Welcome to Toms River Seaport Society’s (Mari)Time-Warp, taking our supporters back through the nautical history of the Barnegat Bay and Toms River watershed areas!
Today we spend time in a summery 1890s Island Heights, as covered by the Philadelphia Times on July 5th, 1896 and rediscovered thanks to Newspapers.com.
Note: this article includes a special collection of illustrations originally found in the sketchbook of a Swarthmore College co-ed, Henry C. Turner, who documented the trip of his group of friends to Island Heights in summer 1893.
SUMMER LIFE AT ISLAND HEIGHTS
IT IS ONE OF THE PRETTIEST INLAND RESORTS IN NEW JERSEY.
THE BATHING DELIGHTFUL
Fishing Parties Are in Season Now, and Every Morning Numbers Are Seen, Lunch Baskets and Fishing Tackle in Hand, on Their Way to the "Cats," Awaiting to Sail Them to Barnegat Bay, Pier or Inlet, All Excellent Fishing Points.
Special Telegram to THE TIMES.
ISLAND HEIGHTS, July 4.
This is one of the prettiest inland summer resorts in Jersey. It is a group of bluffs, carpeted with vari-colored grasses and flowers, shaded everywhere by trees with the heaviest foliage and ornamented with attractive cottages. It is situated on what is generally called Tom's river, although it is in reality but an arm of Barnegat Bay. This body of water is beautiful, as blue at times as the ocean, and almost as breezy. It is three-quarters of a mile wide and three and a half miles long, and always as thickly dotted with white sailboats as a field of daisies with butterflies. All who sojourn here learn to swim and row well, from the great-grandparent to the tot of 4 years. And right well was this fact demonstrated last evening in a rowing and swimming match--all parties concerned being Philadelphians. Mr. Wesson, quite well known in the Quaker City, and who might be termed a water enthusiast, for he spends his whole time on the water, is one of the luckiest fishermen, an expert sailor, fine oarsman and an A 1 swimmer, arranged these two matches. He selected the oldest bachelor, Philip Arnold, aged 93, and Anna Winston, 87, for the swimming match, and the two youngest Philadelphian "experts," Maud Hudson and Earl Vinson, for the rowing match. The old pair took the lead, and the race was won by "Miss Anna" by several feet. The second race was only a quarter mile against the tide, and was easily won by the little Maud by more than the length of her boat. The first race was amusing, extremely so: the second very spirited and interesting. When the dimpled hands of the wee maiden dropped her oars and shot past the the stake the river echoed with cheers from the crowd on the boardwalk. The prizes were presented as soon as the winners reached the shore. The first prize was a bicycle, the second a diamond ring. Mr. Arnold handed Miss Anna the wheel, and with many smiles and bows begged that he might teach her to master her silent partner. Master Vinson very cunningly gave the ring to the little maiden who had defeated him.
Bathing is delightful here, the river being shallow, except in the channel, and always pleasantly warm. There is no danger, or but very little, attached to either bathing or rowing, so that lovers of such sport are safe to indulge as frequently as their desire dictates. This place is 18 years old and has yet its first fatal accident to chronicle. All the old settlers are proud of this fact, and never fail to boast of such a record.
A trio of Quaker City belles, who are as much at home in and on the water as on land, are Miss Louise Randolph, Miss Essie Mills and Miss Margy Berry. These young ladies are much more attractive in their bathing suits than in ordinary dress, and that can't be said of everyone. They are graceful swimmers and splendid oarswomen. There are a half dozen men here from Philadelphia whose swimming attracts much attention. These men could scarcely sink if weighted down. They swim over the river at any time, and almost every morning and evening swim two miles up or down the stream. They are Paul Mills, Eugene Ellis, Ned Palfrey, Edward Littleton, Henry Slonger and Samuel Black. Mr. Mills is without doubt the best swimmer. He often sits on a chip no larger than his hand out in the deepest part of the river and fishes for an hour or more. How the tiny bits of wood bear him up no one knows. But there he sits, contentedly fishing, and actually catching fish, for the edification of his admirers. It is very amusing to see the vain attempts of others trying to accomplish this same feat.
