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Manuscript Collections


Collection 36

Rev. Frank R. Symmes (1826-1928)

Papers, 1761-1763, 1827-1946 



Processed by Lois R. Densky

Edited by Gregory J. Plunges

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728

July 1981


Rev. Frank Rosebrook Symmes (1856 Oct 24 - 1928 Mar 22), the son of Rev. Joseph G. Symmes (ca. 1824 - 1894) and a Miss Henry, was born in Madison, Indiana. His family moved to Cranbury, NJ when his father was installed as pastor of the Presbyterian Church. Frank Symmes attended Princeton University (1877 - 1881) and graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1886.

On 1886 May 13, Rev. Symmes was ordained by the Presbytery of West Jersey and was installed as pastor at the Old Fairfield Church ("Old Stone Church") in Fairton, NJ. He remained there until 1890 Feb 18, when he was installed at Tennent Church in Tennent, NJ While pastor at Tennent, Rev. Symmes served for a few years as stated clerk of the Monmouth Presbytery and for twenty years as the permanent clerk.

Rev. Symmes' interest in church history resulted in the publication of his book, History of the Old Tennent Church, in 1897. A second, enlarged edition was published in 1904. On 1919 Feb 18, he retired from Tennent Church and was made Pastor Emeritus. After 1919, Rev. Symmes continued his historical research of Monmouth County and conducted services in various churches in the county.

On 1893 Sept 26, Rev. Symmes married Elizabeth Smith Jewell (1865 - 1936), the daughter of William Henry Jewell (1825 - 1890) and Martha Jamison (b. 1830). They had two daughters, Dorothy (1894 - 1933) and Merion (b. 1895). The family moved to W. Main Street in Freehold upon Rev. Symmes' retirement. Miss Marion Symmes continues to reside at the family home. Rev. Symmes is buried in Tennent Church graveyard.



The Symmes Collection contains family papers of Rev. Frank R. Symmes and Martha Jamison Jewell, pastoral papers, research material, miscellaneous bound volumes, printed material, and photographs. The collection primarily reflects the Symmes' tenure as a former Tennent Church pastor and includes some of his research documentation for his book. The bulk dates of the collection are from 1827 to 1928.

The collection documents the activities of a Tennent Church pastor at the turn of the century. The papers provide additional material which pertains to Presbyterian Church history in Monmouth County, and will be useful for further study of the history of Tennent Church and its congregation. Genealogists will find the collection useful for information on Tennent Church members and their descendents.

Collections housed at the MCHA which relate to thses papers include the Tennent Church Records, the Rev. Archibald P. Cobb Papers, and the Robert Roy Papers. The last two collections also document the activities of former Tennent Church pastors. See the collection file for a list of books from Rev. Symmes' library. Check the library card catalog for miscellaneous material. The museum collection includes Symmes family memorabilia. Some printed material has been removed from the collection; please see the printed finding aid at the library for more information.



1. Personal Papers. 1848 - 1861, 1881 - 1928, n.d.
Arranged first by individual then chronologically

Series contains the papers of Rev. F.R. Symmes and his mother-in-law, Martha Jamison Jewell. Jewell's papers include an essay, letters from Charles Jamison, Alfred Jamison, and Jane E. Drummond, and printed material. A few items belonged to her brother, Charles Jamison. Rev. Symmes' papers include programs, an essay, his wedding invitation, a manuscript written by his father entitled "Historical Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury, NJ" (recopied by F.R. Symmes), rebus puzzles composed by F.R. Symmes, and a memorial written by Charles H. Neff and Samuel C. Cowart on the death of Rev. F.R. Symmes.


2. Pastoral Papers, 1885 - 1928
Arranged chronologically

Series consists of bound volumes, literary productions, and a sermon. Bound volumes include Symmes' notebook containing blackboard exercises for Sunday School (heavily illustrated) while he was pastor at "Old Stone Church," and his copy of certificates of membership and dismission while he was pastor at Tennent and served as permanent clerk of the Monmouth Presbytery. Literary productions are poems and essays composed by him which commemorated wedding anniversaries of Tennent Church members. The sermon commemorated the 125th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Monmouth.


