Arts & Entertainment

West Orange Historian Joe Fagan Releases Latest Book, Stories of West Orange

Pictured from left to right are: Jacqueline Becker; Roz Moskovitz; Tina Parsons, Regal Bank’s assistant Vice President and West Orange Office Branch Manager; Joseph Fagan; Sabina DeAgazio, Regal Bank’s Assistant Branch Manager; Kenneth Becker; Alicia Ponce, Regal Bank’s Head Teller; and Roger Schneider. The Williams family clock, pictured at center, is West Orange’s oldest surviving artifact.    Credits: Cynthia Cumming
West Orange Historian Joe Fagan describes a photo from 1960's Main Street. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
The Williams family clock, oldest known surviving West Orange artifact. The original cabinet was that a grandfather clock. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange historian Joe Fagan has just released his third book in a series of West Orange historical publications, Stories of West Orange. The author held a special book signing event at Regal Bank, 641 Eagle Rock Avenue, on June 26 as he regaled attendees with historical tidbits from his latest labor of love.

Stories of West Orange is Fagan’s latest offering chronicling the history of a township whose roots date back to the 1700s. His previous books, Eagle Rock Reservation and West Orange, introduced thousands of readers to the historical importance of a township whose earliest residents played a role in the birth of the United States.

Reading more like an anthology of short stories,the initial chapter of Fagan’s new book describes in detail the historical provenance of the Williams family clock, considered the oldest known West Orange historical artifact. The Williams family, who owned farm land in the Valley Way (Lourdes section) area of town prior to the Revolutionary War, once owned an 85” grandfather clock that was discovered in Illinois in 2008.

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On January 10, 2014, Tap Into West Orange published an article regarding Fagan’s quest to purchase the clock and return it to West Orange from Illinois. Fagan details a fascinating historical background of the Williams family and their struggle to remain loyal to the British crown as the seeds of American independence were sown.

In an interview with Tap Into West Orange, Fagan credits the article with helping to raise the funds needed to purchase the artifact and bring it back home. He plans to display it at various venues around the township.

Stories of West Orange features several other fascinating tales of the township’s history and its citizens, including former Mayor Jim Sheeran, who escaped capture from the Nazis in WWII; coach Amos Alonzo Stagg; Olympian Ginny Duenkel; and intriguing criminal cases.

In addition to his books, Fagan hosts a monthly television program “Discover West Orange,” aired regularly on local TV 36/45. Six programs have aired to date and his newest, an interview with Maxine Giannini, widow of Ugo Giannini, will air in July. Mrs. Giannini was featured in a Tap Into West Orange article in May chronicling her husband’s artistic renderings of D-Day.

Fagan is particularly proud of those West Orange residents who served their country and his books and programs reflect that.  He notes that his first broadcast featured former West Orange township employee  Sonny Ciamillo, whose ship, the USS Massachusetts, was sunk by the first Japanese Kamikaze attack of WWII.

Subsequent broadcasts include information about the last living Essex County slave; history of the West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and much more.

To view Joe Fagan's "Discover West Orange" programs or to purchase his books, go to: The author welcomes any and all artifacts, photos, publications and items pertinent to West Orange history.

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