Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rhode Hall

History's Mysteries
Origin of the name Rhode Hall 
by Randall Marsola

Rhode Hall School

Rhode Hall is a neighborhood on the boundary line between Monroe and South Brunswick that contains a store, a hotel, and several dwellings.  It is an old settlement and the early residents were several Scotch families, some of whom have risen to distinction in various walks of life.

The nucleus of the settlement was an old tavern formerly known as the “Halfway House” which was often a scene of much activity in the old staging days and was probably first kept as early as 1730 by David Williamson, who gave the locality its name.  Williamson was succeeded by Thomas McDowell about 1774.  A public house is now kept at Rhode Hall by John Smock who succeeded his father Simons Smock as landlord at the latter’s death. A race course known as the Rhode Hall Driving Park was made there. 
(Source: History of Union and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey 1882. print).

Rhode Hall residents were called upon to support George Washington in the “Second Battle of Trenton". “Captain Longstreet had orders to collect as many men as we could in the country between Princeton, Cranbury, and Rhode Hall.” (Source: Old Mill Society of Trenton web).

The Rhode Hall baseball team played the Deans on Saturday last.  The Deans won by a score of 17 to 19.  It was the first time the Rhode Hall team ever played a match game. 
(Source:  New Brunswick Daily News August 10th, 1895. print)

Rhode Hall Hotel Burned-the famous hotel at Rhode Hall was destroyed by fire at midnight last night according to the news brought here by court attendants living in that neighborhood.
The hotel is located in Rhode Hall about three miles from Jamesburg and has stood there for years. (Source: New Brunswick Times April 14, 1908. print)

The Rhode Hall Driving Park was a horse racing track.  
“Mr. J.H. Bergen has entered his black mare Lady Annie for the contest at Rhode Hall Driving Park on Saturday next.” ( Source: The Daily Times October 5th, 1875. print).

The Rhode Hall Community Club which is about ten years old meets the first Thursday evening of each month at the old school in Rhode Hall.  It holds pot luck suppers, dances and parties for people of all ages.  The money raised is used for the upkeep of the building.  Mrs. George Baker is president of the organization.  (Source: WPA 1938. print).

The South Brunswick Historical Society meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 in Local History room in the South Brunswick Library. Our next meeting is Tuesday September 27th. 

This historical information comes from the South Brunswick Historical Archives managed by township historian Ceil Leedom.  

To visit the archives or learn more, contact Randall Marsola at

Thursday, July 2, 2015

SBPL Local History Blog #4.  The Tempel family’s “Trambytent Tentel” in 1960s SB.

The Tempel family enjoyed tent camping. When they came to South Brunswick in the early 1950s they decided to open a place for others to camp. We like to camp, too. Camping guidebooks in the 1960s indicated there was a tenting campsite in the area, but we never found it – probably because they had closed, selling the land in 1970, at the time our search began. Last year, as volunteer local historian at the South Brunswick Public Library, a newspaper article about the “Trambytent Tentel” from July 1961 was found in a recently donated South Brunswick GOP Scrapbook and the mystery was revived, but still unsolved.

I used to think the Tentel was somewhere off Stout’s Lane. However, recent deed research with online records at “Middlesex County (NJ) land records,” using a technique called “deed chaining,” revealed lands noted as Tract 1: Block 82, Lot 6 (4.85 acres) and Tract 2: Block 81 Lot 15 (0.6 acres) as the same lands the Tempel’s purchased from Joseph and Gertrude Schach in 1952. SB tax maps showed this site was on Route 1, North.  These Block and Lots showed that the former “Trambytent Tentel” was on Route 1 at the old “Infomed” site, just south of the current Target-Staples-Best Buy shopping center and just north and opposite to Raymond Road. The Tempel’s land began at the most northerly corner of Edward M. Anderson’s lands and also touched on the United NJ Railroad & Canal Company (later the Rocky Hill Branch of the PRR). This separated the two parcels, now the “Rails to Trails” pathway from Kingston to Monmouth Junction.  The Tempel’s sold the same lands in July 1970 to Charles Anderton. More recently owned by Web-Sci Technologies Inc., this tract is for sale in 2015.  

Using “,” that indexes the (Trenton Times), provided more information about the Tentel and the Tempels.  “Trambytent” stood for “Travel America by Tent” coined by Arthur E. Tempel, a technical director at E.R. Squibb & Sons. While living in South Brunswick in the 1960s, Arthur Tempel served on the Planning Board and his wife, [Merrie] Carol Tempel served on the School Board. Their three sons helped out at the camping facility and one, Joseph Tempel, represented South Brunswick at Boy’s State in 1966. The Tempel sons likely graduated from South Brunswick High School.  

This information solves some of the questions about the “Trambytent Tentel” and where the Tempel’s lived (deed states there was land and premises) it doesn’t tell us much about the Trambytent Tentel and the Tempel family, perhaps you can. Consider this a request for more information about the Tempel family and/or the “Trambytent Tentel.” 

