Library & Archives
Vera Conover (1896-1977)
Lois R. Densky
Gregory J. Plunges
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728
Vera Conover (1896-1977) was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 12, 1896. She was the daughter of Annie Longstreet Seabrook (1852-1943) and William Hubbard Conover (1851-1938) both of Keyport, New Jersey. Their other children were Hulda Holmes Conover Magalhaes (1888-?), Henry S. Conover (1879-?), and Mabel Therese Conover Burrows (1878-1910).
Annie L. Seabrook Conover attended the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary in Freehold prior to her marriage in 1877. After settling back in Keyport, she was active in the First Baptist Church of Keyport, the Keyport Lyceum (which later became the Keyport Free Public Library), and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. In 1892, she was founder and first president of the Keyport Parlour Readings, which later became the Keyport Literary Club.
William H. Conover was a member of the Keyport Dutch Reformed Church. He owned and operated a general merchandise store in Keyport, and had other business interests there. Annie L. Seabrook and William H. Conover are buried at the Green Grove Cemetery in Keyport.
Miss Conover's maternal grandparents were Therese Walling (1821-1899) and Henry Hendrickson Seabrook (1813-1872) also of Keyport. Therese Walling Seabrook was active in church affairs, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the U.S. Sanitary Commission which during the Civil War helped provide medical supplies in the field and to hospitals.
Her husband, Henry H. Seabrook was one of the founders, and served as managing director and treasurer of the Keyport and Middletown Point Steamboat Company. The Keyport and Middletown Point Steamboat Company was incorporated in 1852 by Mr. Seabrook, DeLafayette Schenck, and Thomas V. Arrowsmith. He also served as Keyport's second Postmaster from 1841-1856. Mr. Seabrook also had other business interests in Keyport.
Vera Conover was educated at Adelphi Academy and Brooklyn Heights Seminary, from which she graduated in 1914. After completing a Y.W.C.A. Secretarial Course, Miss Conover held a variety of secretarial positions between 1919 and 1951 in church-related organizations in both New York and New Jersey. Between 1929 and 1944, Miss Conover returned home to Keyport to care for her elderly, invalid parents.
Miss Conover was active in church, civic, and social organizations in both Brooklyn and Keyport. In Brooklyn, she was a member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church. In Keyport, she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Keyport, the Keyport Literary Club, the Monmouth County Historical Association, and the Van Kouwenhoven-Conover Family Association.
In 1943, after the death of her mother, Miss Conover formed a free-lance secretarial service called "The Nutshell." She held a variety of part-time positions including secretary to the Keyport Chamber of Commerce.
Miss Conover's sense of history was instilled in her by her mother. When Annie L. Seabrook Conover died, Miss Conover promised to save the family papers, which later formed the basis of a book she was preparing on the history of Keyport. Her inheritance resulted in her assuming the role as Keyport's local historian. In 1972, her activities resulted in her founding the Keyport Historical Society. In 1976, she was awarded the Community Service Award by the Keyport Chamber of Commerce.
Miss Conover died on November 2, 1977 before completing her book on Keyport history. She was cremated and a memorial service was held in her honor at the Keyport Reformed Dutch Church.
DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION
The Vera Conover Collection represents material inherited, created, and collected by Vera Conover by Keyport, New Jersey. The collection breaks down into three sub-groups. The first contains family papers which primarily pertain to the activities of her parents, Annie L. Seabrook and William H. Conover, and her maternal grandparents, Therese Walling and Henry H. Seabrook. These materials include correspondence, financial records, legal records, printed material including ephemera, subject files, photographic material, drawings, charts, blueprints, and two artifacts.
The second sub-group pertains to Keyport history. This material includes research notes, newspapers and clippings, printed material, maps and blueprints. The third sub-group pertains to the genealogy of prominent Keyport families. This material includes research notes, clippings, correspondence pertaining to genealogical inquiries, genealogical charts, and printed wedding and funeral invitations.
The bulk of material dates from 1826 to 1977.
The series of correspondence pertains to family business and personal matters. The principal recipients are Vera Conover, Annie L. Seabrook Conover, William H. Conover, Henry H. Seabrook, Therese Walling Seabrook, Thomas L. Seabrook, Judson Conover, and the Magalhaes family members.
