Library & Archives
Lois R. Densky
Gregory J. Plunges
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey
The Yard Papers document the lives of Joseph Ashton Yard (1802 - 1878), his son James Sterling Yard (1826 - 1900), and his son Joseph Ashton Yard (1866 - 1939). James S. and his son were former owners and editors of the Monmouth Democrat published in Freehold NJ from 1834 to 1942. The Yards were active in both civic and military affairs in Trenton, Freehold, and New Jersey. Joseph A. Yard served in the Mexican and Civil Wars, James S. Yard in the Civil War, and Joseph A. Yard in the Spanish-American War. A chronological listing of the main events in the lives of Joseph A., James S. and Joseph A. Yard follows below.
JOSEPH ASHTON YARD
1802 March 23
Born in Trenton, son of Capt. Benjamin Yard (1769 - 1832) and Priscilla Keen (n.d.); studied medicine but eventually took over his father's carpentry business; became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
1824 Feb 26
Married Mary Woodward Sterling (1805 - 1863), daughter of John Wesley Sterling (n.d.) and Ann Woodward (n.d.).
Sold his carpentry business
1835 - 1840
Appointed Director of the NJ State Prison
Appointed to take the Burlington County census; established an auction and commission business in Trenton
1843 - 1846
Purchased and managed the Emporium and True American (Trenton).
Appointed an inspector in the New York custom house until outbreak of the Mexican War.
1845 - 1846
Reappointed Director of the NJ State Prison
1846 - 1848
Commissioned captain in the 10th US Infantry serving during the Mexican War.
1848 - 1849
Reinstated as inspector of the New York custom house
1849 - 1850
Elected assemblyman from Williamsburg, NY to the NY Legislature
1850 - 1852
Appointed warden of the Albany Penitentiary
1855 - 1861
Reappointed as inspector in the NY custom house
1861 - 1865
Residing in Trenton, issued a call for volunteers and raised Co. A, 3rd Regiment NJ Militia and served throughout the duration of the Civil War.
Moved to Farmingdale, NJ where he farmed, and was active in his church and the Temperance Movement
1878 October 17
Died in Farmingdale; buried in Mercer Cemetery in Trenton.
JAMES STERLING YARD
1826 April 20
Born in Trenton, son of Capt. Joseph Ashton Yard and Mary Woodward Sterling; attended Trenton Academy for preliminary education.
Entered his father's auction and commission business as a bookkeeper
1840 or 1841
Learned art of printing in the office of the Emporium and True American where he became a skillful compositor and pressman
Established the Weekly Visitor (Trenton) but sold it after three months
Published a campaign newspaper, the Kings County Democrat, for an association in Williamsburgh, Long Island
1850 - 1854
Printed for Benjamin F. Yard, owner and editor, the first thirteen numbers of the Ocean Signal (later known as Ocean County Courier) at Toms River, NJ; then started the Village Record (later known as the Gazette) at Hightstown, NJ; served as postmaster there for the period before 1854.
Became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Hightstown and continued his association in Freehold where he held a local preacher's license and served as superintendent of the Sunday school.
Moved to Freehold, NJ; purchased the Monmouth Democrat from Bernard Connolly who established the paper in 1834; Yard was editor and publisher until his death in 1900.
1855 - 1860
Served as postmaster of Freehold
1856 September 25
Married Adaline Clark Swift (1837 - 1918), daughter of Daniel Doughty Swift (1807 - 1877) and Lavinia Clark (1809 - 1882); children were Emma Laura, Mary Sterling, Daniel Swift, Joseph Ashton, Adaline Swift, James Sterling, and Thomas.
Commissioned as major in the 3rd Regiment NJ Militia; actively served in the Civil War for three months; connected with all military operation in Monmouth County for raising troops for the 28th and 29th Regiments of Volunteers until the close of the war; appointed commander of Camp Vredenburgh; held several other commissions; by 1890 retired from Militia service as a lieutenanc colonel.
