History of the Brooksbrae Brick Company

woodjin

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Nov 8, 2004
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Autumn,
James made reference to a chapter in Beck's book "forgotten towns of Southern Nj" Have you read that? It tells of Peggy and Bill Clevenger and their story, folklore, but I am sure based on some fact. I had heard of that documented murder/suicide you mentioned above as well. It is a very grim account with leads one to suspect pediophilia (spelling?) Which is perhaps the creepiest and most disturbing aspect of the case. That poor family. Of course every community has it's ghost stories and tragedies.

Jeff
 

Teegate

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There really was a Clevenger family and they lived on Mt. Misery road not far from the JCRR. I have survey maps showing the location. The problem is there is info on the map I can't post or I would.


Guy
 

Ben Ruset

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I know I read this somewhere, but I don't remember.

Anyway, there was a strike or a work stoppage either at Brooksbrae or on the RR. The Clevengers were the caretakers of the Brooksbrae site, and one of the strikers burnt their house down, while they were inside.

I just wish I could remember where I heard that, since I am sure I am telling it slightly wrong. I just remember that there was something going on with workers who got violent. I think that was part of the reason why Brooksbrae never opened.

Scott will set us straight.
 

autumn_mist

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I know I read this somewhere, but I don't remember.

Anyway, there was a strike or a work stoppage either at Brooksbrae or on the RR. The Clevengers were the caretakers of the Brooksbrae site, and one of the strikers burnt their house down, while they were inside.

I just wish I could remember where I heard that, since I am sure I am telling it slightly wrong. I just remember that there was something going on with workers who got violent. I think that was part of the reason why Brooksbrae never opened.

Scott will set us straight.
I remember hearing something to this effect as well, but I can't remember where I read it either (one of those websites I visited in my search). The way I remember reading it, the strikers got blamed, but there was no real evidence suggesting this, just the fact that there had been some altercations between the strikers and the caretakers. however I heard the reason the factory never went into prouction was a problem with the will.
 

autumn_mist

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Nothing goes on out there of any mystery. I believe people 'want' something to be mystical about it. It's just not there. Stories are always embelleshed. I used to want it to be true that this may have happened or that may have happened. It usually is never true. It's just a normal place secluded by trees. No ghosts, no sacrificing, none of that nonsense.
Next thing you know there are paint balls everywhere.
You don't think its mysterious that no one really knows about the place? We've all heard the stories, but no one seems to be able to find anything in any historical records or police reports about anything that has ever happened there? As far as most people know, that place does not exist. That is the mystery. And while it seems as though none of us will ever know the *real* truth to this place, its fun to research and see what you can find. I've lived here all my life, and I love everything about the place.
 

Teegate

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I remember hearing something to this effect as well, but I can't remember where I read it either (one of those websites I visited in my search). The way I remember reading it, the strikers got blamed, but there was no real evidence suggesting this, just the fact that there had been some altercations between the strikers and the caretakers. however I heard the reason the factory never went into prouction was a problem with the will.
I believe that Jerseyman refuted that theory in a post a while back. I may be wrong so hopefully he will set me/us straight.

Guy
 

Ben Ruset

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You don't think its mysterious that no one really knows about the place? We've all heard the stories, but no one seems to be able to find anything in any historical records or police reports about anything that has ever happened there? As far as most people know, that place does not exist. That is the mystery. And while it seems as though none of us will ever know the *real* truth to this place, its fun to research and see what you can find. I've lived here all my life, and I love everything about the place.
I am sure that there are records somewhere, but the problem is that someone would need to take the time and research them. They could be in Trenton, or Toms River, Freehold, or even Newark. Then you have to find the right stuff and then publish it somewhere.

I am sure that about 75% of the unknown or weird stuff we find out in the woods is documented somewhere. It's just a matter of someone doing the research and publishing their findings. :guinness:
 

autumn_mist

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I am sure that there are records somewhere, but the problem is that someone would need to take the time and research them. They could be in Trenton, or Toms River, Freehold, or even Newark. Then you have to find the right stuff and then publish it somewhere.

I am sure that about 75% of the unknown or weird stuff we find out in the woods is documented somewhere. It's just a matter of someone doing the research and publishing their findings.:guinness:

I am definitely not giving up on the history of this place. I have been compiling a list of phone numbers and addresses of places that *should* have information on the historical places of the pines, and I will keep the thread updated if and when I find anything worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll probably need more than one :guinness: to keep me sane *lol*
 
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I am definitely not giving up on the history of this place. I have been compiling a list of phone numbers and addresses of places that *should* have information on the historical places of the pines, and I will keep the thread updated if and when I find anything worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll probably need more than one :guinness: to keep me sane *lol*

I hope in the very near future you find out the answers you are seeking.
 

