Colts Neck

Colts Neck History
Official Site

On February 18, 1847 an act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey set the Township of Atlantic (now Colts Neck Township) from the Townships of Shrewsbury, Middletown and Freehold. The First Town Meeting was held at the Hotel of Samuel Laird on March 9, 1847. This practice of annual Town Meeting and election of officers continued each year till about 1890 when officials were elected for longer terms.

Those that first served as officials were: Moderator, Thomas G. Haight; Town Clerk, Tunis Statesir; Judge of Election, Samuel W. Jones; Freeholders, De La Fayette Schanck, and Thomas G. Haight; Assessor, John Statesir; Surveyors of Highways, Elias Vanderveer and Thomas W. Sherman; Collector, John Van Mater; Commissioners of Appeal, Peter S. Conover, Arthur Vanderveer and Isaac G. Smock; Town Committee, Thomas Guest, James Van Mater, John Polhemus, Daniel P. Smock and John Wyckoff; Constable, Daniel Lawrance; Superintendent of Schools, James Martin; Overseer of Poor, Charles Sears; Overseers of Highways, Daniel Polhemus, Charles T. Matthews, Elias Sickles and John B. Wardon; Pound Keeper John Robinson.

Dog taxes were levied at $1.00 – females $5.00, a year later this was changed to .50 cents and $3.00 for females. Apparently townsmen felt the tax on female dogs too steep for again in 1849 they were lowered to $1.00.

The wage for road work was 75 cents per day and $1.75 for a team of horses. At the March 15, 1847 committee meeting the roads were districted in the following manner: Number 1 Commencing at the south east corner of the township, thence northerly to Swimming River Bridge, thence westerly up Swimming River to Sawmill Brook, thence up said brook to a small stream near Thomas G. Haight’s saw mill, thence southerly up said stream to the bridge near Thomas W. Sherman, thence continuing southerly to the Howell line, thence easterly along said line to the place of beginning. Number 2 Commencing at Number 1 on the Howell line thence westerly to the southwest corner of Atlantic Township, thence northerly along said line to a small stream back of William Sickles house, thence easterly down said stream to Saw Mill Brook, thence down said brook to Number 1, thence southerly to the place of beginning. Number 3 Commencing at number 2 at the small stream back of William Sickles running northerly to the north west corner of township, thence easterly to John Ely’s Mill, thence down Middle Hop Brook to the Old Womans Bridge, thence southerly along the road leading to Colts Neck to the Saw Mill Brook, thence up said brook to place of beginning. Number 4 Commencing at the Old Womans Bridge running easterly along Middle Hop Brook until it strikes Swimming River, thence up Swimming River to Saw Mill Brook, thence up said brook to number 3, thence along the road leading to Holmdel to the Old Womans Bridge.

Township residents were levied a road tax – in 1854 records show Charles Bray’s assessment for running road through his lands at $50.00. John Laird’s road tax was $94.08.

Records show tax deductions paid in 1849 to North American Phalanx for $2.77. To Michael Mack for .50 cents and to Charles T. Matthews over payment of .42-1/2 cents. Records also show in 1849 the township was to be surveyed and mapped by James K. Van Mater, John Wyckoff and Henry Buck. Thomas Fields did some surveying in 1848 (Thomas was the father of our former tax collector the late Walter D. Fields.)

Various other expenditures were shown in the minutes. For example: Samuel Holmes was paid $3.00 in 1849 for making a coffin; $1.00 paid for digging a grave; Benjamin Brower was paid $5.00 for making a coffin; William Sickles $1.00 for same service; Hendrick Sickles paid .18-1/4 cents for mending shoes; Joseph P. Probasco was paid in 1854 for covering of Water Wheel; First mention of repairing a bridge was made in 1856 for $2.07; Buying a cart scoop and road: scraper for township in 1854. At various times money was spent for planks and timber for the roads to Edward Ryall, Benjamin T. Matthews, Thomas Sherman, De Witt Sickles and Garrit Rezeau Conover. A public pound was built by Charles Scobey in 1851.

