Its history and contemporary times


copyright 2000

All rights reserved. No part of this text may be copied or reproduced
in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.

The Whippanong Library web page has been granted permission to reprint the preface
and four subchapters of A Place Called Whippany.

    Whippany Brief Facts
    Aboriginal History of "Whippanong"
    Colonial History of Whippany
    Historical Villages of Hanover Township
    Modern Whippany


"The place where the willow trees grow"

    The first colonial settlement in the wilderness of north-central New Jersey occurred along a gentle, meandering river known as "Whippanong" (a name given to us by the Native Americans who first inhabited this land). As colonists settled the area they referred to the land as "Whippeny." Eventually the proprietors of the new-found province delineated a vast unsettled territory and named it "Whippenny Township." The township predates its home county of Morris and actually defined the general boundaries of land that eventually became Morris County.
    Whippenny Township or Hanover Township, as it came to be called, is the predecessor of all 39 municipalities of Morris County. Originally approximately 500 square miles during colonial times, Hanover Township has been whittled down to its present size of 10.8 square miles. Whippany, as it is now called, is a district within the township of Hanover with a land area of 6.9 square miles. Cedar Knolls is another district within Hanover Township and it has a land area of 3.9 square miles.

         Whippany was the first settlement of Morris County (half a century before Morris County was established).

         Whippany hosted the first church in what came to be Morris County.


         Whippany established the first school in Morris County.


         Whippany has the oldest public graveyard in Morris County.


         Whippany (Whippenny) Township was the original name of the entire area of land that came to be called Morris County.


         Whippany revolutionists formed the first military company in Morris County.


         The French Army and Continental Troops marched and camped in Whippany during the American Revolution.


         General George Washington, "the Father of our Country"

was known to have visited Whippany during the American Revolution.

         Whippany made world history with the first television broadcast from Whippany to New York City in 1927.

    Whippany was once a provincial community that has recently developed into a sprawling suburb. Let future historians note that it was during the last half of the twentieth century that Whippany was transformed from a sparsely populated village of farms, forests, fields, and meadows to a thriving suburban municipality.

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A Place Called Whippany   by Leonardo A. Fariello,  copyright 2000

Aboriginal History of "Whippanong"

The Original People

    The name Whippany is derived from the word "Whipponong" which is also spelled "Whippanong." The word was given to us by the Native Americans who first inhabited this land. It was the name the natives used to identify the river that flows through the area and it has been interpreted to mean "place of the arrow wood," or otherwise translated "place of the willow trees." The willow was an essential part of the northeast American aboriginal culture because, among other things, its straight twigs were used to craft shafts for the arrows used in their bows. The river was named for the trees that dominated the moist land along its banks, and the name was expanded to include the meadows and forests surrounding it.
    The indigenous people of the east coast referred to themselves as "Wapanachki," which means "people at the rising of the sun," or "easterners." They were part of a union of tribes known as the "Algonquian" nation that stretched from what is now Virginia, through New Jersey, and into Canada. (The Algonquian should not be confused with the Algonquin or Algonkin tribe of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.) The Algonquian nation was a linguistic union of eastern woodland natives bound together by similar languages.
    The inhabitants of what is now known as New Jersey called themselves "Lenape" (Len-ah- pay). The name Lenape has several interpretations, among which are "ordinary people" and "original people." The European settlers mispronounced their language and referred to them as "Lenni Lenape," which has a redundant meaning, as if to say "first original people" or "ordinary, common people." The settlers eventually renamed the original people of New Jersey "Delaware Indians." The tribe of "Lenape" and "Delaware" are synonymous, the former being of native tongue and the later of English language, named after the English nobleman Lord De la Warr, for which Delaware and the Delaware River were named.
    Lenape territory extended along both sides of the Delaware River from what is now northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and throughout New Jersey. They called their territory "Lenapehoking," which means "land of the Lenape." They called the Delaware River "Lenape Wihittuck," which means "river of the Lenape," and they called New Jersey "Scheyichbi," which means "land between the waters" (the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Delaware River to the west).
    The Lenape were held in high esteem by the other eastern woodland tribes of the Algonquian nation. They were respectfully known as the "Grandfathers," elders of the eastern woodland tribes. Their noble status eventually declined after they were displaced from their homeland. When they became a tribe in exile, their "Iroquois" neighbors ultimately slandered their good name by calling their warriors "women."
    The Lenape were a union of many sub-tribes divided by their physiographical regions, temperaments, and language dialects. They referred to themselves and each other by clan names and each clan was identified by an animal "totem" of their forest environment.
    The tribe that lived in the northern region of Lenapehoking (which included northwest New Jersey) called themselves "Minsi," which means "people of the stony country." They were also called "Munsee" and also known as the "Minnisink" tribe. The Munsee were members of the "Wolf Clan." They were fierce warriors and guardians of the Lenape territory. They had a violent disposition towards the neighboring "Iroquois Confederacy" and the European settlers. The French referred to them as "les Loups," which means the wolves.
    The "Unami," which means "people down river," lived in the northeastern and central region of New Jersey which included the area that is now Whippany and Morris County. They were members of the "Turtle Clan" and like their animal totem, they were generally gentle, peaceful, and friendly. As members of the Turtle Clan they apparently had an affinity for the abundant population of turtles that once roamed in and around New Jersey. Some Unami natives were known to paint the symbol of a turtle upon their chests.
    Lenape communities were often identified by the areas they inhabited. The Unami that lived in the river valley along the banks of the Whippanong River were referred to as "Whippanong Indians" by the early explorers and settlers of Whippanong.
    The "Unalachtigo," or "people near the ocean," lived in the southern region of New Jersey. The Unalachtigo were members of the "Turkey Clan." The Unalachtigo were also known as "Unalachta." They were also generally peaceful and friendly.
    Besides the Wolf, Turtle, and Turkey Clans which have been documented in history, it is said that there were also numerous other clans, among which were the Deer Clan and Bear Clan. The deer and the bear were also powerful totems of eastern woodland natives; the deer and bear, of course, were an important source of food and clothing and the bear were also respected for their power. Animal totems were also used to identify Lenape bands and family lineage.
    During Lenape reign, "Scheyichbi," which came to be called New Jersey, was virgin forests, meadows, and vast wetlands. Many animals inhabited the area, including wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, mink, beaver, otter, and elk.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Lapowinsa Lenape Chief
Portrait by Gustavus Hesselius 1735

