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Two Copies RecBvEB 

APR. 11 1902 

CoPYRiaHT ewTiir 
CL*S8 O^XXc "• 

Copy b. 


Copyrighted, 1902, 
Daniel Van Winkle 





This little volume is projected with the hope of ex- 
citing a new interest in the territory of which it treats. 

From its antiquity and historic^il importance, " Old 
Bergen " deserves more than a passing glance. 
Founded during the infancy of our country, and 
standing at the gateway of the continent, it was sub- 
jected during the colonial and revolutionary period 
to the privations and vicissitudes peculiar to those 
early days, to an unusual degree. Although located 
under the shadow of a great city, its bosom seamed 
and scarred by the ebb and flow of the traffic and 
commerce of the Great West, it preserved until very 
recent years the customs and conditions of " The Long 

The people inhabiting its territory, retaining to a 
great extent the characteristics and conservativeness 
of their forefathers, were oftentimes visited by their 
city neighbors, when tired and worn with the cares 
and anxieties of a business life, to secure a momentary 
relaxation and rest among their peaceful surroundings. 

Although by no means exhaustive, the matter pre- 
sented in this book is reliable and authentic. It has 
been procured from all available sources and carefully 
selected: The historical facts, from colonial records 
and revolutionary documents ; libraries have been 
freely consulted, and files of old newspapers scanned 


in search of matters of local interest, while the tra- 
ditions and reminiscences indulged in from time to 
time, have been gathered through a succession of gen- 
erations, and many of them here rescued from that 
oblivion into which so many have fallen. 

A few generations ago, much unquestionable tradi-. 
tionary information could have been secured, but 
owing to the lapse of time, traditions have been for- 
gotten and documents destroyed, that might have 
aided us greatly in our search for information affecting 
the homes and people of " Old Bergen." Through 
the general growth of our country and changed con- 
ditions, "Old Bergen " has been absorbed by the greater 
Jersey City, and lost its identity in its new relations. 
With the hope of rescuing its name from oblivion, and 
that other investigations may be continued, to secure 
more fully, whatever there may be of existing data 
relating to the " Olden Days," this volume is issued. 

Daniel Van Winkle. 

Bergen (Jersey City Heights), January, 1902. 


Introduction — Early Trade Conditions, . . 1-3 

Discovery of the Region of the Hudson, . . 4-S 


Claims of Early Discoverers and Indian Legends, 9-14 

Settlement of New Netherlands, .... 15-22 

Difficulties Encountered 23-25 

Settlement OF "Old Bergen," 26-32 

The Native Inhabitants, 33-36 


Dissatisfaction with Gov. Kieft and Results, . 37-41 


Continuance of Indian" Troubles, . . . 42-46 

Precautionary Measures Adopted. . . . 47-51 

Bergen, 52-66 

Currency and Capture by England, . . . 67-72 


Bergen Becomes an English Colony, . . , 73.73 

Bergen Becomes again a Dutch Dependency, . 76-78 

Growth of Bergen, . 79-90 

Revolutionary Times, 91-139 

_ Close of the Revolution, 140-144 

Growth AND Characteristics, .... 145-147 

<^«^nges, J48_J54 

Transportation, 15C-16-' 

Church and School 163-170 

Church. ^^^_^^^ 

Later History OF Church, 181-185 

Church Customs, 186-191 

The Church, 192-194 

Other Churches 195 -20-' 

''Schools 201210 


Columbian Academy 211-216 

Other Early School Accommodations. . . 217-222 

Growth and Changes OF " Old Bergen," . . 223-235 

Characteristics of Inhabitants, . . . 236-240 

Wars of 1812 and 1861 and Old Landmarks, . 241-252 


Changes and Old Landmarks Continued, . . 253-262 

Changes, 263-273 

HOBOKEN, 274-280 



Traditions and Reminiscences, .... 290-306 

Customs and Habits, , • 307-311 

The Old Homes, 312-316 

Customs, 317-319 


Original Shore Line and Topography 


Henry Hudson ...... 4 

Half-Moon , 


Van Vorst's Bouerie 


Mill Creek . 


Map of Bergen 

. 56 



Fort at Paulus Hook 


Map John Champe's Route 

. 119 

Line Lee's Retreat 

• 131 

Race Between Horse Car and ' 

' Tom Thumb 


• 152 

Grasshopper Engine 


Octagonal Church 

. 166 

Doctor Dubois 

. 170 

Old Church 

• 173 

Old Parsonage 


Doctor Taylor 

. 182 

Present Church . 


Doctor Amerman . 

. 184 

Doctor Brett 


Columbian Academy 


Geo. H. Linsley 


W. L. Dickinson 


Old Ferry . 


Old Well .... 


Edge's Windmill , 


Prior's Mill. 


Thatched Cottage 


Old Tavern .... 


Weehawken Duelling Ground 


Weehawken Duelling Ground (Present) . 


Cider Mill ...... 


Old Home .... 



" Haec olim meminisse juvabit." 

Chapter I. 


The strife for commercial supremacy among the 
nations of the Old World, in the latter part of the fif- 
teenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries, 
produced far-rea,ching results. The mercantile rivalry 
of the times engendered a spirit of enterprise that re- 
sulted in the discovery of a new continent, and the 
development of a new world. 

The difificulties and dangers attending the trade with 
India, China and Japan, as carried on through the 
Mediterranean and by the overland route to the 
Persian Gulf and Red Sea, were so great that the mer- 
chants of. the day put forth every effort to discover 
some plan whereby the tediousness and expense of 
such voyages could be avoided. Expeditions were 
fitted out to ascertain whether India might not be 
reached by skirting the coast of Africa, and several 
attempts were made in this direction. These expedi- 
tions proceeded cautiousl);-, pushing to the south, each 
one somewhat farther than the preceding one, until 
Vasco De Garna, in the year 1497, succeeded in round- 
ing the southernmost point of Africa and reached the 
eastern coast of Asia. 

Meanwhile the belief had grown that the Far East 
could be reached by sailing due west, and the attention 


of all navigators was turned in this direction. The 
sagas of the Northmen which told of lands reached in 
the dim past by sailing in a westerly direction, were 
corroborated, at least in theory, by the investigations 
of mariners who gave special thought to the problems 
of the unknown sea. 

At last Columbus, braving the dangers of the " Sea 
of Darkness " (as the Atlantic was called), which 
according to the ignorance and superstition of the 
times was filled with all imaginable horrors and peopled 
with hideous monsters, proved that such dangers were 
but imaginary. He determined the correctness of his 
theory, that the form of the earth was spherical, by 
sailing westward and reaching, as he thought, the 
eastern coast of India. 

On his return to Spain with evidences of his dis- 
covery, new interest was excited, his theory was 
generally accepted, and his glowing reports stimulated 
anew the spirit of commercial enterprise. Nations 
vied with each other in sending expeditions to the 
west, and the seas which had been regarded with so 
much terror were now looked upon as affording new 
opportunities for enlargement of territory, and the 
development of that wealth and power so eagerly 
sought after. 

According to the laws of the times, any new terri- 
tory discovered by any navigator became the property 
of the nation under whose flag he sailed ; and the 
opportunities for the acquisition of new territory and 
the resultant benefits therefrom, as presented by the 
report of Columbus, produced the most energetic 


efforts to secure these advantages. Among those 
who pursued the search in quest of a direct route to 
the East were John and Sebastian Cabot, who demon- 
strated that the prevailing idea, that the land discov- 
ered was part of the eastern coast of India, was 
erroneous; and by tiieir continued explorations they 
determined the existence of a great continent. The 
desire to secure the advantages offered by these dis- 
coveries was general, and settlements were projected 
by the different nations on the shores of the New 

While England was establishing her first permanent 
settlements in America, and France was following the 
great rivers and lakes into the interior at the north ; 
and while Spain, her cupidity excited by the tales of 
fabulous riches, was pushing her explorations in 
search of the coveted gold throughout the extreme 
south ; the Netherlands had revolted against Spanish 
rule and established the Dutch Republic. They 
drove the Spanish and Portuguese from the ocean 
and built up a trade with India and the East. Com- 
panies were formed by their merchants, the better to 
prosecute their trade ; one of which was the East In- 
dia Company. Eager to secure any trade advantage, 
and desirous of avoiding the long and tedious voyage 
around the Cape of Good Hope, this company deter- 
mined to search for a more direct route to the Indies ; 
and they accordingly secured the services of Henry 
Hudson, an experienced navigator, to prosecute this 

Chapter II. 


With a crew of sixteen men, Englishmen and Hol- 
landers, Hudson set sail from the Texel on April 6, 
1609, directing his course toward the north. He 
arrived at Newfoundland, and, sailing along the coast 
in a southwesterly di- 
rection, reached Dela- 
ware Bay; whence 
returning and skirting 
the easterly shore of 
New Jersey, on Sept. 
3, 1609, he discovered, 
as he thought, the 
long-sought-for p a s- 
sage. The next morn- 
ing he passed within 
Sandy Hook and 
there anchored, deter- 
mining to continue 
his explorations on 
the following day. His experiences are related in the 
following extracts from his Report : 

" During the night a storm arose, and the wind blow- 
ing from the northeast, the vessel was driven on shore, 
but as the ground was soft sand and ooze, it was not 



harmed. . . . Tlie people of the country came 
aboard of us, seeming very glad of our coming, and 
brought green tobacco and gave of it for knives and 
beads. ... In the morning as soon as the day was 
light, the wind ceased and the flood came, so we 
heaved off our ship again in five fathoms of water. 
Some of the Indians came aboard of the vessel, but 
at night they were sent on shore as they were not to 
be trusted." 

He decided, however, to continue his voyage, and 
on the sixth of September he made preparations to 
ascend the passage. He passed through the Narrows, 
and sent in a boat's crew to investigate. Sailing 
along the shore of Staten Island, they passed through 
the Kill von KuU and entered Newark Bay ; but find- 
ing that the sought-for passage was evidently not in 
that direction, they retraced their route. While re- 
turning through the Kills, they were attacked by the 
Indians and one of the crew killed. The remainder 
reached the vessel in safety, bearing the dead body of 
their companion. 

The Indians now showed such an unfriendly dis- 
position that a strict watch was maintained to guard 
against treachery. Determining from the investiga- 
tions of the crew that the desired passage lay before 
him, Hudson weighed anchor, and from the 7th to the 
13th the vessel slowly and cautiously worked its way 
through the bay to about Weehawken Cove, where he 
again anchored. 

We can scarcely appreciate the emotions of this 
bold navigator who, after many years of searching and 


stormy buffetings, found himself, as he supposed, on 
the threshold of a discovery that would revolutionize 
the trade of the then known world. Standin"- on the 


deck of his vessel on that autumnal morning, his eyes 
rested upon the fairest picture that ever sun shone 
upon. As he passed through the Narrows, he saw 

'' OLD BERGEN." 7 

stretching out before him the glittering road that was 
to lead to fame and fortune. Surrounded by the 
wooded hills of Long and Staten Islands, with the 
rocky shores of New Jersey rising in the distance, 
the magnificent bay and river reached off to the north- 
east, as if beckoning him on to the long-sought-for 

On the arrival of the vessel at Weehawken Cove, it 
was surrounded by the canoes of Indians from the 
west bank, who desired to trade with the white 
strangers. They seemed peaceably inclined and 
friendly. Hudson says: " They go in deer-skins, loose 
and well dressed ; they desire clothes and are civil ; 
those from the east side were more fierce, while those 
from the west side, while we lay at anchor, brought 
for barter the largest and finest oysters, Indian corn 
and vegetables." 

The next morning, the 14th, Hudson commenced 
ascending the stream, but he soon discovered, from 
the shallowing of the water, that he had not succeeded 
in finding the northwest passage. He continued his 
investigations, however, reaching a point above Al- 
bany on the 23rd. Jouet states : " Higher up it becomes 
so shallow that small skiffs can with difficulty sail 
there, and one sees in the distance several lofty hills 
from whence most of the water in the river flows." 

Returning thence, Hudson explored the adjoining 
country and traded with the Indians for skins of wild 
beasts and products of the soil. He reached Wee- 
hawken Cove and again anchored there on the 2nd of 
October. Jouet says: " Within a while after, we got 


down about two leagues beyond that place " (Haver- 
straw Bay), " and anchored in a Bay clear from all 
danger on the other side of the River. We here saw 
a good piece of ground, and hard by there was a cliff " 
(Castle Point) " that looked of the color of white 
green, as though it was either a copper or silver mine, 
and I think it to be one of these by the trees that 
grow upon it, for they are all burned and the other 
places are green grass. . . . There we saw no peo- 
ple to trouble us and rode quietly all night, but had 
much wind and rain. The 3rd was very stormy, and 
in the morning in a gust of wind and rain we drove on 
the ground, but it was oozy. We had much wind and 
rain, with thick weather, so we rode all night. The 
4th being fair weather, we weighed anchor and came 
out of the great mouth of the great river that runneth 
to the northwest" (junction of Hackensack and 
Passaic Rivers), " and by 12 o'clock we were clear of 
the inlet. On the 5th we continued our course toward 
England without seeing any land by the way." It is 
thus seen that Hudson left the harbor through the 
Kills, and passing around Staten Island, reached the 

Although Hudson had failed in his endeavor to 
secure a short passage to the East, the knowledge 
that he had discovered a country of such boundless 
resources, doubtless reconciled him to his want of 

Chapter III. 


Although various discoveries had from time to 
time brought into notice different parts of the New 
World, we have no positive proof of any discovery of 
the Hudson River and the region in its immediate 
vicinity, before this memorable voyage of Hudson in 
1609. Claims of prior discoveries have been made, 
but the fact remains that none resulted in any prac- 
tical benefit, previous to the discovery of Hudson. 

Some assert that the Cabots, in their earlier voy- 
ages, discovered this territory, yet although they 
sailed along the coast from Labrador to Virginia, 
they do not mention any particular bay or river, 
which they probably v\'ould have done had they en- 
tered and explored our own magnificent bay and 
harbor. Verrazano, in his account of his voyage in 
1524, gives a general description which might be ap- 
plied to this territory, but the details are not given 
with suf^cient exactness to verify any such claim. 
Tradition states that some Dutch in the employ of the 
Greenland Whale Company came into the bay for 
winter quarters, and built a fort for temporary pro- 
tection, in 1598. 

Notwithstanding these claims, Adrien Vander 


Donk, who wrote in 1650, states as follows: "That 
this country was first found and discovered by the 
Netherlanders, is evident and clear from the fact that 
the Indians, or natives of the land, many of whom are 
still living, and with whom I have conversed, declared 
freely that before the arrival of the Lowland ship, the 
Half-Moon, in the year 1609, they (the natives) did 
not know that there were any other people in the 
world than those who were like themselves, much less 
any people who differed so much in appearance from 
them as we did. Some of them supposed the ship to 
be a strange fish or monster." 

Lambrechtsen says that " John and Sebastian 
Cabot, while seeking a passage through the North- 
west, probably did see the shores of America, although 
they did not visit them ; " and Robertson asserts that 
" The Hollanders, having discovered the island of 
Manhattan with the districts along its shores, acquired 
all the rights to these which can be given by first 
possession." Hudson's Report of his voyage, and 
his description of country discovered by him, justify 
the claim that the territory of the Hudson was first 
opened up by him under the auspices of the Nether- 

As an item of interest the following legend, bearing 
somewhat on the discovery of the Hudson, is here 
inserted. It is interesting because it alludes to events 
that occurred at different times, which are mingled 
without any regard to chronological happenings, hav- 
ing been handed down through the traditions and 
legends of the different tribes. Rev. John Hecke- 

" OLD BERGEN." 1 1 

welder, for many years a Moravian missionary to the 
Indians in Pennsylvania, states in a letter dated Jan- 
uary 26, 1 80 1, as follows: — 

" I received my information from Indians in their 
language and style. I return it in the same way. A 
long time ago when there was no such thing known 
to the Indians, as people with white skin, some Indians 
who had been out a-fishing, and where the sea widens, 
espied at a great distance something remarkably large, 
swimming, or floating on the water, and such as they 
had never seen before. They, immediately returning 
to the shore, apprised their countrymen of what they 
had seen, and pressed them to go out with them, and 
discover what it might be. These together hurried 
out, and saw to their great surprise the phenomenon, 
but could not agree what it might be ; some conclud- 
ing it either to be an uncommon large fish, or other 
animal, while others were of the opinion, it must be 
some very large house. 

" It was at length agreed among those who were 
spectators, that this phenomenon moved toward the 
land; whether or not it was an animal, or anything 
that had life in it, it would be well to inform all the 
Indians on the inhabited islands of what they had seen, 
and put them on their guard. Accordingly, they sent 
runners and watermen off, to carry the news to their 
scattered chiefs, that these might send off in every 
direction, for the warriors to come in. These arriving 
in numbers, and themselves viewing the strange ap- 
pearance, and that it was actually moving towards 
them (the entrance of the River or Bay), concluded it 


to be a large canoe, or house, in which the great 
Manitou (Supreme Being) himself was, and that he 
probably was coming to visit them. 

" By this time the chiefs of the different tribes were 
assembled on York Island, and were counselling on 
the manner they should receive their Manitou on his 
arrival — fresh runners arrive, declaring it a house of 
many colors, and crowded with living creatures — other 
runners soon after arriving, declare it a large house of 
various colors, full of people, yet of quite a different 
color than they (the Indians) — many are for running 
off to the woods, but are pressed by others to stay, in 
order not to give offense to their visitors, who could 
find them out and might destroy them. 

" The house (or large canoe as some will have it) 
stops, and a smaller canoe comes ashore. Some stay 
by this canoe to guard it. The chiefs and wise men 
had composed a circle, unto which the red-clothed 
man, with two others approach. He salutes them 
with friendly countenance, and they return the salute 
after their manner. They think he must be the great 
Manitou, but why should he have a white skin ? 

"A large hock hack (bottle) is brought forward by 
one of his servants, and from this a substance is poured 
out, in a small cup, and handed to the Manitou. He 
drinks, and has the glass filled again, and hands it to 
the chief next to him to drink. He only smelleth at 
it, and passes it on to the next chief, who does like- 
wise. The glass thus passes through the circle, with- 
out the contents being tasted by anyone, and is on 
the point of being returned . . . when one of their 

" OLD BERGEN." ' 13 

number said it was given to them to be drank, and if 
no one was willing to drink it, he would. He then 
took the glass and drank it off. He soon began stag- 
gering about, and dropping to the ground, fell into a 
deep sleep. He awakes again, jumps up, and declares 
that he never felt himself before so happy. He wishes 
for more, and the whole assembly soon join, and be- 
come intoxicated. 

" After this general intoxication had ceased, the 
man with the red clothes came again to them (from 
the vessel), and distributed presents of beads, axes, 
hoes, stockings, etc. They say they had become 
familiar to each other and were made to understand 
by signs. . . . The white men said they now would 
return home, but would visit them next year again, 
when they would bring them more presents, and stay 
with them awhile, but that they could not live with- 
out eating, and would want a little land to plant. 

"That the vessel arrived the season following, and 
they were much rejoiced at seeing each other, but the 
whites laughed at them, as they used the axes and 
hoes hanging to their breasts as ornaments, and the 
stockings for tobacco pouches. The whites now 
showed them the use of these, and a great laughter 
ensued because they, the Indians, had remained so 
long ignorant of such valuable implements. ... Fa- 
miliarity increasing between them and the whites, the 
latter now propose to stay with them, asking them for 
only so much land as the hide of a bullock would 
cover, which hide was brought forward and spread on 
the ground before them. 


" That they readily granted this request ; whereupon 
the whites took a knife and beginning at one place on 
this hide, cut it up into a rope not thicker than the 
finger of a little child, so that by the time this hide 
was cut up, there was a great heap. That this rope 
was drawn out to a great distance, and then brought 
round again, so that both ends might meet. That 
they carefully encompassed a large piece of ground. 
. . . That they and the whites lived for a long time 
. contentedly together, although they asked from time 
to time, for more land of them ; and proceeding higher 
up the Mahicanituck (Hudson) River, they believed 
they would want all their country, which was at this 
time, already the case." 

Chapter IV. 


Although the East India Company did not take 
any immediate steps to develop or occupy the terri- 
tory discovered by Hudson, some of the merchants of 
Amsterdam, feeling that a hitherto unknown country 
had been opened up to the mercantile world that bade 
fair to rival even the Indies in the magnitude of its 
commercial possibilities, became deeply interested. 

Hudson's Report stated that he found the soil fruit- 
ful, the rivers teeming Avith fish, and the immeasur- 
able forests and numerous swamps the abode of wild 
beasts, whose skins were greatly valued as articles of 
trade ; in short, " that it was the most beautiful 
country on which you could tread with your feet, . . . 
The natives are good natured and the climate very 
nearly to ours." 

This favorable account of the country aroused their 
enthusiasm to such an extent that, in the following 
year, 1610, they freighted a vessel with a variety of 
goods suitable for trafific with the native tribes that 
dwelt about the Hudson River and its vicinity. On 
its arrival, so great was their encouragement that a 
trading post was established on Manhattan Island, to 
facilitate trade with the Indians occupying the country 
round about. 


In 1613, Capt. Samuel Argalls, returning to Virginia 
from his expedition against Acadia, discovered the 
small settlement of Dutch merchants on Manhattan 
Island — as he reported, " four houses built, and a pre- 
tended Dutch Governor under the West India Com- 
pany of Amsterdam, share or part, who kept trading 
boats and trucking with the Indians." He claimed the 
ownership of the whole territory for His Majesty of 
England " as part of Virginia." Hendrick Christaen, 
who was the oppcrkoopinaii, or superintendent of trade 
on the river, submitted to this asserted authority. 

After the departure of Argalls, the Dutch merchants 
sent information to Holland of his interference, and 
Christaen was removed and a new superintendent sent 
over. The latter not only refused to pay tribute, but 
erected forts and '* put himself in a posture of defence," 
and it is added " that the claim of the English being 
either wholly waived for the present, or but faintly 
pursued, they " (the Dutch) "the same year, made a 
firm settlement, which soon became very flourishing 
and populous." Fort Amsterdam was then erected, 
near the ground now known as the Battery, on the 
southern extremity of Manhattan Island. 

To encourage trade, the States General issued an 
edict March 27, 1614, by which, " all and every, of the 
inhabitants who should discover any courses, havens, 
countries or places, should have the right to frequent 
them for four voyages." Under this edict five ships 
were fitted out by a number of merchants, and de- 
spatched under the direction of Adrian Block, Hen- 
drick Cortstiansen and Cornelius Jacobus Ma)\ They 

" OLD BERGEN." 1/ 

established small trading-posts, and from them small 
vessels explored the neighboring bays and creeks. 
The prospect of trade with the new territory being 
encouraging, the early pioneers united themselves 
into a trading company, and made application to the 
States General for a charter which would give them 
a monopoly of traffic in that region. This was granted 
under the name of the United New Netherlands Com- 
pany, October ii, 1614, and the unoccupied region of 
America lying between Virginia and Canada, was 
designated as the New Netherlands. They thus be- 
came possessed of the right to trade exclusively in 
this territory, including the region along the Hudson. 
They at once despatched vessels suitably laden for 
the purpose of trading with the Indians, and built 
forts and established trading posts at New Amster- 
dam and up the Hudson. 

Block and May appear to have returned shortly 
after to Holland, to render an account of their discov- 
eries, and obtain if possible the privilege of exclusive 
trade. Christansen, who remained in this country, 
determined to secure any advantage that might be 
obtained. He went up the Hudson and erected a rude 
fortification on an island near the west bank below 
Albany, which was called Fort Orange ; and leaving 
some of the company here, he returned with the 
remainder to Fort Amsterdam, which, as stated, was 
situated near the mouth of the river on the Island of 

It must be remembered that these early settlements 
were the result o[ private enterprise, and instituted by 


?i private corporation, organized under the auspices of 
the home government, but only nominally protected 
by it. The Company's headquarters was established 
at New Amsterdam, and the records relating to the 
territory were kept there. These early records re- 
lated mostly to trading operations in general, and con- 
sequently detailed accounts concerning any particular 
territory are not to be found. It is safe to assume, 
however, that the territory on the west bank of the 
Hudson opposite the trading center, was just as 
important in its relation to the traffic of that day as 
it is at present, when the bulk of the wealth of this 
vast country is poured out at its wharves. 

Chapter V. 


In the spring of 1623, the first permanent coloniza- 
tion of the New Netherlands was attempted, under 
the authority of the Dutch West India Company, the 
successor of the New Netherlands Company. They 
sent a company of thirty families of Walloons under 
the superintendence of Cornelius May, before spoken 
of, who arrived at the mouth of the Hudson in May, 
1623. Some of . them were located on Manhattan 
Island, to take possession there on behalf of the West 
India Company. Several families were sent for a like 
service to Long Island, and the balance to Fort 

Manhattan Island, from its location, soon became 
the chief shipping port, and on the opposite or west 
bank of the river a sihiall redoubt was thrown up, the 
immediate object in view being to secure the safe 
prosecution of traffic with the native tribes. This' is 
the first positive evidence of any attempt at settle- 
ment in what is now Hudson County, although there 
is a belief that there was soBie kind of a trading post 
here contemporary with, or about the time of, the 
Dutch settlement in New York, in 161 3. Whether it 
became permanent, or was only resorted to from time 
to time for the purpose of bartering with the Indians, 

20 " OLD BERGEN." 

is not positively known, although O'Callaghan's " Doc- 
umentary History of New York" alludes to a settle- 
ment about this time. In a few years the trade with 
the natives was greatly extended, covering the whole 
country, even to the lakes. 

On February 12, 1620, application was made on be- 
half of the " Brown ists " for permission to found a 
colony in the New Netherlands. Tliese were the 
Puritans who. were driven from England by religious 
persecution during the reign of Elizabeth, and who 
reached Amsterdam in 1608. The next year they 
went to Leyden, and remained there eleven years. 
Having flourished and increased in numbers, they 
desired to teach the faith of the Cross to the savages, 
and to colonize a new empire on the shores of the 
Hudson under the auspices and protection of the 
Prince of Orange. 

The statesmen of Holland were more ambitious in 
their designs, and rejected the petition of the l^rown- 
ists, preferring that a great and powerful monopoly 
sliould grow up, whose concentrated wealth and 
energy should not only assist in the colonization of 
the New World, but be a powerful ally in any con- 
troversy with outside nations. The Brownists there- 
upon directed their course to the New England 
shores instead of the New Netherlands, landing at 
Plymouth Rock, December 21, 1620. The " Pilgrims," 
by this refusal, became the founders of New England, 
instead of, as was their intention, imparting their 
sturdy qualities to the territory about the Hudson. 

