RECORD GROUP: Board of Chosen Freeholders
RECORD SERIES #: 1900
SERIES: Freeholder Minute Books
VOLUME: 400+ volumes
Boards of Chosen Freeholders were established throughout the State of New Jersey on February 13, 1798, by an act of the Council and General Assembly. The Act, entitled, “An Act to Incorporate the Chosen Freeholders in the respective counties in this State,” stated that the Board of Chosen Freeholders, in each county, was to be “a body politic and corporate in law. . . .” The first meeting of the new board was on May 9, 1798.
Each County Board consisted of two freeholders from each town or township, elected by the residents at the Annual Town Meetings held every March. At that time, the five towns in Monmouth were Shrewsbury, Freehold, Upper Freehold, Middletown, and Dover, the last becoming part of Ocean County when Monmouth County was divided in 1850. According to the Act of 1798, the Board had the power to “acquire, purchase, receive, have and hold any lands, tenements, hereditaments, goods and chattels, in trust to and for the use of the said counties…” Each Board was given the authority to enact by-laws, ordinances and regulations necessary to govern its respective county. Its jurisdiction included the purchase and maintenance of poor houses, gaols (jails), court houses, and the laying out and maintenance of the county’s roads and bridges.
The Clerk of the Board, who was elected by the Board members, kept the minutes of all meetings and recorded the minutes in books specifically for that purpose. The Board also elected the County Collector, who reported directly to the Board and accounted for all monies received and disbursed.
For almost 200 years, the Board of Chosen Freeholders has followed the same guidelines and procedures established by the Act of 1798. The only significant change was made in the early 1900s, with regard to election procedures and the number of freeholders. Rather than two freeholders, elected annually from each town, five individuals are now elected at the General Elections held in November. These five elected officials, who serve three-year terms, represent the county at large.
The duties and the jurisdiction of the Board of Chosen Freeholders have not changed over the two centuries and includes administration of county business, special services, public works and engineering (roads and bridges), human services, health and transportation, and the financial administration of justice.
The books reflect the duties, authority and jurisdiction given to the County Boards through the Act of 1798. Locating a specific motion or resolution passed by the Freeholders in early minute books can be a slow process. But, beginning in 1896, notations were added in the left margins indicating the subject of each motion, resolution or committee report.
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
Tel. (732) 308-3771
11/02/1987, 6 volumes, 1871-1911, County Clerk Jane G. Clayton
04/11/1989, 41 volumes, 1917-1985, County Clerk Jane G. Clayton
12/06/1993, 11 volumes, 1886-1888, County Clerk Jane G. Clayton
05/21/1996, 3 volumes, 1996-2002, Connie Slocum, #1996-02
08/09/2004, 24 volumes, 1997-2000, Pamela Chappell, #2004-02
01/11/2005, 18 volumes, 2001-2003, Pam Chappell, #2005-01
02/19/2010, 6 volumes, 2007, Pamela Chappell, #2010-02
04/05/2010, 9 volumes, 2008, Pamela Chappell, #2010-07
01/19/2012, 27 volumes, 2009-2010, Pamela Chappell, #2012-01
06/02/2016, 30 volumes, 2011-2014, Clerk of the Board Marion Masnick, #2016-16
03/16/2017, 12 volumes, 2015, Clerk of the Board Marion Masnick, #2015-05