Madison's Most Wanted

The people and organizations of Madison have been generous in sharing their artifacts of our local history with the Madison Historical Society.  They have donated letters, photographs, ledgers, and other records.  However, they are sometimes stingy with the identification of the people and places referenced.  A picture of an unknown person or house is interesting but it would be much more interesting and useful if the Who, What, Where, When, and Why associated with it are known.

This area of our web site is dedicated to answering the 5 Ws for our unknowns.  Since those of us who work in the office have already tried our hand at identification, we are inviting the membership and any one else who might have some knowledge to help fill in the blanks.  Just click on the link to read about one of Madison's Most Wanted.  Use the "I Know" button to send us what information you have.  When any of these items is identified, it will be published and the person(s) making the identification publicly acknowledged.

Ellis Island

The name Ellis Island conjures up images of nervous immigrants and their frightened children in almost everyone's mind. For some people in Madison whose ancestors came through Ellis Island, these images may be very personal.

These immigrants left Ellis Island with items that documented the journey from their homeland. These items include passports, the infamous tag, landing card, medical inspection card, steamship tickets, information from immigrant aid societies, and letters from family members already in America whom they would be meeting.

The Madison Historical Society believes that their experience is important to the historical fabric of our town. We are asking that you share your ancestor's story and any of their documents that still exist. We will scan them, add their image to our collection for use by family genealogists and scholars, and return the originals to you. Call us at 973 377 0722 ext 8 or email to set up an appointment.

Madison Ambulance Corps

We received a number of pictures taken of the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps from the files of the Madison Eagle. The people who appear in some of the pictures are not identified. Perhaps that are recognizable to you? To respond, click "I Know About That (here)" to get to our contact page and indicate which of the 4 pictures you are referring to.

Picture #1 is of the dedication of the Ambulance Corps building. We think the man on the far right is Joe Corbett, but we don't recognize any of the other men. Bonus points are given for identifying the lady in the window. We can email anyone a larger copy of each picture (use the "I Know About That" line and tell us which picture and your email address), but the original of this picture is overexposed.





Picture #2 The Ambulance Corps Auxiliary gave an "almost" Valentine's Day gift. We think the lady on the left is Rose Feminelle, but who are the other ladies? Thanks to her children we know that the lady on the right is Rafaela Virginia Natella (maiden name Mazzocchi).


Picture #3 says it is from the Ambulance Corps Auxaliary's Card Party, February 2 1979. We think we recognize (back l to r) Marie Paone and Marie McLaughlin and (front right) Rose Feminelli. Who is the lady in the front left?


Picture #4 purports to be members of the First Aid Squad on or about Februry 9, 1981, We don't recognize anybody?







Madison High School in Days Past

We've received a number of pictures from Madison High School. We've scratched our heads, compared with old year books, and asked around and have identified most of them. However, we have several from the days of yore -- when high schoolers went to the Green Ave School (which has since been torn down) and what's now the Junior school.

These two pictures appear to be the oldest, probably from the time when high schoolers were taught in the Green Avenue School. The picture on the left (P1) appears to be a graduating class.

The picture on the right (P2) has many more students, but does not appear to be a graduating class.

The next three pictures appear to be from the time when Madison High School was on Main Street in the building that is now the Junior school. There is a girls gym class on the left(P3), a chemistry class on the right (P4 - check out the pants and socks on the boys), and possibly the student government on the left (P5).





We have two pictures with just people. The couple on the left (P6) appear to be the joint winners of a trophy. The chorus line on the right (P7) appears more modern but the background doesn't supply any clues as to the date or place.


Last are two pictures of a school awards meeting. On the left (P8), Alice Perlaw receives and award. The photo on the right (P9) was taken in the same room, but none of the people or the event is identified.


So, time to see if Grandma and Grandpa recognize anyone (maybe their parents or grandparents) in these pictures. Not sure, we can send you a larger picture. To respond, click "I Know About That (here)" to get to our contact page.  Send us a message with your information.  Please include the title of the picture (e.g., P3)



Madison has been seen as been a backdrop in a number of movies, television programs, and commercials. A couple of years ago, Waverly Place was transformed into a winter scene in mid-summer. Previous to that, the Madison Train Station masqueraded as the Cranford Train Station. One weekday morning as I was walking from the train station to downtown, I passed two large vegetables (with very human legs) standing in front of the Waverly, which had been remodeled to look like a produce store.

What are your memories of filming in Madison? What movies, television programs, etc. can you name that showcased Madison? Follow the link at the bottom of this page to leave a comment or send us an email at or drop us a note. We’d love to hear from you. Pictures are welcome.

