1897 Letter to the editor shows how little has changed in Jackson Township 130 years later


JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – A scathing letter written to the editor of the Monmouth Inquirer on February 19, 1897 highlighted the problems of the day in Jackson Township, many of which hold true over 100 years later.

In the letter, Jackson resident Edmund Morgan, a new resident of Jackson complained about the way the government was mishandling common problems within the community and mismanaging project funding. The biggest source of contention for Mr. Morgan in 1897 was the lack of road maintenance and lack of future vision of township leaders to find ways to generate revenue, make the community more enticing to commerce while not upsetting the quality of life of those who lived there at the time.

Little has changed in the 123 years since, it seems.

Morgan criticized how the township received $50,000 from the state to maintain the main arteries in the town, but those arteries remained a disaster long after the funding was complete. The township’s answer was there wasn’t enough money to fix all of the roads. Morgan provided calculations that did not add up factoring the daily labor rate of $1.25 per day per worker and claimed things were not adding up.

“The long continued financial depression which has hit the farmer and poor man with particular severity is still in our midst,” he said. “It is painfully loud and distinct.”

Edmunds suggested the township abandon it’s non-stop maintenance of old dirt roads and move forward with new packed gravel roads for the town’s horses and carriages to better traverse…and even back in the 1800’s Jackson residents looked to Lakewood.

“The best evidence and argument in favor of well built gravel roads, and the best object lesson in that regard is to be found in and about Lakewood where the gravel road is built and maintained at its best,” Morgan said.

In order to gravel Jackson’s roads, it would have cost the township $6,000 per mile. Morgan felt that if Jackson made that investment, more travelers will pass through the town, generating more commerce for the farmers and merchants enroute.

Then it happened. Morgan was accused by township officials of having political inspirations. He was belittled with counter editorials in other newspapers and was told that he’s forgetting Jackson Township is one hundred square miles and the problems in Jackson are much more complex than the ones in Lakewood because of its sheer size and length of roadways.

To which Morgan replied, “All manner of threats have reached me, but I lived too long a time among the Indians and Greasers to being my time of life to be afraid of a piner. I have the law abiding element of the community with me, ad as for others…”

Some things never change in Jackson Township.

Source: Monmouth Inquirer, February 19, 1897.

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