A long road winds through the years between the establishment of the Wyoming and Short Hills Developments and the end of the first decade of the 20th century. Viewing it through the eyes of today, conditioned to the frenzies and uncertainties of the times, that road seems like a quiet country lane; peaceful, rather quaint, even dull at times. But roads mean people, and the relationship of the people to the times in which they live is just as meaningful for themselves and for the future which they are influencing, no matter how unwittingly, whether those times are idyllic or frantic.
And so the people of Millburn were busy during these years setting out their milestones along their road. Probably only a few far-sighted ones could read the writing on the stones, and glimpse the long turn which the road ahead would take; a turning which would lead their chosen community out of the old and into the new way of life.
Millburn Township did not emerge into the 20th century from a long period of somnolence. Although its population was small, it was kept from insularity during the last half of the 19th century by the many distinctions between it and many other small towns of New Jersey. First of all, established in Millburn Village was a thriving manufacturing center, run by men with business contacts stretching across the nation. Millburn was located on the main line of an important railroad, so that the life of the big cities could be, and was, enjoyed by many with little effort. In Mr. Hartshorn's Short Hills Development lived a wealthy and sophisticated society whose manners and ways were certain to have influence on the rest of the town; in the Wyoming section were a group of alert and cultured people. Citizens like Israel D. Condit, Dr. Edward Whittingham, Albert D. Traphagen, James R. Pitcher, Edward S. Renwick, and Stewart Hartshorn, all actively engaged in the life of the community, were men who were part of the main stream of American life, so that Millburn left the "country bumpkin" stage early in its existence, and was receptive to changes that the last quarter of the 19th century were bringing.
A paragraph should be included here to speak of Edward Sabine Renwick, one of Millburn's great men. We have mentioned his father, James Renwick, in the chapter on the coming of the railroad. His mother was a member of the Brevoort family of New York City. Edward was born in 1823 in the oldest portion of Columbia College on Barclay street, New York City, where his father was a professor. Edward, who grew up to be a mechanical engineer, patent expert, inventor,?and widely known philanthropist, worked abroad in Wales and England?and then in Washington, D.C., where he was associated with Peter H. Watson, later Assistant Secretary of War in Lincoln's cabinet. He came to live permanently in Millburn in 1867, building a large Victorian mansion on Old Short Hills road. His home, shorn of its turrets, iron grillwork, and other decorative features, is still standing at 140 Old Short Hills Road, and is owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Poeschel. During his life in Millburn he formulated many of his 25 inventions, including a chicken brooder and incubator which revolutionized the poultry industry, and a reaping and binding machine, the principle of which is still in use. One of his greatest achievements was the designing and supervising, with his brother Henry, of a repairing of a break 82 feet long and 10 feet wide in the bilge of the "Great Eastern," the famous iron steamboat. The repair was made while the steam-boat was afloat, a feat deemed impossible by the experts.
On coming to Millburn, Mr. Renwick entered into its life thoroughly. He served as Chairman of the Millburn Township Committee, and also as an Essex County Freeholder. He was one of the founding members of St. Stephen's Church and was often its benefactor. He died at his home here in 1912, at the age of 90 years. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Walton C. Whittingham son of Dr. Edward Whittingham.
In reading through the newspapers of the times it becomes evident that the people of Millburn were beginning to see themselves as a whole unit. For several years after the establishment of Millburn as a Township, it still remained divided into its separate sections, each with its own problems and each solving them in a different way. Gradually, the advantage of a common solution were becoming recognized.
Police and fire protection of all were being talked about; good roads occupied an important place in people's minds; a town hall was discussed frequently and as frequently abandoned; education (as we have read in a previous chapter) was being given more consideration. The people established their churches here rather than journeying to many different places for their worship The world was moving in with its new ideas, its problems, and questions.
The first attempt at police protection was the founding of the "Millburn Mutual Protection Society" incorporated in September, 1868?for "the suppression and punishment of vagrancy, theft, burglary, and other crimes in Millburn." Each member was pledged when called on by the captain of the society to come out and help enforce law and order.
Starting in 1892 and continuing until the Millburn Police Department was founded in 1907, peace officers were appointed by the Township Committee. Some of Millburn's oldest and best citizens served in that capacity, as it was considered an honor to be so appointed. Among those serving were John S. Taylor, John McCollum, W. R. Johnson, J. Mandeville, M. J. Whalen, R. Marshall, Julius Wittkop, James Splan, George McCollum, William G. Palmer, Thomas Hankins, John and Peter Flanagan, W. H. Barnard, Thomas Marshall, Fred Taylor, John and Peter Kearney, Richard Tichenor, Frank G. Stoeckel, J. K. Trengrove, Henry Hankins Jr., Frank Bailey, William Spencer, H. Hackelton, John Whalen, Charles R. Fred, Harry Reeve, Frank Burbage, Fred Culbert, and Frank Dellas.
Robert S. Oliver was the first Chief of Police appointed in 1907 and W. G. Palmer and Thomas Hankins were the first patrolmen. Later John Wratchford and Hugh Fitzsimmons patrolled on horseback.
