TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN, NJ - Even many of the locals struggle with the name. Truth be told, it’s not just that there’s a Township of Ocean in Ocean County and an Ocean Township in Monmouth County. It boils down to not only a case of mistaken identity but a loss of one as well.

The distinction between the two names in different counties does little to help when it comes to mailing out letters or conducting business on the telephone. The Clerk’s office in the Township of Ocean has Ocean Township’s phone number memorized. For sure, it goes both ways.

Online encyclopedias have it wrong as well, so it’s no wonder that there’s confusion. The Township of Ocean is north of Barnegat and south of Lacey. In years past, the three, and Brookville, were part of one community – named Union Township.

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Back in 1876, Waretown and Brookville incorporated as the Township of Ocean. However, that’s not to say that the choice of names doesn’t still perplex more than a few people.  After all, neither Waretown nor Brookville has any oceanfront property.

“Our history is all about mariners,” explained Adele Shaw, President, and Historian of the Waretown Historical Society. “Our boundaries are across the Barnegat Bay and through the inlet.”

Even the name Waretown itself has changed with time. Back in the days when the Puritans persecuted Rogerine Quakers, Nate Abraham Waier decided it was time to get out of New London, Connecticut.

“William Penn gets all the credit for religious freedom, “said Shaw. “It actually started right here.”

Waier built a gristmill on a local creek. “Millers had a bad reputation for taking more than their fair share,” Shaw explained. “However, Waier was an enterprising and Christian man, and everyone respected him.”

The area first became known as Waier Creek and then Waier Mill.  At some point, what is now Waretown was also called Wiretown, Weartown, Wiretown Branch, and Waretown Mill.

Of course, the name variations still don’t explain the Township’s connection to the sea. The answer started to make sense after the mills. It began when Waretown moved forward as a well-known shipbuilding town along the eastern seaboard.

Additionally, coastal traders surfaced in a variety of industries. Transporting lumber of the finest cedar that came from Brookville proved critical.  Harvesting for oysters and clams attracted many seafaring captains. The charcoal trade became a big moneymaker.

At some point, the shipping industry grew so large that it was time to move on to bigger harbors. When the railroads came to town, the sailors needed to find other means of making money.

“The sea captains reinvented themselves as tour guides,” said Shaw. “Waretown became known as an exclusive sportsmen’s paradise for hunting and fishing.”

The list of famous people who came to experience the sea from Waretown, includes two United States Presidents, Cleveland, and McKinley. Both Babe Ruth and Buffalo Bill visited Waretown to tour the area.

These days, the Township of Ocean retains its nautical theme. Once viewed as more of a vacation area with summer cottages, the Township now has many full-time residents.

Also included as part of the Township of Ocean are many residential developments: Barnegat Beach, Bay Haven, Dogtown, Holiday Beach, Pebble Beach, Sands Point Harbor, Skippers Cove, Wells Mills, and the Woods of Oceana.  Greenbriar Oceanaire Community & Golf Course is an over 55 development located within Waretown.

Police vehicles are labeled the Ocean Township Police, while fire engines are marked the Waretown Volunteer Fire Company. In the end, what’s in a name anyway?

Even William Shakespeare said, “That which we call a rose; by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.