May was made the first Director of the infant 

" OLD BERGEN." 21 

colony, and his administration continued throughout 
the year 1624. The advantages of the country being 
now favorably known, other vessels with settlers 
arrived ; and in 1625 the colony had increased to two 
hundred souls. May was succeeded by Willian:i Van 
Hulst as second Director. His administration, like- 
wise, lasted only one year, and at the expiration of his 
time he returned to Holland. The West India Com- 
pany now despatched Peter Minuit, of Wesel, to assume 
the chief command, as their third Director. 

Up to 1626 the Dutch held their possessions only by 
right of occupation and discovery, but after many 
controversies with the Indians, the rights of the origi- 
nal owners were recognized, and they determined to 
purchase the territory from them. Shortly after 
Minuit's arrival, he opened negotiations with the sav- 
ages, and concluded a treaty which conveyed the 
wliole Island of Manhattan, about 22,000 acres of land, 
to the Dutch for the sum of sixty guilders, about $24 
in our money. A fort was staked out at the southern 
end of the island, and houses were built, among them 
a stone building with thatched roof, for the Company's 

The States General, recognizing the great danger 
arising from controversies among the different bodies 
of settlers, determined early upon a fixed and uniform 
government, and consequently in 1629 established 
articles of order and government, that should be gener- 
ally recognized in the different settlements. They 
authorized the various departments of the West India 
Company to appoint a Council of nine persons, who 


should have general authority and command over all 
the settlements in the New Netherlands. Local gov- 
ernments were formed under the Sellout and Schepens, 
and KrankbcsoecJiers, or " Comforters of the Sick," 
who on Sundays read to the people portions of the 
Scriptures, and the Creed. 

Chapter VI. 


It is interesting to note, as illustrative of the char- 
acteristics of the early Dutch settlers, an extract from 
a letter of George Bradford, Governor of New Ply- 
mouth. He says: "About Midmarch we received 
message from the Governor of the Dutch plantation, 
dated from the Manhattas, in the Fort Amsterdam, 
March 9, 1627. They" (the Dutch) "had traded in 
these northern parts, divers years after our coming. 
In their letter, they congratulate us on our prosperous, 
and praiseworthy undertaking, and government of our 
colony, with the presentation of their good will, and 
service to us, in all friendly kindness and good neigh- 
borhood ; offer us any of their goods, that may be ser- 
viceable to us, declare they shall take themselves, 
bound to accommodate, and help us with them for 
any wares we are pleased to deal for." 

In response. Governor Bradford sent a letter of 
appreciation of the kindly offers, and signified his 
graceful acceptance ; "alluding likewise to the hospi- 
table asylum, afforded to the Pilgrims in Holland, 
when compelled to fly from the intolerant bigotry of 
their native land." The harmonious relations of the 
two colonies, thus amicably established, continued for 
many years, to their mutual advantage. 

24 " OLD I5ER(;EN. 

Notwithstanding these seemingly amicable relations, 
the fact remains that the growing prosperity of the 
Dutch excited a fear in the minds of their English 
neighbors lest their shrewd business tact and enter- 
prise should overshadow them, and in time the Dutch 
become the recognized masters of the New World. 
As will be seen afterward, this led to the forcible 
attempt of the English government to displace and 
drive out the intruders, as they were considered from 
the English standpoint. 

The previous occupation by the English of Virginia, 
and their successful development of its territory, in 
connection with their efforts from time to time to 
effect settlements within the jurisdiction of the New 
Netherlands, led the States General to make overtures 
to the British government to join with them and unite 
the trade of the two countries. These were rejected 
for the reason, as stated by an English statesman, 
" that in case of joining, if it be upon equal terms, 
the art and industry of their people, will wear out 
ours," a commentary upon the esteem in which the 
early Dutch settlers were held even at this date. 

Previous to 1629, the Company did not secure 
much profit, on account of the heavy expenditures 
incurred in establishing and maintaining the settle- 
ments. In order, therefore, to incite private enterprise, 
and effect the more rapid development of the country, 
they offered special privileges to such of their own 
number as should within four years plant a colony of 
fifty adults in any part of New Netherlands, other 
than Manhattan Island. They should be recognized 

" OLD BERGEN." 2$ 

and acknowledged as Patroons, and have full control 
of and right to the territory assigned to them. This 
offer occasioned considerable strife and competition 
among the members of the Company, and the game of 
" freeze out " was played with as much shrewdness 
and vigor as at the present day. Some of the members 
thus secured possession of the choicest sections of 
land, to the detriment and loss of their less fortunate 
fellows. According to the complaints made, " some 
of the Directors helped themselves by the cunning 
tricks of the merchants, and made most advantageous 
selections, to the exclusion of others." This caused 
much dissatisfaction and jealousy, and led to fierce 
and open discussion. Through the pressure of public 
opinion, the fortunate Directors were compelled to 
relinquish their ill-gotten holdings, and re-convey their 
selections to the Compan\/. 

Chapter VII. 


Among those who secured allotments under these 
privileges was Michael Pauvv, Burgomaster of Amster- 
dam, and Lord of Achtienhoven, near Utrecht. By 
patent dated November 22, 1630, he obtained, with 
other lands, the plots ** Aharsimus and Arresick^ 
extending along the River Mauritius " (one of the early 
names of the Hudson), "and Island Manhatta on the 
east side, and the Island Hoboken Hacking on the 
north, and surrounded by marshes serving sufficiently 
for distinct boundaries." Pauw thus became invested 
with the title to the greater part of the territory now 
known as Hudson County, which was called Pavonia 
after him. Pauw never complied with the conditions 
of his grant, yet he assumed ownership, and held on to 
the property with grim determination. He must have 
energetically and successfully developed his holdings, 
for but two years later, in 1632, when Minuit was 
recalled, we find in the Reports, " that the Boueries 
and Plantations on the west side of the River, were in 
a prosperous condition," 

Jan Evertsen Bout, who arrived June 17, 1634, 
became superintendent for Pauw, and settled at 
Communipau. He continued as his representative, 
bartering and trafficking with the Indians, etc., until 


, 27 

he was succeeded by Cornelis Van Vorst, in 1636, 
who took up his residence at Aharsimus. He 
became of considerable importance during the early 
history of the colony. In 1641 he was one of the 
twelve selected to consult and advise with the 
Governor and Council, to effect a settlement of the 


Indian difficulties ; and he was one of the " Eight 
men " in 1643, and one of the " Nine men" in 1647 
and 1650. 

It is related that on one occasion Dominie 
Bogardus, Governor Van Twiller and Captain De 
Vries came to Pavonia, and were entertained by Van 
Vorst with old-fashioned Dutch hospitality. After 

28 " OLD BERGEN." 

indulging freely in tlie good things offered by their 
host, they took leave of him, full of enthusiasm by 
reason of their generous entertainment. As they 
embarked, Van Vorst, wishing to show his appreciation 
of their kindly feeling, ordered a parting salute to be 
fired. The wadding of the gun, falling on the 
thatched roof of his house, set it on fire, and not- 
withstanding his vigorous efforts, it was burned to the 

Complaints against Pauw, as one of the original 
officers of the Company who had taken advantage of 
his position, to secure the most valuable of the 
Company's holdings, continued to be brought forward. 
He was charged with having usurped the rights of 
others, and claiming ownership of his property 
without a shadow of right, for he had never complied 
with the requirements of the Company's grant. 
Pauw, however, positively refused to surrender his 
holdings. He seems to have been proof against all 
criticism and attack, and held on to his claim with 
Dutch tenacity. Finally, the feeling against him 
became so intense that on December 17, the Assembly 
of the Nine (the governing power) called him to 
account, and after much bargaining purchased his 
colony for 26,000 florins, or about $I0,000. 

Chapter VIIL 


On the recall of Minuit, in 1632, Wouter Van 
Twiller was appointed Director General, and arrived 
at New Amsterdam in the spring of 1633. His 
administration seems to have been singularly unfor- 
tunate ; he was wanting in executive ability, being 
unable to control or direct others. He was finally 
removed, and was succeeded by William Kieft, in 


Kieft was a politician of the more advanced type, 
whose peculiar talents would have received instant 
recognition in this present century. He was very 
energetic, with unbounded confidence in his own 
opinton and judgment, and but little respect for the 
advice of others. On his arrival he found matters in 
an unsatisfactory state, a general demoralization 
prevailingo He at once organized a Council, of 
which he retained entire control, and granted many 
favors, in the shape of offices and lands, by this 
means' surrounding himself with obsequious and 
unscrupulous advisers, who were not only willing but 
eager, to support and advocate any measures that 
we'i-e ' pleasing to him. He was thus enabled to 
crovern the colonies in an arbitrary manner, and ruled 

30" " OLD BERGEN." 

all with an iron hand. Being authorized to make all 
necessary expenditures and improvements at the 
fur-trading centers, he built extensive works at 
Manhatta, and ordered two houses to be built at 
Pavonia. One was built at Aharsimus (near Hender- 
son and 5th streets), and occupied by Cornells Van 
Vorst, and the other at Communipauby Jan Evertsen 

The property occupied by Bout, when he was 
superintendent of Pauw, was, on the acquisition of 
tlie same by the Company, leased to him for six 
years from June 20, 1638, "at a yearly rent of one- 
fourth of the crops, whether of corn or produce, and 
every year two tuns of strong Beer, and twelve Capons 
free of expense." The property was described as 
follows : " A piece of land lying on the North 
River westward from Fort Amsterdam, before there 
pastured, and tilled by Jan Evertsen, named 
Gamoenapoeu, and Jan de Lacher's Hoeck " (so 
named from the occupant who was called John the 
Laugher, because of his mirth-loving propensities), 
"with the meadows as the same lay without the post 
and rail fence, containing 84 morgens." This is the 
property known as Communipaw, signifying Pauw's 
community, or settlement, comprising the territory 
south of the Mill Creek Point. Bout leased the land 
near Mill Creek Point to Egbert Wouterson, who 
resided there with his family. 

Kieft's first conveyance of land in what is now Hud- 
son County, was to Abraham Isaacsen Verplanck, 
dated May i, 1638, of a tract at Paulus Hoeck, situa- 


ted westward of the Island of Manhatta, and eastward 
of Aharsimus, extending from the North River into 
the valley, which runs around it there. The plot of 
ground now known as Hoboken was leased by Kieft 
to Aert Teunisen Van Putten, for twelve years from 
January i, 1641, at a rental of the "fourth sheaf with 
which God Almighty shall favor the field." He formed 
here a bouerie, and erected a brew house. Thus was 
established an industry that has been successfully 
prosecuted at this place down to the present time. 

Although Van Putten was killed by Indians in 1643, 
and his bouerie destroyed, the brew house remained 
standing. Februarys, 1663, this property was granted 
by Gov. Stuyvesant to Nicholas Verlett, who settled 
before 1656 on a tract called Hobuck. His title was 
confirmed by Gov. Carteret by a new grant. May 12, 

In 1641, Myndert Meyndertson was Patroon over a 
colony from Newark Bay to Tappan. With the ex- 
ception of a bouerie west of Cavan Point, occupied by 
Dirck Straatmaker, these seem to have been the only 
settlements in what was the territory of Bergen, in 1643. 
What is now known as Jersey City Heights was 
covered with dense forests and frequented by native 
tribes and wild beasts, with possibly one or two clear- 
ings used for the cultivation of maize by the Indians; 
while in place of the crowded tenements and teeming 
industries of lower Jersey City, there were three islands 
or mounds, surrounded by lagoons and marshes, which 
at high tide, were covered with the water of the bay. 
One of these mounds was located in the territorv south 

32 " OLD BERGEN." 

of York Street and east of Warren, and contained the 
trading post and fort of early days, already alluded to, 
and was afterward, in the Revolutionary times, the 
site of the battle of Paulus Hook. Another was located 
west of Barrow Street and between York Street and 
Railroad Avenue, extending to about the present line 
of Monmouth Street ; while the third was the site in 
early days of Van Vorst's bouerie, where Dominie 
Bogardus and his friends were entertained, extending 
from about the present 6th Street to above Hamilton 
Square, and east of Cole Street to about Henderson. 

Paulus Hook {hook meaning point) was the name by 
which in early days the southeasternmost section of 
Jersey City was known. Its name was due to the fact 
that one Michael Paulaz was stationed there by the 
West India Company to protect its interests. 

De Vries states in his account of his voyages that, 
as he was about to' return to Amsterdam (May,- 1633), 
"coming to the boat on Long Island, night came on 
and the tide began to turn, so that we rowed to 
Pavonia; we were there well received by Michael 
Paulaz, an officer in the service of the Company." 

Chapter IX. 


The native tribes found here by the early settlers 
were originally of very simple habits, but dominated 
greatly by their animal instincts. They were faithful 
to their friends, but vindictive and treacherous to any 
whom they regarded as enemies, and quick to resent 
any real or fancied injustice. They were a roving 
people, and their chief support came from hunting and 
fishing. They quickly perceived the advantage of 
trading with the whites, and had their treatment been 
more in accord with the requirements of civilization, 
much of the subsequent bloodshed might have been 
avoided. Free as the air they breathed, and accus- 
tomed to look upon the forests and rivers as means of 
furnishing themselves with food and traffic, they felt 
an ownership in them that would not brook outside 
interference. So when they saw the intruders gradually 
absorbing their territory and restricting their accus- 
tomed freedom, they felt a natural resentment, which 
was increased, not only by the unreasonableness of 
Governor Kieft's demands, but also by their unjust 
treatment in the matter of traffic. It is said that in 
bargaining with the Indians, a Dutchman's hand 
weighed one pound and his foot two, so that in some 
mysterious way it was made to appear that, no matter 

34 " OLD BERGEN." 

what the size of the Indian's bundle of peltry, its 
weight never exceeded the latter figure. 

In the main, the desire of the early settlers seems to 
have been to treat the Indians with fairness and con- 
sideration, recompensing them for their property, and 
treating with them on an honorable footing. But un- 
fortunately, as is always the case when new enterprises 
of the kind are attempted, unscrupulous men and 
adventurers were among the number, who, actuated 
and controlled simply by the desire of gain, disre- 
garded the rights of the Indians, and by their unjust 
dealing awakened within them all their savage in- 
stincts. The unscrupulous treatment of them by 
Governor Kieft was for the greater part, if not entirely, 
the cause of the general outbreaks. Individual instan- 
ces of injustice no doubt there were, that deserved 
summary treatment ; but that whole tribes should unite 
in a war of extermination, was doubtless directly 
traceable to his unjust demands and double dealing. 

Thus Kieft, by his injudicious treatment of the 
Indians, soon incurred their hostility. Although 
their savage nature and close proximity should have 
suggested constant watchfulness on the part of the 
settlers, Kieft, blinded by an undue sense of his own 
importance, treated them as if in fact they were his 
own subjects. He demanded of them a tribute of 
maize, furs and wampum, and when they demurred, 
threatened to employ all the force at his command to 
enforce his demands. This harsh treatment exaspera- 
ted them, and henceforth the whole region was the 
scene of frequent outbreaks and difficulties. We 


find in the " Breeden Raet," printed in 1649, at 
Antwerp, as a result of the investigation instituted on 
account of the complaints against Kieft, the following: 

" They " (the natives) " asked why they should 
supply us with maize for nothing, since they paid as 
much as we asked, for everything they came to pur- 
chase of us. If, they said, we have ceded to you the 
country you are living in, we yet remain masters of 
what we have retained for ourselves. Have we not 
supplied you, Swannakens (or Dutchmen), on your 
first arrival here, and when you had no Mochols (or 
ships), with provisions for two whole winters? And 
had we not, you would have died of hunger. The 
delegates from all the savage tribes, such as the Rari- 
tans, the Hacquinnas, the Tappanders, and others had 
got as many objections to make as there were points 
to discuss. 

"They however separated peaceably, contenting 
themselves with giving us no contributions, nor ask- 
ing any from us. Director Kieft, seeing himself de- 
prived of this contribution, which he was very greedy 
of by so many reasons, and also because it would dis- 
grace him in the eyes of his countrymen, invented 
other means to satisfy his insatiable, avaricious soul." 

The Indians positively refused to supply " maize 
for nothing," and showed their resentment by harass- 
ing the settlers in every possible way. Their hostility 
assumed an active form, and as opportunity offered, 
they carried off and killed the cattle found wander- 
ing through the woods. They secured fire-arms 
from some of the unscrupulous traders, who, incited 

36 " OLD BERGEN." 

by greed of gain, disregarded the positive commands 
of the West India Company, not to barter fire-arms, 
and "traded enough guns, bullets, and fire-arms, to 
furnish four hundred warriors." The Indians soon 
became proficient in the use of these, and conse- 
quently more to be dreaded. 

Chapter X. 


The people were anxious to maintain peace with 
the savages, and were indignant with Kieft for his 
harshness. He thereupon called them together for 
consultation, and chose twelve select men to consult 
and advise with the Director and Council. They coun- 
selled moderation, and were to be notified by the 
Governor before any action should be taken. Not- 
withstanding this, Kieft became more decided and 
exacting in his demands, and determined to enforce 
them at any cost. As a preparation, he ordered the 
residents of Manhatta and the vicinity to arm them- 
selves, and at the firing of three guns to repair to the 
place appointed for service. 

Shortly after this, some of the Company's men 
landed on Staten Island, which had been settled by 
De Vries, and stole some hogs belonging to him. 
For this theft, the Raritan Indians were blamed, and 
Governor Kieft sent a party of fifty soldiers and 
twenty sailors to attack them and destroy their corn, 
unless they should make reparation. This was 
refused, several of the Indians were killed, and their 
crops were destroyed. In retaliation, the Indians 
attacked De Vries' plantation on Staten Island ; where- 

38 " Ol.l) BERGEN." 

upon Kicft issued a proclamation offering ten fathoms 
of wampum for every head of that tribe, and twenty 
fathoms for heads of actual murderers. This offer 
excited the cupidity of the other tribes, and intensi- 
fied the strife among them. To obtain this reward, 
much innocent blood was shed and ill feeling engen- 

The Indians were divided into different tribes and 
languages, each tribe living separate and apart by 
itself, and having a chief to whom it was subject. 
These tribes differed greatly in characteristics, some 
of them being naturally of a friendly disposition, 
while others were quite the reverse. These differences 
often led to feuds and strife among them', and there 
was a natural enmit}' between the Indians inhabiting 
the upper Hudson (the Iroquois and Mohawks), who 
were by nature fierce and warlike, and those who 
were located about the mouth of the Hudson, (the 
Delawares), who were more pacific i:i their nature. 

In 1643, one of these periodical outbreaks occurred, 
and the fierce Mohawks made an attack upon the 
lower tribes, on the west side of the river. Many of 
these were slain and made prisoners, and many fled to 
Manhatta, and afterwards to Pavonia, where they en- 
camped on the 22nd of February, 1643, at Jan de Lacher 
Iloeck, behind the settlement of Egbert Wouterson, 
and near Jan Evertsen Bout's bouerie ( near the inter- 
section of Pine Street with New Jersey Central R. R. ) 
Kieft thought this afforded him a favorable opportunity 
to punish the Indians for their rebellion, and at the 
same time enforce his demands to their fullest extent. 



He thereupon issued the following order: "Sergeant 
Rudolf is commanded and authorized to take under his 
command a troop of soldiers, and lead them to Pavonia, 
and drive away and destroy the savages lying behind 
Jan Evertsen Bout, to spare as is possible their wives 
and children. The exploit should be executed at 
night, with the greatest caution and prudence." 


In. pursuance of this order, the sergeant and eighty 
soldiers embarked in boats, crossed to the shores of 
Pavonia, and, rounding the southerly point of Paulus 
Hook, pulled for the high bank at the mouth of the 

40 " OLD BERGEN.' 

Mill Creek (near Jersey Avenue and Phillip Street). 
Cautiously climbing over this bank, they came sud- 
denly on the unsuspecting Indians, and slaughtered 
many of them, sparing neither the old, the women nor 
the children. So thoroughly were the survivors de- 
ceived as to the origin of this attack, that they fled for 
protection to the Dutch at Fort Amsterdam, believing 
that they had been surprised and attacked by the Mo- 
hawks. They were, however, soon undeceived, and 
then commenced-a relentless war. 

All the tribes between the Raritan and the Connecti- 
cut now buried their individual resentments, and com- 
bined in a war for the extermination of the whites ; 
and all those not in the immediate vicinity of Fort 
Amsterdam, were in constant danger from the toma- 
hawk and scalping-knife. So general was the uprising, 
and so energetic and relentless was the attack of the 
Indians, that in a short time the whole country was 
wrested from the whites, and the savages again roamed 
unmolested over the soil. 

Peace was finally concluded, but being on unsatis- 
factory terms to the Indians, it was not of long dura- 
tion. They could not so readily forget the wrongs 
they had suffered, and felt that they were unavenged. 
They therefore broke out into open hostility again, 
determined to obtain full and complete satisfaction. 
Kieft, now thoroughly alarmed, sought the assistance 
of the people, whom he had hitherto slighted. Eiglit 
men were selected, instead of twelve, for conference 
with the Council. 

Self-preservation compelled them to active measures. 


and war was determined upon ; the people were armed, 
and so stationed as to protect the outlying settlements. 
But the savages, by means of their peculiar, stealthy 
manner of warfare, were enabled to greatly harass the 
settlers, and we find the four boueries in Pavonia laid 
waste — Bout's, Wouterson's, Stofflesen's and Teuiii- 
sen's. Every bouerie and plantation was destroyed, 
and the cattle killed or driven away. 

These troubles produced much discontent among the 
colonists, and, recognizing that their great misfortunes 
had been brought upon them by the inordinate ambi- 
tion and misgovernment of Kieft, the people were 
aroused, and sent protests to the home government, 
aeain demandinc: his removal. 

Chapter XI. 


KlEFT was superseded July 28, 1646, by Peter Stuy- 
vesant, who arrive-d at Fort Amsterdam May 11, 1647. 
He found the situation somewhat alarming, for crime 
was rampant, and anarchy prevailed. By the exer- 
cise of liis administrative ability, he succeeded in 
restoring confidence among the colonists. The In- 
dians, however, claiming that the conditions of the 
treaty of peace were not complied with, again became 
dissatisfied and aggressive. In order to effect a satis- 
factory arrangement and avoid the disasters of another 
war, nine men were selected by the Directors to ad- 
vise the government when requested. Michael Jansen 
of Pavonia, and Cornelis Van Vorst, were of this num- 
ber. Through the exercise of diplomacy, and a con- 
ciliatory policy, the settlers had no special difficulty 
with the Indians for some years, and until 1655 they 
gave their full attention to the improvement and de- 
velopment of their holdings. 

The West India Company having relinquished its 
monopoly of the Indian trade on payment of a small 
duty by individual traders, the enterprise of the latter 
made itself felt. The colonists spread themselves 
throughout the country, and many came from the 

" OLD BERGEN." 43 

Fatherland to engage in what now promised to be a 
profitable occupation. Each sought to advance his 
own interest, and many hved among the Indians in 
order to trade advantageously with them. 

Houses were hastily constructed of stone or logs, as 
either material was the more easily obtainable when a 
settlement was made. They were usually covered with 
branches, thatched over with reeds or grass collected 
from the surrounding marshes, and large stone fire- 
places were built, connected with an outside chimney 
or flue made of scantling or the bark of trees. 

Being thus conveniently located, the settlers were 
enabled the more easily to gather in from their savage 
neighbors large quantities of skins and furs, for which 
a ready market was found at the Company's trading 
post on Manhattan Isknd. Soon, however, competi- 
tion became so fierce that deception and underhand 
practices were indulged in, and this unjust treatment 
again excited the natural jealousy and distrust of 
the savages. Notwithstanding their protests, the 
greed for gain blinded the settlers as to their danger, 
and their unjust exactions and oppressions continued. 

The Indians, recognizing the advantage of the market 
brought to their doors by the adventurous whites, sul- 
lenly submitted to the injustice of their treatment, 
rather than, by the e.Kercise of their superior force, 
destroy such market by the extermination of their 
oppressors. However, frequent outbreaks occurred, 
and a feeling of unrest and insecurity was excited. 
Constant watchfulness on the part of the settlers was 
required to prevent surprise by the Indians, who were 

44 " OLD BERGEN," 

ready, on the slightest pretext and at the first favorable 
opportunity, to avenge their wrongs. The houses of 
the whites became their fortresses, and the common 
danger allayed to a great extent the bitter feeling 
among them engendered by their rivalry in trade. 

In spite of the unsettled state of affairs during this 
interval, numerous grants of land had been made 
in Pavonia, Maryn Adriaensen, who was one of the 
Twelve, secured a grant of fifty morgens at Weehaw- 
ken : Dirck Zieken, a plantation below Communipau, 
back of Cavan Point ; Jacob Jacobson Roy, one at Con- 
stable Hook ; Claas Carstensen, land at Greenville ; and 
others between Communipau and Bergen Point. 

During the absence of Gov. Stuyvesant, who, hav- 
ing determined to expel the Swedes settled at and 
about South River, was directing in person an expedi- 
tion against them, new difficulties arose. The Dutch 
burghers at Manhatta had experienced great annoy- 
ance from frequent depredations upon their fruit and 
vegetables by unknown parties. Their gardens were 
unusually exposed, as they were located in the rear of 
their dwellings and extended down to the water's 
edge, thus affording free access to marauders, who 
could stealthily approach by boat from the opposite 
shore, and readily escape in gase of interruption. 
The burghers determined upon stringent measures, 
and strict watch was kept. One night in July, 1654, 
the watchman, discovering that some one was stealing 
peaches, fired his blunderbuss with such effect that an 
Indian maid was killed, while the rest of the party 
took to their boats and escaped. This seemed the 

" OLD BERGEN.*' 4^ 

one thing necessary to excite the ah'eady inflamed 
savages to commenee their work of devastation. 

On the 15th of September, a force of five hundred 
warriors in sixty-four canoes, secretly landed at Man- 
hatta and attempted to secure the murderer. They 
scattered through the streets, but were discovered by 
the guard, who attacked them and drove them to 
their canoes. Crossing the river to Pavonia, the sav- 
ages destroyed the houses there, laid waste the plan- 
tations, destroyed a large amount of maize, killed or 
carried off a number of cattle, and took with them 
some of tiie settlers whom they had captured. 
Pavonia was again desolated, and the survivors fled 
for safety to New Amsterdam, so that once more the 
savages held unrestricted sway over the territory. 
Emboldened by their successes, the latter hovered 
ai"ound the outskirts of New Amsterdam, with the 
determination of now securing a full recompense for 
the indignities heaped upon them in the past by the 
injudicious whites. 

