Children had already been attending the "Hillsborough" School - on the east side of Willow Road just north of its intersection with Hillsborough Road - for perhaps 100 years when the school board voted in December 1928 to wire the school for electric lights. It was hoped that the work would be completed quickly so that the building could be used for "Winter entertainments". Four months later they voted to close the school altogether.
The 1850 Somerset County map shows a schoolhouse on the site, and it is likely that a school had been there since the time the area was fully settled decades earlier. By the 1860s the Cross Roads District 45 was one of fifteen school districts in Hillsborough Township - each with its own one or two-room schoolhouse. By the 1870s the short-lived Mercer & Somerset Railroad crossed Willow Road - then known as "the dirt road leading from the Millstone-Wood's Tavern highway [Amwell Rd.] to Blackwell's Mill" - just north of the school.
The school had an active parent community and even some social clubs for students - primarily revolving around "home economics" types of activities like sewing. Hundreds of students attended the school over the decades, but perhaps the story of just one might be worth remembering.
|1872 Hillsborough Township School Districts|
|New Brunswick Daily Home News 4 June 1916|
According to a profile which appeared in the November 3, 1921, Courier News titled "What a Boy Can Do", George enrolled at Bound Brook High School, paying for room and board nearby by working farm jobs. He took his studies seriously; local newspapers noted his achievements between 1914 and his graduation in 1916.
He started at Rutgers College, earning his tuition by working at the Jersey City freight station. He was called to war in France, and when he returned he decided to continue his education by studying chemistry at West Virginia University. He graduated in June of 1921 and continued at the university in pursuit of a postgraduate degree.
The story trails off there.....but to think he got his start with no family to support him, working all the time, and attending a one-room school on a dirt road in Hillsborough, is really amazing.
During the very contentious year of 1928 - Manville schools overcrowding, state aid being withheld - the new four-room building being built at Bloomingdale was set to make the Hillsborough School obsolete. A last-ditch effort to save the school by building an addition to it was ruled out, and the school was sold on August 24th, 1929.