The history of Franklin
Township and the Raritan Valley was largely influenced by the Dutch
settlers who came around 1650. They settled in this area by trading
and bargaining for land with
the Raritan Indians.
No document exists to
prove conclusively whether the Township was named for William Franklin,
Governor of New Jersey from 1762 to 1776, or Benjamin Franklin.
In 2000, the Township Council determined that it was desirable
to official espouse a theory as to the naming of the Township.
After considering the evidence set forth in Franklin Township,
Somerset County, NJ: A History, William B. Brahm, Commissioned
by the Franklin Township Library, 1998, Chapter 12, Municipal Government,
The Case for William Franklin and The Case for Benjamin Franklin,
the Township Council determined to espouse the theory that the
Township was named for Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin Township was
very much a part of the Revolutionary War History and the scene
of many raiding parties along Route 27, then known as the King's
Highway. In fact, two British generals, Cornwallis and DeHeister,
tried to lure General Washington into battle on the plains of Middlebush
and East Millstone. Washington, however, kept his troops at Chimney
Rock, just north of Franklin, until the British withdrew. Several
of the prosperous Middlebush farms were destroyed by the British
soldiers during their retreat. Washington's farewell address was
delivered to his army in Little Rocky Hill in 1783.
One of the most important
developments for Franklin was the building of the Delaware-Raritan
Canal in 1834. Twenty-two miles of this continuous water route
from New York to Philadelphia
runs through the Township. During the Civil War, up to 200,000
tons of freight were hauled by mule and horse-drawn barges, a great
economic boon for the area. The building of the railroads led to
the decline of this once successful mode of transportation. Today
the canal is the source of drinking water and provides recreation
for area residents and visitors to the Delaware and Raritan Canal