County Collector Collection, 1825-1946

RECORD GROUP: Other County Records
: 4900
: County Collector
: 1825-1946 (Bulk 1863-1920)
: 5 Record Cartons and 3 Oversized Boxes

Misc coll jpg for webpage
An entry from the Collector’s State School and County Ledger
This record series focuses on the professional duties of the County Collector of Monmouth, whose job was assessing and collecting all forms of taxation. These materials will surely provide valuable information for interdisciplinary researchers looking to understand county taxation and history. Although the historical record surrounding the county position is somewhat sparse, this series reports on the yearly happenings of multiple County Collectors and gives a unique insight into the evolution of county government and the duties performed by this important position.
The position of County Collector dates back at least to 1704, when the New Jersey General Assembly passed a revenue act that included appointments of tax collectors and assessors in each county. Though later acts made occasional mention of the responsibilities of collectors, little information is available about their specific activities. In 1775, New Jersey delegates formed “The Provincial Congress of New Jersey” and adopted “a plan for regulating the Militia of this Colony.” Members passed “an ordinance for raising money for the purpose therein mentioned,” with the intent on making tax collection more efficient. The ordinance mentioned that the County Collector was responsible for assessing and collecting any and all taxation. On June 9, 1788, at the first meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders for Monmouth County, John Lloyd was appointed Collector for a one year term. Subsequently, the County Collector was ‘elected’ by the Board of Freeholders at their Annual May Meeting for a one year term. (See working list of Collectors included in this guide.) The term was extended to two-year terms in the early 1900s. In 1924, the title of Collector was changed to County Treasurer, which better reflected the incumbent’s range of responsibilities.

In Middlesex County in the 19th century, according to historian Harris I. Effross, the Freeholders were primarily responsible for repairing bridges, determining county taxes, and distributing school monies; however, “the county collector did almost seven-eighths of the work for which the Freeholders were credited.” Presumably, the situation was much the same in Monmouth. Effross also noted that a state statute in 1879 gave the Collector the responsibility for preparing annual financial statements, previously the job of the Clerk of the Board, in order to provide more public accountability.

In addition to collecting taxes, the County Collector also was responsible for authorizing payment for various purposes; the County Collector Vouchers (and a related series of Civil War vouchers), documents these payments for the 1863-1865 period. The County Collector books document payments for the subsequent years, but do not usually indicate the purpose of the expenditures.

As Monmouth County grew in population and industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so too did the complexity of county government increase and it became necessary for the responsibilities of the County Collector to be divided among various individuals. Today (2019), Monmouth County has, in addition to a County Treasurer, a County Finance Department.

The bulk of this series spans over half a century of Monmouth County Collector history (1863-1920). Records of collectors such as John H. Laird, William H. Conover, and Charles F. McDonald demonstrate the essential nature of tax collection in Monmouth County. Documents such as ledgers, balance sheets, road vouchers, and abstracts of ratables and exemptions, found in these records, can help shed light on the objectives of county government.

The chief research value of the Monmouth County Collector records is in documenting the evolution of county government in the state of New Jersey. The vouchers have high research value for inferring the matters of concern to the Board of Freeholders. Of course, Board of Freeholder minutes also are an important resource, but the Collector records may provide additional useful details and possibly unique information.

County Collector Vouchers
This series of documents consists of vouchers, 1863-1865, from the offices of Elisha Laird and William H. Conover, the collectors for these years. Both of these men are mentioned by Franklin Ellis in his History of Monmouth County (1885).

Elisha Laird, Collector from 1857 to 1863, was born ca. 1790 to a prominent family in Englishtown that traced its descent from Robert Laird, who emigrated from Scotland in the 1600s. Elisha was the youngest of four brothers. His brother Benjamin ran a hotel in Freehold, while another brother Samuel operated the hotel at Colts Neck. Elisha operated a general merchandise business in Colts Neck from about 1830 until his death on September 12, 1863.

William H. Conover, who engaged in a variety of businesses, previously had been a Chosen Freeholder from Marlboro Township (1849-1850) and a member of the General Assembly (1851-1852); he would later become a State Senator (1872). He served as Collector from 1863 to 1873.

For each year for which these documents are available, the vouchers are numbered and arranged by voucher number. The numerical sequence roughly corresponds to chronological order by date of payment. Approximately 10% of the vouchers are missing for each year.

