I S T O R Y
of Sussex COUNTY, NJ
and HISTORIC PLACES
History of Sussex
County, NJ | Sussex Co. Migration | History
of Sussex County NJ
529 sq. mile | Population: 130,943 | County
by: New York State, Delaware River, Warren, Morris and Passaic
County is situated at the extreme top of New Jersey and has
always been off the beaten path due to it's rural nature.
In addition, the rugged Kittatinny Mountains cut across its
entire northwestern edge and the heavily-wooded New Jersey
Highlands rise upward from the Kittatinny Valley in the eastern
part of the county.
hilly aspect is what keeps Sussex rural. For one thing, the
rock-strewn hills make usual farming difficult - thus explaining
dairy cattle. For another thing, pockets in the slopes have
led to lakes, both natural and man-made which encourage vacationing
rather than permanent settlement. Finally, the county has
thousands acres being used in State parks.
highest point, 1,803 feet above sea level, is at High Point
near the New York border. The Kittatinny Mountains average
1,600 feet above sea level. The Sussex Highlands range upwards
to 1,496 feet above sea level near Vernon. All of this lake
land and mountain land makes for fine scenery. Many observers
agree that New Jersey's scenic best is in Sussex County.
was neither cows nor scenery that brought the first Europeans
to Sussex. They were Dutchmen from what is now Kingston, New
York, who found copper on the rocky mountain slope just north
of the Delaware Water Gap, sometime in the 1640's. As they
took the ore back along the mountains, they developed a 140-mile
thoroughfare linking the Pahaquarry copper mine with Esopus
(Kingston, New York).
Irish, and Scotch immigrants came overland soon after 1700
to the Kittatinny slopes, which they called the "Blue"
mountains. Germans came up from Philadelphia in the 1740's,
led by John Peter Bernhardt, and Caspar Shafer, and settled
along the Tockhokkonetkong River, now called by the more easily
pronounceable name of Paulins Kill.
600 people lived in the whole Sussex region in 1750 when settlers
began to grumble about going all the way to Morristown for
court business. There were no towns, no major plantations,
and little economic value in the vast area when the colonial
legislature created Sussex County on June 8, 1753.
of the new county met on November 20, 1753, to grant tavern
licenses and to fix fees for liquor and provender. This reflected
a major interest of the day, since for many decades the tavern
keeper was an important man in Sussex county economic and
spring of 1754, county fathers levied taxes of 100 pounds
annually; most of it to pay bounties for the killing of wolves
and panthers. The rest went to build a log jail so flimsy
the sheriff complained he couldn't keep the prisoners in.
The prisoners, in turn. said they wouldn't stay in the jail
if the sheriff couldn't keep the sheep out.
courts returned temporarily to Morristown in 1757, driven
there by savage Indian uprisings along the Delaware valley.
Long bitter over the loss of their territory, the Indians
struck back at white settlers in 1755. Colonial officials
appropriated 10,000 pounds in December of that year to build
stone forts along the river.
of the killings by Indians took place near Swartswood Lake,
where in May 1756, Anthony Swartwout, his wife and a daughter
were slain by the savages, and two younger children became
the Indians were persuaded to relinquish their territorial
claims peacefully, but another conflict already was raging
in the not-so-peaceful Sussex hills. That was the New York-New
Jersey border conflict which involved many beatings and shootings
in the 50 years after it first broke out in 1719. Bi-state
action fixed the border at its present line in 1769.
New Town (now Newton) come to prominence through the actions
of Jonathan Hampton, an Essex county man of some influence
in Trenton. The Legislature authorized the county to build
a courthouse and jail a half mile from Henry Hairlocker's
house. When the survey was made, it was found that the half
mile point would have put the courthouse in the middle of
a stream. With this in mind, the "half mile" was
stretched and the courthouse situated halfway up the hill.
eve of the Revolution, in 1775, the freeholders boldly announced
that Sussex County would no longer pay the salaries of Royal
judges. The war itself passed Sussex by except for supplies
which came from both the fields and forges of the northern
county. The county also contributed Bonnell Moody, a well-known
Loyalist spy who hid out in a cave near Springdale.
1780, Moody led six men into Newton to free the prisoners
in the jail. Tradition holds that Moody's foray frightened
all the local people out of town and history indicates that
Moody was never caught.
of the county suffered considerable during the war due to
high assessments levied to pay for the war. Toward the end
of the war and shortly thereafter their was an influx of big
landholders. Robert Ogden was Sparta's first permanent settler
in 1778, the Ogden family working the mines in the Sparta
Mountains. Other families that started great estates—Lewis
Morris, Thomas Lawrence, John Rutherford, and others.
of turnpike between 1804 and 1815
1820 county population was 32,754 making it the most populated
in the state (Sussex at this time included what is now Warren
1824 Warren county is split from Sussex
1830 county population was 20,346
1833, William Rankin founded the private school at Deckertown
1833, Edward Stiles opened a school at Mt. Retirement
1853, a town meeting in Newton rejected the idea of raising
money for free schools
Jersey Almanac, Tercentenary Edition. Published by the New
Jersey Almanac, Inc. 1963. Pages 529 & 530.
New Jersey from High Point to Cape May. Cunningham, John T.;
New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1953. pp11-18
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 22:54:30 -0500 (EST) From: Catherine
Sussex County Migration
Sussex County Researchers,
group were Dutch from Long Island/New Amsterdam through Ulster,
Dutchess then down through Orange County, NY to Sussex, NJ.
