4/8/1962 - by John Murphy
A phone rang in the news room. A reporter answered and a voiced from the other end asked a perplexing, but logical question: “Why is North Brunswick south of New Brunswick That seems rather silly, doesn’t it?
“A good question,” said the reporter. “Maybe we’ll run a story on it some time. Quickly looking over a map of Middlesex County, the reporter found the caller had raised an interesting point. North Brunswick is completely bordered on the north by New Brunswick. “Why?” he asked.
After hours of scanning dust-laden volumes written decades ago in flowery prose by historical sages, the puzzle of the “southern” township with the “northern” name was the key to the problem lies in the fact that the Township underwent a drastic boundary alteration made its name a misnomer. New Brunswick was once an “island” within the Township the same way Metuchen today is surrounded by Edison Township.
Shortly after the General Assembly of East Jersey by act created Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth Counties in 1682,North Brunswick Township was born. Until 1803 it was known as the “North Ward of New Brunswick.” After that date, apparently for convenience, the name evolved to North Brunswick.
Back in those days it was a giant compared to what it is today. In addition to surrounding the city, it also included all of what is now East Brunswick Township. It’s large size apparently influenced the affairs of New Brunswick to a great degree. New Brunswick town meetings were held in North Brunswick.
Benedict’s “New Brunswick in History” quotes, from a report of a school trustees’ meeting in 1848, revealing that New Brunswick!" was one of nine school districts,* administered to North Brunswick. The book further states that in the 1850s “New Brunswick was not satisfied with the Township School Law and undertook to provide better school accommodations”
Although not stated, this may have been a warning signal leading up to the dissection of North Brunswick Township which came a few years later. The ax finally fell February 28, 1860 when the State Assembly approved an act separating New. Brunswick from North Brunswick. The act also created East Brunswick at North Brunswick’s expense and distributed its land north of New Brunswick to other municipalities.
Officials apparently felt there was enough confusion from the boundary changes, so the name stuck as we have it today.