Cape May’s Second Annual Hallowe’en Carnival on November 3, 1916.

Trick or Treat

Halloween Crow

 Learn about Cape May’s Secret Societies
By Jim Campbell

  What kind of trick would bring over 5,000 people in the Cape May area to witness or participate in a real treat. The event was Cape May’s Second Annual Hallowe’en Carnival that took place on November 3, 1916. The two hour parade started at 8:00 at Washington and Franklin Streets and ended at Washington and Perry Streets.

  The largest contingent in the parade was the Cape May High School with 148 students led by principal Butterwick. The senior class marched in cap and gown and the freshmen brought up the rear with a prairie schooner pulled by an old horse and followed by several cows. In the middle of the high school contingent was a float depicting the crowded conditions in the high school (the one that once stood where the Acme is now).

  The high school kids got a$ 10.00 first prize for having the largest representation in the parade and another $10.00 first prize for the most grotesquely dressed organization as well as a third prize in the best decorated float category.

  Of Cape May’s numerous “secret societies” only the Ogallala Tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men, the Cold Spring Council of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics and the Cold Spring Order of the Patriotic Sons of America are mentioned as appearing in the parade, although others may have been in the line of march.

  The Women’s Christian Temperance Union had a float that was described as “very expressive and prophetic”. Prohibition was only a few years away.

  The Wildwood Fire Department arrived with two “magnificent large motor fire trucks” and two strong blue columns. The Cape May firemen followed with apparatus drawn by “magnificent horses.”

Cape May Fire Department

  You’ve come a long way! This 1910 photograph of Cape firemen of yesteryear draws a sharp contrast to the modern, efficient Cape May Volunteer Fire Department of today. Pictured here are Driver Chad Poulson and City Engineer Jim Rice with their fire horses, “Harry” (right) and “Joe.”

   A number of automobiles appeared in the parade including Woodruff Eldredge’s new Studebaker in Hallowe’en colors and one made to appear as a Cape May Point trolley car described as a “humorous but realistic representation of our former ‘one lungers’” which won first prize for best decorated float.

  The large contingent from Wildwood, which included a suffrage float, was led by the Baker brothers in automobiles decorated with flowers.

  Mayor Stevens presented the prizes from the reviewing stand at Washington and Ocean Streets. Among the prizes that were awarded, Oscar Tenenbaum got first prize for the best Charlie Chaplin, with Charley Swain coming in second and Charley Schellenger third. William Porter’s Cape May Band provided the music for the skating competition that followed the presentation of the prizes.

  Although the 1916 Halloween parade was for adults, our Halloween parades now are for children and maybe that is the way it should be. Or maybe there should be two parades?

Source for this article: Cape May Star and Wave November 4, 1916





Summer 2014 NewsLetter

Many thanks for your help and support with the Society’s 2014 Antiques and Fine Crafts Fair. You made it possible for the Society to realize $2,198.92 on this event. This event provides a portion of the operating expenses for 2015 and will allow us to continue to be part of the Cape May Community. Our special thank you to the folks who gave time, money or items for our White Elephant Table. For a full list of Contributors and Vendors, visit our website follow the link to What’s New. We hope to see you at our Antiques and Fine Crafts fair on Saturday, June 20, 2015.

Greater Cape May Historical Society 40th Anniversary  The role of Non Profits Non-Profit organizations are an essential part of the community. They bring together people of common interest to volunteer their time and effort supporting goals to enrich the community. CHSummer2014a

Matching Gift Opportunity In August, 1974, forty years ago, the Greater Cape May Historical Society was incorporated. The Society was formed to preserve the Memucan Hughes Colonial House. Over the years, dedicated volunteers have worked to preserve the house for the next generations. We have a matching gift opportunity until December 31, 2014, offered by an anonymous donor. Your contribution is tax deductible and will enable the Society to continue with preservation of the house as a community resource for Cape May, an Historic Landmark City. Each gift will be matched. Link to Website for Matching Gift Information

July in COOL CAPE MAY Betsy Ross Visit

July 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2014 from 1-4 PM at the Colonial House in Cape May, at 653 1/2 Washington Street, we celebrated our 40th Anniversary with special guest Betsy Ross. BetsyRossWe had punch and cookies, flags and many visitors who braved the storm, Alfred, to visit us.  A special thank you to GAYLE STAHLHUTH of the East Lynne Theatre Company who provided the costumes for the day. Thank you, Gayle!

Letters to the Curator This summer we have received a number of letters from folks writing their family history and the years they spent in Cape May. One letter is from a ninety-three year old who asked for information on a storm in August, 1932. She included  a newsletter, from the old Admiral Hotel, the “Admiral Roars IN COOL CAPE MAY” from July 1946. Sixty-eight years later we are still COOL CAPE MAY!

