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  • Ann D. Watson


Updated: Jun 4, 2020

Everyone knew you could get a drink in Keyport on a Sunday. Local hotel and saloon proprietors had been ignoring the New Jersey Sunday selling law for some time, with few consequences. On Sundays, Herman Bauer and his colleagues kept their front doors closed and covered the windows so passersby couldn't see the lights in side; but they let you in the back door. [1] The authorities looked the other way. Word had it that grand juries were being deliberately chosen so as to favor the liquor sellers and not enforce the law. [2]

By the 1890s, however, temperance fever had seized the country. The National Prohibition Party was founded in 1869, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1873, and the American Anti-Saloon League in 1895. Carrie Nation went on her saloon-hatcheting spree in Kansas in 1900, and the National Prohibition Party’s candidate John G. Woolley garnered 209,000 votes in the 1900 Presidential Election.

As the temperance movement heated up, public pressure to do something about Sunday selling mounted. Monmouth county authorities stepped up enforcement over the next year. [3] But Keyport men disregarded the danger. Sunday selling in Keyport had become “notorious,” according to one newspaper. [4]

Dr. Obadiah C. Bogardus, a local dentist, accepted the democratic candidacy for sheriff of Monmouth County in the fall of 1902. Promising to crack down on Sunday selling if elected, he won with a 624-vote majority. 514 of those 624 votes were cast in Raritan, of which Keyport was a part. [5]

The minute he took office in January 1903, Bogardus made good on his promise. He seemed to choose his grand jury, eighteen of whom had never served before, with a special eye to enforcing the liquor laws. [6] “When the names of the grand jurymen were announced, there was a grand shaking of dry bones in the liquor dealers’ camp,” said the Keyport Weekly. [7]

Judge Wilbur Heisley banged his gavel to open the new court session on Tuesday, January 6. During the next ten days, rumors abounded that Sheriff Bogardus was

targeting Keyport saloon and hotel keepers. Things came to a head the weekend of January 16–18. That Friday, sixteen “alleged frequenters” of local hotels and saloons were summoned to appear before the grand jury. [8] Trying to stem the tide, Herman and his fellow liquor purveyors decided to stay closed on the coming Sunday.

When Herman got up on Sunday morning, he noticed something flapping in the breeze up at the top of the street. Someone had suspended a huge twenty-foot-square banner across Broad Street, from ropes attached to electric light poles. “No More Rum Grand Jurymen,” it proclaimed. Beneath it was a drawing labeled “sample Juryman,” and under it “Has been,” which may have represented Charles Crawford, who had previously served as a juryman and had opposed Bogardus’s election. [9] Another picture was of Herman himself, holding a grip labeled “Bogardus law,” “on a dead run.” [10] Beneath it was the caption “Bound for Germany. Business is on the” and a picture of a hog. [11] (“On the hog” might mean broke; [12] or it might mean inferior, undesirable. [13]) The snide picture and labels were not only a dig at Herman personally and his business, but a slur on German Americans.

The banner also lampooned James Butler, Mansion House proprietor; his inscription read “This way to McGurk’s.” [14] McGurk’s was a notorious New York City saloon of the era, a legendary hangout for “seedy businessmen, corrupt politicos, petty thieves, gamblers, pickpockets, prostitutes, [and] gang members …” [15]

The banner was funny but malicious. If people knew who had made it, they weren’t telling. Bogardus denied involvement, [16] temperance leaders condemned it, and the Keyport Weekly said that “the swinging of the banner is regarded by the better class of people with disfavor…the whole thing is considered as a matter of spite on the part of some irresponsible people.” [17] Be that as it may, the banner stayed up all day and wasn’t removed until Monday morning.

Shortly thereafter, Herman was indicted. He was in good company, though. The other culprits were James Butler, proprietor of the large Mansion House hotel at the corner of Broad and Front Streets; James Campbell, Frank Poling, Frank Loesch, and Herman’s good friend Joseph Maurer, whose saloon was two doors up the street from the Bayside. [18] All were prominent businessmen.

When they appeared in court on April 6, trial having been postponed until then, Herman and his colleagues changed their pleas to non vult— perhaps to avoid a trial in which they surely would be found guilty. [19] On April 30, in a courtroom filled to bursting, Judge Wilbur Heisley sentenced Herman and the other Keyport men to a $100 fine each.

The conviction was the last straw for Herman's Bayside Hotel. He sold the entire property to James Campbell a week after his sentencing. [20] Not that that helped his cash problem: for the price of a dollar, Campbell simply took over the two mortgages. Herman walked away with no cash.

