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Sharing Their Stories: They Came to America and They Stayed

By Candy Willis | Posted June 4, 2024


Since it declared its independence in 1776, the United States of America has been the go-to country for people looking for political liberty, economic opportunity, and religious freedom. Over time, as people from different cultures arrived, this country became known as a melting pot.  Various cultures assimilated, sharing a little bit of something from each one.


When the Van Harlingen Historical Society (VHHS) in Montgomery Township, NJ, was founded in 1965, the emphasis was on researching local colonial heritage. During colonial times, the residents were primarily white Europeans and African slaves. There was not a lot of diversity.

Diverse Students in Montgomery Township NJ

DIVERSITY: Montgomery Township students sing during a citizenship ceremony held in the gym of the Lower Middle School in April 2019. (File photo by Barbara A. Preston)


That is not the case today. The demographics of the township have changed dramatically and, over the past few years, the elected officials, once only white male freeholders over 21, hail from all over the globe.


Why have people from around the world chosen Montgomery Township, NJ, specifically, as the place to set down roots, to purchase houses, to raise their children, and to live here after their children have grown and left the household? Their stories are as important as our colonial heritage. 


A group of long-time residents from all over the globe will meet at the Montgomery Library to share their family's story — where they came from, why they left their native country, why they came to this country, why they chose Montgomery Township to settle down in, why they stayed here for so many years. The panel discussion will feature residents from Japan, Russia, France, India, and Colombia — even the Montgomery Township Mayor Neena Singh is participating.  


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Apple Montessori School

Join VHHS on June 20 at 6 pm in the library meeting room to celebrate National Immigrant Heritage Month. The program is free, open to the public, and there will be refreshments.  It is co-sponsored by VHHS and the Montgomery Library, a branch of the Somerset County Library System. 


Visit www.vanharlingen.org for more information and contact library@vanharlingen.org with questions.


1 Comment


Khürt Williams
Khürt Williams
7 days ago

I've lived in Montgomery Township for 21 years. I'm from the Eastern Caribbean. I guarantee my perspective on this town will be vastly different from those from Japan, Russia, France, India, and Colombia.

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