The Township of Independence was established by an act of the New Jersey State Legislature in 1782. This occurred through the division of Hardwick Township which at that time made it a section of Sussex County. Next through another act of the State Legislature in 1825 it was one of the seven large southerly townships, formerly in Sussex County, which together comprised the area that became Warren County. As the seven townships gradually were subdivided, Independence was reduced to half its original size through the loss of Hackettstown in 1853 and Allamuchy in 1873. The population thereby decreased to around one thousand, having the boundaries that it has today. It is roughly eight miles long from the northwest to the southeast corners, about six miles across its widest point and covers an area of 20.4 square miles.
Through the Township the major brooks and the Great Meadows drain into the Pequest River which winds slowly from northeast to southwest to flow on through the County and eventually into the Delaware River at Belvidere. Part of the eastern land drains under the Morris Canal bed and south into the Musconetcong just below the boundary with Mansfield Township. The hillsides are steep, layered with rock and limestone while the valleys still hold soil deposited here from the receding glaciers. Mastodon bones and a few relics of the early Indian dwellers still occasionally can be found as well as coveys of game birds, some while tail deer, and small game.
This area at first was settled and cleared as farmland for growing hay and grain or as pastureland. Here timber was cut for lumber, grain was milled into flour, and some iron ore was mined from the Jenny Jump Mountain area during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The mining of iron ore which attracted the early settlers, the later iron foundries, and many of the early industries have disappeared as has the Morris Canal and the railroads as the major means of shipping freight. After many attempts the Great Meadow was drained with the water channeled to permit successful development of commercial vegetable production. Shipping over the years has been by wagon, small trucks, rail freight, and then by large trailer trucks.
Through the past two hundred years the Township of Independence has undergone many changes in its appearance, the methods livelihood, the updating of industries, and the addition of public services. The current population is over six thousand and the number of churches has increased. It has its own Municipal Building, an elected Township Committee of five with it auxiliary municipal appointees, Board of Adjustment, Planning Board, Municipal Court, Fire Department, Police Department, First Aid Squad, a school system, an elected Board of Education, and planned recreational activities for children. It is still rural and primarily consists of homes which are single family dwellings although it is within the outer edge of the great metropolitan area and within close access to major United States highway and State thoroughfares.
Township of Independence • 286 Route 46 West • Great Meadows, New Jersey 07838 • Tel 908-637-4133 • Fax 908-637-8844