Phillipsburg Area Historical Society
Over one hundred years ago, in 1811, Phillipsburg contained fifteen families named, Reese, Roseberry, Ramsey, Mixsell, Myers, Builman, Aibright, Seager, Barnes, Beers, Carpenter, Bidleman, Skillman, Phillips and Shaup. In 1820 Phillipsburg contained thirty or more houses, scattered for a mile along Sussex Road, now North Main Street, and the
Phillipsburg, NJ was first organized as a township in 1851, and at that time included Lopatcong, which was not set off until March 8th, 1961 when Phillipsburg was incorporated as a town.
Phillipsburg is on the site of an Indian village called Chintewink, which is still the name of one of it's alleys. The present name is variously ascribed to an Indian chief Philip, who lived in the village. It is one of the five towns in the country that had a name in 1769, and Phillipsburg was an Indian town as early as 1654. Phillipsburg was found on a map published in 1749 & also appears on a map published by Evans in 1755. The extensive land owner was named William Phillips, who was located in the neighborhood as early as 1735. His daughter, Margaret married John Roseberry, and a son William Phillips, was the most prominent man in Phillipsburg.
The oldest home now standing in Phillipsburg is located at 119 South Main Street. It was built by Mr. Roseberry in 1750. The first house built on the hill, in the third ward, was erected by John H. Leida in 1858, and is now 233 Chambers Street. Shortly after 1800, Thomas Builman built a tavern on Union Square, and later sold it to an Aibright, so that it was known for many years as Aibright's tavern. In 1810 John P. Roseberry built the present Union Square Hotel, which is now ably conducted by David W. Smith. The Lee House was built in 1811 for a store kept by John Mixsell. It's present proprietr is M. O. J. Hile. Other hotels are the Phillipsburg Hotel, owned by Harry Smith; Hotel Columbia and the American House on Jefferson Street.
On the 16th day of December, 1776 a portion of American Army under General John Sullivan passed through Phillipsburg on their way to Trenton to join Washington, crossed the Delaware river above where the bridge stands now. The first bridge across the Delaware was erected about 1800, and was washed away by a freshet. In 1805 the Easton Delaware Bridge Company raised by the lottery enough money to build a wooden arch bridge in the style of the one now at Columbia, which served nearly a century, when it was torn down and the present iron one was erected in it's place in 1895.
New Brunswick turnpike or George street, now partly South Main street. The first brick building in town was erected by Garret Cook in 1845. There were no more then fifty dwellings here in 1847, and the town had no post office until 1854. The first important growth began with the building of the New Jersey Central railroad, which was completed on July 1st, 1852. On July 2nd the first passenger train of eight cars arrived amid great rejoicing. John Alpaugh, aged eight-five in 2011, was fireman on this first train.
The Phillipsburg Land Company, formed in 1853, purchased the Roseberry farm, laid it out in lots and induced many people to settle in the town, "in all, they bought three hundred acres, laid out eleven hundred and thirty lots, and paid for lands $55,000" Since 1853 the growth of Phillipsburg, in population, wealth and diversity of industries has been rapid and continuous.
Phillipsburg was incorporated as a town on March 8th, 1861. The first election in the newly incorporated town was held in the Union Square Hotel, then conducted by Joseph Fisher. On April 8th, 1861 Charles Sitgreaves was chosen as the first Mayor.
Phillipsburg celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by an "old Home Week" the first week of July in 1911. The population increased rapidly from 1,500 in 1860 to 5,950 in 1870; 7,176 in 1881, 9,500 in 1899 and 14,000 in 1911. There are now six wards, and the town is governed by a major, eighteen councilmen and a police force.
Phillipsburg's first school was held in a log house near Bidleman's, and in 1801 "Old Cohen" taught school. A stone building replaced the structure in 1803 and was destroyed by a fire in 1812. Then a stone schoolhouse was then erected near the site of Andover Furnace. This building was later replaced in 1854. The third building was completed in 1871, on the land purchased of Henry Seagraves, at a total cost of $46,131.84. This served for many years as a high school and grammer school. This is now called the Freeman building. By 1911 there were then ten buildings devoted to the use of public schools, which employed sixty-two teachers, including the superintendent, Lewis Osmun Beers. There were 2,159 pupils enrolled at that time.
Phillipsburg is one of our two gateways to the west, the other being at the water gap. This accounts for the presence of four of the five great railways that centre here and give shipping facilities enjoyed by no other city of its size in the east. Naturally therefore, Phillipsburg is essentially a manufacturing city and possesses many important industries.
While Phillipsburg is already the largest town in northwestern New Jersey, it is still rapidly growing in population and its active Board of Trade and is continually seeking new Industries. If you were born and raised here then you are aware of the many history stories we could tell you. That is impossible for us to put them all in a bundle and have them available in this article alone. For more history you can check-out our history photographs by CLICKING HERE and Enjoy!
- George Wyckoff Cummins
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