Borough History

The village was originally settled in the 18th Century and was known as Allen's Town. Like most country villages in colonial days, Allentown developed around its mill which was built by Nathan Allen in the early 1700's. As the farms in the area grew, so did the need for blacksmith shops, wheelwrights, carriage makers, chair makers, shoemakers, seamstresses and tailors. By the end of the 18th Century more than 24 commercial enterprises existed within the village boundaries. The Borough of Allentown was and is today a center for travel across New Jersey. Main Street was a main route of travel from the Amboy's Port to Burlington during the 18th Century.

Allentown has produced from its residents, six United State Congressman, a New Jersey Governor, a governor of the Washington Territory and the first Chief Justice of New Jersey, who was also a signer of the U.S. Constitution.

The Borough of Allentown continues to be a strong regional village providing employment opportunities, a variety of housing choices, is centrally located and is able to provide public services. Today, Allentown strives to maintain it's past history while attempting to offer the best in unique community living.



The Borough of Allentown restores and preserves two historic deeds inside Borough Hall. 


This is a reprint of the article written originally by Mark Rossman, Managing Editor, of the Examiner. An original copy of the article may be viewed here. 

ALLENTOWN-Two documents that tell part of Allentown’s history now have a permanent place in the meeting room at Borough Hall. Two deeds of sale – one from 1743 and one from 1774 – have been restored, framed and hung on the wall where members of the public who visit the municipal building can see them. The cost to restore both deeds was about $7,000, according to Councilman Rob Strovinsky. The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey provided a $2,000 grant to assist in the restoration of the 1774 deed.

The society was founded in 1884 and is part of a national organization that commemorates and preserves the colonial period in the nation’s history. Its membership consists of men whose ancestors fought or who had leadership roles in the colonial period between the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, on May 13, 1667, and the battle of Lexington and Concord on April 7, 1775, according to the society’s website.

Glen Beebe, the grants chairman for the society, said, “One thing the society is very interested in is the preservation of Colonial era documents. When presented with this opportunity by Allentown, it is what we do best. We were pleased to participate with them and are very excited to preserve Colonial history. “In New Jersey, much of the attention is focused on the Revolutionary War and less attention is paid to what happened before the war. [The era before the war] is our primary mission and this project fell beautifully in that mission,” Beebe said.

In a resolution, the Borough Council expressed its appreciation to the society “for their generous grant that will allow the municipality the opportunity to preserve an additional piece of history.”

“We really appreciate the society’s support,” Strovinsky said. “We chose to hang the deeds in our meeting room where they may be displayed to the public in a controlled environment.” Regarding the desire of borough officials to undertake the project, he said, “I was upset about the neglect that had been given to these deeds. One was in an attic and one was hanging on a wall in sunlight. This project has been three years in the making. I worked with our chief financial officer to put funds away to have the deeds restored.” Strovinsky said the two historic documents were restored over a period of several months by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Philadelphia.

The Aug. 12, 1774, deed, written on sheepskin and measuring about 30 inches by 30 inches framed, records the transfer of the Allentown mill and property, which was in the vicinity of the current “old mill” on South Main Street, from a consortium of Revolutionary War figures to Robert Rhea, an early militia captain in Allentown, according to historian John Fabiano of the borough.

The 1774 deed was signed by five men from Philadelphia – attorneys Joseph Reed and John Gibson, and merchants John Maxwell Nesbit, Isaac Hazelhurst and Richard Wills. Their signatures are visible at the bottom of the 244-year-old document, accompanied by wax seals. The importance of the deed is relayed in a statement which reports, “With the approach of the Revolution, Monmouth County split along political lines. While some of the populace were considered Tories, who supported King George III, those in Allen’s Town (Allentown) were primarily revolutionaries, known as Whigs.

“As a result of the Boston Tea Party on Dec. 16, 1773, England barricaded Boston Harbor. Paul Revere traveled to New York City and Philadelphia asking for assistance. In Allen’s Town, the request for aid was enthusiastically received.

“On July 27, 1774, notices appeared asking residents to deliver donations of either grain or money to Robert Rhea at Allen’s Town or Abraham Hendricks in Imlay’s Town (Upper Freehold Township). Shortly thereafter, on Aug. 12, 1774, Robert Rhea takes ownership of the Allen’s Town mill from his deceased brother’s estate.

“The deed … includes the signatures of five members of Paul Revere’s Philadelphia Committee, most notably Trenton-born Joseph Reed, former secretary of New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s executive during the coming war.

“John Burrows of Middletown Point (Matawan) offered the use of his sloop to transport the contributions to Massachusetts. In one shipment, the record shows that Bostonians received 14 bushels of rye and 50 barrels of rye meal from Monmouth County, along with the promise to provide ‘a considerable addition,’ if needed, to ‘stem the torrent of Ministerial and parliamentary venge[a]nce,’ ” according to the statement.

The April 16, 1743, deed, written on parchment and measuring about 12 inches by 14 inches framed, conveys a half-acre from Nathan Allen Jr., the son of Allentown’s founder, to Moses Robbins Jr. for property behind South Main Street.

Fabiano said Moses Robbins Jr. was the son of Moses Robbins, who moved to Allentown from Cox’s Corner (Upper Freehold Township) and established a tannery in the borough that lasted 154 years.