3. Research Material, 1761 - 1763, 1867 - 1946, n.d.
Arranged chronologically

Series includes genealogical and historicla notes compiled by Rev. Symmes, and printed material and documents collected by him and daughter Marion Symmes. All material reflects the history of Tennent Church and its members. Genealogical and historical notes are in notebook form. There is an Englishtown deed. Printed material includes clippings, genealogy charts, and blueprint maps. The 18th century documents pertain to the Watson family. Rev. Symmes' material was probably used in preparation for the publication of his book.


4. Miscellaneous Bound Volumes, 1827 - 1849, n.d.

Series contains an account book and scrapbook. The account book of Daniel T. Symmes (1827 - 1831) contains personal and farm accounts. The inside front cover is annotated by Rev. Symmes. It also includes accounts of Lucinda Symmes (1841 - 1849) for personal, seamstress, and farm accounts. The back of the book contains questions and answers regarding American history. The scrapbook is composed of poetry and prose clippings pasted into an account book which belonged to J.D. Perrine. It probably belonged to Rev. Symmes.


5. Printed Material, 1866 - 1937, n.d.
Arranged chronologically

Series contains material collected by Rev. F. R. Symmes and Marion Symmes which includes pamphlets, catalogs, journals, booklets, programs, brochures, an annual report, and advertisement circulars. Subjects include: the Alexander Institute, the Collegiate Institute, the Monmouth Presbytery, the Second Presbyterian Church of Rahway, the Old Scots Church (later Tennent), Bettle of Monmouth celebrations, the Synod of NJ, the Monmouth County Sunday School Association, Capt. David Baird, Tennent Church, the Monmouth County Historical Association, the Sons of the Cincinnati, the National Society United States Daughters of 1812, the Francis E. Parker Memorial Home, Molly Pitcher, and the Freehold Institute.


6. Photographs, n.d.

Photos include Leander Jewell's Freehold home, Alfred Jamison to Charles Jamison letters (1848 & 1851), Tennent Church, and Tennent Church records (i.e. 1749/50 subscription lists to build Tennent Church -- 3 copies)


Provenance: Acquired in 1932, 1934, 1937, and 1981, a gift of Mrs. Elizabeth S. Jewell Symmes and daughters Dorothy and Marion, in memory of Rev. Frank R. Symmes

Restrictions: None.

Size of Collection: 1 Linear Foot



Box # / Folder # / Contents

1 / 1 / Personal Papers - Martha Jamison Jewell. 1848 - 1861, n.d.

1 / 2 / Personal Papers - Rev. Frank R. Symmes, 1881 - 1928

1 / 3 / Pastoral Papers - Blackboard Exercise Notebook, 1885 - 1889

1 / 4 / Pastoral Papers - Certificates of Membership & Dismission, 1885 - 1901

1 / 5 / Pastoral Papers, 1900 - 1923

1 / 6 / Research Material, 1761 - 1763, 1867 - 1946

1 / 7 / Research Material, n.d.

2 / - / Scrapbook, n.d.

2 / 1 / Printed Material, 1866 - 1884

2 / 2 / Printed Material, 1887 - 1896

2 / 3 / Printed Material, 1905 - 1937, n.d.

2 / 4 / Photographs, n.d.

Shelf / Account Book of Daniel T. and Lucinda Symmes, 1827 - 1849




1. "Obituary Notice" Freehold Transcript 1928 March 23

2. "Obituary Notice" Monmouth Democrat, 1928 March 29

3. Symmes, Rev. Frank R., comp. History of the Old Tennent Church. 2nd ed. Cranbury, NJ : George W. Burroughs, 1904


Additions to the Collection

1. Frank R. Symmes to Mr. Steen, letter, asking advice for disposing of 800 copies of History of Old Tennent, 1907 June 10 [added 2002 Jan 17]

2. Frank R. Symmes, A Life Sketch of Joseph Gaston Symmes, D.D., Sixth Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Cranbury, NJ (1895) [added 1997 July 22]


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This page last updated 9 July 2008.

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This website was funded by the Marion Huber Trust

Museum & Library, 70 Court Street Freehold, NJ 07728
Monmouth County Historical Association received a general operating grant from the the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
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