muriel j smith 120a

muriel j smith 120aThere’s never been any doubt that the Doctors Swartz, the father and son team of Dr. Harry and Dr. Steve, have been the favorite physician of families in the Bayshore for many years. Both worked together for 35 years in the office Dr. Harry opened in 1956 on Cherry Tree Farm Rd., Middletown; after Dr. Harry’s retirement last June, Dr. Steve  moved his office to Palmer Avenue, Holmdel where he carries on his dad’s traditions as Mid-Atlantic Medical Associates and has gone on to garner another houseful of devoted and loving patients.  He continues to serve as medical director and head of the cardiac program at the Care One Care Center where he can often be seen almost any time of the day or night administering to residents. Dr. Steve is also the regional medical director for the Physicians Practice Enhancement medical team in Shrewsbury.

   But the people of Highlands have a very special reason for being such admirers of this dynamic  father-son team.  It’s not a very known fact among today’s followers of the physicians, but their ancestors, who came from Russia, actually settled in Highlands, where one of them had a furniture store and grocery store, complete with ice cream.

    And what’s more, Dr. Harry’s grandmother was one of the famed Parker family who are recognized as one of the first families in the community and the family for whom Highlands got its nickname of Parkertown.

   It’s the US census of 1900 that tells the Parker story. That was the very first census taken in Highlands since the borough had only come into its own a couple of months before. Until that time, Highlands, and Atlantic Highlands up until 1887, were parts of Middletown which pretty well covered most of the waterfront in the Bayshore.

    But back to the Parker family.


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      There were only 848 people living in Highlands in 1900 as recorded in the census, just about equally split between males and females.   The 848 people made up 197 families, and 63 of those people answered to the name of Parker. Those 63 people lived in 16 different households all with the name of Parker, representing more than seven per cent of the total population of Highlands in 1900.

     One of those Parker ladies, Minnie, or Minerva, was the daughter of William and Katherine Burdge Parker, but at that time she herself did not answer to the name of Parker. That’s because she was married to Harry A. Swartz, a well known and highly respected furniture and grocery store owner in Highlands. His businesses were located at the northeast corner of Bay Avenue and Miller St.

drs swartz wivesPHOTO: Drs. Swartz and wives

    Minnie and Harry had three sons and a daughter, Morris, Emanuel, and Lavina, who all lived in Highlands, and Samuel, who lived in Red Bank.  It was their son, Emanuel, who is the father of today’s Dr. Harry, obviously named for his grandfather. Emanuel was also owner of the Swartz Furniture Store on Route 35 in Middletown in the 1930s and 1940s and it was in back of this store that Dr. Harry used to sit by the stove to study and do homework. His grandfather, Harry Swartz, died in 1929 at age 70, according to his obituary in the Asbury Park Press, from a “complication of diseases.”

   Dr. Harry’s grandmother, Minnie outlived her husband for another 11 years, dying Dec. 29, 1940 in Middletown, where she had moved four years previous. Her obituary said she had been in failing health and under the care of a physician for several years and died of a sudden but fatal heart attack. At the time of her death, daughter Lavina had moved to Shrewsbury, Samuel was still in Red Bank, and Morris and Emanuel were living in Highlands. Minnie’s sister, Leola Parker Bush, and her brother, Forman Parker, survived her and still made their homes in Highlands.

    Both Minnie and Harry are buried at the Red Bank Hebrew cemetery in Lincroft, the burial ground maintained by Congregation B’Nai Israel.

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Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...