Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category

Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. November, 2014.   Paul Goldfinger photo ©.  Click to enlarge.


Beverly Kenney

Beverly Kenney

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.  2020 re-post  (The original question posited in the headline is still valid.)

There are multiple factions in the small town of Ocean Grove (pop  3,700,) and these organized groups are largely isolated from each other. Woven into the fabric are homeowners and renters who live here but do not belong to any organizations, thus becoming, by default, a faction of their own.

According to social scientist Steve Valk, whose family has lived here for several generations, it would be important for these factions to find ways to appreciate and cooperate with each other. For example he cites the religious groups and the secular groups which ought to find common ground for the benefit of the town. One example of such cooperation is the recent interaction, since Sandy, between Ocean Grove United (OGU) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (CMA); however we have recently seen how tenuous that relationship is when we recall the  clash about Sunday sermons this past summer.

The CMA ran the town from 1869 to 1980—-111 years. Neptune Township  treated OG as a sort of gated community.  The CMA made the rules and imposed blue laws until the N.J. Supreme Court put a stop to that in 1980 when Neptune  took over active governance in the Grove  (although they were technically the governing body almost since the town’s founding.)  Since 1980, the CMA has continued its mission and  it has largely kept out of the way of Neptune Township.

But we now see the CMA and the Township working together on the North End Redevelopment Project, but suspicious elements have been revealed, and that project does not seem to be designed primarily with the town’s best interest at heart.

As for the Neptune Township governance, you have seen the results of our recent poll which shows  that 80% of respondents mistrust  the Neptune Township Committee. Interestingly, over the years, there were times when the citizens rose up against Neptune control resulting in law suits and even a failed referendum to allow the Grove to become a separate town which it did for one year in 1925.

The other organizations here also tend to have their own agendas and to be run like private clubs. Such groups include the Homeowners Association, the Historical Society, Ocean Grove United, and the Chamber of Commerce.

They don’t work together very much for the good of the town.  They are busy with their own activities.  For example, the Chamber of Commerce runs big events to try and drum up business for the merchants.  But what do they do for the benefit of those who live here?  We asked them to take over sponsorship of the Town-wide Yard Sale, but they refused.

 When we introduced a new idea for the town—the Blogfinger Film Festival—a benefit for the boardwalk—-only a few of the members would be sponsors for the program, and hardly any attended the event.

When we think of factions in town, we can see the visible ones, but how about the invisible ones such as families that have lived here for generations and are part of networks that act in concert with each other, with the CMA,  and with the Township governance, especially where land use, zoning,  and parking are concerned.  Let’s call that “the network of special interests.”

For them the town of Ocean Grove seems like a gift that keeps on giving. This network never speaks publicly, shows its face, or identifies itself, but what it does and has done will impact all of us and will determine what the town will be in the future. 

We have seen the results of favoritism for those special interests in the Greek Temple and Mary’s Place.  The North End Redevelopment Project is a good example to keep an eye on.  Who will be the winners, and who will be the losers?

Because of indifference by the public, organizations, and special interests, Ocean Grove may become an at-risk town which could end up a failed historic  place without focus and character, such as is seen in other shore towns—unless the public pays attention and the organizations here begin to work together for the overall benefit of the town and not just on their narrow pet projects, like the Homeowners Association which is currently circulating a simple-minded parking survey while ignoring the improprieties and illegalities around town regarding land use issues.  The HOA has teamed up with the Neptune Committee ever since 2008 when it supported 165 residential units, mostly condos, at the North End.

In 2002, a professor* at Monmouth University published an academic paper about OG history, emphasizing the powerful way that the activist HOA of 25-30 years ago  fought for the town and saved its life.  Below  is a quote**  from that research about that era.

Contrast the conclusion below with the current HOA which now is failing Ocean Grove through impotence, inaction, and lack of focus towards the issues which currently threaten our town the most.

The Home Groaners need to step up and save the town once again,  but this version appears to so far be hopeless in that regard.

** 2002:   “The HOA has maintained or reconstructed the carefully planned infrastructure of the founders, and even as Ocean Grove is being reborn as a contemporary tourist site, the HOA has worked with the CMA to preserve its sacred foundations. Just like the CMA, the HOA has been outstanding in its ability to secure what it wants and what it believes the community needs. Property values have risen, the community is again a safe place, tourism has been revived, an enormous amount of social capital has been generated, and the Victorian charm of the town has been restored.”

