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Upper Freehold Township


The Upper Freehold Township municipal building is located at 314 Route 539, Cream Ridge NJ 08514; phone: 609-758-7738.

Coward-Smith House, burlington path road, upper freehold township, monmouth county, nj

Photo: Coward-Smth House, ca. 1750, Burlington Path Road, Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ. The Reverend John Coward was a farmer, saw mill owner, and sometime Baptist minister. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Photographed by User:Apc106 (own work), 2012, [cc-by-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed February, 2013.

Beginnings [1]

Upper Freehold is in the extreme southwestern portion of the county, Millstone being the only township which adjoins it, and forms its northern and northeastern boundary. The other bounds are: On the southeast, Ocean county; on the southwest, Burlington county; on the northwest, Mercer county. The streams all flow in a general northwesterly direction, the largest of these being Crosswicks creek, which with its tributary, Lahaway creek, flows across the southwestern corner of the township. Doctor creek runs through the central part and unites with Indian creek, forming part of the northwestern boundary between Mercer county. Assanpink creek marks a part of the northern boundary between Millstone township. The Pemberton and Hightstown railroad (now operated by the Pennsylvania system) traverses the township from north to south. The original formation of the township is not on record, but it is known that it was laid out prior to 1731. An assessment roll of the township for that year is in existence, showing that it was one of the four original townships, the collector being John Lawrence, who was the township assessor for years, the surveyor-general who in 1743 rail the line since known as the "Lawrence Line," between the Provinces of East and West Jersey.

In 1767 an act was passed to divide Shrewsbury township and annex portions of it to Freehold and Upper Freehold townships. That part of the act applying to this township is as follows: "All that part of Shrewsbury township beginning where the old Burlington path crosses the north branch of Tom's river, thence running 18 degrees east to the line of Dover (Ocean county), thence south 56 degrees west along the Dover line to Keith's line, thence along said line to the Upper Freehold line, and thence along the last mentioned line to the place of beginning." In 1844 the area of the township was reduced by taking the northern part of its territory to form Millstone township. A small part of the township near Arneytown was annexed to Plumstead township, Ocean county, in 1849, but was restored to Upper Freehold by legislative act twenty years later.

The territory of Upper Freehold was taken up and patented in large tracts. One of these containing 4,000 acres was held by Robert Burnet, one of the proprietors. The original patentee in 1706 disposed of 520 acres to his son-in-law, Nathan Allen, the tract commencing where Allentown now stands, continuing southerly down Doctor's creek; in the same year he conveyed to another son-in-law, William Montgomery, 500 acres beginning at Doctor's creek near the post road and thence to the line of Negro run. This tract was soon after enlarged and named Eglington and remained in possession of the descendants of William Montgomery for six generations. To the east of the Burnet tract, John Baker, May 24, 1690, patented 2,100 acres, which he intended to call the "Manor of Buckhole." The tract runs north to the Cat Tail brook and south of Doctor's creek "to the Middletown Men's Lot." On the death of patentee before 1700 the tract passed to George Willocks, soon after to Richard Salter, who built mills at Imlaystown. A portion of this tract was sold in 1717 to Elisha Lawrence, who settled there; he also owned large tracts in other parts of the county, was one of the Manasquan company who located lots on the coast from Wreck pond to Barnegat bay in 1685, also owned lands at Wakaka adjoining Richard Hartshorne. This lot on his death, came into the hands of his son Elisha, who sold the property on Wakaka creek and moved to Upper Freehold, purchasing the old homestead, which he named Chestnut Grove. He was a representative citizen of the county, and his son, John Lawrence, already mentioned, resided on a part of the tract which was called Mulberry Hill. His son, Dr. John Lawrence, gained notoriety as a Tory during the Revolution, and another son, Elisha, was sheriff of Monmouth county during that war. The latter son, John Brown Lawrence, was the father of Commodore Lawrence, of the United States Navy, and grandfather of Commodore Boggs, who in the "Varuna" passed the forts below New Orleans during the Civil War. Of other sons of the original Elisha Lawrence, the eldest, William, settled in Middletown, while John, James and Joseph bought the "Squan lots" on Manasquan river, where they settled. Of the youngest, Benjamin, there is no account obtainable. That portion of the tract known as the "mill tract" was sold in 1727 by Richard Salter, Jr., to Peter Salter, Jr. A tract of land of 2,500 acres bounded by the Keith line on the west and on all sides by Crosswick creek, was patented by William Dockwra, February 2, 1698, who later sold it to Anthony Woodward. South of Burlington path and east of Crosswick creek, 1,500 acres were patented January 22, 1689, by Robert West of London; east of the above mentioned creek, John Smith of Middletown, patented a tract between Robert West and John Throckmorton. Also east of the creek and north of the Burlington path, Peter Sonmans secured a patent for fifteen hundred acres.

  1. History of Monmouth County New Jersey 1664-1920, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1922
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