Early History

  1. Early History
  2. Early Residents & Enterprise
  3. Education
  4. Methodist Episcopal Churches
  5. Reformed Churches

Early History

By Hon. John Kanouse (1881)
Montville Township was formed in 1867, from territory set off from Pequannock. It is bounded north by Pequannock township, east by Pequannock township and the Passaic River, south by the Rockaway River and west by the Rockaway River and Boonton Township.

It is about four miles in width and nine miles long; in area it is twice as large as Boonton Township and not quite half as large as Pequannock; in proportion to its area it has more tillable land than either Boonton or Pequannock. The extreme southern part peninsular in form, being nearly surrounded by the Rockaway and Passaic Rivers, consists of what is called the Pine Brook flats, and is a level tract with soil of sandy loam free from stone, which, when properly cultivated, is productive. This part of the township is about thirteen miles from Newark, with which it is connected by a good road, which for three-quarters of the distance consists of a Telford pavement. The soil in the rest of this township consists mainly of loam on clay bottom, and is generally productive in grass, grain, vegetables and fruit. The farmers in the southern part engaged largely in the production of milk to supply the Newark market, and in the more central parts considerable quantities of butter, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, hay and straw were produced for market. For some years past, considerable attention was given to planting choice fruit trees, and some reaped the benefits in apples and pears, which generally yielded a good return.

The land in this township is chiefly rolling; the northern part is principally rough, mountainous woodland; the highest points in the northeastern part are the Waughaw Mountains and Turkey Mountain. In the southeastern part is the Hook Mountain range; between this and the Passaic River is a fertile strip of farming. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and the Morris Canal pass centrally from west to east through the township. A small stream called Stony Brook passes through the north-western part, and empties into the Rockaway River above Powerville; another brook, rising near Turkey Mountain, flows through the village of Montville and down the Valley emptying into the Rockaway River about half a mile below the Dutch Reformed church. This latter stream at Montville village affords some water power, which is about the only power afforded by any stream in the township, excepting that furnished by the Rockaway River for a short distance on the western boundary.

In Passaic Valley... is a quarry of red sandstone...

The population of this township in 1870 was 1,353 white and 50 black, total 1,403; in 1875 it was 1,412 white and 31 black, total 1,443; in 1880 the total population was 1,269 showing a decrease in five years of 174; this decrease no doubt accounted for in part by the stoppage of the Boonton iron works in 1876, as some of the employees at those works lived at Montville. The assessors' figures for 1881 were as follows: Acres, 11,302; valuation of real estate, $459,226; personal property, $118,989; debt, $36,665; polls, 304; State school tax, $1,378.57; county tax, $1,288.69; bounty tax, $1,403.78; road tax, $1,200.

The brook that runs through what is now known as Upper Montville and down the valley, emptying into the Rockaway River below the Dutch Reformed church, was known among the early settlers by the name of "Owl Kill". It is a tortuous stream and often overflows much of the adjoining land, rendering it rich natural 'meadow. Along the banks of this stream stood many large trees, which in olden times were a favorite resort for owls; these birds feed principally upon mice and doubtless were attracted to this place by the large number of mice that burrowed in the soft grounds of the adjoining meadows. Hence this stream, about two miles in length, came to be called "Owl Kill"; from the peculiar pronunciation of the Dutch this was changed to " Uylekill" and the valley as well as the brook was known by that name. This account of the matter is corroborated by Levi Stiles, now 85 years old, who was born and has always lived in this vicinity. We find this view further confirmed by documentary evidence, which is more reliable than mere memory. Humphrey Davenport, one of the first settlers in this vicinity, came here in 1714, a granddaughter of his was on January 1, 1754 married to Jacob Bovie, and she is recorded as born in "Uylekill." This is taken from a certified copy of the church record at Aquackanock.