Ginger Bread Row was only a block long but did it pack the power. You can bet the temperance movement had a battle on their hands on this block of downtown Newark.
It was well known for its wickedness and was like a busy port because of the canal. A very busy place from 1825 into the 60’s. While in today’s time you can find folks around the court house catching a wink or two at night, Row was home to many homeless, criminals, drifters and canalers who were let’s say quite ornery.
When I think of Ginger bread I think of gingerbread cake and cookies. Hemmmmmm did this have anything to do with how Ginger Bread Row got its name? Why yes it does! The bakers on Ginger Bread Row did make cakes. Legend has it that it went quit well with beer, rum, hard cider and rot-gut whiskey.
Whew, sounds like the wild side of downtown Newark, wouldn’t you agree. I can just picture the battle between the women with their hands on their hips and toes a tappin carrying on and threatening those well shall I say uncontrollable bunch unable to talk plainly or stand up straight. On the other hand Saturday night was a big deal, why those canal folks provided plenty of booze and rowdiness’. Pull up a chair get the popcorn and set back to watch the crowd. Free entertainment and I am sure many had a jolly good time of it. As a matter of fact they had the entire section lit up with torches.
Now hold on to your hats folks you gotta read this next part! Would you believe the strong men of Hog Run, yes that is right, Hog Run would come to town along with folks from Mary Ann Furnace and Hanover (the Little Natchez Under Hill). They came for what was called “General Muster Day” and it all took place on Ginger Bread Row. It was a time to settle all those disputes and quarrels that had been building up, yep just have it out until you came to some kind of agreement. I am trying to picture this in my mind and I see people standing on the sidelines rooting for their pals and I see them moving their arms and punching as to help their buddy win this brawl. Well with all that fussing and the carrying on the Temperance movement did at other times I find out they overlooked all of this. Well until later another movement of the temperance called “Fantastics” ended the great General Muster Day.
Now wouldn’t you think that with the name Ginger Bread Row this area was filled with craft shops and baked goods? Oh I must be oh so blind, why silly ol me. Guess I will be checking places out before I travel to make sure it is what I think it is, how about you?
After all that drinking and carrying on they just about took a bath in whiskey and hard cider (you know there had to be some wasp and bees in here somewhere). I mean it was poured over them to heal their wounds, Ouch!
Ginger Bread Row was one block from the square on the south side around South 2nd st and .
Resources: Chalmer Pancoast “Our Home Town Memories” and Nola Rogers (my mom the walking computer and encyclopedia)