Hopewell, New jersey
Roger Parke, as far as is known, was the first permanent settler in what is now Hopewell Township. He occupied a farm on the banks of the Stoney Brook around the year 1700. Jonathan Stout was the first settler in the immediate vicinity of Hopewell Borough. He moved there in 1706 after the purchase of a large tract of land described as one-sixteenth of one hundredth part of West Jersey. He had first visited the area to hunt with friendly Indians. Descendants of both these pioneer settlers still live in the community and take an active interest in the Museum.
Hopewell early established schools. In 1756 Isaac Eaton opened an outstanding Academy in the Holcombe house on West Broad Street. The New Jersey Legislature would not grant a charter to expand the school into a college so it was moved to Rhode Island where it received more encouragement. This eventually became Brown University.
John Hart, a leading citizen and an ardent patriot was one of the five New Jersey signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. When Governor Franklin was arrested and removed as the Royal Governor, Hart as the Speaker of New Jersey Legislature, became the acting head of the government. He was an elderly man when the Revolution began, but he spent the remainder of his life trying to raise funds to support the Revolutionary effort. He died before the victory was won and lies burried in the Old School Baptist Churchyard on West Broad Street.
In 1778 at nearby Hunt House, George Washington called Monmouth. His army was encamped in the hill above Hopewell Borough. Present at George Washington's conference was what has been called the greatest aggregation of military talent ever assembled under one roof during the Revolutionary War. In addition Washington, Generals Lee, Green, Stirling, Lafayette, Steuben, Knox, Poor, Wayne, Woodford, Patterson, School, and Duportail were present.
Many of Hopewell's early residents moved on to settle the west, particularly the Ohio Territory. Wilson Price Hunt from Hopewell led the Astor Expedition to the Pacific, the first expedition to cross the Rockies since Lewis and Clark. He pioneered much of what was later the Oregon Trail.
Until 1825 Hopewell was called Columbia. That year a post office was established and the name of Hopewell was used. Earlier the name was applied to the entire Township. The Borough of Hopewell was formally incorporated in 1891.