A bucket fire brigade was organized on April 21, 1876, by W. Rollinson Whittingham, J. M. Ayres, Robert S. Oliver, Julius Wittkop, W. E. Barnard, William Holme, Theodore Marshall, G. L. Barnard, John Ward, and F. M. Marshall. Some of these names may be found among the list of peace officers also.
The Wyoming and Short Hills sections had similar companies, and all were equipped with hose reels and hoses. The Short Hills fire alarm was first sounded from Christ Church, but in 1895 an alarm system with batteries was installed in the Music Hall, connected to each house by a line system, with call boxes in the houses and on the streets.
As fire equipment increased, horses instead of men were used to pull it. The horses were owned by volunteers who on the sounding of the alarm would race their horses to the place where the apparatus was stored. The first ones to reach there would be given the job and receive a small remuneration.
All companies were finally united in 1912 under the Township Committee and became the Millburn Fire Department. Thomas A. Douglas was chief at that time.
The necessity for good roads became an important issue, with the newspapers leading the fight. The Millburn budget of September 15, 1886, demanded that the Essex County Road Board do something about Millburn avenue (then referred to as the "Telford" road because of its Telfordized surface). It said that the many bridges were hazardous; in two instances the approaches were a sudden sharp descent, endangering the lives of horses and drivers. The News Item throughout its early days hammered on the subject, calling constant attention to the thick mud, ruts, and rolling stones. An ordinance was passed in April, 1888, requiring the Township Committee overseer to cause stones, sticks, broken glass, tinware, wooden or iron hoops, and any other rubbish whatsoever to be removed from the road beds on the first Monday of each month. The News Item of June, 1889, called attention to the ordinance saying that the rolling stones and ruts of last year were still there.
However, the Township's appropriations for roads were high in proportion to the receipts. Figures chosen at random from Township reports show in 1879, for instance, $1,923.84 spent on roads out of $5,944.40 receipts; 1891, $5,462.38 spent, receipts $16,086.21. The report of 1890 tops them all, however. The amount spent for roads, sidewalks, etc. in 1889 totalled $7,531.26, while receipts amounted to $15,683.00. This high figure becomes understandable, however, when one reads of the record flood of July 1889. Following a period of unprecedented rain, the Rahway River flooded and caused the Lighthipe dam at Millburn Center to break and the downtown streets to be destroyed. Elsewhere in Millburn the storm turned the highways into raging rivers, overflowed lawns and flooded cellars, and transformed sidewalks into rushing gullies of water. The flood drowned the coal sheds on Main Street near the railroad, and at Taylor Road the water lifted off the bridge and threw it with other debris against the railroad culvert, causing a pond 10 to 15 feet deep to be formed against the embankment.
The Township Report for the year 1890 contained a statement that the great storm of July 30, 1889, had damaged the roads of the Township beyond the means at the disposal of the Committee to repair, and accordingly, as provided by law under such a state of affairs, they had called out the inhabitants of the Township to work and repair the roads, and, therefore, all roads were in time made passable. A suit was instituted against Mr. Lighthipe for the damage sustained by the Township.
The great flooding of the Rahway River that year also caused a separate paragraph concerning it to be inserted in the New Jersey State Geological Report for 1890. Water, the report stated, remained at flood level for 14 days, thus establishing a record. That flood and other damaging, but smaller ones, caused a growing demand on the part of the public for the drainage of the millponds, and as steam power gradually replaced water power most of them disappeared.
Agitation for and against the building of a town hall ran high for many years. In 1888 suggestions for the need of a town hall were considered. The Township Committee advanced several good arguments for its erection: one, it would be a place for the consideration of public affairs; two, a place to keep the public records; three, a place to preserve objects of historical interest; and four, it would foster home interest and pride. A letter to the editor of The News Item signed "Common Sense" made short work of these arguments.
"One," Common Sense asked, "what affairs? The admission of Utah, or the Fishery Treaties? Two, are we to build a combustible hall costing $10,000 to keep town records which can be kept just as well in one fireproof safe, in some place rented for $50.00 a year? Three, who has any articles of local and historic interest relating to Millburn? It hasn't acquired much antiquity yet!; four the idea of fostering pride is just one of those 'Fourth of July' ideas in which things are mixed, leaving nothingness..." The writer concluded that Millburn did not need a town hall, but needed good roads. He was in favor of a large annual tax for building stone-bottomed roads. "Common Sense" effectively put the quietus on the town hall idea for some time, it would seem.
However, wiser counsel eventually prevailed, and about 1891 a lot was purchased for $1,000; and in 1895 the old Washington School was moved across the street to that lot on Millburn avenue, the present site of the Town Hall; and the school was remodeled to serve the Township until 1912. The old brick jail which stood at the west end of Church Street had been sold and torn down in 1886. The newspapers report of its sale said that "it had been erected several years prior to the accommodation of tramps ..." "Its going" continued the story, "leaves Millburn with not even a town hall for the accommodation of transient visitors. Perhaps the 'Bastile' at Summit could be borrowed!" For many years regular jail sentences were served in Newark.
