Sunday, October 30, 2011
A couple of weeks ago something made me think of a girl called Nancy that I "liked" in seventh grade.
I don't have the slightest idea what did it.
I know the last time I thought of her before that. It was back in January 2010. That was the first time in ages. It happened because I needed a name for the Summer of 69 story. At least I can explain what made me think of her then. So let's go there first.
The name of the main girl in the story, Terri, came from "one soft infested summer me and Terry became friends". Hiding on the backstreets. We'd swear forever friends. Like that. And then it wouldn't last. Like that too. Because that's how it is.
I decided her real name could be Therese (pronounced te-RAZE), and that made me think of a Therese who "liked" me in eighth grade. This is how the mind jumps from one thing to another.
Oh Therese. I am sorry. She liked me, and I didn't feel it. This is the oldest story in humanity, isn't it? That unequal feeling. It's so awkward. But when you feel it, you should say something, and hope the other person at least is kind.
The rare thing is when two people do both like each other. It didn't happen here. Only the very young are surprised.
Therese made me a cookie or something, like Terri made the cake in the story, only I was young and stupid and I didn't tell her it was great. No matter what I felt, didn't I realize that it was great for anyone to do that for me? I realized that truth eventually, but not in time. It was only eighth grade. Not the last age when I was an idiot, but maybe the first. I suppose she got over it. I still wish I'd said something nice to her.
When I needed another girl for the last chapter, I went back to school again, and I found Nancy. I hope she seemed different in the story.
We were really the same age, in the same grade. But she was much younger than high school when I was paying attention to her, so the memory helped me write her younger than Terri for the story.
"Blond hair, bangs, cute like a kid is cute." I forgot that I actually wrote it out. That is exactly the picture I have in my mind of Nancy. That's how she looked in seventh grade. How old were we? Twelve? She was the first girl who made any impression on me.
I picture her sitting one row behind and one chair over. I think that was right. If I glanced over my shoulder, there she was. We must not have been seated alphabetically that year, because I'm a B and she was an R, and we were that close. It was probably size place. I was short.
The usual Catholic school uniforms. She wore a white blouse of some thin-looking material, with a dark blue wool jumper, with the SCS initials in a shield on it, over her heart. Bare knees, and white socks and the approved kind of shoes. I wore a white shirt, dark blue tie with SCS in a shield, and dark blue pants.
I don't remember how much I actually spoke with Nancy. We did some group work in those older grades, so I think I did manage to do a few projects in the same group with her. I must have said a few words.
I knew where she lived. It was just a few blocks from me.
I don't remember how I knew. Maybe we just mentioned it. Or maybe it was by accident.
I was a big bicycle rider in those days. I went all over town. I went three miles from home. I knew all the streets, and I drew maps of them to see the connections.
I know that I rode past her house and saw her playing or doing something out front. Was that how I knew where she lived? Or did I already know, and was that was the reason I rode by on that short street? I guess I rode down that street whenever I was going in that direction, just in case.
This doesn't mean I stopped and said anything to her. I waved at her. That was pretty far out. What do you expect?
I knew boys who collected comic books. I knew boys who liked to play with model trains and building sets. See, I knew what my friends and I could do together. I had no idea what Nancy and I might both want to do. With that impenetrable obstacle of ignorance, I missed the chance to just simply talk to her for a couple of minutes and find out.
Well, that was January 2010, and that was all. That's almost two years ago now.
Like I said, I don't know what happened a couple of weeks ago. An idle thought that connected to another, and there you go. Something did it.
And then the trouble started.
Why? Why do I do things I do?
Here is what I did. I decided it would be interesting if I could find her online, just to see what became of her. Was she well? Had she done anything interesting with herself? It would be satisfying to see that she had. I wanted that. I wanted her to have had some kind of a nice life.
Obviously her last name could have changed by marriage decades ago, but if she wanted to be found, she would have put her old name on the web, and her schools and her home town. So I tried.
I tried her name and the name of our school. No hits there.
I did find a classmates.com page for our school. There were a few other familiar names. They took attendance at SCS by calling out names every day, so after a few years the names were burned in. Not that I can recite them, but if you said a name now I could probably tell you accurately whether it was a kid in my year. I think one guy I saw on the website was a friend of mine for a while. I haven't thought of him in years either.
