Library & Archives
Lois R. Densky
Gregory J. Plunges
The Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey
The Howell Works, as developed by James Peter Allaire (1785-1858), was located on a site along the Manasquan River, near the historic "Cedar Trail" and "Fish Trail", three miles west of the highway between Belmar and Spring Lake, and about twelve miles southeast of Freehold, New Jersey. In 1750, the site was originally occupied by a sawmill built by Isaac Palmer. In 1810 or 1813, a furnace was built near the Palmer sawmill which was later known as Shrewsbury or Monmouth Furnace. Also on the property, was an 18th Century forge known as Williamsburg Forge. Between 1750 and 1821, the site had several owners.
In 1821, Benjamin B. Howell, of Philadelphia, leased the property from its owner, William Newbold, and began operation of a bog-iron works. On April 27, 1822, James P. Allaire purchased the property form Newbold as a source of material for his brass foundry in New York City. The property contained about 5,000 acres and cost &19,000. He later established the James P. Allaire Works on Cherry Street in New York City, where he built marine engines and boilers.
Allaire was one of the foremost steam engine manufacturers of his time, although he was trained as a brass founder. Between 1804 and 1806, he cast the brass air chamber for Robert Fulton's "CLERMONT" and was with Fulton on the steamboat's historic maiden voyage. This episode was the beginning of a long friendship between the two men, and when Fulton died in 1815, Allaire was appointed executor of his will. In 1819, he cast the cylinder of the "SAVANNAH", the first US steamboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
When Allaire purchased the Howell Works, he expanded them rapidly. He eventually purchased an additional 3,000 acres of woodland to ensure the charcoal fuel supply necessary for the bog-iron production. A canal was dug to float barges right up to the Works, a small railroad to transport ore to the smelter was constructed. Among the articles manufactured at the Works were cast iron hollow ware products including caldrons, various size pots, pans and kettles, stoves, screws, pipe, and sadirons (old fashioned hand irons). The screws manufactured there were the first ones made on mechanical lathes.
The Howell Works was a complete and self-contained community. At its peak, the Works employed up to 500 people. Facilities located on the property included the furnace, carpenter, wheelwright and blacksmith shops, a file and screw factory, sawmill, gristmill, stables, coach house, barns, sheds, a store, bakeshop, slaughterhouse, school, church, enameling furnace, coal depot, boarding house for unmarried men, the Big House, and dwellings for employees with families. Eventually, to accommodate the growing community, sixty brick buildings were constructed. These replaced the original fourteen or fifteen wooden structures on the site.
The village was on the stage coach route that connected Toms River and Perth Amboy. The Works issued its own currency in two denominations of copper coins made on the premises, and engraved notes ranging from 63Á to $10.00. This script was redeemable at the company store. James Allaire was an early advocate of free public education, and the village school served both children from the village and surrounding community. Allaire established an Episcopal Church and paid the salary of the minister himself. The minister often doubled as the teacher.
In 1831 or 1832, the Howell Works Post Office was established. After Allaire died, the name was changed to Allaire, New Jersey. Annaniah Gifford (1786-1872), the surveyor who recorded the acquisition of the properties in the Howell Works tract, was Postmaster from 1848 until 1858.
In 1824, Allaire sold one half interest of the Works to John Haggerty of New York, who in 1827 transferred this share to Thomas P. Wallworth, also of New York. In 1828, Allaire, Wallworth and associates were incorporated by the NJ Legislature as the Howell Works Company. By 1833, Allaire was again sole owner of the property.
The Howell Works was economically viable until the advent of the superior grade iron production in Pennsylvania in the middle nineteenth century. The production of bog-iron ore was thus rendered obsolete. By 1846, the fires at the Howell Works furnace blew out for the last time. Allaire continued living there for ten years, maintaining his New York Works, until his death in 1858.
He left the closed plant and 7,000 acres to his second wife, Callicia Allaire Tompkins Allaire (d. 1878), and their son Hal (1847-1901). That will was contested by the children of his first wife, Francis Duncan Allaire (d. 1856?). Eighteen years of litigation followed before the case was decided in favor of Callicia and Hal Allaire in 1876.
Hal Allaire had studied architecture and graduated from Columbia University in 1869. Although he never fully practiced his profession, he designed several noted residences in Lakewood, NJ. He was a solitary, creative individual, and never married. When his mother died, he continued living alone in the Big House. While he remained at Deserted Village, as it became known, he let the property fall into disrepair. The only project of his father's that he continued was the raising of pedigree cattle.
In 1874, Hal was appointed Postmaster at Allaire. He also was a stockholder of the Farmingdale & Squan Village and Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad Companies, and served on the Board of Directors of the latter. He also served as agent at Allaire for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
He nurtured his creative inclination by producing and acting in theatrical productions held at Allaire. He would design the sets and costumes and also have his friends act in the plays. These productions was attended by the surrounding community.
Before Hal died in 1901, he sold Allaire to W.J. Harrison of Lakewood, NJ. In 1907, Harrison sold 5,000 acres to Arthur Brisbane, an editorial writer for Hearst Publications. In 1927 or 1928, Brisbane leased 200 acres, including Deserted Village, to the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts for twenty years for use as their headquarters. Brisbane intended to give Deserted Village and surrounding acreage to the State, for use as a recreational park and preserve the historic site, but died before these plans were actualized. In 1941, Phoebe Brisbane deeded Deserted Village and other property to the State in accordance with her husband's wishes. It was not until 1957, however, that a non-profit corporation was established to raise funds from private sources for restoration purposes. On June 1, 1957, Allaire State Park was dedicated and today restoration of Deserted Village continues.
DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION
The Allaire Family Papers and Records contain family papers and business records of James P. and Hal Allaire. The collection also contains papers and records of Callicia A.T. Allaire, James' second wife.
This is also a subject collection through various donors. The types of material contained in the collection include correspondence, legal and financial records, miscellaneous manuscripts, printed material, and maps. The collection is divided into two record groups, with the papers and records of James P. Allaire constituting the first group, and those of Hal Allaire compromising the second group. Callicia A.T. Allaire's items are contained within both record groups. The bulk of material dates from the 1820's to 1901.
The James P. Allaire correspondence (ca. 1820's-1852) primarily consists of letters to Callicia. There are a few letters from his first wife, Francis. The remainder of the letters are from business associates and Howell Works managers, including James P. Smith (1832-?) and Stephen S. Garrison (1843-1846?). (Please see Appendix B for a list of correspondents.)
James Allaire's legal papers include agreements, memorandums, a land description, a judgment, bonds, a citation, an affidavit, an assignment, indentures, a summons, a power of attorney, a will probate, and the March 4, 1822 Act of Incorporation of the Howell Works Company.
His financial records include an account of stock at Howell Furnace, accounts, freight accounts of Captain John U. Allaire for the steamboat "ORUS", and bound account and receipt books. The bound volumes are particularly noteworthy. The receipt book of J(ames) P. Allaire (1826-1849) acknowledges payment of his personal debts to creditors in New York. The receipt book of Howell Works (1838-1855) acknowledges payment of company debts to creditors. The account book of James P. Allaire Works, NY (1821-1876) records the accounts of that foundry and include numerous references to steamboat accounts. The account book of Howell Works Store (1825-1826) contains accounts of store customers for drygoods and foodstuffs. This volume includes a separate name index to the accounts.
A series of documents of James Allaire on taxes include letters to the editor of the Evening Post, letters concerning his taxation, tax protests, a receipt for tax paid under protest, a copy of an affidavit relative to taxes, a valuation of property, his thoughts on taxation, a statement of individual taxes, a memorial to the legislature, and a summary of NJ tax laws.
Printed material in the James P. Allaire Papers and Records includes a copy of the inheritance lawsuit trial held on July 8, 1872, and one uncut sheet of Howell Works currency. An 1818 survey by Annaniah Gifford of part of the Howell Works tract is the only map included in his papers.
Hal Allaire's correspondence (1860-1901; n.d.) includes letters from friends and business associates in handwritten and typed formats. A number of Hal Allaire's replies are also included in this series. Notable business correspondence documents Hal's activities with the Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural and Pennsylvania Railroad Companies, cattle breeding organizations, and correspondence, concerning James P. Allaire's estate. Letters to Callicia Allaire will also be found in this series. (Please see Appendix C for a List of correspondents.)
His legal records contain some transactions of railroad business. They also include insurance information, agreements, a copy of Dr. Disbrow's statement for the J.P. Allaire estate lawsuit, a list of James Allaire's property, and land surveys.
Hal Allaire's financial records include a distribution of bonds, memorandum of bonds and notes outstanding, receipts, taxes, stock transactions of the Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad Co., and bond transactions for the Allaire Water Supply and Land Co. This series also contains Callicia Allaire's tax receipts.
His miscellaneous manuscripts contain fragmentary notes including a short paper entitled "Profile of a Bell in Foundry." The printed material includes nineteen plays performed by Hal Allaire and friends at Allaire, bylaws of the Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad Co., and Hal Allaire's appointment as Allaire Postmaster in 1874. The maps in this record group include one of an unidentified property, an 1882 survey of a tract of land belonging to Robert Kelley and John L. Pearce by William Shafto, and an 1885 map of the Jones and Longstreet Farms.
Three boxes of a card file index to the Allaire Family Papers and Records, prepared by the Allaire Auxiliary is available and located with the collection. Oversize material in the collection has been shelved elsewhere. (Please see Appendix D for disposition of this material.)
The Allaire Family Papers and Records will be of interest to researchers of the history and development of the bog-iron industry in New Jersey, the development of railroads in New Jersey; specifically the Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural and Pennsylvania Railroad Companies; cattle breeding in New Jersey; the history of steamboat lines and companies on the Easters seaboard; the history of foundries in New York and New Jersey; and the historic preservation activities in New Jersey.
Related photographs that pertain to the Allaire Family Papers and Records are located in the Library's Photograph File under the headings "Allaire", and "Allaire Portraits." Other related material that pertains to the collection are located in the Green Map File-Basement, Drawer 5, Folder 3, under the heading "Allaire-architectural drawings of buildings of Deserted Village at Allaire", and in the Vertical File under the heading "Allaire, NJ." There are numerous Allaire Papers located in the Library at Deserted Village in the Allaire State Park, Monmouth County, NJ. The Monmouth County Historical Association Museum collections contain many Howell Works artifacts in the Freehold Museum and on loan at Deserted Village.
PROVENANCE: Acquired between 1933 and 1962, gifts of
Cowart, Samuel C., Freehold, NJ
Doremus, Thomas F., Red Bank, NJ
Giampi, Roscoe F., Long Branch, NJ
Hartshorne, Miss Louise, Middletown, NJ
Haskell, Mrs. Margaret Riker, Red Bank, NJ
Kindeian, Mrs. Ida, Spring Lake, NJ
Williamson, Mrs. Nellie, Farmingdale, NJ
SIZE OF COLLECTION: 2 Linear Feet.
SEE ALSO: Dover Forge Papers and the Tinton Falls Iron Works Records.
This page last updated 4 August 2008.