The History of Mt. Olive
(Excerpts taken from The History of Mount Olive by Rita
Mt. Olive Township is comprised of 32 square miles. It
consists of two sections named for people or events, such
as: Budd Lake, named for John Budd, and Flanders, named
for a group of early settlers who vacationed in Flanders,
Long Island. Roads in the Township are named after early
settlers as well, such as: Smithtown because of the many
Smiths that lived there; Drakestown named for the Drakes;
Bartley Road for the Bartley family; Waterloo, which had
served as a French Army Officer's hospital in 1740 and later
when Napoleon met his defeat, the Americans there, who were
sympathetic to the British, named the Township, Mt. Olive,
for Benjamin Olive.
The beginning of the first hundred years was on March
22, 1871, when Mt. Olive was created through the splitting
of the area then known as Roxbury Township. Records indicate
that those present were Jared Hathaway, John Smith, David
Wolfe, Richard Stephens, Harry Sovereign, Josiah Meeker,
Mr. McNeeley and a Mr. Riggs. The amount of taxes to be
assessed by Mt. Olive was 786.65. Names of boundaries were
changed and the taxpayers listed.
Before that, indications are that land was purchased from
the Indians in 1708. There is no known record of the price
paid. Speculation is whether the land included Mt. Olive,
an area roughly the size of Manhattan Island, and whether
the price was $24 and some trading goods.
In 1713, the upper part of the western division of the
province of New Jersey, Lying Northward of the Brook called
Assanpink, was created into a county called Hunterdon. Roxbury
Township, including what is now Mt. Olive, became the fourth
township in Morris County in 1740. Chester broke away from
Roxbury in 1799. Mt. Olive was separated from Roxbury on
March 11, 1871.
Before the white settlers "invaded" this part
of New Jersey, the Lenni-Lenape Indians lived here in tepees
and caves. From the cleared fields, many arrowheads, tomahawks,
corn grinders and other relics along the lake road, it is
believed that their councils were held in Budd Lake in the
Vicinity of High Street.
In selecting their homelands, nearby water was a necessity,
whether lakes, brooks, streams or swamp. There had to be
abundant hunting grounds - places where animals and water
fowl congregated. Sandy or loamy land was preferred to stony
or rocky spots. Weapons were primitive and the Indians used
them with great strategy. They did not stay too long in
one spot, because when game became scarce, they moved on.
Every clan hunted in a well-defined area, large enough to
support all its members. They did not trespass on their
neighbor's hunting grounds, and it is estimated that there
was one Indian to each square mile. Periodically they united
with other tribes to go the seashore for their much loved
oysters and clams, or to take trips across the country to
the Delaware River, where they held their great councils.
The Lenni-Lenape (meaning "original people") were
friendly. The whites around here respected this attitude
and always bought, rather than take the land.
As far as we know, the first white men who came to this
region in 1713 were Peter Garbut and Francis Breck, who
staked out an initial settlement area of 2500 acres, part
of which is now Mt. Olive, formerly called Battletown. After
Garbut came John Reading, who took up 250 acres, which included
the northern half of Budd Lake. In 1714, John Budd located
1300 acres, part of which is the present Flanders. Following
these initial settlements, the industrialists of that period
moved in. Because of the many swift streams, water power
was abundant. Grist and saw mills, distilleries, tanneries
and creameries flourished. The entire community was rich
in Iron and other minerals. Forges and wood-fuel iron works
abounded. One foundry built in 1845 is still in operation.
L However, in the early 1900's, Pennsylvania, with its vast
coal regions, plus the fact that many of our mines were
marginal and too costly to operate, overshadowed us.
Colonial commerce had looked to England for capital, but
gradually business and industry had developed sufficiently
for colonial capital to become available. For those who
are concerned about taxes today, it might be well to consider
that in 1722, the court ordered Elisha Bird to assess and
collect taxes on inhabitants toward the support of His Majesty's
government. As an example: $1.00 for a piano; $1.00 for
a carriage (trucks were excluded). In 1794, William Woodhull
had to collect the sum of 10 pounds, 6 shillings, 5 pence
for the month of September. By 1865, the tax schedule was
divided into State, $1.10, County $1.76, Polls, $1.11, Township
$1.06, Dogs $ .30, Bonds $46.31, and Roads $1.76. The collector
at that time was Paul Drake, Constable.