    For more information on "The Way the Native People Lived" and "The Peaceful Departure of the Natives of Whippanong," see A Place Called Whippany.

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A Place Called Whippany   by Leonardo A. Fariello,  copyright 2000

Colonial History of Whippany

Local History

    The first recorded history of "Whippany" is found in a parchment document dated 1724. It is a deed referencing "a place called Whippano" which traces the land back to 1676. The year of 1676 is now generally accepted as the date of the discovery of Whippany.
    Whippany was first settled in 1685. At that time it was commonly called "Whippeny," although it was also known by a number of other similar pronunciations of its aboriginal name. An iron forge was built on the banks of the Whippanong River in1710. A church was built in the village of Whippeny in 1718 and a "burying yard" was established along the Whippanong River. "Whippeny" was the first settlement in the vast unsettled wilderness of northern New Jersey and it was the first village within the boundaries of what is now Morris County. Likewise, the iron forge now known as "the Old Iron Works" was the first industry in what came to be Morris County, the church known as "the First Presbyterian Church" was the first church, and the "burying yard" was the first colonial cemetery in northwestern New Jersey.
    In 1681 the West Jersey proprietors established "Burlington" as the capital of West Jersey and in 1694 the proprietors established Burlington County. Within the boundaries of Burlington County the proprietors established a township by the name of "Whippenny Township," otherwise referred to as "Whippanong Township," which was situated between the Passaic, Pequannock, Pompton, and Musconetcong Rivers. Whippenny Township encompassed approximately 500 square miles of land and it defined the general boundaries of what eventually became Morris County. At that time Whippanong was one of the largest townships in the province of New Jersey.
    In 1714 the provincial government of New Jersey divided Burlington County to create Hunterdon County. (Hunterdon County was named after General Robert Hunter, Governor of New Jersey when Hunterdon County was established.) At that time Whippenny Township fell within the boundaries of Hunterdon County. During that time, Hunterdon County was a vast area that included all of the land that is now Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties.
    In 1720 Whippenny Township was renamed "Hanover Township," by order of the Hunterdon County Court. The name "Hanover" was designated to honor King George I of the House of Hanover, a name undoubtedly held in high esteem. The name "Whippenny" was a derivative of the aboriginal tongue and "Hanover" an English name, albeit one and the same land, Whippenny Township ceased to exist and Hanover Township was established.
    At that time, the boundaries of Hanover Township included all 39 municipalities that now make up Morris County. (It is interesting to note that Whippenny and Hanover Township actually predate Morris County, as well as Sussex and Warren Counties which were all yet to be established.)
    Hanover Township was divided into two separate townships in 1720. Most of the land north of the Rockaway River was named Pequannock Township. (The name "Pequannock" is a Native American word that means "the water that flows clean.") All the land south of the Rockaway River retained the name of Hanover Township. At that time, Hanover continued to be one of the largest townships in the province of New Jersey.
    In 1738 Hanover and Pequannock (originally one township known as Whippenny), along with Wallpack Township (which was established in 1731), and Greenwich Township (established in 1738), were separated from Hunterdon County and combined to establish Morris County. Morris County was named in honor of Lewis Morris, the Royal Governor of the province of New Jersey. (At the time Morris County was 1365 square miles, encompassing all of what is now Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties.)
    In 1740 Hanover Township was again divided, this time to create ("New Hanover") Hanover Township, Morris Township and Roxbury Township; Pequannock Township remained intact. (This is the source of some confusion because although 1740 is the date the townships of Hanover, Pequannock, Morris, and Roxbury were incorporated, Hanover and Pequannock Townships were actually officially established twenty years earlier in 1720.)
    Wallpack Township and Greenwich Township were separated from Morris County in 1753 and combined to establish Sussex County. (Morris County retained 478 square miles of land which was approximately the original territory of Whippanong.) In 1824 Greenwich Township was separated from Sussex County to establish Warren County.
    In 1776 American independence was declared and the American Revolution was underway. Morris County became the military capital of the Continental Army from 1777 to 1780 when General George Washington made Morristown his headquarters and Morris County the winter quarters for his troops. During the Revolutionary War Hanover Township was host to many great men of history. The guests at Tappins Hostelry in Whippany included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Benedict Arnold.  James Monroe traversed Monroe and Thomas Jefferson traveled through Malapardis. Continental troops and French allies camped in Whippany, but battles were never fought in Whippany.

