So Where is West Millington, Lyons and Madisonville Sections of Bernards Township

NOTE: As with all Mr. Local History retrospectives, we often update the post when we learn stories and are sent photos from our community. We will continue to grow this piece as information becomes available.

Mr. Local History Project

We’re often asked by the public about typical history questions that you think would be fairly straightforward. Today we dig into the history of the West Millington and Lyons hamlets that are part of Bernards Township. The Mr. Local History Project researchers are taking on the challenge.

First off, Bernards Township’s history defines Bernards to include the five hamlets known as Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner, West Millington, Lyons, and Madisonville.

The township flag symbolizes the iconic oak trees of Basking Ridge and Liberty Corner sections.

Bernards-Flag 200th-Anniversary-Mr-Local-History
The 200th anniversary flag for Bernards Township.
Left side represents Basking Ridge. Right side represents Liberty Corner.

Our First Pass of the 5 hamlets of Bernards Township

Lyons Section of Bernards Township

Our research begins with a thesis. Lyons is supposedly named after French decedents that landed in eastern Jersey and migrated to the Basking Ridge area where they became large landowners. Here’s what we’ve verified so far.

The history of the area starts with David Lyon, a local farmer and an Elder at the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church when it was founded in 1717. Outside church records, there is very little information on David, but we do have a statement from June Kennedy, the former Bernards Township Historian, that Lyons Road and Lyons Place were named after David Lyon and his descendants who lived on a large farm in the area. It was also noted that Lyons Road was changed from Clairvaux Road in the 1800s.

Lyon Not Lyons

While everyone know the roads have a plural ending, the actual surname was in fact Lyon and not Lyons, so you’re really on Lyon’s Road and Lyon’s place (funny how we discuss grammar :))

David’s son, Nathaniel Lyon was born in Basking Ridge somewhere between 1754 and 1814. He was the husband of Elizabeth Lyon and father of John Heath Lyon.

1873 map showing the properties of Mrs. S. Lyon and J.H. (John Heath) Lyon ad the Lyons Station (Depot) and coal yard..

J.H. Lyon on the above 1873 map would have been John Heath Lyon, born August 21, 1819 and died February 27, 1881 (61) . Son of Nathaniel S Lyon and Elizabeth Lyon. John was husband of Hannah Lyon and Mary Lyon and Father of Emma Louise CollinsAnna Margaret Lyon and William James Lyon.

John H. Lyon is responsible for bringing the railroad system from Summit across the Passiac River to Bernardsville. Activities started in March 1869 after the US Supreme Court upheld Bernards Township Railroad bondholders to secure funding for the project. Lyon’s project completed with the first passengers voyage on January 29, 1872.

We’re still digging to identify Mrs. S. Lyon noted on the above 1873 map. We are still searching historic documents and maps trying to identify the Lyons section boundaries.

Lyons Summary

The United States Postal Service has often been the key player in naming (and renaming) local area sectioning. There is no doubt in our minds that at one time the Lyons section of Bernards Township included the Lyons Depot, Lyons Place and the Lyons Mall area. But the only Lyons zip code today is 07939. So for the record, the Lyons Train Station, Lyons Mall, and Lyons Place are all in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township. They are not in Lyons.

West Millington Section of Bernards Township

Obviously West Millington is just west of the Village of Millington which happens to be in Morris County. But there was alway a cut through for travelers on Stonehouse Road that wanted to get to Millington and that was on what is now know as Haas (pronounced Haze) Road. It was John V Haas that tuned what was known as the Homeville Section of Bernards to what is now known as the West Millington section of Bernards Township.

Old Restaurants in Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Bedminster, Peapack & Gladstone - Pubs - - Mr. Local History Archive #mrlocalhistory
Cafe Rustica on Valley Road was once the Pleasant Valley School in West Millington. It’s was also Bills Corral, a local watering hole.
Bills Corral West Millington, NJ

What was originally known as the Pleasant Valley area in the township, the original Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse was once on the grounds of the “Old Stonehouse,” one of the oldest homes still standing in the township. Even before there was a school in Liberty Corner, there was a school what later became West Millington!

Many locals still feel there is a West Millington. But with the post office changes in 1986, along with a survey and a stroke of a pen, West Millington is now mostly just a reminder of the past. What do you think?

Madisonville Section of Bernards Township

Another small hamlet is a small section at the northern end of Bernards Township called Madisonville. The areas most historic property is a place called the “Coffee House,” a small home on the corner of Madisonville ave and North Maple. The area runs east to west from Route 202 over to the eastern boundary of Bernards Township.

Welcome to the Madisonville section of Bernards Township
Madisonville section of Bernards Township (approximate)
The Coffee House Tavern (Turner Homestead) 214 N. Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ  07920
Built in 1804, the house is an example of a New Jersey frame farmhouse which later served as a crossroads tavern, meeting place and stage coach route.  Entered in State and National Registers, 1977.

