Welcome to The Belleville Historical Society

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.


First 'Chinatown' memorialized in Belleville

Fort the first time in almost 150 years, the bright yellow, three-sided Chinese Emperor's flag with the blazing dragon flew over the Belleville valley this past Saturday, Oct. 22.

4th of July Ceremony

With the 4th of July just four days away most people are preparing for barbeques and beaches. How many of us will spend even a few minutes remembering the sacrifices of the men and women who gave birth to our country?

Colonel added to roster of buried soldiers in Belleville

A review of original documents housed in the archives of the New York City Public Library on 5th Avenue confirmed that Col. Philip Van Cortlandt, commanding officer of the Second Essex County Regiment, was a lifelong resident of Belleville.

A Look Back: Civil War captain buried in Belleville's first military funeral

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, originated in the years following the Civil War. The Civil War, America's bloodiest conflict, cost more lives than all of America's other wars combined.

Young Nutley soldier among those buried at Belleville church

In colonial times the church was know as the old Dutch Church of Second River. Belleville was then known as Second River and included parts of Nutley and Bloomfield.

200 years since Belleville general's homecoming

It was 200 years ago this week that War of 1812 hero General Alexander Macomb, after a stunning victory over the British at the Battle of Plattsburgh, N.Y., made a triumphant return to his home in Belleville.

NJ Chinese Association members tour Belleville church

A delegation of representatives from the New Jersey Chinese American Association recently toured Belleville's historic old Dutch Reformed Church.

Township's role remembered during War of 1812 bicentennial

To most Americans the War of 1812 is a non-event. Few today realize that our country came perilously close to being overrun by the British again.

Belleville opinion: Township home to first Chinese immigrants

In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed and the following year the first Chinese immigrants headed east from San Francisco and established the first Chinese community on the east coast of America.