Settlement began in the mid-1850s, when Benjamin B. Haney built a home near the waters of Burrett Creek. The first settlers referred to the community as Caddo Village because of numerous remnants of the Caddo Indian culture found along the banks of the West Fork of the Trinity River. Later it was called Odessa, and a post office branch, the first in what was to become Wise County, was established under that name and operated until 1866.
After the railroad reached the town in 1893, Rock Island officials proceeded to survey and lay out town lots and reapply for postal service. The community was renamed after Newark, New Jersey, perhaps the hometown of G. K. Foster, the civil engineer who helped survey the town.
Newark was a prosperous farming community until the 1920s. It regained its status as a retail market for area farmers by the end of the 1940s.