Then I was starting to wonder about what high school she might have gone to. Many kids went to the town's public high school, and there were only a couple of Catholic high schools near enough to have bus service. That narrows it down. She must have gone to one of those. I tried her name and the town high school and struck out.
What I tried next was her name and the name of our town.
Not on her name, exactly, but on her last name and her address. It was on a page for a real estate agency. They were showing recent sale prices of houses in town.
Her street was only two blocks long, and the house was on the inside of a curve in it. The little Google map on the page showed the house right where I remembered it. This was the house she lived in. I knew where it was.
Luckily, the database's idea of a recent sale went back twenty years. The house was sold in 1992 by a man and woman with Nancy's last name. Her parents sold the house— it had to be.
There was even a link on the sellers' names, to another web site for people searching.
There they were. They live in Toms River now. Of course. I'd keep that nugget of information to myself, except that I am secure in the knowledge that they don't stand out among the hundred thousand other retirees who live in Toms River. My parents lived there for a while too.
Their ages are given. Mid eighties. That's her parents. No doubt about it. The right generation and the right place to move to.
And they list some family and friends, also with ages. (What is this with the ages?)
Anyway. There are two women with different last names. Neither was named Nancy, but they were the right ages to be slightly younger siblings. That's pretty much the only reason they'd be family and friends to eighty year olds, right? Did Nancy have younger sisters? Beats me. I don't remember. My memory of her in the front yard: were there younger blond girls there with her? I think so. Or I am filling it in?
But neither one was named Nancy.
The absence gave me a chill. A bad feeling. My heart sank.
Now, I'd like to think it means she did something cool. Like she's the black sheep. She did something so wonderfully outrageous that her nice parents disowned her. She became a communist, or a performance artist, or she married a divorced man. She joined the circus.
No, I don't believe it.
Let's get real. I know why she's not listed.
I'm sure I wasn't going to contact her anyway. But it looks like that is not a choice I can make.
I wonder how long ago it was. A high school car crash? It would have been in the local paper, but I'd moved to another town in another county. I wouldn't have seen it.
Maybe she had a nice life. Maybe she found somebody she loved who loved her, and it was good. That's what I want.
Maybe she had kids. If she started earlier than I did, there could easily be a granddaughter by now, a granddaughter with blond bangs, sitting in a seventh grade classroom, cute like a kid is cute.
I have to face the fact that I'm never going to know.
But that's the ending I want to write.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Back to the beginning.
Early American Boundaries
At the establishment of the independent State of New Jersey in 1776, the civil divisions of the former British colony were continued as state divisions. The map area was entirely in Essex County, and contained only two municipalities: the Township of Newark and the Township of Elizabeth. Their names are shown along the boundary line, which was partly the same as the present-day boundary of Essex and Union Counties, but continued west, shown dashed, through what is now Millburn.
Four new townships were established in the area in a twenty-year period.
First, parts of Elizabeth and Newark (about two-thirds from Elizabeth) were taken to form Springfield in 1794. It included all of modern Springfield and Millburn, and parts of modern Livingston, West Orange, Maplewood, Cranford, and Summit. The boundary within Maplewood ran along the East Branch of the Rahway and then along a line from Pierson's Mill over the mountain to Keene's Mill on the West Branch. We considered last time the importance of the long-forgotten Keene's Mill as a boundary landmark. The Springfield boundary in 1794 turned at Keene's Mill and ran another line northeast to Northfield Avenue, which it followed to the Passaic River.
A few years later the remaining area of the map was then divided between Orange, 1806, and Union, 1808, following the colonial Newark and Elizabeth boundary. More than 200 years later that line is still the Maplewood and Union boundary. All of modern South Orange and more than half of Maplewood was within the Township of Orange.
The story would be simpler if the Township of South Orange was then created from parts of Orange and Springfield, but as we saw while working backward, there was an intermediate step. A township called Clinton was formed in 1834 from the southern part of Orange and smaller portions of Union, Newark, and Elizabeth, splitting the settlement of South Orange for 27 years. As a result South Orange was actually formed from the western part of Clinton and smaller parts of Orange and Millburn (ex Springfield). The rest of Clinton would later become Irvington and part of Newark.
