The West Milford Argus Newspaper

James L. White was the Editor of The West Milford Argus from 1915-1947

“The West Milford Argus actually dates back to 1893 when is was called The Pequonnock Valley Argus”

Some will remember the West Milford Township Argus. It was the official legal advertising newspaper for the Township of West Milford for many years before it ceased publication. Before the West Milford Argus existed it was preceded by the Pequannock Valley Argus that covered the many villages that dotted the area over 100 years ago. In 1915, The West Milford Argus was purchased by Princeton University graduate James White, who served as editor in chief until his death in 1947. Below is an article printed about him posthumously in the The Princeton Alumni Weekly.


On the 26th day of November 1947, It is said, “Jimmy White died.”

In the physical sense this is true, for on that day his great heart stopped beating. But the spirit of Jimmy White will never die as long as those who knew and loved him still live.

His death was unexpected. He had recently undergone a medical examination which indicated that he was in good health. A heart attack brought about his death at Ardmore. Pa., where he and his wife had gone to spend the holiday weekend with his son-in-law and daughter, Colonel and Mrs. Justin Duryea, and to celebrate the birth of their son, Jimmy’s fourth grandchild.

He was born on January 30, 1891, in Bloomingdale, N.J.. where he resided all his life. Jim prepared for Princeton at Paterson Grammar School and entered Blair Academy. On August 22, 1912, he married Miss Clara Marie Kampfe.

Within two years of his graduation from Princeton he entered into his life’s work. In partnership with Judge Alexander McLeod he purchased The Butler Argus. Soon thereafter he became sole owner. Under his leadership his beloved Argus became an institution, With it, and his four other weeklies. The Bloomingdale Argus, The Pompton Lakes Ledger, The Wanaque Borough News, and The West Milford Argus, he demonstrated the influence of hometown newspapers in a suburban area. To this community he was sage and philosopher whose editorial preachments were followed with regularity. He was a true American of the richest cracker barrel tradition, and all his neighbors believed in him.

Not content with being a country editor, Jimmy took an active and ardent interest in community affair. For a quarter of a century he was President of the Bloomingdale Board of Education, retiring in 1945. For more than twenty years he distributed Christmas baskets to needy children in Bloomingdale, with the recipients never knowing whence they came.

He was a member of the Butler Methodist Church, The Silentia Lodge. A.A.N., of Butler. Butler Rotary Club, Elm Club and Triangle Club of Princeton University, and a member (and past president) of the Pica Club, a newspaper organization.

He glorified in his civic responsibilities, and was proud of his membership In the local fire department and the Butler Band. Our own feelings are best expressed in the heart-felt eulogy prepared by the editorial staff of The Butler Argus;

Jimmy is gone. To some he may have been James White, but to us on his staff and to hundreds of others, he was Just Jimmy or Jim.

It’s hard to believe. but his genial smile is gone and his ready laughter has been stilled. No more the witty tale to bring a hearty laugh; no more the boundless humor that always could look on the bright side of life. It’s hard to believe but there it is.

There will be those who will lay muck stress on his civic and educational activities and rightly so. But to those of us who lived so close to him for many years, these facets of his character are for the more formal obituary. We prefer to remember him as he was in his relations with us—a good boss, a friend in need. a regular guy.

Yes, “30,” the end in newspaper parlance, has come for Jimmy after a career of which anyone could be proud. He was good, he was kind, he Was a friend. Coming from those who worked for him, what greater eulogy could any man want?

Jim loved Princeton. The Bard of Butler was the sparkplug of all midwinter dinners and re-unions. His after-dinner speeches, full of his inimitable stories and Jests, made him the most popular figure at all class gatherings. His kindly humor and generosity of spirit, which endeared hint to his home community, made him one of the most beloved members of his class.

The little “Will Rogers” of Butler has passed away, but in the great bourne to which he has gone he will receive his reward for a good life. We record with profound sorrow the passing of James White. Our sympathy goes out to his widow, Mrs. Clara Kampfe White; his son, Ger-ald White of Brookline. Mass.; bis daughters. Mrs. Justin Duryea of Ardmore, Pa., and Misa Esther White of Bloomingdale; his father, Walter C. White Sr.; and his two brothers. DeGray and W. Clayton White, all of Bloomingdale.

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From Edison’s Great Train Robbery to The Station Agent: Newfoundland Film Locations


“Edison was no stranger to Newfoundland, he would spend an evening at Idylease while working on a magnetic ore extracting device at the Franklin/Ogdensberg Mine.”

