The first European settlement in what is now Mount Holly began in 1677, when Walter Reeves acquired land from the Lenape (Delaware) Native Americans living in the area. He constructed a dam on Rancocas Creek to channel water through a raceway to power a grist mill and saw mill. Edward Gaskill and his sons hand dug the mill race on their property between 1720 and 1723. After the mills were established, more settlers were attracted to the area and built houses and commercial buildings on High, Church, White, Mill, and Pine streets, including the Shinn Curtis Log House (1712). By 1800, over 250 dwellings had been built.
Today no mills remain on the raceway, which still flows in its original course from the Rancocas just above the dam. The raceway proved a way for herring to make their way above the dam and was the scene of an annual fish run in the spring which provided fresh herring for slating and eating. The former mill land has been preserved as the Mill Dam Park. It marks the importance of mills to the early settlements.
Revolutionary War era
On December 17, 1776, Colonel Samuel Griffin of the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River with 600 men — mostly untrained men and boys, and with little equipment — and marched to Mount Holly, where he set up a few "3-pounder" artillery pieces on Iron Works Hill. Hessian commanders von Block and Carl von Donop, were told that there were 3,000 American troops at Mount Holly.
By December 23, 1776, 2,000 Hessians were moved from Bordentown and positioned at The Mount in Mount Holly, where they engaged in a three-day-long artillery exchange, known as the Battle of Iron Works Hill or Battle of Mount Holly, with the Americans on Iron Works Hill. The Americans slipped away that night.
Burlington County Prison in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Photo circa 1938.
The 1793 state legislature approved the relocation of the Burlington County seat from Burlington City to Mount Holly, which was approved by voters in a 1796 referendum.[page needed] Several important municipal buildings were constructed, including the courthouse in 1796 and the county prison built circa 1819. The Burlington County Prison was designed by Robert Mills, a nationally known architect who designed the Washington Monument. The town has numerous 18th and 19th-century buildings, most of which are included in the Mount Holly Historic District; it is listed in the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places. Commercial buildings were constructed primarily along High Street.
In 1849, the Burlington and Mount Holly Railroad was established, connecting communities along the Delaware River to Philadelphia, the major city of the area. The railroad supported industrialization along its route. The Camden and Mount Holly Railroad constructed a station 20 years later near the intersection of Washington and King streets.
In the late 1950s, Mount Holly began to have economic difficulties due to industrial restructuring and the loss of working-class jobs. In the post-World War II period, numerous blue collar, family wage jobs disappeared as the community's traditional employers, the mills and dye factories, were shut down. At first these job losses were offset in part by gains at the nearby military bases, Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base, especially during the Vietnam War. In 1970, the residential vacancy rate in Mount Holly was 4.3%.
By 1980, however, the vacancy rate had climbed to 8.7% as a result of the nearby military installations' downsizing after the end of the Vietnam War. During this same period, 1970–1980, shopping malls proliferated in the suburban Philadelphia area, and retail business in Mount Holly suffered.
Mount Holly had a total area of 2.852 square miles (7.389 km2), including 2.806 square miles (7.269 km2) of land and 0.046 square miles (0.120 km2) of water (1.63%).
There were 3,456 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the township, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 27.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.3 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 100.1 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $53,841 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,427) and the median family income was $68,500 (+/- $4,684). Males had a median income of $51,945 (+/- $5,141) versus $37,079 (+/- $5,759) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,551 (+/- $1,785). About 7.1% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.4% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.
There were 3,903 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the township the age distribution of the population shows 26.3% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.6 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $43,284, and the median income for a family was $52,000. Males had a median income of $38,186 versus $27,425 for females. The per capita income for the township was $19,672. About 6.8% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.
Portions of the township are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone, one of 27 zones in the state. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (versus the 6.625% rate charged statewide, effective January 1, 2018) at eligible merchants. Established in 1995, the township's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in March 2026. The Township Council appoints a board of directors that oversees the operations of the Urban Enterprise Zone, which is managed by Joshua Brown, the township's Economic Development Director.
Mount Holly Township operates within the Faulkner Act (formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law) under the Council-Manager (plan 12) form of municipal government, enacted by council-initiated action as of July 1, 1990. Members of the township council are elected at-large in a partisan vote to serve four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats up for election in even-numbered years as part of the November general election. At a reorganization meeting after each election, the council selects a mayor and a deputy mayor from among its members. In November 2011, voters passed a referendum shifting from non-partisan municipal elections in May to partisan elections in November.
As of 2016[update], members of the Mount Holly Township Council are Mayor Jason Jones (term on council and as mayor ends December 31, 2016), Deputy mayor Richard DiFolco (term on council and as deputy Mayor ends 2016), Lew Brown (2016), Betty Sykes (R, 2018) and Jules Thiessen (D, 2018).
In the November 2011 general election, voters approved a public question moving the municipal election from May to November in subsequent elections.
