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Obits - NJ - Monmouth - 1937 - William A. Rodgers
William A. Rodgers, 80, borough clerk of Matawan, was found dead
in bed at his home on Jackson street, that borough, at 7:45 o'clock Saturday
morning by his housekeeper, Mrs. Bertha Allen, when she called him for breakfast.
Dr. Alfred C. Wallin said Mr. Rodgers had died in his sleep about
6:30 o'clock, probably from a heart attack. Mrs. Allen said she heard
Mr. Rodgers about his room at 5:30 o'clock and that he went back
to bed. When he failed to respond to her call she investigated and
found him lifeless.
From point of service Mr. Rodgers was the oldest borough clerk in New
Jersey. He had served Matawan in this capacity under both Republican
and Democratic administrations since March, 1886, when he was first
elected to office. On March 10, this year, he observed his fifty-first year
of continuous service.
Last year the borough official honored Mr. Rodgers with a banquet
in the First Methodist Episcopal Church lecture room in observance
of his fifty years of service. On that occasion he was given a gold
watch suitably inscribed.
He was a potter by trade and for many years he was employed by the
Dunlap & Lisk Pottery Company in Matawan. He was also employed by
the American Rice Food company and the Hanson - Van Winkle - Munning company.
Some years ago when Matawan borough hall was established on Main Street,
Mr. Rodgers became a full time borough clerk.
He was at his desk all day Friday and until 9 o'clock Friday night.
Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon in the First Methodist
Episcopal Church, Main street, Matawan. Rev. John N. Naylor, pastor
of the church, and Rev. Elijah F. Reed, pastor of the Methodist Episopal
Church in Little Silver, officiated. Interment was in Rose Hill
Services, at the grave were conducted by the two ministers and
Knickebocker lodge, No. 52, I. O. O. F., of Matawan. Mr. Rodgers who
was 80 years old joined this lodge about 1868 and for over fifty years
had been secretary of the order. When the major part of the business
district of the town burned in 1901, including Odd Fellow's hall, Mr.
Rodgers risked his life to run into the burning lodge room and save the
original charter of the lodge, issued in 1840.
Mr. Rodgers was an exempt fireman, being a member of the Washington
Engine company for many years. The Matawan Volunteer Fire
department was also represented at the funeral.
The Matawan Borough hall, Main street, and the Washington Engine
house, Little street, were draped with black bunting and all borough
flags were flown at half mast.
Mr. Rodgers is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Frank Tichenor, of
Brooklyn, and Mrs. Alice M. Uhl, of Norwalk, Conn.
Source: Keyport Enterprise, Keyport, Monmouth County, NJ May 6, 1937
William A. Rodgers, 80, Matawan's most venerated citizen, and boro
clerk for 51 years, died in his sleep early Saturday morning, May 1, 1937,
at his home on Jackson St. He was discovered by his housekeeper, Mrs.
Bertha Allen, who became alarmed when he failed to respond to her
call for breakfast. A physician was notified and told her that Mr. Rodgers
had died about 6:30 o'clock due to a heart attack.
Altho the boro clerk had not complained of feeling ill, his associates
had noticed that during the week he had not been his sprightly self.
This did not deter him from being at his desk in the Boro Hall each
morning at 8 o'clock and attending the regular session of the boro council
Tuesday evening. However, he seemed to have a premonition that
death was not far off as he asked his housekeeper if she had his daughters'
addresses and one evening when he walked in the garden
to see how a young tree was progressing he remarked, "This will make
a fine shade for those who live after me."
Mr. Rodgers was the oldest boro clerk in New Jersey in years of service. He was
feted at a testimonial dinner Apr. 15, 1936 at the First Methodist Church when
100 friends and associates gathered in his honor.
A gold watch, suitably inscribed, was presented by Mayor Edward W.
Currie at this dinner. Judge Rulif V. Lawrence in his address called
him a "recorder of history. " Former Congressman Elmer Geran in his
concluding remarks said, "Some day there should be placed to this man
a memorial. It should read, " William A. Rodgers, Matawan Boro Clerk,
born---, died---, a potter by trade, friendly by nature, loyal by instinct,
a gentleman with all, beloved by the community."
Mr. Rodgers was born Jan. 6, 1857, son of Woodhull and Sarah (Arose)
Rodgers, who lived in a house across from Rosehill Cemetery, Ravine Dr.
Mr. Rodgers once remarked "I was born the year Matawan Township
was formed from Middletown Township; I grew up with no thot of being
a citizen of Matawan for then it was Middletown Point." He was
first clerk for the township, being elected in March, 1886, by defeating
Martin Bissell, who had been nominated by both Republican and Democratic
Parties. It was at this time Mr. Rodgers said that if his friends
wanted to elect him they could but "I am telling you right now I won't buy
so much as a cigar." He was elected by 23 votes. He served as township
clerk until 1896 when a section of the township was incorporated s a
boro and because he lived in this section it was necessary for him
to resign as clerk. However, at the organization meeting of the boro
council, he was unanimously selected as boro clerk which office he held
for 51 years, celebrating the event Mar 10, 1937. Altho a Democrat, Mr.
