Freehold Township

RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.19
SERIES: Freehold Township
DATES: 1871-2002
VOLUME: 17 cubic feet


Freehold Township image

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

Freehold Township, founded in 1693 and one of the original three townships of Monmouth County, is rich in history. It was Hendrik Hudson and his crew aboard the Dutch vessel ‘Half Moon” who, in 1609, first spotted land in what is now Monmouth County (most likely off Sandy Hook).   The first European settlers in Freehold Township were Scots who settled in about 1682-85. The Dutch followed them into Freehold Township several years later. As they arrived in this area, Lenni-Lenape Indians greeted them. The Lenni-Lenape lived in scattered small family bands. Unlike the great Indian Wars that would follow in much of the United States, the relationship between the Lenni-Lenape and those first settlers was, for the most part, amicable. In fact, New Jersey is the only state in the U.S. in which all lands were purchased through treaties and land sales rather than conquest.

One of the first Scots in the area was a man named John Reid, who had actually served as surveyor-general of the province at one time. In 1713, Reid donated land to build the first courthouse. Freehold Township, commonly referred to as Monmouth Courthouse in those early days, became the County Seat. It was in the Monmouth Courthouse on June 6, 1774, that irate colonists met to denounce British tyranny. Four years later, the Battle of Monmouth would be waged near this same location. The battle of Monmouth was the largest battle of the American Revolution and has been described as “General Washington’s finest hour.” American heroine “Molly Pitcher” (Mary Hays) later gained renown for paintings in which she was shown replacing her stricken husband at his cannon position.   The Battle of Monmouth turned the tide of the war and helped America win its independence from the crown.

The physical site of the Battle of Monmouth became an army training camp in 1861. Camp Vredenburgh produced several regiments of New Jersey Union troops during the Civil War. Freehold Township residents fought and died for the Union cause at many famous battles including Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Gettysburg. Although Camp Vredenburgh was closed in 1864, Freehold Township has been represented in every American War since. Today, a small monument stands in Freehold Borough carrying the names of these brave citizens.

Today, Freehold Township is approximately 39 square miles, having given up much of its original size with the creation of Marlboro, Manalapan, Millstone, Upper Freehold Township, Freehold Borough and parts of Ocean Township. While the first European settlers could not have imagined 21st century Monmouth County, they could not have positioned Freehold Township in a better location. Approximately equidistant from New York and Philadelphia, a short drive to the Jersey Shore, and a little over an hour from Atlantic City, Freehold Township is the “center” of New Jersey. The area has grown to approximately 30,000 residents living in approximately 10,000 homes.

Western Monmouth is one of the fastest growing areas of the entire country, and Freehold Township is certainly one of the most desirable places to live. While the area continues to develop, the local government remains committed to preserving the quality of life associated with Freehold Township’s agrarian past. The Township has a very aggressive Open Space Conservation Plan and has saved more than 9,000 acres as Permanent Open Space. Residents also enjoy award-winning parks such as Liberty Oak, Lake Topanemus, and Durand Parks. Freehold Township continues to work with both the county and the state to preserve even more of its land as open space.

It is also worth noting that almost every major roadway in the County passes through Freehold Township, the “hub” of Monmouth County, including State Highways 9, 33, and 79 and County Roads 524 and 537. Most of these road systems follow the ancient paths of the Lenni-Lenape Indians, Freehold Township’s original inhabitants.

One “historical” attraction in Freehold Township is the Freehold Raceway. It is the oldest harness racing track in the country, dating back to 1853. The Grandstand and track were rebuilt after a fire destroyed the Grandstand in May of 1984. The reconstruction of the track coincided with the construction of the Freehold Raceway Mall, one of the largest malls in the region.

From the Lenni-Lenape to present day, Freehold Township residents have enjoyed a wonderful quality of life in what Hendrik Hudson called, “good land worth settling.”

Scope and Content

 Fourteen record cartons of textual material, including some bound volumes. The records are in the following series:

I.                 Freehold Township Committee Agendas, Workshops

II.                Deeds and Easements

III.             Miscellaneous Old Records

IV.            Oakley House Records

See box inventory which accompanies this guide.

Access Restrictions
These records are open to the public without restriction.
Use
Researchers can view these records in Archives.
Repository
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
(732) 308-3771
Acquisition Information
On January 3, 2010, under Accession Record 2010-01, Jennifer King donated 6 manuscript boxes of Freehold Township records to the Archives that had been in the possession of her late aunt, Nancy Du Bois Wood. Freehold Township deposited 13 record cartons and 1 manuscript box of records on June 10, 2010, as part of the MR-MARC program.
Processing Information
This finding aid was written by Gary D. Saretzky on October 21, 2010, revised by George Joynson, March 18, 2019, and revised by Gary D. Saretzky, April 24, 2019.
Container List
See box inventory in Scope and Content.