Remembering The Past: Sayreville Memories

by Diane Norek Harrison

SAYREVILLE-I received an e-mail after I have printed many times there are four sections of Sayreville: Melrose, Morgan, Parlin and Sayreville. The e-mail stated there is also the Old Bridge section, near Jernee Road and Bordentown Avenue near Winding Wood. Some people also consider Lower Sayreville a section.

MORGAN-This is from former Morgan resident Chuck Muth: “Hurricane Raceway was on the corner of South Pine Avenue and Bayview. Phil Jay was the owner of a Studebaker dealership, Phillips Motors at that address, until Studebaker closed its doors. Even though they continued to fix cars in the back garage, they turned the showroom into a slot car racing place. It was a big fad in the mid-to-late 1960s.”

Here is more from the research of Morgan by Frances M. Drake: On Oct. 4, 1918, the T. A. Gillespie Shell-Loading Factory in Morgan exploded, destroying the factory and breaking windows for miles around the area. South Amboy was evacuated and thousands fled their homes to Perth Amboy over the Victory Bridge. Shell parts were still being collected in 1997 from Sayreville’s Eisenhower School. Reports of the deaths ranged from 64 to over 100 people.

At the time of its full production, the Gillespie Shell-Loading Factory was the largest load and pack production plant during World War I providing 10 percent of the shells used at the front. The blasts reportedly began at 7:36 p.m. on Oct. 4th and continued for three days. Twelve Navy Crosses were issued to 12 Coast Guardsmen for their heroism in carrying out the wounded, moving trainloads of T.N.T. and truckloads of ammunition away from the still exploding factory.

There is a monument near Ernston Road and Route 9 at a mass grave for the people that died from the Gillespie explosion.

The Morgan Family Cemetery-At the top of Morgan Avenue, overlooking the Raritan Bay is the Morgan private family cemetery. It is a small cemetery of only about 50 feet by 50 feet with fewer than 25 cemetery plots. All of the people that were buried there are Morgan family member either by birth or marriage. The first person to be buried there was Nicholas Morgan in 1782 and the latest dated headstone was that of Charles Morgan in 1888.

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 or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.

Connect with NJTODAY.NET

Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!
Email for advertising information Send stuff to NJTODAY.NET Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter Download this week's issue of NJTODAY.NET
Print Friendly, PDF & Email