This Day in History: December 30th, 1920

This Day in History: December 30th, 1920

N.Y. POLICE WILL LET MILLTOWN BANK ROBBERS COME HERE

Local Charges to Come First in Long Series Made Against Chaffee and Bitzberger – May Wait Return of Judge Daly.


Milltown National Bank at Michelin Tire - 1924

Local authorities have been promised by the New York police, it was learned today, that unless a more serious crime than robbery is fastened on Jerome Chaffee and Harry Bitzberger, arrested in New York on Tuesday through the work of County Detective Ferd David of Middlesex, the men will be sent back here and will not be held for the many crimes charged against them there. Detective David said today that it was his belief, that Chaffee’s story that the Milltown robbery was his first “job” is the truth but that Bitzberger appears to have a bad record.

According to Chaffee’s story, which has been partially verified by Detective David, he came to New York in 1916 on his release from Fort Leavenworth military prison and endeavored to straight. He ran a pastry shop for a time and later became a chauffeur and held a responsible position. He was married early in 1919 and told his wife of his bad military record but promised to go straight.

A short time ago, however, he met Bitzberger, who had been a fellow convict at Leavenworth, and got him a room in the same house, not knowing what he was doing. It is believed that Bitszberger operated alone for a while and got Chaffee in only in time for the Milltown robbery.

To Be Held Tomorrow.

At yesterday’s arraignment of the men, the local detectives were unable to produce exemplified copies of the warrants, but they will have them ready tomorrow and the prisoners will then be committed for thirty days pending extradition.

As Judge Daly will not return until January 7 there will probably be no attempt to bring the men back before that time, but they will likely be indicted by the Grand Jury on that date and then brought back as soon as the extradition proceedings can be arranged.

Wanted In Westchester.

Police officials in Westchester County reported yesterday that Chaffee and Bitzberger were believed to be members of a band which has looted many homes in that county. Soon after Voorhees and Watson were arrested the fingerprint expert of White Plains said that the men’s finger marks revealed their connection with robberies there.

The police of New Rochelle were seeking Voorhees and Watson for burglaries there as a result of a confession by Arthur B. Clayton, recently sent to Sing Sing, who implicated them.

Fingerprints on a safe in Pelham Manor, robbed of Liberty bonds and jewelry valued at $5,000, were believed to be those of Chaffee and Bitzberger, it was said.

The men also are alleged to have participated in the robbery of $7,000 worth of clothing from the store of Charles Wellers at Peekskill and of $5,000 worth of liquors from the country home of Harold Stearns at Tarrytown. Several other suburban robberies are attributed to them.

Inspector Coughlin received word from Pittsburgh last night that Bitzberger’s real name was Lloyd Henry Bitzburger, and that he was the son of John P. Bitzburger, a wealthy plumber of Lancaster. Bitzberger appeared in Lancaster last October and soon afterward a bakery was robbed and $3,000 in Liberty bonds taken from a safe. On Nov. 11 Bitzberger was married at Harrisburg, and five days later the First National Bank at Landisville, six miles from Lancaster, was entered and between $100,000 and $150,000 in negotiable securities taken. Bitzberger disappeared on the day of the robbery.

It is believed that Bitzberger was not connected with the big Sleepy Hollow robbery, as he did not meet Voorhees and Watson until after that time, but he is thought to have operated with them in later Westchester robberies.

It was learned today that the automobile used by the gang in the Milltown robbery was purchased by Chaffee with money furnished Bitzberger by Voorhees and Watson.


This Day in History: December 29th, 1920

This Day in History: December 29th, 1920

ARRAIGN ACCOMPLICES IN MILLTOWN BANK ROBBERY; TWO ADMIT PART IN CRIME

Chaffee and Bitzberger, Caught in New York, Confess Aiding Voorhees and Watson in Robbery- $13,000 of $27,000 Loot is Recovered-Men May Return Voluntarily.


Milltown National Bank at Michelin Tire - 1924

Jerome B. Chaffee and Harry Bitzberger of New York, self-confessed accomplices of “Sailor” Voorhees and Walter Watson in the robbery of the First National Bank at Milltown, were arraigned this morning in the Fourth Branch Court in New York City and held pending extradition to this State. It is expected that they will not fight their return to New Jersey.

Bitzberger and Chaffee were held by Magistrate McQuade for 48 hours without bail pending extradition, on a charge of robbery. Prosecutor Stricker will immediately; take steps to extradite the men within the 48-hour limit. It will be necessary to prove that they were in this State at the time the robbery occurred.

