Sunday, July 24, 2011
Tuckahoe Inn - Beesley's Point
THE TUCKAHOE INN – Besleys Point, Cape May County, NJ
The land on which the Tuckahoe Inn resides has been the site of a tavern and inn since the earliest European settlers arrived in the mid-seventeenth century. Before that it was a popular seasonal vacation spot for many of the transient Indian families and the year ‘round home of the Tuckahoes, a tribe of the Turtle Clan of the Lenni Lenape Indians who gave the Tuckahoe River its name.
Many Indian artifacts have been found in the surrounding area, and an official archeological survey documented continuous human habitation for the past 10,000 years, so it is a popular spot.
One of the first early European settlers to this area, William Golden, was an Irish general who fought with King James against William and Mary until the Battle of Boyne in 1691, when Golden fled Ireland to and settled in with a small group of Quakers at what they called Golden’s Point. Golden was later tried and found innocent of killing an Indian.
In 1693 John Somers of Somer Plantation was named supervisor of roads and on October 2, 1695 was granted a authorized by the Grand Jury of Gloucester County to operate a ferry “for man, hors and kattle,” over the river between Somers Point and Golden’s Point.
Setting the toll they noted, “He shall and may exact for passage of every single person twelve pence per head and for sheep and hogs four pence per head, and for all manner of grain, two pence per bushel.” For many years this ferry was the only overland transportation link between Cape May and Camden/Philadelphia.
The ferry was once described as, “Consisting of an open boat worked by sails and oars, and frequently in operative because of rough weather.” After Somers’ son Job assumed its operations it ran from Job’s Point – what is now a unique black community called Morris Beach to Foxborough Hill at Golden’s Point, near where the electric factory is now located.
While the name Golden’s Point would last until 1750, Golden sold his land in 1736 to Nicholas Stilwell, reputedly to cover the legal costs of defending himself against the charges of murdering an Indian, which was ruled done in self-defense.
Eventually Golden’s Point would become known as Stites Point and then Beesley’s Point, but the Tuckahoe Inn would remain the focal point of activity on the south side of the ferry, an important stagecoach stop and transport link between upper Cape May County and Somers Point, which is part of Atlantic County.
On June 12, 1963 the Harp family opened the Tuckahoe Inn for business and it remained in the Harp family for decades, until Peter Harp sold the Inn to Tyson Merryman and his family. Tyson had previously leased and operated the kitchen at the Historic Anchorage Tavern in Somers Point after it was purchased and renovated by Bill Morris and Dave Tyson in 1993.
Today Tyson Merryman maintains the reputation for fine food and drinks while providing some of the best live entertainment around, both inside and outside in the Back Bay Cafe.
The Mighty Parrots play every Friday, Bob Campanell Band performs on Sunday and Wednesday with Simple Minded Budz reggae, and Danny Eyer is with Hawkins Road on Thursdays, with a different but really good band every Saturday.