The Name "White Meadow"
The name "White Meadow" was recorded officially in 1774, when there was returned to the Board of Proprietors of Eastern New Jersey a survey of some 1500 acres covering the White Meadow Tract. Since this survey bounded and listed parcels of land within it, for which ownership went back as far as 1753, the name was no doubt already given to the area by the first settlers.
Tradition has that the name "White Meadow" is said to have been suggested by the formation of a white morning mist. People of the present generation believe this is the mist they recall as hanging over a treeless meadow area extending from the present club house to our business district. However, since old maps show either all swamp or a small body of water surrounded by swamp covering the comparatively level ground that is now the bed of the present lake, it is reasonable to assume that this area would have have a morning fog or "white meadow". But there is also another story that the name came from beds of white flowers that grew in the swamp.
Maps of 1858 and 1868 show a pond within the site of the present lake, surrounded by a swamp. Older residents recall the name "Muir's Pond" (A Col.Thomas Muir moved into White Meadow about 1825 and resided there until his death in 1855). However, in the Morris County Atlas of 1887, the pond disappears and White Meadow Brook is traced from Mt. Hope through swamp land where the lake exists today. It was not until the very last part of the last century or early this century that the White Meadow Fish and Game Club built a dam at its present site and formed a "lake". And then, but not until then, the name "White Meadow Lake" came into being.
Early Political Boundaries
White Meadow was first part of Eastern New Jersey. As the country developed White Meadow became part of an enormous county known as Pequannock. When this County and others were split up, White Meadow, in 1738, became part of Morris County. In 1844, Morris County split up some of its large townships and formed Rockaway Township. White Meadow was in that township. It still is. Though territory was taken from Rockaway Township to form Rockaway Borough in 1894 and Denville Township in 1913, it is still a township of unusual size.
To understand how White Meadow was settled and exploited by the white settlers, it is necessary to know how and why this particular part of New Jersey came to be developed.
Geologically, White Meadow lies in that part of the world that is the oldest land on earth. Once as high as the Alps, this ancient land has been worn down to its present height by the erosion of some 500 million years. A black iron, known as magnetite, was formed in these mountains and when they weathered down to today's dimensions, this iron was at or very near the surface. When the white man came, he found the native Americans knew this ore well. They called it Succasunna, or "black stone".
Iron ore production and iron working were the chief support of settlers and workers in this area almost from the beginning. It is estimated that this area, now known as the Dover District, had a total iron production of 26 million long tons up through the year 1950, worth $100 million. In a historical sketch published by the Freeholders of Morris County in 1937, it was stated that the stores of iron in Northern New Jersey, chiefly in the County of Morris, were sufficient to provide all the iron the nation could use in 350 years. Most of this reserve of iron is in Rockaway Township.
Since the iron ore mined and actively worked in this district was among the first in America and for many years the most substantial in production of its kind, this area made an early and significant contribution to the industrial development of our country and to our industrial independence from England prior to and during the Revolutionary War.
This area was particularly suited for this development, since it not only had iron ore, but hardwood forests for the production of charcoal needed for smelting, and streams that could be dammed to provide water power for the operation of iron forges and furnaces.
Of course, land around here was also farmed. In fact, the earliest land grants recorded in this immediate area were the farmable lands (Rockaway Valley). This was in 1715, as transactions between William Penn and the Delaware Indians, who called themselves the Lenni Lenape. (The name "Rockaway" itself is said to have been derived from the Dutch designation of an Indian sub-tribe as "Rotegevel"). Streams were also dammed to provide water power for sawmills and grist mills.
All over this area there are small artificial ponds, with miniature falls, which had been created for these mills.
For the operation of an iron forge, however, the reservoir of water had to be large enough to keep the forge going throughout the summer. Nearly every lake or large pond in the Township is artificial, created by dams for the water power required to operate iron forges. Rockaway Township also had three blast furnaces, located at Hibernia, Mount Hope and Split Rock. The only one still standing is the Split Rock Furnace, located below the dam of the Split Rock Reservoir. This furnace is said to have been the last in use in the State.
