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