1862 - 1865
Elected to Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
1867 - 1900
Treasurer of NJ Editorial Association
1873 April 2 - 1881
Appointed Commissioner of Railroad Taxation by Governor Joel Parker
Appointed Master of Chancery of New Jersey
1877 - 1900
Secretary of the Monmouth Battle Monument Association (later Commission); also served on the Executive and Financial Committees which included former NJ Governor Joel Parker, John B. Conover, Theodore W. Morris, James T. Burtis, John H. Laird, and Hal Allaire; later made a trustee of the Commission.
Appointed Deputy Quartermaster General
1878 - 1893
Member of Board of Commissioners of Appeal for Freehold Township.
1888 - 1894
Elected Mayor of Freehold town corporation; under his administration, the water and sewer systems were funded, devised, and constructed.
Memberships in other organizations
Ocean Grove Association, Freehold Board of Trade, Monmouth Lodge #20, NJ Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Past Master of the Olive Branch Lodge #16 (Freemasons), trustee of Dickinson College (PA).
1900 April 29
Died in Freehold; buried in Maplewood Cemetery
JOSEPH ASHTON YARD
Born in Freehold, son of James S. Yard and Adaline Clark Swift; attended (Freehold?) High School and Freehold Institute
Entered the printing and newspaper publishing business with his father at the Monmouth Democrat
Entered military service as a private in Co. E, 7th Regiment, NJ National Guard
Promoted to corporal
Promoted to first sergeant, then first lieutenant
Made a full partner of the Monmouth Democrat with his father.
1897 June 2
Married Emily Stillwell Burtis (n.d.), daughter of James Thompson Burtis (n.d.) and Hannah A. Shotwell (n.d.); one daughter, Elizabeth Burtis Yard
1898 April 12
Appointed first lieutenant in Co. I, 3rd Regiment, NJ National Guard; served in that capacity throughout the Spanish-American War guarding powderworks at Pompton Lakes, NJ and brigade camp at Athens, GA.
1899 May 2
Appointed first lieutenant in Co. G
1899 Oct 2
Appointed captain; later served as captain of his local National Guard unit from which he was honorably discharged in 1907
Continued as secretary of the Monmouth Battle Monument Commission after his father's death.
Memberships in other organizations
Monmouth Hose Company, Methodist Episcopal Church, Monmouth County Historical Association, served two terms as a Freehold Town Commissioner
1939 November 27
Died in Freehold; also buried in Maplewood Cemetery
DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION
The Yard Papers is a subject collection created by acquisition from the Yard family members that contain family and business papers of Joseph A., James S., and Joseph A. Yard. The collection includes correspondence, military papers, financial and legal documents, autographs, literary productions, inventories, diaries, minutes, proceedings, printed material, photographs, books, bound volumes, maps and subject files on Freehold, NJ taxes, the Monmouth Battle Monument Association (later Commission), the Monmouth Democrat, the NJ Editorial Association, NJ politics, the Monmouth County Agricultural Society, shooting tournaments (1878 - 1879), and the Temperance Movement. The bulk of the collection dates from 1845 to 1914. The eighteenth century documents apparently were collected by James S. Yard.
The papers of James S. Yard's father, Joseph A. Yard (1802 - 1878) included material documenting his activities as captain during the Mexican War (some items in Spanish). The scrapbook compiled by James S. Yard is a newspaper history of Joseph A. Yard.
The correspondence includes mostly incoming and some outgoing letters and telegrams of James S. and his son Joseph A. Yard. The 1856 love letters of James S. Yard to Adaline C. Swift include typed transcripts of about half of these letters. The letters include hand-written and typed formats and many include enclosures. Subjects ighlighted in the correspondence include the Civil War (1861 - 1865), letters to the editor, references to advertising and other business matters that pertain to the Monmouth Democrat, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S. (1888 - 1890), the Monmouth Battle Monument Association (1877 - 99 in James S. Yard's papers and 1903 - 1914 in Joseph A. Yard's papers), the NJ Rifle Corps (1864), the Spanish-American War (1898 - 1899), New Jersey and national politics (1880 - 1885), the shooting tournament (1878), and the Temperance Movement. The 1882 - 1884 letterpress book records outgoing letters from the Monmouth Democrat office. Numerous letters are from state and national figures. Noteworthy people include Anthony Comstock (1885), PT Barnum (1854), Monmouth County author and editor Henry Morford, Joel Parker, and many other former New Jersey governors and congressmen.
