The Ocean County Compendium of  History
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The Consequences of Murder:
The Death of James I. Wainwright and the Innocence Lost

by Steven J. Baeli
                                                             April 21, 2005

Click here to view a reenactment of the murder

- There are no coincidences in murder -


The sullen members of the A.E. Burnside[1] Post, No. 59, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)[2] assembled at their headquarters above Naylor’s Saloon in downtown Toms River one last time before taking their place at the head of their fallen comrade’s funeral procession.  The skies outside, like the moment, were overcast, but no amount of inclement weather would keep those gentlemen from their duty, no more than it had during their time together fighting back the “sesch” [3] in the Civil War.  The date was September 22, 1884, and their friend, James I. Wainwright, was to be committed to the ground at 4:30 that afternoon.[4]  His death at age fifty-five on the fifteenth of that same month had rocked the Village of Toms River.  Indeed, word of his demise had caused such a commotion throughout Ocean County, New Jersey, that men came from miles around to volunteer their services to the court.[5]  People wept openly, their eyes filled with shock and disbelief, because never before in the thirty-four year history of the county had anyone been waylaid by murder, and now, after such a long period of tranquility, they had lost a good neighbor.  The body of Jim Wainwright, which had been shot in the back and face and found weighted down in a creek after an intense community search, was taken to its final resting place on a horse-drawn carriage.[6]  Sympathetic citizens lined Main Street, bowing their heads as they took their place behind the coffin on the two-mile walk to Riverside Cemetery.[7]  It seemed as if everyone in the county was there that day.  That is, everyone except the dead man’s wife, children, and a man named Rockwell, who were all lodged in the Ocean County jail awaiting trial for his murder.

As the Reverend W.W. Christine of the Toms River Methodist Episcopal Church recited his prayers[8] at Wainwright’s graveside,[9] the minds of those who attended the service could not help but wander.  There was, after all, a lot to think about, because in essence the village had lost more than just a friend when James died.  It had also lost its sense of security, the trust of its neighbors, and its overall innocence.  Elson Rockwell,[10] fifty-two, the man accused of the murder along with the Wainwrights, had been an up-and-coming Republican politician destined to win the office of Ocean County Sheriff in the next election.  But all hopes for a public career were lost the moment he was arrested, and it would not matter if he was found innocent in the end.  There were other concerns as well.  If Wainwright’s wife, Julia Jane Estlow,[11]  forty-nine, his daughter, Mary Emma, aside, twenty-two,[12] and his two elder sons, George,[13] twenty, and Charles,[14] seventeen, were destined to hang, the townspeople would be responsible for making an orphan of thirteen-year old Hooper Thomas,[15] the youngest living Wainwright child.[16]  And what would become of the reputation of Wainwright’s twenty-nine-year old daughter, Adelaide Wainwright Gifford,[17] who would later testify at the trial, adding more drama to the case?  What would become of life as they knew it after all was said and done?  Ultimately, only Rockwell would be convicted in the murder.  But there were too many facts, either discovered in hindsight or not introduced into evidence at the time, casting more than a shadow of doubt upon the final outcome.   Had the case been heard today, it is unlikely that it would ever make it to trial when taking into account the various civil rights violations[18] and forensic errors that were made.  But legal faux pas aside, a contemporary jury would most likely convict Rockwell and the Wainwrights of conspiracy to commit murder and might also implicate Jefferson Thompson, Jr., a friend of the Wainwright family.  Furthermore, the evidence as processed by modern-day forensic science would unquestionably put George Wainwright behind the shotgun that killed his father.  

The years preceding Wainwright’s death resembled a personal life that had turned to shambles.  His wife, Julia Jane, had begun a burning affair with Elson Rockwell nine years earlier.  Eight months prior to the murder she had moved out of their ramshackle home and into a boarding house in the village.[19]  To make matters worse, Mary Emma and George hated him, and they were not above expressing their feelings.  The man who had dutifully provided for his family and fought for his country had seen his life fall to pieces, and up until the day he died, nothing about the situation was getting any better.

The Village on the River

            The primary argument of this paper intends to establish that a murder conspiracy had transpired between the Wainwright family (Julia Jane, Mary Emma, Charles, and George), and Elson Rockwell, which culminated in the death of James Wainwright by his eldest son, George, who may have been aided by his good friend Jeff Thompson, Jr.[20]  But, as the evidence began to present itself, another side of the story began to emerge.  The social impact that the Wainwright murder had on Ocean County, Dover Township and the Village of Toms River was so significant that it literally shifted the way people reacted in their communities.  Prior to the murder there was a general trust among the close-knit citizenry.  Since that time, however, a certain sense of cynicism has cast a pall over the county and marked the point in its history where the safety of rural America suddenly gave way to the reality of modern times.  The death of Jim Wainwright was an important event to Ocean County, much more important than the people involved realized.  Not only did it transform social order, but it also opened up the floodgates of murder, and life in the county by the sea has not been quite the same since.

            Ocean County was born from the immense land mass that was once Monmouth County.  After some political struggle, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill allowing a secession of Ocean from Monmouth.  On February 15, 1850, Governor Daniel Haines signed the bill into law[21] making Ocean the second largest county in the state and initially home to Plumsted, Jackson, Union, Stafford and Dover Townships.  The whole of the county remained largely forested until well into the 1900s with farms, towns and dirt roads being the only areas where the woods were cleared.  Wildlife was abundant and the soil prime for agriculture.  Along the waterline, marsh and swamp dominated, giving way to creeks and streams that could be followed all throughout the state.  Barnegat Bay, which was fed by the Atlantic Ocean, offered supreme fishing and claming conditions.  Ocean County was a place of natural beauty that gave the settlers everything they needed to make a home there, and it was paradise to those who wanted to live their lives in relative seclusion if they so chose.  The county saw a steady growth in the population early on, and by the middle of the 20th Century it became the fastest growing county in the nation.[22]  Along with the natural progression of growth, however, came a division of the county into smaller townships, which, in turn, separated into distinct towns.  Dover Township, the largest of all the divisions, was no exception.  

Dover probably saw the most growth in terms of population and industry due principally to its housing of the county seat and having access to the bay and ocean via the Toms River.  Although its origins have never been exactly clear, as there are conflicting accounts of its founding, the name Dover could be readily found on colonial maps of old Monmouth County.[23]  The boundaries of “Old Tye,”[24] extended to what are today eighteen separate townships, including Manchester to the west, Lakewood to the northwest, Brick to the northeast, Point Pleasant on the eastern shore, Berkeley to the southeast, and Lacey along the southern border.[25]  Dover’s geography mirrored that of the rest of the county and most of the state, although that quickly changed once its role as the center of commerce was realized. 