In February and October 1852 appears first payment for recording birth, marriages and deaths at .10 each, paid to Tunis Statesir. The first marriage recorded was in December 15, 1850 Charles D. Bray, son of David Sr. and Elenor V. Schanck, daughter of Garrit R. both of Atlantic Township. The first death recorded was that of Phoebe Probasco, daughter of Abraham and Catherine Van Neste, who died June 2, 1851 at 70, a widow. Among the first births recorded were: a son in October 1851 to John Rogers a blacksmith, a daughter born January 1852 to Garrit Thompson, a blacksmith, a son in January 1852 to Gideon Crawford, a shoemaker.

By 1890 there were 9 road districts with equipment amounting to 7 South Bend plows-with wheel, 7 drag scrapers on wheels, 1 iron scoop and 1 grader. In 1891 the Township Committee assumed the care and management of public roads and divided the roads into 2 districts, paying team and driver $3.00 per day and $1.25 per day for laborer, (10 hours constituting a days work.) Two Superintendents were chosen, Henry H. Matthews and George Cross Jr., to be paid $2.00 per day. In 1895 one of the road superintendents was William C. Buck, grandfather of present committeeman William S. Buck. In 1897 Schanck Van Dorn (father of Newell Van Dorn, Mrs. Al Buck and Mrs. Charles Flock) was Surveyor of the Highways.

From the very beginning one big and continual expense was “Sheep Bills.” Apparently many wild dogs roamed the countryside, (still a problem) damages paid in 1854 and 1855 were $271.00 and $561.25-a tremendous amount in those days! Some of those reimbursed were: Jacob Polhemus, John Cook, Isaac Smock, Charles Bray and Christopher Probasco. The dog count for 1854 was 116.

Another large expense, each year, was the caring of the poor or temporary relief. A typical year 1852 paid out $268.90.

We found one most interesting item recorded in the records for April 15, 16 and 17, 1854. “Three days we had severest northeast snow storm ever remembered by oldest inhabitants. Some snow banks were 7 feet in depth and some 300 lives were lost by ship-wreck near Absecum by loss of ship Powhatten and others.”

In 1856 the township bought one sixth interest in the Old County Farm (in township of Ocean at Shark River) for keeping of the poor. Other township co-owners were: Brick, Middletown, Dover, Wall and Howell. In 1883 and again in 1896 a portion of this land was sold. By 1911 it was finally all sold.

During the Civil War the officials resolved (October 31, 1863) that a Bounty (of stated amount) for each volunteer be raised by taxation to fill the quota of the township. This move had to be sanctioned by the State. After many trips to Trenton, the act was passed (March 14, 1865) authorizing the township to issue Bonds to raise the money to pay volunteers or substitutes. Bonds were prepared in due course. In December 1864 the township resolved to pay $30.00 subscription of men who were drafted under the March call of the President for troops and those who furnished substitutes be refunded to them. Township again resolved to raise money (in addition to that raised by county) to procure volunteers or substitutes to fill township quota under the last call of the President for troops. Sum of $200.00 be raised.

Early in 1899 the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company began erecting poles particularly east to west, to be part of a through line from Freehold to Asbury Park, along road known as Bradley Road. In 1903 telephone service was available to those living from Montrose School House to Phalanx and the road from Colts Neck to Holmdel. Other sections gradually were added.

First mention of a firewarden for the township was in 1906 with Theodore Snedeker appointed (father of Warne Snedeker.) In 1908 two signs were painted to limit the speed of autos to 6 miles per hour erected at each end of the village on the county road.

The erection of the old town hall on the county road in the village was done in 1909, furniture was bought, tables, chairs, blinds and fixtures. Some of these items were bought by Everett Matthews for the township. The telephone was installed in 1909. The safe was bought in 1911. A janitor was hired in 1910 for $15.00 per year.

As the township officials helped in the war effort during the Civil War so did they during World War I, buying Liberty Bonds.

Electricity was realized in parts of the township by 1927, when the township hall was wired and a few street lights added shortly after.