Is This Tilton's Corner? "Kingsburg"? Where Am I?

A new homeowner and his wife look into the history of their 60 year old home in the West Keansburg section of Hazlet.

For those who haven't been following us up until this point, this post originally appeared as part of Fresh Nest Blog, a log of the life and times of my wife and I as we moved to and bought a house in Hazlet, NJ. We've been documenting the process as we've been trying to bring our home into this century and learning about a locale that is new to the both of us.

In this multi-part post we will examine the history of our area and the sometimes conflicting stories we've heard about our house.

We have been told a lot of different things about the origins of our house in the past year. We've been told the house was built from military housing lumber, we've been told it was the first house on the street, we've been told it was built in 1952, 1953, and even the 1940's. I'm beginning to question these facts and I'm beginning to wonder what the real story is.

From what I know, our house is in Hazlet Township, our mailing address is West Keansburg (although we aren't part of West Keansburg or Keansburg) and the area was at some point in the past known as Tilton's Corner. This name only shows up in the 1930 US Geological Survey, and on an old topographical map. Beyond that, a present day internet search for "Tilton's Corner" sends you to Wall Township.

The local dialect seems to sometimes pronounce the town "Kingsburg". However illogical that sounds on paper, it turns out that at some point in our history that may have been accepted. According to the first NJ state topographical study, performed by C.C. Vermeule from around 1870 to 1887 the area was, in fact, known as Kingsburg. Take that with a grain of salt. This is the 1870's and 80's we're talking about here. Except for a few typos on the internet I can't find any solid evidence that the area was ever called Kingsburg. Nowhere in my travels, including John Kean's biography, for whom the town is named, and the town historical society website, can I find a clear path to "Kingsburg".

Our neighborhood was farms "as far as the eye could see" until the middle of the century. The last farm disappeared in the 1980's and was replaced with some single family homes. According to our deed and records the neighborhood was first divided into blocks in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The town of Hazlet changed its name from "Raritan" to "Hazlet" and the town experienced significant growth in the 1960's.

There isn't any info online about "The Keansburg Development Company, Inc" that divided and sold the lots but our deed shows that they did in fact divide and publish a map with the Monmouth County Clerk's Office on August 31st 1950. So that means our house could not have been built before 1950. That's at least one mystery solved.

Does anyone have any ideas about why it would've been called "Kingsburg" for a few decades, or what exactly the "Keansburg Development Company Inc" did? Maybe someone knows why it was called Tilton's Corner. Is it related to the Tilton's Corner in Wall, or is that purely coincidental?

That's all for now. Look out for part two of this multi-part post about our house's history.

Photos taken by Andrew Baker. Maps and images were pulled from Historic Aerials , the NJ DEP and USGS.

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Bob Stevens June 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM
The area of Hazlet off Palmer Avenue was at one time called West Keansburg Park (I have nom idea why). Parts of it were originally a farm. There was actually a farm (Farmouse was across from Jacques on Palmer Avenue and behind the farmhouse was a big red barn that actually sat right in the middle of Essex Aveue. When the barn was there Essex Aveue stopped near Hart Street and then started again near Mercer Street. The barn burst down in the 1960's and a builder broght the land and extended Essex Ave from Mercer St to Hart Street. You can tell where the new strett started by looking at the new house. The old farm house was moved and actually rebuilt. It is now on Dana Court.
Bob Stevens June 24, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Sorry for the spelling typos (the barn burnt down, not burst down). There was also an old farm house on Hudson near Mercer. There were grapevines in the yard that we used to pick when we were kids. That farmhouse got knocked down in the late 1960s and a new house was built on it's spot. Most of the houses on Essex and Hudson were built by different builders. One built a lot of the houses on the corner lots (the ones with the double windows on the 2nd floor). Other builders built three of 4 houses at a time. I moved to Essex Avenue in the 1950's. Most of the houses on Hudson and Mercer were already there. The rest of Hazlet (off Middle Road) was buillt in the late 50's and early 60's.
Andrew Baker June 25, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Hi Bob, Wow. Thanks for all of that detailed info. I can picture a lot of what you're describing while I'm driving around the neighborhood. Be sure to take a look at historicaerials.com and put in your old address. Its amazing how much the area has changed over the years.
bud June 28, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Stop in and visit Jake Helfrich at the Helfrich Bus Co. on Laurel Ave. when he is available. He can probably answer some of your questions. Also, members of the Egnatovitch Family who lived across from Jacques (Buck Smith's) on Palmer Ave. are still in the area.
Andrew Baker June 28, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Bud, thanks for the tip!


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