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Patricia Butler
President Roselle Park Historical Society
Borough HistorianA word from your President:

Welcome to the webpage of the Roselle Park Historical Society.

Roselle Park is a borough where families and friendships have prevailed, and comfort and peace continue to exist along tree lined streets.

We have grown into a community of many cultures where inventors, scientists, and engineers tested their patents and Civil War soldiers and generals came home to raise their families.

The Roselle Park Museum which houses our extensive collections and archives is open Wednesdays from 10-1, and the first Monday of each month (except for July and August), for our business meetings. Beginning in the spring of 2015 we will expand our hours to include Saturdays from 10-1 each week to encourage families to visit. You may also call to schedule an appointment.

Thanks to our many dedicated volunteers and friends who are the heart of our society we are able to serve the community by encouraging, educating, and disseminating information about our rich cultural heritage.

Our Roselle Park Historical Society continues to grow in membership. Please come join us as we embark on our 44th year.

Sincerely,
Patricia Butler
President Roselle Park Historical Society
Borough Historian


Roselle Park, NJ – Some Historical Highlights

Roselle Park’s 1.3 square mile area in Union County, N.J. was originally a part of Elizabethtown. In 1808, the area became part of Union Township, known as North Roselle, and then an independent borough on March 22, 1901. The new borough consisted of 790 acres with 225 homes and a population of approximately 1000. It was governed by a newly elected Mayor, John Cummins, and seven Council members: Abraham Woodruff, Emery L. Lillibridge, Robert Gordon, Paul Hochart, John Herman, Alfred Atkins, and Charles A. Potter.
Newly elected Mayor, John Cummins, and seven Council members: Abraham Woodruff, Emery L. Lillibridge, Robert Gordon, Paul Hochart, John Herman, Alfred Atkins, and Charles A. Potter.

The earliest recorded residents were the Williams family of Connecticut. In the early 1700’s, Samuel Williams, his wife, five sons, and three daughters build a home and farm on the road to the West Fields. At that time there were three dirt roads, possibly old Indian trails, winding through the area. One was the road to the West Fields, the second Galloping Hill Road, and the third started with Union Road and ran diagonally in a northwest direction through Five Points to Springfield.

During the Revolutionary War, soldiers marched up Galloping Hill Road on their way to the Battle of Springfield. Some skirmishes were encountered here, and a monument on Galloping Hill Road marks the place where the son of General William Crane was bayoneted by the British. The Hospital Oak, on the corner of Westfield Avenue and Colonial Road marked the location of a field hospital where wounded soldiers were treated.
Westfield Avenue and Colonial Road The Hospital Oak, on the corner of Westfield Avenue and Colonial Road marked the location of a field hospital where wounded soldiers were treated.

The Borough is rich in railroad history with the former Jersey Central Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, and the Short Line Rahway Valley Railroad being major contributors to the growth of the town. A train stop was first established in this area in about 1858 and a number of train stations were built in different locations in the town over the many decades that followed as the town developed. NJ Transit has a station here to this day on what was the former Lehigh Valley Railroad. The railroads were responsible for the gradual transition of the town from a farming community into more of a commuter town in the decades after 1860. This transition resulted in the need for better infrastructure, including sewers and services. Farms were transformed into tree-lined streets and neighborhoods grew in close proximity to the railroad. The demands of this population resulted in the decision to separate from Union Township, which had largely remained a farming community.

The Borough is rich in railroad history with the former Jersey Central Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, and the Short Line Rahway Valley Railroad being major contributors.

On Westfield Avenue stands a building that was home to “The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America”. Growing out of the invention of wireless communication by Guglielmo Marconi, radio and wireless equipment for the United States Navy during World War I was manufactured here. David Sarnoff worked at this facility as Commercial Manager and later became Chairman of RCA. It was the home of one of the first licensed broadcast radio stations in the country, WDY. Famous radio personalities came to its small broadcast studio to air programs during the very beginning of radio in 1921, which could be heard in many distant places across the country.

The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America David Sarnoff worked at this facility as Commercial Manager and later became Chairman of RCA.

While Thomas Edison built his first generating station for isolated lighting in the neighboring town of Roselle in the early 1880’s, one of the first commercial buildings ever to have Edison’s incandescent lamp was Stone’s Store in Roselle Park. An electrical line was run from the generating station to the store. The impact on this area of having the first widespread use of electricity was also an important factor in its growth. Because the beginnings of Roselle Park and Roselle are similar, they were often referred to as the “Twin Boroughs”’ but their continuing developments became unique to each.

One of the first commercial buildings ever to have Edison’s incandescent lamp was Stone’s Store in Roselle Park.

Veterans’ Memorial Library Roselle Park has supported our nation’s call to duty, remembering its citizens’ military service every Memorial Day at Veterans’ Memorial Library. Monuments commemorating their contributions from the Revolutionary War through the present stand on Chestnut Street, Westfield Avenue and Galloping Hill Road.

Roselle Park has continued to grow since its beginnings. Roselle Park is proud to provide a fine school system, and many volunteer organizations that protect and assist our town. Roselle Park is a wonderful place to call home, with many opportunities for work and play.

Roselle Park Museum 9 Grant Avenue, Roselle Park, NJ 07024 (908) 245-1776