)NAL LIBRARY FAC
JERSEY CITY. FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
3er?en arr^ Jer?ey City
BERGEN 1 JERSEY CITY
An Historical Souvenir of the 250th
Anniversary of the Founding of Bergen
Prepared for the Free Public Library of Jersey City by
EDMUND W. MILLER. Assistant Librarian
THE FREE PUBLIC LIIIRARY
BERGEN m JERSEY CITY
An Historical Souvenir of the 250th
Anniversary of the Founding of Bergen
Prepared for the Free Public Library of Jersey City by
EDMUND W. MILLER, Assistant Librarian
THE FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
By Free Public Library, Jersey City, N. J,
PRESS OF A. J. DOAN
FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
JERSEY CITY, N. J.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
HON. H. OTTO WITTPENN, Mayor,
HENRY SNYDER, D. Sc, Supt. of Schools, '
NELSON J. H. EDGE DAVID R. DALY
BENJAMIN L. STOWE DAVID W. LAWRENCE
GORDON K. DICKINSON, M. D.
BENJAMIN L. STOWE President
DAVID R. DALY Treasurer
ESTHER E. BURDICK Librarian
EDMUND W. MILLER Secretary
The present monograph is pubHshed by the Trustees of
the Free PubHc I^ibrar>^ of Jersey City as a contribution to the
most important celebration ever held on New Jersey soil.
The 250th anniversary of the founding of Bergen which is to be
observ'ed during the week of October 16 to 23, 1910, commem-
orates the establishment of the first municipal government,
the first church and the first school in the State of New Jersey.
Two hundred and fifty years ago a small band of hardy
pioneers braved the dangers and hardships of the wilderness
and planted the little village from which has grown the present
Jersey City. In the following pages an effort has been made
to tell the story of this wonderful growth and record some of
the many interesting incidents connected with it. The facts
have been gathered from records and documents owned by
the Library and great care has been taken to make it accurate.
Owing to the necessarily limited size of this publication it has
only been possible to give a brief outline of the city's history
and many important events had to be omitted entirely. The
Library, however, has in course of preparation a more com-
plete history of the City and County, in which these facts will
be given in fuller detail. It is hoped, however, that the
present publication will serve to stimulate interest in the
history of our city and call the attention of the public to the
fine collection of historical data contained in the Public Li-
BERGEN AND JERSEY CITY
I. Discovery and Early Settlements
Before the white race came to America the land included in the
present County of Hudson was covered by dense forests and dreary
marshes tenanted only by wild beasts and scattered bands of savages.
The original inhabitants of this territory were a branch of the
Lenni Lenape nation of Indians. The Lenni Lenape, or Delawares
as they were afterward named by the Europeans, occupied all the
present New Jersey, which they called Sheyichbi. They belonged to
the great Algonquin family of Indian nations which occupied nearly
all the country from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Lenape were of medium stature, well built and strong,
with dark eyes and coarse black hair, of which the men wore only a
single tuft or scalp-lock. They dressed in the skins
The Indians '^^ wild animals and painted and stained their bodies.
They lived in villages, each family occupying a sin-
gle hut or wigwam. These dwellings were only temporary struc-
tures and the villages were continually moved from place to place.
They lived principally by hunting and fishing, though maize and prob-
ably some vegetables were cultivated and eaten.
They had a rude kind of tribal government and their religion
was a form of fire or sun worship. Though hospitable and friendly,
they rarely forgot or forgave an injury and were cruel and relentless
in seeking vengeance on their foes. They were, however, much more
peaceable than most of the neighboring tribes.
It is not known who was the first white man to view the shores
of what is now New Jersey. In 1497 and 1498 John and Sebastian
Cabot sailed along the coast of North America and
First Discoverers claimed for the King of England the entire country.
Whether the Cabots ever saw the coast of New
Jersey is not known, but it was included in the land they claimed
and it was by virtue of their discoveries that England afterward
asserted her title to all the North American continent.
In 1524 Verrazano, an Italian sailing in the service of the King
of France, visited the Bay of New York. He evidently discovered
and sailed some distance up the Hudson River.
Verrazano, 1 524 He must, therefore, have seen the shores of New
Jersey and was probably the first white man to
view the land upon which Jersey City now stands. The following
year Estevan Gomez, employed in the service of Charles V. of
Spain, sailed up New York Bay. It is probable that other explorers
also visited these waters, but the honor of their discovery has been
justly given to Henry Hudson. It was Hudson who first made these
regions known to the world, and his explorations lead directly to
the colonization of New Netherland.
On April 4, 1609, Hudson sailed from Amsterdam under a com-
mission from the Dutch East India Company to explore ' ' a passage
to China." The little vessel he commanded was a shallow, almost
flat-bottomed, sail boat of about sixty tons burden. After vain
eiforts to find the northwest passage he reached Greenland, and sail-
ing south along the coast, arrived at Chesapeake Bay on August 28.
He then turned back, and on September 2 anchored
Hudson, J 609 off the Highlands of Navesink. After spending
several days in exploring the lower bay and the
adjacent islands, Hudson sailed up through the Narrows, and on
September 12 the "Half Moon" anchored near Communipaw. Struck
with the beauty of the country, the mate, Robert Juet, makes the
following note in his journal of the voyage : "This is as pleasant a
land as one may tread upon." This entry is of interest as being the
first recorded reference to the land included in the present Jersey
City. The next day they continued up the river, reaching Albany on
September 19. After stopping there for several days they started
on their return voyage, and on October 4, 1609, Hudson passed Sandy
Hook and put out to sea.
The glowing description which Hudson gave of the newly dis-
covered country on his return to Europe aroused great interest
among the merchants of Holland. A vessel was at once fitted out
from Amsterdam to trade with the Indians. This venture was suc-
cessful and was soon followed by others. In 1613 a trading post con-
sisting of four small houses was established on the lower end of
In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was chartered. This
charter gave the company exclusive jurisdiction over the newly dis-
covered country for a term of twenty-one years,
The DutchWest with power to make contracts, build forts, admin-
India Company ister justice and appoint governors. In 1623 the
new country was made a province under the name
New Netherland. In the same year another expedition was sent out
with thirty families to start a permanent settlement.
Shortly after this it was decided to establish the headquarters
of the colony on Manhattan Island. In 1626 Peter Minuit, who had
been appointed Director of New Netherlands, purchased the island of
Manhattan from the Indians for the sum of $24.00.
Notwithstanding the success of these early ventures the
OUT GARDEN PLOTS.
BERGEN AND BUYTEN TUYN
iroduced from the original map of 1764, by Mr. John NN' Heck. I'sed here through the
courtesy of the Historical Society of Hudson County.
No copy of the original map of Bergen, as laid out by Jacques Cortelyou. exists. The original of the map
here shown was made in 1764, and without doubt, correctly shows the town plot, .-as originally laid
out. the shape of the lots and the general features of the ''Out Garden Plots."
province did not develop as was anticipated. Little had been done
toward improving the settlements. The only inhabitants were a few
employees of the company connected with the trading posts and
forts. None of the land was cultivated except the little that was
necessary to supply the wants of those who were attached to the
In 1629 the officers of the company devised plans to improve
the conditions of the colony and offered special "freedoms and exemp-
tions" to those who would plant settlements in New Netherland.
Any private individual who wished to settle in the new country was
offered absolute ownership of as much land as they
The^PatfOons^ could properly improve. Any member of the com-
pany who should within four years establish a col-
ony of fifty adult persons was to be acknowledged as a "patroon" or
feudal chief of the territory thus colonized. Each of these colonies
might extend sixteen miles along one side of the river, or eight miles
on each side, and might extend back to a practically unlimited dis-
tance. Each patroon was to have full title to the land, provided he
satisfied the claims of the Indians by purchase.
The history of New Jersey may be said to have begun in 1630,
when Michael Pauw, a burgomaster of Amsterdam, bought from the
Indians the greater part of the territory now included in Hudson
County. This purchase was made through the Director and Council
of New Netherland. The compensation given the
PatJw's Indians is not named, but is described as a " quan-
Purchase, J630 tity of merchandise." There are two deeds, the
first dated July 12, 1630, and the second, covering a
much larger territory, dated November 22, of the same year. These
deeds seem to have included most of the land lying along the Hudson
River from Communipaw to Weehawken. In the deed of November
22 the territory is described as "Ahasimus and Aressick. extending
along the river Mauritius and the Island of the Manahatas on the
east side, and the Island Hoboken Hackingh on the north side, sur-
rounded by swamps, which are sufficiently distinct boundaries."
