BAYVILLE – William Cheamlin was only 36 when he died on Dec. 18, 1759. And his pale gray tombstone – the oldest that exists in Berkeley Township – can still be seen at the Historical Society building on Route 9 in Bayville.
Ironically, whoever carved the tombstone spelled the man’s last name wrong. His last name was actually Chamberlin, said historical society president Jerry Beer.
His tombstone is just one of many Berkeley historical items on display in the two-story building, right next to the township recreation department.
Beer, the president of the Historical Society this year, is hoping that more residents will think about joining the non-profit organization.
The society officially has about 105 families, or roughly 125 members, and Beer is grateful for all of them. But the society needs more members, to help with displays, maintenance and education, he said.
“All we need are more that are willing to come in and do stuff,” said Beer said.
The museum is housed in the oldest public building in the township. It served as Berkeley’s municipal building for many years, until the municipal complex on Pinewald-Keswick Road opened in the mid-70s. The name “Town Hall” is still emblazoned on the front of the building, which is located at 630 Route 9. The building was also used as the township’s first police department.
But the aging building needs work. Some of the basement windows don’t close properly, which leads to water damage. And it’s been years since the building was painted.
The Historical Society does not own the building, the township does. So Beer is hopeful that perhaps officials can step up and help with the repairs.
Berkeley was born from a portion of Dover Township back in 1875.The new township included what is now the Pinewald section, Bayville, South Seaside Park and the western section. The first meeting was held that year at the Dover Chapel in Bayville.
One of the provisions in the new township called for it to be illegal for animals – like cattle, sheep and swine – to run loose, according to “The First 100 Years,” a publication the society put out for the township’s 100th anniversary back in 1975.
The Historical Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the township’s recreation building at 630 Route 9, right next to the museum.
For more information about the society, call 732- 269-9527. If you would like to join the society or be a volunteer, please call Dale Cotrell at 732-269-8445.