Did you ever wonder how Scotch Plains, and Fanwood, too, got their names?
In the late 1600’s, a small village was created and settled by Scottish immigrants who had landed at Perth Amboy under the leadership of George Scot. Hence, the village was known as “Scot’s Plains.” In these early days Scot’s Plains was part of West Fields (which is now Westfield) which was a suburb of Elizabethtown.
Scot’s Plain, (including what is now Fanwood), was a steadily growing farming community for many, many years. In the 1720’s, William Darby, a Baptist, donated a portion of his land to build a meetinghouse and a cemetery, and it was on this land that a Baptist church was dedicated in 1747. A few years later, he also gave land for the town’s first school, an academy standing next to the church on Park Avenue, which was then called Darby Road.
The documents incorporating Westfield as its own townships, separate from Elizabethtown, were actually signed at a gala event at the Stage House Inn in Scotch Plains, a popular venue along the stagecoach line.
In subsequent years, Scotch Plains saw a time of enormous growth, with the building of schools, homes, and businesses. In 1867, the train station on Midway Avenue was named Fanwood, and the 350 acres around it called Fanwood Park, in honor of Fanny Wood, a daughter of a railroad official. And it was in 1877 that Scotch Plains divorced itself from Westfield and became Fanwood Township. In 1895 one mile of land in the center separated itself and became Fanwood Borough. Although, to this day, Scotch Plains and Fanwood share a single school system . . . . as they always have.
Today, Scotch Plains retains its quaint, small town image. Its location and proximity to the railway and transportation make it a desirable community . . . no longer for its farming plains, but for the wonderful suburban lifestyle it offers its residents.
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