History of Montgomery Township
Somerset County, New Jersey
Located in the southern portion of Somerset County, six miles from Princeton University.
Hamlets within the Township:
Belle Mead, Blawenburg, Dutchtown, Harlingen, Rocky Hill, Skillman and Zion. Rocky Hill is now the Rocky Hill boro.
Montgomery Township lies between the Millstone River Valley and the Sourland Mountains.
Pre-colonial times the Lenni Lenape Indians lived in the area.
The first landowners in the future Montgomery Township were land speculators, such as Johannas Van Home and Peter Sonmans. The did not live in the area. Many of the land speculators were Dutch and from the future New York City area.
1702 Dutch and English pioneers settled the area.
Early mills founded on Rock Brook, Rocky Hill on the Millstone River, Bridgepoint on Pike Brook and on Bedens Brook near Blawenburg.
1710 establishment of what became known as the Harlingen Tract (which included part of Sourland Mountain).
1722 Montgomery Township founded. The Township was originally known as the Western Precinct of Somerset County (i.e. west of the Millstone River).
Rocky Hill was the first village in the Township.
c. 1750 the first church, the Church at Sourland, built at Harlingen. The church shared its pastor with the church at Neshanic (1752) in Hillsborough Township.
1752 an original settler of the area, Dirck Gulick, built the Gulick House in the Dutch Colonial Style at 508 Belle Mead-Blawenburg Road.
1775-1782 the American Revolution.
1776 (December) General Washington retired across the area after being chased out of Ne3w York.
1776-1783 General Washington spent a lot of time in the area visiting his friend John Van Horne at his manor house just west of present Montgomery Avenue.
1783 while he attended the Continental Congress session in Princeton, Washington had his headquarters at Rockingham in Rocky Hill.
1790s a number of Montgomery residents were "Freeholders of the Western Precinct," such as the Voorhees, Blew, Stryker, Stockton, Hageman, Skillman, Sutpen, Updike, Stout, Beekman, Trehune, VanPelt, Duryea and Hunt. Dr.Witherspoon was head of the Council.
1798 the Western Precinct was organized as Montgomery Township, named for Colonel Richard Montgomery, who fell fighting for the patriot cause in the Battle of Quebec at the start of the Revolution (1775).
Up until 1800 the Church at Sourland and at Neshanic conducted their services in the Dutch language. One of the pastors was Martinus Van Harlingen, who gave his name to Harlingen hamlet, to the church that now bears his name, and to the Van Hasrlingen Historical Society.
1800s Montgomery Township still has many of the farms, dwellings and houses built around this time.
1820-1822 building of the Georgetown and Franklin Turnpike between Lambertville and New Brunswick ( Rt. 518).
1820s Mill Pond Bridge located on Mill Pond Road within the Bridgepoint Historic District. It is a three-arch, random-rubble stone bridge.
1822 Opossum Road Bridge across Bedens Brook on Opossum Road is the county's second oldest bridge. It is a double-arched, random rubble stone bridge.
1830 the Blawenburg church, an offshoot of the one at Harlingen, erected in three days.
1834 the Delaware and Raritan Canal along the east side of the Millstone River.
Before 1838 before the creation of Mercer County, the southern border extended to Nassau Street in Princeton.
1860 the 1860 House constructed in the late Greek Revival style on Montgomery Road. The house was once part of the 500-acre farm of the Van derVeer family. The Montgomery Center for the Arts is located in the house.
1861-1865 Civil War.
1865-1870 Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Rock Mills district built.
1875 the Delaware and Boundbrook Railroad (later the Reading) established depots at Skillman, Harlingen and Belle Mead.
1890 the Blawenburg Band, one of the oldest community bands in the State, founded in Blawenburg.
1898 the facility for the treatment of epileptics was built on farmland between Blawenburg and Skillman.
late 19th century subsistence farming was giving way to specialized operations, such as dairying, poultry farming, and fruit orchards.
Late 19th century Bedens Brook Road Bridge built at Bedens Brook Road. It is a single-arch, 20-foot-long random rubble stone structure.
early years of 20th century arrival of the automobile, electricity and the telephone. The crossroad hamlets began to disappear, many leaving only their names to mark a road or an area, such as Skillman, Bridgepoint and Dutchtown.
1927 a major north-south highway, Route 206, built.
1930s the Ballantine (brewery owners) family of Newark added a mahogany-paneled library to the 1860 House.
1941-1945 World War II.
Post World War II housing developments, shopping centers and business parks sprang up.
mid-1900s the towns population was about 2,350.
1965 the Van Harlingen Historical Society (VHHS) founded to help preserve the heritage of the Montgomery Township area and to interpret the areas history through educational programs, publications, and exhibits.
By 1970 the population was 5,103.
1990s Montgomery's population nearly doubled.
late 20th Century Montgomery Township is now primarily a residential community.
2000 the population was 17,481.
2000 Montgomery Township residents approved a referendum to build a new high school that will handle ,800 students.
2000 the Mill Pond Bridge was repaired and restored by Somerset County.
2002 Montgomery Township population around 18,772.
2004 The Dirck Gulick House, at 506 Rte. 61 across from Dutchtown Harlingen Road, reopened as headquarters and library of the Van Harlingen Historical Society.
Welcome to Montgomery Township, New Jersey. History of Montgomery. http://twp.montgomery.nj.us/about/history.asp
VanHarlingen Historical Society of Montgomery Township, NJ Montgomery Township-A Short History. http://www.vanharlingen.org/history.html
Things to do in Somerset County, New Jersey: Historic Sites. http://www.beachcomber.com/Somerset/Public/histor.html