There are numerous correspondents. Of note are the letters, dated April 28, May 3, and May 22, 1917 to Annie L. Seabrook Conover from Clarence Day, Jr. Day, the author of Life With Father, was the grandson of Benjamin Day, who was the publisher of the now defunct New York Sun. Apparently, Therese Walling worked for Evie and Benjamin Day prior to her marriage to Henry H. Seabrook. An 1852 letter from Evie Day to Therese is also included in the collection.
Other notable correspondence include July 16, 1864 and January 25, 1880 letters from Joel Parker (NJ Governor, 1863-1866 and 1871-1874), April 3, 1876 and August 10, 1889 letters from Samuel Lockwood, former Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools. Some unidentified letters are entirely in shorthand. The 1854-1858 mimeographed letters from Thomas Burrows to his mother describe his adventures during the California Gold Rush. There also are letters from Henry Morford, writer, poet, and founder and editor of the now defunct New Jersey Standard. (Please see Appendix A for a complete list of correspondents.)
The financial records series included accounts, bills and receipts, canceled checks, and material pertaining to the U.S. Internal Revenue.
The accounts pertain primarily to the estates of Thomas Seabrook and Henry H. Seabrook. The bills and receipts pertain to purchasing transactions by Henry H. and Therese W. Seabrook, Annie L. Seabrook Conover, and Vera Conover. The canceled checks were drawn on accounts at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Middletown, NJ by Therese W. Seabrook and Annie L. Seabrook Conover. The U.S. Internal Revenue materials includes licenses and income tax returns of Henry H. Seabrook.
The legal records series contains a variety of material. These include agreements for sale of property, assignments of mortgages, bonds, insurance papers, judgments, legal papers, petitions, releases, stocks, title searches, and wills.
The agreements for sale of property include property sales transactions of William H. Conover and for the Keyport and Middletown Point Steamboat Company. The assignments of mortgages describe mortgage transactions of Henry H. Seabrook and Annie L. Seabrook Conover. The bonds are to Henry H. Seabrook, Jacob A. Walling, Garrett G. Bergen, and Therese W. Seabrook. The insurance papers are primarily to Henry H. Seabrook for the Keyport and Middletown Point Steamboat Company.
The legal papers include protests, proxy appointments, claims, summonses, a notice of appointment of guardianship for Annie L. Seabrook, tax notices, and correspondence pertaining to legal matters. The petitions are for property sales, appointment for employment, and for Monmouth County to assume financial support of the destitute Mary E. Conover, who was a patient in the Insane Asylum. Also included are the wills of Henry H. Seabrook and Annie L. Seabrook Conover.
The printed material includes broadsides, certificates, ephemera materials, and mementos of an 1870 trip the Seabrook family made to Niagara Falls and Canada.
The 1900 broadside is notable because it gives notice of the impending sale of the Therese W. Seabrook estate including the family home on West Front Street (Seabrook Hill Manor). The certificates include marriage licenses, diplomas, appointments for notary publics, and Vera Conover's membership certificate in the Van Kouwenhoven-Conover Family Association. The ephemera materials contains miscellaneous printed material including invitations, programs, circulars, business and calling cards, transportation and admission passes, a calendar, cards, and Keyport maps. The major subjects represented in the ephemera materials are Monmouth County and Keyport schools and clubs.
The subject files contain material on the Keyport and Middletown Point Steamboat Company, miscellaneous manuscripts, the Keyport Post Office, and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The Keyport and Middletown Steamboat Company file contains the Act of Incorporation, and examples of the currency they issued. The Post Office file contains documents, clippings, and correspondence pertaining to the history of the Keyport Post Office. The U. S. Sanitary Commission material includes circulars and correspondence pertaining to Keyport Sanitary Commission activities.
The series of diaries includes 41 volumes running from 1866 to 1943. They were created by Annie L. Seabrook Conover and chronicle weather information and her daily activities. Of note is the 1866-1924 diary that records death and burial dates of family and friends. The series also included typed transcript copies of the 1867-1868 diary, and for April-May 3, 1924; 1925-1927. The only gaps in the series are for the years 1871, 1876-1881, and 1908-1911.
