The Millburn section of Springfield became a separate municipality of the State of New Jersey in the County of Essex on March 20, 1857. Almost simultaneously, the County of Union was formed, and the township of Springfield became a part of that County, so that Millburn was not only loosened from its mother's apron strings, but was also separated from it by County lines. Hence forward the inhabitants of Millburn would look to Newark for their political, judicial, and financial leadership.
Geographically, probably, most of Millburn should have been included in Union County. The north line of the land referred to in the Legislative Act closely followed the boundary of the land relinquished by Newark to Elizabeth in 1668, but in 1857, when the line reached Millburn, it was abruptly changed to include Millburn in Essex County. The story goes that several of the Millburn people responsible for the formation of the new Township, either held political office in Essex County, or had aspirations to do so, and it is evident that a shift of the township into the new County of Union would cause a sudden change in the political fates of some ambitious citizens. However, today Millburn people seem to be happy with the decision to be a part of Essex County, and it appears to have been the natural and logical decision, now that the hot old arguments pro and con are forgotten.
The man most responsible for the incorporation of Millburn and its inclusion in Essex County is Israel D. Condit. As we have shown in our previous history, Mr. Condit was a dominant figure of the Township throughout most of the 19th century. He played an important part, too, in Republican politics and served as Essex County Freeholder, and served one term in the New Jersey Legislature. In fact, Millburn names occur frequently among the Essex Freeholders. Up until 1857, the names Parcel, Squier, Denman, Baldwin, Nathaniel Littel, Parkhurst, Ball, Hand, Briant, Israel D. and Amzi Condit appear at one time or another as office-holders.
However, the important thing for Millburn was that on March 20, 1857, the 81st Legislature of New Jersey by a vote of 41 to 0, declared that
"all that part of the Township of Springfield, in the County of Essex, lying north of the north line of the County of Union, shall be, and the same is hereby made a new township, to be called and known by the name of the township of Millburn."
Section 2. of the Act gave permission to the people of this new township to call themselves "the inhabitants of the Township of Millburn, in the County of Essex". Section 3, decreed that the said inhabitants should hold their first annual meeting at the house of David Jones; and Section 4, said that after such meeting the Committees of Springfield and Millburn should hold another meeting at James Cooper's house in Springfield, and proceed to allot and divide between them all property and money on hand, or due in proportion to the taxable property and ratables as taxes, and to ascertain which paupers belong to Springfield and which to Millburn. This Act may be found in Chapter CXXXVI, p. 379 of the Laws of 1857.
When Millburn became a Township, William A. Newell was Governor of New Jersey, and James Buchanan was President of the United States. It was not a propitious time to start a new venture of one's own. The year 1857 was disturbed by several financial crises, and panic was in the air. The slave problem was growing more vexing every day. Two days after Mr. Buchanan's inauguration on March 4th, Justice Taney had handed down the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown and his agitators were creating a stir in the middle west. The Civil War was still unthinkable by a majority of the people, but the uneasiness which finally came to a head in four years was apparent everywhere.
A glance through the papers of the Newark Daily Advertiser around this time indicates, however, that an event so important for the inhabitants of Newark created little stir outside. The "Advertiser" does mention it in a report of Legislative news from Trenton, and a line or two is given to it on its editorial page, but it was much more concerned with other matters.
The really burning question was the action of the Legislature permitting sale of $47,000 in railroad bonds of the State School Fund to relieve the Treasury. An editorial pointed out that a "State like ours almost unemcumbered by debt" possessed of an income to meet almost all of its responsibilities, should not tamper with the school fund. Eventually, the Governor vetoed the Act.
Other interesting bits culled from the newspaper around the time of Millburn's incorporation create the atmosphere of the day.
The "Orange Journal" advocated the establishment of another County, to be known as "Newark County".
Leeches were advertised for sale, guaranteed to help a number of ailments.
