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Manalapan Township


Manalapan Town Hall is located at 120 Route 522, Manalapan, NJ 07726; phone: 732-446-3200.

Beginnings [1]

The Lenni Lenape Indians were the earliest residents in Manalapan Township. The name Manalapan, in the Lenape language, means either "land which produces good bread" or "covered swamp with edible roots."

The Lenape Indians maintained a network of trails throughout central Jersey, two of which may have passed through Manalapan Township. The main Indian trail, the Navesink Trail, later called the Burlington Trail by Europeans roughly followed Route 537 and connected oyster beds in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers with permanent settlements in Burlington County. The second trail, approximated by Route 9, extended from the mouth of the Raritan River to Cape May. In addition to the plentiful source of oysters and clams along the coast the Lenape Indians practiced a method of agriculture called "slash and burn". The Lenape planted maize (corn), as well as popcorn, lima beans, squash, pumpkins, bottle gourd, jerusalem artichokes, and sunflowers.

The Raritan River basin, which includes Manalapan, was settled by Scottish immigrants in the mid 1660's. After George Carteret, the proprietor of the Province of East Jersey, died in 1680, the Province was sold to a group of Quakers. The group consisted of a number of Scots which vigorously encouraged immigration from Scotland. In 1683, they established Perth Amboy as the major port of entry.

Englishtown and Millhurst were the earliest sites of European settlement. Both settlements developed around mill sites which provided the milling of grain into flour, an essential service to the farmers of Manalapan. The mill at Englishtown was originally called "Sharp's Mill," and the mill at Millhurst was known as "Craig's Mill." Manalapan's most notable landmark has been the Tennent Church or the "Presbyterian Church of the Town of Freehold." After the formation of the congregation in the 1660's, its first meeting house was constructed at the Old Scots Burying Ground, on Gordon's Corner Road near Wyncrest Road in Marlboro.

During the early 1700's the congregation built a new meeting house on White Hill, the location of the present church today. A tavern known as the Bear Tavern, was operated by Caroline Gordon from her house in Gordons Corner in 1828.

During the American Revolution, Manalapan was the site of a major battle between a large British supply caravan and the Continental Army. Although the outcome of the battle was inconclusive, it was one of the first encounters between the British and Continental forces which did not result in a British victory.

Prior to 1848, Manalapan Township had been part of Freehold Township, with Englishtown the major village center for Manalapan.

The first Englishtown school was established in 1817, and was held in the Old Tavern House, presently the Hulse Funeral Home. It was later moved to "No Chance" at the end of Water Street. Manalapan grew around a hotel, which was called Hannah Claytons Inn in 1844. It was located in Manalapan Village at the end of Smithburg-Manalapan Road, where it crosses Route 33. In 1856, the Manalapan Presbyterian Church was organized. John Hunt opened a store in 1860 and a blacksmith shop was opened by 1873. These were followed by the opening of a Post Office in 1880.

  1. Manalapan Township Planning Board, Township of Manalapan, NJ, Master Plan, 1991, www.mtnj.org, accessed February, 2013.
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