Monmouth County Historical Association

Monmouth County Historical Association Over the past century, the MCHA has become a multi-faceted organization comprised of our Museum, Research Library & Archives and five Historic House Museums.
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Welcome to the Monmouth County Historical Association, an organization with a rich history dating back to its founding in 1898 when a dedicated group of county residents incorporated to “discover, procure, preserve and perpetuate whatever relates to the history of Monmouth County.” We have been continuing that important effort ever since. Our Traveling Trunk Program, lectures and special events he

lp us to provide a variety of opportunities for people of all ages to engage in learning about and appreciating the interesting history and cultural heritage of our unique area.

New Year - and perhaps a new hobby? This breathtaking parlor table mat is full of luscious three-dimensional embroidery ...
01/08/2024

New Year - and perhaps a new hobby? This breathtaking parlor table mat is full of luscious three-dimensional embroidery made by incredibly skillful hands! An unknown Monmouth family displayed this mat in around 1880 or so in their front parlor. The panel, which measures about three feet by three feet, is wool and still retains most of its original coloring. Heavy silk tassels sewn to all four corners add another layer of ornamentation. Be sure to visit our E-Museum website to enjoy more textile treasures!

With all the pretty dresses we've been featuring lately, I think it's time we have some accessories! And starting off ou...
01/05/2024

With all the pretty dresses we've been featuring lately, I think it's time we have some accessories! And starting off our Fashion Fridays for 2024 is this rare and beautiful purse. Made of soft leather and stamped with gilt bands, the purse also features two thin rectangular tortoiseshell panels front and back. Silver chains and silver clasps add a bit of bling to the accessory. The purse was most likely made in France and dates to between 1800 and 1820. By this time, the fabric pockets women wore around their waists during the 18th century had fallen out of fashion, too bulky to wear under the narrow, high-waisted gowns of the time period. Instead. women began carrying all sorts of handbags, purses, and reticules. We're looking forward to a very fashionable year featuring even more of the Association's amazing collection, and we hope you are too!

Happy New Year! Here's to a great 2024, filled with history. We've got a great year planned with new exhibitions, new pr...
01/01/2024

Happy New Year! Here's to a great 2024, filled with history. We've got a great year planned with new exhibitions, new programs, and plenty of great collections items to feature!

This light and lovely muslin gown was made around 1825 to 1830. Entirely hand sewn, the dress includes row upon row of n...
12/29/2023

This light and lovely muslin gown was made around 1825 to 1830. Entirely hand sewn, the dress includes row upon row of narrow piping alternating with whitework embroidery. The eyelet spaces include inset panels of fine white cotton netting. Although neither the maker nor the owner of the gown is known, it's believed that the gown was made and worn right here in Monmouth County! Be sure to visit our E-Museum website where we are adding new collection items weekly.

From all of us here at the Monmouth County Historical Association, we wish all of our followers, supporters, and history...
12/25/2023

From all of us here at the Monmouth County Historical Association, we wish all of our followers, supporters, and history lovers a Very Merry Christmas! Here's a little gift for all of you from our postcard collection. Visit our E-Museum website and enjoy all the collections items we've added this year!

Miss Lottie Arrowsmith (1855 - 1909) was the daughter of Elizabeth and Captain Thomas V. Arrowsmith. Lottie's father ser...
12/22/2023

Miss Lottie Arrowsmith (1855 - 1909) was the daughter of Elizabeth and Captain Thomas V. Arrowsmith. Lottie's father served as for many years as Monmouth County Clerk. Lottie taught elocution (public speaking) at the Freehold Young Ladies Seminary in the 1880s. She selected a fashionable costume for her photographic portrait, taken in the late 1860s. Her striped silk gown, with its gathered overskirt, is complimented by Lottie's accessories, including a woven striped silk neck ribbon, dangling jet earrings, and a pretty little watch and chain. Notice Lottie's hair - yes, short hair on younger women was a bold but popular fashion choice at this time. Although some examples of short hair were due to illness, some girls opted to "shingle" their hair, wearing it curled and held back with ribbons.

