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
“Welcome to Morgan, New Jersey-The Original Gateway to the Shore”
YE OLDE SPYE INN
“No paper about Morgan would be complete without including a section about the infamous Ye Olde Spye Inn, which until a fire destroyed it in 1976 overlooked Cheesequake Creek. Ye Olde Spye Inn is legendary for a number of reason Not only does it have a place in history of the Morgan family, but because of its proximity to the Raritan Bay, became a hotbed of activity during the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and during the Prohibition years.
Ye Olde Spye Inn was originally build as a homestead for the Morgan family. After family members began building houses and moving throughout and beyond Morgan it became a bar and inn called the Morgan Inn. The Inn became a popular stage coach stop for vacationers traveling to the Jersey Shore. They would stop at the Inn to wait for the tide to go out so they could cross the Cheesequake Creek. When the tide went out, the creek was shallow enough for people to cross into Laurence Harbor, one of the earliest shore destinations. Like the parting of the Red Sea to allow Moses to cross into the Promised Land, vacationers would cross Cheesequake Creek to New Jersey Shore points. This is one of the reasons I would argue that Morgan is the original Gateway to the Shore.
During the Revolutionary War, the Morgan Family became huge supporters of the American cause. In 1777, a traitor named Abe Mussey was allegedly signaling to British ships on the Raritan Bay. He was captured by American troops and taken to the Olde Spye Inn where a trial was performed on the spot. Mussey was convicted as a spy for the British troops, carried outside to a tree and hanged. His body was left hanging overnight, and cut down the next morning.
Another owner of the Olde Spye Inn became depressed after failure of his marriage and committed suicide in one of the upstairs rooms. Visitors to the Olde Spye reported that they felt the presence of ghosts haunting the Inn and saw strange shadows and heard eerie noises when visiting.
The Inn gained notoriety again during the Civil war when it was owned by James Rufus Morgan. He was friends with Robert E. Lee and a secret supporter of the Southern cause. Morgan made gunpowder and supplies which he smuggled through a secret tunnel leading from the Inn to the Cheesequake Creek where awaiting ships would take them on board.
The Olde Spye Inn burnt down in 1976, a year after the reenactment of the Abe Mussey’s trial.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or send “copies” of your material to me at CMD Media, P.O. Box 1061, Rahway, NJ 07065.