Remembering the Past: Morgan History

by Diane Norek Harrison

SAYREVILLE—In 2007 I received an email from Morgan resident Frances Drake asking me if I had any past information on the Morgan section of Sayreville She was writing a paper for a class at Rutgers University. She has since sent me a copy of her paper with permission to share her research in my column. The paper is 17 pages and includes many photos.

“Welcome to Morgan, New Jersey-The Original Gateway to the Shore”

“Morgan, New Jersey is a small town in Sayreville on the water of the Raritan Bay. Like any New Jersey waterfront town, Morgan played a big role in the formation of New Jersey, the New Jersey Shore, and of the United States. Its history is noted in and dates back to the American Revolution, Civil War, Prohibition, and World War I. Some long-time residents recall their summers as youths in Morgan or in the surrounding shore areas of Laurence Harbor, Keansburg, Keyport, Seidler’s Beach, and Cliffwood Beach

The town of Morgan was probably not named after the famous pirate, Captain Henry Morgan, as many residents believe. In my research I have observed that Captain Henry Morgan was probably related to the original Morgan family that settles the town. The Morgan Fire Department located on Old Spye Road proudly displays a picture of the Captain Morgan from the brand spiced rum packaging on its fire trucks, leading many to believe the town was named for the famous pirate.

Many Northern New Jersey shore towns claim to be the “Gateway to the Shore.” Indeed, there is a handball court in Laurence Harbor Waterfront Park that proudly proclaims, Laurence Harbor-Gateway to the Shore. Throughout South Amboy there are signs announcing, Welcome to South Amboy: Gateway to the Shore.

A lecturer at our Rutgers Jerseyana class proclaimed that Sandy Hook is the “Gateway to the Shore.” No doubt Perth Amboy, Woodbridge and maybe even Linden have pronounced themselves the “Gateway to the Shore” at some point in their illustrious histories. While Sandy Hook may now be the “Gateway to the Shore”, there are compelling records in the history of Morgan that will show why Morgan, New Jersey is the original “Gateway to the Shore.”

Morgan was established in 1703 by the Morgan family when they were given the land by Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley. The family contributed many soldiers to the Revolutionary War, and was close with George Washington. Major General James “Jamy” Morgan, Jr., born in 1757 was the eldest son of Captain James Morgan, and served in the Revolutionary War as a line officer under the command of his father. Both were taken prisoner by the British towards the end of 1777 at Cheesequake Creek and released a year later.”

At the end of her paper, Frances put a “sources” page which includes my name and my “Remembering the Past” column in the Atom Tabloid & Citizen-Gazette, Ed Pytel, a Sayreville Historian and member of the Sayreville Historical Society and her Morgan neighbors Harry and Lillian Applegate. I will have more from this material in the future.

My own note: Sayreville is made up of four sections: Melrose, Morgan, Parlin and Sayreville Proper.

Have you done some research of any of the towns in the area and want to see it in print? Send it over!

If you have your own memories or past material for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at or send “copies” of your material to me at CMD Media P.O. Box 1061 Rahway, NJ 07065.

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