Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 1081, Fred G. Stickel, Jr. (1887-1969), Lawyer and judge
Journals, July 1-3, 1913, 0.1 linear feet / 2 volumes
Call Number: MG 1081
Journal kept by Fred G. Stickel, Jr., secretary of the Morris Canal Investigation Committee. Contains Stickel's observations on the state of the canal, the location of bridges and towpaths, and the activities of the people on its banks.
Gift of Fred G. Stickel, III, 1978.
Fred G. Stickel, Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 2, 1887. After graduating from New York University Law School in 1909, Stickel was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, where he served three terms. Following his time in the Assembly, Stickel continued his career as a public servant, serving as Surrogate of Essex County from 1914 to 1919 and, later, as Judge of the Common Pleas from 1920 to 1924. In 1924, Stickel returned to the private practice of law, a career which he would pursue until his death on April 30, 1969. As a private lawyer, Stickel maintained a public presence, serving as president of the New Jersey Building and Loan League from 1933 to 1935, and, later, as president of the United States Building and Loan League from 1936 to 1946.
In 1913, Fred G. Stickel, Jr. served on the Morris Canal Commission, a group formed by the New Jersey legislature to investigate the physical condition and possible uses for the 102-mile long Morris Canal, a waterway linking Jersey City with Philipsburg. Constructed from 1825-1836, the canal had, by 1913, become infrequently used and outmoded. From July 1, 1913 to July 3, the members of the committee traveled the length of the canal in a boat in order to obtain first-hand knowledge of the problem.
New Jersey History, Vol. 89. The New Jersey Historical Society: Newark, 1971.
These journals were donated by Fred G. Stickel, Jr.’s son, Fred G. Stickel III.
The collection consists of two journals, both of which were written by Stickel either during or soon after his journey along the Morris canal with the Morris Canal Investigation Committee from July 1, 1913 to July 3, 1913. One of the journals contains brief notes concerning Stickel’s travels on the canal and the other contains a far more detailed account of the expedition, clearly written by Stickel with the aid of his previously-taken notes.
Throughout his journal, Stickel describes the physical features of the canal in great detail. He notes every bridge which crosses the canal and describes every lock through which the Committee’s boat passed. In addition, Stickel writes much about the cities, towns, farms, and fields which he saw from the canal and, in so doing, communicates his observations about the various people seen canal-side in such cities as Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Philipsburg. Stickler is especially interested in how the citizens of these cities make use of the canal in their daily lives, describing every occasion upon which he observed groups of people, mostly consisting of young boys, bathing in the canal’s waters.
An individual who obviously derived great enjoyment from the natural world, Stickel writes extensively of his impressions on the physical beauty, or lack thereof, of his surroundings. When, for example, the Committee passes by the Jersey City depot of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and discovers that the canal is filled with "refuse of all kinds – pans, decomposed dogs, cats, etc.," he laments the "hideously dirty" condition of the canal water in which the city’s children bathe. In his description of the Committee’s journey through rural Western New Jersey (Warren County), he describes his beautiful surroundings with genuine awe, suggesting, at one point, that a road should be built which would enable more of the state’s citizens to see the region. At the conclusion of his journal, Stickler, reflecting on the fate of the Morris canal, describes his feelings as those of one who has left behind "someone or something formerly great and wonderful, but now fallen."
A full transcription of Stickel’s journal can be found in Volume 89 (1971) of New Jersey History, pages 93-114.
Processed by Scott Dixler, July 2001
The New Jersey Historical Society