Securities valued at $10,000 stolen from the Milltown bank were recovered this morning. in addition to $2,700 previously secured. The total amount stolen from the bank was $27,000, according to the police, although officials of the institution have repeatedly declared the loss had been insignificant. Bank officials said this morning they “did not care to give out any figures,” although in some quarters it is stated the bank’s loss ran as high as $80,000. Only about $16, 000 worth of the stolen securities were negotiable, according to the police. Chester J. Levine, who was driving the automobile in which Chaffee and Bitzberger were arrested, was held in $15,000 ball on a charge of disposing of the securitles.

The capture of the men in New York City late yesterday afternoon, after a battle in the street with New York detectives, revealed the fact that Chaffee and Bitzberger remained hidden in the Milltown bank building all the time that the posse of citizens was chasing and capturing Watson and Voorhees, and that after the latter had been taken away the other two men calmly walked out unmolested, no-body having thought to look to the bank building.

Detective Fred David of Prosecutor Stricker’s staff, who traced the men to their New York addresses and who furnished the New York police with the clue that resulted in the arrest of the men yesterday, said this morning that he expected to have the men back here within three or four days, and that in all probability their cases will be dis- posed of as quickly as were those of Voorhees and Watson.

Both prisoners, he said, are dishonorably discharged regular army soldiers, who have served terms at Fort Leavenworth military prison. The men did not serve during the war, he said

Ready to Go West.

Chaffee and Bitzberger, with their wives, were on the point of leaving New York for Pittsburg when they were captured yesterday afternoon. Information had been obtained by Detective’ David that they intended to leave last night, but the men started ahead of schedule, and it was in ‘their attempt at a getaway that they were recognized by a New York detective and arrested.

Bitzberger had been trailed by Detective David to a rooming house at 235 West 73rd Street, New York. There his trail had been lost, but his wife still retained a room in the house and the place has been watched ever since the robbery, with the help of New York detectives and Pinkerton men.

Yesterday afternoon the detectives saw a taxicab drive up to the door with Chaffee, his wife, and Bitzberger. The women entered the house and returned a few hours later carrying two heavy cases, and entered their machine with the suitcases. The car drove with the women, Chaffee walking behind.

Detectives John Lawless and Conrad Manning followed Chaffee. to the corner of Broadway and 2nd street, where the taxi had pulled up, and there they got in touch with several other detectives who were in the vicinity. Chaffee spoke to the women and then walked into a cigar store on the corner and entered a telephone booth. One of the detectives went nto the next booth and heard him Arranging to borrow $100.

A few minutes later a touring car driven by Levine, with Bitzberger a passenger, drove up to the Broadway curb. Chaffee signaled the other man and got into the car. At this point, the detectives jumped on the running board. Bitzberger struck out but was beaten with a blackjack and Chaffee, who went to his assistance, also was roughly handled.

Other detectives boarded the taxi containing the women. The latter screamed and attempted to jump from the car, but a drawn revolver cowed them. The arrest was made. in full sight of hundreds of people. passing along Broadway. The prisoners were then driven to the 28th Precinct police station on West 68th street, and later to Police Headquarters.

Admit Robbery Here.

Detective David was immediately notified, and he hurried to New York. On his arrival there the prisoners were subjected to a thorough grilling, and finally admitted their share in the Milltown robbery. It was suspected that the men might be the bandits who shot and killed Edwin Andrews, a New York Jeweler, in a bold daylight holdup in his store on December 16, but employees who were brought in were unable- to identify them.

The women denied all knowledge of the robbery, and Levine was then put on the stand. He admitted that Bitzberger had asked him to dispose of some bonds, but claimed that he had refused to have anything to do with the matter. Later, however, he admitted that he had taken a package of bonds. said to be worth $10,000 and had given them to a friend to dispose of. He claimed he did not know this man’s name, but his identity was learned by the police

Chaffee was then put on the grill and he admitted participating in the Milltown robbery. He said that he had been working in New York as a chauffeur, but that Bitzberger, whom he had met while both were. prisoners at Fort Leavenworth, told him of the project and had persuaded him to go merely to drive the car.

They left New York at 8 o’clock on the night of the robbery, he said, and drove to New Brunswick, reaching the Pennsylvania depot Just before 10. Bitzberger and Voorhees, he said, went up on the westbound platform, where they broke into a railroad tool box and stole a bar, a chisel and a hacksaw. He said that Bitzberger had a set of boring tools and a can of nitroglycerine or “soup” for blowing up the safe.

The party then went to Milltown, he said, where they entered the bank. Chaffee said that he remained outside, but finally the men came back and persuaded him to go and help them, and he and Bitzberger rifled the safe deposit boxes and handed out the, securities to Voorhees and Watson, who were waiting outside.

Explosive May Be Loose.

They were surprised while at work, he declared, and be heard. scrambling and shooting. He and Bitzberger simply remained inside the bank until the coast had cleared and then they slipped out. Chaffee said that they got lost and wandered all night, finally landing at Jamesburg, where they took an early morning train to New York. On leaving the bank, he said, they stumbled into the pond in the rear and got wet up to their waists.