Madisonville was undoubtedly named for President James Madison as the name first appeared on an adjacent deed as Madison Village in 1809. A manuscript map of a large tract of land, drawn in 1818 by S.W. Edwards, includes Madisonville in the southwest corner. The map shows all of the associated buildings at that time and uses the name Madisonville Coffee House. Hence the center of Madisonville was the Coffee House Tavern. James Madison Jr. was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817.

The Coffee House was an early 19th century crossroads tavern. The Coffee House was an early 19th century crossroads tavern. This well-kept white clapboard home is a fine example of careful and deliberate preservation efforts that have been ongoing for many years.

On September 6, 1804 Daniel Doty bought 17 acres including a store from David Simpson for $468. This was the first recorded deed to the Coffee House property.

The Coffee House has been in the Turner family since Clara Dayton, acquired the home in 1905 and is a functioning private residence today. The house is a familiar local landmark, and it is believed that Continental Army soldiers, perhaps including General George Washington, stopped in for coffee, thus the name “Coffee House.”

It is significant that the name Coffee House became synonymous with Madisonville, and has remained so. Numerous references used the name Coffee House instead of Madisonville and most older residents refer to the area as Coffee House. Coffee House corner is noted on some of the present Bernards Township maps.

The name “Madisonville Coffee House” appears on a map dating to 1818. At that time it was being operated as a tavern. The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in several states beginning in about 1806. The larger Italianate section of the house dates to the second half of the 19th century.

This well-kept white clapboard home is a fine example of careful and deliberate preservation efforts that have been ongoing for many years. The Coffee House has been in the Turner family since Clara Dayton acquired the home in 1905. Coffee House is a private residence today. The house is a familiar local landmark, and it’s noted that Continental Army soldiers, perhaps including General George Washington, stopped in for coffee travelling between Jockey Hollow and Basking Ridge, thus the name “Coffee House.”

The name “Madisonville Coffee House” appears on a map dating to 1818. At that time it was being operated as a tavern. The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in several states beginning in around 1806. The larger Italianate section of the house dates to the second half of the 19th century.

The Orchard Farm c. 1910 was built around 1870 at the corner of Madisonville Road and North Maple Avenue in the Madisonville section of Bernards Township. This was the largest Second Empire style house in Basking Ridge. For 40 years the Charles Roberts family lived there. Mr. Roberts was a prominent banker and the secretary/treasurer of the Childs Restaurant chain.
The Orchard Farm c. 1910 was built around 1870 at the corner of Madisonville Road and North Maple Avenue in the Madisonville section of Bernards Township. This was the largest Second Empire style house in Basking Ridge. For 40 years the Charles Roberts family lived there. Mr. Roberts was a prominent banker and the secretary/treasurer of the Childs Restaurant chain.

Additional Comments

Growing Up (70s and 80s) if you had a 647 phone exchange (instead of 766) you were West Millington (221 and the rest of them had not yet been hatched).

Bill Menichillo

 Lyons (always pronounced like the animal – plural – and never pronounced like the city in France) was a VERY small area which seemed to include the train station and Lyons Mall along with the neighborhood behind Lyons Mall (Lyons Rd, Lyons Place etc) and the western portion of Cross Rd. I would also include the “name” streets in Lyons (Gerard, Marilyn, Jeffrey Ct etc – but NOT the Woods End neighborhood which was newer and was not connected to the Lyons area until much later via Gerard Ave. 

Bill Menichillo

We’ll keep digging on social media and through our contacts and materials.

Have a story to share? Feel free to post a comment below.

3 Thoughts to “So Where is West Millington, Lyons and Madisonville Sections of Bernards Township”

  1. Pete Prior

    As a West Millington resident during the change over, I was sad to see the renaming to Basking Ridge. Not that I did not like being associated with BR, it is just that I was sad to see W Millington go away. So yes, after living in West Millington for some 20 years before the name was changed, the zip code was changed as well from 07946 to 07920, and Millington retained the zip code.

  2. Local History

    Posted from a friend: “The West Millington story hits home for us. I learned how to spell my name and address( using the whole Alphabet it seemed..with Fountain Pens) writing in cursive at St James School in first grade. It took forever! .The Nuns would always question why I didn’t write Basking Ridge ,like all the other kids ….
    I was sad when our Address changed”.

    Charlie F. (West Millington resident

  3. Local History

    My POV is that W.Millington will never go away as I’ve learned that the Bernards Township flag has four squares representing Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner, Lyons, and YES West Millington. Check out the story. https://www.mrlocalhistory.org/bernards-township-flag/

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