Colonel Thomas H. Benton talked in Newark on the "Preservation of the Union", saying that the "situation in South Carolina is now a great cloud covering the southwest States". Temperance meetings were held frequently and everywhere. A tribute was paid to the beauty of the Jersey Meadows, which could be viewed from the windows of the New Jersey Railroad (now the "Pennsylvania"). The vegetation which grew on it was evidently used for fodder, as the article extolled the picturesqueness of the conical hayricks, each with a cap of snow, resembling the hayricks of the lowlands of Europe.
A meeting in Orange urged the extension of the Morris and Essex to the Hudson, and in the opinion of the meeting such an action would be of benefit to the Company, but would also greatly promote the entire section of the State traversed by the line of the road. Charles Lighthipe and Joseph Condit were participants in this meeting. The Legislature soon afterward authorized the extension of the railroad to the Hudson.
A serious accident occurred on March 9, 1857, when the "Governor Southard" an engine of the New Jersey Railroad ran off the bridge over the Hackensack River and into the water. The explanation was that the engineer did not notice that the draw had been opened and proceeded across, plunging the locomotive and tender into 27 feet of water and down into the mud of the riverbed. One car was also under water. The engineer jumped just in time, and luckily, no one was killed. The fireman was carried under water, but managed to escape. Evidently, there were no passengers in the first car. On the first attempt to raise the train the chain broke, and the engine again sank out of sight, but was later successfully raised.
A public meeting was held in Princeton to consider common school education, which many felt would be very disastrous to the youth of the country; a move was made to establish a floating hospital ship off Sandy Hook for New Jersey's contagious diseases patients, and in Keyport several river pirates were arrested.
But river pirates, quarantine ships, slavery, or temperance questions notwithstanding, the inhabitants of Millburn went about the solemn duties imposed on them by the Legislature and on April 13, 1857, met at the home of David Jones, (later the Eagle Hotel, northwest corner of Main Street and Millburn Avenue) and there elected as their Township Committeemen Abner D. Reeves, Thomas A. Reeves, William Taylor, Ezra G. Gardner and Robert McChesney. Appropriations ware made as follows: for Township purposes, $1,000.00; Schools, $400.00; Roads, $300.00; grading at the new bridge, $600.00. Amzi Condit was judge of Elections, and Stephen A. Mitchell was Clerk of the meeting. Also elected that day were the following officers: Judge of Elections, Elijah W. Smith; Town Clerk, Oren J. Nutting; Tax Collector, Horace Park; Superintendent of Schools, Rev. Horace H. Reid; Over- seers of the Poor, Peter McChesney and John S. Reeve; Constables, Edwin A. Barber, Harvey E. Smith; Justices of the Peace, David Brison, Ezra S. Gardner; Chosen Freeholders, Amzi Condit, Harvey W. Morehouse; Surveyors of Highways, John Drew, Jacob Morehouse; Commissioners of Appeals, David M. Denman, John B. Smith, Joseph Pierson; Pound Master, John W. Osborn.
The next week the duly elected officers met with their Springfield counterparts and proceeded to divide up the paupers and money. Millburn received $445.41 from the joint school fund, and $223.37 from the Overseer of the Poor's funds, and had to pay $74.59 as its share of indebtedness. In addition, Millburn assumed the care of nine adult paupers and two children.
Messrs. Dean, Coles, Frenot, and Mulford signed for Springfield.
The next annual meeting assembled on April 13, 1858, at the home of David Jones, but for some reason or other, unfathomable now, the record leads "the day being stormy, the meeting adjourned to the Vaux Hall". Perhaps the meeting was to have been held out-of-doors. The important business at this meeting was the passing of resolutions to publish future proceedings in pamphlet form; to record the names of all voters "to prevent persons from voting more than once"; to set aside $2.00 per scholar in public schools; to contribute $25.00 to the South Orange Turnpike, and $50.00 for building a railing at the new bridge. The amount allotted for each child in school was raised in 1861 to $2.50, and in 1864 to $3.00 each.