Chaffee said that Bitzberger had told him the nitroglycerine was thrown into the pond, but he did not know what had actually become of it, and it might be lying about the vicinity. It was powerful enough to blow up the whole bank, he said.

He declared that he knew nothing about the whereabouts of the bonds, as Bitzberger had taken. charge of them.

The latter was then brought in. At first, he denied any implication in the robbery, but when he was confronted by Chaffee he broke down and confessed. At first, he denied that anything had been stolen, but when was shown the bonds which had been recovered he claimed that these were all that had been taken. Later he was prevailed upon to admit the theft of $27.000 worth.

Chaffee said he was willing to waive extradition. He said he was. 31 years old and was born in Springfield, Mo. His father was a well-to-do mining engineer, he said, but Chaffee ran away from home at an early age and drifted to San Francisco, where he enlisted in the regular army in 1910. He was sent to the Philippines, he said, and while there he struck an officer, for which he was sentenced to five years at Fort Leavenworth. He got out in 1916 and had been in New York ever since.

Bitzberger said he is the son of a Lancaster, Pa., junk dealer. He is 29 years old. He enlisted in the army at Washington, D. C., in 1910 and while in the service he shot at an officer in an attempt to kill him and was also given five years at Fort Leavenworth. He was released about a year ago, he said. He claimed to be a bond salesman employed by H. B. Green & Co. of Lancaster, Pa.

Trailed by Local Man.

The capture of the men resulted from some clever detective work on the part of the local authorities. Prosecutor Stricker took the care up with the utmost vigor and put Detective David on the case with instructions that no excuses would be accepted and that the men must be captured at any cost. He pushed the search hard throughout.

Detective David was not notified until nine o’clock of the morning of the robbery. As soon as Voorhees and Watson were ere brought in, however, he put them on them on the grill in reference to their accomplices. He was unable to get anything but the first names of these men for which were given as “Harry” and “Jerry” but Voorhees later admitted the men was also known as “Bitz”. He said he had met the other men at Gallagher’s cabaret on Seventh avenue near 48th street, New York, about a week before.

Taking the number of the abandoned car left by the robbers, Detective David went to New York and there learned that the license had been issued about a week earlier to Jerome Chaffee of 102 West 111th The name Jerome corresponded with the “Jerry” referred to by Voorhees. Going to this address, he found that Chaffee and his wife had a room there but that Mrs. Chaffee had been away all night but had returned early in the morning. taken an overcoat for her husband, and gone away.

David also learned that Chaffee had been very friendly with a man named Harry Bitzberger who had formerly roomed there but who had moved to 288 West 73rd street. ponded with both “Harry” and “Bits” On going there, he learned Chaffee and Bitzberger had come in early that morning in a bedraggled condition and that Chaffee had later bought Bitzberger a new suit. it was learned, they received a telephone call and both men and their wives disappeared. Watson had also roomed there with his wife and Mrs. Watson disappeared, too.

Mrs. Chaffee, It was learned, was secretary to a prominent New York business man. and she was trailed daily in the hopes of locating her husband, Detective George Furgeson of the 47th Precinct of New York was assigned to aid David in this work.

It was also learned that Levine had been very intimate with Bitzberger and he was carefully watched by the detectives

The habits of the two men who were sought were well-known to the police, and every place where they were likely to go was notified to be on the lookout.

After their arrest yesterday Chaffee and Bitzberger said that they went to the Hotel Belleclaire at Broadway and 78th street after leaving the 73rd street address, registering respectively as Rogers and Bates, but after two days went to the Orleans Hotel on 80th street, registering as Rogers and Edwards

Prosecutor Stricker and Detective David have been in close touch with the case ever since the robbery and David has been in New York every night. Detective William Fitzpatrick of this county also gave considerable aid.

An overcoat, wet to the waist, and a pair of socks covered with mud were found in Chaffee’s room together with a notebook on which were bloody fingerprints, caused by Chaffee when he cut his hand in the robbery.

It is expected that the men will be brought back here within a few days. They are suspected by the New York police, however, of a number of robberies in Westchester County and they may be held there. Bitzberger is said to have a bad record.

Bitzberger said he had picked out the Milltown Bank while on a tour looking for possible places to rob. He also declared that it had been planned to attempt to seize the Michelin factory payroll.


THURSDAY, DEC. 23, 1909 – R.K. Munkittrick – The Iron Reindeer

THURSDAY, DEC. 23, 1909 – R.K. Munkittrick – The Iron Reindeer


 I’M up to date, and, be it said,

I certainly this year

Shall break and burn the ancient

sled

And cook the ancient deer.

Those things are out of date for me;

They’re now a shattered dream.

Oh, I’m as happy as can be

 About my brand new scheme.

