Local History: Surviving the Depression of the 1890s
The Hartshorns and Taylors helped during the hard economic times.
Millburn-Short Hills did not escape the effects of the economic depression of the 1890s, and it was the Hartshorns and Taylors who helped the community during the hard times.
A Vassar projects article tells us about the depression of the 1890s: "In its impact on industry and employment, the depression of the 1890s was on a par with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In some places it began before 1890, in a deep agricultural crisis that hit Southern cotton-growing regions and the Great Plains in the late 1880s.
"The shock hit Wall Street and urban areas in 1893, as part of a massive worldwide economic crisis. A quarter of the nation's railroads went bankrupt; in some cities, unemployment among industrial workers exceeded 20 or even 25 percent."
In response to the depression of the 1890s, in 1894, Mrs. Stewart Hartshorn started the Neighborhood Association to aid Millburn residents in crisis. In 1918 Mr. and Mrs. John Taylor gave the association the former Isaiah Smith home at 12 Taylor St., which is still home to the Neighborhood Association.
The Neighborhood Association of Millburn Township also owns the community garden behind 12 Taylor St., which is accessed on Church Street. This medal in the collection of the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society appears to date to about the 1918 date marked on the front "Children's Gardens of Millburn" and on the back "Awarded by Neighborhood Association." Presumably the same community garden we can all enjoy today was also tended to by young Millburn gardeners in the early 1900s.