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A Brief History of Millburn Township

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Member, Millburn Township
Tercentenary Committee
April 27, 1964
This Web version, copyright 2004
Millburn Township was established by separating from Springfield on March 20, 1857, but its roots go back through Springfield to Elizabeth and Newark, which in their turn, grew out of the grant of Charles II of England in 1664, so that Millburn through these ties may claim a 300 year ancestry. Millburn's recorded history begins early in the 18th century when permanent settlers built homes here. Today on White Oak Ridge Road north of Parsonage Hill Road some of their houses may still be seen.

Here before the colonists came, the wolf-totem Indians, the Lenapes of the Minsi family, had beaten their paths on their way down from the north to salt water. Some streets today are laid over these old extensions of the Minisink Trail.

From early descriptions this land was a beautiful, wild place, with forests, deep ponds, full running brooks, and the Rahway River, a bountiful stream. These waterways were strong enough to furnish power for many mills which were eventually built along them. The contours of the land caused the name the "short" hills to be descriptively applied at an early time. Much of Millburn Township, including the traprock mountain on its eastern boundary, was shaped in primeval upheavals. Geologists today may still find here deposits of terminal moraine and evidences of the glacier and glacial lakes.

War, invasion, and victory were experienced. The battle of Springfield on June 23, 1780, marked the last desperate thrust of the British Army into New Jersey. Somewhere near the present Millburn Town Hall the Americans stood fast and a wing of Baron General vonKnyphausen's troops was forced back never to return. Many Revolutionary soldiers are buried in the two old Springfield cemeteries. Nicholas and Thomas Parsil, war casualties, lie in their family cemetery at the northeast corner of White Oak Ridge and Parsonage Hill Roads.

In a greenhouse of the firm, center back: Arthur T. Caparn (1867 - 1954) later owner of a nursery in Short Hills. His older brother, Harold A. Caparn (1864 - 1945), from 1912 to his death was the landscape architect of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. His father, Thomas J. Caparn (1834 - 1925) was a horticulturist and painter in watercolor and oils. Arthur T. Caparn's son, Arthur L. Caparn, was a clerk in the Post Office in Millburn for a number of years.

I don't know the names of the others in the photo, but would be interested if someone else could provide that. The members of the horticultural community in Short Hills - Millburn surely knew each other and did business with each other.

Oliver Chamberlain

This photo taken circa 1895.
Inscription on the box: From PITCHER & MANDA Nurserymen Seedsmen & Florists United States Nurseries Short Hills NJ.


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