Court Street School Education Community Center, a formerly segregated school and a national historic site, will be unvei...
12/19/2023

Court Street School Education Community Center, a formerly segregated school and a national historic site, will be unveiling a special project in the summer of 2024. We are calling on community members who have either attended Court Street School or know someone who did to share memories of this historic place with us. Please contact [email protected] or [email protected]. Thank you!

Sometimes historical research leads you to a totally unexpected story! This lovely late 19th century embroidered tea cos...
12/18/2023

Sometimes historical research leads you to a totally unexpected story! This lovely late 19th century embroidered tea cosy was donated to the Association in 1941 by Long Branch resident Ida Showles, given to her by her brother Willie Showles. And who was Willie Showles? A fellow Long Branch resident - and one of the circus's greatest ba****ck riders! "Happy Go Lucky Billy" was adopted at a young age by circus performers Jacob and Elizabeth Showles. By the age of ten, Willie was performing as a trick rider. One of his best-known tricks was to juggle decorative globes while riding flat on his back atop a galloping horse. Showles toured the world multiple times while working for such circuses as Barnum and Bailey. In 1889/1890, Showles was in Australia, where he purchased this beautifully embroidered teapot cosy for his sister. Ida Showles did not follow the family tradition of circus work. Instead, she had a long career as the postmistress of Long Branch, retiring in 1948 after more than forty years. There's more to William Showles' career, including a trial for murder and a tragic end to his career. Read more about it on our E-Museum website! The poster image advertising William Showles is courtesy of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.

Gown or sculpture? It's a little bit of both! New York resident Mary Mason (1820-1856) wore this silk gown at her marria...
12/15/2023

Gown or sculpture? It's a little bit of both! New York resident Mary Mason (1820-1856) wore this silk gown at her marriage to Lawrence V. Hulsted in September of 1839. The unknown dressmaker her skills to the test, including three dimensional pleats, a piped spiral twist band along the bodice, and pleated and ruffled sleeves. And to top it all off, the gown has a matching fichu! Fichus were small shawls or mini capes made to match gowns and were a very popular element in the 1830s, 40s, and early 1850s. Mary Mason's granddaughter, Ocean Grove resident Marion E. Smith, donated the gown in 1965.

String beans, anyone? No, they didn't come from our garden at Covenhoven. They didn't come from any garden, actually! Re...
12/12/2023

String beans, anyone? No, they didn't come from our garden at Covenhoven. They didn't come from any garden, actually! Read our blog to find out why you wouldn't want to eat these particular string beans...
monmouthhistory.org/post/its-all-about-the-food

This peaceful watercolor by an unknown artist depicts the farm buildings of Merino Hill. Located in Upper Freehold, the ...
12/11/2023

This peaceful watercolor by an unknown artist depicts the farm buildings of Merino Hill. Located in Upper Freehold, the farm was owned by businessman and farmer Samuel G. Wright (1781-1845). Wright was one of the first farmers in New Jersey to raise Merino sheep, prized for the softness of their wool. Wright's home is still standing, as are several of the original outbuildings on the property. Samuel Wright is also considered one of the first abolitionists in the area. He purchased the freedom of at least two African Americans from Colts Neck slave trader Joseph Van Mater. Learn more about Samuel Wright by visiting Marlpit Hall in Middletown to see the award-winning exhibition "Beneath the Floorboards: Whispers of the Enslaved at Marlpit Hall." The permanent exhibition is open Fridays through Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Stop by the museum at 70 Court Street in Freehold to check out some of the photo-enlarged Victorian holiday cards on dis...
12/08/2023

Stop by the museum at 70 Court Street in Freehold to check out some of the photo-enlarged Victorian holiday cards on display in the lobby! The currently featured exhibit is “Highlights: Celebrating 125 Years of MCHA,” featuring four gallery rooms of notable objects from the collection. Hours are Wednesday - Saturday, 1:00-4:00.

