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Obituaries   >   New Jersey   >   December 2,   1896

All of Them Had Been Prominent in Red Bank Affairs - Mr. Conover's Various and Extensive Real Estate Enterprises.

During the past week three men who have been prominently connected with the town of Red Bank have died. The men were Wm. W. Conover, Richard Applegate and Wm. H. Sickles. Of these the best known was Wm. W. Conover. He was well known as a man interested in real estate, and he had been connected with some of the biggest real estate deals ever made in the county. He was taken sick while the papers were being arranged for the sale of the Port-au-Peck property, which he bought from the Newbold estate several years ago, and he had gone to New York to close the sale. The property was to have been sold for $300,000, but before the papers were ready for Mr. Conover's signature he became so sick that he had to be brought home. When he came to Red Bank he took to his bed, from which he never rose. From the time he was first taken sick he gave up all hope of recovery.

Mr. Conover was 72 years old and was born near Leedsville, on what is now known as the D. D. Withers farm, and is owned by L. S. Thompson. When Mr. Conover was a young man the meat used in the cities was not produced in the West, but was raised n the East, and in Monmouth county an extensive trade was done in raising and fattening cattle and sheep for market. Mr. Conover engaged in buying and selling cattle and was one of the largest drovers in the county. He continued in this line until the competition of the West broke up the business.

Mr. Conover married Angeline Hance, daughter of Hannah and Eleazer Hance of Rumson. He lived at Rumson for a short time after he was married and then moved to Red Bank, where he had since resided. He leaves a widow and three daughters. The daughters are Virginia C., wife of Justus E. Ralph of New York; Annie, wife of George O. Waterman of Red Bank; and Miss Rebecca Conover. Another daughter, Susie, who married J. Dey Conover of Middletown, died a number of years ago, leaving one child.

Mr. Conover was one of the first to recognize the advantages of Rumson Neck as a place for summer homes of New York business men, and he did much to induce its settlement by these people. He bought liberally of the lands on Rumson Neck, and every such purchase proved profitable. It was his boast that he had never lost a cent of money on any land he had ever bought. He bought land all over the county and even he himself had no idea of the amount of land he owned. He was frequently urged to have a complete search made of all his property, but he never got around to doing it. He owned a great deal of land down in the pines which he had never seen, but which he had bought at a price which, as he said, was cheap enough, even if it was not worth anything. He was probably the largest holder of real estate in Monmouth county at the time of his death. He invariably put a high price on the property he had for sale, and if it was not sold at the figure he set he kept it. A few years ago he tried to buy several thousand acres of land in the pine barrens for uses for a railroad company which wanted a big tract on which to build a circular track, so that they might use it to experiment with a new motor. He was forced to drop this scheme because of the high price asked by some of the parties whose land was wanted.

He was in favor of all kinds of public improvements and was one of the most public spirited men of the county. He was ready to back up his judgment with his money, and invested largely in any improvement which promised to be profitable. He was the chief owner of the Long Branch sewer system, and he was a great advocate of trolley railroads.

Mr. Conover was a bluff man, with a rough exterior, but he was a man whose sympathies were easily worked upon. He made no pretense whatever to goodness or charity, but the number of people whom he had helped was almost innumerable. Since his death the number of persons who have told of Mr. Conover's goodness to them has been remarkable, and it probable that no man who ever died in Red Bank had so many sincere mourners.

He was a very early riser, and his hour for getting up was six o'clock in the winter and five o'clock in the summer. He probably endorsed more votes for various people than any other man in the county and any man could get his name on a note if he could tell a plausible story. Mr. Conover once told the writer that no matter how early he got up in the morning he always found somebody waiting for him to endorse a note.

He was an intense abolitionist, and during the war his hatred of slavery gained for him the name of "Black Bill" Conover. There were several other William Conovers in the neighborhood at that time, and the necessity of distinguishing them apart was another reason for the name. This name of "Black Bill" Conover stuck to him all his life, even after those who remembered how it had been gained grew to consider it as a title of honor.

Mr. Conover would never make a will. When he was urged to do so he would say that it was enough for him to make money, and that he would let those who came after him take care of it. It is said that during his last sickness he executed a sort of will making George O. Waterman, one of his sons-in-law, his executor. Unless this had been done none of his property could have been sold without recourse to the courts, on account of the child of his dead daughter Susie being under age. Under this will the property will be divided as though no will had been made, and the real estate can be sold without difficulty.

His funeral was held on Monday and was one of the largest ever held in Red Bank. The house could not contain those who wished to pay the last tribute of respect to the dead. The bearers were Henry M. Nevius, John A. Worthley, I. B. Edwards, I. H. Adlem. James H. Peters and Capt. James S. Throckmorton. The Episcopal service was read and the burial was at Fair View.

