Hunterdon County

Hunterdon County New Jersey

New Jersey Gutter is licensed in these municipalities of Hunterdon County

Alexandria Township
Bethlehem Township
Bloomsbury Borough
Califon Borough
Clinton Town
Clinton Township
Delaware Township

East Amwell Township
Flemington Borough
Franklin Township
Frenchtown Borough
Glen Gardner Borough
Hampton Borough

High Bridge Borough
Holland Township
Kingwood Township
Lambertville City
Lebanon Borough
Lebanon Township
Milford Borough

Raritan Township
Readington Township
Stockton Borough
Tewksbury Township
Union Township
West Amwell Township

Hunterdon County, New Jersey

County Government in New Jersey is organized around the semi-legislative Board of Chosen Freeholders, the elected administrative officials of the County. The term FREEHOLDER, as applied to a County Official, is derived from a practice in medieval England. There, a Freeholder was a person who held certain rights in real property. Only Freeholders were eligible for membership on the County Governing Body. This conception followed the English to the shores of New Jersey, and the County Governmental Body became known as the Board of Justices and Chosen Freeholders. The Justices of Peace who joined with the Chosen Freeholders in forming the Board, were appointed rather than elected by the popular vote, as were the two Freeholders chosen from each municipality in the County. The legislature in 1798 abolished the Board as constituted. A Board of Chosen Freeholders composed of one elected representative from each municipality in the county, who assumed the powers and jurisdiction of the old Board of Justices and Chosen Freeholders. The proper qualification was later dropped, but the title was continued. In 1902, permissive state legislation allowed a county to change the composition of its Board of Chosen Freeholders from one member representing each town and township to that of three to nine elected members for the County at large.

Hunterdon County has been governed by the above forms of County Government during the 275 years of its existence. Among the men of distinction that have served as Hunterdon’s Freeholders and Justices are William Trent, for whom Trenton is named; Phillip Ringoes, early trader and settler in Amwell Township; Colonel John Mehelm, Colonel Thomas Lowry, Colonel Isaac Smith, Colonel David Schomp, all of Revolutionary War fame; John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence; and U.S. Senator John Lambert.

The minutes of the Board of Justices and Chosen Freeholders of Hunterdon County begin with the May 1739 meeting as recorded in a leather-bond volume, and are continued to the present date. Much of the information recorded reflects the condition of affairs and the thinking of the people of Hunterdon County throughout the years. In the beginning, the Board met once a year in May at the Hunterdon County Courthouse. Occasionally, a special meeting would be called at another place. When not meeting in the Courthouse, the Board generally met at a tavern convenient to the location requiring the attention, such as a bridge site.

The early Freeholders served without pay, which they “looked upon as a grievance,” in 1792 that the sum of shillings 6 pence per meeting be allowed for expenses for each member in attendance.

In January 1935, in this century-old Courtroom, Bruno Hauptmann was tried for the crime of the fatal kidnapping of the son of Colonel Charles Lindbergh. The dramatic trial attracted world-wide attention. Hauptmann was found guilty and was electrocuted in Trenton. The witness chair from the trial can be seen in the left corner in front of the railing at the front of the main Courtroom. (click here to view the courthouse as it looks today)

A new Hunterdon County Justice Center has been recently occupied. In the spring of 1994 a ground-breaking ceremony was held at the corner of Capner Street and Park Avenue, for the construction of the new 115,000 square feet Hunterdon County Justice Center. In June, 1996, after much press and public speculation on the need for and architectural value of the new court house, the Hunterdon County Court offices moved in. This grand 3-story structure now houses 5 court rooms (with a potential of adding 4 more) has offices for the Judges, Prosecutor, Family, Criminal and Civil Case Management Units, Trial Court Administration, Probation Department, Law Library, Grand Jury Suite, Sheriff’s Office and Surrogate’s Court. Located adjacent to the Hunterdon County Jail, an underground tunnel is being constructed to escort prisoners directly from the jail to holding cells at the Justice Center.

Installed throughout the New Justice Center is artwork contributed by local artists and residents. The wide hallways provide a perfect place to view the many different scenes of the County as interpreted by these artists.