While these affairs of state were occupying some part of the average citizen's time, he was at the same time taking part in many other activities, and broadening his social life.
On July 4, 1876, the inhabitants of Millburn took part in the celebration of the first Centennial of Independence, which was held in Springfield. Among other entries in the big parade was Roger Marshall's large wagon, filled with Millburn citizens and drawn by six horses.
On March 20, 1887, a party was held at the Music Hall to celebrate Miss Cora Hartshorn's 13th birthday. The Royal Marinettes "provoked storms of applause," and supper was served by New York caterers.
On August 5, 1886, several hundred people attended an excursion to Manhattan Beach under the auspicies of St. Stephen's Church. After a train ride to Hoboken they boarded the steamer "Eliza Hancock". One of the highlights of the trip was the passing of Liberty Island, where Bartholdi's Statute of Liberty was being prepared for its unveiling in September.
The great travelling free ice water fountain of The Moderation Society, of which S. Lyons of Millburn was an officer, dispensed 50,000 free drinks of ice water at a Labor Day Rally in Newark attended by many Millburn citizens.
The New Jersey Horticultural Society was organized with James R. Uitcher of Short Hills as its first president.
Special delivery service was extended to Millburn on October 1, 1886.
The residents of Short Hills made up a purse to pay for improving the road leading to Summit by way of Hobart's Bridge. A wildcat annoyed people on Summit mountain; a bear frightened people on Balthur Roll's hill, and a 17-pound wildcat was killed on Millburn Mountain (now part of the Reservation) by William Stoeckle and Herb Lighthipe. William Stoeckle was our Police Chief Stoeckle's uncle.
A muskrat supper was enjoyed at Lewis Smith's Halfway House on Millburn avenue at the Maplewood line. The article says that at the appointed time "the rats were brought in done up in the first class Style for which Smith's is famous."
A crowd gathered to watch Mr. Hartshorn's yoke of oxen being shod at Holme's blacksmith shop.
"Apron and Necktie" socials were the fad of the moment. The idea was that homemade aprons and neckties were placed in a receptacle. The young men and women then pulled them out, and were paired off according to the matching of the materials in their ties and aprons.
Dancing parties began to be popular, and it was reported in the papers that dancing lasted until 4:30 a.m. The mood which ushered in the "Gay Nineties" was certainly becoming manifest.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a frequent and popular play at the Music Hall. One advertisement promised "a laugh for every minute, smiles and tears blended together; two funny mirth provoking Topsys; two comical ludicrous musical marks." An evening's entertainment at the Music Hall on September 8, 1886, also included a demonstration of "Edison's remarkable parlor electric light," a novel and ingenious device providing a moment's fun and entertainment; whether it was considered of any practical worth was not disclosed.
Accidents involving horses and wagons occurred frequently in Millburn, and sometimes with fatal results. People were kicked by horses, dragged by horses, and struck down by horses and wagons, besides the terror and injury inflicted by runaway horses and breaking shafts.
The number of young people who died of tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was then called, seems today to be appalling. At least one obituary a week in the Millburn paper covered the death of some citizen's young son or daughter who had died of the disease, and the obituaries often carried a heartbreaking indication of others in the family who had passed away with the same affliction. However, Millburn prided itself on being a healthy town. In reporting the census figure in the year 1885, the population was given as 2,023, and it was stated that as an indication of the health of the community, five citizens were over 90 years old, 5 over 80, and 70 over 70 years.
The newspapers were much more candid then, or the libel laws were not strictly interpreted, for many a family quarrel was aired in the press. Stories of wifebeaters, drunken husbands, incorrigible children were duly reported with names, addresses, and dates. Such a news item in January, 1886, began the headline, "Wife beater jugged", and described how Bernard F ? of Millburn was sentenced by Judge McChesney to the jail in Newark. The paper advocated the reestablishment of the whipping post to take care of such offenders.
Miner's Theatre in Newark was the nearest legitimate theatre, and the great actors and actresses of the period, such as Edward Southern and Julia Marlowe, performed there weekly, with Millburn residents travelling there by train frequently to enjoy the performances. The local paper carried regular articles on the best in literary entertainment, and advertisements for the best sellers, and the contents of such highclass magazines as "Harper's" were recorded.
The blizzard of 1888 seems to have caused the same confusion and trouble here as elsewhere, but the milk did come through, as attested by a letter to The Item purportedly written by four babies, Gladys Russell, Harold Tinker, Royal Root, and Winthrop Horton, thanking the milkman, John Carrigg, for struggling through the big snow drifts to bring them their milk.
The cattle on the "Jersey Cattle Farm" of F. C. Parley in the Parley Road-Woodcrest Avenue area were consistent prize winners at the Trenton, Waverly and other annual State Fairs.
