May 11, 2020

Keeping Monmouth County History Alive with These Three Women

By Lori Draz

Linda Bricker

This month we are celebrating women who make a difference, as we look at three women who are keeping history alive. There are so many more including Roberta Van Anda, Muriel Smith, Gilda Rogers and Laura Atwell, to name a few. We also applaud all volunteers, historic society members, docents, researchers, authors and homeowners who care for so many properties.

Linda Bricker, president of the Monmouth County Historic Association (MCHA), works to make history engaging, relevant and accessible. She has led the effort to digitize the association’s vast 30,000 artifact collection for eMuseum visitors and spearheaded several contemporary exhibitions including “Tracking Sandy” and the current “Springsteen: His Hometown.”

Now the MCHA has invited everyone to become historians by sharing their stories, photos and images through the “Remembering COVID-19” project. History is being made every day.

Bricker wishes everyone will engage with the MCHA properties. She is a co-creator of the popular Tavernfest, held annually at the MCHA’s Tavern Museum at the Allen House, also the site of the recently established Reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4. The working hearth programs at MCHA’s Covenhoven House are also special.

“I grew up in Hudson, Ohio in a c.1870 home in the historic village, complete with its village square and very active Heritage Association,” Bricker said. “Village homeowners carefully cared for their houses and researched stories of the original homeowners which brought the history of this interesting town to life for me. My understanding of experiential learning was strengthened by family trips to Greenfield Village and Colonial Williamsburg. Later, I worked at the Chicago History Museum, creating living history programs. Eventually I moved with my husband and four children to New Jersey. My community volunteer work led me to leadership in the MCHA where I have proudly served as president for the past five years. The association owns and cares for five historic buildings and their properties. I believe we all have a civic and ethical duty to preserve and protect these buildings and artifacts for future generations. Our preservation of history shows care for the community and provides hope for the future.”

Lillian Burry

Lillian Burry has served on the Board of Chosen Freeholders since 2006. In 2008, she served as Freeholder director, the first woman in county history to be elected to this position.

Burry was mayor of Colts Neck, and she was the first woman ever elected to the Matawan Borough Council. She currently serves on the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Planning Authority. She has secured 400 acres of open space and recreational facilities for the county and spearheaded the Veteran’s Community Center.

She has been named person of the year by the Latino-American Council, the Fraternal Order of the Police, the Conservation Foundation, the Agricultural Commission, Marine Corps League and Historic Association. She received the 2012 Spinnaker Award and was the Grand Marshall of the “Open Space Pace (Save the Horse).”

“History is not just some dead, worn relic to be dusted off on special occasions and then returned to honored obscurity,” Burry said. “History is a living thing that gives substance and meaning to the present and a pathway into the future.

“My father, a native-born Florentine whose heritage dates back to DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Medici, often said, ‘You can’t know where you are going, if you don’t know where you have been.’ –

“Historic preservation is so important because visions dim, memories fade and recollections differ. It is the tangible things we preserve that provide an honest and enduring record.

“I think of the Mt Mitchell’s Sept. 11, 2001 Eagle monument and garden; Ft Hancock and the preservation of Officer’s Row and MAST buildings 53 and 24; Battery Lewis at Hartshorne Woods Park with the WWII gun barrel; Avenue of Memories on Ft Monmouth; the 14 sites in Colts Neck from Laird Applejack Distillery, the Colts Neck Inn, Joshua Huddy homestead, Conover and Probasco farmsteads; just to name a few.

“With every act of preservation, we add a new thread to the fabric of our civic lives that binds us together into one vital, enduring and timeless community.”

Christine Giordano Hanlon

Christine Giordano Hanlon, Esq. is the county clerk for Monmouth County. Hanlon is responsible for the preservation of historic records relating to real property in the county as well as millions of important government documents. She is also currently the president-elect for the Monmouth County Bar Association, vice president for the Monmouth County SPCA and is a trustee for the Boy Scouts of America Monmouth Council. Hanlon lives in Ocean Township with her husband and four children.

The Archives Division of the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office works tirelessly to preserve, index and provide secure storage for millions of county historical records dating back to the 1600s.

“My office and I have worked to bring our county’s history to life for everyone to enjoy,” Hanlon said. “I am proud to serve as the county clerk for the County of Monmouth, which is often referred to as the ‘Keeper of the Records.’ I have always had a keen interest in history, and one of my favorite duties as county clerk is preserving and protecting our rich history.

“Each year, we host the Monmouth County Archives and History Day which attracts more than 300 attendees, including historians, archivists and the public, to celebrate our local history. I have also incorporated student photography and essay contests to engage our younger generation to cherish our history.

“I have made our services and records more readily available for historians and researchers through MonmouthCountyClerk.com, publishing videos, and using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts to educate the public about Monmouth’s history.

“To better protect our precious collections, I am also continuing to invest in modern technology to streamline and improve the preservation process so that generations to come can enjoy and learn from these historical records.”

“I encourage you to learn more about our Monmouth County Archives Division online at MonmouthCountyClerk.com/Archives or by visiting us in the lower level of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan, once County Offices re-open.”