Livingston, formed in 1813, is beyond the South Orange story, but it's interesting to see that its southern boundary started at Keene's Mill, which raised the significance of that point from just a bend in the Springfield line to a real landmark. (This is no longer the southeast corner of Livingston, because a strip of Livingston was taken later into Fairmount and then West Orange. The current southeast corner is at Old Short Hills Road, near the left edge of our map.)
Let's bring this a conclusion. The map:
Newark and Elizabeth were both formed as townships in 1693 by an act of the General Assembly of the Colony of East New Jersey. It was at that time, on one date, that townships were created for the first time within the colony. The boundary between Newark and Elizabeth was "from the mouth of the Bound Creek, and from thence to Bound-Hill, and from thence Northwest to the Partition Line of the Province". The line "Northwest" was not officially surveyed until 1713. Based on that survey and later documented changes, the line was not perfectly straight. It followed the modern county line in the Irvington and Maplewood area (shown in blue on the map), and then ran through Millburn to Chatham Bridge. The Passaic River in that area was the "Partition Line" between the two colonies of East and West New Jersey.
Let's start at the beginning, to see how we got to 1693.
South boundary of Newark
Permission to establish Elizabeth was granted, as Elizabeth-Town, in 1664, the year England acquired the former New Netherlands. Its north boundary was to run from the mouth of the Passaic River "west into the Countery". But the local Lenape tribes had a boundary at Bound Creek, so the subsequent English purchase from the Raritans actually ran only up to Bound Creek, which (hidden under Port Newark and Newark Liberty Airport) is still the north boundary of Elizabeth.
Permission to settle at Newark was granted two years later, and its founders purchased land from the Hackensacks in 1667. The south boundary was correctly set at the Hackensacks' own boundary:
...the great Creke or River in the meadow running to the head of the Cove, and from thence bareing a West Line for the South bounds Wh said Great Creke is Commonly Called and Known by the name Weequachick, on the West Line backwards into the Country to the foot of the great Mountaine called Watchung...Some historians take the "West Line" as literally running due west. I doubt that that was the intended meaning. The "foot of the great Mountaine called Watchung" sounds to me like the south end of the ridge at Millburn. A line running to that location is closer to west by northwest.
At any rate the leaders of Newark and Elizabeth a year later settled on where their common boundary was.
It is Consented unto that the Centre, or place agreed upon by the said Agents of the Towns for to Begin the Dividing Bounds, is from the Top of a Little round Hill, named Divident Hill ; and from Thence to run up a North West Line, into the Country.I've shown the "North West Line" on the map with the comment "speculative". This line is shown on some historical maps of New Jersey including one by John Snyder. My opinion, once again, is that the direction stated should not be taken as precise. Rather I think that this is still the west by northwest line to the end of the mountain at Millburn. The significant part of the agreement of 1668 was to place the border at Bound Creek and not any farther north. The line to the mountain sounds to me like the same line as the Newark purchase.
The line was described again as running "Northwest" in 1693 when the townships were created.
The line was finally surveyed and marked in 1713. Again it is described as starting "where a black Cherry tree Markd with ye Letters N on the one side & E on the other Stands under a Steep Hill", evidently Divident Hill, and running along a line of marked trees, about 30 degrees north of west, to "ye South End of ye Mountain call'd Watchung". The marked trees all had N for Newark and E for Elizabeth on the appropriate sides. The surveyed line was not supposed to be a new boundary but just an official marking of the line described in 1693 and 1668.
West boundary of Newark
The western boundary of the Newark purchase from the Hackensacks in 1667 was "the foot of the Great Mountaine", which I show on the map as a line just below the 200 foot contour, where the slope becomes steeper.
Ten years later the settlers purchased an additional strip of land to move the boundary to the top of the ridge. The survey of 1713 also places the boundary of Newark at the top of the ridge.
The description of the Township of Newark in 1693 has it running west the to Passaic River, and the land from the top of the ridge west to the river was purchased from the Hackensacks in 1702, so why was this portion not included in the township as surveyed in 1713? Even John Snyder, in his careful research for The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries, does not have an answer for this one. But it's clear that for most of the eighteenth century, the Township of Newark was approximately the same area as all of modern Essex County.
