The sad tale of Ansel Irelan, Jr. gleamed from newspaper articles and supplemented by the census.
I don’t know why Ansel Irelan, Jr. was in the newspaper so often. Perhaps he knew someone at the paper. In the beginning it was happy little stories. Then something happened, and Ansel’s decline was on display for all of Bridgeton to witness.
Ansel (28) and wife Maggie (22) are living with Ansel’s parents at 80 Atlantic street. He’s working as a trucker (I think that’s what it says) and his wife as a dress maker.
August 20, 1892, Death of Ansel Irelan, Sr.
Ansel Jr. is listed as his only son in his obituary.
“Local Notes”, Bridgeton Evening News, December 5, 1892
Oyster Dealer Ansel Irelan has shipped a box of fine Maurice River Coves to Ed. Neff at Denver, Colorado.
“Current Comment”, Bridgeton Evening News, February 25, 1893
Ansel Irelan was seen yesterday digging two women out of the mud at the Broad and Atlantic street crossing.
“Your Friends”, Bridgeton Evening News, March 6, 1893
It would be July 4th.
Ansel Irelan lost a bet with G.H. Barth. The bet was that in four months from the day of Cleveland’s inauguration nearly every factory in the country would be closed. And now Barth has a gallon of oysters coming to him.
[The inauguation took place 3/4/1893- so is this predicting the future?]
“An Expressman Injured”, Bridgeton Evening News, August 17, 1893
John Nolan, expressman, met with an accident yesterday. He had just delivered some freight to J.C. Kienzle on Broad street and had mounted his wagon. As he started the horse a burr came off a front axle and the wheel ran off. This frightened the animal and it started on a dead run. Sheering to the opposite side of the street the wagon struck the curbing in front of Chris Heller’s and turned bottom side up with Mr. Nolan beneath. The horse was also thrown broadside to the ground.
Ansel Irelan and George White saw the accident and ran and caught hold of the horse and held it until Nolan could be taken out. Mr. Nolan received a cut on the head and a sprain in the back and was also considerably bruised. Persons who saw the affair expected to see him killed. The horse and wagon were not damaged.
“Blown Down,” Bridgeton Evening News, February 28, 1894
A wagon shed on the property of Ansel Irelan, on Atlantic street was blown down Monday. The old shed had stood the storms of many years, but on Monday succumbed to the inevitable.
“A Day’s Events About the City,” Bridgeton Evening News, April 25, 1894
— Mulford Smith brought the first bluefish to market yesterday. Ansel Irelan captured them.
“Twenty Years Ago (March 23, 1895),” Bridgeton Evening News, March 23, 1915
— There was a slight fire at the home of Ansel Irelan on Atlantic street
“Brevities of the Day,” Bridgeton Evening News, May 4, 1897
— Ansel Irelan, of Oak street, brought a small buck sturgeon home with him from Bay Side yesterday
“Picked Up Here and There in New Jersey,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 1899
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Westcott, of Philadelphia, are guests of Ansel Irelan, on Oak street.
[Mrs. Joseph Westcott is Ansel’s older sister, Elizabeth]
Ansel Irelan (48) is living alone at 104 Oak street. Listed as widowed and working as a fish peddler.
[Later censuses have him as divorced, so I don’t know if this census is wrong or if Maggie died and then Ansel remarried and divorced. I have not yet found any record of Maggie’s death or of a second marriage.]
“Ten Years Ago in Bridgeton (May 28, 1909), Bridgeton Evening News, May 28, 1919
While excavating at the entrance of the new post office Ansel Irelan brought up an old English penny of the date of 1737 or 1739.
Ansel (55) is living alone at 54 Atlantic street. He is listed as divorced and working as a laborer at odd jobs.
“Disorderly House Charge,” Bridgeton Evening News, June 22, 1912
Ansel Irelan was before Mayor Hampton this morning on the charge of keeping a disorderly house on Bergen street.
He entered a plea of not guilty and the hearing was set for next Saturday night.
The next thing was to get bail and with Officer Fred Barton as chaperon the defendant started out to call on a friend or two in an effort to secure a bondsman.
“Secured Bail,” Bridgeton Evening News, June 24, 1912
Ansel Irelan did not succeed in getting bail immediately and on Saturday was committed to jail to await a hearing on the charge of keeping a disorderly house. The hearing is set down for next Saturday night. Later he was successful in securing a bondsman and was released.
“Two Before Mayor Hampton, Committed to County Jail,” Bridgeton Evening News, November 19, 1912
… Ansel Irelan was brought up for being drunk and disorderly. He protested that he had not been drunk yesterday. He only knew that the woman next door had told him she wanted him to pay for some damage to her door and he said he knew nothing about the matter. He admitted that he had been drunk Saturday night.