Fishing parties are in season now, and every morning numbers are seen, lunch baskets and fishing tackle in hand, on their way to the "cats" awaiting to sail them to Barnegat Bay, Pier or Inlet--all excellent fishing points. The experience of all who go up to Barnegat to fish is rather exciting, but sometimes too exciting for one's peace of mind. Friday morning Mr. Weister, of Philadelphia, started out for a half day's sport, at least, but had just as much as he wanted in about twenty minutes. His line was seized the moment it dropped down in the water either by a very hungry or very angry fish, and a perfect monster, at that. The boat was capsized and the line became tangled around his body and he was dragged nearly three hundred yards. When almost drowned, the line broke, or, since it was new and strong, was cut by the fish, and he managed to extricate himself. He was dreadfully strangled and the line had cut his arms above and below the elbow, where it was wound so tightly, to the bone. He suffered so that he left for home to be treated by his family physician.
Mrs. Weeks, of North Tenth street, Philadelphia, who is sojourning here for the season, had two of her fingers jerked out of place by one of the big Barnegat fish. They were put in place by an old tar who chanced to be near, and the little lady has quite recovered and is ready to indulge again in her favorite summer pastime--fishing.
This morning while a freight was coming in from the Junction, a girl, bare-headed and half-clad, was seen sitting on the track. The engineer blew the whistle sharply many times, but the girl seemed not to hear. Seeing that she paid no attention to the approaching train, Mr. Martin, an old resident here, hastened to her and lifted her out of danger. He recognized the girl as the daughter of an old acquaintance of his, and a former resident of this place. The girl he knew almost in an instant was demented, and in that state had wandered away from home unknown to her family. Mr. Martin says the girl was to have been married this summer, but that her lover was among the killed in the Pittston mine. Her mother, who lives in Jersey City, wrote to Mrs. Martin only a few days ago that the death of Eva's lover had so affected the girl that she was afraid it would unbalance her mind. Mr. Martin put his coat around the girl, and brought her to his home. After coaxing her to put on some of his wife's clothes, he boarded the next train with her to Jersey City. The girl has quite a pretty face.
All of the men wear white trousers, strangely inappropriate as they are for such splashy, dirty sport as fishing. At least, it is supposed they were white when first put on, but they are rarely what they were. If one may judge by what one sees, then the chief occupation of the men is sitting. The seat of their trousers tells the tale.
The Girard College boys, five hundred strong, will reach here in the early part of next week. They will camp here for a month or six weeks. They are a jolly set, and great times are expected.
The bicycle girls are in their element here. There are no trolleys, nor any of the annoyances of city life to frighten them. So with clear, smooth paths, they glide happily all day long over hills, and through the valleys, taking with them everywhere rosy cheeks and tanned noses.
Most of the cottages here are owned by Philadelphians, and a number from the Quaker City are here and others are to follow in August. A few, however, weary of the quiet life here, have rented their homes and are sojourning at other resorts. Some of the Philadelphians who are happily domiciled here are Mr. and Mrs. Robert Shoemaker, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Whroads, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. Herring, in Perrins' cottage; Mr. and Mrs. Webb, Mr. and Mrs. Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Gifford, Mr. Pettit and others. F.F. Milne and family are in their pretty cottage on the river front. They have the sailing yacht Vesper in commission, and will soon have their steam pleasure launch ready for use.
Edward Perkins, of Philadelphia, has engaged the yacht Wang for the summer.
One of the prettiest hotels in Island Heights is the Perennial. It is happily situated on the river front, giving an attractive view of the river, and a peep 'round the bluff at Barnegat Bay. Rev. W.A. Ferguson and John L. Ogden are registered at the Perennial from Philadelphia, and a number of Philadelphians are expected at this hotel tonight.
The Fourth of July flags have been waving over the city all day. There has been a sound of crackers, and the odor of powder. Those of mature ears are deaf, but the small boy is so happy that he doesn't know or care that his face is powder-blacked and his hands burned. He has had a glorious day, and will live in fond remembrance until the next Fourth.
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