The entire last chapter was devoted to the Mills of Millburn because of their great importance and influence on the economic and social development of Millburn of the 19th century. However, while the early 19th century captains of industry were establishing their mills and factories, the ordinary folks of the community were living out their lives; going about their routine daily tasks; and gradually completing the foundations of the settlement which had been begun almost one hundred years before. The mills, naturally, brought an influx of new families seeking work here, although as transportation became simpler, some of the employes commuted to their jobs from outlying towns.
Long before people began referring to the northern section of Springfield as "Millville" or "Milltown", other reference names were used for it. The name "Vauxhall" was commonly used around the time of the Revolution. Attention was called to its use in newspaper advertisements in a previous chapter. Army reports generally meant Millburn when they spoke of "the roads to Vauxhall", in back of Springfield. The name was particularly used for the building at 40 Main Street (present address) where the Rev. James Caldwell, set up, according to legend, his quartermaster headquarters during the War, but why, or by whom it was named it not now known. It would seem obvious that it was named by some English citizen for the famous Vauxhall of London, a popular entertainment place in the 17th century, and it is possible that the Vauxhall or Vaux Hall here, was built as a meeting place for social occasions. This opinion is, of course, only a guess at an explanation.
However, the building must have been important enough for many people to know it, and use it as a point of geographical description; such as, "the road to the Vaux Hall." The only road running east of the present Millburn center was for many years called "Vauxhall Road," and its later extension west of the center was called "Washington Avenue." Both are now "Millburn Avenue."
Another of Millburn's ancient names was "Rum Brook." Cider was an important product of every settlement, and "Jersey Lightnin'" the fermented form of cider, was produced in great quantities. Every river had its cider presses and evidently the Rahway River was no exception. Sometimes, it is said, that the discarded mash, dumped into the river, could be smelled and tasted, and so "Rum Brook" was an apt designation for the village on the shores of the piquant stream. In the "Budget," a Millburn newspaper, in its issue of August 4, 1886, there appears an obituary of Mrs. Esther McChesney, who had just died at the age of 91 years. The Obituary reads that she was born, and resided in Millburn all her life, or "in Rum Brook, as it was then called."
The name "Riverhead" appears without explanation in some history books as an old name for Millburn. This name for Millburn does actually appear on a map of Jefferson Village (Maplewood) made in 1815, by Cyrus Durand, who lived nearby, and the name is certainly understandable as a literal description of a center in 1783, and it was also a stage coach stop and important gathering place for social life and news.
On May 27, 1793, the New Jersey Legislature set off from the Townships of Elizabeth and Newark certain lands to be henceforth known as "The Township of Springfield" in which Township, of course, Millburn was included, so that at last the community had its own legal name?Springfield. On April 14, 1794, its own own government was set up in the inn of Abraham Woolley. Many old Millburn names appear in the list of the first governing officials?Baldwin, Morehouse, Denman, Wade, Squier, Lyon, and Meeker. However, no Post Office was established until 1801 and people were still dependent on the traveler or stagecoach driver for their mail. It was the custom for the Post Office at Elizabeth to advertise in the New Jersey Journal that it was holding mail for the addresses, who could wither call for it personally, or have it picked up by an obliging friend.
In 1801 the first chartered turnpike in New Jersey was created, known as "The Morris Turnpike." Subscriptions were sold at the rate of $25.00 a share, subscription books to receive same being kept open at private homes in Morristown, Newton and the home of Joseph Lyons in Elizabeth. A deposit payment of only $1.00 was required. For the first time the inhabitants and the millowners had a good road to the cities if they were willing to pay toll. of course, many circumvented the payment of toll by "shunning the Pike" and roads to this day known as "Shunpike" roads became very popular. One of these roads is still located south of the Morris Turnpike in Springfield and is still called "Shunpike Road". However, the Turnpike was profitable and a first dividend of 55¢ a share was paid in 1807. Toll gates were located on Morris Turnpike near the present Canoe Brook Road, and near the corner of Springfield Avenue and Morris Turnpike. The Turnpike connected Springfield with Elizabeth, Morristowni Newton, and Phillipsburg and the road beyond the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. Its principal purpose was to bring down the products of the iron mines of northern New Jersey to ships in Elizabeth harbor.
