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


Washington Borough was organized in 1868 from the central and most populous part of the township of the same name. It is the most recent of the, incorporated towns of Warren County, and the most recently settled of all the large towns. The name is taken from the "Washington House," which was a brick tavern built by Col. William McCullough, in 1811. One tavern preceded this, and was owned by Samuel Carhart.

Col. William McCullough has the distinction of being considered the founder of both Asbury and Washington. He was a large owner of land in the valley between the two places. He was born in 1759, and lived at Hall's Mill, later Asbury, until 1811, when he moved to Mansfield. Of his family, William McCullough married Sarah, daughter of Lawrence Lomerson; one of his daughters married William Van Antwerp, another Major Henry Hankinson, whose farm comprised most of the land in the town north of Washington avenue. Major Hankinson sold his property to Gershom Rushling about 1830, and in 1837 Rusling offered for sale "500 town lots in Washington village."

Col. McCullough died in 1840. On his tombstone we read:
"He was a member of the Legislative Council for a number of years, served upwards of thirty years as one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas in Sussex and Warren Counties." He was a colonel of militia.

The northwestern part of Washington was once the farm of Major Cornelius Carhart, a part of which is in the possession of his descendants to this day. He is the ancestor of all bearing the name in Warren County. He came to this vicinity in 1753 with his cousins, the Warnes, from Monmouth County. In the Continental army he was captain, and later third major in the Third Regiment of Hunterdon County. He was often called Colonel. His sons were: Robert, born 1760; Charles, born 1763; Cornelius, born 1765; Samuel, born 1777; and John, born 1779.

Major Cornelius Carhart was the son of Robert Carhart, and grandson of Thomas Carhart, who married Mary Lord, daughter of Rebecca Phillips Lord, and granddaughter of Major William Phillips, who came to Boston in 1675. A sister of Rebecca Phillips married John Alden, the son of Priscilla and John Alden, made famous in "The Courtship of Miles Standish," by Longfellow.

The southwestern part of Washington was formerly the farm of George Creveling, who settled here in 1812. He was the father of Jacob V. Creveling, born in 1809. Johannes Creveling, born in Holland, in 1706, is the ancestor of all bearing the name in this vicinity. He settled in Bethlehem township, Hunterdpn County, and had eleven children, the sons being William, Henry, Andrew, Johannes, Peter and Jacob. Jacob Creveling settled near Bloomsbury, in Warren County, and there his son George and grandson Jacob V. were born. Dr. William S. Creveling is also a grandson of Jacob.

Washington early went by the name of Mansfield-Wood-House, after the Presbyterian church of that name. This was later contracted to Mansfield, which was the post-office name until after 1851. This was not due to any preference for the name of Mansfield, but to the fact that there was already one Washington in New Jersey.

In business importance Mansfield, or Washington, was overshadowed for more than a century by Oxford, whose furnace was begun in 1741, and by Changewater, where a forge was operated before 1769. Port Colden and Washington were of equal importance until the railway station and junction was established at Washington in 1856. Since then, the growth of the town has been phenomenal, and it ranks as the second in the county.

The Warren railroad crosses the Morris and Essex railroad at Washington. Both of these are now a part of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad, and give excellent railroad accommodations in every direction. The Morris Canal was an important means of communication for fifty years, or until railroad competition practically ruined its freight business.

The trolley line connecting Washington with Phillipsburg was made a success by the energetic efforts of Robert Petty. It is now consolidated with the lines in Easton, Pennsylvania, and the line will shortly be extended to Hackettstown and Waterloo, where a connection will be made with lines reaching the great cities in the east.