Material removed from the diaries are located in a file folder placed with the diaries. These include invitations, newspaper clippings, admission passes, lists, calling cards, household bills, advertising circulars, envelopes, menus, programs, and fragmentary notes. An additional diary, dated 1900, which is included in the collection, belonged to Mabel T. Conover Burrows. (Please see Appendix B for a complete list of diary dates.)
The miscellaneous bound volumes contain a variety of material. These include a birthday book, autograph books, a calendar of correspondence book, a bank account book, account books, copybooks, notebooks, scrapbooks, a Sunday School Class book, a cash book, a membership book, a daybook, and a school diary. The bound volumes belonged to several people, among them Annie L. Seabrook Conover, Henry H. Seabrook, and E.L. Bennett.
Of note are the bound volumes of the Keyport Lyceum, forerunner of the Keyport Free Public Library. These include a scrapbook, an account book, and a membership book. A notebook pertaining to the Keyport Ladies Parlour Readings, forerunner of the Keyport Literary Club, is also included in this series. Material removed from the bound volumes is located with them. This includes newspaper clippings, and fragmentary notes. (Please see Appendix C for a complete list of miscellaneous bound volumes and their contents.) Note: These 4 volumes have been removed to Coll. 411 Keyport Lyceum Records - March 2010
The photographic material includes primarily positive prints, a few negatives, photo albums, and postcards. The types of positive prints include cabinet cards, carte-de-vistes, and twelve tintypes. The photographic material records people, places, events and activities mostly pertaining to Keyport history. Of note is a group photograph of the employees of the J.L. Rue Pottery Company in Matawan, NJ. A 6" x 8" tintype records Henry H., Therese W., Thomas L., and Annie L. Seabrook during their 1870 trip to Niagara Falls. Much of the photographic material was annotated by Vera Conover.
Other related photographs housed in the Library of the Monmouth County Historical Association will be found in the Photograph File under the subjects, "Conover", "Keyport", and "Longstreet". (Please see Appendix D for a subject list of photographs.)
The mediums used for the drawings are pencil and paper. One appears to have been executed in india ink on paper. An 1842 pencil sketch of Henry H. Seabrook is signed by G. W. Jenkins. George Washington Allston Jenkins (1816-1907) was a portrait and genre painter. His work was exhibited between 1842 and 1865 at the National Academy in New York City. His "Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow" is at Sleepy Hollow Restorations in Tarrytown, NY.
The charts and blueprints include genealogical charts of the Seabrook and Conover families, and blueprints of the Seabrook and Conover Keyport homes.
The series of research notes include notes, genealogical correspondence, typed transcripts, and newspaper clippings created or collected by Vera Conover pertaining to Keyport history, and the genealogy of its founding families. The material Miss Conover collected complimented the family papers in her endeavor to write her book on Keyport history. Some of the subjects touched on in the research notes are the Keyport Fire Department, Post Office, and schools. Time limitations necessitated a rough sort of the research notes only, executed by year for an eleven-year period.
The newspapers and clippings pertain to the history and genealogy of Keyport, the Temperance Movement, and Clarence Day, Jr. The newspapers include issues of The Bureau Record, the official bulletin of the National Prohibition Bureau, an issue of The Graduate, a publication of the Keyport Graded School Alumni Association, special issues of the Keyport Weekly, and issues of the Seasons and The Stage, both pertaining to NY cultural events and activities. The clippings include a series of columns, "Looking Backward", from The Keyport Weekly and Matawan Journal. Another series of clippings are Josephine A. Brown's column, "Keyport, A Century Old," from The Keyport Weekly.
The Keyport history printed material includes a broadside and circulars. The broadside, "Monmouth Orphan's Court, of the Term of July, 1840," is dated August 11, 1840. The maps and blueprints include undated maps and photographic copies of 1873 maps of Keyport, undated blueprints of the city streets and houses of Keyport, and a map of the Kearny Estate from which Keyport developed. The latter was copied from an older map by Josephine A. Brown in 1916.
