History for Millburn & Short Hills New Jersey
Millburn began as a colonial settlement with agricultural origins, followed by a 19th century mill/factory economy and eventually became a Victorian and later residential community. There are many examples of this rich history still present in the township, from the Hessian House, the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum, the Paper Mill Playhouse, and the many beautiful homes from all phases of our history, to our two historic districts, Short Hills Park and Wyoming.
Millburn Township was once part of Elizabethtown and Newark settlements in New Jersey, created by a grant from Charles II to his brother James in 1664. In 1793 Springfield Township was created and it included Millburn. In 1857 Springfield became part of the new Union County and Millburn became a separate township within Essex County.
Short Hills began as a planned community, when Stewart Hartshorn purchased 13 acres of land in Millburn Township, near the present Hobart Avenue, Parsonage Hill Road, and Chatham Road. Hartshorn’s purpose was to create “a harmonious community for people who appreciated nature,” and “where natural beauty would not be destroyed by real estate developments, and where people of congenial tastes could dwell together.” He later increased his land holdings to 56 acres for himself and 1,552 acres for the whole village.
Hartshorn chose the name “Short Hills” because it reflected the topography of the region, and also because the local Lenape Native Americans used that same name to describe the region. One local resident suggested that he call his village “Hartshornville,” but he definitively refused. In 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, it was the site of the Battle of Short Hills.
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