Library & Archives
Monmouth Battle Monument Commission
Records, 1854, 1878-1932
Lois R. Densky
Gregory J. Plunges
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728
The work of the Monmouth Battle Monument Commission began after a speech by Gov. Joel Parker was delivered June 28, 1877 at the 99th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Monmouth. Gov. Parker called forth to the citizens of Monmouth County and the State of New Jersey to erect a fitting monument to commemorate those killed in action at the battle on June 28, 1778. Thus on October 2, 1877 the Monmouth Battle Monument Association was organized with Gov. Parker elected president, and James S. Yard as secretary.
On February 2, 1878, the Association accepted a gift of land in Freehold, N.J. from the heirs of Daniel S. Schanck. The only stipulation was that a monument be erected on this plot which was subsequently called Monument Park.
The Association was incorporated by an act of the NJ legislature on May 7, 1878. Elected officials included Gov. Parker as president, James Yard as secretary, and John B. Conover as secretary. Yard, Theodore W. Morris, James T. Burtis, John H. Laird, and Hal Allaire formed the executive and finance committee. At the 100th anniversary celebration on June 18, 1878, the cornerstone was laid and the deed to the park was presented. Between 1878 and 1880, nearly $10,000 was raised by the people of New Jersey.
By an act of the N.J. legistlature on March 14, 1881, an initial appropriation of $10,000 was approved and the work was placed under the direction of a Commission. The Commission was charged with selecting a design, contracting for, erecting, and finishing the monument at the park. Under the Act, the Association selected five trustees to prepresent their interests on the Commission. They were Morris, Yard, Burtis, Allaire, and Conover. Thus on April 9, 1881 the Commission was organized. Garret A. Hobart was elected president, Harrison Van Duyne and T.W. Morris were vice-presidents, Edward F. Applegate was secretary, and John B. Conover was treasurer. At this time the Commission ordered a deed to be executed to the State of New Jersey for Monument Park.
In 1882, Garret Hobart was re-elected president, and John T. Dunn and T.W. Morris as vice-presidents. The US Congress granted an appropriation of $20,000 on July 6, 1882 for completion of the monument.
On March 2, 1883, the committee on design, which included Morris, William S. Stryker, Edward J. Anderson, Lewis Perrine, and Allaire, accepted a design executed by architects Emelin T. Littell and Douglass Smythe, sculpted by Joseph E. Kelly, and exhibited by Maurice J. Powers of the National Fine Art Foundry in New York City. A contract was awarded to Mr. Powers for $36,000. The Commission retained architect Edward E. Raht to superintent construction of the monument. In 1884, Morris was re-elected president and served in this position until 1926. John J. Gardner and Thomas O'Connor were elected vice-presidents.
In 1884, Benjamin A. Vail and Alfred B. Stoney were elected vice-presidents. On November 13, 1884, the monument was officially unveiled and dedication ceremonies were held.
In 1894, the monument statue, Columbia Triumphant, was struck by lightning and damaged. Between 1895 and 1896, the Commission oversaw its replacement by a replica statue. The Commission continued its administration of the monument and of the anniversary celebrations through the 150th celebration on June 28, 1928. It is unknown when the Commission officially disbanded.
Description of the Collection
The Monmouth Battle Monument Commission records represent a subject collection that was acquired from various donors. The collection reflects the business activities of the Commission, particularly those of its president Theodore W. Morris. Manuscrips include letters, literary productions, financial records, legal records, and printed material. The bulk dates of the collection are from 1878 to 1914.
The records document the history of the development of the Monmouth Battle Monument. The Yard and Cowart Papers, both housed at the Monmouth County Historical Association, directly relate to these records and contain complementary Commission records. There are numerous Battle of Monmouth anniversary celebration photographs in the library photograph file.
The oversize file contains 5 drawings by P. H. Ogden, 1904 November 5, of examples of possible additions to the monument. A variation of sketch Number 4 was erected.
PROVENANCE: Acquired between 1932 and 1974 from various donors.
Applegate, Mr. Maxcy, Freehold, NJ
Rue, Miss Eleanor P., Freehold, NJ
Holmes, Mr. William S., Freehold, NJ
Campbell, Mr. Edmund S., University, VA
Ruff, Mr. Louis F., E. Cleveland, OH
Cooke, Dr. Robert A., New York City, NY
Beach, Miss Florence, Freehold, NJ
Wood, Mrs. James, Little Silver, NJ
Hall, Mr. John, Freehold, NJ
Statesir, Mr. Vernon, Freehold, NJ
Morris, Mr. Theodore, Freehold, NJ
SIZE OF COLLECTION: 86 items
1. Letters. 1905 - 1914; n.d.
Series consists of incoming letters, the majority of which are addressed to Commission president Theodore W. Morris. Other recipients include architect Warren H. Conover and Hon. J. Willard Morgan. Correspondents include: Eugene F. Aucaigne, Charles A. Baird, James T. Burtis, Warren H. Conover, Edward G. Forman, Joseph E. Kelly, and C.A. Swift. Letters concern Commission business including Monument Park ground maintenance; the cleaning, repairing, and engraving of monument bronzes; and New Jersey State appropriations. A highlight is Kelly's letter (n.d.) to Morris in which is contained a pencil sketch by Kelly identifying people on the monument bas-relief entitled, "Council of War at Hopewell".
2. Literary Productions. 1884 and 1885.
Series contains an address by Gov. Leon Abbett on behalf of the State of New Jersey in which he accepts monument at its unveiling, and an essay entitled, "Description of Construction Details of the Monmouth Battle Monument," by Louis F. Ruff.
3. Financial Records. 1906-1908; 1928; n.d.
Series includes bills and receipts for monument maintenance, and a subscription list for funds collected from public to offset expenses incurred for the 150th anniversary celebration.
4. Legal Records. 1878-1906
Series consists of copies of deeds, agreements, NJ State acts, and a contract which pertains to the building and maintenance of the monument. Agreements and deeds document the gift of Monument Park by the heirs of Daniel S. Schanck to the Association. New Jersey acts document establishment of Commission and State appropriations. The contract between the Henry-Bonnard Co. and the Commission is to clean, repair, and engrave monument bronzes.
5. Printed Material. 1854, 1878-1932; n.d.
Series consists of invitations, tickts, a broadside, programs, menus, circulars, blank stationery, a badge, pamphlets, poetry, and addresses. All material reflects Battle of Monmouth anniversary celebrations, and includes some items issued at the monument's unveiling.
FOLDER # / CONTENTS
1 / Letters. 1905 - 1914; n.d. & Literary Productions. 1884 & 1885. 21 items.
2 / Financial Records. 1906 - 1908; 1928; n.d. & Legal Records. 1878 - 1906. 18 items.
3 / Printed Material. 1854; 1878 - 1932; n.d. 47 items.
OS / Drawings, 1904. 5 items.
1. "Memorial of the Committee of Arrangements for the Unveiling of the Monmouth Battle Monument, at Freehold, New Jersey, Thursday, November 13, 1884." Trenton, N.J. : John L. Murphy, 1885.
2. "Obituary Notes" Freehold Transcript, Oct. 29, 1926. For Theodore W. Morris.
This page last updated 4 August 2008.