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


Washington Township was a part of Mansfield Wood House, later called Mansfield, from 1754, when the latter was formed from Greenwich, until 1849, when Washington was erected into a separate township. From the central part of it Washington Borough was organized in 1868.

The D., L. & W. railroad traverses this township from east to west and from north to south, the two lines crossing at Washington. The line from north to south was originally the Warren railroad, and connected with the Central Railroad of New Jersey at Hampton Junction. The Morris Canal and, the trolley line of the Easton and Washington Traction Company pass through the township.

Port Colden is a village that had its beginning at the completion of the Morris Canal in 1831, and was named in honor of Cadwallader D. Colden, president of the Morris Canal and Banking Company. The trolley line from Phillipsburg and the D., L. & W. railroad pass through the place. Plane No. 6, with a fifty-foot lift, is near Port Colden.

Simon Nunn for many years before his recent death conducted a very extensive business as proprietor of a general store on the banks of the canal. Industries that formerly flourished at Port Colden were boat building, the manufacture of bricks, and a distillery operated for many years by John Opdyke. The large building in which George P. Wyckoft spent the last years of his life was originally built as a hotel in 1836, under the name of the Colden House. It was advertised as being on the Great Western Turnpike, and at the point where the stage lines crossed. It was later used as a boarding school. Dr. William Cole was a practicing physician here from 1844 until his death in 1880. For several years the trolley company conducted a pleasure park here when this was the terminus of their line.

A Methodist Episcopal Church was built here about thirty years ago. The present pastor is G. M. W. Fulcomer. An Episcopal Chapel formerly here was abandoned many years ago.

Changewater is the oldest town in this township, and one of the five towns in the county that had a name in 1769, the others being Hackettstown, Phillipsburg, Oxford and Bloomsbury, and all but one of these owe their early importance to' the iron industry. Changewater has an excellent water power on the Musconetcong, which was early used, to operate a forge or furnace for turning pig iron into bar iron. This forge was operated by Colonel Mark Thompson, and later by his son, Robert. The Thompson mansion, built of stone and brick, is now the property of Mr. Jacob Snyder.

A variety of industries have been operated for a time at Changewater, among them a flouring mill, a picture frame factory, a snuff factory, by Bowers Brothers, who were bought out by the Tobacco Trust, and a woolen factory. The old Warren railroad, now a part of the D., L. & W. system, crosses the Musconetcong at this point on its way to Hampton Junction, where it connects with the New Jersey Central.

Changewater is near the siteof an Indian village called Pelouesse, which was on the Musconetcong in 1715, when John Reading, Jr., was surveying there. It was on an Indian path that crossed the Musconetcong, and led to another village in Hunterdon County, called Monsaloquaks.

Along the road from Port Colden to Changewater is a small enclosure, in which are buried Carter and Parks, who were, executed in 1844 for murdering the Castner family at Changewater. Mr. Castner, one of thetwo children who escaped death by being behind a door at the time of the tragedy, is still living.

Jackson Valley is the name of the Pohatcong Valley between Washington and Karrsville. The Oxford tunnel of the D., L. & W. railroad opens at the south end into this valley.

Early settlers here were the Wyckoffs, Vannattas and Wellers. The Vanattas of Jackson Valley are descended from one of the brothers of Jacobus Vanetta, who settled at Foul Rift in 1740, and bought of the heirs of William Penn about 1,700 acres of land, on which he and his brothers settled.

