Monmouth Title Company, 1889-1927

RECORD GROUP: Special Collections
RECORD SERIES #: 15200.00
SERIES: Monmouth Title Company, 1889-1927
DATES: 1889-1927
VOLUME: 5 cubic ft.

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ABSTRACT
The documents in this collection pertain to the Monmouth Title Company, based in Freehold, NJ. The collection consists of ten boxes of files assembled from the late 19th and early 20th centuries pertaining to specific properties in Monmouth County. Included in the files are deed trails and search records for liens and other legal actions against the properties and their owners. The searches in some cases trace the property ownership back to the 17th century. A great majority of the files pertain specifically to properties in Long Branch, however other nearby towns are also represented.
PROVENANCE
The files were created and once owned by the Monmouth Title Company. They then passed into the possession of an individual whose connection to the Monmouth Title Company is unknown. The collection was eventually donated to the Archives by Jennifer King in 2010.
HISTORY
Established in Freehold in 1889, the Monmouth Title Company was in the business of guaranteeing property titles, conducting property searches, and issuing certified abstracts.
The Company was founded by Joseph McDermott, a lawyer specializing in deed research who went on to become Monmouth County Clerk for 40 years from 1898 to his death in 1938. During the earlier years of his tenure as Clerk, McDermott faced criticism due to the perception that the Monmouth Title Company was in direct competition with the County Clerk’s office and that the Company had reduced the title searching revenue usually generated by the Clerk’ s office. Under pressure, in 1923 McDermott sold his controlling interest in the Company but remained as director.
In 1925, the company bought an office on Main St. in Freehold adjoining the courthouse. During the first quarter of the 20th century, the Monmouth Title Company expanded rapidly and at one time had offices in Asbury Park, Freehold, Toms River, Mount Holly and Bridgeton.
In 1927, The Monmouth Title Company merged with the Asbury Park Mortgage and Title Guarantee Company and the County Guarantee Mortgage Company to form the Monmouth Title and Mortgage Guarantee Company which had the added business of selling and guaranteeing mortgage bonds. The business maintained an office on Bangs Ave. in Asbury Park. After the banking failures of the Great Depression, the state commissioner of banking and insurance requested that the directors turn over some of the Company’s operations to the state. The state commissioner was then appointed by the Court of Chancery as trustee for the bondholders and began years of liquidation lasting through the early 1940s.
What was left of the Company then merged with title abstract business of Stewart H. Farrell of Freehold in 1945 to form the Monmouth County Realty Abstract Company, headed by Judge J. Edward Knight. This new Company established its offices at 19 East Main Street in Freehold and relied heavily on the large archive of property records, maps, and deeds created by the Monmouth Title Company.

Sources:
“Company Names Abstract Firm Sole Agent” Asbury Park Evening Press, July 28, 1947.
“Knight to Head Title Concern” Asbury Park Evening Press, January 27, 1945.

SCOPE AND CONTENT
The collection consists of files pertaining to specific pieces of property in Monmouth County. Files include deed trails of past ownership of the properties and records of any additional research conducted about the properties and their past owners.
Property street numbers are largely absent from the files as the properties had yet to be subdivided into the current layout of properties. Other municipalities represented in the files are Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Oakhurst, Eatontown, Sea Bright, Deal, and several others.
It is likely that the files pertaining to Long Branch and the surrounding towns were separated from the original record holdings of the company. Files pertaining to Freehold, where the company was based, and towns in other areas of Monmouth County are absent from the collection.
In addition to this finding aid, there is a corresponding database in the Archives with additional details about this collection.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS
This collection is open to researchers.
USE
There is a database for the collection available at the Archives. The database includes pertinent notes about several of the documents, which might list other names involved, relations to other folders, locations, and more.
ARRANGEMENT
The collection is mainly in numerical order according to the original file numbers created by the Monmouth Title Company. However, there are exceptions to this with some numbers being out of sequence. Some of the files seem to be removed/missing since there are gaps in the numerical sequence.
REPOSITORY
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771
ACQUISITION INFORMATION
This collection was donated by Jennifer King in March 2010, from her aunt’s estate. It is unknown how her aunt acquired this collection.
PROCESSING INFORMATION
This collection was given preliminary processing after it was acquired. In December 2021, it was reprocessed by Julia Telonidis, keeping the order of the original processing, and a finding aid was created. More detail was added to the corresponding database, including the listing of last names of some of the individuals mentioned in the files.
RELATED MATERIALS
The Archives has the Joseph McDermott Abstracts of Title Collection. The Archives also has the Peter Knott Deed Collection and the William H. Shafto Deed Collection. Also, deed research can be done through the County Clerk’s Online Public Records System OPRS. See here for guidance on how to conduct property research at the Archives.