FULL soon across the boundless

plain,

Beneath the Christmas stars,

I’m going to travel on my train

Made up of baggage cars,

And they’ll be simply stuffed with

toys

And other precious things

For little girls and little boys

For whom I spread my wings.

OH, yes, in jigtime, down the track

I’ll gayly glide along,

From home across the land and back

To fill all hearts with song.

And to my agent at each town

I’ll toss a bundle great

Each artless child with joy to crown

An’ make its heart elate.

I’LL run along on schedule time,

Through wind swept drifts of

snow.

My bell shall be the Christmas chime

That sets all hearts aglow.

And I shall call, and not in vain,

While stockingward I head

My mile a minute flying train,

“The Christmas Limited.”

THE train’s made up. Already I

Am getting up the steam,

While piling in the cars sky high

The gifts of which you dream.

With joy I stand upon my head

And shout both far and near,

“Goodby unto the ancient sled-

 All hail the iron deer!”

-R. K. Munkittrick in Success.

Dorothy Jensen Blanchard and all Milltown Veterans will be honored at the Milltown Historical Society’s Holiday Concert and Festival on Saturday December 10 at the American Legion Post 25, 4 JFK Drive

Dorothy Blanchard

High Desert Resident Was One of the First Women To Serve in U.S. Navy:

—Son-in-Law Recounts Dorothy Blanchard’s Adventures 1943-1952

  The following article was written for the Apache Plume by Wilderness Cañon resident, Bomi Parakh, about his mother-in-law Dorothy Jensen Blanchard, now age 97.  Bomi, his wife Linda, and Dorothy moved to High Desert last year.  From highdesertliving.net

By Bomi Parakh, Wilderness Cañon

  On a warm August morning in 1943, a young woman from Milltown, New Jersey boarded a train to New York City. “All aboard!” the conductor yelled. As the train pulled out of the station, she noticed a tear in her father’s eye. Louis Theodore Jensen was sad to see his daughter go, but proud that his “Dart” was leaving to serve her country. Dorothy, as she was known to others, remembers the wonderful posters inviting young women to join the Navy; “Join the WAVES,” the posters said. “Your country needs you now.”  

  On her short trip to New York City, and then to Hunter College in the Bronx, Dorothy couldn’t have imagined that in a few short weeks, she would find herself in full naval uniform, looking much like the smiling, attractive, young women in the posters she admired. 

  A student dorm at Hunter College had been hurriedly converted to a modest residence for incoming WAVES. It would soon house some 20 nervous female applicants, from near and far, all wanting to become WAVES. Bunk beds, muster at the crack of dawn, beds to be made taut enough to bounce coins off, surprise inspections, marching in formation, tours of duty in the “spud-locker,” and one shared bathroom; there was no hint of any of this in those glamorous posters inviting women to become WAVES. The training proved too demanding for some; others didn’t make the grade. But not Dorothy. Once she decided to do something, there was no going back….just the kind of person the military was looking for during the war.

                                   Top One Percentile

  Within a few weeks, Dorothy was told she had successfully completed her training at Hunter College in the top one percentile. There was no need for more training. 

  Eleanor Roosevelt had been instrumental in creating the WAVES. It was only fitting that the First Lady would grace Dorothy’s platoon with a graduation salute.

    Ceremonies aside, the country was at war; there was a job to be done. Allied merchant ships had to be routed, watched and protected along “safe conduct” Chief Petty Officer Dorothy served as routes in the Atlantic. A private secretary to Admiral Burke large wall-map decorated the naval intelligence office and showed the location of each merchant ship in transit. While others in her class were shuffled off to Stillwater for more training, Dorothy was asked to report for duty on Monday morning at the Merchant Shipping Intelligence Office. 

   In the little town of Milltown, life pretty much revolved around church and Dorothy, a brand new WAVE, 1943 family. The Great Depression had emphasized the importance of these two institutions. Now, the little girl from Milltown was becoming part of a new and larger family of the armed services. Before long, she was appointed private secretary to Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, U.S. Navy, handling all official naval correspondence, including top secret documents. “Loose lips sink ships,” they said during the war and Dorothy took note. Dorothy’s work gave her a front row seat when the National Security Act of 1947 was passed, and when the Air Force was created. Admiral Burke, or as he was known in the Navy, “31-Knot Burke,” was a central figure in the birth of the U.S. Air Force. It was a painful birth; the Navy had its aircraft carriers and the army had its Army Air Corps. Now, they had to be reassembled and reassigned. Dorothy was a witness to the transition.

                                Pioneering Woman

  Working for Admiral Burke, Dorothy began to realize that there were fewer limits on what she could achieve compared to her dear mother, Anna Genevieve Jensen. Like other pioneering women in the military, Dorothy was blazing a trail for other women to follow. These women would transform themselves, and in the process, they were transforming a nation.   

