How old is Long Branch? It goes all the way back to 1668.
According to local folklore, in 1665 five associates from the original Monmouth Patent holders (John Slocum, Eliakim Wardell, Jasper and Peter Parker and George Hulett) came to Monmouth County (then the British colony of New Jersey) to find suitable land and more religious freedom.
By April 1668 the settlers were seeking to resolve a land acquisition dispute with Native American locals. Starting at dawn at a spot near today’s North Lower Broadway, Slocum engaged in a “two out of three falls” wrestling match with Lenape tribe member Vow-a-Vapon. Under the terms, if Slocum won he could buy all the land that he could “walk off” in one day. If he lost his group had to leave the area with nothing. The Rev. D.V. McLean, D.D. of Red Bank, according to the Complete Descriptive Guide to Long Branch, NJ in 1868, claimed that the match took place under a tree on the southwest corner of today’s Ocean Avenue and Broadway.
Slocum won a tough match — defeating an opponent who was covered in “goose greased from head to foot.” The agreed upon payment for the land was “20 shillings per acre.” Slocum got about 375 acres of land; total payment was four English pounds. Most shared the reward of Slocum’s brief struggle. He got Long Branch, the Parker’s took Rumson/Little Silver, Wardell received Monmouth Beach/Sea Bright, and Hulett disappeared.
The Slocum family would hold much of the land for some 200 years, according to a 1904 Long Branch Daily Record account. In 1683, Slocum was appointed a captain in the colonial militia and later was made a County Ranger. He is also responsible for first developing an old Indian trail (today’s Broadway). Born in Portsmouth, RI in March 1645; he died in February 1702. Slocum Place in the city is named for the family; they also ran the city newspaper for over 25 years.
Entertaining a Nation (1940)
Myth or fact, the Slocum account has added weight to it — being cited in the 1940 Long Branch city-bio book, Entertaining a Nation. Plus, the city Daily Record — “the people’s paper” in Long Branch — repeats the tale in its July 1951 “Golden Anniversary Edition.”
The first recorded mention of the name Long Branch came in a March 1682 land survey for Abijah Edwards, according to a Long Branch Daily Record story in August 1963, when it was then part of Shrewsbury Twp. In February 1849, Long Branch separated from Shrewsbury Twp. becoming part of Ocean Twp and governed by a three-member township committee.
In April 1867, Long Branch left Ocean Twp. and incorporated as an independent borough — governed by the “Long Branch Police, Sanitary and Improvement Commission.” That was changed to just “Long Branch Commission” in 1904. The first commissioners were: Francis Corlies, Louis B. Brown, Samuel Laird, Jacob Herbert, and Cornelius Van Derveer. Corlies was the first board of commissioners president (or ‘”mayor”) and John Lanning was the first town lawyer. The first election was held in the Arcade Hotel on Lower Broadway. With some adjustments, this five-member city commission set-up would run things in Long Branch for nearly 50 years.
Early Days — Long Branch coast in 1857.
A new century and city population reaching 10,000 brought more government change. In May 1904, about 80% of Long Branch voters supported incorporation as a city (under the Coult Charter Act). The first mayor under this charter making Long Branch a city was C. Asa Francis. He was inaugurated amidst a celebratory parade and ball, with the state’s governor in attendance. The city’s first election was in November 1904 and Republicans won big — capturing the mayor’s seat and a clear majority on the seven-member city council. Just under 3,000 voters cast ballots.
In the effort to incorporate as an independent city in early 1904, Long Branch had sought to annex Deal, Loch Arbour, Allenhurst, Eatontown and Monmouth Beach. The NJ state legislature in Trenton rejected these plans but did throw in the Pleasure Bay, Branchport and North End sections. As the Summer of 1907 began, the city was “making titanic efforts to regain its lost prestige,” according to the New York Times.
From 1913 to 1960, a five-member city commission ruled Long Branch (members were paid $2,000/year; the mayor got $2,500/year for most of that time). According to a May 1954 Long Branch Daily Record story celebrating the 50th anniversary of the city, the Long Branch Board of Trade (businesses) and the Long Branch Property Holders Association (homeowners) also deserve congratulations “for launching the movement to win a new government for Long Branch.”
“Long Branch is rich in opportunity.”
—Daily Record, August 1930
In May 1960, the Long Branch Charter Commission recommended that Long Branch change to a new “council-manager” form of government. Management consultants Booz-Allen had called the city’s commission form of government “archaic” and “a serious impediment to sound administration” as well as “one abandoned by most smaller communities.”
The new city government called for a nine-member city council (the mayor is selected from its ranks) who hires a administrator to manage city affairs. That November, 60% of city voters agreed to the change. In May 1961, Lucy Wilson became the first women elected to a city governing body. The first city manager was Richard J. Bowen; paid $13,000, he lasted about 18 months.
More civic change came in February 1966, when voters backed by nearly 3-to-1 the Mayor-Council (Plan A) form of municipal government under the Faulkner Act. In May 1966, for the first time a mayor was popularly elected — with 68% of registered voters turning out. Sworn-in July 1966, the first mayor was, Paul Nastasio, and the first city council members were: Henry Cioffi, Samuel Teicher, Elliot Katz, Robert Cornell, and A.V. Ippolito.
Today’s city government operates with a mayor and five-member City Council, whose members are elected at-large in nonpartisan elections to serve four-year terms of office on a concurrent basis.
Long Branch City Hall History & Images — HERE
First Residents: The Lenape —HERE
The wrestling match for “Greater Long Branch” between John Slocum and Vow-a-Vapon took place on lower Broadway, 1668.
The Slocum wrestling match in mural from, 1668. The mosaic was done by West End School students (Beth Anne Duze Woolley Photo).
Colonial Times — Long Branch area, 1765. The Jersey Shore shortly before the American Revolution!