Ben Ruset

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I am definitely not giving up on the history of this place. I have been compiling a list of phone numbers and addresses of places that *should* have information on the historical places of the pines, and I will keep the thread updated if and when I find anything worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll probably need more than one :guinness: to keep me sane *lol*
Your best bet would be the State Archives in Trenton, the State Library in Trenton, and the Newark Public Library (has an extensive Jerseyana collection.)

For Ocean County history prior to 1850, records would be kept at Freehold Courthouse (since Ocean County did not exist prior to 1850.) Obviously Burlington County records would be at the Burlington County Courthouse. Monmouth's records would also be at Freehold.
 

omega

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The way I understand it the Brooksbrae company most likely never went into operation at that site, and when the owner William Kelly died in 1908 there was a lengthy probate issue that kept the operation in limbo. There were RR strikers at that location, the Clevengers were made caretakers to keep an eye on the place and one night it caught fire because of a dirty chimney.
 

diggersw

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I know I read this somewhere, but I don't remember.

Anyway, there was a strike or a work stoppage either at Brooksbrae or on the RR. The Clevengers were the caretakers of the Brooksbrae site, and one of the strikers burnt their house down, while they were inside.

I just wish I could remember where I heard that, since I am sure I am telling it slightly wrong. I just remember that there was something going on with workers who got violent. I think that was part of the reason why Brooksbrae never opened.

Scott will set us straight.
Ben,
Unfortunately, the Clevengers were not the caretakers. The actual caretakers were Polish immigrants named Tomaszewski. And, yes they did die in a fire at the house.

The problem that I have with the "Mirror" story is that its credibility is dubious from the get-go. First, the article tells that some hunters have brought back a tale of murder. Next, it plays on a very real problem of racism in that particular area during that time. Finally, I never saw any other insurance claims made by either the Kelly estate, the Brooks Brae company, or the Adams clay mining company to recoup costs from a fire. The only claim filed was for the Tomascewskis.

Now, what the article does sound like is a bit of folk lore and rumor that was spread due to the predominance of Italian laborers working on the railroad, in the clay pits, and in the nearby Bullock cranberry bogs. The pediophilia is a touch added to further demonize the "vagrant" immigrant workers.

just some thoughts on the whole scenario.

Scott W.
 

diggersw

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The way I understand it the Brooksbrae company most likely never went into operation at that site, and when the owner William Kelly died in 1908 there was a lengthy probate issue that kept the operation in limbo.
Bill, you are correct. I saw the will and the probate records myself. They are on file in the probate room of the Ocean County Court House in Toms River. The same information is also in the company records at the Department of Commerical Affairs Archives (one floor below the State Archives) in Trenton and also listed in the title information for Kelly's estate. The will had a clause that disallowed the sale of the property until a period of ten years after the decedent's passing. Despite attempts at nullifying the clause, it was upheld in court several times. Kelly had an iron-clad will (pun intended). Since the majority of Kelly's wealth went with his demise, so did the majority of Brooks Brae's capital. The end result was that the factory became a financial burden and the executors of the will simply maintained it long enough to sell.

now, as to the second part...

There were RR strikers at that location, the Clevengers were made caretakers to keep an eye on the place and one night it caught fire because of a dirty chimney.
first, the clevengers were not the caretakers. It was just a local family that somehow got wrapped into local folklore.

Next, a strike one week prior to the fire made the Kelly executors send caretakers out to protect the site. The unfortunate fire that claimed their lives was itself a testament to the disuse of the factory in that the chimney was so clogged that it backed carbon monoxide and smoke into the house and asphyxiated the caretakers. Eventually the chimney caught fire and consumed the house. There is a state police report on file, as well as several newspaper articles that attest to the lack of foul play. However, the articles also mention that the locals suspected foul play.

That is the story as far as I saw it in the primary documents. I would be interested to hear other interpretations of the same information.

Scott W.
 
Ben,
Unfortunately, the Clevengers were not the caretakers. The actual caretakers were Polish immigrants named Tomaszewski. And, yes they did die in a fire at the house.

The problem that I have with the "Mirror" story is that its credibility is dubious from the get-go. First, the article tells that some hunters have brought back a tale of murder. Next, it plays on a very real problem of racism in that particular area during that time. Finally, I never saw any other insurance claims made by either the Kelly estate, the Brooks Brae company, or the Adams clay mining company to recoup costs from a fire. The only claim filed was for the Tomascewskis.