The first physician to practice in this vicinity was Margaret (or "Peggy") Warne, who lived at Broadway. She was a sister of General Garrett Vliet, and traveled on horseback with saddle bags, as did all the physicians of the early days. Dr. Hugh Hughes practiced here between 1816 and 1822; Dr. Cole from 1840 until 1881; Dr. Mattison from 1850 until his death, forty years later; Dr. Glen from 1856 until 1880; Dr. Herrick from 1859 until 1883; Dr. William Stites from 1874 until his death in 1900; Dr. Baird (at one time speaker of the Senate of New Jersey) from 1877 until 1888. The physicians at present practicing in Washington are Dr. C. B. Smith, who is also mayor; Dr. C. M. Williams, Dr. F. J. LaRiew, Dr. G. Young, Dr. Bergen, Dr. McKinstry, and Dr. T. S. Dedrick, who was with Commodore Peary on one of his expeditions in search of the North Pole, and had the unique experience of living two years with the Eskimos, adopting from necessity their manner of life in every particular.

The Mansfield-Wood-House Presbyterian Church is one of the three oldest Presbyterian churches in the county, the other two being Greenwich and Oxford. The first settled Presbyterian pastor in the county was John Rosbrugh, who was made pastor of all three churches about 1755, and served till 1768, when he became pastor of the churches in Hunter's Settlement, Pennsylvania, and Craig's Settlement, Pennsylvania. He became chaplain in the Continental army, and was murdered by British troops after the battle of Trenton.

The original Mansfield-Wood-House, or log church, was built about 1741, in the old burying-ground below the present cemetery. A stone church was erected on the same spot after 1765, at which date the log meetinghouse was gone, but it still retained the name until 1822, when it became the Mansfield Presbyterian Church. The present brick church was erected in 1837, and the parsonage added in 1860. In 1877 the name was changed to "The First Presbyterian Church of Washington, New Jersey," by a special act of the legislature. The present pastor is the Rev. Dr. Johnson, following a long line of very able men, ambng whom are the Revs. William B. Sloan, J. R Castner, Dr. C. D. Nott and Dr. E. B. England.

The first Methodist Episcopal services in Washington were held in the parlor of John P. Ribble's hotel, whi.ch had been engaged by Gershom Rusling for that purpose. Later services were held in the school house, but a change of school trustees resulted in locked doors and barred windows when time for services came around. A church was begun in February, 1825, by "a frolick to haul brick" and by gifts of material and labor the edifice was finished in 1826. Gershom Rusling, father of General James F. Rusling, of Trenton, was recording steward and class leader of this church for twenty-five years, and an exhorter for thirty-five years. This was the first church building erected within the' corporate limits of Washington. It was replaced in 1856 by a larger structure, which was further enlarged in 1864 and dedicated in 1865 by 'Bishop Simpson. The present church, than which none in Warren county is more beautiful, was erected in 1895. In 1873 a number of the congregation withdrew to form a new organization at Port Colden. Oscar Jeffrey, Esq.,.has been a member of the official board for forty-six years. The present pastor is Rev. F. L. West.

St. Joseph's Church was built in 1872, by Rev. Patrick E. Smytb at a cost of $10,000, Rev. Henry Ward, who took charge of the parish in 1888, was very active and held services at Schooley's Mountain, Waterloo, Danville, Vienna, Allamuchy and Harker's Hollow. The present pastor is the Rev. John Caulfield.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized before 1860, and a church building erected in 1879-1882. Rev. P. Singleton is pastor.

The Protestant Episcopal Church was organized in 1872 as a mission of the church at Hackettstown, but has never met with the prosperity expected. A chapel was erected on Broad Street in 1886.

The Baptists erected a church here in i886. Rev. S. B. Williams is the present pastor.

The earliest burying ground in the vicinity of Washington was the churchyard of the old Mansfield Woodhouse Presbyterian Church.

Interments were doubtless made here as early as 1744, although no inscriptions can be found as early as this. The Washington Cemetery Association purchased of Simon Youmans in 1870 land for the beautiful new cemetery near the old burying ground, and has added to it by successive purchases. St. Joseph's Cemetery, just outside of the borough limits, was consecrated by Archbishop Carrigan in June, 1880.