Ahasimus was the name given to that part of Jersey City
which lay east of the hill and was separated from Paulus Hook by a
salt marsh, and was afterwards the town of Van Vorst. Aressick
was an Indian name, meaning burying-ground, and was applied to the
circular piece of upland lying south of York street and east of War-
ren street, afterward known as Paulus Hook. Hoboken was an
Indian word, said to signify tobacco-pipe. With the suffix Hackingh,
which means land, this would give the expression "the land of the
tobacco-pipe." This was the tract of land now occupied by the city
Pauw named the district he purchased, Pavonia, after the Latin
form of his own name.
It is not known when the first settlement was made in Hud-
F' ■»• ^ f tT f ^^^ County. Some writers have asserted that the
Tj J Dutch landed on the Jersey shore and made a set-
m Hudson tlement as early as 1610. A number of other
V-.ounty writers state that settlements were made in 1618,
but there is no evidence to uphold these assertions.
According to the terms of Pauw's contract with the Company
he was to plant a colony of at least fifty persons within four years,
one fourth of which number was to be brought over within the first
year after his purchase. It is known that Pauw did not comply
with these conditions, but it is probable that some sort of settlement
was made before 1633. All that is known with certainty, however,
is that in 1633 an officer of the Company named Michael Paulusen, or
Poulaz, was living at Aressick and was probably engaged in trade
with the Indians. He was, without doubt, the first white resident of
Jersey City. Apparently he did not stay here very long, but the
point of land where he lived was named after him : Paulus Hook.
Hook, or Hoeck, as it was originally spelt, is the Dutch for cape
or point of land.
In the latter part of 1633 two houses were built by order of the
Company, one at Communipaw, afterwards owned by Jan Evertse
Bout, and the other at Ahasimus, near what is now the corner of
Fourth and Henderson street, and afterward occupied by Cornells
Van Vorst. These were probably the first regular buildings in Hud-
Paulusen was succeeded by Jan Evertse Bout, who was
appointed by Pauw as his representative. He arrived in New Neth-
erland June 17, 1634, and established his headquarters at Communi-
paw, or Gemoenepa, as it was called by the Indians. Bout was prob-
ably the first white resident at Communipaw. In June, 1636, Bout
was succeeded by Cornells Van Vorst, who made his residence at
In the meantime Pauw's ownership had caused much dissatisfac-
tion and jealousy among the other members of the Company. After
a long dispute he was compelled to relinquish his claim to Pavonia, and
in return the Company paid him 26,000 guilders, or about $10,400.00.
The exact date of this settlement is not known, but it must have
been prior to July, 1638, for under that date a lease of a farm in
Pavonia is recorded in the name of the Company.
In making the settlement with Pauw the Company announced
that it would "reserve the property unto itself," and in accordance
with this notice Ahasimus was held by the Company and became
known as the West India Company's Farm, and afterwards as the
Duke's Farm. The rest of the territory, however, was soon disposed
of without regard to the reservation. In 1638 Abraham Isaacsen
Planck bought the tract of land known as Paulus Hook for the sum
of 250 guilders.
The first white occupant of Hoboken was Hendrick Comelissen
Van Vorst, who obtained a lease of the place in 1639. In the lease
the land is spoken of as having been "heretofore occupied by him,"
but as Van Vorst was unmarried it was probable
First Settlement that he lived with his father at Ahasimus. He
of Hoboken soon afterward returned to Holland, where he died.
In 1640 Governor Kieft leased the land at Hoboken
to Aert Teunissen Van Putten, and the Governor agreed to build a
small house on the place. This was without doubt the first house in
Hoboken. Van Putten cleared the land and soon had a flourishing
farm. He also erected a brew-house, the first brewery in Hudson
Early in 1638 William Kieft arrived at Manhattan as Director
General of New Netherland. The afltairs of the province were in a
very bad state and he did much to improve its condition. Kieft, how-
ever, did not know how to deal with the natives, and it was princi-
pally his want of judgment which caused the long and bloody Indian
wars. In 1641 one of the colonists was murdered by the Indians.
Kieft demanded the surrender of the murderer, but the Indians
refused. He then wished to attack them, but the majority of the
settlers advised against such a step at that time.
In February, 1643, a party of Indians numbering about one
thousand, fled from the Mohawks, who had made war upon them, and
came to the Dutch for protection. While they were encamped near
what is now the corner of Pine street and Johnston
First Indian avenue, a party of Dutch soldiers under orders
War, 1643 from Kieft, crossed the river from Manhattan, and
falling on the unsuspecting savages, massacred a
large number of them. The Indians at once made war on the Dutch
and destroyed every house in Pavonia. The settlers blamed Kieft
for their misfortunes and he made every effort to bring the war to a
close. In April, 1643, a treaty was made with some of the tribes,
but it was soon broken, and in a few months the war was raging as
fiercely as ever, and continued until 1645. On the 30th of August of
that year a treaty of peace was made and the first Indian war was
ended. The settlers returned to Pavonia, rebuilt their houses and
resumed their former occupations.
Settlements were soon made in other parts of the future Hud-
son County. In 1646 Jacob Jacobsen Roy received a grant of land at
Constable Hook, where the works of the Standard Oil Company are
now located. Roy was the first gunner of the New Amsterdam forts,
and this was the origin of the name Constable Hook or Gunner's
Point, the Dutch word for gunner being "konstapel. "
In 1647 Claas Carstensen was granted a strip of land extending
from New York Bay to Newark Bay, which included a large part of
what was afterward known as Greenville. This section was called
by the Indians "Minkakwa," meaning the "place of good crossing,"
probably because it was the most convenient pass between the
At "Awiehaken," as the Indians called the present Wee-
hawken, Maryn Adriaensen in 1647 was given a tract of farm land.
He was the first settler at Weehawken, which still preserves its
Indian name, probably meaning "the land of the end," so called
because the Palisades end at this spot.
In 1654 a number of families were granted tracts of land
within the limits of the present city of Bayonne. In the deeds they
are described as situated between Communipaw and the Kill Van KuU.
For ten years the Indians faithfully observed the treaty made
in 1645. Peter Stuyvesant had succeeded Kieft as Director General
in July, 1646, and his conciliatory treatment of the Indians did much
to preserve peace. Unfortunately in 1655 an Indian girl was shot
while stealing some peaches from a farmer in Man-
Second Indian hattan. War at once broke out, and on the night
War t655 of September 15th a party of Indians attacked New
Amsterdam. They were soon repulsed, but they
immediately crossed the river, and falling on the settlements at Pa-
vonia destroyed every house and farm. One hundred of the settlers
were killed, one hundred and fifty taken prisoners and more than
three hundred lost their homes. All those who could escape took refuge
in New Amsterdam. The savages having spent their fury soon found
that their prisoners were an encumbrance and made proposals for
ransoming them. After considerable negotiations the captives were
returned and peace finally established.
Wishing to avoid any trouble with the Indians regarding the
ownership of the land at Pavonia Governor Stuyvesant decided to re-
purchase it. On January 30, 1658, a new deed
Hudson Cottnty was made by which the Indians transferred to
Reoufchased 1658 ^^^ Dutch all that part of the present Hudson
County which li'es east of the Hackensack River
and Newark Bay. The compensation given the Indians consisted of
"eighty fathoms of wampum, twenty fathoms of cloth, twelve kettles,
six guns, two blankets, one double kettle, one half barrel of strong
The settlers who had been driven from their homes wished to
return as soon as the war was over, but on January 18, 1656, the
Council issued an order commanding them to concentrate in villages
for better protection against the savages. In 1658 some of
them obtained permission to go back to their farms on this con-
dition. They returned, but for nearly two years they made no effort
to form a village or make any provision against the attacks of the
Indians. This called forth another edict ordering all isolated farmers
to move to the nearest village or to form a fortified village at some
favorably situated spot.
On March 1, 1660, Tielman Van Vleck and some others asked
permission "to settle on the maize land behind Gemoenepaen. "
These requests were refused, but on the 16th of August several in-
habitants, whose names have not been preserved, asked for permission
to cultivate the land "behind Communipaw and to make there a
village or concentration." This petition was at once granted on con-
dition that the village must be formed on a spot that could be easily
defended ; and while the lots were to be given free, each settler was
obliged to build his house within six weeks after he had drawn his
lot ; and from each house there must be furnished at least one person
able to bear arms.
The exact date of the founding of Bergen is not known, but
from the few documents which have come dovsTi to us the time can
be fixed quite closely, and there is no doubt that the site was selected,
the village surveyed, laid out and given a name.