A robbery at the home of Isaac B. Marsh of Church Street left that man without his Sunday dinner. It was reported that one-half bushel of boiled beans, 1 peck baked apples, and 12 pounds of salt pork were among other items stolen. The food was said to have been Mr. Marsh's dinner, but the explanation was given that Mr. Marsh was a large man, and the dinner, in his opinion, was taken by another man of his size.
In 1886 the Labor candidate for Congress received in Millburn the highest number of votes, 155; the Prohibition candidate the least?31 votes.
Although Prohibition candidates were not popular in Millburn, the town was not quite as soaked in alcohol as rumor sometimes pictures it. The hatters, it is true, drank quantities of beer partly, at least, because of their working conditions. Even today in hat factories a daily allotment of beer is part of the hatter's prerequisites. In those days the occupational hazards of the industry were tremendous. In forming the felt for hats, one of the great menaces to health was the inhalation of fur dust and the drinking of beer was thought to counteract this hazard. In the sizing process, the steam impregnated with the vitriol rose in clouds around the worker so thickly that, it is said, one man could not see the man working next to him. In the first step of felt making, mercuric nitrate was brushed on the rabbit pelt, and many workers developed an occupational disease known as "hatter's shakes" from absorbing the poisonous mercuric salts through their skin. In fact, another reason for the disappearance of the hat mills from Millburn was the passing of stringent health laws with which the local industries were unable to comply. However, at no time did the number of saloons reach the figure of 30 set by a young man writing a thesis in 1935 about Industrial Millburn. That figure was undoubtedly based on hearsay as the only authority he gave was the recollection of an old resident.
In the old town directories, one of the earliest of which was "Moffatt's" of 1890, seven taverns are listed. They are James Culbert's, foot of Elm Street (now Essex Street); the Half Way House of J. Wittkop at the South Orange (now Maplewood) line; Dora Kellar, Main near Ocean; Bridget Maloney, Main and Mechanic streets; John McCoy, Main at the corner of Elm; Hugh G. Oliver, Main near Depot; and Martin V. Sylvan, Church near Spring street. These are classified as "saloons." In addition, liquor could be purchased at the hotels?the Essex on Morris turnpike near Canoe Brook road, the Farmers' on main street, and Smith's Millburn Hotel, corner of Millburn avenue and Main street. The Township Annual Report of 1892 noted receipts for $1,000 in liquor licenses. This would indicate ten places, as the fee was $100.00 each.
The ten licenses rose to 14 in 1898, but the amount paid for preserving the peace was only $41.32 that year, so that no rise in crime seems to have followed. The peak was reached in 1904 when 17 licenses were granted, but these now included the Canoe Brook Country Club, the new hotel of the Wittkop Brothers in the Condit home, and Gentzel's store, which carried what we would not call package goods. In June, 1903, the Township Committee had passed a resolution that inasmuch as 15 places were licensed, the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas was requested to withhold in the future the granting of licenses for any new places in the Township. After 1904, probably as a result of this action, the number diminished to 16, then to 13 in 1907, to 12 in 1908, and finally in 1910 to a stable 10. In September, 1957, the number was reduced to 9, which includes clubs and package goods stores.
In the last years of the 19th century many newspapers came into existence but most passed away after a short life. They were The Arrow published about 1882; The Millburn Bulletin in 1883; The Plank Walk in 1884; the Millburn Budget 1886; the Millburn Review, which is listed in Moffatt's Directory of 1890 as being published on Saturday mornings by Benjamin Goodkind on Millburn avenue near Main Street. It was eventually, it is said, absorbed by the East Orange Record. Finally came one paper which lived. The News Item, established in 1888, which became the Short Hills News in 1889, and later The Millburn and Short Hills Item, which celebrated its semicentennial in 1938. Unfortunately, no copies of the Bulletin or Review have been located to date, and only their names remain to us.
The Annual Report of the Township, which was printed in bound form beginning in 1874 must have been read avidly by the citizens. It listed the names of all who had not paid taxes for the past and current years, the names of the paupers supported by the town, inventory of stocks and crops at the Poor Farm and all sorts of small items of receipt and disbursement. No amount was too small to be recorded, and no man's name was withheld.
The Town Report of 1909, publication of which was delayed until March 1910, must have provided even more subject for town gossip. An audit of tax records showed that no tax record had been kept for 1906 and prior years under examination, and only very indifferent records had been kept for the 1907-1909 period; that no record had been kept of taxes remitted by the County Board or the Township Committee, and of various properties which should have been sold for unpaid taxes. Also on the books were many items of taxes unpaid which the Committee had good reason to believe had been paid, and it became necessary to send out a circular asking for information as to taxes paid. The report did not indicate whether the Collector was dishonest or inefficient, but he was removed and a new Collector appointed. As a result of the situation a new system was established for the Collector, and $15,000 of allegedly unpaid taxes were cancelled on the books on proof of payment. An official tax map was prepared and approved, and strict enforcement of the duty of tax collection was demanded by the Township Committee.
