×

The free township of Freehold

Photos courtesy of Martin’s history of Lottsville Photos taken during the Tri-Community Fair of Lottsville, Bear Lake and Wrightsville circa 1937. The township in northwestern Warren County was carved out of Columbus and Sugar Grove townships in the early 1800s..

Freehold is not an uncommon name for a place.

The township in northwestern Warren County was carved out of Columbus and Sugar Grove townships in the early 1800s. It was named for its legal standing.

Ernest Miller, in Place Names of Warren County, pennsylvania, said the citizens who petitioned the court for the formation of the township chose the name.

A freehold is basically a place that is owned outright — no leases, no limits.

The name “indicates that the land was held in fee simple,” Miller said.

Photos courtesy of Martin’s history of Lottsville Photos taken during the Tri-Community Fair of Lottsville, Bear Lake and Wrightsville circa 1937. The township in northwestern Warren County was carved out of Columbus and Sugar Grove townships in the early 1800s..

‘Fee Simple’ may have been their second choice.

“Land owned in fee simple is owned completely, without any limitations or conditions,” according to Cornell Law School’s legal dictionary.

One of the types of freehold is fee simple land.

At a more basic level, the suffix -hold means something that is owned or possessed. One definition of ‘free’ is not being subject to the authority of another.

Land owned and not subject to anyone else. That’s a good choice for a place where folks don’t want to be under the thumb of some other entity. Miller does not suggest if the people of what became Freehold Township had any particular objection to the governments of Sugar Grove or Columbus townships, or if they simply wanted to put their own name on a place.

“Freehold was a very popular name for towns and townships in the 1800s,” Miller said. As examples, there is a Freehold in Brooklyn, N.Y., and both a Freehold Township and Freehold Borough in New Jersey.

The legal term is in more common use in the British Isles. The name is not. Naming a place Freehold in England would be as creative and potentially redundant as naming a place around here Real Estate, Township, or Municipality.

Freehold Township was approved by the county commissioners in 1833.

There are about 1,450 people living on 35.6 square miles there now.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)