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The History of Cumberland County
Jean Jones
Staff Writer for The Bridgeton Evening News

A lot of milestones have been passed on the road leading to Cumberland County's 250th anniversary. A few are listed below:

  • 1663 King Charles II granted to his brother, The Duke of York, afterward King James II, the territory extending from the Delaware Bay to what is now the eastern part of Maine, together with the right of government.
  • 1664 Lord Berkely conveyed his undivided half of New Jersey to Major John Fenwick, a veteran of Oliver Cromwell's army and a Quaker.
  • 1675 John Fenwick conveyed all but a tenth of his holdings to his creditors, allowing a group of Quaker businessmen, including William Penn, to obtain control. In June, Fenwick, came from England to claim his property.
  • 1676 New Jersey was divided, with the southern part designated "West Jersey." John Fenwick designated his tenth part "Salem."
  • 1682 West Jersey was divided into Burlington and Salem counties. Samuel Bacon founded Bacon's Neck.
  • 1683 Fenwick laid out Greate Street in Greenwich.
  • 1686 Richard Hancock erected a sawmill on Mill Creek, in present-day Bridgeton.
  • 1687 An early Baptist Church was erected at Bowentown by Welsh Baptists from Swansea, Mass.
  • 1690 The Cohansey Baptist Church was organized in a log house on the south side of the Cohansey River. After merging with the Bowentown congregation in 1710, a frame meeting house was built between Sheppard's Mill and the Cohansey River. The burying ground of that church contains the grave of Deborah Swinney, "the first white female child born in Cohansey."
  • 1692 Cape May County was established.
  • 1700 The Presbyterian Church organized at the Head of Greenwich. By 1735 a brick meeting house had been built in the old cemetery on the west side of the road at the Head of Greenwich.
  • 1702 The people of New Jersey petitioned the English Crown to assume its responsibilities and Lord Cornbury was named the first Royal Governor of New Jersey.
  • 1709 Salem County boundaries were altered and the west side was divided into North and South Cohansey Precincts.
  • 1716 The first bridge was built over the Cohansey at the head of the tide.
  • 1720 Fairfield and Greenwich were recognized as townships.
  • 1725 Deerfield began to be settled by people from the Fairfield district.
  • 1733 An effort to have the North and South Cohansey Precincts formed into a new county, to be called Greenwich, failed.
  • 1748 Cumberland County was formed from the west side of Salem County. It was named in honor of the Duke of Cumberland. Cohansey Bridge (Bridgeton) was chosen as the county seat by popular vote. Six townships were also recognized: Greenwich, Cohansey, Hopewell, Stow Creek, Maurice River and Deerfield.
  • 1752 The first courthouse was erected at the top of the hill in the center of Broad Street.
  • 1754 The first bridge was built over the Maurice River, at present day Millville.
  • 1765 Cohansey Bridge was renamed Bridgeton.
  • 1772 Cumberland County elected two representatives to the Colonial legislature. It previously had elected jointly with Salem.
  • 1772 Downe Township was created, named for Elizabeth Downes, the wide of Governor William Franklin.
  • 1774 Patriots burned tea at Greenwich on Dec. 22, a group of patriots dressed as Indians seized British tea brought in by the brig Greyhound, and burned it in protest against the British tax on tea.
  • 1775 The Plain Dealer, a manuscript newspaper said to be the first in New Jersey, was issued at Potter's Tavern, in Bridgeton. Cumberland County men went to war to fight in the Revolution against British tyranny. 
  • 1776 The Declaration of Independence was read from the courthouse steps, the royal arms were burned and the county's Liberty Bell was rung.
  • 1794 The Argus & New Jersey Centennial, the county's first printed newspaper, began to be published in Bridgeton.
  • 1799 - 1800 James Lee established the first glassmaking enterprise in Cumberland County, at Port Elizabeth.
  • 1801 Millville Township formed.
  • 1802 Joseph Buck laid out the town of Millville.
  • 1806 James Lee established a glass manufacturing business at Millville on the Maurice River.
  • 1811 Cumberland County's first library, the Bridgetown Library Co., was organized.
  • 1812 Residents rallied for the second war with Great Britain.
  • 1815 David and Benjamin Reeves organized the Cumberland Nail Works, Bridgeton's first factory.
  • 1845 Steamboat service was established between Bridgeton and Philadelphia.
  • 1861 Charles K. Landis purchased 30,000 acres to found Vineland. The county once more called troops to war, this time with the South.
  • 1865 City of Bridgeton was incorporated. Landis Township created. Vineland established the county's first public school.
  • 1866 City of Millville incorporated.
  • 1874 Commercial Township set off from Downe.
  • 1885 Lawrence Township separated from Downe.
  • 1898 The US went to war with Spain after the battleship Maine was sick in Havana harbor. Cumberland County's sesquicentennial passes with little note.

Although this timeline was only intended to included the years leading to the sesqui-centennial, two other dates are important to Cumberland County;

  • 1922 Upper Deerfield was set off from Deerfield
  • 1929 The Borough of Shiloh was created.

Taken from The Bridgeton Evening News;
250 Years of History Special - 6/26/1998