Since the Rockaway River was a natural source for the water power required to operate forges, many were built along its course. The earliest one on the river in this immediate area was constructed in Rockaway Village about 1730 by Job Allen. Known later as the Stephen Jackson Forge, it was located on the present site of the Harris Lumber Yard. There were many other forges, not only on the Rockaway River but on its many tributaries: White Meadow Brook (which flows "through" White Meadow Lake), Beach Glen Brook, Meriden Brook and Den Brook.
Iron was an important factor in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The output of Hibernia, Mount Hope and other mines, possibly including White Meadow, made this area the principal source of iron for the American Revolution. The Mount Hope Furnace was built in 1772 and turned out large amounts of cannon, shot and iron utensils. The Hibernia works also produced iron and iron products. It is interesting to note that in 1777, fifty men at Mount Hope and twenty-five at Hibernia were exempted from military duty.
Slitting and rolling mills were added to furnaces and forges during the 18th century. However, the fortunes of the iron industry declined from the time of the Revolutionary War until the War of 1812.
By 1800, the old Indian trails used for pack horse travel were widened for wagon service. In 1831 the Morris Canal was in operation from Dover to Newark. In the following year it provided regular service from Rockaway to Easton, PA. This helped the iron industry by providing anthracite coal from the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania to replace the charcoal supply which had been almost exhausted by heavy timber cutting.
Shortly after the Canal was opened, it was widened and deepened to handle 70-ton barges to replace the former limit of the 25-ton size. This and the fact that sections of Pequannock and Hanover Townships were split off to form Rockaway Township in 1844 - just twelve years after the Canal was opened - is evidence of the development of settlement and industry at the time. Rockaway Village, as it was then called, was an important loading and unloading junction for iron ore and coal. It was considerably larger than Dover.
Important as the Morris Canal was in the early stages of commercial transport, by the middle of the century the growth of many small railroads took away profitable traffic in iron ore, iron and other freight from this gigantic waterway enterprise. The trip from Easton to Newark took five days by canal. By railroad it took only eight hours, and a railroad could operate all winter long.
In 1850 the Township occupied 31,204 acres, only 10,000 of which were described as improved.
The decade from 1930 to 1940 was a very low point indeed in the Township's history. The 1,034 dwelling units counted in 1940 were far more than were needed for a total population of only 2,423. Some 72% of these dwellings did not have a private bath. There were only 83 farmers. Less than 23% of the population were of foreign birth, indicating how the influx of settlers had dwindled. In 1939, an American Guide Series author described Rockaway Village as "the gateway to an almost abandoned section of the state". Hibernia's population had dwindled from 3,000 just before 1912 to only 200.
The closing of the Hibernia Mines in 1911 and the general decline of the mining industry in this area affected the Township severely. Mining land was sold to local residents and summer visitors. The Mt. Hope Mine was reopened with Hungarian workers, and in 1946, after another war, it had new facilities and was one of the three producing iron mines in the country. However, getting at the now deep veins of the high-grade ore became increasingly costly. In the 1950's Shahmoon Industries started to sink a shaft less than a mile away from the Katherine D. Malone School, but the work was stopped abruptly. Both the Richard and the Mt. Hope mines were closed by 1959.
The growth in importance of Picatinny Arsenal, established in 1879, and of the Navy Ordnance Depot, established in 1891, eventually revived some of the Township's economy. Today, industry has become diversified and includes golf courses and ski slopes, newspaper publishing, a wide range of corporate and manufacturing activities and a major shopping mall.
One of the phases of the Township's development centered on its natural residential attractions for the suburbanite, the summer visitor, and the increasing permanent local population required for growing industry and corporate development. The lakes resulted in the development of Green Pond, Lake Telemark and White Meadow Lake as resorts. There is reserved for further natural recreational facilities the large but as yet undeveloped Farny State Park.
The seasonal character of the population in the Township's recreational areas changed under the pressure of suburban expansion and industrial growth. Today nearly all of Lake Telemark's and White Meadow's population is permanent and there has been for some years extensive residential development of the rest of the Township.
