Salem County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2000 Census, the population was 64,285. Its county seat is Salem. The Old Salem County Courthouse, situated on the same block as the Salem County Courthouse, serves as the court for Salem City. It is the oldest active courthouse in New Jersey and is the second oldest courthouse in continuous use in the United States, the oldest being King William County Courthouse (1725) in Virginia. The courthouse was built in 1735 during the reign of King George II using locally manufactured bricks. The building was enlarged in 1817 and additionally enlarged and remodeled in 1908. Its distinctive bell tower is essentially unchanged and the original bell sits in the courtroom.
Judge William Hancock of the King's Court presided at the courthouse. He was later unintentionally killed by the British in the American Revolution during the massacre of Hancock House committed by the British against local militia during the Salem Raid in 1778. The courthouse was afterwards the scene of the "treason trials," wherein suspected Loyalists were put on trial for having allegedly aided the British during the Salem Raid. Four men were convicted and sentenced to death for treason; however, they were pardoned by Governor William Livingston and exiled from New Jersey. The courthouse is also the site of the legend of Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson proving the edibility of the tomato. Before 1820, Americans often assumed tomatoes were poisonous. In 1820, Colonel Johnson, according to legend, stood upon the courthouse steps and ate tomatoes in front of a large amazed crowd assembled to watch him do so.
The terrain is almost uniformly flat coastal plain, with minimal relief. The highest elevation in the county has never been determined with any specificity, but is likely one of seven low rises in Upper Pittsgrove Township that exceed 160 feet (48.7 m) in elevation. Sea level is the lowest point.
1across Delaware Bay; no land border
There were 24,295 households out of which 32.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.80% were married couples living together, 13.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.50% were non-families. 24.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.60% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 27.90% from 25 to 44, 24.20% from 45 to 64, and 14.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,573, and the median income for a family was $54,890. Males had a median income of $41,860 versus $27,209 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,874. About 7.20% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.30% of those under age 18 and 6.60% of those age 65 or over.