We’ve posted two extensive chronological histories of Hopewell Borough and Pennington Borough, written by the late David Blackwell. These were printed in the 125th Anniversary Programs for the two towns, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and are illustrated with historical photos and maps.
The Pennington Borough 125th Anniversary Program, 1890 – 2015 features Blackwell’s article on “The Story of Pennington / Pennytown Appears,” plus an article by Jack Davis on “Pennington Declares Independence” (from Hopewell Township), and a bonus Pennington Timeline and Pennington Trivia.
The Hopewell Borough 125th Anniversary Program, 1891 – 2016 features Blackwell’s article on “Hopewell: 270 Years of History, 125 years as a Borough,” plus summaries of the First Years of Hopewell Borough, the Hopewell Volunteer Fire Department (1911- 2016), and a list of Hopewell Borough’s First Ordinances (adopted May 12, 1891).
- Originally identified in terms of the new Meeting House, “by John Smith’s, alias Pennytown” (1726), Pennington was also known as as “Smithfield” (1741) and even “Queenstown” (1743), with the more formal Pennington appearing in the late 1750’s.
- Originally described as “the Baptist Meeting House in Hopewell”, Hopewell was known as “Columbia” from around the time of the Revolution, and only officially became Hopewell when the post office was established in 1825.
- By 1722 there were 105 resident landowners in Hopewell Township, and two grist mills.
- In June of 1778, the entire Continental Army, 12,000 men, camped along the Sourland Ridge from Van Dyke Road to the Province Line. Washington and his staff of about 20 came to rest at “Hunt House”, a Stout property, and men also camped on the farm of John Hart above the Hopewell Meeting House.
- By 1850, Pennington had three boarding schools with a total of 82 students and 25 teachers and staff, one fifth of the village’s population of 500.
- By 1861, with the Civil War, groups of men joined the nine New Jersey regiments that were called up for three years of service. In 1890 over fifty veterans got their mail at the Pennington Post Office.
- The 1890 referendum to create Pennington borough was decided by a vote of 115 to 9. The Hopewell vote was 95 to 57. The initial focus in both towns was on street light and sidewalk improvements.
- And what is all this about a “Frog War”?
You also can find the full 125th Anniversary Program pamphlets (and more) in the Town Pamphlets Collection.