White Meadow Beginning
The earliest date recorded for a deed covering land in White Meadow is 1753. The man who acquired the land was David Beman. Beman later also obtained several other plots of land in White Meadow. It is quite certain that he and Thomas Miller, another landowner in the White Meadow Tract, built a forge at White Meadow, since in 1769 a mortgage was given by John and Aaron Bigalow on one half of the forge "which was built at a place called White Meadow".
The location of the White Meadow Forge is unknown, but it has been traced, together with White Meadow land transactions, from the Bigalows to Col.Thomas Muir, covering a period of 50 to 60 years. The absence of any mention of it after Col.Muir's time coincides with the disappearance of Muir's Pond before 1877 and the abandonment of White Meadow mines before 1873. It is obvious that when the mines were abandoned, no effort was made to keep in repair a dam for water power that was no longer needed.
By the 1770's the Bigalows owned not only the White Meadow forge but considerable other White Meadow property. Abraham Kitchel bought into this tract after 1774 but prior to or during the early years of the Revolutionary War. Abraham Kitchel as far as we know was the first White Meadow resident at least the first White Meadow landowner known to have built a home here. He was one of the key men to integrate the facilities of the iron mines, forges, power mills and the budding iron works of the county to make them available for colonial purposes. It was said of him, "If Washington was the Noah of the Revolution, Abraham Kitchel was the Ark". An historical NBC broadcast of some years ago stated that he "operated from the secluded basis of White Meadow". His iron operations in White Meadow alone were extensive enough for him to acquire the Guinea Forge, located on the White Meadow Tract at the junction of White Meadow Brook and Green Pond Road. The present Sanders Road, which is also near this junction, was known as Guinea Forge Road and ran parallel to the brook up to White Meadow until very recent times.
In 1792 Abraham Kitchel sold his house and White Meadow property to Bernard Smith. Smith sold the property to Israel Canfield in 1802. Canfield lived in Morris Plains, but there was a school teacher in Rockaway very much interested in White Meadow, if not actually living there. This teacher, George Stickle, had married the daughter of David Beman, thereby becoming the son-in-law of the first landowner at White Meadow. He is said to have cut and ranked a cord of wood on the White Meadow Tract each day before school, taught ten hours of school and then cut another cord of wood. In this way Israel Canfield became indebted to him for the sum of $600.00. Stickle took promissory notes for this sum and used them as first payment on the whole tract for $12,000, with forge, ore and charcoal in stock, on condition that all iron be sold to Canfield. The price of iron went up and by hard work and good management he soon had the tract paid for.
It was from the Stickle family that Col.Thomas Muir, who came to operate the Mt.Hope Mine shortly after 1814, purchased the White Meadow Tract, including the White Meadow and Guinea Forges. He made his residence at White Meadow sometime after 1823, occupying the house built by Abraham Kitchel.
Little is known about the real production of the mines in White Meadow. The Geological Surveys of New Jersey covering the Dover District, published in 1910 and in 1957, estimate the total production did not exceed 5,000 long tons. This is only a few days' run today for such a mine as Mt. Hope. Before 1840 the mines were known as the Kitchel & Muir Mines. In 1841 Col.Muir incorporated the White Meadow Iron Company. In 1853 the mines were leased to the Boonton Iron Co. and the state surveys report that the mines were actively operated between 1855 (the year Col.Muir died) and 1868. Thus the White Meadow Mines were operated intermittently for about 100 years and have been dormant for about 100 years. Col.Muir left an estate of about 1,700 acres to his son Peter, his daughter Ann Jane Hoagland and his son-in-law Mahlon Hoagland. Ann Jane Muir married Mahlon Hoagland in 1846. This couple lived at White Meadow until the death of Mrs. Hoagland in 1893. They had seven children. After the death of his wife, Mr. Hoagland moved to Rockaway. He leased the estate to the White Meadow Fish and Game Club, which built the dam to form the lake in its present size. Mr. Hoagland, as landlord, stocked the new lake with small mouth bass. The Club was exclusive, limited to fifty members. It included many New Yorkers.