This brings us back up to the first map above. The westernmost parts of Newark were separated in in 1794 and 1798 to form Caldwell and Springfield respectively, and then a closer portion was separated to form Orange. Part of Orange was separated to Clinton, and then parts of Clinton and Orange and Millburn (ex Springfield) were taken to form South Orange. Part of the Township of South Orange became the Village of South Orange within the township. Another part of the Township separated to become Vailsburg, which was then annexed to Newark. The village became independent of the township, and the township changed its name to Maplewood. Q E D.
Next time: Something not about South Orange.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
This time we'll look at borders in the South Orange area before there was a local government called South Orange.
The map shows boundaries of 1834 in a heavy line:
The Orange-Clinton boundary
The strangest feature to modern eyes is the boundary of Orange and Clinton, cutting modern South Orange Village in two. This lasted for 27 years, from the formation of Clinton in 1834 to the formation of South Orange (Township) in 1861.
I cannot identify anything today that corresponds to the Orange-Clinton boundary. The best reference I could find was this 1850 map:
The 1850 map shows a straight line from a point in what is now the South Mountain Reservation to a point on South Orange Avenue that looks to me like the corner of Grove Street. The boundary then follows the middle of South Orange Avenue to a point off this map near what is now another Grove Street in Newark. Most of the settlement called South Orange was just south of the Orange-Clinton line, including the Morris and Essex Railroad station and the houses and businesses downtown. But the line is still awkwardly located. As South Orange grew, spreading north of the line, people must have objected to it. This may have influenced creation of the Township of South Orange and the reunion of the whole settlement of South Orange into one jurisdiction.
The west end of the straight line catches the eye as the end point of six boundary lines, four of them current in 1834 and two more later on. The 1850 map shows a building at that point called Keene's Mill, an establishment for which I could find no further information. As shown in 1850, it is between a road and the West Branch of the Rahway, while modern— presumably more accurate— maps show the point as being on the road. But the road may have been relocated.
One of the other lines from Keene's Mill is the old Orange-Springfield boundary, shown on the 1850 map crossing Ridgewood Road just north of the Crooked Brook and the Timothy Ball house with the label "N Ball" for the current owner in 1850.
The Breakup of Orange
The map illustrates the breakup of the large Township of Orange in the 1860s. The first move was the formation of Clinton in 1834 out of the rural parts of four townships, including Orange. But a quarter century later things began to happen fast.
The reorganization of Orange in 1860 from a Township to a Town— yes those are different forms of local government in New Jersey— seems to have set the stage for breakups.
1861: South Orange was formed from parts of Orange and Clinton.
1862: The short-lived Fairmount was formed from parts of Orange and Livingston up on the mountain. The remainder of Orange after this was a more compact and homogeneous area that included all of the center of business and population that ran along Main Street and the Morris and Essex Railroad from Newark to the foot of the mountain.
1863: East Orange was formed, separating the east end of the built-up area.
1863: West Orange was formed, separating the west end of the built-up area, and also including all of Fairmount, which had existed for just 13 months.
The series of changes in just two years left Orange a small fraction of itself, the smallest of the four municipalities with Orange in their name.
I don't know the rest of this story. I imagine it might have to do with early suburban development, and possibly local political gamesmanship. The timing of it, during the Civil War, might be significant.
Millburn is slightly off topic, but since part of modern Maplewood was originally within Millburn, it's worth a mention.
Union County, the last county created in New Jersey, was formed in 1857 from the southern half of Essex. There had been a longstanding rivalry between the colonial towns of Newark and Elizabeth, the latter being the older and for a time more important of the two. But to my knowledge the main factor in its creation was some political advantage in the state legislature.
Springfield, one of the earliest townships in Essex, was split by the county division, and since the old settlement of Springfield was within the new county, that part retained the name Springfield. The part remaining in Essex was formed into a new township called Millburn.
Town historian Marian Meisner wrote in 1957 in A History of Millburn Township that the new county line mostly followed the colonial-era boundary between Newark and Elizabeth ...
