Andy Rogers Collection

Andy Rogers Collection, 1938-2017

Collection Number:


Finding Aid Publication Date:

Published in 2019. ©Copyright Chester Public Library.

Descriptive Summary


Andy Rogers Collection


Anthony “Andy” Rogers




296 GB of data, 2 boxes, and 1 oversized wall map (8 linear feet)


The Andy Rogers Collection contains early records of the Chester Lions Club, photographs and other documents related to Rogers’ military service and construction projects, and more than 30 hours of video interviews of Rogers. The interviews cover Rogers’ life history, the earliest days of the Chester Lions Club, and Chester’s evolution from the 1960s through 2017.

The value of this collection to researchers is found in several parts of the collection:

  1. Rogers’ documentation of the early Chester Lions Club, especially the Flea Market;
  2. Rogers’ experience in construction in the greater Chester area from the 1960s through the 2010s, as well as his impact on the construction industry in New Jersey during the same period;
  3. The extensive information about Elizabeth and Cranford, NJ in the 1930s-1950s; and
  4. The documentation of Rogers’ military experience in Texas and Sandy Hook, NJ in the 1950s through photographs and interviews.




Local History Department
Chester Public Library
250 W. Main Street
Chester, NJ 07930
Phone: (908) 879-7612
Fax:  (908) 879-8695

Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use:

This collection is open for research.

Physical Access:

The items in this collection may be used by patrons who abide by the guidelines ( of the Local History Department.

Technical Access:

The great majority of the items in this collection have be digitally reproduced or created electronically. The Local History Librarian will make full-length oral history videos and digitized images available to patrons upon request. Chester Library computers may be used to experience the collection.

Conditions Governing Reproduction:

Copyright restrictions apply. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials whose copyright is owned by the Chester Library or a collection creator must be submitted in writing to the Local History Librarian, Chester Public Library, 250 W. Main Street, Chester, NJ 07930.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], Andy Rogers Collection of Chester Public Library, Chester, New Jersey.

Collection Processed By:

Debra Schiff, Local History Librarian, in 2017.

Finding Aid Author:

Debra Schiff, Local History Librarian

Description Control:

Description based on DACS.

Related Collections:

Combe Fill South Landfill Records

Table of Contents


Anthony Andrew Rogers, Jr., (1935-2018) was known by all as “Andy.” He was born to Anthony Andrew, Sr., and Ethel Beatrice Lied Rogers on July 16, 1935 at 16 Cherry Street, in Elizabeth, N.J. His home birth was attended by a doctor, nurse, and two midwives. Three years later, the Rogers had another junior, this time a daughter, Ethel Beatrice, who was called “Bea” outside and “Sister” inside the house. Rogers, Sr. was born in Italy in 1908, with the last name Africano, and emigrated to the United States in 1928. Ethel was born in Elizabeth, and was able to trace her history back to 1749, in Centerville, N.J.

Andy, Sister, Cousins Dolly, and Edgar “Sonny”.

Andy, “Sister,” and Cousins Dolly and Edgar “Sonny.”

The family lived in Elizabeth for a short time before moving to Cranford, just on the “wrong” side of the tracks, according to Rogers. As children, they spent most of their time with young cousins Dolly and Edgar (known as “Sonny”) World War II was underway, and Rogers’ uncles Bill Lied and Sal, Louis, and Sam Africano (later Rogers) were drafted to serve in the Army. The Africanos were from West Virginia, and all but Sal returned. He lost his life at Anzio.

During his childhood, Rogers was habitually ill with violent headaches and nosebleeds. His parents sent him to West Virginia for his health, but because “the War took everything,” he said, there was no transportation. Ethel Rogers wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt to appeal for transportation. He wrote back, sending tickets for a troop train to West Virginia. Rogers, his mother, and sister stayed there for one year prior to returning to Cranford.

During the War, Rogers, Sr., started a church in the basement of the family home. It was not a sanctioned church, but a group of people who gathered to read the Bible and sing hymns. A young minister who was a student at Drew University became the first minister of what is now the Osceola Presbyterian Church. The Rogers family donated the stained glass window behind the altar.

Rogers’ health improved, and in high school, he became a sports star. At Cranford High School, he lettered in basketball, baseball, and football, and was on the All-State Football Team. In 1952, he played on the state championship winning football team. He graduated in 1954.

1952 Cranford High School State Champs, Vinnie, Coach Avery, Timmy, Coach Grayson, and Andy Rogers (left to right)

“1952 Cranford High School State Champs”  Vinnie Vicci, Coach James Avery, Timmy Schumann, Coach Stan Grayson, and Andy Rogers

In late 1954, 12 of his graduating class from Cranford High School were drafted into the Army, including Rogers. He began his two-year military service with Basic Training in the 69th Regiment at Fort Dix, in New Jersey. Later, the Army sent him to Fort Bliss, in El Paso, Texas, where he became a cannoneer. He manned a 90-mm anti-aircraft gun, shooting at tanks in the desert.

