History of Marlboro
The Lenni Lenape Native Americans were the first known organized inhabitants of this area, having settled here about one thousand years ago and forming an agricultural society, occupying small villages that dotted what was to become Marlboro Township.
In 1600, the Delaware / Lenape Native American population in the surrounding area may have numbered as many as 20,000. Several wars, at least 14 separate epidemics (yellow fever, small pox, influenza, encephalitis lethargica, etc.) and disastrous over-harvesting of the animal populations reduced their population to around 4,000 by the year 1700. Since the Lenape people, like all Native Americans, had no immunity to European diseases, when the populations contacted the epidemics, they frequently proved fatal. Some Lenape starved to death as a result of animal over-harvesting, while others were forced to trade their land for goods such as clothing and food. They were eventually moved to reservations set up by the US Government. They were first moved to the only Indian Reservation in New Jersey, the Brotherton Reservation in Burlington County, New Jersey (1758-1802). Those who remained survived through attempting to adapt to the dominant culture, becoming farmers and tradesmen. As the Lenni Lenape population declined, and the European population increased, the history of the area was increasingly defined by the new European inhabitants and the Lenape Native American tribes played an increasingly secondary role.
After the Dutch arrival to the region in the 1620s, the Lenape were successful in restricting Dutch settlement to Pavonia in present-day Jersey City along the Hudson until the 1660s and the Swedish settlement to New Sweden (1655 - The Dutch defeat the Swedes on the Delaware). The Dutch finally established a garrison at Bergen, allowing settlement of areas within the province of New Netherland. Within a period of 112 years, 1497–1609, four European explorers claimed this land for their sponsors: John Cabot, 1497, for England; Giovanni de Verrazano, 1524, for France; Estevan Gomez, 1525, for Spain, Henry Hudson, 1609, for Holland. Then for 50 years, 1614–1664, the Monmouth County area came under the influence of the Dutch, but it was not settled until English rule in 1664.
The initial European proprietors of the area purchased the land from the Lenni Lenape leader or Sakamaker. The chief of the Unami, or Turtle clan, was traditionally the great chief of all the Lenni Lenape. One of the sons of the leader, was Weequehela who negotiated the sale of several of the initial tracts of land to the first farmers. An early deed refers to "the chief sachems or leaders of Toponemus." Their main village was near Wickatunk in Marlboro Township.
On April 2, 1664, the English appointed Richard Nicolls to serve as the Deputy Governor of New York and New Jersey. One year later, April 8, 1665, Nicolls issued "The Monmouth Patent" to twelve men who had come from Western Long Island and New England seeking permanent stability for religious and civil freedom as well as the prospect of improving their estates. Nicolls was unaware that in June, 1664, James had given a lease and release for New Jersey to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, thus invalidating the grant to the Monmouth Patentees. The rule at the time was that land should be purchased from the Patent.
However, in the time between 1685 and the early 18th century, the patent was ignored and land was gradually purchased from the Lenni Lenape causing confusion and disputes over ownership. Following the initial sale of land, the history of the township starts about 1685, when the land was first settled by European farmers from Scotland, England and the Netherlands. The Scottish exiles and early Dutch settlers lived on isolated clearings carved out of the forest. The lingua franca or common language spoken in the area was likely, overwhelmingly Dutch. However, this was one of many languages spoken with the culture very steeped in New Netherlander. The official documentation at the time is frequently found to be in the Dutch language. The documents of the time also suggest that money transactions used the British shilling. The English and Scotch settlers were Quakers. After initial European contact, the Lenape population sharply declined.
The first settlers of the area were led by missionary George Keith. They were Quakers. The Quakers established a town called "Topanemus" and nearby a meetinghouse and a cemetery on what is now Topanemus Road and held the first meeting on October 10, 1702. The first leader of the church was Rev. George Keith who received a large grant of land in the area due to his position as Surveyor-General. Among the first listed communicants of the new church were Garret and Jan Schenck. The church later changed its affiliation to the Episcopal faith and became St. Peter's Episcopal Church which is now located in Freehold. The old burial ground still remains on Topanemus Road. In 1692 those of the Presbyterian Faith built a church and burial ground on what is now Gordons Corner Road. The church eventually moved to Tennent where it became known as the Old Tennent Church and played a role in the American Revolutionary War. The old Scots Cemetery still remains at its original site.
