Our History

Life in Denville

When the Township of Denville was created in 1913, the Morris County Daily Record cost a penny. Most of the news reported about Denville covered the activities of the families prominent at that time. Names like Dickerson, Righter, Peer, Hinchman, Hardman, and Van Orden appeared frequently. There was no Denville downtown shopping in 1913, but the Morris County Traction Company trolley service ran from Wharton to Morristown and stopped in Denville on its way. Morristown had department stores like RH Muir on South Street which sold just about anything you would want, and you got S&H Green Stamps with each purchase. One of the most popular holiday gifts was dainty handkerchiefs which sold for .25 to $1. Large brimmed hats with feathers were very much in fashion for women. Women wore corsets under their ankle-length dresses. The more expensive corsets ($2-$3) were guaranteed not to rust, break or tear. Men wore suits and hats.

Telephone service was just coming to Denville. In 1913, poles were being installed and the lines were being run to Craftsman Farms and Mount Tabor. Subways were being dug in NYC. The Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission recommended construction of a suspension bridge from Weehawkin to 58th Street and two tunnels from Jersey City to Canal Street as a solution to traffic problems between NY and NJ. Work was ongoing on the Panama Canal, set to open in October.

Making national news were the devastating floods in the Midwest, women's suffrage, and the installation of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, who had just resigned as governor of NJ. The US was concerned about fighting in Turkey and Mexico.

Closer to home, in the first three months of 1913, 500 miners who worked for Empire Steel and Mining Company were on strike at the Mount Hope Mine and Richard Mine at Mount Pleasant. In addition to hours and wages, one of the contested labor policies was that the miners wanted to be allowed to come to the surface to eat their lunch at noon; management wanted them to remain underground. During March, gambling devices, specifically slot machines, were confiscated from Cigar and Confectionary establishments and pool halls in Madison, Morristown, Dover, Wharton, and Boonton. The Morris Plains Fire Department decided the entire department should become motorized since automobiles were cheaper than horses.

In 1913, there were 62 registered voters in Denville, all men, of course. There were approximately 58 farms, 230 houses and 45 bungalows listed in the 1913 tax records. The total assessed value of real estate was $509,000. Most property owners did not live in Denville; many homes were summer homes. The Donaldsons owned 7 cottages and a boathouse on Cedar Lake. The Peers owned twelve houses and members of the Dickerson family owned 4 farms and 26 houses. Saint Francis Sanitarium, which included a farm, was situated on 200 acres and assessed at $30,000. Single lots in Cedar Lake and Rock Ridge were assessed at $50. The 56 acre farm owned by Joseph Cooper was the highest assessed farm at $12,000.

On January 30, 1913, the Daily Record reported that the committee on the separation of the southern election district from Rockaway Township had met on January 28, and although uncertain whether a township or borough was the way to go, Denville residents wanted to incorporate. On April 14, 1913 the Township of Denville was established.

1913, When Denville Township was established...

  • A first‐class stamp cost 2 cents.
  • A pound of sugar cost 5 cents.
  • A Hershey bar cost 5 cents.
  • A dozen eggs cost 34 cents.
  • A quart of milk cost 12 cents.
  • A pound of butter cost 35 cents.
  • Men's hats cost $1.95.
  • Men's serge suits cost $1.98-$5.98.
  • Woman's dresses cost $12.50-$25.
  • Mattresses cost $5.50-$6.50.
  • A refrigerator (ice box) by McKee cost $7.95.
  • A clothes wringer cost $3.50-$6.00.
  • A seven day excursion by train to Niagara Falls cost $10.
  • An upright piano cost $450.
  • A new Ford Model T cost $690.
  • A gallon of gas cost 17 cents.
  • The average annual household income in the US was $750.
  • The federal government spent $.8 billion.
  • Unemployment was at 5.9 percent.
  • The first tax on income was assessed.
  • Grand Central Terminal opened; it was the world's largest railway station.
  • The Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world (1063 ft).
  • Stainless steel was invented by Harry Brearly in Sheffield, England.