It was the custom in the late 1800's to publish an Annual
Mt. Olive Financial Report in booklet form, listing credits
and debits and the names of delinquents. In the resume for
1898 we note: Snow bills $43.62, Election bills $51.38,
Poor bills $151.24, Board of Health $11.00, Assessors and
Collectors fees $229.47, Miscellaneous $246.39, Bounty bills
$246.24, (this included obnoxious animals (such as skunks),
Committee and Clerk's fees $112.00. Balance in Treasurer's
hands $136.47, Total: $1,126.70.
According to the History of Morris County (1882), two
churches and four houses made up the village of Mt. Olive.
Flanders was the largest settlement with 50 houses within
a mile of the two churches in Mt. Olive Village. Budd Lake
had 20 houses clustered around the Sharpe's Boarding house
(later known as the Forest House).
A hundred years ago, water was obtained from springs and
wells. Sanitary facilities consisted of outbuildings with
a capacity of one, two or three. A home for sale advertisement
of the time could amount to "four rooms and path."
As Mt. Olive began to develop faster, there came into being
local water companies to serve certain areas, for example
Flanders Water Company, West Jersey Water Company and others.
Sanitary facilities went to cesspools and then to septic
In the early 1960's, with the advent of the Clover Hill
Residential area in Flanders, water and sanitary sewer systems
were designed and constructed to service that area. This
set off a building boom, particularly attractive to new
residents who came here to escape the problems of the built-up
areas and to enjoy the kind of living available in a rural
area. Before long, it became apparent that Mt. Olive was
on the way to becoming a rural-suburban community.
Until 1968, government in Mt. Olive consisted of a three-man
Township Committee. At this time it was enlarged to five
members. For the first time a Department of Finance was
created, which made it possible by the end of 1970 to reorganize
the finance office, install mechanical equipment and increase
tax collections to over 92% from the previous 87%. This
was done by a committeeman in charge of finance and a new
tax collector. L All other Township departments were organized
as before. In 1969, by action of the committee, supported
by citizens, the people voted for a new mayor-council form
of government. On January 1, 1972, there was an elected
mayor and seven-man council elected at large. The mayor
would operate the government with a paid, appointed administrator.
The council would be essentially a legislative group with
no administrative power.
Originally known as Bartleyville, the name was changed
in 1901 to Bartley, because of the common usage of that
word by the officials of the Central Railroad of New Jersey,
which runs through this community. Although sparsely settled,
this enterprising farm section has always had some type
of industry. Col. Hugh Bartley, who settled in Mt. Olive
in 1810, not only owned a large farm, but built an iron
forge on the estate, and a few years later, William Bartley
founded the continuously operated "William Bartley
& Sons Foundry and Machine Shop". Recently, this
was taken over by the Richardson Scale Co. of Passaic. In
1882, according to the Munsell's History of Morris County,
there were six houses, an iron foundry, a school and a post
office. As of the writing of this history book, the foundry
was still in operation and the population had increased.
In 1876, the Central Railroad of New Jersey was built
from High Bridge to Dover. In 1902, this was a very busy
branch with four three-car passenger trains a day (discontinued
in 1932). Freight trains were so long that it took three
engines to pull them from German Valley (now known as Long
Valley), up the "long grade" to Ledgewood.
The history of Bartley is actually history of Bartley
Family. Although Bartley does not have a church, it does
have a quaint chapel which was constructed in 1913, and
which stands, almost as a challenge to the surrounding communities.
It seems to reflect the early pioneer spirit engendered
in the United States for the first influx of Anglo-Saxon
Mt. Olive was essentially a farming community with a resort
area around Budd Lake, and with the Village of Flanders
and the Flanders hotel, where the drummers (salesmen) stayed
overnight. Then there were the bungalows and the tent colonies,
particularly around Budd Lake. These were the vanguard of
those who followed after - the flight from the cities to
the rural areas. They were the first developments.
"I can still see very clearly, my first glimpse of
Budd Lake as I approached along Budd Lake Road each summer.