The Township fathers were kept busy with many problems enjoined on them by reason of their new status as a Township. James Lyons and Samuel M. Bailey got into a serious argument as to their partition fence on Old Short Hills Road, and two of the Township Committee were appointed to view the fence and determine which part of share should be maintained by each owner. The decision was that Lyon should maintain 52 feet of fence to the rear of his barn, Bailey to mend 240 feet starting with the said barn, and then Lyons should commence where Bailey left off, and continue the rest. Also, in November, 1958, "a deep red cow of middling size with crumpled horns, tail rather short, about 7 years old", was found in the enclosure of Charles Wood and action had to be taken.
Actually, these matters are not as humorous as they seem, as the Township was, and in fact still is, required by law to take note of such difficulties. The "Estray" law (General Statutes IV, 134, p. 56, Section 1), required that anyone finding a stray animal should bring it to the Township Clerk who had to note in writing, age, color, marks, etc. Finder paid twenty-five cents for such notice. Then if no owner appeared by the next May the Overseer of the Poor was required to sell the animal, pay finder for his expenses of keep, and the notice fee, deduct 10% for himself, and pay the owner, if he appeared, the balance. If not owner appeared, balance of the money went to the Overseer of the Poor. This law with some variations was carried on the Statute books until 1953 when it was amended and drastically changed. The problems of the common fence are still with us. The Laws of 1953 (New Jersey Statutes Annotated, 4:20-8) amending the older laws, still entitles the owner of a common fence to apply to have two disinterested members of the Township Committee appraise and certify in writing as to his costs in maintaining the fence, after which he may sue the delinquent owner in a civil action. The Township Clerk has to enter such fence certifications in a book provided for that purpose.
one wonders what Millburn looked like in those days. No one now alive can tell us, but two maps, one, not generally known, made in 1850, when Millburn was the "Millville section of Springfield", the other in 1859, help us to form some picture. Both show a very small town of not more than twelve or fourteen streets, most of them unnamed on the map. Hat shops and paper mills dominate. A major part of the population was concentrated around the four corners of Millburn, but some houses were strung out along Old Short Hills Road, White Oak Ridge Road, Parsonage Hill Road, Short Hills Avenue, Great Hills Road, what is now Brookside Drive (called "The Hollow Road" on the 1850 map), and one or two other streets. Great tracts of land were uninhabited.
Schools appear on Millburn Avenue, Old Short Hills Road at Parsonage Hill Road, on White Oak Ridge Road, and a private school, Hobart Hall, at the corner of the present Hobart Avenue and old Short Hills Road. The ancient remains of the latter on the George Campbell property could still be seen a few years ago. As of now, all the buildings on that property have been razed and a new housing development occupies the site. The history of Millburn's schools has been prepared in detail for this series by Dr. Charles T. King, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools, and will be included herein. Schools in existence in 1857 are here briefly noted.
A separate installment will also deal with the history of Millburn's churches. However, in 1857, the White Oak Ridge Chapel was 26 years old; St. Stephen's was four years old, and while no Catholic Church had been built, the home of John Hogan at 58 Old Short Hills Road had been used since 1847 for the occasional saying of Masses by visiting priests, and St. Rose of Lima's had been organized in Springfield in 1852. The Millburn Baptist Church was organized in 1858.
Millburn, then called Millville, had its own Post Office since February 14, 1854, with Albert Traphagen as Post Master. Mr. Traphagen was evidently an unyielding Whig for it is said that he refused to permit a Democratic handbill to be posted in his office. He was succeeded in February, 1857, by Jonathan Meeker, formerly station agent for the railroad.
A name for the new Township absorbed a great deal of people's time and thoughts. "Millville" favored by some because of long general usage, could not be used because the Post Office Department would not accept it, another Millville being in existence in Cumberland County.
"Millburn", Samuel Campbell's old name for his adopted home, had many adherents, among them Wooldridge Eaglesfield, now living out his last days here. Elizabeth Campbell, Samuel's daughter, was another powerful voice in urging the name her father used, and so, finally, "Millburn" was the choice and became the legal name.