The Divide — “Broadway Turnpike” tollbooth, Long Branch Daily Record, August 1961. By the mid-1830s, Long Branch was largely divided into two sections: Upper Village and Lower Village. To pass from one section to another along Broadway required paying a 2 -cent fare. After much citizen protest, the booth was removed in 1875 when the Long Branch Commission paid $7,000 for the road’s charter.
“The City Beyond the Bluff: The Life and Times of Long Branch” book by Sharon Hazard, 2009. ORDER.
Town Leadership — Incumbent City of Long Branch Mayor & Council (2018-Present) From Left: Mayor John Pallone and Council members: Mario Vieira, Anita Voogt, Bill Dangler, Rose Widdis and seated, Dr. Mary Jane Celli. The whole ticket won re-election in May 2022 unopposed.
On his way — Adam Schneider celebrates his first ever victory in Long Branch politics, November 1989. The then 34-year-old attorney won a city council seat in a special election (ousting an incumbent by 2 to 1 among 6,700 city voters). Elected the city’s mayor in May 1990, Adam worked hard for safe streets, stable taxes, open land, competent government, and a friendly community until his defeat at the polls in May 2018. In all he served seven terms as the city’s chief executive. For his three decades of political dominance — no other mayor in city history is his equal.
Henry R. Cioffi hugs his wife Jean upon being elected mayor of Long Branch, May 1970. Known as “Skip,” he was elected to three mayoral terms serving until 1982. He was also a former city councilman, US Marine, and Ivy League finance graduate. The mayor “never at a loss for words,” according to the 1969 Long Branch Daily Record, died in 2020.
Law & Order — Paul Kiernan, 1940s. Twice mayor of Long Branch (1944-1948 and 1960-1961) while serving five terms on the city commission. Once considered Monmouth County’s “Mr. Democrat,” he was also elected to five terms as county sheriff (1965-1980). He managed the family’s successful real estate/insurance business. The city native and 1925 graduate of Chattle High School died in May 1989.
Long Branch: “The Friendly City” The motto came from a 1967 awareness campaign for a change in city government. Long Branch has been called “The Friendly Shopping City” as far back as 1950.
Obituary for Dorman McFaddin. Asbury Park Press, September 1967. He was mayor of Long Branch, Monmouth County Surrogate and Freeholder, and McFaddin Motors founder.
Mayor Paul Nastasio, Jr. obit. APP, December 1996. A city public servant for some 40 years.
He was a United States Senator for NJ — in between terms as Long Branch mayor, December 1903. A Democrat, he died in October 1910 at age 76.
Big Power: Long Branch’s Mayor & US Senator. The last mayor of Long Branch before the city incorporated in 1904, he was born in New Hampshire in October 1834.
Some leadership history, according to the Long Branch Daily Record. January 1918.
Charles Asa Francis had a sterling resume: Starting out as a Long Branch commissioner in 1884, he also served as mayor (1905-1906), board of education member for over 25 years and postmaster. He was an elected member of the NJ State Assembly and NJ State Senate (and its president in 1902). In 1905 he was elected Monmouth County Sheriff and appointed the Monmouth County Treasurer in 1909. He was partners in a successful North Long Branch grocery store, Hoyt & Francis. Born in Howell Twp. in 1855, he moved to Long Branch in 1873. He died in April 1934.
Mayor Charles O. McFaddin (1907-1910).
’61 Winners — for Long Branch City Council. From left: Dr. Alexander Vineburg, Edgar Dinkelspiel, Thomas McClintock and Milton Untermeyer. Seated is City Clerk Santia Camassa. Long Branch Daily Record, May 1961. McClintock would be selected mayor — the youngest in city history at age 34. It was the first election under the new city council-manager form of government.
“The Upper Village” … Long Branch, NJ 1850. “Perhaps no town is more steeped in history than is the City of Long Branch.”—Long Branch Daily Record, May 1964.
“Village of Long Branch, NJ,” 1849. By Joshua Parker
A Look at Long Branch in 1819. Asbury Park Press retrospective, March 1949.
Walton Sherman political ad, Long Branch Daily Record, May 1944. When he retired after 20 years as a city commissioner in 1952, Sherman was the longest serving commissioner in Long Branch history. A LBHS grad, he was treasurer of the family coal company and chairman of the Long Branch Banking Company. After he left the city he served on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders until his death in October 1964.
City of Long Branch — 50 Years Incorporated. APP Ad, November 1954. The city would celebrate its “Charter Day” that May with a Broadway parade, beauty contest and Golden Jubilee Show (hosted by Dave Garroway of NBC’s Today).
Michael G. Celli an elected member of the Long Branch City Council, LB Daily Record, May 1965. City Clerk Sanita J. Camassa (l) does the swearing in. At right is his wife Dr. Mary Jane Celli, who was elected to the city council herself in May 1994 and still holds the seat today. A 1946 LBHS graduate and owner of Celli Antiques, Mike was also a 30-year US postal worker and the union local president in Long Branch. He died in June 1998. Is there another husband-wife ever elected to the Long Branch City Council?
New York Giants Hall-of-Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor with Howard H. “Chubby” Woolley, Jr. during LT’s visit to Long Branch City Hall, 2012. Howard is a Long Branch “Giant” — serving effectively as city Business Administrator from 1994 to 2017. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Long Branch Sewerage Authority from 1991 to 1994. He was a longtime city Planning Board member and its chairman. A Brown University graduate, he was the youngest person ever elected to the Long Branch City Council in May 1974 at age 26. He lost a narrow race for city mayor in 1978 (by fewer than 300 votes out of nearly 8,000 cast). He was also part owner of the family clothing business, W.H. Woolley’s, a city business landmark that first opened in 1911 on Broadway and operated until 1990.