The Founding' between the 16th of August, the date of the above
of Berp-cn petition and some time in November, 1660. In a
letter written by Governor Stuyvesant dated
October 6th, 1660, he calls attention to several villages needing
preachers and among them mentions "a newly planted village of
about thirty families across the North River. " It is evident from
this that the town had been formed but not yet named.
The earliest document in which the name appears is a survey
of a lot made in November, 1660, the day of the month not being given.
In this document the lot is described as being "near to the village
of Bergen in the new maize land." The "maize land" alluded to
was a small clearing probably made by the Indians for the cultivation
of maize. It was located near what is now the corner of Montgomery
street and Bergen avenue.
The origin of the name Bergen has been a matter of much dis-
pute. Some historians have claimed that it was called after the city
of Norway of the same name; others that it was named after the lit-
tle town of Bergen-Op-Zoom in Holland. The explanation which is
now generally accepted by the best authorities is that the name was
derived from the Dutch word "berg," meaning mountain or hill, in
allusion to the high ground on which the village was built.
The first settlers appear to have been from the Netherlands,
with perhaps a few Danes, Swedes and Norwegians.
The village was laid out in the form of a square, each side 800
feet long, with two streets, now known as Academy street and Ber-
gen avenue, crossing each other at right angles in the centre. These
streets cut the town into four quarters and each quarter was divided
into eight building lots. A street ran along each of the four exterior
sides of the plot. The boundaries of the town, giv-
DesCfiption of ^^S the streets their present names, were Newkirk
g street on the north, Tuers avenue on the east,
Vroom street on the south, and Van Reypen street
on the west. Around the outer sides of the streets which surrounded
the village, palisades, probably built of logs and about six or seven
feet high, were erected as a protection from the Indians. On each
side of the town where the cross streets ended, gates were placed,
through which roads led into the woods and fields beyond.
In the centre of the village, where the streets intersected, an
open space about 160 by 225 feet was left as a public square. This
open space is the present Bergen Square.
The buildings first erected were probably built of logs. The
land within the town was laid out in lots by Jacques Cortelyou, the
official surveyor of New Netherlands. The land immediately sur-
rounding the town was laid out in farms and was
'^Bwytcn Tuyn^ known as the "Buy ten Tuyn" or outside gardens.
This land was owned and cultivated by the settlers
who had their homes inside the village because of the danger from
Indians. During the day the settlers worked on the farms, but at
nightfall they retired within the walls of the town bringing with them
their cattle, which they tethered in the public square.
In February, 1662, a well was dug in the centre of the square
so that the cattle could be watered without taking them outside the
gates. Troughs were placed around it for the cattle and a long sweep
was used for raising the water. This well was in use until some time
in the 19th century, when it was filled up and a liberty pole placed on
the spot. In the latter part of 1870 this pole was taken down, the
square was paved, and all traces of the well were destroyed.
The beauty of its situation and the many advantages of the new
settlement caused it to grow so rapidly that by May, 1661, every lot
within the palisades was occupied. The village soon became so im-
portant that it was given a local government. On
First Local Septembers, 1661, a court was installed consisting of
Government ^ "Schout" or Sheriff, whose functions were some-
what like those of a bailiff or country sheriff; and
three "Schepens" or magistrates, somewhat like justices or aldermen.
This was the first court and the first municipal government estabhshed
within the limits of the present state of New Jersey. Previous to
this the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens of New Amsterdam
had exercised legal jurisdiction on this side of the river. But thence-
forth legal questions were decided by the local court, subject to the
right of appeal to the Director General and Council of New Nether-
The inhabitants of the village were allowed to choose their own
magistrates. Tielman Van Vleck was the first Schout. The first
Schepens appointed were Harman Smeeman, Casper Steinmets and
Michiel Jansen, who was the ancestor and founder of the Vreeland
family of Hudson County.
Almost as soon as Bergen was founded, provision was made for
the religious and educational needs of the people. A lot fronting on
the square was set apart to be used as a site for
First School ^ school-house. Engelbert Steenhuysen was the
first schoolmaster, and was also the "Voorleezer"
or clerk, who in the absence of a minister conducted the religious
services and performed most of the functions of a regular clergyman.
He probably began his duties very soon after the founding of the
village. His license is dated October 6, 1662. A school-house was
not erected immediately and it is probable that school was at first held
in the house of the schoolmaster.
When and where the first school-house was erected is not known,
but it was probably built about 1664. According to tradition, which
has been accepted by some of the best authorities, the first school-
house was located on the high ground just outside the palisade, near
what is now the corner of Tuers avenue and Vroom street. This
building was also used for religious purposes until the erection of the
octagonal church in 1680.
Many authorities, however, believe that a school building was
erected at an early date on the plot of land facing Bergen Square,
which had been set aside for that purpose when the village was first
laid out, and which is now occupied by Public School No. 11. This is
Very probable, for it seems unlikely that this lot would have been left
idle until 1708 when the second school was built. As the school-house
was the first in New Jersey, and the first public building within the
limits of the present Jersey City, it would be of great interest if we
knew its exact location and something of its appearance. But un-
fortunately few records regarding it have come down to us. Most
of the historians believe it was built of logs, though even this has
been questioned by some. All that is known with certainty is that
there was a school-building, for in the old church records are found
a number of items of expense for repairs and work done on "the
The second school building was erected on the site now occu-
pied by Public School No. 11. It was begun in 1708, and was probably
completed about 1710. According to the old records
Second School the total cost was 1193 guilders and 10 stuivers, or
and Colombia $477.40. This building was probably in use until
Academv ^^^^ when the Columbia Academy was erected on
the same site. This was a large stone building,
two stories high surmounted by a cupola. For many years the Co-
lumbia Academy had a high reputation andmanj' of the city's prom-
inent men were educated within its walls.
In 1857 the Columbia Academy was torn down to make way for
the school-house known as "Columbia District School No. 1, Town of
Bergen" and afterwards as Public School No. 11,
Public School Jersey City. The corner stone of this building was
p^o. 1 1 l^i^i J^^y 28, 1858. This structure was in turn torn
down in 19U3 and the present handsome building
erected in its place.
The first church, now known as the Bergen Reformed Church,
was organized almost as soon as the village was founded. In 1662 the
sum of 417 guilders ($166.80) was subscribed by the inhabitants of the
town for the support of a minister, and a petition was made to
the Governor General and Council of Netherland for a pastor. Until
1680 the religious services were held in the school-house erected about
1664 near Tuers avenue and Vroom street.
In 1680 the first building exclusively for church purposes was
erected near the comer of Bergen avenue and Vroom street. It was
an octagonal stone building with the roof sloping to a point and sur-
mounted by a weather-vane. The windows were
The First placed high above the ground. In 1683 a bell was
Church placed in the roof. When ringing the bell the sex-
ton stood in the centre of the building. The pews
were placed around the wall and were occupied by the men, the rest
of the floor being used by the women who sat on chairs. The minis-
ter preached from a pulpit placed high above the congregation. In
front, and just below the pulpit was a small pew with a book rest.
This was occupied by the Voorleezer who conducted the services when
the minister was absent and led the singing at the regular services.
The contributions were taken up in little black velvet bags attached
to long poles which were passed around by the deacons. At the bot-
tom of each bag was a small bell to arouse the congregation at col-
lection time. This custom was followed for many years. The ser-
mons and the church records were in the Dutch language until the be-
ginning of the 19th century.
Until 1750 Bergen was without a regular local pastor, the ser-
vices being either conducted by the Voorleezer or by ministers from
New York or other places. These visiting preachers were paid twen-
ty-five to seventy-two guilders ($10.00 to $28.80) for their services in
addition to their expenses and board. In 1750 the congregation decided
to engage a stated pastor, and obtained a supply in the person of Pe-
trus De Wint, who served for nearly two years. The first permanent
minister was William Jackson who was called in 1753, but was not in-
stalled until 1757, having been sent to Holland in the meantime to
complete his studies.
In 1773 a new and larger building was erected on the spot where
the octagonal church stood. This building was of stone and was
45 feet wide and 60 feet long. It was in use until 1841, when it was
THE OCTAGONAL CHURCH
(.Trom an Old Print.*
(Vroiu an Old I'ritit.)
torn down to make way for the present church, the corner-stone of
which was laid August 26, 1841. The building was completed the fol-
lowing year, and was dedicated July 14, 1842.
Shortly after the laying out of the town of Bergen had been
commenced, steps were taken to establish a village at Communipaw.
