History of Brielle
In our earliest days, that geographical area known as Brielle
was a section of Shrewsbury Township (founded 1664), an original
township in Monmouth County. Settlers, primarily Dutch and
English, were arriving by the late 1600's and mostly engaged
in agricultural pursuits. Comfortable farm homesteads dotted
the area some enjoying a sweeping view of the Manasquan River
and Atlantic Ocean. Early in the 1700's a small commercial
port called Landing and later, Union Landing, grew up on the
Manasquan River. A modest ship building industry developed
as did shipping activities. Sailing ships navigated the Manasquan
Inlet engaged primarily in coastal trading while at the same
time herds of cows grazed on pasture ending at the river.
During the Revolutionary War the Union Salt Works, situated
approximately where Hoffman's Anchorage is now located, produced
salt, the vital preservative of food prior to refrigeration.
Before the war, salt had been imported from England. The salt
works were destroyed and the settlement around the works sacked
in April 1778 by loyalists "refugees", accompanied
by British Troops. In spite of the raid, the salt works were
again operative following repairs. Men and material continued
to be shipped from Union Landing throughout the war. Ships
were the primarysource of communication and trade in those
days. Roads were few and not always safe and passable.
By the second half of the 1800's a number of "cottages",
summer hotels and boarding houses were being constructed along
the Manasquan River at or near Union Landing. This area was
in those days referred to as "the Union" or just
plain "Union". The most popular hotel, established
after the Civil War by Captain John Brown, was the Union House
located on the river at the foot of Union Lane. In May 1888,
Robert Louis Stevenson spent a month there on the referral
of his good friend Will Low, the painter. While here, Stevenson
wrote a portion of "The Master of Ballantrae". He
was fascinated by the many cat boats he observed on the river,
and learned how to sail one. On a specific occasion he and
Low, who had decided to stay also, sailed up the river to
Osborn Island, and upon landing, proclaimed it "Treasure
Island", by carving that name plus their initials onto
a bulkhead there. This took place five years after he had
completed his famous novel of the same name. To this day,
many still refer to the island as such. It is now officially
named Nienstedt Island, honoring the family who donated it
to the borough. Stevenson and Low were not the only celebrities
to visit Union. Other guests here included Upton Sinclair,
Fred Astaire and Minnie Maddern Fiske, a famous dramatic actress
at the turn of the last century.
On July 7, 1881, a group of businessmen formed the Brielle
Land Association, and purchased 150 acres of farm land between
Longstreet's (or Debbie's) Creek and mud pond to be divided
into lots for sale as vacations home sites. This land was
north of Union Landing. They named this development "Brielle"
upon the suggestion by one of their number who had visited
Brielle, Holland the year before. He thought this area resmbled
the country side and the coastal towns which dot Europe's
lowlands on the North Sea and the English Channel. It was
during this period that the area began to flourish as a resort.
The railroad had been extended south along the shore. Incidentally,
Mud Pond was quickly renamed Glimmer Glass.
Early in the 19th century, Shrewbury Township was divided
and the southern section , including our area, became Howell
Township. Further division in 1851 created Wall Township in
the eastern section of Howell then in 1919, the Borough of
Brielle was created from a portion of Wall. It consists of
the original Union Landing area, the Brielle Land Association
tract, and all the property up along the river as far as Old
Bridge Road. Over the years, and particularly since World
War II, the town has grown into a residential community with
many of its citizens commuting to the New York metropolitan
area. Its prime local industry is still connected with the
waterfront with more than 200 commercial and charter fishing
boats plus private pleasure craft.
Brielle has no ocean frontage but has almost 4 miles of frontage
on the Manasquan River, Debbie's Creek and the Glimmer Glass.
Very little vacant land remains. There are approximately 4,600
of us within our 1.8 square miles, including the eight acre
island. A large section of land is occupied by the nationally
known 140 acre Manasquan River Golf Club, founded in 1922.
We are proud of our outstanding K-8 elementary school. Upper
grade students attend Manasquan High School. The Reformed
in America Church (formerly the Dutch Reformed Church), was
established here in 1958. The church holds services in an
attractive colonial style edifice designed by local architect
John C. Dodd. The congregation numbers more than 300 members.
The Manasquan River forms our southern boundary and to the
east, north and west, Brielle borders Manasquan Borough and
Wall Township. Brielle has 20.09 miles of municipal roads,
4 miles of of county roads and 2 miles of state highways.
Brielle is policed by a fifteen person department. Brielle
Fire Company #1 (organized June 13, 1910), and Brielle First
Aid Squad (incorporated 1962), are made up of volunteers.
Brielle is governed by a Mayor and Council which meet twice
each month in Borough Hall located at the corner of Union
Lane and Union Avenue. Thomas Nicol is currently serving as
OUR "SISTER TOWN" OF BRIELLE,
The town of Brielle in the Netherlands is first mentioned
in Dutch historical archives in the year 1257 at which time
the settlement was part of the domain of the Squires of Voorne.
Brielle, Holland lies along the River Maas, (also called Brielle
Lake), and the origin of the town's name probably rose from
the Celtic word "Brogilo", which indicates a swampy
area fit for loading and discharging ships. Over time this
word was changed into "Brol","Breul",
and "Briel" respectively. Finally, in 1813, the
Dutch government decided on the permanent name "Brielle".
In 1330 Brielle obtained its municipal rights and in 1338
the walls and moats surrounding the town were built. Although
the original fortress no longer exists in its unaltered state,
from an aerial view, Brielle still appears to be star-shaped.
In 1567 Brielle and its environs were occupied by the Spaniards.
The occupation lasted until 1572 when a group of patriots
called the "Waterbeggars" freed the town from Spanish
rule. The "Waterbeggars" were men from all classes
of the population, sailors and intellectuals alike, who had
fled from Spanish oppression and rendered assistance from
the sea while practicing piracy against their country's invaders.
On the 1st of April 1572, the "Waterbeggars" battered
Brielle's North Gate with a ship's mast reclaiming the town
for the Dutch. This was the beginning of the campaign, which
eventually liberated the entire Netherlands. The April 1st
victory is marked each year in Brielle with a costumed, carnival-like
celebration highlighted by the arrival of "pirates"
in tall ships who re-enact the landmark battle of 1572.
Brielle is situated about 30kms west of Rotterdam on the
island of Voorne-Putten. The town's lovely, historical buildings,
canals, busy harbor and friendly people, as well as the surrounding
dunes, windmills and polders make it an interesting and picturesque
destination when visiting the Netherlands.
The Borough Historian, John E. Belding,
now has office hours in Borough Hall. His office is just down
the hall from the tax office and is open on Mondays between
the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon and 7:00 and 9:00
in the evening. You also may make an appointment for other
times by calling Mr. Belding at 528-5867.
Mr. Belding has been building an extensive collection of
Brielle history and artifacts, thanks to the generosity of
residents wishing to share their treasures or fascimiles with
the borough, and thereby ensuring the availability of such
an important heritage for generations to come.
Stop in to see our historian for information, to drop off
your treasures or just to have a friendly chat.