There were at least three basic accounts of the township’s formation, the first of which traced its beginnings to 1722, when an entrepreneur named John Jackson was said to have recognized the power held by the local waterways.  Utilizing the abundant natural resources available to him, Jackson mined bog ore and processed it into refined iron using large furnaces built along area creeks and streams.[26]  Iron forges served an important role in the late colonial period, especially during the American Revolution when they were employed to supply cannons and ammunition to the Patriots.  But the forges also gave birth to the manufacturing of charcoal, a process developed by colliers who reduced whole forests down to long-burning, carbonized fuel needed to feed the furnaces.[27]  A second telling of Dover’s origins recalled a man named Moses Hurd from Dover, New Hampshire who had purchased the iron forge from Jackson in 1753 and was perhaps responsible for renaming the area in honor of his native land.[28]  The third and most generally accepted narrative asserted that Dover Township was founded in June of 1767 by a group of colonizers from Shrewsbury Township, which “stretched from the Metedeconk River to Oyster Creek in [present-day] Lacey Township.”[29] 

Regardless of how or by whom the township was formed, one thing most historians would agree upon is that living in Dover Township required a great deal of hard work in its formative years and that the inhabitants of Ocean County who lived there prior to its founding and on up through the Civil War had to eke out their livings purely as a means of survival.  One must have been able to self-sustain by farming, hunting and fishing.  As time went on and businesses began to form, residents could find employment at the many mills and forges or issue their services on the cranberry bogs, salt works and farms.[30]    For the more prosperous, trade was the mainstay, but trade required a port, and what better place than the Village on the River?

            Currently within Dover Township there are many towns, the most important of which is the Village of Toms River.  Like the township in which it resides, its origins are often the subject of some debate, mostly due to loss of records during the burning of the town by the British in 1782.[31]  There are two stories about how the town was named, the first of which was more thoroughly documented than the others.  A pamphlet,[32] published by the Ocean County Bureau of Publicity in 1941, suggested that Captain William Toms held the credit of having both the town’s and the river’s namesake.  According to author June Daye, Captain Toms discovered the area in 1672 while employed as a surveyor with the West Jersey Company.[33]  Certain seemingly credible records provided to Daye were mentioned in her article, but no source citations were given and therefore could not be verified.  It is probable that Captain Toms existed and did indeed travel the river, making it likely that Daye’s account was historically accurate, despite her citation omissions.

The second account, which held more folklore than substance, involved a native known as Indian Tom, who was said to have lived in the area.  But Edwin Salter, a noted 19th Century historian who wrote numerous articles about Monmouth and Ocean Counties, pointed out that, “It is not reasonable to suppose the place was named after [Indian Tom] when he was scarce out of his teens.”[34]  In any case, there is no doubt that Toms River held an important place in history and that its people played a part in the forging of a nation through the sheer mite of their determination, skills, and their quest for freedom.  They had wrested the lands from the Native Americans and fought off the British on the very soil upon which they built their homes.  But nothing could have prepared them for that fateful day in September of 1884 when they realized that safety was relative and that danger could come from within to shatter the tranquility of their lives.

The Coming Storm

            To fully understand why James Wainwright was gunned down, it is necessary to travel back a full decade and examine the events that led up to his death.  In early 1875, Rockwell’s wife, Emily Pratt, had fallen ill with dysentery.[35]  Julia Jane Wainwright, having been well acquainted with the Rockwells for many years, agreed to nurse Emily through her pain to recovery.  It was at that time that Julia first had the opportunity to begin a sexual liaison with Elson Rockwell.  Julia, in her testimony at a coroner’s inquest, never once admitted or even alluded to having an affair with Rockwell.  Her children, however, told a different story.  According to her son, Charles, there was evidence of a scandal going back sometime before his father’s death.  During his testimony at the inquest, he explained that his parents had “not lived agreeably together for the last four years [because his father was] jealous…and threatened to kill [Rockwell] if he ever caught him outside the law.”[36]  He also said that Rockwell would on occasion spend the night at their house when his father was not there.  At the same inquest, daughter, Mary Emma, stated that “father and mother didn't live happily together; they had quarrels and once came to blows.  The cause of it,” she said, “was her [mother’s] intimacy with Rockwell.”[37]  Elder son, George, testified that he had heard his father threaten Rockwell’s life saying, “he would kill Rockwell if he ketched [sic] him outside of the law.”[38]  Confirming both George’s and Charles’s testimony, Joseph Grover, a nephew of the victim, stated under oath that he had written a letter for his uncle about six months before the shooting.  The letter advised Rockwell to stay clear of his family and warned, “You have destroyed all the happiness I ever had, and I will not be satisfied until I see your liver smoking.”[39]  Ironically, the trial prosecutor neglected to question the suspects about the alleged affair between Julia Jane and Rockwell, which was a mystery when taking into account that it was one of the foremost motivators in the murder.  The prosecutor’s failure to fully explore the issue after bringing it up in his opening statement[40] prompted Bennett VanSyckel, the presiding judge at the trial, to forbid the jurors from including the affair in their deliberations.  He declared that there was “no proof whatever that the charge of criminal intimacy with [Wainwright’s] wife on the part of Rockwell was true.”[41]

When reviewing the evidence today, there is little doubt that there was a sexual tryst between Elson Rockwell and Julia Jane Wainwright.  Everyone in town knew it and James Wainwright, never shy about standing his ground, made sure anyone who was ignorant of the affair was duly enlightened during the election season of 1881.  Rockwell, already in place as a constable, announced his expected run for Ocean County sheriff and handily won the Republican nomination in October of that year.[42]  But Wainwright, distraught over his wife’s infidelity and angry at Rockwell’s political boldness, began a crusade to topple the candidate before he could become one of the most powerful men in the county.  Wainwright stirred up as much fire against Rockwell as he could so that by the time of the election the town was severely conflicted and in the end went against the Republican ticket.[43]  The loss was a hard sting for Rockwell on both a personal and public note.  His nemesis had defeated him, and to make matters worse, the Times & Journal had made sure to subversively bring it to the public’s attention writing that, “of the cause or causes by which the Republican ticket was defeated, an investigation might bring out facts.  But it is wiser to refrain from remarks that would excite unpleasant remarks in the future.”[44] Rockwell was beaten, but he would come back for another try in 1884 determined to win no matter what it took, even if it meant removing his one and only obstacle from the face of the earth.

Means, Motive, and Opportunity (MMO)

Proving murder is difficult, especially during a time when forensic science was in its infancy.  To offset that complexity, contemporary criminologists utilize a triangle method of observation in which means, motive, and opportunity (MMO)[45] are questioned to assist them in the pinpointing of suspects and to further guarantee evidentiary accuracy.  Of the three questions, the least difficult to answer is generally the means by which the crime was carried out.  In the case of the Wainwright murder, a shotgun was employed to shoot the victim once in the back and then again at point-blank range in the face, leaving no issue as to how the man was killed.  The question of opportunity, however, requires a bit more investigation and is accomplished by establishing who might have been in the best position to execute a malevolent plan, thus narrowing the field of suspects considerably.  Attempting to understand the criminal opportunity of Rockwell and the Wainwrights during the Wainwright investigation meant relying on their testimony and that of other witnesses.  Doing so left the situation open somewhat to ambiguity, but in the end did not preclude the facts.  The third and final leg of the triangle involves deciphering the motive, a process that incorporates the profiling of character based on the actions of the suspects.  When studying the motive of Rockwell and the Wainwrights, there was an overabundance of tangible evidence suggesting that they were the only people who had sufficient reason to want to see James I. Wainwright dead. Applying the MMO triangle to the Wainwright murder revealed some interesting details about the cabal that led to the death of James Wainwright, a man who, while often outwardly angry, spiteful and obtrusive, also held to his heart the values of honesty, truthfulness and commitment to his family.

