The Jail of 1829

A Look Inside The History of Cape May County, New Jersey from 1897

Summer is here and that means many folks in the Mid-Atlantic region will be heading for the Jersey Shore. Cape May is a shore destination popular for its laid back pace and beautiful Victorian architecture and quieter and relaxing environment. The history of that area extends back to the earliest settlement of the Mid-Atlantic region.

In the late 19th century Lewis T. Stevens gathered journals and pored over historical records from all over the region to compile The History Of Cape May County, New Jersey, From The Original Times To The Present Day, Embracing An Account Of The Aboriginees; The Dutch In Delaware Bay; The Settlement Of The County; The Whaling; The Growth Of The Villages; The Revolution And Patriots; The Establishment Of The New Government; The War Of 1812; The Progress Of The County; And The Soldiers Of The Civil War. The volume was published in 1897 and is available as page images and full text in the New Jersey County Histories in our American County Histories.


The History of Cape May County” is the result of many years of research, and the author hopes that it will meet with the approbation of the public. Some ten years ago the author began the keeping of a scrap book of cape May county history, among other things, and this constant accumulation of facts resulted, about a year ago, in a determination on the part of the author to prepare a history of the county, which would portray its gradual development and the progress of its people from the earliest times. The cause which led to its preparation principally was the fact that no history had ever before been published, excepting the sketch of Dr. Maurice Beesley, in 1857, which contained only fifty printed pages.

The information obtained for this volume was largely supplemented from the collections of the New York Historical Society, the New Jersey Historical Society and the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Many facts were gathered also from the articles of Francis B. Lee, Esq., of Trenton, and the author has also been aided in his work by Colonel J. Granville Leach, of Philadelphia; County Clerk Edward L. Rice, and Mr. Aaron Leaming. The diaries of Aaron Leaming the first, of Aaron Learning the second, and of Jacob Spicer the second have been perused and liberal extracts made from the same. The work of Dr. Beesley has been woven into this volume and proper credit given to him for every fact for which he is responsible.

The county of Cape May has a most honorable history and the one aim of the author has been to tell the facts as he finds them and yet try to keep away from the dryness which characterizes such works. There may be errors in the volume, but the author has been very careful in the verification of dates and names. The different ways of spelling family names is caused by the literal copying of the records front which they are taken.

If this volume serves to preserve to the people the history of the county, the author will feel that he has been repaid for his efforts.

Lewis T. Stevens
Cape May, May 15, 1897.

Steamboat Landing, Cape May Point, in 1859

Steamboat Landing, Cape May Point, in 1859




  • CHAPTER I.– The Indians and the Dutch Explorers
  • CHAPTER II.– Pioneers and Whaling
  • CHAPTER III.– The Settlers and Their New Homes
  • CHAPTER IV.– Life Early in the Eighteenth Century
  • CHAPTER V.– Development of Religious Denominations
  • CHAPTER VI.– Maritime Tendencies and Cattle Owning
  • CHAPTER VII.– Ancient Loans and Taxes
  • CHAPTER VIII.– The Religious Controversies
  • CHAPTER IX.– West Jersey Society Rights
  • CHAPTER X.– Jacob Spicer and His Sayings
  • CHAPTER XI.– Aaron Leaming and His Times
  • CHAPTER XII.– John Hatton, the Tory
  • CHAPTER XIII.– Preparations for War
  • CHAPTER XIV.– The Revolution Begins
  • CHAPTER XV.– Cape May Patriots
  • CHAPTER XVI.– The Ending and Independence
  • CHAPTER XVII.– The County in 1800
  • CHAPTER XVIII.– The War of 1812
  • CHAPTER XIX.– Progress After the War
  • CHAPTER XX.– Noted Men of a Generation
  • CHAPTER XXI.– The Decade Before the Rebellion
  • CHAPTER XXII.– Opening of the Civil War
  • CHAPTER XXIII.– First New Jersey Cavalry
  • CHAPTER XXIV.– The Enlistments of 1862
  • CHAPTER XXV.– The Campaigns of 1864 and 1865
  • CHAPTER XXVI.– Life Following the Rebellion
  • CHAPTER XXVII.– Fifteen Years of Prosperity
  • CHAPTER XXVIII.– Distinguished Visitors
  • CHAPTER XXIX.– Cape Island
  • CHAPTER XXX.– Cape May City
  • CHAPTER XXXI– The Boroughs
Clerk and Surrogate Offices

Clerk and Surrogate Offices


  • Cold Spring Presbyterian Church Frontispiece
  • Map of Cape May County
  • Townsend Coat of Arms
  • Steamboat Landing, Cape May Point, in 1859
  • Congress Hall, Gape Island, in 1859
  • The Carlton, Cape May Point
  • President Harrison’s Cottage, Cape May Point
  • Marine Villa, Cape May
  • Joshua Townsend
  • The Jail of 1829
  • Rev. Moses Williamson
  • Jonathan Hand
  • James L. Smith
  • Joseph S. Leach
  • The Court House
  • Jesse H. Diverty
  • Dr. Maurice Beesley
  • William S. Hooper
  • George W. Smith
  • Henry W. Sawyer
  • William J. Sewell
  • Jonathan F. Leaming
  • Clerk and Surrogate Offices
  • Thomas R. Brooks
  • Richard S. Leaming
  • Dr. Alexander Young
  • Joseph E. Hughes
  • William T. Stevens
  • Waters B. Miller
  • Alfred Cooper
  • Thomas E. Ludlam
  • Dr. Walter S. Leaming
  • Eugene C. Cole
  • Dr. Anna M. Hand
  • The Jail of 1894
  • Edmund L. Ross
  • Andrew J. Tomlin
  • The Synagogue, Woodbine
  • Aaron W. Hand
  • Robert E. Hand
  • First Baptist Church, Cape May
  • Dr. James Mecray
  • Joseph Q. Williams
  • Frederick J. Melvin
  • James M. E. Hildreth

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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