  In 1949, President Truman named John F. Floberg as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air. Secretary Floberg was a supporter of Admiral Rickover’s proposal to create a nuclear navy. Eight years her senior, Floberg graduated from the U.S. Armed Forces training center in atomic weapons at Sandia National Laboratories at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dorothy was becoming Floberg’s right-hand for administrative duties. She edited speeches, and toured naval installations from Tunisia to Bermuda, Morocco to Scotland, and France to Newfoundland. Little did she know then, that later in life, she would move to Albuquerque, not far from the Kirtland Air Force Base where Secretary Floberg served. 

                                   A Fateful Day…

  Valentine’s Day 1950 was a fateful day. It was raining hard. At a bus stop in Washington DC, Dorothy was waiting in her military issue raincoat. Two sailors heading to West Potomac Park asked if she needed a ride. The Nash they drove looked like a turtle. Dorothy would never accept a ride from strangers. But these were Navy men and she had learned to trust that family. She accepted the ride. One of the sailors was an aerographer. There was some polite chatter. They dropped Dorothy off at the 

women’s barracks. 

  She thought nothing of that day; she had an important job in the Navy. The U.S. military had gained a commanding presence in the high seas. Dorothy felt at home in the Pentagon, and was working with officers just a few levels below the president of the United States. Unbeknownst to her, during the car ride months earlier, she had made a lasting impression on the aerographer in the Nash. He had been trying to locate Dorothy; it took him six months, but his persistence (and naval intelligence, he joked) paid off. The shy aerographer decided to follow his instincts and his heart to Dorothy’s doorstep. A little more than a year after they met, Dorothy Josephine Jensen and Earl Harrison Blanchard were married at a local church. It was a simple ceremony…just a few witnesses and the reverend. The length of a marriage, they say, is inversely proportional to the amount spent on the wedding. Dot and Doc were married for life. 

In 1952, the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland saw Hollywood legend Shirley Temple give birth to her son. In an adjoining room, Dorothy gave birth to a six-and-a-half pound baby girl. As was customary in those days, Dorothy had to leave the Navy when Linda was born. But Dorothy never really left the Navy. They say, “You can take the gal out of the Navy, but you can’t take the Navy out of the gal.” She promptly joined her husband in his naval tours of duty and meteorological adventures….first to London, then to Hawaii, and back to the U.S. mainland. 

                                  A Special Place

  The Navy will always have a special place in her heart. Dorothy is quick to point out that some of the first cruise missiles against ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq were fired from the USS Arleigh Burke, a destroyer named after her mentor and hero. If she were a little younger (she is 97 now), she says she would go to war and serve her country all over again. Her friends and family believe it. They know she’s part of the “Greatest Generation.” She has fond memories of being in the military. These days it shows every time she gets a call from the Veterans Administration, the USAA or NFCU customer service representatives. “Is this Chief Blanchard?” they ask …and a smile spreads across her face. 

  After their service in the military, Doc and Dot settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Doc went to college on the GI Bill, and Dot got a job at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yogi Berra said, “You have to give one hundred percent in the first half of the game. If that isn’t enough, in the second half, you have to give what’s left.” Dorothy Jensen Blanchard did that.

  Dorothy is fond of saying, “God gives us memories so we have roses in December.” One rose in that bouquet has “Navy” stamped all over it.

Walking Tour of Historic Milltown

Milltown was created on land where the Lenape people lived and passed through for thousands of years. The Mill Pond, before the dam was built, was a stream running through town and gave the early residents a clean source of water and fish to eat. Our local highways were once trails that Lenape traveled to spend time at the shore in the summer. Many arrowheads and other tools have been unearthed here in town to show that what we now consider “our land”, was once the home of the Unami branch of the Lenape. (The History Buff’s Guide to Middlesex County. 2008) 

What follows are brief stories of some of the uses of buildings and sites that you see as you walk and drive through the streets of Milltown, with links to further information. It is not complete, and you may contact the Milltown Historical Society with more information on any of the buildings listed below, or with a new entry at barbarawp7@gmail.com.

Click the square with arrow top left corner of the map to see the map locations in order.

1. Milltown Eureka Engine Co. #1 – 132 South Main St.
The building played a very important role in the history of Milltown, serving capacities crucial to the community. It was built as Milltown Public School #78, and served as a school until the Milltown Public School was built on W. Church St. When Milltown was incorporated in 1896, it was the Borough Hall, and the municipal courthouse, as well.
The Milltown Fire Department was incorporated on Feb. 22, 1911 as The Eureka Fire Company No. 1. In 1922, this Company was disbanded and two new Companies were Incorporated:Eureka Engine Co. No. 1 located on South Main Street which currently houses 2 Engines. At this time, this is the oldest structure in Middlesex County housing an active and functioning Fire Department.
Eureka Hose Company No. 1 located on Cottage Avenue currently houses 1 Engine and 1 Ladder.  Eureka Engine Company No. 1, of the Milltown Fire Department, continues to operate out of the building to this day but not for much longer! Although the cupola is gone and an addition has been made, the firehouse looks much the way it did in 1889. The original blackboards from its school days are still being used to log fire calls. https://milltownhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com                                                                                                                                                         

