HIGHLANDS – Former borough resident, historian and retired newspaper editor Muriel J. Smith spoke on the Hartshorne Family at this month’s meeting of the Historical Society of Highlands, held this week at the VFW Post 6902 Home in Waterwitch.
Smith, who lives in Freehold, traced the 400 year history of the Hartshorne family in the Bayshore, highlighting Esek Hartshorne, whose acreage of the family tract included most of the land incorporated in 1900 as the borough of Highlands.
She also spoke on the total acreage, including what is now large portions of Middletown, Atlantic Highlands and Highlands that belonged to the Hartshorne family over the past 400 years, and documented through the Hartshorne Papers Collection now owned by and housed at the Monmouth County Historical Association library and headquarters in Freehold.
Smith also explored the meaning of the Hartshorne family crest, and spoke on the family’s transfer of lands at Sandy Hook on at least two separate occasions, to the federal government for establishment of Fort Hancock, the primary harbor protection for New York Harbor, and earlier, for the construction of the Sandy hook Lighthouse, the oldest still operating lighthouse in the country. She also explained how 400 years of written family history, reputed to be one of the largest and finest collections of materials from any one family, was acquired by the Association and is now open to the public for research and genealogy purposes.
“It was interesting to hear Muriel talk on a subject so dear to the hearts of so many members of the Society,” said Society president Russell Card, “sharing knowledge about a family whose name is a household word because of Hartshorne Woods, the county park, was fascinating and inspiring. Highlands has deep history over many centuries, and the Hartshornes are a vitally important part of it all.”
The Society meetings are held every fourth, Thursday of the month at 7:30p.m. at the VFW Post in Highlands. Next month speaker will be Bob Mayers speaking on “War at the Shore: Revolutionary War Forgotten Battles” on June 25th at 7:30. Membership in the Society is available by e-mailing Card at Russellcardaol.com or calling 732-693-9451.
The Society maintains its museum at the Twin Lights Historical Museum, and is open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted.