House Research

Throughout Cranbury there are houses and business with markers showing the dates of construction and the earliest owner or builder. Research is carried out by the owner with guidelines established by the historical society. Once research is completed, the material is submitted and reviewed.

The marker is ordered by the historical society and the home owner pays for the marker. The History Center provides these guidelines for those interested in researching their home or business. Copies of the documentation of these researched buildings are kept at the History Center. They are also useful in genealogy research.

For more information, contact the history center.

Guidelines for House Research and for a Historic Marker

The ultimate goal of house research is the establishment of the original data and owner/builder of the particular house involved, and the recording of the history of the house up to the present time. Information about the house, its structural changes of the years; biographical information about the owners; and photographs pertaining to the location, house, owners, etc. enhance the record.
  1. To qualify for the Society's historic marker, the house must be at least 75 years old. The history Center has maps of Cranbury that indicate houses existing at that time. If your house is among these you will know that it is at least 75 years old and eligible for a marker.
  2. Basic historical data (a copy of each deed and, if possible, an historical architect's evaluation, photographs and personal reminiscences) must be submitted as evidence of the date of the house to the Society's Review Board, which will review your research and certify your eligibility for the Society's marker.
  3. Deeds and similar records can be found in the County Records Building, John F. Kennedy Square, New Brunswick, NJ. These records are available to the public A copier is also available for a fee.
  4. Deeds may be located in one of two ways:
    1. Sometimes one deed will refer to the previous deed or instrument of conveyance, giving the volume and page numbers.
    2. More complicated - when one deed makes no mention of the previous deed, you can find the grantor and grantee and pages of record by consulting the Grantee Index. This book is an alphabetical listing by the last name. Usually there is one book for each letter of the alphabet. The front of the index has a key to the pages where specific deed information is located. For example, if the grantor of the deed you have located is "John Smith", then "John Smith" is the grantee in the previous deed.

      To located that previous deed, take the "S" volume of the Grantee Index and open to the key in front. On the left side is a vertical lit of letters. Find the first letter of "Mr. Smith's" first name. After locating the "J" look horizontally until you find the first consonant after the first letter in his last name. This would be "M". The number you see there indicates the section of the Index where you will find the deed reference. Check the listings in that section until you find "John Smith" as grantee for property in Cranbury. (An earlier deed may refer to the area as South Brunswick Township or Monroe Township.) Take down any references that show "John Smith" as Grantor of property in Cranbury, South Brunswick Township or Monroe Township. Then consult those specific volumes to verify the deed to your property. Check ALL the references until you find the property description that fits the size and location of yours. The difficulty is in determining the date of the dwelling, since the description covers only the land. The supplementary historical data (#2 above) will aid in pinning down the construction of the house.

  5. The recipient bears the cost of the Society's marker. $135.00 plus shipping and handling as of 2003.
  6. For your information:
    • 1 chain = 66 feet
    • 1 chain = 100 links
    • 1 link is slightly less than 8 inches

Proposed Sources for Information

  • Conversations with Older residents (i.e. Wayne Stahl) and persons with knowledge of Cranbury past (i.e. Peggy Brennan) as well as previous owners of the house if available.
  • Cranbury Past and Present by Ruth Walsh (History Center has the Index)
  • Images of Cranbury Volumes I and II by Peggy and Frank Brennan (Index at History Center)
  • Images of: Plainsboro, Monroe Township and Hightstown
  • Preserving Historic Cranbury Village, Heritage Studies, 1948 (Index at History Center)
  • Genealogical Files
  • Tax Assessor's photos, 1974
  • History Center's photograph collection (Index at History Center)
  • Cranbury Press (Online Index) (Index 1900-1985 at History Center)
  • U.S. Census

Note: Good examples of completed files are 3 and 4 Station Road. There are others as well.


Once the research is completed, the material should be submitted to the History Center (or to a special designated review board) for review and determination as to its eligibility for a marker.

If and when acceptable, a file is initiated an placed in the House Research drawer alphabetically by street and ascending numerical order.

Also, 2 cards are prepared (by History Center or Owner) giving deed information to verify date of house or building and its original owner or builder. One card is filed in the drawer for record of houses and/or buildings researched under its street location; and the second card is added to the Index of Researched Biuldings prepared by Richard Kallan labeled, Researched Property Ownership List.

Reference to the marker should also be added to the "Master List of History Markers" in the "House Research" file.