If you look at any map of New Jersey
, a little south of center is a dot labeled Ong's Hat. It been on maps of New Jersey since 1828, but if you went there today you'd find little reason for its fame
. Now all that's left is an old drive-in movie theater
called Ong's Hat and the remains of an even older tavern
) bearing the same name. So what was this particular chunk of the Pine Barrens
at one time and where did it get that outrageous name?
The legends of Ong's Hat are varied:
Some say that Ong was a Chinese cook who was riding along with a merchant in a stagecoach one day. Ong's hat flew off and when they stopped to retrieve it, the merchant decided that the spot was the perfect place for a new inn, which after he built it he named Ong's hat.
Others say that, no, Ong was in fact Indian who had disapeared in the area soon to bear his name. All that was found of him was his bloody hat discarded in the bushes. From that day on the place was known as Ong's Hat.
Still others make no claims as to Ong's racial identity, but do have a different version of the tale. Some say he was a popular gentleman of the Pine's who loved the ladies. One woman became so fed up with his racy comments that she pulled off his hat and threw it in a tree. He was unable to retrieve the hat and so there it remained, giving the area its name. Others disagree and say that Ong was smashed one night and threw that hat up in the tree himself.
Although there is evidence that one Jacob Ong, a caucasian Quaker, lived in the area, there is no proof that he ever had a hat.
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