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Hopewell’s first inhabitants were Lenapes, an Algonquin tribe who welcomed Europeans because they needed protection from other Indians. Their Hopewell villages were Wissamonson [Woodbridge] and Minnepenasson [Stoutsburg]. New Jersey’s first Europeans were Swedes and Dutch from New York and Pennsylvania.
In 1664, the British seized New Jersey, but, to avoid the expense of Indian wars, decreed that land be purchased before settlement, buying West Jersey for wampum, trinkets, a few bolts of cloth and two kettles. The Lenapes lived among Europeans on Stony Brook from the 1680′s to 1725, then moved west, declaring: “Not a drop of our blood have you shed in battle—not an acre of our land have you taken without our consent.”
The first white man in Hopewell was said to be Jonathan Stout, who in 1685 explored the wilderness from his parent’s home in Middletown, lived several years at Wissamonson with the Indians, then returned home.
On December 4, 1689, Hopewell was surveyed for Dr. Daniel Coxe who bought it estimated as ”28,000 acres of wilderness inhabited by wild beasts and Indians.” The West Jersey Society distributed fliers on the north-east seaboard advertising “Fertile Land for Sale Cheap,” offering to residents in New England and in older New Jersey communities cheap land “lying above ye ffals of ye Delaware” (Hopewell) with inducements to buy farms by cash or mortgages.
The February 1699 Burlington County Court received a “Petition of some inhabitants above the ffalls for a new township to be called Hopewell, as also a new road and boundaries of Said town…”
Notable current and former residents of Hopewell include:
- John Hart (c. 1711-1779), signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.
- Joab Houghton (1725-1798), is supposed to have said "Men of New Jersey, the red coats are murdering our brethren of New England !"..."Who follows me to Boston?" The response: every man of that audience stepped out into line, and answered, "I!"
- Rev. John Gano, (1727–1804), Baptist minister who is said to have baptized George Washington.
- James W. Marshall (1810–1885), sawmill operator, whose 1848 discovery of gold in the American River in California set the stage for the California Gold Rush.
- Charles Lindbergh, (1902-1974), aviator and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), writer, were living in Amwell, just outside Hopewell, when their baby was kidnapped on March 1, 1932.
- Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey
- Hopewell, New Jersey
- Pioneers of Old Hopewell: With Sketches of Her Revolutionary Heroes. by Ralph Ege. Race & Savidge, 1908 - Hopewell (N.J.) - 289 pages.
- Miner Descent: Roger Parkes, Sr.
- Origins of the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, North Carolina: First Families of Jersey Settlement By Ethel Stroupe
- Hopewell (N.J.) -- Genealogy
- Hopewell Museum
- Hopewell Valley Historical Society
- GOODSPEED HISTORIES - West New Jersey History and Genealogy
- Hopewell Township - A Brief History