The close watch of the force protecting the town 
foiled their efforts, and the action taken by Governor 
Stuyvesant, who hastened his return upon hearing 
of this attack, prevented any further eff'orts. He im- 
mediately adopted measures for the full protection of 
the province. He endeavored to conciliate the Indians, 
and entered into negotiations with them for the ran- 
soming of their prisoners. Pending the result, a 
large body of savages with their prisoners were sta- 
tioned at Paulus Hook. Their proximity, and evi- 
dent reluctance to hasten negotiations, produced 

46 " OLD BERGEN." 

considerable, excitement at New Amsterdam. The 
relatives and friends of those who -had been captured 
were naturally indignant at the delay, and they made 
threats against the Indians and attempted retaliatory 
measures. To lessen the danger of an outbreak, the 
authorities ordered that no intercourse of any kind 
should be had with the savages, and continued their 
efforts to secure a peaceful termination to their nego- 
tiations. After considerable bartering, a price was 
agreed upon, which being paid, the captives were 
released, and the second general Indian war ended. 

Michael Jansen, who was living with his family at 
Communipau, escaped the general slaughter ; but in 
view of the unsettled condition of affairs, he had 
removed to New Amsterdam, so that there was not 
left at this time a single white man within the limits 
of this territory. 

Chapter XII. 


In a short time, however, a few of the colonists 
returned to their ruined homes and endeavored to re- 
store them to their former condition. The difficulty 
of protecting isolated or scattered settlements being 
recognized, the Director General and Council passed 
an ordinance January i8, 1656, setting forth as fol- 
lows: "In consequence of the separate dwellings of 
the country people, many murders of people, killing 
and destruction of cattle, and burning of houses, have 
been committed and perpetrated by the Indians, the 
most of which might have been, with God's help, pre- 
vented and avoided, if the good inhabitants of this 
province had settled themselves together in the form 
of towns, villages and hamlets, like our neighbors of 
New England, who, because of their combination and 
compact residences, have never been subject to such — 
at least not to so many and such general disasters, 
which have been caused, next to God's righteous 
chastisement, on account of our sins by tempting the 
savage barbarians thereto by the separate residences 
of the country people. 

"The Director General and Council, aforesaid, do 
hereby not only warn their good subjects, but like- 
wise charge and command them, to concentrate them- 

48 " OLD BERGEN." 

selves by next spring in the form of towns, villages 
and hamlets, so that they may be the more effectually 
protected, maintained and defended, against all as- 
saults and attacks of the barbarians, by each other, 
and by the military entrusted to the Director General 
and Council. Furthermore, in order to prevent a too 
sudden conflagration, they do ordain, that from now 
henceforth, no houses shall be covered with straw or 
reed, nor any more chimneys be constructed of clap- 
boards or wood." 

The next year the ordinance was reaflfirmed, and 
the people commanded to respect its provisions. The 
horrors of Indian warfare were so great, and the feel- 
ing of insecurity so general, that the settlers with few 
exceptions delayed returning to Pavonia, and the 
country remained almost desolate. In order to re- 
move any cause for friction with the Indians on 
account of adverse claims to their territory, and to 
i-eassure the timid settlers, Governor Stuyvesant and 
the Council of New Netherlands purchased of the In- 
dians, January 30, 1658, a tract of land by the follow- 
ing description : 

" Lying on the west bank of the Hudson, beginning at 
the Great Clip " (meaning Rock), " above Weehawken, 
and from thence right through the lands till above the 
island of Siskakes " (Secaucus), " and thereupon thence 
to the Kill von Kull, and so along to the Constable 
Hook, and from the Constable Hook again to the 
aforesaid Clip at Weehawken, with all the lands, 
islands, channels, and valleys therein comprehended — 
for eighty fathom of wampum, twenty fathom of 


cloth, twelve brass kettles, and one-half barrel strong 

This was done at Fort Amsterdam and signed with 
the marks of the Indians, after the cargoes were de- 
livered to their hands, the 30th day of January, Anno 
Domini, 1658. The following are their names : 
Therincques, Wawapehack, 

Sagiikow, ]3omokan, 

Sames, Wewenatokee, 


Wairimus Conwee, 

Witness: Sames, otherwise called JOB. 
By this deed the. Indians relinquished all their right 
and title in and to the territory lying between the 
Hudson River, and the Hackensack and Newark 
Bay (comprising the old Township of Bergen). This 
same territory was assessed in 1 90 1 on a valuation of 
about $150,000,000. This purchase by the Council 
tended to allay to a great extent the hostility of the 
Indians, and the settlers who had been driven away 
were anxious to return to their former fields. They 
were enabled to develop their holdings without much 
interference, biit so great was the expense they were 
subjected to, on account of the general destruction of 
their buildings, that they petitioned the Council to ex- 
empt them from the payment of tithes or taxes for a 
few years. This petition was signed by Michael Jan- 
sen Vreeland, Claas Jansen Bacher, Claas Petersen 
Garrabrant Cos, Jans Captain, Dirck Sekier, Dirck 
Claersen and Lysbet Tysen. Whereupon the Council 
made an order as follows, dated January 22nd, 1658 : 

50 " OLD BERGEN." 

" The suppliants are permitted, in consideration of the 
reasons explained in their petition, the privilege of 
exemption from the payment of tithes, and the bur- 
thens attached to these, during six years, provided that 
they, in conformity to the order and placards of the 
Director General and Council, concentrate themselves 
in the form of a village, at least of ten or twelve fami- 
lies together ; to become in future more secure, and 
easier to receive aid for defence, in similar disastrous 

On this encouragement, the settlers began to reoc- 
cupy their plantations and boueries, but seem to have 
been averse to collecting together in villages, as con- 
ditioned. The following order was thereupon issued: 
" In order to prevent, and in future put a stop, as 
much as possible, to such massacres, murders and 
burning by cruel barbarians at the separate dwellings, 
the Director General and Council of New Netherlands 
do therefore notify and order all isolated farmers in 
general, and each in particular, wherever they may re- 
side, without any distinction of person, to remove their 
houses, goods and cattle, before the last of March, or 
at latest the middle of April, and convey them to the 
\'illage nearest and most convenient to them ; or with 
the previous knowledge and approval of the Director 
General and Council, to a favorably situated and de- 
fensible spot, in a new Palisade village, to be hereafter 
formed, when all those who apply shall be shown and 
granted suitable lots by the Director General and Coun- 
cil, or their agents ; so that the Director General and 
Council, in case of any difificulty with the cruel bar- 


barians, would be better able to assist, maintain and 
protect their good subjects, with the force entrusted to 
them by God, and the Supreme Authority — on pain of 
confiscation of all such goods as shall be found after the 
aforesaid time, in separate dwellings and farm-houses." 

Chapter XIII. 


As a result of this order, several petitions were sub- 
mitted " to settle on the maize land behind Communi- 
pau," and on the i6th of August, 1660, "several in- 
habitants of this province " petitioned for the right 
to cultivate farms and plantations on the west side of 
the river, behind Communipau, and to make there a 
village, or concentration. This was granted, " pro- 
vided that such village shall be founded and placed on 
a convenient spot that may be defended with ease, and 
to be selected by the Director General, and Council, 
or Commissioners." This grant was, however, on con- 
dition that all who applied should share with others 
by lot, should send at least one person capable of 
bearing arms, for general service, and should make a 
beginning to erect buildings six weeks after the draw- 
ing of lots. 

It must have been shortly after the granting of the 
petition above mentioned, that the village of Bergen 
was founded, as in a deed dated the following Novem- 
ber, the location of the land conveyed is described as 
" near the village of Bergen, in the new maize land." 
This belief is strengthened by the following state- 
ment, made some time in 1664, which sets forth that 
the whole territory was given or granted to the inhab- 

" OLD BERGEN." 53 

itants of Bergen in 1661, thus proving beyond doubt 
that the organization of the village had been accom- 
plished before this date : 

"We, underwritten, the late Director General and 
Council of New Netherlands, hereby certify and de- 
clare that in the year one thousand six hundred and 
sixty-one, by us underwritten, in quality as aforesaid, 
was given and granted to the inhabitants of the Vil- 
lage of Bergen, the lands with the meadows there- 
unto annexed, situated on the west side of the North 
River, in Pavonia, in the same manner, as the same 
was by us underwritten, purchased of the Indians, and 
as the same was to us delivered by the said Indians, pur- 
suant to an instrument of sale, and delivery thereof, 
being under date of the 3rd of January, A. D. 1658, 
with this express condition, and promise, that the 
aforesaid inhabitants of the before named village, 
shall not be prejudiced in their outdrift, by means of 
any private collective dwellings (saving only the 
right of the then already cultivated farms at Gemoe- 
nepau), but that all such, who have any lands, within 
the district of the before named village, and especially 
at Pemrepogh and Mingackgue, all such owners shall 
be obliged to remove their dwellings, and place them 
in the village or town of Bergen, or by or about the 
neighborhood of Gemoenepau before named. Condi- 
tioned, however, that the aforesaid oxvners (in case they 
should desire the same) should be permitted to share, 
and divide with the inhabitants, of the before named 
village, or town, in the common lands of the said town, 
and in the place, and stead of their lands, lying at 


Pemrepogh and Mingackgue before named (and es- 
pecially that the meadows lying near the village or 
town of Bergen, where the same begins, at the west 
side along the Kill von Kull should be, and belong to, 
and for the use of, the before named inhabitants of 

" And further, we the underwritten, certify and de- 
clare, that Michael Jansen, deceased (before or about 
the time that the aforesaid village or town was laid 
out), for himself as also for, and in behalf of, his broth- 
er-in-law, Nicholas Jansen Barker, did, in our pres- 
ence, renounce all the right they had to the pasture 
ground, laying behind Gemoenepau, for a common 
outdrift and pasture between the aforesaid village or 
town, and the neighborhood of Gemoenepau before 

" And lastly, that no more lands were given or 
granted to Dirck Clausen than Rightpocques, with 
the meadows thereunto belonging, as by the ground 
brief thereof may further appear. 

" In testimony of the truth we have signed these 
with our own hands in New York, the 26th October, 
A. D., 1661." 

Signed : P. Stuyvesant. 


Many and varied suggestions have been made as to 
the origin and cause of the name of Bergen. Some 
claim it to have been so called after the capital of 
Norway, others derive the name from a small town in 
Holland, others think that the name denoted a place 

" OLD BERGEN." 55 

of safety, and others assert that the village was named 
on account of its location. And what is more plausible 
than this latter explanation? As the sturdy Holland- 
er, accustomed to the marsh and low land of his 
native country, saw the hill rising up out of the sur- 
rounding marsh, and stretching in unbroken front 
far to the north, what is more natural than that he 
should exclaim in wonder, "Berg! Bergen!" (The 
hill! The place of the hill!) 

The commanding position of the territory, making 
it capable of easy defence and protection, together with 
its proximity to New Amsterdam, doubtless deter- 
mined the selection of this locality. The town was 
directed to be laid out by Jacques Cortelyou, the first 
surveyor of New Amsterdam. It was in the form of 
a sc^uare, eight hundred feet long on each side, with 
two cross streets meeting at right angles in the center, 
where a vacant space was reserved, one hundred and 
sixty feet by two hundred and twenty-five feet. These 
streets divided the plot into four quarters, which were 
subdivided into building lots. Along the outer side 
of the plot pailisades were erected, with gates at the 
termination of the cross streets, which were closed at 
night, or when any attack of Indians was threatened. 
The original plan is still preserved at Bergen Square, 
Academy Street and Bergen Avenue being the inter- 
secting cross streets, while Tuers and Idaho Avenues 
on the east and west, and Newkirk and Vroom Streets 
on the north and south, mark the line of the palisades. 

The houses of the settlers were erected within the 
enclosure, in accordance with the condition of the 



grant of the Council, for their better protection against 
Indian attacks ; while their farms extended out into 
the adjoining country. These were called bnytenttiyn, 
or outside gardens. They were thoroughly cultivated, 
and in part used for grazing, and the cattle were 
driven within the palisades nightly, or when the 



























savages became unusually active. On such occasions, 
water was obtained at great risk, and much suffering 
was caused. Whereupon the Schout and Schepens 
ordained, that a well for the public accommodation be 
constructed within the enclosure. This action was 
ratified by the Council at New Amsterdam, February 

" OLD BERGEN." 57 

9, 1662, and a well was dug in the center of the square, 
a long sweep erected for raising the water, and troughs 
placed about it from which the cattle might drink. 
This well was used for a long time, but was finally 
filled up and covered over. During the war of 1812, a 
Liberty Pole was erected in it. 

This pole was surmounted by a gilded star, which, 
flashing in the sunlight from its prominent position, 
was visible from a long distance. It became a land- 
mark especially for wary fishermen to locate the 
favorite haunts of the finny tribe in the waters of New 
York and Newark Bays. Their custom was to run an 
imaginary line from it to some prominent object on 
the opposite shore, which was crossed at the spot 
sought for by a similar line at right angles. This pole 
was taken down in 1870, when the car tracks were laid. 
As the square still retains its original size and shape, 
the exact location of the old well can be approximated, 
as it was dug in its center. 

A curious document dated April i, 1661, sets forth 
the lease of a lot, conditioning the construction of a 
house thirty feet long, and barn fifty feet long, to be 
built along the palisades of the village. " The lessor to 
deliver in March, a plow and wagon for joint use; also 
on halves, two young cows, and two three-year-old 
oxen, on half risk; and the following spring, two more 
of each. The occupant to pay the first and second 
years, fifteen pounds of butter for each cow, and for 
the remaining four years of the term, two hundred 
guilders, in coin or good wampum," 

Chapter XIV. 


As the population of the town and the surrounding 
country increased, it was felt that some more conveni- 
ent manner of settling the disputes and difficulties that 
were continually arising, should be determined upon, 
than had previously existed. The Court of Burgo- 
masters and the Schepens at New Amsterdam exercised 
jurisdiction on the west side of the river as well as in 
that place ; and not being in possession of actual 
knowledge of existing conditions, they were unable to 
decide promptly or accurately the questions submitted 
to them. A petition was thereupon presented to the 
Governor and Council at New Amsterdam, asking for 
relief, and praying for the establishment of a " local 
court of justice," which should determine and adjudi- 
cate such questions as should arise, affecting the peti- 

In response thereto, the following ordinance was 
passed September 5, 1661, by the Director and Council 
of New Netherlands, erecting a court of justice at 
Bergen : " That their Honors do not hope or wish for 
anything else than the prosperity and welfare of their 
good inhabitants in general, and in particular, of the 
people residing in the village of Bergen, situated on 
the west side of the North River; and considering the 


increase in population of said village, therefore re- 
solved, to favor its inhabitants with an Inferior Court 
of Justice, and to constitute it, as much as possible, 
and as the circumstances of the country permit, ac- 
cording to the laudable custom of the City of Amster- 
dam, in Holland, but so that all judgments shall be 
subject to reversal by, and an appeal to, the Director 
General, and Council of New Netherlands, to be by 
their Honors finally disposed of. 

" It is necessary to choose as judges, honest, 
intelligent persons, owners of real estate, who are 
lovers of peace, and well affected subjects of their 
lords and patrons and of their Supreme Government 
established here, promoters and professors of the 
Reformed Religion as it is at present taught, in 
conformity of the Word of God, and the order of the 
Synod of Dortrecht ; which court for the present, 
until it shall be herein otherwise ordained by the 
said lords, patrons, or their deputy, shall consist of 
one Sellout, who shall convoke the appointed 
Schepens, and preside at the meeting, and with three 
Schepens, to which ofifice are for the present time, 
and ensuing year, commencing the 20th of this 
month, elected by the Director General and Council, 
Michael Jansen, Harman Smeeman, and Caspar 

" The Sellout and Schepens are authorized in case 
of any special emergency or necessity, to enact some 
Ordinances for the greater advantage and contentment 
of the aforesaid village ; respecting surveys, highways, 
outlets, ports, and fences of lands ; laying out of 

60 " OLD BERGEN." 

gardens, orchards, and such like matters .... Also 
in regard to the buildings of churches, schools, and 
similar public works, and the means by which same 
are to be effected. But to commit to writing their 
opinions thereupon, and the reasons therefor, and 
submit them to the Director General and Council, in 
order that they may be approved and confirmed." 

These magistrates were obliged to take oath, 
among other things, that they would " maintain the 
Reformed Religion and no other, and support the 
same." The first Sellout was Tilman Van Vleck, 
who was commissioned the same date, and the first 
municipal government and court in the State of 
New Jersey was thus constituted : 

Tilman Van Vleck, Schout. 

Michael Jansen, ^ 


Caspar Stynmets, ) 
The erection of this court, elevating the little village 
into the dignity of a seat of justice and government 
for the surrounding territory, doubtless attached its 
name to all the neighboring dependencies, and 
although many of them retained locally the name by 
which each little settlement was originally known, 
yet from this time forth, they were all referred to 
and designated under the general name of Bergen. 
Thus, although it is historically recorded that New 
Jersey was first settled by the Dutch at a place 
called Bergen, it is well substantiated that to 
Pavonia, or more properly to Communipau, to be 
locally exact, must be accorded the honor of first 



receiving, within what is now the Province of New 
Jersey, the adventurous navigators who left the 
Fatherland in quest of the riches that were popularly 
supposed to lie hidden within the unexplored region 
of the New World. Communipau, from its location, 
was probably the" most inviting spot on the western 
shoies of the Hudson ; being well wooded and 


possessing a natural, well sheltered harbor, with 
high ground connected directly with the adjacent 
hills, it commended itself to the thrifty settler as 
a desirable location for a home. Not only were the 
waters that laved its shores, stocked with shell-fish, 
but in their regular seasons, schools of sturgeon, 
mackerel and shad furnished means of remunerative 


employment to all, while in the interval the fruitful 
soil recompensed the laborer with an abundance of 
the products of the earth. Tradition says that the 
Indians early perceived its natural advantages, and 
after the settlement of the Indian difficulties, still 
clung to its shores, and joined with the Dutch settlers, 
living at peace with them for some time, fishing in the 
adjoining waters, and hunting in tiie woods that 
covered the neighboring heights. 

But as the white men increased in numbers, the 
natives were gradually forced back along the shore, 
and finally were compelled to move westward to 
escape their encroachments; and yet in some cases 
there was such strong attachment to some of the 
old families, that there were individual instances of 
Indians who refused to move away with their tribe. 
Continuing their friendships, they retained their 
wigwams, and ended their days within sight of the 
water on which they had so often sailed with their birch 
canoes. As was said to an old settler by one of the 
last survivors of the tribe : " My parents and parents' 
parents were not savages, but good people, who feared 
the God with all the simplicity of their primitive 
natures. There was no blood on their hands, and no 
scalps at their belts ; but good or bad, they had to go 
according to what the white man calls progress and 

Washington Irving thus humorously describes the 
discovery and settlement of Communipau : "The 
Goede Vrouw came to anchor at the mouth of 
the Fludson, a little to the east of Gibbet Island. 


Here, lifting up their eyes, they beheld, on what is 
at present called the Jersey Shore, a small Indian 
village pleasantly embowered in a grove of spreading 
elms, and the natives all collected on the beach, 
gazing in stupid admiration at the Goede Vrouw. 
A boat was immediately despatched to enter into 
a treaty with them, and approaching the shore, 
hailed them through a trumpet, in the most friendly 
terms ; but so horribly confounded were these poor 
savages at the tremendous and uncouth sound of 
the Low Dutch language, that they one and all 
took to their heels, and scampered over the Bergen 
iiilis, nor did they stop until they had buried them- 
selves, head and ears, in the marshes on the other 
side, where they all miserably perished to a man, and 
their bones being collected, and decently covered 
by the Tammany Society of that day, formed that 
singular mound called Rattlesnake Hill, which rises 
out of the center of the salt marshes, a little to the 
east of the Newark Causeway. . . . Accordingly they 
descended from' the Goede Vrouw, men, women and 
children in goodly groups, as did the animals of 
yore from the ark, and formed themselves into a 
thriving settlement, which they called by the Indian 
name Communipau." 

Chapter XV. 


The settlement at Communipau, being located 
within easy reach of New Amsterdam, flourished 
greatly, and it was determined to establish a village 
there. Jacques Cortelyou was ordered, on the 8th of 
September, 1661, to survey, and lay out into lots, the 
land about Communipau. The lots thus surveyed 
fronted on the Bay, and were about two hundred feet 
deep. It was decided to erect defences against the 
Indians, but their building was delayed on account of 
the unwillingness of some of the settlers to engage in 
the work, for the reason that they did not apprehend 
any immediate attack by the savages. Complaint 
was made to the Director General and Council, and 
they were asked to enforce the ordinance. The Coun- 
cil urged and commanded the construction of the 
defences, but no decided action was taken, and as 
a matter of fact, the fortifications were never com- 

The people at Bergen and the dependent villages, 
settled upon the lots, as selected, by virtue of the 
provisions of the charter, but had neglected to secure 
patents. This created much confusion and trouble, and 
on September 15, 1661, all the inhabitants were or- 
dered within three months to have their claims sur- 


veyed and marked, and on exhibition of returns to 
secure regular patents. This was done, and all disputes 
and controversies ended for the time. The titles to 
lands became vested in the parties as adjudged. 

With increasing population, better facilities for 
reaching Manhatta were demanded, and December 22, 
1661, Wm. Jansen petitioned the Director and Council 
to ratify a permission given him by the Schout and 
Schepens of Bergen, to work a ferry between Bergen 
and the Island of Manhatta. This was granted, and 
in pursuance thereof, a ferry from Communipau was es- 
tablished. This was for many years the only author- 
ized mode of communication with Manhatta. The fer- 
ryman was regularly licensed, and rates were established 
for daytime and fair weather ; but by night or in stormy 
weather, they were to be as the parties might agree. 
The ferryman was to keep his boat in readiness at all 
times, but more particularly on three days of the 
week, to be agreed upon unanimously by the inhabi- 
tants of Bergen and Communipau. From this ferry 
at Communipau a road extended along the route of 
the present Communipaw Avenue, and thence through 
Summit Avenue, to and connecting with, Academy 
Street, one of the cross streets of the Town of Bergen 
before mentioned. 

In 1662 we find the ferryman complaining that the 
freeholders of Bergen authorized the inhabitants to 
ferry themselves over, as they pleased, much to his 
loss and discomfort. His protest seems to have been 
of little avail, for until very recent years, the old set- 
tlers and their descendants continued the practice of 

66 " OLD BERGEN." 

transporting themselves and their belongings to and 
from the city of New York. It is related that on one 
occasion, when one of our good Dutch burghers with 
his family was returning from market, an immense 
fish in its gambols leaped from the water, and, acci- 
dentally landing in the boat, crashed through the 
bottom. Whereupon the goodwife, drawing about 
herself her voluminous petticoats, calmly seated her- 
self in the hole, effectually stopping the inflow of wa- 
ter, and enabling .all to reach shore in safety. A strik- 
ing instance of her presence of mind and general 

The isolated position of the settlement of Bergen 
town, back from the river, and surrounded by dense 
vi^oods, which were populated by crafty Indians, ren- 
dered the town liable to attack at any time. Where- 
fore, in order that it should at all times be sufficiently 
protected, an ordinance was passed November 15, 
1663, to the following effect : " All those who claim 
any lots in the aforesaid village shall, within twenty- 
four hours after notice being served, furnish and main- 
tain for each lot, one man able to bear arms ; and in 
case of their neglect to comply, their property is in 
danger of confiscation." October 18, 1664, in the ac- 
counts rendered to the Council, we find an item of 
twelve pounds of powder fired from two cannon about 
eight o'clock in the evening as a warning to the people 
to be on their guard, " as two Christians on their way 
from Bergen to Communipau were this day murdered 
by the Indians." 

Chapter XVI. 


Up to about this time the Dutch carried on the traffic 
with New Netherlands without much rivahy. Al- 
though isolated attempts at competition were made by 
some English merchants, they never achieved much 
success. Natural business jealousies, however, excited 
frequent controversies between the settlers of New 
England and those of New Netherlands, and continual 
disputes arose as to ownership and boundary of terri- 
tory. The increasing prosperity of the Dutch province, 
likewise, soon revived the interest of the English in 
what they claimed to be their possessions, and the fear 
of rivalry in the commercial world prompted the New 
Englanders to apply to the home government for 
relief and assistance. Charles II. determined to secure 
this extensive and growing trade. Basing his claim on 
the discovery of the Cabots, fortified by the fact that 
Henry Hudson was an Englishman, he granted a 
patent to the Duke of York (his brother) in 1664, 
giving him the entire territory of New Netherlands, 
and the power to govern the same. 

Bergen had at this time become a place of consider- 
able importance, and the settlement gradually assumed 
a condition of prosperity, so much so, that in a letter 
written at the time of the granting of the patent to the 


Duke of York, it is described as " well inhabited by a 
sober and industrious people, who have necessary pro- 
visions for themselves and families, and for the com- 
fortable entertainment of travellers and strangers." 
They industriously cultivated the ground, and found 
an excellent market for their products in Manhatta. 
Their connection with this place was by row or sail 
boats, the latter called periaguas. 

The currency in vogue at this time as a medium of 
exchange was made from shells, and called wampum or 
seawant. It was of two colors, black and white, the 
black being of double the value of the white; three 
black or six white equalled a stiver, and twenty stivers 
made a guilder, which was worth forty cents of United 
States money. But as its manufacture was practically 
free to all persons, everyone had his own mint, 
and the benefit (?) of free and unlimited coinage was 
fully enjoyed. It may be readily supposed that the 
shrewd business thrift of at least some of the early 
settlers, suggested opportunities for reaping great 
advantages. At least the actual effect produced may 
be estimated from the following proclamation issued 
in 1690 : 

" The Director General and Counsellors of New 
Netherlands, to all persons who may see these Presents 
or hear them read, send greeting : 

" Whereas with great concern we have observed both 
now and for a long time past the depreciation and 
corruption of the loose seawant, etc., whereby occasion 
is given for repeated complaints from the inhabitants, 
that they cannot go with such seawant to the market, 

" OLD BERGEN." 69 

nor yet procure for themselves any commodity, not 
even a white loaf, we ordain that no loose seawant 
shall be a legal tender except the same be strung on 
one string ; that six white or three black shall pass for 
one stiver, and of base seawant, shall pass eight white 
and four black for one stiver." 

Manuscript .Record of the Province, dated 1659, 
states as follows : " The N. E. People make use of it " 
(wampum) "as a means of barter, not only to carry 
away the best cargoes which we send thither, but to 
accumulate a large quantity of beaver and other furs, 
by which the Company is defrauded of her revenues, 
and the merchants disappointed in making returns 
with that speed with which they might wish to meet 
their engagements, while their commissioners and the 
inhabitants remain overstocked with seawant, a sort of 
currency of no value except with the New Netherland 

Irving facetiously alludes to the effect produced as 
follows : " It " (seawant) " had an intrinsic value among 
the Indians, who used it to ornament their robes and 
moccasins, but among the honest burghers it had no 
more intrinsic value than those rags which form the 
paper currency of modern days. This consideration, 
however, had no weight with William Kieft. He 
began by paying all the servants of the Company, and 
all the debts of Government in strings of wampum. 
He sent emissaries to sweep the shores of Long Island, 
which was the Ophir of this modern Solomon, and 
abounded in shell fish. These were transported in 
loads to New Amsterdam, coined into Indian money, 
and launched into circulation. 

70 " OLD BERGEN." 

" And now, for a time, affairs went swimmingly ; 
money became as plentiful as in the modern days of 
paper currency, and to use the popular phrase, ' a won- 
derful impulse was given to public prosperity.' Yankee 
trade poured into the province, buying everything they 
could lay their hands on, and paying the worthy Dutch- 
men their own price — in Indian money. If the latter, 
however, attempted to pay the Yankees in the same 
coin for their tinware and wooden bowls, the case was 
altered ; nothing -could do but Dutch guilders, and such 
like metallic currency. What was more, the Yankees 
introduced an inferior kind of wampum, made of oyster 
shells, with which they deluged the province, carrying 
off in exchange all the silver and gold, Dutch herrings, 
and Dutch cheeses. Thus early did the knowing men 
of the East manifest their skill in bargaining the New 
Amsterdamers out of the oyster and leaving them the 

" William the Testy found out that his grand project 
of finance was turned against him by his Eastern 
neighbors, when he found that the Yankees had estab- 
lished a kind of mint at Oyster Bay, where they were 
coining up all the oyster banks." 

On the 25th of May, 1664, a fleet was sent from Eng- 
land under Col. Richard Nicolls, to enforce the claim of 
the English government against the New Netherlands. 
This fleet arrived in July and demanded the surrender 
of New Amsterdam, The people of Bergen deter- 
mined to strengthen and increase the defences of the 
town. On the 21st of February, commissioners were 
appointed to erect block houses for its protection. 


Whether they were ever completed, and where they 
were located, is not positively known, although tra- 
dition asserts that there was one erected at the south- 
east corner of the palisades (corner of Tuers Avenue 
and Vroom Street) when the village was founded, and 
if so, this was probably strengthened at this time. 
There was likewise a fort or redoubt thrown up at the 
brow of the hill, near Academy and Front Streets. 
The Dutch, however, surrendered in the face of the 
superior force of the English, having received favorable 
conditions ; and on the 3rd of September, 1664, the 
government of the colony passed into the hands of 
the English. Col. Nicolls assumed the duties of 
Governor, New Amsterdam was changed to New 
York, and laws were enacted and courts established. 
Among the articles of capitulation agreed upon be- 
tween Gov. Stuyvesant and Col. Nicolls, was the 
following, relating to the rights and privileges of the 
Dutch settlers : 

"All people shall continue free denizens, and shall 
enjoy their lands, houses and goods, wheresoever they 
are within this country, and dispose of them as they 
please. The Dutch here shall enjoy their own customs 
concerning their inheritances." 

By deed dated March 20, 1664, a portion of this 
territory (now New Jersey) was conveyed to Lord 
Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The same day, 
they signed a constitution, which vested the govern- 
ment of the province in a Governor, and Council of 
Advice and Consent, and on the same date Philip 
Carteret was appointed Governor. He arrived in 


July, 1665, and issued his Pronunciamento. He re- 
organized the court at Bergen shortly after, which 
was to be held and kept open as often as occasion re- 
quired in the town of Bergen. The judges of this 
court were : 
Nicholas Verlet, Prcs., Harman Smeeman, 
Caspar Steimmets, Ill\s Michielsen, 

IDE Van Vorts. 

Chapter XVII. 


The oath of allegiance was taken by the judges 
named in the last chapter, and also by the inhabitants 
of Bergen, on November 20, 1665 ; whereupon it be- 
came in truth an English province. This oath was as 
follows : 

" You do swear by the Holy Evangelists, contained 
in this Book, to bear true faith and allegiance to our 
Governor, Lord, King Charles II., and his lawful suc- 
cessors, and to be true and faithful to the Lords Pro- 
prietors, and their successors, and the government of 
this province of New Jersey, as long as you shall con- 
tinue a Freeholder and Inhabitant under the same, 
without any equivocation or mental reservation what- 
ever, and so help you God." 

In pursuance of the provisions of the constitution, 
the people were called upon to elect representatives 
to the Assembly, to be held at Elizabethtown, on the 
25th of May, 1668 ; and on the 22nd day of September 
following, a new charter was granted by Gov. Carteret 
to the " Town and Freeholders of Bergen," and to the 
villages and plantations thereunto belonging, being in 
the province of Nova Ca^sarea, or New Jersey. 

" So that the whole tract of upland and meadow 
property belonging to the jurisdiction of the said 

74 " OLD BERGEN." 

Town and Corporation of Bergen, is bounded at the 
north end by a tract of land belonging to Captain 
Nicholas Verlett and Win. Samuel Edsall ; on the east 
side by the Hudson River; on the south end by the 
Kill von Kull. that parts Staten Island and the main ; 
and on the west by Arthur Kill Bay, and the Hacken- 
sack River." This included all the territory now 
known as Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, West Ho- 
boken and Weehawken, which was known as Bergen 
at that time, and' was identical with the Indian grant 
to Gov. Stuyvesant, of January 20, 1658. 

The Carteret Charter was a confirmation of the 
rights which the freeholders and the inhabitants of 
Bergen possessed under the Dutch domination. It 
confirmed to the freeholders " all the rights, immuni- 
ties, and privileges hereby granted unto the said 
Corporation or Township," and gave them power to 
choose their own magistrates, or to be assistants to 
the president, or judge of the court, and for the 
ordering of all public affairs, within the said jurisdic- 
tion. It also made the following provision : — 

" They shall have power to choose their own Minis- 
ter for the preaching of the Word of God, and the 
administering of His Holy Sacraments, and being so 
chosen, all persons, as well the freeholders, as the in- 
habitants, are to contribute according to their estate, 
and proportion of land, for the minister, and the keep- 
ing of a free school, for the education of youth, as 
they shall think fit, which land being once laid out, is 
not to be alienated, but to remain and continue for- 
ever, from one incumbent to another, free from paying 
any rent, or any other rate of taxes ; notwithstanding, 

" OLD BERGEN." 75 

it may be lawful for any particular person or persons 
to keep and maintain any other minister, at their own 
proper cost and charges. 

"Also, power to divide all proportions of land, as 
are witliout their bounds and limits aforesaid, that are 
not already appropriated, and patented by particular 
persons, before the day of the date thereof, and 
compelling the recording of such allotments. And 
all mortgages, transfers, leases, and sales, for above 
the term of one year, and all other contracts, are 
to be void, and of no effect in law. 

" That they shall have power to erect and ordain a 
Court of Judicature, within their own jurisdiction." 

To encourage settlers, Carteret, after his appoint- 
ment as Governor, 1664, issued an edict to the effect that 
every man who should embark with him, or meet him on 
his arrival, "provided with a good musket, bore twelve 
bullets to the pound, with bandelins and match con- 
venient, and with six months' provisions " for himself, 
should receive one hundred and fifty acres of land, 
and a like amount for every servant or slave brought 
with him provided with the same necessities. 

In 1672, war again broke out between England and 
Holland, and the Dutch fitted out an expedition for 
the purpose of destroying the English shipping, and 
attacking the settlements wherever practicable. The 
States General despatched a squadron of five vessels 
against New York, which arrived in July, 1673 ; and on 
the 30th day of that month they demanded the sur- 
render of the fort at New York. This demand was 
acceded to, and the Dutch again took possession of 
the New Netherlands, 

Chapter XVIII. 


Anthony Colve, captain of one of the vessels 
composing the Dutch squadron, was invested with 
the chief authority, and changed the name New York 
to New Orange ; and a demand to surrender was sent 
to " the Village of Bergen, and the Hamlets and 
Boueries thereon depending," as follows :— 

** You are hereby ordered and instructed, to despatch 
delegates from your village here to us, to treat with us 
on next Tuesday, respecting the surrender of your 
town, to the obedience of their High Mightinesses, 
the Lords States General, of the United Netherlands, 
his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange, or on refusal 
to do so, we shall be obliged to constrain you thereto 
by force of arms." 

The inhabitants of Bergen seem to have been no 
whit disturbed by this summons. Whether actuated 
by a loyalty to the old government, or restrained by 
the fear of losing their possessions, they surrendered 
without any attempt at resistance, and sent in the 
names of certain citizens, from which list a choice 
of magistrates could be made. The following were 
appointed on August i8, 1673, and required to take 
the oath of allegiance ; — - 


ScHOUT AND Secretary, Claes Arentse. 

Gerrit Gerritse, Elias Michelse, 

Thomas Fredericks, Peter Marcellessen, 
Cornelis Abraham. 

On the 2 1st of August they took the following oath : 
" Whereas we are chosen by the authority of the High 
and Mighty Lords, the States General, to be Magis- 
trates of the Town of Bergen, we do swear in the 
presence of Almighty God, to be true and faithful to 
the said authority, and their Governors for the time 
being, and that we equally and impartially shall exercise 
justice between party and parties, without respect to 
persons or nations, and that we shall follow such 
further orders and instructions as we from time to time 
shall receive from the Governor and Council, etc." 

They were thereupon notified that the Commander 
would visit their town on Sunday, after the sermon, 
in order to administer the oath to all their people. 
Pursuant to^ this notice the Commander and Council 
proceeded to Bergen, when the burghers of that town 
and dependencies were found to be seventy-eight in 
number, sixty-nine of whom appeared at drum beat, 
and took the oath of allegiance. The magistrates were 
ordered to forward the oaths of those who were absent. 

On the 25th of August the authorities of Bergen 
were notified of the necessity of fortifying New Am- 
sterdam, and that each community should contribute 
thereto according to its means. They promised such 
aid and support, and proceeded to organize a militia 

78 " OLD BERGEN." 

company, to prepare for such defence if needed. 
September 4, 1673, Caspar Stynmets was elected cap- 
tain, Hans Diedrick lieutenant, and Adrien Post 

The threatening aspect still continuing, on March 
22, 1674, the authorities at New Orange ordered each 
of the Dutch towns within its jurisdiction to commis- 
sion a militia officer and magistrate to meet at the 
City Hall, to confer on the state of the country ; and 
it was then determined, in case of an enemy's ap- 
proach, to send boats to Bergen to convey the people 
to the city. 

Chapter XIX. 


From the following report, dated 1680, we can 
gain a very correct idea of the growth and condition 
of the territory comprising " Old Bergen." " That 
there is a considerable settlement on Bergen Point, 
then called Constable Hook, and first improved by 
Edsall, in Nicoll's time ; other plantations were 
improved along Bergen Neck to the east ; between 
the point and a large village of some twenty families, 
further along lived sixteen or eighteen families, and 
opposite New York about forty families are seated 
southward from this. A few families settled together 
at a place called Duke's Farm (Aharsimus), and 
further up the country was a place called Hoebuck, 
formerly owned by a Dutch merchant who, in the 
Indian wars with the Dutch, had his wife, children, 
and servants murdered by the Indians, and his home 
and stock destroyed by them. But it is now settled 
again, and a mill erected there. Bergen is a compact 
town which had been fortified against the Indians, 
and contained about forty families. Its inhabitants 
were chiefly Dutch, some of whom had been settled 
there upwards of forty years." 

The general condition of the territory may likewise 
be learned from the followins" extract from an 

8o " OLD BERGEN." 

"Account of the encouragement for promoting a de- 
sign of planting in East New Jersey," etc., in a letter 
from one George Scott at Edinburg, published in 
1685, in which an allusion is made to the settlements 
and plantations of that time, in the territory now under 
consideration : — 

" 1st. Those on Overpcck Creek near Hackensack 
River, a river settled by several valleys, for which Mr. 
Nicolls, of New York, had a Patent, but gave leave to 
their settlement, at the request of Governor Carteret. 

"2nd. Near to Snake Mill a piece of land almost an 
island, belonging to Mr. Pcnhorne, a Merchant of 
New York, and one Edward Eickbe. 

" 3rd. There are other plantations upon Hackensack 
River, which goes a great way up the country, almost 
northwest ; others also on the east side of another 
Creek or River, at Hackensack River. 

"4th. A large neck or tract of land, for which one 
Sarah Kiersted, of New York, had a Patent given her 
by an old Indian Sachem, in recompense for her inter- 
preting the Indian language into Dutch, as there was 
occasion. There are some little families thereon ; two 
or three miles up a great plantation, settled by Captain 
John Berry, whereon he now lives. 

" 5th. Another plantation adjoining belonging to 
his son-in-law, Michele Smith ; another to Mr. Baker. 
This neck of land is in breadth, from Captain Berry's 
new plantation, on the west side where he lives, over 
to his old plantations, to the east at Hudson's River 
side, about three miles, which distance severs to Con- 
stable Hook, upward of ten miles. 

" OLD BERGEN." 8l 

" 6th. To go back to the south part of Bergen 
Neck, that is opposite to Staten Island, where but a 
narrow passage of water, which ebbs and flows between 
the said Island and Bergen Point, called Constable's 
Hook, extending in land, above a mile over, from the 
Bay on the east side of the Neck, that leads to New 
York, to that on the west, that goes to Hackensack 
and Snake Hill, the neck running up between both, 
from the south, to the north of Hudson's River, to 
the outmost extent of their bounds. It was first 
settled by Samuel Edsall in Col. Nicoll's time and by 
him sold for ;^6c)0. 

" 7th. Other small plantations along the neck to the 
East, are then named. Among them one to George 
Umpane ( Communipau ) , which is over against New 
York, where there is about forty families, within which 
about the middle of the neck, which is here about three 
miles, overstands the town of Bergen, which gives 
name to that Neck. Then again northward, to the 
waterside going up Hudson's River, there lies out a 
point of land, wherein is a plantation and a water mill 
belonging to a Merchant in New York. 

" 8th. Southward there is a small village, about five 
or six families, which is commonly called the Duke's 
Farm. Further up is a good plantation in a neck of 
land almost an Island, called Hobuk. It did belong 
to a Dutch Merchant who formerly in the Indian War, 
had his wife, children and servants, murdered by the 
Indians, and his house, cattle and stock destroyed by 
them. It is now settled again and a mill erected there, 
by one dwelling at New York. 

82 *• OLD BERGEN." 

"9th. Up northward along the River side, are 
other lands near to Mr. William Lawrence, which is 
six or seven miles further. Opposite thereto is a 
plantation of Mr. Edsall, and above that Captain Bien- 
field's plantation. This last is almost opposite to the 
northwest end of Manhattan Island. Here are the 
utmost extent of the northern bounds of East Jersey 
as always computed." 

Colve's reign was short, for on the 9th of July, 1674, 
the treaty of peace with England was concluded, 
which restored the whole country to the English. 
February 9, 1674, peace between Holland and England 
was established on favorable terms to the Dutch set- 
tlers, and the New Netherlands restored to English 
rule, which was continued until the Revolutionary 

Sir Edmund Andros was commissioned Governor. 
He was recalled, and Thomas Dongan arrived on the 
1 2th of August, 1683 ; the same year the first Colonial 
Assembly convened and adopted a Bill of Rights. 
On the conclusion of peace, the Duke of York obtained 
a new patent, similar to the first, dated June 29, 1674, 
and on November 6th of the same year, Governor Car- 
teret published his Commission, and other documents at 
Bergen, in the presence of his Council. Commissioners 
were present from all the towns in New Jersey, except 

It thus seems that Bergen was for a time the seat of 
government, and consequently may claim to have been 
the capital of the state. In 1682 the Province of New 
Jersey was divided into four counties ; Bergen, Essex, 

" OLD BERGEN." 83. 

Middlesex and Monmouth. Bergen included all the 
settlements between the Hudson and Hackensack 
Rivers, and extended to the north bound of the prov- 
ince. In 1693 each county was divided into townships. 

Chapter XX. 


Though the inhabitants of Bergen were now able 
to devote themselves to the improvement of their 
holdings, much dissatisfaction existed, not only be- 
cause of the uncertain tenure and undefined boundaries 
of the land settled upon, but the ^^ out drift," or com- 
mon lands, were also a subject of controversy. The 
land considered as such, lying between Communipau 
and Bergen, caused much bickering, and although 
several agreements were entered into, they seem to 
have been only tentative. The cattle belonging to the 
two hamlets intermingling, and becoming thereby sub- 
ject to adverse claims, were the cause of constant dis- 
pute. The feeling thereby became greatly intensified, 
and finally appeal was made to the authorities at New 
Amsterdam, whereupon the following order was is- 
sued : — 

" May 24, 1674, the Schouts, Magistrates, and Com- 
monalty, of the Town of Bergen, complaining by 
Petition that over two years ago, a question arose be- 
tween the Petitioners and their dependent hamlets of 
Gemonepau, Mingaghun, and Pemropogh respecting 
the making and maintaining of a certain common 
fence, to separate the cattle, the Council at New Am- 
sterdam ordered and commanded them to promptly 

" OLD BERGEN." 85 

regulate themselves, according to the decision or arbi- 
tration." This action on the part of the Council tem- 
porarily settled the difficulties, and the government of 
Bergen was continued under the Carteret Charter until 
1714, when the land titles became again a subject of 
dispute, and new controversies arose. A petition was 
presented setting forth the facts in detail and praying 
for relief. January 14th, 17 14, an act was passed 
giving the petitioners a new charter, under the name 
of "The Inhabitants of the Town of Bergen," giving 
full titles to lands, power to convey, etc., as follows: — 
" It is agreed by, and between, all and every, the 
parties to these presents, that whatsoever part of the 
common and undivided lands, have been by them, or 
either of them, at any time heretofore taken up, used 
or claimed, and added to their patented, or purchased 
lands, shall forever hereafter, be deemed taken and 
adjudged, and shall remain and continue in common, 
until a division be made of the said common and un- 
divided lands. 

" Pinally, for the faithful performance of these ar- 
ticles, they individually, bind themselves in the penal 
sum of One Hundred Pounds, proclamation money of 
New Jersey, to be forfeited and paid by any party 
breaking the agreement." 

Signed by : — 

Myndert Gerrabrants. 

Cornelius Van Newkirk. 

Abraham Diederick. 

Cornelius K. Gerrebrants. 

Jacobus Van Buskirk. 

86 "old bergen." 

Andries Van Buskirk. 
LowRENS Van Buskirk. 
Cornelius C. Blinkerhoff. 
Michael C. Vreeland. 
John Van Horne. 
Ido I. Sip. 

Jacob G. Van Wagener. 
Jacob I. Van Horne. 
Daniel Van Winkle. 
Abraham Sickels. 
Hendrich Van Winkell. 
JOHANNis G. Van Wagener. 
JOHANNis Van Houten. 
Zacharias Sickelse. 
Hendrich H. Spier. 
Arent Taers. 
Garret Roose. 


Cornelius Van Worst. 
Jacob I. Brower. 
Hendrick Vanderoff. 
Lereymis Van Buskirk. 
Sealed and delivered in presence of, 

Johannis Vreelandt. 
DiRCK Kadmus. 
June i6, 1743. 

This agreement continued in force until December 
7, 1763, when, in consequence of the impossibility of 
adjusting satisfactorily under its provisions the 
difficulties that were continually occurring, an act 
was passed by the General Assembly of the colony 

" OLD BERGEN." 8/ 

" for finally settling and determining the several 
rights, titles, and claims to the common lands of 
Bergen ; and for making a partition thereof, among 
those who shall be adjudged, by the said Commis- 
sioners, to be entitled to the same." Under the 
operation of this act all feuds and controversies were 
ended, and the titles to lands made valid. 

Peace prevailed throughout the settlement for 
some years, and its prosperity and growth continued 
until the breaking out of the Revolutionary War. 
The settlement of the territory of " Old Bergen " 
continued with considerable rapidity. Settlements 
sprang up at intervals, either because of some natural 
advantage or on account of a mercantile demand ; 
people not only located along the shores of the bays 
and rivers almost surrounding the region, but also 
pushed back into the country, so that at the time 
of the Revolution, there were hamlets scattered from 
Bergen Point to the most northerly limits of the 
county. The inhabitants availed themselves of 
their opportunities to cultivate the soil, for the 
products of which they found an excellent market 
at New Amsterdam. Through their frugal and 
industrious habits they were enabled to increase the 
limits of their farms, until all the territory became the 
property of different settlers either as btiytcntiiyn or 
wood lots. The winter months were employed in 
clearing these latter, and the timber cut down was 
placed on sleds and hauled to the home lot to be used 
for fuel. 

As the growth of the town continued, new demands 

88 " OLD BERGEN.' 

were made for facility of intercourse. In 1669, Gov, 
Carteret appointed a new ferryman, reserving the 
right of free passage to himself and family, probably 
the first instance of the free pass system for of^cials 
in this country. In 1753, a road was laid out from 
Aharsimus by way of Prior's Mill to the church at 
Bergen, and intersecting it was a road along the line 
of Newark Avenue, across the marsh from Paulus 
Hook. This was often covered with water and fre- 
quently impassable. 

As per following advertisement of July 2, 1764, in 
the Neiv York Mercury of that date, there was " Good 
news to the Public " : 

" The long wished for ferry is now established, and 
kept across the North River from the place called 
Powles Hook to the City of New York." 

This ferry was located at the foot of Grand Street, 
and was provided with an equipment of several 
row boats, with two oarsmen to each, with spare oars, 
so that such passengers as desired haste or exercise 
might be accommodated. 

The same year, a stage route was established from 
this ferry, leading through Bergen Point, and thence 
by Blazing Star ferry to Woodbridge ; whence 
passengers were conveyed to Philadelphia in covered 
wagons, the trips occupying two days in summer 
and three in winter. In 1767 a serious accident 
occurred on this ferry. While a coach containing 
passengers for Philadelphia was being ferried across, 
a number of passengers retained their seats ; and 
when approaching the shore, the stage ran overboard, 
and two ladies were drowned. 

" OLD BERGEN." 89 

As a road was laid out about the time of the 
starting of this ferry, running through about the 
present line of Grand, Warren, York and Van Vorst 
Streets, crossing the marsh and bridge at Mill 
Creek, following in a great measure the road to the 
mill before alluded to, and then connecting with the 
Old Mill Road, it is presumably the route by 
which this stage line passed through Bergen, thus 
corroborating the tradition, that the Old Mill Road 
was formerly the New York and Philadelphia Stage 
route. This is verified by the fact that one of the old 
residents informed the writer that through the cedar 
woods at that time standing along the brow of the 
hill, and about half-way between Montgomery and 
Mercer Streets, there was a lane cut through the hill 
which reached Summit Avenue, at a point south of 
present Montgomery Street, joining there a road that 
reached Bergen Avenue, at Foye Place ; and that 
this was the New York and Philadelphia Stage route. 

In 1765 the road leading to Brown's Ferry was laid 
out. This followed about the present line of Clen- 
denne Avenue, and reached the Hackensack at a 
point south of the present Plank Road bridge. This 
ferry was afterward used as a connecting link for the 
lines of stages from Paulus Hook to Newark, and be- 
yond. As the travel over this route, with the excep- 
tion of the stage lines, was very infrequent, a horn was 
kept hanging on a tree near by, so that by a succession 
of blasts, the ferryman might be notified of the pas- 
sengers' desire to cross. As showing the means of 
intercourse at this time between Newark and Jersey 

90 " OLD BERGEN." 

City, the following advertisement is inserted : " Where- 
as the stage wagon from Newark to Paulus Hook, has 
for some time been stopt, for want of a proper person 
to drive the wagon through Bergen, the many com- 
plaints for the want of such a conveyance, induces the 
subscriber again to endeavor to accommodate them. 
He therefore proposes to drive through from Newark 
to Paulus Hook, once a day, every Monday, Tuesday, 
Thursday and Saturday." 

It is probable that during the Revolutionary War 
all regular ferriage stopped, as we find that in 1786 an 
application was made to the Common Council of New 
York to repair the ferry stairs leading to Paulus Hoojc, 
which would indicate it was again in active operation. 
The Jersey landing at this time was at the foot of the 
present Grand Street. During the same period the 
ferry at Communipau was discontinued, but in 1783 
the public was informed that Aaron Longstreet and 
Company gave " constant attendance by the Boats at 
the P'erry Stairs, near t\}e Exchange (New York) at 
three p. m., to bring passengers to Communipau," 
where the Newark stage would be ready to convey 
them to Newark, and " thence by the excellent New 
York and Philadelphia running machines in one day 
to Philadelphia." 

Chapter XXI. 


But the peaceful existence of the inhabitants of 
" Old Bergen " was destined to be rudely disturbed. 
The demands and exactions of the English govern- 
ment seemed like a just retribution for the unjust 
treatment of the natives by the early Dutch authori- 
ties, for the colonists were thereby subjected to a 
similar experience. Mutterings of discontent grew 
loud throughout the provinces, and culminated in the 
open rebellion at Boston, followed by retaliatory 
measures on the part of the English government. A 
sympathetic feeling spread throughout the country, 
and the people of Bergen early became identified with 
the movement of the colonies for independence, as 
will be seen from the following extract from the 
proceedings of a meeting of the freeholders and inhabi- 
tants of the County of Bergen agreeable to advertise- 
ment at the Court House, June 25, 1774: 

" The meeting being deeply affected with the ca- 
lamitous condition of the Inhabitants of Boston, in 
consequence of the late Act of Parliament for block- 
ing up the port of Boston, do 

" Resolve that we think it our greatest happiness to 
live under the government of the illustrious House of 
Hanover, and that we will steadfastly and uniformly 

92 " OLD BERGEN." 

bear true and faithful allegiance to His Majesty 
George III. under the enjoyments of our constitutional 
rights and privileges. 

"That we conceive it to be our indubitable privi- 
lege to be taxed only by our own consent, given by 
ourselves, or by our Representatives, and that we 
conceive the late Acts of Parliament, declarative of 
their rights to impose internal taxes on their subjects 
of America, as manifold encroachments on our national 
rights and privileges as British subjects, and, as incon- 
sistent with the idea of an American Asst^mbly, or 
House of Representatives," etc. 

At this meeting delegates to attend a general Con- 
gress were chosen. 

The early part of 1776 was a time of great anxiety 
for the colonists. Concerted action on the part of 
the several colonics had been determined upon, and 
measures adopted for resisting'the enforcement of the 
demands of the mother country. The feeling of resist- 
ance became so much intensified that many outbreaks 
occurred, and as the patriotic movement crystallized, 
Bergen became the rendezvous of the American troops 
gathered from the surrounding country. 