After the Morris Turnpike, other turnpikes were chartered and the system of roads for which New Jersey is now famous became established. The Newark?Springfield Turnpike was cut through in 1806 and Millburn Avenue was extended to meet it. For other toll payments, easier access could be had to Newark and adjacent towns. A toll gate was located at the present junction of Millburn and Springfield Avenues. Before Springfield Avenue was laid out, the quickest way to Newark was down Millburn Avenue (then called Vauxhall Road) to "the road through the valley" (Ridgewood Road), and then across that road to South Orange Avenue where a small hamlet known as South Orange was located. South Orange Avenue ran from Ridgewood Road to Newark, and was the third road built by the Newark settlers to the mountains; the first being the present West Market Street and Main Street to Orange, and the second, the road across to South Orange Avenue from Main Street, Orange, now known as "Valley Street" in West Orange, and "Ridgewood Road" in South Orange.
The home of Joseph Riggs at the northwest corner of Ridgewood Road and South Orange Avenue was the terminus for several of these roads. Ridgewood Road and also Valley Street (Maplewood) eventually connected Millburn with South Orange Avenue.
Later on, but before Millburn Avenue was cut through to Springfield Avenue, another way to Newark was favored. Travelers followed the path down Millburn Avenue to the present Valley Street, turned left on Valley Street to the present Tuscan Road, then right on Tuscan Road to the present apex of Maplecrest Park, where a small settlement known at various times as "North Farms", "The Harbor", "Middleville" and "Hilton" was located. There the travelers continued east to Newark. When toll was charged for the Springfield Avenue Pike, Valley Street to South Orange became the shunpike of that section, and was so known for many years.
People began to have a little more fun, and one reads of barn raisings, quilting bees, and even parties just for pleasure. Captain Joseph Horton was the Township poet, and was usually toastmaster at the barnraisings. Food, of course, was the principal entertainment offered to guests, and Captain Horton, never at a loss for a poem to celebrate a momentous occasion, did not mind using his talent for criticizing food, if it did not meet with his approval. F. W. Ricord in his "History of Union County" tells that on one occasion, Poet Horton's hostess was stingy, and used rye flour, instead of white flour, so the toast went something like this:
"Potpie made of rye and mutton was the meat. Rough enough, and tough enough and not half enough to eat."
His hostess' name and reaction to the toast are not recorded. At the next party things were decidedly better, and the toastmaster responded in these words:
"Potpie not made of rye but of the finest wheat, Chicken all, both large and small, and fit for kings to eat."
Captain Joseph Horton had been a soldier in the late war, and so apparently the wrath of a neighbor-hostess had no terror for him. He lies buried among the Revolutionary heroes in Springfield Cemetery.
A reading of the newspapers of the period give other intimate glimpses into the lives of the ordinary folks of Millburn. Eight sheep belonging to Watts Reeve of Vauxhall (now the Wyoming Section) strayed from his pasture, 3 of them "hobbled" by a leathern strap." Jacob Ogden fell overboard and drowned in (New) York Bay, on his way to Elizabeth from New York City; Napoleon's triumphs in Europe provided stirring news, and Samuel Campbell lost his liver-spotted pointer dog named "Carlo" for which he offered $2.00 reward. Mr. Campbell also advertised for a "boy of good morales as an apprentice to learn the papermaking business"; and Jonas Wade's mulatto man ran away from him. Mr. Campbell offered more reward for Carlo, than Jacob Ross offered for the return of his apprentice boy, 4 feet 3 inches high.
The New Jersey Journal which was the paper usually read by the people here carried a long article condemning the reduction of our Navy from 154 salis of the line in 1799, to 138 sails of the line in 1800; and a statement of the total receipts of the United States of America for the year ending September 30, 1800, showed that $15,262,161.75 had been received during the year, $59,050.43 of which had come from New Jersey.
