The Parsonage

The story of a quiet 18th century farmstead overtaken During the Battle of Monmouth

The parsonage farmstead dates back to approximately 1706. In 1735 it was purchased by the Freehold Presbyterian Congregation for use by their pastor, Reverend William Tennent, Jr. The site consisted of a house, barn, privy, well, and several smaller outbuildings.

The Battle of Monmouth stormed onto this peaceful farm, turning the parsonage into the epicenter of the battle between General Anthony Wayne's three Continental Regiments and British Grenadiers along with the 33rd Regiment of Foot. The home, outbuildings and orchard were used by the Continentals as field fortifications during the battle, and afterwards the buildings became field hospitals for both Continental and British wounded.

At the time of the battle, the farmstead was occupied by another tenant, as Reverend Tennent had died earlier in 1778. From late 1778 through 1824, Dr. John Woodhull, the congregation's new minister, lived at the parsonage. The minister that followed Dr. Woodhull was a bachelor, and his replacement, Reverend Robert Roy, built a new parsonage closer to the meeting house in 1829. The parsonage farm was leased out for a few years, then sold in 1835 to an owner who used it for storage. By 1860 the abandoned house and barn were in severe disrepair, whereupon they were torn down and dismantled in an effort to salvage their timbers.
Brookdale Community College is currently conducting an archaeological survey of the site with 5'x5' excavation units, aided by the use of magnetometry equipment being provided by Peter Leach of John Milner Asscoiates Inc. BRAVO's long-range plan is to reconstruct the farmstead using ghost frame buildings for interpretive use and for public viewing.

 

This is the only know photograph of the Parsonage.  It was recently acquired by the Monmouth County Historical Association.

Sources:

 

Project description and archaeological information supplied by Daniel Sivilich, president of BRAVO.
Historical information about Reverend William Tennent, Jr. derived from a presentation by Reverend Dr. Hugh MacKenzie, current Pastor, Old Tennent Church, Manalapan.