    (Please note: The establishment of Morris County is referred to as both 1738 and 1739. The confusion lies in the fact that Morris County was created under the Julian calendar in 1738, but the present use of the Gregorian calendar records it as 1739. (The calendars were switched in 1752.) The County of Morris now chooses to recognize its official date as 1738.)

The Township of Hanover Seal
Whippany, Cedar Knolls, Malapardis, and Monroe


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A Place Called Whippany   by Leonardo A. Fariello,  copyright 2000

Historic Villages of Hanover Township

    When the township of Hanover was established and the township of Whippenny ceased to exist, the name Whippenny, or "Whippany" as it came to be called, was retained as a district within the township of Hanover at its original settlement and place of origin, the "place of the willows."
    During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, perhaps due to a semi-literate society or a lack of detail, Whippany was spelled and pronounced in many different ways. It has been recorded in early deeds and journals as "Weypnunk, Weypenunk, Whiponong, Whipponong, Whippanong, Whippeneng, Whippenunge, Winippi, Wippany, Whipini, Whipono, Whippano, Whippaning, Whipeny, Whippenny, Whippeny, and Whippany." The name "Whippany" finally gained a measure of stability when the Hanover Post Office, which was established in 1800 (although some sources cite 1806) was renamed the Whippany Post Office in 1863.
    The township of Hanover once contained scores of villages, hamlets, and districts within its boundaries. As time passed the township diminished in size as villages seceded to form their own townships, municipalities, or districts of municipalities. Most of the historic villages that were once within Hanover are now identified within new municipalities. Hanover Township can now claim only three historic villages within its boundaries -- Whippany, Malapardis, and Monroe.
    Malapardis and Monroe have long since lost their identities. Malapardis, along with the western quarter ("Horse Hill" section) of Monroe, is now generally known as Cedar Knolls. The eastern portion of Monroe is now generally referred to as the "Birch Hill" section of Whippany.
    Hanover Township now comprises four villages within its borders -- Cedar Knolls, Malapardis, Monroe, and Whippany.

    Whippany was settled in 1685. The first settlers arrived from Elizebeth Town and Newark. They traversed west over the Minisink Trail where they forded the Whippanong River and walked along its shore. There upon the gentle landscape of the river's edge they established the first settlement. The first dwellings were built between the Whippanong River and the Minisink Trail. Whippany is said to be the earliest settlement of what is now Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties.

    Monroe was settled in 1715. It was originally settled by John Ford and first known as "Fordville." During the middle of the nineteenth century the district of Monroe was established and fully enveloped the Fordville settlement. Monroe was named in honor of President James Monroe. Presumably James Monroe had some affiliation to Fordville while residing in Morristown in 1778. Monroe was a colonel in the Continental Army when he lived in Morris County, but eventually became a captain, a major, a Continental Congressman, Senator, Governor of Virginia, and the fifth president of the United States of America.

    Malapardis was settled in 1735. It was first settled along Stony Brook. Its name is derived from the Lenape word "Malapahus" which means "place of the poor flint."

