History of West Amwell Township

Hunterdon County, New Jersey


pre-colonial period the Leni Lenape Indians lived in the area. The tribes in this part of the future Hunterdon County were Turtle and Turkey. They had settlements just South of Ringoes, at Mount Airy Station along the Alexhocken Creek and at Rocktown.

1703 150,000 acres bought from the Indians and sold to various proprietors.

Some of the early tract owners in what became West Amwell were Winder, Stevenson, Bull, Wheeler and Calow.

John Reading was perhaps the first to buy large acreage. The name Amwell was taken from Mount Amwell, the home of John Reading, who in turn took the name from his hometown Amwell in Hertfordshire, England.

John Holcombe became owner of a large tract.

1708 Amwell Township formed (then still a part of Burlington).

The future West Amwell's industries were located on Alexauken Creek. First came a saw mill and flax seed mill run by Andrew Larason. A bit further down stream a dam and grist mill were located.

1713 Hunterdon County set off from Burlington County.

1743 a son of John Holcombe, Samuel Holcombe, built a store and dwelling at Mount Airy. It is perhaps the oldest building still standing and in use in the West Amwell Township. The old stone building in Mount Airy and the house next to it served as a Stage Coach stop in the early days of the Swift-Sure Line.

1754 the Second Amwell Church was established by early Presbyterians who wanted to lessen the distance members had to travel to the "First Church." The church was in the Gothic Revival style.

c. 1765 the York Road was completed and the Swift-Sure Stage Line began to carry passengers between Philadelphia and New York. Mount Airy became an important stage stop.

1775-1782 Revolutionary War.

The son of John Holcombe, Richard, was host to General Washington in the house on the edge of Lambertville (known as Washington's Headquarters).

General Washington was staying at Brownsburg, on the Pennsylvania side of the river. He crossed to Jersey and was taken to Goat Hill by Cornelius Coryell. He used "Washington's Rock" as a point from which he made sure that his boats were well hidden on the Pennsylvania shore.

It is believed that Washington ate a meal on "Washington's Dining Rock." (On the same hill but a little to the south stands Pinnacle Rock with a magnificent view up and down the river and across to Pennsylvania.)

1778 Washington and his men crossed at Coryell's Ferry on the way to the Battle of Monmouth. The men marched through the Township to Hopewell

1785 Flemington became the County Seat. It was then located in Amwell and remained so until 1838.

1786 a parchment recorded the swearing of Second English Presbyterian church trustees renouncing ties to the King of Britain.

1814 the bridge at Lambertville built.

1814 Solomon Holcombe bought the stage coach stop and turned it into a dwelling.

1814 the Mount Airy Tavern converted into a private dwelling.

1816 incorporation of the Georgetown (old name for Lambertville) Franklin Turnpike leading through the Township to New Brunswick.

c. 1817-1836 five bay, two-story frame Mount Airy Tavern built. It was a successor to the tavern directly opposite on the Old York Road. It also served as both tavern and stage house. In 1846 it was agreed that the first town meeting was to be held at John Managh's Inn in Mount Airy.

1838 the Townships of Raritan, Delaware and Amwell were formed.

1843 "Old Rocks Methodist Church" built.

1846 West Amwell Township formed from Amwell by an act of the State Legislature. The first Township meeting was held at the Inn of John Menagh in Mount Airy.

1848 until this date, the City of Lambertville was a part of West Amwell.

c. 1850-1890 Runkle's Corner Farm in Mt. Airy built.

1854 the portion of Ringoes which lay in West Amwell south of Old York Road and west of the road from Rocktown to Ringoes Station was annexed to East Amwell.

c. 1854 building of a railroad between Lambertville and Flemington.

1861 - 1865 the Civil War.

1863 (August 8) - a special Township meeting at The Public House of John Stevenson, Mount Airy, recommended raising a bounty for each volunteers for military service.

1863 (December) it was voted to levy a Poll Tax of $2 a man to make up a bounty of $400 for each military volunteer.

1864 the quota of men from the Township was 22, while 120 men were subject to the draft.

1874 the second Second English Presbyterian Church of Amwell built.

1876 Jim Fackenthal grist mill opened for business. A dam on the Alfred Runkle farm Fackenthal supplied the water for the mill.

1876 (September 1) a small item in The Beacon mentioned that many people were visiting The Observatory on Goat Hill.

1876 in Mt. Airy, the one-story frame Mathews House built. It was used as a township school until 1954.

1877 Agricultural Fair opened on the present James Lambert farm.


Henrietta Van Syckle and Emily Abbott Nordfeldt. West Amwell Township History.