Obits - NJ - Monmouth - 1937 - William A. Rodgers

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Obits - NJ - Monmouth - 1937 - William A. Rodgers

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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 cemetery, Matawan.

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 Matawan."

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

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