January 2022 Update – History Briefs

The January updates to the Hopewell Valley History Project site included downloads of compilations of the History Brief research papers from the past two years, a new brief on Somerset Street, two new documents on Hopewell Valley trolley routes and Hopewell villages in 1883, and new photos and artifacts from the Rockwell plant in Hopewell.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 248 files in the Archives, including 115 documents and 133 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 2514 files, and the Aerial Panoramas Collection has 23 images. The Pamphlet Collection has 153 documents, and the Property Reports Collection has 77 documents, with 58 Site Survey reports and 19 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. Please keep the materials coming!

Hopewell History Briefs – The Book

Hopewell History Briefs

Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition is a snapshot of the current work on the History Project, including twenty History Briefs, plus additional maps, summaries of the collections, and references.

We’ve compiled together these twenty History Briefs written over the past two years and packaged them up as a “book” (free PDF download) for convenient reference, searching, and printing. These History Project research reports provide historical information and chronologies on Hopewell Borough organizations, businesses, and properties, and the people that made them.

As a snapshot of the current work on the History Project, the Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition, includes the twenty History Briefs, plus additional maps, summaries of the collections, and references.

The Hopewell Borough History Briefs, 2020 – 2021 Edition, is available in two versions for download (PDF):

  • Full Version – The entire contents of all the briefs – 315 pages

Hopewell Valley Trolley Routes

Trolley in 1913 postcard on West Broad St. in Hopewell (colorized) [MAT]

There are still remnants of the trolley era in the Hopewell Valley in our landscape. There was one line from Trenton that began in 1902, servicing Pennington (until 1931) and Hopewell (until 1924), and two competing lines to Lawrenceville and Princeton from 1899 to 1939.

In the early 1980s, Jim Klaiber documented and photographed these trolley routes, and the resulting report now has been reformatted and posted on the History Project site. This includes histories of the lines and companies, and traces the routes and remains as of 1982.

The Villages of Hopewell Township in 1883

It’s difficult to imagine life in Hopewell Township in 1880 – almost century and a half ago. We have some maps of the area, and some books like History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey, With Biographical Sketches of Many of Their Pioneers and Prominent Men, by Major E. M. Woodward and John F. Hageman, published in 1883.

The full work has been scanned and is available online, and you can download the original book from the History Project archives. And now there’s a better option, thanks to the intrepid editing work of Carol Errickson – a new Villages of Hopewell Township extract of the book, converted to plan text, edited, and formatted for convenient access and searching.

This includes descriptions of the township and its history, its towns and villages, schools, churches, societies, and industry, plus biographical sketches. The village sections include origins, current businesses and houses, and chronologies of major businesses.

Rockwell Artifacts and Photos

Rockwell taxi meter c. 1963 – 1974 [RMA]

The Rockwell plant was a major employer and benefactor in Hopewell through the 1900s, until Rockwell closed the facility in 1974.

Thanks to Rich Anderson we have some interesting Rockwell artifacts and photos from the 1940s through the 1970s, including a Rockwell taxi meter and World War II parachute quick release, Rockwell News and other brochures, and photos of people and equipment.

People on Facebook also have been helping to identify people in the circa 1953 photo of the Rockwell Fire Brigade.

  • View the new Rockwell brochures in the Pamphlet Collection, including issues of the Rockwell News, and handouts from Old Timers and Awards dinners

Lost Somerset Street

Skating on the Rockwell pond [JMC 1961]

Somerset Street is the lost street of Hopewell Borough. Yes, the street is still there, but the physical history is gone – all the homes and buildings, and even the remnants of foundations and the ground itself are lost. This was mostly the result of the clean-up in the 1990s of the contamination from the Rockwell and predecessor H. A. Smith plants.

Starting on the 1890s, the street was the site of a brickyard, the first H. A. Smith building, The Hopewell Bobbin and Spool Company, E. W. Whitehead’s ice cream factory, The E. B. Coy Manufacturing Co., and other companies for which we now have almost no information. It was also the home of the Rockwell ice skating pond that was active in the 1950s and earlier, for which we have a few photos.

Please contact us if you have – or know of – more images and materials like these that we can share to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley.

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