NJGenWeb: Warren County | County History & Information

County Organization | General Information

Organization of Warren County

     The Legislature of New Jersey passed an act November 20, 1824, by which Warren County was erected from Sussex with boundaries as follows:
"All the lower part of the county of Sussex beginning' on the river Delaware at the mouth of Flatbrook, in the township of Walpack, and running from thence a straight course to the northeast corner of Hardwick church, situated on the south side of the main road leading from Johnsonburg to Newton, and from thence in the same course to the middle of Musconetcong creek, be, and the same is hereby erected into a separate county, to he called "the County of Warren"'; and a line running from thence down the middle of the said Musconetcong creek to where it empties into the Delaware, shall hereafter be the division line between the counties of Morris and Hunterdon and the said county of Warren."
     Warren County is bounded on the west and northwest by the Delaware River and on the southeast by the Musconetcong. The upper part of the county "is about sixteen miles in width and holds that measurement with a slight increase, for nearly half the length of the county, when it is suddenly reduced to about half that width by the bend of the Delaware coming in from Pahaquarry to Manunka Chunk, where it runs almost at right angles with its former course. If the river continued on in this direction, it would strike across the country from Manunka Chunk to Changewater in the line of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad; but the river makes a bend westward again and then eastward, forming the point above Belvidere, whence it proceeds in a southwesterly course past the western point of Harmony township, and then runs in a southerly zig-zag course to the great bend at Holland, in Hunterdon county. The Musconetcong valley on the opposite side of the county is much more uniform, that stream flowing in a curve which varies not more than two miles from a direct line, from one extremity of the county to the other. The extreme length of the county from the Sussex line near Waterloo to Musconetcong Station is about thirty miles, and as near as can be measured on the map its superficial area is three hundred and seventy square miles."
     The principal ranges of mountains in Warren County are the Kittatinny, or Blue Mountains in the northwestern part, the Jenny Jump in the central part, Scott's Mountains between Harmony and Oxford townships and the Pohatcong mountains in the southwest. The principal streams are the Paulinskill and its tributaries, Beaver Brook, Pequest, Pohatcong and Musconetcong.
     Warren county was originally part of West Jersey. It was included in Hunterdon when that county was erected in 1713-14 and remained a part of it till Morris was set off in 1738-39. It was a part of the territory of Sussex county when that county was erected in 1753 and so remained till the Legislative enactment of November 20, 1824, made a separate county of it.
     The first settlements were made along the Delaware river at what is now Phillipsburg and Pahaquarry before the territory of West Jersey was organized into the county of Hunterdon. The townships of Warren County at time of its organization were Greenwich, Hardwick, Pahaquarry, Mansfield, Oxford, Knowlton and Independence.
Old Warren County Court House     The first board of chosen freeholders met at Belvidere May 11th, 1825, and these townships were represented in it. Belvidere was selected by a vote of the citizens of the county -- taken April 19 and 20 1825 -- as the County-seat. The grounds on which the public buildings are located were donated to the county by Gen. Garrett D. Wall of Trenton by will dated June 7, 1825. The buildings were erected on the grounds thus donated in 1826 at a cost of about ten thousand dollars.
     The Poor-house and farm were purchased by the county of Nathan Sutton in 1829 for the sum of $8950. It then contained about 390 acres. William McDaniel was the first steward and Dr. J. T. Sharp the first physician.

-- Weaver & Kern, compilers, Warren County History and Directory or The Farmers' Manual
And Business Mens' Guide
(Washington, NJ: Press of the Review, 1886), 104-106.

General Information for Today's Warren County

Warren County is divided into twenty three municipalities. The Town of Belvidere is the county seat. The county was separated from Sussex County by an act of the Legislature passed November 20,1824. The first Europeans to settle in the county were the Dutch, who came to Pahaquarry Township and dug for copper around 1650. During this period, they constructed a road from Pahaquarry to Kingston, New York, over which they transported the proceeds of their mining ventures. This road, the first commercial highway built in the United States, is known as "Old Mine Road."

The County of Warren occupies an area of 364.55 square miles, is 32 miles long with an average width of 13 miles, and ranks ninth in size among the state's twenty one counties. Within the county is some of the most rugged and scenic terrain to be found in the state. The landscape is characterized by a series of ridges and valleys in a northeasterly/southwesterly direction. Elevations range from 125 feet to 1,600 feet above sea level. Mountain ranges and ridges which divide fertile river valleys include Kittatinny Mountain, Jenny Jump Mountain, Scott's Mountain and Pohatcong Mountain. Streams and rivers, all emptying into the Delaware River, include the Musconetcong, Paulinskill and Pequest Rivers and the Pohatcong and Lopatcong Creeks. These fertile valleys have enabled the county to become an important agricultural district in the state.

There are 17 districts and individual properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Town of Belvidere, the county seat, is noted for its Victorian style architecture. The town's residents celebrate its heritage annually in its Victorian Day extravaganza. The Warren County Cultural & Heritage Commission organizes the Warren County Heritage Festival in Oxford Township. Reenactments, arts and crafts displays, and musical concerts are among the events that are centered around the Oxford Furnace and Shippen Manor which were built in the 1740's. The county is renovating the Shippen Manor, the ironmaster's home, using state, county and private funds.

Morris Canal remnants can be viewed by participants of an annual bus tour of the 33 miles of the historic canal within Warren County. The county is currently in the process of acquiring canal right-of-way from Main St. Stewartsville to Rt. 22.

In the largest recent development affecting Warren County tax ratables, a consortium of seven regional electric utilities created Merrill Creek Reservoir, a 1.1 square mile reservoir mandated by the Delaware River Basin Commission. This 2,000 acre watershed, with its 650 acre, 31 billion gallon reservoir and 290 acre nature preserve open to the public is assessed at more than $190 million.

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