Historic Sites Tours
Municipal Plaza Area
Once a toll road, Schanck Road bears the name of a Dutch family common to Monmouth County. This road may have been named for the Schanck family that in the 1800s donated the land upon which the Battle of Monmouth Monument stands today in front of the Courthouse in Freehold Boro.
The Clayton Farmhouse
Located on Schanck Road across from the Municipal Plaza. One block north stands the remains of an old oak tree said to be the site of the Conover family burial plot. It was in this vicinity that 2 gravestones were removed when the present housing development was built. These gravestones were recently returned to the Freehold area from Vermont, and they are now part of the permanent collection of the Monmouth County Historical Museum located on Court Street in Freehold Boro.
The Burlington Path
Part of this major transportation route is located just south of the parking lot of Moore's Restaurant (originally named Mount's Tavern/Inn). You will notice a long dirt path that runs west to east and continues between the 2 schools located on Stillwell Corner Road. The path was the principal route across this section of the county in colonial times and was said to be an important Leni-Lenape Indian Trail before that. It traversed the state from Burlington to Perth Amboy. The Indians used it to go to the sea and collect their winter store of oysters, clams, shells, etc. In 1684 when it was established, transportation over the route was mostly by stagecoach. Sir Henry Clinton and his British troops also used the route as they marched into Freehold on the way to the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. To read more, pick up a copy of the "History of the Burlington Path, Freehold Township, New Jersey" which is available at Municipal Complex or Oakley Farmhouse.
West Freehold Village Area
West Freehold District
This district is situated along County Route 537 and stretches from Stillwell Corner Road to Route 9. In its heyday, the district was characteristic of 19th-century rural villages, which contained private residences along with commercial and public enterprises. The village blacksmith shop, which was started by William Furman and passed along to the Vanderveer family, stood where the Vanderveer Auto Body Shop is today on Route 537. The contents of the old Blacksmith Shop are now housed at the Oakley Farm Museum. The Wheelwright Shop that also stood on Route 537 across from Vanderveer's is now gone. However, the Solomon Farm (located in Mount's Corner Shopping Center) and Moore's Restaurant (originally Mount's Tavern) still remain today on their original lands
Originally known as Mount's Tavern, this is perhaps one of the best-known historical properties in the Township. Originally used as a stagecoach stop for the Burlington Path, we find an actual petition for renewal of license dating 1798. However, it is documented that the Tavern was well used before that date as a stop-over for travelers needing food and lodging. The first tavern-keeper on record is believed to be Moses Mount, who served as a Private in the Revolutionary War.
The Solomon Farm
Until recently, this was the residence of Jim Carney, who succeeded his father-in-law, Colonel Moore, as the operator of Moore's Inn. This 18th-century dwelling is said to have suffered damage as the British marched into Freehold and burned all houses, farms, etc. at the time of the Battle of Monmouth. Widow Hannah Solomon and her 2 sons were at home at the time and were able to save the house after it was set on fire.
West Freehold Schoolhouse on Wemrock Road
Located at what was once known as Mount's Corner, the school was built in 1848 on land purchased for $25; it was once part of the Rulif R. Schanck Farmstead, now the Elizabeth Oakley Farm (Museum). It operated until 1937, when schools in Freehold Township were consolidated and moved into the West Freehold School on Route 537 (now the Administration Building).
Walker, Combs, Hartshorne, Oakley Farm
This property is one of the earliest remaining farmsteads in the Freehold area.
The structure incorporates an early 18th-century cabin, enlarged first to a 20-by-25-foot house in 1713, then to a 20-by-30-foot building in 1731. The house typifies one way 18th-century dwellings were expanded so that the oldest portions are not externally visible. 1 1/2-story houses, consisting of 2 to 3 bays, gradually were enlarged to 2-story structures.
The West side of the house was added, doubling its size, in 1812. The house was pure Federal in style. The Italianate porch was added in 1850, as was the East wing, which is a circa-1780 dwelling that was moved from one of the orchards on the property and attached to the main house at that time.
The Walker family owned the property from 1720 to 1801, a total of 81 years. They were prominent Patriots during the Revolutionary War era. George Walker II and 2 of his sons, George III (a Lieutenant), Aaron (a Dragoon) and his 3 nephews Dr. George Walker Campbell (surgeon Continental Line Army), Duncan (a Private in the Militia) and William (a Drummer and Drum Major in the Monmouth County Militia) all fought at the Battle of Monmouth, and 2 were wounded. This property extended North into the Battlefield to the Parsonage Farm.
