Road Returns, 1737-1979

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
SERIES: Road Returns
DATES: 1737-1979
VOLUME: 32 cubic feet

Road Return jpg for webpage2 - Copy
Map of Ridge Road Extension, Red Bank, 1892
The Road Returns series consists of 2,157 loose papers, 1737-1987, and twelve Road books, A-L.

A “road return” is a report filed with (returned to) the county by a surveyor after a road was laid out, altered or vacated. Returns originated when a freeholder or property owner petitioned the court to open a new road or vacate part, or all, of an existing road. The court would appoint six surveyors of the highways. These six surveyors would then notify the court via their “return” of their decision on whether the road, or change, was necessary. The county retained many of the surveyors’ returns. If the survey was for a new road, the return would set the official date when the road would be opened to the public.

The returns are applications by freeholders and property owners to the Monmouth County, New Jersey, Court of Common Pleas, petitioning the court to either open a new road, or vacate all or part of an old road. Surveyors’ returns include names of property owners, landmarks, maps, protests, dedications, and takeovers.

The Road Return series contains 702 maps prepared by the Surveyors. The Surveyors’ return is extremely detailed down to the chains, links, minutes, and degrees from one point to the next along the new route. What is even more important is the fact that property owners and landmarks are also included in their reports. Maps of the roads were sometimes included with their surveys.

Property owners along the new road or along a road to be vacated, who felt the change would inconvenience them in any way, were allowed to file a “caveat,” an official protest submitted to the Court by the protesting party or parties. The series also includes dedications of roads and county takeovers of township road. The earliest road return in the series was filed in 1737; the latest in 1979.

This series is open to researchers.

Road returns loose papers are available for use on 15 rolls of microfilm. An Access database of loose papers is available in Archives. Archives has generated a printed index of road returns which includes town, date, petitioner’s name, and sometimes a brief description of the road. If the road connected two towns or extended into another county, the index provides a destination column titled “TOTOWN.” The index also references the microfilm roll number.

Archives also has a digital map file from the State of New Jersey, Department of Conservation and Development, Division of Geology and Topography, Atlas Sheet 28, by Henry B. Kummel, State Geologist, original 1917 with revisions from 1928, that shows the roads of Monmouth County and has corresponding Road Book and page number notations.

The loose paper surveyors’ road returns are stored in 78 boxes and are arranged alphabetically by town and chronologically thereunder. The twelve books are chronological.

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
Tel. (732) 308-3771

The Road Return Series was transferred to the Archives by Jane G. Clayton, Monmouth County Clerk, prior to 1992.

The Road Return loose papers were microfilmed June 2, 1992 on 15 rolls of microfilm. The twelve Roads books are on seven rolls of microfilm. Road vacations are on four rolls of microfilm.

An Access database containing 2,157 loose records of Road Returns was created July 30, 1997. An Access database containing a page number index of 2,688 names mentioned in Road Book A was created June 24, 2015. The finding aid webpage was updated February 9, 2011; revised in June 2016 by George Joynson.

Road returns can sometimes be found in Common Pleas records and early deed books.