New Jersey Obituaries - 1899 - Charles R. Havens

Charles R. Havens died at the Highlands last Thursday, aged 86 years. He was marine observer at the twin lights at the Highlands until fifteen years ago, when he was retired on full pay. He was the oldest and most experienced marine observer on the coast. He held his position at the Highlands before the days of telegraphic communication and used to signal the arrival of vessels by means of a semaphore. The signal was read from a hill on Staten island and was repeated in the same manner to the Merchantís Exchange building in New York. The position of marine observer at the Highlands is now held by Mr. Havensís son, Vinton H. Havens, who has been employed in the office for the past thirty years, and has had full charge of the office since his father was retired.

Mr. Havens was born at Shelter Island, where his ancestors settled in 1600 when they emigrated from England. They bought the island from the Indians for a small sum, and some of their descendents still own some of the original tract. Mr. Havens moved to the Highlands when he was 21 years old. His wife was Priscilla Still. She died about six years age. Thirteen children were born to them, three of whom are living. The surviving children are Vinton H. Havens, Arthur Havens of Navesink, and Miss Josephine Havens, who lived at home and kept house for her father.

Mr. Havens was a peculiar man in many respects. He would never ride in a carriage if he could help it and he always wore a silk hat, winter and summer. During the 62 years that he was marine observer at the Highlands he became acquainted with all the ships that entered New York harbor. His life story has been written up a score or more times by the New York papers, but Mr. Havens did not like to see his name in print and reporters who went to interview him always had a hard time getting him to talk.

The funeral was held on Sunday at two oíclock from the house. The service was conducted by Rev. J. S. Russel of Atlantic Highlands, assisted by Rev. J. W. Nickelson of Navesink and Rev. William B. Harris. The body was buried at Fair View cemetery.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, April 12, 1899