We live and work in an interesting area. That’s not news to anyone who lives here, of course. There’s a reason why the shore population explodes during the summer months. The Toms River region, and the Jersey Shore as a whole, is a fantastic place to be. That’s why we set our business roots down here all the way back in 1970.
Over the years, we’ve come to love the history of our community just as much as we love the people, places, sights, and sounds of it.
With that in mind, this month we’ve gathered a dozen quirky and cool facts from throughout the history of Toms River and Ocean County, some old, and some recent. We think you’ll find them interesting. We sure did!
- The true “Tom” of “Toms River” is unclear, but it’s widely believed to have been named after Thomas Luker, a ferryman who used to run a ferry that crossed the Toms River, which at the time was called Goose Creek. English Captain William Tom and a Native American man called Tom have both been possible origins of the name, too.
- A long, long time ago, Toms River was part of Shrewsbury Township. So long ago, in fact, it pre-dates the United States. Way back in 1767, before the U.S. was the U.S., a royal charter was acquired allowing a portion of Shrewsbury to secede and become Dover Township.
- The town continued to be known as Dover until 2006. Up until then, “Toms River” was an unofficial name sometimes used to describe the downtown area.
- A lot of surrounding towns would look a lot different if it wasn’t for Toms River, because portions of the town have been snipped off and became part of other communities. Towns like Jackson, Manchester, Barnegat, Berkeley and others were all created in part by tracts of land that used to be part of Toms River.
- The same holds true for Ocean County as a whole. The county used to be part of Monmouth County. It was finally split off into its own county in 1850.
- A little bit of Burlington County was also snipped off to form Ocean County, specifically Little Egg Harbor.
- When Ocean County separated from Monmouth County, a vote was held to decide what the county seat would be. The village of Toms River won, but another village was close in the running and almost won: Lakehurst. Imagine how different Ocean County would be if Lakehurst was the county seat!
- The Village of Toms River tried to secede from Dover Township two times in the early 1900s. Both efforts failed.
- The largest town in Ocean County is by far Jackson, which is just over 100 square miles in size.
- As of 2000, Ocean County was home to the wealthiest community in New Jersey: Mantoloking, which had a per capita income of over $114,000 as of 1999. (Second place is Saddle River in Bergen County, with an $85,000 income per capita.)
- Six Flags Great Adventure is probably bigger than you realize. As of 2012, after the amusement park was officially combined with the safari, it became the second largest theme park in the world, second only to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- The Garden State Parkway is now an essential part of life here, but the Parkway wasn’t always around. It didn’t connect the shore with North Jersey until the 1950s. Prior to that, people often had to make that the long trek on Route 9.
We could go on, but perhaps we’ll save some more tidbits for a future article. In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed. If you know some cool trivia and facts about our area, tell us about them in the Facebook comments!