Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Cultural adn Heritage Commission is a division of The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation

Ocean County Timeline

11,500 BC | 1000 AD | 1600 | 1700 | 1750 | 1800 | 1850 | 1900 | 1950 | 2000

11,500 BC

Paleo-Indians migrated into what is now Ocean County and lived in nomadic bands hunting and fishing.


1000 AD

Early Woodland Period Indians, known as Lenape, emerge as hunters and gatherers. [Note: By 1740, there were only about 200 Native Americans living in New Jersey, south of the Raritan Bay to Cape May.]


1600

Dutch navigator, surveyor, and cartographer Cornelius Hendrickson navigated Barnegat Inlet and the Toms River onboard the Onrust, becoming the first European explorer to set foot on what became Ocean County soil. The land, which he claimed for Holland, became part of New Netherlands.


1664

King Charles II gave his brother James, Duke of York, the lands of New Netherlands after the Dutch surrendered the land under pressure from the British. It was renamed Albania, and James deeded this territory to two friends: Lord John Berkeley, who was given the western half, and Sir George Carteret, the eastern half.


1685

After Sir George Carteret died, his land holding in the province was sold off piecemeal to pay his indebtedness. The Proprietors began to buy land from the local Native Americans, which gave title for Ocean County lands to Europeans for the first time.


1687

East Jersey and West Jersey was split distinctly into two tracts after land disputes forced a line to be surveyed formally between the two territories. This line became known as the Keith Province Line, which eventually divided Ocean and Burlington counties.


1696

Captain William Kidd set sail from New York. Soon, he, with his crew, turned pirate and began working the waters off the Southern Jersey coast.


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1700

Captain Kidd was captured, taken to London where he was tried and hanged for piracy. About this time small settlements began to be established in the Little Egg Habor (Tuckerton), Goose Creek (Toms River), and New Egypt (Plumsted) areas.


1702

Queen Anne changed the province’s name from Albania to New Jersey and made it a Royal Colony, administered by a Royal Governor.


1705

West Creek settled by Jarvis Pharo; Barnegat settled by Jonas Tow.


1712

First road established in Ocean County.


1737

Waretown settled by Abraham Waier.


1743

The Keith Province line between East and West Jersey was resurveyed by John Lawrence following continued land disputes. This line was then referred to as the Dviision Line.


1749

Stafford Township was formally charted.


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1750
1754

French and Indian War erupted and continued until the treaty was signed between the British and French nine years later.


1758

A violent storm opened Cranberry Inlet, which later served a major role in the American Revolution and local history before closing during another violent storm in 1812.


1767

Dover Township formally established by charter.


1770

John Middleton, Jr. built the Tavern at Cedar Bridge, Stafford Township.


1774

The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. It set the price for salt, an important colonial commodity and industry along Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor Bay.


1776

The Declaration of Independence was signed and the Revolutionary War began.


1778

Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish cavalry officer, and his legion were engaged by the British on Osborn Island. Forty troops, massacred by the British in a surprise early morning attack, gained the dubious distinction of being the only men from Washington’s Army to be killed by the British on Ocean County soil.


A British expedition attacked the Toms River Blockhouse and its compliment of twenty-five militiamen under the command of Captain Joshua Huddy. The British burned the village of Toms River and captured and hanged Huddy.

Notorious Tory outlaw John Bacon and his men committed the Barnegat Light Massacre, slaughtering twenty local crew of a salvaged British sloop as they slept.

A skirmish at Cedar Creek (now in Barnegat Township) marked last land conflict of American Revolution.

1783

Loyalist insurgent John Bacon cornered and killed.

1787

United States Constitution drafted and officially declared ratified two years later.

1789

George Washington inaugurated as the first president of the United States.

The first local iron forge was built on Lake Horicon (near present-day Lakehurst)


The first petition, bearing 35 signatures, to establish a new county by separating lands from Burlington and Monmouth counties, was filed. The motion was defeated in the New Jersey State Legislature.


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1800
1812

Growing hostilities between the United States and Britain erupted into the War of 1812.

1813

Commodore Hardy, aboard the British ship Ramillies, conducted raids while patrolling off Barnegat Inlet to deter American ships from reaching New York.

