Here’s an amazing reference to Pennington’s history, with the stories of its major institutions and civic groups from the early 1700s, including churches, schools, the Library, Fire Company, and banks. This 72-page Pennington Sesquibicentennial 1708 – 1958 booklet was prepared by the Kleio Club in 1958 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the first recorded settlement on the site of Pennington.
(The Kleio Club was founded in 1902 as a literary club, and was originally limited to 30 to 65 people so the members could meet in in members’ homes. It later expanded as a women’s club.)
== View the Pennington Sesquibicentennial (250th) 1708 – 1958 Booklet (PDF) ==
The booklet is illustrated with photographs, including the American Legion First Aid Squad, Charles Henderson the lamplighter, and boating on the Stony Brook. The images above are:
- Pennington Sesquibicentennial booklet (1958) – The cover, designed by Phyllis D’Autrechy, depicts a Hessian soldier exercising his horse over the Pennington Cemetery wall.
- View of six Pennington churches: Pennington First Presbyterian Church (1709), Pennington United Methodist Church (1774), Bethel A.M.E Church (1816), St. James Roman Catholic Church (1898), First Baptist Church of Pennington (1902), Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church (1926)
- Evergreen Hall (1836) – founded to provide a better education for young ladies in the higher grades
- Pennington Fire Company (1891) – with early fire apparatus
- Pennington Athletic Club (1898) – with baseball team
The Pennington Sesquibicentennial booklet includes some 50 brief articles, starting with a summary Chronology of Pennington, and a more detailed article on The History of Pennington and Vicinity by Alice Blackwell Lewis, author of Hopewell Valley Heritage, which begins with King Charles II granting land in 1664.
The articles are written by a wide variety of authors, many of whom are principals of the organizations. The articles are chronological, beginning with the founding of the First Presbyterian Church of Pennington (1709), and then Pennington’s Public Schools (1721) by Margaret J. O’Connell, author of Pennington Profile. The booklet concludes with the Pennington Jaycees (1956) and the Parents – Citizens Association (1957).
Along the way, you can discover other stories, including:
- The first policy issued by the Mercer County Mutual Fire Insurance Company – written in 1944, insuring a dwelling for $856.
- The reading room sponsored by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union – that in 1897-98 alone hosted 1900 men and boys in safe surroundings .
- The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) – that built Odd Fellows Hall in 1891 (later used for the Fire Company, the Pennington Athletic Club, and Borough Hall).
The Short History of the Borough Government article lists some of the complaints about local conditions that motivated the creation of the Borough in 1890: “the deplorably rough and muddy condition of streets; the lack of street lights except such as were maintained by some public-spirited citizens; the lack of sidewalks, except a few rough and uneven ones; the use of much of the taxes paid locally in more distant parts of the Township.”
And, yes, for language aficionados, the term “sesquibicentennial” in the title of the booklet is meant to mean 250th. To construct the word, a centennial is 100 years, a bi-centennial is twice or 200 years, and the sesqui- prefix means one and a half – so, for example, sesqui-centennial means 150 years. So this usage of sesqui-bi-centennial is inconsistent, since half-again the bi-centennial (200) would be 300 years.
A better term for 250 would be constructed as semi-quin-centennial, meaning half of 500 years. This is the term that is being used for the upcoming 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026. Or maybe the simplest answer would be just to say that it’s the 250th anniversary.
== View the Pennington Sesquibicentennial (250th) 1708 – 1958 Booklet (PDF) ==
Thanks to Gail Faherty for sharing this wonderful booklet.
Please contact us if you have, or know of, other such historical material to share!
- See the Margaret J. O’Connell’s comprehensive book, Pennington Profile, A Capsule of State and Nation, for much more on the town’s history, now available online as a free download in a new Digital Edition.
- For more on the Pennington churches, see the Historic Churches of Pennington Borough Open House pamphlet (PDF) in the Pamphlet Collection, from the 2015 celebration of Pennington 125th anniversary of incorporation.
