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Toms River in Ocean County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Toms River Township’s First Park

 
 
Toms River Township’s First Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
1. Toms River Township’s First Park Marker
Inscription.  
Huddy Park began as a tiny marsh island near the northern bank of the Toms River. Starting in the 1890s, the owner of what was then called Gowdy Island, began filling in the marsh using material excavated from the hill on Robbins Street. Over the following decade, the property adjacent to the river continued to be filled in without the federal government’s permission. After being warned, the property owners halted the illegal landfill activity. The principal owner, Ralph B. Gowdy, planned to sell the “improved” island for private development, but when this proved unsuccessful, he sold it to the township in 1905 for $3,000. Shortly afterward, the island became the township’s first park and was called Gowdy Park.

Eventually, the park was renamed to honor Captain Joshua Huddy. Huddy was the commander of the Toms River Blockhouse when it was destroyed by the British on March 24, 1782. The township made modest improvements to the park in 1911 and acquired the adjacent land, which provided enough space to accommodate dockage for larger vessels. In 1915, interested residents, led by the old Reliance Band, “collected
Toms River Township’s First Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
2. Toms River Township’s First Park Marker
some $600 to improve and beautify” the park, including the construction of an octagon-shaped gazebo for band concerts. Years later, the gazebo was restored due to age and weathering. A fire of undetermined origin destroyed it in 2010. During its more than one hundred years, the park grounds have been enhanced with trees, shrubs, flowerbeds, and paths. More recently, a brick service building was added, which provides facilities for food preparation and public restrooms. Over the past century, the park has become a popular site for an occasional wedding and community happenings, including festivals, wooden boat shows, picnics, craft fairs, art shows and commemorative historical events such as the reenactment of the Toms River Blockhouse Fight.

In celebration of the township’s 250th anniversary in 2017, Huddy Park was completely renovated with new bulkheads, refurbished benches, gazebos, and pathways, as well as fitted with decorative colonial soldier silhouettes and enhanced illumination. Interpretive historical signage was added in 2019.

Luker Bridge
Known as Goose Creek
before 1727, Toms River traces its name to Thomas Luker who, around 1702, began operating a “ferrie” or barge that crossed the river. The picturesque footbridge that connects the two sections of the park is named for this early English settler. One local folktale says that
Marker in Huddy Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
3. Marker in Huddy Park
The Toms River Township’s First Park marker can be seen next to the bridge.
Tom Luker lived with his Unami Native American wife, Princess Ann, in a wigwam on the hill north of the park (near where the blockhouse would stand seventy-five years later and near the current Town Hall). Gradually, the name of the river and the growing village on the river’s north bank both became known as Tom’s River. Eventually, the name morphed into Toms River as the apostrophe was lost to history.
 
Erected 2019 by Township of Toms River Historic Preservation Commission.
 
Location. 39° 57.075′ N, 74° 11.876′ W. Marker is in Toms River, New Jersey, in Ocean County. Marker is on East Water Street, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located in Huddy Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20 East Water Street, Toms River NJ 08753, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Toms River Blockhouse Fight (within shouting distance of this marker); Toms River Block House (within shouting distance of this marker); Huddy’s Hanging Stalls Peace Talks (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Joshua Huddy (within shouting distance of this marker); The British Attack Toms River (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Captain Joshua Huddy
Luker Bridge in Huddy Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
4. Luker Bridge in Huddy Park
The back of the Toms River Township’s First Park marker can be seen to the right of the bridge.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Anchor from the Aircraft Carrier USS Randolph CV-15 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Toms River Block House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Toms River.
 
More about this marker. A colorized postcard of wooden boats docked at Huddy Park bulkhead on the Toms River, c. 1925, appears on the left side of the marker.
Another colorized postcard, c. 1915, is at the top of the marker.
The right side of the marker features a c. 1916 aerial photo of Huddy Park, and a sketch by artist Wini Smart of Tom Luker, for whom the river and small settlement of Toms River were named.
 
Categories. Colonial EraParks & Recreational AreasSettlements & Settlers
 
Huddy Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
5. Huddy Park
The Toms River Township’s First Park marker is located in Huddy Park.
 

More. Search the internet for Toms River Township’s First Park.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 8, 2019, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 8, 2019, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
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