History of Hackettstown, NJ
From History of Warren County, NJ
By George Wyckoff Cummins, Ph. D., M. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company 1911


Hackettstown is one of the few towns in the United States that has no duplicate in name. Before its incorporation in 1853 it formed a part of Independence. It is delightfully situated in the Musconetcong valley, and is nearly surrounded by Schooley's Mountain on the one side, and on the other a range of which Buck's Hill forms a part. It is skirted on its northwestern border by the Morris canal, and on its southeastern border by the Musconetcong, whose excellent water power determined the location of a town at this point. The main line of the D. L. & W. railroad passes through the valley, and trolley connection both east and west is expected in the near future.

Hackettstown is named from Samuel Hackett, the earliest and largest landowner of this region, who is said to have contributed liberally to the liquid refreshments on the christening of a new hotel, in order to secure the name which, before this, had been Helms' Mills, or Musconetcong. The name is Halketstown on a map of 1769. On the same map is the name Helms, placed two miles further up the Musconetcong. This is the name of a family that came from County Tyrone, Ireland, whose head was Thomas Helms, father of General Helms, of the Revolutionary army, and grandfather of Major Thomas Helms, of the War of 1812. The Helms' mill on the Musconetcong was on the site Youngblood's mill, and was the first mill in this vicinity, being built before 1764.

Other early settlers were named Hazen, London and Ayers. Obadiah Ayers was one of three brothers who came to this country from Aberdeen, Scotland, and whose descendants are numerous in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Obadiah Ayers gave the land for the old Presbyterian Church and burying ground in 1764, and years later the first Methodist sermon delivered in this vicinity was preached in his house. The Ayers family operated mills at this place or at White Hall, a mile away, for more than a century. Peter Caskey operated a fulling mill here in 1778.

Other families in or near Hackettstown before the Revolution were named Thompson, Fleming, Little, Osmun, Sharpe, Groff, Cummins, Swayze, Todd, Day, Davis, Bell, Groff and MacLean, nearly all of whom have representatives living in Warren county today.

Silas Leonard was an innkeeper in Hackettstown in 1791, when a sheriff's sale of all that was left of Samuel R. Hackett's real estate, amounting to 686 acres, was held at his house.

Hackettstown is the station for the famous Schooley's Mountain Springs, which was for half a century the most fashionable watering place in America. Here the wealth and fashion of New York and Philadelphia were attracted every summer by the healthful mountain air, the mineral waters, and the comparative ease of access. The mountain is named in honor of Thomas Schooley, one of four brothers who came to New Jersey from Yorkshire, England. He is the ancestor of all of the name that early came to Warren county or vicinity.

Hackettstown is fortunate in owning its water supply. In 1853 the Hackettstown Aqueduct Company was incorporated, and for nearly twenty years supplied the citizens with water. In 1870 the company conveyed all its property to the town for $21,000, and a new reservoir on Schooley's Mountain was added to the one on Malvern Hill. Since then a third reservoir has been constructed, giving an abundant supply of water. The income from the water supply will have wiped out all of the town's indebtedness by 1912, and thereafter the net income from the water supply will be sufficient to meet all the expenses of municipal government.

The Cataract Hose Company is a volunteer fire department that was organized in 1877. It has done, excellent work in the several important fires that have visited the place.

For more than 140 years there has been a hotel on the site of the Warren House. The first one was doubtless built of logs. A frame structure succeeded this and was rebuilt in 1840, since which time it has been known by its present name. The American House was kept by Jacob Sharpe as early as 1823. The present proprietors are McCracken & Guerin, whose catering attracts many automobile parties. The Hotel Clarendon was built about thirty-five years ago. Its present proprietor is A. B. Mathias.

Beginning in 1815 with Jacob Day's factory, the carriage industry was for many years one of the most important in the county. Now relatively few carriages are made here by Ed. Hayward & Son.

A blast furnace was erected in the seventies, but was never operated successfully, and was finally bought by Joseph Wharton. It has not been in blast for thirty years. A car wheel works was another unsuccessful venture of the Hackettstown Land Improvement Company.

The present manufacturing enterprises are the Lackawanna Leather Company, the American Saw Mill Machinery Company, the Torrid Steam Heating Works, the W. H. Ashley Silk Company, the Ellor & Company hat factory, and the Brown underwear factory. These are all prosperous, and give employment to hundreds of hands.

