The History of Jorgensen’s Inn Stockholm, NJ

Jorgensens Inn
Postcard Image of Jorgensens Inn in Stockholm, NJ
Prior to 1948, Lewis Mountainside Inn was a Popular Roadside Attraction that would become Jorgensen’s Inn

Long time residents of the area may recall Jorgensen’s Inn, the large rambling country restaurant that served bounteous American fare in six antique‐filled dining rooms. It will be remembered as an attractive setting for travelers, skiers and local residents to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner. In its heyday during the late 60s thru the early 80s Jorgensens was a far cry from the hot dog stand on the old Hamburg‐Paterson Turnpike that first bore the name – Lewis Mounainside Villa over 90 years ago. To fully appreciate the history that led to Jorgensen’s, one has to return to around 1926, when George W. Lewis, son of James M. and Josephine Sisco Lewis, acquired a parcel of land formerly owned by Frances M. and George J. Rude.

George Lewis Installed One of the Early Gas Pumps for Motorist on Route 8 (Present Day State Highway No. 23)

This property was north of the lands of William G. Walker. George had a very spacious three-story frame dwelling built upon the land. His wife, Anne, soon created colorful gardens around the front of the house. George was a very industrious man who had visions of creating a complex to continue operating his repair shop and open a restaurant to accommodate tourists. With the advent of the automobile, Stockholm and the surrounding area was increasing in popularity as a destination for motorists traveling on Route 8. (present day State Highway No. 23) George systematically increased the size of the complex and in 1927, he purchased the Walker home and had it moved to his growing conglomerate of buildings. When the Patriotic Order Sons of America Hall property was sold to the City of Newark, he purchased that hall and had it moved to his growing enterprise.

After the careful footprint of structures was assembled, the repair shop and motorcycle garage was established in the renovated hall. George had gasoline pumps installed as this was becoming a need not only for the community, but to accommodate the many tourists who came through the area. It was the only gasoline pump in the vicinity between Franklin and Newfoundland. The complex also contained a general store and post office. The Post Office was moved from the old store in Stockholm to this site; Lewis was Post Master from Oct. 12, 1914, until his death in 1945. George also opened a restaurant on the site which became a popular attraction not only for the community but for the tourist trade and christened the operation with the name: Lewis Mountainside Villa

Early Postcard from Lewis Mountainside Villa Circa 1930

Over many years of operation, improvements were made to the buildings. A picnic area, tennis court and swimming pool were added to complex. For many years, the businesses were successful; and he advertised by having postcards made. From the Walther Postcard Collection is this undated postcard. George Walther Lewis was born Dec. 6, 1885 and died Dec. 10, 1945. He married on June 15, 1909, Anna E. Gormley, born Aug. 9, 1886, died Aug. 22, 1974. Both were buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Butler. They had three children: Leon W., Llawayne M., and Gerard C. Lewis.

George Lewis
1909 Wedding Photograph of George and Anna Lewis. Courtesy of Leon Lewis

Leon Walther Lewis, born Apr. 10, 1911 married on Sept. 17, 1938, Rosa B. Milan, born Mar. 26, 1918. He was an electrician and TV repairman. They lived in Lake Stockholm. Their children were: Georgeanna, born Sept. 25, 1941, married, later divorced, James Fernandez, their children were Lisa A., and Raymond L. Fernandez; Rita M., born June 1, 1945, married George D. Wildrick Sr., their children were George D. Wildrick Jr. and Jennifer; and Rosemary, born July 2, 1947, married Thomas H. Davies, Sr., and their children were Thomas H. Davies, Jr. and Patricia L. Davies. The author had several visits with Leon Lewis in February 1977. He graciously shared his family history and allowed the author to make copies from the family photo collection.

Llawayne Marie Lewis, born May 4, 1912, married Daniel Dietz, born Sept. 24, 1912 and their children were: Daniel Jr., Donald and Diann M. Dietz. Gerard Clifford Lewis, born May 27, 1913, married Alameda Flood born Apr. 10, 1918, they had no children. They lived at Lake Stockholm. Gerard C. Lewis provided a family tree of the Lewis family.

