Located in northern New Jersey, the Passaic River spans about 80 miles and passes through historic Morris County. The river once played a crucial role in the early development of the urbanization and industrialization of its surrounding towns.
Our focus lies within Stanley Park between Summit and Chatham, one of the many access points of the Passaic River. The research questions will focus on the industrialization of Chatham Township between 1890 and 1920 and how this affected access to new types of consumer products, how marketing evolved over the time frame, and changes in consumerism.
The results of artifact analysis, historical research, and oral histories were used to create an online virtual exhibit through the Drew University Library Special Collections website. Therefore, it will be available to the general public. At the end of the Fall 2020 Semester, we will give several presentations at the South Orange Library, Drew University Digital Humanities Workshop, and Drew University Anthropology Department.
The Digital Archaeology class of the Fall 2021 semester created a list of 16 objects that represent daily life at the Stanley Park site. Artifacts were chosen from the East and West sides of the region and were then divided into four categories: Fashion, Children, Food, and Hygiene.
Below are the artifact images and descriptions. For more information on the artifacts found at Stanley Park, visit our Omeka page: https://historyofchathamnj.omeka.net/
Art Deco brass hair clip that is oxidized and mildly rusted. Decorations and maker’s mark are still visible on both sides, which reads, “Park & Tilford”. Park & Tilford was a ‘first-class grocery store’ that carried luxury home goods, personal care products, makeup, high-end perfumes, wines, whiskey, cigars, and gourmet food. These clips were originally used to keep grocery bags closed, however, they were commonly reused as hair or paper clips. This clip represents standards set for women’s appearance and suggests that women wore hairstyles that required a hairpin. Additionally, women could have worn this pin as a representation of their social class, since Park and Tilford was a high-end grocery store.
There were many rusted corset pieces found on the site. Corsets were worn regardless of an individual’s social class and were used to give women an hourglass figure, which was considered the ideal body type. The corset itself represents standards set for women’s fashion and emphasizes the expectations set on women’s bodies.
Suspenders were worn, at this time, primarily by men and were used to keep their trousers up without having to use a belt. Suspenders were a prevalent part of male fashion and were worn regardless of social or financial status.
Pictured is a fragment of a chain that is suspected to have been attached to a pocket watch. Due to its thickness, this chain is very similar to chains that would be attached to pocket watches as opposed to a necklace or bracelet. It was very common for men to wear such an accessory, and was a staple in men’s fashion.
Small Fisk, Clark & Flagg button. Fisk, Clark & Flagg was a men’s clothing company founded in 1867 that manufactured and sold gloves, neckwear, and other men’s clothing items. Their business began on White Street, New York City, and eventually spread to four other locations in the city. Due to Chatham’s proximity to New York City, residents would have had fairly convenient access to the Fisk, Clark & Flagg stores. Furthermore, due to the company’s higher quality and more expensive range of products, it is safe to suggest that the men and women of early Chatham belonged to a higher social class.
The porcelain doll pieces are an example of what children played with during this time period. These doll pieces are similar to Frozen Charlotte dolls, which were popular from 1850 to 1920, where a majority of them were produced in Germany as it was inexpensive. These dolls were often used as bath toys or were baked into cakes as party favors. The Frozen Charlotte doll gained its name from a poem titled, “Young Charlotte”, which is about a young girl who froze to death on her way to a party after she refused to put a jacket over her dress (Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab).
During the 1800s, the Curtice Brothers Co. Preservers advertised their use of only using, “Pure and Unadulterated [ingredients] Containing Only Those Substances Recognized and Endorsed by the U.S. Government”. Their emphasis on the use of pure, perfect raw materials encourages people to consider their physical health and how that correlates with the products they put into their bodies. The Curtice Brothers’ claim of using better products in their ketchup could also be used as a tactic to drive up sales for the company and put them above their competitor’s products.
This product was first put on the market in 1891. It was the first soft cheese to be mass-produced. It demonstrates what was valued in food products of this time. An ad from the early 20th century reads, “Their demonstration of Pure Foods at the address below should interest all housewives. Purity and wholesomeness are the important points in buying food for the table.”
Armor and Company was a leading corporation in the meatpacking industry. Americans at this time relied heavily on canned meat. It was an affordable way to buy food that would not expire quickly as regular meat.
The Kreuger Brewery opened in 1858 and was located in Newark, New Jersey. Alcohol, particularly beer, was a very common beverage in this region for this social group.