The Township suffered other growing pains, and learning to live together as one united municipal body did not come any more naturally and easily to Millburn than to most other communities. The Town Poor Farm, acquired in 1879 from the Denman Estate on White Oak Ridge Road, was a constant bone of contention. However, the 69 acres acquired for this purpose at a cost of $2,500 plus $102.37 counsel fees, was one of the best investments made as we view it in 1957, for on this property now is located the beautiful White Oak Ridge Park, dedicated in May, 1957, during the celebration of Millburn's Centennial. It has become of inestimable value to the Township as a breathing space amid the encroaching developments, besides of course, its high land value.
However, when it was acquired the complaints were loud and bitter. The newspapers insisted that money was being spent to keep tramps. More than one investigation into its operation were demanded, and every penny paid to the Overseer, Caleb VanWert, was scrutinized and criticized. The Overseer seems to have been constantly at odds with the officials, which was undoubtedly caused by the unpopularity of his office rather than the man himself.
In 1884 occurred one of those cases which sets a whole town agog, with factions lining up behind the principals involved according to their sympathies, and the State newspapers joining in the controversy. This was the case of Millburn vs. the Widow Mason. On one side was Justice of the Peace C. C. Morrow and the Overseer of the Poor, VanWert; on the other, was the said Mrs. Mason, the newspaper, (then "The Plank Walk") the Short Hills Ladies Aid Society, and a good part of the population. In the fall of 1883 Mrs. Mason had moved to Millburn from Union and settled in a cottage belonging to William Seaver in the woods near Highland avenue. She had a ten-year old boy, a sick husband, and no money except the income she received from the sale of eggs and chickens. In December her husband died and she had great difficulty in arranging his burial. In fact the body remained in the house for several days, but finally she seems to have managed to find the funds. Her plight was brought to the attention of the Overseer, who attempted to have her declared a pauper so that she could be removed to Union Township. Under a law passed in 1874 (General Statutes 2, Sec. 6, 7, p. 2503) any person moving from one township to another was required to obtain a certificate from the Overseer of the Poor of his former place of abode to the Overseer of the Poor of his new home that he was not a public charge. However, if he did become a charge by "sickness or otherwise", the Overseer could, after certain legal steps, return the pauper to his former place of residence.
According to Mrs. Mason's version of the story appearing in the Plank Walk of April 22, 1884, she and her boy were living in the direst poverty, but never accepted aid. However, on getting behind in her rent payments, her landlord succeeded in evicting her, and she moved to a house owned by John Woodruff near Millburn center. The Overseer went ahead with his action, however, and on March 26th obtained an order to remove her to Union County. The Plank Walk says that on the very day that she was dragged into Court her boy was in Short Hills with nine dozen eggs to sell.
Feeling ran so high that Justice Morrow aired his side of the case in the Newark Advertiser of April 14th. Morrow's story was that the Masons were living in a hut not fit to shelter a human being and the monthly rent of $5.00 a month was being paid by the Short Hills Ladies Aid; that she was almost blind, and that her chickens weren't laying because of the cold. Morrow says that the Constable, armed with the warrant to remove her, went to her house, found the door bolted, but forced it open, AND WITH GREATEST GENTLENESS, took her into his carriage and brought her before Justice Morrow who ordered her removed to Union. The Short Hills newspaper thereupon duly reported Mrs. Mason's version of the story which was that two men came to her house in a hack; broke in the door, dragged her out and laid her flat on the ground and held her down while they turned the hack around. Then they dragged her into it, left her house door open, and brought her before Justices Morrow and Simpson who declared her to be a pauper and ordered her returned to Union Township. Relatives from Jersey City came and took her and her son away, but the Constable removed three cart loads of furniture, clothing, and provisions, and about 60 hens and chickens which, according to the newspapers, "he dumped into Union County."
The paper concludes with the statement that when the zeal of a Justice and Poormaster are carried to the extent of evicting an aged woman for fear she may at some future time become a charge on the Township then it is indeed time for the Justice to rise and explain. Millburn Township evidently became involved in a law suit growing out of the eviction, but whether the case came to judgement or not can not now be ascertained. In the Township Report of 1885, however, a total of $103.87 was reported as expenditures in the Mason case which sum included counsel fees.
Thus ended ignominiously for all, Millburn's one attempt at highhanded justice, and after that Millburn seems to have accepted its few paupers and supported them grudgingly, but righteously. One wishes, however, that some report were now available as to the reaction in Union County when three cart loads of belongings plus 60 hens and chickens were unceremoniously dumped over its boundary line.
Outdoor sports began to occupy more place in people's lives. Fishing had always been popular in the ponds and rivers, and one reads of excellent cat fishing in the Rahway River, pickerel fishing in Baldwin's pond, a 6-3/4 pound eel caught in the Station pond, and bass in Campbell's and Parkhurst's ponds. Rifle shoots were held frequently, and the newspaper reported that five English snipe were bagged on the meadows.
Running matches were held on Millburn Avenue, and in one 200 yard match on September 8, 1886, Ed Stoeckle came in first, C. McCollum second, S. Douglass third, and F. Terlinde, fourth. Prizes were donated by Charles Smith. Stoeckle won by a yard.