The Committee of Safety on March 26, 1776, an- 
nounced as follows : " Considering the critical situa- 
tion of the City and Province of New York, we do 
order and resolve that three Battalions of Militia be 
drafted out of the Militia of this Province, included in 
which are from Middlesex one hundred men, from 
Monmouth one hundred and forty men, from Essex 
two hundred and twenty men, from Bergen two hun- 



dred men, forming one of the Battalions. The whole 
to march to the City of New York with the greatest 

Congress divided the southern and middle colonies 
into two Departments; New York, New Jersey, 


Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland were to com- 
prise the Middle, and Lord Stirling was given tempo- 
rary command. In March, 1776, Gen. Hugh Mercer, a 
close friend of Washington's, and a veteran of Fort 


Duquesne, joined the army, and was greeted by him 
with much warmth. The flying camp was just form- 
ing, and the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania 
were forwarding some of their militia to the Jerseys. 
Washington at once gave command of it to Gen. 
Mercer, and sent him to Paulus Hook^to receive and 
organize the troops as they came in. 

Lord Stirling, who was at this time in command of 
the American forces in New Jersey, recognizing the 
importance of holding this territory, ordered measures 
to be taken for placing Bergen in a state of defence. 
He counselled the building of forts at Paulus Hook, 
which would in a measure guard against attack from 
the Bay, and at the same time defend the approaches 
to the Hudson, and likewise ordered defences to be 
erected on Bergen Neck, to guard against any inroads 
from the southerly quarter. The fort at Paulus Hook 
was located on the high ground occupying the space 
now bounded on the north by Essex Street, and 
between Warren and Hudson. 

The British fleet had left Boston, and its place of 
destination was unknown, although It was supposed 
to be New York. As it was hovering about this 
vicinity, great uncertainty prevailed as to the time 
and place of attack. This uncertainty was soon dis- 
pelled, for before the close of June, the enemy's fleet 
was descried nearing Sandy Hook, and as the ships 
approached the Staten Island shore, the troops com- 
menced disembarking. They erected their tents, and 
encamped on the hills that sloped to the water's edge. 

The Provincial Congress learned on the 29th of 


June that nineteen sail of the enemy's fleet were at 
Sandy Hook, and forty-five in sight. Washington in 
a communication to Congress, July 4, 1776, from New 
York, says : " The enemy are already landed on Staten 
Island, and are leaving no arts unassayed, to gain the 
inhabitants to their side, and induce many to join 
them, either from motives of interest or fear, which I 
fear will be accomplished, unless there is a force to 
oppose them," The great aim of the British was now 
discovered to be to gain possession of New York City 
and the Hudson. Gen. Howe, writing to the home 
government, states: "We landed on this Island" 
(Staten), " to the great joy of a most loyal people, 
long suffering on that account, under the oppression 
of the rebels stationed among them. 

" There is great reason to expect a numerous 
body of the inhabitants, to join the Army, from the 
province of New York, and the Jerseys, and Connec- 

Shortly after landing on Staten Island, the British 
general stationed a small force, with two six pound- 
ers, on the extreme southeasterly point of Bergen 
Point, now called Constable Hook. The Americans, 
recognizing the danger of active operations being in- 
stituted by the British from this base, took precau- 
tionary measures to prevent their inroads. They 
strengthened the redoubt that was located on the 
high ground (near Forty-fifth Street and Avenue C) 
in Bayonne ; and July 4, 1776, Gen. Mercer was or- 
dered to place there a garrison of five hundred sol- 
diers, and likewise a strong guard at the ferries over 

96 " OLD BERGEN." 

the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. Earthworks were 
erected on the heights of Bergen, east of Summit Ave- 
nue and near the line of Academy Street. As the need 
was felt of better facilities for the transportation of 
supplies, troops, etc., a good road leading from 
Paulus Hook to 'IBrown's Ferry was projected, and 
also one from Weehawken to the northerly crossing of 
the Hackensack. 

On the 1 2th of July, two vessels of the enemy's 
fleet, the Phoenix, forty guns, and the Rose, twenty 
guns, with their tenders, came up the Bay, and di- 
rected their course up the Hudson. The lookout on 
the Jersey shore, as well as that in New York, gave 
the alarm, and immediately all was activity. The bat- 
teries at Paulus Hook were freshly manned, and the 
priming of the already loaded guns was looked to ; and 
as the vessels came within reach, they were greeted with 
a tremendous cannonading. They sustained but little 
damage, however, as they were amply protected with 
sand bags ; and they passed on up, out of reach of 
shot, and anchored above Castle Point. The passing 
of these two vessels up the Hudson caused much 
anxiety, as it was feared that a landing of troops 
might be effected, which would not only harass and de- 
stroy the property bordering on the river, but might 
also cut off and capture the American troops stationed 
alouif Bereen Neck and Paulus Hook. 

Chapter XXII. 


On the evening of the same day great alarm was 
caused by a heavy cannonading down the Bay, and 
Bergen Heights were lined with patriots who were 
anxiously watching every movement of the enemy. 
It was discovered, however, that the great commotion 
was caused by the arrival of Lord Howe, who had 
sailed from England with reinforcements for his 
brother the general. 

Meanwhile, matters were shaping themselves that 
ultimately led to the entire independence of the 
colonies. The Resolution of Independence, by the 
Continental Congress, was received by the New Jersey 
Committee, July 17th, 1776, and the following Pream- 
ble and Resolution were adopted : 

"Whereas the Honorable Continental Congress, 
have declared the United Colonies free and indepen- 
dent states. We deputies of New Jersey in Provincial 
Congress, Resolve and declare, that we will support 
the freedom and independence of said states, with 
our lives and fortune, and with the whole force of 
New Jersey." 

This action on the part of the state authorities 
cemented still more firmly the provincial forces, and 
they became more determined to resist the unjust 

98 " OLD BERGEN." 

demands of the mother country, pledging themselves 
to resist to the utmost, and oppose and destroy if pos- 
sible, any force brought against them. Many projects 
were suggested to this end, and notable among them 
was one of Ephraim Anderson, adjutant to Second 
New Jersey Battalion, who conceived the idea of de- 
stroying the enemy's fleet in New York harbor, and 
submitted to Congress his plan for accomplishing it. 
It was favorably entertained, and Washington was in- 
structed to aid him in carrying it into effect. 

Anderson commenced at once the construction of 
fire ships, with which the fleet was to be attacked. 
At the same time an attack was to be made on the 
British camp on Staten Island, by troops from Mer- 
cer's flying camp, and others stationed at Bergen, under 
Major Knowlton. As Gen. Putnam was engaged in a 
plan for obstructing the passage of the enemy's ships 
up the Hudson at Fort Washington, he entered into 
this scheme with great ardor. He wrote to Gen. 
Gates : " The enemy's fleet now lies in the Bay close 
under Staten Island. Their troops possess no land 
here but the Island. Is it not strange that these in- 
vincible troops are so fond of islands and peninsulas, 
and dare not put their feet on the main? . . . We are 
preparing fourteen fire ships, to go into their fleet." 

On the 31st of July, Anderson wrote to the Presi- 
dent of Congress : " I have been for some time past very 
assiduous in the preparation of fire ships. ... In my 
next I hope to give you a particular account of a gen- 
eral conflagration, etc." But he was disappointed, for 
it was not possible to construct a sufficient nuniber of 

" OLD BERGEN." 99 

fire ships in time. Likewise, the recruits for the flying 
camp coming in slowly, the contemplated attack on 
the camp at Staten Island had to be abandoned. 
Still, a partial night attack was twice attempted by 
Mercer and Knowlton, but both failed. 

The British army continued to gather, until at the 
beginning of August, there were in the vicinity of 
New York about thirty thousand men. On the 17th, 
Washington received word that three days' provisions 
had been cooked, and many of the troops had gone on 
board the transports, indicating that some important 
movement was to be undertaken. 

At this time a gallant attempt was made to destroy 
the Phoenix and Rose — which had been threatening 
the shores of the Hudson since their passage up the 
river — by means of two of the fire ships. Although the 
attempt failed in its immediate object, one of the ten- 
ders to these vessels was burned, and the very daring 
of the attempt determined the commander of the 
vessels to join the rest of the fleet in the lower bay, 
and on the i8th of August, he made sail early in the 
morning and accomplished his purpose. 

On the 2 1st, Brig, Gen. Wm. Livingston wrote 
Washington : " Having noticed unusual activity in the 
enemy's camp on Staten Island, I sent over a spy at 
midnight, who reported that twenty thousand men had 
embarked to make an attack on Long Island and up 
the Hudson, and that fifteen thousand had remained 
on Staten Island, to attack Bergen Point, Elizabeth- 
port and Amboy. The spy reported he had heard 
theLcofders and conversation of the Generals." 



It can readily be imagined that the situation was 
deemed most grave. To discover and thwart the de- 
signs of the British commander now occupied the ut- 
most energies of Washington and his generals ; and 
from the shores of " Old Bergen " anxious eyes were 
continually peering through glasses to discover the 
first intimation of his purpose. 

Likewise, the presence of the Tory or royalist ele- 
ment, who were quite numerous throughout the ter- 
ritory, made it necessary to exercise additional care and 
watchfulness, in order that they should be prevented 
from conveying to the enemy any knowledge of exist- 
ing conditions, or of any intended movement of the 
patriots. Every endeavor was made to apprehend the 
disaffected, and prevent their communicating with the 

At last the purpose of the enemy became evident. 
In the latter part of August, Clinton crossed the 
Narrows from Staten Island to Long Island, and the 
battle of Long Island shortly followed, resulting in 
the defeat of the American army, which withdrew to 
Harlem Heights, leaving New York City in complete 
possession of the English. This necessitated the 
greatest watchfulness on the part of the Americans at 
Paulus Hook, not only to prevent its capture, but 
because of the overbearing and aggressive action of 
the Tories among them, who were much emboldened 
by the success of the British arms. Consequently, 
stringent measures were adopted, and all the adher- 
ents of the royal cause were obliged to seek refuge in 
New York. 


The following letter, dated August 8, 1776, was 
sent by the general commanding at New York to the 
president of the Provincial Congress in New Jersey : 
" I have received repeated information that a number 
of persons, known to be inimical to the cause of the 
American States, have removed to your State, and 
some very dangerous characters, lurking in the neigh- 
borhood of Hackensack, and what is called English 
Neighborhood, with intent, no doubt from its situation, 
of communicating with, and aiding our enemies. 
Urging stringent measures — as there is the greatest 
reason for believing, that the enemy intend to begin 
their operations in a very few days, and that with a 
very powerful force — you are urged to adopt effective 
measures, for furnishing troops and equipments." 

During the active military operations above New 
York City, which culminated in the surrender of Fort 
Washington, November 16, nothing of any importance 
occurred within the territory of " Old Bergen," except 
the reception and assignment of troops, and constant 
watchfulness to guard against any sudden or unex- 
pected movement on the part of the enemy. 

Chapter XXIII. 


In September, 1776, Washington wrote to Gen. 
Mercer, of the flying camp, to keep a close watch on 
the movements o£ the enemy from tlie Jersey shore, 
and likewise to station videttes on the Neversink 
Heights, to make known at once if the British fleet 
should put to sea. He personally crossed over to 
Fort Constitution, afterwards named Fort Lee, a few 
miles above Hoboken, and extended his reconnoiter- 
ings down to Paulus Hook, to observe for himself 
what was going on in the city of New York and among 
the enemy's ships. 

Gen. Greene now had command of all troops in the 
Jerseys, and was at liberty to make his headquarters 
at Basking Ridge or Bergen, as circumstances de- 
manded, but was specially urged to at all times keep 
up communication with the main army on the east 
bank, so as to secure a safe line of retreat if necessary. 
He determined "to keep a good, intelligent ofiflcer at 
Bergen to watch the motions of the ships." 

In an official letter dated September 16, 1776, 
Washington writes: "Yesterday at about ii a. m., 
the British troops, under cover of a tremendous fire 
from eight or ten ships of war, effected a landing near 
Mr. Stuyvesant's house in the Bowery, and in a few 


hours took possession of the City of New York. 
About that time the Asia man of war, and two other 
ships, proceeded up the North River, but were roughly 
handled by the American battery at Powles Hook. 
This morning at daylight, the Asia came down much 
faster than she went up, she and her consorts having 
narrowly escaped destruction, by four of our fire ships 
that run in among them." 

On the 23id of September, part of the British fleet 
came up, and subjected the fort to a cannonading of 
over half an hour's duration. During this Mercer 
abandoned Paulus Hook, and withdrawing across the 
Hackensack, left a small scouting party at Bergen, 
with an advanced guard at Prior's Mill. A party of 
British was landed from the ships, and a force sent 
from New York in twenty boats, which took possession 
of the abandoned fort in the name of the king, im- 
mediately strengthened its defences, and held it con- 
tinuously until the close of the wan 

Bergen remained the headquarters of the American 
army until October 5, 1776. A letter dated October 
4th says : " To-morrow we evacuate Bergen, as it is a 
narrow neck of land, accessible on three sides by 
water, and exposed to a variety of attacks in different 
places at one and the same time. A large body of 
the enemy might infallibly take possession of the 
place whenever they pleased, unless we kept a stronger 
force than our number would allow." 

In October, 1776, while Washington and his army 
were at White Plains, two British frigates moved up 
the Hudson, with the intention of cutting off commu- 


nication between Forts Lee and Washington, A 
battery on the cliffs at Fort Lee fired down upon them 
with but little effect. Two eighteen pounders were 
likewise brought down from Fort Lee, and planted 
opposite the ships. By the fire from both shores, they 
were hulled repeatedly, and General Green wrote : 
" Had the tide been flood one half hour longer, we 
should have sunk them." 

The British army suddenly disappearing from White 
Plains caused Washington much uneasiness. On 
November 7, he wrote Gov. Livingston of New Jer- 
sey : " They have gone toward the North River and 
Kingsbridge .... I think Gen. Howe will make an 
incursion into Jersey." He recommended that the 
militia of the state be put on the best possible footing, 
and that those living near the water should be pre- 
pared to remove their stock, grain, etc., at the shortest 
notice. Information being received that Fort Lee 
was to be attacked, Washington directed Gen. Greene 
to have all stores not absolutely necessary for defence, 
immediately removed, and to destroy all supplies in 
the neighborhood which the owners refused to move, 
so as to prevent them falling into the hands of the 

November i6, 1776, Fort Washington was attacked. 
Washington, with several of his ofificers, witnessed the 
battle from the heights above Fort Lee, and he saw 
with emotion the lowering of the American flag, that 
indicated its surrender. Realizing that Fort Lee would 
now be tenable no longer, he ordered all the stores and 
ammunition to be moved to a place of safety. This 



had been nearly accomplished, when it was learned 
that on the morning of the 20th about two hundred 
boat loads of British troops, under command of Lord 
Cornwallis, had crossed a few miles above. 

They landed at Closter, six miles above Fort Lee, 
under the Palisades. Sir Wm. Howe states they " were 
obliged to drag the cannon up a very narrow road, for 
nearly half a mile, to the top of a precipice which 
bounds the shore for some miles on the west side." 
On receipt of such information, Washington, determin- 
ing that the enemy's object was to extend their line 
across to the Hackensack, and thus entrap all the 
American forces below, gave orders for the abandon- 
ment of Fort Lee and the immediate withdrawal of all 
the troops. So great was the haste required, that 
much stores and most of the artillery were abandoned. 

The retreat to the Hackensack commenced, and the 
American army succeeded in crossing the river safely, 
although they encountered the van guard of the enemy 
at the bridge crossing. 

Chapter XXIV. 


From its conformation, " Old Bergen " was untenable 
by the Americans after their defeat at Fort Washing- 
ton, and the attack of the enemy on Fort Lee and its 
surrender. The British possessing full control of the 
waters that surrounded it on three sides, the danger 
was evident that by throwing any considerable force 
across the isthmus, their commander would effectually 
hem in and cut off all forces that might be quartered 
there. Consequently, Washington wisely withdrew 
his army, and continued his retreat across the Hack- 
ensack, camping at Hackensack from Nov. 19th to 
2 1st, at Newark 23rd to 27th, at New Brunswick Nov. 
30th to Dec. 1st, and at Trenton Dec. 3d to 12th. By 
this retreat East New Jersey was left in complete 
possession of the British, with the exception of a few 
scouting posts held temporarily by the Americans. 

The heights of " Old Bergen," from their proximity 
to New York and their natural advantages, became the 
vantage ground of either side, as a place of observa- 
tion, as well as a basis of operation, and Gen. Mercer 
was left in command of the flying camp at Paulus 
Hook for the purpose of reconnoitring. He kept there 
a small force, and was ordered to remain near the Hook 
and obtain what information he could, but to retire 


when threatened by the enemy. From its location and 
surroundings, the fort at Paulus Hook was well cal- 
culated to prove a secure outpost, through which the 
British were able to communicate directly with their 
headquarters in New York ; and it was likewise well 
designed, as a base of operations, for any movement 
against the surrounding hostile country. 

Built on a high peninsula, extending out into the 
bay, connected with the mainland by a narrow strip 
of sand, and otherwise surrounded by deep ditches, 
which could be artificially widened and deepened, and 
by almost impassable morasses, it is little wonder 
that it was in the continued possession of the British, 
throughout the whole of the Revolutionary War. 
From it, the enemy were able at all times to send out 
bodies of marauders to scour the country in search of 
booty or supplies, retiring in safety behind its defen- 
ces, if surprised or threatened by superior forces. 

The great importance of learning promptly of any 
contemplated movement of the British, caused General 
Mercer to station outposts along the heights of Ber- 
gen to watch for any indications of activity by the 
troops stationed in New York City. These scouts, 
concealed by the shadows of the woods and thickets 
with which the heights were covered, were enabled to 
approach unseen the brow of the hill, and from their 
elevated position gain important information that 
enabled the general to thwart the purpose of the 
enemy. " Old Bergen " was from this time forth the 
scene of active operations. Raids were frequent, and 
its inhabitants were at all times subjected to extreme 


privations. They saw their possessions in danger, and 
oftentimes their families were dispersed, and the fruits 
of their industry scattered. Patriots and Tories, with 
intermingled interests above and beyond a loyalty to 
a general government, that could in neither case guar- 
antee safety and protection, were held between con- 
flicting forces, and yet there were those in whose 
breasts the fires of patriotism burned brightly, and 
who, even in the darkest days, were ever true to the 
cause they had espoused. 

The traditions of many of our families point to a 
self-sacrifice, endurance, and loyalty to the cause of 
liberty, unsurpassed in the annals of the country. 
Their houses were plundered, their grain and cattle 
seized, and themselves subjected to every indignity. 
This was the work not only of the Hessian hirelings, but 
frequently the British soldiers vied with them in their 
exacting demands. Likewise there were some who 
thought the rebellion foolhardy, and prompted by the 
desire of gaining favor with the British authorities, so 
as to retain their possessions, lost no opportunity of 
harassing their old neighbors. And yet sustained 
with the hope of eventually securing the independence 
to which they had pledged " theii' lives and fortunes," 
many of the inhabitants of " Old Bergen " suffered and 
endured, and even while overawed by the presence of 
hostile troops, eagerly seized every opportunity of 
affording assistance to the cause they had so much at 

The redoubt at Bergen Neck (Bayonne), called Fort 
Delancy, taken possession of by a party of refugees 



under Maj. Ward, was made the basis of many maraud- 
ing operations against the Americans. Ward was a 
notoriously vicious character, and gathered about him- 
self desperadoes and runaway slaves, who through their 
excesses and depredations, became greatly feared. 
Becoming involved in a financial difficulty with one of 
the neighboring farmers, he hired three of the negroes 
to kill him. They were seen and recognized, and were 
afterward hung in the woods northwest of Brown's 
Ferry (present Glendale) on Communipaw Avenue, 
about one quarter mile west of West Side Avenue. 

On one occasion, when a detachment of the British 
were foraging from Paulus Hook, to protect themselves 
against the cold and storm, they took possession of a 
large barn of one of the old farmers of Bergen, located 
just west of Bergen Square and north of Academy 
Street, and built a large fire upon its clay floor. The 
owner, remonstrating with them, was seized, and 
would have become part of the fuel, had it not been 
for the intervention of an officer more humane than his 
comrades. However, they piled high the wood, which 
so increased the blaze that the structure was wholly 

Chapter XXV. 


In recalling the history of the olden time, it must 
be remembered that there were those whose homes 
and everything they possessed were in this territory, 
and they naturally felt an unwillingness to jeopardize 
these if it could be avoided ; and though with the 
exception of the capture of Paulus Hook, no battle of 
importance occurred within the territory of " Old 
Bergen," it was the general scouting ground for both 
parties. The territory was subjected to the worst of all 
forms of warfare ; it had to endure not only the pillage 
of regular troops, but also the depredations of abandon- 
ed, irresponsible gangs, whose sole object was the booty 
they could secure, whether of friend or foe. Again, 
the disaffected from the neighboring country were 
transported thither, and thus added to the misery and 
sufferings of the inhabitants, as they were enabled to 
satiate their revengeful feelings on them. A few 
extracts taken at random will perhaps present a correct 
idea of the situation at this time. 

June 30, 1777, Major Hayes, in pursuance of an 
order issued by Gov. Livingston, removed from the 
County of Essex certain women and children, and 
sent them on the east side of the Hackensack River. 

July I, 1777, a letter to the Governor from Newark 


recites that the enemy had left Amboy and gone over 
to Staten Island and Bergen. 

July 7, 1777, Gov. Livingston writes to General 
Washington : " By order of the Council of Safety, Gen. 
Winds has collected two hundred of our Militia, to 
proceed to the County of Bergen, under Major Hayes, 
to apprehend disaffected persons, and assist the Com- 
mittee in securing, and disposing of, the personal 
estates of those who have gone over to the enemy." 

July 19, 1777. "This morning the First and Second 
Pennsylvania Brigades, commanded by Brig. Gen. 
Wayne, marched from their respective encampments for 
the purpose of collecting, and bringing off, those cattle 
in Bergen County, immediately exposed to the enemy. 
After executing the order, Gen. Wayne on his return 
visited a Block House in the vicinity of Bergen Town " 
(probably the post commanded by Col. Cuyler near the 
Weehawken ferry, and mentioned elsewhere), " built 
and garrisoned by a number of Refugees, to avoid the 
disagreeable experience of being forced into the Brit- 
ish sea service. The work was found to be proof 
against light artillery, when a part of the First and 
Second Pennsylvania Regiments were ordered to 
attempt to take it by assault. After forcing their way 
through the abatis and pickets, a retreat was indis- 
pensably necessary, there being no culrain into the 
Block House, but a subterranean passage, sufficient 
for one man to pass. The American loss consists 
of sixty-nine, including three officers, killed and 

July 9, 1777, a letter was received by Gov. Living- 

112 ' OLD BERGEN. 

ston, complaining of the conduct of the Tory women, 
" as they secrete the goods, and conceal everything 
they can. When called upon for anything, they peti- 
tioned to leave, and go away Christians, and not be 
detained among brutes, as they call us. Pray make 
an order to send them among their Christian friends, 
our enemies." 

August 26, 1777, the Governor and Council confined 
a number of disaffected inhabitants, chiefly of Bergen 
County ; " to be released for an equal number of honest 
citizens stolen and imprisoned in like manner, to be 
determined in the future, thus to retaliate, till the 
enemy shall think proper to discontinue that infamous 
part of their infamous system." 

Chapter XXVI. 


General Washington to Gov. Livingston, Head- 
quarters near Liberty Pole, Bergen County : " Our 
extreme distress for want of provision, makes me de- 
sirous of lessening the consumption of food, by dis- 
charging from this place as many as possible. Some 
brigades of the army have been five days without 
meat. To endeavor to relieve their wants, by strip- 
ping the lower parts of the county of its cattle, I 
moved two days ago to this place, and yesterday 
completely foraged Barbadoes, and Bergen Neck. 
Scarcely any cattle were found, but milch cows, and 
calves of one and two years old, and even these in no 
great quantity. When this scanty pittance is con- 
sumed, I know not to what quarters to look." 

August 27, 1777, Washington writes to the Gover- 
nor : " It has been no inconsiderable support of our 
cause, to have had it in our power, to contrast the con- 
duct of our army with that of our enemies, and to con- 
vince the inhabitants, that while their rights were 
wantonly violated by the British troops, by ours they 
were respected. This distinction must now unhappily 
cease, and we must assume the odious character of the 
plunderers, instead of the protectors, of the people, 
unless very vigorous and immediate measures are taken 

114 " OLD BERGEN. 

by the State to comply with the requisitions made 
upon them." 

Gov. Livingston wrote December 21, 1777:"! 
am afraid in furnishing clothing to our Battalions, we 
forget the County of Bergen, which alone is sufficient 
to supply them amply with winter waistcoats, breeches, 
etc. It is well known, that the rural ladies in that 
part of New Jersey pride themselves on an incredible 
number of petticoats, which, like house furniture, are 
displayed by way of ostentation, for many years, be- 
fore they are decreed to invest the fair bodies of the 
proprietors. Till that period, they are never worn, 
but neatly piled up, on each side of an immense escri- 
toire, the top of which is decorated with a capacious 
brass-clasped Bible, seldom read. 

" What I would therefore most humbly propose to 
our superiors, is to make prize of these future female 
habiliments, and after proper transformation, immedi- 
ately apply them to screen from the inclemency of 
the weather those gallant males who are fighting for 
the liberties of their country ; and to clear this meas- 
ure from any imputation of injustice, I have only to 
observe, that the generality of the women in that 
county, having for above half a century, worn the 
breeches, it is highly reasonable that the men should 
now, especially on so important an occasion, make 
booty of the petticoats." 

The success of the American arms at Trenton and 
Princeton, and the practical hemming in of the British 
army in the extreme eastern part of the state, encour- 
aged the patriots to renewed activity, and Washing- 

"OLD BEkGEN.*' 115 

ton, in urging the necessity of prompt forwarding of 
supplies and reinforcements, writes : "There is now 
a fair opportunity offered, of driving the enemy en- 
tirely from the Jerseys, or at least to the extremity of 
the Province." In most parts of New Jersey the 
people, exasperated at the treatment they had been 
subjected to by both British and Hessians, were re- 
sorting to arms; and the situation of the British army 
becoming more difficult, in the latter part of January, 
Sir William Howe crossed to Staten Island with his 
troops, and again occupied the old camping ground 
on the Bay of New York. 

In the fall of 1777, the reinforcements awaited by 
Sir Henry Clinton arrived in New York Bay, and 
there were evidences of some important, combined 
movement designed by him. There was a great un- 
certainty as to its object, and Washington urged espe- 
cial care and watchfulness, to prevent any unexpected 
movement. He sent scouts to the heights of Bergen, 
Weehawken and Hoboken, to be stationed at points 
which would command a view of the bay and river, 
to observe the situation of the enemy's forces, and 
note whether there were signs of an expedition up the 
Hudson, the occurrence of which Washington at all 
times strove to prevent. 

