Gordon’s is the standard nineteenth-century gazetteer for New Jersey. Since the author’s stated objective was “to present to the public, a full and correct portraiture of the State in the year 1833,” it should come as little surprise that Gordon’s index of places in New Jersey is preceded by a detailed account of life in the Garden State at the time of the book’s publication. Mr. Gordon, who traversed virtually the entire state in compiling his book, begins the lengthy “prefatory chapter” with precise geographical and geological descriptions of the state’s terrain, climate, bodies of water, roads, canals, railroads, and so forth. Utilizing a number of tables, he portrays the growth in the state’s population and the state of manufacturing. This is followed by a “moral view of the state,” which takes into account the history of various elements of local and state government, militia companies, religious life in New Jersey, educational institutions, and the press.
The gazetteer itself, which extends an additional 175 pages, covers every nook and cranny in the state, from small streams, hills, and hamlets to townships, cities, and entire counties. In fact, the alphabetical listing of places is interrupted periodically by statistical tables on New Jersey counties, showing the names of all townships, their length and breadth, area, and change in population from 1810 to 1830. While some of the descriptions are scarcely more than a sentence, and others a page or more, the following sketch of Highstown, New Jersey may serve as a representative one: “Part of East Windsor township, Middlesex co., on the turnpike road from Bordentown to Cranberry and on Rocky brook, 13 miles from Bordentown, 183 from W.C. and 18 from Trenton; contains a Baptist and Presbyterian church, 3 taverns, 2 stores, a grist and saw mill, and from 30 to 40 dwellings. The rail-road from Bordentown to Amboy passes through the town, and a line of stages runs thence to Princeton, etc.”
In all, Gordon’s Gazetteer of the State of New Jersey contains descriptions of upwards of 2,000 places in existence in 1833, any number of which will fail to appear in contemporary maps or gazetteers. If your genealogical research should find you looking in New Jersey prior to the Civil War, this scarce volume could be just the finding aid you’ll need to stay on track.
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