Local hamlets clustered around churches and schools. Rev. James Caldwell helped the first settlers organize the First Presbyterian Church at Horse Neck. After Rev. Caldwell’s murder in 1781 the parish area was named Caldwell in his honor. In 1798 the entire Horse Neck Tract was designated Caldwell Township. Early on Caldwell included portions of Livingston, Roseland and Essex Fells.
The 19th century saw dramatic changes take place, many resulting from the construction of the “Big Road,” Bloomfield Avenue. Israel Crane's company pushed the toll road through to Caldwell by 1808 and it became the main link with the markets in Newark for all that lay to the west.
In addition Caldwell ‘s economic base was bolstered by farming. A major farming area, there were supporting mills and stores. With the arrival of the railroad in 1891, the area was firmly linked to population centers to the east.
The Caldwells have grown, the dirt roads have been paved, the railroad abandoned, and most of the lodging homes are gone, but the beauty of the Caldwells remains. Various communities recognize their past through their remaining historic landmarks. Although the Caldwells have lost a number of their early and most fascinating sites, some survive and stand their ground firmly as silent testimonials to an almost forgotten era. Many of the people of the Caldwells made significant contributions in molding our communities, and some paid the ultimate price while defending the liberties and freedom of our nation.
Text adapted from Images of America: Remembering the Caldwells by John J. Collins, SC: 1998.