This land was first sighted by European Venetian John Cabot while sailing along the coast in 1498. The Lenni Lenape Indians originally inhabited the area called Freehold Township.
It wasn't until September 1609 that the first European actually set foot at Sandy Hook. The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1602 and granted a charter that included North America in 1621. They developed commerce in the New World and in 1623 organized the New Jersey-Hudson River area into the Province of New Netherlands.
On June 23, 1664, the Duke of York granted a patent to Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkely for the entire area of what now constitutes New Jersey. The area was first settled in 1685 by a group of Scottish reformers fleeing religious persecution. Freehold Township was formally established by an act of the Legislature on October 31, 1693, one of the 3 original townships in Monmouth County. We celebrated our Tricentennial in 1993.
Then & Today
Throughout the intervening 3 centuries, it has been a place where people could raise their families, earn their living and live out their lives in some measure of peace. Then as now, it has been a community of farms and churches, homes and neighborhoods. It has strong roots in a rich colonial tradition and an illustrious past. The Battle of Monmouth (probably the turning point of our War of Independence) was fought at its doorsteps on a scorching day in June 1778. Every major American military leader of the time participated: George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Benedict Arnold, Anthony Wayne, Charles Lee, Alexander Hamilton, Nathaniel Greene, Friedrich van Steuben and the non-military Molly Pitcher. Most of the history made here, however, has been of the personal kind: of families and farms and small businesses, and the enduring values these institutions produce now and in the future. We invite all residents to know some of the heritage and become part of it.
For further information, you may contact the Historic Commission at:
Freehold Township Historic Preservation Commission
1 Municipal Plaza
Freehold, NJ 07728
Freehold Township Heritage Society
189B Wemrock Road
Freehold, NJ 07728
Email the Freehold Township Heritage Society