Richard Applegate died on Sunday morning shortly after midnight from general old age. He had been sick for a long time and his death was not a matter of surprise. He was born on the Applegate homestead at Nut Swamp in 1820, and in 1849 he married Mary Hance, daughter of Edward Hance, who lived near Tinton Falls. Shortly after his marriage he bought the farm near Tinton Fall, now owned by Peter Castler. He worked this farm successfully for about twenty years, when he moved to Red Bank. He occupied the house on Front street, adjoining the store of J. Trafford Allen, and after a short residence there he moved to the homestead farm at Nut Swamp, where he lived two or three years. Then he moved back to Red Bank and built the house on Maple avenue, on the site of the house which he occupied at the time of his death. This house was afterward burned down, and soon after its destruction he rebuilt the present house on the old foundations.

Mr. Applegate, while not a rich man, was in very comfortable circumstances. He made his money at farming during the years when farming was a much more profitable business than it is at present. He leaves two children. They are William Applegate, the proprietor of the store known by the firm name of Hendrickson & Applegate; and Joseph, a younger son. A daughter died when she was about eighteen years old, and there were also one or two other children who died in infancy. Besides the two sons Mr. Applegate leaves two brothers and three sisters. The brothers are John S. Applegate of Red Bank and Joseph Applegate of Nut Swamp. The sisters are Mrs. Ann Smith of Boston; Mrs. Catharine Hendrickson of Middletown; and Mrs. George F. Cooper of Red Bank.

The funeral was held at the house yesterday afternoon. The service was conducted by Rev. J. K. Manning. The burial was in the family plot in Fair View cemetery. The pall-bearers were T. W. Throckmorton, Theodore Sickles, Theodore F. White, William T. Corlies, John Smith and J. Trafford Allen.

Mr. Applegate was a descendant of Bartholomew Applegate, who came to Monmouth county about 1650, and in 1674 the records show that he bought land near the Navesink Highlands from the Indians. After his purchase and up to the present time this land has been known as "Applegate's Landing." Part of this original purchase is still in the possession of descendants of Bartholomew Applegate. During the Revolutionary war the Applegates were patriots, and during the civil war Mr. Applegate and his brothers were sturdy supporters of the war.

In politics Mr. Applegate, like all the other members of his family, was an uncompromising Republican. He was for years one of the Republican war-horses of the township. When he was most active in politics there were but two polling places in Shrewsbury township. Pearson Hendrickson was at that time the leader of the Democracy in the western part of the township, and there was great rivalry between Mr. Applegate and Mr. Hendrickson as to who should control the Macedonia vote. Mr. Applegate was almost always victorious in these contests. He held a number of places under the township government, and for several years he was the chosen freeholder from Shrewsbury township. He was also a member of the township committee. When the borough of Red Bank was organized he served several terms as commissioner. The last office he held was that of street superintendent of the town.

Mr. Sickles was originally a resident of Marlboro township. He married a daughter of the late Garrett D. Hendrickson of Wickatunk. Mr. Sickles owned a large farm in Marlboro township and he gave much of his time to the raising of fast horses. He bred and raised the fast horse, George M. Patchen. This horse he sold before it made its record for speed, and he got only a comparatively small sum for it. About twenty-five years ago he sold his farm and moved to Red Bank. He bought a triangular strip of land from Henry C. J. Schroeder, where he made his home. This property was on Broad street and is the plot now occupied by St. James's church and rectory. Mr. Sickles made a number of improvements to the property, and he adorned his lawn with a statue of Atalanta and with casts of deer and other animals. His place was for a time the showiest in Red Bank. He engaged in the real estate business, but was not successful. Ten or twelve years ago his Broad street property was sold by the sheriff and he moved to New York. Subsequently he moved to Oceanic, where he remained until his death. He leaves one son, who is engaged in the real estate business in New York at the present time. His widow also survives him.


Henry Rex.

Henry Rex, a resident of Long Branch for nineteen years, died at that place last Wednesday from paralysis, aged 67 years. About six months ago he was sunstruck and in October he was stricken with paralysis. Since that time he had been in very poor health. Two weeks previous to his death he was conscious only at intervals. Mr. Rex was born at Lancashire, England. When a lad about six years old he came to this country with his father. He settled in New York, where he learned the carpenter trade, which occupation he followed all his life. He was a Free Mason and was a member of the carpenters' union. He was also a member of the Methodist church. A widow and six children survive him. The children are Charles Rex of Oceanic; Mrs. Walter L. Mason of Red Bank; Mrs. Emma J. Ferguson and William P. Rex of Woodside, Long Island.

Mrs. Catherine Muckey.

Mrs. Catherine Muckey died on Friday in her rooms in the Child building on Broad street, aged 76 years and 10 months. Her death was caused by cancer. For the past six months she had been confined to her bed the greater part of the time. She was a member of the First Methodist church and was a regular attendant at its services when her health would permit her to go out. She leaves five children. They are Mrs. Joshua Bennett and Mrs. Bessie Owens of Red Bank; Mrs. William Cowle of the Highlands; and Mrs. Louis Astfalk and William Muckey of New York. Her funeral was held at one o'clock on Sunday from the First Methodist church. Rev. E. C. Hancock officiated. The interment was at Little Silver. The pall bearers were James H. Sickles, John P. Elliott, A. C. Harrison and David Allen.

Mrs. Margaret Scott.