By Karen Schmelzkopf*  in the Journal of Historical Geography, 2002




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Ocean Grove South End

Ocean Grove South End.  Re-post from Blogfinger 2013.


I do not recall seeing a rendering of the OG Boardwalk from this perspective.  It’s looking like the 30’s or 40’s.  Didn’t even realize the South End Pavilion had a concession area.  A simple sign letting passerby’s know “Hamburgers, Frankfurters, and Orangeaid” can be had.   Looking close reveals a bit of detail down the boards on and off the boardwalk.  At first look I thought this was another beach town post card.

Anyway,  Can you smell what they’re cookin’? 

From Rich Amole, OG historian  @Blogfinger


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Ocean Grove was founded as a religious summer community. It was run by Methodist ministers, and Alfred Cookman was one of them. His story has been told on Blogfinger. Do a search.


Blogfinger posted a piece on May 5, 2019  (scroll up)  about the confusion in terminology for those who are unsure about the relationship of the Town of Ocean Grove to the Camp Meeting Association.  The unique story of the CMA in OG, with its history of running the town for over 100 years, making laws, and prevailing here in so many ways, up to the present, has to be unheard of across the country.  If anyone knows of some comparable place, please let us know.

That  post is called, “How to Refer to Our Town.”

If you look at the comments section of that article, you will see a statement by Grover 13 who thinks he/she knows the truth.  Jack Bredin was moved to try and explain the background of some of this, and his contribution below is very special–I’ve never seen anyone else take a shot at explaining that history.  .—–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor, Blogfinger.net


To Grover 13 from Jack Bredin, Researcher/reporter/historian  at Blogfinger.net:

“For over 100 years, from 1869-1980, the “Town” of Ocean Grove was first “illegally permitted” by Ocean Township in 1869 and then by Neptune Township from 1879-1980 to act as its own municipality. OG had their own police department, court, board of health, etc. The “Town” was operated pursuant to CMA rules and not State Law; and the OG residents could not vote for the OG “governing body” which was the CMA.  However, the OG residents did have the privilege to pay taxes to Neptune and vote for the Township Committee.

“And so the residents in fact had two (2) governing bodies, both acting outside State Law, but I don’t blame the CMA for doing what the Township permitted them to do. However, in 1980, the NJ Supreme Court said this all must stop.

“Ocean Grove was also founded by the CMA as a Camp Meeting Ground for people who belonged to the Methodist Church, but the CMA is not the Methodist Church in town; St. Paul’s is the Church.

“The CMA registered with the NJ Secretary of State as a corporation. When the Corporation “divided” the land into 2,000 parcels, one (1) share of voting stock should have been issued to each “Lot Owner.” As a result, OG residents could not vote for their OG municipal governing body or at a stock holders meeting.

“As NJ State Land Use Law, State Land Use Standards, and State Land Use Procedures evolved over the years throughout the State, land use law and procedures in OG remained unchanged, and they are now interpreted by the Neptune Township “Land Use Administrator” who has no authority to make any land use decisions.

“Is it any wonder why OG has so many land use problems?

“Paul Goldfinger is one of the few people in OG trying to make sense of it all, and Blogfinger is the only one reporting on it.”


BEATLES:   (Paul McCartney)

“The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door”

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Ocean Grove tennis court.  (note the net which she is holding. ? body language.). Broadway, August, 1910. On the back it says, “1 1/2 blocks from ocean, about #23 Bway.”  Note, no cars. ? Sunday. In 1910, there were 500,000 cars in America.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net

Tennis was introduced in the US in 1876, seven years after OG was founded.  By 1881, tennis clubs were being built all over.

In the photo, it looks like the OG courts were hard sand, located parallel to Broadway.  The early OG history books make no mention of tennis.  Presumably playing tennis was forbidden on Sundays.  Will tennis keep this couple together–after all, that sport has something called “love?”

BARBARA COOK.  “Don’t Blame Me.”  From her album  Close As Pages in a Book—the music of Dorothy Fields.  Dorothy Fields  was a well known lyricist at a time when there were few women found at the Brill Building in New York.  Barbara Cook was a huge star on the Broadway stage.

“Can’t you see
When you do the things you do?
If I can’t conceal
The thrill that I’m feeling
Don’t blame me..”

Do you suppose she liked it when he rushed the net?  Did she prefer his backhand or his fore?

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*This page was scanned (with permission) from Wayne T. Bell’s book Images of America: Ocean Grove.  This book can be purchased at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove; Pitman Avenue, next to Days Ice Cream.