Baseball grew in popularity and local teams were organized; one known as the Wyoming Baseball Club, in 1886; also in 1886, the Never Sweats, sometimes called the Never Wets, which was a forerunner of the Little League, its membership being limited to boys under 14. Samuel Culbert was captain. The Short Hills Baseball Club was organized in 1889 with one Rose as captain. The 20.
newspapers began to carry news of national teams. On June 9, 1884, the Bostons were ahead in the National League on games won, and Providence had lost one game. New York was in third place, Chicago in fourth, and Detroit and Philadelphia pressed for last place. In the Eastern League (there was no American), Wilmington was ahead and Trenton was in second place.
The first reports of bicycle races began to appear in the papers, in 1886, and on August 18th a ten-mile race on Millburn avenue between Irvington and Millburn was reported. However, the official annual national race for which Millburn became famous was first run on Decoration Day in 1889, although two other 25-mile races were held before that date. The race started at the double woods at Prospect street and Springfield avenue, Maplewood, going first to Irvington, then back to Millburn, back to Irvington, again to Millburn, once more to Irvington, and then back to Prospect street. Competitors came from all over the country to compete and the spectators also represented many states. Competition for the many prizes was keen, and each racer had his vociferous partisans. Both high wheels and the then new "safety" bicycle, which is practically the same wheel we use today, participated. These races were an eagerly Awaited event for over 20 years. They were abandoned about 1910 when interest in automobiles superseded bicycles.
The Short Hills Club, first called the Short Hills Athletic Club, came into existence about 1875 as an athletic club, and under its auspices track meets were held on Brookside drive, where the first 200-yard straightaway in the country was built near Campbell's pond. Later a member Felix C. Chazournes, who lived near the present Badenhausen home, permitted the Club to build a quarter mile track and grand stand on his farm. The Club also built grass tennis courts, an archery range, and conducted live pigeon shoots. Two men held running records; one was William C. Wilmer holding a world record and two American records in the sprints, and his cousin, Charles deRonge who held a distance record. Later, the Club established headquarters in Mr. Hartshorn's Music Hall, from which, after many vicissitudes, it moved to its present location in 1928.
As more men began commuting to business in New York train service began to improve, and attention was drawn to the condition of the railroad stations. The first Millburn depot was burned in 1874, and thereafter a building which had been built by Jonathan Parkhurst in 1855 to shelter his paperstock and later acquired by the railroad as a freight station, was converted to a passenger station. The station had been permitted to fall into such a dilapidated state that in 1886 the Budget ran a campaign for its removal. It was considered to be only fit for a meeting place for bums, which, in truth, it had become, its walls reechoed with tobacco juice, its floor indescribably dirty, its exterior unpainted, rotting wood. It was washed once, however, in 1886, in anticipation of a visit by John L. Sullivan the reigning king of the boxing ring. It was not until 1907, however, that the present station and freight house were commenced. The original Short Hills station was built by Stewart Hartshorn in 1880 at his own expense, and a new station replaced the first one in 1907.
Commuter's lives were made happier in 1888 by the inauguration of commutation tickets, and in 1889 by the completion of the Hoboken passenger station, which is the same station used today. Whist games were enjoyed on the Short Hills to Hoboken run, and the opening of the 14th Street ferry service in May, 1886, provided a more convenient way to get to those New York businesses which were beginning to move uptown to l4th Street. The ladies, it was said, found it most helpful in getting to the New York department stores on shopping trips.
In 1892, according to Moffatt's Essex County directory, Millburn had 50 streets, two of which, Renwick Place, running from off Short Hills road to Hobart avenue, and Quarry road, from Millburn avenue to the railroad, have now disappeared. As of this writing in 1957, Millburn Township has 230 streets, with more in process of construction.
In the process of growing up, Millburn was quick to make use of the new utilities which became available. A telephone board was installed in Campbell's drugstore, which was first located about where the moving picture theatre now stands; and the first operator, Miss Mary Walsh, was engaged to take care of the nine subscribers. Her night relief operator was James Hand, who, it is said, amused himself during the quiet hours of the night by playing phonograph records over the telephone for the pleasure of other night operators in nearby locations. Thus, young Mr. Hand may have been the first disk jockey. By 1898 the number of subscribers had increased to 14, but in 1905 business had so increased that a new switchboard requiring four operators was installed on the second floor over the drugstore. In 1957, the Drexel 6 and Drexel 9 exchanges served over 8,000 subscribers.
In the early days water had first been supplied by hand pumps or taken from springs, but Mr. Hartshorn's keen interest in good water provided Short Hills with an abundant supply which the Short Hills Water Co., Inc. sold to the Millburn section for many years. The Commonwealth Water Co. in 1927 took over the franchise. In September, 1890, the first hydrant was built in the Township, and ten more were added during the next ten years.
In 1880 gas lighting was installed in the Music Hall and in the 1890's the streets were lighted by gas. The first gas was evidently not satisfactory, because in 1893 the Township decided to return to the use of gasoline for street lighting because of the poor quality furnished by the Summit Gas Co. Later, gas for street lights was supplied from Newark until electric power was substituted.
