At a public meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, held on May 5, 1955, Edward H. Feltus III, Director of the Monmouth County Historical Association, requested that Board take official action in the matter of adopting a County Flag. Mr. Feltus suggested that designs might be furnished by the school children of the County, through the various school art departments and the best and most appropriate of such designs then selected by a committee to be appointed by the Board.
As a result of Mr. Feltus's request, at the next public meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, held on May 18, 1955, the Board adopted a resolution favoring the adoption of a flag and authorizing the appointment of a committee to undertake the design and securing of a proper County Flag.
Shortly after the May 18, 1955 meeting, a committee consisting of the following was appointed:
- Leroy T. Fish, Manasquan High School Principal
- Thomas B. Harper, of Belmar and former County Superintendent of Schools
- Ernest W. Lass, Publisher of the Asbury Park Press
- Edward H. Feltus III, of Freehold and Director of the County Historical Association
The committee then offered prizes for the best designs to be submitted (in the categories of first, second and third places) and contacted the art departments of the schools in the County, furnishing the details of the contest. The students (somewhat to the surprise of the committee) then offered to submit designs without the reward of prizes, as a public spirited contribution to the people of the County. To this the committee agreed and many designs were subsequently submitted and judged.
The final result was reported to the Board of Chosen Freeholders at a public meeting, held on February 1, 1956, with the winners as follows:
- First Place - Cynthia Canning, Asbury Park High School
- Second Place - Jane K. Nugent, Red Bank High School
- Third Place - Fred G. Searby, Freehold Regional High School
The committee also presented a flag made up from the winning design, which flag was accepted officially and the winners and the committee were thanked for their excellent work.
This, then, is how Monmouth County secured its official flag and since the flag represents all the people of the County, so too did the people have an interest in its creation.
As to the flag itself, it measures four feet by six feet, with a white background and a circular center design (in various colors) thirty inches high, flanked by two Revolutionary War soldiers, wearing the buff and blue uniforms of the Continental Line and bearing bayoneted muskets. Beneath the center design is the date 1683 and the motto "Per Primas In Gloria," which means "Among The First In Glory." The design is ornamented in gold and the motto is backed in red. The words "County of Monmouth, New Jersey" in black, appear in the border of the center circle and the motto is also in black, as is the date.
The center design (which, by the way, is not a representation of the official County Seal) is divided into quadrants, in which appear, counter-clockwise, a jar of milk and assorted vegetables, a factory, a basket of seafood (fish and crab) and a sailboat.
These symbols represent the following:
- The Milk and Vegetables - the dairy and farming industries which sustained the original colonists and which continue active today.
- The Factory - the modern manufacturing industry of the County which increases constantly, giving employment to many and contributing to the general prosperity of the people.
- The Seafood - with 33 miles of seacoast and bay frontage and with several tidal rivers, fishing and crabbing, both for sport and profit, are a way of life in Monmouth County and gave been since and before Colonial days.
- The Sailboat - the constantly growing boating industry, with many fine yards and marinas, provides another important source of revenue and pleasure. Boat building, too, has been in existence since the days of the first settlers.
As to the Revolutionary War soldiers shown on the Flag, Monmouth County was first permanently settled in 1664 and during its over 300 years of existence, the colonists and their modern descendants have seen many wars. But, the Revolution was the one that came nearest to home, for the County for years was the scene of many skirmishes and small, vicious ambushes, between patriots and Tories, soldiers of both the British and the Continental armies and the militia. The fighting climaxed in the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, fought near Freehold (then, as now, the County Seat) on June 28, 1778, with victory for General Washington, although historians are still debating just how much of a victory it was. What schoolboy, however, has not heard the story of Molly Pitcher, who carried water to the exhausted Americans on that brutally hot June day and who supposedly helped serve a cannon when her husband was killed?
Such is the fabric of our County history and traditions and the soldiers on the Flag symbolize it well.
The date of 1683 on the Flag represents the official founding of the County by Act of the Proprietary Assembly in that year and the naming of the same after Monmouthshire, in England, the mother country. (However, there are some who contend that Monmouth County was named for the Duke of Monmouth.)
The motto has no official or historical basis in fact, but is representative of the part the County has played in the history of the original colonies.
In the autumn of 1609, the explorer, Henry Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch East India Company (who gave his name to the river he sailed) dropped anchor in Sandy Hook Bay and came ashore from his ship, the Half Moon. Tradition says he secured fresh water for his crew from a spring at what is now Atlantic Highlands and took a good look at the countryside of what was to become Monmouth County. It so impressed him that he later caused to be written in the ship's log, "This is a very good land to fall in with and a pleasant land to see."
So it is today that those of us who came after him have reason to feel the same as did the doughty Dutchman. His sentiments are those the design of the County Flag is intended to express.
The flag now flies at all County installations where the national flag is flown.
(The above is taken from "This is Monmouth County, New Jersey," a publication of the Board of Chosen Freeholders and authored by William L. Ulrich, the Clerk of the Board. It is dated March 1, 1973.)