The children of early residents of Washington went to school in a log school house near the old Mansfield Woodhouse Church, and later to one on the site of the Pleasant Valley school house. The first school house within the borough limits was built about 1811, on land given by Colonel McCullough, on the site of the Methodist Episcopal chapel. This was used' until 1862, when a new school house was built on the present site, and was rebuilt after a fire in 1874, at a cost of $24,000, and enlarged in 1886 at an additional expense of $4,500.

The old Washington House, from which the town fakes its name, was built by Colonel William McCullough, on the site of the Hotel Windsor, in 1811. It was destroyed by fire in 1869, and rebuilt by Van Doren & Son, under the name of the "Van Doren House." More recently it has been known as the New Windsor, or Hotel Windsor, and is owned by Robert Petty and conducted by A. A. Cable. The St. Cloud was known as the Verandah before 1868, when its name was changed to the Union Hotel. Nicholas Martenis and C. F. Staats were among the predecessors of the present owner, Cyrus Baker. The present Washington House, opposite the railroad station, was opened by James Nolan in 1879, and is now conducted by Harry Knowles.

The First National Bank of Washington was organized November 10, 1864, with James K. Swayze as its president, and Philip H. Hann as cashier. Its successive presidents have been James A. Swayze, Aurelius J. Swayze, Philip H; Hann, Joseph B. Cornish and Johnston Cornish. William Rittenhouse has been its efficient cashier for many years. The Washington National Bank was organized by Robert Petty, its present president. William B. Titman, of Belvidere; was president from its organization until his death, in 1902. William Eilenberger has been its cashier from the first. Its directors at once bought the handsome and valuable business block known as the Matti son or Beatty or Opera House Block, giving it a splendid location that had been occupied for years by the older bank.

Washington possesses an excellent privately owned gravity water supply coming from a reservoir at Roaring Rock, two miles away. The reservoir collects water from a watershed of two square miles, a great part of which is owned by the water company, that uses every effort to protect the purity of its supply. The water system was established in 1881. The good water pressure makes easy the work of the volunteer fire department, which has had several disastrous fires to deal with, mostly connected with the industries of the town, which require a large stock of inflammable material for their successful operation.

Washington built in 1910 a splendid sewer system, at a cost of $6o,ooo, consisting of many miles of pipe, the largest of which is eight inches, leading down to a mile from town, where, on land bought of Michael Meagher, an efficient sewage disposal plant has been constructed.

Industries that have flourished in Washington were the boatyard, a tannery, the wagon factories, a shoe factory, a silk mill, and several piano-back factories. But the industry that has made Washington famous is the manufacture of pianos and organs. The first musical instrument maker in Washington was John A. Smith, who began making melodeons about 1850. Before 1860 Robert Hornbaker began the manufacture of organs here, and this was the beginning of an industry that has made Washington, New Jersey, known to the uttermost parts of the earth. Daniel F. Beatty was the first to employ extensive advertising to this business, and if a disastrous fire had not, crippled him financially he would have reaped a great reward. Alleger, Bowlby, Plotts and others engaged extensively in the business. At present Cornish & Co., who have done a constantly increasing business for the past thirty years, have this field to themselves, and they fill it admirably.

A promising new industry is that of the Washington Casket Company. It is the outgrowth of an enterprise started by J. R Deremer in June, 1909. In 1910 he became associated with P. Frank Haggerty and others, and in all a capital of $40,000 was employed. The whole plant was destroyed by fire in May, 1911. The Washington Silk 'Mill is prosperous under the ownership of Louis Roessel & Co., of 8o Greene Street, New York.

Washington has a very active and energetic Board of Trade, which has rendered invaluable service to the town in locating new industries. Its efficient secretary is Wesley Fleming.

Skalla's Park and Amusement Pavilion has become a familiar part of the life of the town.

Return to [ New Jersey History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]