Little Miss Julia Bartleson (1850-1929) posed for "Freehold's photographer" John Roth (1821-1885) in around 1859. Julia ...
12/08/2023

Little Miss Julia Bartleson (1850-1929) posed for "Freehold's photographer" John Roth (1821-1885) in around 1859. Julia was born in Freehold and attended the Freehold Young Ladies Seminary. Her musical and acting abilities were mentioned many times in local newspapers. Julia taught music at the Seminary until her marriage in 1878 to lawyer A. Bell Malcomson. German immigrant John Roth settled in Freehold where he opened a clock and watch repair shop. in 1853, Roth focused on developing his daguerreotype and photography business (yes, we included that pun deliberately). In order to get his child subjects to stand still, Roth would ask them to watch for a little bird which would peek out of the stovepipe hole in the ceiling of his studio. This might explain Miss Julia's very serious expression! Julia's beautifully made dress is most likely of printed lightweight wool challis. The gown includes a bold contrasting strip of fabric along the skirt, with the same fabric cut in half and used on the sleeves and waistband.

This lovely little miniature portrait, measuring only 3 1/2 by 2 inches, is identified as "Mrs. Young, who came from Nor...
12/04/2023

This lovely little miniature portrait, measuring only 3 1/2 by 2 inches, is identified as "Mrs. Young, who came from North Jersey." Her elegant and fashionable appearance was captured by miniature artist Abraham Parsell. Born in 1791 in Neshanic, New Jersey, Parsell moved to New York City around 1820. Instead of working as a traveling artist, Parsell enjoyed a career of more than 35 years in lower Manhattan. This particular example of the artist's work was given to the Association in 1939 by Mrs. J. Amory Haskell. Visit our E-Museum website to see what other tiny works of art we have!

This lovely, lightweight summer gown was owned and worn by Louisa Wikoff Hendrickson (1839-1876). Louisa's parents, Char...
12/01/2023

This lovely, lightweight summer gown was owned and worn by Louisa Wikoff Hendrickson (1839-1876). Louisa's parents, Charles and Julia, moved the family to Middletown around 1850, where he was a highly successful - and wealthy - farmer. Louisa married fellow Middletown resident Edward Minturn Hartshorne (1837-1886) on January 20, 1864. Louisa's gown, of lightweight barred cotton gauze, would have been perfect for summer wear at home or for daytime events. Its simple style, small size, and lack of extensive bodice darts indicates it was made for a girl in her teens, probably around 1855 or so. Louisa's daughters, Louise Hartshorne and Susanna Hartshorne Bennett, donated the gown to the Association in 1935.

Today marks the anniversary of the death of William T. Ackerson, Manalapan resident and Civil War veteran. Ackerson was ...
11/29/2023

Today marks the anniversary of the death of William T. Ackerson, Manalapan resident and Civil War veteran. Ackerson was born in 1838 and later moved to Ohio. In 1861, William enlisted in the 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteers. He was present at the first Battle of Bull Run as part of the reserve troops. Early volunteers often signed for relatively brief periods - three, six, or nine months were usual enlistments. After mustering out, Ackerson quickly rejoined, this time as part of the 51st Regiment New York State Volunteers. Ackerson saw some serious and brutal fighting, including the second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Cold Harbor. On September 30, 1864, Ackerson and many of his fellow soldiers were taken prisoner and sent to Libby Prison. Many officers, including Ackerson, were released in February of 1865. William Ackerson was mustered out for the last time in May of 1865. He worked as a New York City policeman for 20 years and was active in veterans groups, including the Grand Army of the Republic. The Association is fortunate to have Ackerson's little pocket diary, which he kept throughout his war years and which details many of his encounters. William Ackerson died at the age of 85 on November 29, 1923. Visit our E-Museum website to explore more Civil War stories!

11/28/2023

Join us at 7PM this Thursday night by Zoom to hear the story of the ill-fated Morro Castle cruise liner as told by Deb Whitcraft, President and Curator of the NJ Maritime Museum. Learn about the sudden, suspicious death of the captain, the Nor'easter that plagued the ship, suspected arson and the fatal fire, and the unforgettable stories of those who survived...and didn't. Register for free today at monmouthhistory.org/historically-speaking

Too much turkey and pumpkin pie? In the 19th century you might stop by your local druggist for a box of Seidlitz Powders...
11/27/2023

Too much turkey and pumpkin pie? In the 19th century you might stop by your local druggist for a box of Seidlitz Powders. This bright yellow pasteboard box, with its original printed label. once contained a mild mixture made up mostly of sodium bicarbonate (better known as baking soda). This particular container came from a Middletown pharmacy around 1860. Visit our E-Museum website to see what other remedies we have on hand!