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Summer tents in 21st century Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Summer tents in 21st century Ocean Grove.  By Paul Goldfinger ©  Re-post 2018.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor   @Blogfinger

The founders of Ocean Grove had the first religious service at the current location of Founders’ Park.   They stayed over, erecting tents.  The custom of staying in tents each summer was enjoyed by early visitors to the town.  People could rent tents in the 1870’s, and families would often hire a grouping of tents.  Some people bought lots and placed tents on them for their own use or rentals.  There were many shaded areas within groves of trees where the tenters could congregate, and by 1870, there ware 700 tents.  It was probably fun for those city people to take the train to the Grove and stay in a tent.

But as OG historian Ted Bell points out in the second chapter of his book  (Images of America: Ocean Grove), “Tents gave way to cottages.”  The first cottage was built in 1870.

Early OG summer guests (1870's) enjoyed the shade from the many trees in town. From Ted Bell's book on OG from the Images in America series. Photo courtesy of the HSOG.

Early OG summer guests (1870’s) enjoyed the shade from the many trees in town. From Ted Bell’s book on OG ,  Images in America series. By permission of Ted Bell.

Tent life summer 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Tent life summer 2013. Guests  listen to a concert outside the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ.  Tenters sit on their porches and hear the music for free.  It’s not exactly Tanglewood, but Sousa and Mozart live here too.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

140 years ago, the town was quickly coming alive as a summer resort  in many ways including the construction of religious buildings, homes, hotels, boarding houses, beach pavilions, eateries and shops.  Some people who had bought lots with tents, converted the tents to cottages, and those architectural features can still be recognized today, and those cute OG cottages are much in demand.

Today, about 100 tents remain,  owned by the OGCMA, and those  tents are quaint tourist attractions which intrigue modern-day visitors and are still sought after for summer vacations. Ocean Grove wasn’t the only Campground in America—there were many.

From Wikipedia:   “In the aftermath of the American Civil War, such evangelical camp meetings gained wide recognition and a substantial increase in popularity as a result of the first holiness movement camp meeting in Vineland, New Jersey,  in 1867.  In the mid-Atlantic states, the Methodist Church led many of these camp meetings and established semi-permanent sites for summer seasons.”

Rev Osborne, the founder of Ocean Grove, received his orders at the Vineland meeting to seek out a site for a Campground on the Jersey Shore.    Founded in 1869, Ocean Grove has been called the “Queen of the Victorian Methodist Camp Meetings.”

JERRY DEER  “Country Fiddler”

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Rev. Alfred Osborn. Founder of Ocean Grove

Rev. Alfred Osborn. Founder of Ocean Grove


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.net      Re-post 2011.


Several weeks ago we received a flyer about a flea market sponsored by the Old Corlies Preservation Association (OCPA). It seemed innocuous enough when we posted it, until we read to the bottom where it said, “Hamilton—the birthplace of Neptune and Ocean Grove.” Hamilton is the site of an early settlement near Old Corlies Road. Its earliest name was Shark River Village, then Greenville and then it was called Hamilton in 1875, after the founding of OG. There was a church there, but it burned down in 1940 along with all its historic records.

Their claim was surprising, because it did not agree with the history of OG’s founding as we knew it. I contacted the OCPA and received an unsigned email linking to a YouTube video. Their claim is based on the assertion that Ocean Grove’s founding father Reverend William B. Osborn was working for the Hamilton church when he went off to start the community of OG. This seemed like a pretty flimsy linkage, so I hit the books.

Thanks to Ms. Marion Bauman, director at the Neptune Library, I was introduced to a pile of history books including the voluminous History of Monmouth County, a fat book that could give you a hernia if you didn’t lift it with both hands. I also had a history of Neptune Township, Gibbons History of Ocean Grove, and, best of all, I had, in my personal collection, a history of the founding of Ocean Grove written by Mrs. W.B. Osborn, the founder’s wife.

Since this blog posting is not an academic treatise, I will simple tell you that the OCPA’s claim is frivolous. Rev. Osborn singlehandedly promoted the camp meeting concept in New Jersey and it was his energy, commitment, and enthusiasm which resulted eventually in the founding of Ocean Grove. The idea was first presented in 1867 at a national camp meeting conference in Vineland, and the group appointed Rev. Osborn as their official agent to find a suitable site in New Jersey. After an extensive search up and down the Jersey coast, the site now known as Ocean Grove was chosen in 1868. Rev. Osborn named the town and he recruited a team of supporters from places like Farmingdale, Philadelphia and Long Branch.

