When the new decade was ushered in on Jan. 1, 2020, it also marked Ocean County’s 170th anniversary.
“Certainly, Ocean County has seen great change since it was first created by a bill signed into law by Gov. Daniel Haines on February 15, 1850,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The new county, which had once been a part of Monmouth County, had a population of just over 10,000. Only Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton were not carved out of Monmouth County.”
Today, Ocean County has a population of almost 600,000 and has become a premiere county in the state for retirees, vacationers and young families.
“Every year on Feb. 15, Ocean County recognizes its Charter Day,” Vicari said. “It’s important we remember it as a key date in our County’s history.”
The original Charter of Ocean County, according to Ocean County officials, was presented to the Board of Freeholders on Sept. 3, 1883 by Edwin Salter, a local historian. The original charter unfortunately was misplaced. The first official reproduction of the Charter was released more than 100 years later. The Charter constitutes the jurisdiction of the officers and courts of Ocean County; the incorporation of the chosen freeholders; the authorization to erect a courthouse, jail and other county buildings in the designated count seat of Toms River; the apportionment of funds; the establishment of the Township of Brick; and the description of the boundary lines of Ocean County.
“Ocean County is rich in history,” said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission. “The 1850 courthouse stands tall as the centerpiece of the County seat in downtown Toms River, while courtroom 1 was restored to its historic beauty.
“Cedar Bridge Tavern in Barnegat Township stands as a restored historic treasure that offers a unique window into the European experience in the New Jersey Pinelands, she added. “From about 1740, a saw mill existed on the nearby branch of the Wading River and the town grew around the intersection of a major east/west thoroughfare and a southern route to reach Egg Harbor and Tuckerton.
“Today, Cedar Bridge Tavern is a gateway to the post industrial forests of the New Jersey Pinelands. Hundreds of students and adults tour the site each year,” she said. “We take great pride in preserving our history here in Ocean County.”
Vicari, a lifelong educator, noted that the success of the future is often built on history.
“For 170 years Ocean County has moved forward and over the course of time many of our residents played a key role in this country’s great historical moments,” he said. “Whether they protected our freedom and democracy or they made a significant difference right here, their actions have stood the test of time.”