Clinton Began As a Speculative Venture
The history of the town of Clinton is a fascinating one. The borough has so much character and charm, but it had a rocky start.
The original owner of the land that became the town of Clinton was David McKinney, who built a grist mill on the South Branch of the Raritan sometime before 1763 on land purchased from Mahlon Kirkbride of Bucks County. But after falling into debt, he had to sell his property back to Kirkbride in 1770, who almost immediately sold it to one Mahlon Taylor of Lebanon Township. Taylor ran the mills during the Revolution, but he also ran into debt, and finally had to put the property up for sale in 1782. Daniel Hunt Esq. purchased the property that year, and built up the milling business enough to warrant calling the surrounding area Hunt’s Mills. He mortgaged the property to Robert Taylor in 1799,1 and was eventually forced to convey it to his sons Ralph Hunt and Daniel Hunt, Jr. in 1799 and 1803.2 By 1828 the Hunt family was forced to give up the property. It is the history of Clinton after that time, when it acquired its appearance as an early 19th century village, that I wish to write about.
Regrettably, most of the buildings lining the Main Street today do not date from its early layout in the 1820s. A large number of those buildings were destroyed in a terrible fire in 1892. Many of them were probably built in the popular Greek Revival style. But the layout remains the same. The men responsible for that were Archibald S. Taylor and John W. Bray. The story begins with Archibald’s father, Robert Taylor.3