Early Perth Amboy History

By Diane Norek Harrison

PERTH AMBOY-In honor of Perth Amboy’s 325th Anniversary here is some early history of the city. This column is from material given to me a while back by readers Rose (Tarloski) and Jerry Celecki:

Perth Amboy has a proud history. Chartered in 1683, it was the first city in New Jersey to be chartered by the Crown in 1718. Its seal represented by King George I, contained the Latin phrase “Portus Optimus” which means the “the best port.” Perth Amboy’s port has served whale boats, oysters and sloops.

The name Perth Amboy comes from the Earl of Perth, one of the proprietors of New Jersey under the Royal grant, and the Lenni Lenape Indian word, “ompage” which means “level ground.”

Perth Amboy was established in 1683 by William Penn and 11 others. The town was settled by a group of Scottish proprietors, but their attempt to name the settlement “New Perth” in honor of the Earl of Perth was unsuccessful and eventfully their choice merged with the communities original name of Amboy Point to form today’s Perth Amboy.

Perth Amboy served as the Capital of East Jersey from 1686 to 1702.

The City Hall had two fires and has undergone many changes through the years. It still remains the oldest public building in the United States still in use.

It served as a County Courthouse until 1793. The State Assembly met here when Perth Amboy was the capital of East Jersey. Within these walls the vote was taken by which New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights and T.M. Peterson became the nation’s first black to vote.

Perth Amboy was the site of ferry service for almost 300 years, from 1680 to 1953, when a fire destroyed the ferry wait station.

In 1882, Morgan Larson was born in Perth Amboy and was later elected governor of the state. Morgan Foster Larson was governor of New Jersey from Jan. 15, 1929 to Jan. 19, 1932.

In the early 1900s, Perth Amboy became a fashionable resort and began to develop an oyster industry. Perth Amboy was also a leading center for copper and silver refinery.

All the Vaseline in the world originated in Perth Amboy because this product was only made by Chesebrough Ponds local branch.

Perth Amboy City Hospital Association started a plan for a hospital in 1888. The City Hospital opened with 12 beds and a medical staff of six physicians. In 1903, the School of Nursing opened. The name was changed to Perth Amboy General Hospital in 1929.

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com send copies of your material to me at CMD Media, P.O. Box 1061, Rahway, N.J. 07065.

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