A personal history of Port
Morris, New Jersey by Barbara Carmean Dickisson. -
Editor's Note: In March 2017 we received an email Barbara sketching out her memories of growing up in Port Morris
from the 1940's thru the 1980's. We then met with her and scanned her
historic Port Morris photos.
A GIRL GROWS UP IN PORT MORRIS, NEW JERSEY
|My Mothers' birth name is Doris Batson, she was
born in 1922 and grew up in Port Morris. When my Mother was 11 years of
age her Mother died and she went to live with her
sister and brother in law, Lela and Howard Witts Force. The Witts family
name is printed on one of the stained glass windows of the Port Morris
Howard and Lela lived on the corner of Main and Palmer streets. Lela was
25 years older than my mother. My mother attended Port
Morris school through grade eight and graduated from Roxbury High School
in the class of 1940.
After her marriage to my father, my mother moved from Port Morris. When
I was about three years old and my brother 1 1/2, my mother moved back
to Port Morris to house number 539, at the corner of Main and Palmer.
The house was owned by Frank Wiler who worked for the railroad. At that
time it was a two family house. Divorced from my father my mother
eventually remarried. After Mr. Wiler died my mother and stepfather,
Elroy Chapman bought this house and converted the apartments to a one
Most of the residents of the town were known to me. Some were even related. Lydia Force was married to Charles Force who was an uncle to Howard Force, relatives of mine by marriage. Charles worked on the railroad and died at a young age leaving Lydia a widow. Lydia was a substitute school teacher and taught my class on many occasions. She kept a post card album which she eventually gave to my Uncle Howard and in his older years Howard gave it to me. I knew this album contained many postcards with pictures of Port Morris, the tow path, canal street, the round house and others. (those photos are now scanned and on this website, Editor). I do have a postcard with a picture of the canal as it passes through Landing alongside the railroad tracks of the DL&W railroad. It shows the station and a canal boat with people milling around apparently waiting to board. The postcard is addressed to Mr. C.E. Force, Howard's uncle. It is postmarked September 3, 1907. I don't know who provided you with the pictures that appear on your web site but five of them appear to be exactly the same as the snapshots in my possession.
Also in my possession are two large original photographs of the Port Morris Church when it was on the eastern side of the tracks. (see them below) Names of some of the people in the pictures are written on the back. I know that these are original pictures because they too, like the post card album, were given to Howard Force by his Aunt Lydia and he gave them to me. Lydia is one of the Sunday school students in one of the pictures. Lydia was part of the family during my childhood. Several years ago a man from Port Morris borrowed my photos saying he wanted to take pictures of them because he too grew up in the town and had a deep interest in its history. A couple years later I happened to be attending an event at the United Methodist Church in town and saw large photographs of my original in frames on one of the walls. I commented to the Pastor at that time that I have the originals. She tried to tell me that those on the wall were the originals. I did not argue with her!
Your website mentioned the fact that there was a diner in town positioned at the upper end of Palmer Street to the right of the round house as you face it. Someone did mention the diner stating that it was owned by Firpo DeFelice. At one time while I was in grade school my parents, Elroy and Doris Chapman, ran the diner. I cannot be sure if they owned it or exactly how they came to do this but I do remember hearing the name Firpo and also Mrs. Oliver was at one point involved with the diner also. I thought my parents owned it at the time they operated it. Some of my relatives worked for them. I remember Wyn Davis who lived on Main Street also working for them. I remember the day he tried to light the gas oven and it exploded into his face causing third degree burns for which he was hospitalized. I can still remember the railroaders coming into the diner for meals and to play the slot machine.
I too remember Sylvio DeMarino's paper store, Chipaletti's candy store
and then Joe Perfetti's store with the counter and soda fountain. It was
so much fun to sit at the counter and order ice cream sodas and banana
splits. Joe and Claire made the best ice cream sodas and banana splits.
