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The History of Street Names in Bernards Township

Before I begin this post, I have to say that this topic was one of my favorites with June Kennedy, our Basking Ridge Town Historian who recently passed in November 2018. We often challenged each other to dig into the true meaning on the naming of all the 463 streets. I think I remember hearing that June named somewhere around 40 of the 463 street names so finding the truth was sometimes a challenge. But we did the analysis nonetheless. See what our research has found out since our sessions with June.

The streets covered include the hamlets of Basking Ridge, Lyons, Liberty Corner, and West Millington which makes up Bernards Township. June Kennedy had been involved with history as soon as she moved to town from Little Silver, New Jersey. During the “boom boom” build years in Bernards Township starting in the 1960’s, she became increasingly frustrated at developers who were building in the township and naming streets after their sons, daughters, golf clubs and whatever else. So she got involved.

Based on discussions with June, she named over 40 streets as historian and was an advisor to David Schley and the Bernards Township Engineering Department up until five years ago.

The Metrics

In business, nothing drives us more that metrics. Knowing the numbers drives the discussions. So let’s give you a few metrics:

  • 52 street names start with the letter C – the most by any other letter
  • 99 streets are named based on an area feature representing 21% of the street names
  • 81 streets were named after residents.
  • 32 streets were named after Revolutionary War events in the area.
  • 29 streets were named after a developer’s relative
  • 24 street names need your help to determine their proper category! (Post in Comments below)

Analysis of Street Names in Bernards Township

A strange metric, but people asked to know the starting letter of the most streets. From our analysis, C, S, and W took honors.

Feature Categories

Our next metric focuses on a key set of categories that June and I agreed. It’s great to know that the town certainly ties back to its roots with Area Features, Local Residents, and England taking the top three categories.

Our next “Street Name” metric focused on a set of categories.

Local Names from Bernards Township

The next category breakdown we targeted was local names of town residents. If you’ve ever wondered who that street is named after and what is the significance, here’s your chance to learn some great local history. You can click the image below to enlarge it.

