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  • Celebrating the Bicentennial of the Township of Bloomfield

    by Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

    Posted on 2013-03-12

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    FRELINGHUYSEN of new jersey in the house of representatives Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Township of Bloomfield, located in Essex County, New Jersey, which is celebrating its Bicentennial Anniversary.

    Bloomfield has a rich history that dates back to pre-revolutionary days. The land that would become Bloomfield was bought by English settlers from the Yantecaw Indians, a tribe of the Lenni Lenape, in the 1600s. In 1812, the town which was part of Newark, broke off and was incorporated as the Township of Bloomfield, taking its name from the historic Presbyterian parish in town named for Joseph Bloomfield. At that time it covered a vast 20.52 square miles, though many of the outlying towns soon would become their own municipalities. That same year, a Justice of the Peace and four constables were elected, as well as a Township Committee formed. By 1816, Bloomfield had opened a post office. In the following years the township government became further formalized.

    As Bloomfield developed, so did its system of education; a characteristic that it takes great pride in today. The first school was set up in 1758, and more followed. In addition to this, by 1810, a notable private school named Bloomfield Academy was established. Later, in 1868, the building was taken over by the German Theological School of Newark, the forerunner of Bloomfield College. A special school law was passed for the Township of Bloomfield in 1849, establishing the public school system. Though rejected by social circles for its ``proletarian atmosphere'' at first, the school system grew in popularity and educational facilities. Today it comprises 11 schools, including Bloomfield High School, with over 6,000 students.

    A very important facet of Bloomfield's history is the congregation of Old First Church. Formed in 1796, it was named to honor the Revolutionary War general Joseph Bloomfield. This building is still standing, now called the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Another aspect of Bloomfield's history is the first newspaper, the Bloomfield Gazette, published in 1872. Later, in 1883, this became the Independent Press, which is still published in Bloomfield to this day.

    By the 19th Century, many changes had taken place. The Newark and Pompton Turnpike (now Bloomfield Ave), allowed Bloomfield to become a commercial center, housing many industrious mills and factories. Additionally, with the opening of the Morris Canal in 1831, commerce increased and provided recreation for the inhabitants. By the end of the century, many other amenities had reached Bloomfield; a railroad, streetcars, banks, telephone service, mail service, and lastly, electricity and sewage lines.

    The industrious town of Bloomfield played a part in American history, most notably during the Civil War, as well as World War I and II, providing many vital materials and aid. Set up in 1830, the Oakes Mills provided the town with yarn and cloth, but after being rebuilt due to a fire, the mill then specialized in flannels. During a period of financial crisis, the people of Bloomfield kept the Mill alive, and in turn, the Oakes Mills again flourished, producing tweeds and wools. During the Civil War, Oakes Mills provided a great deal of the indigo blue cloth for the Union uniforms. Later, they provided most of the material used in making fire and police uniforms. In addition to the contributions of the Oakes Mills, during the World Wars, the Township of Bloomfield held many drives to collect essential materials needed by the troops, such as metals, bandage linens, and other commodities. Despite its closure in 1945, the Oakes Mills remain an important facet of Bloomfield's history.

    Today, Bloomfield boosts a rich history, alongside its diverse population and culture. Its close-knit community atmosphere is a defining feature of the town, as has been maintained since the early years. Bloomfield is home to a middle and working class population, and also boasts many organizations, such as those in the cultural arts, and civic and neighborhood associations, with which many residents are involved. The Township of Bloomfield is proud to celebrate its history and looks forward to its future.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask you and my colleagues to join me in congratulating the Township of Bloomfield and its residents as they celebrate their Bicentennial Anniversary.


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