Determining Opportunity – Finding the perfect time and place to commit murder is perhaps the most difficult aspect for a would-be killer.  Ideally, the assassin would want to isolate the intended victim from the eyes of the world, and such was the dilemma of the conspirators in the Wainwright murder.  The luck of the devil was with them, however, as an opportunity presented itself in Naylor’s Saloon when business owner, B. F. Aumack, hired Wainwright to mow his lawn on the following Monday.  The deal was overheard on that Saturday night by several people in the bar, including Elson Rockwell, who was seen lurking there by other saloon patrons.[46]  Rockwell’s presence at Naylor’s put him in the position to gain knowledge of Wainwright’s future whereabouts, the key ingredient he needed to finalize the conspiracy.  Everything he required for the plan was in place, and Rockwell would have his revenge.

The following evening at the Wainwright homestead, James had had a heated exchange with George in the presence of Mary Emma, Charles, and family friend, Jefferson Thompson, Jr.  James had wanted George to stay at home and nurse their cow, which had become ill after Mary Emma had fed it too many apples.[47]  Wainwright was also upset because George had a seemingly perpetual need to stay out all night with his friends and call on salaciously promiscuous women.[48]  James had ordered George to stay at home and give oil to the cow, but when George balked James told his son, “I mean to be boss here.  If you will go, go and stay.”[49]  In the end, an indigent George acquiesced, but he did eventually go into town that night where he was able to meet with Rockwell and perhaps even his mother to move forward with their plans. An opportunity to kill James Wainwright had presented itself and the conspirators would not let the occasion pass. 

At breakfast on the morning of the murder, James had asked for one of his sons to stay home from work so that someone would be there when the veterinarian came by to tend to the cow.  George had agreed to wait for the doctor and James, satisfied that his house was in order for the day, set out for Aumack’s house at about 6:15 A.M.  As he walked down the trail he smoked his pipe, carrying his freshly sharpened scythe in one hand and his lunch pail in the other.[50]  Within five minutes of Wainwright’s departure, shots rang out in the early morning air, echoing throughout the village and heard for miles around.  There were no witnesses who could testify that they saw who shot Wainwright, but there were several who swore under oath that they had heard the shots, thereby corroborating the time that he was murdered. 

Knowing precisely when and by what route James would be traveling made it easy for someone familiar with the land to sneak up behind the victim or simply lay in wait in the thick brush of the woods.   The most likely suspect to do so was George Wainwright, who could have either followed his father or ran ahead via another trail and waited for him amble along.  By his own testimony, and that of his sister, Emma, George had indeed remained home on the day of the murder giving him a prime opportunity to carry out the crime.  On the stand George had explained that after breakfast he and his father had fed the cow, discussed what was expected of him that day and then set about doing the barn chores while his father went off to work.  Within five or ten minutes of his father’s departure George said he heard gunshots while milking the cow.  After the first shot he said he heard two or three groans like a “hoot his father made when they were gunning to let them know where he was,”[51] and although the groans sounded like “something hurt and in pain,”[52] he said he believed it was nothing more than a dog that was killed.  To explain why he failed to investigate the situation, George claimed that gunshots could be heard all the time during the fall season “and that’s why I didn’t think nothin’ bout them.”[53]  George’s incredible explanation may have held water had Wainwright not left for work just prior to the shots, but having heard groans that sounded like James should have made George want to make sure that his father was not the victim of a hunting accident at the very least.  Assuming for a moment that his testimony was true, George’s inaction only confirmed that he had a vicious disdain towards his father that ran deep and wide.

Charles Wainwright may have also had the opportunity to kill his father having left for work ten minutes before him.  Witnesses, however, claimed to have seen Charles with his friend, Jeff Thompson, Jr., whom Charles said he had met on the Manchester Road on their way to work at the gravel pits.  The boys both testified that they had arrived at work at seven o’clock; fifty-five minutes after Charles left his house.  Howard Atterson, a witness for the State, confirmed their testimony when he established that the walk from the murder scene to the gravel pits took him forty-nine minutes.[54]  While it was not entirely impossible for Charles to have waited along the trail for his father, shoot him and then sprint ahead and get to work by seven, witnesses who had claimed to have seen him arrive did not report anything unusual in his manner.  Had the boy killed his father and then ran three miles to work, he would have been noticeably tired, sweaty, winded, and probably upset or nervous, but his appearance being outwardly normal tended to preclude him as the suspect shooter.  Jeff Thompson detailed a minor contradiction to Charles’s testimony by stating that the two had met near the end of the Mills field on the Luker path, which was near the Manchester Road.  Whether the contradiction held any forensic value could not be determined, but it did nothing to remove suspicion of Thompson as a suspect in the conspiracy.  Additionally, his constant companionship with the Wainwrights, which put him squarely in the middle of events, coupled with his actions with George and Charles Wainwright a year after[55] the murder only added weight against his failing character.

Exploring the Means – As previously mentioned, the perpetrator of the crime used a shotgun to kill James Wainwright.  According to the coroner’s post-mortem examination report,[56] eleven buckshot-inflicted wounds were found on the body: three in the back, one in the shoulder and seven in the face and neck.  Forensically, the wounds depicted a relentlessly brutal act of what the law might call “cold-blooded murder.”  Analyzing the injuries revealed that Wainwright was first shot from behind, which meant that he was probably ambushed while walking down the woods trail.  The second shot was more personal, directed right into Wainwright’s face in the area of the mouth.  Neither shot immediately killed Wainwright, as the actual cause of death was hemorrhaging due to gunshot wounds within fifteen minutes of the second shot.[57]  A question arose here concerning why the shooter did not aim directly at the man’s head and quickly end his life.  Did the killer simply fail to miss his mark, did he want to make him suffer, or did he want to make a statement by forever shutting the mouth of the man that he hated?  All three of the Wainwright boys were trained in marksmanship by their father, who was a sharpshooter during his tenure in the Civil War.[58]  As a result, they, along with Elson Rockwell, were well-seasoned hunters and highly proficient users of firearms, so it is unlikely that whoever shot James simply missed, especially at such a close range.  The question will forever go unanswered, of course, but from a psychological viewpoint, one might deduce that there was a very personal reason for shooting the man in the mouth, and those involved wanted nothing more than for James Wainwright to be forever silenced.