1814

A formal New Jersey militia was organized to combat British attacks, especially against coastal and naval interests, during the War of 1812.

Treaty of Ghent ends War of 1812.

Over-hunting forces an end to the whaling industry in Southern Ocean County.


1828

The U.S. Government, aware of the treacherous waters of the Barnegat Shoals, began to build crude shelters along the barrier island beaches to help save shipwreck victims – crews and passengers, most of whom were immigrants.This was the beginning of the Life Saving Service.

1843

Joseph Francis invented the corrugated metal life-car, which proved effective in saving wrecked passengers and crew all along the Atlantic coastal waters.

1844

Jackson Township is created from a separated northwest section of Dover Township.

1845

Plumsted Township is similarly created from a severed section of Jackson Township.

Joel Haywood of West Creek, wrote a letter to the New Jersey State Legislature urging that a new county, called Ocean, be formed from Monmouth County.


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1850

Ocean County was set-off from Monmouth County by charter on February 15, becoming the state’s twentieth county, the second largest in area. It consisted of six original townships – Brick, Dover, Jackson, Plumsted, Stafford, and Union (now Barnegat). The 12-member Board of Freeholders met on May 8 at the Thomas P. Barkalow house in Toms River, the designated county seat, and authorized purchase of land and construction of the Ocean County Courthouse. The first operating budget was set at $1,800.


1851

The population of the state’s newest county was 10,032.

The Freeholder Board met in the new $10,000 courthouse for the first time on June 13, 1851.

1852

The Sheriff’s House, with jail attached, was constructed behind the courthouse and completed in April.


Cultivation of cranberries as a cash cropbegun by Daniel Gowdy.


The third (and present) Barnegat Lighthouse was completed at the northern end of Long Beach Island at a cost of $60,000. The towering 163-foot structure, made of steel, bricks and mortar, maintained watch over the sea until 1927. It is not only the second oldest lighthouse in the United States, but it is also the tallest in New Jersey.


1860

The County’s population was 11,176.


Civil War begins. Ocean County's Board of Chosen Freeholders held a special meeting on April 25 supporting President Lincoln's call for volunteers to join the Union Army. Henry Clay Havens of Brick Township, who was just 16 years old when he enlisted, was killed in the Battle of Monocracy in 1864. He was just one of 59 to die of the County's 478 who served, a casualty rate of more than 12%.


Railroads begins. began service through Ocean County. Trains transported Union troops to and from Ocean County during the Civil War.


1870

The County’s population was 13,628.


Congress appropriated funding to initiate professionalization of the Life Saving Service.

The life-saving servicewas formalized by Captain Hugh McClellan on Island Beach (later Island Beach State Park). He took 6 trained uniformed men to New Orleans for the World's Fair to demonstrate lifesaving techniques, which became the national standard.


1880

A building boom, including many large hotels, began in Lakewood.

County’s population was 14,455.


1891

Little Egg Harbor Township, incorporated in 1798 in Burlington County, was annexed to become part of Ocean County.

1895

A crude boardwalk, consisting of boards laid temporarily on the sand, was replaced by a permanent one built on piling in Point Pleasant Beach.

The County’s population was 18,723.

1887

Georgian Court, the estate of George Jay Gould, scion of robber baron and railroad tycoon, Jay Gould, was built in Lakewood during the glorious Gilded Age.


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1900

Ocean County celebrated its semicentennialanniversary. During its first 50 years, the County added 16 more municipalities to its original six.

The County’s population was 19,747.

John D. Rockefeller purchased the Hunt and Country Club from George Jay Gould in Lakewood and converted it into his summer estate.

1910

The County’s population was 21,318.

1912

A German company, Goldschmidt’s, constructed the 820-foot steel wireless Tuckerton tower for commercial transmitting trans-Atlantic. A bushel of white potatoes sold for 75 cents.

1913

The Paul Kimball Hospital in Lakewood opened its doors with sixteen beds and a staff of nine.

1915

Ocean County was the only county in New Jersey to support a referendum to amend the state constitution extending suffrage to women.

1917

The United States entered World War I.The former ammunition proving grounds in Manchester and Jackson townships was acquired by U.S. Army and renamed Camp Kendrick.