A settlement had been made at that spot as early
Communipaw ^^ 1634, and at the outbreak of the Indian war in
1655 several flourishing farms were located near
there, but they were destroyed by the savages, and the inhabitants
who escaped sought refuge in New Amsterdam. On September 8,
1660, Jacques Cortelyou was ordered to make a survey of the land at
Communipaw and lay it out into town lots. The site of the new vil-
lage fronted on New York Bay and comprised a strip of land about
200 feet wide, extending south from the present < ommunipaw avenue
for about 600 feet. Within this small space the village was built and
settled. Orders were given that a palisade be erected as a protection
from the Indians. These fortifications were begun but apparently
were never completed.
Although Bergen had been founded and settled by the Dutch,
it did not long remain under the Dutch rule. By virtue of the dis-
coveries made by the Cabots in 1497 and 1498, Eng-
Bergen Becomes land claimed ownership of all of North America.
an E.ng'Iish Col- 0" March 12, 1664, Charles II, granted the prov-
ince of New Netherland to his brother, the Duke
of York. Soon after the Duke sold to Lord Berk-
eley and Sir George Carteret the tract of land lying between the Hud-
son and Delaware Rivers, and this tract was given the name of "New
Jersey" in honor of Sir George Carteret, who was born on the island
of Jersey in the English channel.
On May 25, 1664, an expedition sailed from England to seize
New Netherland and on September 8, captured and took possession of
New Amsterdam. The following February, Philip Carteret, a brother
of Sir George, was appointed Governor of New Jersey and in the
latter part of July, 1665, he arrived and assumed control of the province.
In 1668 Governor Carteret granted a new charter to the town
of Bergen. This charter was largely a confirmation of the rights and
privileges which the inhabitants enjoyed under the Dutch govern-
ment. The boundaries of the town are described
Carteret's in the charter and included nearly all the present
Charter, 1668 Jersey City and Bayonne; "the whole both of up-
land and meadows and waste land containing ac-
cording to the survey 11,520 acres English measure." Among other
things the charter empowers the freeholders to choose their own
minister and provides that all shall contribute towards his support
and towards the support of a "free school for the education of
youth". It also provides that in religious matters there shall be full
liberty of conscience. Provision is also made for the establishment
of a court of justice and the appointment of magistrates.
In 1672 war again broke out between England and Holland. On
July 30, 1673, the Dutch recaptured New York and a few days later
took possession of Bergen. This second occupation, however, was of
short duration. Peace was established on February 9, 1674, by the
Treaty of Westminster, and under this treaty New Jersey was re-
stored to the English. In the latter part of the same year Carteret
resumed the governorship of New Jersey and the Dutch rule passed
away forever. The final establishment of the English government
meet with no opposition. Carteret had treated the people with great
consideration and a strong and liberal administration that would in-
sure peace and prosperity was welcome to all.
From this time until the outbreak of the American Revolution
the history of Bergen presents few incidents worthy of record. The
settlement grew slowly but steadily. The inhabitants were mostly
quiet industrious farmers and, while little material progress was
made, the people were happy and prosperous.
What few troubles they had arose over the "Common lands"
which comprised about two thirds of the township. These lands were
held in common and were used by the farmers for
*^Common pasture and forage. To avoid confusion and dis-
lands " putes which might arise from cattle running to-
gether on these tracts, the Legislature had passed
a law in 1668 providing for the branding of cattle and directing that
the marks be recorded. In spite of these precautions, however, the
common lands were a source of dissension. Some of the farmers en-
croached upon the clearings and fenced them in with their own prop-
erty. Others would unnecessarily cut and waste the timber.
With the hope of remedying these difficulties a new charter,
commonly known as "Queen Anne's charter," was granted on Jan-
uary 14, 1714, which gave the town greater powers
^*Qween Anne's and privileges. The abuses, however, continued to
Ch.2itte.t/* J7J4 increase until on December 7, 1763, the Legisla-
ture passed an act providing for a survey of the
lands held under patents, and an allotment of the common lands
among the inhabitants. Commissioners were appointed and they sur-
veyed and allotted the land and prepared two field books and maps
showing the boundaries and titles of the various tracts. This work,
which was completed in March, 1765, was one of the most important
events in the history of the town. It put an end to all disputes, and
these field books are recognized as the final authority in all questions
relating to land titles. •
III. Manners and Customs
We who are living in the 20th century and are familiar with
the present Hudson County, with its half million inhabitants, its
crowded cities and immense business interests, find it hard to realize
the appearance of this territory and the conditions of the people dur-
ing the century following the founding of Bergen. Great as have
been the changes in the manners and customs of the people they are
not more striking than the changes that have taken place in the topog-
raphy and physical appearance of the country.
Until after the Revolution all the section east of the hill was
marshland, similar to the marshes now lying between Jersey City and
Newark, with the exception of a few sandy hills
Appearance of which at high tide were almost entirely surrounded
the Cowntry by water. The northernmost of these hills was
that on which the city of Hoboken is now situated.
This was occupied as the summer residence of the Bayard family
whose mansion was on the high point of land projecting into the
Hudson River. Their magnificent farm included all of the present
Hoboken and part of Weehawken.
The upland lying nearest to Hoboken was Ahasimus, afterwards
the township of Van Vorst. T'his was occupied by the Van Vorst
family, and the family homestead was located near the present
Fourth and Henderson streets and was surrounded by a prosperous
Lying to the south of Ahasimus but nearer to Manhattan was
the elevation known as Paulus Hook. This nearly corresponded to
the section now bounded by Montgomery, Hudson, Essex and Warren
streets. This was owned by the Van Vorst family and consisted
mostly of farm land.
Further south was the circular piece of upland known as "Jan
de Lacher's Hook," or Mill Creek Point. Here was a flourishing
farm. Nearby was Communipaw where was located a small village,
and a number of prosperous farms.
On the ridge of high ground lying west of these marshes and
islands was the town of Bergen. For a long tim.e this was the most
flourishing of the settlements. Because of the danger from the
Indians, when the settlement at Bergen was first made, the dwellings
were all inside the walls of the village, and the farms just outside.
All the rest of the hill was unbroken woodland. As the danger from
the Indians decreased, clearings were made and farmhouses built in
various sections. But for many years much of the hill was covered
by dense forest and as late as 1831 fox hunts were held in the Bergen
Through the marshes lying east of the heights flowed a number
of streams. The largest of these was Mill Creek which was of con-
siderable size. This ran from New York Bay,
Mill Creek near Johnston avenue and Philip street in a north-
erly direction, crossing Grand street near Pacific
avenue and thence through the marshes and along the foot of the hill
to Ahasimus Cove. This stream was deep enough for the passage of
good sized sail-boats and was used by the farmers to carry their pro-
duce to the market in New York. Landings were made near Prior's
Mill, which stood near Railroad avenue and Fremont street, and at
Newark avenue, where the West Shore freight station is now located.
These streams have now entirely disappeared and nearly all of the
marshes have been filled in and built upon.
Along the Hudson shore front the changes made since the "Old
Bergen days" have been equally remarkable. Practically all the
original landmarks have disappeared. From Hobo-
Chang^es Alongf ken to Bergen Point the shore line has been ex-
the Shore Front tended into the river to a distance varying from
six hundred to six thousand feet. Between the
Hoboken ferry and Montgomery street, what was formerly Ahasimus
Cove, has been filled in until now the present shore front is on an
average three thousand two hundred feet beyond the original line.
Some idea of the population of the early settlements may be
obtained from a little book published in Edinburgh in 1685 entitled
"The Model of the Government of East New Jersey." This book
describes the various villages, and states that in
Population ^680 there were seventy families living in Bergen,
forty at Communipaw, five or six at Ahasimus, two
or three at Hoboken and several others scattered through the terri-
tory. Some authorities, however, believe these figures were much
exaggerated. This publication was issued to encourage emigration
to the new province, and of course the description was made as invit-
ing as possible.
There is no doubt, however, that the colony steadily grew and
attracted many settlers. The soil was fertile and the proximity of
New York insured a ready market for the products of the farms.
Most of these farms were large and flourishing and the owners pros-
perous and well to do.
The homes of the early inhabitants were comfortable and hospit-
able in appearance and were generally surrounded by pretty gardens.
The houses were usually one-story structures, built of stone or wood,
and sometimes of both. The steep roof curved
Homes of the slightly toward the lower part and was often car-
Early Settlers ^i^d beyond the side walls to form a piazza, the
edge being supported by pillars. The roof was
generally pierced by dormer windows. Through the middle of the
Reproduced from tlie "Douglass Map" of ISll, In- Mr. John W. Heck.