In the fall of 1780, the revelation of the treachery 
of Arnold and the capture of Andre, created a great 
sensation in both the American and British lines. 
The base treachery of the former, together with the 
manly, courtly bearing of the brave but unfortunate 
Andre, created a desire for the capture of Arnold, and 

Il6 " OLD BERGEN.** 

a hope that Andre might escape punishment. Cap- 
tain Aaron Ogden, an officer of the New Jersey- 
troops, was selected by Washington to bear a letter 
from Andre to Sir Henry Clinton. He was to take it 
to Paulus Hook, and from thence was to be conveyed 
across the river to New York. Captain Ogden was 
instructed to ascertain from the ofificer commanding at 
that post, whether Sir Henry Clinton might not be 
willing to deliver up Arnold in exchange for Andre. 
On his arrival at Paulus Hook, Captain Ogden, in the 
course of conversation, alluded to such possibility. 

The officer demanded if he had any authority for mak- 
ing such a proposition, and Ogden replied : " I have 
no such assurance from General Washington, but I am 
prepared to say that if such a proposition were made, 
I believe it would be accepted, and Major Andre set at 
liberty." The officer crossed the river before morn- 
ing, and submitted the matter to Sir Henry Clinton, 
but he rejected it, as incompatible with honor and 
military principle. 

Chapter XXVII. 


It was Washington's determination, if possible, to 
secure possession of the person of Arnold, and in an 
interview with Major Lee, he said : " I have sent for 
you in the expectation that you have in your Corps, 
individuals capable and willing to undertake an indis- 
pensable, delicate, and hazardous project. Whoever 
comes forward upon this occasion, will lay me under 
great obligations personally, and in behalf of the 
United States, I will reward him amply. No time is 
to be lost .... The timely delivery of Arnold to 
me, will possibly put it into my power to restore the 
amiable and unfortunate Andre to his friends." 

A plan was formulated, and Maj. Lee selected John 
Champe, a young Virginian about twenty-four years 
of age. It required the utmost urging on the part of 
Lee to secure his assent to the plan, not because of 
fear of the danger to which he might be exposed, but 
because he was deterred " by the ignominy of deser- 
tion, and the hypocrisy of enlisting with the enemy." 
At last his scruples were overcome, and he entered 
upon the enterprise with all his native enthusiasm. 

He was to make a pretended desertion to the enemy 
at New York, and there he was to enlist into a corps 
which Arnold was raising, and at a favorable moment 


in the night was to seize him, gag him, and bring him 
across the Hudson into Bergen Woods. Sergeant 
Champe's pretended desertion took place on the night 
of October 20. Besides stationary guards, he had to 
evade patrols of horse and foot, as well as irregular 
scouting parties, and so was obliged to proceed with 
great caution. At about eleven o'clock, taking his 
cloak, valise, and orderly book, he succeeded in 
mounting his horse and starting out. Shortly after, 
an alarm was sounded, that a dragoon had evaded the 
guard and escaped. The matter was reported to 
Major Lee, through whose instrumentality the afTair 
was to be carried out. He was compelled to order 
out a pursuing party, under Cornet Middleton, but 
he contrived so many hindrances, that it was over 
an hour before the party could get off. The re- 
mainder of the incident is described by Major Lee as 
follows : 

" Ascending an eminence before he reached the 
Three Pigeons, some miles on the north of the vil- 
lage of Bergen, as the pursuing party reached its sum- 
mit, Champe was descried not more than a mile in 

" His intention was to gain the British Post at 
Paulus Hook, but noticing his pursuers at about the 
same time they discovered him, and realizing that 
they would divine his purpose, he changed his route, 
and determined to seek protection from two British 
galleys lying a few miles to the west of Bergen. En- 
tering the village, Champe turned to his right, and 
disguising his change of course, as much as he could 





by taking the beaten streets, turning as they turned, 
took the Road toward EHzabethtown Point. 

" His pursuers coming up shortly after, inquired 
of the villagers of Bergen, whether a dragoon had been 
seen that morning, ahead of his party. They were 
answered in the affirmative, but could learn nothing 
satisfactory as to the route he took. At last his trail 
was discovered, and followed so rapidly that they soon 
drew near. He lashed his valise containing his 
clothes and orderly, book, on his shoulders, and draw- 
ing his sword, threw away the scabbard. The delay 
occasioned by these preparations, brought his pur- 
suers within two or three hundred yards. He then 
dismounted, and running through the marsh to the 
river, plunged into it, calling for help. The galleys 
fired on the pursuing party, and sent a boat to meet 
Champe, who was taken on board and carried to New 

Champe in his flight passed through Bergen Woods, 
and intending to reach the fort at Paulus Hook, 
directed his course along the easterly brow of the 
hill, and reached the vicinity of Prior's Mill. Poind- 
ing himself cut off, he followed a lane leading up to the 
Mill Road, striking it just south of Academy Street ; 
and continuing along the same, he came to Bergen 
Avenue at Foye Place ; thence passing through Bergen 
Avenue, down to the neighborhood of present Clen- 
denny Avenue, he took the road to Brown's Ferry, 
at the Hackensack, in the neighborhood of which he 
was rescued by the British boats. 

Champe's successful evasion of his pursuers and 

" OLD BERGEN. 121 

reception by the enemy, made it appear as if the 
plan would be successful. He enlisted in Arnold's 
corps, and arranged to surprise him at night, in a 
garden in the rear of his quarters. Champe's intention 
was to secure Arnold, while he was indulging in his 
usual evening walk, gag and bind him. By the 
removal of several pickets from the garden fence, 
he secured direct access to a boat, lying in wait near 
by. He was then to be taken across the Hudson 
and delivered into the hands of the American general. 
On the appointed night, Lee and three dragoons, 
with three led horses, were in the woods of Hoboken, 
waiting to receive the captive, but to their great 
disappointment no boat approached, and the Major 
and his companions were obliged to return to the 

The failure was afterward explained by the fact 
that the day preceding the date fixed upon, Arnold 
moved his quarters to superintend the embarkation 
of his troops (consisting chiefly of American deserters), 
among whom was Champe, whose plans were 
consequently foiled. He was unable to make his 
escape, and resume his real character for a long time. 
When he did so, he was amply rewarded by the 
Commander in Chief, and received the admiration and 
respect of his companions in arms. 

The winter of '77 and '78 was of unusual severity, 
and even among the British army occupying New 
York City were its rigors felt. Fuel became scarce, 
and the wooded shores of " Old Bergen" were 
liberally levied upon. They furnished in great 


measure the fuel that was imperatively demanded 
to prevent suffering from cold. Many of the refugees, 
and those who were lukewarm, seized upon the 
opportunity to obtain some of the British gold in 
exchange for the timber they transported to the city. 
At Weehawken there was a natural gorge, which can- 
still be seen in part, that afforded easy access to 
the water. Down its declivity, the logs were rolled 
to the water, and then towed across the river. 
There was likewise a similar ravine just above the 
West Shore ferry, that was used for like purposes. 
The scouting parties of the Americans discovering 
this, interfered with the traffic so successfully that 
the British erected a block-house at the head of the 
pass, to protect the wood-choppers. This was occupied 
by a detachment under Col. Cuyler, and was the 
scene of many conflicts until 1782, when it was 
abandoned and the garrison transported to Fort 
Delancy on Bergen Neck. This gorge was likewise 
taken, advantage of by the runaway slaves from 
Bergen, who crossed to New York City in such 
numbers that an order was issued by tiie commander 
of the forces in the city, to Col. Cuyler, that he 
must prevent their crossing as they had become 
" such a burden to the town." 

Chapter XXVIII. 


Another incident deserving of mention, was the 
capture of the fort at Paulus Hook in 1779. The 
intense sufferings and privations of the American 
army at Valley Forge almost disheartened the most 
sincere patriots, and filled all hearts with gloomy 
forebodings. The great-hearted, faith-inspiring exam- 
ple and energy of Washington alone prevented the 
dissolution of the American army, and made possible 
the after events that checked the tide of despondency, 
inspired the struggling colonies with new hope, 
and foreshadowed the final triumph of a righteous 
cause. The battle of Monmouth as the result of 
his genius, the capture of Stony Point through 
the dashing bravery of the impetuous Wayne, and 
the overpowering and capture of the British garrison 
at Paulus Hook, through the shrewd foresight and 
daring intrepidity of Light Horse Harry Lee, were 
three events that deserve to be classed together, 
as among the most brilliant and important that 
occurred during the whole war. 

It is hard to understand why an enterprise, 
considered at the time of so great importance, 
should be scarcely alluded to in our school histories. 
Washington wrote: *'The increase of confidence 

124 "OLD- BERGEN. 

which the army will derive from this affair and that 
of Stony Point, though great, will be among the 
least of the advantages resulting from these events." 
He also sent a special communication to Congress, 
commending Lee's remarkable degree of prudence, 
address, enterprise and bravery. Congress in full 
assembly, echoed the eulogy of the commander 
in chief, and ordered a gold medal, suitably inscribed 
in commemoration of the event, to be presented to 
Major Lee, a distinction which no other officer below 
the rank of general received during the war. Brevet 
rank and pay of captain were given to Lieutenants 
McAllister and Rudolph, and $15,000 in money 
distributed among the men, non-commissioned officers, 
and privates. 

Lafayette in a letter to Major Lee says : " The 
more I have considered the situation of Paulus 
Hook, the more I have admired your enterprising 
spirit, and all your conduct in that business." 
James Duane, in a letter to Alexander Hamilton, 
characterizes it as " One of the most insolent and 
daring assaults that is to be found in the Records 
of chivalry, an achievement so brilliant in itself, 
so romantic in the scale of British admiration, that 
none but a hero, inspired by the fortitude, instructed 
by the wisdom, and guided by the planet of Wash- 
ington, could by the exploit at Paulus Hook, have 
furnished materials in the page of History, to give 
it a parallel." 

In Irving's Life of Washington we find the 
following graphic account of this exploit : "In the 

" OLD BERGEN. 12$ 

course of his reconnoiterings, and by means of spies, 
Major Lee discovered that the British Post at 
Paulus Hook, immediately opposite New York, was 
very negligently guarded. Paulus Hook is a long 
low point of the Jersey Shore, stretching into the 
Hudson, and connected to the main by a sandy 
isthmus. A fort had been erected on it, and 
garrisoned with four or five hundred troops, under 
the command of Major Sutlierland. It was a strong 
position. A creek, fordable only in two places, 
rendered the Hook difficult of access. Within 
this, a deep trench had been cut across the isthmus, 
traversed by a drawbridge with a barred gate ; 
and still within this, was a double row of abatis 
extending into the water. The whole position, with 
the country immediately adjacent, was separated 
from the rest of Jersey by the Hackensack, running 
parallel with the Hudson, at the distance of a very 
few miles, and only* traversable in boats, excepting 
at the New Bridge, about fourteen miles from Paulus 

" Confident in the strength of his position, and its 
distance from any American force. Major Sutherland 
had become remiss in his military precautions ; the 
lack of vigilance in a commander soon produces care- 
lessness in subalterns; and a general negligence pre- 
vailed in the garrison. 

" All this had been ascertained by Major Lee, and 
he now proposed the daring project of surprising the 
fort at niglit, and thus striking an insulting blow 
' within cannon shot of New York.' Washinfrton was 

126 " OLD BERGEN." 

pleased with the project ; he had a relish for signal 
enterprises of this kind. He was aware of their strik- 
ing and salutary effect, upon both friend and foe, 
and he was disposed to favor the adventurous schemes 
of this young officer. The chief danger in the present 
case, would be the evacuation and retreat, after the 
blow had been effected, owing to the proximity of the 
enemy's force at New York. 

" In consenting to the enterprise, therefore, he 
stipulated that L^e should not undertake it unless 
sure from previous observation, that the post could be 
carried by instant surprise. When carried, no time 
was to be lost, in attempting to bring off cannon, or 
any other articles, or in collecting stragglers of the 
garrison who might skulk and hide themselves. 

"He was ' to surprise the post, bring off the garri- 
son immediately, and effect a retreat.' 

" On the 1 8th of August, 177^, Lee set out on the 
expedition at the head of three hundred men of Lord 
Stirling's division, and a troop of dismounted ch'agoons 
under Capt. McLane. The attack was to be made 
that night. Lest the enemy should hear of their 
movement, it was given out that they were on a mere 
foraging excursion. The road they took lay along 
that belt of rocky and wooded heights, w^hich borders 
the Hudson, and forms a rugged neck between it and 
the Hackensack. 

" Lord Stirling followed with five hundred men, 
and encamped at the New Bridge on that river, to be 
on hand to render aid if required. As it would be 
perilous to return along the rugged neck just men- 


tioned, from the number of the enemy encamped along 
the Hudson, Lee, after striking the blow, was to push 
for Dow's Ferry on the Hackensack " (foot of pres- 
ent St. Paul's Avenue) " not far from Paulus Hook, 
where boats would be waiting to receive him. 

" It was between two and three in the morning, 
when Lee arrived at the creek, which rendered Paulus 
Hook dif^cult of access. It happened fortunately 
that Major Sutherland, the British Commander, had 
the day before, detached a foraging party under 
Major Buskirk, to a part of the country called English 
Neighborhood (now Englewood). As Lee and his 
party approached, they were mistaken by the sentinel, 
for this party on its return. 

" The darkness of the night favored the mistake. 
They passed the creek and ditch, and had made them- 
selves masters of the fort before the negligent garri- 
son were well roused from sleep. Major Sutherland, 
and about sixty Hessians, threw themselves into a 
small Block House, on the left of the fort, and opened 
an irregular fire. 

"To attempt to dislodge them would have cost too 
much time. Alarm given from the ships in the River, 
and the forts at New York, threatened speedy rein- 
forcements from the enemy. 

" Having made one hundred and fifty prisoners, 
among whom were three ofificers, Lee commenced his 
retreat without tarrying to destroy either barracks or 
artillery. He had achieved his object, a 'Coup de 
main 'of signal audacity. Few of the enemy were slain, 
for there was but little fighting, and no mas- 

128 "OLD BERGEN." 

sacre. His own loss was two men killed and three 

" Lee's retreat was attended by perils and perplexi- 
ties. Through blunder or misapprehension, the boats 
which he was to have found at Dow's Ferry, on the 
Hackensack, disappointed him, and he had to make 
his way back with his weary troops, up the neck of land 
behind that river, and the Hudson, in imminent 
danger of being cut off by Buskirk and his scouting 
detachment. Fortunately, Lord Stirling heard of his 
peril, and sent a force to cover his retreat. Washing- 
ton felt the great advantage of this hardy and brilliant 

Chapter XXIX. 


The following letter, written by one of the officers 
actually engaged in this undertaking, is of interest. 
There seems to be a discrepancy between this account 
and that of Irving in relation to the number killed, as 
will be seen by comparison. In determining this, it 
should be considered whether Capt. Handy's position 
during the excitement of the engagement would allow 
him to make a positive or accurate report. 

" Paramus, July 22, 1779, 
" Dear George : 

" Before this reaches you, I doubt not but you have heard 
of our success at Paulus Hook, where the enemy had a very strong 
fort, within one and one-quarter miles from New York. We 
started from this place, on Wednesday last, at half-past ten o'clock, 
taking our route by a place called New Bridge, on the Hackensack 
River, where my two companies were joined by three hundred 
Virginians, and a company of dismounted dragoons, commanded 
by Capt. McLane. 

" We took up our line of march, about five o'clock in the even- 
ing from the Bridge, the nearest route with safety to Powles, dis- 
tant there, about twenty miles, with my detachment in front, the 
whole under command of the gallant Major Lee, the works to be 
carried by storm, the whole to advance in three solid columns, 
one of which I had the honor to command. 

"The attack was to commence at half-past twelve o'clock, but 
havmg been greatly embarrassed on our march, and having a num- 

130 "OLD BERGEN.'* 

ber of difficulties to surmount, did not arrive at the point of attack 
till after four o'clock in the morning, when after a small fire from 
them we gained their works, and put about fifty of them to the 
bayonet, took one hundred and fifty-seven prisoners, exclusive of 
seven commanding officers. 

" This was completed in less than thirty minutes, and a retreat 
ordered, as we had every reason to suppose, unless timely, it would 
be cutoff. Our situation was so difficult, that we could not bring 
off any stores. We had a morass to pass, of upwards of two 
miles, the greatest part of which we were obliged to pass by files, 
and several canals to ford up to our breasts in water. 

" We advanced with bayonets fixed, pans open, and cocks fallen, 
to prevent any fire from our side, and believe me, when I assure 
you, we did not fire a musket. You will see a more particular ac- 
count of it in the papers than I can give you at present. It is 
thought to be the greatest enterprise ever undertaken in America. 
Our loss is so inconsiderable, that I do not mention it." 

(Signed) Levin Handy. 

On the withdrawal of the American troops after 
this successful assault on the fort at Paulus Hook, 
great speed and caution were necessary to effect a 
safe retreat. The line of retreat intended was by the 
way of Prior's Mill and along Bergen Avenue, down to 
Dow's Ferry (about foot of present St. Paul's Avenue), 
it being Lee's intention to cross the Hackensack River, 
and join the main body near English Neighborhood. 
Capt. Forsyth was ordered to cover the retreat, and 
was stationed with a guard in the woods near what 
is now the junction of Bergen and Sip Avenues, with 
orders to remain there until Lee could reach the boats 
with his command. Through some blunder the boats 
had been removed, and Lee was forced to lead his 
weary troops over the rocky heights toward the main 

Map showing route of Lee's retreat in direction of Dow's Ferry and 
northward, and incidentally location of Old Indian burying ground, 
alluded to elsewhere. 

132 " OLD BERGEN." 

camp ; on ascertaining this fact Capt. Forsyth imme- 
diately followed, and by forced march caught up with 
Lee near the Fort Lee Road, where they met the escort 
sent to their assistance and reached the camp in safety. 

During the winter of 1779 and 1780, the American 
troops were in quarters in the hills of Morristown, and 
were suffering great privations, being half fed and 
clothed, and subjected to the rigors of an unusually 
severe winter. New York Bay was solidly covered 
with ice of sufficient firmness to bear the heaviest 
artillery. Washington saw the opportunity, and de- 
termined to inaugurate some movement that would 
rouse the spirits of the people and inspire them with 
new hopes. He accordingly projected a descent on 
Staten Island with a force of two thousand five hun- 
dred men, under the command of Lord Stirling. His 
intention was to surprise and capture the British force 
stationed there. On January 14, 1779, ^^^^ American 
force crossed to the Island from De Hart's Point, but 
their approach being discovered, and the British being 
strongly entrenched, they were obliged to recross to 
the Jersey shore, bringing with them, however, a 
number of prisoners who had been captured. 

The boldness of this attempt roused the enemy, and 
on January 25th, Gen. Knyphausen ordered out a de- 
tachment, consisting of drafts from the different reei- 
ments stationed at New York, who passed over the 
North River in sleighs to Paulus Hook, and were 
there joined by part of its garrison. They crossed over 
Bergen Heights, collected what plunder they could, 
and pushing on to Newark, captured a company sta- 
tioned there, and burned the academy. 

" OLD BERGEN. 1 33 

In the beginning of October, 1780, Washington 
yielded to the urgent entreaties of Lafayette, and gave 
him permission to attempt a descent on Staten Island, 
to surprise two Hessian encampments. The attempt 
failed for want of boats. At the end of November, 
1780, the New Jersey troops went into winter quarters 
in the neighborhood of Pompton. 

These were indeed trying times, and the fidelity and 
endurance of the patriots were tested to the utmost. 
Being exposed to the inclemency of the season with- 
out sufficient food and scantily clad, what wonder was 
it that stern necessity impelled to deeds of lawlessness 
that would not have been countenanced under other 
conditions, or that the rights of friend and foe were 
alike disregarded when ever personal advantage or 
comfort could be secured. 

As an evidence of the actual condition of the patriot 
troops at this time, the following report taken from 
the Royal Gazette, dated August 26, 1780, will be of 
interest : " No man will now part with anything for 
paper money, old or new, and Washington's army, be- 
tween Pompton and Tappan, are at three-quarters 
allowance of flour and fresh meat. 

" At the late irruption of their light horse (about 
sixty) to Bergen, on Sunday 13th inst., they found the 
inhabitants going to church. Some they insulted. 
others they robbed, and condescended such pitiful 
exploits as changing hats and clothes, t.iking the 
buckles from their shoes, and in one instance strip- 
ping off a man's breeches, and leaving only an old pair 
of pants to cover his nakedness." 

134 " OLD BERGEN. 

Although this is taken from a paper in full sympa- 
thy with the royalists, it would seem that Washington's 
prediction as to the change of policy from "protectors 
to plunderers " had been verified. 

To show the value of Continental money at this 
time, the following bill is a fair sample : — 

" 6 yds. chintz 



I pair boots 



8f yds. calico 



4j yds. moreen 



4 handkerchiefs 



8 yds. binding 



I skein silk 




" If paid in specie, 

18 pounds, 

10 shillings. 

Chapter XXX. 


Sir Henry Clinton, persuading himself that 
South Carolina was subdued, embarked for New York 
on June 5th, 1780. On the 17th, the fleet arrived, 
and Clinton landed troops at Staten Island and then 
reembarked them, attempting to disguise his inten- 
tion, which was to destroy the stores at Morristown 
and get control of the patriots' stronghold. In this 
he was thwarted, and commencing a retreat, he 
crossed into Staten Island on June 23rd, and New 
Jersey was at last evacuated by the enemy, with the 
exception of Paulus Hook. 

(British Report, July 26, 1780.) "At a skirmish at 
Col. Cuyler's Post (near Weehawken), eight miles from 
New York, on the Hudson River, on Friday, 21st of 
July, three men were killed. The refugees under 
Capt. Ward pursued the rebels, and retook twenty 
head of cattle." 

August 24, 1780, Lee with his command marched to 
the brow of the hill east of the town of Bergen (near 
Magnolia Avenue and Henry Street), took observation 
there of the movements of the enemy, and continued 
foraging as low down as Bergen Point. 

(British Report, Neiv York Mercury, August 28, 
1780.) "Generals Washington, Lafayette, Greene 

136 " OLD BERGEN." 

and Wayne, with many other officers, and large bodies 
of rebels, have been in the vicinity of Bergen for some 
days past. They have taken all the forage from the 
inhabitants of that place. The officers were down to 
Prior's Mill last Friday, but did not seem inclined to 
make any attack." 

The same paper states under date of September 18, 
1780: " Four refugees that went over to Secaucus last 
Saturday, took three rebel officers and brought them 
to town yesterday- morning." 

Sir Henry Clinton, presuming on the disaffection 
existing among the Jersey troops on account of the 
privations and sufferings to which they were subjected, 
on January 4th, 1781, hurried troops, cannon and sup- 
plies of every description on board his vessels, so that 
he might land them on Staten Island, and then invad- 
ing the Jerseys, encourage and take advantage of such 
disaffection. He found, however, that he had been 
deceived as to the actual sentiment of the American 
troops, and consequently failed in his object. 

On July 1st, 1 78 1, Washington received intelligence 
that a part of the garrison of New York had been 
ordered to forage the Jerseys. He therefore deter- 
mined upon counter action, and he with some of 
his officers, crossed to Fort Lee to reconnoiter 
Fort Washington and the vicinity from the cliffs 
above. He found the troops that had been sent out 
into Jersey had been recalled in anticipation of some 
such movement, and he turned his attention to aiding 
in carrying out another part of the movement, the 
capture of Harlem Heights. About the middle of 

" OLD BERGEN." I 37 

July, Washington crossed the river with Count de 
Rochambeau, General de Beville, and General Dupor- 
tail, to reconnoiter the British posts on the north end 
of New York Island. They were escorted by one 
hundred and fifty of the New Jersey troops, and 
spent the day on the Jersey heights, ascertaining the 
exact position of the enemy on the opposite shore. 
On the 2ist of July, at eight in the evening, the 
troops commenced their march, and assumed so 
threatening an attitude that Clinton requested Corn- 
wallis to send him three regiments to New York from 

After this reconnoissance, Washington urged rein- 
forcements, and the French troops soon arriving 
(September, 1781), ground was surveyed and marked 
out on the Jersey shore (Bergen Heights), as if to aid 
in the siege of New York. 

Washington now determined to attempt if possible 
the investment of New York, and in June took the 
field in person. He crossed from the western to the 
eastern side of the river, and was joined by the F'rench 
army at Dobbs Ferry, July 6th. Clinton receiving a 
reinforcement of three thousand men from England, 
countermanded his requisition from Virginia. On 
consultation with the French commander, Washing- 
ton determined to act in unison with him, and to dis- 
pose of the forces so as to move them most readily 
against New York or Staten Island, or, if deemed 
more judicious, to concentrate against Cornwallis. 

Washington favored primarily the attack on Staten 
Island, as by its capture and possession by the Ameri- 

138 "OLD BERGEN." 

cans, the danger of an incursion up the Hudson would 
be greatly lessened. Sir Henry Clinton was in some 
way apprised of the design, and strengthened his 
corps in Staten Island and his post at Paulus Hook. 
Washington drew large bodies of his troops from the 
east side of the Hudson, and continued his offensive 
operations. All the boats that could be procured 
were collected at places convenient to Staten Island, 
and mounted on wheels ready for immediate trans- 
portation when required. The last division crossed 
the river on the 25th, assembling in the neighborhood 
of Paramus, preparatory to a forced march over Ber- 
gen Neck. 

Washington here received a despatch from Lafay- 
ette, who was closely watching Cornwallis in Virginia, 
the purport of which decided him in favor of an im- 
mediate campaign against the latter. Necessary in-' 
structions were issued, and his army had actually 
crossed the Delaware before Clinton realized his real 
intention. It was Washington's design to mislead the 
British commander in case he decided to move against 
Cornwallis. Accordingly, pretended plans were drafted 
and allowed to fall into Clinton's hands ; and to still 
further diminish the chance of his real design being 
made known, he gave orders for movements and oper- 
ations that should mislead his own army. As he 
wrote, " No less pains were taken to deceive our own 
army, for I always conceived, when the imposition 
does not completely take place at home, it would 
never succeed sufificiently abroad." 

Having thus completely outwitted Sir Henry 

" OLD BERGEN." 1 39 

Clinton, Washington passed through Philadelphia, and 
eventually completed the movement that resulted in 
the defeat and surrender of Cornwallis. On his return 
he remained four months in Philadelphia, and then 
stopped at Morristown on his way to Newburg, 

While here, a plan was submitted to him by Col. 
Matthew Ogden, of the New Jersey troops, to surprise 
Prince William Henry, son of the King of England, 
who was serving as a midshipman in the fleet of Ad- 
miral Digby, at his quarters in New York City, and 
bring both the prince and admiral off as prisoners. 
He was to be aided by a captain, a subaltern, three 
sergeants and thirty-six men. They were to embark 
from the Jersey shore on a rainy night, in four whale 
boats, well manned, and rowed with muffled oars, 
and were to land in New York at half-past nine, at a 
wharf not far from the quarters of the prince and 
admiral, which were in Hanover Square. Part of the 
men were to guard the boats, while Col. Ogden, with 
a strong party, was to proceed to the house, force the 
doors, and carry off the prisoners. Washington ap- 
proved the plan, but Col. Ogden was specially charged 
that no insult or indignity should be offered the prison- 
ers. It is not known whether any actual attempt was 
made to carry out this plan, but it was probably aban- 
doned, as extra precautions were taken by the British 
at this time, on account of the many rumors and ex- 
travagant reports circulated in New York. 

