This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1977 A massive fire destroyed the Garden State Racetrack in Cherry Hill.
- 1854 On April 15, the ship Powhattan (aka Powhatan) ran aground about six miles south of the Harvey Cedars Lifesaving station in a storm. The vessel remained afloat until the following day and then broke apart, resulting in the deaths of the entire crew and passengers. Victims washed up on the beach as far south as Atlantic City and were buried nearby. Fifty-four were interred in a mass grave at Smithville Methodist Church and forty-five in Absecon. More bodies washed ashore at Peahala on Long Beach Island and were buried in pauper's graves in the Baptist cemetery in Manahawkin, where a monument was erected by the State of New Jersey in 1904 to honor the victims of the wreck. The Powhatan disaster served as an impetus for the building of the Absecon lighthouse later in the year.
- 1861 President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen for three months service in the wake of the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter as the Civil War began. New Jersey's quota was four regiments.
- 1863 Former Governor Charles Olden was elected president of the Loyal National League of New Jersey, an organization that supported the Union effort in the Civil War.
- 1930 The New Jersey legislature passed Chapter 149, laws of 1930, authorizing the ''authorization and equipment of a battalion of Negro infantry'' at state expense, a response to the refusal of the federal government to establish an African American National Guard unit in the state within the context of an overall segregated military. The resultant unit was the ''First Separate Battalion,'' which began organizing in Newark and Atlantic City the following year.
- 1941 A Jersey cow named ''You'll Do Lobelia,'' who became a media sensation by appearing as Borden's cartoon character ''Elsie the Cow'' at the New York World's Fair, was fatally injured and had to be euthanized when her custom eighteen-wheeler ''Cowdillac'' was hit from behind by another truck in Rahway.
- 1946 Jackie Robinson, playing for the Montreal Royals in a season-opening AAA minor league game against the Jersey City Giants, broke baseball's ''color line'' at Jersey City's Roosevelt Stadium.
- 1899 In compliance with General Orders No. 5, the New Jersey National Guard was reorganized according to federal military standards into four infantry regiments of twelve companies each, two Gatling gun companies, two troops of cavalry and two battalions of naval militia.
Would you like more of these Garden State history tidbits? Throughout 2014, Garden State Legacy will be sending FREE weekly emails like this one! Every Monday, you'll find a list of fascinating facts to help you get through the week. To sign up, just go to www.GardenStateLegacy.com and enter your email into the form at the top of the page. (And while you're there, please check out the rest of the GSL site if you are not already familiar with it!)
These are brought to you courtesy of GSL author and Board of Advisers member, Joseph G. Bilby, who with his co-authors, James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler, have written 350 Years of New Jersey History, From Stuyvesant to Sandy (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013), due out January 28, 2014 and available from local booksellers and chain bookstores, online book vendors including Amazon, and in e-book form for Kindle, Nook and iPad.
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