891 when we joined with Ocean County.
Little Egg Harbor was the scene of a Revolutionary skirmish October, 1778 when Count Pulaski's Legion was surprised and massacred by the British.
Evidence of Early Indian existence in the area can be documented by the fact that Indian skeletons were removed from an old down shore farm to the Smithsonian Institute and by the shell mounds, one of which is still in existence today.
The Tuckerton was established March, 1901 with its first Mayor being Frank R. Austin.
Tuckerton was a great ship building town, and exported large quantities of lumber. Early days recall saw mill, wheelwrights and blacksmiths. It is also the home of the famous duck decoy carver, Harry Shourds, whose decoys are much sought after today. Salt works also existed in our area. Old maps show the road to the salt works as 'Salt Works Lane' now renamed Marine Street. There were Bartlett Works and Thatcher Works.
In 1816, Isaac Jenkins established the first stage line between Tuckerton and Philadelphia, making one trip a week, each trip taking two days travel each way. John D. Thompson, Esq., bought the line in 1828 and ran the stages through each way in a day and carried the mails. The stages and vessels were the only public conveyances to the cities until 1871 when the Tuckerton Railroad was built.
Tuckerton Railroad helped attract more and more summer visitors to our shores. In 1872, a short spur was built to Edge Cove, where the visitors could be ferried across the bay to Long Beach Island. The steamboats, 'Barclay' and 'Pohatcong' carried passengers and freight to Beach Haven. The spur at Edge Cove was abandoned in 1886 when direct rail service to Long Beach Island was established. There remained a flat cart and rails which baymen converted to their use by fully rigging it with a mast and sails, whereby they could easily transport their clams, fish and oysters to the railroad station. The 'Clamtown Sailcar' remained in use until it over-ran a curve and landed in a ditch.
Tuckerton Library is the oldest in Ocean County, incorporated in 1875 by the Price Women. The old library building became part of the present new library on Bay Avenue in 1972.
At the September town meeting of 1814, the Tuckerton Pennington Volunteers for the Defense of the Seacoast of Burlington and Monmouth Counties was formed. They chose Reuben Tucker, Captain; Joseph Lippincott, Lieutenant, and Samuel Shourds, Ensign. Forty-two volunteers signed up for duty.
Dr. T.T. Price practiced medicine at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Tuckerton for 17 years until it was abolished by the government March, 1896.
May 30, 1897 was the scene for the first bicycle races for the Tuckerton Wheelmen, at the Athletic Club Grounds. The Grounds also contain a trotting track and baseball diamond, with a grandstand seating capacity of 700.
Tuckerton Wireless Station was constructed by a German company in 1912, completed in 1914. Its tower originally extended 850 feet above the meadows. It was used by the Navy during World War I. In 1920 it was bought by the Radio Corporation of America and eventually sold to a developer.
What was probably New Jersey's first summer resort was on Tucker's Island off shore from Little Egg Harbor. The island sported boarding houses, private cottages and a school. In 1848 a Lighthouse was erected there, with Eben Rider as its first light keeper. In 1869 the Little Egg Harbor Lifesaving's Station was constructed there. Also known as Sea Haven, the island contained two hotels. An ad in Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser, dated Monday 28, 1798 attracted vacationers from sea bathing, fishing and fowling. The stage left every Thursday at 4 A.M. from Coopers Ferry and arrived at Mt. Evans, Tuckerton, the same evening. The ad was signed by Ebenezer Tucker. The sea took its toll; the island no longer exists.
The proceeding article was written by Shirley J. Whealton, historian, and Norman C. Cranmer, Jr., of the Tuckerton Historical Society.
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