Sunday, February 15, 2009

PopPop Ernie and the Barnsboro Hotel

Image of Barnsboro Inn/Hotel used by permission of pacdal - see more of her photographs on at this link

Here's a neat wagon story that I was inspired to write after reading that one of Debbie's classmates, Chris DeHart, was a member of a family that built wagons in South Jersey until motorized trucks came along - at which time they switched to trucks and still build them.

Years ago, about 1978, I told my grandfather, Ernie Thomas, that I went into the Barnsboro Hotel with my father, brother, and perhaps Jeff, my brother-in-law after we had been shooting clay pigeons down that way for a while on a cold afternoon. At that time the Barnsboro Hotel was stuck in time. It was very rough and hadn't seen any improvements in ages. The inside was a dingy white with original plaster.

My grandfather who was 77 at the time rubbed his chin and said that he hadn't been in there in about 50 years. He wouldn't have gone in then but he was driving down the road out front on a dark night in an old car with poor lights and he clipped the wheel of a wagon. The wheel collapsed. He could have driven on - but perhaps preachers were more convincing in those days - so he stopped.

He went inside the hotel and asked the bartender whose wagon it might be. The bartender had no doubt that it belonged to a certain gentleman passed out under one of the tables.

My grandfather left his name and address and told the bartender to please give the information to the man on the floor and he would make good on the wheel.

About a week or two later the fellow came around to my grandfather and asked for payment.

Ernie asked, "How much do I owe you?"

The guy came up with a quote that was about twice the value of the whole wagon.

Ernie said, "Bring a receipt from the man who did the work and I will pay you."

He never saw the guy again.
Here's another photo of the Barnsboro Hotel - now called an Inn by the most recent owners. I took this on July 1st, 2009. I added it to because they didn't have a photo of the place.

H.A. DeHart workers in Thorofare take a break to pose for a company photo.

To learn more about Chris DeHart's family's company go to