Roselle Park Museum

Roselle Park Museum
9 West Grant Avenue
908-245-1776

History:

When colonists came to the New World, some settled between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, in what is now New Jersey. A subtribe of Algonquin Indians who called themselves Leni Lenape, meaning "men among men" were the primary inhabitants until then. One of three subtribes of the Leni Lenape, known as Unami or Turtle tribe, had a smaller kingdom called Raritans or Wawitane and these are the Indians that occupied what is now known as Union County. Although no evidence of an Indian village site has been found within Roselle Park boundaries, it is believed that the original, meandering Westfield Avenue, also known to be part of the Old York Road, was an Indian Trail. The Lenape criss-crossed New Jersey and left a network of such trails, which became colonial roads and later, highways.

After decades of efforts to unsettle Indians in the region west of Staten Island, in 1651, early Dutch colonists purchased from them all of the land lying between the Raritan River and the Passaic and extending indefinitely inland. The Dutch, who had named a large portion of the east coast New Netherland, were unsuccessful in settling this area. The English ousted the Dutch in 1664, and colonized what is now Union County. This settlement was named Elizabeth Town, after the wife of the proprietor, Sir George Cartaret.

The first record of settlement within the present Roselle Park properties was by Samuel Williams, a Memorialist, in 1700, with his son, Joseph. Samuel's father, Matthew Williams, had settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut and his brother settled at Newark, New Jersey. Samuel was born in 1653, and married Esther, a daughter of Nathaniel Wheeler of Newark. When he died in 1706, he left five sons and three daughters. Settling on the meandering road to the West Fields the family gave their name to this community, "Williams Farms."

Roselle Park is boundried on the east by Galloping Hill Road of Revolutionary War fame. Scouts with messages to and from George Washington in Morristown and Governor Livingston in Elizabeth Town continually galloped along this artery. It is believed to be the route that British columns advanced to the Battle of Connecticut Farms in June of 1780, battling along the way with militia men.

The son of General William Crane was bayoneted by the British near Galloping Hill Road and West Fields Road, now Colonial Road. A monument erected on the site was dedicated by the D.A.R. in 1913. The militia are memorialized on that monument with words of praise from General Washington. The "Hospital Oak" which offered shelter to Washington's troops on Galloping Hill Road was near that tragic encounter on the edge of what is now Roselle Park.


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