Andy Rogers sitting in an anti-aircraft vehicle.

Andy Rogers sitting in an anti-aircraft vehicle.

In 1955, he returned to New Jersey, stationed at Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook. There, he served as a Missile Launch Crew Member in the 526th Missile Battalion, working with surface-to-air missiles. Specifically, he worked with the Nike Ajax guided missile. He also trained to drive many Army vehicles, including a two-and-a-half ton truck, and later rose to Motor Pool Sergeant. He was discharged from the Army in 1956.

Rogers married his high school sweetheart, Janette (Jan) Robertson (1936-2008) in 1958. The photograph below shows the couple together at the Cranford High School prom in 1954. She served as Office Manager to local pediatrician Robert Kornblum for 30 years, then for Rogers’ construction business. The Rogers spent many happy years together sailing their boats locally and points south until Jan’s death in 2008. She was 71.

Andy Rogers and Janette Robertson at the Cranford High School Prom.

Andy Rogers and Janette Robertson at the Cranford High School Prom.

After their marriage, the Rogers moved to Morristown, with Andy’s parents and his younger sister. He attended the Institute of Practical Drafting in Newark, NJ, on the GI Bill. Later he was hired as a draftsman at Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, NJ. He worked there for 16 years, at the same time starting his own building company in Long Valley. He started buying properties on Schooley’s Mountain and other local spots for future building, but eventually bought the site for his house on Route 24, in 1960.

Andy Rogers in the Engineering Department at Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, NJ.

Andy Rogers in the Engineering Department at Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, NJ.

The Rogers lived in Long Valley for 6 years before he built their home in Chester. They moved to Bernardsville, and lived in a duplex near Center Street for two years while he built his home at 10 Burnett Drive in Dogwood Acres, Chester. The home was completed in 1968.

Plot plan for 10 Burnett Drive.

Plot Plan for 10 Burnett Drive in Chester.

In 1968, Rogers’ new next-door neighbor Harry Brockman had been a Scotch Plains Lions member, who did not wish to continue driving down to Central New Jersey for the Lions Club meetings. Because he didn’t know anyone in town, he asked Rogers to locate 15 people to charter a club sponsored by the Scotch Plains Lions. He did, and later became club treasurer for two years. At the time, Rogers juggled a burgeoning construction business, engineering school at night (at the Newark College of Engineering, now known as NJIT), and a full time job at Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, N.J. Another charter Lion was Stan Pukash, who worked with Rogers at Atomic Switch. Other early members included Bob Moore, Harry Kaufman, Frank Adessa (former Chester Borough Mayor), Jack Schuler, and Mike Kaye.

Rogers held the first member card of the Chester Lions Club, and was a founding member of the organization in 1969. The Charter Night dinner took place at the Chester Inn (now the Publick House), on February 21, 1970.

The first Chester Lions Club member card, Andy Rogers.

The first Chester Lions Club card belonging to Andy Rogers.

He began the first group garage sale to raise funds for the club. Held at the old Chester Borough municipal building on Main Street, the sale was so successful the Lions were asked to move because it caused a massive traffic jam in the center of town. Later, the Lions Club moved the sale to a field next to Shop Rite Liquors (now know the Streets of Chester shopping center), and turned it into the Flea Market. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Chester Lions Club Flea Market was a huge draw from many counties around New Jersey. It also caused a traffic stopping nightmare in town. Rogers asserted in his first oral history interview on January 11, 2017 that the Chester Lions Club went from being the poorest to the richest club in the United States. Rogers resigned from the Chester Lions after 20 years of service.

Chester Lions Flea Market

Chester Lions Club Flea Market, now Streets of Chester.

He had developed a program to get New Jersey builders licensed. He was one of the earliest builders in the state to provide a ten-year warranty on his buildings, which later became a license requirement. Recognizing a need for dental and medical offices in Chester, in 1984, Rogers built a set of three office buildings on a single piece of property at 530 East Main Street. The buildings were designed to suit dental and medical offices.

Description of medical and dental offices at 530 East Main Street.

Description of medical and dental offices at 530 East Main Street.

Rogers also built high-end, custom homes in Chester from the 1980s through the 2000s. These homes are located off Pleasant Hill Road, on Cromwell Drive, Topping Way, and Woodhull Drive, in the Pleasant Hill Estates development. Likely, one of his largest custom homes is Black River Manor, a 14-room mansion located next to Green Acres property.

Rogers died from mycosis fungoids in 2018.

Table of Contents

Scope and Content

The items in the Andy Rogers Collection primarily document the life of Andy Rogers. Portions also document the earliest activities of the Chester Lions Club, especially its legendary Flea Market. The period covered in this collection ranges from 1938 through 2017. The materials include digital photographs, digitized papers, a Morris County wall map, clippings, ephemera, and textiles. Additionally, the collection includes 15 sessions (more than 30 hours) of video interviews with Local History Librarian Deb Schiff, recorded at the Chester Library.