2. Milltown Historical Society – 116 South Main St.
The Milltown Historical Society was created in 1968 by a group of residents who wanted to record and preserve our town’s Victorian era founding. Two homes from the mid 19th Century serve as display spaces and meeting rooms for our members today. New ongoing projects are to remember the importance of the Michelin Tire Company in Milltown’s growth,  including the more difficult stories of Milltown’s racist incidents. The more that we can be open to hear those stories, the more we can move forward to being the inclusive, friendly community that we hope to be. http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/1239749:Photo:22?context=latest

3. Schwendeman’s Taxidermy – 119 South Main St.
Milltown’s longest surviving family business, the Schwendeman family bought the Main St. property in 1859, and opened their taxidermy shop in 1921. Although the business is not currently active, the family homestead in the log cabin on Kuhlthau Ave. is now owned by the Borough of Milltown, and will become a nature center and the future home of the Lawrence Brook Watershed Partnership. https://www.taxidermy.net/ken/?p=719 

4. Ellsworth & Irma Lown home – 80 South Main St.
The large building at 80 South Main St., originally owned by Edward W. Schlosser, was the location of Kuhlthau’s general store and the Milltown Post Office. Electricity was added to the general store in 1906. After owner William Kuhlthau’s death in 1939 the building was sold to Ellsworth and Irma Lown, who transformed the store and post office into apartments. The Lowns lived with their family in one of the units, and maintained a woodworking shop in the back building.

5. St Paul’s Church – 62 South Main St.
Began as a church for German immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century. The first church building, a wooden structure, was dedicated in 1873. The present brick building was erected in 1923. http://milltownhs.ning.com

6. Bites and Bowls and The Ice Cream Depot – 28 South Main St.
This building on South Main St. built in 1888, was known as Conrad Kohlhepp’s Union Hotel. In 1900, when he died, it was taken over by his son in-law and was renamed Denhardt’s Hall. It later housed a candy store, and once, it was an insurance company office. The Milltown Tavern was there for many years, and many feel that it served the best pizza in Milltown. Many sons of Milltown were on their slow pitch softball team that had a lively rivalry against the Golden Lion Tavern teamin the 1960’s and 1970’s. John Capone, who owned the tavern, had an appliance store there in the late 1950’s. It was one of three locations in town where Milltown’s former minor league ballplayer Ray Kimber sold clothing.  https://www.bitesbowls.com/index.php

7. Karma Cat and Zen Dog39 South Main St./Holsten’s Fuel 1 Station – 29 South Main St.
Across the street from the current location of the Ice Cream Depot is the spot that was the home of Jensen’s Hardware, Jensen’s Texaco Service Station, and Auer’s Seed Store. You can tell we had a lot of farms, when a whole store was dedicated to seeds! Christian Jensen opened a barbershop there in 1910, and it later became the Hardware Store. The service station was expanded after the demolition of that store and home. The first building used by the Milltown Rescue Squad was built in the backyard on Jensen’s property, behind the hardware store. When a call was received Mr. Jensen had a list of squad members by the phone that he would call until he got three men to respond. There were no whistles back then, however; I have seen a metal gong that may have been used at one time to alert members. The building earlier served as a Miss Jackie’s Dance Studio, a Scuba Diving Shop, a picture frame shop, and a yoga studio.  https://karmacatzendog.org

8. Golden Lion Inn23 South Main St.
The Golden Lion building was erected in 1903 and originally called Sayre’s Hotel. E.F. Sayre’s original Sayre’s Hotel in Milltown was a separate building, located on Washington Ave near where the post office is located. The name of the Hotel was changed to the Hotel Marguerite, and when it changed hands again it was Findon’s Tavern, which was popular for their fried fish dinners. It has been known as the Golden Lion for many years now, and is renowned for having the best chicken wings in central New Jersey.  https://www.goldenlionmilltown.com/index.html

9. Raritan River Railroad Passenger and Freight Station Washington Avenue
The Raritan River Railroad had an important role in the early years of the Twentieth Century, when our Freight station was built. Passengers could travel from Milltown and go to South Amboy in one direction, or to New Brunswick in the other. Once in New Brunswick, travelers could find their way to other lines and travel up and down the East coast. The building at its current location is slated to be moved across the road to Open Space and restored and conserved by the Milltown Historical Society as a place to memorialize the importance of the railroad to our town and others on the line.

