Salem County History Samples

Chronologically, the following are some interesting activities as recorded:

1796- First State approved Freeholder financed Poor House was a converted farmhouse/tavern near "Lakeview." A building specifically built as a Poor House completed in 1808.

1813- The Board ordered the County Clerk to arrange all county papers and documents in case the British invaded Salem and forced the Freeholders to evacuate.

1817- The Court House was completely rebuilt.

1819- Public election continued Salem Town as County Seat. A municipality, Centerville, is mentioned.

1845- It was voted to erect a Poor House (after the 1808 structure had burned down), which was also to accommodate the insane. The State reimbursed the County $1.00 per week per insane person so committed. Trustees of the Poor House "may" be selected from the Board membership and were paid a fee for attendance at meetings. An adjoining insane asylum was built in 1870.

1853- The hanging of Samuel Tredway is recorded in detail. Gallows were designed and drawings made part of the record. Sixteen special officers and eleven constables were appointed by resolution to provide security inside & outside the jailyard. Many seemed determined to leave their assigned posts to witness the execution. The Board deemed any officer leaving his post would not be considered hired.

Although the execution was under the direct supervision of the Board, several members declined to witness the death penalty. The Sheriff escorted the prisoner to the scaffold where the religious ceremony was conducted by several clergy. Two minutes of solitude were allowed the victim alone on the scaffold before his doom. The clerk made distinct note of the prisonerís calm resign to his fate and recorded death was instantaneous with the fall of about four feet.

1855- State school aid to the county was begun in the period of 1855. Early grants equaled $3,000 for the entire county. The surplus funds were invested in private mortgages and the interest from the same was distributed to the townships for education use.

1864- The County Seal was designed and adopted.

Bonded indebtedness for the County occurred. (This is contrary to popular belief that Salem County has never been under bonded debt.) Bonds in the amount of $248,000 were authorized to provide 291 militia men for the 1863 draft. The following year the draft quota was approximately doubled.

The monies were bounty funds to be employed for volunteers from the ten municipalities into the 24th Regiment of New Jersey. Each recruit received $30-$50. Toward the end of 1864, $300 was paid for the service. Subsistence for the wives and families of the men was also granted. Many times substitutes for drafted men were purchased. On one occasion, a special committee was appointed to infiltrate the rebel states to purchase recruits.

It is noted the County budget rose from $20,000 before the Civil War to $150,000 during the war.

The major costs of County government, excluding the Civil War period, was for bridge building and care of indigent persons. In earlier days, $2,000 of a total $4,700 annual budget was for the poor.

1879- Regular monthly meetings, in our modern concept were begun.

Genealogical Society of New Jersey (outside link)

Freeholders & History