Happy 275th, Mendham Township!

On the 29th of March of this year, the Township of Mendham celebrates 275 years of officially being a town.

Morris County, originally formed in 1738, was first made up of three townships: Morris, Hanover, and Pequannock.  Mendham Township was established in 1749. From sections of each of these, its original boundaries were defined in the Minutes of the County Court for Holding of the Pleas for March 29, 1749 which end with the official declaration:

Here is the facsimile of those Minutes, certified as a true copy of the record, followed by a transcription of the early 18th c. Old English calligraphy and spelling, taken from the “History of Morris County New Jersey 1739 to 1882” and our best interpretation at this point.

It is interesting to note that back in the middle 1700’s, official boundaries were defined using springs, brooks, roads/paths, residents’ houses, and just about anything that would help to clearly define the area being outlined.

and Transcription:

March 29 1749

A Petition From Sundory of the Westerly part of the
inhabitants of the Townships of Morris and Hanover and
Sunderie of the Easterly Part of the Inhabitants of
Roxbury To This Court, praying that they may be
Made a Town Ship or precinct for Sevrall Causes therein
Sett forth. The Court upon Reading the same grants
them their Petition and Bounds said Town Ship
As followeth:
Beginning at Pasiak River, at the South Corner of Henry
Wick’s Land, and from thence a straight Line to the Country
Road Between Ezra Holsey’s and Stephen Lyon’s Land; thence
a Straight Line to the Mouth of Robert Young’s Meddow
Brook, up Rockaway River to the Uper end of Spruce
Island in said River; thence to a River commonly called and
known by the name of Black River, the nighest to
Suckasona mine; thence down the same till an East point
will strike the head spring of the Most Westerly Branch
of Dorson’s Brook, which is near the house where Sam’l
Pitdney Lately Dwelt; and Down, the Stream issuing from
Said Spring till it comes to the Road Between James Wills
from thence ten chain to the post of Joseph Casen’s new dwelling house;
and Noah Rude; from thence South to the Lines Between
the County of Somersett and Morris, and thence along said
Line to pasiak River and by said River to the bounds first
mentioned; and to be from hence forth called Mendham.

Changing Boundaries

Mendham Township’s original boundaries included what we know today as Mendham Township, Mendham Borough, Randolph, the east section of Chester Township, and southern halves of both Dover and Wharton Borough.  In 1806 the northern portion split off due to differences in ideology and economy, namely a heavy Quaker following and predominance of the mining industry. This new township was named after Hartshorne Fitz Randolph, a popular and powerful Quaker leader. In 1906 another portion of the Township split off to become Mendham Borough. This came about to establish a municipal water utility and public water system for firefighting. Its boundaries were determined by the limited distance of gravity flow of water from donated water rights and land.

The following maps show the Township’s changing boundaries and are based on the report of New Jersey’s Civil Boundaries 1606-1968 by the Bureau of Geology and Topography.

Changing boundaries of Mendham

With its vast natural resources and key waterways used to power its mills and foundries, the area initially grew as an industrial community.  Over time it evolved with a more agricultural focus, and then ultimately the residential and small business community we know it as today.

Mendham has flourished over the centuries through both thoughtful development and wise preservation.  The Mendham Township Historic Preservation Committee and Township Committee have planned several events to celebrate this year’s special milestone.  Stay tuned for dates and details.

Sources

“1739 History of Morris County New Jersey with Illustrations, and Biographic Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers” published by  W. W. Munsell & Co., New York, 36 Vesey Street. 1882

“The Story of New Jersey’s Civil Boundaries 1606-1968,” by John F. Snyder, 1st edition, Bureau of Geology and Topography, Trenton, New Jersey, Reprinted by New Jersey Geological Survey, 2004