A true textile mystery! This lovely striped cotton gown was made sometime around 1820 or so. Margaret Riker Haskell dona...
11/24/2023

A true textile mystery! This lovely striped cotton gown was made sometime around 1820 or so. Margaret Riker Haskell donated this gown to the Association in 1942, so chances are good that it is from a Monmouth County owner. The unknown seamstress used the stripe pattern to good effect, creating a lovely chevron bodice, and turning the fabric on the diagonal for the hem banding. The upper sleeves are also quite well done, indicating someone with good sewing skills - double puffs, ruched bands, and piped seams. Here's the mystery - why is the right sleeve four inches longer than the left? We have no idea. In the formal photograph, we tucked the longer sleeve up a bit, but we simply had to share the "long sleeve mystery" with you!

This Thanksgiving postcard was printed in Germany around 1900 for the American market. It's not only brilliantly colored...
11/23/2023

This Thanksgiving postcard was printed in Germany around 1900 for the American market. It's not only brilliantly colored, but embossed as well. We here at the Monmouth County Historical Association echo the postcard's greetings to all our friends, supporters, and members - Best Wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving, we reflect on the things we are grateful for. The temperature is dropping a...
11/20/2023

As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving, we reflect on the things we are grateful for. The temperature is dropping and families in need feel the chill more than others. Please consider donating new socks (the most requested item at food banks and shelters) and gently used hats, scarves, gloves and coats to our Sox in the Box mailbox at 70 Court Street in Freehold. This donation box is out for the third year in a row, ready to bring much-needed warm clothing to the Provisions Promised Food Pantry. They are an amazing organization doing great work! Help us to help them!

Sometimes, parts of the collection get overlooked because of their size. Trade cards, most measuring no bigger than the ...
11/20/2023

Sometimes, parts of the collection get overlooked because of their size. Trade cards, most measuring no bigger than the palm of your hand, were highly popular advertising tools for products, businesses, and shops. Often printed in bright and eye-catching colors, trade cards were handed out to customers, many of whom collected and saved them. These six date between about 1880 and 1910. Which one's your favorite?

We've come to the end of another season of Garden Grows! In the herb garden at the Allen House in Shrewsbury, these fros...
11/19/2023

We've come to the end of another season of Garden Grows! In the herb garden at the Allen House in Shrewsbury, these frost-furred sage leaves present a beautiful contrast to the russet leaves around them. We're already planning our vegetables, herbs, and flowers for Covenhoven House's kitchen garden next spring.

Miss Josephine Adelia Brown (1858 - 1951) attended a "Colonial Tea" on February 22, 1901, in Keyport. She made extensive...
11/17/2023

Miss Josephine Adelia Brown (1858 - 1951) attended a "Colonial Tea" on February 22, 1901, in Keyport. She made extensive notes on the back of the image, describing all the garments and accessories she wore. The gown "was 110 years old in 1900," the beaded purse "must be about 100 years old, made by Great Grandmother Gill," and the black lace mitts were noted as "ancient and came from South Bend Indiana." Colonial teas and similar events were highly popular around the turn of the century during the Colonial Revival. Those who attended these events often dug through trunks in attics, bringing out old family clothing and accessories to wear. Josephine's gown is interesting - sleeves and bodice indicate that it was made in the early 1840s. The beautiful floral pattern, possibly a silk brocade, may actually date to the 18th century. We certainly wish we could see the original!

