Shrewsbury Township was incorporated in 1798. It was first settled soon after the township of Middletown, in 1664.
In 1682 several thousand acres were under cultivation. The population is 6330. The principal towns are Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Fair Haven, and Oceanic.
This township, which originally covered a large part of Monmouth and Ocean counties, is now greatly shorn of its dimensions. It is bounded on the north by Middletown Township; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, Eatontown and Ocean townships; on the sourth by Wall, and on the west by Atlantic and Middletown townships.
Shrewsbury is the largest village in the northern part of the township, twelve miles east of Freehold, and is situated in a thriving agricultural district. It had one Episcopal and one Presbyterian church and two Friends' meeting-houses. It is said to have been first settled by Congregationalists, but the Society of Friends was first organized.
The Episcopalian church was chartered in 1738. It is supposed that meetings of this society had been held at this place much earlier. The oldest record of the church is in January, 1733. George Keith, who had formerly been a minister in the Society of Friends, seems to have been instrumental in establishing the Episcopal church at this place.
In and about the church edifice are preserved many relics of the olden time. The steeple is surmoundted with a golden ball and a royal crown, the old emblems of British sovereignty. The ball is pierced with bullet-holes, and one ball was found imbedded in the stairs of the old pulpit.
There are two canopied pews, preserved as they were when used respectively by the colonial governor and the rector. The silver communion cervice, which is still used, was the gift of Queen Anne, in 1703. The pulpit Bible is the same presented in 1756, and used through four generations. The ancient prayer-book was the gift of Governor William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, and colonial governor from 1763 to 1776. The old memorial slabes and monuments in the aisle and churchyard revert to many generations, and are replete with interest. This old parish originally embraced Middletown, the Highlands, Long Branch, Deal, and Eatontown, and is therefore the mother church for a large district of country.
The Presbyterian church was founded in 1749, and build in 1821, enlarged in 1845. Of the two houses of the Friends only one is used.
Red Bank is located very pleasantly on Navesink River, about five miles from the ocean. This is a rapidly growing village. It is a place of very considerable trade with New York. It has five churches -- a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, an Episcopalian, and a Catholic. There are six hotels. The "New Jersey Standard" is published here by J.R. Ingling, Esq. It has two national banks, the first established in 1865, the second in 1875. It had two public schools, one private school, and a business college. This is an incorporated town. Its charter is dated March, 1870. A canning factory is located at this place. The population within the incorporation is 2184.
Tinton Falls is a small post-office town, about six miles westward from Long Branch and ten miles northeast of Freehold, with a population of about 300 persons. It has a Methodist church, and a grist-mill with very excellent water-power. An unfailing mineral spring is found at this place.
Narumsum Neck is the peninsula between the Navesin and Shrewsbury rivers. It is a high, rolling ridge of excellent land, and was probably the first land occupied in Shrewsbury Township. There is a tradition which seems to be generally believed by the peoply who reside in that vicinity, that this neck of land was purchased from the Indians by its first occupant for a barrel, or some other quantity, of rum; and hence the legend, that being bought for some rum, it was so named. In the course of time a reversal of terms evolved the more euphonious title, Rumsome. But the probabilities are that Narumsum is the true name, and that it is derived from Indian origin, either as the name by which they knew it, or from a sachem who may have dwelt there at the time of the coming of the whites.
The first families who settled this Neck were Bordens. They located on the lower part of the Neck.
There used to be an old tavern at the junction of the two rivers, opposite the Highlands, at the place known as Black Point.
There is a tradition that the British used to land at this place from their ships, and foray around the neighborhood, having a good time with the country people.
An early division of the Neck seems to have been as follows: The Hartshorne farm of 700 acres, from Black Point upwards; adjoining this was Sallers's tract; next above this the Bordens; then what is known as the Bingham tract, or Wardell's farm. This was owned at one time by Hon. William Bingham, of Philadelphia, one of the wealthiest merchants of that city in his day, and who was Senator from Pennsylvania after the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
This gentleman had a summer country sear on an elevated piece of ground overlooking nearly the whole Neck, the two rivers, and the ocean in the far distance. To this pleasant summer-home his wife, who was the leader of fashion in her time, led many gay Philadephia beaux and belles to enjoy the delights of this charming seaside retreat; and this was probably the first movement in bringing visitors from that city to Long Branch for summer recreation and sea-bathing. It had been asserted that Long Branch was first brought into notice by Philadelphians.
The tradition is told that the daughter of William Bingham was married in this summer-home to Lord Ashburton, and the southeast room of the old mansion is shown as the place where the ceremony was performed. The property is now in the possession of Dr. E. Parmley, of New York.
There are many evidences that this neck of land was a favorite home of the red men. Many signs have been left of their occupancy. The Indian method of burial, as has been discovered by the property-owners in the neighborhood, was to place their dead in the ground about as deep as we do ours. Over the body was carefully palced a layer of shells, then earth to fill up, and a layer of shells at the top to distinguish the grave.
Fair Haven, on the south bank of the Navesink Rive, about two miles below Red Bank, is a small post town, having a summer boarding-house, four stores, post-office, one Methodist church, a colored church, and a schoolhouse.
Oceanic, one mile below, also on the banks of the Navesink, is a fine and growing settlement, having a number of pretty residences. The roads are nicely gravelled and well kept on this Neck, and communicated, by a bridge across Shrewsbury River, with Seabright, on the ocean shore.