The History Of  Cattus Island County Park
John V.A. Cattus
Charles Baber Cattus John Conrad Cattus
John Conrad Cattus Charles Baber Cattus John Conrad Cattus Charles Baber Cattus
Zoe Wells - 3rd Generation
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Ci History Smaller


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A short history of the park.

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  • The first house on the island – most likely constructed by the Applegate Family
  • Cattus Island was known as Applegate Island prior to the Cattus Family owning the property. {Inset enlarges on click}
  • John Van Antwerp Cattus – 1 st Commodore of the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association; an organization that still exists today.
  • Early view of the “Farmhouse” as it came to be known. The Cattus family had houses in Bay Head and New York City. The “Farmhouse” was a retreat for the family.
  • John V.A. Cattus’s children - John Conrad (known as uncle Bubby) and Charles Baber Cattus.
  • The family kept cows on the island for a ready source of milk…
  • …and chickens for a ready source of eggs.
  • “Sir William” was used for transportation.
  • Notice the large expanse of cleared land. The forest that exists now has grown back since the family stopped farming the land.
  • The original barn on the property was built before the Cattus family acquired the island
  • Boating made up a large part of the family’s time. A wooden boathouse was built to house the families boats.
  • More boats acquired by the family necessitated a second boathouse.
  • Boats of the Cattus Family: Upper left – a motor yacht named Cats Whiskers, Upper Right – iceboating in a sneakbox, Lower Right – a Gaff Rigged Ketch named the Micco, Lower Left – racing Catboats.
  • The family also came to the island in the winter to play.
  • The winter also offered hunting opportunities for deer and waterfowl.
  • At the end of the beach was a pavilion where boating activities were held in the summer months. Click for close up of pavilion.
  • Click for a later photo of the barn probably early 1950’s
  • A second barn was built by the Cattus family as well as a windmill.
  • Click for a later photo of the farmhouse.
  • Inside the elegant side of the house
  • The great room between the two living quarters. Note the antler chandelier and trophies for yacht racing – clues that point to the ways that the Cattus Family would amuse themselves.
  • One of the rules of the house was that the children had to play the piano, sing or dance before they were allowed dinner.
  • Inside the older section of the house which was closed in the winter to save heat.
  • John Conrad Cattus’s wife Margie painted on the walls and ceiling of the house. Waterfowl –mallards, canvasbacks, and Canada Geese.
  • Margie also painted wasps engaged in all sorts of activities.
  • A view from the upper floor of the farmhouse. Each Cattus child, at their 21 st birthday, would have a tree planted in front of the house in their honor.
  • The Lady in red is Louise Cattus – sister of the two boys. The lady in gray is Margie (the painter) who is John Conrad’s wife. The Cattus boys then and now. Dressed in Red is Louise Cattus Charles and John Conrad’s sister. Next to Louise is Margie – John Conrad’s wife. On the end is Ken Miller who would be Louise’s second husband after her first husband died.
  • The yearly “Holly Party” was celebrated around Christmas time. Local greens would be cut to decorate the farmhouse
  • Cattus Island becomes an island when the tidal marsh fills with water and covers the road. It still happens today. That’s John Conrad Cattus wading in the road.
  • After the family sold the property the buildings were heavily vandalized.
  • …and burned
  • Today all that is left is a field where the buildings once stood.
  • The boathouse met a similar fate.
  • In the late 1970’s the land, now owned by the County was being developed.
  • The land was purchased in 1973 with Green Acres funding – a matching fund from the state.
  • Gradually, the park as we know it today began to take shape.
  • The main roadway into the park was improved…
  • And the Cooper Environmental Center began to take shape.
  • The Cooper Center was named for two local nature lovers: Morton and Elizabeth Cooper and it opened its doors to the public in 1980.
  • In 2005, the Cooper Environmental Center celebrated its 25 th year of operation.
  • The entrance then and now.
  • The parking lot is created
  • The playground over the years
  • The fish tanks improve
  • The reptile exhibits improve
  • Even the map of the park has had a facelift.
  • Notice the new observation deck named in honor of Dorothy Hale, one of the park’s first volunteers and chairwoman of the Advisory Council.
  • Zoe Wells, granddaughter of John V.A. Cattus and daughter of Louise Cattus Wells donates the money to keep the free scope on the observation deck.
  • Ci History Smaller

    1. 1. The History Of Cattus Island County Park
    2. 4. John V.A. Cattus
    3. 6. Charles Baber Cattus John Conrad Cattus
    4. 32. John Conrad Cattus Charles Baber Cattus John Conrad Cattus Charles Baber Cattus
    5. 56. Zoe Wells - 3rd Generation