- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The post office and schools are named Toms River. A banner in the business district proclaims “Downtown Toms River.” Ambulances, labeled “Dover Township EMS,” are dispatched from the Toms River First Aid Squad.

So naturally, when Bill Castner moved to this community on the Jersey Shore, he thought he was buying a house in Toms River.

“It wasn’t until I got my tax bill, and I thought they sent me the wrong documents,” that he learned he actually was moving into someplace that is officially named Dover Township.

It’s a common refrain in this city of nearly 90,000 people known for its Little League team, a cluster of childhood cancer cases and a contract killing that became a best-selling book and a TV miniseries.

But that refrain is going to change on Tuesday, when the place nearly everyone calls Toms River will officially become Toms River, a name revision approved by a 2-1 ratio in last week’s election.

“It will end the confusion about Toms River being Dover Township,” said Mayor Paul Brush, an ardent supporter of the name change. “We’ve been known as Toms River, but we really weren’t Toms River. That was the whole point of the election.”

The municipality midway between Atlantic City and New York City has been Dover Township since 1767, when the name was granted by a British charter.

But even then, it was out of step with local usage.

The name Toms River dates to 1700, when Tom Luker built a ferry that crossed the body of water then known as Goose Creek. The service became so popular that people started calling the waterway Tom’s River, and that name first appeared on a map in 1712. The apostrophe was dropped around 1850.

“Everyone knows this as Toms River,” Mr. Castner said Friday as he manicured one of the Toms River East Little League fields before a playoff game.


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