Used here through the courtesy of the Historical Society
of Hudson County.
house ran a wide hall with rooms opening on each side. There was a
finished attic which contain<7-d a store room, and sometimes a few
sleeping apartments and a spinning and loom room. One of these
early houses is still standing in almost its original form and gives an
excellent idea of the appearance of the homes of the first settlers.
This is the old Sip homestead, at the corner of Bergen avenue and
Newkirk street, which was built about 1664.
Bergen had been founded and settled by the Dutch, and though
after a few years it passed under English rule, the people still con-
tinued to follow the Dutch customs and manners, many of which
were preserved until long after the Revolutionary War. The Dutch
language was used in the schools for many years and the church
records and church services were in that language until the beginning
of the 19th century. Dutch was spoken by many of the people until
a much later period.
The children attended the little school in the village of Bergen.
Here they were taught the catechism, reading, writing and spelling ;
and arithmetic when sufficiently advanced. The schoolmaster was
also the " Voorleezer, " or minister's assistant, who
Children l^d the singing in church and took the minister's
place when he was absent. The school hours were
usually from eight to eleven o'clock In the morning, and from one to
four o'clock in the afternoon, and school was maintained for nine
months, beginning in September and lasting till June.
Children were brought up to be very respectful to their elders
and poHteness and good behavior were strongly insisted on. The
girls were taught domestic duties and sewing and fancy work at a
very early age. Elaborate samplers were worked by little girls
only nine or ten years old.
The chief hoHday was New Year's day, which was celebrated
as an occasion of great festivity. This was the day for family
reunions and the interchange of gifts. Christmas was generally
observed only by church services.
For business transactions wampum or "seawant, " as it was
called by the Dutch, was for a long time used in place of money.
Wampum was the Indian name for beads made from the clam, peri-
winkle or other shells. Owing to the difficulty in
Wampum making these beads they were highly prized by the
Indians and were used by them, and consequently
by the colonists, as a medium of exchange. These beads were of two
kinds — black and white— the black being worth twice as much as the
white. The value of wampum varied at different times and according
to its smoothness and polish, but usually three black or six white
beads equalled one stuiver or about two cents of our money.
The dress of the people was probably not as extravagant as
that worn by their rich neighbors in New York, but was gayer in
color and style than the Puritan costumes of New England. The
women usually wore a jacket of cloth or silk and
Dyess ^ short quilted petticoat or skirt. The petticoat
was one of the chief articles of a woman's apparel
and was made of various materials and in various colors, according
to the means and taste of the wearer. The wardrobe of a fashionable
lady would often contain a dozen or more of these garments. High
starched collars or ruffs were much worn, and among the rich were
very large and made of expensive materials. Worsted stockings of
various colors and high-heeled leather shoes were usually worn. The
hair was generally brushed back from the forehead and covered with
a cap of muslin, calico or lace, and sometimes with a silk hood. The
jewelry most commonly used consisted of rings and brooches.
The men wore long-waisted coats, with skirts reaching nearly
to the ankles, vests with large flaps and baggy knee breeches. These
garments were made of cloth, velvet or silk, and were usually of
bright colors, though black was also worn. The coats and vests were
ornamented with silver buttons and trimmed with lace. The breeches
were also elaborately ornamented with buttons. Black silk stock-
ings, low shoes with big silver buckles and a low-crowned hat, made
of beaver or other fur, completed the costume.
The children were dressed like miniature grown people. Among
the well to do, the little girls wore long dresses, caps and even jew-
elry like their mothers, and the boys were dressed almost exactly
like their fathers.
The dress of the poorer people was of course not as elaborate
and expensive as that described, but in general character was prob-
ably much the same.
Marriages were often preceded by formal betrothal cere-
monies, and it was also customary to publish the bans for a cer-
tain number of Sundays before the wedding took
Weddings place. The marriage was performed by the min-
ister or the Voorleezer in the church or meeting
house. After the ceremony was over a collection was taken up for
the poor, and the newly married couple returned to the home of the
bride. Here an elaborate wedding dinner was served, which was fol-
lowed by dancing and general merry-making. Festivities, consisting
of parties and excursions, were often continued for several days after
Funerals were elaborate and expensive ceremonies. They were
conducted by the "Aanspreker" or funeral inviter. This official,
attired in gloomy black with a three-cornered hat from which fluttered
a long streamer of crape, visited all the friends of
Funerals ^^e deceased, notified them of the death, and of the
time of the funeral, and invited them to attend.
This invitation was a matter of strict etiquette as it was not con-
sidered good form to attend a funeral unbidden. When the mourners
were all gathered the Aanspreker would make a few remarks, offer
a prayer, and then head the funeral procession to the cemetery, where
another prayer was made before the coffin was lowered into the grave.
Sometimes the dead were interred on the farms of the family,
and occasionally in the church, but usually the burial was in the cem-
etery. The first cemetery was near what is now the comer of Vroom
Street and Tuers Avenue, where the first church and schoolhouse was
located. This was used for over seventy years. In 1738 a second
burial ground was opened on the south west corner of Vroom street
and Bergen avenue. About 1831 another cemetery was laid out on
Bergen avenue between Vroom and Mercer streets and about the
same time the Jersey City Cemetery on the side of the hill near
Newark avenue was opened.
Slavery was common and existed till long after the beginning
of the nineteenth century. In 1800 Bergen County,
Slavery which then included the present Hudson County,
had two thousand three hundred slaves out of a
total population of fifteen thousand persons.
Communication between the various settlements was difficult
and slow. The roads were rough and dangerous. The first settlers
probably used the old Indian trails. The first reg-
Early Roads "1^^ road was built about 1660 and ran from Com-
munipaw to Bergen, following the present Commun-
ipaw avenue to Summit avenue, thence to Academy street and
through that street to the eastern gate of the town of Bergen. In
1679 it was described as "a fine broad wagon road." Another road
ran from Ahasimus to Bergen, past Prior's Mill.
Paulus Hook was connected with Bergen by what is now Newark
avenue and a log road was laid over the marshes at the foot of the
hill. In 1718 the road now known as the Hackensack Turnpike was
opened. A road between Paulus Hook and Newark was begun in
1765. For some distance this followed the line of the present Newark
In 1790 the Legislature provided for the building of a road from
the Court House at Newark to Paulus Hook. This was finished sev-
eral years later and is now known as the Newark Turnpike. There
were several other roads of less importance and as the settlements
grew new ones were opened connecting the various villages and towns.
The early modes of travel were either by private conveyance or
horseback. The first stage line was started in 1764 and ran from
Paulus Hook to Philadelphia, going by way of
Modes of Travel Bergen Point and Staten Island. The journey
took three days and the vehicle was a clumsy
covered wagon without springs, which was named in all seriousness
the "Flying Machine." Other lines were soon started and the time
of the trip to Philadelphia was reduced to a day and a half.
In 1767 a stage line between Paulus Hook and Newark was
started. As travel increased new lines were opened between Paulus
Hook and various places until just before the advent of the railroads
there were twenty regular stages leaving daily from Jersey City.
The first ferry was established in 1661 and ran from Communi-
paw to Manhattan. The ferry between Paulus Hook and New York
was opened in 1764. The boats used on these early ferries were either
row boats or small sail boats called periaugers. These boats were
slow and uncertain, and in bad weather the trip was often dangerous.
They were, however, the only means of transportation between Jer-
sey City and New York until 1812, when the steam ferry boats de-
signed by Fulton were put in operation.
IV. The Revolution
The peaceful existence of the Bergen farmers was rudely inter-
rupted by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The great military
importance of Bergen as a thoroughfare between
The British New York City and the interior of New Jersey was
take Possession recognized almost as soon as the war began. When
of Berg'en it became known in the early part of 1776 that the
British were planning to attack New York, Lord
Sterling, who was in command of the American troops in this vicinity,
immediately prepared to defend Bergen.
Fortifications were erected at Paulus Hook consisting of earth-
works surrounded by a battery of cannon. Fortifications were also
constructed at Bergen Neck to prevent attacks from Staten Island.
