Remembering the Past: Woodbridge Knights Of Columbus

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By Diane Norek Harrison

Before I begin my column, I would like to thank all the readers who have contributed to my column for the past five years. I couldn’t have done this column for so long if I didn’t have the help off the readers. If you have memories or past material and want to share the information in my column please send to me for the remainder of 2008.

It is never to early to start sending past winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas memories or past material for my end of the year columns. Thanks to Lisa McCormick, publisher of CMD Media and Paul Hadsall, editor, for their continuous support with having my “Remembering The Past” column in their publications for the past five years. I have talked to many of my contributors by phone, emailed even more and received many complimentary letters in the mail to be able to bring you my column each week. Thanks for a great five years in the Atom Tabloid & Citizen-Gazette! Already contributed and have more to share? No problem!

WOODBRIDGE-This is from my own material dated 1920: In the year 1904, there being councils of the Knights of Columbus in New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and South Amboy, New Jersey, a desire to establish a council in the growing town of Woodbridge was thus inspired.

Since that time the following members of Council No. 857 held the chair of Grand Knight: J.F Ryan, J.P. Gerity, R.P. Grace, M.R. Holole, Jacob Grauson, M.F Conole and Thomas J. Cody. Middlesex Council, No. 857 was instituted on March 13, 1904, with twenty-nine charter members, as follows: Rev. Griffin, James F. Dunn, Michael R. Holohan, Michael F. Leahey, M.P. Dunnigan, Richard P. Grace, H.F McCarthy, James P. Hughes, William A. Grace, E.L. Romond, John F. Campion, J.H Concannon, P.J. Kenna, B.A. Dunnigan, B.J.?, Joseph A. Howell, Patrick Murtagh, Michael P. Conole, John F. Ryan, ? Jelicks, Patrick J. Ryan, Arthur J. Delaney, William A. Ryan, Paul P. ?, John A. Dunn, Lawrence C. Ryan, James P. Gerity, Edward J. Mooney, and D. F. Pender.

The original officers, who were members of the committee of organizations, were: John F. Ryan, Grand Knight; Richard P. Grace, Financial Secretary; D.F. Pender, Recording Secretary; John F. Campion; E.L. Romond, Chancellor; Rev. J.J. Griffin, Chaplin. From the beginning, this council began to take a deep interest in social and civic affairs, and its members were always in the forefront of any movement that was for the betterment and interest of the community. This organization has increased its membership yearly, and at the present time (1920) it has a total of about 250, and is increasing rapidly.

During the World War, 45 members of the council were in uniform. Some 30 of whom saw active service overseas and one of our brothers Edward M. Kelly, made the supreme sacrifice for his country The council was active in the Liberty Loan drives and other war work, and during the Morgan Explosion (Oct. 14, 1918) organized a local Relief Station in their clubroom on Amboy Ave. and fed 3,500 refugees with sandwiches, coffee and milk. The council also assisted in the great epidemic of influenza (1918) in volunteering their services to those in charge of the Emergency Hospital, and served nightly in the hospital for weeks until the danger of the epidemic had subsided.

In 1918, the present club house on Amboy Avenue near Main Street was purchased as a modern club. It soon developed that these quarters were inadequate housing of the club, and a committee was appointed in 1920 to look for larger quarters with the result that the spacious home of Frank Elias, at the corner of Main Street and St. George Avenue was purchased, and the councils expects to move into its new on or about Oct. 1, 1921. In connection with the purchase of this home it is an historical fact to note that the new site was the location of Washington’s headquarters during Revolutionary times and was known as the Cross Keys Inn.

The present officers of the council (1921) are as follows: M.J. Coll, Grand Knight; J. Grace, Deputy Grand Knight; Paul P. Olbrick, Financial Secretary; Henry ?, Treasurer; Michael R. Holohan, Warden; Albert J. Thompson, Chancellor and Rev. R. J. O’Farrell, Chaplin.

Besides the councils listed above, there are now (1921) councils in Roosevelt (Edison) and Sayreville.
If anyone would like to contribute more history of the Woodbridge Knights of Columbus or other councils, besides Sayreville and South Amboy, or has history of other past or present organizations in the area send it over to me!

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


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