The family remained in Keyport through 1905. In December of that year, Herman took his family to the Bronx, in New York City. [21] Technically, though, he was still a Keyport resident: he came down from New York to vote in November 1906. [22]

The whole saga was a low point in Herman’s life. Convicted of breaking the law — even if it was a slap on the wrist — losing his hotel business, and perhaps broke, with a wife and six children between the ages of seven and nineteen to support, he must have felt overwhelmed. Leaving Keyport, a place where he had status, social connections, and a great sense of belonging, had to have been very difficult.

Herman would return triumphant, however, in exactly one year, to purchase the biggest hotel in Keyport — the Pavilion. [23]

Herman (seated on right) at the Bayside Hotel.



1. “Dr. Hann Reviews Work Done Here,” Long Branch (New Jersey) Record, 30 January 1903, p. 15, col. 1; image, : accessed 28 April 2020).

2. “Keyport Has A Dry Sunday!,” The Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 23 January 1903, p. 1, col. 3; image, : accessed 28 April 2020).

3. Various Monmouth County newspapers, 1902; images, ( 2020). 4. “Liquor Dealers Plead.” 5. “Brown and Bogardus,” Red Bank (New Jersey) Register, 5 November 1902, p. 1, col. 1; image, Middletown Township Public Library ( : accessed 8 April 2020). Also, “The Official Count,” Monmouth Democrat (Freehold, New Jersey), 13 November 1902, p. 1, col. 4; image, ( : accessed 8 April 2020).

6. “The Grand Jury’s Work,” Red Bank Register, 14 January 1903, p. 1, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 22 April 2020). Also, “Judge Charges Jury to Indict,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 9 January 1903, p. 1, col. 5; image, : accessed 22 April 2020).

7. “Keyport Has a Dry Sunday!” 8. “Temperance Crusade Brings Out A Banner,” Long Branch (New Jersey) Record, 23 January 1903, p. 11, col. 2; image, : accessed 27 April 2020). 9. “Who Did Put Up The Banner?,” Daily Standard (Red Bank, New Jersey), 24 January 1903, p. 1, col. 6; image, ( : accessed 22 April 2020). 10. Banner information from “Keyport Has A Dry Sunday!” and “Who Did Put Up The Banner?” 11. “Keyport Has a Dry Sunday!” 12. Stephen Calt, I’d Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues (Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, 1994), 374. 13. American Dialect Society, Dialect Notes, Volume 3 (University of Alabama Press, 1905), 141. 14. “Who Did Put Up The Banner?” 15. Eric Ferrara, A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City’s Lower East Side (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2009), unp. 16. “Who Did Put Up The Banner?” 17. “Keyport Has A Dry Sunday!” 18. “Liquor Dealers Plead.”

19. “Liquor Dealers Plead Guilty,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 10 April 1903, p. 2, col. 3; image, ( : accessed 17 April 2020). Also, “Liquor Cases Off Till April,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 20 February 1903, p. 2, col. 3; image, : accessed 29 April 2020). Non vult contendere means does not wish to contest.

20. Monmouth County, New Jersey, Deed Book 711:103, John Keim Estate/Anna Bauer to James Carroll; County Clerk’s Office, Freehold.

21. “Town Topics of a Week,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 1 December 1905, p. 8, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 29 April 2020). Also, “Farewell Visit,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 1 December 1905, p. 8, col. 2; image, ( : accessed 29 April 2020). For Bronx see “Personal Items,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 11 May 1906, p. 3, col. 2; image, : accessed 29 April 2020). Also, “Captain H. O. Bauer Buys the Pavilion,” The Keyport Weekly, 14 December 1906, p. 1, col. 3; image, ( : accessed 29 April 2020).

22. “Personal Items,” Keyport (New Jersey) Weekly, 9 November 1906, p. 2, col. 3; image, ( : accessed 30 April 2020). 23. “Captain H. O. Bauer Buys the Pavilion.” Also, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Deed Book 788:452, John Carr, Executor to Herman O. Bauer; County Clerk’s Office, Freehold.


Image credits

Indictment: Monmouth County, New Jersey, Court of General Quarter Sessions Files, Record Series 3000, loose papers 1727–1937, Herman Bauer indictment (1903); image copy provided by Monmouth County Archives; Monmouth County Archives, Manalapan.

Newspaper article: "A Saloon Wrecked," Emporia (Kansas) Daily Republican, 28 December 1900, p. 4, col. 4; image, ( : accessed 3 June 2020).

Bayside Hotel: Bayside Hotel photograph, ca. 1900; digital image ca. 2015, privately held by Ann D. Watson [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] New Haven, Vermont, 2020. Original held by Ann Silcox, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Keyport, New Jersey, 2015.

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