An intimate survey of community life in Millburn Township in the first decade of its 2nd century
PROLOGUE (to 1957-1975 MILLBURN HISTORY)
On March 20, 1957, Millburn Township reached its 100th birthday as a municipality of the State of New Jersey. Its historical significance, told in the first part of this History, extended back more than 250 years before that date, and the record shows that it had matured satisfactorily.
Honorable leaders, concerned citizenry, and interested young people all had joined in the 1957 Centennial Celebration, described in Chapter XX, and during every day of the Centennial Week, starting May 19th, activities became a lasting memorial. The date, May 19th, was selected to provide better weather conditions than the week in March might have provided.
The Statute of 1857 achieved the separation of Springfield and Millburn, and the establishment of a corporate entity for Millburn Township, but the actual community life had gone back to the beginning of the 18th Century.
Its own Post Office was one of the bonuses accruing by the incorporation of Millburn as a separate political being. No post office facilities were available at all until 1801. Prior to that year, a stage coach, once or sometimes twice a week, left mail at the corners, now Millburn Center, and at the Springfield Center.
Millburn was usually referred to as "the country behind Springfield." Old maps show roads approaching it from New Ark to approximately the present corner of Millburn Avenue and Main Street, and the center was obvious on the maps. Mail was usually left at Aaron Hand's tavern at the northwest corner.
Early graves which still may be identified in the Springfield Presbyterian Church Cemetery are among others, Stephen Woodruff's, 1789, Isaac Denman, 1781, and Nathaniel Dickenson, 1795.
A gravestone in the Springfield Cemetery, a rubbing of which was supplied recently*, reads:
"In memory of Thomas Marr of Thistle Mill. He died Aug. the 13th 1791, aged 26 years.
also, "Charles, the son of Charles Marr of Thistle Mill died Octr ye 19th, 1792, aged 2 years."
The inscription not only identifies two people of the community, but also presents another verification of the existence of Thistle Mill at that early date.
Most burials were in the cemetery at Springfield, although a few were in Elizabeth in the Presbyterian Churchyard there.
Among other old Millburn names appearing in the Springfield Churchyard are:
Stephen Woodruff 1789 Isaac Denman 1781 Nathaniel Dickenson 1795
The average age appears to be about 42, although Matthias Denman lived to be 90, and John Tucker, 79.
A. Ross Meeker, a descendant of Timothy Meeker, who had settled here soon after 1699 was the Chairman of the 1957 Centennial observance.
The Centennial, Celebrated throughout the week of May 19, 1957, chairmanned by A. Ross Meeker, in seven days of celebration, provided a variety of entertainment presented by all schools, most organizations and associations, and many citizens working with Mr. Meeker. The week chosen provided seven days of perfect weather.
The goals to which the community was moving were good government, the preservation of community beauty, good education, through a healthy support of its schools, both public and private, and a new tolerance and diversity of religious affiliations among the citizens.
*The rubbing of the cemetery stone was supplied to the author by Brian Holmes of Short Hills, a senior of Millburn High School (1976). 1958-1967