It brings back that nostalgia which I believe I will never
lose. I was one of these, and I lived (camped) behind the
Budd Tavern (now demolished). We had deluxe tent quarters,
three rooms: living and sleeping, kitchen and in between
an open dining area. We had wooden floors underneath, homemade
ice boxes and a kerosene stove. Each fall we would pack
it all away in the old ice house behind the Budd building
and stand the floors up against the building. An event was
when we took up the floors in the fall. We usually had to
chase away the mice that lived under us in the summer. I
first came here as a Boy Scout and camped on a little hill
overlooking the lake. We had our fife and drum corps, led
the July 4th Parade and gave a concert that evening at Oppenheim's
residence facing Elizabeth Lane. Budd Lake was a real summer
resort then. It took two and a half hours to get there from
Newark. Between July 4th and Labor Day, Budd Lake was alive
with activity. Before and after that it seemed virtually
deserted. I played hardball, third base, on a ball field
where there is now the Pavilion parking lot. The local farmers
sold fresh vegetables. Farmer Stephens sold us milk, dipped
out of a milk can and poured it into our bottles and mason
jars. There were 14 taxis to take the commuters to Netcong
Station every day. We had movies on Saturday night run by
the Budd family. There was no electricity and power for
the movies came from a one-lung engine which could be heard
all over the lake, drowning out the piano player. Later
we went to the various dance places. It is different now.
The resort life of Budd Lake then has "gone with the
And, in a more feminine vein, a letter from Florence Pfalzgraf
Kern and her sister Beatrice Pfalzgraf Darlington: "Summers
at Budd Lake during World War I and the early 1920s were
country summers with plenty of swimming, hayrides, canoe
trips across the lake into the blueberry swamps and the
cove called The Green Room. Dances and shuffleboard and
pool at the Budd Lake Athletic Club, hikes along the Morris
and Essex Canal, where an occasional horse-drawn barge could
be seen gliding along or maneuvering the incline and the
lock at Waterloo. The one room school house on Waterloo
Road, taught by Vi Knowles, was still large enough to serve
the winter population. A macadam road meandered from Netcong
to the Lake like a cow path, with 23 sharp curves from the
Lackawanna station. At Stephens' Corner (the present Geary
Store), it bore left passing summer cottages, the Union
Chapel, Charlie Budd's Store (where the Pavilion is now),
the Budd Lake Athletic Club (now demolished), and the Forest
House (also demolished). At the Outlook Park Dock (Petrie's
Corner), it became a single track dirt road to the end of
the lake to Wolfe's farm, and over the hills (the road leading
to Country Club Estates) to Hackettstown. The tents of the
earlier summer people on Sandshore had given way to wooden
cottages, each with its own well, on both Sandshore and
Rock Shore (now part of Country Club Estates). A few cottages
were scattered along the rest of the waterfront with the
west shore a wilderness except for one big estate (Manor
House - now demolished). Only a few of the cottages had
furnaces. It was like a deserted village in the winter.
Most of the summer people came from Newark and New York,
but there was a sizable group from Pennsylvania and Brooklyn.
Many returned year after year. A few hardy souls, about
20, commuted to New York, leaving on the 7:04 a.m. and reaching
the city two hours later. Those who chauffeured them usually
stopped at the bakery near the tracks for fresh baked bread
and halfway back to the lake would stop at the Chamberlain
farm for bottled pasteurized milk. Some felt 5that this
milk was safer than that which Mrs. Stephens brought from
Drakestown everyday in her horse and buggy and ladled out
at each house into the customer's own bucket or pitcher.
An early evening cry along the streets of the colony was
"here's your Newark Evening News". This was lame
Abe Souers who lived back on the Mt. Olive Road and made
enough from his newspaper route to buy a phonograph and
just abut every record that came out during his lifetime.
Another familiar character was Mrs. Dicky Budd, who lived
on the waterfront near the Budd Inn. She flounced along
the shore in long skirts picking up debris and scolding
those who littered 'her' lake. A mile out on Waterloo Road,
lived 'Gold Mine Bill', a hermit who fervently believed
that someday he would strike gold. His tiny cabin was surrounded
by mining shafts."
"Church suppers in Mt. Olive, Bartley and Drakestown
were popular with the summer folk who knew they would get
a good hearty dinner for a dollar. Some drove their cars
or buggies over the narrow dirt roads, but the young people
were more apt to go on foot or on a hayride. With the building
of the State Road - Route 46, in 1923, the whole character
of the Lake changed. The macadam road disappeared. The day-trippers
appeared for swimming and picnics, and with them the hamburger
stands, the filling stations, the dance halls, and the need
for police, more garbage collection and for ambulances.
By the end of the 1920s, the 'old' Budd Lake had disappeared."
