This Week in New Jersey History...
- 1841 The dead body of ''beautiful cigar girl'' Mary Cecilia Rogers of New York City, last seen alive three days earlier, was discovered floating in the Hudson River in Hoboken. Although a number of theories regarding her death were advanced, from murder by street gang members to a botched abortion, the case remained officially unsolved. It provided the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe's story, ''The Mystery of Marie Roget.''
- 1861 Ensign Henry K. Zehner of the 3rd New Jersey Militia died of ''debility'' at Washington, DC. Zehner was the first New Jersey officer to die in the Civil War. His body was returned to New Jersey and he was buried in Mercer Cemetery in Trenton.
- 1896 The New Jersey Dental Society had its annual convention in Asbury Park. Among the speakers was Dr. S. Freeman of New York, who described his formula for ''painless dentistry'' with ''etaphoresis used in conjunction with cocaine.''
- 1900 Gaetano Bresci, an Italian immigrant silk weaver and anarchist from Paterson, who had purchased a pistol then left the city and his job and returned to Europe, shot and killed King Umberto of Italy in a village near Milan.
- 1673 New York and New Jersey, which together had been New Netherland until 1664, was taken back from its British conquerors by the Dutch, without a shot being fired. The colonies were returned to British control in a subsequent peace treaty. A Captain Manning, the commander who had surrendered to the Dutch, was subsequently sentenced to publicly having a sword broken over his head.
- 1718 William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania and, along with other Quakers, involved in the West New Jersey proprietorship, died penniless in England.
- 1813 The Weymouth Furnace iron forge clerk noted, ''Miss Woolfield beat Dan Beaty with broomstick as he was taken to hard drinking.''
- 1814 The Martha Furnace iron forge clerk recorded in his diary: ''Solomon Truax and E. Hambleton was married this evening. Had a great time, ended of kissing the Bride & others some taking gates off the hinges and throwing them in the woods, and some to quarreling.''
- 1844 John Cox Stevens of Hoboken founded the New York Yacht Club, headquartered in Hoboken, the first such organization in the United States.
- 1896 Two trains collided at a crossing on Absecon Island, just west of Atlantic City, smashing five passenger coaches. Fifty people were killed, and over sixty seriously injured.
- 1916 The ''Black Tom'' ammunition pier on the Hudson River in Jersey City exploded. Although America was still neutral in World War I, large amounts of ammunition were shipped to the allies in Europe, and German saboteurs had placed bombs on the pier.
- 1918 New Brunswick-born Alfred Joyce Kilmer, journalist, poet and World War I soldier, was killed in action in France while serving as a sergeant with the 165th Infantry Regiment -- the famed ''69th New York'' Irish-American National Guard unit.
- 1869 The first religious meeting in the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting community was held in a tent. About 20 people gathered to be led in prayer by Reverend Ellwood Stokes.
- 1708 Queen Anne of Great Britain died, leaving no surviving children, and was succeeded by King George I, from Hanover, Germany, her closest living Protestant relative, as provided in the ''Act of Settlement'' of 1701, which prohibited Catholics, even though nominally in the line of succession, from ascending to the throne of Great Britain. George became, by succession, also the king of the Royal Colony of New Jersey.
- 1928 On August 2, following a Democratic Party rally, famed female aviator Amelia Earhart performed aerial acrobatics above the National Guard Camp at Sea Girt, where Governor A. Harry Moore was spending the summer, then landed on the drill field and had lunch with the governor.
- 1970 Screenwriter and film producer Kevin Smith, who came to prominence with the low budget 1994 comedy film ''Clerks,'' was born in Red Bank. Smith is also the owner of a Red Bank comic book store, ''Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash,'' which provides the setting for his AMC reality show ''Comic Book Men.''
- 1885 A tornado crossed the Delaware River from Phildelphia, struck the New Jersey waterfront near the present site of the Walt Whitman bridge and veered back to hit North Philadelphia. Western Camden was wrecked ''in less than five minutes,'' with trees and pieces of buildings flying through the air. The steamboat Major Reybold was caught in the middle of the Delaware and narrowly escaped sinking, losing one crewman killed and five others badly injured.
- 1941 Celebrity lifestyle maven and television personality Martha Stewart was born Martha Helen Kostyra in Jersey City. She graduated from Nutley High School and Barnard College and married Andrew Stewart in 1961 (they divorced in 1987). After her conviction on an insider trading charge in 2004 many thought Stewart's career was finished, but she made an amazing recovery and was named to the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2011.
- 1718 Perth Amboy, a town named by combining a tribute to the Earl of Perth, a Scottish proprietor of East New Jersey at the time of settlement in the 1680s, and a corruption of the Lenape name for the area, ''Ompoge,'' which means level ground, was officially granted a Royal Charter.
- 1985 An afternoon shoot-out between two Jamaican gangs occurred at the FRG Sports Complex in Oakland. The Sports Complex was located next to Pleasureland Park, a beach along the Ramapo River. Two people were killed and a number more injured in the incident, and both venues were subsequently closed.
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.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief