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    This month, every four years, the Governor of New Jersey is sworn into office -
the orderly transition of power, or the continuance of that power, under our state constitution.

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May PDF Print E-mail

By: J. Mark Mutter

On May 2, 1782, the British Commander-in-Chief at the end of the Revolutionary War ordered an official halt to further raids along the Jersey coast.

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April PDF Print E-mail




By: J. Mark Mutter



            April and the American Civil War - - April 9, when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln five days later in Ford’s Theater.   For the Union, with the war’s ending, it was a time of great celebration; with Lincoln’s murder, it was a time of great tragedy. How did Toms River react to these historic events?

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February PDF Print E-mail





By: J. Mark Mutter


          On February 21, 1798, the New Jersey legislature passed “An Act incorporating the inhabitants of Townships, designating their powers, and regulating their meetings.”


          All 104 Townships that were then in existence were listed – including the then Township of Dover, now Toms River.


          Our Township had been created some 32 years earlier – in 1767.




          This was the period of time of the “royal province” of New Jersey in which the number of townships dramatically increased before independence was declared.


          Originally, New Jersey had separate townships in both “East Jersey” and “West Jersey” – as the province was divided into two parts before 1702.


          With the reunification of the province – we were then part of the British Empire – the number of Townships grew throughout the 1700’s.


          There were three ways in which a township was formed during this period:


          (1) By royal charters from the King or Queen, known as “letters patents”. Stafford Township, the oldest municipality in Ocean County, was created in this manner in 1749.


          (2) By orders from either the Cape May, Morris, or Sussex County Courts.


          (3) By acts of the General Assembly. Seven municipalities were formed this way – including Dover Township which was established on June 24, 1767.


          The creation of the non-incorporated Dover Township in 1767 means our community is nine years older than the United States.


          Once part of the royal province of New Jersey, our early records were destroyed when the British attacked and burned Toms River in 1782 at the end of the Revolutionary War.




          Our first records still in existence are from 1783 – in the Dover “Town Book” and contains very basic information from the Annual Town Meeting held in March of each year.


          Those first meetings were held in public taverns or private homes – typical of those times – and organized the town for the year ahead before the planting of crops. Most of our early town leaders were farmers.


          The meetings were simple – electing a clerk, an overseer of the poor, and the building of roads and bridges. (These meetings can be accessed on our Township website at www.tomsrivertownship.com, go to “Forms” to “Historic.”)


          With the 1798 state law enacted this month, our Township, like all others then in existence, was “incorporated.” Thus, “municipal corporations” were introduced to New Jersey, a concept still with us today.


          J. Mark Mutter is the Toms River Clerk and Historian, and Chairman of the Semiquicentennial Committee that is planning the Township 250th anniversary in 2017.



January PDF Print E-mail




By: J. Mark Mutter


            In January 1776, the Continental Congress published the “Tory

Act” resolution which described how the colonists should handle those persons favoring King George III and British control of North America.


            The resolution called on colonial committees to indoctrinate those “honest and well-meaning, but uninformed people” by enlightening them as to the “origin, nature and extent of the present controversy.” The Congress remained “fully persuaded that the more our right to the enjoyment of our ancient liberties and privileges is examined, the more just and necessary our present opposition to ministerial tyranny will appear.”


            However, those “unworthy Americans,” who had taken part with “our oppressors” with the aim of gathering “ignominious rewards,” were left to the relevant bodies, some ominously named “councils of safety,” to decide their fate. Congress merely offered its “opinion” that dedicated Tories “ought to be disarmed, and the more dangerous among them either kept in safe custody, or bound with sufficient sureties to their good behavior.”


            This action by the Congress was taken after fighting began between Americans and the British at Lexington and Concord in April 1775.


            Here in Toms River, one such Council of Safety, the “Pennsylvania Council of Safety” built a salt works where Shelter Cove Park is now located.


            In 1777, the Council sent one of its members here to purchase a fifty-acre tract of salt meadows located opposite Cranberry Inlet. Later that year, it built the salt works – a long building with fireplace, kettles, drying house, stable, and blacksmith shop.


            The salt works at Shelter Cove was one of the most productive during the Revolutionary War – and subject to several attacks by the British, as salt was a much needed commodity for George Washington’s Army.


            Also in January, in 1784, the Continental Congress ratified the Second Treaty of Paris which ended the war for independence.


            In the treaty, Britain officially agreed to recognize the independence of the 13 colonies as the new United States of America.


            The treaty’s adoption was delayed for several years. While official fighting ended in 1781 at the Battle of Yorktown, sporadic clashes delayed the peace talks in Paris – including the battle of Toms River which occurred in 1782.


            J. Mark Mutter is the Toms River Township Clerk and Historian, and is Chairman of the Semiquincentennial Committee that is planning the Township’s 250th anniversary in 2017.







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