Upon the death of Mahlon Hoagland in 1907, his son Tom purchased the shares of four other surviving children in the estate and promptly refurbished the old mansion. To the original house built by Abraham Kitchel more than a century before, with its porch facing the dam, there had been built an addition facing White Meadow Road. The house contained 14 rooms. By 1909 Tom Hoagland had started the new Hoagland Mansion, now our Club House, at the behest of his wife. The old house of Abraham Kitchel was torn down but the addition that had been made to it was moved to where it still stands near the present nursery school building. It was used to house chauffeurs, caretakers and farmers for the estate and is now the home of the caretaker of White Meadow Temple. Tom Hoagland built the sunken gardens on the Club House lawn, near the dam, to mark the site of the old mansion, of which he was personally very fond.
Tom Hoagland lived at White Meadow until his death in 1928, after which his mansion was occupied by the family of his daughter Evelyn, who had married Chester Bayles. In 1942, the estate was sold to the Warren Foundry and Pipe Company, operators of the Mt.Hope Mine, who hoped to extend mining operations into White Meadow. When they discovered that the property would not yield sufficient high quality iron ore to make it pay, they sold it to National House & Farms Association, Inc., owned by Benjamin Kline. The Kline family contracted to purchase the original 1,127 acres on July 6, 1945 and took title on August 28, 1945. Other acreage was added from the George W. Stickle estate and from George S. Oram and the John Spear family until they had assembled over 1,500 acres.
On Labor Day weekend in 1946, when the development was officially opened for sale, Benjamin J. Kline, whose hobby was horseback riding, suffered a fall while riding on the property. He fractured his hip and was forced into semi-retirement. Though confined to a wheel chair and forced to use crutches, he remained active in guiding the development of the property until 1950. Mr. Kline, who died in 1953, lived long enough to see White Meadow Lake become an extremely popular and successful community. He was succeeded by Morton and Norman Kline.
A "lake" property was no longer unique or a novelty when White Meadow first appeared on the market. Competition was quite keen and numerous other properties were being offered in both New York and New Jersey. The Klines knew that they had to offer greatly superior facilities to attract the limited market in those days. They therefore invested heavily in the Club House, its furnishings and facilities, and developed extensive plans for three beaches, boat docks, beautification of the club grounds, and superior roads. Lots sold quickly because of their easy terms policy. However, by May 1949, while they had sold over 900 lots to individual owners, only 100 homes had been built and occupied.
In June of 1949 they inaugurated the Day Camp, a surprise "extra" which had not been planned originally. The KIines subsidized its cost, including those of the two swimming pools, the playhouse, counselors, equipment, etc., from 1949 until all facilities were turned over to the Country Club in 1954. The Klines believed that the Day Camp and its facilities, more than anything else in the community, were primarily responsible for the start of the large building program which took place during the 1950's. Later the Property Owners Association built the Athletic Field which it maintains, while the camp became a self supporting entity under the aegis of the P.O.A.
The Development of White Meadow Lake
Formation of the P.O.A.
When the White Meadow Lake Property Owners Association was formed in 1948, fewer than 25 families lived year round at the Lake. There was no bus transportation for school children. Only party line telephones were available, and as many as eight families had to share one line. Not all the sections were open nor did the Country Club then own all the common properties, title to which was still vested in National House & Farms Association, Inc. (the developers). It was agreed that the Country Club would own these properties and that the Class B stock previously issued would be cancelled and the Class A become the sole stock, with voting rights. Even so, many lots and homes were purchased under contract so that neither property deed nor stock certificate in the Country Club would be issued until the purchase price was paid in full. As late as 1953, in fact, only one out of every four property
owners actually possessed a Class A stock certificate. It would not have helped much then to have given Class A stockholders the right to vote if the only organization in which voting could be done was in the Country Club corporation. Since it was stipulated in the deed that the Country Club could operate under the supervision of a property owners association, it was logical to form such an organization as a membership corporation. The right to vote and to hold office in the Association, or membership corporation, was not governed by ownership of stock in the Country Club. All that was necessary was evidence of the purchase of property in the White Meadow Lake development. On the one hand, the developer held control of the Country Club corporation and reserved transfer of the common properties to it as long as he operated them at his own expense. On the other hand, a property owners association could develop in experience and in strength until a time could be set for the Association to take over and manage community property and facilities. Since the membership corporation gave every property owner voting rights, with this corporation acting as agent or governing body of the Country Club corporation, all property owners would have effective control of the Country Club properties. Thus, when the Association's Executive Board began negotiation with National House and Farms Association, Inc., for an agreement on the transfer of common properties, the agreement had to be between the Developer, the Club and the Association. To strengthen its position, the Association wrote its first constitution and by-laws and ratified them on August 26, 1951.
