New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Rachel Dolhanczyk
  • The Bayshore Center at Bivalve’s Oral History program is dedicated to preserving the oral history and culture of New Jersey’s Bayshore region by saving for posterity the oral histories and material culture connected with the Bayshore region, by creating a repository of recordings and data that can be used for research, by preserving, treasuring and celebrating the environment, history and culture of the Bayshore region and by sharing the heritage of the Bayshore region today and with future generations through program related activities serving visitors, students and scholars.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
John Breslin, Jr. New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

John Breslin, Jr. grew up in South Jersey, where both his parents were raised and worked in the Millville, New Jersey area mother,  His mother, Mabel Banks Holt, worked as an office manager for the shucking house F.F. East Co., Inc. in Maurice River Township, New Jersey, from the 1930s to the early 1950s. She traveled across the country for business with oyster wholesalers and clients. After F.F. East's death, Mrs. Holt took charge of the shucking house. Mr. Breslin taught history at Port Norris Elementary School from 1952-57.

Patricia A. Moore , Rachel Dolhanczyk Maurice River, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Shuckers' Tales New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

The Oyster Shuckers, a group of individuals from the Bayshore area, share a rich heritage rooted in the maritime traditions of Port Norris, New Jersey. Their lives are interwoven with the rhythms of the Delaware Bay, where generations have toiled in the pursuit of harvesting and processing oysters. These men and women come from diverse backgrounds, each carrying personal histories that reflect the broader narrative of the oyster industry.

Unknown Port Norris, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Richard Camp New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Richard Camp is a third-generation railbird pusher (guide). He is the son of Kenneth Camp and grandson of Hise Camp, a well-known family who live along the Maurice River in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, and operated Camp's Farm Market until 2015. Richard started pushing when he was fourteen or fifteen years old in 1970.

Rachel Dolhanczyk Port Elizabeth, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Lionel Hickman New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Mr.

Sally Van de Water Millville, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Phillip Cisrow New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Phillip Cisrow is a seasoned oyster shucker from the Whittington-Cisrow family, recognized for his expertise and achievements as a state champion in New Jersey. His proficiency in oyster shucking is not merely a professional endeavor but also a family tradition, indicating a deep-rooted connection to the industry. Cisrow's skills extend beyond his primary occupation, as he is also known for his interest in playing pool. His involvement in the oyster industry and his participation in related competitions highlight his dedication and passion for his craft.

Sally Van de Water Port Norris, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Carrie Jamison and Edith Selby New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Sisters Carrie Jamison (b. 1921) and Edith Selby (b. 1927) grew up in "uptown" Port Norris, New Jersey. As children, they were not allowed to go to Shell Pile or the river (Bivalve). Their parents were from Saint Mary's County, Maryland. Their father came here to work on the boats and on farms. They attended Shiloh Baptist Church. In the early 1940s, they both worked in oyster houses as shuckers including Robbins Brothers, Carl Reed, Stowman's Brothers, Peterson Packing and George Gaskell.

Rachel Dolhanczyk, Leo Warner Port Norris, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Myrtle Gordonier New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Myrtle Gordonier is the widow of Charlie Johnson, Jr., the son of the one-time owner (Charles Johnson, Sr.) of the oyster schooner Cashier. She has deep historical ties to the Cashier, a significant boat, and the local oyster industry. She was married to the son of the owner of the Cashier, which places her at the heart of the oyster harvesting operations central to the area's economy.

Jeanne Doremus Newport, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Barry Ballard New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Barry Ballard (b. 1945) is the retired Superintendent of Commercial Township (Port Norris, Haleyville, Mauricetown) Schools. He was educated in the Port Norris School and graduated from Millville High School and later earned degrees from Cheyney University and Rowan University. His father was from Virginia and his mother from Crisfield, Maryland. They came to Port Norris in 1928 following the oyster industry. Mr. Ballard discusses his childhood, education, desire to become a teacher and inspiration from Mrs.

Bill May Millville, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Joan Riggin Harper New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Joan Riggin Harper was born on February 7, 1924, in Millville, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Her father was John Cullen Riggin and her mother was Emily Fowler Bateman. Joan attended Port Norris Grammar School and later graduated from Port Norris High School in 1941. After high school, she attended a business school in Bridgeton, New Jersey, where she completed a one-year course. Joan's first job was typing deeds when the Army bought the airport ground in Millville. She later got married and had three children.

Patricia A. Moore , Rachel Dolhanczyk Port Norris, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center
Daniel and Marie Cobb New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore

Marie Beebe Cobb was the daughter of Allen Beebe, owner of the Port Norris Iron Works, who fabricated and repaired oyster and surf clam dredges “drudges”, various equipment, oyster knives, hammers and did metal work for the shucking houses.  Mr. Beebe got his start learning the trade as an apprentice to his uncle Archie Jackson in the mid-1940s at Dorchester Shipyard. Mr. Jackson then opened his own business with Bob Sutton and Mr. Blizzard in Bivalve. In 1962, Mr.

Rachel Dolhanczyk, Pat Moore Port Norris, NJ Bayshore Center at Bivalve Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center