In 1903, an employee of Thomas Edison’s motion picture company produced a movie with a story. At twelve minutes long, the movie was considered a milestone in film making. The early motion picture used a number of then-unconventional techniques, including composite editing, on-location shooting, and frequent camera movement. It was called “The Great Train Robbery.” It told a simple story of a group of western criminals who steal money from a train. Later they are killed by a group of police in a gun fight. The movie was extremely popular. “The Great Train Robbery” started the huge motion picture industry. Scenes were filmed along the Pequonnock River and along the Sequehanna Railroad with tracks still running through Newfoundland. Edison was no stranger to Newfoundland. F. Fichter Hoagan, a longtime business manager at Idylease often reminisced about the days when Thomas Edison would spend an evening at Idylease while working on a magnetic ore extracting device at the Franklin/Ogdensberg Mine. He fished on the banks of the Pequonnock River and would have his car serviced at a garage in Newfoundland when heading to the mines in Franklin from his lab in West Orange.

Historically, New Jersey is the recognized as the birthplace of the motion picture industry. In 1892, the motion picture industry was launched in the state with the erection of the world’s first motion picture studio at the Edison Laboratory in West Orange. It was a small, frame building, black inside and out and mounted on a revolving base so that the sun could be followed. This studio was called the Kinetographic Theatre, but was better known as the Black Maria.

In 1978, Paramount Pictures filmed scenes for the Movie King of the Gypsies in Newfoundland. The film starred Eric Roberts, Sterling Hayden, Shelley Winters, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, Annette O’Toole and Judd Hirsch.

MTV Films at Idylease

Between 1995 and 1997, David Schoner, Location Coordinator of the NJ Film Commission brought two film companies to Idylease as production sites. The sketch comedy television series “The State”, was broadcast on MTV between December 17, 1993, and July 1, 1995. The show combined bizarre characters and scenarios to present sketches that won the favor of its target teenaged audience. Season 2, Episode 3 entitled “Lincoln Logs” was filmed on the main porch and in the lobby of Idylease. The MTV Music Video from the album “Sunshine In Popopia” by Battershell was Filmed at Idylease in 1997 utilizing the blacksmith shop and grounds at Idylease.

In 2003 Miramax Pictures filmed the independent feature film “The Station Agent” at the Newfoundland Train Station. Located off of Route 23 off Greenpond Road is the wooden train station built in 1872 that was the focal point of the movie. The film chronicles Finbar McBride’s (Peter Dinklage) move to an abandoned Newfoundland train station, to live the life of a hermit. His attempt at solitude is soon interrupted, however, by interactions with his neighbors, including Olivia, a struggling artist coping with the recent death of her young son, and Joe, a thirty-year-old with a talent for cooking and an insatiable hunger for conversation–whether anyone wants to talk to him or not.

New Jersey was the film capital of the world during the early years of its inception with a long and varied history of location shooting. No doubt Idylease will serve as the locale for future productions in the State of New Jersey and thus– adding to its illustrious history.

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Why I Like Old Things.

richard zampella
Restored American Empire Dresser arrives from the Idylease workshop and takes its rightful place in the historic structure.

“Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.”

I like to surround myself with old thing. They have character. There’s something to be said for having a sense of history. Old music, old movies, old cars and old furniture to name a few. Old things are just more interesting

There is something special about old things. The incredible craftsmanship, the quality materials, but most precious is the history behind them. If these things could tell stories, imagine what they might share. Everything has a story. Often, many old things end up in the trash. Well, it’s said that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Surrounding yourself with traces of history is a way of connecting to the past. Old things also tell the story of another time. They have an innate history.

I also like to restore things that are forgotten. I like the idea of preserving objects for future generations. Perhaps with the hope that one day someone like me will appreciate that something from another era survives.

As a preservationist, I am a proponent that the past can also educate. Architecture as an example, is a direct and substantial representation of history and place that can teach us about our collective past. By preserving historic structures, we are able to share the very spaces and environments in which the generations before us lived.

Historic preservation is the visual and tangible conservation of cultural identity. There is something about running your hand down a banister that previous generations have held in their hands for centuries. It gives you a intrinsic sense of place and time and a perspective on where you fit in this impersonal world. Old things are a part, a small part, but an important part of a much greater story.

Preserving historic buildings―whether related to someone famous or recognizably dramatic―strangers or longtime residents are able to witness the aesthetic and cultural history of an area. Old buildings maintain a sense of permanency and heritage. There is no chance to renovate or to save a historic site once it’s gone. And we can never be certain what will be valued in the future. This reality brings to light the importance of locating and saving buildings of historic significance―because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.

About Richard Zampella

Richard Zampella is a preservationists that own and operates Idylease, a former resort hotel located in Newfoundland, NJ. He is also a documentary film producer who has produced and edited several films with writer and director, John Mulholland. His productions include skillful use of archival materials such as film footage, photographs, periodicals and correspondence, narrated by actors including Len Cariou, Sam Waterston, Frank Langella and Liam Neeson.  Production credits include Sergeant York: Of God and Country, Inside High Noon and Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen which was awarded a Crtics’ Pic by the New York Times.

His upcoming projects include a documentary on author/screenwriter Elmore Leonard, the release of the Director’s Cut of Inside High Noon and a BluRay of Margaret Mead’s New Guinea Journal written, directed and produced, written and directed by Craig Gilbert, the creator, writer and director of the landmark PBS series, An American Family.

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