Township Web Site
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State of New Jersey
History: The area called Union is part of the land granted to the Elizabethtown Proprietors by Charles II of England. In 1808, an act of the State Legislature set off a part of the Borough of Elizabeth to become a separate township with the name "The Township of Union". Subsequent acts took away chunks of the original grant, including the areas forming Roselle Park (1901), Kenilworth (1907), Elmora section of Elizabeth (1908), Hillside (1913), and 40 acres added to the City of Elizabeth (1920).
What's in a Name? Although the area is today known as the Township of Union, it has had other names in the past. The section's first settlers in 1667 were farmers from Connecticut. At first the settlement was known as Wade's Farms (Wade being the name of one of the colonists), but that name was replaced by the name Connecticut Farms in memory of the colony of their origin. The source of the name "Union" is not known, but was popularly adopted when the State Legislature established the "Township of Union" in 1808.
Original Inhabitants: Minnisink Indians, a branch of the Lenni Lenape tribe, used the area as a focal point in their deer drives. The original ethnic and religious groups were primarily English and German; Presbyterian-Lutheran.
Friberger Park: The site of the Municipal Building and Library was originally part of the Hoyt estate. The Hoyt family mansion and lands became the basis for the Self Master Colony in 1908. Andress Floyd and his wife Lillian founded Self Master Village for the rehabilitation of homeless men. Some 100,000 men stayed there over a span of approximately 30 years. When financial markets fell in 1929, Floyd was among the victims. The Township bought the property in 1938 for $57,000. A park, named after Wm. Friberger, the Twp. Clerk for many years, was built on this land. The Park's sole reminder of the Self Master Colony is a small cottage used by the Girl Scouts today.
Free Public Library Assn.: This association was established in 1930 with less than 1000 books; located in the Municipal Meeting Rooms. The municipality assumed all financial responsibility in 1937. The library was opened at its present location on April 21, 1954.
Historic Sites: "Liberty Hall", an 18th century mansion on Morris Ave., served in colonial days as the home of Governor Livingston, and as headquarters to Washington and Lafayette. Today, "Liberty Hall" is a museum. For more info, go to www.libertyhallnj.org/index.cfm . The "Caldwell Parsonage" was the house of Rev. Caldwell. It was the scene of his wife's murder by a British Soldier in 1780. The Parsonage is now a museum run by the Union Twp. Historical Society. "The First Presbyterian Church of Connecticut Farms" was originally constructed in 1740. It was burned during the First Battle of Springfield, June 1780, and then rebuilt in 1783. The church and adjoining cemetery are listed on The National Registry of Historic Sites.