Chapter XXXI. 


Events were now rapidly culminating, and the 
long struggle for independence drawing to a close. 
The surrender of Cornwallis in October, 1781, virtually 
ended the war, although there were many skirmishes 
between detachments of the two armies, especially 
throughout the southern country, resulting in frequent 
bloodshed. The territory of Bergen still continued 
debatable ground, as will be seen from the following 
accounts : 

(British Report, Nczv York JAvr///-/, September 17, 
1781.) " On Wednesday evening last a party of eleven 
men under Capt. Wm. Harding, went from Fort De- 
lancy on Bergen Neck, to Closter, and captured a 
rebel guard of six men and fifteen cattle, and took 
them safely to the fort," 

(British Report, February, 1782.) "On Thursday 
morning before sunrise, a select body of rebels, consist- 
ing of some two hundred, from the Jersey Brigade of 
Light Infantry, aided by a party of picked Militia men, 
under the command of Maj. Bauman, attacked the 
post of Loyal Refugees at Bergen " (Fort Delancy at 
Bayonne), " commanded by Maj. Ward. . . . The 
rebels, who did not expect such a warm reception. 


were soon put in disorder, and obliged to change their 
position. They were formed in three columns on the 
ice, but the Refugees sallied out, and by a brisk fire 
from their small arms, and a nine-pounder served with 
grape-shot, did great execution, and obliged the rebels 
to make a precipitate retreat." 

(British Report, Royal Gazette^ " On the night of 
the 13th inst., Capt. Geo. Harding, temporarily the 
commanding officer at Fort Delancy, having informa- 
tion that a party of rebels from Newark (who used to 
infest this shore and carry off our men) had gone over 
to Bergen Neck, detailed Capt. Cosman with a party 
of men to intercept them. The darkness of the night, 
however, favored the escape of the rebels." 

(British Report, March 15, 1782.) '' A party of Maj. 
Ward's Refugee Rangers, under command of Capt. 
Archibald McCurdy and Lieut. John Ferguson, made 
an excursion as far as English Neighborhood, in New 
Jersey, where they fell in with upward of fifty rebel 
Militia and Continentals. A skirmish ensued which 
lasted half an hour. The rebels were driven off." 

The continued successes of the American arms, how- 
ever, warned those who had been guilty of excesses, 
and who had been traitors to their country, that the 
day of retribution was at hand. Among the most ac- 
tive of these, were the band of refugees that had occu- 
pied Bergen Neck throughout almost the entire war. 
They now feared the vengeance of those they had so 
cruelly wronged, and "on the 1st of September, 1782, 
Fort Delancy on Bergen Neck was evacuated and 
burned ; and on Saturday, October 5th, Maj. Ward, 

142 " OLD BERGEN. 

with his crew of Tories and Refugees, embarked for 
Nova Scotia, bearing with them implements of hus- 
bandry and one year's provisions." 

Meanwhile negotiations for peace were being conduct- 
ed at Paris. On the 20th of January, 1783, a treaty 
of peace was signed in that city, and on the 23rd of 
March, Congress received a letter to that effect from 
Lafayette, whereupon that body issued a proclamation 
announcing the fact, which was received by Wash- 
ington on April 17th and read to the army on the 

December 4th, 1783, Washington bade farewell to 
his ofificers at Fraunce's Tavern, Broad and Pearl 
Streets, in New York. A barge was in waiting at noon 
at Whitehall ferry to convey him across the Hudson to 
Paulus Hook, on his way to Annapolis, where he was 
to surrender his commission as commander in 
chief. As he approached the Jersey shore, the scene 
of so many anxious moments, he must have been affect- 
ed by conflicting emotions. The contrast was marked. 
Only a few months had passedsince the time when he 
could draw near to the shore only with the greatest 
caution. Now, he was welcomed with loud acclama- 
tion, the people of " Old Bergen " vying with each other 
in showing their love and admiration. He was hailed 
as the deliverer of his country, and many who, under 
his command, had endured and bled for their native 
land, invoked Heaven's choicest blessings on his 

As he passed over Bergen Heights, his pride was 
mingled with sadness, as the surroundings revived in 

"OLE) BERGEN. t43 

his mind recollections of former associates, his old 
companions in arms, whose dangers and privations he 
had shared, and many of whom had given their lives 
for the cause they loved. Among these was the gal- 
lant, self-sacrificing Mercer, whose faithful watchfulness 
from these very heights had aided so much in the 
result that had been attained, but whose life blood 
ebbed away, even as the turning point of the war was 
reached at Trenton and Princeton. 

A few years afterward, when Washington received 
the reward of his labors and self-sacrifice through his 
selection as president of the infant confederacy, he 
again visited this scene of his early privations. On his 
journey to New York, on the occasion of his inaugura- 
tion as first president of the United States, in 1789, his 
route was projected to pass through New Jersey to 
Elizabethtown Point, and then proceed by water to 
New York. His whole journey was in the nature of a 
triumphal procession, but nowhere was his reception 
more enthusiastic or his greetings more sincere than 
on his passage from the Point through the Kills. He 
embarked in a barge, splendidly decorated, and con- 
voyed by others, with flags and music. As he entered 
the Kills, between Staten Island and Bergen Point, 
the procession was met by other boats from the shores, 
gay with bunting. From the shores of Bergen Point, 
which was lined with the citizens of " Old Bergen," he 
was greeted with the booming of cannon, waving of 
flags, and loud huzzas of the people. Their joy knew 
no bounds, and until the procession receded in the 
distance, their applause and rejoicing continued. 

144 " OLD BERGEN." 

Says the general in his Diary : " The display of 
Boats which attended and joined on this occasion, 
some with vocal, and others with instrumental music, 
on board, the decoration of the ships, the roar of can- 
non, and the loud acclamations of the people, which 
rent the skies as I passed along the wharves, filled my 
mind with sensations as painful (contemplating the 
reverse of this scene) as they were pleasing." 

Chapter XXXII. 


The dangers and privations of the Revolution being 
now past, tile people of Bergen once more resumed 
their avocations. Some there were who had cast in 
their lot with the British, and had been such active 
sympathizers with them, that they dreaded the retribu- 
tion to which they would be subjected at the hands of 
their old neighbors, and failed to return. But the 
lukewarm and indifTerent were permitted to occupy 
their old farms, and all now endeavored to rescue their 
lands and homes from the dilapidation and decay into 
which they had fallen. A few years sufificed to erase all 
traces of the bloody scenes that had been enacted, and 
the territory of " Old Bergen " resumed its accustomed 
quiet and peaceful appearance. 

Many of the slaves now returned to their old mas- 
ters, some actuated by kindly feeling, but most by 
self interest ; and their careless, irresponsible natures 
soon enabled them to assume their old relations, as if 
nothing had occurred to interrupt them. Their mas- 
ters in many cases allowed them the privilege of cul- 
tivating small plots of ground after their regular work- 
ing hours were over, and disposing of the proceeds of 
their labor for their own benefit ; but through their 

146 " OLD BERGEN.** 

natural improvidence, such benefit was but temporary, 
and oftentimes questionable. 

The following extract is from a newspaper of 1804: 

" At the Bear Market " ( now Washington ) " were 
seen on the Dock in the season for them, small stacks 
of cabbages, the perquisites, or overwork of the negro 
slaves from Hoboken, Paulus Hook and Communipau. 
They were brought over in canoes. After selling 
their stock, they would enjoy the jollification of a 
dance, upon the market floor, to the whistle of some 
favored one. 

" They were very improvident, freely spending the 
proceeds of their hard labor, devoid of any care or 
solicitude, anxiety or forethought for the future, but 
perfectly contented and happy in the present." 

The inhabitants of " Old Bergen " now devoted them- 
selves in the main to the cultivation of the soil. The 
farms and truck gardens soon showed the effect of 
their vigorous and intelligent treatment. Sloop loads 
of produce were ferried over to New York, and many 
of the comforts of home, which had disappeared dur- 
ing the unsettled times, were again replaced. The 
increase in population demanding better facilities for 
communication, new roads were laid out, so that all 
parts of the territory could be readily reached. 

The formation of Bergen town in the shape of a 
square, with the cross streets, has been described. One 
of these streets (Bergen Avenue) extended on the 
south, about on its present line, to Bergen Point, 
meeting the Old Mill Road at Foye Place, and cross- 
ing the road from Communipau at Harrison Avenue. 

" OLD BERGEN. 147 

To the north it extended along what are now Sip and 
Summit Avenues, and beyond the Five Corners, into 
what was known as Bergen Woods. At the Five 
Corners, it intersected Newark and Hoboken Avenues. 

Academy Street, another of the original streets 
crossing the square, extended on the west along pres- 
ent Tonnelle Avenue to what was called the Back 
Lots, now known as Homestead ; and easterly to 
and along its present line, terminating abruptly at the 
rocks at Front Street, being opened through on its 
present grade in the early '50's. Summit Avenue ran 
from Academy Street south, as now, to Communi- 
paw, being intersected below present Montgomery 
Street by the old Mill Road. The northerly section 
from Academy Street to Sip Avenue was opened more 

Until about the year 1848, when Grand Street was 
opened along its present line, the inhabitants of Com- 
munipaw and the lower end of the county were 
obliged to drive around through Bergen Avenue to 
Five Corners, and thence via Newark Avenue to the 
ferry ; or take the Mill Road passing Prior's Mill. 
The latter route was, however, but little used, owing 
to the steep grade. Following the laying out of 
Grand and Montgomery Streets, the whole country was 
opened up so that transportation became compara- 
tively easy in any direction. 

Chapter XXXIII. 


In 1789 the ferry landing at Paukis Hook was im- 
proved by the placing of steps, down which the 
passengers climbed, while horses and wagons were 
urged or lifted aboard the boats that served as means 
of transportation. This ferry connected with the 
stage route for Philadelphia, the proprietors of which 
built a tavern near Grand Street ; and as the boats 
ran only between sunrise and sunset, the passengers 
were obliged to cross the river the night before, and 
consequently enrich the whilom host with the cost of 
the night's lodging and entertainment. 

The following announcement was offered to the 
travelling public: " The wagons to be kept in good 
order, with good horses and sober drivers. They pur- 
pose to set off from Philadelphia and Paulus Hook on 
Mondays and Thursdays punctually at sunrise, and be 
at Princetown the same nights, and change Passengers 
and return to New York and Philadelphia the follow- 
ing days. The Passengers are desired to cross Paulus 
Hook ferry the evening befor^^, as the wagon is not to 
stay after sunrise. Price, each Passenger from Paulus 
Hook to Princetown, los.; from thence to Philadelphia, 
los. ; also ferriage free. Three pence each mile any 
distance between. Any gentlemen or ladies wanting 
to go to Philadelphia can go in the stage and be at 


home in five days, and be two nights and one day in 
Philadelphia to do business or see the market days." 

In 1790 the Newark turnpike road was laid out, and 
over this after that date the Philadelphia stages wended 
their way. A considerable portion of the road from 
Jersey City to Newark was bordered on both sides by 
a thick-growing cedar swamp, which, being full of con- 
venient hiding places, became the resort of thieves 
and robbers. Their depredations became so frequent, 
and the chance of apprehending them was so small, 
that in order to deprive them of this place of refuge, 
the whole tract was designedly burned. 

It would seem, however, that previous to this time, 
a road existed leading to Newark via Belleville; for 
Brissot de Warville thus writes: " There is a causeway 
to Belleville built wholly of wood with much labor 
and perseverance, in the midst of water and soil, that 
trembles under your feet. It proves to what point 
may be carried the patience of man, who is determined 
to conquer nature." Another writer describes the 
delights of the journey as follows : "All the way to 
Newark (nine miles) is a very flat, marshy country 
intersected with rivers ; there are many cedar swamps 
abounding with mosquitoes, which bit our hands and 
legs exceedingly ; when they fix, they will continue 
sucking our blood if not disturbed, till they swell 
four times their ordinary size, when they absolutely 
fall off and burst with their fulness. . . . At two miles 
we cross a large cedar swamp ; at three we intersect 
the road leading to Bergen, a Dutch town one-half 
niile distant on our right ; at five we cross the Hacken- 


sack." The mosquito is evidently, from the contents 
of this letter, not a product of our present civilization, 
but existed even in those conservative days, and con- 
ducted his business with the same active aggressiveness 
as in more modern times. 

The Duke de Rochefoucauld travelled over the road 
in 1796, and said it was very disagreeable to the travel- 
ler, being exceedingly rough, as it consisted of trees 
having their branches cut away, disposed longitudinally 
one beside another, and slightly covered with earth. In 
1794 Henry Wansey, an Englishman on a visit to this 
country, wrote : " It" (this road) " is very convenient 
for those who live at Newark, and carry on their 
business [at New York. Taking an early start on the 
4th of June, I crossed Hudson's River to Paulus Hook 
to take the stage ' Industry' for Philadelphia, an hour 
and a half being required to make the passage ; crossing 
the Hackensack, where a bridge was going to be built, 
to prevent the tedious passage by boat or scow, and the 
Passaic also, the coach and all in the scow, by means of 
pulling a rope which was fastened to the opposite side, 
we came to Newark." At this date, one stage suf^ced 
for the transportation of residents of Newark who did 
business in New York, leaving Newark at six o'clock 
a. m., and returning from New York at three p. m. 

In 1800 and for a number of years following, the only 
public conveyance of passengers by land between 
Newark and New York was by means of one two-horse 
stage coach, which went to Paulus Hook in the morning 
and returned in the evening. The road was extremely 
rough, and in wet >veather almost impassable. In 


1 813 there were four stage lines between New York 
and Philadelphia : " The Pilot," leaving New York at 
5a.m., accommodating seven passengers, and arriving at 
Philadelphia next morning ; " Commercial," leaving at 7 
a. m., passengers remaining at Trenton over night and 
reaching Philadelphia next morning ;" Mail," leaving 
at I p. m. and arriving at Philadelphia next morning at 6 
o'clock; "Expedition," leaving New York at 4 p.m., 
stopping at Rahway, then at Burlington for the night, 
and arriving at Philadelphia the next afternoon. 

Through the courtesy of Dr. L. J. Gordon, we are 
enabled to present an accurate cut of an interesting 
incident connected with early railroading, which, 
although not especially related to the general subject 
of this work, still clearly shows the small begin- 
nings of our present magnificent transportation system. 
Much opposition to the proposed method of pro- 
pulsion by steam was developed, and theories were 
demonstrated to show the impossibility of success. One 
objection advanced was that it was not possible for a 
locomotive to round short curves. In order to prove 
the fallacy of this claim, Peter Cooper built a locomo- 
tive, which he called " Tom Thumb," for practical 
experiment. It was tested on the Baltimore and 
Ohio Railroad Aug. 22, 1830. An extract from a 
letter written by H. B. Latrobe, brother of the chief 
engineer of this road, gives a graphic description of 

the event. 

" I send you copy of my sketch of Mr. Cooper's 
locomotive and the horse-car. . . . The trip was most 
interesting. The curves were passed without difificulty 

3. - 

P i 





"OLD BERGEN." 1 53 

at a speed of 15 miles an hour. . . . But the triumph 
of this ' Tom Thumb ' engine was not without a draw- 
back. The great stage proprietors of the day were 
Stockton & Stokes, and on that occasion a gallant 
horse of great beauty and power was driven by them 
from town attached to another car on the second 
track — for the Company had laid two tracks to the 
mills — and met the engine on its way back. From 
this point it was determined to have a race home. 
The start being even, away went horse and engine, 
the snort of the one and the pufT of the other keeping 
time and time. At first the horse had the best of it, 
for his steam would be applied to the greatest advan- 
tage on the instant, while the engine had to wait until 
the rotation of the wheels set the blower to work. 
The horse was perhaps a quarter of a mile ahead, 
when the safety-valve of the engine lifted and the 
thin blue vapor issuing from it showed an excess of 
steam. The blower whistled, the steam blew off in 
vapory clouds, the pace increased, the passengers 
shouted, the engine gained on the horse. Soon it 
lapped him ; the silk was plied, the race was neck and 
neck, nose and nose. Then the engine passed the 
horse, and a great hurrah hailed the victory. But it 
was not repeated, for just at this time, when the 
gray's master was about giving up, the band which 
drove the pulley which moved the blower, slipped 
from the driver, the safety-valve ceased to scream, and 
the engine for want of breath began to wheeze and 
pant. In vain Mr. Cooper, who was his own engineer 
and fireman, lacerated his hands in attempting to re- 

154 "OLD BERGEN.' 

place the band upon the wheel ; in vain he tried to 
urge the fire with light-wood. The horse gained on 
the machine and passed it ; and although the band 
was presently replaced, and steam again did its best, 
the horse was too far ahead to be overtaken, and came 
in the winner of the race." 

The experience of the passengers on the early steam 
roads is told in a letter of Judge Gillis of Ridgway, 
Penn., describing his trip from Albany to Schenectady 
in 1831. 

" The trucks were coupled together with chains 
or chain links, leaving from two to three feet slack ; 
and when the locomotive started, it took up the 
slack by jerks with sufificient force to jerk the 
passengers, who sat on seats across the top of the 
coaches, out from under their hats, and in stopping 
they came together with such force as to send them 
flying from their seats. 

"They used dry pitch-pine for fuel, and there being 
no smoke or spark catcher to the smoke-stack, a 
volume of black smoke, strongly impregnated with 
sparks, coals and cinders, came pouring back the whole 
length of the train. Each of the tossed passengers 
who had an umbrella raised it as a protection against 
the smoke and fire. They were found to be but a 
momentary protection, for I think in the first mile 
the last one went overboard, all having their covers 
burnt off from the frames ; when a general melee 
took place among the deck passengers, each whip- 
ping his neighbor to put out the fire." 

Chapter XXXIV. 


Up to 1832 the only means of rapid communication 
between New York and Philadelphia was by boat 
from New York to Amboy, and thence by rail, via 
Bordentown and Camden, to Philadelphia, with a 
spur from Bordentown to Trenton. Intercourse in 
this part of the state was carried on by means of 
stage lines, of which at that time there were twenty 
crossing Bergen territory for different points. But 
after that date the growth of the country and the 
demand for easy communication with the capital 
of the state required increased facilities. 

March 17, 1832, the New Jersey Railroad and 
Transportation Company was incorporated, being 
designed to provide the then new facilities of 
railway travel between Trenton and New York, 
"and to restore the old Colonial and Revolutionary 
route over New Jersey, through Newark, Elizabeth, 
Rahway and New Brunswick, to Princeton and 
Trenton." Work was commenced, and the road 
laid out and completed, with the exception of the 
cut through Bergen Hill and the filling east of the 
" Point of Rocks " (now the site of the Penn. R. R. 
Round House on Railroad Avenue). 

It must be remembered that there were at this 


time no steam drills or other modern appliances 
for the removal of rock, and the excavation was 
a great undertaking. In order to lessen the work, 
and, as stated to the stockholders by John P. 
Jackson, the then president of the road, to save an 
expense of $100,000, the curve at the eastern end 
of the cut was adopted. It followed an old ravine 
or water-course, the direction of which may be seen 
from the Summit Avenue bridge. Before the road- 
bed was straightened by the Penn. R. R., about 1878, 
the road reached in a straight line from the ferry 
along the line of Railroad Avenue to just west of 
the " Point of Rocks," and thence turning sharply 
to the north, followed a graceful, S-like curve to a 
point near Marion. When the road was built, much 
difificulty was experienced in crossing the old Mill 
Creek, by reason of the nature of the marsh. So 
treacherous was the foundation it afforded, that 
although the roadbed was filled up to grade several 
times, all would sink and entirely disappear in a 
single night. While this tedious work was going on, 
cars were drawn by horses from Marion over the 
hill, making a trip each way every hour and a half 
during the day, and three trips during the night. 

It is evident that the railroad magnates of the 
early days not only performed their own clerical work, 
but supervised very closely all matters connected 
with the conduct of the company's affairs, as the 
following extracts will show. These are taken from 
letters in their own handwriting, folded and scaled 
with wafers in the olden style, with superscription 


on back. They ^likewise indicate some of the 
difficulties connected witli early railroading. "Jan. 
22, 1836. When the train cars pass through Newark, 
they are to stop $ minutes as advertised. The 
agents will regulate the time. In case, however, they 
have more than 5 minutes before the time advertised 
for their passing through Newark, they must hold 
over until that hour arrives." What a relief it would 
be to some of our dilatory suburbanites were this 
comfortable, easy-going system to prevail at the pres- 
ent time. 

*' Feb. 3, 1836. I enquire why our train stopped 
at Newark without going through. I hope you will 
pay attention to this, and as much as possible be there 
when the trains pass through, to see that things go 
right." In the early organization of the road and 
the irregularities naturally caused by its unfinished 
state, annoyances were continually arising from the 
want of a settled code of discipline. It must be 
remembered that at this time horse power was used 
to propel the cars over Bergen Hill. 

" Feb. 5, 1836. As regards the trains to Rahway, 
you observe tliat the arrangement is made for the 
future, and that as soon as we run a locomotive to 
Bergen Hill, they have no more to do with Newark 
than with Elizabethtown. . . . For the present, I am 
desirous to have you see to their getting on -properly, 
changing horses, etc." Another difficulty seems to 
have been in properly distributing the cars. " There 
is but one car here to go out at 1 1. 30 o'clock. Please 
remember that the cars must not get all at one end, 

158 ''OLD BERGEN." 

and that the two train cars must not go except in 
their trains. As there is but little business doing, 
why not have a portion of the cars at Jersey City? " 

At this time wood was used exclusively as fuel, and 
was brought by vessel and unloaded on the unfinished 
wharf. " Feb., 1836. We have two loads of wood 
at Jersey City, one pile on the end of our bulkhead, 
and the other on the south ferry dock. If the ice 
is firm enough to have it carried ashore, it had better 

be done now." '-'Dec. 2, 1836. has sent word 

that he wishes to clean his pumps on Sunday. Please 
find out if it is absolutely necessary to stop, and if so, 
send the mail by sleigh." 

As showing the tremendous development of rail- 
road traffic in this section alone, in a little over sixty 
years, the following advertisement, taken from the 
Jersey City Gazette of 1835, is of interest: "The 
Public is respectfully informed, that the N. J. R. R. is 
now open for public use between Newark and New 
York, and cars will commence running to-morrow, 8 
trips each way daily, fare 37^ cents, ferry to New 
York, 614; cents. New York and Easton Stages: Pas- 
sengers will cross the river from foot of Cortlandt St, 
to Jersey City, then take Post coaches through 
Springfield, Chatham, Morristown, Mendham, etc., 
and arrive in Easton, same evening. Morristown 
stage will leave Newark, every day at half-past one 
o'clock, so that the passengers who leave New York 
in the morning, by the Hoboken Stages, the steam- 
boat Neivark at 10 o'clock, or the Rail-Road cars 
at half-past eleven, will be in time to dine at Newark, 


and take the stage for Morristown." Contrast this 
with the fact that from the Penn. Central R. R. Depot 
in Jersey City alone, above three hundred regular pas- 
senger trains arrive and depart every twenty-four 
hours, to which must be added freights and specials ; 
while the Erie, Lackawanna and New Jersey Central 
roads each control a very large traffic. 

The whole road from Philadelphia was finished, and 
engines operated the entire length, Jan. i, 1839. At 
Marion the Paterson and Hudson R.R. terminated, and 
after the completion of the N. J. R. R., reached Jersey 
City by connecting with it at this point. The Paterson 
and Hudson was incorporated January 21, 1831, and 
went into operation in June, 1832. The rolling stock 
consisted of " three splendid and commodious cars, each 
capable of accommodating thirty passengers, drawn 
by fleet and gentle horses ; a rapid and delightful 
mode of travelling." It was first operated by horse 
power, and when a change was made to steam, it must 
have been with many misgivings, for it was advertised 
that " The steam and horse cars are so intermixed that 
passengers may make their selection, and the timid can 
avail themselves of the latter twice a day." The old 
"Grasshopper Engine," with its walking beam, loping 
along like its predecessor — the running Indian — was 
in strong contrast with the present smooth-running, 
swiftly moving, intelligent iron steed. 

This road was afterward absorbed by the Erie, and 
was the route by which that road reached tidewater 
at Jersey City, until the completion of the Erie Tun- 
nel in 1 86 1. This enterprise was a formidable under- 



taking, owing to the length of the cutting and the 
hardness of the trap rock through which it was bored. 
During the tunnel's construction considerable trouble 
was experienced with the workmen, which culminated 
in a serious strike and riot, necessitating the calling 
out of the militia. 

It is stated that when the building of the New Jer- 
sey Railroad commenced in 1833, Cornelius Van 


Vorst was so incensed that he offered to sell the 
whole of his possessions for $1,000. {His. Soc. Proceed- 

We can scarcely realize in this era of trolley develop- 
ment, that but little more than forty years ago, the 
one-horse stage of old Peter Earle met all the demands 
for local travel in Bergen. But he combined within 
himself motorman, conductor, superintendent, yes, 
and directors too, for he " scooped " all the dividends. 

" OLD BERGEN." l6l 

He made one trip each way daily, to accommodate his 
regular passengers, of whom there were four, J. J. 
Franks, F. P. Vidal, George Gifford and Prof. House. 
In case any other service was needed, or the ladies 
wished to visit the bargain counters of the day, notice 
had to be sent him the night previous. Passengers 
were required to be in readiness at lo o'clock in the 
morning, when he would call for them, with the under- 
standing that they would be at the ferry at 3 o'clock 
in the afternoon to return home, so that he might 
have time to go back for his regulars, at 5 o'clock. 

After a time, two more emigrants settled in Bergen, 
which necessitated the procurement of a two-horse 
stage, with seats for eight. With these vehicles, 
Earle was able to accommodate the travelling public 
until Jacob M. Merseles — to whose foresight and 
energy the town owed much of its development — an- 
ticipating the rapid approach of a demand for more 
and better conveniences for travelling, purchased the 
Pioneers, and started his omnibus line, which ran from 
the stables at Montgomery and Orchard Streets and 
followed the route of the Newark Avenue line of cars 
to the ferry. Shortly after, one Hallock started 
another line, but after a few weeks of fruitless opposi- 
tion, sold out to Merseles, who incorporated the Ber- 
gen Stage and Plank Road Co. He found the roads 
at certain seasons of the year almost impassable, and 
wisely united the Stage and Plank Road Companies, 
so that the stages could have the benefit of the road 
without extra cost. The plank road was laid along 
Bergen Avenue from Communipaw to Newark Ave- 

l62 " OLD BERGEN." 

nues, and a toll-gate was maintained at the Summit 
Avenue bridge. 

