By Thomas K. Robbins
Vegetarians be warned. The following column contains foods which you may find alarming and offensive. Foods like blood and liverwurst, sausages, bologna and pork.
These dishes were on the menu at the Old Lincoln House that was located at the entrance to the Ye Olde Robbins Burial Place in Upper Freehold Township in the 1930s.
The Old Lincoln House, according to Viktor Jadowski, owner and master chef, was about 214 years old and located on his 6-acre farm next to the burial ground where Deborah Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s great grand aunt, was buried.
After several years working the farm by raising chickens, Jadowski decided to turn his farmhouse into a restaurant, calling it the Old Lincoln House.
In an advertisement he placed in the Allentown Messenger on June 28, 1934, he states: “Yes indeed, the house is 214 years old and most possible once was occupied by the ancestors of President Lincoln long before the great American was born. Also, a few yards from the House is the grave of Deborah Lincoln, buried in 1720.”
In the 1930s the Robbins burial ground was a tourist destination for acolytes of President Lincoln who were interested in his ancestors who lived in New Jersey, and also for folks who came to see the vista from the top of the hill where Deborah’s tombstone is located.
Miss Ida Tarbell’s book “In the Footsteps of the Lincolns,” published in 1924, documented the President’s ancestors in Monmouth County and contained a photograph of the tombstone.
Jadowski saw the potential for making an income by doing what he did best – cooking for the visitors.
Viktor was a competent chef with a specialty of preparing polish sausages and pastries. He was previously employed at the Piping Rock Club on Long Island that catered to New York’s elite.
Jadowski loved cooking and was taught to cook as a boy. He had two restaurants in New York’s financial district and his wife, Anna, was also a first class cook. Jadowski bought the farm where the house was located in 1920 from Jens Lund.
A 1932 article in the Allentown Messenger tells how he was about to forsake his farm and take up cooking again.
Jadowski opened the restaurant in November 1936 and the first order of business was organizing a hog slaughtering festival in December of that year, advertising, “We will dish a pork platter, containing roast pork, home-made blood and liverwurst sausage, in fact everything a hog could furnish to eat, at 25 cents a platter.”
Another advertisement in the Messenger on Nov. 11, 1937, indicated Bologna Season would begin on Nov. 12. It was bologna, not baloney, Jadowski was interested in selling and included blood and liverwurst, pure pork sausages, Polish bologna and rice.
Thomas Chalkey Matlack photographed the entrance to the burial ground as part of his documentation of Quaker meeting houses and burial places in 1943 and captured the house in a photograph.
Although he calls the burial ground the Jameson graveyard, it is actually the entrance to the Robbins burial ground that can be seen to the left of the house.
The path leading up to the burial ground has been obliterated by briers and brush over the years, but a trail still exists which allows access to the top of the hill.
The house is gone now, acquired as part of the New Jersey Green Acres program in 1965 when Max Scheibner sold the property to the state for $1.
I am not sure when the house was demolished, but all that is left is a tangle of briers and the granite marker to the burial ground that was erected by James and Palmer West in 1938.
Thomas K. Robbins is a resident of Havre de Grace, Md., and a descendant of the Robbins family of the Allentown-Upper Freehold Township area.