Fair Haven

RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.12
SERIES: Fair Haven
DATES: 1910-1984
VOLUME: 59 volumes, 15 microfilm reels


Fair Haven image

Historical records from Fair Haven were placed on deposit in the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center, pursuant to a municipal resolution and a depository agreement which provide that Fair Haven retains ownership of the records and that the Monmouth County Archives can provide access to them, as part of its Municipal Records – Monmouth Archives Records Center (MR-MARC) program.
The following historical narrative about Fair Haven was prepared by Timothy J. McMahon, Borough Historian, for the book, Town by Town: Impressions of Monmouth County (Freehold: Office of the Monmouth County Clerk, 2002):

Fair Haven, a scenic and historic borough, is situated between Red Bank and Rumson, along the Navesink River. The earliest known reference to a residence is that of the Lewis family, whose homestead was located on Lewis Point, once the most prominent point of land jutting into the Navesink River. The Lewis family dated their home back to 1778, the same year as the Battle of Monmouth. The earliest neighborhood or group of homes, dated back to the 1790s when a “man of color,” Samuel Still, owned 25 acres at Fair Haven’s eastern end. This gathering of Still and others was the first sense of a forming community. Only in the last decade have researchers uncovered accounts of Still and his people who likely were freed blacks, part Native American, and white.

Two stores opened for selling goods and provisions in the 1820’s; one along the river east of Still’s land and the other west on a part that predated River Road. Still donated land for both an A.M.E. Zion Church and an “African School” in 1842 and 1850, respectively. His son-in-law, Jacob Brown, is remembered today with Browns Lane, the “oldest street” in Fair Haven.

Until the mid-1800’s, travelers used the riverfront trail that was called “The Old Shell Road.” It was the principal road between the Black Point (Rumson) and Red Bank areas. In 1816, one Jeremiah Chandler, recorded that he built his home near the present-day dock on Fair Haven Road. A tavern soon was built near the dock, and by 1840, a good-sized village surrounded the original home.

Steamboats stopped at Fair haven dock from 1850 to 1926. They traveled to and from New York carry-ing people, animals, freight, and produce. Oysters, clams and other seafood caught at Fair Haven was shipped to the Fulton Street fish market.

By 1860 names like Bennett, Chandler, Doughty, Minton, and Parker were abundant in the village. The residents were rivermen, boat builders, carpenters, painters, and other types of trades. Outside the village farms, orchards, and woodlands were worked. West of the village, large estates graced the riverfront. One of them, “The Grange,” was the summer home of Harry C. Miner, “The Father of Modern Vaudeville.”

General Clinton B. Fisk, a distinguished Union Army Officer bought property west of the village in the 1800s. He donated land and built a new black schoolhouse and a new A.M.E. Church on a street that later was called Fisk Street in his honor. In 1881, the New Jersey Legislature enacted “The Fair Have Rule,” which mandated the public education of children between six and sixteen years of age. This was a result of “school troubles” that occurred in Fair Haven.

In the late 1890s, a neighborhood between the village and Browns Lane became known as the “actors’ colony.” Summering vaudevillians frequented the place. Among the noted famous were Al Jolson, Jim Corbett and Lillian Russell. Over 200 entertainers are recorded as visiting. Many settled down here as permanent residents or for retirement. The Players Boat Club (now the Shrewsbury Yacht Club) was formed by them in 1910.

Growing pains and a yearning for self-government caused a movement for separating from Shrewsbury Township as early as 1893. This effort did not succeed and almost twenty years later, in March 1912, Fair Haven became a borough; Red Bank and Rumson had already become boroughs. Shrewsbury Township, including Fair Haven village on the east and a small development called “East Side Park” on the west, together with the riverfront estates and several farms then became united.

From the 1,000 residents in 1900 to about 6,000 today Fair Haven’s historic village combines homes and shops; a modern shopping center developed in 1950. Fair Haven’s late Twentieth Century neighborhood, a development called the “The Gentry,” came about in the 1980s-1990.

Scope and Content
 The records consist of 59 volumes, as follows:
  • Tax List, 1910
  • Abstract Payment Book, 1912-1927
  • Tax Duplicate Books, 1913-1936 (lacking 1916, 1917, and 1918)
  • Tax Duplicate Books, 1937-1960, 1962-1969, 1982-1984

Tax Duplicate Books list property valuations and tax payments. Also listed in the early books are payments for dog taxes and poll taxes.

In 2015, 15 microfilm reels were added to the records and stored in the Archives vault:
1. Minutes, 1963-1972
2. Minutes, 1972-1976 and Tax Collector’s Cash Receipts, 1963-1965
3. Tax Collector’s Cash Receipts, 1965-1968
4. Tax Collector’s Cash Receipts, 1968-1971
5. Tax Collector’s Cash Receipts, 1971-1974
6. Tax Collector’s Cash Receipts, 1974-1976, Jan. and Borough Clerk’s Cash Receipts, 1963-1976
7. Tax Duplicates, 1963-1965
8. Tax Duplicates, 1966-1968
9. Tax Duplicates, 1969-1972
10. Tax Duplicates, 1972-1974
11. Minute Book, Cash Receipt Book, Tax Cash Book, 1949-1962
12. Tax Duplicate Book, 1959-1962
13. General Cash Book, 1962; Cash Receipts, 1959-1962; Traffic Docket, 1959-1962
14. Assessment Cards: MP-9 (Willow Street School) to Block 65, Lot 68 (Woodland Drive)
15. Ordinances, Aug.-Dec., 1959; Minutes, 1959; Traffic Docket and Criminal Docket, 1959
A more detailed list of the microfilm is filed with the paper copy of this guide in the Clayton Research Room.
Access Restrictions
These records are open to the public.
Researchers may view these records in Archives. Note that before 1912, Fair Haven was part of Shrewsbury Township. The Shrewsbury Township minutes, 1849-1949, are included in the Tinton Falls record series and may include references to Fair Haven.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
(732) 308-3771
Acquisition Information
The first 25 volumes were deposited February 3, 2009; the supplement of 34 volumes was added on April 29, 2010; 15 reels of microfilm were added May 5, 2015.
Processing Information
This finding aid was created by Gary D. Saretzky on February 11, 2009, and revised July 9, 2010, and revised May 6, 2015. On March 4, 2019, it was updated by George Joynson.