Welcome to the Village of Chatsworth in Woodland Township, New Jersey. Today, Chatsworth is a quaint, rural community that has become a favorite place for hikers, campers, and other people drawn to the great outdoors. Some may say we seem small, but we know we have a big history! For example, did you know that well over one hundred years ago, Chatsworth was a favorite vacation spot for the elite of the time including an Italian prince? You will learn all about our rich and interesting history as you take the tour, but first, here is a preview.
The Woodlawn Cemetery, located in Chatsworth, New Jersey, was originally deeded to local prominent residents on June 15, 1888. To our knowledge, it was never recognized by any type signage and was known to local residents as the Chatsworth Cemetery. Many residents were unaware of the historical significance of this burial ground.
The earliest reference to education in Woodland Township dates to 1856. At that time, owing to the township being sparsely settled, it contained two districts. The number of children residing in the township of school age was 97. The average number of months school was opened was 8.5. One male teacher and two females were employed at an average salary of $33.00 per month.
The first church in Chatsworth was established in 1873, when Rev. George W. Cothell came to what was then called “Shamong” in Woodland Township and held worship services in the school for six months. Rev. Cothell organized this Presbyterian Church until there was sufficient interest and funds to build a church building.
Built in 1865 by Neil Wade, and later owned by Benjamin O. Wade, the building was acquired by Willis Jefferson Buzby and his wife Myrtle in 1895. Upon Buzby’s death in 1939, his son, Willis Jonathan Buzby (Jack) and his wife Katie (Katherine Ritzendollar) took over the store. Jack continued with the title “King of the Piney’s”. The Buzby’s sold the store in 1967. After this a series of owners operated the store until it was sold at a tax sale. Assignment of the tax lien was purchased by Barnegat Light Press, Inc in 1996. After foreclosure was completed, restoration and renovation began.
If you think of the functions of a station these features reveal their necessity: a ticket counter, a waiting room, an office space for railroad agents, a safe, preferably roofed, platform waiting area, and a temporary freight storage space.
It was a beautiful train that passed through town each day, seven days a week, between Jersey City and Atlantic City. I lived in the White Horse Inn next to the railroad so I saw it every day. I remember that the speed of the train was 70 mph in the Chatsworth area and it was always on time. People would set their clocks by the train. I will never forget the locomotive’s whistle that sounded like a steamboat. Also, I saw people from other towns coming to Chatsworth to sit by the tracks to see the train pass. I also remember that the Blue Comet brought the evening newspapers to us. The people in Chatsworth were proud to have this special train as part of our lives. As I think about it now, I believe we may have thought that maybe we were some way connected to New York and Atlantic City by the train. I still have a lot of memories of the Blue Comet. Jonathan Stevenson
Chatsworth Volunteer Fire Department Station 291 was formed in 1939 in an old, one bay building, near Route 563 and Barnegat Road. It was originally known as Station 18-F-42. Firefighters were given the task of protecting the 96.4 square mile township and its residents from wildfires, dwelling fires, motor vehicle accidents, and any other incident where people were in danger. In 1963, the station moved to its current location on the corner of Routes 563 and 532. Members of the community played an active role in firefighting and fund raising. This story is being told by Lynn Ochberg:
The White Horse Inn, the largest dwelling in the town proper, is well over 100 years old. It was at one time frequently visited by prominent members of the Chatsworth Club, later becoming a boarding home where people lived while working in the area and lastly the Stevenson family home. It is presently owned by the Township of Woodland.
Mario dei Principi Ruspoli, born in 1867, was the second Principe di Poggio Suasa, son of Emanuele Ruspoli, first Prince of Poggio Suasa and first wife, Princess Caterina. His great-great uncle was Cardinal Bartolomeo Ruspoli. Prince Mario Ruspoli was an attache to the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C.. Mario was also a great grandfather of actor Bart Ruspoli.
The exclusive Chatsworth Club was begun by Prince Ruspoli and his wife, Pauline Marie Palma de Talleyrand-Perigord, who was heiress to Elizabeth Beers-Curtis. It was once the ancestral estate of Elizabeth Beers-Curtis and her sister, the Dowager Princess Poggio-Susan Ruspoli (Josephine Mary Beers-Curtis) who were two American daughters of Joseph Beers-Curtis, a New York real estate tycoon. A number of the members of the club were American heiresses with titled European husbands.