I have briefly referenced the Glenn By The Bay/Veterans Memorial Park of Galloway Township within past articles. This park is at 636 S. Shore Road (Route 9), by the intersection with Biscayne Avenue. The south side of the property mostly abuts the border with Absecon. It extends east from Route 9 out across the meadows, to Reeds Bay.
I was recently fortunate to walk the grounds with two members of the Glenn family: Thomas "Tim" Glenn lll, president of Glenn Insurance, and his mother, Ann-Marie Glenn. Ann-Marie and her late husband Thomas Glenn ll, owned and lived on this property from 1985 until 2000. Although Tim was already in college by the time the family acquired this home and property, there were many opportunities for the family to stay there and to have many wonderful gatherings together.
On this crisp winter walk, the Glenns shared many memories and some of the history that they knew. They expressed pride and satisfaction in the fact that the site remains largely as they left it; maintained and with tasteful upgrades. It remains a nature preserve, a place of recreation, meditation and now also a place of tribute to veterans who have served our country.
Ann-Marie and Tom Glenn purchased what was then a 42 acre property in 1985 from Elsie Coltart, the widow of former Seaview Country Club golf pro Bruce Coltart. Bruce worked with golfers and their equipment in the barn, with testing and practicing out in the front field just off Route 9. The Glenns continued a relationship with Seaview Country Club for volunteer services and offsite parking during tournaments. Eventually the Glenns purchased the adjacent north side property from the Siracusa family, increasing the size of their land to about 62 acres.
Apparently, the house and barn were built by another family with a dream, from Brigantine, who moved inland to establish a horse farm sometime post World War II. Those structures are well preserved and small additions were made over the subsequent years. Prior to that period, we look to historians, archaeologists and other scientists to tell us about the pre-colonial era, colonial times and up into the first half of the 1900s.
Many researchers have given us a pretty good picture of how the land and waters were used in that area of Absecon and eastern Galloway. Undoubtedly, Native Americans of the Delaware Nation, more specifically the Lenni-Lenape, roamed the area. They waded into the shallow bay waters for the bounty of shellfish and other marine life. Transitional and upland areas were farmed, foraged and hunted all around this park area. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the meadows were used in a variety of ways. Straight line ditches were dug to delineate property and to create dikes or banks, allowing control over the water on the meadows with gates. In this way, the marsh lands could be used for salt hay farming, agricultural crops, cattle pasturing, peat fuel mining and more. Beginning in the 1930s, government programs were created to dig a huge number of mosquito control drainage ditches, sometimes connecting with efforts from a century before. These historical uses and abuses of true meadow function are evident today on Google Earth or other aerial views.
Ann-Marie Glenn was told that there once was a road that went along the junction between the meadow and the fields, and that a road also went out on top of an old dike embankment to the bay. She also remembers hearing that one of the picturesque forest clearings seen today was once a barge or wagon landing from the meadows. There, meadow grasses were dried, sorted and bundled for market.
Tim Glenn remembers the first time he explored the property; spotting a buck deer, red-tailed hawk and fox among the impressive mixture of tree varieties. He was fascinated then with turtles and continues, like Ann-Marie before him, to rescue terrapin eggs from killed or injured adult females. These eggs are nurtured, sometimes with the assistance of Stockton University and elsewhere, and then returned to the bays. Tim’s wife, Kimberly, is a veterinarian and their three children share a love of wildlife and environment.
Tom and Ann-Marie Glenn sought the best future for the homestead they loved so much when it came time to downsize. Many developers and real estate agents urged the family to accept huge financial offers to subdivide or otherwise build out the land into something completely different. Through the Green Acres program of the state Department of Environmental Protection, a much more modest financial compensation deal was made so the Atlantic County Parks System could take over possession and care of the property. After some time the ownership of the land, with restrictions on development, was turned over to Galloway Township. So, gradually after 2000, the house has been used for Galloway Township office space, a cultural arts center and a teaching facility. The barn continues to be the hub of a summer camp and other activities. Many bus trips sponsored by the township have emanated from the parking lot there. The recreation fields are used for football, soccer, rugby, cricket, baseball, softball, cross-country training, kite flying, picnics, family gatherings, antique car rallies and many other adventures.
The Veterans Memorial Park portion in the front is the site of many poignantly engraved paving bricks, glass wall blocks and other historical markers in a setting of gathering space and meditation. It is the scene where many ceremonies mark important dates and where our veterans are remembered and honored.
Through it all, in spirit and memory, the Glenn By The Bay Park remains in the hearts and minds of the Glenn family. Because of their preservation persistence, the Glenn family and its business ethic of nature conservation and community engagement lives on. Glenn By The Bay Park shines as a great place for us all to go visit regularly, remembering the importance of public service, vigilance, recreation and the peace of mind that comes from respecting and living with nature.
Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.