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North Brunswick has ‘rich, wonderful’ history

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Although the 250th anniversary of the founding of North Brunswick is eight years away, current township officials are discussing ways to begin the celebration.

According to information provided by Councilwoman Amanda Guadagnino during the Feb. 16 Township Council meeting, the Native Americans who lived in the New York area were pushed to New Jersey when the Dutch settled in the Colonies.

The Lenape tribes settled in Middlesex County.

Then, as the Dutch moved into New Jersey, they pushed the Native Americans west to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The first known permanent settlement in the area that would eventually become North Brunswick was recorded in 1761.

North Brunswick was initially recognized as a municipality by Middlesex County on Feb. 28, 1779, marking its founding date.

In 1784, North Brunswick had a population of 1,400, compared to today’s 45,000 residents, Guadagnino said.

At the time, there were 19 shops, including eight taverns, three grist (flour) mills, one sawmill and one brewery. There was also a coal mine, a quarry and the Parsons snuff mill. All of the mills were powered by water power from Farrington Lake, she said.

The National Musical String Company was located in town as well.

The primary road in North Brunswick at the time was Route 27, which traveled from Woodbridge to Trenton as it does today; and most trade was done on that route, Guadagnino said.

Livingston Avenue, which is named for William Livingston, New Jersey’s first governor, was called the Trenton and New Brunswick Turnpike (Route 26) and was a toll road: one cent per horse and a half-cent per rider. The turnpike generated $2,500 in revenue per year, Guadagnino said.

Gen. George Washington and his troops traveled through North Brunswick as they moved from Trenton and Princeton to the ports in Woodbridge and Perth Amboy.

President Abraham Lincoln traveled the New Brunswick Turnpike and it was the route of his funeral train toward New York after his assassination in 1865.

Berdines Corner was the first developed residential area in the township, with roads and trolley lines connecting to New Brunswick and Milltown.

The first schoolhouse was reported in the 1800s, “for those who could afford it,” Guadagnino said.

When the first formal school system was established in 1859, there were 24 female teachers who each made $268 per year, and 10 male teachers who each made $512 per year.

In 1860, North Brunswick was much larger than its current 8,256 acres; New Brunswick, East Brunswick and Milltown each broke off and took some portions of land, Guadagnino said.

In 1922, a formal police department was established, followed by a firehouse in 1925 and the first aid squad in 1955.

“We want everyone to know the rich, wonderful history of North Brunswick and just treasure all of the culture that we have had over our lifespan of being North Brunswick,” Guadagnino said.

As the township approaches its 242nd anniversary this year, Guadagnino discussed ways residents can get involved now in preparation for Founders Day in 2029.

“We want the entire community involved as we celebrate North Brunswick,” Guadagnino initially said during the Township Council meeting on Feb. 1.

This year, the township will offer three activities to begin celebrating North Brunswick’s history and culture.

First, residents can create and design a township logo that will be used on marketing items, paperwork, social media, etc.

Residents may submit photographs, either amateur or professional, for a collage that will be displayed in the lobby of the municipal building on Hermann Road. The pictures should capture something special or significant about town.

Students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade may submit artwork about what North Brunswick means to them. Those pieces will also be displayed at 710 Hermann Road.

“We will see what they think of North Brunswick and what a great town we live in,” Guadagnino said.

For information about how to submit and participate, visit https://northbrunswicknj.gov/Guide/founders-day/

Guadagnino said a committee will be established for Founders Day and residents are encouraged to get involved.

“We live in such a fantastic town. We live in a diverse town and everyone is different so we want to see everyone’s version of how they feel North Brunswick is and what it means to them,” she said.

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