Dan Lieb, president of the New Jersey Historical Divers Association, gave an animated, nail-bitingly suspenseful talk about shipwrecks of New Jersey on November 16, 2016 at the Moorestown Library. The Library joined the Historical Society of Moorestown in cosponsoring the event. Well over 80 people attended, and it was standing-room-only in the back with more people spilling out of the doorway leading into Meeting Room A.
Over the fascinating two hours, which included Mr. Lieb’s illustrated presentation plus a generous question-and-answer session, we learned that there are about 7,200 New Jersey shipwrecks which have been found off the Atlantic coast and Delaware Bay, as well as in other NJ waterways. He told us stories about some of the more tragic wrecks and the circumstances causing them. In 1846, The John Mintern ran aground off Squan Beach in a bad storm that, in total, sank 10 vessels, with dozens of lives lost. Especially terrible was the loss of the New Era in 1854 which had sailed from Germany. About 50 people died of cholera on the way over, with another roughly 295 people losing their lives when the ship struck the Jersey Shore at Deal Beach in a Nor’easter. During the two world wars, the enemy was a lot closer than most people know – many U.S. ships were sunk off the coast by German U-boats! Mr. Lieb said that, sometimes, when he and his fellow divers discover another old shipwreck, they are only able to identify it by comparing evidence from the wreck with historical records. If just bits and pieces of a wreck turn up, they may have to contact collectors of items found in wrecks to help with identifying it. Thanks to Dan Lieb and the Moorestown Library for making this event such a huge success!