During the 31 years of Elijah Combs' ownership, this property was added to his other properties, making 1,000 contiguous acres with over 200 apple and other fruit trees. He had a large distillery here supplying the area with "spirits". His Cider and Still Houses were "amongst the best in the County of Monmouth". Also, Mr. Combs held a majority of various house and farm mortgages.
Observing how farms and their historic houses were disappearing, Elizabeth Oakley worked hard to preserve these buildings for posterity and achieved having the farm placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Marl Storage Site
Marl, the remains of sea life when the ocean covered Monmouth County, was the miracle fertilizer of former times. In the 1800s, marl deposits were discovered in the area and used by farmers and others across the State to increase the yield of soil otherwise depleted from overuse. Marl was stored at a site located just east of the West Freehold Schoolhouse 100 years ago. It is also suggested that the majority of this fertilizer was found in the Marlboro area, hence the name.
Van Derveer's Garage
The former building on this site was one of several blacksmith shops once located in the Township. It was owned and operated by several generations of Vanderveers until the late J. Elmer Van Derveer converted the business into a garage when the automobile made its entry in the early 1900s. The contents of the blacksmith shop are now housed at the Oakley Farm Museum on Wemrock Road. Howard Vanderveer and his family donated the shop to the Freehold Township Historic Preservation Commission in 2002. Before that time, he had made a replica of the building and built a forge and continued to operate as a blacksmith from time to time. The replica still stands today, across the street from the garage on property now owned by Applegate Farms. The Vanderveers' House has been demolished, along with the Jewell House that stood next door and operated as the wheelwright shop for the village. The Jewell House was demolished in 2003.
Named for Alfred Beadleston, this little street would be non-descript save for one major part of history. At the end of the only driveway on this street stood one of the most important houses in Freehold Township history. It was named "Cincinnati Hall" and was owned by Dr. Thomas Henderson. When the British came marching down the Burlington Path on their way to the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, this was the first house that was burned to the ground. Dr. Henderson, a true patriot and statesman, rebuilt the house on its original foundation and name it after the "Society of Cincinnati," the first veteran's organization formed in the United States by the officers of the American Revolution. Cincinnati Hall stood until age had taken its toll and it was demolished in 1990.
Wemrock Road (North of Route 33)
On the northwest corner of the intersection of Route 33 and Wemrock Road there once stood a Cider Mill. The mill made "hard cider" and is listed on the area maps dating back to the 1870s. The foundation of the building and the old stone wheel are probably still to be found under the deep underbrush and greenbrier that have overgrown the site.
Dating back to the second half of the 18th century, this dwelling is said to have been standing during the Battle of Monmouth, which took place upon these fields. The Rhea Family were early Scotch-Presbyterian settlers to the area; however, the Carr family occupied the house at the time of the Battle. Situated midway along on the western side of Wemrock Road, within the Monmouth Battlefield State Park boundaries, the site received a grant to fund its restoration.
Belle Terre Farm
Located on the east side of Wemrock Road and bounded by the Freehold-Englishtown Road (Route 522) and Route 9, this property, originally part of the Rhea Farm, is now part of Battlefield State Park. British artillery units occupied part of the farm during the Battle of Monmouth. Here approximately 16 field pieces conducted a 2 1/2-hour exchange of fire with the American gun emplacements late in the afternoon of June 28, 1778. Recent excavations at the site have uncovered related artifacts, including musket balls and grapeshot.
The house is situated at the end of the original Schibanoff Lane (now known as the West side of Route 9 - near the commuter lot). Archibald Craig, who also served as construction manager of the Tennent Church in 1752, built the house in the early 1700s. His grandson, John Craig, served in the local militia during the Revolution. At the time of the Battle of Monmouth, while he was absent from home, his wife hid the family silver in the bottom of the water well and fled the house. Legend has it that British soldiers passing by on that hot June day drank from the well until it was nearly dry and discovered the silver, which they promptly took with them. The house was used as officer quarters and a hospital during the battle.
Elton-Adelphia Road Area & South
The Mill formerly stood at the northwest intersection of Halls Mill Road and Elton-Adelphia Road. Just a short walk into the wooded area along the creek reveals what remains of the Mill's foundation and waterworks. It was in this general vicinity, which includes the Rutgers Soil Research Center across the street, that General Morgan's crack troops, known as "Morgan's Riflemen," encamped while they sat out the entire Battle of Monmouth because they failed to receive direct orders from General Anthony Way to "move up".
