Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Scotch Plains, New Jersey, a Township in Union County with a population of 23,510, encompasses just over 9 square miles. The area was first settled in 1684 and has a rich history with many Revolutionary War landmarks still standing. Today, Scotch Plains has a diverse population reflecting many ethnic, religious and age groups. We have extensive recreation opportunities, a vibrant business community and top notch schools.
The Osborn-Cannonball House across the street received a stray cannonball that hit the home as Washington's troops fled the large British force after the Battle of Short Hills, which occurred at the site of the present Ashbrook Golf Course. 6,000 colonial troops and 8,000 British soldiers passed through Scotch Plains during this battle. John Adams' son-in-law, Colonel William Smith, was in charge of a colonial encampment in Scotch Plains. In 1780 a cannon called "old one horn" was captured by Captain Eliakim Litttell and today is in the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield. The colonials fared poorly. 60 lives, 3 Officers and 3 canon were lost. 200 were wounded. Since this had been an early Indian camping ground, many arrowheads were found in developing the golf course. The Betsy Frazee house on Raritan Road was visted by Cornwallis and his men when they smelled baking bread. When Betsy said “I give you this bread in fear, not in love”, Cornwallis left without the bread.
After World War I the town grew mostly in homes for commuters with construction of Route 22 in 1930 playing a part in the town's development. City people began to move here "to the country". At this time we had the old School #1 built in 1890, School #3 built in 1915, School #4 in 1922, and a one room schoolhouse (School #2) on the southside. Fanwood had La Grande School (now Children's Specialized Hospital). Fanwood and Scotch Plains have always shared a school system. Until 1925 high school students went to other towns. At that time, what is now Park Middle School was built as a high school and junior high.
In 1921 Scotch Plains received national attention with the founding of the first African-American country club in the country, Shady Rest, originally the Ephraim Tucker farmhouse in the mid-1700's. lt played host to famous black musicians such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Sarah Vaughn. Celebrities such as Joe Louis and Althea Gibson visited. From 1924 until 1960 John Shippen served as its golf pro. He too made history as the first American born golf pro. In 1964 this building became the township owned Scotch Hills Country Club.
During World War II we were still mainly a rural town of 4,500. Nine hundred residents served our country in World War II. 14 of them gave their lives. During the Korean War and Vietnam Wars we lost 3 men in each of them. The biggest growth came after World War II in the 1950's and 1960's, especially on the south side where many big housing developments replaced farms. Shackamaxon, Evergreen, Brunner, Coles, Terrill Middle School, Mc Ginn, and a new School #1 were added. In 1953 there were 10,000 people here and students in schools had doubled. A new high school was built, and the old one became Park Middle School. Now in 2013 Scotch Plains has over 23,000 with many commuting to N.Y.C.. We have more churches, a Jewish Temple, YMCA, Jewish Community Center, many banks and shops. We are very fortunate to be part of a town with such a rich 300 year history. Not many towns can say that.
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