10. The Mill Condominiums 40 Washington Avenue

The Mill Condominiums building was erected in 1899 by Milltown’s first Mayor, John C. Evans. It was originally the India Rubber Company, and went out of business in 1901. It was later the Russell Playing Card Company, and before it’s days as a factory ended, was used as Decorated Metal Manufacturers. This building was deemed a National Historic Site.

11. Speedway Gas Station

 The Speedway Station at the corner of Main St. and Washington Ave has gone through many changes. In the early days of Milltown, it was the site of the Brunswick Traction Company powerhouse and trolley barn. In the 1950’s, it was the location of a classic New Jersey diner. Eventually, the Hess Gas Station was established at this spot, where generations of Milltown families purchased Hess Trucks every winter for their children. Now the station is owned by Speedway.

12. Milltown Bridge Main St. at Mill Pond

Main Street’s bridge over the Mill Pond has undergone many changes over the years, as methods of transportation have evolved. Milltown’s history of flooding has caused the bridge to be rebuilt over the years so that the street would be passable in times of heavy rain. Early sources list it as a wooden bridge, then a metal truss bridge. The bridge is the perfect spot to photograph Milltown’s iconic water tower and smokestack, our remaining landmarks of the Michelin Tire Factory. The Dam under the bridge is historic itself, as it was a milldam, that is a dam built across a stream to form a pond so that the water is deep enough to turn the waterwheel of a mill. And that’s how we got our name of Milltown!

13. Michelin Factory Ford Ave.

The French Michelin Tire Company located its first American factory in Milltown, at a site that had been in the rubber industry for about 50 years. First, Christopher Meyer, and then the AV International Rubber Companies had factories located along the Lawrence Brook. But in 1907, industry became big business in Milltown with the construction of the Michelin tire factory. Professor Pau Medrano-Bigas’ dissertation on advertising by Michelin includes the most complete description of the history of this business. The chapters on the Rubber industry in New Jersey and about Michelin’s years in town are very relevant to the study of Milltown history. The Forgotten Years of Bibendum. Michelin’s American Period in Milltown: Design, Illustration and Advertising by Pioneer Tire Companies (1900-1930)
14.  Wells Fargo Bank – 15 North Main St.
The First National Bank of Milltown opened on January 15, 1917 in a space made available by the Michelin Company in the back of Building #1 on North Main Street.. There was a bank robbery of the First National Bank of Milltown on December 20, 1920. The first and only bank in town, it later moved to 44 North Main Street, which is now Hanna’s Electric and then to the building across the street at 15 North Main. The First National Bank of Milltown folded on August 14, 1964 when it merged with the Edison Bank. This location was where the children of Michelin’s French speaking employees sent their children to French School, where lessons were taught in French four days a week, and in English one day a week.
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/french-veterans-wwi?commentId=1239749%3AComment%3A4124
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/french-school-pageant
15. Francesco’s Pizza building – 23 North Main St.
This building was built as the Michelin Community Center. It served as the cafeteria for Michelin employees, and also housed a movie theater and bowling alley. The theater remained there for some years after Michelin left town, as Nancy Lown, who grew up here recalls going to the movies there on Saturday nights. Her father, Ellsworth (Lowny) Lown remodeled the building for its new owner Louis Lukach. The part of the building that has been a gym used to be the Milltown Post Office in the 1960’s.

http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/michelin-community-house

16. Masonic Lodge – 30 North Main St.
This site was built in 1907 as the Redman’s Hall. The Improved Order of Redmen was established in North America in 1834 as a patriotic, fraternal organization . Ironically, although the name was to honor native Americans, the organization was solely by and for white men. At its peak, the local organization had 500 members and supported various charitable youth and educational programs. The women’s branch was known as the Degree of Pocohantas. In 1974 the all-white clause for membership was eliminated. Redman’s Hall is now the Masonic Hall, established in 1957, above the Milltown Diner, and clothing designer Sally Miller’s store .The Milltown Masons have their own website, with history and photos.

17. Dr. Kelleman’s Office – 36 North Main St.

This next building on Main Street is the former site of Fox’s Milltown 5-and-10 cent store. In later years it was the location of Rocco’s Barber Shop. Now Dr Kelleman’s ophthalmology office and eye glass studio use the building.

18. Hanna’s Electric – 44 North Main St.

Previously owned by the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (Carpenter’s Hall), it was originally the First National Bank of Milltown. Built around 1920, the bank moved in 1958 to what is now the Wells Fargo Bank at 15 North Main, next to the Milltown Pharmacy.

19. Joyce Kilmer School – 21 West Church St.

The present site of Joyce Kilmer School was first used in 1907, moving from the original site on South Main Street. The original building stayed in use until it was condemned in 1978. The school, originally called Milltown Public School, was renamed to Joyce Kilmer School in 1961 in honor of New Brunswick poet, Joyce Kilmer, who died in World War I. Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees” is his most famous work. Gail Christ Piccirillo won $25 for suggesting Kilmer’s name for the school.