A group of them set up tents in the summer of 1869 and had the first prayer meeting on July 31, 1869, amongst the bushes, trees, briars, and dunes at a location now known as Founders’ Park. In December 1969, the founders met in Trenton and set up the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Rev Osborn was put in charge, although he was assigned a part time job, to help support his family, performing Sunday services at the church in Greenville (later known as the Hamilton Methodist Church).

None of my sources give credit to anyone or any church or any organization other than Rev. William B. Osborn himself as the founder of OG. The claim by the OCPA has the effect of diminishing Rev. Osborn’s role. I believe that the claim should be formally challenged by the Ocean Grove Historical Society and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, in order to set the record straight.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Subsequently the OCPA gave up its paternity claim regarding Ocean Grove.–PG


RIVKA ZOHAR.  “The Road to the Village”   In Hebrew from a collection of Israeli folk songs.



1. History of Neptune Township. “Four Score and Five”. 1964

2. History of Ocean Grove. Gibbons. 1944

3. History of Monmouth County, 1964

4. Pioneer Days of Ocean Grove. Mrs. W.B. Osborn c1910.

5. Mr Ted Bell. Ocean Grove Historical Society

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Source: Seasons General Store in OG.

Graphics source: Seasons General Store in OG.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.  Jack Bredin, Blogfinger researcher.

Look south on BF to find our October 24, 2020  post about two condominium associations which sued the CMA.  (2/17/17)  And don’t miss the comments.

Today’s  BF re-post below about ground rents is also from 2017.  The subject of ground-rents goes back to the 19th century and is still a source of interest and consternation.

You will also find two letters to the editor–same 2017 vintage on this subject.

The law suit described above is about two OG condominium associations who are suing the Camp Meeting Association regarding ground rents.  But we haven’t seen the complaint and we don’t know what the complaint really is and what issues will be considered and explored during  the discovery phase if it goes to trial. 

Because of all the uncertainty, we have a wide open pathway for discussion, and won’t it be interesting to guess how many different spinoffs will be generated.

Fundamental assumptions will be questioned.   Let’s begin with a collection of questions and ideas.  Then send in your suggestions about where this suit will lead.  Click on comments below or send an email to Blogfinger@verizon.net.  If you ask to be anonymous, you will  be.  If you don’t share your email with us, we can’t talk to you individually. 

1. Recently the OGHOA hired a lawyer to look into the ground rent matter. We don’t exactly know what his instructions were, but he cost the HOA $7,000. HOA members: where is your loyalty?    You should demand that the identity of that lawyer be revealed and his report made public.   (See Kevin Chambers’ inquiry about this.)


2.   Will the court find that condo owners should be treated the same as other resident owners and be charged $10.50 per year ground rent?  Will the court find that condo owners can be treated on a case to case basis, whereas home owners in town are mostly treated as if they were all the same?  Will using home assessments to determine fees be OK for condo owners,  but not for regular  homeowners?

3.   Who really owns the land in Ocean Grove?  If the CMA owns the land, then how come we homeowners have to pay property taxes to Neptune Township?  Why doesn’t the CMA pay the taxes?  (This was questioned in court in the past, and the citizens lost that battle.)  If the CMA doesn’t own the land, then will the current homeowners own the land?   Will the CMA produce proof that they own the land?

4. If the CMA loses and has to return a ton of money, will it go bankrupt?

5. If the CMA loses, then they may not be able to make much money from condo’s in the future.  If that happens, will they still support the construction of up to 165 condos at the North End?  Will the North End Redevelopment Plan collapse before it begins?

6.  If the CMA cannot make much money from the approval of more condos in the Grove, will they become supporters of single family zoning in town and opponents to more condos?  

7.   Will the CMA be able to continue raising the leasehold fees whenever it wants to, without providing justification?  

8. The CMA is a secretive private organization. Will it have to open its books to the court?  Will its officers and trustees have to undergo depositions?

9.  Will the condo associations involved in the suit be able to continue paying high legal fees if this suit drags on?  Can the CMA afford a long legal process?

10.  Will other condominium associations join the suit?

Tell us your ideas.  Please read the rules above about commenting on Blogfinger.


 Editor’s note:   On Feb 22, 2017, Blogfinger posted two Letters to the Editor containing  discussions of the history of ground rents in Ocean Grove.   Here are links:

Ground rent letter to the editor #1 2017

Ground rent letter to the editor #2 2017

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Thanks to Lee Morgan of OG who sent us a poem entitled  “Farmer Stebbins at Ocean Grove.”  It is from a book by Will Carleton titled City Ballads published in 1885.  Lee says, “Your readers will be delighted and amused. Note the caracatures of the folks in the poem.”


