Industries in early Mendham were made possible by abundant natural resources and demands for materials, goods, services and food for a thriving community and beyond. Sawmills made timber for buildings and wagons, iron ore was mined and forged, fulling and dyeing mills produced textiles, coal was produced for heating and for running water wheels and machinery, gristmills turned grain into flour, blacksmiths crafted iron for plows, tools, utensils and horseshoes, and coopers made casks and barrels.


Ralston Nesbitt Mill
Connet Sawmill


The abundance of water in the Whippany and Raritan Rivers, along with their feeder streams were ideal for mills which utilized the flowing water.  The earliest mills were for lumber, lime, and grains.  They remained important and led to importation of coal for the lime kilns in the later part of the 19th century.


As the communities developed, they needed finished goods to run their mills, mines, and farms.  The result were dry goods, sundries, and cabinetry.  Blacksmiths began to be associated with carriage shops.  This even led to transitions such as Gunther’s from a carriage shop to selling autos.

Freeman's blacksmith and carriage shop
John and Abraham Byram Woolen Mill


The mining of iron ore lead to the creation of forges and blacksmith shops, taking the iron slag and fashioning it into implements and tools.  Byram (Water Street) and Jackson (Dover area) built early forges with finished products shipped  east.  There were woolen, fulling  and dying mills to convert sheep wool into useful articles.


John Wills in Roxiticus (Minsi for “meeting place”) and Joseph Latham near present day Dover recorded the earliest deed for property in 1713.  Farming was important both early as well as throughout much of the history of Mendham Township for the development of the Township. The crops were varied and included vegetables, grains, large animal husbandry, and orchards.  Farms such as the Pitney property remained active into the 20th century as resident development occurred on previous farmland.

Pitney Farm
Connet Mine cross section


The earliest explorers in the Mendham area were attracted by the black stones (iron ore) lying on the ground which the Minsi called “Succasunny.”  They rapidly determined the location of ore in the surrounding hills and began rudimentary mining.  Over time, the miner experience varied success throughout Mendham Township at the Dickerson Mine in Mine Hill area and the Lewis mine in Combs Hollow.  In addition to iron ore, nickel, lime, and even small amounts of silicon oxide were mined.


Mendham Township Hall

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