20. Michelin Field – Sherman Avenue

Home of the semi-professional Michelin Tire Company Baseball Team during the 1920s.  The field is now for Little League and public use.
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/wide-open-michelin-field?context=latest
21. United Methodist Church – 47 North Main St.

Established in 1844. A new brick church was built in 1873 replacing the original wood structure. It was remodeled and rededicated in 1926.
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/united-methodist-church

22. A&M Vacuum Repair – 66 North Main St.
Established in 1886, this location housed the first Milltown Post Office and General Store, established by Philip Kuhlthau. For many years this was the Milltown Hardware Store, and then Capella Brothers Hardware Store.
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/back-of-kuhlthaus-general
https://www.aandmvacuum.com

23. Shanahan’s Bakery – 84 North Main St.
This building was one of Milltown’s early schools. It predates the Milltown Public School, which was built in 1907 at the location of Joyce Kilmer School, and its original location was on School Street. In 1917, this site housed the Milltown Post Office. John and Kay Shanahan opened the S & S Bakery here in 1969, with his renowned Irish soda bread, rye bread, “low calorie” crumb cake, and delicious donuts. Now I’m hungry.

24. Valley National Bank – 94 North Main St.
 The Evans-Forney House: The home of John A. Evans, father of the first mayor of Milltown, was built in 1828. Later owned by Dr. N.N. Forney, Sr., it became Dr. Sharma’s office, and then Dr. Sharma decided to sell. It was one of the few Victorian homes left in town, and by citizens’ efforts, was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, the demolition still occured.
http://www.keepmilltownhistoric.org

25. Provident Bank –  97 North Main St.
On this site was the home owned by John Evans, known as the Kuhlthau House. John A. Evans was the father of MIlltown’s First Mayor, John C. Evans. The house was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Lawrence Brook Savings and Loan Association.

26. Legends Caterers – 122 North Main St.
Legends is a sandwich shop, delicatessen, and catering business, but this storefront formerly housed Family Pharmacy and Gifts, which was owned by pharmacist Charlie Katz. The Sentinel Newspaper was published out of this building in the 1950’s, when Rod Leury, author of The History of Milltown, was the Sentinel editor.

http://legendscaterers.com
27. Revilla Grooves & Gear 126 North Main St.

Milltown draws customers from far and near to Revilla’s Grooves & Gear, a used and new vinyl record and high quality stereo equipment shop. The previous occupant of this location was Lionel Bannister, whose sign and trophy making business was there 63 years, since he returned from the Korean War. At its peak, the Bannister business employed 20 people.


28. Crabiel’s Home for Funerals – 170 North Main St.
The original owner of the building was Dr. Ferdinand Riva in the 1890s. The house eventually came under the control of the Michelin Tire Company. Many Michelin executives stayed in the house, including several members of the Crabiel family who worked for Michelin. The house was later sold to the Booreem family, and in 1955 the house was purchased by Joseph M. Crabiel. The following year, the house was officially the Crabiel Home for Funerals. The house stands as an example of late 1880 architecture with its well preserved original woodwork and structure.

29. Our Lady of Lourdes Church – 233 North Main St.
Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church began as a Mission Church in 1912, associated with Sacred Heart Church. It primarily served French families who had moved to Milltown as employees of the Michelin Tire Company. It was established as a Parish in 1921.
http://milltownhs.ning.com/photo/olol-1942

30. Vanderbilt Coles Schnatter home – 269 North Main St.
Built around 1750, with modernizations after that date. Once owned by the Misses Addie and Rosa Vanderbilt, a prominent local family. Another noted owner of this home over the years was Mrs. Coles, who was a history buff and one of the founders of the Milltown Historical Society. The current owner, Mr. Wayne Schnatter, maintains the  appearance of Milltown’s oldest home with pride.

The South Main St. Firehouse

Eureka Engine Company #1 with Fire Museum at rear of property

The Milltown Fire Department was incorporated on Feb. 22, 1911 as The Eureka Fire Company No. 1. In 1922, this Company was disbanded and two new Companies were Incorporated:Eureka Engine Co. No. 1 located on South Main Street which currently houses 2 Engines. 
Eureka Hose Company No. 1 located on Cottage Avenue which currently houses 1 Engine and 1 Ladder. Eureka Engine Company No. 1, of the Milltown Fire Department, continues to operate out of the building to this day but not for much longer! Although the cupola is gone and an addition has been made, the firehouse looks much the way it did in 1889. The original blackboards from its school days are still being used to log fire calls.

The building played a very important role in the history of Milltown, serving capacities crucial to the community. In addition, this is the oldest structure in Middlesex County housing an active and functioning Fire Department.

Milltown Fire Departent org. 1911 Banner