Choosing to kill Wainwright so close to his homestead presented some problems for the conspirators when the removal of the body became an issue.  To leave the man where he was shot would have brought immediate unwanted attention to the suspects since they had no way of knowing who might happen upon the scene of the crime or who may have been close enough to investigate after hearing the gunshots.  Attempting to clean up the crime scene would have proved futile as large pools of blood had collected in the area where the victim had bled out.  In addition, there were irreparable marks on the trees and foliage where the missed shot had torn through the woods.[59]  As rural as the area was in 1884, it was only a matter of time before someone came through the trail and discovered the scene.  To circumvent exposure, the killer dragged Wainwright about thirty feet,[60] let him lay long enough to bleed to death and then pulled him another thirty feet to an area where a horse and wagon could be maneuvered and loaded.  It was at this point that Rockwell’s part in the conspiracy came into play. 

During the trial, the prosecution had laid out how Rockwell had put Wainwright’s body in his wagon, covered it in pine needles and then drove through the village to his house, hiding the body there until he could later safely remove it.[61]  Rockwell’s actions were evident by matching wagon wheel tracks and unique horse hoof prints found at the murder scene from the point where the body was loaded to where the trail met the main road.  On the Thursday following the murder, the same tracks were picked up in Bamber, eight miles southwest of Toms River, where Rockwell owned another house and a cranberry bog.  There the investigators followed the Bamber tracks into the woods and down to a branch of Cedar Creek.[62]  Along the way they discovered a spent fire with remnants of what once appeared to be clothing as evidenced by a few ceramic buttons that had survived the flames.[63]  Further up the trail the men found Wainwright’s body in the creek held down by a large log.  The discovery of the man’s remains on Rockwell’s property was terminally damaging to the suspect’s case.  But despite having no explanation for the body, Rockwell adamantly refused to admit that he had anything to do with the man’s death and even went so far as to deny that he ever disliked Wainwright, claiming to have saved his life on at least two occasions.[64]  

To have relied on sheer coincidence in his defense meant to suspend disbelief of the evidence.  Not an easy feat when considering the horse and wagon tracks, the remains of the burned clothing, a partially scorched, blood stained wagon board found at the Bamber house, and, of course, the body of James Wainwright found submerged in the creek.  One must also consider that Charles Wainwright was observed by State’s witness, Edward Hoffmire in the vicinity of Rockwell’s Toms River home on the Tuesday night following the murder[65] presumed to be guarding his father’s body against discovery in Rockwell’s stable.  It was unlikely that Rockwell was the shooter in the murder, as he was seen by several people downtown during the time Wainwright was killed,[66] but his opportunity to later remove the body was undeniable and his motive, as that of the Wainwright family, was more than crystal clear.

Motive for the Crime – Establishing motive in a crime entails answering the question of why someone would commit an act of malice upon someone else, which is not a simple matter since proving such is largely a circumstantial science.  Of the six suspects in the murder, only Jeff Thompson had no true motivation to help kill James Wainwright.  His was more of an act of follow-the-leader, taking up with the evil deeds of his friends.  Julia Jane Wainwright, however, stood to gain the most in the death of her husband, who would never have conceded to a divorce.  Her options being limited, she planned an escape from her sullen life by enlisting the help of her lover and three of her five children.  Once James was dead, Julia would be free to marry Rockwell, whose position as Sheriff would quickly move her up the social scale.

Julia’s need to elevate herself within the social stratum probably grew from a resentment of her husband.  Although a dedicated man who carved a life for himself and his family out of the Jersey pines, James was, after all, someone who listed among his work experiences “woodsman, hunter, woodchopper, fisherman, bayman, [and] laborer.”[67]  Rockwell, on the other hand, came from a prominent Vermont family lineage.  His father, Reuben, had purchased the large tract of land where Wainwright’s body was eventually discarded and made a name for himself in the bog iron industry.[68]  James, on the other hand, had spent his youth in the wilds of Dover Township,[69] and his rough-and-tumble lifestyle, at first perhaps an attraction, eventually became everything Julia despised; an attitude that naturally transferred over to her children.

George’s bitter resentment towards his father afforded all the motive he needed.  As with all young men, he was at an age where he felt he needed to be his own man, yet he lacked the maturity to fully realize his desire.  George did not appear to be much like his namesake, who was shorter in stature (five foot seven inches compared to George’s slender, six foot-plus height),[70] and stocky in build.  Nor did he possess any of James’s character or live up to the Wainwright family crest, which bore a shielded lion and the inscription, “Virtute Vieit,” meaning “He flourishes by virtue, he conquers by strength.”[71]  George’s alliance with his mother and her lover must have severely hurt James, who had been hard on George, but had probably done so with the hope that his oldest son would take his lead and live a decent life.

Mary Emma’s motive in the killing was less clear, as there was no indication that her father mentally or physically abused her in any way, although she may have felt that he did to some extent.  It was possible, however, that she, like her brother, may have been attempting to exert her independence, seizing the opportunity to free herself from having to tend to her father’s and her brothers’ housekeeping needs.  Characteristically, ‘Emma’ was described by the press as a “tall, well-formed, dark brunette with large, clear black eyes, modest in her demeanor and repossessing in her appearance.”[72]  On the stand, however, she came off as indignant, self-assured and glib.[73]  Mary Emma’s role in the murder was probably limited to the passing on of information and accounting for George’s alibi, but she was almost certainly a coconspirator. 

Charles, the youngest of the accused, was said to “possess a dark complexion, looked bright and intelligent and was known to have artistic talent with drawings of animals on his cell walls.”[74]  Like his sister, there was no real explanation as to why he would have involved himself in such a sordid affair, but his role was probably regulated to “look out” as previously described and perhaps to lie about certain events when the situation warranted.  It was highly unlikely that Charles was ignorant about the crime, even if information came to him after the fact, but his age, when coupled with his loyalty to his mother, was the most likely factor in his being drawn into the conspiracy.

To discuss Rockwell’s motive in the murder would be an exercise in redundancy except to say that his motivation was the most understood of all the suspects with the possible exception of his lover, Julia Jane.  To that end, it was Julia Wainwright’s influence that was the most prevalent[75] since it was she who most likely coerced her children into complicity, and as character was at issue in the case where motive was concerned, it was she who possessed the least amount of integrity.  To assess the motives of those involved in the murder of James Wainwright, the author had to rely heavily on assumption based on testimony, but their actions were highly suspect and always the conclusions were the same: guilty, guilty, guilty.

Questions and Suppositions

There were many unanswered questions left open by the evidence, one of which asked, “Did Rockwell’s wife, Emily Pratt, die of complications from dysentery, or was she murdered by her husband and Julia Jane Wainwright?”  She was, after all, as much in the way of their affair as was James Wainwright, and it would not have been too difficult to allow the woman to simply wallow in her illness until she expired.  Interestingly, there are no records of Emily’s death.  No obituary or death notice was published in the papers and even more strange, there was no evidence of a death certificate on record.  With the exception of an “E. Rockwell,”[76] listed in the Riverside cemetery records and reported to have died within the timeframe of Emily’s death, Mrs. Rockwell was quietly buried and quickly forgotten until her demise was reported in this paper.