Millburn had no electric light until after 1895 when the Millburn Electric Co. was organized by William Rollinson Whittingham and his brother, W. C. Whittingham. The first electricity was manufactured in their plant where the Mayflower Laundry now stands, but its building was later moved to property behind the Millburn Coal and Oil office. The Jersey Central took over the Millburn Electric Co. in 1925.
Trolley lines connected Millburn with cities all over New Jersey. At first people had to go to Maplewood to board a trolley for Orange or Newark, but the Morris County Traction Co. later ran its cars to Millburn railroad station on Maine Street. On December 18, 1905, the first car ran to Summit. The Industrial Directory of New Jersey for 1906 stated that trolley lines from Millburn connect with the Oranges, Newark, Paterson, Passaic, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and all other large towns in the middle counties of the state.
A Board of Health was organized on March 31, 1887, with Richard Hopkins as president, J. M. Drake, secretary, and Felix McGee, health inspector. M. H. Schenck and Wellington Campbell made up the rest of the Board. The Board moved progressively with the times, keeping pace with new advancements in medicine and public health. Thus in 1910 milk inspections became important; housing conditions were looked into, and several "tenement" houses in the village were condemned as unfit for human occupation. Typhoid fever was a problem, but seems to have been fought efficiently, and a crusade against mosquitos was organized with all citizens being furnished with a formula for the fumigation of their cellars. Citizens' responsibility had come a long way from the time thirty years before when the burying of a dead horse had required the threat of drastic action by the Township officials.
Millburn had acquired a post office as the Millville section of Springfield in 1854, before the incorporation, with Albert A. Traphagen serving as first Postmaster. The site of the post office changed several times too, occupying various quarters on Millburn avenue, then on Main street and finally its present location, a government-owned building. Old Millburn names appear in the list of Postmasters, including Jotham Meeker in 1857, then Stephen A. Kitchel, Isaiah Smith, Clara M. Kitchel, Mary D. Kitchel, Peter C. McChesney, George S. James, Alexander J. R. Simpson, Robert S. Oliver, Caroline E. Condit, George C. Kessler, Edward T. Lonergan, William Doliver, William Dewey Hayes, Edward J. Lonergan, and the present postmistress, Helen C. Jacobus. The Short Hills Post Office was established in 1880, first in the railroad station, then on Hobart avenue, eventually in its present location on Chatham road. Louis C. Goodrich was the first Postmaster, followed by George C. Kessler, Albert A. Manda, James R. Pitcher, William H. Lushear, Edward J. Tidaback, and the present incumbent, Carlisle C. Cahill who has been Postmaster since 1930.
In these formative years, more than 1,000 acres of Millburn became a part of the great South Mountain Reservation. In its building, starting in 1895, old landmarks, such as Campbell's mill and home on Brookside drive, as well as other homes along Brookside drive and South Orange avenue disappeared, but their disappearance left Millburn with one of its most impressive and beautiful landmarks. This Park, under the control of the Essex County Park Commission, insures in perpetuity a natural area of mountain, valley, woods, and streams available to everyone at no cost.
Another step forward for the community was the organization of a bank in 1907. Heretofore all banking had to be done in orange or Newark, but on April 24th of that year, a group of businessmen met in Wittkop's Tavern to discuss the question of founding a bank here, and on May 4, 1907, the First National Bank of Millburn opened its doors with William Flemer as president, William McCullom, vice president, and John R. Bunnell, cashier. The new little bank, with an original capital of $12,000, did amazingly well when one considers that within four months of its organization one of the great financial panics hit the country, with banks and brokerage firms all across the United States shutting their doors and plunging people everywhere into hardship and despair. But the Millburn Bank came out of the storm so well that by 1908 it had purchased land on the southeast corner of Millburn avenue and Main street from the Whittingham Estate for its own building which was completed in 1909. This building which was looked upon as a sky-scraper, also housed the Post Office, Campbell's drugstore, and the Telephone Exchange. In 1956 it moved into a new modern building at the corner of Millburn avenue and Essex streets, and was acquired by the National State Bank at its Millburn branch.
A new-found leisure began to be enjoyed in American life, and this trend found its expression in Millburn Township also, particularly among the more affluent members of society. Men began to turn to golf, a new sport which was being played in a few places across the country. The Canoe Brook Club was organized in 1901 and a nine-hole course laid out over the old Wallace farm. The farmhouse was remodeled for a clubhouse. This club was one of the pioneer clubs in the United States. The United States Golf Association had been organized only six years before, and the first golf club in the country, St. Andrews at Hastings-on-Hudson, was only ten years old. The Baltusrol Club was also an old club, but it did not attract too many men from the Township until the coming of the automobile made easy transportation to it possible. However, the Baltusrol was organized by Lewis Keller whose father had been one of the founders of the Short Hills Club.
