The First people to occupy this watershed region were the Lenape Indians--one of the many sub-tribes of the great Algonquin Nation. This area was called roxiticus by the Indians. The word means "a meeting place." Later, Roxiticus was used to designate the two white settlements Black Horse and Wills Settlement, now known as Mendham and Ralston.
About 1700, what the Indians called succasunna (black stone) proved to be iron, and it lured people from Connecticut and Long Island. The first authentic settlement in this area was by an Englishman, James Wills, who in 1713 bought what is now known as Ralston. The family never made any real settlement and soon disposed of their holdings to various settlers.
In 1722 James Pitney, of Scottish-Irish descent, settled on what was known as Pitney Corner. In the 1740's the Byram family did much to make this early settlement a town. In 1742 Ebenezer Byram gave this settlement a center--The Black Horse Inn, a proud "Hilltop" church in 1745, and on March 29 1749, the name Mendham. Eliab Byram, son of Ebenezer Byram, was apparently the first Byram to discover this area. As a young graduate from Yale Divinity School, he traveled with David Brainard, an Indian missionary, who made frequent trips to Delaware and stopped here along the way. They would hold services when here and preached in a little log church. Byram was eventually asked to stay on as permanent pastor. At the same time, his father was apparently finding Puritan intolerance in Massachusetts, "intolerable," and prepared to move here by purchasing, in 1740, the small farm house that would become The Black Horse Inn. When Byram moved from Massachusetts he brought with him a band of hearty men and women of like mind. In 1744, Eliab Byram was officially ordained as the church's first pastor, and construction on the first of four "Hilltop" churches that would occupy the same location, originally chosen by Byram, was begun. Ebenezer Byram's will, recorded in 1753, speaks of his wife Hannah, six children, a granddaughter and two great-grandchildren...to be continued.