Update: Deconstructing Harry

Woody Allen used the buildings at Drew University as a backdrop to a fleeting scene in the movie Deconstructing Harry. Considering Allen's intimate familiarity with the campus, it is surprising that he didn't shoot more of the movie in this location.


Update: I Shot Andy Warhol

Meade Hall, the main building of Drew University continues to be a desirable location for movies. In "I Shot Andy Warhol", the front facade of the building makes a cameo appearance in a scene depicting a graduation.







 Update: Rich and Famous.

In 1981, the Madison Train station substituted for the train station in Northhamption, Massachusetts, the location of Smith College. In this shot, a taxi is pulling up to the train station on Lincoln Place (making an illegal U turn).






Here, the leading ladies, Jacqueline Bisset and
Candice Bergen, wait on the platform for the train. I don't know if the snow was real but according to a newspaper article published at the time, the night was very cold.






Update: Here are a couple of stills from The World According to Garp.

A political rally takes place on the steps of the Hartley Dodge Memorial. Some Madison residents reported difficulty in transacting borough business while shooting was going on. In the movie, the speaker is shot shortly after this still is taken.



Madison's own grassy knoll. In the movie, the shot was fired from the camper in the upper right. No Madison residents were recognized from a scan of the crowd but I may have missed some. Were you there? Let us know.




Update: Here are a couple of stills from The Family Stone.

This shows a bus pulling up in front of Mead Hall. In the movie, this location was a bus stop. A small, glassed bus stop with a bench was at the foot of the steps. The front steps of Mead and a shot of one of the other buildings on the Drew campus were also in a night scene near the end of the movie.






This is a night shot of Waverly Place all decked out for Christmas. This is near the end of the movie.







Update: The following stills are from the movie Guess Who. The location of the story is Cranford but the Madison Train Station was much more photogenic than the Cranford Train Stations so, Guess What ...

This picture shows the film crew set up and rolling on the eastbound platform. We were there when this scene was being filmed. We watched for more than an hour. It ran for about 7 seconds on the screen.


Note that the pictures of the train station sign and the Filming Today notice were taken when this scene from Guess Who was being shot.












An Unknown Gentleman

This picture of a distinguished gentleman came from Virginia Callmeyer's scrapbook.  The scrapbook was donated to the Madison Historical Society in 1985.  There is no further information about the man pictured. 

 Update: Daniene Byrne of Blue Point, NY suggests that the unknown gentleman might be Charles Decker, a one time resident of Madison. Two pictures, which appear on the web article about "Decker and Brothers"  appear below. Are they pictures of the same man? The Madison Historical Society can't afford the high priced software that CSI agents use every week on  TV so we are appealing to our members: what do you think? Does the name Charles Decker jog a memory? He was a resident of Madison between 1892 and 1920.

Let us know what you think.  


Eclectic Style House

In 1989, Ken Haynes donated a number of pictures that had been used in the Madison Eagle.  This Eclectic Style (I think it's Italianate) House was one of the pictures in this collection.

The back of the picture contains notes that were used by the editor but have no useful information about the house.  Note the two ladies in the second floor windows.  Do you recognize this house?  Are your eyes good enought to recognize the ladies?  




Behind the Old Madison Station - UPDATE

The back of this picture says "Blacksmith or Livery Stable behind old Madison Train Station, Northwest side of Waverley Place at R.R.  Was it a blacksmith, livery stable, or both?  Who owned the business?  Who are the men in the picture?  What year was it taken?  A picture is worth a 1000 words but this one is silent.

David Wilson of Cincinnati noted that there was a Taylor & Dougherty Blacksmith Shop on Central Avenue near Cook Avenue (about where Dark Horse is now).  Possibly this was the Taylor & Dougherty Shop?

John Sulo identified the building in the background as the St Vincent Martyr Church building on Ridgedale Avenue.  A blow up of the building is shown to the left.  This building was on Ridgedale Avenue until after the new church was occupied in 1906.  However, all the pictures of the church we have show gothic (pointed) windows.  This picture might have been taken when the windows were not gothic.

Based on the apparent size of the church and the viewing angle, the picture appears to have been taken from a property on Ridgedale Avenue.  On the 1868 map, there is a "B.Shop" shown on the back of a property owned by H.C.Genung not too far from the "R.C.Ch.".  Maybe this is a picture of "B.Shop" or maybe not.








Click "I Know About That" to get to our contact page.  Send us a message with your information.  Please include the title of the picture (e.g., "An Unknown Gentleman.")