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The Dorn-Severini Historic Photography Collection: Monmouth County History

As the Collection focuses on the County, we wanted to share the briefest of historical overviews, and provide some further reading for those interested.

A Brief History of Monmouth County

By Vincent Sauchelli

On September 2nd, 1609, the written history of Monmouth County, New Jersey began courtesy of Robert Juet, the underskipper on Henry Hudson’s ship The Half Moon. Juet wrote about his experience navigating the waters of Sandy Hook and Barnegat Bay as part of Hudson’s crew and, most importantly, he documented that on September 5th, 1609, for the first time, white Europeans set foot on the land that would one day be the shore of Monmouth County.

For some half a century afterward, the region would be claimed and ruled by the Dutch, as a result of Hudson’s discoveries for the Dutch East India Company, until the English assumed control of the area in 1664. The area was still very dense wilderness but, in 1665, large numbers of settlers began moving from Rhode Island and Long Island settlements to the newly established settlements of Middletown and Shrewsbury.

Monmouth County took its place in history about a century later, when on June 28th, 1778 the Revolutionary War's Battle of Monmouth occurred. American troops were outnumbered that day by the British, 15,000 redcoats to 11,000 Americans, but still fought with grit and determination. After many hours of fighting under the hot and humid sun, British troops began to fallback and used nightfall to retreat to New York City. This battle proved to be a turning point in the war, representative of the fact that the Continental Army did, in fact, stand a chance against the British Empire.

In the 1800s Monmouth County continued to grow and prosper, with steamboat and rail service furthering the County’s connection with the rest of the state and with New York City. The County became a vacation destination for the rich and famous, including 7 U.S. presidents.

Monmouth County was home to over half a million people in the year 2020. About an hour drive from the closest major cities, New York City and Philadelphia, along with its beautiful coastlines and beaches, the suburbs of Monmouth County, along with all of its history, truly are a great place to live.

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