The statement of Officer Aaron Smith was to the contrary. He said the defendant was intoxicated when he arrested him at his home. The neighbors said he had kicked out the panel of the door of the next house and the officer saw the pieces lying about.
Irelan was committed to jail for ten days to give him a chance to sober up.
“Thirty Days,” Bridgeton Evening News, April 28, 1913
Ansel Ireland was before the Mayor and the charge against him was being drunk and disorderly. He wanted to pay a fine, but on a previous visit to City Hall he had been warned that his next appearance would mean a jail sentence. He was given thirty days.
“Beaten in Sunday Cabin Racket; Which Resulted in Arrest of Four Persons; Two Held as Witnesses – Keg of Beer at the Bottom of the Trouble, it is Said – Ansel Irelan Badly Battered” Bridgeton Evening News, July 21, 1913
There was a Sunday racket in a cabin located along the Cohansey, at the foot of North street, which resulted in the arrest of three men and a woman and holding two men as witnesses after Ansel Irelan had been badly beaten (according to the allegation) by the quartette now in custody.
It is said a keg of beer was at the bottom of the trouble and its a “safe bet” that the investigation will prove this to be a fact.
Policeman Aaron Smith went up to the cabin with the patrol wagon and took the party down to the City Hall.
Assault and Battery.
A charge was made against the following persons: Elmer Vanaman, George Powell, William Miller, Sr., and Hannah Stewart. German Westcott and Charles Emmett, who were in the bunch, were held as witnesses but were released on their own recognizance.
Mayor Arthur C. Whitaker was at Fortescue and Justice Samuel M. Hall looked after the case issuing the warrants and putting the defendants under $200 bail each. Miller was able to furnish bail but the others went over to jail. The hearing was set for 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon.
Irelan’s face was badly mussed up, in fact he was bruised, battered and bleeding until persons who know him did not recognize him.
The Department of Public Safety may investigate the right of the cabins at this point, as some time since they were all cleared out.
“Hearing Before Justice Hall, Of Defendants Charged With Beating Ansel Irelan, At Sunday Racket In His Cabin,” Bridgeton Evening News, July 24, 1913
Three Held for Court and Committed to Jail – Two Secure Bail – Good Move to Clear Out Disorderly Cabins.
Justice Samuel M. Hall, who acted in Mayor Arthur C. Whitaker’s place on Sunday, while the latter was at Fortescue, gave a hearing to the defendants charged with assault and battery upon Ansel Irelan, yesterday at City Hall.
There was no evidence to show that George Powell had been engaged in the affray which resulted in Irelan’s injuries and he was promptly discharged.
Irelan testified that William Miller, Sr., had knocked him down and then “adding insult to injury,” had held him while Elmer Vanaman and Hannah Stewart slapped him.
German Westcott, one of the witnesses who had been put under bail for the hearing, testified that he saw Miller hit Irelan.
Miller was committed to jail in default of $200 bail but afterward secured bail.
Vanaman and the woman, Hannah Stewart, were committed to jail in default of $100 bail each. Vanaman was released on bail later, but at this writing no one has come to the rescue of the woman and she may have to stay there until court.
Testimony Toned Down
It must be admitted that the testimony had toned down considerably in comparison with the stories which were told on Sunday, after the patrol wagon had brought the assortment down to City Hall from the cabin of Irelan, where the host was unmercifully pounded if his appearance was any criterion. His face was in better condition yesterday, but was still swollen and still showed the effects of the beating he had received.
The testimony showed that beer was at the bottom of the racket. There was a sixel, at least, and judging from the testimony every one was afraid somebody else would get more than he would. The defendants protest that Irelan “insulted” the one woman in the gang, but from all that can be learned it is likely that none in the cabin has a very clear idea of what really happened.
It is a good move upon the part of the Commissioner of Public Safety George R. Hughes to have all such disorderly cabins removed from the city limits, which, of course, is as far as he has jurisdiction.
“Additional Pleas Were Entered, At Quarter Sessions Court Before Judge Tuller, Of Persons Indicted,” Bridgeton Evening News, September 26, 1913
Trials Set Down for October 6 and Jury Will Return At That Time — Court Adjourned For the Week.
…William Miller, assault and battery on Ansel Ireland, not guilty.
“Quarter Sessions Court Opened,” Bridgeton Evening News, October 6, 1913
…William Miller retracted his plea of not guilty to the charge of assault and battery and entered a plea of non vult.
“Thirty Days,” Bridgeton Evening News, May 24, 1915
… Ansel Irelan was also found guilty of being disorderly and was given thirty days in jail.
Ansel (67) was living alone at Water(?) street. He is listed as divorced and a laborer in concrete.
I have not been able to find him in the 1930 census or in the Bridgeton Evening News after 1915. GenealogyBank had the Bridgeton Evening News through 1923, but OCR technology is not perfect so it is likely that I have missed some articles in the newspaper.