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.

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

1851
    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 crop begun 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 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 service was 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.

1897
    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.
1900
   

Ocean County celebrated its semicentennial anniversary. 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.

The County’s population was 22,155.

1921
    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 crashed in October, heralding the Great Depression.
1930
    County population was 33,069.
1932
    A bushel of white potatoes sold for just 45 cents.
    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.

The County’s population was 37,706.

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.

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.

During the next decade, some local school districts could not keep up with the rapidly rising pupil population and had to institute half-day sessions when alternative temporary off-site facilities were not available

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.
1999
    The extent of Ocean County government was pegged at 1,780 employees, a $151,786,588 budget, 138 buildings, and 1,350 vehicles.
    Ocean County celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary.

Population in Ocean County grew to 510,916!
       
 
 
Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission

HOME / ABOUT US /MUSEUMS / HISTORY / PHOTO GALLERY / HISTORIC LINKS / KIDS

 

Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission