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A Guide To Its Present And Past
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of New Jersey
American Guide Series

Originally published in 1939
Some of this information may no longer be current and in that case is presented for historical interest only.

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Tour 18
Junction with US 1–Woodbridge–Perth Amboy–Freehold–Lakewood–Toms River–Tuckerton–Cape May; US 9,

TOMS RIVER, 48.2 miles (20 alt., 3,290 pop.), county seat of Ocean County, is an attractive fishing community on the northern banks of Toms River, a waterway discovered in 2673 by the surveyor, Capt. William Tom. The town is widely known for its excellent clam chowder, always served with ship's biscuit.

The OCEAN HOUSE (open), a large white frame tavern, has dominated the triangular town square since 1787. The earliest building is still in use in the rear. The old inn was a stagecoach stop on the Freehold to Tuckerton run. The OCEAN COUNTY COURTHOUSE (open weekdays 9-5), Washington St., 3 blocks L. of the square built in 1850 as a modified copy of the Hudson County Courthouse, is a small red brick building with the tall classic columns and pediment of the Greek Revival style. It is attractively placed on a wide lawn under great trees. The COUNTY MUSEUM, in the offices of the publicity director, contains Currier and Ives prints, early newspapers, relics, and oddities.

During the Revolution the settlement was a starting point for patriots' raids and its residents were described by the British as a piratical set of banditti." On March 24, 1782, a band of Tories led by British officers attacked the crude blockhouse, built on a knoll, approximately where the county courthouse stands today. Capt. Joshua Huddy, active in ridding Monmouth County of Tory refugees, was in command of the stockade with a few militiamen. Outnumbered and with ammunition spent, Huddy was forced to surrender. Without a trial, he was brought to Water Witch (see Tour 36) and hanged in retaliation for the killing of a Loyalist prisoner by patriots. The execution was directed by Capt. Richard Lippincott, a pre-war neighbor and friend of Huddy. General Washington, sharing the Colonists' wrath, ordered the death of an imprisoned British officer in reprisal, but an apology from Gen. Sir Guy Carleton, plus dissolution of the Loyalists' organization as the war drew near its end, closed the incident. The British burned the town after the attack. It became the county seat when it was later rebuilt.

The vanished Toms River salt works, most important of many plants along the New Jersey shore, were built in 1776 when the supply from England was cut off. Salt water was evaporated, and the thick residue strained and spread out to dry.

Right from the center of Toms River and then immediately L. across the old bridge to SOUTH TOMS RIVER, 1 m. This was in 1837 pioneer ground for the Mormons, who built without nails or other metal a small church that later served as the first Ocean County courthouse. It no longer exists, but there are several Mormon houses and the GRAVEYARD. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, visited the Toms River colony in 1840. Twelve years later his converts here joined their co-religionists at Salt Lake.

South of Toms River, US 9 crosses the river on a concrete and steel drawbridge. The shore (L) is crowded with small docks for fishing craft and pleasure cruisers.

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