After the Revolutionary War, the township was incorporated by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, as one of the state’s initial group of 104 townships. Portions of the township were taken to create Randolph Township on January 1, 1806. Mendham Borough became an independent municipality when it was formed on May 15, 1906. There are approximately 5,869 people, 1,952 households, and 1,659 families residing in the township.
The first settlers were attracted to Mendham Township by the abundance of natural resources. Here they found water to power factories, trees for fuel, and rich deposits of ore. By 1748 the area housed iron forges, sawmills, and a gristmill along the North Branch of the Raritan River. This early settlement became known as Ralston, after the enterprising Ralston family.
Following the Civil War, Mendham Township’s industrial economy declined. Local industries found it difficult to compete with larger urban factories. The railroad, the great engine of 19th century economic prosperity, did not arrive in the Township until 1888. The Rockaway Valley Railroad (called “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” by those familiar with its unsteady ride) carried agricultural goods, coal, mail, and some passengers. The railroad’s presence never led to the development typical of the late 19th century suburbanization that so dramatically changed nearby communities such as Morristown and Madison. The railroad operated for only 25 years. The tracks were removed during World War I for salvage.
Despite the present-day transformation from a rural farming community to a residential suburb, Mendham Township retains its early character through its carefully preserved homes, farm buildings, and villages. These are living remnants of the township’s past. Here people worked where they lived in a natural setting, away from the “dark satanic mills” of the big city, pursuing economic independence – a portrait of Americana.