After George Lewis’ death, Anna sold the restaurant business to Mr. and Mrs. Martin McDonough in March 1946. Gerard Lewis served in World War 11, and returned to Stockholm on June 21, 1948. He purchased the garage business from the McDonough’s. Gerard successfully operated the business until 1966 when he sold it to Ray Fowler. The title then passed to Richard Jorgensen. The Jorgensen’s remodeled the entire complex that was to be used solely as a restaurant. The restaurant has had successive owners who operated the restaurant.

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© 2018 Beth Willis/ & The Family of Leon Lewis. Images & Text may not be reproduced without the permission of the author

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Introducing Historian Beth Willis

Beth Willis Historian

Beth Willis has written the most meticulously composed manuscript that I have ever read about the history of West Milford. Her work is both comprehensive and carefully researched.

I am delighted to introduce Beth Willis to the Idylease History Blog. Beth is an exceptionably knowledgeable historian. Below, she will introduce the highly detailed manuscript that she has composed about local history. It is a particularly comprehensive overview of families and genealogy that dates back over 200 years. What I find most remarkable about the document, is that much of it is derived from original writing by those personalities who wrote letters and family histories from the era. It is probably the most meticulously composed piece of history that I have ever read about the past of West Milford and beyond. Beth will be guest posting informative stories from time to time, and this week, she will be sharing a detailed history of George Anthony Day. George was the nephew of Dr. Edgar Arthur Day who had built Idylease Inn. From 1904 -1920, George served as General Manager of the Inn. I promise that Beth’s writings will clarify many myths and legends of community. I am fortunate to have worked on restoring many images that are part of the Day and Strait Family Photograph Collections with her. We will be sharing the fruits of that labor with you all soon. So, without further delay, I’ll let Beth introduce herself…

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Many readers of Richard Zampella’s Idylease History Blog have seen new articles appearing on his site mentioning a Beth Willis who shared information on Dr. Edgar A. Day, the founder of Idylease. Richard has asked me to introduce myself.

Though I use my preferred name, Beth, I was born Jane Elizabeth Willis, the daughter of Ralph A. Willis and Verna Jayne Muhlbauer, who herself was always known by the name Jane. We had lived in the LaSalle section of Niagara Falls, New York. My father’s family lived Ogdensburg, New Jersey. For many years our family made annual visits to my Dad’s parents, Aaron and Malinda Crain Willis. As child, I was captivated by the beauty of the mountains in northwest New Jersey. For many years, my grandmother regaled us with stories of the Crain, Strait, Walther families. But as a young adult, I had paid little attention to them, for which I deeply regret now.

After my grandmother’s death in December of 1970, my parents and I returned to visit my grandfather the following spring. Dad and Grandpa were cleaning out the basement of the boxes my grandmother had saved that contained the family memorabilia she had inherited from the Strait and Walther homesteads at Stockholm in 1956. As Dad and Grandpa sorted through boxes of old letters from the Walther estate, Dad would save the stamps as he was an avid stamp collector. Then, they burned them.

Being bored, I picked up a letter and began to read it. It was written by Edward S. Keeler who was a soldier at the Signal Camp, Georgetown, D.C. to his friend, George Walther. He described his duties in which flags were used to communicate intelligence to another camp about 10 miles away. He wrote that he like being part of the Signal Service of 1700 men and was doing well, despite that his brother’s regiment at the James River where typhoid fever claimed the lives of one half of the regiment. The letter was dated Sept. 30, 1864.

I had realized that I was holding a piece of history, and bolted out of the comfortable chair, ran to the back garden where Dad and grandfather were just about to start to burn another box of letters. I asked Grandpa to stop burning them. He asked, “you don’t want these old things, do you?” I said “yes”. During the remainder of the visit, Grandpa showed me the family bibles, photographs, papers and manuscripts her relatives had written about the family. Loaded with a box full of memorabilia, I spent the winter compiling a genealogy of both my grandparents’ lines.

