A HISTORY OF FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP
by LEE ELLEN GRIFFITH, Phd, Director of Monmouth County Historical Association
For centuries before European settlement, Monmouth County was inhabited by bands of the Lenni Lenape Indians who passed though Freehold along the Burlington Path. Dutch settlers came in the early 1600’s and were later joined by English settlers granted land through the Monmouth Patent of 1665. Freehold’s place in history stands as one of the first three towns in Monmouth County to receive a charter in 1693, and, as the site of the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Established as the county seat in 1708, Freehold, also known as Monmouth Courthouse in the early days, became an early center of business and social activities.
Freehold in the nineteenth century was a rapidly growing area. With the completion of the railroad lines through Freehold in 1852, merchants and farmers were able to ship their goods to New York and Newark markets. Several thriving villages in what is now Freehold Township created a network of farming communities.
Two distinct cultural environments had evolved in Freehold by the turn of the century, one a bustling commercial town and the other centered on an agricultural economy. As a result, in 1919, the Borough of Freehold formally separated from the Township, yet remained a center of activity for much of the surrounding area. Today, the Freehold Township Preservation Commission works to recognize and protect the architectural heritage of this historic area.