Thomas Connelly

The last mayor of Vailsburg


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From His 1949 Obituary:

Thomas H. Connelly, last mayor of Vailsburg before the section became a part of Newark, died yesterday at his home, 55 Arsdale terrace, East Orange. He was 90.

Mr. Connelly served two terms on the Vailsburg Common Council before the turn of the century. The second time he ran the opposition decided it was a waste of time put another candidate and he was unopposed.

In 1900 he was elected mayor and after serving a full two-year term he refused to run for re-election. Two years later he was drafted for the office and elected to a second term. He was in the middle of that term when Vailsburg was annexed to Newark in 1905.

Mr. Connelly always retained his interest in politics and in later years he said he was amused and bewildered by modern campaigning techniques. He could not understand the huge sums of money spent by men seeking public office.

He used to say, "I was elected four times and never spent a penny. I thought that if the people wanted me as their representative they'd give me their votes. Certainly I didn't want any job badly enough to pay for it in money."

He attributed his record as an unbeatable candidate to the fact that he always was in direct contact with his constituents because of a coffee and tea business he operated. He had a route in Vailsburg and used to call on his customers once a week. Although he spoke to the wives more often than to the husbands, he said he thought the women told their husbands how to cast their ballots.

Mr. Connelly was born in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.. and came to Newark in 1859. He operated his tea and coffee business 30 years and later acted as sales representative for various companies. He retired 25 years ago. Mr. Connelly lived in Vailsburg 50 years, moving to East Orange 5 years ago. He was well known as a trotting race enthusiast and used to attend the races held in Weequahic Park.

Mr. Connelly was married to the former Mary E. Geary of Philadelphia in St. Columba's Church , Newark, June 11, 1882. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 1947 with a reception at their East Orange home.

Besides his wife, Mr. Connelly leaves a son, Frank A. of Clearwater , Fla; two daughters, Mrs. Edith Costello and Miss Lillian Connelly of East Orange; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A requiem mass will be offered Thursday at 945 a.m. in Sacred Heart Church, Vailsburg. Burial will be in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, East Orange.