81 Streets Were Named After Basking Ridge Residents

Street NameOrigin
ACKEN RDNamed for the Acken family of Liberty Corner, landowners and shopkeepers
ALEXANDRIA WAYNamed for William Alexander, Lord Stirling (1726-1783)
ALLEN RD, CR (652)Named for Josiah Allen of Liberty Corner, descendant of Ethan Allen, American soldier and patriot, 18th Century
ALLEN STNamed for W. J. Allen who owned much land in Basking Ridge Village in mid-19th Century
AMBAR PLNamed for settlers in the area, early 20th Century
ANNIN RDNamed for the John Annin family (Johnstons of Annandale, Scotland). Their 1,000 acres in 1722 were called Annin’s Corner and later renamed Liberty Corner
BALDWIN CTNamed for an old family of Liberty Corner, 19th Century
BERNARD DRNamed for Sir Francis Bernards, provincial Governor of New Jersey 1758-1760
BRADFORD LNNamed for William Bradford, pilgrim settler and second governor of Plymouth Colony (1590-1657)
CARSWELL CTNamed for the Carswell family, active in township community affairs since the 20th Century
CHAPIN LNNamed for original estate of Chapin-Earhart family
CHILDS RDNamed for William Childs, who moved the barn to the Old Mill Inn site and Samuel Childs, benefactor to the Bernards Township Library in the 1900’s
CODDINGTON CTNamed for early settlers in the West Millington area of the township
COLLYER LNNamed for John Collyer family, large land owners on south maple Avenue, 19th Century
CONKLING STNamed for the Conkling family, 19th Century settlers in Bernards
COOPER CTNamed for early settlers in the township
CULBERSON RDNamed for the Culberson family, landowners for more than 150 years. The street runs through their property
DAYTON STNamed for William L. Dayton (1807-1864), U.S. Senator, Vice Presidential candidate and Ambassador to France
DECKER STNamed for early settlers in the township. Carl G. Decker sold to Wheeler Corporation in 1939 this tract known as the Bernards Plateau.
DOGGETT CTNamed after the President of the High Meadow Hunt Club
DOUGLAS RDNamed for the Douglas family who settled this area in 1765
DRYDEN RDNamed for John Dryden (1631-1700) English poet, dramatist and critic
E ALLEN STNamed for W. J. Allen who owned much land in Basking Ridge Village in mid-19th Century
E CRAIG STNamed for Daniel D. Craig, banker and storekeeper,19th Century
E LEWIS STNamed for the Edward Lewis family who arrived in the mid 18th Century and contributed to many township activities since 1730’s
ELLIS DRNamed for Monroe F. Ellis, for whom Monroe Place was also named in 1900’s
EVERSON PLNamed for original family on property before development in late 1900’s
FORBES CTNamed for Dr. John Forbes, local physician, c1900’s
GOLTRA DRNamed for James P. Goltra (1792-1871), farmer, judge and builder of the Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church
GOVERNOR DRNamed for Sir Francis Bernards (1712-1779), NJ Provincial Governor, 1758-1760
GRANVILLE WAYNamed for John Carteret, The Earl of Granville, (1690-1763) British statesman and orator
HAAS RDNamed for John V. Haas and farmer and owner of Sunnyside Farm in West Millington area
HADLEY CTNamed for Henry K. Hadley (1871-1937) U.S. composer and conductor
HARRISON BROOK DRNamed for John Harrison, agent of the King of England, who bought 3000 acres of land for $50 from the Lenai Lenape Indians in 1717
HARTLEY LNNamed for David Hartley (1705-1757), English physician and philosopher
HENRY STNamed for Parmenus C. Henry, owner of P.C. Henry’s General Store and other properties in the area, 19th Century
HOPKINSON CTNamed for Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) N.J. signer of the Declaration of Independence, 1776
IRVING PLNamed for Isaac L. Irving family of Liberty Corner—former mortician, wheelwright and blacksmith, 19th Century
JOHNSTON CIRNamed for Johnston family who left Annandale, Scotland and arrived in 1722 in area known today as Liberty Corner
KEATS RDNamed for John Keats (1795-1921) English poet
KINNAN WAYNamed for Mary Lewis Kinnan (1764-1848) captive of the Indians, rescued and returned to Basking Ridge, 1794
KNOLLCROFT RDNamed for estate of Walter Reynolds, most of property now occupied by U.S. Veterans Medical Center, Lyons
LAYTON RDNamed for Peter Layton of Liberty Corner, former mortician, wheelwright and blacksmith, 19th Century
LEWIS STNamed for the Edward Lewis family who arrived in the mid 18th Century and contributed to many township activities since 1730’s
LORD STIRLING RDNamed for Lord Stirling, William Alexander (1726-1783), major general in the continental Army whose estate “Stirling Manor” was built here in 1762
LURLINE DRNamed for Lurline Eberkardt, accidentally shot while hunting
LYONS PLNamed for David Lyon’s family here in late 18th century. Family owner land where Lyons Railroad Station is located and had encouraged Bernards to bring first railroad to area in 1872. The family name was Lyon. David was one of the first Elders of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.
LYONS RDNamed for David Lyon’s family here in late 18th century. Family owner land where Lyons Railroad Station is located and had encouraged Bernards to bring first railroad to area in 1872. The family name was Lyon. David was one of the first Elders of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.
MARTINSVILLE RD, CR (525)Named for a thoroughfare in the Township which terminates in Martinsville (Bridgewater). Named for prominent Martin family.
MEEKER RDNamed for the Meeker family which had large land holdings since the mid 19th Century
MILITO WAYNamed for the Milito family who occupied land and have lived there since the late 1800’s
MONROE PLNamed for Monroe F. Ellis for whom Ellis Drive was also named in 1900’s
MORRISON STNamed for early settlers in the Township
N ALWARD AVENamed for the Alward Family who settled on land here in 1732
N VOORHEES DRNamed for Dr. Amadee Voorhees, country doctor in the mid-19th Century
OAKLEY STNamed for an early family which settled in the area
OSBORNE PLNamed for J.H. Osborne’s sawmill and pond
PADDOCK CTNamed for the paddock area of Coppergate Horse Stables
PENNINGTON STNamed for Dr. William Pennington, country physician
PITNEY CTNamed for James Pitney, first recorded settler in this area, early 18th Century
RADEL PLNamed for a 19th Century farming family
RIGGS CTThe Riggs family settled in the area in the early 1800’s
RUNYON DRNamed for early settlers in the West Millington area
S ALWARD AVENamed for the Alward Family who settled on land here in 1732
SCOTSMANS WAYNamed in honor of the Annin family, known as Johnston in Scotland. Settled Liberty Corner area in 1722
SOUTHARD PLNamed for the Southards, Father Henry (1747-1842), US Representative; Sen. Samuel L. (1787-1842), US Senator, NJ Governor, Secretary of the Navy
SPENCER RDNamed for Austin P. Spencer, lost at sea in the North Atlantic while piloting a bomber on submarine duty, 1943
SUTRO PLNamed for the Sutro family which owned property on South Finley Avenue. Son Frederick (1879-1964) was executive director of NJ Park Commission
THOMPSON WAYNamed for Harold Thomson, former mayor and township committee member 1948 -1956
TURNER STNamed for Kenneth A. Turner Sr., Bernards Township Engineer, 1932-1957
TYSLEY STNamed for early settlers in the Township. Tysley Avenue is in Bernardsville
VAIL TERRNamed for Daniel Vail (1735-1793), large land owner & distant cousins of Alfred Vail, who with Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph @Speedwell, Morristown, 1844
VAN DORN RDNamed for Ferdinand Van Dorn (1807-1902), who owned and operated the flour/grist mill in Franklin Corners
VANDERVEER DRNamed for Dr. James Vanderveer (1838-1913), country doctor
VOORHEES DRNamed for Dr. Amadee Voorhees, country doctor in the mid-19th Century
W CRAIG STNamed for Daniel D. Craig, banker and storekeeper, 19th Century
W HENRY STNamed for Parmenus C. Henry, owner of P.C. Henry’s General Store and other properties in the area, 19th Century
WHITENACK RDNamed for the Whitenack family which settled here in the mid-18th Century and were large landowners
WOLF LNNamed for Lyla Wolf Florio’s maiden name, property owner
WOODWARD LNNamed for Woodward family which supplied grain and material to the Revolutionary War troops at Jockey Hollow

