History of Clinton Township

Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Physical Features:

Clinton Township has two Reservoirs, Spruce Run and Round Valley.  


Pre-Colonial period – the Lenni Lenape Indians lived in the area. Round Valley was an Indian gathering and burial place for their chiefs.

1711 – the West Jersey Society acquired 4,600 square miles of land, including the present day Clinton Township.

early 1700s – most of the settlers were German who established family farms.

1744 – James Alexander, father of Lord Sterling, purchased 10,000 acres from the West Jersey Society and built a home in Round Valley.

1763  --  David McKinney built his first linseed oil mill, the Stone Mill (across the river from the Red Mill). 

1775-1782 – Revolutionary War

1776 – Captain Thomas Jones, who owned a tavern and the property now known as Beaver Brook Farm in Annandale village, helped gather and hide the Durham boats later used by General George Washington to cross the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to Trenton.

Captain Jones' Tavern was located on the main route across the state, the New Brunswick-Easton Turnpike (today’s Beaver Avenue in Annandale), which was also called the Jersey Turnpike.

1810 – Ralph Hunt built Clinton's landmark Red Mill. It processed wool, grist, plaster, graphite and talc.

1810-1828  -- Ralph Hunt owned the mills on both sides of the river and the town was called Hunt's Mill.

1828  --  town of Hunt's Mill changed to Clinton. 

1828  --  streets were laid out; the present Main Street was called Bridge Street. 

1831  --  the Clinton House inn on West Main Street built to accommodate coach travelers on the Easton-Brunswick Turnpike. 

1834  --  the old Stone Mill burned.

1836 – Nehemiah Dunham built a grist mill on the bank of the south branch of the Raritan River. (It now houses the Hunterdon Museum of Art, formerly Hunterdon Art Center.)

1841 – John C. Wert owned Jones' Tavern when local residents met to form Clinton Township.  The name for the township was taken from DeWitt Clinton, a governor of New York and sponsor of the Erie Canal. 

The population was less than 2,000.

In the early days, there were numerous mills and hamlets along the South Branch of the Raritan River.

1845  --  John B. Weller and his brother bought a brick hotel from Israel Smith that became Weller's Hotel.

1848 – three Irish immigrant brothers founded the limestone Mulligan Quarry (now part of the Red Mill Museum Village). River ice was stored in a house on the grounds of the Mulligan quarry.

1852 – the Jersey Central Railroad completed through the future Annandale Station.

1860  --  death by consumption of the 35 year old Fannie Van Syckle, wife of  John T. Leigh.  John T. Leigh came from Pattenburg built the Clinton National Ban on Main Street.  John built his mansion for his second wife, Mary Van Syckel, aged 18, and his ten children.  John and Mary went on to have seven more children. 

1861-1865 – Civil War.

1862 – General George W. Taylor , commander of the First Jersey Brigade and Hunterdon's only Civil War general was killed by Stonewall Jackson's troops at the Battle of Manassas. A Jersey Central funeral train carried the body back to the township.

1865 (April)  --  the Town of Clinton became incorporated as a separate entity. The first town meeting was held at Weller's Hotel.  At the second meeting officers were chosen:  Morris S. Stiger, Mayor and councilmen John B. Weller, Eli Bosenbury, John T. Leigh, James P. Huffman, John A. Young and Samuel Madison.  John C. Besson appointed clerk, and Nathaniel W. Voorhees made Treasurer.

1870  --  the iron bridge at Bridge Street (today's Main Street) built to replace a wooden covered bridge washed out in 1869.

1875  --  a spur of the Lehigh Valley Railroad arrived in Clinton. 

1891  photo --  shows Ada Bell Hoff posing with her classmates at Bunker Hill School (now on the grounds of the Clinton Museum). 

1892  --  the "Great Fire" destroyed the Main Street buildings. 

1892  -- the Clinton Fire Company organized by volunteers after the Great Fire.

1896  --  a flood swamped Main Street in Clinton.  

close of the 19th century – 170 farms in the township

End of 19th century to well into the 20th – the township remained largely agricultural.

c. 1900  --  first autos come to Clinton.

early 1900s  --  Leon Carpenter edited the Clinton Democrat newspaper.

1903  --  Walter S. Leigh, Clinton's band director and jeweler. 

1908 – the "monitor", a roof line extension, added to the Red Mill to accommodate new machinery, gave the mill its distinctive appearance.

1914  --  the Clinton Democrat newspaper folded.

1920 Christmas card  --  Mr. and Mrs. Eugene DeCleene, owners and operators of the Clinton House, sent a post card depicting their inn.

1922  -- Clinton Public School burned.

1931  --  floodwaters brought down Clinton's Main Street bridge. 

1938  --  the start of air mail delivery.  A photo shows the town's postmaster, Nelson Pickel, welcoming the pilot Marvin Everett.

1945  -- the South Branch of the Raritan River overflowed its banks causing considerable damage. 

Mid 20th century – major highways built and new homes sprang up.

1952 – the Hunterdon Museum of Art established in the 1836 grist mill.

1955 --  the old Dunham-Parry's Mill ceased operating as a mill.

early 1960s – the Mulligan Quarry remained in Mulligan hands until this period.

1974 – The township switched from a three-member township committee to a Faulkner Act mayor council government, with four elected council members and a directly elected mayor.

1870 – an old truss bridge built to span the Raritan River. Today, visitors stand on the old bridge that overlooks a 200 foot wide waterfall and separates two old grist mills; Clinton's landmark Red Mill (home of the Hunterdon Historical Museum), and the Stone Mill (home of the Hunterdon Museum of Art.).

1907  --  the log dam at the Red Mill replaced with a concrete one. 

1981 – the four-story stone grist mill placed on the National Historic Register.

1994 – the state record lake trout of 24.12 pounds taken at Round Valley.

End of the 20th century – only 10 operating farms left

Today – the four floors of the Red Mill Museum showcases artifacts of Hunterdon County's rural, agricultural, and commercial heritage.


Clinton Township Police Department. Clinton Township.  http://www.ctpd.org/Township_History.htm

Historic Clinton, New Jersey. Points of Interest. http://www.clintonnj.com/Pointsofinterest.htm

Sally A. Freedman.  1994.  Images of America: Clinton, Flemington and Lambertville.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.

Historic Clinton: Town History.  http://www.clintonnj.gov/history_incorporated.html