The township of Marlboro is named for the prevalence of marl, which was first discovered in the area east of the village in 1768. The "Marl Pits" are clearly reflected on maps from 1889 shown as a dirt road off of Hudson Street heading towards the current location of the township soccer fields. Farmers used marl to improve the soil in the days before commercial fertilizers and there was a heavy demand for it. Marlboro Township's first industry was the export of the material, used primarily as fertilizer. In 1853, the Marl was harvested and transported to other parts of the state and to the Keyport docks via the Freehold Marl Company Railroad (now the Henry Hudson Trail). The marl was then sent to New York and other parts of the country via ship. Prior to the finding of Marl, the area was known as 'Bucktown' for John Buck who owned a tavern in the area.
Marlboro Township was the scene of a number of skirmishes during the American Revolutionary War, in particular following the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. During the war, the Pleasant Valley section was often raided by the British for food supplies and livestock. The area was referred to as the "Hornet's Nest" because of the intensity of attacks on the British by local militia. Beacon Hill (of present-day Beacon Hill Road) was one of three Monmouth County sites where beacons were placed to warn the residents and the Continental forces if the enemy should approach from the bay. There was also considerable activity in the Montrose area of the Township as British troops, retreating from the Battle of Monmouth, tried to wind their way to ships lying off Sandy Hook.
Under the direction and influence of John W. Herbert, Marlboro was established as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 17, 1848, formed from portions of Freehold Township. The township's name was originally "Marlborough," but was subsequently changed to "Marlboro." It is unknown when the name was officially changed, with maps and other documents in the decades after the township's establishment referring variously to "Marlboro" or "Marlborough". The first elected freeholder was John W. Herbert.
Marlboro was rural and composed mostly of dairy farms, potato, tomato and other farms laced with small hamlets with modest inns or taverns. Before World War II Marlboro Township was actually the nation's largest grower of potatoes and also known for a large tomato and egg industry. During World War II, egg farms significantly expanded to accommodate military demand.
Following World War II, the state began to significantly build and improve the area transportation infrastructure. As the infrastructure improved, the population started to increase. The 50s and 60s saw Marlboro starting to significantly grow. Housing developments started to replace the farm and rural nature as the community expanded. After the early 1970s, Marlboro became a growing suburb for people working in New York and in large nearby corporations. During the 1980s and early 1990s most of the new housing developments featured four- or five-bedroom houses, but later the trend shifted toward larger estate homes. The building effort became so advanced that Marlboro Township placed restrictions for building around wetlands; called the Stream Corridor Preservation Restrictions to mitigate construction and habitat contamination.
The year 2000 saw continued growth of the housing trend toward larger homes. Towards the end of the decade, housing growth declined due to the Great Recession.
The Marlboro township center has historically been considered an area around the intersection of Main Street (Route 79) and School Road. In the late 19th century the intersection held a hotel [currently fire department parking lot], general store [was on the lot of the current fire department building], and Post Office [was on the lot of a current Chinese Restaurant]. Behind the current small mini-mart on the corner of this intersection, you can still see one of the original barns from the early 19th century. The township of Marlboro has erected signs in front of historically significant buildings to explain their historical significant status. Multiple signs can be seen along Main Street and on some other streets in the town center area. However, Marlboro no longer has any official town center and can be considered an example of suburban sprawl. Efforts are underway to create an official "Village Center" and multiple proposals have come forward in recent discussions. Current vision statements suggest the creation of a pedestrian-friendly, mixed use Village Center, with an emphasis on walkability and traffic calming.
Cell phone ban
In 2000, Marlboro became the first municipality in New Jersey, and one of the first areas in the U.S., to ban cell phone use while driving, a ban that took effect in March 2001. The restriction established made use of a cell phone a primary offense, allowing a police officer can stop a motorist for phone use.
Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital
Opened in 1931, Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital was located on 400 acres (1.6 km2) in the eastern part of the township. It was opened with much fanfare as a "state of the art" psychiatric facility. It was closed 67 years later on June 30, 1998, as part of a three-year deinstitutionalization plan in which some the state's largest facilities were being shut down, with Marlboro's 800 patients being shifted to smaller facilities and group homes. The land that the hospital was placed on was known as the "Big Woods Settlement". It was largely farm land but there was a large distillery on the property which was torn down to make room for the hospital. Additionally, due to the long residential stays at the hospital, a cemetery was also located near the hospital for the residents who died while in residence and were unclaimed. There is currently a large fence around the hospital and the hospital was completely demolished in 2015. Most of the land was handed over to the Monmouth County Park system park and some of the ground will be the final linkage of the Henry Hudson Trail. The park system had developed the Big Brook Park and continues to expand and work on the park to provide services to the Monmouth County residents.