Ocean Grove, June 30, 18—.

Dear Cousin John:

We got here safe—my worthy wife and me—And took a tent here in the woods contiguous to the sea; We’ve harvested such means of grace as growed within our reach— We’ve been to several meetings here, and heard the Bishop preach; And everything went easy like until we took a whim—My wife and I—one breezy day, to take an ocean swim.

We shouldn’t have ventured on’t, I think, if Sister Sunnyhopes hadn’t urged us over and again, and said she knew “the ropes,” And told how soothing it would be “in ocean rills to lave,”And “sport within the bounding surf,” and “ride the crested wave;” And so we went along with her—my timid wife and me— Two inland noodles, for our first acquaintance with the sea.

They put me in a work-day rig, as usually is done— A wampus and short overalls all sewed up into one. I had to pull and tug and shrink to make the thing go ’round (You are aware my peaceful weight will crowd three hundred pound). They took my wig and laid it up—to keep it dry, they said—And strapped a straw-stack of a hat on my devoted head.

They put my wife into a frock too short by full a third: ‘Twas somewhat in the Bloomer style—I told her ’twas absurd! You know she’s rather long and slim—somewhat my opposite— And clothes that was not made for her is likely not to fit; But as we was we vent’red in—my timid wife and me—And formed our first acquaintance with the inconsistent sea.

Miss Sunnyhopes she waded out a-looking nice and sweet (She’d had her dress made to the store, and trimmed from head to feet); And I went next, and grabbed their rope just as she told me to, And Wife came third, a-looking scared, scarce knowing what to do.Then Sister Sunnyhopes a smile of virgin sweetness gave, And said, “Now watch your chance, and jump—here comes a lovely wave!”

I must have jumped, I rather think, the wrong time of the moon; At any rate the “lovely wave” occurred to me too soon! It took me sudden, with a rude and unexpected shock; I’d rather meet the stoutest pair of horns in all my flock! And then to top the circus out, and make the scene more fine, I tried to kick this “lovely wave,” and let right go the line.


On county fairs and ‘lection days, in walking through a crowd, I’m rather firm to jostle ‘gainst—perhaps it makes me proud; But if it does, that wave just preached how sureness never pays, And seemed to say, “How small is man, no odds how much he weighs!” It kicked and cuffed me all about, in spite of right or law, With all the qualities they give an average mother-in-law!

And then it set me on the bank, quite thankful for my life, And looking ’round I give a gaze to find my faithful wife; But she had kind o’ cut this wave with all the edge she had, And stood a-looking ’round for me, uncommon moist and sad; While Sister Sunnyhopes with smiles was looking sweet and gay, A-floating on her dainty back some several rods away!
Sister Sunnyhopes floating on her back.
She looked so newish pretty there—(she knowed it, too, the elf!)— The crowd was all admiring her, and so was I myself; And while I once more grasped the line, beside my wife of truth, My eyes would rove to Sister S.—her beauty and her youth;  When all at once a brindle wave, uncommon broad and deep, Came thrashing down on Wife and me, and flopped us in a heap!
Heels over head—all in a bunch—my wife across of me, And I on some misguided folks who happened there to be, My hat untied and floated off, and left my bald head bare— When I got out, if I’d have spoke, ‘twould warmed up all the air!  We drank ’bout two-thirds of the sea—my gasping wife and I—While Sister S. still floated soft, a-gazing at the sky!


We voted that we’d had enough, and got right out the way Before another wave arrived, and bid the sea good-day. We looked as like two drownded rats as ever such was called, With one of them a dumbed old fool and most completely bald.  But, like a woman true she says—my shivering wife to me— “We will not mind; there’s others here looks just as bad as we.”

Now, Sister Sunnyhopes, by’m-by, came back into our tent, As sleek or sleeker than before, and asked us “When we went?” Said I, “My dear good Sister S., please do not now pretend You did not see our voyage through, and mark its doleful end. If you would play the mermaid fair, why such I’d have you be; But we’re too old to take that part—my faithful wife and me;

“Some folks may be who ocean waves are fitted to command, But we’ve concluded we was built expressly for the land. And when I want amusement for an uncompleted day, I guess I’ll go and take it in some good old-fashioned way; And will not stand upon my head ‘fore all the folks that’s there, And wildly wave my dumbed old feet in all the neighboring air!”


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