BELLEVILLE HISTORY: PEOPLE AND EVENTS
A TOWN GETS ITS NAME
On Saturday, June 24, 1797, inhabitants of the Second River settlement met at John
Ryerson's house for the purpose of giving a new name to their home. The minutes of
the meeting tell what happened there:
"Resolved, that the name Second River is improper and inconsistent, as it originally
applied to the brook and not to the village and therefore that some name applicable be
"Resolved, that the whole district, commonly known and called by the name of Second
River be hereafter known only by the name of Washington."
It appears that the name of Washington-the hero of the Revolutionary War and soon to
become the first president of the United States-was not completely satisfactory to some
of the residents. They complained that the name Washington applied to a much wider
area than simply theirsettle ment by the bridge across the Passaic River. So, another
meeting was held on Monday, June 26, 1797. The minutes of this meeting said:
"We, the subscribers, inhabitants and freeholders living near the Bridge at the village
commonly called Second River, but now called Washington, comprehending the district
of Newton, Povershon, etc. (the names of tiny neighboring settlements), apprehending
that many inconveniences would arise from the want of a name to distinguish the said
village when particularly alluded to, do therefore.
"Resolve, to distinguish the said village (when alluded to separately, from the district comprehending Washington) by the name of Belleville."
The minutes were signed by the clerk of the meeting, Josiah Hornblower.
Source: Belleville: 150th-Anniversary Historical Highlights 1839-1989 by Robert B. Burnett and the Belleville 150th-Anniversary Committee Belleville, New Jersey. 1991.