These works were situated near what is now 45th street and Avenue
In June, 1776, General Mercer was placed in command of New
Jersey, and he strengthened the defences at Bergen and Paulus Hook
and increased the garrisons. The enemy, however, were arriving in
overwhelming numbers and the impossibility of holding the fortifica-
tions was apparent. On September 15th, the British captured New
York City, and a few days later the Americans evacuated Paulus Hook,
after destroying or removing all the stores and arms except a few
guns which were unfit for use. The Americans withdrew to the
heights of Bergen and threw up intrenchments along the brow of the
hill north of Academy street, and on a line with what is now Baldwin
avenue. Here they remained until Washington began preparations
for his retreat to the Delaware. On October 5, 1776, Bergen was
abandoned to the enemy. The British stationed a large force of
troops at Paulus Hook and also took possession of the works at Bergen
Neck, which they named Fort Delancey.
rt J •-
From the capture of Paulus Hook until the close of the war,
Bergen remained under the control of the British. A large number
of the inhabitants were loyalists, or tories as the patriots called them,
and they favored and assisted the British as much as possible. The
large forces of the enemy in New York City and the surrounding
country made it useless for the American troops to attempt to regain
any of this territory. But though the British were in full control they
were not permitted to have undisturbed possession. Raids and incur-
sions were frequently made by small bands of patriots. Parties of
horsemen would swoop down on the farms and carry off cattle, pro-
visions and supplies, bringing them to the American troops who were
stationed at Hackensack.
In the summer of 1779, Major Henry Lee, often called "Light
Horse Harry," discovered that the fort at Paulus Hook was not care-
fully guarded and conceived the idea of surprising and capturing it.
Washington at first did not favor the plan, considering the risk too
great, but after a personal interview Lee finally obtained his consent.
The position of Paulus Hook was naturally of great strength.
On the north was Harsimus Cove, on the east was the Hudson River
and on the south was Communipaw Cove. On the
Fortifications of west was a salt marsh, so low that at flood tide
Paulus Hook boats could cross over it from cove to cove, and to
further protect the approach from the land side a
ditch twenty feet wide had been dug. Over this ditch, near what is
now the comer of Newark avenue and Warren street, was a draw-
bridge with a barred gate. This was the only entrance by land. In-
side the ditch was a row of abattis or sharpened stakes pointing out-
ward. The fortifications had been greatly strengthened by the British.
The main works were on the line of what is now Sussex street ex-
tending from a point between Washington and Warren streets, east-
ward to Greene street. The barracks were at the intersection of
Essex and Warren streets. From the main fort a redoubt extended
along Washington street to another fort at Essex street. There was
also a fort on the northwest corner of Washington and Grand streets
and some block houses north of the main works.
Early in the evening of August 18, 1779, Major Lee left New
Bridge or Hackensack, where he had been stationed. His force num-
bered about 450 men when he started, but owing to
Capture of some misunderstanding of orders, his troops became
Paulus Hook separated and only 150 men were with him when he
reached Paulus Hook. The intention was to attack
the forts about midnight, but owing to the difficult road he did not
reach the ditch which separated Paulus Hook from the mainland until
three o'clock in the morning. The troops had to wade through the
swamp and ford the ditch and creek with the water sometimes up to
their necks. This of course rendered their ammunition and firearms
useless, and they were compelled to attack with bayonets. Fortunately
they were mistaken for a foraging party which the British had sent
out, and they gained the fort before the garrison was fully awakened.
The British commander with a few soldiers retreated to a small block-
house near the fort and opened fire on the Americans. Lee had no
time to dislodge them, or to carry off or destroy any property. Day-
light was approaching and the noise of the firing had aroused the
enemy across the river, who could in a few minutes send over a force
of troops which would overwhelm the small body of patriots. He
therefore made a hasty retreat taking with him 159 prisoners. Hie
own loss was two killed and three wounded.
Lee intended to retreat to Dow's ferry at the foot of St. Paul's
avenue, where it was arranged to have boats ready to take his troops
across the Hackensack River. When he reached there he found the
boats had been removed; the delay having led those in charge to be-
lieve that the attempt had been postponed. Lee was therefore com-
pelled to change his route and retreat through Summit avenue toward
Fort Lee and thence to Englewood. This was extremely dangerous as
he was liable to be intercepted by the superior forces of the enemy.
However, he succeeded in getting through in safety and reached
Hackensack about one o'clock in the afternoon.
The capture of Paulus Hook was one of the most brilliant and
daring exploits of the war, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm among
the Americans. Congress passed resolutions of approval and pre-
sented Major Lee with a gold medal, a distinction which no other officer
below the rank of general received during the Revolution. Congress
also appropriated $15,000.00 to be distributed among the soldiers who
took part in the action. A monument has been erected at the inter-
section of Washington and Grand streets to commemorate the battle
Paulus Hook remained in the possession of the British until the
close of the war. About the first of September, 1782, Fort Delancey
at Bergen Neck was abandoned. On November 22, 1783, the British
retired from Paulus Hook and on the 25th, New York City was evacua-
ted. The war was now ended, and a few days later Washington passed
through Paulus Hook on his way to Mount Vernon.
V. Jersey City
The section known as Paulus Hook had been settled as early as
1633, but up to the beginning of the last century it had made scarcely
any progress. In 1638 the West India Company sold Paulus Hook to
Abraham Planck, and it remained in the Planck family until August
2, 1699, when it was bought by Cornells Van Vorst for £300. From
that time until 1804 the greater part of it was used as farm land.
In 1764 the ferry between Paulus Hook and New York was
established, and a low frame house was erected near what is now the
comer of Grand and Hudson streets. This was used as a ferry house
and tavern. About 1801 a small shanty was built near the ferry and
used as a restaurant and oyster house. In 1802 these two houses,
some barns and stables, and a storehouse were the only buildings on
Paulus Hook. The only inhabitants were Major Hunt, who kept the
tavern, and his family ; John Murphy and his wife, and Joseph
Bryant, making a total population of thirteen.
Paulus Hook at this time consisted of a number of sand hills,
around which a race track had been built by Cornells Van Vorst in
1769. The track was a mile long and horse races were run on it
The beginning of Jersey City as a city may by said to date
from 1804. On March 26th of that year Anthony Dey of New York
purchased Paulus Hook from the Van Vorst family for an annual
payment of six thousand "Spanish milled dollars,"
Founoingf of which was secured by an irredeemable mortgage.
Jersey City On the 18th of April, Dey conveyed the property to
Abraham Varick, and on April 20th it was trans-
ferred to Richard Varick, Jacob Radcliff and Anthony Dey. These
three men, who were prominent New York lawyers, were the founders
of Jersey City. They divided their purchase into one thousand shares
and with a number of other persons formed a company and adver-
tised a sale of lots. The property was mapped out by Joseph W.
Mangin, a New York surveyor. This map is dated April 15, 1804,
and is entitled "A map of that part of the Town of Jersey commonly
called Powles Hook." The streets were laid at right angles. The
eastern boundary was Hudson street, which was shown to be
under water except near the foot of Morris street. The northern
boundary was Harsimus (now First) street, and the southern bound-
ary was South street, afterward called Mason street. The western
boundary was a line drawn from South street to a point near the
corner of First and Washington streets. More than half of the land
was marsh and land under water. On the map the property was
divided into 1,344 lots.
On November 10, 1804, the New Jersey Legislature passed an
act incorporating the "Associates of the Jersey Company," and all
those persons having an interest in the ownership of Paulus Hook
were constituted a corporate body under that title. The act was
drawn by Alexander Hamilton and conferred extensive and varied
rights and powers.
The sale of lots which had been advertised met with little suc-
cess, and though many inducements were offered to attract buyers,
the city made but little progress. There were sev-
SIow Growth eral reasons for this. New York claimed ownership
of the City ^^id control over all lands under the water of the
Hudson up to the Jersey shore. This claim inter-
fered with the improvement of the most valuable part of the city.
The dispute regarding the boundary line was substantially remedied
by an agreement between the two cities in 1834, though it was not
finally settled until 1889. All the land in the new city was subject
to a mortgage, so that no lots could be sold free and clear. Very few
would buy lots on these conditions, and those who did were not will-
ing to improve their property. This trouble was overcome in 1824,
when Colonel Varick purchased the Van Vorst mortgage, and it was
arranged to sell the lots free from encumbrance.
In addition to these obstacles there were clauses in the charter
of the Associates which gave them certain powers of government
and control, which the inhabitants and lot owners could not alter or
remove. The inhabitants were thus compelled to submit to laws
which they had no voice in making.
The Associates being unsuccessful in their efforts to govern
the town, the New Jersey Legislature granted several new charters
increasing the powers of the municipality. In 1820 the city was
incorporated under the title "City of Jersey in the
Charter of J 820 County of Bergen," though in the text of the act
it was called Jersey City. Under this law the
inhabitants were empowered to elect annually five freeholders to
conduct the affairs of the town, who were to be known as "The
Board of Selectmen of Jersey City." This body was given consid-
erable powers in the government of the city, but there was a number
of restrictions in the exercise of these powers which made them of
slight value, and the government under the Selectmen was little
more satisfactory than before.
