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 GenealogyBank.com. 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.


  1. Hi, just saw this blog.... I'd be interested in info on the tunnel under Georges Rd between Whitlock Tavern (La Taverna) and the Presbyterian Church. I have heard that is was part of the Underground Railroad.... Thx.

    1. Dear Dan DiBiase,

      Thanks for your interest. The Dayton Presbyterian Church was built in 1869-1970 and thus after the Civil War. Have not heard of this rumor before. However, would like to know where this rumor came from and if there are other similar would like to investigate.

      Ceil Leedom, SBPL

    2. Hi, Ceil, thanks for the reply. We heard about this when my son was considering doing something local-history related for his Eagle Scout project. I cannot remember who might have mentioned this to us at that time (2007). I guess it would be easy enough to investigate.....

      Thx, Dan