War with Spain and England was greatly feared; a bowlegged Negro man named Cuff, 22 years of age, ran away from F. DelaCroix of this town, and Sally Smith eloped from her husband in August, 1801.
Subscriptions to the newspapers were paid for in merchandise, and Mr. Kollock, the editor, pleaded with those who promised him wood in return for his paper, to please deliver it to him. Two sloops to New York owned by Job Haines and William and Elias Dayton, began to make 3 or 4 weekly trips to New York; and a Wax Works Museum opened in Elizabeth on Christmas Day, 1805.
George Washington passed through Elizabeth on April 30, 1789, on his way to his inauguration in New York. Crowds journeyed from all over the State to see him pass by. He was met some distance out of town by a guard of honor headed by Captain Wade, and escorted by Captain Meeker, (both old Millburn names) to the home of Elias Boudinot, after which he embarked by sloop to New York City.
The Nicholas Parcel Estate sold off 30 acres of wood and timber on White Oak Ridge Road; the "Cordial Balm of Gilead" was advertised as the "best cure for lowness of spirits, debility, and consumption", and if you bought a bottle you could also buy for $1.00 the "Guide to Health" which contained instructions on "how to care for fits, Flatilence of Wind, Hypocondriac, Juvenile Indiscretions, and Scurvy." One of the best places to buy materials entailed a short journey to North Farms (now the Maplecrest section of Maplewood where one could purchase "Orleans cloth, swansdown, frize, bairdseye, striped calimancoes, boiled comblets, Jaconet muslin, shaloons, ratinetts, deep blue and drab broadcloth, and soal leather, all at the best prices."
Group singing was a popular pasttime, and on a shopping expedition to Newark one could buy at W. & E. Hill's, 166 Broad Street, sheet music for such tender and melancholy ballads as "I'd Weep for Thee", "Oh, Do Not Forget, Love!", "Say, my Heart, Whence Comes This Anguish", "O'er the Sea in my Fairy Baot", "Oft in the Stilly Night" or the popular glees, "Our Old Tom Cat", and "Corn Cobs."
On June 6, 1805, a meeting of the Fourth of July Celebration Committee was held. Aaron Hand was Chairman, and his committee consisted of Samuel Parkhurst, Uzal Wade, J. Dean, Caleb Woodruff, Philip Denman, and Captain John Smith. Walter Smith was designated to bear the cup of Liberty in the parade; Oliver Wade to read the Declaration of Independence, and David Baldwin to deliver the oration. Descendants of some members of this committee are still living in Millburn in 1957.
On the other side of the picture, the good old days were not always so good. Men, Women, and children were still being sold as slaves ? New Jersey was one of the last States to eliminate slavery?and during these years advertisements, such as the following, were common:
"Strong, handsome Negro wench, 19 years old, with a beautiful female child, six months old on the bottle, very healthy ... can sew, spin, had had the smallpox and measles." (New Jersey Journal).
"For sale, good black girl, about 20 years of age, sober, honest, healthy and active." (New Jersey Sentinel of Freedom (!) 1815.)
And a man was advertised for sale at Public Auction at the Court House in Newark. The man was said to be in stout health, 31 years of age, understood farming, a good hostler, and an excellent waiter. The only reason to dispose of him was that he was given to "intoxication which makes him impertinent and unruly." These are only three of numerous advertisements picked from the local New Jersey papers of the times.
Hanging was still the penalty for murder in New Jersey; a sentence of 39 stripes on the bare back was inflicted by the Essex County Court for stealing horsehide; and two years imprisonment was meted out for stealing a silver watch.
"Agressions on our trade and commerce" were committed by the British; the Port of New York was blockaded; and the War of 1812 was fought and won. At least two local names appear in the list of fighting men?Aaron Vreeland Ross and Captain Enos Baldwin.
