The first Pt. Pleasant settlement
By 1850 the community at the top of Barnegat Bay was a thriving hamlet 
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The fishing, clamming, and hunting village of Lovelandtown was the first community in the Point Pleasant area. Beginning in the early part of the last century, settlers made a living from the bay environment. Later, they also manned the coastal life-saving stations and catered to the well-off summer residents of Bay Head, organizing fishing and gunning trips.

Lovelandtown can generally be defined as east of the canal and south of Bridge Avenue. The area is entirely within the borough of Point Pleasant. The first home was built 1817 by Charles Stout and stood at the current Bay Avenue, just south of Bridge Avenue until just a few years ago. As early as the 1830s there were about 30 houses. The oldest remaining house was built in 1850. While there were other early settlers scattered about in farms and homesteads in Point Pleasant, Lovelandtown was the first real cluster of buildings.

The first Lovelands probably came to Point Pleasant in the 1810s, living in the vicinity of what is now Arnold Avenue and Rt. 88. Charles Loveland, the first settler from the family for which the community is named, was a substantial Lovelandtown landholder by the 1830's.

The Lovelands produced a long line of baymen proficient in boat building, fishing, decoy carving, guiding and gunning. Captain Ed Loveland reported hauling 2,600 pounds of perch in one day off Mantoloking in 1898. In winter there was ice fishing. Before the canal, the bay had no salt water and froze solid.

The area was settled early, no doubt, because of its location on the bay near the ocean, but protected from nor'easters. There were ponds full of lilies, toads and turtles. Trees were plentiful. Bogs were useful for harvesting cranberries. The central road was Loveland Dock Road, now called Bay Avenue.

Before the Point Pleasant canal was dug in its place, there was a natural waterway called Herbert's Creek, beginning a few hundred yards from the location of the current Lovelandtown Bridge, and flowing to the bay. At the head of that creek there were hills affording a good view of the ocean and surrounding countryside. Those long gone hills, said to have been sacrificed to the need for fill, were apparently well known to the Indians who used to summer there. Hundreds of arrowheads were found over the years, including a 10,000 year old ceremonial blade found by Leander Loveland in 1891.

In the early days of the settlement there was a small store operated where milk, bread and crackers could be bought. Baymen would congregate there during storms when they could not go about their trade. For a while the community had a blacksmith shop. An ice house stood on what is how Howe Street. Ice was cut from the then fresh water of the bay and stored with salt hay to keep it from melting. Families would store perishables there.

Catering to sportsmen became an important part of the community's economy. In the 1880s visitors could fish or gun from a roomy, comfortable catboat with a cabin for $4 per day.

In addition to the Lovelands, other families whose names became well known for generations in the Point Pleasant area were also early Lovelandtown settlers. They included the Stouts, Herberts, Johnsons, and Tiltons.

Much of the current interest in Lovelandtown and what we know about it can be credited to the efforts of the late Esther Loveland Kinsley. Mrs. Kinsley, who died several years ago, was a lifelong resident of Lovelandtown and spent years preserving the history of the community that bears her name.

Her great-great grandfather Charles Loveland gave the community its name. Her father Leander (Lee) Loveland took hundreds of glass plate negative photographs of the area, capturing a perspective of Lovelandtown from the early days of photography. Esther preserved these and much more to give us most of what we know about the community today.

Although Lovelandtown has never been an incorporated municipality (it has been part of Shrewsbury, Brick, and is now entirely within Point Pleasant) it was recognized on maps as early as 1890. In her fight to keep the name from being forgotten, Esther convinced the New Jersey Department of Transportation in the 1980s to restore the name "Lovelandtown Bridge" to the new span over the Point Pleasant Canal.

When Esther was a child in the early 1920s, she first went to a two-room school just across the border in Bay Head. Later she had to walk two miles to the Ocean Road School.

In those days the Point Pleasant Canal was not completed. It was being dug from Barnegat Bay through what was Herbert's Creek, so the water had not yet experienced salt water intrusion. Esther remembered it as clean enough to see to the bottom:  "As we sailed up the canal, turtles and frogs slid from the embankments into the water as our boat glided gracefully through the smooth waters. There was no bulkheading at the time so the trees and bushes hung precariously over the banks of the canal where occasionally you would see a boy fishing. Further back from the water's edge you could see mountains of white sand dotted with pines, cedars and pin oaks."

By Jeff Heim

For Additional Reading:
The information for this article comes from a 1995 interview with Esther Loveland Kinsley, from the research of Point Pleasant Beach Historian Jerry Woolley, and from the 1993 book Lovelandtown by Pauline S. Miller and published by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission (101 Hooper Ave., Toms River, NJ 08754, 732-929-4779) The book contains extensive reminiscences by Esther, photographs from glass negatives her father took at the turn of the century, and maps and diagrams of the Lovelandtown area.  

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