At the present writing Millburn golfers have available another golf course?the East Orange?which was opened in July, 1926. This course is located on the East Orange watershed property in the White Oak Ridge section of Millburn, and many of its acres had been farm land of Millburn's pioneer families.
While few women accompanied their husbands to the links, others turned for recreation to gardening. The tending of a garden was no longer a chore to provide life's necessities, but became a creative act to produce color and beauty out of doors.
Nine ladies of Short Hills, ardent gardeners, who had formed the habit of visiting each other's gardens and discussing their problems together, founded in 1906 the Short Hills Garden Club. These ladies first called themselves "The Nine of Spades", and the object of their club was to "stimulate among its members and in the community, a knowledge and appreciation of gardening and other horticultural activities." Mrs. Edward B. Renwick was elected the first president, Mrs. Charles Stout was secretary and the seven other members were Mrs. John A. Stewart, Mrs. Harold Hack, Mrs. William Meikleham, Mrs. Frazer Moffatt, Miss Josephine deRude, Mrs. Daniel Kingford and Mrs. George Campbell. This club, too, was one of the pioneer clubs of its kind in the country.
A few years later the Short Hills Garden Club became one of the founding members of the Garden Club of America, and became a charter member of the Garden Clubs of New Jersey in 1925.
The club has worked with the Township Committee to preserve many natural beauties of the community. A member, Mrs. William K. Wallbridge, was one of the members of the first Shade Tree Commission. The club organized the victory gardens during the wars and received from the government meritorious awards for achievement. It furnished outdoor plantings for base hospitals, and still provides flowers on occasion for the Veterans Hospital at Lyons, as well as flowers, dried arrangements and Christmas wreaths for the Millburn Public Library.
Also growing out of this early interest in gardening was the building by Miss Cora Hartshorn of her 17-acre Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary on Forest drive.
Of all the beautiful gardens created in Short Hills in the early part of the 20th century, only one remains?that of Mrs. William K. Wallbridge. Most of the others, notably those of Mrs. Moses Faitoute, Edward Pettigrew, Mrs. Fred Ryan, and others, are only memories today.
As of 1957, in addition to the Short Hills Garden Club, the Garden Club of Short Hills, the Rolling Hills Garden Club, and the Short Hills Farm and Garden Association have brought more women into active participation in civic conservation problems, the enchantment of the natural beauty of the Township, and personal recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of Nature.
Millburn was a community bursting with civic pride when it celebrated its semi-centennial on April 13, 1907. Its population had grown to over 3,000. The Newark News reported the population as 3,600, but this figure seems high, as the official census of 1905 gave it as 3,182. Its real estate was valued at $2,122,925; its tax rate was $2.19; its net bonded debt $200,000. It had new railroad passenger and freight stations; a high school worth $25,000 and two other good schools; seven churches, a bank was being talked about; several flourishing industries employing several hundred people were in operation, and all these progressive institutions flourished in a setting of natural beauty.
The main feature of the celebration was the parade, which started late because of the rain that fell that morning of April 13th, but the inclement weather did not cut one step from the line of march, which began at the Town Hall on Millburn avenue, then proceeded east to Main street, north to Hobart avenue; along Hobart avenue to Short Hills avenue; then to Morris avenue, Springfield; then along Morris Avenue and so back to the Town Hall, but hundreds of people marched every step of the way. one of the foot marchers in that parade was Edward F. Lonergan who, as Honorary grand marshal, led the Centennial Parade of 1957 in a limousine, it might be added.
The guests of honor of the semi-Centennial Celebration included Daniel S. Deen, who was a member of the Springfield Township Committee when Millburn broke away; John Meeker, Millburn's second Township clerk, Horace Park, first Tax Collector, and Harvey E. Smith, 92 years old, the oldest living resident, and one of the first constables. The dignitaries were dined at St. Stephen's parish house, and attended exercises in the Grammar School on Millburn avenue. Several floats depicting old schoolhouses, Indian villages, the Spirit of '76, etc. were entered in the parade. Later in the day, games and competitive tests by visiting firemen completed the celebration.
With its 50th birthday, Millburn had passed another milestone and entered upon a young adulthood, its feet well set on a path whose destination only a few could dimly perceive. Its industries were dwindling?the New Jersey Industrial Directory of 1909 listed only four. The Millburn Township Improvement Association still offered information on fine sites for factory purposes in the Industrial Directory, but more space was given to other attractions the Township offered to new comers?its firstclass railroad service, trolley lines, fine churches and schools, well paved streets, large stores, good mail service, firstclass sewer and water systems, fire protection, a building and loan society, a bank, and many opportunities for the enjoyment of social and business life.
These were surely the inducements for the establishment of suburban homes, rather than the hawking of wares for industrial buyers. Reading this ancient publicity today, it is simple to see in it prophetic signs of the kind of community which was about to emerge?a community possibly envisaged by the Parkhursts and Smiths, Parsils and Meekers, Taylors, Brants, and Baldwins who journeyed here so long ago to found a better place in which to live and raise their families. But it would take the aftermath of the first great war to bring about the complete fulfillment of that destiny.