I loved going to Riker's candy store for penny candies. Also during the
time I was in grammar school, Dan Bartland purchased and operated one of
the General stores in town. The Bartlands lived in the big
house on the corner of Center and Palmer streets, across from Loppy's
barber shop. His younger daughter, Melanie, and I often played dolls
I loved my school years in Port Morris. I especially remember my
kindergarten teacher, Louise Crater and the way she so enthusiastically
pounded out Zipity Do Da on the piano while the class sang. I remember
the times she came to our home for lunch with my mother and me. During
my grade school years we had many class picnics in my aunts large back
yard. I remember the fire and air raid drills while in school. It was a
treat to be chosen to go outside to clap the chalk from the blackboard
erasers. Friends and I walked to Stanhope during the summer to visit
Mrs. Danley, our second grade teacher.
These are the photos scanned by the Editor from the album originally owned by Lydia Hoffman Force, given to Barbara Carmean Dickisson:
Port Morris New Jersey, circa 1887, showing row of 12 Railroad employee houses on Kings Highway, built in 1873, also known as 'Red Row', or the "'12 Apostles',
with the Port Morris Methodist Church at right in its' original location. In 1900 the church was moved off this site 300 yards across the rails to its' current site.
Men in photo from left: Man in Bowler Hat is unknown, Man in 'Pork Pie' hat is Bill Mowery, young man kneeling is Alan Burt, his father is George Burt with beard.
Between 1887 and 1892 the old Methodist Church location was also where Public School classes were held. It is unknown whether this photo is a
Sunday School class or a Public School class. In the 2nd row, the girl 7th from right in a flower yoked dress is Lydia Hoffman. She would go on to marry
Charles E. Force, prominent in Port Morris, this was her photo, handed down to Barbara Dickisson. Bill Mowery is the teen in a hat left of the teacher.
Bill Sholer is 2nd row, 4th from left. A small mystery is the length of the window at left when compared to the photo above,
was someone later blacked out in the photo and the window extended? Ideas??
The Morris Canal as it went through Port Morris, circa 1905. The 'towpath' on which mules or horses would walk is at left, they pulled boat barges loaded with
raw materials. The 'hayday' of the Canal was 1840 thru 1890, by 1905 most traffic shifted to the railroad. The back of the Railway 'Roundhouse' is seen at right.
An early photo of the Port Morris Railway Engine 'Roundhouse, circa 1890, the turntable is just right of center.
Card from the collection showing the Delaware, Lackawana & Western Railroad Station at Landing, along with the Morris Canal with a Black Line shuttle boat.
Vacationers would board trains in the city, go up to Lake Hopatcong, cross the platform where these boats loaded them and their luggage for the trip thru
the Canal Lock into Lake Hopatcong where all the Hotels had docks. Card was sent in 1907, but image is circa 1904.
Looking east down Center Street, cor. of Palmer, circa 1904. Over the years the building at left, 304 Center St, served variously
as Thompson General Store, the 'Red Men' Lodge meeting hall upstairs, Rossi General Store in later years, the Post Office, Loppy's Barber Shop,
a Shoemaker downstairs and at one time Hrisko's -also spelled Risko's Pool Hall upstairs. (Thanks Bob Waldron for the info!)
The square building (307 Center Street) at right behind the home is the Hulse (later Harding) General Store, the signage looks like the
start of the words "FURNITURE" and "CANNED GOODS", items seen in their print ads. The home at right was built by the Hulse family.
The store building at left burnt down in the late 1960's, the 2 buildings at right still stand.
In this circa 1895 photo, a Steam Locomotive moves coal cars at the Port Morris Transfer station for the loads that came in from the
Pennsylvania coalfields. Many coal cars had upper bodies that could be tipped, dumping the coal.
The rail and coal complex at Port Morris was a major hub.
In this circa 1907 image, the "Coal Pockets" bins are seen.
An aerial view of Port Morris, circa
1935-1950. Clearly visible at center right is the Railroad Train Roundhouse.
Lake Musconetcong is at the bottom. Netcong is just out of view to the right, Landing is at the top left of photo.
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