32 Streets were named after the Revolutionary War Events

Street NameOrigin
BEACON CREST DRNamed for location of Revolutionary Ware beacon, designed by Lord Stirling
BULLION DRNamed for Bullion’s Tavern located in Liberty Corner during the American Revolution
CANNON CTNamed for mounted gun used in the Revolutionary War
COLONIAL DRNamed for a person who supported America’s fight during the Revolutionary War
CONCORD LNNamed for the second battle of the American Revolution, Concord, MA, April 19, 1775
FIFE LNNamed for a type of flute used in military musical groups
FLINTLOCK CTNamed for a firearm used in the American Revolution
GREEN MOUNTAIN DRNamed for the Green Mountain Boys, soldiers form Vermont, organized by Ethan Allen in 1775
HALE CTNamed for Nathan Hale (1755-1776), American soldier hanged as a spy by the British during the American Revolution
HANCOCK CTNamed for John Hancock (1737-1793) first signer of the Declaration of Independence, 1776
HARCOURT LNNamed for Col. William Harcourt, arresting British officer of General Charles Lee at the Widow White’s Tavern, Basking Ridge, 12/13/76
HESSIAN DRNamed for a mercenary used by England during the American Revolution
HONEYMAN RDNamed for John Honeyman (1727-1822) who was a spy for George Washington prior to the Battle of Trenton, 1776
HUNTINGTON RDNamed for Samuel Huntington (1731-1797) American Revolution political leader
KNOX CTNamed for General Henry Knox (1750-1806) of Washington’s staff in the American Revolution
LAFAYETTE LNNamed for Marquis de Lafayette, friend of General George Washington (1757-1834) French general and statesman
LEE PLNamed for General Charles Lee (1731-1782) arrested by the British in Basking Ridge, December 13, 1776
LEXINGTON RDNamed for the first battle of the American Revolution at Lexington, 1775
MINUTEMAN CTNamed for an American militia man just before and after the Revolutionary War, who was ready for instant military service
MT PROSPECT RDNamed for very old geographic area from Revolutionary War times
MUSKET DRNamed for a large heavy caliber handgun used in the Revolutionary War
PAINE CTNamed for Thomas Paine (1737-1809), patriot and writer, the “Conscience of the American Revolution”
PRESCOTT CTNamed for William Prescott (1726-1795), U.S. soldier, played vital part in Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775. “Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes” – famous order given in Battle
PRINCETON CTNamed for the Battle of Princeton, American Revolutionary War, 1777
QUINCY RDNamed for Eliza Susan Morton Quincy (1764-1850), who wrote her recollections of Basking Ridge during and after the American Revolution
REVERE DRNamed for Paul Revere (1735-1818), American patriot and silversmith, famous for his night horseback ride, April 18, 1775
RICKEY LNNamed for Col. Israel Rickey (1744-1821), a valuable officer in the Revolutionary War
SENTINEL DRNamed for a soldier stationed as a guard to challenge all comers and prevent a surprise attack
STIRLING LNNamed for Lord Stirling, William Alexander (1726-1783), American Revolutionary War major general
SULLIVAN DRNamed for General John Sullivan (1740-1795), Revolutionary War leader
WAYNE TERRNamed for General “Mad Anthony” Wayne (1745-1796), American Revolutionary War leader