[...] but in 1857, when the line reached Millburn, it was abruptly changed to include Millburn in Essex County. The story goes that several of the Millburn people responsible for the formation of the new Township, either held political office in Essex County, or had aspirations to do so, and it is evident that a shift of the township into the new County of Union would cause a sudden change in the political fates of some ambitious citizens.You can see the relatively straight county line on the first map above. The colonial-era boundary continued that line to the end of the First Mountain— about where the South Mountain Reservation entrance now is, opposite the Millburn railroad station— and then on to Chatham Bridge. The county line as established in 1857 still ends at Chatham Bridge, but detours to the south around Millburn.
It's an interesting speculation, even if, as Meisner wrote, it is only as "the story goes". A boundary between Millburn and Maplewood along that line would even today follow more closely the apparent boundary of suburban development, crossing Ridgewood Road near its southern end and Wyoming Avenue at Glen Avenue.
Millburn was a new name in 1857. The settlement and railroad station had been called Millville, but the Post Office would not use that name because there was already another Millville post office in New Jersey, in Cumberland County. Millburn was an alternate name sometimes used by an early Scottish settler, Samuel Campbell, and was the name agreed on in 1857 when the township was created. Even though mills were the basis of the town's economy, Millburn sounds more picturesque and was likely more attractive to the suburban development that was just starting at that date.
Next: The colonial boundaries.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Last time we looked at the South Orange borders since the village separated in 1904. Now let's go back about forty years to the beginning of South Orange Township.
Here the Village of South Orange is bounded by dashed lines, to indicate that it was within the township. There were only two boundary events for the village: the formation of the village in 1869 and the addition of an area to the east in 1891, which we mentioned last time.
The Township of South Orange (later Maplewood) was formed in 1861 from parts of three older towns. It brought together under one jurisdiction an area that logically belonged together, namely most of the South Orange Avenue corridor, the South Orange settlement that would become the village, and the country area to the south with mills, farms, and country estates that did business with the South Orange settlement.
This area had been split awkwardly since 1834 by an east-west border almost through the middle of the South Orange settlement, with the old Township of Orange to the north and the newly formed Township of Clinton on the south, which had been part of Orange. (We'll take a look at that border next time.) The new Township of South Orange took enough from Orange to keep the settlement together, and about half of Clinton, down to the Union County line.
To this was added two years later a chunk from the Township of Millburn. The old border, shown on the map, went up the East Branch of the Rahway River as far as Pierson's mill pond (Parker Avenue today), and then went northwest in a straight line. In doing so it crosses Ridgewood Road at the Crooked Brook, noted as "the brook that divided Orange from Springfield" in an early description of the Timothy Ball House (which I wrote about here.)
Orange unfortunately retained a tongue of land that can be seen in the upper right, extending down to South Orange Avenue, because it contained the Orange poor farm, a type of welfare based on the virtues of doing honest labor and breathing fresh air. Because of this, the South Orange Avenue corridor is needlessly split between two municipalities. There is little visible difference today between the Newark and East Orange blocks besides the street signs.
In the far northwest corner of the township, the boundary is shown on some maps as the West Branch of the Rahway River, and on other maps as a straight line, which is what I show. I don't know for certain which is correct, but it is a straight line now, and Snyder does not list any boundary correction there.
There was another perhaps unexpected portion of the Township of South Orange, the area known as Vailsburg, now part of Newark. Vailsburg was considered part of The Oranges in the nineteenth century.
Here's a modified map from 1889 to give you the geographical picture. My blue lines don't totally correspond to the base map, but they're a little more accurate, based on other sources. I like this map because it shows the full extent of the township as it was from 1863 to 1894, in shades of pink.
Vailsburg separated from the township in 1894 by becoming a borough. The reason was almost certainly the passage that year of a state law requiring all the schools within a township to be in a single school district. That act had the unintended consequence of breaking up townships. Until 1897, all people in an area had to do to establish a borough was pass a local referendum. The leader of the initiative in Vailsburg was Dr Merit H Cash Vail, who owned "a considerable portion" of Vailsburg. He was a Civil War veteran, physician, orator, strawberry farmer, and the first mayor of the borough.
During its brief existence Vailsburg was famous in the sports world for bicycle races. The Vailsburg Velodrome was a one-quarter mile oval with a pine board surface, with a grandstand for 2,000 spectators and open stands for about 6,000 more, and electric lights for night events. It was located on South Orange Avenue at Munn Avenue, in the western half of present-day Vailsburg Park, the rest of which was taken up by Electric Park, an amusement ground. The Vailsburg track was part of a national circuit toured by both amateur and professional cyclists. Notable wheelmen included Frank Kramer "the East Orange Flyer" and a popular African American, Marshall "Major" Taylor.
Racing on Sunday— the only day off most working people had— was started in 1901 in defiance of "blue law" traditions. The borough passed an ordinance specifically against Sunday bicycle racing in 1903, and an arson fire destroyed much of the track in January 1904. But the velodrome was rebuilt in time for the 1904 season, and the owners even announced the resumption of Sunday racing despite the law. The next year, after Newark had annexed Vailsburg, the police came one Sunday and arrested track officials. But the judge hearing the case ruled that racing was "clean outdoor amusement" and asked the chief of police why they never arrested people at the Sunday baseball games.
The track's last season was 1910, but only because the lease on the property expired. The promoters acquired property across the street, where there is now a school parking lot, and opened there the Newark Velodrome in time for the 1911 season. Some modern accounts confuse the two tracks. There was also briefly a Newark Motordrome for motorcycle races in 1912, on approximately the site of the old Vailsburg Velodrome, but soon after it opened, when a horrible crash killed two riders and six spectators, Newark banned motorcycle races.
Above, the Vailsburg Velodrome about 1905, looking north, showing the now unfamiliar sight of a wooden track and large crowds attending a bicycle race. Munn Avenue out of sight to the left, behind the grandstand ; South Orange Avenue in the distance with (I think) the new Engine 21 fire station ; Electric Park out of sight to the right.
But what happened to Vailsburg?
Newark was a prosperous city by 1900, and some civic leaders wanted to expand it into its suburbs, just as New York had done in 1898. They wanted to annex nearly half of Essex County and part of Hudson. Four annexation bills got through the state legislature, subject to local referendum : in 1902 the city annexed what was left of Clinton township ; in 1903 it tried to annex Irvington but failed the local referendum ; in 1905 it annexed the Borough of Vailsburg ; in 1908 it tried again to annex Irvington and failed again.
The end of Vailsburg therefore was part of an expansion campaign by Newark. But the voters of Vailsburg had to approve, which the voters of Irvington refused to do, twice. Some Irvington residents told reporters they felt Irvington would lose its identity as just a small part of a large city. Why the residents of Vailsburg felt differently, I do not know.
Because Irvington was never annexed, Vailsburg became a leftover narrow arm of Newark extending much farther west than any other part of the city. The City Plan Commission wrote in 1912 in City Planning for Newark:
The Vailsburg Section had a very haphazard growth before it was annexed to Newark. As a consequence, its street system cannot be made efficient without much expense. Apparently each property holder divided his plot regardless of his neighbors, with the result that there are no good crosstown [north-south] thoroughfares...But this merely describes the usual suburban pattern of development, as viewed by planners used to the strict grid of Newark. Vailsburg at this date still consisted of scattered wood frame houses, with much open land. The commercial buildings that line South Orange Avenue did not yet exist, and most lots along the avenue were still vacant. The Commission proposed street openings and widenings that could have been done relatively cheaply at the time, but they did not call for a widening of South Orange Avenue itself or realignment of the intersections for continuous north-south travel.
The Commission's Comprehensive Plan of Newark of 1915 mentioned the key problem:
A poor street plan is largely responsible for lack of growth here and also for [lack of] that prime essential to proper development, transportation.Nothing was done. The only main street in Vailsburg, South Orange Avenue, is congested with traffic, slowing both automobile and bus transportation, and no off-street rail transport was ever built. The Garden State Parkway provides a way out for automobiles, but its bridge over South Orange Avenue creates a visual gateway separating Vailsburg from the rest of Newark.
Next time, the earliest boundaries at South Orange.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
The other day I was looking through one of my favorite books, The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries 1606-1968. Its author, John P Snyder, modestly states in the Foreword, "This is hardly a book to cuddle up with", a statement I cannot agree with. But he adds, "I hope some history fans will enjoy browsing through the first few maps and pages, or tracing out the boundary changes in their own communities."
That's what I am going to do. Using Snyder's written descriptions of changes to the South Orange and Maplewood town boundaries, his small outline maps, and other maps and sources, I will present a series of larger annotated maps showing the changes.
We'll start with the modern era, which I would say starts in 1904 with the separation of the Village of South Orange from the Township of South Orange. The boundaries of the two towns at that date were similar enough to the present day that the subsequent changes can be shown clearly on one map.
The two towns
The village form is rare in New Jersey, and the village is the only one of the five types in New Jersey that can have incomplete powers, in that a village can be within a township, just as villages are always within towns in New York State. South Orange village as created in 1869 was within South Orange township. The school district was one of the functions still performed by the township, both inside and outside the village. In 1904 the village was "separated" from the township as a stand-alone municipality, but it continued to be called a village.
The result was two municipalities both called South Orange, a situation still found around the state (Chatham for example). In the case of South Orange, local sentiment led to the township being renamed in 1922 as the Township of Maplewood, using the name of the railroad station and post office.
In 1972 the United States began offering assistance to local governments under the newly passed Revenue Sharing Act. The formula, in attempting to deal with differences within the states, tended to give more aid to "townships" (and "towns" in New York and New England). The result of a distinction that meant little in New Jersey was that in the early 1980s fifteen cities, towns, boroughs, and villages in Essex County changed their names to contain the word "township" in order to qualify for more aid. The Village of South Orange renamed itself the Township of South Orange Village in 1981, with no practical change to its form of government. The federal program ended in 1986.
Here's the map. Modern boundaries in a heavy line.
There were two large additions to the Village of South Orange, to the east in 1891 (strictly speaking, before the time period shown in this map) and to the west in 1925, both from the township. The 1891 addition brought it out to the township boundary north of South Orange Avenue and brought the entire Seton Hall campus within the village. The 1925 addition extended the village to the edge of South Mountain Reservation.
Otherwise there were an unusually large number of small changes mostly on the east side of both towns. In general they were the result of old town lines not respecting earlier farm property lines, which led eventually to subdivisions of those farms with house lots lying across town boundaries. The adjustments made life simpler by shifting the town lines to run along house lot lines, a good goal that was never fully achieved in either town.
Let's look at the changes, clockwise from the top.
Exchanges in 1906 and 1917 adjusted South Orange's borders with East Orange, and similar adjustments with Orange began in 1920, but were never carried further west.
Once the village separated in 1904, the township was left with a triangular northeast corner extending almost to South Orange Avenue, which was removed in three steps. The point of the northeast triangle was added to the village in 1911, followed within months by boundary adjustments between the village and Newark.
A good-sized section, now known as Ivy Hill, was transferred from the township (now Maplewood) to Newark in 1927. Most of the land here had been owned by the City of Newark for over a decade. Probably at the same time, a small section not noted by Synder was transferred from Newark to Maplewood.
The new boundary with Newark again followed property lines, leaving an irregular strip of Maplewood between Newark and South Orange that was finally transferred to South Orange two years later. The effect of the changes in 1911 and 1929 left South Orange with better boundaries along its whole east side, apparently the result of Newark public policy.
The south border of the village runs across many property lines and has been adjusted in only two places, in 1916 near Ridgewood Road and in 1935 near Clinton School. Here's the region around the Clinton School change. Why was only that one block changed?
The Town of Irvington had boundaries diagonal to city blocks on its northwest and northeast sides. The boundaries with the City of Newark were adjusted in 1926 by a commission appointed by the County Court of Common Pleas, creating the stepped lines seen on the base map, following property lines. Irvington's boundary with Maplewood was adjusted in 1931 in a similar fashion. Snyder notes that further adjustments were made in 1965, but he does not show where the changes were made. All the ones I can identify are from 1931.
No change was ever made to the awkward town line between Maplewood and Millburn that splits many house lots. On the ground, this boundary is invisible and arbitrary, since all the streets were laid out at right angles to Wyoming Avenue and Ridgewood Road. Here's part of the boundary. At least 25 lots are in both towns.
Next time, we'll look at earlier boundaries.