Remembering The Past: Roselle’s Past

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by Diane Norek Harrison

ROSELLE-Some memories from William Frolich:

“Through the years there have been many changes that have taken place in the Borough of Roselle, and one of them occurred in the area of what is now Roselle Catholic High School. Back around the beginning of the 20th century that was all woods and farmland.

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“One of these farms was known as ‘Banta’s Farm.’ A dam across this brook near Raritan Road caused the water to be held back and form a lake, which was very useful for raising ducks, and for watering the farm animals. A small round island in the lake was graced with the presence of a single tree. Near the western end of the lake, it was crossed by the bridge of Pine Street, making the up-stream portion much smaller than the down-stream part.

“The land around the upper lake was overgrown with trees, and sometimes called ‘Frogwood,’ after it was acquired by Mr. Augustus Smith, whose fine house was erected there in 1911. The house still stands there, but the trees have been replaced by townhouses.

“During the cold winter months the fresh water of the lake froze to a thickness that permitted ice-skating, and the local residents enjoyed many hours of that activity just a short distance from home. There is one report of an unknown young lady who spent an intriguing afternoon skating without saying a single word, until it was finally revealed that the young lady was actually one of the well-known schoolboys.

“The farm is now gone, and so is the lake, but the water of West Brook still flows around the edge of the area. For some years the farmland was the site of St. Walburga’s Orphanage and by September of 1962, the Roselle Catholic Boys’ High School was opened for its first term in place of the orphanage. The site of the lake, also known as Banta’s Pond, is now covered by part of the school’s baseball field, and by part of the parking lot. The orphanage building was torn down, and replaced by a somewhat similar building for the school’s administration, and the school itself is co-educational.”

My column will only printed with reader contributions. What do you remember of the past from around Union County or what have you saved from the past? I’m looking forward to hearing from new contributors to be able to continue this column.

If you have your own memories or past material from Union County you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media 1139, East Jersey St,. Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.


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