Created by an Act of the State Legislature on March 15, 1738 separating it from Hunterdon County, the county derived its name from Colonel Lewis Morris, then Governor of the Province of NJ. The county is known as the "Military Capital of the Revolution", and each of its 39 municipalities played some part in the war effort and contains something of historical importance to this day. Preserving this proud heritage falls to the Morris County Heritage Commission, Historical Society and numerous other groups.
Much of what now is known as Harding was an agricultural community with roots stretching as far back as the early 18th century. By-passed by colonial turnpikes, canals, and railroads, the area remained a rural backwater. For almost two centuries of European occupation, its open and rolling landscapes reflected its agricultural use, as land had been cleared for cattle pastures, orchards, and fields of grain. The Great Swamp, the wooded slopes of the Watchung Mountains, and those near Jockey Hollow also were used by local farmers for wood supply. The communities of Green Village, Logansville, New Vernon, and Pleasantville were the village centers in this agricultural community; it was not unusual for villages to have a store and post office, a school of one or two rooms, churches, blacksmiths, and sometimes a tavern.
Wealthy urban residents from Manhattan and Newark in search of rural tranquility pushed beyond the natural barrier presented by the Watchung Mountains and bought great swaths of farmland, enlarged old farmhouses, and landscaped the grounds. Several estate owners, desirous of better roads and wishing to deter suburban development, led the movement to form Harding Township.
Harding Township was created in 1922 from the northern half of what was then Passaic Township (present day Long Hill Township) and it was named after the incumbent President of the United States, Warren G. Harding.
The desire to preserve Harding’s rural character was quite evident by 1928. An unusual private land preservation effort was begun with the New Vernon Neighborhood Restrictive Agreement, when several estate owners convinced many others to place restrictive covenants on their land that would remain as parts of the deeds. This voluntary effort to limit development and save the pastoral qualities of over 1,000 acres across Harding Township influenced subsequent zoning codes.
Photo of children running at Loankota Brook