Allentown, NJ History
The land that is now Allentown and the surrounding area was originally populated by the Lenape Family of the Deleware Tribe of Native Americans. Their family symbol was the wild turkey. They lived along the waterway, behind The Old Mill, now known as Indian Run Creek.
The present town was founded in 1706 when Nathen Allen purchased a tract of land from his father in law. It became Allen’s Town and then Allentown. It was settled primarily by Quaker, Presbyterian and Episcopal communities. The Old York Road, connecting New York and Pennsylvania, was used as a strategic route during the Revolutionary War. Due to its position at the head of the road leading from the New Jersey Pinelands, during the year-long battle for the Delaware River, Allentown was a key location. This history can be seen at The Old Burial ground where many gravestones date back to the revolutionary war.
In 1790, John Imlay, Esq., built a stately Country Georgian mansion with 11 fireplaces. It stands proudly in the center of town and is a wonderful destination for shopping.
Fast forward to the next century; Allentown was a major depot on the Underground Railroad. Coming from Philadelphia and elsewhere, fugitive slaves were at Crosswicks staying at the Middleton Farm. Enoch Middleton, a Quaker, drove them to Allentown under the cover of night where they were protected by Geroge Middletown, a US Congressman and a member of the Middletown family, who was a resident of Allentown.
One of the oldest continuous businesses in Allentown was the Abel Cafferty’s Gristmill build in 1855 to replace the original built in 1706. A gristmill had been in continuous operation on this site from 1713 to 1963, a span of 250 years. The Old Mill is listed on The National Register of Historic Places.
In summary, the combination of history, natural resources, architecture and quaint shops makes this historic district a destination worth the trip!
For more information on the history of Allentown, click below.