Compiled by Ceil Leedom, Volunteer Coordinator of the South Brunswick Local History Collection. June 2015.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Nelson DeWitt T. Stryker: A Monmouth Junction Physician

Nelson DeWitt T. Stryker:
Monmouth Junction Physician

Genealogy is so fascinating. People do not suddenly appear – they have a history that continues from generation to generation. A case in point is the story of Dr. Nelson T. DeWitt Stryker’s origins as well as considering medical coverage in South Brunswick. From the 1876, Transaction of the Medical Society of New Jersey, is the obituary of Nelson D.W. T Stryker, MD.  Dr. Stryker died at his residence in Monmouth Junction, Oct. 20, 1875 at age 84. Born to John Stryker, Jr., grandson of John Stryker, Sr. a Revolutionary War soldier from Somerset County, Nelson’s first jobs were in a printer’s office and then in the mercantile business in partner with his only brother, John at Six Mile Run. He later studied medicine with Dr. Ferdinand Schenck of the area, attending lectures at Rutgers Medical College in New York where he later graduated.  He then located to Long Bridge, now Monmouth Junction, establishing his medical practice and home there along Ridge Road. He married three times, his first two wives dying with no surviving children. His first wife was Lydia Anna Williamson of Three Mile Run, his second wife was the daughter of John Pumyea of the same place and lastly he married Mary Stout, the daughter of John Stout of Monmouth Junction. Their son was Nelson DeWitt Stryker.

Dr. Nelson Stryker’s medical practice at Long Bridge, now Monmouth Junction shows how various doctors cared for people in nearby communities. Dr. Bayles of Kingston cared for people there. When Dr. Stryker retired his patients had the option of the Kingston doctor or the medical practice started in Dayton with Dr. Clarence Slack (1868-1880), Dr. Baldwin (1881-1884) and Dr. Edgar Carroll (188? – 1930).  Other doctors took care of people in Cranbury and Jamesburg.   

I just came across a Stryker family genealogy I found last year. You might find this interesting as I did. After learning some names and family stories of past residents of South Brunswick this additional information allows helps explain how people from diverse backgrounds came together. Genealogists find many details about their subjects for example the story of Dr. Nelson Stryker links the Tenbrooks, Strykers, Pumyeas, Stouts, Harts, Van Dykes, Bayles, Rowlands, and other families. It also links Hopewell, Kingston, Six Mile Run, Three Mile Run, Long Bridge (Monmouth Junction), Dayton, and other communities. Nelson Tenbrook DeWitt Stryker was born in 1802 and baptized at the Kingston Presbyterian Church in 1805. He married Lydia Ann Williamson (born in Kingston, they had two daughters who died in infancy. Lydia died in 1839); Ann Pumyea (born in Kingston, she died in 1842) and Mary Stout (born in 1817 in Kingston and died in 1888). Their only surviving child, Nelson DeWitt Stryker was born in 1847 and died in 1916. He married Josephine Bayles of Kingston, daughter of Alexander Bayles and Catherine Van Dyke Bayles. They had 14 children.  Dr. Stryker must have been friendly with the Rowland family of the same area and Dr. Stryker’s granddaughter, Mary Stryker, married Lewis Dunham Rowland.

From a History of the Stout Family by Nathan Stout in 1823 he gives the genealogy of the Stouts that led to the marriage of John Stout (1886-1873) and Sarah Hart and the birth of their daughter, Mary Stout (1817-1888) who married Nelson Tenbrook DeWitt Stryker in 1844. In addition this genealogy source relates information found in a book by Ralph Ege in 1908, Pioneers of Old Hopewell, where he notes in article No. 20 how the Hon. John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the great uncle of Sarah Hart, the daughter of Levi Hart, son of the Hon. John Hart’s brother Daniel Hart. John Stout and Sarah Hart married in 1799. They moved with the Hart family to New York state, but soon returned to Rocky Hill where he worked as a blacksmith.  They had 8 children. Their daughter Mary becoming the wife of “Dr. Nelson Stryker, a prominent and successful physician of Monmouth Junction, and the father of N. DeWitt Stryker…”

There is more to Stryker’s Ridge Road lands at Monmouth Junction, but that is another story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Entry #1. Welcome to the South Brunswick Public Library Local History Blog. Items here will be on any topic related to South Brunswick history from the 1600s to today covering its current 41 square miles, but also, Plainsboro before 1919 and Cranbury before 1872. Includes Kingston, Cross Roads/Dayton, Deans/Martinsville, Woodside/Fresh Ponds, Monmouth Junction/Longbridge Farms, Franklin Park, and Little Rocky Hill.

Topics will be related to current and past research projects and of course your questions.

To name a few sources, research has been based on information in the Central Post/South Brunswick Post and the Sentinel newspapers as well as other newspapers and especially Also, information from the Federal and NJ Census, and deeds at the Middlesex County Clerk’s Office.  

Items Entry #1. Monmouth Junction Railroad related.
            7/28/1917. Wm. C. Lester, a MJ resident, retired from the PRR in 1917. He had an interesting first career. The Trenton Evening Times reported that Lester ran away from his home in Camden about age 10 to join the circus. He performed in various circus rolls from about 1857 to 1867 when a fall from the high trapeze ended his circus days. By 1868 he had begun working for the Pennsylvania Railroad from which he recently retired.
            The article mentioned several circuses. Considering there was no entertainment then except that you generated, it makes sense that the circus with its high energy and bright colors would attract people of all ages. So Lester joined the Robinson Show as an acrobat for a year, then the L.B. Lent Circus for a year (became stranded in Virginia due to the War). Next year Lester began aerial work with the Stone & Murray Show for 2 seasons, then the Van Amberg Circus for 2 seasons, then he worked for the Dan Rice Circus as an acrobatic clown for 2 years, then the Adam Forpaugh Shows for 3 years. It was for the Gilmore’s Theatre that he fell from the trapeze in Philadelphia in 1867.

Any comments or updated information welcome.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Local History

Local History
by Library Volunteer and Local Historian Ceil Leedom

History is full of stories about people and places from the past.  Come along for a peek at South Brunswick Township’s stories in the Library’s Local History Archives. Know something - pass it on to us.  Got a question - ask. This resource is available for public use.  We have created a blog for local history at in addition to the history resources on our website at; just check with the Information Desk for details.