In June 2009, Marlboro Township Municipal Utilities Authority (MTMUA) deployed a 900 kW solar power array from Sharp that will enable the MTMUA to meet nearly 40% of its electricity needs with emissions-free solar-generated power. This is considered one of the largest of its kind in the East. This solar energy system will reduce New Jersey CO2 emissions by more than 4,200,000 lb (1,900,000 kg) annually; SO2 emissions by 28,000 lb (13,000 kg); and NO2 emissions by 18,000 lb (8,200 kg)., as well as eliminating significant amounts of mercury.Additionally, Marlboro has been recognized as a Cool City by the Sierra Club. Marlboro is the 10th Monmouth County municipality to be named a Cool City.
Marlboro had an airport, Preston Airfield, which opened in 1954 and was in operation for almost 50 years. The airport was opened by Rhea Preston on his farm and consisted of two runways, one was 2,400 feet (730 m) as well as airplane hangars. It obtained a paved runway before 1972. Exact records are not known as to when it changed its name to Marlboro Airport. It is believed to be somewhere between 1975 and 1979. In 1979, the airport was described as having a single runway 2,200 feet (670 m) long. In 2000, the airport was purchased by Marlboro Holdings LLC owned by Anthony Spalliero who closed it with the intent to redevelop the airport into housing. To foster the case for redevelopment, Spalliero donated land holdings he had near the airport to the township Board of Education, which was used to develop the Marlboro Early Learning Center, a school specialized for kindergarten classes. Following a $100,000 pay-off to former Mayor Matthew Scannapieco the planning board used the distance to the new school as justification to close the airfield citing a reference to a fatal plane crash in 1997. Part of the airport has now been developed into Marlboro Memorial Cemetery which now borders the defunct airfield.
Virgin Mary sighting
Starting in 1989, Joseph Januszkiewicz started reporting visions of the Virgin Mary near the blue spruce trees in his yard at exactly 9:28pm. The visions started to appear six months after he returned from a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Yugoslavia. Since that time as many as 8,000 pilgrims gathered on the first Sundays of June, July, August and September to pray, meditateand share in the vision. On September 7, 1992, Bishop John C. Reiss gave Januszkiewicz permission to release his messages. In 1993, Catholic Diocese of Trenton ruled that nothing "truly miraculous" was happening at the Januszkiewicz home. Pictures were taken in November 2004 of a mist that showed up at the location of the vision, though by April 2005, Januszkiewicz claimed that the visions had stopped and he reports there have been no sightings since.
Old Saint Gabriel's Church
This church was built in 1878. It is located on Route 520, in the Bradeveldt section of Marlboro. The significance of this building was its use by the congregation of St. Gabriel. Organized in 1871 the congregation constructed this Victorian Gothic church in 1878. Although a new church and rectory were constructed on Route 79 in 1972, and a parish center in the 1980s, this building has remained in continuous use. Frequently used for weddings and other similar events.
Addison Hobart House
The house was built in 1828. It is located on North Main Street in Marlboro, directly next to the fire house. Its significance was the home of Addison Hobart, a businessman, teacher, postmaster, and Commissioner of Deeds. Garrett Hobart, his son, lived in this house and later entered politics, ultimately becoming Vice President of the United States in 1896 under William McKinley. Garrett Hobart died in 1899. The house is currently used as an art studio.
The building was built, circa 1904. Its location is: Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Pleasant Valley Road. The significance of the building was a "Rest Hill," an assemblage of many old farmsteads, was purchased for a vacation home by magazine publisher Peter Collier. His son, Robert, was an aviation enthusiast who purchased the first Wright Brothers biplane and housed it at the estate. The porch is a replica of Mt. Vernon. Robert's widow, Sarah Van Alen, donated the estate in 1927 to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
The Marlboro Tree
Discovered in 1997 and located near one of the Big Brook tributaries, The Marlboro Tree, a massive black willow tree has been certified by the New Jersey Forest Service as a "State Champion" tree, signifying that it is the largest known tree of its species in the State of New Jersey, and the largest tree of any kind in Marlboro Township. It is about 152 years old and measures 76 feet (23 m) high and 19' 8" in circumference. Five grown people must hold hands to fully encircle the tree.
