1683: On August 22, 1683, Samuel Groome, one of the proprietors of the East Jersey Company wrote that he planned to negotiate the sale of land to European settlers (including the land where South River now exists) with the Leni-Lenape.
1720: Samuel Willett arrives in the area and settles in an area known then as South River Landing. Eventually the area is called Willettstown possibly after Sir Thomas Willett, first English speaking Mayor of New York City, but most likely after local landowner Samuel Willett.
1735: Willettstown became part of the route between Philadelphia and New York City. The trip, which took a week to accomplish, was made by sloops, schooner and stagecoach with the stagecoach line between Hightstown and Willettstown a major link. From Willettstown passengers could take a boat to New York City.
1784: On the suggestion of Abraham Barkelew, a community pioneer, the name of the settlement was changed to Washington but the area remained part of East Brunswick Township. Over the years the settlement has been referred to as Washington Village, Washington Woods, and Little Washington.
1785: A small Baptist congregation gathers in the village and purchase land to construct a church. Begun with the land purchase in 1799, the church is completed in 1805.
1819: Thomas Booraem becomes the first resident to install a wood stove in his home at 25 Reid Street. His neighbors watch the home for days, fearing the stove will catch the home on fire.
1820: Samuel Whitehead purchases land to begin an orchard and the village soon becomes known as a popular port for shipment of fruit.
1831: The first medical doctor, Dr. Benjamin Tomlinson, comes to the village.
1856: On December 6th the Monumental Cemetery Association is formed.
1850-1860: Jonathan Booraem and Sons opens. This ship bilding firm builds sloops and schooners. The firm was still in existence in the early part of the 20th century. Pottery and brick industries started up witin the same time frame.
1861: Jacob Levinson opens the first dry goods store at 21 Main Street.
1865: The first waves of German immigrants begin to move into the village. They are followed by Hungarians in 1884, Polish in 1888, Italians in 1889 and Russians in 1896. Portuguese and Spanish immigrants joined the village during the 20th century.
1870: After decades as part of East Brunswick Township, the village of Washington broke away and incorporated. The village's name was officially changed to South River and the Board of Commissioners held its first meeting at the East Brunswick Hotel.
1870-1890: During its first 19 years the Board of Commissioners adopted 19 ordinances. Ordinance 4 made it an "arrestable offense to beat a stick against a building, fence or any other thing that would create a disturbing noise." The penalty was a $5 fine or five days in jail.
1888: A blizzard on March 12th dumped 20 inches of snow and left 15 foot snow drifts isolates the town for one week.
1889: On the 3rd of July the first passenger train on the South River-South Amboy line begins service. It leaves at 7:J30 a.m. and returns at 5:53 p.m. The first delay took place on July 5, 1890 when the train was five minutes late. Passenger service on the line ended on April 16, 1939.
Late 1800's: The Herman Aukumn Company opened. This large handkerchief manufacturer employed several hundred workers. The factory closed in 1918 when two men were killed during a strike. The buildings that housed the factory were destroyed by fire in 1969.
1890: On December 10th the Middlesex Conty Driving Club incorporates in South River. There were 4,000 grandstand seats with space for thousands more in general viewing areas.
1891: The first issue of the "Washingtonian," the borough's first newspaper is printed by Rev. William G. Moyer, pastor of Concklin Methodist Church. It folds in October of 1892. A second paper, "South River Review," began publishing on August 18, 1905 and folded in October of 1906. A third, and final newspaper, "South Shore American," began publication in 1907 and printed its final edition in November 1911.
1892: The borough's first femal doctor, Dr. Sarah E. Selover, started her practice. Later she became the first woman to drive an automobile in the borough.
1896: The first automobile was driven through South River. The driver was forced to stop at the Washington Hotel to repair a leaking radiator.
1897: South River is incorporated as a borough with James Bissett, a Democrat, as its first Mayor.
1905: The first nickelodeon opened in the Armstrong Building at the corner of main and Obert streets and Spitaleri Furniture opened on Ferry Street.
1917-1918: An influenza epidemic struck the borough in 1917. The Lunepp Lace & Embroidery Co. was used as a hospital during the epidemics. Although it isn't known how many died, a common grave pit in Monumental Cemetery was used in 1917. In 1918 beer wagons were used to transport bodies because of a shortage of hearses.
1923: The First Free Public Library moved into the Old School Baptist Church on January 12th. In 1995, the borough restored the building which now houses the historical society.
1995: The borough celebrated its 275th anniversary.