You'd do well making that sort of prediction every year in Hillsborough, where outcomes sometimes come down to a handful of ballots.
|Courier News, 19 April 1929|
Every year except 1929, that is.
On April 18, 1929 each of the 243 voters who went to the polling place in Hillsborough's unincorporated village of Manville knew exactly how their neighbors would cast their ballots. In quite possibly the only unanimous decision in Somerset County history, the residents of Manville voted 243-0 to secede from Hillsborough.
|Johns Manville Plant, Hillsborough Township, circa 1920s|
Manville's official incorporation had been 17 years in the making. Since 1912, when the Johns-Manville Company moved their factory from Brooklyn to the site at the confluence of the Raritan and Millstone Rivers there had been dissension between the new working class population and Hillsborough's traditional farmers.
Most of that dissension centered on Manville's schools. For the most part, Manville's residents - many of them eastern European immigrants - were willing to put up with muddy, impassable refuse-laden streets and cramped, often unsanitary, living conditions. But what they would not put up with was inadequate schools.
Time and again between 1912 and 1929, Hillsborough's school board refused to build a decent school in Manville. The school children perpetually attended split sessions in inferior overcrowded buildings. Only after the school board relented in 1926 and added a polling place within its confines did Manville finally win two seats on that body.
But even two seats, or three, or four, were not enough to sway the majority. In 1926, Manville voters rejected a ballot question calling for a portable school, and in 1927 they rejected a more substantial school in an unsuitable location.
|NJ State Senator Clarence E. Case|
It took the influence of State Senator Clarence Case of Somerville and the backing of the Johns-Manville Company - who heretofore had stayed out of the local squabble - to finally achieve what Manville really wanted: a referendum on independence.
Who could have predicted that 80 years later the state of New Jersey would be studying the possibility of once again joining Hillsborough educationally with Manville?
Not me, I don't make those predictions.