There was also a question of a two-shooter theory.  The single-barrel shotgun used in the killing was a muzzle load, meaning that loading it would have required manually filling the barrel with shot, gun powder and wadding.  Reloading a gun, therefore, would have taken some time, perhaps about sixty seconds for an average marksman.  Helping to define the time between the rounds, State’s witness, Abraham Sherman, testified that he had heard two gunshots on the morning of the murder.  After the first shot he said he heard three groans and two dogs barking.  Directly after the second shot, Sherman said he heard someone call out after the dogs.[77]  While he did not specify how much time transpired between the shots, it appeared that the second round was delivered in well under a minute.  Taking into account that an expert shooter at the top of his game might have been able to reload his weapon in thirty seconds and an average shooter within a minute or more,[78] it seemed highly unlikely that George, having just shot his father, would have been able to reload so quickly.  His emotional level must have been extremely high and his adrenaline equally intense.  While it was possible for him to do so, such supposition brought forth the question of the involvement of a second shooter.  Tallying the list of known suspects, Rockwell should probably be excluded because he was seen in the village at the time of the shooting by several witnesses, although one woman did state that she saw his wagon heading away from the village on the Manchester Road at 5:30 in the direction of what would later become the scene of the murder.[79]  Charles Wainwright and Jeff Thompson had that small window of opportunity to assist in the killing.  The evidence as previously discussed, however, tended to clear them of any wrong doing.  Of course, a simpler answer may have been that the killer had two guns at the ready when the victim walked by.  Although the two-shooter theory could not be entirely ruled out, the question was worth exploring, but in the end there was no clear evidence that a second shooter took part in the crime.

In pinpointing the actual shooter, two witnesses testified that George had suggested during the search for his father that he knew where James was shot.  The most damaging of those statements came from Manliff Applegate, who swore that George had told him, “there’s no use looking for the body [near the place he was shot, and] if it was ever found it would be five or six miles from there.”[80]  George had also said that if his father's body was found, “it would show that he was shot in the head and back.”[81]  The only person who could have possibly known that information prior to the discovery of the body was the killer leading us to believe that such remarks from George could hardly have been a coincidence and only served to further tie him to the crime.  But it was no less his nature to say such things as it was his sister, Emma’s who, at the coroner’s inquest, was accused by Jeff Thompson of saying that she would laugh if the guns that were heard had killed her father.[82]   In response, her only defense was, “I might have said that, but I don’t believe I used any such word as them.”[83]  Emma’s blatant disregard for her father’s wellbeing, like George’s flippant remarks, only served to strengthen the suspicions against her.  Her habit of being smart and sassy may have made her a bit of media darling during the trial, but in the eyes of contemporary investigation, she only came off as a ruthless, pitiless, coconspirator who would just assume her father was dead than have to cook another meal for the man.

The trial itself had many bizarre moments.  To begin with, it lasted a full thirty-eight days and entertained over 200 witnesses (70 for the State and 139 for the defense), making the trial perhaps one of the longest and most extensive in New Jersey’s history up to that point.  As for the jurors, they were sometimes involved in the case beyond the scope of their duties, having gone out in search of the body and other evidence of the crime prior to the trial.  Other conflicts of interest included two witnesses who were called to testify after having sat on the Grand Jury that indicted the defendants.  One of those men had served as a juror at the coroner’s inquest as well.  There were other peculiar moments during the trial, such as John Robinson sitting “all day in court in his stocking feet [because he felt] more comfortable that way.”[84] Thomas Luker shocked everyone after he “gathered a large spittoon in both hands and partly filled it at a single expectoration before he could proceed with his testimony.”[85]  The judge later banned the use of chewing tobacco because it was fouling the air and causing people in the courtroom to faint.[86]  

On a more heartrending note, two jurors had lost their wives during the trial and Judge VanSyckel, ever the curmudgeon, ordered one of the widowers to “defer”[87] his wife’s funeral as not to slow down the momentum of the trial.  Such indifference continued when Henry Predmore, whose brother-in-law had also died, was made to endure on the jury panel even as his sister became seriously ill and lingered near death for the rest of the trial.[88]  The most bizarre instance, however, was the suicide of Edward Sherman, a witness for the State who hanged himself from the rafters of the stables at the Ocean House hotel to avoid having to take the stand against Elson Rockwell.[89]  His death immediately activated the rumor mill about Rockwell’s involvement, fueled supposition and instigated outright lies about the truth in the matter, further creating a circus-like atmosphere.  While we may chuckle at some of the antics and realize that such infractions would never be allowed today, we must not forget that death was a constant companion during the trial, bringing with it a dark reminder of why they were there.

Perhaps the most bitter irony of the case was that James Wainwright may have still died at an early age had he not been murdered.  According to the coroner’s report, his liver, which should have been reddish-brown, was described as being a “dark slate color.”[90]  It was also discovered that he had twenty-six stones in his gall bladder ranging from the size of a BB to that of a pea.[91]  Such symptoms were consistent with cirrhosis of the liver, common to those who abused alcohol,[92] and Wainwright was most certainly an alcoholic considering the frequency at which he visited the local saloons.[93]  Additional health problems included what the doctor described as a “small, dark and friable” spleen.  According to Webster’s dictionary, the word “friable” means “brittle, crisp, crumbly or crunchy.”  Such a state meant that the delicate condition of Wainwright’s spleen, probably an extension of his liver problems, would have led to an inevitable rupture of the organ causing uncontrollable internal bleeding and a painful, premature death.[94]  It is impossible to presume just how long Wainwright would have lived, but it was only a matter of time before his drinking and the stress of his personal life caught up with him.


By the end of the trial, the jurors had been sequestered to hash out the enormous amount of evidence set before them.  The judge, in an unprecedented three-hour charge to the jury,[95] reiterated the case and then ordered that Julia Jane, Mary Emma and Charles Wainwright be found not guilty of any charge.  The charges against the two remaining defendants were first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.[96]  The politics of the case were not lost on the men of the jury, however, who knew full well that the town was divided and that their decision would ultimately affect their lives when they returned to the world outside the courtroom.  They had a dilemma and their solution was in itself quite unique from a legal standpoint.  In the end they acquitted the Wainwrights of all charges,[97] and to avoid being responsible for the hanging of their friend, they took it upon themselves to find Rockwell guilty of second-degree murder.[98]  VanSyckel could have easily sent them back to the jury room or perhaps even declared a mistrial since the jurors had not followed his very specific instructions, but he too understood the need for a middle ground and let their decision stand.   Immediately following the outcome, the judge sentenced Rockwell to twenty-year’s hard labor at Trenton State Prison[99] of which he served six years, returned to his home in Bamber and died at the Long Island State Mental Hospital in 1901.[100]  Ironically, Rockwell never once blamed the Wainwrights for the murder, but instead did his time and lived with the consequences of his actions.

