Marlboro Township History
Marlboro Township was 160 years old on February 17, 2008. On that date in 1848, by an act of the State Legislature, Marlboro became an independent political entity. Earlier, it had been part of Freehold Township ever since English, Scottish, and Dutch settlers established the first farms in the 1600s.
The Marlboro Township Historic Commission, along with the Department of Recreation and the Department of Community Affairs, are sponsoring a number of events throughout this year to commemorate the 150th Anniversary.
Largely unknown to most of its current residents, Marlboro's history is a chronicle that is rich in tradition. In fact, its history might be called typical of the growth of the nation outside the large cities. From the earliest settlements until fairly recently, Marlboro was a rural community composed of a number of small hamlets with names like Morganville, Robertsville, Wickatunk, Bradevelt, Topanemus, Hillsdale, Montrose, and Pleasant Valley. Although they each had small inns or taverns, the hub of activity centered around what is still referred to today as Marlboro Village. This is the area around the intersection of Main Street (Route 79) and School Road.
The exact time when the name Marlboro came into use is not known. For many years it had been called Marlborough, but there is no documentation when it was changed to Marlboro. History has it that the name came from the discovery of marl on a farm just east of the village in 1768. Marl is composed of the remains of prehistoric fish, clams, etc. from the period when New Jersey was part of the ocean bed. Farmers used marl to improve the soil in the days before commercial fertilizers and there was a heavy demand for it. The export of marl to all parts of the country became one of Marlboro's first industries.
During the Revolutionary War, Marlboro was the scene of many skirmishes between British and American forces since the British often foraged for food in the area around Pleasant Valley Road. When retreating from the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, the British troops passed through Marlboro on their way to ships at Sandy Hook. They were attacked by American militiamen who mobilized along their route.
At the time of its incorporation, Marlboro had a population of about 1,500. By the 1880 census, that figure had grown to 2,200. After World War II, as the State started to build new roads and improve existing roads, the Township began to change from a rural to a suburban community. By the time of the 1980 census, Marlboro's population had risen to 18,000, and in 1990, it had grown to 28,000. Today, it stands at well over 30,000.