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.
Randolph was inhabited by the Lenape Indians, settled by Quakers, and served as a supply point for Washington’s army during its winter in nearby Jockey Hollow. The township’s historical landmarks include the Liberty Tree that began growing in 1720, the 1869 Bryant Distillery (famed for its apple jack!), and the 1924 Millbrook School, now rehabilitated and in use as offices. One of our oldest streets.
Many of Randolph’s early settlers were Quakers. By the mid-1700s, a significant Presbyterian population had also settled here. The pacifist Quakers and the patriot Presbyterians coexisted uneasily during the Revolution. The Quakers felt persecuted, since New Jersey law required those refusing military service to pay a fine of fifty shillings a month or risk confiscation of their property.
In 1713, New Jersey’s first iron mine was registered and it was located in Randolph. The iron industry, which continued to thrive for the next 200 years, played an important part in the development of Randolph.
Once part of Mendham, a separate Randolph Township was incorporated on November 13, 1805. At that time, it included the areas that are now Dover, Wharton, Mine Hill and Victory Gardens. Taking its name from Hartshorne Fitz-Randolph, a Quaker who was one of the first settlers and largest landowners, the township adopted the Fitz-Randolph family’s coat-of-arms as its official insignia in 1972.
Following the Civil War, local industries declined, as less expensive products from larger urban manufacturers became readily available. Despite a brief boom in iron mining around Ironia in the 1870s, Randolph reverted to a largely agricultural economy. Inexpensive land attracted newcomers. Jewish families, disillusioned with urban life, came here from New York City around 1900. They established farms and a vital community that exists today. At this time, Randolph also started becoming a popular resort community. Two of its largest resorts, Ackerman’s Hotel and Saltz’s Hotel, survived into the 1970s.
Though Randolph’s landscape continued to change, especially during the 1990s when much development occurred, it still has many acres of open space and parkland. Throughout the municipality, old farmhouses, mills and other historic structures remind of us Randolph’s heritage as an agricultural and rural industrial community.
Photo of the Randolph Museum