The first troop in the Trenton area appears to be Troop 1, sponsored by the Trenton YMCA. The troop was chartered in 1910, the year that Scouting came to the United States from where it originated in Great Britian. Another early troop, still active after all these years, was Troop 12 sponsored by the Prospect Street Presbyterian Church. There were no councils in the early years. Scouting units registered directly with National in New York City.
Trenton Council #362 appears to be the first council in the Trenton area. The council was chartered in 1915 and continued until 1925, when it merged with the Princeton Council.
Order of the Arrow Trenton Lodge 2 was formed in 1919. There is some question whether this lodge was ever actually chartered by the Boy Scout organization. OA lodges were expected to use Native American names and the Trenton lodge became the Sanhican Lodge 2 in 1919. I have seen programs where the Sanhican Lodge dates its origin to February 1919.
Scouts from the Trenton area were using Camp Pahaquarra at least as early as 1920. Because the mining company that owned the land was constantly in financial trouble during the 1920s, council purchased the camp on May 20, 1925, at a cost of one dollar per acre. In 1946, scouts paid $25 for a week at Camp Pahaquarra. See the Council Patch Collection, available from the Council Home Page, for an excellent history of the camp.
For whatever reason, there was a name change to Trenton Area Council in 1925, then to Trenton-Mercer Area Council in 1926 and to the Mercer Area Council in 1935. I have no idea why these names changes occurred. My best guess is that the name changed in response to new scouting units joining the council, or perhaps to reflect new funding sources.
Finally, George Washington Council appeared in 1937. It is not clear whether the three districts, Mercer Area District, Hunterdon Arrowhead District and Jenny Jump District existed at this time. I do know that Hunterdon, Mercer, Warren Counties were part of the George Washington Council at it's inception in 1937 (Ref. 1). In the 1950s, George Washington Council had five districts; Lenape Trails, Sanhican, Stony Brook, Hunterdon Arrowhead and Jenny Jump (Ref. 2), (Ref. 3).
Recently, I have seen patches for Stony Brook District (1965), Sanhican District (1981) and Lenape Trail District (1966). The earliest Mercer Area District patch appears to be 1982. This seems to suggest that there was a district consolidation around 1981 or 1982. Could this is be when the Trenton units joined the council?
Around 1968, there were plans to build the Tocks Island Dam across the Delaware River, creating a huge reservoir for flood control, and the government began purchasing land along the river. Pahaquarra Scout Reservation, the former Camp Pahaquarra, was sold at that time for $400 per acre. Council appealed that price, claiming that similar property was selling for as much as $1,500 per acre, and two years later was awarded an additional $80 per acre. Pahaquarra Scout Reservation was replaced by Yards Creek Scout Reservation at nearby Blairstown.
George Washington Council was active until December 31, 1999, when it merged with the Thomas A. Edison Council to form the Central New Jersey Council. The new council was chartered on January 1, 1999.