1920

The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. The Board of Chosen Freeholders was reduced from 28 to 3 members. The county government structure consisted of 11 departments.

1921

The County’s population was 22,155.

The U.S. Navy, which had acquired Camp Kendrick from the Army two years earlier, commissioned it in June as Lakehurst Naval Air Station to be used as a lighter-than-air base.


Lila W. Thompson of New Egypt (Plumsted Township) was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, thus, becoming Ocean County’s first woman legislator.


1924

The Lakewood estate of the financier and railroad magnate George Jay Gould was acquired by the Sisters of Mercy to establish Georgian Court College, a four-year women's educational institution. It is an historic site and a National Historic Landmark.

1927

South Toms River Borough, the last of Ocean County’s 33 municipalities and the eleventh since 1900, was formed from Berkeley Township lands. By then, the County had 14 townships and 19 boroughs.

1929

The New York Stock Market crashedin October, heralding the Great Depression.

1930

County population was 33,069.

1932

County population was 33,069.


The Hindenburg, a huge, luxurious, German-built dirigible, crashed in a fiery blaze at Lakehurst Naval Air Station on May 6. The disaster, killing 37 passengers and crew, was reported nationwide on radio as it was happening.


1940

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. offered the family’s Lakewood estate, both mansion and property) to the County as a gift three years after his father’s death.

1941

The Freeholders agreed to accept the Rockefeller gift and establish Ocean County’s first park on the estate.

The United States was attacked by Japan on December 7th and entered World War II.

1945

Operating under the code name “Bumblebee,” the world’s first successful supersonic ramjet, traveling 1,500 m.p.h., was fired from Island Beach on June 3.

World War II ended with the defeat of Germany and Japan.


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1950

Ocean County celebrated its centennial anniversary. Hostilities in Korea resulted in the United Nations taking action against the aggressors with the United States providing the bulk of the UN forces.

The County’s population was 56,622.


Garden State Parkway opens.


1960

County population grows to 108,241.

1962

A savage northeast storm, which destroyed millions of dollars in property and cost the lives of several residents on Long Beach Island in March, did not discourage rebuilding and future development along the shore.

1963

Plans for one of the County’s first adult communities, Leisure Village in Lakewood, were unveiled. It was described as a “total retirement community designed to meet the broad spectrum of recreation, physical, social and cultural needs of its residents,” who were restricted only to those over the age of 50.

Beth Medrash Govoha, a rabbinal college, was established in Lakewood.

1964

The Island Beach estate of Henry Phipps, the steel magnate and co-owner of Bethlehem Steel, was purchased by the State for conservation and recreation, establishing Island Beach State Park.

Ocean County College, a two-year community college, was established in Toms River.

1965

The United States engaged in an undeclared war in Vietnam by sending combat troops to Vietnam.

1966

Ocean County was identified as New Jersey’s fastest growing County.

1968

Robert J. Miller Airpark opens.

1970

A 92.6% population explosion in the last decade, mushroomed the County’s population to 208,470.

1972

The members on the Board of Chosen Freeholders increased from 3 to 5, a reflection of the rapidly increasing population. The number of county government departments was 32, with an additional 26 citizen boards and commissions.

1973

The Costal Zone Management Plan, forerunner of the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) was adopted to manage development along the shore.

1975

The Lakewood Little League team won the National Tournament of Champions in August at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, beating Tampa, Florida, 4-3.

1980

County population grew to 346,038.


The Ocean County Library headquarters (main branch), a 50,000 square-foot modern facility opened in Toms River.


1990

The County’s population was 433,203, representing more than 60 racial and ancestral ethnic groups.

First farm (139 acres) was preserved through the Ocean County Farmland Preservation Program.


Community Medical Center, acknowledged as the largest non-teaching hospital in New Jersey, treated over 53,000 emergency room patients in one twelve-month period. In 30 years, the hospital expanded from 50 to 600 beds.



The Toms River East American Little League team defeated a Japanese team in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania in August.


1980

The extent of Ocean County government was pegged at 1,780 employees, a $151,786,588 budget, 138 buildings, and 1,350 vehicles.


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Ocean County celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary.

Population in Ocean County grew to 510,916!


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