Mount Laurel Township - A Brief History
By Art Gib
Mount Laurel Township is a mid-sized town of about 40,000 people in Burlington County, New Jersey; the county sits on the southern side of New Jersey's "crook," and the township lies on the northwestern side of the county. It was officially named a township by the state legislature on March 7th, 1872, but its history certainly precedes this recognition by the state.
The land was originally inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape natives; anthropological evidence seems to suggest that they occupied the land for about four centuries--from the 1400 to the 1700's. The main thoroughfare in the town today--Hainesport-Mt. Laurel Road--originated as a trail created by those early Native Americans.
The initial known European settlers were members of the Evans family that settled along the Rancocas Creek. William Evans, a son of this settler family, acquired three hundred acres of land at the "Site of the Mount," then known as Mount Pray. The mountain was later rechristened as Mount Laurel, as it is called today. This purchase, made in 1682, was the earliest recorded real estate transaction in the area.
Sixteen years later, in 1698, William Evans conferred a single acre upon the Society of Friends so that they would have a plot upon which to build a meetinghouse. The meetinghouse that they built still stands today, and it is among the longest standing Christian meetinghouses in the country. It was constructed using sandstone taken from the mountain, so its roots are deeply embedded in the locale.
In general, the community is fairly wealthy. As of the census taken in the year 2000, the average family income was a little more than $76,000 a year. At that time, only about 2.5% of the township was below the poverty line, but many of those reported to be at that income level were residents under the age of eighteen and over the age of sixty-five, which aligns with the national age groups that tend to fall into poverty.
Within the last four decades, Mount Laurel has altered its government from a Township Committee to a Council-Manager structure--this means that the mayor serves the role of a manager and therefore directs the day-to-day goings on of the township. There is a supporting committee consisting of five members, one or two of which are up for partisan election each year; committee members' terms last for four years.
Mount Laurel Township is a small town with a big history to be explored and appreciated.
If you are searching for Mount Laurel homes for sale, be sure to visit H. Gregory Kincaid (http://localguy.com/mountlaurel.aspx), the Local Guy. Art Gib is a freelance writer.
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