Absecon is representative of the early eighteenth century bay fishing villages which grew up along Shore Road, the main transportation artery prior to the railroad.
Like the surrounding communities, Absecon grew up along the Shore Road. The early development of other local roads in the area, such as, present-day West Church Street established in 1821, Pitney Road and Mechanic Street, cleared in 1833, and Illinois Avenue, established as Reed Road in 1844, suggests a steady growth rate during the first half of the nineteenth century. By 1835, a "tavern, store and 8 or 10 dwellings, surrounded by sand, and pine forest," were established in Absecon. Kirkbride's New Jersey Directory of 1850 listed one shipbuilder, Uriah Adams, one hotel keeper, H. Shillingsforth, one physician, Jonathon Pitney, and six merchants, Myers & Houston, William Conover, Daniel Steelman, Ezra B. Cordry, R. Smith, and Enoch Doughty & Sons, in town.
Absecon's own Dr. Jonathon Pitney is best remembered as the founder of Atlantic City. His 1799 home, which he purchased in 1824, still stands on the west side of Shore Road. After the mortgage was paid off in 1847, Dr. Pitney set about to improve his situation. He literally sliced the old house in half and removed one portion. To the remaining half, he attached a square, three-story house with a cupola. Just across the road, the Doughty house also remains standing. Daniel Doughty was given a piece of land by his father in 1811, and soon started acquiring other tracts. It is believed that a house was already standing on this site, which Doughty added to in 1831. In doing so, he reversed the orientation of the house, so that it faces the Shore Road instead of the bay. Doughty over-extended himself in business, and lost the property in sheriff's sale in 1835. His brother, Enoch, acquired the property, and passed it to his son, John Holmes Doughty, who brought his bride here in 1841. They, in turn, altered the house in the late 1850's, adding the cross gable and plastering the exterior. Both the Pitney and Doughty houses are shown on Beers' Map of 1872. Also shown are a hotel, Odd Fellows Hall, school, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, railroad depot and engine house. A shipyard is shown on the north edge of Absecon Creek.
An interesting site outside of Absecon is the Seaview Country Club, located on the west side of Shore Road (Route 9) just north of the city line. Mr. Clarence Geist, of Philadelphia, purchased a tract of farm land and opened the Seaview Golf Club in 1915. Members came from Philadelphia by train to the Absecon railroad station, where they were met by Seaview "Station wagons" and transported to the eighteen-hole golf course. Sam Snead won the 1942 PGA Championship Tournament at Seaview. Like the other mainland suburbs of Atlantic City, Absecon is a combination of residential and commercial development. After crossing the White Horse Pike, Route 9 travels through an older section of town with quiet, tree-lined streets. The Pitney Tavern Restaurant, located at the northern end of Absecon, retains the name of its most famous resident.
Beers, F.W. "Topographical Map of Atlantic County, New Jersey." Philadelphia: Beers, Comstock and Cline, 1872.
Ewing, Sarah W., and McMullin, Robert. Along Absecon Creek. Bridgeton, NJ: C.O.W.A.N. Printing, 1965.
Gordon, Thomas F. Gazetteer of the State of New Jersey. Trenton: Daniel Fenton, 1834; reprint, Polyanthos, 1973.
Kirkbride, "New Jersey Directory of 1850" in Atlantic County Historical Society Yearbook 9. October 1980.
Sebold, Kimberly, and Sara Amy Leach. Historic Themes and Resources within the New Jersey Coastal Heritage: Southern New Jersey and the Delaware Bay. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Interior, 1991.
Young, Eugene V. The Story of Galloway Township. Galloway Township Bicentennial Committee, ca.1976.
‡ Adapted from: Camille Gatza, HABS Historian, Historic American Buildings Survey, Town of Absecon, 1991, HABS No. NJ-1038, memory.loc.gov, accessed February 2010.
Nearby Towns: Galloway Twp • Linwood City • Margate City • Northfield City • Pleasantville City • Ventnor City •