Military papers of James S. and Joseph A. Yard are also found in the collection. James S. Yard's papers pertain to the Civil War, including the NJ Volunteers, Monmouth County Infantry and Militia, the Deckertown Encampment, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S., the Monmouth Centennial Celebration (1878), and the Yorktown Centennial Celebration (1881). These records include bills and receipts, lists, accounts, exemption and desertion papers, broadsides, printed material, commissions, orders, accounts of ammunition on hand, a proclamation, rosters, petitions, invoices for stores, correspondence with enclosures, reports, and bound volumes. The 1847 commission appointed Joseph A. Yard (1802 - 1878) a captain in the Mexican War.
The military papers of Joseph A. Yard (1866 - 1939) deal with Co. E, 7th Regiment, NJ National Guard (Vredenburgh Rifles), the Spanish-American War, and the transfer of military stores. The papers include rosters, printed material, a statement of issue, a history of the Vredenburgh Rifles by Joseph A. Yard, orders, military passes, lists, accounts of pay and clothing, memos, invoices and receipts, commissions, bound volumes, and a discharge.
The financial documents record family and business transactions and contain bills and receipts, cancelled checks, stocks and bonds, income tax statements and records, and accounts. The legal documents also record family and business transactions and contain agreements, a mortgage, an acknowledgement of receipt of a gift to the NJ Historical Society, a petition, summons for a jury, a judgement, deeds, leases, an index to laws relating to Monmouth County, and an insurance polity for the Monmouth Democrat presses and equipment. The 1731 document authorizes construction of the Monmouth County Courthouse by the Justices and Freeholders.
Monmouth Battle Monument Association materials contain corporate records including minute books, receipts for money raised, a resolution, reports, minutes, printed material including clippings on the battle, proposed designs of the monument with an accompanying letter, and association notes. The focus of the material anticipates construction of the monument.
Monmouth Democrat material contains an account book, advertising rates, and printed samples from the Monmouth Democrat office.
The literary productions contain an illustrated New Year's card, poetry, a manuscript speech read by James S. Yard on former NJ governor Joel Parker before the NJ Historical Society (1888), a story, an essay, reminiscences on the death of Capt. Joshua Huddy (d. 1782), the Battle of Monmouth (1778), and on the life of Capt. Joseph A. Yard (1802 - 1878), and research notes on the Yard genealogy.
Freehold, NJ taxes contain tax records for the town which include records of the Commissioners of Appeal for tax assessments and claims, township financial reports, tax bills, depositions, and supporting documents.
The focus of the political material is Monmouth County and New Jersey politics particularly the activities of the Monmouth County Democratic Executive Committee. James S. Yard was an active Democrat. The records include speeches, accounts, resolutions, lists, candidacy announcements, and a political scrapbook.
Printed material contains papers of James S. and his son Joseph A. Yard. This material includes circulars, calling cards, certificates, and lottery tickets. James S. Yard's certificates include his local preacher's license, his appointments as postmaster in Hightstown and Freehold, as NJ Commissioner of Railroad Taxation, as Master of Chancery, and his membership in the NJ Microscopical Society. The 1773 lottery tickets were to raise money for St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Freehold. A survey of Pine Island is on the verso of the tickets.
The photographs include cabinet cards, and photos of daguerreotypes and tintypes. Included are views of the Monmouth Democrat office, and portraits of James S. Yard, Joseph A. Yard (1866 - 1939), Adaline Clark Swift Yard, Adaline Yard Lawrence, Emily Burtis Yard, Elizabeth Burtis Yard, James T. Burtis, Daniel Swift Yard, Mary Yard Typson, Emma Yard Ivins, and a 1914 family reunion.
