AN 1845 CENSUS OF WEST MILFORD TOWNSHIP

D. Stanton Hammond, J.D.

Taken from
"Bulletin of the Passaic County Historical Society
45th Anniversary Issue, 1971"

Sometimes the strangest events occur in historical research. For an instance, the reappearance of an 1845 document concerned the New Jersey State census of that year in our West Milford-Pompton area. Correspondence on mapping work of this writer in the Hunterdon area, unearthed the document after an apparently century-old "burial." No one living today knows how this happened, but local historians rejoice for this addition to our scanty records of this part of presently booming Passaic County.

Census taking was quite usual in Colonial New Jersey—there being 4 state censuses before 1790, one which is the first U.S. census. West Milford Township was set up by New Jersey Law of 1834 (page 113) and so was available for the 1840 U.S. census, and it showed a return of 2,108 inhabitants. It seems strange in the face of population boom all over the United States, West Milford Township maintained an almost perfectly even "keel." The 1905 census showed 2,022 inhabitants when Passaic County of a whole had a 16-fold increase by that time (1905). There must have been a lot of migration from West Milford to help settle the West, etc. in that 65 years. The present trend of migration is reversed now of course, and West Milford is no longer somnolent.

This 1845 document is a rag-stock sheet of 10"x16" dimensions, folded once to an 8"10" size. The hand drawn map occupies the first page and the census listing, pages 2, 3, and 4. The chirography is difficult to decipher, and for that reason the whole listing has been typed. However, no change has been made in any symbol, mark, etc., and the same order and sequence have been followed as appearing in the original script. It is indeed regrettable that photographic reproduction in this case would be unsatisfactory. And it must also be noted too that only familiarity with local names had made some deciphering at all possible. It is admitted that some items as shown are probably questionable as to accuracy.

Also note that in 1845 author Ch. Baldwin called the village "Milford" even though the Townships 1834 set-up was officially named "West Milford," posing an interesting historical question:---

"Whence came the ‘Milford’ name?"

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