On November 6, 2012, voters of the Township elected Lew Brown, Rich DiFolco and Jason Jones to 4-year terms on Town Council by a large margin, for terms that began January 1, 2013.
In January 2014, former mayor Richard Dow submitted his resignation as council member with one year remaining on his term of office.
On March 31, 2014, five people filed petitions to appear on the primary ballot for two four-year terms for Township Council. Former mayor and current Mount Holly Municipal Utilities Authority Commissioner Jules Thiessen, BOE member Tim Young, and current Mount Holly Board of Education member and Planning Board Chairman Brian Grant filed to run for the democratic nominations. Wife of Mayor Rich DiFolco, Janet DiFolco, and Patricia Cauley filed for the republican nomination.
In the November 2014 general election, Republican Elizabeth Sykes and Democrat Jules Thiessen were elected to four-year terms on the Township Council. Thiessen's running mate Brian Grant withdrew from the election in September as did both Republican candidates. Sykes replaced one of the republican candidates and no replacement was named for Grant making it an unopposed election. At the council's January 2015 reorganization, Jules Thiessen and Betty Sykes were sworn into office; Richard DiFolco was named Mayor and Jason Jones Deputy Mayor, both holding the same positions the previous year.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,251 registered voters in Mount Holly Township, of which 1,718 (32.7% vs. 33.3% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,034 (19.7% vs. 23.9%) were registered as Republicans and 2,496 (47.5% vs. 42.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 55.1% (vs. 61.7% in Burlington County) were registered to vote, including 72.0% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.3% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,636 votes here (68.1% vs. 58.1% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1,127 votes (29.1% vs. 40.2%) and other candidates with 53 votes (1.4% vs. 1.0%), among the 3,870 ballots cast by the township's 5,578 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.4% (vs. 74.5% in Burlington County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,771 votes here (67.2% vs. 58.4% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,272 votes (30.8% vs. 39.9%) and other candidates with 58 votes (1.4% vs. 1.0%), among the 4,125 ballots cast by the township's 5,473 registered voters, for a turnout of 75.4% (vs. 80.0% in Burlington County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 2,223 votes here (57.2% vs. 52.9% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 1,612 votes (41.5% vs. 46.0%) and other candidates with 37 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 3,887 ballots cast by the township's 5,301 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.3% (vs. 78.8% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,251 votes here (56.9% vs. 61.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 891 votes (40.5% vs. 35.8%) and other candidates with 21 votes (1.0% vs. 1.2%), among the 2,200 ballots cast by the township's 5,429 registered voters, yielding a 40.5% turnout (vs. 44.5% in the county). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 1,126 ballots cast (49.6% vs. 44.5% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 977 votes (43.1% vs. 47.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 118 votes (5.2% vs. 4.8%) and other candidates with 38 votes (1.7% vs. 1.2%), among the 2,269 ballots cast by the township's 5,524 registered voters, yielding a 41.1% turnout (vs. 44.9% in the county).
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 38.43 miles (61.85 km) of roadways, of which 29.11 miles (46.85 km) were maintained by the municipality, 8.45 miles (13.60 km) by Burlington County and 0.87 miles (1.40 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. A brief portion of State Route 38 passes through the township at its southern end while major county roads that pass through it are County Route 537 (CR 537) and CR 541.
Shinn Curtis Log House, constructed out of hand-hewn logs, the house was built in 1712; the original log house was uncovered in 1967. A larger house that had been built around it was demolished, revealing the early house beneath, which has been restored.
Burlington County Prison, opened in 1819, it was the oldest continually operated prison in the country when it closed in 1965 after more than 150 years of service.
Old Courthouse Complex, designed by Samuel Lewis and constructed in 1796.
^Weather Forecast Office for Philadelphia / Mount Holly, National Weather Service. Accessed August 11, 2013. "The Mount Holly NWSFO serves approximately eleven million people in thirty-four (34) counties located within Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The office is located at 732 Woodlane Road (State Route 630) off of State Route 541 in Westampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey."
^ abWinchester, James H. "America's Oldest Volunteer Fire Group", Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 1961. Accessed June 21, 2012. "Some 210 years ago--nearly a quarter of a century before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence -- 13 men gathered in the Town Hall at Bridgetown, N.J., which is now Mount Holly, to draw up the by-laws and create the Relief Volunteer Fire Company, now the oldest in the United States."
^History, Mount Holly Township. Accessed June 21, 2012.
^Form of Government, Township of Moun Holly. Accessed June 21, 2016. "Mount Holly's government consists of a five-member Board of Councilmen/Councilwomen elected by the residents for a four year term. The town operates under a Council-Manager Form of Government."