Mrs. Margaret Scott of Belford, wife of Thomas Scott, who had been sick with heart trouble for the past two years, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. John M. Johnson, last Wednesday, aged 52 years. Mrs. Scott lived at Headden's corner until about five years ago, when she moved to Belford. She leaves three children-Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. W. V. Compton of Belford and Albert Scott of Red Bank. Mrs. Scott was a member of the Middletown Baptist church. The funeral was held at the house on Sunday and the burial was in Fair View cemetery.

Mrs. Elizabeth Brand.

Mrs. Elizabeth Brand, widow of George Brand, died at her home on Broad street on Monday, aged 52 years. Her death was caused by consumption, with which she had been sick for a number of years. She had been confined to her bed for about a month previous to her death. Four children survive her. They are Mamie, Iona, Florence and Enid Brand. She was born in Munich, Germany, and had lived at Red Bank for the past 35 years. Her funeral will be held tomorrow morning at ten o'clock from her late home.

Mrs. Sarah Bowden.

Mrs. Sarah Bowden, widow of Samuel Bowden, died at the home of her nephew, Robert Murphy, at Oceanic last Thursday from old age. She was 95 years old and had lived at Oceanic for the past twelve years. Previous to that time she had lived in Brooklyn. Her funeral was held on Saturday. It was conducted by Rev. S. W. Knipe and Rev. John Parmley. The interment was at Little Silver. The pall bearers were Horace Longstreeet, John McPeak, Tunis Barkalow and George Longstreet.

Mrs. Deborah G. Rowland.

Mrs. Deborah G. Rowland died at the home of John W. Eyles at Seabright on Monday, aged 53 years. She had been sick about three months. She was a sister of Mrs. W. H. Morton of Red Bank, and of John Hubbard and Mrs. George Hunt of Asbury Park. Her funeral was held this afternoon at two o'clock from the home of Mrs. Morton. The services were conducted by Rev. W. Mitchell and the interment was at Cranbury.

Charles S. Selleck.

Charles S. Selleck died at Keyport on Monday of last week, aged 41 years. His death was caused by hemorrhages of the stomach, from which he had suffered for ten years. He had a wonderful vitality, which enabled him to withstand the attacks of the disease for so long a time. Several months ago his wife became insane and was committed to the asylum. Besides his wife, two children survive him.

Walter Asay.

Walter Asay, son of the late Walter M. Asay of Long Branch, died at the Memorial hospital on Tuesday of last week, aged 20 years. His death was caused by an abcess on the brain.

Mrs. Alfred Conover.

Mrs. Alfred Conover, who lived near Scobeyville, died in childbirth yesterday morning, aged 30 years. Besides her husband four children survive her. The funeral will be held to-morrow afternoon at one o'clock from the house, and two o'clock from the Reformed church at Colt's Neck.

Miss Ann E. Lafetra.

Miss Ann Elizabeth Lafetra, daughter of Jesse Lafetra, died at Branchport on Tuesday of last week, aged 45 years. Her death was caused by a disease of the lungs, with which she had been sick for a long time.

Mrs. Alberta English.

Mrs. Alberta T. English, wife of T. Elvin English, died of peritonitis at Hazlet last Wednesday. She was twenty years old and leaves a daughter.


  • APPLEGATE - At Red Bank, on Sunday, December 20th, Richard Applegate, aged 76 years.

  • BOWDEN - At Oceanic, on Thursday, December 17th, Mrs. Sarah Bowden, aged 85 years.

  • BRAND - AT Red Bank, on Monday, December 21st, Mrs. Elizabeth Brand, aged 52 years and 3 months.

  • CONOVER - At Red Bank, on Friday, December 18th, William W. Conover, aged 72 years.

  • CONOVER - Near Scobeyville, on Tuesday, December 21st, Mrs. Alfred Conover, aged 31 years.

  • ENGLISH - At Hazlet, on Wednesday, December 16th, Alberta T., wife of T. Elvin English, aged 20 years and 4 months.

  • HULSE - At Allentown, on Saturday, December 12th, May, daughter of Frank Hulse, aged 4 years.

  • KELLY - At Long Branch, on Monday, December 14th, the infant child of Henry Kelly.

  • LAFETRA - At Branchport, on Tuesday, December 15th, Miss Ann E. Lafetra, aged 45 years and 8 months.

  • MUCKEY - At Red Bank, on Friday, December 18th, Mrs. Catharine Muckey, aged 76 years.

  • REX - At Long Branch, on Wednesday, December 16th, Henry Rex, aged 67 years.

  • ROWLAND - At Seabright, on Monday, December 21st, Mrs. Deborah G. Rowland, aged 53 years.

  • SCOTT - At Belford, on Wednesday, December 16th, Margaret, wife of Thomas Scott, aged about 52 years.

  • SICKLES - At Oceanic, on Saturday, December 19th, William H. Sickles, aged 81 years.

    Wills and Estates:

    Miss Robbins's Estate.

    Miss Isabella Robbins, who died recently at Loyalton, near Long Branch, left an estate valued at $10,300. Of this amount $3,300 was deposited in a Long Branch bank and the balance was in mortgages. By the will she left a few bequests to friends, and the residue will be divided among the children of her three brothers.

    Source: Red Bank Register, December 23, 1896

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