To remedy the defects of this government a new and more
liberal charter was obtained in 1829. The governing body under this
act was called "The Board of Selectmen and Inhab-
Charter of J829 itants of Jersey City." While this body had
greater powers than its predecessor it was soon
found that they were not sufficient for the proper management of
On February 22, 1838, a new charter was granted and the
city, which up to this time had been part of the township of Bergen,
became a separate municipality. The governing
Charter of 1838 Pow^^" was vested in "The Mayor and Common
Council of Jersey City," and they were entrusted
with sufficient powers to enable them to control the destinies of the
city. Under this act Dudley S. Gregory was elected the first Mayor
of Jersey City. Mr. Gregory was one of the city's most public-
spirited men, and much of Jersey City's early development was due
to his labors.
In March, 1839, the western boundary of the city was extended
to the centre of Grove street.
On February 22, 1840, the County of Hudson, which had up to
that time been a part of Bergen County, was incorporated as a
separate county. It comprised Jersey City and the
Hudson County townships of Bergen and Harrison. East of the
Incorporated Hackensack its boundaries were the same as those
of the old township of Bergen. West of the Hack-
ensack it included the present townships of Harrison and Kearney,
and also the township of Union, in Bergen County. Union township
was at that time included in Harrison, but in 1852 it was set off into
On March 18, 1851, the township of Van Vorst was added to Jer-
sey City and a new charter was granted. Van Vorst township included
the greater part of what was originally known as Ahasimus and was
named in honor of the Van Vorst family, who had
Van Vorst settled there in 1636. It comprised what was called
Township the "Duke's Farm," the Van Vorst patent, and a
few other small grants of land. For many years
there had been bitter disputes as to the ownership of the Duke's Farm,
but in 1804 John B. Coles of New York bought the interests of the
rival claimants. His purchase included a large part of the land
north of Newark avenue, which he laid out in lots and advertised for
sale. Van Vorst was part of the township of Bergen until 1841,
when it was formed into a separate town.
The growth of Jersey City during the early years of its history
was very slow. There were, however many indications of the im-
portance which it has since attained. Its great
Growth of natural advantages and its convenient location for
Jersey City commercial and industrial purposes were early rec-
ognized and attracted many business enterprises.
In 1804 Robert Fulton obtained a block of land in Jersey City
and soon after established his shipyards at Greene and Morgan streets.
These works were managed by Fulton until his death in 1815 and it
was here that much of the machinery for his early steamboats was
made. In 1812 steam ferry boats designed by Fulton were put in
operation on the ferry between Jersey City and New York.
One of the earliest commercial enterprises in Jersey City was
the milling business estabhshed by Isaac Edge in 1815. The windmill
was located about seventy-five feet north of Montgomery street, and
fifty feet east of Greene street, where the western portion of the
Pennsylvania Railroad Station is now situated. For many years the
Edge windmill was one of the most prominent landmarks on the Jer-
sey shore. It was taken down in 1839 to make room for the tracks of
the New Jersey Railroad.
In 1824 Dummer's glass works were established on the spot now
occupied by the Sugar house. The following year the "Jersey Porce-
lain and Earthenware Company," afterward known as the "Jersey
City Pottery," was established. It was located at Warren and Essex
streets. This was for a long time one of the most important potteries
in the United States, and many of the best potters learned their trade
here. The business continued until 1892, when the property was sold
and the old buildings destroyed.
Jersey City's prominence as a railroad centre began in 1834
when the New Jersey Railroad was opened from Jersey City to New-
ark. For some time the cars were drawn by horses, the first engine
being put in operation in 1835. Other railroads were soon built and
obtained terminal facilities here, and in a few years Jersey City be-
came one of the most important railroad centres in the country.
The first street railway was opened July 4, 1860. The cars were
drawn by horses and ran from the Jersey City ferry to the Bergen
Hill. Previous to that time the usual mode of travel was by private
conveyance, or by stages, a number of which left the ferry for vari-
The Morris Canal was opened from the Delaware River to the
Passaic River in 1831, and in 1836 it was extended into Jersey City.
About 1847 the Cunard Steamship line built its docks in Jersey
City, and some time after the White Star line established its termi-
nal here. For many years the ships of these lines sailed from Jersey
City, but they have since moved to New York City.
The construction of works for a water supply from the Passaic
River was begun in 1852, and two years later the works were com-
pleted and the water distributed through the city. Previous to that
time the only supply was from wells, and as this water was of a very
poor quality, large quantities of water were carted from the hill and
sold by the pail to the residents of Jersey City.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861 Jersey City contained a
little over29,00U inhabitants, or including the towns of Bergen, Green-
ville and Hudson City, which are now a part of the city, the total
population numbered 43,884. When President Lin-
Jersey City in coin issued the call for troops on April 15, 1861,
the Civil War it was responded to in this locality with loyalty and
enthusiasm, and throughout the war Jersey City
was well represented at the front, both in numbers and in patriotism.
According to the State records the volunteers from this city num-
bered about one in every eight of the population, but this does not
represent the total, for many men enlisted in regiments from other
states which were of course not included in the roster of New Jersey
troops. Taking this into consideration, it is estimated that the total
enlistment from Jersey City was nearly one in every five of the
In 1870 Bergen and Hudson City were consolidated with Jersey
City. Hudson City was originally a part of Bergen and up to the
time of the Revolution, consisted of dense forests known as the
"Bergen Woods." It had been formed into a separate municipality
in 1852 under the name of "The Town of Hudson
Hudson City jn the County of Hudson." On April 11, 1855, it
and Dergfen was incorporated as the "City of Hudson" with
Consolidated a separate government vested in a Mayor and Com-
with Jersey City mon Council. Hudson City included the territory
situated on the hill and bounded on the west by the
Hackensaek River, on the north by the Paterson plankroad and
on the south by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Bergen, which originally included nearly all of the present
Hudson County, had by the erection of cities and townships from
its territory, been greatly reduced in size. In 1855 it was incorpor-
ated as the "Town of Bergen," with a governing body composed of
five Councilmen. On March 11, 1868, it was chartered as "The City
of Bergen" and included the land bounded by the Pennsylvania Rail-
road on the north, Mill Creek and New York Bay on the east, Green-
ville on the south, and the Hackensaek River on the west. Under
this act the town was divided into four wards and the government
vested in a body known as "The Mayor and Board of Aldermen of
the City of Bergen."
In 1873 the township of Greenville was annexed to Jex'sey City.
Greenville included the territory between Bergen
Greenville Added and Bayonne, and New York Bay and the Hack-
to Jersey City ensack River and Newark Bay. This secton had
been set off from Bergen and incorporated as a
separate township in 1863.
With the addition of Greenville, Jersey City attained its pres-
ent limits. It now includes all of the old township of Bergen, with
the exception of the cities of Bayonne and Hoboken, and the section
lying north of the city up to the Bergen County line.
Bayonne comprises all that part of old Bergen lying south of
the Morris Canal. It was set off as a separate township in 1861 and
incorporated as a city in 1869.
Hoboken was first settled about 1639, and for several years was
cultivated as a farm under leases from the Governor of New Nether-
land. Some years later a grant of the land was made to Nicholas Var-
lett. In 1711 it was purchased by the Bayard fam-
Hoboken i^y> who used it for a summer residence. William
Bayard, who owned the estate during the Revolu-
tion, was a staunch loyalist, and when the war was over the Amer-
icans confiscated the property. In 1784 the territory was sold
to Colonel John Stevens, who was the founder of the present city of
Hoboken. In 1804 he had the land laid out and mapped, and adver-
tised a sale of lots. The Hoboken Land and Improvement Company
was organized in 1838, and the following year purchased the property
which remained unsold. Hoboken was set off as a separate township
in 1849, and was incorporated as a city on March 28, 1855.
That part of Hudson County lying north of Jersey City com-
prises the townships of North Bergen and Weehawken; the towns of
Guttenberg, Union, West Hoboken and West New York, and the Bo-
rough of Secaucus. These were all formerly included in the old town-
ship of Bergen, and were at various times set off and organized as
The section west of the Hackensack River was in former times
the township of Harrison, and was included in Hudson County when
that county was established in 1840. This locality has since been di-
vided into several separate municipalities and now embraces the towns
of Harrison and Kearney and the Borough of East Newark.