- See the Town Index page for Pennington Borough for links to more information on the history, images, panoramas, documents, pamphlets, and property reports.
Pennington Sesquibicentennial (250th Anniversary) – 1708 – 1958
Pennington Presents Her Present and Past – 1708 to 1958
Prepared by the Kleio Club; Booklet, 6 x 9, 72 pp.
Digitized by the Hopewell Valley History Project, 11/22
- 250th Anniversary Founding of Pennington
- Chronology of Pennington 1708 – 1958
- The History of Pennington and Vicinity, Alice Blackwell Lewis
- The First Presbyterian Church of Pennington (1709), Katharine Jamison
- Pennington’s Public Schools (1721), Margaret J. O’Connell
- The First Methodist Church of Pennington (1774), Dolly and Wayne Boyd
- The Bethel A. M. E. Church (1816), Salie Johnson Hoagland
- Evergreen Hall (1836), Elizabeth Lanning
- The Pennington School (1838), Howard A. Cressman
- The Mercer County Mutual Fire Insurance Company (1844), Eric W. Turner, Jr.
- Pennington Institute – Lasher School (1844/1852), Beatrice Perry Nichols
- Pennington Grange (1874), Gertrude Burkhalter
- The Free Public Library of Pennington (1876), Betty Barlow
- Cyrus Lodge, No. 148, Free and Accepted Masons (1877), Stanley S. Petty
- W.C.T.U. of Pennington (1886), Julia H. Wentworth
- Pennington Water Company (1886), Albert Blackwell
- A Short History of the Borough Government (1890), Adelbert K. Botts
- Independent Order of Odd Fellows (1891), Harry Primer
- Pennington Fire Company (1891), Christopher M. Walters
- St. James Church (1898), Helen Duerr
- Pennington Athletic Club (1898), Alfred Hunt
- First National Bank of Pennington (1900), Elna Plambeck
- The First Baptist Church (1902), Clara Smith
- Kleio Club (1902), Donna Botts
- The Patriotic Order, Sons of America (1910), John M. Berrien .
- The Howe and Curlis Tracts (1912), Inez Howe Howell
- Pennington Building and Loan Association (1912), Albert Blackwell
- The Boy Scout Movement in Pennington (1915), John T. Huddleson
- Pennington Branch – American Red Cross (1915), Edwin W . Wooley, Jr.
- Mother’s Club, Home and School League, Parent-Teachers Assoc. (1917), Helen Heffner
- Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Pennington Fire Department (1921), Alice Frisbee
- Young Women’s Christian Association (1921), Jessie Vannoy
- Young Men’s Christian Association (1921), Malcolm G. Magner
- Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Pennington (1926), Grace C. Oley
- Penelope Hart Chap., Daughters of the American Revolution (1929), Myrtle G . Ferris
- The Girl Scouts in Pennington (1933), Patricia Compton
- Pennington Woman’s Club (1937), Anne S. Shear
- Pennington Lions – Past and Present (1939), R. W. Higginbottom
- Pennington and the Ground Observer Corps (1943), Ellsworth Gosling
- Pennington Post No. 413 – American Legion (1946), Eric W. Turner, Sr.
- The Civil Air Patrol in Pennington and Hopewell Township (c1946), Helen Weasner
- The Woosamonsa Art Group (1949), Lillian Brown
- American Legion Auxiliary Unit, 413 (1950), Dorothy H. Maple
- The Pennington Players (1951), Beth Geis
- Little League (1952), Robert Clowes
- American Legion First Aid Squad (1954), Edward Kirby
- Babe Ruth Baseball League (1955), Alice Furneisen
- Exchange Student Programs of American Field Service (1955), T. Coerte Hutchinson
- Pennington Jaycees (1956), Robert Bonta
- Parents – Citizens Association (1957), Martin Gill
- Historical Pageant – Pennington’s Heritage