- Freehold Township Heritage Society
- Historical Sites
- Oakley Farmhouse
Oakley Farm History, 1686 to 2012
In the year 1686, the Proprietors of East Jersey sold 500 acres to John Barclay. In 1687, John Barclay transferred 500 acres to Robert Barclay, Governor of East Jersey for Life. In 1699, Robert Barclay sold the 500 acres to John Reid In 1701, John Reid sold 200 acres to John Bowne. In 1706, John Bowne sold the 200 acres to Richard Clark, who paid 200 pounds sterling. He and his wife Anne built the 1st structure, which was an 8-by-ten-foot log cabin with a fieldstone foundation. In 1713 they enlarged the cabin to a 20-by-25-foot house with post and beam construction.
George Walker bought 100 acres for 100 pounds sterling in 1720 from Richard Clark. He then purchased an additional 100 acres for 300 pounds, 8 shillings in 1729, which included the house and outbuildings. He also bought additional surrounding acreage from various people until he owned 300 acres.
There were 3 generations of Walkers that lived on the farm with their extended families. The Walkers were Patriots during the Revolutionary Period. George II and his 2 eldest sons were in the Revolutionary War - the sons were minute-men and all 3 were in the Battle of Monmouth. His son George III and nephew William Campbell were both wounded but recovered. His nephew George Walker Campbell was a surgeon, and his nephew Duncan was a soldier - they were the sons of George Walker II's sister Rachel Walker Campbell.
The Combs & Hartshornes
Elijah Combs bought the property in 1801. He owned not only a successful farm but a profitable distillery business not far from this farm. He had 9 children. Needing more room to house his large family, Elijah added the entire West side of the house, doubling the size of the original.
The estate of Elijah Combs sold 226 acres for $4,540 to Ruliff Reed Schanck in 1832.
In 1842 Richard Salter Hartshorne, Jr. purchased the farm and in 1850 added the Italianate porch to the front of the house.
Acton Civil Hartshorne bought the farm from his father's estate in 1873 for $15,793.40.
Charles Oakley, Jr. bought the farm in 1911 From Acton C. Hartshorne for $32,000 and made lots of changes to both the interior and exterior of the home. He lived in the home until his death in 1932, at which time his wife inherited the farm. His son Walter had predeceased him by 2 years and his daughter Elizabeth became the manager of the farm, along with her mother Elizabeth. They managed the farm through the depression years by selling apples in Freehold and also selling potatoes, corn and butter at the Wallabout Market in Brooklyn, NY. In 1981 the farm was the largest commercial farm in Monmouth County. She continued farm operations with tenant farmers until her death in 1995.
In 1997 6 acres, including the buildings, were sold to the Township of Freehold by Hugh Oakley (nephew of Elizabeth). It was always Elizabeth's wish that the house, buildings and property would be preserved for Historical Purposes, and she was successful in having it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.