As for the Wainwrights, they had all walked free from the gallows, but after becoming the town pariahs, they later moved out of Ocean County to the Hazlet area of Monmouth County.  They sold their Toms River residence in 1892 to pay their legal fees[101] and were basically never heard from again in the Ocean County area.  It is interesting to note that not once during the trial did the newspapers report that tears were shed by the family for James Wainwright.  They were cold and heartless to the end, which makes one wonder what kind of lives they led after they moved away.  It is unknown what became of Julia Jane, whether she remarried or even where she died, but she did show up in the 1920 census as living with her son Hooper and his family.  As for George, he eventually married and had children with a woman named Ella, but beyond that there are no records of his life after the trial.  Mary Emma married a German immigrant named Charles Loester, but like her mother and George, nothing else is known about her post-trial life.  Charles Wainwright’s whereabouts after the ordeal are unknown, but it is suspected that he moved out towards the Trenton area of New Jersey and started a new life there.  Hooper, who was the least mentioned in the case and who was probably hurt the most in terms of emotion, married Catherine Smith in 1898.  Together they had three children who they named, James, Julia and Emma.  He lived to the age of eighty-three and is buried in the Cedarwood Cemetery in Hazlet, New Jersey.

The murder of James I. Wainwright has become something of a legend, as evidenced by the fact that we are still talking about it a hundred and thirty-three years later.  Some people in their time attempted to keep the story alive with ghost tales of Wainwright’s spirit said to be walking the woods and haunting the house where he once lived.[102]  Other more rational people expressed their sorrows by passing the story down to their children or in one case writing a ballad that became nationwide hit.[103]  The murder of James Wainwright served to teach many lessons and drew definitive lines between the people of Ocean County, and its impact will forever remind us that our past is not always as pleasant as our history books would like us to believe.


[1] Major General Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), fought many battles during the Civil War and commanded, among others, the 9th Army Corps.  For further biographical information, see Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War, “Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881).” n.d., <> (21 November 2004).

[2] The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), a fraternally structured veteran’s association, was organized in 1866 by Benjamin Franklin Stephenson, a surgeon for the Union Army.  Members met at a lodge where they busied themselves with politics, charity, veteran’s affairs, war stories and drink.  Not long after the original G.A.R. post was established in Decatur, Illinois, other posts began to form, and by September 1866 a meeting of hundreds of Civil War veterans was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Membership in G.A.R. was structured like that of a military encampment with military rules of operation, such as a ranking system, posting a guard at the door of the lodge, and tribunals that simulated a court martial, sometimes issuing “dishonorable discharges” to unworthy members.   By 1869, the rules of order were replaced in favor of regulations similar to those established by the Masons, but that system was deemed too stringent for many G.A.R. members and it fell out of favor, causing a noticeable drop in post memberships.   A return to older ways in the 1870s stimulated a renewal of interest, bringing members back to the fold.  The New York State Archives, “Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1865-1949,” n.d.,  <> (2003).

[3] “Secesh” was a name used by Union soldiers to describe Confederate solders and sympathizers of the South. Bernard Olsen, Upon the Tented Field, (Red Bank, NJ: Historic Projects Inc., 1993), p. 29

[4] N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 2.

[5] N.a., “Ocean County Courts,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 2.

[6] N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 2.

[7] The Riverside Cemetery is located between Old Freehold Road and Route 166 in Toms River, Dover Township, New Jersey.  It was establish on April 6, 1867 by local entrepreneurs, President, Captain George W. Giberson (1811-1893), Cornelius Cowdrick (1826-1873), John Aumack (1816-1896), Reuben Potter (b. 1814), Treasurer, Captain Britton C. Cook (1822-1915), Secretary, William Alexander Low (1819-1896), John H. Gulick (1822-1886), Captain John T. Chambers (1826-1880), and George W. Cowperthwait (1825-1896), who made up the initial Board of Directors.  The cemetery, which is still active as of this writing, is home to many of those whose names were once prominent in Ocean County, as well as most of those who were involved in the Wainwright murder trial.  William Low, Riverside Cemetery Lot Owner’s Association, Riverside Cemetery Charter, unpublished papers located at Association office on cemetery grounds (1866).  For interment information, see Steven Baeli, “Surname Query,” Ocean County Cemetery Project Database, Ocean County Library Bishop Building (2002).

[8] N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 2.

[9] James I. Wainwright was buried in plot 117 in the old section of the Riverside Cemetery.  William Low, Riverside Cemetery Lot Owner’s Association, Burial Records, Book 1, November 2, 1870–March 13, 1896, unpublished papers located at Association office on cemetery grounds, (1884), p. 102.

[10] Elson Kincaid Rockwell (1832-1901), was fifty-two at the time of his trial for the murder of James I. Wainwright Rockwell returned to his home in Bamber after serving six years of his sentence at Trenton State Prison, New Jersey and died on May 15, 1901 in the Long Island State Mental Hospital at the age of sixty-nine.  His wife, Emily Pratt Rockwell, died of dysentery on August 17, 1875.  Both Rockwell, his wife, and his mother and father are buried in plot 440 at Riverside Cemetery, not more than twenty-five feet from James I. Wainwright.  For interment records, see David Anderson, Anderson Funeral Registers 1900 – 1918, (Toms River, NJ: Ocean County Historical Society, 1984), p. 12.

[11] Julia Jane Estlow Wainwright (b. 1836), was the daughter of John Estlow, a moulder at the Bergen Iron Works.  Her burial place is suspected to be somewhere in the Hazlet area of Monmouth County, New Jersey.  N.a. “His Life for a Dog’s,” The Times & Journal, 20 September 1884, p. 1.

[12] Mary Emma Wainwright (b. 1859), was twenty-two at the time of her father’s death.  She later went on to marry a German immigrant named Charles Loester (b. 1862).  No other information about her or her whereabouts could be found.  For a record of birth and marriage, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1900,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1970).

[13] George Wainwright (1866-1944), was twenty at the time of his father’s death.  He is buried at Cedarwood Cemetery, Hazlet, NJ, with his wife, Ella (1861-1926).  Also buried at Cedarwood Cemetery is their daughter, Irene Wainwright Van Brockle, her husband, Edgar Tramm Sr. and their son Edgar Jr.  Grandson, Percy (1918-1983) is buried there as well.  For a record of birth, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1880,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1950).

[14] Charles Wainwright (b. 1867), was seventeen at the time of his father’s death.  His burial place is suspected to be somewhere in the Hazlet area of Monmouth County, New Jersey.  For a record of birth, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1880,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1950).

[15] Hooper Thomas Wainwright (1871-1954), was thirteen at the time of his father’s death.  He was interred at Cedarwood cemetery in Hazlet.  His wife, Catherine (1877-1962) was buried next to him.  Together they had three children, Emma, James and Julia, all named after members of his immediate family.  For a record of birth, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1920,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1980).  For interment information, see, Steven Baeli, “Master Resident Listing Search Query,” Monmouth County Cemetery Project Database, database located in author’s private archives (2004).

[16] Catherine Wainwright (1861-1875), the only deceased member of the Wainwright family prior James’s death died of cholera just five days before Elson Rockwell’s wife succumbed to dysentery.  She is buried next to her father in plot 117 at Riverside Cemetery.  For interment information, see Steven Baeli, “Surname Query,” Ocean County Cemetery Project Database, Ocean County Library Bishop Building (2002).