The Hackettstown National Bank was organized in 1855 with a capital of $100,000, which was increased to $150,000 in 1856. Its president is Seymour R. Smith, and its cashier is Henry W. Whipple. The People's National Bank was organized six years ago with R. A. Cole as president, and M. T. Welsh as cashier, both of whom were connected with the Hackettstown National Bank for many years.

The earliest physician known to have located at Hackettstown was Dr. Stockton, who arrived before 1790. Drs. Fowler and Hoagland soon followed, and later came Drs. Hampton, Beach, Stewart and Rca. Dr. Silas Cook practiced here from 1828 until 1841 and frrom 1857 until 1873, and two of his sons, Lewis and John S., also were in active practice here for more than a third of a century. Other physicians who have been identified with this place are Drs. Blackwell, Crane, Dairymple, Van Syckle, Martin, Osmun, Woodruff, Miller, Cline and Miss Allen. The last six are still in active practice.

The early schools of Hackettstown were private, and the price per pupil . of five dollars a quarter was such as to exclude the poorer children from their advantages. The present commodious brick school building was erected in 1874, at a cost of $39,000. The Centenary Collegiate Institute, or, as it is familiarly known, the Seminary, was erected by the Newark M. E. Conference, at a cost of $200,000, in the years between 1869 and 1874. Rev.. George H. Whitney, D. D., waselected its president, andservedfrom 1869 until 1895. Adisastrous fire October 31, 1899, destroyed the entire property, but inside of two years the conference was able, in 1901, to rebuilt it at a cost of $300,000. Until 1910 it was a college preparatory school for both sexes, but now it is a school for girls only. Rev. Jonathan M. Meeker, Ph. D., D. D., is its efficient president. A farm has been added to the property, through which runs a stream that adds much to its beauty and usefulness.

The First Presbyterian Church of Independence was built at Hackettstown in I 764, but for several years before that date services had been held ma log meeting house. The early preaching was by supplies from the New Brunswick Presbytery. In 1786 a call was made to Rev. Peter Wilson, who also preached in the church at 1\4ansfield Woodhouse, now Washington. Obadiah Ayers in 1764 presented the ground on which the church was built, and again in 1792, for a nominal consideration, gave the burying ground, the stone wall Surrounding which was built in 1812. The frame church was torn down in 1819 and a new building was erected the same year. Dr. Campbell acted aspastor for this congregation from 1809 until 1838. He delivered forceful sermons, which were afterwards published. He was succeeded by Revs. Dr. Schenck, John H. Townley, Dr. Wilson, F. R. Harbaugh, G. C. Bush, Thomas McCauley, Alexander Proudfit, John Lowrey, J. C. Chapman and the present pastor, Rev. Dr. Martyn.

The present Presbyterian Church edifice was begun in 1860 and dedicated in 1861. The fiftieth anniversary of its dedication was celebrated in May, 1911. In 1906-7 the building was remodelled, redecorated and refurnished, and a new heating plant and a new organ installed at a total cost of $19,000.

The Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church of Hackettstown was organized in 1832. A church was erected in 1833, in which "circuit riders" preached until 1849, when Hackettstown was made a separate charge. A new edifice was erected in 1858, which was replaced with the present handsome structure, one of the finest in the county.

St. James Episcopal Church erected its present edifice in 1859. The church prospered when Schooley's Mountain was the noted summer resort of fifty years ago. In 1887 it was sold to Sheriff Van Campen, and for ten years was an amusement hall. In 1897 Rev. W. M. Mitcham came here, and in three years bought back the church property. The church has now eighty-six enrolled communicants.

St. Mary's Church was erected in 1864, by Rev. Edward McCosker. Rev. William H. Orem served the parish from 1872 to J889, since which time it has been mission of St. Joseph's, at Washington.

The first burying ground was the old Presbyterian Churchyard, in which interments were made in 1770. The plot of ground presented by Obadiah Ayers in 1792 was used as a union cemetery until 1860, when the new Union Cemetery was bought across the Musconetcong. It has a fine entrance and is well kept. There is also a fund for the perpetual care of the old burying ground in the hands of the treasurer of the Presbyterian Church.

"Sully Grove is a beautiful sylvan retreat along the Musconetcong river, just out of the borough limits, and is owned by the town and maintained as a recreation park open to all. This pleasure park was named in honor of Mr. Alfred Sully, whose summer home is on the crest of the mountain overlooking the town. It was his generosity that made public ownership possible."

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