From Whipponong to Florham Park

Dated: 06/27/2012

Views: 1430

The Lenni Lenape Indians inhabited New Jersey for thousands of years before the Dutch and English established trading settlements.  In 1664, King Charles II gave his brother James, the Duke of York authority to create governments and laws in New Jersey. The Duke saw it fitting to divide what is now New Jersey into East and West Jersey delegating authority to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. Each governor granted municipal charters in the name of the King.

All of Morris County was part of what the Lenape called "Whipponong", meaning place of the willow tree. Whippano was first settled in 1685, then changed their name to Whippeny, then Whippany, and was part of Western New Jersey's Burlington County. East and West Jersey merged in 1702 to form the royal colony of New Jersey and the method of incorporation morphed from legislative grant to royal charter. In 1714, Burlington County was divided to establish Hunterdon County, which encompasses what are now Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties.

Whippany Township was renamed Hanover Township in 1720, honoring King George I. During 1720, Whippany was divided; the areas north of the Rockaway River became Pequannock Township, areas south remained Hanover Township.  Morris County was established in honor of Lewis Morris, Royal Governor of New Jersey in 1738. At that time, it covered what would eventually become Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties. Later, in 1740 Morris County was divided into three sections:   New Hanover (Hanover Township), Morris Township and Roxbury Township.  

South Hanover created in 1747 contained the area that would eventually become Florham Park. After the Revolution the New Jersey Township Act of 1798, the formation of new municipalities was subject to approval by State Legislature and the Governor.   John Day's Bridge was a village governed by Morris Township until seceded and incorporated as Chatham Township during the reorganization of Morris County in 1806.  Chatham Township then included the lands now known as Madison - first settled as Bottle Hill, Chatham, Florham Park, Green Village and parts of Harding.

 In the late seventeenth century, English and Dutch immigrants began to settle in Florham Park. The area was known for its prime farmland and the manufacturing of brooms. Through the years, this area was referred to as Hoppington, Columbia, Afton, and now Florham Park.

 Chatham Township became a coveted area   for industrialist to build their country estates. Two notable family names are Twombly and Ward. Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, her husband, financier, Hamilton McKown Twombly, had a rolling estate of 1,200 acres, which they aptly named after themselves. They combined the letters from their first names, Florence and Hamilton and Florham was born. Dr. Leslie Ward, one of the founders of Prudential, owned another large thousand-acre estate Brooklake Park.

Ward and Twombly were very active in civic affairs, often donating their time and money to improve the community. They both were benefactors to the volunteer fire department. In 1899,   upon succession from Chatham Township the town council thought it proper to honor Florence and Hamilton Twombly and Dr. Ward, by naming the newly formed Borough Florham Park. Until this day, Florham Park prides itself on being "A Community of Volunteers".

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