Old Scots Burial Grounds
On the National Register of Historic Places since August 2001, is Old Scots Burial Grounds, which was established around 1705. Under active study, archaeologist Gerard Scharfenberger is working to excavate the foundation of the original Old Scots Meeting House as well as any unmarked graves on the property. This is the original location where the congregation of the Old Tennent Presbyterian Church once met. It is also part of the site where the Battle of Monmouth was fought. John Boyd, the first Presbyterian minister trained in the New World, was buried here in 1708.
The cemetery dates back to the 1600’s. Many of the area founding fathers from Freehold, Bayshore, Matawan, and Marlboro are buried there. Other, important people in the founding of Monmouth County such as John Reid, John Anderson, and Thomas Warne as well as 4 of Matawan’s original 24 founders are buried there. Topanemus Cemetery developed out of the need for a cemetery for the Topanemus settlement which was an original settlement for the Marlboro Area. The cemetery is believed to be the oldest in Monmouth County, apart from some individual sequestered family burial plots. The Cemetery is known to contain many historically significant and/or famous people of the time. There are believed to be 112 known graves in the cemetery.
Robertsville Elementary School
Originally built in 1832, Robertsville Elementary School was once a one-room schoolhouse that was built on the corner of Tennent and Union Hill Roads. It was remodeled/rebuilt in 1912 and used for special education purposes at that time. This building is still standing today. The current Robertsville School was constructed in 1968 down the road from the original schoolhouse. It is believed to have been named after Matthew Roberts, a prominent businessman in the day. In addition to the school use, it was also used for weekly Methodist services by the congregation that evolved into the Robertsville Bible Church.
September 11 Memorial
A memorial was constructed in memory of the 14 township residents killed as the result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Located near the Marlboro Recreation Center, the memorial consists of a circle of flowering dogwoods, surrounding benches and a memorial fountain on the township municipal grounds. The memorial was badly damaged and is currently being renovated after a serious motor vehicle accident in 2009.
Battle of Monmouth
The Battle of Monmouth as well as a number of skirmishes were fought near Marlboro Township during the American Revolutionary War. Many area placards and signs can be found on the local roads to identify specific local events from the battle. The Marlboro Township area farms were often raided by the British for food supplies and local livestock taken from area farmers. Following defeat in this battle, the British retreated from the area to their ships in the bay. A local state park, Monmouth Battlefield State Park, nearby in Freehold Township and Manalapan Township provides local reference to this historic event.
Liberty Hall/Hardy Blacksmith Shop
Liberty Hall also went by the name of Alfred Hardy & Son Blacksmith Shop, was a small brick building located on Route 79 in the small section of Morganville. The building was reportedly built around 1880. The building name could faintly be seen in scripted letters painted over the door of the building. The blacksmith shop operated into the early 20th century and was one of the last blacksmith operations in the area. Following the blacksmith shop closing, the building housed a machine shop until 1942 when a small defense contractor, Lavoie Laboratories bought it to produce radio gear for the military. In 1966, Lavoie sold it to Entron Industries, a manufacturer of missile circuitry that occupied the building until the mid-1970s. The building was torn down in June 2012 after being in disrepair and abandoned. There is now a Townhouse development on the site.
Old Brick Church and Cemetery
This church was known as the Freehold-Middletown Dutch Congregation (now Old Brick Church.) The Dutch residents who attended this church names appear in the early records and grave stones dating from 1709 (early records were written in the Dutch language.) In the beginning when services began, circa 1699, the preachers would come across the bay in small boats from Long Island to provide the service to the people of the parish.
Built circa 1740 and once owned by the Ely family, the Federal style house resembles a steamboat with a rounded north end. The smokehouse and ice house remain intact. During the early 19th century, the house served as an inn. The house is one of a few of this style left in the country.
Being the second highest point in the county, Col. Asher Holmes was ordered to construct three beacons as part of 23 statewide warning beacons. Used to signal local militia of British invasion, each pyramid of logs was 18 feet (5.5 m) high and 20 feet (6.1 m) wide. When filled with brush and lit, the fires could be seen through the area. It was one of three Monmouth County sites where beacons were placed to warn the residents and the Continental forces if the enemy should approach by the bay.