Paradise Grove Schoolhouse
One of the 8 original schoolhouses of the Township was located at the intersection of Jackson Mill Road and Elton-Adelphia Road. The school, dating back to 1825, was preceded by the "out lot" school, which was situated on property owned by the Hendricksons, near Stillwell Corner. The Paradise School had integrated classes of both black and white children in the late 19th century. More information on this school is available in "Freehold Township: The First 300 Years" by Jeanette Blair.
Located on the corner of Jackson Mills Road and Georgia Road, this and the West Freehold Schoolhouse are the only 2 original schoolhouses remaining in the Township. It is situated on a parcel of land that was granted to the Township from the proprietors of East Jersey in 1735. A stipulation in the original deed was that the property must always be used for education. The folklore has it that the area was named "Georgia" because King George originally owned the land.
There were 2 prior structures on the site. The original school was a log house, and when it burned down it was replaced by a wooden structure, not as large as the present building. In 1862 that building was taken down and replaced by what stands today. The wood for the buildings was harvested from trees situated on the original 11 acres of property that surrounded the schoolhouse. This school was in continuous operation from 1735 until 1956. Laura Barkalow Donovan was the last teacher at the school. Mrs. Donovan's story is unique in that she started as a pupil in the school at the age of 4. Upon finishing 8th grade, she proceeded to go on to normal school and then came back and was a teacher at the same school where she gained her education.
North End Area
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Cemetery
The cemetery is located on Old Monmouth Road, behind the St. Rose of Lima Cemetery at the intersection of Route 522 and Route 9. It is in a wooded area approximately 1/2 mile to the north. The gravesites are of black Civil War veterans and their families from the Freehold area. It is said to also contain some of the slaves from Freehold Township. The Bethel AME Church of Freehold owns the property. The cemetery contains about 2 dozen marked gravesites, dating back to the 1860s. The most recent marker is dated 1906. The property is significant as one of the oldest sites associated with the early black community in the Freehold area and as a memorial to black participation in the Civil War. There was originally a church located next to the cemetery.
Located between Robertsville Road and Pond Road and traditionally referred to as "the pond," this spring-fed lake has played an active role in the commercial and recreational history of the area. Forman's Mill once stood on the westernmost shore of the lake. In the 1800s the lake supported a commercial ice enterprise throughout the winter months, when large blocks of ice were cut and stored in a nearby barn for sale throughout the year to residential and commercial customers. In the summertime, the lake offered locals a popular place for fishing, swimming and boating.
Freehold Township East
Although the main action of the Battle of Monmouth took place in and around the present Battlefield State Park, the hostilities actually began further east. The opening phase occurred near the Monmouth County Courthouse (now the Hall of Records area) in Freehold Boro and at Briar Hill. The Hill is located southeast of the John L. Montgomery home on Dutch Lane Road.
Perhaps one of history's most famous residents of Freehold Township is Philip Freneau. Named the "Poet of the Revolution," he originally lived in Matawan, and after his family home, an estate named "Mount Pleasant," was destroyed by fire in 1818, he moved to another property he later owned in Freehold Township, now the site of the Poet's Corner Condominium Development off Kosloski Road.
During the American Revolution, he served aboard privateers at sea and was later captured and imprisoned on a British prison ship. After the War, he published a newspaper, "The National Gazette," in Philadelphia, but was unable to make it a successful venture. He later moved the equipment to Mount Pleasant. A graduate of Princeton University, a war veteran, a publisher and sometimes a political writer, he knew persons like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. George Washington had referred to him as "that damned rascal." His newspaper, The National Gazette, was considered by some to be an instrument for Thomas Jefferson to employ in his attacks against Hamilton and the Federal Administration.
Freneau died at age 80, in 1832, while returning home from the village of Freehold during a winter storm.
Burlington Road Toll House
Now located at the Oakley Farm Museum, this is one of the last remaining toll houses in the state. It was built in 1812 and stood in the vicinity of Burlington Road and Route 537. Travelers who passed the Toll House would stop and pay the toll keeper if they wanted to ride on the planked or smooth road. They had the option of taking the road next to it, but if the ruts were too bad they risked having their horses get hurt or losing a wheel on their carriage or wagon. The toll keeper would, in turn, pay the shareholders for a return on their investment and for upkeep of the road. At this time in history, all main roads were toll roads.