The genealogical sub-group material pertains to the genealogy of prominent Keyport and Monmouth County families. The files include research notes, clippings, correspondence pertaining to genealogical inquiries, genealogical charts, and printed wedding and funeral invitations. (Please see Appendix E for a list of family names in this sub-group.)
The Vera Conover Collection is arranged in three sub-groups, Family Papers, Keyport History, and Genealogy. Within the Family Papers, the diaries, miscellaneous bound volumes, and the correspondence series are arranged chronologically by date. The financial and legal records series are arranged first by document type, then chronologically by date. The printed material series is arranged by type or subject, then chronologically by date.
The subject files series are arranged first by subject, then chronologically by date. The photographic material series is arranged by subject. The drawings series is arranged chronologically by date. (Please see Appendix F, Separation Sheet, for arrangement of the postcards, broadsides, blueprints, maps, and oversize material.)
Within the Keyport History sub-group, the research notes are arranged chronologically by date. The newspapers and clippings series is arranged first by column or title, then chronologically by date. (Please see Appendix F for arrangement of oversize material, maps, and blueprints.)
The Genealogical sub-group is arranged by family name. (Please see Appendix E for a list of names and Appendix F for their location.)
Items removed from the Vera Conover Collection include artifacts, a book, the genealogical materials, newspapers, broadsides, maps, oversize material (i.e., certificates and charts), and postcards. (Please see Appendix F for disposition of this material.)
The Vera Conover Collection will be of interest to researchers of Keyport history and genealogy. The material on the Conover and Seabrook families is particularly valuable. Other subject areas represented in the collection are the history of education, the history of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the history of the California Gold Rush, the history of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, and the history of the steamboat industry, all in relation to Monmouth County.
Additional manuscript collections located in New Jersey that pertain to the Vera Conover Collection are housed in the NJ Historical Society, Newark (See, "Seabrook Family Papers, 1789-1840," 12 items), and in the Special Collections Department of the Rutgers University Library, New Brunswick, NJ (See, "Henry H. Seabrook, Keyport, NJ. Ca. 1838-1877, " 4 boxes.)
Other manuscripts housed in the Library of the Monmouth County Historical Association that pertain to this collection are the Josephine A. Brown Collection, the Keansburg Steamboat Company Records, the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection, the Georgianna Souther Barrows Papers, the Conover Family Collection, and the subjects, "Keyport" and "Steamboat Companies" in the Library manuscript card catalog.
PROVENANCE: Acquired in 1978 and 1979, a gift of Mrs. Barbara Epperson, Morris Plains, NJ, niece of Vera Conover. Accession #s: 1978-1, 1979-3, 1979-5, 1983-8(?), 1991-17
SIZE OF COLLECTION: 8 Linear Feet.
1. Correspondance. 1826 - 1974.
Arranged chronologically by date.
2. Financial Records. 1834 - 1974.
Arranged first by document type, then chronologically by date.
3. Legal Records. 1834 - 1932.
Arranged first by document type, then chronologically by date.
4. Printed Material. 1842 - 1972.
Arranged first by type or subject, then chronolically by date.
5. Subject Files. 1749 - 1956.
Arranged first by subject, then chronologically by date.
6. Diaries. 1866 - 1943.
Arranged chronolically by date.
7. Miscellaneous Bound Volumes. 1761 - 1940.
Arranged chronologically by date.
8. Photographic Material. (Ca. 1860) - 1972.
Arranged by subject.
9. Drawings. 1842 - 1899.
Arranged chronologically by date.
10. Broadsides, Blusprints, Charts, and Maps. 1840 - 1968.
Please see Appendix F for arrangement.
11. Research Notes. 1966 - 1977
Arranged chronologically by date.
12. Newspapers and Clippings. 1867 - 1975.
Arranged first by column or title, then chronologically by date.
13. Genealogical Material.
Arranged by Family Name.
VERA CONOVER COLLECTION, 1749 - 1977
BOX # / FOLDER # / CONTENTS
1 / 1 / Correspondence, 1826 - 1844.
1 / 2 / Correspondence, 1845 - 1852.
1 / 3 / Correspondence, 1853 - 1869.
1 / 4 / Correspondence, 1870 - 1889.
1 / 5 / Correspondence, 1891 - 1928.
This page last updated 29 March 2010