Barnegat Light has its own World War I Centennial Flag, thanks to Ocean County honoring the 11 soldiers from the borough known to have served in the war. The county is presenting all municipalities that existed at that time with a service flag.
The list of armed forces servicemen from what was then called Barnegat City is: William W. Allison, National Army; Benjamin K. Archer, Army; Kendall Archer, Navy; Harry Brown, Navy; Charles W. Chandlee, Army; George P. Cochines, Navy; William l. Johnson, Army; Benjamin F. Jones, Army; Presgrove W.W. Kelly, Coast Guard Station No. 113, Barnegat; John Marshall, Navy, Lighthouse Service; Sgt. Maitland Perrine, Army.
Ocean County Historian Tim Hart presented the flag to borough council Oct. 10 on behalf of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Hart came in place of the ill Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who is an avid World War I historian.
The service flag was patented in Ohio in 1917 and its popularity spread. Each town’s flag bears a number in blue indicating the total individuals who served from the municipality. The number in gold represents the total number from that town who died. In Barnegat Light’s case, the number is zero.
The presentation took on a unique note at the council meeting. Reading the list of service people, Mayor Kirk Larson’s eyes landed on a familiar name.
“Kendall Archer – he’s the ghost in my mother’s house.”
Many townspeople and visitors to the Larson homestead on East 12th Street are familiar with the matter-of-fact story that the house is one of those in town inhabited by an unseen presence that sometimes makes itself known.
“He’s the ghost,” Larson confirmed after the meeting. “He built the house to the west of my mother’s house.” Indeed, “some weird stuff happens,” he said, but details would have to be “another story.”
In all 2,433 service members are known to have participated in World War I from Ocean County. Seventy-five of them died.
Finding out how many service people took part in World War I was a long process, consulting many, often contradictory sources, including newspapers, muster rolls, genealogies, and all of the monuments in the county, said county officials.
Added Hart, “It’s very hard to pin this number down. There were eight newspapers at the time in Ocean County. For some reason, people were not necessarily truthful about what town they lived in.
“June 6 was called New Jersey Day; all the schools, all the businesses closed and wherever you were, you had to register for the draft. So if you happened to be in Beach Haven or if you were a lifeguard or you worked in a restaurant, this is where you signed up for the draft.”
The members of the Seaport Stitchers Quilt Guild of Tuckerton donated their time to sew each of 28 red flags, one for each municipality that existed in 1918 in Ocean County.
The county invites everyone to attend its Armistice Day 2018 observance Sunday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. on the front lawn of the Ocean County Courthouse in Toms River. The celebration will mark the centenary of the cease-fire of the Great War. Bagpipers, bell tolling and a monument dedication will take place.
Ocean County was involved in World War I via the radio tower in Tuckerton, Lakehurst proving ground, Fort Dix, the Coast Guard and a hospital in Lakewood, to name several resources.
“The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is proud of all of our residents who have served our nation throughout our history to defend our freedom,” the freeholder board stated.
“This was a very brutal and costly war and left repercussions even today,” Hart noted.
— Maria Scandale