History of Stockton Borough

Hunterdon County, New Jersey


1703 John Reading, a proprietor of West Jersey, one of the first surveyors of the wilderness area that is now Hunterdon County, was one of the men chosen to meet with the Indians in order to purchase the land. Reading chose for himself a large tract of land bordering the Delaware river (part of which contained the present day Stockton).

Reading established a ferry across the Delaware and the area became known as Readings Ferry. When John's daughter Mary married Daniel Howell part of her dowry was a square mile tract of land fronting the river. This property included the location of the ferry and hence was named Howell's Ferry.

1792 John Prall, Jr., a veteran of the Revolutionary War, purchased some property owned by Joseph Howell (son of Daniel and Mary).

1794 John Prall, Jr. bought some mill property once owned by the Woolvertons. John proceeded to build a grist mill, saw mill, oil mill, a store and several stone dwellings. There was also a quarry located on this property. The area became known as Prallsville.

Another revolutionary veteran settled in the area we now call Brookville. John Anderson purchased this land later known as Colligan's Farm.

1811 the States of New Jersey and Pennsylvania passed an act authorizing the construction of a bridge to be built over the Delaware between Blacks Eddy (Bulls' Island) and Well's Ferry (New Hope). The formation of the Centre Bridge Company caused the areas on both sides of the river to be called Centre Bridge.

1814 the bridge finished. It was also a toll bridge.

1830 the bridge was torn down and rebuilt due to faulty construction.

1832 a canal was begun and finished 2 years later. The main area around Centre Bridge was coming alive. The canal workers, mainly Irish Immigrants, needed food, lodging and supplies. Asher Johnson turned his home at the end of Bridge Street into a hotel and a schoolhouse was built on the same spot where the Stockton Elementary School now stands. This land was owned by Thomas P. Holcomb.

1832 Johnson opened a hotel.

The river overflowed it's banks regularly.

1841 the river flooded badly destroying every bridge between Easton and Trenton. The covered bridge at Stockton broke into two on January 8, 1841, striking the Lambertville Bridge on its way down the Delaware.

1850 Charles Bartles and Aaron Van Syckel enlarged the hotel that Johnson opened in 1832. They also built a store on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. In an exchange of property between Bartles and Van Syckel and the Centre Bridge Company a road was made that ran a straight line from the Bridge to the front of the Hotel which is now called The Stockton Inn.

1850 Maurice Woolverton purchased John Prall's house on what is now called Woolverton Road. (The House is now a Bed and Breakfast called the Woolverton Inn.) St. John Terrell, who created the Music Circus in Lambertville, made his home there for a period of time.

1850 a railroad graded in Lambertville.

1853 the railroad reached Stockton.

1853 a new post office built near the bridge and the town was named Stockton in honor of Senator Robert Field Stockton who helped to make the canal that helped the new community to thrive.

1853-1868 within the next 15 years a general store was opened by Samuel Rogers and Bro., a lumberyard in Brookville was built in a partnership between Hiram Deats and Joseph Case, another lumberyard was opened between Centre Bridge and Prallsville by Johnson Fisher and S.C. and William S. Hoppock.

1861 the stone Berean Baptist Church dedicated. The Church was once plastered in an imitation granite. The Spire stands 108 feet from the ground. (The Berean Baptist Church is now a Wesleyan Church.)

1861 a group of citizens organized to raise money to build an academy. (It is now a private residence.)

1862 a steam saw mill opened by John Finney.

1867 the Presbyterians decided to build a church. Property was purchased across the street from the schoolhouse. The Gothic style building was erected with stone from Stockton's quarries

1869 the Presbyterian Church completed.

Several quarries were being worked in Stockton. The sandstone from this town is both beautiful and durable. Nassau Hall at Princeton University was built from stone quarried in Prallsville. Many buildings as far away as New York City are made from stone quarried from the Stockton area.

Late 1860's a Methodist Church built on Broad Street, then called New Street. (The Methodist Church is now a Masonic Hall )

1871 the State of New Jersey passed an act that made all public schools free.

1872 a new schoolhouse built.

1876 a lot purchased on the corner of Main Street and a new road that would be called Church Street. The building has since become the home of Orpeheus Lodge No. 137, F & A.M. a Masonic Lodge.

1884 an addition placed on the new schoolhouse making it 3 rooms in all.

1898 Stockton became a Borough of the County of Hunterdon. An election was then held to choose a mayor, council members, a tax assessor and a tax collector, a justice of the peace, a constable and commissioners of appeals. Theodore S. Moore elected as the first Mayor of the Borough.

1905 the worst fire in the history of the town occurred that destroyed much of the business district since the closest fire department, Colombia Fire Company, was located 4 miles away in Lambertville.

1906 the town voted to construct a water works and to purchase a steam engine, 600 feet of hose and property to erect a building to house the equipment. It was also decided to construct rooms and offices for the Borough Council meetings and officers. The Borough still uses this building as the municipal headquarters.

1919 the Catholic Church of St. Agnes built next to the lot where the school was located. The building was constructed from a stone house that was already on the property.

1923 lightening struck the wooden covered bridge starting a fire that destroyed it.

c. 1927 after nearly 4 years, a toll steel bridge was finally erected by the Joint Free Bridge Commission of New Jersey and Pennsylvania who purchased the properties from the Centre Bridge Company.

1927 the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebrations tradition was started.

1927 the Centennial of the boro celebrated.

1955 Hurricane Diane dropped 8 to 10 inches of rain. The following week Hurricane Connie left 8 inches of rain. The result was a flood with the waters going all the way to the Stockton Inn, damaging all the homes between the river banks and Main Street.

1958 the railroad station in Stockton closed. The trains that play an important part in the growth and history of the community were reduced to 2 passenger cars a day. All freight trains were handled at the Lambertville Station.

1964 a new fire house constructed.

1980s the railroad tracks removed. The rail-bed was turned into a path for bicyclists and pedestrians.

1991 the bank closed.


Sources:

Iris H. Naylor.. "Stockton, New Jersey - 300 Years of History."

Stockton Borough History. http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/mun/stockton/history.htm