Other miscellaneous files include autographs, inventories, diaries, minutes, proceedings, the NJ Editorial Association, the Monmouth County Agricultural Society, shooting tournaments, and the Temperance Movement. There are also several miscellaneous bound volumes.
Arrangement of the Yard papers is described in the series description. Books and oversize material including military papers, financial and legal documents, Monmouth Battle Monument papers, Monmouth Democrat material, and printed material have been removed from the collection. (Please see Appendix C in the printed version of this finding aid for their disposition and location).
The Yard Papers document two important 19th and early 20th century Monmouth County men who were active in the economic, political, and social affairs of their communities. The materials also pertain to the political and military history of Monmouth County and New Jersey in the 19th century. The documents are particularly important for such subjects as the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Monmouth Battle Monument Association, advertising, and the history of the Monmouth Democrat newspaper.
There are numerous related collections housed at the Monmouth County Historical Association library. Civil War collections include the Peter Vredenburgh Papers, the William Burroughs Ross Papers, the Samuel T. Sleeper Papers, and the Cowart Papers which also contain material on the Monmouth Battle Monument Association. The Theodore W. Morris Papers also pertain to the Monmouth Battle Monument Association. The Dr. Wdwin Field Papers is a collection of Spanish-American War material. The library has a nearly complete run of the Monmouth Democrat, as well as architectural blueprints and photographs of the Battle Monument. The museum collection contains the Monmouth Democrat press and type, the seal for the Vredenburgh Rifles, as well as extensive holdings of Yard family and Monmouth Battle Monument Association memorabilia. The Monmouth Democrat office located at 33-35 W. Main Street in Freehold is now occupied by other businesses.
PROVENANCE: Acquired between 1932 and 1953, gifts of Joseph Ashton Yard, Katherine Ivins, Lavinia Swift Murphy, and Mrs. Sylvia Lawrence for the estate of Elizabeth Burtis Yard, all from Freehold, NJ.
SIZE OF COLLECTION: 4 Linear Feet
The papers of Joseph A. Yard (1802 - 1878) precede those of James S. Yard which precede those of Joseph A. Yard (1866 - 1939). However, where there are duplicate series, they are described in one series entry. The series descriptions apply to the papers of James S. Yard unless otherwise indicated.
1. Joseph A. Yard (1802 - 1878) Papers. 1826 - 1860, n.d.
2. Correspondence. 1847 - 1914, 1934, n.d.
Arranged chronologically. Includes the correspondence of both James S. and Joseph A. Yard.
3. Military Papers. 1847 - 1907, 1931 - 1933, n.d.
Arranged topically then chronologically. Includes the military papers of both James S. and Joseph A. Yard.
4. Financial Documents. 1754 - 1755, 1778, 1833 - 1888.
5. Legal Documents. 1731, 1735, 1745, 1788, 1814 - 1875.
6. Autographs. n.d.
7. Inventories. 1852 - 1867.
8. Literary Productions, 1848 - 1888, n.d.
9. Diaries, Minutes, Proceedings. 1801 - 1828, 1866, n.d.
10. Subject Files. 1850 - 1933, n.d.
First arranged topically then chronologically. Subjects include Freehold, NJ taxes, Monmouth Battle Monument Association, Monmouth Democrat, NJ politics, shooting tournaments, Temperance Movement, and Monmouth County Agricultural Society. All located within James S. Yard's papers, although some material dates after his death.
11. Printed Material. 1773, 1857 - 1926, n.d.
Arranged chronologically. Includes printed material of both James S. and Joseph A. Yard.
12. Photographs. 1862 - 1914, n.d.
Arranged chronologically. Included in James S. Yard's papers although some photos were taken after his death.
13. Miscellaneous Bound Volumes. 1848 - 1917.
This page last updated 4 August 2008.