The nation’s oldest seaside resort is getting a lesson about its own history thanks to a local writer.
In Cape May, New Jersey, the incorporation date of “1857” is what you’ll find on the city’s seal, logo, letterheads, flags, books, buildings and vehicles. It turns out however, that the date is wrong.
“It sounds like the correct date truly should be 1851 rather than 1857,” Cape May Deputy City Clerk Erin Burke said.
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The Victorian city has used the incorrect year for several decades, if not longer, and few realized the error. That was until resident John Bailey wrote his book “Cape Island” in 2011. While doing research for it, he discovered the mistake.
“The mansion house burned in ’57 but I figured they wouldn’t want that on the seal,” Bailey said.
Bailey informed Cape May’s current mayor. Burke worked with a member of the Cape May County clerk’s office to confirm.
“We haven’t been able to figure out when the mistake was made or how,” Burke said. “Probably just something as a simple typo years and years ago.”
City council members are expected to vote next week on a resolution that would change the incorporation date to 1851. Yet updating that number on vehicles and everything else won’t be free.
“I would say probably five to ten thousand dollars,” Cape May City Councilman Shaine Meier said. “That’s just a guess.”
Officials say it’s a process that could be done in phases.