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Micah Williams: Portrait Artist

Between 1819 and 1828, traveling artist Micah Williams (1782-1837) made repeated visits to Monmouth County to produce dozens of pastel portraits of local farmers, doctors, businessmen, and their families. Williams is recognized as one of America’s early portrait artists, yet little research has been completed on this profoundly talented man. The Monmouth County Historical Association collection contains twenty-two pastel portraits by this artist.

New Brunswick, Middlesex County, resident Williams produced hundreds of vibrant portraits during his over twenty-year career, many of which are in numerous American museums and in private collections across the country. "Micah Williams: Portrait Artist" opened to the public Sunday, May 19th and ran until Saturday, Sept. 27th. 



Over the past twenty years, the Association has presented over thirty changing exhibitions exploring Monmouth County life. Some of our recent exhibitions have included "Angels In The Household: Childhood Life in Monmouth County" (1999), "The Karagheusian Rug Mill" (2000), "Steamboat!" (2002), "Revolution in Monmouth" (2003), "Home Front: Monmouth County in World War II" (2005), "By the Sea" (2007), and "Craftsmen & Clients" (2009). The Association offers at least one changing exhibition each year exploring a facet of Monmouth County life.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is an admission fee of $5 per person, $2.50 for seniors and children. Children under 6 are free. Members are also free. The first floor of the Museum & Library are wheelchair accessible. 

Past Exhibitions

Marching Away: Monmouth County in the Civil War explored the lives of Monmouth County men prior to the Civil War, their wartime experiences, and their struggles and successes in taking up where they left off after their return. These themes of departure, experience, return, and healing are illustrated through the words and experiences of selected Monmouth County soldiers using letters, photographs, diaries, documents, newspapers, objects and artifacts taken from the Association’s collections. 


Captain Ralph Gowdey, Company F, 14th New Jersey  Infantry, with his wife Rebecca. Carte de Visite, Marken's Gallery, Frederick, Maryland, circa 1863. Collection of the Library & Archives.


American Utopia:  The History of the North American Phalanx 

The North American Phalanx was a utopian community located in Lincroft that operated between 1843 and 1856. While the Phalanx is known for its successful economic model, this exhibition looks at some of the personalities involved and the undercurrents of social life within their world. The Phalanx represents an era, an American mindset, the people and the challenges facing them during their time.  


The North American Phalanx, circa 1847-55.  Collection of Monmouth County Historical Association, Gift of the Bucklin Family, 1936.


Craftsmen and Clients

The Craftsmen and Clients exhibition featured craftsmen of the 18th and 19th centuries in Monmouth County and surrounding areas. Through their products, clients and documentation, craftsmen from three different trades -- cabinetmakers, silversmiths and potters -- are highlighted.  The crafts produced by these three groups offer an interesting comparison in terms of client demand and the types of clients served.  Several themes follow through the exhibition that relate to the study of decorative arts and their value in understanding the people who made and used them.


Hanging Cupboard made in New York or Middletown, NJ dated 1722 of white oak and yellow pine.  The image on the door signifies the Dutch saying "A true heart is a crown of gold."  The cupboard descended in the Luyster family who settled in Monmouth County in 1717.  It was a gift to Monmouth County Historical Association from John R. and Alfred G. Luyster. 

The exhibition featured the craftsmanship of Monmouth County cabinetmakers and joiners such as Robert Rhea (d. 1720), William Applegate (1726-1768), Fenwick Lyell (1767-1822) and Matthew Egerton, Jr. (c. 1765-1837) of nearby New Brunswick. 

Some of  the Silversmiths represented are Anthony Holmes (1760–1849), John Schanck (1774-1869), Teunis Denise DuBois (1773-1843) and Garret Schanck (1768-1795).      

       Silver Tea Pot by John Schanck made in New York City or Matawan (circa 1795-1820) and Silver Covered Sugar Bowl also by John Schanck made New York or Monmouth County (circa 1774-1820).  Engraved on the base of the sugar bowl "E*F to C*A*L" for Eleanor Forman to Corlies and Anne Lloyd.                                      

Stoneware from such potteries as Warne & Letts, Van Wickle & Morgan was also featured. Items created for Monmouth County families such as the Browns, Holmes, Taylors, Lloyds, Hendricksons, Vanderveers, Schanck and others were featured to further reflect the relationship between the craftmen and their clients. 

Ledger and account books, receipts, family records and other documents highlight the relationship between the craftsmen and the clients offering an interesting glimpse into the influence they had on each other. The intended use of an item, the occasion for which it was crafted, the predominant style of the time as well as up and coming styles also played a role in the creation of the final piece.

The furniture, silverware and stoneware reflect the various developing trades in the Monmouth County area during the 18th and 19th centuries.  These three crafts are reflective of all the crafts and trades of this period that were making their mark on the economic, cultural and social life of the county.

 Craftsmen and Clients was made possible in part thanks to funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission.  

Early New Jersey Stoneware


Pictured above: Stoneware crock, attributed to the Kemple potters, Ringoes, NJ circa 1750. Marshall P. Blankarn Purchasing Fund, 1956. Stoneware crock, unknown maker, possibly Old Bridge area, dated 1802, made for Monmouth County resident Chrineyonce Schenck. Museum Collection. Stoneware crock, Kemple potters, Ringoes, NJ, circao 1750. Marshall P. Blankarn Purchasing Fund, 1956

This exhibit featured 27 crocks, jugs, and jars made between 1750 and 1820. Stoneware makers such as the Kemple potters of Ringoes, the Morgan family of Cheesequake and the firm of Van Wickle and Morgan in Old Bridge are represented in the exhibition. New Jersey resident Robert J. Sim (1881-1955) investigated early New Jersey stoneware potters. His research, conducted from the late 1930's up until his death in 1955, included archaeological digs at the sites of many of the original potteries. Fragments of the stoneware vessels uncovered by Sim durig his digs are also on view in the exhibition. The exhibit also included six significant stoneware pieces on loan from a private collector.

Monmouth County Historical Association has one of the leading early New Jersey stoneware collections in the country. This exhibit represents only a portion of the Association's collection.


Permanent exhibitions

The Battle of Monmouth

A mini-version of our 225th anniversary Battle of Monmouth exhibition is installed in the Freehold Gallery. Included are images of Molly Pitcher, a Brown Bess and other guns from the Revolutionary War, and a piece of a tree from the battlefield with a canonball lodged in its bark. In the first floor foyer is our beautiful Leutze rendition of the battle, as well as our Carter painting of Molly Pitcher being presented to General Washington.

The Discovery Room

Our hands-on, interactive gallery designed for children has been recently updated and now offers a peek into the life of a soldier during the time of the Battle of Monmouth. We've kept some old favorite activities, such as carding wool, trying on period-style clothing, and playing with toys and gadgets of the past. Come and explore!

Updated 16 April 2013


Copyright © 2017 Monmouth County Historical Association. All rights reserved. The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only and may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of Monmouth County Historical Association.

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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