History of the Township of Bordentown

An act creating the Township of Bordentown was passed and approved by the New Jersey State Legislature on January 31, 1852.

The governing body consisted of three Committeemen. The first meeting of the Township Committee was held in a shed. When cold weather prevented the use of this location, meetings were held in a private home until 1903 when the first Township Hall was erected on Cemetery Lane.

Prior to January 27, 1931 a written petition was presented to the Township Committee of the Township of Bordentown by land owners in the Township of Chesterfield, with the consent from the Township of Chesterfield, requesting a tract of land under multiple ownership in Chesterfield Township in Chesterfield to be annexed to the Township of Bordentown.

On February 10, 1931 the Township Committee of the Township of Bordentown adopted an ordinance agreeing to annex a parcel of land bounded by Crosswicks Creek, Groveville Road, and Sandhill Road, (Hogback Road), as a part of the Township of Bordentown.

Prior to 1953, the children of Township residents were educated in the Bordentown City School System under a sending district arrangement. In 1953, the Peter Muschal School was built in the Township with the Township assuming responsibility for the education of grades K through 6. In 1965, Bordentown Regional High School was constructed to serve students in grades 9 through 12. Creation of the Bordentown Regional School District was approved by the voters of the Township and the City effective July 1, 1982.

As a result of the 1960 census, it became necessary in 1961 to increase the number of governing body members from three to five and the position of Township Administrator was created to better serve the residents and to more effectively run the day-to-day business of the Township. The present Municipal Building was constructed in 1961 and expanded in 1973 and 1988.

In 1962, the Township constructed and began to operate a sanitary sewage collection and treatment system as a Sewer Utility. During succeeding years, the Township acquired two additional privately owned sewage collection and treatment systems which were expanded to better serve the major residential, commercial and industrial sections of the Township. In 1986, the assets and operations of the sewer system were transferred to the Bordentown Sewerage Authority.

As a result of growth and an increase in population, the Township established a full-time Police Department in 1972. In 1975, the Township Committee and the Board of Education jointly formed the Community Education/Recreation Council. In 1982, the City of Bordentown joined this Council establishing a regional year-round education and recreation program for adults and children administered by full-time CE/R Director.

In a concerted effort to improve the quality of life in the Township and to expand the availability of recreation and leisure facilities, the Township dedicated Northern Community Park in 1980 and Joseph H. Lawrence Park in 1984. Both parks were constructed with State Green Acres matching grants and the cost of each of the parks exceed $1,000,000.00.

In 1999 Township voters approved a referendum ballot question to preserve Open Space including farmland preservation, to preserve natural and scenic resources in our community.

As we approach the future, the Township Committee is committed to provide for planned open space, a wider array of recreational opportunities, and greater stewardship of our environmental resources, which will shape the future history of Bordentown Township.

New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth at Bordentown

The New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown served as the state's co-educational vocational school for African Americans from 1894 to 1955. This was one of the most important secondary schools for African Americans in the northern United States. Commonly referred to as the Bordentown Manual & Training School, this facility also earned the sobriquet 'Tuskegee of the North'.

Originally established in 1886 by Rev. Walter. A. Rice, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it operated as a private institution under the name of "The Ironsides Normal School." The New Jersey legislature designated the Bordentown school as the state's manual training institution by a legislative act passed in 1894 (Laws of 1894, chapter 349). Two years later, in 1896, to accommodate construction of new facilities the state leased the Parnell estate in Bordentown Township, overlooking the Delaware River. This land was purchased by the state in 1901. Acquisition of several additional parcels and a major building campaign from 1916 to 1926 resulted in a 400-acre campus that eventually included two working farms and over thirty trade, academic, and residential buildings.

With many of its staff residing on campus with students, the Bordentown Manual Training School formed a self-contained community in which students and faculty lived and worked together. In order to graduate, a student was required to complete the academic curriculum and to master a particular trade. Students and staff together operated the entire school plant, which provided both classroom experience and apprenticeships for future occupations.

Following the adoption of the new state constitution in 1947, which prohibited segregation in the public schools, and in the climate of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education, the New Jersey State Board of Education attempted to integrate the Bordentown school. Renamed as "Manual Training and Industrial School for Youth," the school was opened in 1948 to all students regardless of race. The recruiting effort failed, however, and on the basis that the school was segregated in its practical operation, the State Board of Education adopted a resolution in December 1954 closing the institution the following June.

When the school closed in 1955, the campus then became the Edward R.
Johnstone Education and Training Center, a rehabilitation center for the developmentally disabled. In 1996, the Johnstone Campus was turned over to the Juvenile Justice Commission.

The Manual Training and Industrial School was listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 1997/1998. A monument honoring the school's important role in the education of New Jersey's African Americans was dedicated by NJ Secretary of State Regina Thomas in 2002.

Veterans Memorial Monument

Bordentown Township Committee decided to construct and dedicate a Township Veterans Monument for the Township. The Township Committee consisted of the following Committee Members during that time:

  • Joe Camarda, Mayor
  • Carol de Groot, Deputy Mayor
  • Tom Pitcherello, Committeeman
  • Nancy Liberman, Committeeperson
  • Pauline Angelo, Committeeperson

The monument was dedicated on November 11, 1997. The dedication ceremony was in conjunction with celebrating Veterans Day. It was decided, at this time, between the city and township to subdivide the veteran’s holidays. The city arranges the Memorial Day Celebration and the township, organizes and hosts, our annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

The Township Committee appointed a Chairman, Mr. Carson, former Mayor, to organize this event. The Veteran’s Memorial Committee included Mr. Dick Lettiere, former Mayor, and Gary Pelehaty and several others.

The committee solicited the community to seek sponsorship from area businesses. They purchased a stone from Booker’s, a stonecutter company, from the city, to carve the monument. The final product was delivered to the Municipal Complex where it still stands today.


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