The first national election after incorporation was the momentous one of 1860 with the candidates Lincoln, Douglas, and Breckenridge, in the field. A strong effort had been made to determine how Millburn voted in that election, but no Township, County or State records are now available to show that figure. In the State of New Jersey, however, the Democratic fusion ticket won by a majority of 4,523; the vote being Douglas, 62,639, Lincoln, 58,346, Breckenridge, 56,237. Abraham Lincoln failed to carry New Jersey in 1864, also, McClellan's majority being 7,301 votes.
During the Civil War a Volunteer Fund was voted and $200.00 was paid to each of 17 volunteers up to August 20, 1864. The amount was later raised to $300.00 a man, which was paid to 11 volunteers up to January 1, 1865. This amount was subscribed by members of the newly formed Union League and was all repaid to the Township by 1870. It is quite possible that more than those 28 served with the Union Army, but no accurate records are now available to change that figure. An article appearing in the "Millburn Budget" of October 6, 1886, described a reunion at Easton, Pennsylvania, of members of the 13th Regiment of Essex County, to celebrate the Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, and so many men went from Millburn that it would appear that most of our veterans were members of that Regiment. The 13th took part in engagements at Antietam, Chancellorsville, the March on Fredericksburg, Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign and in the March to the Sea, and some lesser fights, and it is said to have captured more men than were contained in its ranks. One conspicuous Millburn hero of the war was Israel D. Condit's son-in-law, Dr. Edward Thomas Whittingham, who served as a surgeon in the regular army under General Kearny, for three years.
In fact, Dr. Whittingham was a distinguished citizen of Millburn for more than 30 years. he was the son of the Rt. Rev. Bishop William Rollinson Whittingham, of Maryland, whose career would entitle him to his own biography. For years the Bishop had been an ardent Unionist in Maryland where it was not popular to be one, and continued to uphold the Union throughout the Civil War, even though Maryland had joined the Confederate Congress, and although it did not pass a secession law. The Whittinghams, closely related to the Rollinson family, pioneer settlers of Orange, had also lived in Orange. Dr. Edward Whittinqham returned from Maryland to practice medicine in Millburn a year or two before the incorporation, and was Millburn's beloved family doctor, counsellor, and friend until his death in 1886. His son, Walton, married Elizabeth Renwick, daughter of another of Millburn's distinguished citizens, Edward Renwick.
When a G.A.R. Post was started here in 1885 it was named for Captain Edward H. Wade who died October 5, 1862, from wounds received at Antietam.
Following the Civil War, we must presume, from the absence of records to the contrary, that the young municipality pursued the even tenor of its ways for the next few years, its population slightly more than 1500, living out their daily lives in its little mills and small farms. The only excitement was an occasional trip on the train to Newark, or New York, or a ride by horse and carriage to visit relatives in some nearby community. One had only to walk a very short distance from one's home in any part of the community, to reach a pond or stream of abundant water, and fishing, boating, and swimming were all free. The few stores supplied all the commercially-prepared goods needed, and the people who had banking business used the banks in orange or Newark.
Church and school picnics in the surrounding wooded areas were popular, and for a while everyone went to Isaac Hand's playground and picnic grounds on the mountain to climb the high, lookout tower Mr. Hand had erected on it, in the 1860's. However, one day a boy named McCrumb fell from it and broke his neck and died. That's all we know about the boy, McCrumb, and with his tragic end the tower was abandoned and removed by Mr. Hand.
Millburn, by 1870, had definitely emerged out of the wilderness as a small manufacturing town, and its destiny seemed fixed and determined. Who in 1870 could have foreseen that two unrelated events in outlying sections would change the whole course of its history, and return it to what it had started out to be in the 18th century?a community of homes? Those two events were the coming of Stewart Hartshorn, and the organization of the Wyoming Land and Development Company.