Developers Ran the Roost

This was the category where June Kennedy finally put her foot down. For a number of years starting in the 1960’s, development increased at a feverous pace. Without June, the street names were permitted to be named by the Developer. So what did they do? Then typically named the street after a family member, usually a spouse or children. So is your street named after a developers relative?

Recommendations for New Street Names

Based on historical research, here’s a list of five street names we recommended to the Bernards Township Township Committee:

John Morton – 1779 Hospital – The Rebel Banker & Basking Ridge Resident (1776)

As wealthy merchant, Morton became known as the “Rebel Banker” for loaning large sums of money to the rebel cause. In 1775, Morton liquidated most of his capital to loan the Revolutionary War effort. After the capture of New York City by the British, John and Maria Sophia Morton were forced to flee with their large family (six kids) to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, then they remained several weeks in a house in Springfield with five other families, who were also fugitives. Not feeling safe, they decided to go beyond the “Long Hill” and settled on Basking Ridge in 1776 where they called for their belongings from New York City.

Elias Boudinot – President of Continental Congress – Basking Ridge Resident

Boudinot was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress and was elected President of the Continental Congress in 1783. He purchased a little over 100 acres of land in Basking Ridge in 1771 and 1772 from Edward Lewis, but would remain in Elizabeth for a while longer. Boudinot served on New Jersey’s first Committee on Correspondence, formed in 1774, tasked with contacting the legislatures of each colony so that they could join Virginia and offer concerted opposition toward British encroachments. In August 1775, Boudinot secretly rounded up and sent to General George Washington desperately-needed supplies of gunpowder. A year later he served as an aide-de-camp to Brigadier General William Livingston, who became the state’s first governor elected under the new state constitution. In 1777, Boudinot was commissioned Commissary General of Prisoners by the Continental Congress. He lived in Basking Ridge while serving as president of the Continental Congress from 1782-83. He sold the house in 1785.

Alexander Kirkpatrick – Early Settler to Basking Ridge (1736)

Alexander Kirkpatrick (b.1697), who settled at Mine Brook in 1736, on the farm lately owned by Henry Baird. The Kirkpatrick’s belonged to a noble family in Scotland. Alexander, the ancestor of the family in this country, was born at Watties Neach, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He removed with his family to Belfast, Ireland, after the birth of his son David, about the year 1725. 

John Ayers – Early Settler to Basking Ridge (1727)
John Ayres came from Woodbridge, New Jersey and was born on March 02, 1663 in Newbury, MA. Son of Obadiah Ayres and Hannah Ayres (Pike), husband of Mary Ayers and Ruth Ayres He had seven sons; John, Thomas, Obadiah, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Moses, and Aaron.  He moved to Basking Ridge the same year Harrison bought the land from the Indian Chief Nowenwalk.  John Ayres, who settled on the Millstone, in 1717, is mentioned as having lands in the east part of the Basking Ridge in 1727. John Ayres is noted for donating 1 ½ acres which included the land on which a log meeting house stood in 1730 but it was said that the meeting house had probably been there since at least 1725 (the BRPC states 1717).

James Alexander – Early Settler to Basking Ridge (1720)

James Alexander, father of William Alexander (Lord Stirling) was a large landowner and had to deal with “squatters” on his land. James Pitney was noted as being on James’ land when he first arrived in the area. Research shows Cornelius Brees from Staten Island, bought land in 1720 from James Alexander on the East side of the Dead River which had been occupied by James Pitney. John Ayres son Obadiah also bought land from Alexander.

Thanks for taking a look at our street names presentation. I shared it at the local historical society back in 2017. I hope to present the presentation and topic again in the future. Below is the list of every street name we knew as of 2016. Enjoy the list.

Missing Street Names Need Additional Help

MLH is still looking to determine the 24 streets where we don’t have definitive proof of naming. Post in the Comments section if you have an idea or opinion.

Post a comment if you know how the street got its name.

Basking Ridge Street Names

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