The History of Mt. Olive
(Excerpts taken from The History of Mount Olive by Rita Hilbert)

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 tank systems.

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.

BARTLEY

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 immigrants.

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 wind."

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

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, McPeak.


FLANDERS




 

 

 
 

Mailing Address:
Mount Olive Township
Post Office Box 450
Budd Lake, NJ 07828

Physical Address:
Mount Olive Township
204 Flanders-Drakestown Road
Budd Lake, N.J. 07828

Telephone:
Main (973) 691-0900, Fax (973) 347-0860

Business Hours:
8:30 am - 4:30 pm (Monday thru Friday)


 

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