The first settlers were a Puritan colony that came to the area in 1720. The abundance of large flocks of wild turkeys led to the initial name for the area of Turkey. From 1736 to 1738 many families were buying land near the Passaic River. Before long these settlers had established homes and built a Presbyterian Church, which became the center of life in the small settlement. Local history is interwoven with the Presbyterian Church because of an accident that took place there in 1778. A partially completed gallery gave way during a meeting and fell on the people seated below. No one was seriously injured and the survivors attributed this to Divine Providence.
In gratitude, the residents changed the name of the settlement from Turkey to New Providence, which included present-day Summit and Berkeley Heights. New Providence contributed men to the Revolutionary cause, but its soil remained unscathed by battle. Forty-eight men who served in Washington's army are buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery. In 1869 Summit seceded from New Providence Township over disagreement with town management, as well as its rapid increase in population and businesses due to its railroad facilities. New Providence Borough was formed in 1899 and present-day Berkeley Heights retained the name New Providence Township until 1952. Visit our local historical society for more information.