Mayors Message: 175 years of Mullica Hill

Mayor Manzo discusses the birth of Harrison Township, and the significance of the Toast to Harrison Township event.

As you probably know, we are celebrating the 175th anniversary of Harrison Township this year. And we are doing so on several fronts, and at various times, throughout the year.

Take notice of the signature banners on the lampposts on Main Street recognizing this milestone. It features an aerial picture of a celebratory crowd at Old Town Hall taken at an event in 1925. Totally cool and notice that our now famous Christmas tree hasn’t, itself, been born yet; that’s still several decades away at the time. Also, this year, we have included a historical byte to be read into the record once a month at our township committee meetings. Local sage, Dr. James Turk, a member of our Historical Society, provides these snippets of our history. They are fascinating, and we will likely seek to continue this monthly meeting tradition after this birthday year. Our Harrison Township Day activities this year also highlighted the birthday.

Harrison Township was born by an act of the N.J. Legislature on March 13, 1844. It was originally named Spicer Township, after local landowner, Jacob Spicer. But the name was changed to Harrison Township, honoring recently deceased former president William Henry Harrison, on April 1, 1845, after the Whig party gained control of the White House and N.J. State House in the 1844 election. Imagine that? Politics played a role, lol.

Though the legislative act marks our township’s official beginning, our roots trace back to the late 1600’s. English and Irish Quakers settled on the south bank of Raccoon Creek, known as Spicerville, while the Mullica family from Finland began purchasing property on the north bank in 1704, which became known as Mullica Hill. Two of their original homes still stand in that area today. Spicer House, built in 1748 and located at 76 S. Main Street, is now owned by local attorney Jeffrey Downs. This home has been restored in spectacular fashion and stands as one of the signature homes of our historic district.

So, our documented and, still existing, structural history spans more than 300 years and even predates the birth of our founding fathers. Ben Franklin was the senior member of that group and he wasn’t born until 1706. Our rich history stretches through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars along the way to our official birth in 1844.

We will celebrate our 175th Anniversary at the William Heritage Winery on July 27 with “A Toast to Harrison Township.” The limited number of $10 tickets to the noon to 5 p.m. event will include live music from The Company and a special toast at 3 p.m. Each guest will receive an engraved commemorative champagne flute, but most importantly, that flute will be filled with something special for our toast. Heritage Winery’s award-winning, 90-point rated 2015 Brut Rose’ will be poured for each guest, as we raise our glasses in celebration. The event will also feature food from local vendors for purchase.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Heritage’s website at www.HeritageWineryNJ.com.