This was one of the first sold Eau de colognes in the world in 1792, with it originally being marketed for internal and external use for any person, eventually, this became solely for external use due to Napoleon’s law to disclose all of the ingredients in consumable products in 1810. This is a gender-neutral fragrance still sold today.
Moxie was invented by Dr. Augustin Thompson, a native of Union, Maine, while in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1884. The first bottle of Moxie Nerve Food was sold on March 7, 1885. Moxie was patented in July of 1885 and has been continuously produced since that time. From 1928 through 1953 Moxie was bottled at 74 Heath St. in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, Massachusetts. It is a non-alcoholic soft drink, still produced today.
Originally, these bottles were used in the manufacturing facilities of Boericke & Tafel homeopathic pharmacy in Santa Rosa, CA. This company was founded in 1853 and had offices initially in Philadelphia, then expanded across the country. Homeopathy was widely used in the western U.S. from the 1800s to the early 1900s. These bottles were not made for the purpose of sales to the public; rather the intermediates were diluted before giving to the patient.
Originally founded in 1872 Charles H. Phillips formulated Magnesium Hydroxide as Milk of Magnesia, for the treatment of constipation, and it was also marketed as a facial astringent and deodorant.
Maps of Chatham
The Google Maps project connects the artifacts found at the site. It has the two sites where surface collection occurred as well as the locations where some of the objects were imported. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/edit?mid=1KffXYatYuL0KvnZ_2k1eAPU1oT1Esdi-&usp=sharing
Look at our ArcGIS StoryMaps to see where the artifacts found and exhibited in 2021 were manufactured. https://arcg.is/0Dm4G5
Oral History of Chatham, NJ and George Shepard Page
George Shepard Page was originally in the coal tar business, as his father had been. Coal tar is a useless byproduct of gas, which was used for lighting in the 1800s. Samuel Page realized he could use this byproduct, simultaneously getting rid of a waste product, and making a profit. He figured out how to turn it into creosote to saturate wood so that marine animals couldn’t get into the hulls of ships. His son, George, left the business behind in Maine and moved to New York with his wife and children in order to start The New York Tar Company with two other entrepreneurs. They worked on making waterproof roofing from felt soaked in coal tar. Unfortunately, two of his children died due to consumption, and this prompted George Page to find a cleaner place to live. He took many trains out into the New Jersey countryside, but when he saw Chatham/Summit, the Passaic River, and the surrounding areas filled with decrepit mills, he knew that was the perfect place to move his family.
He purchased the land and the mills from the Bonnel family and started his roofing mill out of an old tar paper and grist mill. The process included importing felt, made from wool, to the mill, as well the tar base. The fact that the rail line ran right next to and across the river was incredibly helpful to the production of the mill. The tar was heated, and the felt was soaked in it, and finally allowed to cool and dry so that it could be rolled into roofing sheets without sticking to itself. The mill itself was very successful because it was right on the river, which was dammed, and next to the rail line.
Sadly, George Page died in 1892, and the mills became derelict, as his children didn’t want to be involved with the upkeep, though they did keep up the production of Vapo Cresolene (an oil for lamps) offsite. Though a candy factory, which made cream tartlets, set up shop in his mill shortly after he died, once the factory went out of business, the mills all got torn down, and there are no longer any remnants of them.
While alive, George Shepard Page was a remarkable man, incredibly forward-thinking, open-minded, and progressive. He figured out how to transport trout eggs so that could restock the overfished Passaic River. He also testified in Congress to get the Department of Fisheries funded for the first time. Though he loved New Jersey, he also loved to travel, mainly to England and Scotland. Page went to Europe and looked at the machinery that he needed for his business, and brought those plans back to the United States. England was much more advanced industry-wise, and so Page really was the father of the coal tar franchise in the US. He wanted to support and promote the coal tar and oil industry, even though we know now how terrible it is for the environment.
Page was really remarkable in how much he advocated for workers’ rights. Most of his mill workers were immigrants, some from Germany. He imported things from their respective countries to be sold in the worker’s store next to the mills so that they could have the comforts of home. He owned the property next to the mills where he let them build their houses, the store, and a community hall for the school. In downtown Chatham, Page created other stores, a church, and a post office (where he was the Postmaster), naming them all after his mother. George Shepard Page was a truly incredible man, and there is no telling what more he could have accomplished had he not died so young.
We would like to thank Pat, Sarah, and Don, as well as the Chatham Township Historical Society and the Chatham Historical Society, for all the information they were able to provide for us as we researched Chatham and Summit, the Stanley Park mills, and George Shepard Page.
Follow our class’ progress and learn fun facts about the Stanley Park site on our TikTok page: @digital_archaeology