Religion began to occupy a more prominent role in people's lives. At the end of the Revolution formal religion and attendance at services had reached a low ebb. The strong Presbyterian Church, whose clergy had been among the foremost patriots, had suffered severe blows. Its churches were chief targets of British vengence, and many of them, such as those of Springfield, Elizabeth, and New Brunswick, were in ruins, and their congregations disrupted and scattered. The congregations of the Episcopal Church which had been the established church of England, suffered through their loyalty to the Crown, and all but three of their ministers had left New Jersey, most of them having returned to England. However, their buildings were intact, and a reorganization gradually took place of those churches which had closed because their ministers could not in good conscience, omit the prayers prescribed for the King.
The Springfield Presbyterian Church, burned in 1780, was rebuilt in 1791. This building is the same structure which is still standing today. The Rev. Jacob Van Arsdale continued to be Pastor until 1801.
During this period the smaller evangelical denominations made great headway; itinerant preachers found many adherents, and small chapels sprang up in many towns. Foremost among these was the Baptist Society. The first converts of Millburn joined the Lyons Farms (now Weequahic Section of Newark) Church, but it was eventually realized that the distance was too great to be traveled constantly, and services were held in homes here, and in the section known as "Canoe Brook" now part of Livingston. In an extremely rare book "Materials Toward a History of the Baptists in New Jersey" by Morgan Edwards, a copy of which was owned by Dr. Charles Philhower of Westfield, the story appears that in 1786, in the waters of "Cannue Brook" a number of converts were baptized. Among them were Timothy Meeker, William Meeker, Moses Edwards, and members of their families, besides members of the Cory, Cook, Ward, and Forse families. The Rev. Rejeune Runyon was on hand to preach a sermon for the occasion, and the newly baptized converts and others, formed the congregation called "The Cannue Brook Baptist Society." Many Millburn families belonged to this church until the Millburn Baptist Church was formed in 1858.
A Sunday School, which may have been the first in New Jersey, in point of continuous operation, was started in 1818 by the Misses Kate and Elizabeth Campbell, and their cousin, Miss Duychinck, in the wash-house of the Campbell Estate on Brookside Drive. This Sunday School is said to have become immediately popular here, and was later taken over as an organization of the Springfield Presbyterian Church. The first Sunday School in the United States was started in 1791 by the Quakers of Philadelphia, and in New York in 1816 a Women's Society was formed for the promotion of such work. In 1815 Sunday Schools were started in Newark and Trenton, but they did not become affiliated with any church and hence passed out of existence. The American Sunday School Union was not founded until 1824, so that Millburn's Sunday School of 1818 was a novel and foresighted development, and actually one of the first in the entire country.
One of the important events of these years was the return on September 23, 1824, of General Lafayette, and his reception in Elizabeth, to which every community sent representatives to take part in the parade in his honor. A description of the decorations gives some idea of the tremendous importance of this event:
"The old State Bank Building on Broad Street (Elizabeth) was adorned with a transparency on top of which appeared the words 'Welcome Lafayette'; underneath was a group of 24 stars representing the United States; immediately below was an eagle which grapsed in its talons an olive branch, and a bunch of arrows. In the middle appeared 'Hero of Liberty 1777'. The Court House displayed a transparency which showed Lafayette's home, 'La Grange' ... In Front of General Jonathan Dayton's home was erected an arch ... on which was inscribed 'Lafayette, Hero of Liberty, Friend of Washington' ... Stretched across Broad Street from Meeker's store to the City Tavern, was another triumphal arch. Another arch was erected in front of the Union Hotel and extended to a flag staff in the middle of Broad Street, opposite the Court House; and at the dinner that night 13 regular toasts and 10 volunteer toasts were offered and drunk." (N.J. Historical Society Proc. 14 p. 473 (1929).
A good time seems to have been had by all. In these last two chapters we have attempted to show what the people of the future Millburn were doing during the years between the end of the Revolutionary War and the coming of the railroad in 1837, which was certainly the biggest thing to happen to Millburn since the battle of Springfield. our next chapter will deal with the building of the railroad and its impact on our history.
"Maplewood Past and
Present" Helen B. Bates, Ed. (1948)