Hopewell Valley Towns in the Early 1900s

History is not only about facts, but also about understanding people and their stories, including their lives, organizations, businesses, and towns. And sometimes our predecessors leave us a window into how they see their lives. One unexpected example of this is The Industrial Directory of New Jersey, which was printed by the N. J. Bureau of Statistics every third year (or so) from c. 1901 through 1948.

For our interests, the Industrial Directory covers the Hopewell Valley towns of Hopewell, Pennington, Titusville, and Woodsville, providing a view into how the people of the time viewed their communities and worked to promote their towns to potential new businesses.

The bulk of the Industrial Directory contains over 500 pages of reports on each of the towns in N. J. promoting the business opportunities in the towns, and describing the available services and community and family activities. As a bonus, the Industrial Directory also provides information on major local businesses, and separate indexes list businesses organized by the type of industry.

We have extracted the Hopewell Valley information from the 1901, 1909, 1912, and 1918 editions of the Industrial Directory, including the town descriptions and business listings. The entries also have been combined and annotated to highlight the differences between the editions.

== See the Hopewell Valley Extracts from the Industrial Directory of N. J. – 1901 – 1918 (PDF) ==

The sections abstracted below give a sense of the information about our four towns over the first two decades of the 1900s. They also list some of the major local industries – some of which are not familiar at all! The images illustrating each section are from postcards courtesy of Steven Cohen, which dated by the cancellation stamp.


Hopewell

(Population, 980 to 1341 through this period.)

Hopewell has a fine water supply system owned by the town; but as yet there are no sewers. Its situation is on elevated land entirely free from marshes or stagnant water. There is no malaria, and in the matter of general healthfulness the location will compare favorably with any other part of the State.

Hopewell overlook facing southeast from Ralston Heights, c. 1907 – Castle grounds and gardens, with Hart Ave. below, train line, and town with St. Michael’s in center distance.

On the Philadelphia & Reading Railway (Philadelphia and Bound Brook Division). Express trains cover the distance to New York in one hour and eighteen minutes and to Philadelphia in one hour.

One weekly newspaper is published in the town, and there are two public schools, covering all grades from primary to high school. There is also one private school. The churches, six in number, are divided denominationally as follows: Baptist, three; Catholic, one; Methodist, one, and Presbyterian, one. There is a well supplied Free Public Library in the town.

For fire protection there is an electric alarm system, a volunteer company with a chemical engine, hook and ladder truck and hose cart. The high water pressure renders the use of a steam engine unnecessary.

Public sentiment is very favorable to manufacturing industry and for approved industries a choice of building sites is offered free of cost.  At this writing about 30 men and an equal number of women, all residents of the town, can be secured as operatives. From Trenton and other nearby places, all connected with Hopewell by trolley lines, a practically unlimited supply of labor can be obtained.

The soil of the surrounding country is good, and the farm crops include all the standard grains, with hay, garden vegetables, milk and a wide variety of fruits.

Hopewell industries listed over this period include:

  • C. Bond, trap rock quarrying; employs 15 persons.
  • Burton & Naylor, stair builders, sashes and blinds; employ 10 persons.
  • J. S. Cope, quarrying stone. Employs 18 persons.
  • A. G. Fetter, hardwood saw mill; employs 15 persons.
  • Herring & Northrup Creamery Company, cream and butter; employs 4 persons.
  • J. P. McQuade, quarrying and crushing stone; employs 6o persons.
  • Thomas Vaughn, manufacturer of shirts; employs 50 persons.
  • Hopewell Chocolate Co., Inc., confectionery; employ 40 persons.
  • Hopewell Valley Canning Co., vegetable and fruit canning;  employ 80 persons.
  • H. A. Smith Mfg. Co., Inc., registers; employ 55 persons.

Pennington

(Population, around 1000 through this period.)

Pennington is situated in an exceptionally attractive and healthful district, the elevation is high, and the location is in every respect a very fine one for residential purposes. There are no sewers. The Pennington Mountain, two miles to the north, is the beginning of the chain of elevations which form such an important element in beautifying the district. From large reservoirs of spring water on this mountain, the water supply, which is carried in mains to all parts of the town, is obtained.

Pennington looking down West Delaware Ave. from Main Street, c. 1908
Pennington First National Bank, c. 1912

On the Philadelphia & Reading Railway (Bound Brook Division). Six passenger trains in and out daily.

Fire protection of an effective kind is provided by a volunteer company equipped with motor-driven chemical and gasoline water engines and other modern apparatus.

There is one large public school of nine grades, and the township high school is only twenty minutes distant by trolley. There are five churches – African Baptist, Catholic, Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist, and Presbyterian. A large private school – the famous Pennington Seminary for boys – has been located here for the past seventy-five years.

Public sentiment is favorable to industrial growth, and factories engaged in any legitimate line of work would be welcomed. Financial assistance can be secured if desired. As an inducement to settle here manufacturers will be guaranteed exemption from taxation until business has been placed on a permanent and paying basis. The number available for immediate employment is reported to be 250 men and 75 women.

There are large tracts of unimproved land on both sides of the railroad, out of which choice factory building sites may be secured at nominal prices.

On the immediate outskirts of the town are many fine farms and orchards, producing corn, wheat, rye, alfalfa, etc., peaches, plums, pears, apples, grapes, berries and all kinds of vegetables. Pennington is the largest milk shipping station for dairy farms between New York and Philadelphia. It is also an important poultry raising district.

Pennington industries listed over this period include:

  • Union Boiler Company, manufactory of hot water boilers; employs 80 persons
  • Pennington Foundry & Heater Co., boilers
  • Pennington Canning Company, canned tomatoes; employs 40 persons during the season
  • Peerless Insulated Wire & Cable Co., insulated wire; employ 19 persons
  • Pennington Trap Rock Co., trap rock quarrying; employ 45 persons
  • Robeson Process Co., road material; employ 30 persons

Titusville

(Population, 230 to 1000 through this period.)

Titusville occupies an exceedingly picturesque location on the Delaware River, several miles above the head of navigation. The Delaware and Raritan Canal, which passes through the village, adds materially to the transportation facilities which it enjoys. The water supply is derived from wells and cisterns; there is no organized fire protection.

Titusville Street, c. 1909 – “Columbia Wagons”
Titusville Rubber Factory, c. 1907

On the Belvidere Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Eight passenger trains in and out daily.

The village has one public school, and two churches – Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian.

No particular interest seems to be taken in the subject of enlarging the manufacturing interests of the place, although the industrial advantages of the location are well worthy of consideration.

The soil of the back country ranges from good to fair, and very fine crops of grains, potatoes, apples and pears are grown.

Titusville industries listed over this period include:

  • Titusville Fruit and Vegetable Canning Co., employs 15 men and 40 women during three months of the year.
  • Raymond Rubber Co., employs 20 men

Woodsville

(Only listed in the 1909 and 1912 editions, when the population was just at the cut-off of 100 people.)

An agricultural community with no other form of industry and no desire to have any.

Woodsville Post Office, undated

Nearest station, Glenmore, on the Philadelphia and Reading Railway; distant two and one-half miles.

One public school of the eighth grade.

The soil is good; crops consist of the usual farm products, together with garden vegetables. No farm lands for sale.


More on the N. J. Industrial Directory

For more on these and other New Jersey towns, see the various editions of The Industrial Directory of New Jersey from 1901 through 1948 that are available online for viewing and downloading from Google Books and other sources.

== See the Hopewell Valley Extracts from the Industrial Directory of N. J. – 1901 – 1918 (PDF) ==

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