Matthew Egerton Jr. (ca. 1765-1837) learned his furniture making skills from his father, Mathhew Egerton Sr. (1739-1802)...
11/13/2023

Matthew Egerton Jr. (ca. 1765-1837) learned his furniture making skills from his father, Mathhew Egerton Sr. (1739-1802). Although the Egerton furniture shop was located in New Brunswick in Middlesex County., their customers included many Monmouth residents. This Egerton-made kas, complete with original label, was made in around 1800 for an unknown client of Dutch descent. Kasten were originally made in Holland, coming over to the colonies with early Dutch settlers. Some Egerton clients held on to old traditions, including furniture styles. Matthew Egerton, Jr., sustained heavy property damage at both his warehouse and home in June of 1835, when a rare and powerful tornado swept through the middle of New Brunswick. One of Egerton's neighbors, artist Micah Williams, was seriously injured in that same tornado. Visit our E-Museum website to learn more about the Egertons!

Cotton prints became incredibly popular, and more affordable, as the nineteenth century progressed. Sarah Coffin Taylor ...
11/10/2023

Cotton prints became incredibly popular, and more affordable, as the nineteenth century progressed. Sarah Coffin Taylor (1799 - 1869) wore this brown and white boldly patterned gown for everyday wear. The gown was made with all the stylish details of the early 1840s, including the exaggerated gathered bodice, slightly dropped waist, and full sleeves gathered and pleated on the upper arms. Sarah could also opt to wear a matching fichu, or decorative shawl, trimmed with ruffles. Sarah's husband, Asher Taylor (1800 - 1878) was a grandson of Edward Taylor, first Taylor owner of Marlpit Hall in Middletown.

Next Thursday, November 16th at 7 PM Virtual Presentation:The Hartshornes of Hathern and Other 17th-Century Monmouth Cou...
11/09/2023

Next Thursday, November 16th at 7 PM
Virtual Presentation:
The Hartshornes of Hathern and Other 17th-Century Monmouth County English Immigrants

Based on his recent research trip to England, Rick Geffken will discuss the English origins of some of our county's founding families: the Hartshornes, Grovers, Morrises, Corlieses, and Whites. The story of Yaff, an enslaved Black man held for decades by Lewis Morris and William Penn, is featured. Register today for free at
https://www.monmouthhistory.org/historically-speaking

This moody ink on paper scene depicts the 1731 Monmouth Courthouse. The first courthouse building, constructed in 1715, ...
11/06/2023

This moody ink on paper scene depicts the 1731 Monmouth Courthouse. The first courthouse building, constructed in 1715, burned to the ground in 1727. Little Silver artist William C. Asman was known for his fine penwork scenes. Born in Brooklyn in 1922, the artist moved to Little Silver in the 1940s and was a member of the Guild of Creative Artists in Shrewsbury for many years. Visit our E-Museum website to see more modern interpretations of Monmouth's revolutionary history!

We have another quilted treat for you! Our Quilt of the Month is now on view at our Freehold headquarters building, part...
11/04/2023

We have another quilted treat for you! Our Quilt of the Month is now on view at our Freehold headquarters building, part of the year-long "Highlights" exhibition celebrating 125 years of collecting Monmouth's history. This shining beauty was made by Marlboro resident Eleanor Perrine Rue (1800-1877) for her granddaughter and namesake Eleanor Perrine Rue (1857-1948). Eleanor used the Log Cabin pattern in 1860, arranging more than fifty different dress-weight silks around black velvet center squares. Our favorite fabric? The bright blue and white spotted silk! The quilt is on view Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. at 70 Court Street. Stop by soon to see it in person!

Here's another spectacular gown from the Historical Association's clothing collection!  Although we don't know the maker...
11/03/2023

Here's another spectacular gown from the Historical Association's clothing collection! Although we don't know the maker or wearer of this charming circa 1850 gown, the construction and sizing does tell us a bit about both individuals. The dressmaker was quite skilled - the gown's construction reveals careful, tidy, and confident stitching, fitting, and finishing. The dressmaker included small but exceptional details, including pale pink wool challis facing on the wide sleeves, green silk banding, and green wool tape trimming along the hem. The gown's original owner was most likely a very young woman, perhaps in her teens. And the color of the floral wool challis fabric is still so bright and beautiful!

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Freehold, NJ
07728

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