The interviews include Rogers’ remembrances of his childhood in Elizabeth and Cranford, his military service, his careers as a draftsman and a builder, and his service in the Chester Lions Club, among other topics.

The value of this collection to researchers is found in several parts of the collection:

  1. His documented history of the earliest days of the Chester Lions Club;
  2. The extensive information about Elizabeth and Cranford, NJ from the 1930s-1950s;
  3. The documentation of Rogers’ military experience in Texas and Sandy Hook, NJ, in the 1950s through photographs and interviews;
  4. His interviews on the construction industry in NJ in the 1960s through the 2010s; and
  5. His experience in construction in the greater Chester area.

Table of Contents

Organization and Arrangement

The materials are organized into four major series:

  1. Visual Materials, 1938-2016
  2. Video Interviews, 2017
  3. Military Records, 1954-1956
  4. Lions Club Records, 1969-1975

The Visual Materials Series includes printed photographs, but the majority of the collection’s photos are digital facsimiles of the original prints Rogers lent to the library specifically to share with researchers. These were scanned sequentially, between each video interview session. They are arranged in numerical order . The 1977 Morris County wall map is included in the Visual Materials series.

Because more than 30 hours of HD Video Interviews in 265 GB of data were collected from January through August 2017, it was determined that they deserved their own series, rather than a traditional subseries within Visual Materials. These are organized by session date and numerical order.

Within the materials Rogers lent to the library were the entirety of his Military Records. These also are arranged in numerical order, scanned following the order in which they were received from the donor.  The Lions Club Records are housed in 2 boxes.

Table of Contents

Index Terms

Corporate Names/Organizations Subject:

Rogers Construction Company
Automatic Switch Company
Chester Inn
Chester Lions Club
Combe Fill South Landfill
Cranford High School
Institute of Practical Drafting
Newark College of Engineering
Publick House
U.S. Army


Dental offices.
Drafting, Electrical
Flea markets.
High school football players
Home construction
House construction–Standards.
Medical offices.
Military history–20th century.
Nike-Ajax rocket
Surface-to-surface missiles–United States.


Adessa, Frank
Brockman, Harry
Kaufman, Harry
Kornblum, Robert
Moore, Robert
Pukash, Stanley
Rogers, Anthony Andrew (Andy), Jr.
Rogers, Janette (Jan)


Black River Manor
Burnett Drive
Chester (N.J.)
Chester Township (N.J.)
Cranford (N.J.)
Cromwell Drive
Dogwood Acres
Elizabeth (N.J.)
Long Valley
Main Street
Morris County (N.J.)
Morristown Region (N.J.)–History, Local.
New Jersey.
Pleasant Hill Estates
Pleasant Hill Road
Topping Way
Woodhull Drive

Genre Terms:

Born digital
Oral history.
Oral history interview
Video recordings
Visual resources

Table of Contents

Series 1: Visual Materials, 1938-2016

Electronic Records

342 TIFF files comprise the scanned photographs, architectural drawings, and other materials totaling 20.3 GB of data. Items were scanned from February through August 2017, and cover the time period of 1938-2016.

Analog Records

1 Morris County wall map listed in the Container List below.

Table of Contents

Series 2: Video Interviews, 2017

Electronic Records

The video interviews took place in 15 separate sessions from January through August 2017. Within the 15 session folders, there are 529 files, in MTS, VIX, and AIX video formats, totaling 265 GB of data.

Table of Contents

Series 3: Military Records, 1954-1956

The military records number 116 files totaling 9.29 GB of data. They include photographs taken during Rogers’ service in the U.S. Army, as well scanned copies of his documentation. The documentation includes licenses, identification cards, newsletters, and other materials. This series spans the period of 1954-1956.

Table of Contents

Series 4: Lions Club Records, 1969-1975

Electronic Records

51 TIFF files comprising scanned photographs of parades, flea markets, and other Lions Club activities total 1.91 GB of data. Items were scanned from February through August 2017. The series covers the time period of 1969-1975.

Analog Records

The analog materials are housed in two boxes. Box 1 contains photographs, organizational records, ephemera, certificates, and clippings. Box 2 contains a certificate and a vest used in directing traffic during the flea market.

Table of Contents

Container List

Box 1, Photos, Ephemera, Lions Club Officers, and Certificates, 1969-2016, bulk 1969-1975

Box Folder Number Description Dates
1 1 Photographs, Lions Club 1972-1975, undated
2 A. Rogers Construction Co., Company History 2016
3 Lions Club Officers, Rogers as 3rd Vice President 1973-1974
4 Ephemera 1970
5 Certificates, Lions Club Charter 1969
6 Clippings 1972

Box 2, Textiles and Certificates, 1972, undated

Box Folder Number Description Dates
2 Past Treasurer certificate 1972
Yellow Lions Club vest (for traffic direction at flea market) Undated

Tube 1, Maps, Morris County Map, 1977

Tube Description Dates
1 Morris County Wall Map 1977