Now, what the article does sound like is a bit of folk lore and rumor that was spread due to the predominance of Italian laborers working on the railroad, in the clay pits, and in the nearby Bullock cranberry bogs. The pediophilia is a touch added to further demonize the "vagrant" immigrant workers.

just some thoughts on the whole scenario.

Scott W.
Scott:

Opinions about dubious newspaper articles, racism, and demonizing someone with reports of pediophilia are NEVER an excuse for not conducting research with a proper level of due diligence. I first reported the New Jersey Mirror article back in December 2006
(see http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=3306&), and accepted the report at face value. However, I always like a challenge, so I will pick up your thrown gaunlet.

Here are my findings:

Contrary to what you suggest, the 1910 federal census for Manchester Township, Ocean County, does record Gildo Plazzariano, living alone, as a resident of Pasadena with an occupation of "watchman brick factory." Born in Germany in 1864 of an Italian father and a German mother, Plazzariano arrived in the United States in 1906. The same census records a Samuel Chattin residing in Eaglewood Township, Ocean County on Main St. Chattin's household included Eva, his wife; Isaiah, a son, age 10; Harry, a son, age 4; and Samuel Jr., a son, age 2. I think the only error in the story is that the dead child was a girl named Harriet. Base on checking subsequent censuses, I think Samuel's son Harry, age 12, perished in the fire and either the hunters erred in understanding the story or the newspaper erred in what they heard. Or, perhaps the Mirror's editor felt it too salacious to report Gildo's victim as a boy and changed it to a girl. Any or all of this educated speculation is possible. The 1920 and the 1930 census fail to record either Gildo Plazzariano or Harry Chattin, strongly suggesting they both died as reported. For more concrete evidence, I suggest someone should read through the microfilm of the New Jersey Courier, once published in Toms River and considered the official organ for Ocean County news.

Generally, when a newspaper article mentions specific names (and the fact that article states the county had charged Plazzariano with dispensing liquor without a license three years previous), it lends much credence to the voracity of the reporting.

Check your facts before labeling any story "folklore." And remember, even folklore often has the roots of truth.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
Bill, you are correct. I saw the will and the probate records myself. They are on file in the probate room of the Ocean County Court House in Toms River. The same information is also in the company records at the Department of Commerical Affairs Archives (one floor below the State Archives) in Trenton and also listed in the title information for Kelly's estate. The will had a clause that disallowed the sale of the property until a period of ten years after the decedent's passing. Despite attempts at nullifying the clause, it was upheld in court several times. Kelly had an iron-clad will (pun intended). Since the majority of Kelly's wealth went with his demise, so did the majority of Brooks Brae's capital. The end result was that the factory became a financial burden and the executors of the will simply maintained it long enough to sell.

That is the story as far as I saw it in the primary documents. I would be interested to hear other interpretations of the same information.

Scott W.
Scott:

I, too, have looked at the primary sources and I MIGHT concede that the plant fired little or no brick for commercial production, but I still maintain that the factory produced at least one batch of bricks just to verify that all of the equipment purchased from Chambers Brothers functioned properly. You will need to show me chapter and verse and not just interpolation of the evidence before you will ever disabuse me of that concept.

BTW, the Division of Revenue in the Department of State building holds the annual reports, not the Department of Commercial Affairs. Prior to this agency becoming the Division of Revenue, which functions as part of the Department of Treasury, the office was the Division of Commercial Recording, a agency of the Secretary of State.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

diggersw

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Jerseyman,
I stand corrected. Kudos to you for a fine piece of research. My commentary on that article was opinion, not researched fact (hence the line "just some thoughts"). I was simply addressing the dubious nature of the information. Thank you so very much for setting the record straight for us all. Again, a great piece of information.

In regards to the operation of the factory, I would simply have to say that we should agree to disagree. :)

Scott
 

autumn_mist

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Some true Brooksbrea history

From the Corporations of New Jersey List of Certificates complied by the Secretary of State, it states that the Brooksbrea Brick Company was incorporated on March 24, 1906, and was still in existence in December 1911. Furthermore, it states that Capital Stock Authorized was 125,000 with the par value of shares being 25. It commenced business with 1,250.
 

Ben Ruset

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Sure, the company could still be in existence, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the are generating any sort of revenue or producing any product.
 

diggersw

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From what I remember, the Brooksbrae Brick company closed at a severe loss and posted a loss every year. This I took to mean that the executors of Kelly's estate merely held the property in trust until such a time as the clause in his will allowed them to sell it. ie, they were stuck with an unfinished factory and tried like hell to get rid of it. However, I could be wrong, but that was the way I interpreted the primary documents.

Scott