The following spring, we return to visit with Grandpa. I proudly showed him the genealogy I began. He remarked that I was just like my grandmother and invited me to move down to live with him. Much to my parents’ reluctance, for I was 26 and he was 85, grandfather had persuaded them that it would be good for him to have someone help him out.

In the fall of 1972, I moved to Ogdensburg to live with my grandfather. We were like “two peas in a pod” as he would say. We visited relatives, went to cemeteries to copy headstones of the family, and many days went through the photographs and memorabilia which my grandmother had preciously preserved. It was the best time of my life.

Though Grandpa passed away in July 1975, he had bequeathed the family home to me where I lived until a re-evaluation of the house went from $25,000 to $119,000 in 1988. The tax base about equaled my pay. With much reluctance, it was decided that I had to leave the beloved family home.

Carefully, I packed thirty-seven storage boxes with the family artifacts and memorabilia. While living in Ogdensburg, I had researched historical items, as well as the family genealogy. One of our relatives, Josephine Walther had hired a photographer to photograph the remaining 102 houses and businesses at Snufftown, now called Stockholm during the land acquisitions by the City of Newark for the Pequannock Watershed. I had begun to research each of the properties. Several of which were owned by various members of my grandparents’ families. I also conducted many interviews with descendants of the area.

In 1990, I purchased a small house in Lockport, New York. This was so I could be near my aging parents who had various medical issues. My energies were to assist my parents who had given me support, encouragement and moral guidance throughout my life. The histories and memorabilia were stored away for the next 25 years.

I had developed many long-lasting friendships while living in Ogdensburg. Over the years, several friends, Claire, Barbara, Pauline and Fran have kept in touch with me. In January 2015, my dear friend Claire had sent an article that had appeared in the Sunday New Jersey Herald. It was an article about one of my woodpile relatives Frederick Crill. He was hanged in Newton for taking his rifle and shooting his daughter in the back of her head during a quarrel about a measure of corn meal he had owned for which his grandson had been playing with. This article sparked an interest to review the family genealogy to scrutinize the accuracy of the reported article.

I pulled out the box containing the genealogy and made the comparison. When putting the genealogy away, I pulled out the photo album containing the Walther Photo Collection. Gleaning through it brought back the passion I once had. When speaking with another dear friend, Pauline, she noticed how enthusiastically I sounded when I told her about my recent findings. She said, “Write it”.

The research and compilation of the proposed manuscript was made during the 1970’s-80’s without today’s electronic technology. As I finished a handwritten draft, I realized I needed to acquire a computer to type the manuscript. Thus, in June 2015, I purchased my first computer and learned the basics of using Word 2013. During the finishing editing, I had contacted James R. Wright of the Hardyston Heritage Society. He has been extremely helpful in providing information and photographs. He had visited many of the sites written in the manuscript and sent many wonderful photographs of the stone foundations of the former dwellings, the only remains left. These inspired a conclusion to the manuscript which blossomed into 639 pages and has over 900 photographs.

Thus, after some 40 years my dream to document the history of Snufftown, now Stockholm, New Jersey came to fruition. “The Inhabitants of the Neighborhood……… A Pictorial History of Snufftown, now Stockholm, Hardyston Township, Sussex County, New Jersey and its Vicinity”.

Through the assistance of Hardyston Heritage Society, the manuscript is on the shelves of several local libraries and historical societies. It is also available for purchase on a USB Flash Drive by contacting me. I consider the manuscript as a work in progress as I have since been contacted by several people who have had family members that had lived in the area and are sharing their family information and photographs.

Descending from a long line of story tellers, who have at times been known to be long winded as every detail of their lives was so interesting, I also acquired their passion to preserve their history and those of the Stockholm area.

It is my pleasure to meet Richard’s readers, and hope you continue to enjoy the articles we have been working on. I can be contacted by email at: snufftownnj1764@gmail.com

Beth Willis, June 16, 2017

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