[17] Adelaide Wainwright Gifford (1855-1922), married John M. Gifford (1885-1922) and was reported to have died of apoplexy while Christmas shopping.  She gave birth to Grace (b. 1878), who was listed in the 1880 Census as, “blind, deaf, dumb, idiotic, insane, and disabled.”  It was noted that Grace had “newmonia” at the time of the census.  For a record of birth, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1880,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1950).  For interment information, see Steven Baeli, “Surname Query,” Ocean County Cemetery Project Database, Ocean County Library Bishop Building (2002); N.a., “Recent Deaths,” The New Jersey Courier, 15 December 1922, p. 13.

[18] In the zeal to find evidence, members of the search party entered Rockwell’s house in Bamber without benefit of a search warrant.  Other such actions were repeated at the Wainwright residence.  N.a., “Trial Testimony,” The New Jersey Courier, 28 September 1885, p. 2.

[19] N.a., “Verdict of the Coroner's Jury,” The New Jersey Courier, 1 October 1884, p. 3.

[20] Jefferson Thompson, Jr. (1863-1948) was nineteen at the time of Wainwright’s death.  He died on August 23, 1948 of stomach cancer and was buried at Riverside Cemetery.

[21] Pauline Miller, Ocean County: Four Centuries in the Making, (Toms River, NJ: Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission 2000), pp. 220.

[22] Ocean County Department of Planning, “Overview of Ocean County,” n.d., <> 2004.

[23]  Iohn Hills, A Map of Monmouth County 1781, map located in author’s private archives.

[24] The Official Town of Dover Website, “Dover’s History,” n.d., <> (2004).

[25] Justin Silverman, “Dover Township,” n.d., <> (2004).

[26] The Official Town of Dover Website, “Dover’s History,” n.d., <> (2004).

[27] Charles Stansfield, A Geography of New Jersey: The City in the Garden, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press 1998), p. 88.

[28] The Official Town of Dover Website, “Dover’s History,” n.d., <> (2004).

[29] “Dover Township: A Brief History,” Asbury Park Press, n.d., <,2379,320866,00.html> 16 November 2000.

[30] Ibid

[31] June Daye, Who Founded Toms River, N.J.?: A Resume of the History of Captain William Toms, Ocean County, NJ (Ocean County Bureau of Publicity, 1941) p. 1.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid

[34] Edwin Salter, A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, (Bayonne, NJ: E. Gardner and Son Publishers 1890), pp. 74-75.

[35] The World Health Organization (WHO) defined dysentery as diarrhea that contains blood and is caused by multiple organisms such as Shigella.  Other symptoms include “fever, abdominal cramps, and rectal pain.”  Some complications include “sepsis, seizures, renal failure and the haemolytic uraemic syndrome” with five to fifteen percent of cases being fatal. N.a., “Epidemic Dysentery,” WHO/OMS, n.d., <> 1998.

[36] N.a., “Verdict of the Coroner,” The New Jersey Courier, 1 October 1884, p. 3.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] N.a., “Rockwell’s Defense Begun,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 February 1885, p. 1.

[40] N.a., “A Strong Plea for Rockwell,” The New York Times, 25 February 1885, p. 5.

[41] N.a., “Judge VanSyckel’s Charge to the Jury,” The New Jersey Courier, 25 February 1885, p. 3.

[42] N.a., “Republican Convention,” The Times & Journal, 22 October 1881, p. 1.

[43] N.a., “Election Results for Ocean County Sheriff,” The Times & Journal, 11 November 1881, p. 1.

[44] N.a., “Ocean County Election Results,” The Times and Journal, 11 November 1881, p. 1.

[45] Steve Hatherley, “Solving the Murder at a Murder Mystery Party.” Article Warehouse, n.d. <> 2004.

[46] N.a., “Evidence which tends to Implicate the Dead Man’s Family,” The New York Times, January 23, 1885, p. 5.

[47] N.a., “Trial Testimony,” The New Jersey Courier, 5 February 1885, p. 1.

[48] N.a., “Hope for the Prisoners,” The New York Times, 31 January, 1885, p. 2.

[49] N.a., “Verdict of the Coroner's Jury,” The New Jersey Courier, 1 October 1884, p. 1.

[50] N.a., “The Children Testify,” The New York Times, 6 February 1885, p. 2.

[51] N.a., “Trial Testimony,” The New Jersey Courier, 11 February 1885, p. 1.

[52] Ibid.

[53] N.a., “The Children Testify,” The New York Times, 6 February 1885, p. 2.

[54] N.a., “An Alibi for Charles,” The New York Times, 5 February 1885, p. 3.

[55] Within a year of the conclusion of the murder trial, George and Charles Wainwright and Jeff Thompson, Jr. were all arrested for lewdness and indecent exposure.  While the charges against them were eventually “not found,” such actions eluded to their character and in hindsight can be construed as indicative to their nature, thus raising suspicion in the murder. N.a., “Arrests,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 February 1886, p. 4; N.a., “Ocean County Courts, Oyer and Terminer,” The New Jersey Courier, 8 September 1886, p. 4.

[56] The post-mortem examination was performed by Dr. R.L. Disbrow and Dr. Irving Clark Schureman.  N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 5 February 1885, p. 1.

[57] N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 5 February 1885, p. 1.

[58] N.a., “The Murder of Jim Wainwright,” The New Jersey Courier, 22 November 1929, p. 1.

[59] N.a., “His Life for a Dog's,” The Times and Journal, 20 September 1884, p. 1.

[60] The distance Wainwright’s body was dragged was reported by The Times and Journal to be fifty yards, which seemed unrealistic.  The New Jersey Courier’s report of thirty feet made much more sense, as pulling a dead man weighing perhaps two-hundred pounds half the length of a football field, even for a strong young male would prove daunting.  Using sources from The Times and Journal often required an observant and critical eye as the editors of the periodical tended to exaggerate and sensationalize realistic circumstances.  Na., “His Life for a Dog's,” The Times and Journal, 20 September 1884, p. 1; N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 1.

[61] N.a., “Evidence which tends to Implicate the Dead Man’s Family” The New York Times, 23 January 1885, p. 5.

[62] N.a., “Tracing Wainwright’s Body,” The New York Times, 28 January 1885, p. 3.

[63] N.a., “Her Story not Shaken,” The New York Times, 7 February 1885, p. 3.

[64] N.a., “Rockwell on the Stand,” The New York Times, 12 February 1885, p. 3.

[65] N.a., “Trial Transcript,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 February 1985, p. 1.

[66] N.a., “The Alibi for Rockwell,” The New York Times, 12 February 1885, p. 5.

[67] N.a., “The Murder of Jim Wainwright,” The New Jersey Courier, 22 November 1929, p. 1.

[68] Ralph Turp, Lacey Township: Its People and its Growth, (Egg Harbor City, NJ: Laureate Press, 1978), pp. 59-60.