Beside the places already mentioned certain localities in Hud-
son County have been known by various names at different times in
their history. Most of these names, however, were merely popular or
local designations, and the places bearing them had no separate exist-
ence or government. Thus that part of Jersey City which lay south
of the Morris Canal, near Communipaw and Pacific avenues, was
known for many years as Lafayette, which was the name given to it
by a company that mapped out the land and advertised the sale of
lots about 1856. It was never a separate municipality. Claremont
was the name similarly given to a tract of land on the hill near the
Newark and New York Railroad. Among other names may be men-
tioned Centerville and Pamrapo which were small villages in what is
now Bayonne; and Washington village in Hudson City.
After the consolidation with Bergen, Jersey City grew rapidly,
and what not many years ago consisted of a few small hamlets and
farms surrounded by dense woods and swamps has now become one of
the most important cities in the country. This remarkable growth was
accompanied by many important changes and many events of great in-
terest, but there is no space to record them in the present publication.
In educational matters, Jersey City has always been prominent.
The first school in lower Jersey City was established about 1806. In
that year the Jersey Associates made a grant of land on York street,
between Washington and Warren streets, extending through to Grand
street and from Grand street through to Sussex street, to be used for
school and church purposes. About 1807 a building was erected on
this land at Sussex street, which was used as a school and also for re-
ligious services. The school was known as the "Mechanic's Insti-
tute" and was supported by private subscriptions. Some time after
another school called the "Columbian Public
Early Schools m School" was started. For some yeai's these schools
Jersey City received a partial support from the public funds,
but in 1834 they failed for lack of money. Soon
after this the Board of Selectmen took charge of the school building
and about 1838 it was removed to the rear of the lots on which it stood
and was repaired and used as a public school, jail and Town Hall. This
building was used for school purposes for about ten years, when it
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was sold and the proceeds used in the purchase of the plot of ground
®n York street on whieh Pnblic School No. 1 was erected. The new
school was opened on February 9, 1848. Dr. Albert T. Smith was
principal and George H. Linsley assistant. In September, 1851, Mr.
Linsley was appointed principal, which position he held for over fifty
years, resigning in 1905.
One of the pioneer schools in this city was the Lyceum School
on Grand street, founded in 1839 by William L. Dickinson. This was
a classical academy for boys and was a prominent institution for many
years. William L. Dickinson afterwards became Superintendent of
Schools, which office he held for a number of years. He was an edu-
cator of marked ability and was instrumental in laying the foundation
of our present admirable public school system.
Among the higher institutions of learning should be mentioned
Hasbrouck's Institute founded in 1856 by Dr. Washington Hasbrouck;
and St. Peter's College founded in 1878 and conducted by the Society
of Jesus. These institutions are still flourishing and have always
been important factors in the educational life of the city.
The Jersey City High School was organized in 1872 and occupied
the upper floors of Public School No. 5 on Bay street until 1906 when
the present handsome building was completed.
There is no room to speak of the many other schools which have
been erected in the past few years. The educational growth of the
city is shown by the fact that there are now thirty-five public schools,
most of which are new buildings and include some of the finest and
best] equipped schools in the state. In the public school system of
Jersey City there are nearly 35,000 pupils and a teaching force num-
bering over eight hundred. In addition, there are more than twenty-
five private and parochial schools and a number of business colleges.
Though the great educational value of a public library was gen-
erally recognized, no attempt was made to establish a free library
until a comparatively recent date. In 1866 the Beigen Library Asso-
ciation was formed. This was supported by subscription and about
1,000 volumes were gotten together, but after a short time the inter-
est died out and the books were sold. In 1873 the Board of Education
established a free library with an appropriation of $1,000.00 per year.
This was continued for about ten years and about 5,000 volumes were
collected. The library was kept in the High School and was open on
Saturdays only. It was little used, except by the teachers and pupils
of the High School.
In 1884 the New Jersey Legislature passed an act for the estab-
lishment of free public libraries. Under this law the Free Public
Library of Jersey City was founded in 1889, largely
The Public through the efforts of Dr. Leonard J. Gordon. The
Library Library was opened to the public on July 6, 1891,
in temporary quarters on the corner of Washington
and York streets, with a collection numbering 15,000 volumes. In
1900 the erection of the present handsome building on Jersey avenue
was begun and on January 16, 1901, it was completed and opened
to the public. The Public Library has grown steadily and rapidly
ever since its foundation. It now contains 120,881 volumes, main-
tains three branches and twenty delivery stations and the reports
for the year just closed show a total use of books amounting to
754,745, and a total attendance in the various rooms and branches
This brief allusion to the educational progress of Jersey City
brings the story of the city's growth to a fitting conclusion. The
educational facilities of a city are the surest index to its condition
and standing, and Jersey City may well be proud of its library and
schools, which in point of excellence and efficiency are second to none.
The rise of these splendid institutions of learning from the little log
schoolhouse at Bergen is typical of the progress Jersey City has
made, and is still making in other fields, and gives promise of the
still greater importance the city will attain in the near future.
Ahasimds. 9, 19, 20, 29.
Aressick, 9, 10.
Associates of the Jersey Company, 27, 28.
Bayonne, 12, 31.
Bergen, 19, 20; founding of, 13; first set-
tlers, 13; name, 13; description of, 13,
14; first court, 14; first school, 15; sec-
ond school, 15; captured by English,
17. 18; recaptured by the Dutch, 18;
consolidated with Jersey City, 30.
Bergen, City of, 31.
Bergen Library Association, 33.
Bergen Square, 14.
Boundary dispute, 27.
Buyten Tuyn, 14.
Cabot, John and Sebastian, 7.
Carteret, Philip, 17.
Charters, Carteret's. 17; Queen Anne's, 18;
of Jersey City, 28.
Children, 21. 22.
Churches in Bergen, 16.
Civil War, 30.
Coles, J. B.. 29.
Columbia Academy, 15.
"Common Lands," 18.
Communipaw, 10, 17, 19, 20.
Constable Hook, 11.
Cortelyou, Jacques, 14, 17.
Court, first at Bergen, 14.
Delancey, Fort, 24, 26.
Dickinson. W. L., 33.
Dey, Anthony, 27.
*'Duke's Farm," 29.
Dummer's Glass Works, 29.
Dutch West India Company, 8.
Edge Windmill. 29.
Ferries, 24, 29.
Field book and map of Bergen, 18.
Free Public Library, 33.
Fulton's shipyards, 29.
Gomez, Estevan. 8.
Government, first local, 14.
Gordon, L. J., 33.
Glass works, 29.
Greenville, 11, 31.
Gregory, D. S., 28.
Hasbrouck Institute, 33.
High School, 33.
Hoboken, 9, 19, 20, 31; first settlement, 11.
Houses, first in Hudson County, 10; first in
Hoboken, 11; of first settlers, 20. •
Hudson, Henry, 8.
Hudson City, 30, 31.
Hudson County, incorporated, 29; first set-
tlement, 10; first houses in, 10; repur-
Indians, 7; first war with, 11; second war
Jan de Lacher's Hook, 19.
Jansen, Michael, 15.
Jersey City, founding of, 27; first map of,
27; obstacles to'growth, 27,28; charters,
28; extended to Grove street, 28; first
mayor, 28; growth of, 29; Van Vorst
added to, 29; Bergen and Hudson City
added, 30; Greenville added, 31; schools
in, 32, 33; libraries in, 33.
Jersey City Pottery. 29.
KiEFT, William, 11.
Language of the people, 21.
Lee, Henry, 25, 26.
Linsley, G. H., 33.
Lyceum School, 33.
Manhattan Island, purchase of. 8.
Mangin map, 27.
Mill Creek, 20.
Minister, first, 16.
Minuit, Peter, 8.
Morris Canal. 30.
Paulus Hook, 9, 10, 19; first settlement at,
Paulus Hook Forts, 24, 25; captured by the
British, 24; captured by the Americans,
Pauw, Michael, buys Pavonia, 9; sells Pa"
Pavonia, 9, 10.
Population of early settlements, 20.
Pottery, Jersey City, 29.
Prior's Mill, 20.
Radcliff, Jacob, 27.
St. Peter's College, 33.
Schools, in Jersey City, 32, 33; in Bergen,
15. 16, 21.
Shore front of Hudson County, 20.
Stage lines, 23.
Steamship lines, 30.
Street railways, 30.
Steenhuysen, Engelbert, 15.
Stevens, John, 31.
Stuyvesant, Peter, 12, 13.
Van Vorst, township, 29.
Varick, Richard, 27.
"Voorleezer," 15, 21.
Washington village, 32.
Water works, 30.
Well at Bergen Square, 14.
Y^ O^ TOW^ OF E)EK5E]N[
BERGEN OF TO-DAY
Prepared by Mr. John W. Heck. Used here through the courtesy of the Historical Society of Hudson County.
UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
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