Rodgers has served under both parties thruout the years.
Mr. Rodgers was a potter, having learned the trade from his father-in-law,
A. E. Letts. He was employed as a stoneware cutter n 1874 by the
Dunn, Dunlap & co. which later became the Dunlap & Lisk Pottery
Co. He followed this pursuit for many years and later worked for the American
Rice Food Co. and the Hanson - VanWinkle - Munning Co. He gave
up this employment in 1930. One Friday in August, 1928, Mr. Rodgers
was overcome with heat while firing a kiln at the Dunlop & Lisk Pottery
and it was necessary for him to remain home from work but the following
Tuesday found him attending to his duties as clerk at the
meeting of the boro council. In 1929 Mr. Rodgers composed a "prayer"
which he read at the induction ceremonies for each mayor and council
since that time.
In September, 1932, Mr. Rodgers was honored by the members of the
Washington Engine Co. upon the completion of 50 years active membership.
He was presented with a duofold desk set as a token of their
esteem.Mr. Rodgers joined the company 12 years after its existence,
March 1869. Mr. Rodgers was living in the township.
In April, 1929, the boro clerk, who at that time had served 43 years,
was also appointed overseer-of-the-poor, at the established salary, to
complete the term of I. T. Rue, deceased. Christian Heuser, then mayor,
made the appointment, stating he did so "on consideration of the
faithful continuous services of W. A. Rodgers to the governing body of
Mr. Rodgers spoke at a meeting of the Matawan Women's Club in
March, 1935, at which time he exhibited several small brown earthen
jugs abut 3 inches tall which he had made by hand on the early '70's.
He told some interesting stories regarding his apprenticeship and the
trade of a potter. He was a familiar figure to many of the children who
used to watch him at his treadle and he enjoyed watching the faces
after he said, "Watch me put the hole in."
Mr. Rodgers was a member of Knickerbocker Lodge, No. 52, Independent
order of Odd Fellows, Matawan, for over 60 years. He served as recording
secretary for 54 years and was a past grand. The story is told that when a major
part of the business district of the town burned in 1901, including Odd
Fellows Hall, Mr. Rodgers risked his life by running into the lodge room
to save the original charter issued in 1840.
Mr. Rodgers was twice married, his first wife was Theodosia Levenia
Letts. Six children we born to Mr.and Mrs. Rodgers. They are: Malena,
Alice, Stella, William Ferrola, Ralph and Everett. Only 2 survive, Alice
who is Mrs. John H. Uhl, of South Norwalk, Conn. and Malena, Mrs.
Frank Tichenor, of Brooklyn. Five grandchildren also survive: Rodman
Uhl, Ruth Ulh Schachat, Martha, Lucy and David Tichenor. Mrs. Rodgers died at
the age of 40 on Sept. 27, 1886. His second wife was Marguerite
Henry who died Apr. 29, 1919.
Mr. Rodgers lived in the house in which he died for 40 years, having
purchased it in 1893 from George Bell. He had the original deed dated
Oct. 30, 1843, made out to Thomas I. Bedle and Ann Dorsett. It was
witnessed by Thomas H. Arrawsmith.
Shortly after the death of Mr. Rodgers' second wife, Mrs. Bertha
Allen became housekeeeper. Mrs. Allen not only kept the house but found
time to plant flowers, specializing in dahlias. It was one of Mr. Rodgers'
great pleasures to walk thru the garden and to take speciments of
the prized blooms to the boro hall for the "world to see."
Services were held Tuesday after-noon at 2:30 o'clock in the First
Methodist Episcopal Church, Matawan. The Rev. John A. Naylor, pastor
of the church and the Rev. Elijah F. Reed, former pastor, now
in charge of Embury M. E. Church, Little Silver, officiated. Mrs.
James Martin and Mrs. Frank Duncan sang two favorite selections,
"Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" and "Old Rugged Cross." Interment
took place in the family plot in Rosehill Cemetery, Matawan. Floral
tributes, which were many and beautiful, were transported in the
Washington Engine Co. fire apparatus. A beautiful service was conducted at the
grave by F. Howard Lloyd, serving as chaplain for Knickerbocker Lodge.
Bearers were: Councilmen Rensselaer L. Cartan and Robert G. Thixton,
representing the boro council; J. William Lyle and George S. Barrett, for the
Odd Fellows; Amos B. Stult and W. Oliver Diggen, for Washington Engine Co.
Boro Hall and the firehouse of Washington Engine Co. were draped in black and
flags thruout the boro were flown at half mast.
Source: Matawan Journal, Matawan, Monmouth County, NJ May 6, 1937
Submitted by VwArose@aol.com
Some additional excellent resources for your research are:
- Interment.net ~ Cemetery Transcriptions on the net.
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