One of the oldest families in New Jersey is descended form Claes Wyckoff, who came from Holland to New Amsterdam in 1636 and settled at Flatbush, Long Island. In 1856 he superintended the farm of Director Stuyvesant. His son, Cornelius Preterse Wyckoff, owned 1,200 acres of land in Hunterdon County, 300 acres of which he gave to his son, Simon, near White House, New Jersey, whose son, John Wyckoff, moved to Jackson Valley in 1771 with his son, Simon, who is the ancester of all the Wyckoff family in Warren County. Jacob Wyckoff, born in 1784, inherited the homestead, as did his son, John K., who was the father of George P. Wyckoff and of Jacob Wyckoff. Another son of Simon was Caleb, born 1774, who was the father of Simon, who settled near Belvidere, and whose son, Caleb, grandson, James, and great-grandson, William, have lived there since. George P. Wyckoff, after his marriage to Tamzen Carhart, in 1859, settled on the farm now owned by his daughter, Mrs. Abram Roseberry, at Port Colden. Here, or in the fine stone mansion adjoining, he lived until his death. His children are: Jacob Wyckoff, father of Mrs. Elmer Petty, Miss Edith Wyckofi, and John Wyckoff; Mrs. Abram Roseberry, of Port Colden, and Mrs. Wesley Fleming, of Washington. Jacob Wyckoff, brother of George P. Wyckoff, lived on the old Wyckoff homestead. in Jackson Valley. His children are William and Elmer E.

At Roaring Rock is situated the reservoir of the Washington WaterCompany, which collects an abundance of water from a watershed of 1,300 acres. In the cascade at Roaring Rock are a number of pot holes produced by the whirling action of water and gravel operating for centuries The pot holes here, as elsewhere, are incorrectly attributed to Indians, but the Indians never made or used them. The roaring rock is in Brass Castle Creek, said to be so named, as is the place, Brass Castle, from the log cabin of the earliest settler, Jacob Brass.

Early settlers here were the Wandlings, Wellers and Johnsons. Jacob Wandling, the first of the name in Warren County, settled at Brass Castle, where he was a blacksmith, and was the father of Jacob, John, Henry, Adam and Catherine. All of his family moved to Pennsylvania, excepting Adam Wandling, who was born in 1769, continued at blacksmithing in a log shop built by his father until he built a stone one in 1817, in which his industry earned him 500 acres of land. The sons of Adam Wandling were John, Jacob, James, Peter, Daniel and Adam. Adam, Jr., was born in 1816, erected a grist mill and saw mill at Brass Castle, and dealt extensively in lumber and grain. He married Elizabeth Lomerson, and was the father of Elizabeth (Wilcox), William Clark, and Mary Catherine (Vough), and by a second wife of Enoch C., Robert C., Lewis J., and Addie C.

Bowers Foundry, on the Pohatcong Creek, near Brass Castle has been the seat of an important industry conducted by one of the oldest families in the township. Jacob. Bowers came from Germany and settled in Warren County. He had several daughters and two sons, Jacob and Christopher. Jacob, Jr., was born in 1770, and settled on a farm at Bridgeville, New Jersey, where he married a sister of the Rev. George Banghart. The children of Jacob, Jr., were Andrew, Jacob, Garner, Michael B., John C., .and two daughters. One of these children, Michael B. Bowers, learned to manage an iron foundry at Sarepta, New Jersey. He married Hannah Quick, and had two sons, Robert Q. and John. For his second wife he married Mary Hornbaker, and had Sering, Mary and George. Michael B. Bowers carried on a foundry and plow manu factory near Brass Castle from 1829 till 1869. He was succeeded by his son, Sering, and he by his cousin, Robert Q. Bowers, Jr., from Hackettstown. Robert Q. Bowers, a son of Michael B., purchased in 1858 the foundry at Hackettstown. His sons are Michael B. and Robert Q., Jr.

The Fitts family of this township is descended from Christopher Fitts, a soldier of the war of 1812, who came from his father's farm on Scott's Mountain to a farm of his own in this valley. His children were Samuel, Jonathan, Jacob, John and Sarah Ann. Of these, John is the father of John W., Enoch G., Joseph, Henry and Jesse C.

Pleasant Valley is a name that clung for many years to the spot now a suburb of Washington, where a water power on the Pohatcong operates a grist miil long known as Mattison's Mill.

George Weller, the proprietor of a numerous family in Warren County, came from Germany and settled in Washington Township about 1750, building the old homestead house in 1769. One of his sons was Peter Weller, born 1761, died and his sons were George born 1788; Samuel, born 1795; Joseph, 1797; Elisha, 1800, and Jesse, born 1084; the latter lived on the original homestead and died there in 1877.

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