The vouchers document payments made by the County Collector for various services for which the Freeholders were responsible. The services pertained to the five main functions of the Freeholders: Bridges, Penal Institutions, Lunatic Asylums, Highways (roads), and Parks. For instance, typical payments include bridge/road building, repairs and inspections; expenses of the courts such as salaries of the constables and judges, payments to the coroner for inquests, and the cleaning and maintenance of court and prison facilities; clerical expenses for the recording of election results; payments for utilities such as gaslights or wood; and taxes paid by the county to the state. In addition, these documents provide valuable information regarding the actions of the Surplus Fund Committee; the bonding and investment finances carried on by the Freeholders; taxes paid to the state by the county; and election expenses. Also included are payments made to the Freeholders and the County Collector for their terms of service and expenses incurred in carrying out their duties such as travel, dinner, and lodging expenses.
These vouchers are available on microfilm and are arranged in voucher number order, which in most cases is chronological order for each year: 1863, 1864, and 1865. In some cases a single voucher payment is represented by two documents. Vouchers for payments to the State Lunatic Asylum have not been microfilmed due to privacy/confidentiality laws.

Indexes for the Monmouth County Collector Vouchers are provided in the following sorts:

A. Numerically by voucher number
B. Alphabetically by name to whom the payment was made
C. Alphabetically by name
D. Chronologically by date of payment
E. Alphabetically by county department

The following field headings are used in the indexes:

DEPARTMENT        Freeholders, County Clerk, Sheriff, Board of Commissioners, etc.
EXPENSE                Travel, utilities, prisons, taxes, clerical, maintenance, etc.
VOUCHER #            Number of voucher (numerical sequence in each year)
DATE PAID              Date the payment was made
PAID TO                  Name of person paid
AMOUNT                Amount of payment
NOTES                     Notes of explanation or clarification

County Collector Books
Five books kept by county collectors are available for 1866-1868, 1873-1891, 1875-1883, 1877-1907, and 1917-1918. The books vary in content. Below is a chart gives a brief description of the books’ contents.

Income & Expense Ledger 1866-1868 William H. Conover
Balance sheets, statements of receipts & disbursements,
monies received for tavern licenses granted, lists of fine
1873-1882 John H. Laird
1883 John Haight
1887-1889 John Haight
1890-1891 W.S. Throckmorton
County Collector
Check Ledger 1875-1883
Town tax assessments, district court taxes,
appropriations by Freeholders, inheritance taxes collected,
appropriation of school money, ratables and exemptions,
list of town collectors/assessors, auditor’s reports
C. F. MacDonald

Miscellaneous County Collector Records (Box 4- Folder 5)
This portion of the series contains ledger books, balance sheets, road vouchers, township collections, other monies owed to Monmouth County for various reasons, and other general files. These papers were salvaged from an old ice house behind the Hall of Records. The poor conditions in this storage facility contributed greatly to the items considerable deterioration.

This series is open to researchers, except for restricted materials in Box 8: Collector Vouchers for the NJ State Lunatic Asylum from 1863-1865. The vouchers that document payments made by the County collector to the state for the support of patients in the ‘lunatic asylum’ have been removed from the body of the series and kept sealed due to privacy and confidentiality laws, as these documents list the names of the patients.

Civil War bounty payment and substitution vouchers, originally found with this record series, have been transferred to the Civil War record series (1300). The Civil War-related vouchers were numbered separately from those in the County Collector Voucher series. See the Civil War finding aid for additional information about these vouchers.

Some vouchers with revenue stamps have been transferred to the Philatelic collection and replaced with photocopies.

This record series is open, except as noted above, for use in the Jane Clayton Research Room. Appointments are advised.
This collection was organized by series number and within each series are boxes containing chronologically organized folders. Series 4900 contains Monmouth County Collector Vouchers from 1863-1865, an oversized box of county books, two oversized boxes that hold ledger books and general papers on the County Collector, and another carton of road vouchers, township tax collections, accounts of monies paid to and by the County, and bank notes. The last carton contains restricted material concerning collector vouchers from the Lunatic Asylum in 1863-1865.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771
This collection was transferred prior to 1985 by County Clerk Jane Clayton.
Material partially processed by Stephen Agoratus December 8, 1987 with additional processing by Gregg Gaal in 2019. Finding aid created by Judy A. Macaluso in April 1996 and edited by Gregg Gaal on May 23, 2019. An Access database was created June 7, 2019 by Gregg Gaal.
See Civil War Record Series for bounty payment and substitution vouchers. Information from Works Project Administration analysis of Freeholders minutes, including folders on County Collector and Freeholders, at New Jersey State Archives.
A container list is attached and followed by a working chronology of County Collectors.