MCHA Presents

Historically Speaking...

A Virtual Lecture Series 

Co-Sponsored by the Monmouth County Library

Here are some of our previous lectures, in case you missed them!

John Schneider presents
History: A Thing of the Past?

Historical Secrets of Monmouth County

John Schneider claims to have more video footage and historical photographs of Monmouth County than any living person. His most recent book, "A Historical Journey Across Raritan Bay," recounts what he's learned during his own nautical voyages to seek out the relics and stories left behind by our ancestors.  His weekly television program on Comcast documents the results of his exploration with almost 250,000 viewers and some 135,000 members from all his Facebook groups.  Learn more about his book at

When asked about his upcoming presentation, John responded by saying he'd be "thinking out loud" and will be showing a lot of "really old photographs from the shoe box." Other organizations who have invited him to speak remark that he always surprises folks with his originality, humor and clever way of looking at history. Recently, he was selected as one of the top 50 historians of the last 50 years in the new book by the Monmouth County Clerk's Office, To Preserve and Protect. He said because he likes the work done by MCHA, he is waiving his standard $1,000 fee for speaking. And then, of course, he said he was kidding and would in fact work for tips.

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Rick Geffken presents 
To Preserve and Protect:

Monmouth County Historians, Past and Present

For almost as long as Monmouth County has existed – over 350 years – people have recorded its history, important events, and personalities. From Henry Hudson, through George Washington, and Bruce Springsteen, there are thousands of books, articles, and dissertations written about the northernmost shore county in the Garden State. Some of these writers made history themselves, such as the elusive Franklin Ellis, the pen name of a compiler who wrote ubiquitous and comprehensive early histories of many locales.

This talk explores the fascinating careers and contributions of past historians such as George C. Beekman, who wrote about the early Dutch settlers, and John Edwin Stillwell, whose exhaustive research and publication of genealogical records have stood the test of time. Contemporary historians such as Dr. Walter Greason and Karen Schnitzspahn are highlighted, too.

Michael Adelberg presents 
Rebellion Before Revolution:

Pre-War Tremors in Monmouth County 

Michael Adelberg is arguably the foremost authority on the American Revolution in Monmouth County, and the award-winning author of several books, including The American Revolution in Monmouth County: The Theater of Spoil and Destruction. Monmouth was known as a hotbed of revolutionary activity, though Michael will be focusing on the events that made it a powder keg long before the Revolution divided friends and families. Of the many events that contributed to civil strife, the riots that shut down the County courts two-and-a-half centuries ago will be highlighted.

John Fabiano presents
A Servant Girl at Mrs. Watkins':

Molly Pitcher's Local Origin

Who is the real Molly? John Fabiano, Executive Director of the Monmouth County Historical Commission, is currently researching the possibility that the woman known as Molly Pitcher may have been an Allentown, NJ servant girl who aided George Washington during the Monmouth campaign. Genealogical research, good old-fashioned detective work and curious mind have led John to a new Molly who may well have been a Patriot spy. Learn about this fascinating thesis, and how it relates to MCHA's Allen House in Shrewsbury!

Gilda Rogers presents 
Historic Preservation and Count Basie's Legacy

Join us for an evening with historian, educator, and award-winning journalist, Gilda Rogers. Ms. Rogers was named 2017 Humanitarian of the Year by the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, and has written several books on African American culture and experience. Gilda serves as the Vice President of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation in Red Bank, whose mission is to preserve and share the history of the African American community in Monmouth County. In this lecture, based on the current exhibition at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, A Love Letter to Count Basie, she will take us on a journey from the Great Migration to the Harlem Renaissance, with a focus on the late, great Count Basie of Red Bank.  

Bernadette Rogoff presents
We are Present and Future Women

Freehold Young Ladies Seminary, 1845-1898

Bernadette Rogoff, author and Director of Collections at MCHA, has been curating Monmouth County history for three decades. Her impressive career has established her as one of the county's premiere historians, with a breadth of knowledge that is matched only by her natural storytelling ability. This lecture will spotlight the Freehold Young 

Ladies Seminary, one of the most prestigious 19th-century female educational institutions on the eastern seaboard. Meet Achsah, a brilliant and world-renowned mathematician; Annie, an influential suffragist and close colleague of Margaret Sanger; Emily, creator of the American Kindergarten System; Adeline, a rare female in the field of 19th-century journalism and the first woman to run for the NJ State Senate, and many more of the determined and pioneering ladies of FYLS.