(End of letter)
Many of the large Budd Lake hotels were clustered around
the 'old' municipal building on the Lake. The Greene Inn
became Greycourt Inn, later La Baule and now the Le Rendezvous.
The Mendota House became the Budd Lake hotel, then the Budd
Lake Inn and now the Hofbrau. Next to the 'old' municipal
building was the Roberts' House. All along Mt. Olive Road
could be found the Poplars, Sunset Lodge, and many others
which are now dwellings. Across the street was the John
Budd House which became Minnie Mitchell's boarding house,
then Candlelight Inn, and then Zigs Service Station. A little
nearer to the lake was Florence House run by Colleeneys
and later the Quicks. On the lake front was the Forest Park
house, which changed hands many times, but continued its
name. It went from Sharpe to Benedict to Rowland to Herring,
Hanley, Fuchs, Eichler. In 1966, it burned to the ground,
after 80 years as a small hotel. Across the street, Beecher
Lodge which ran for 30 years and then returned to its original
purpose, a home. There were many more, but they have either
been demolished or are now swellings. Across the lake was
Silver Dollar Smith's mansion which became known later as
the Manor House. This was demolished and a modern home has
taken its place. In the 1950s, motels came into being but
an ordinance was passed which would prohibit more being
built. At about the same time, trailers were outlawed. At
one time there were two riding stables in Budd Lake, One
on Budd Lake Road was owned by Ted Jones, but is no longer
in existence. The other, Country Way Stables, in the Country
Club Estates section, was still owned and managed by Jack
Sortoris in the 1970's.
Sail boating and races continue to attract attention and
ice boating is still popular as a winter sport. Winters,
when snow is not too deep, competitions draw crowds. At
those times too, skaters enjoy the lake. Ice fishing continues
but no longer are cars allowed to park on the ice to keep
fishermen warm while waiting for a nibble.
Drakestown is situated on the farm of 200 acres purchased
by Ebenezer Drake in 1759. This land was part of the great
Boynton tract of 3314 acres taken up by Joseph Pigeon in
October, 1718, Burlington A.193). It was sold in part to
Boynton and in part to Allen. Samuel Barber bought the Drake
farm and sold it in 1800 to John Peter Sharp of German Valley
(Long Valley). He left this property to his son, John in
1826. John built a store and Matthias Thomas, his clerk,
purchased the store and house connected with it, including
five acres, a wagon house, a barnyard and an orchard. This
store housed the post office from 1837 to 1911 and Mr. Thomas
was the last postmaster serving after Messrs. Lawrence,
John and Jesse Sharpe, David Hildebrant, and Daniel Anderson.
Before rural delivery came to Flanders, Long Valley and
Hackettstown, horses and wagons brought the mail to the
store for distribution. The store is now the attractive
home of Frank Harvey.
As is the case with most old localities, the first consideration
has been to build a church. The Methodist church in Drakestown
was built, and three of Mr. Thomas' daughters played the
organ there. and next to that was the old blacksmith shop
which took down its shingle when the 'horseless carriage'
made its appearance. There were two generations of Thomas'
before Matthias Thomas, who owned the store. The grandfather
of John, born in 1772, was the first of the family to emigrate
from Holland. In the same locality there was a six sided
schoolhouse, which was later used as a Sunday School, when
in 1898, the brick building was abandoned and a wooden one
built. This was used until 1925 when buses took the children
to Flanders or Budd Lake. A very fine dwelling is there
now, in the school, pupils carried spring water from the
Thomas place to keep the water bucket in the school filled.
Each pupil drank from the same cup.
The McPeak name stands out prominently. In 1817, Jonathan
McPeak was born in Sparta, and 20 years later he moved to
Drakestown and purchased a seven acre farm. As he accumulated
money and land was available, he eventually owned 152 acres.
At first, he built a log house, but later a large one -
of 1 1/2 stories. His grandsons, John and Charles took charge
of the farm in 1906 and carried on a successful business
known as the McPeak Brothers Farm. They retired in 1958
and sold it in 1959 to parties who use if for raising Christmas
trees. However, they retained enough land so that each could
build a modern home. During 1927-29, there was a private
airport in the locality. However, except for some beautiful
'minimum of one- acre homes', Drakestown is still a farming
community. (As written in 1975)
As so many have inter-married in Mt. Olive, it might be
of interest to name some of the familiar ones: Pool, Lake,
Force, Dilley, Hildebrant, Anderson, McLean, Sharpe, Thomas,