On November 6, 1952, the "tripartite agreement" was signed by the National House and Farms Association, Inc., the White Meadow Lake and Country Club, Inc., and the White Meadow Lake Property Owners Association, Inc. This important document listed all of the common properties to be transferred to the Country Club and set the date for that transfer. It provided for the cancellation of the Class B stock and the registration of all Class A stock as the only stock, with full voting rights, plus the limiting of the Class A stock issue to 3,500 shares. The date for the turnover was extended for two years to December 31, 1954 and standards were established whereby National House and Farms Association, Inc. would maintain the common properties for that period.
Athletic Field Acquired
The effort of the Association to obtain land for an athletic field also bore fruit in this agreement. The ground for our athletic field was given to the Country Club provided the Association drained, filled and graded it within five years. So in 1953, at a general meeting of the membership, the residents agreed to an assessment of $25.00 per homeowner for the improvement of this land. The work went ahead immediately. This became the first common property managed by the Association. The developer had no responsibility for this property other than to transfer title by December 31, 1954.
The Boom of the 50's
The Tripartite Agreement was negotiated during a period of booming growth. A total of 616 homes had been opened by the end of 1952, 160 having been completed in 1952 alone, a record which has never been broken. Free school bus transportation became available in 1951. Rural free delivery of
mail also started in that year. Rockaway Township took over the roads at the beginning of 1952 (except for Valley View Drive, which had not been completed). Also in that year the Rockaway Township Committee was increased from three to five members and White Meadow Lake residents were active in the election campaign. It was estimated by the Association's Committee for Political Activity in January of 1952 that White Meadow Lake contributed 23% of the total township tax. Water during a very dry summer was getting scarce but new storage facilities were being built. The chief lag in community service at the time was in telephone facilities.
The Day Camp Decision
In 1954, with the deadline for the transfer of properties facing them,the Executive Board drafted a referendum on the general budget that now had to be approved to operate our common properties. At a general meeting it put to the members the question of whether or not the Day Camp operation should be included in a general budget or in a separate budget defrayed by Day Camp participants. The residents voted decisively for excluding the Day Camp from the general budget, setting the pattern which has prevailed since the general budget became part of our community business.
The P.O.A. on it's Own
In 1955, the transfer of properties having been completed (except for an undeveloped acreage tract), the Executive Board drafted and submitted its second revision of the Constitution and By- Laws. This was ratified on August 7, 1955, in time for new elections at the end of August and the replacement of an Executive Board of rather limited powers with a Board of Directors having powers roughly equivalent to that of a municipal government. We were at this time a community of 900 homes; community business was becoming too complex to be handled at membership meetings.
Streamling the P.O.A.
The changes in the constitution were important. The number of board members became seventeen and instead of electing six officers and eight members-at-large, the property owners now elected the President, two Vice-Presidents and the Treasurer for a one year term. The Board elected its secretary from among its own members. Instead of six general membership meetings during the year, there were now only two. Instead of action being approved by majority vote of the membership at such meetings, all business except the approval of a budget was now administered by the Board of Directors.
The years following the changeover were difficult. The replacement of the "town meeting" format by a governing board and the rise in dues as the POA took over operation and upkeep of common properties were difficult for some residents to accept. A major problem was deciding whether White Meadow Lake was a "Country Club" or a regular community. Several times through the fifties and sixties, the question of building a community center, with indoor recreation facilities such as a pool and gymnasium, was hotly debated and ultimately defeated because of the expense and seasonal nature of the community. In 1959, as a reaction to rising dues, a constitutional amendment was proposed mandating caps on dues and flatly eliminating certain recreational facilities from compulsory assessment. This too was voted down, establishing the community as neither an exclusive country club nor a typical year-round residential community.
