Somerset Hills Area: Bernardsville
Written by Marion Kennedy & Jean Hill
Biography l Contact Information:
Marion Kennedy: a Bernardsville resident for 36
years and a volunteer in the Bernardsville Library Local History Room
for 35 years. She has found these years to be ones of fascinating
research and exciting discoveries about Bernardsville the town, its
architecture, and the people.
Jean Hill: Born in Bernardsville and still lives
here. Attended Bernardsville schools, graduated Bernards High School
in 1943. Jean’s father’s family has lived in New Jersey
since late 1700’s, especially in the Mine Brook and Liberty
Corner areas. Jean has been a Local History Room volunteer since
1991 and has always had an interest in local history, especially
that of Bernardsville and the surrounding area.
Bernardsville Library 908 766 0118
10 Historical tidbits about Bernardsville
- Bernardsville is the only town in USA with that
- Bernardsville was a section of Bernards Township
(like Lyons and Liberty Corner) until 1924, when Bernardsville residents
voted to become a separate borough. So much of the Bernardsville's
early history is also Bernards Townships. Schools remained in the
Bernards Township School System until 19, when the Borough and the
Township voted to go their separate ways.
- In 2000 the Bernardsville Public Library moved
into a new building on Anderson Hill Road. It meant leaving the
old library with its historic background and atmosphere, but the
new building is roomier, more easily accessible and readership has
grown. Previously housed in a former Revolutionary War tavern, the
library was complete with its very own ghost. Come visit the library
and we will tell you all about her.
- Several churches, buildings and businesses are over 100
years old! Bernardsville News - 1897. Bernardsville Methodist
Church est. 1843. St. Bernard's Episcopal Church est. 1897. Our
Lady of Perpetual Help Church est.1898. Olcott School opened 1905.
- The "Mountain" area once considered forming
a separate borough.
- From Bunn's Mill where apple jack was once made
comes the expression 'to get a bunn on."
- Bernardsville separated from Bernards Township
in 1924 and became a borough.
- In the late 1700 s and early 1800's there were
iron mines in the area.
- In the heyday
of the Mountain Colony there were
two local builders who built many of the estates and who each had
their own millwork shops, Dobbs & McWilliams.
- Samuel S. Childs was first resident to erect street
lights on his property.
- Brooke Astor’s first husband was Dryden
Kuser, former State Senator and local Mountain Colony resident.
They were married in 1919 and lived in the area for nearly 10 years.
- Scenes for a silent move, "Madame Butterfly"
starring Mary Pickford, were shot in Bernardsville on the Pfizer
- Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra occasionally joined
the 'locals' in a friendly softball game.
Both volumes of
Among the Blue Hills
Millicent Fenwick, Her Way by Amy Shapiro
George B. Post, Architect by Sarah Bradford
New Jersey Country Homes: the Somerset Hills
John K. Turpin and W. Barry Thomson
Photograph and Post Card Collections
The Local History Room (named the Edward Spinning Room) has an
extensive collection of photographs, both old and current, of
local scenes, houses and events. It is constantly being added
to. We also have a large early post card collection, the nucleus
of which was Mr. Spinning's own collection and to which we have
added greatly over the years. The collection comprises local scenes,
covering Somerset Hills and New Jersey scenes and a very large
group of holiday cards.
There are a great many maps of historical interest housed in
the Local History Room. Included are many survey maps of local
properties, topographical maps of the area, maps of local estates
and many other county and state maps. In addition, newspaper articles
pertaining to local people and events are constantly clipped and
added to our files.
Cleaning out Dobbs real estate files, preparing
A Memorable Incident
A woman came into our room seeking information on the Quimby family,
one of Bernardsville's early families. Among my genealogical information
at home I recently had found a large chart of the Quimby family
done by Laura Frost, my father's cousin. Since it didn't pertain
to my family directly I nearly threw it out, but decided to bring
it to the Local History Room instead. I was so glad I had saved
it as this chart. as it contained much of the missing Quimby family
information. This woman was so amazed and happy that she broke
into tears, and had the other volunteers in tears as well.
The Local History Committee Volunteers
Marion Kennedy: acts as Chairperson of the Local
History Committee, coordinates, and is responsible for research
requests, maintains correspondence files, assists in updating
the index to our vertical files, reviews and gives approval to
requests for material.
Maud Thiebaud: indexes all marriages recorded
in the Bernardsville News, assists visitors with research by retrieving
material from files, and assists in indexing and updating material.
Jean Hill: oversees postcard collection, helps
maintain photograph files, assists in updating index to vertical
file, and assists with requests for material in files.
Mary Elizabeth Young: maintains files of local
real estate sales/purchases, assists visitors with research, and
assists in updating vertical files.
Laura Cole: assists with newspaper clipping,
filing, and computer work. Currently involved in writing a children's
history of Bernardsville.
Mary Lee Waldron: helps with publishing, editing
and layout when needed, is responsible for publishing a book on
the gardens of Somerset Hills.
Nancy Widmer: an experienced library worker
and assists with cataloging.
Margaret Riddleberger: indexes obituaries from
current issues of Bernardsville News.
Philip Pitney: enters obituaries and marriages
from Bernardsville News on our computer system on a monthly basis.
Items of Interest
1. Mr. Riel at the flagpole
2. Locating site of NJ Brigade
3. Mine Brook
4. Olcott School
5. Newspapers News, Times, Beacon &
6. The RR station not built
7. F. L. Wright house
8. Bernardsville Hills magazine
9. 1850 map and other maps
10. Kuser family High Point Brooke Astor Pheasant Book
11. Anderson diary
12. Sir Francis Bernard
13. Old library, ghost
14. Various snow and ice storms, floods, fires
15. Inns Bernards, Claremont, Old Stone, Somerset
16. Hair Wreath
17. Tommy Dorsey
18. Millicent Fenwick
19. James Davis WW RCAF
20. Noted BHS attendees: Douglas/Riddle, Houston, Giles, Streep
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