^Krebs, Rose. "Mount Holly voters approve election date change, select new council member", Burlington County Times, November 9, 2011. Accessed October 19, 2013. "The township got a taste of what will be the new norm for its municipal elections: voting in November. On Tuesday, voters resoundingly supported a measure to change municipal elections from May to November by a 1,051 to 196 vote, according to unofficial results. Bass River, Bordentown City and Medford Lakes are now the only county towns that still hold May municipal elections."
^"Dow resigns from Mount Holly council", Philly.com, January 12, 2014. Accessed September 8, 2015. "Former Mount Holly Mayor Richard Dow said Friday that he was resigning from the township council, effective immediately, due to health reasons. His one-year term as mayor, which was decided by a vote of the nonpartisan council, ended last month, and he had one year left on a four-year council term."
^History of the School, Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Accessed June 1, 2016. "The district encompasses approximately 40 square miles (100 km2) and comprises the townships of Eastampton, Hainesport, Lumberton, Mount Holly, and Westampton."
^Prison Museum Brochure, Burlington County, New Jersey. Accessed November 27, 2013. "The Burlington County Prison Museum is a national historic landmark located in the heart of historic Mount Holly, New Jersey. Designed by Robert Mills, one of America's first native-born and trained architects, the Burlington County Prison was completed in 1811.... In fact, it was so well constructed that it remained in constant use until 1965."
^Staff. "Old Courthouse Repairs", Burlington County Times, May 29, 2012. Accessed November 27, 2013. "John Shaw with Buck Construction of West Berlin repairs the 9-foot doors at the entrance of the Historic Burlington County Court House in Mount Holly. The Samuel Lewis designed court house was built in 1796."
^Jome page, Woolman Central. Accessed October 19, 2013. "Located at 99 Branch Street, Mount Holly, New Jersey, the Memorial house was built between 1771 and 1783 and is on the site of part of John Woolman's orchard."
^Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
^Betts, Graham. Motown Encyclopedia, p. 50. AC Publishing, 2014. ISBN9781311441546. Accessed September 8, 2018. "Born Cynthia Ann Birdsong in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey on 15 December 1939, Cindy had aspirations of becoming a nurse until she was asked to join The Ordettes by a friend, Patsy Holt in 1960."
^Lundy, F. L., et al. Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey, Volume 145, p. 329. J.A. Fitzgerald, 1921. Accessed November 27, 2013. "Charles C. Black, Jersey City. Justice Black was born on a farm in Burlington county, near Mount Holly, N. J., on July 29th, 1858."
^Staff. "Paul R. Doguereau, Pianist And Mentor", The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2000. Accessed March 1, 2011. "Paul Rene Doguereau, 91, a pianist and interpreter of French music as well as a teacher and mentor to many younger pianists, died March 3 in the Virtua-Mount Holly Center, Mount Holly. A resident of Boston for more than 60 years, he and his adopted son, Harrison James Wignall, also maintained a home in Mount Holly for the last 2 1/2 years. He had stayed in Mount Holly since last March and in the nursing home for the last several months."
^Staff. "Punk, Perspiration & Pavement", The Detroit News, July 26, 2007. Accessed March 1, 2011. ""Mount Holly, NJ, group the High Court hopes to receive some of the Warped Tour magic that's propelled bands such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance ..."
^Friedman, Sally. "Poet gave words a stage", The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 6, 2001. Accessed March 1, 2011. "How fitting, then, that 10 days ago that college theater in Pemberton Township was renamed the Geraldine Clinton Little Theatre in memory of the gentle woman, who lived quietly in Mount Holly but whose words touched so many souls and ignited so many spirits."
^Manahan, Kevin. "ESPN disciplines snotty Mount Holly native Britt McHenry for obnoxious rant at attendant", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, April 16, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2015. "ESPN has suspended snobbish reporter Britt McHenry for one week — effective immediately — after a video surfaced Thursday that shows her belittling an impound lot attendant while making derogatory remarks about the woman's job, education and looks.McHenry, a Mount Holly, N.J. native, is upset because her car has been towed and is shown on a surveillance video telling the woman why she — as a TV star — is superior to her."
^Staff. "Samuel K. Robbins", The New York Times, December 6, 1926. Accessed August 31, 2018. "Samuel K. Robbins, 73, who was President of the New Jersey Senate in 1909, died at his home in Morristown yesterday from a heart attack following acute indigestion.... He will be buried at his birthplace in Mount Holly."
^Staff. "Death List Of A Day.; Barclay White.", The New York Times, November 24, 1906. Accessed June 21, 2012. "Mount Holly, N. J., Nov. 23- Barclay White, 85 years old, of this city, a descendant of one of the oldest families in this part of New Jersey and one of the oldest settlers in Mount Holly, a prominent citizen of this country, a literary man of some prominence, and a genealogist of recognized reputation, died here to-day after a long illness. Mr. White attained prominence in National public life when in 1871 to 1878 he was United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs, having charge of seven tribes and six agencies."