Hackettstown, New Jersey Steeped in History—Loaded with Charm

Hackettstown, New Jersey is one of a kind, literally. In fact, it is one of the few towns in the United States that has no duplicate in name, meaning there is no other Hackettstown.

Before its incorporation in 1853 it formed a part of Independence, New Jersey. It is situated in the Musconetcong Valley, and is nearly surrounded by Schooley's Mountain on one side, and on the other by a mountain range of which Buck's Hill forms a part. It is fronted on its northwestern border by the former Morris Canal and on its southeastern border by the Musconetcong, whose excellent water power determined the location of a town at this point.

According to the town's own website, the town is dedicated to its citizens and to preserving the quality of life for all of its residents. Hackettstown was incorporated as a town by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 9, 1853, from portions of Independence Township. Portions of territory were exchanged with Mansfield Township in 1857, 1860, 1872 and 1875.

Fascinating History

Hackettstown’s name comes from Samuel Hackett, the earliest and largest landowner of the region, who is said to have contributed liberally to the liquid refreshments on the christening of a new hotel, in order to secure the name (which, before this, had been Helms' Mills, or Musconetcong). The name Halketstown is found on a 1769 map, along with the notation Helms, placed two miles further up the Musconetcong. This is the name of a family that came from County Tyrone, Ireland, whose head was Thomas Helms, father of General Helms, of the Revolutionary War army, and grandfather of Major Thomas Helms, of the War of 1812. The Helms' mill on the Musconetcong was on the site of Youngblood's mill, and was the first mill in this vicinity, being built before 1764.

William Johnson (1817-1891) was a prime mover in getting the town incorporated in 1853. Along with his brother George, they were successful merchants when they began operating the W.L. & G.W. Johnson dry goods store. The two men were very active in community affairs. George was a member of First Presbyterian Church, a director of the Hackettstown National Bank, and a member of the Hackettstown Water Board. Both men were involved in the establishment of Union Cemetery.

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