Archive | March, 2020

The “Adele II”, a wild day on the water, and a plate in storage

31 Mar

Item: A plate that seems to be chronicling a ship voyage. The ship was the “Adele II” and the voyage was on August 24, 1934.

Why I have it: I don’t know. It was in my grandfather’s box of stuff that my mother received after grandpa had past away. Grandpa must’ve got it from his dad. Not sure what the connection is to our family (if there is one).

Goals: I’d like to get the plate back into the hands of the family of the boat owner. It seems like a fun plate to have. I’d also like to discover any connection to our family if there is one.



I googled “Margerum” and “Barleycorn” and New Jersey to see if there was some obvious story online about this voyage. No luck.

I posted a picture on the New Jersey Genealogy Network Facebook Page and had some really fun responses. One fellow helped me understand that “J. Barleycorn” is probably a reference to alcohol rather than a person, which I wasn’t aware of since I have a very limited history with moonshine. That may be the funniest part of the plate…the boat was commanded by Margerum and “alcohol”. So now I was looking for a boat owner named “H. Margerum” who lived in or around New Jersey in 1934.

I sent an email to the Ocean County Historical Society, and they’re out of the office for obvious reasons but will have a couple researchers look things up if they have time.

So I went to to look up “H. Margerum”. I used 1900 to 1920 as his birthdate range and New Jersey as the state. Magic! I quickly noted the following:

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 9.21.46 AM

Note that Herbert P Margerum has a daughter, Adele! I’m guessing this is the family and that Herbert named his boat, the “Adele II” after his daughter. Trenton, NJ is about an hour’s drive to Eno’s Pond, which is close to where the “Adele II” started her voyage that day.

Here’s the family:

The (possible) boat owner, I think, is Herbert Pratt Margerum (1882-1942) and he was the father in the family. He was married to Norma A. Hughes (1884) and they had one daughter, Adele Hughes (or Henarie) Margerum, who was born 9 Apr 1908 Trenton, Mercer, New Jersey. Sadly, Adele passed away at a fairly young age in 1940, but not before marrying John Robert McNeil (1908-1970) on November 19, 1934 (the same year as the voyage mapped on the plate). They had two children previous to 1940, John Robert McNeil III and Norma McNeil.

I was able to find a little info about Herbert from The Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New Jersey, Volume 2 (p. 814). You’ll find here that Herbert was very active in life, participating in a number of careers. His marriage is mentioned, but not his daughter.

Now we turn to Adele Margerum (since the boat is names after her). I’d like to see if any of her children are still alive or I’d like to find a grandchild. Adele was married to John Robert McNeil in 1934 and John lived to 1970. I find Adele and John McNeil in the 1940 Census with two young children: John Robert McNeil III (3 yrs) and Norma McNeil (0 years). That means that John Robert III would be 80 if he is still with us and his sister, Norma, would be about 77. I’m hoping to find either of them or their children.

According to Adele’s obituary, she died of a heart attack while in a doctor’s office. She was 34 years old and her children were quite young.

Now I need to find John Robert Mcneil III or Norma McNeil or their kids.

Our Connection: My great grandfather, James Lawrence Vanderbeek, had a small yacht in Barnegat Bay. He was on that boat a lot. James died at the young age of 45, in 1937. I’m wondering if (in order of drama):

  1. Great grandpa bought this plate form a local store because he knew the story
  2. He was given the plate because he was a close friend
  3. He was given the plate because he was on the boat with H. Margerum! (That would be fun)