There was a group of Loyalists and non-conformists who moved
away from the contested east New Jersey - Elizabethtown, Hackensack
(New Barbadoes) and the Essex county area in the 1770's. Another
group of settlers lived in Morris County but maintained iron
mills (and saw mills and grain mills) in Sussex County as it
was an important source of iron ore in the state. Some of these
families like KINNEY, CARD and MARTIN eventually stayed in Sussex.
There was a group of Quakers up from Philadelphia, part of William
Penn's group and also some Moravians up from Hope, NJ. I've
also noticed second and third sons of Somerset and Gloucester
counties in NJ moving northward to Sussex to farm and open merchant
shops in the later 1700's. Not to be discounted is a large group
of Scots who were promised land in NY state until the Governor
went back on the deal. A large group of these CAMPBELLs, McCOY,
McCALLUM simply moved to the rich farmland of Sussex instead.
A real melting pot indeed.
in Sussex, do not discount Orange County, NY or Pike County
in PA as the early settlers rarely regarded state boundaries
before marrying or crossing borders to have children. This combined
region is called the Minisink.
of migration include the Polish, Slavic and Scandinavian workers
who traveled up the railroad from Paterson, NJ newly off the
boat in NYC, to work in the tin and zinc mines in Franklin and
Ogdenburg in the later 1800's.
a large Loyalist migration out of Sussex in the 1780's, mostly
followers of James Moody and some preachers moved whole congregations
(especially in the Vernon area) northward to Quebec. Other migrations
out of Sussex County seem to start in the early 1800's and the
settlers usually cross PA to settle in Ohio and states westward.
names which remain prevalent in Sussex County to this day (right
out of the phone book) include DUNN, DECKER, CLARK, LITTEL,
WHITE, VAN ORDEN, SNOOK, MILLER, McCARTHY, McKENNA, MARTIN,
LOSEY, GREEN, GARRIS, CARD and VANDERHOFF.
History of Sussex Co NJ
GREAT histories for Andover Twp, Byrum Twp, Frankford
Twp, Green Twp, Hampton Twp, Hardyston Twp, Lafayette Twp, Montague,
Twp, Sandyston Twp, Sparta Twp, Stillwater Twp, Vernon Twp, Walpack
Twp, and Wantage Twp (PDF files) - from Ray's Place; source:
The Historical Directory of Sussex County NJ
Township History | 2nd
History from Ray's Place
community was named for Andover Mine, a tract of land once
owned by the heirs of William Penn
and Waterloo are locations in Byram Twp.
Township (township) | 2nd
History from Rays Place
Branchville, Papakating or Pellettown, and Wykertown, are
the post villages of Frankford Twp.
Huntsville, Hunts Mills Canada Town, and Tranquility are
all locations that exist, or used to exist in Green Twp.
from portions of Newton Township on March 10, 1864, Hampton
Township is named for Jonathan Hampton, who donated land
to the Episcopal Church of Newton, New Jersey. Robert Hamilton,
a New Jersey state legislator and an Episcopalian, apparently
held great respect for Hampton's act, and gave the township
only villages in Hampton are Balesville and Washingtonville,
about a mile apart in the northern portion.
Township was set off of Newton Township by royal patent
in 1762. Hardyston is the American spelling of the British
Hardiston, which was changed after the American Revolutionary
War. It includes named places of Stockholm, Beaver Run,
Beaver Mountain (not shown on maps), North Church, Big Springs,
Holland (or Holland Mountain), Hardistonville, Rudeville,
and Monroe. The Boroughs of Franklin and Hamburg were annexed
from the township.
community was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, who fought
with the colonists during the Revolution
(town) take the tour! | Historic
Town of Newton
borough was initially part of Sparta Township, but was separated
from it in 1914 when the borough was incorporated. Ogdensburg
is named after its first settler, Robert Ogden.
Mohawk - a census-designated place and unincorporated area
located in parts of both Byram Township and Sparta Township.
was organized as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature
on February 13, 1845, and the township was named after the
existing community of Sparta, which had been settled and named
years before, the name likely coming from Sparta, Greece.
Ogdensburg Borough was incorporated in 1914 when it separated
from Sparta Township.
Township (township) - Skyland's
Guide to Stillwater NJ
independent township of Vernon was established on April
8, 1793, from portions of Hardyston Township, and the township
was formally incorporated on February 21, 1798. Iron
mining in the town of Vernon was prevalent during the mid
to late 1800's. Mines such as the Canistear Mine, Williams
Mine, and the Pochuk Mine created industry which spawned
local businesses, and brought rail travel to the town. It
is not known how Vernon Township got its name
the formation of Sussex County in 1753, townships named
Walpack existed in Hunterdon County and Morris County (both
are now defunct). Created at a Court of General Sessions
held in Hardwick Township on May 30, 1754, the current Walpack
Township is named from a corruption of the Lenape Native
American word "wahlpeck," which means "turn-hole,"
or an eddy or whirlpool. This word is a compound of two
Native American words, "woa-lac" (a hole), and
"tuppeck" (a pool)
of Knight Farm, Old Mine Road, Smith Ferry, Wantage
NJ - American Memory
Register of Historic Places:
Sussex Co., New Jersey
County Historical Societies, History Museums & Libraries