Ocean Township History

OF THE NEW JERSEY COAST Originally published by
Woolman & Rose of Philadelphia 1878

History of Ocean Township-1878

This township was incorporated in 1849. The population in 1875 is given as 6109, but this is supposed to include the corporation of Long Branch.

The Principal towns, besides Long Branch, are Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, Shark River, and Deal Post-office.

The corporation of Long Branch is comprised within the original bounds of this township.

The original village is situated a mile from the shore, where, in 1812, a large libery-pole was erected, which is still kept standing.

It is an active and enterprising community, with all the advantages of modern civilization in the way of schools, churches, printing press, and stores.

The first settlements in this vicinity are said to have been made by a party of four persons who came from Rhode Island. Their names were Slocum, Parker, Wardell, and Hulett. They found the grounds at the bluff and in its vicinity occupies by Indians, who, though friendly, were unwilling to sell.

According to the local legend which relates to this affair, John Slocum, one of the party, won as much land for himself and his friends as a man could walk around in a day by successfully competing with the Indians in a wrestling match.

Whether any other persuasives were used, such as rum, or wampum, or threats, the tradition is silent. This was in 1734. The property must have been purchased of the proprietors near the same time.

It is said the Slocum's descendants owned and occupied a great deal of the land in this vicinity until a few years ago. Some years afterwards other persons bought lands of the proprietors at twenty shillings per acre (a pretty good price for wild land in thos days) and settled upon them.

The name Long Branch is derived from a small branch or stream running parallel with the shore and emptying into Pleasure Bay.

The corporate limits extend along the beach between four and five miles, and at one place two miles back from the shore. Good roads for driving are made in all directions up and down the coast and back towards the interior towns. Hotels were first erected here for summer visitors early in the present century. Among the first proprietors were Joshua Bennett and the McKnights. Bennett's Hotel was located near where the present Brighton Hotel stands; but farther to the eastward the ocean has encroached upon the land, and the site of the old hotel is now covered with water. This house was sold to a Judge Quay, of whom it is said that he offered to give his freedom to one of his slaves if he would burn it down. The negro fulfilled his part of the contract, but the judge did not fulfil his. The slave confessed the deed, and the judge lost his insurance on the building.

McKnight's Hotel was after awhile called the Bath House. This, too, was destroyed by fire, and never rebuilt.

The present hotels are: Ocean Hotel, kept by Messrs. Leland, West End, Howland's, Pavilion, United States, Mansion House, Congress Hall, Clarendon, Brighton, East End, Iauch, Germania, and Irving.

The first church was erected about one hundred years ago at the old village, and used jointly by the Methodist, Presyternians, and Protestant Methodists. The Methodists drew out in 1809 and built a church for themselves.

The Reformed church was built in 1849. The Episcopal church was built in 1856. The Centenary Methodist church was built in 1868. There is also a Catholic church.

Fifty years ago the nearest post-office was at Shrewsbury; afterwards an office was established at Eatontown, five miles distant, and remained until 1836. In that year Mr. William R. Maps and others petitioned the government for an office at Long Branch, which was granted on condition the citizens would carry the mail from Eatontown at their own expense, which was done for two years. In 1838 the mail route was extended to Long Branch. The first railroad was a spur of the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad, run down from Eatontown, in 1860. In 1865 the Seashore road was built.

The bank was organized in 1872.

The "Long Branch News" is published by Jacob Stults, daily for three months in the year, and weekly the balance.

Ocean Grove is a summer settlement, founded by a camp-meeting association of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was incorporated in 1869. It now comprises over 230 acres of land, located about six miles below Long Branch and along the shore front.

This settlement has had a remarkable growth. By the report of the president, in 1876, it had 417 cottages, and 23 boarding-houses and hotels. Ten years ago the place was a wild jungle of stunted trees, briers, and sand.

Asbury Park adjoins Ocean Grove on the north. This growing summer resort was laid out in 1871 by Mr. James A Bradley, the original owner of the tract and the present proprietor of the unsold portions.

This tract comprises 500 acres of land, and, like Ocean Grove, has had a marvellous growth. It has three churches, an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, and a Baptist. It has also a free reading-room, and a weekly paper with over 2000 circulation. The Educational building, which stood on the Centennial grounds at Philadelphia, has been removed to this place, and stands in the central part of the tract. It is still called Educational Hall, and is used for general public assemblages.

Deal, four miles south of Long Branch, has long been a favorite place of summer resort. Two or three hotels and a number of cottages are situated near the shore.

Shark River is a scattered post village, about four miles back from the coast.

Seabright is a pleasant and rapidly growing seaside town, directly opposite the point of Rumsom's Neck. It is located on the narrow strip of beach between Shrewsbury River and the ocean.

The bridge across the Shrewsbury gives the residents of this place access to the delightful drives among the woods and parks of Rumsom's Neck.

There are a number of pretty cottages at this place, a church, stores, hotels, and the usual appendages of a summer resort.

Monmouth Beach is a few miles below the latter place, and is also located immediately on the beach. Here a seaside settlement of fine-looking cottages had been built up within a few years past, by a company of gentlemen, for their own summer enjoyment. The rules governing this association, as well as the society occupying the handsome cottages, are said to be quite exclusive. History of Eatontown Township-Woolman & Rose
History of Atlantic Township-Woolman & Rose
History of Monmouth County-Woolman & Rose
Directory of Historical Material
Population & Census Information-Woolman & Rose