The area known as Scotch Plains was first settled by Europeans, including many Scottish Quakers as early as 1684. It later served as a stop on the stage coach line between New York and Philadelphia. The Ash Swamp in Scotch Plains was the scene of a key action in the Battle of Short Hills, on June 26, 1777, which included skirmishes as Washington’s forces moved along Rahway Road in Scotch Plains toward the Watchung Mountains. Scotch Plains is home to the house of Aunt Betty Frazee, whose retort to Lord Cornwallis led the British to find their bread from friendlier bakers in the same battle. The simple farmstead of Betty and Gershom Frazee, a type of structure that rarely survives the centuries, is today the object of a restoration effort by local organizations.
What is now Scotch Plains was originally incorporated as Fanwood Township on March 6, 1878, by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature from portions of Plainfield Township and Westfield Township. Portions of the township were taken to form Fanwood Borough on October 2, 1895. Fanwood Township was renamed to Scotch Plains as of March 29, 1917, based on the results of a referendum held that same day.
Scotch Plains was home to the Shady Rest Country Club, the nation’s first African-American country club, and its pro, John Shippen, the first African-American golf professional, who led the 1892 U.S. Open in the final round before finishing fifth. The Shady Rest clubhouse hosted Cab Calloway and other greats as a local center for African-American culture in the 1920s and 1930s. It is preserved today as the Scotch Hills Municipal course.