Joe Zemla presents
Beneath the Floorboards:

Whispers of the Enslaved from Marlpit Hall

Please join us for an evening with MCHA Associate Curator, Joe Zemla, for a discussion on the enslaved African Americans who lived and worked at Marlpit Hall, the circa 1756 home once owned by the Taylor family of Middletown. In addition to original archival documents, recently discovered artifacts help tell the fuller story of 

those who inhabited the home’s second-story slave quarters, which have remained largely unaltered since the 18th century. Cultural beliefs, protective rituals, and representations of clandestine defiance of their forced condition are unveiled with these fragments, purposefully chosen and concealed centuries ago.

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Gary Saretzky presents
19th Century New Jersey Photographers:

Gustavus Pach

The most successful 19th century photographer in Long Branch was Gustavus Pach (1845-1904), one of the several brothers in the Pach Brothers, a prominent firm with more than a dozen branch studios in the Northeast U.S. Gustavus Pach began photographing in Long Branch from a mobile wagon in 1866 and opened a gallery there the following year. He is highly regarded for hundreds of scenic stereo views of Monmouth County. Pach also made thousands of fine portraits, for which many of the glass negatives are at the Monmouth County Historical Association. This slide lecture provides a history of the Pach Brothers with an emphasis on the life and work of Gustavus Pach.

Gary D. Saretzky, archivist, educator, and photographer, worked as an archivist for more than fifty years at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Educational Testing Service, and the Monmouth County Archives. Saretzky taught the history of photography at Mercer County Community College, 1977-2012, and served as coordinator of the Public History Internship Program for the Rutgers University History Department, 1994-2016. He has published more than 100 articles and reviews on the history of photography, photographic conservation, and other topics, including “Nineteenth-Century New Jersey Photographers,” in the journal, New Jersey History, Fall/Winter 2004, a revised version of which is available at

Kevin Coyne Presents
Nathaniel, William and Bruce:

Three Men, Three Centuries, One Town

Local history is not just local – it intersects in powerful and surprising ways with the nation’s history, and its small stories can teach us much about those larger stories, too. Nathaniel Scudder, William Dayton, Bruce Springsteen – three men, three centuries, one town.

Nathaniel Scudder was a Princeton-educated physician who gave up his medical practice in Freehold to fight for the American colonies’ independence from Great Britain. He signed the Articles of Confederation, led his regiment at the Battle of Monmouth, and was killed by a British raiding party in the final days of the Revolution, the only member of the Continental Congress to die in combat.

William Dayton was a Princeton-educated lawyer who practiced in Freehold and was the vice-presidential nominee in 1856 on the Republican Party’s first national ticket, running with John Fremont of California. The runner-up for the Republican vice-presidential nomination that year – Abraham Lincoln – later appointed Dayton during the Civil War as ambassador to France, where he helped keep the French from joining the Confederate cause.

And Freehold High School-educated Bruce Springsteen, descendant of Monmouth-born veterans of the Revolution and the Civil War, has chronicled the lives of Americans over the last 50 years in his songs and stories, and along the way has introduced his vast audience to the town he shares with Scudder and Dayton.

What can their stories – joined with all the other stories from this one small town – tell us about America’s story?

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Thursday, July 22nd

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John Barrows presents
Three Curious Stories from the Monmouth History Timeline

  • Thomas Edison is one of the most famous figures in history. He spent about a year in Monmouth County, but it’s curious, hardly anyone seemed to know about it then...or now. What was he doing here? How could one of the world’s most famous celebrities spend a year here unnoticed? And why isn’t this a more well-known story?


  • Before the Coast Guard, the U.S. Life-Saving Service provided assistance to foundering ships close to shore. Before that, those who came to the aid of distressed vessels were known as “wreckers.” These people were often reviled as the most rapacious and vile humans on Earth. Eventually, the people of Monmouth County would be accused of heinous crimes associated with plundering a shipwreck. An analysis of 150 years of newspaper coverage reveals a number of curious things about the Land Pirates of Monmouth County.


  • On December 7, 1941, two Army privates using the newest radar developed at Fort Monmouth detected the incoming Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but their warning was not heeded. From that point forward, these two men would see their lives go in very different directions. One was rewarded, promoted, and honored; the other was not. They both spent time here in Monmouth County, but again there was a curious duality to this: One remained for only a brief time, while the other chose to stay and raise his family here.                         

John R. Barrows is the founder and editor of Monmouth Timeline (, and producer of the “This Day in Monmouth County History” syndicated graphic features. There are currently more than 215 stories on the Monmouth Timeline, covering 400 years of regional history, with new ones added every month. Some of these stories are familiar, others are obscure, all are fascinating in their own way.  


Before creating the Timeline, John Barrows was a corporate communications and public relations executive, where he spent ten years as global head of corporate communications for a Fortune 500 company. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Newspaper Journalism from Syracuse University, and a master's in Communication from Rutgers. A native of Massachusetts, he has lived in Little Silver for nearly 30 years.