The William W. Furman Blacksmith Shop—now housed at The Oakley Farm-189 Wemrock Road-Freehold Twp., N.J.
One of the oldest establishments in Freehold Township was owned and operated by members of the Furman And Vanderveer Family from 1832 until 1965.
The Blacksmith Shop itself has an unknown date of origin. However, in 1832, William W. Furman, grandfather of J. Elmer Vanderveer was the proprietor. Working with Mr. Furman was his son, Elwood, who died at age 23.
After the death of William W. Furman, Elmer’s father followed In 1876, then Elmer in 1895. In 1927, Elmer’s son, Howard, started in the business of repairing cars in one half of the Old Blacksmith Shop. In 1928, Elmer and Howard moved in the new building built directly in the rear of the Blacksmith Shop, which had been razed.
To continue with Elmer learning the trade, which was a period of three years, compensation, evidently was the least consideration in those days. The first year Elmer received $50.00 and his board, the second year it was $100.00 and by the third year he was compensated $150.00. Then having completed his apprenticeship the fourth year, he entered into a partnership with his father. In that venture each partner netted $300.00 for the year.
Elmer, not being wholly satisified with the outcome, approached his father on the subject, and he suggested that Elmer buy the business and operate it. This he did and then his father worked for him for a period of time.
Elmer was the fourth generation to operate the shop. Members of the Vanderveer Family still operate the auto repair shop on the original site of the Blacksmith Shop, which stands on Rt. 537 West near the traffic light at Wemrock Road.
It is of interest to note that while William Furman worked in the shop and occupied the dwellling on the property since 1832, it was not until 1849 that he purchased it. The purchase price was $500.00 and included two acres of land, the Blacksmith Shop and the residence in which many of the family were born, as well as a large lot.
To relate how hard money was to accumulate in those days, when William Furman died in 1875, which was 26 years after the purchase, he still had a mortgage of $300.00 on the property.
In 1906, Elmer and wife Emma Nivison Vanderveer built a new home on the East side of the Blacksmith Shop and moved in around Thanksgiving of 1906. This house was razed on Dec. 22, 1982.
Most of the tools in the Blacksmith Shop are unique and handmade. You will notice the anvil sits atop a piece of tree trunk probably cut from the property at the time of the inception of the Blacksmith Shop. Since the Village Of Freehold Twp. was started in 1693, we assume the Blacksmith Shop started not long after.
Our thanks to the Vanderveer Family for donating these artifacts to the Freehold Township Historic Preservation Commission. Also, to the late Howard Vanderveer for keeping these tools and this part of our Township’s heritage for future generations to admire.