[69] Ocean County seceded from Monmouth County in 1850.  Pauline Miller, Ocean County: Four Centuries in the Making, (Toms River, NJ: Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission 2000), pp. 219-221.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Edith Wainwright and Halstead H. Wainwright, “Genealogy of the Family Line of Thomas Wainwright,” Toms River, New Jersey (Ocean County Historical Society, 1957), p. 8.

[72] N.a., “The Accused,” The Times and Journal, 24 January 1885, p. 1.

[73] N.a., “The Children Testify,” The New York Times, 6 February 1885, p. 2.

[74] Ibid.

[75] N.a., “The Influence of a Bad Woman,” The Times and Journal, 11 October 1884, p. 1.

[76] N.a., Riverside Cemetery Records, “July 17, 1875 to December 28, 1875,” p. 181.

[77] N.a., “Trial Transcript,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 February 1885, p. 1.

[78] In an effort to find an expert opinion, the question of muzzle loading time was posed via the Internet to Ron Gabel of  He answered that, “Assuming the shooter was proficient with the weapon and that he had dispensers loaded up in advance with the correct measure of lead and powder the best he could do would be 30 to 60 seconds for the second shot.”  Ron Gabel, Specializing in pre-1898 Antique Firearms, n.d., <> 2003.

[79] N.a., “Trial Transcript,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 February 1885, p. 1.

[80] N.a., “Trial Transcript,” The New Jersey Courier, 2 February 1885, p. 1.

[81] Ibid.

[82] N.a., “Verdict of the Coroner's Jury,” New Jersey Courier, 1 October, 1884, p. 3.

[83] N.a., “The Children Testify,” The New York Times, 6 February 1885, p. 2.

[84] N.a., “New Links in the Chain,” The New York Times, 30 January 1885, p. 5.

[85] N.a., “Excerpt from Carmichael Cross of Thomas Luker,” The Times and Journal, 14 February 1885, p. 1.

[86] N.a., “Incidents of the Trial,” The Times and Journal, 31 January 1885, p. 1.

[87] N.a., “Five Witnesses at a Time,” The New York Times, 29 January, 1885, p. 5.

[88] Ibid.

[89] N.a., “Another Suicide,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 February, 1885, p. 3.

[90] N.a., “A Brutal Murder,” The New Jersey Courier, 24 September 1884, p. 2.

[91] Ibid.

[92], What is Liver Cirrhosis?, n.d., <> 2005.

[93] N.a., “Trial Transcript,” The New Jersey Courier, 28 January 1885, 1.

[94], What is the Spleen?, n.d., <> 2005.

[95] N.a., “Judge VanSyckel's Charge to the Jury,” The New Jersey Courier, 4 March 1885, p. 2.

[96] Ibid.

[97] N.a., “Twenty Years,” The Times and Journal, 7 March 1885, p. 1.

[98] N.a., “Three Counts,” The Times and Journal, 7 March 1885, p. 1.

[99] Ibid.

[100] U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of the United States, New York, King’s County, Brooklyn, 1900,  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census. (Washington, D.C., 1970).

[101] N.a., “The ‘Jim Wainwright’ Place Sold,” The New Jersey Courier, 19 May, 1892, p. 4.

[102] N.a., “Another Lying Story,” The New Jersey Courier, 25 March, 1885.

[103] N.a., “The Murder of Jim Wainwright,” The New Jersey Courier, 22 November 1929, p. 3.


I. Primary Resources

A. Books & Pamphlets

Daye, June. Who Founded Toms River, N.J.? A Resume of the History of Captain WilliamToms. Ocean County, NJ: Ocean County Bureau of Publicity, 1941.

           Olsen, Bernard. Upon the Tented Field. Red Bank: NJ: Historic Projects Inc., 1993.

Salter, Edwin. A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Bayonne, NJ: E. Gardner and Son Publishers, 1890.

Stansfield, Charles. A Geography of New Jersey: The City in the Garden. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Stryker, William. Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War 1861-1865. Trenton, NJ: John L. Murphy, Steam Book and Job Printer, 1876.


B. Government Resources

New Jersey Bureau of the Census, Census of New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms   River, 1885.

 U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township,  TomsRiver, 1880.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing  Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1950.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1900.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1970.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New York, King’s County, Brooklyn, 1900.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1970.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1910.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1980.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1920.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 1990.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Census of the United States, New Jersey, Dover Township, Toms River, 1930.  Prepared by the Geography Division in cooperation with the Housing Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., 2000.


C. Historic Collections and Papers

Anderson, David. Anderson Funeral Registers 1900 – 1918. Toms River, New Jersey: Ocean County Historical Society, 1984.

Wainwright, Edith and Wainwright Halstead. Genealogy of the Family Line of Thomas Wainwright. Toms River, New Jersey: Ocean County Historical Society, 1957.

D. Internet Resources

Gabel, Ron. Specializing in pre-1898 Antique Firearms, N.d. <> (2003)., What is Liver Cirrhosis?, n.d., <> 2005., What is the Spleen?, n.d., <> 2005.

New York State Archives, The. “Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1865-1949.” N.d.<> (2003).

Ocean County Department of Planning. “Overview of Ocean County.” N.d. <> (2004).

Official Town of Dover Website. “Dover’s History.” N.d. <> (2004).

           WHO/OMS. “Epidemic Dysentery.” N.d. <> (1998).

E. Maps and Illustrations

Hills, John. A Map of Monmouth County 1781. Map located in author’s private archives.

F. Newspapers & Periodicals

The Daily Observer (January 16, 1976)

The Forked River Gazette (mid-1990)

The Ocean County Democrat (October 20, 1881)

The New Jersey Courier (November 2, 1881 to November 22, 1929)

The New York Times (January 22, 1885 – March 15, 1885)

The Times and Journal (August 20, 1881 – September 5, 1885)

G. Electronic Databases

Baeli, Steven. “Surname Query.” Monmouth County Cemetery Project. Database located in author’s private archives (2004).

Baeli, Steven. “Surname Query.” Ocean County Cemetery Project.  Database located at the Ocean County Library Bishop Building (2002).

H. Unpublished Sources

Low, William. Riverside Cemetery Lot Owner’s Association. Riverside Cemetery Charter. Unpublished papers located at Association office on cemetery grounds (1866).

Low, William. Riverside Cemetery Lot Owner’s Association. Burial Records, Book 1, November 2, 1870–March 13, 1896. Unpublished papers located at Association office on cemetery grounds 1870-1896.

II. Secondary Resources

A. Books

Miller, Pauline. Ocean County: Four Centuries in the Making. Toms River, NJ: Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, 2000.

Turp, Ralph. Lacey Township: Its People and its Growth. Egg Harbor City, NJ: Laureate Press, 1978.

B. Internet Resources

Hatherley, Steve. “Solving the Murder at a Murder Mystery Party.” N.d. <http://editorials.arrive> (2004).

Silverman, Justin. “Dover Township.” N.d. <> (2004).

Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War. “Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881).” N.d.<> (21 November 2004).

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