Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Mendham

Mendham, New Jersey

Mendham was organized as a township in 1749.  Mendham Borough was incorporated in 1906.

The Mendham Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1852 with Mahlon Pitney, John Marsh, William Phoenix, John C. Elmer, and Henry C. Pitney appointed as commissioners to sell stock.  The company was authorized "to survey, lay out, and construct an aqueduct, for the purpose of distributing water throughout the village of Mendham, in the county of Morris."   Archival records indicate that this company built a system that operated until about 1863, and a 1958 biography of Henry C. Pitney states that it operated throughout his life.

Henry C. Pitney bought the Morris Aqueduct Company in 1869.

The Mendham Water Company was incorporated on March 1, 1901 by Paul F. Williams, J. A. Lineau, Robert A. Cook, Stephen G. Williams of New Brunswick, John S. Mabron of Hackensack, Edwin A. Jarrett, John J. Gibben of New York., but never built anything. The company sold its land in 1928 and was dissolved on November 19, 1928.

The Borough built a water system in 1908.  The water rights and land for this system were apparently donated by Henry Cooper Pitney (see 2015 reference).

The Borough sold their water system to New Jersey American Water Company in 1992, which currently operates the system.  Most water supplied to the Borough is purchased in bulk from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority Water Division.

1852 An act to incorporate the Mendham Aqueduct Company.  March 10, 1852.

1901 "Mendham Water Company incorporated," Jersey Journal, March 2, 1901, Page 3.

1913 "Mendham Water Plant Almost Self-Supporting," Bridgewater Courier-News, February 19, 1913, Page 9.

1914 A History of Morris County, New Jersey: Embracing Upwards of Two Centuries, 1710-1913, by Henry Cooper Pitney.  Includes several references to individuals involved in the Morris and Mendham Aqueduct Companies.

1928 "Mendham Water Co. to Sell Land," Bernardsville News, May 3, 1928, Page 10.

[1958] The Life and Times of Henry C. Pitney: A Vice-Chancellor in the Court of Chancery of New Jersey, 1889-1907, by Lucetta Pitney Johnson
Page 49: Also in those early days he was licensed to take over a poor aqueduct system which he developed and to which he gave a great deal of attention the rest of his life.  He used to worry excessively when the weather was dry for fear there would be a water shortage.

2006 Borough of Mendham Public Utilities Plan from Borough of Mendham Master Plan

2015 The Mendham Aqueduct, February 15, 2015.
I recently heard the phrase “The Mendham Aqueduct.” Aqueducts make me think of Roman mega-structures.  If Mendham had one of those, I’ve certainly missed it.
Turns out, the Mendhams only gained a public water system and a reservoir when Henry Cooper Pitney — at various points, founder and President of the National Iron Bank, of Morris County Savings Bank, and Vice Chancellor of the Court of New Jersey  — donated the water rights and land in 1906 to build the “Mendham Aqueduct.”  Having its own source of water was one of the chief factors that allowed the creation of Mendham Borough, originally part of Mendham Township.
The gentleman in the center of the photo, the one in the tie and cap with a notebook, is Frederick V. Pitney, brother of J.O.H. and Mahlon Pitney III.  I am told he was an engineer and worked on many projects around Morris County.  Now I just have to take a hike and find out what’s still left of these first Mendham waterworks.  [Mahlon Pitney III, son of Henry Cooper Pitney, was appointed as the 65th justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1912.]

Account Book, 1856-1860, Mendham Aqueduct Company, Rutgers University Library

Pitney family papers, 1803-1951, New Jersey Historical Society Library, includes records and accounts of Mendham Aqueduct Company, 1852-1863.

Pitney Family History
Mahlon Pitney II (1795-1863) He developed the first aqueduct in town.

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce