Freehold Borough

RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.08
SERIES: Freehold Borough
DATES: 1869-1995
VOLUME: 97 volumes and 11 cartons (30 cubic feet)

Freehold Borough image

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

Freehold has been a town longer than America has been a nation and its history as a town mirrors with remarkable accuracy the history of the nation.

The first Dutch and Scottish settlers arrived in the 1680s when the Lenni‑Lenape Indians sparsely populated the rich and fertile land. The settlers established a village on the Burlington Path, an Indian rail that crossed New Jersey along the corridor that Route 537 follows today. The village sat at the center of what was soon designated Monmouth County, one of the colony’s original four counties. Here a courthouse was built on the same spot where the Hall of Records now stands.

During the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence was read to a crowd of patriots gathered in front of the courthouse. This was also the location for occasional hangings of unrepentant Loyalists. On the morning of June 28, 1778, the entire British Army, on its way by foot from Philadelphia to New York, was camped in town. The entire Continental Army, led by George Washington, caught up with them.

The first shots of the Battle of Monmouth were fired close to where the high school stands today. The fighting raged back toward Tennent Church, all through the day, resulting in the single largest land battle of the Revolution. When Washington arose the next morning to fight again he found that the British had escaped during the night. Although neither side could say it won, the Americans proved what many had doubted before–that they were equal to their enemy.

Freehold was the trading center for a wide and fertile swath of the county where farmers came to sell what they raised and buy what they didn’t. The railroads that arrived in the middle of the 19th century carried out trainloads of potatoes, the main local crop. The railroads that transported the potatoes also brought in some industries later in the century and at the beginning of the next. The largest by far was the A & M Karagheusian rug mill, whose products adorned floors as illustrious as the United States Supreme Court and Radio City Music Hall.

During the Civil War, the local men raised a regiment and drilled and trained out on the old battlefield. When they returned home, they marched up Main Street in the first of the town’s Memorial Day parades. The regiment was led by the horse that their commander, Major Peter Vredenburgh, was riding when he was killed charging over a ridge against the Confederates at the Battle of Opequon Creek in Virginia. Soldiers marched up Main Street again after the Second World War to which Freehold sent almost 1,000 men and women; proportionately more than any other town in Monmouth County.

After the war, Freehold began to assume the shape it has today. It produced its most famous native Bruce Springsteen, in whose songs the town’s stories have come to life so vividly and poignantly. The rug mill moved out, replaced by other less dominant businesses. The potato fields were plowed under for housing developments, as the New York metropolitan region gradually wrapped the town in its embrace, and the shopping district dispersed from Main Street to the surrounding highways. But everyone who passes through the downtown today follows a path well worn by three centuries of traffic, three centuries of history.

This series includes 97 bound volumes of textual material, in three record series:

Series 1
Minute Books, May 8, 1869 – September 12, 1919; September 15-1995, April 17, 25 volumes
Series 2
Ordinances. 1864, May 19 – 1916, October 2
Volume 1 Ordinances,  #1 – #395 (1919-1962)
Series 3
Tax Duplicate Books, 1900-1902, 1904, 1913-1919, 1921 – 1969, 69 volumes
Series 4
Water Commissioner Minute Book, January 1907 – November 1919
Series 5
Water Board, Minutes, 1890
In addition to the bound volumes, there are 6 boxes of loose papers of the following record groups. These records were donated by Jennifer King in 2010 from the estate of her late aunt, Nancy DuBois Wood.
Board of Elections, 1877, 1880-1882, 1888, 1891-1895
Box 1
Board of Health, 1933,  Venereal Disease Control Law
Box 1
Board of Health, 1935,  Letter concerning death of John Leming
Box 1
Board of Health, 1936,  Public Heath News
Box 1
Board of Health, 1882, Payments made to vendors for merchandise purchased
Box 1
Bridge Expenditures, 1877-1882,  Payments to Overseers of the Roads
Box 1
Oaths, 1874-1879, Oaths of Township Officials
Box 1
Resolutions, 1892, 1919, 1927, 1937
(1927 Acquisition of Lake Topanemus land)
Box 1
Road Assessments, 1873, 1886, 1887
Box 1
Overseer of the poor, 1877-1889, 1891-1896, Names of Poor persons and  expenses paid for poor
Box 2
Overseers of the Roads, 1871-1896, expenditures for road repairs for 11 districts
Box 3
Township Committee Rough Minutes, 1884, 1887
Box 4
Tax Collector, 1871-1888, 1891, 1892-1893, 1939
Box 4
Schools, 1873-1895, Expenditures for repairs & maintenance of schools
Box 5
Schools, 1890-1897, Teacher salary vouchers, names of teachers & districts
Box 5
Schools, 1874-1891, Miscellaneous records
Box 5
Sheep Bills, 1872-1880, 1882-1883, 1885-1891, 1894-1895, Individuals pay for sheep killed by dogs, etc.
Box 5
Township Vouchers, 1869, 1871-1898, Payments made by Township to vendors
Box 6

In addition to the above, five more boxes were transferred in 2016:

Real Property Lists, 1976 Box 1
Property Lists, 1980-1981 Box 2
Town Taxes, 1894-1897, and 1899-1909 Box 3
Town Taxes, 1910-1919 Box 4
Tax Sale Certificates & Register, 1932-1942 Box 5
Tax Title Lien Ledgers, #45-#350, 1931-1953 Box 5
Tax Title Lien Ledgers, #0025-0000, 1926-1991 Box 5
This series is open to researchers.

Original records are available upon request in Archives.

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

The first delivery from Freehold Borough were placed on deposit in the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center beginning on March 12, 2008, pursuant to a municipal resolution and a depository agreement which provide that Freehold Borough retains ownership of the records and that the Monmouth County Archives can provide access to them. Supplements were received on June 11, 2009, January 2010, and June 2016. Two ordinance books (Books 2 and 3) were returned to the borough in February 2010. The fourth delivery was made June 2, 2016 of five cubic feet.

This finding aid was written March 19, 2008, by Gary D. Saretzky and updated in June 2009, January 2010 and June 2016; updated by George Joynson in June 2018, and on March 21, 2019.