Guide Support – The 12 Days of August  Volunteers for community service have so many choices but limited time available. We recognized the supply of able volunteers is dwindling now, and into the future. We have 12 days in August and a few left in September needing volunteer coverage. We have moved the guide schedule calendar to email to save postage. To contact us by phone, please leave a message at 609-884-9100. We need your support for afternoons (1-4 PM) for the remaining open season of the Colonial House. If you wish to volunteer, send email to using the link below. We appreciate any days you can provide to help us make the summer successful.  Send eMail to Colonial House Schedule Administrator


Spring 2014 Newsletter

Greater Cape May Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary

This year the Greater Cape May Historical Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary. When the founding members of the Society decided upon a newsletter name, they called it “Homespun. In keeping with tradition, we have decided to keep “Homespun” as our newsletter title.

Society Background and Moving Forward

In 1974, the Society’s mission was to save the Memucan Hughes house one of a few colonial houses that survived the Great Fire from destruction and to collect history of the Cape May area. Over the years, the board members and volunteers have kept their mission–some were good years, and some not so good.  This year, we plan to revitalize the mission and add a vision to our purpose. Today’s non-profits must change with the times and we plan to structure our mission with new ideas, organizational best practice, and transparency.  We remain a small museum supported by an all volunteer board on a shoestring budget. We intend to have fun, as well as, meet and greet our tourists and visitors to the Cape May area from near and far.

GCMHS: Transparency Topic – Board Meetings

A board Meeting is held monthly on the second Monday at 6:30 PM. All society members and their guests are welcome to attend. The Board has a seasonal location. During the months of May through October, the board meeting is held at the Colonial House. The November Annual Meeting is held at the VFW followed by the December meeting and annual Christmas party held at a selected location. In the winter months, the Board meets in Lyle Hall at the Methodist Church next to City Hall. The Board welcomes members to provide input and ideas for the benefit of the Society and the Colonial House. If you wish to add an item to the agenda, contact the President  at 609-408-0925 two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting.

Museum 2014 Summer Schedule

The Memucan Hughes Colonial House will open on Tuesday,  June 17 until September 15. The hours are 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday.


Vernacular Architecture Forum

The VAF has scheduled a visit on Sunday, May 11. We are proud to be selected by the Society as an example of colonial era architecture–one of just a few remaining in Cape May County.  To learn more about the Vernacular Society,


Project: 2013 Colonial House Painting Completed

29Own a wood house is Cape May? Is house painting is your hobby? We completed the Colonial House Painting project just a bit before Christmas 2013. However, we have fairly well depleted our Building Fund. The exterior painting project was delayed due to wood repairs and areas surrounding the windows that were leaking. All has been corrected and in good working order. The next step for the Building fund is to acquire funding for a brick path connecting the front of the building to the back door; improve ADA access, drainage; and low cost landscaping to enhance the Colonial House streetscape. Did you know we have a Matching Gift opportunity?


Project: Society Records and Continuity Planning

28The Society has completed scanning the business paper records that were stored in the Colonial House. A best practice checklist for the 2013 and 2014 records has been implemented for the Society’s goal to foster continuity and disaster planning.

Next step will be a complete inventory and review of the photographs and display items in the Colonial House followed by data entry into the Past Perfect Museum software.


Project: StEPS Self Assessment

This year the Society plans to seek self assessment with the AASLH StEPs program. It helps small-and mid-sized history museum, historic sites and houses, including all volunteer ones, to assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future. Meeting organizational standards is important for even the smallest of organizations. The great benefit of StEPs is that it breaks national standards down into basic, good, and better levels at a pace to incrementally meet them.


Use the links below for local activities:
Greater Cape May Historical Society
Greater Cape May Chamber of Commerce
City of Cape May Events
West Cape May Business and Events


Matching Gift

A generous member of the Society has offered a matching gift to replenish our fund to maintain the Memucan Hughes House. Would you consider a donation?


Activity Calendar

4/29 –     Colonial House Spring Cleaning Day
5/12 –     Board Meeting at Colonial House
5/11 –     Vernacular Architecture Forum Visit To Colonial House
6/7 –     Guide Orientation and Training
6/9 –     Board Meeting at Colonial House
6/17 –     Colonial House and Summer Exhibit Opens
6/21 –     GCMHS Antique and Fine Crafts Fair at Wilbraham Park


Grant Information

The Greater Cape May Historical Society received a general operating support regrant from the Cape May County Division of Culture and Heritage.  These regrant funds came from a general operating support grant that the Culture and Heritage Division had received from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State  Cape May County