Cedar Knolls:
    Cedar Knolls was established in 1913. It is the newest of all the districts in present day Hanover Township as it was created two centuries after Whippany, Monroe, and Malapardis were settled. Cedar Knolls was established when land within the districts of Monroe was subdivided and offered for sale. It originated when Menko H. Wolfe purchased and subdivided a 114 acre tract of land known as the Charles W. Ford Estate. The subdivision was laid out on the north side of Ridgedale Avenue which was then called Morristown Road. It ran from Fairview to Mountain Avenue and from Morristown Road to North Belair. The Cedar Knolls subdivision consisted of three roads, six avenues, and 374 housing lots.
    In 1914, the subdivision was sold to Bertha Wolfe who established the W-B Camp and Bungalow Company and opened an office at the Baldwin Real Estate Agency in Morristown to marketed the land. The company offered summer homes, camps, and bungalow plots of quarter, half, and one acre lots starting at $100. By 1916 the bungalow company had built and sold over 50 bungalows, 300 people were staying in Cedar Knolls during the summer, and 100 remained as permanent residents.
    At that time the railroad was the most popular and efficient access to Cedar Knolls. Between 1914 and 1916 the W-B Camp and Bungalow Company urged the Morristown and Erie Railroad Company to change the name of the Monroe train station to Cedar Knolls. In 1918 the name of the station was changed to Monroe-Cedar Knolls.  In 1919 the Cedar Knolls Fire Department, Inc. was established. In 1923 the Cedar Knolls Post Office was established.
    Prior to becoming Cedar Knolls, the Charles W. Ford homestead was informally known as "The Knolls." In an effort to glamorize the subdivision, Menko H. Wolfe named it "Cedar Knolls," presumably in observance of the abundance of cedar trees that once grew there. The W-B Camp and Bungalow Company advertised the area as "Cedar Knolls in the Mountains."
    Cedar Knolls started out as a development of bungalows and a popular summer resort that was visited most frequently by vacationers from Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, New York. Back then, most of the houses in Cedar Knolls were simple summer shanties built up on stilts. It has since expanded its boundaries and developed into a densely populated community.

Towns of Hanover Township:
    Today Whippany and Cedar Knolls are the two town centers within Hanover Township, each with its own post office and fire department.
    Whippany was once a rather sizable territory when it was known as Whippenny Township and it has the distinct honor of being the original name of all of the land now known as Morris County. The area of land that still retains the name of Hanover Township has dwindled in size from approximately 500 square miles during colonial times to its present size of 10.8 square miles of land. The area of land that retains the name of Whippany has been reduced to its present size of 6.9 square miles.
    Incidentally, residents of Whippany and Cedar Knolls seldom refer to their home as Hanover, although officially they live in Hanover Township. The reason lies in the fact that there is a neighboring historical village known as Hanover located in the adjoining township of East Hanover; having a village of Hanover and a township of Hanover has always been confusing. The village of Hanover seceded from the township of Hanover in 1928 and reestablished itself as East Hanover Township, yet it is still generally referred to simply as Hanover. To avoid confusion, residents of Hanover Township nearly always refer to their residence as either Whippany or Cedar Knolls.
    To confuse matters even further, there is an East Hanover Avenue in Hanover and a Hanover Road in East Hanover. Perhaps the confusion caused by the two Hanovers could be eliminated if Hanover Township would change its name back to its original name of Whippanong (Whippany) Township.

Whippanong Town Hall
(Circa 1900)


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A Place Called Whippany   by Leonardo A. Fariello,  copyright 2000

Modern Whippany

    As time passes into a new millennium, Whippany remains an excellent place to live, work, and play. Most residents are proud to live in Whippany and there is an abundance of community spirit. Residents are endowed with many township services and amenities. The crime rate is low and residential neighborhoods are a safe place where children can play in the streets. The school system is excellent with elementary schools in Whippany and Cedar Knolls and a high school in Whippany. The Parks and Recreation Department is second to none with about three hundred acres of municipal open space in the form of park land located throughout the township. Part of the Morris County Arboretum is located in Whippany and the cross county hiking/biking trail known as Patriots Path runs along the Whippanong River corridor. The Recreation Department sponsors many programs and activities for residents of all ages and recreation facilities include a recreation building and gym, an historic chapel and meeting hall, a municipal swimming pool, play grounds, basketball, boccie, volley ball, and tennis courts, baseball, softball, and soccer fields, horseshoe pits, fishing ponds, ice skating ponds, and picnic areas.
    Whippany has a broad base of industrial/commercial ratables which help provide residents with some of the lowest property taxes in Morris County. Industrial and corporate campuses are usually built in park-like settings. Retail establishments are pleasantly void of offensive commercialism and obtrusive neon signs as seen in surrounding areas. Unlike neighboring municipalities that are now built to urban proportions, Whippany remains a suburb. With careful planning, Whippany will retain its suburban integrity into the next century.

For further information on the aboriginal and colonial history of Whippany, New Jersey, and also the industrial and agricultural history, as well as the contemporary times of Whippany and how things have changed, see A Place Called Whippany, by Leonardo A. Fariello, published in 1998 by L. A. Sunchild Publishing Company, 136 Park Avenue, Whippany, NJ.

A Place Called Whippany is avaliable at the Whippanong Library, 1000 Rt. 10, Whippany, NJ.

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