Historic Belleville, New Jersey was originally established as a Dutch Village about 1670. The original Dutch Reformed Church was built here in 1697 and has been rebuilt and enlarged three times. The current structure was built in 1853 and is listed on the National Historic Site Registry. The village a patriot stronghold during the American Revolution changed its name to Belleville on the 4th of July 1797. The Battle of Second River was fought in front of the church on September 12, 1777. During George Washington's retreat and encampment in Newark, the militiamen stationed here on two occasions fought alongside Washington's rear guard against the advancing British troops. Sixty-seven Revolutionary Warsoldiers are buried in the churchyard.
Belleville was also home for many years to Theodore Dwight Weld, one of the founders and leaders of the American anti-slavery movement. Weld wrote and lectured in Bellevile and around the country in his fight to abolish slavery.
Belleville was the first "Chinatown" in the eastern part of the United States. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and the first Chinese immigrants arrived in Belleville on September 20, 1870. While most of the country was very strongly anti-Chinese at that period, Belleville quickly accepted the new residents. The first Chinese New Year was celebrated just four months after their arrival in Belleville in February of 1871. Seven months later Belleville opened the first Chinese school, the Belleville Chinese Sabbath School. The only Joss House temple in the region was located in Belleville. For fifteen years Chinese immigrants from surrounding cities and states travelled to Belleville forNew Year celebrations and temple services which were prohibited elsewhere. According to tradition some of the first Chinese immigrants are buried in and around the Belleville Dutch Reformed Church.
The Belleville Historical Society is working to raise awareness of the town's role in the American Revolution, Abolitionist movement and Chinese-American history, by assisting in the restoration and identification of sites, the construction of historic memorials and producing educational materials.