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Summit, NJ 07901


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"Spider" Murphy Comes to Summit

llamaThe Summit Record of April 19, 1902 reported that the Board of Education discussed adopting a system used by other towns, in which teachers' salaries would be set according to the number of years of service in the district.

Common Council voted down a pay increase in for police officers, but approved a raise for the Police Captain, from $720 to $1,000 per year. The Editor expressed the opinion that the Captain's increased duties entitled him to a raise, but not as large a one as Council decided on. Another editorial criticised President Roosevelt for employing a press agent who only released such information as "the autocratic Rough Rider" decided to make public. He also criticized the leading U.S. daily newspapers for following the wishes of "America's Czar" and printing the press releases exactly as given.

Police Captain Brown arrested a man who had been going from house to house in Summit, asking for money. He claimed to be deaf and mute, with paralysed arms, and communicated with notes written by a pencil held in his mouth. He remained mute for most of the day after his arrest, and wrote that his name was James Davis. Captain Brown visited police headquarters in New York, and described the man and his activities. The officials informed him that his prisoner matched the description of "Spider" Murphy, a well-known New York crook. On returning to Summit, the Captain confronted the man, who dropped his pretense of muteness, and pleaded guilty to obtaining money under false pretenses.

New regulations of the Lackawanna Railroad decreed that cabbies and express drivers could not go onto the platform to solicit passengers, but would have to wait by their carriages.

Over fifty Summit residents were rehearsing daily for performances of "The Mikado", to be given at the Beechwood Hotel.

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"Too slow" for Whistling Joe

libertyloanThe Summit Herald of April 12, 1918 reported that the city held a celebration on April 6 to commemorate the first anniversary of the U.S. entering the war. The Summit Municipal Band played a concert on Union Place, followed by a parade with Company A of the NJ State Militia, and Company B of the Militia Reserve. In the evening, a patriotic meeting was held in the gymnasium of the YMCA. The Women's Bureau of the Red Cross announced that knitted socks for the troops were still needed, as the average lifespan of a pair of socks in the trenches was about three days.

In a letter to the Editor, Joseph Walker Magrauth expressed his hope that the Board of Education would exclude the study of the German language from Summit schools. The "treachery, cruelty, and barbarity" of the German nation should lead to "a world-wide refusal to study, to read, or to speak the language of the Hun".

The Lyric Theater began a 10-week  series of two-reel moving-picture dramas called "The Son of Liberty", featuring the life of Abraham Lincoln, from childhood to presidency.

"Whistling Joe" Rogers, a frequent visitor to municipal court, was sentenced to 30-days for drunkenness. Judge Sampson had remanded him to the Self Master Colony in Union [nb: a rehabilitation center], but after one day, Whistling Joe found it "too slow" for his liking. He requested to serve the rest of his sentence in the Union County jail.

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Mysterious Explosion Destroys House

franklinThe Summit Herald of April 5, 1929 reported that a vacant house was destroyed by a mysterious explosion, followed by a fire. The explosion blew the front door off its hinges and across the street, and detached the entire eastern wall from the foundation. The fire department put out the blaze, but could not find the cause of the blast. Common Council approved an appropriation of $23,500 to complete the work on Soldiers Memorial Field. The Roth-Strand Theater announced its first all-talking all-singing movie, "In Old Arizona". In his column, "Major Freelance" praised the new federal law that would require merchants to position scales so that consumers could clearly see the dials.

A group of high school seniors from Clinton went down to Trenton to see the Legislature at work. After the visit, they had three recommendations for their representatives:

  1. Smoke fewer big, black cigars.
  2. Take their feet off their desks
  3. Use politer language to one another.

The Library has a searchable database of local historical newspapers. Search or browse at: