Cities Near Bordentown, NJ
Local city information for Bordentown, NJ
See also: Bordentown Township, New Jersey
City is in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city population was 3,969; which had fallen to 3,953 as of the 2006 census estimate. Bordentown is located at the confluence of the Delaware River, Blacks Creek and Crosswicks Creek. The latter is the border between Burlington and Mercer Counties.
Bordentown was originally incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on December 9, 1825, from portions within Chesterfield Township. It was reincorporated as a city on April 3, 1867, and separated from Chesterfield Township c. 1877.
Thomas Farnsworth, an English Quaker, was credited with being the first European settler in the Bordentown area in 1682, when he moved his family up river from Burlington. He made a new home on the windswept bluff overlooking the broad bend in the Delaware River. The Farnsworth's cabin was situated near the northwest corner of Park Street and Prince Street, perhaps where an 1883 frame house now stands. "Farnsworth Landing" soon became the center of trade for the region.
Joseph Borden, for whom the town is named, arrived in 1717, and by May 1740 founded a transportation system to carry people and freight between New York City and Philadelphia. This exploited Bordentown's natural location as the point on the Delaware River that provided the shortest overland route to South Amboy, from which cargo and people could be ferried to New York City.
By 1776, Bordentown was full of patriots. Patience Lovell Wright, America's first sculptor, was creating wax busts in King George's court in England. Later, however, Bordentown became a rabble-rousing hotbed. In addition to Joseph Borden, who became a colonel during the war, patriots Francis Hopkinson (a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence), Colonel Kirkbride, Colonel Oakey Hoagland, and Thomas Paine resided in the area. Due to their well-published activity in Bordentown, the British retaliated. Hessians occupied the town in 1776, and the British pillaged and razed the town during May and June of 1778.
In 1837 Rev. Henry Doane, the second Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey, founded St. Mary's Hall, an Episcopal girls' boarding school. It was one of the first girls' schools to offer a classical education such as that available to boys, with studies in Greek, Latin, and French; as well as science, composition, writing and math. Families eager for education for their daughters sent girls there from states as far away as Maine and North Carolina. Most of the students came from New Jersey and New York. In later years the Doane Academy was founded for boys, and decades later the schools combined.
Other famous residents included Clara Barton who in 1852 started the first free public school in New Jersey. A recreation of her schoolhouse stands at the corner of Crosswicks and Burlington streets. Ms. Barton later founded the American Red Cross.
Several years after the banishing of his family from France in 1816, arriving under vigilant disguise as the Count de Survilliers, Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Naples and Spain and brother to the ill-fated Napoleon I of France, established his residence in Bordentown. He lived there for 17 years, entertaining guests of great fame such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the future 6th U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. The residents of Bordentown nicknamed the Count, "The Good
Mr. Bonaparte" (Good
to distinguish him from his younger brother). He built a lake near the mouth of Crosswicks Creek that was about 200 yards wide and half a mile long. On the bluff above it he built a new home, "Point Breeze" . The current Divine Word Mission occupies its former site along Park Street.
Today only vestiges of the Bonaparte estate remain. Much of it is actually the remains of a building remodeled in English Georgian Revival style in 1924 for Harris Hammon, who purchased the estate at Point Breeze as built in 1850 by Henry Becket, a British consul in Philadelphia. In addition to the rubble of this mansion and some hedges of its elaborate gardens, only the original tunnel to the river (broken through in several places) and the house of Bonaparte's secretary remain. Many descendants of Joachim Murat, King of Naples, also were born or lived in Bordentown, having followed their uncle Joseph there. After the Bonaparte dynasty was restored by Napoleon III, they moved back to France and were recognized as princes.
In August 1831, master mechanic Isaac Dripps of Bordentown re-assembled (without blueprints or instructions) the locomotive John Bull (originally called "The Stevens") in just 10 days. It was built by Robert Stephenson and Company, in England, and was imported into Philadelphia by the Camden and Amboy Railroad. The next year it started limited service, and the year after that regular service, to become one of the first successful locomotives in the United States. The John Bull is preserved at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
In 1866, Susan Waters moved into what is now one of the larger properties on Mary Street. This was a base from which she taught and produced over 50 of her works, many of which are painting of animals in natural settings and pastoral scenes. She was also an early photographer. In 1876 she was asked to exhibit several of her works at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
In 1881, Rev. William Bowen purchased the old Spring Villa Female Seminary building (built on land purchased from the Bonapartes in 1837) and reopened it as the Bordentown Military Institute. In 1886, African-American Rev. Walter A. Rice established a private school, the Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth, in a two-story house at 60 West Street, later moved to Walnut Street.
In 1909, the religious order Poor Clares established a convent in the former Motherhouse of the Sisters of Mercy on Crosswicks Street. The building still stands and is used as an assisted living home for non-ambulatory elderly, called The Clare Estate. The Order of Poor Clares has moved to a new facility outside Bordentown City.
The Bordentown Yacht Club was formed in 1937 at the former site of Farnsworth's Landing.
Bordentown is the location of an Ocean Spray processing plant.
More recently, the town has become a destination for weekend dining as well as for the casual perusal of its book stores and art galleries. The active downtown business association sponsors an annual Iris Festival & Art Show in early May, an annual Street Fair in mid- to late May, and an annual Cranberry Festival in early October. It and the Bordentown Historical Society sponsor other events, as well. See the Downtown Bordentown web page . Visitors may now arrive via the River Line train, which has a stop in Bordentown. Bordentown Station is 11 minutes from the New Jersey Transit and Amtrak Trenton Rail Station.
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