Over the past twenty years, several legal rulings have confirmed the right of the P.O.A. to establish its dues structure, its authority to enforce its collection of dues, and even its requirement of homeowner membership within the organization. Initially, a group of homeowners sued in an attempt to limit the amount of dues assessed. When the court required this question to be voted upon by the membership of the Association, it was handsomely defeated. Later suits brought before the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Supreme Court established the right of the P.O.A. to sue for dues when delinquent even though homeowners were denied the use of facilities during the years for which dues were unpaid. The Appellate Court also ruled that based upon the original agreements establishing the community of White Meadow Lake, the White Meadow Lake and Country Club, Inc., and the White Meadow Lake Property Owners Association, Inc., all homeowners were required to join the Association. The Court further upheld the Association's methods of establishing the budget and determining the dues. To date, every legal challenge to the Association's methods of dues collection has been overruled.
When homeowners become delinquent, judgments are entered against them, collections are aggressively pursued and further judgments are entered against their properties. If present or past dues are unpaid at the time a property is sold, they are collected from the new owners. A dues collection committee of limited membership attempts to identify legitimate hardship accounts and work out special arrangements with persons suffering from exceptional problems.
In the years since these decisions were made, the community changed in makeup as more year- round homes were built. Today far more residents are year-round than are seasonal and activities are held year-round to accommodate their needs. The decisions described above which were made by early residents have determined the community's character, however, and elements which made White Meadow attractive to summer residents initially make it attractive to year-round residents today.
As we reflect back on our inception and a few years beyond, we see how the growth of this community has made a dynamic impact on the entire Township.
In 1950 there were no school buses, rural mail delivery, garbage collection, firehouse or schools within White Meadow Lake. A small White Meadow Temple was constructed in 1952 and dedicated in the Fall of 1953. The library was what is now the Esther Chesney Room on the upper floor of the Clubhouse. Yet in 1955 White Meadow Lake was the most concentrated center of population in Rockaway Township. In 1961 all but that section of White Meadow Lake sliced off by Interstate 80 was in one election district (the smallest in area and the largest in population). A second ballroom and bar were added and the office was moved upstairs. In 1991, the White Meadow Lake dam was rebuilt.
We have come a long way since then. We have free school buses transporting our children to school, mail delivery, and the existence of a zoning ordinance. There are 8 election districts and 3 wards in White Meadow Lake:
Ward 3 in 2 districts
Ward 4 in 3 districts
Ward 5 in 3 districts
Expansion necessitated the further enlargement of White Meadow Temple and the last addition was rededicated in September of 1984. Our rapid expansion has benefited the Township, for within our boundaries we have the Stony Brook Elementary School built in September 1962 and the Copeland Middle School built in September 1969. Bonds had been voted for these schools in public elections. Our school population is such that some districts within White Meadow Lake attend elementary schools outside our boundaries but within Rockaway Township. We have endorsed and nurtured the Township's, large, well-equipped modern library which was completed in 1981 in conjunction with our Municipal Building and Police Department.
In 1982, the "Old Municipal Building" on Mt. Hope Road was transformed into a Senior Citizen Center for all of Rockaway Township. In 1987, a Senior Citizen Housing Development opened on Mt.Pleasant Avenue, making it possible for senior citizens who once owned homes in White Meadow Lake to remain in the Township.
White Meadow Lake has it's own firehouse with it's own ambulance and fire apparatus. At one time we depended upon our neighboring firehouses at Mt. Hope, Hibernia and Marcella. At that time we boasted about having fire hydrants with excellent water pressure. Many of the fire trucks in the township had to rely on water tanks.
Today, most of White Meadow Lake has sewerage and the rest will be sewered in the near future; then we no longer have homes and businesses depending on septic tanks.
We in White Meadow Lake support a small business district that covers our daily conveniences. In 1989, there were a total of 2,209 homes and 379 lots which may or may not be developed.
The Lions Club of Rockaway Township has been publishing a yearly Residential Directory and Business Guide since 1956 as part of their fund raising and as a service to White Meadow Lake. We as a community strongly support the Lions Club which generates revenues for the Morris County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, needy Rockaway Township families during the holiday season and at times of crisis, and to Camp Marcella, the New Jersey Camp for Blind Children located in Rockaway Township.