I read the story a Gloucester City lady submitted to Reminisce magazine, describing her childhood in Gloucester City.
Well again my memory was shaky as it was when I read the article about the Philadelphia Zoo in and edition of the Gloucester City News. The article was about three young boys Daniel Gilbert Booth, George Ledly, and myself John C. Taylor. We were close buddies from about the age of 12 until World War II separated us.
Hearing stories of the New York Ship Building Corporation being unclean buried grounds initiated out first escapade. We asked a neighbor, Mr. Buchanan, a watch man at the shipyard of the fields along Broadway East of the Shipyard that were owned by the shipyard, and he said “yes.” These fields are north of Passaic Street.
The three of us decide to begin at Passaic Street, work our way north. After about two weeks we found no Indian artifacts, but did make two very good finds. As we moved the top six to eight inched of ground we found a large area of pure white clay, to a depth of at least two feet in spots.
This find we decided to keep mum about, as we planned to use it solely ourselves. The other two finds was a large bushel of wild black berries our mothers used at breakfast with our cereals, and pies.
We began to search in the field behind the houses on Sherman Street. The first day we thought we struck it rich, not Indian artifacts but pieces of rusted iron, knocking the rust off revealed an angle iron, rivets flat pieces, also two large lumps of lead.
We loaded to express wagons and went to Johnny Mosco’s junk yard on Jersey Avenue. He was very skeptical about buying the iron. After numerous times, hitting pieces with a hammer, he offered two cents a pound, which we readily accepted. The lead was three cents a pound, but we were told only bring lead, no more iron.
With 80 cents for the iron and thirty two cents for the lead we decided to try mining lead. After two days of mining for lead, finding one small piece, we threw it in Newton Creek, thus ending our mining days.
The three of us now believing the Indian artifacts were in the fenced in field at the South yard of the New York Ship Yard. The fence created a problem, first finding away to remove a fence board so as to gain entrance. After losing a fence board at the bottom it could be swung away allowing us entrance to the field.
After we gained entrance, we decided to replace the board and watch for a time to see if a watchman patrolled the building next to the field. We saw no one. We marked the loosened board, and began looking for Indian artifacts.
In four days we become tired of pulling weeds, trying to dig into hard ground. We divided the 11 arrow heads and what appeared to be a stone axe.
It was later proven during the Second World War, Indians were buried in the south yard, workers were digging a foundation for a piece of machinery, finding two bodies of bones. After a coroner’s checking, they were declared Indian bodies, and covered over. This find was in the American Brown Beveery building in the south yard. I believe I am right in that American Brown Beveery made diesel marine engines for sea going merchant ships.
John C. Taylor, Orlando, FL