This stage line was afterward merged into the Jer- 
sey City and Bergen Horse Car Co. The first cars 
operated on this road were in the shape of the old 
omnibus body, fastened on the truck by a pivot in the 
center, and drawn by one horse. They were most 
convenient for swinging around at the end of the 
route, or in case of meeting between switches, but 
required constant- watchfulness on a descending'grade, 
lest inadvertently the car should get before the horse. 
A few years ago electricity was applied as a motive 
power, and the original line swallowed up by that 
electrical octopus, " The North Jersey Traction Co." 

Chapter XXXV. 


Religion and education were considered of the ut- 
most importance by the early Dutch settlers, and the 
church and school in the primitive days were very 
closely united, and under the control of the same 
governing body. Indeed, in most cases, the school- 
house was built first, and served the double purpose 
of a place of instruction, and a house for church ser- 
vice. The great anxiety of the sturdy colonists was 
to perpetuate the faith of their fathers, and to procure 
means for the instruction of their youth. 

For several years, the village of Bergen possessed 
the only organized church 'community on the west 
side of the Hudson, and people came from far and 
near to worship there. According to Dr. Taylor, the 
first building was a log structure, which was used for 
divine worship for eighteen years. As it is well authen- 
ticated that the octagonal stone church, mentioned 
hereafter, was erected in 1680, it follows that this first 
rude building must have been erected in or before 
1662. According to the deacons' accounts, the build- 
ing needed considerable repairs during the years 1678 
and 1680, at which dates there are several entries of 
expenditures for nails and labor, for nailing boards on 
the schoolhouse, etc., indicating a somewhat advanced 

164 " OLD BERGEN." 

state of dilapidation. Hence the year 1662 may be 
considered as the date when the attempts of the early 
settlers to establish a church, were crowned with suc- 

In that year we likewise find the following petition 
in the records of the Council : "The Schepens of the 
Village of Bergen, having observed and considered 
the fatherly direction and care of your Hon. Worships, 
in erecting church and schoolhouses, they request that 
they may have a God-fearing man, and preacher to be 
an example to, and teach the fear of God in, the Com- 
munity of Bergen, and its jurisdiction. They state 
that the inhabitants now pay of their own free will, a 
yearly contribution of four hundred and seventeen 
guilders, in wampum, and would do more. They there- 
fore think that your Noble Honors should send one 
over at your own expense, for one or two years, until 
the land should so increase in value, that the good- 
hearted could liberally give." 

Just when and where the first church or schoolhouse 
was erected, it is impossible to state positively, but it 
would seem from this petition, that at least one, or 
perhaps both, were in existence at this date, as the 
chief anxiety of the people seems to have been to 
procure a minister from the Company. Tradition says 
that the first church services were held in the build- 
ing — probably the schoolhouse just alluded to, 
— located at the northeast corner of the old grave- 
yard (near the corner of Tuers Avenue and Vroom 
Street), and the bulk of testimony corroborates this. 
The divine service of the day was without much 

" OLD BERGEN." 165 

doubt held there until the erection of the church in 
1680. We learn from the records of the deacons of 
the church showing the collections taken, that church 
services have been maintained regularly at least since 
1667. There seem to be no records in existence, of 
occurrences previous to that time. Oftentimes, as 
opportunity offered, some of the people would cross 
over to New Amsterdam, to attend the services held 
there in the Dutch church, although facilities were 
given them for divine service at home. 

In 1680, the people decided to begin the erection of 
their first church building proper, and on May 23, 168 1, 
the dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. Casper 
Van Zuren, from Long Island. The collection taken 
up on this occasion amounted to eighty-seven guilders 
and ten stivers, or nearly forty dollars of our money. 
The church was a stone building, octagonal in shape 
and was located near the corner of Bergen Avenue and 
Vroom Street. It was surmounted by a brass rooster 
for a weathercock, which was transferred, on the de- 
molition of the building in 1773, to the spire of the 
edifice that succeeded the "little church" at that 
date; and in 1841 when this second church was in 
turn pulled down, the vane was placed on the cupola 
of the Columbian Academy. In the early '50's, a gun- 
ner returning from his day's sport, perhaps in an ex- 
hilarated state, and imagining he had discovered a 
rare kind of game, levelled his gun at the old weather- 
cock, and damaged it to such an extent that it was 
taken down and repaired with iron braces. It was 
then replaced, but soon the action of the weather 

1 66 


again weakened it, and a well-directed stone from the 
hand of an ambitious youngster completed the work 
of destruction. One of the old residents in the vicin- 
ity of Bergen Square had a facsimile of the original 
made and placed on the present School No. ii, where 


it still remains to mystify onlookers as to the direction 
of the wind. 

In the interior of the old church,' seats were placed 
around the wall for the male worshippers, while the 

" OLD BERGEN." \6^ 

women occupied high-backed chairs, which were their 
personal property. Some of these chairs are still 
cherished as heirlooms by the descendants of their 
original owners. In the winter season, the foot-stove 
was carried to and from service, and this was a very 
necessary companion, for otherwise there were no fa- 
cilities for producing artificial warmth. It was a small 
box of wood, perforated, and containing a metal cup, 
in which the owner before leaving home, placed hot 
embers, making it a most acceptable footstool. 

The minister declaimed from a pulpit placed high 
above the congregation and surmounted by a sound- 
ing board, and at the end of his sermon admonished 
the deacons to collect the contributions of the people. 
For this purpose they used black velvet bags with 
bells attached and fastened to long poles, and by a 
judicious jingling, awakened not only the sleeping 
faculties of the drowsy ones, but it is hoped likewise 
their consciences. 

The voorlcscr occupied a position in front of and be- 
low the pulpit, from which he performed the services 
in the absence of the preacher, or led the singing at 
the regular services. For over ninety years the con- 
gregation was without a stated pastor ; the voorleser, 
or schoolmaster, conducting the services on the Sab- 
bath, which consisted of prayer, and reading a sermon 
prepared by one of the ablest theologians in the 
Fatherland. During the occasional absence of the 
voorleser, different members of the church performed 
his office ; and at intervals, when ministers from differ- 
ent parts of the country happened to be at New York, 

l68 " OLD BERGEN." 

they crossed the river to preach to the Bergen people. 
The names of the Revs. John and Samuel Megapolen- 
sis, Wilhelmus Nievvwenhnysen, Caspar Van Zuren, 
Henricus Selyns, Gualterus Dubois, G. Bertholf, W. 
Lupardus, B. Freeman, of Schenectady; R. Erickson, 
A. Curtenius, Cornelius Van Schie, of Fishkill ; J. 
Leyt, George W. Mancius, H. Marinus, and others, 
appear in the deacons' books of accounts; for the 
preachers were always remunerated for their services. 

Besides expenses and board, they received from 
twenty-five to seventy-two guilders per service. As 
is shown by the accounts, the ministers coming from 
New York were obliged to pay six guilders to the 
ferryman, and six guilders for a carriage from the.ferry 
to Bergen. Cornells Brinkerhoff was for years the 
person who discharged the duty of transporting the 
ministers; while upon the Van Houten family. rested 
the responsibility of providing sustenance and lodging 
for them, an expense of twelve guilders, seawant, being 
charged in the deacons' accounts after each visit. 
The amounts mentioned above were paid in wampum. 
This was obtained by the deacons from the authorities, 
and by them sold to the heads of the families compos- 
ing the congregation ; when collections were taken, 
this was dropped in the bags (a guilder equalled 20 
stivers, a stiver an English penny). 

In 1679, the people agreed with the minister of the 
City, meaning New York, to administer the Lord's 
Supper three times a year, for which he received thirty 
bushels or fifteen bags of wheat. He performed this 
service on week days, because he could not be absent 

"OLD BERGEN." 169 

from the city on Sunday, as he was the only minister. 
In the same year twelve guilders were expended in 
the purchase of printed sermons, and December 31, 
1682, the consistory authorized the purchase, for the 
sum of seventy-five pounds, of four large theological 
works, with the following titles : The Secret of Happi- 
ness in God, On the Epistles to the Philippians, Explana- 
tion of the Catechism, and The True Repentance. 

A " sand runner " or hour-glass stood on the desk 
"n the church, and when the sand had run out of the 
upper part, the reader was obliged to suspend services, 
and dismiss the congregation. Engelbert Stuynhuy- 
sen (afterwards mentioned as schoolmaster) appears 
to have been the first voorleser, and served in that 
capacity from October, 1662, until about 1664 or 1665, 
when Reynier Bastiase Van Giesen was called upon 
to officiate in his stead. He continued therein for 
about forty-two years, and was followed by Adrien 
Vermeulen, who served for twen.ty-eight years, and on 
April 3, 1736, he was succeeded by P. Van Benthuy- 
sen, who filled the office for just twenty-five years, 
until April 3, 1761. Abraham Sickles was then 
appointed, and was the last of the voorlesers of " Old 
Bergen," serving until 1789, when a "clerk" was 
appointed, at a salary of two pounds, fifteen shillings, 
per annum. 

The voorleser, besides receiving a salary for that 
office and as schoolmaster, was likewise paid for his 
services as bookkeeper and aanspreker, and perhaps re- 
ceived some token from the people for special services, 
as at marriages and baptisms. 



Rev. Henry Selyn wrote to the Classis of Amster- 
dam from New York, October 28, 1682 : " At the re- 
quest of the people of Bergen, I have consented to 
preach there, three times a year, on Mondays both 
morning and afternoon, and administer the Lord's 
Supper. I found there a new church, and one hundred 

and thirty-four members. 
At other times, they are 
accustomed to come over 
the River here, to the 
hearing of the Word." 
Arrangements were made 
with Mr. Selyn to officiate 
at regular intervals, and 
he commenced his services 
October 2, 1682, and con- 
tinued to perform his 
duties faithfully until 1699. 
Other ministers, however, oflficiated on the Lord's Day 
during this time. In 1699 Rev. Gualtherus Dubois 
became a colleague with Mr. Selyn in the church at 
New York, and he thereafter performed the services 
in the Bergen church for more than half a century. 
September 2, 1700, he dispensed the Lord's Supper, 
and continued his ministrations until 175 1- 


Chapter XXXVI. 


In 1750, the congregation, feeling their need of a 
stated pastor, determined to use their utmost endeavors 
to secure one. They arranged with the church on 
Staten Island to extend a joint call to one who should 
minister to the two congregations, and finally extended 
a call to one Petrus De Wint. In his call, the con- 
ditions were specified as a " righteous half of services 
and a righteous half of payment," as he was to 
minister to the two churches, of Bergen and Staten 
Island. The church at Bergen was to furnish him 
with firewood and a parsonage, and that at Staten 
Island was to give him " an able riding horse with all 
that belongs to it." As, under the church rules, it was 
necessary for this call to be approved by the Classis 
at Amsterdam, it was forwarded there for endorse- 
ment. Meanwhile he commenced his labors, but was 
never installed, as a response was received from Hol- 
land, stating that De Wint was an impostor, having 
presented forged credentials. He was therefore dis- 
charged June 23, 1752. This experience caused the 
congregation to exercise great caution in their subse- 
quent endeavors. 

On the 22nd of June, 1753, a call was extended to 
William Jackson, who was at that time studying at 

172 " OLD BERGEN. 

Raritan. By the terms of this call, he was required 
to go to Holland to prosecute his studies, and be 
regularly ordained by the Classis of Amsterdam. 
During his absence, he was to be paid one hundred 
pounds by the churches calling him. He accepted 
this call, with the conditions; and sailing for Holland, 
remained there for nearly four years. On his return 
he was installed in the church at Bergen, September 
lo, 1757. To show their appreciation of the services 
of a minister, and their recognition of the obligations 
they had voluntarily assumed, the congregation had 
prepared a parsonage for him, so that he might be re- 
lieved of any anxiety concerning temporal matters. 

December 20, 1771, the church was granted a char- 
ter by the English Crown, and incorporated under the 
name of "The Minister, Elders and Deacons," as 
follows : 

Rev. William Jackson, Minister. 

f Abraham Dedrichs. 
p, , } RoBT. Syckles. 

h^lders. -j Qj,()p^(-.E Vreelanu. 

[Abraham Svkles. 


^ } Johannes Van Wagenen. 

Deacons. -j jqhannis Van Houten. 
[Daniel Van Winkle. 

They were empowered to appoint a clerk, school- 
master, bell ringer, etc. Thus we see that at every 
opportunity, and with every advance, the cause of 
education was brought forward prominently, and fos- 
tered with great care. In 1773 the church accommo- 



dation was found inadequate to meet the wants of the 
growing congregation, and a new building was erected 
on the same site. As the accounts of expenditures 
connected with this building are incomplete, it is impos- 
sible to state just when the first services were held, or 


when the building was completed. From May 17 to 
October 17, 1773, about three hundred and sixty 
pounds had been expended for material and labor. 

Dominie Jackson was an uncompromising patriot, 
and during Revolutionary days his open and emphatic 

174 " OLD BERGEN." 

support of the cause of liberty did much to strength- 
en its advocates, and prevent the wavering from 
openly espousing the side of its enemies. So open was 
his denunciation of King George and his supporters, 
that he was arrested and taken under guard before Lord 
Howe, in command at New York. He there admit- 
ted the charges brought against him, but justified him- 
self by insisting that he simply performed his duty 
according to the dictates of his conscience. He was 
released, and permitted to return to the scene of his 

He ministered unto the congregation with much 
acceptability, until there were indications of mental 
disturbance, and his faculties failing ; the two churches 
requested that they be relieved from the obligation of 
their call, and be permitted to call a new minister. 
The church at Bergen secured to him, however, the 
use of the parsonage they had built for him, during his 
natural life, together with four acres of land adjoining; 
and probably the church on Staten Island likewise 
made some provision for him. 

The great inconvenience being recognized of 
attempting one pastorate over these two churches, they 
being so widely separated, arrangements were made by 
the churches at Bergen and English Neighborhood for 
uniting in a call to some minister who could acceptably 
meet the wants of the two growing congregations. 
Consequently, on the 28th of November, 1792, they 
made a joint call on John Cornelisen, who accepted 
and entered on his ministry. Until this time, all the 
services in the Bergen church had been rendered in the 

" OLD BERGEN.*' 175 

Dutch language, and the church register was continued 
in the same until 1809. 

By the terms of his call, Dominie Cornelisen was to 
preach in Dutch at Bergen on Sabbath mornings, 
while at English Neighborhood he was required to 
preach in that language only occasionally. When 
he was officiating at the latter place, the voorleser 
conducted the services at Bergen. 

Chapter XXXVII. 


The old parsonage, on the site of the present church, 
and before alluded to, being in possession of the Rev. 
William Jackson, in 1793 the consistory purchased the 
Sip homestead, in the town of Bergen, situated on the 
northwest corner of the Square. The house was of 
stone, of the antique model, long, low, and only one 
story in height, the window frames on the exterior 
being surmounted with ornamental brick work. Mr. 
Cornelisen occupied this building from the time of his 
marriage until his death. It was then raised to two 
stories in height, and otherwise improved. The lot 
on which it stood contained two acres, part of which 
is now the property of Mr. Geo. B. Wilson. 

The care of this large parish, extending from Ber- 
gen Point to within three miles of Hackensack, a dis- 
tance of eighteen miles, was soon found to be too much 
for a single clergyman, not only on account of its great 
area, but also because of the growth of both congrega- 
tions. The duties of the pastor multiplied greatly, 
and it became evident that a separation must be effect- 
ed. The interesting account of Prof. Demarest, of 
the conditions and experiences of the early congrega- 
tions, is specially applicable here. 

" I would that I could give an authentic account of 

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I7B "old BERGEN." 

the church-going habits of these people " (English 
Neighborhood) " during their connection with the 
church of Bergen. Doubtless they were all in atten- 
dance, on every Communion Day, whether it were the 
Lord's Day or Monday. 

"They would make all their preparations on Satur- 
day, or the day previous, so that they might start early 
in the morning, for the distance was nearly twertty 
miles, the roads not macadamized, the wagons spring- 
less, and the farm' horses not very fleet. Besides, it was 
desirable to have, after so long a jouiney, a half hour's 
rest before the service, for the good of body, mind 
and soul. 

" The proximity of the Inn to the church, customary 
in those days, was not an unmixed evil. Perhaps 
after the services, some Van Horn, or Van Winkle, or 
Van Riper, Van Wagenen or Vreeland, would insist on 
taking the company home to dinner, for nothing 
pleased the Dutchman of that day so well, as to have 
his table crowded on a Sunday, by people whom he 
respected. Sometimes very little of the day, especially 
in the winter, would be left after the close of public 
worship, for the Communion Service occupied hours ; 
and then they would tarry till morning, and on the 
Monday wend their way homeward. 

"They were not so driven and hurried in their 
worldly business as men now are. Perhaps they often 
brought their lunch with them, and having been re- 
freshed by it, started on their tedious journey for 
home, which they would not reach until after nightfall. 
We may well believe, too, that the forests through 


which they passed, in going to and returning from the 
house of God, were made to ring with the psahiis of 
Marot and Beza." 

It was at last deemed judicious to dissolve the 
bond that united these two churches, and on November 
21, 1806, the consistory at Bergen arranged for the 
entire services of the pastor, and on December i, is- 
sued a new call to him. The next day this was ap- 
proved by the Classis, whereupon the connection was 
dissolved, after an existence of fourteen years, and 
Dominie Cornelisen assumed entire charge of the 
church at Bergen. He was to receive $450 yearly, 
" together with the parsonage, and a lot of land, con- 
taining about thirty-two acres, the building and 
fences to be kept in good repair ; also thirty loads of 
fire-wood, forty bushels of grain, and three free sab- 
baths each year." 

From this time Mr. Cornelisen's labors were confined 
to Bergen, and he was obligated to perform his services 
in Dutch and English on alternate sabbaths. He was 
a man who enjoyed the full love and confidence of his 
people, and as was the custom in the olden days, his 
advice and counsel were much sought after and heeded. 
He considered the colored people under his charge ( at 
that time slaves), as committed specially to his care 
and protection. He instructed them in religious 
truths, and. a number were admitted to church fellow- 
ship. During his ministry, the church services changed 
from Dutch to English. Singing in Dutch was first 
discontinued in 1809. Preaching in that language 
continued some time later. The history of his minis- 

l8o " OLD BERGEN." 

try is one of continuous growth, and great acceptability 
to his congregation. He died March 20, 1828, and 
Benjamin C. Taylor was called on the 26th of May the 
same year, and installed July 24. 

Chapter XXXVIII. 


At this time there were in what is now the County 
of Hudson, three churches, the Reformed Dutch in 
Bergen, the First Presbyterian Church in Jersey City, 
and a small Methodist Church at Five Corners. St. 
Matthew's Episcopal congregation worshipped in the 
old Town Hall, then used for school purposes, and 
located near the site of its present building in lower 
Jersey City. 

The congregation of the First Presbyterian Church 
previous to this had worshipped in the old Town Hall 
for some years, but losing their pastor ( Rev. Mr. Ol- 
cott ) , they determined to become a Reformed Dutch 
Church ; by a unanimous vote they decided to unite 
with the Bergen Classis, and on the i6th of February, 
1830, the church became thus duly constituted. The 
property on Grand Street, now occupied by the Free 
Reformed Church, which had been deeded by the Jer- 
sey Associates to the First Presbyterian Church of 
Jersey City in 1828, became thereupon the property 
of the Dutch Church. 

But soon a demand arose for increased church ac- 
commodation, and the community began to discuss 
the propriety of the erection of other houses of wor- 
ship. As the population increased and settlements 

l82 " OLD BERGEN." 

were formed in the outlying territory, it was deter- 
mined to erect churches in such locaHties as to accom- 
modate, to a great extent, those families who lived at a 
distance from the mother church. Hence Dutch 
churches were established at Jersey City in 1807, and 
Bergen Neck in 1828 ; and as the demand continued, 
these were followed by others. Nor was this the only 
church growth. As there were many gathering within 
the territory belonging to other denominations, the 
need was felt for suitable accommodation for them ; 
and from time to time, in accordance with the demand, 
other churches were established, until at the present 
time the confines of " Old Bergen " are studded with 
the spires of churches belonging to every denomina- 
tion. Dr. Taylor was 
closely identified with 
what might be called the 
formative period of Old 
Bergen. When he com- 
menced his ministry, the 
habits and customs of the 
Fatherland prevailed to a 
very great extent, and the 
rustic population dwelt 
apart from the follies and 
vices of the neighboring 
city, in genuine old Dutch 


simplicity. He lived, 

however, to see many changes effected, and the 
beginning of. many of the improvements and advance- 
ments which he predicted, and which have transformed 



liie countiy i^arden into town lots, and the quiet, 
staid farming community into a busy, bustling city. 

That tile " Faith of the Fatliers " has been kept in 
all its purity, is not surprising, when it is considered 

»1 ■ i ^'' 

I'Kli-iKN'I UlillJNMlilJ CHUKCH, HIILI 1641. 

that it was incumbent on the minister to present once 
each Sabbath, some portion of the Articles of Belief. 
As this was divided up, according to the Heidelberg 
Catechism, into fifty-two " Lord's Days, " every year 
•the congregation were regaled with a complete discus- 
sion and review of the tenets of the faith, and were 
thereby strengthened and confirmed in its doctrines. 

1 84 


During the pastorate of Doctor Taylor, the present 
church edifice was erected (in 1841). The original 
church parsonage stood on this site, for July 12, 1841, 
tile consistory " Resolved that the old parsonage be 
taken down to make room for the new " (the present) 
" church edifice, and that the building Committee use 
the materials to the best advantage they can." Dur- 
ing the erection of this church building, the Columbian 
Academy was secured for Sabbath morning worship, 
the teacher agreeing to vacate the second story for the 
sum of $5 per quarter. Just south of the church, con- 
venient and substantial sheds were built, for the pro- 
tection of the horses of those who lived at a distance 
and still adhered to the "Old Church;" while the 
tavern, but a few feet further south, was resorted to 
by some, during the interval between the services, for 
their noonday meal. 

Doctor Taylor contin- 
ued his active pastorate 
until the infirmities of 
advancing age made " the 
grasshopper a burden." 
The consistory recogniz- 
ing his failing physical 
powers, declared him 
" Pastor Emeritus," and 
issued a call to the Rev. 
James L. Amerman, who 
was installed May 7, 1 871. 
A remarkable degree of 
mutual confidence and 




sympathy existed between these two, and thus were 
happily combined the buoyancy and strength of 
youth, with the wisdom and experience of age. What 
might be called the joint administration of tlie two 
clergymen continued as long as the " Old Dominie " 
was able to actively cooperate. He died Feby. 2nd, 
i88i. Doctor Amerman continued to minister faith- 
fully to his congregation until June 1st, 1876, when, 
feeling that he was called to perform active, personal 
missionary work among the heathen, he was at his 
own request dismissed, and became a missionary to 

He was followed by 
the Rev. Doctor Cor- 
nelius Brett, who was 
installed August 1st, 
1876, tiie church being 
without a regular pas- 
tor only two months, 
June and July. He 
still continues his pas- 
torate, having minis- 
tered faithfully and 
acceptably to his peo- 
ple for over a quarter of a century. He presents the 
faith of the Fathers in all its purity and simplicity ; yet 
recognizing the change of conditions, he preaches 
rather the doctrine of love than that of retributive 


Chapter XXXIX. 


The church has always exercised special care of 
the poor, and the contributions for that purpose have 
been liberal. About 1675, the expense of the 
Poor Fund was so small proportionately, that there 
existed a considerable surplus. Wiiereupon, that 
the fund might not diminish, but rather show some- 
what of an increase, the surplus was invested in 
cows, which were placed in the charge of responsible 
members of the congregation, at a yearly butter rent 
of twelve pounds of butter, or its equivalent in money. 
In 1679 the price of butter was so high that thirteen 
guilders and four stivers rent was received from one 
cow, something over $6, or an average price per 
pound of butter of over fifty cents. 

After 1 71 5, the deacons quit the butter business, 
and confined themselves to money-lending as a means 
of increasing the revenue ; and we find that people 
for miles around came to Bergen to borrow money. 
This was given on proper bond, or on receipt aiitl 
custody of sufficient personal property. The fund 
was also increased by collections taken at weddings, 
and on special occasions, such as birth-(la\-s, recover)- 
from sickness, etc. 

" OLD BERGEN." 1 8/ 

"On Wednesday, November 6, 1678, Siebe Epkse 
(Banta) and Maritze Aryanse Sip, were united in 
marriage, in the Village of Bergen, by the voorleser ; 
collection 2 florins, 19 stivers." This entry occurs in 
the deacons' book, showing that collections for the 
poor were, sometimes at least, taken up at weddings. 
As the currency of the day was mostly in seawant 
or wampum, the receipts and expenditures were 
calculated from that standpoint. An English pound 
was worth forty florins, seawant ; an American 
dollar was worth eight florins. 

Another singular source of revenue was the renting 
of the pall. This was used to cover the coffin, and 
was owned by the consistory, and rented out as 
required on funeral occasions. The first pall was 
procured in 1678, and was used on the occasion of 
the burial of Engelbert Stuynhuysen, the cost of 
which is specified in the deacons' accounts, as 
follows : 

10 El. of Black Cloth, at 24 g. per El.. 240 guilders. 

A linen cover to protect the pall, 14 " 

Total, 254 
An entry December 25, 171 1, shows that the 
receipts for the use of the pall to that time amounied 
to 864 guilders and 17 stivers, or $352.40 of our money. 
We find, however, that notwithstanding the utmost 
care, the Deacons' Fund was at times subjected to 
losses ; borrowers died bankrupt, and securities, as 
now, depreciated in value, and there is in the hands of 
the church treasurer a large amount of money of 
Colonial and Continental issue. 

l88 '• OLD. BERGEN." 

In the early days, as was usual in many rural 
communities, family burial plots were located in 
some convenient part of the farm, and the territory 
was dotted with tiie little enclosures, made sacred to 
the memory of the dead. 

But soon after the custom was established of 
burying church members, especially, in close 
proximity to the church, which doubtless accounts 
for the existence of the old cemeteries at Tuers and 
Bergen Avenues and Vroom Street, as the old 
churches were located on these two plots; and it 
became the recognized custom to perform most of the 
burials there. 

An itemized account of the expenses incurred at 
a burial in 1690, not only informs us of the cost of 
such ceremony, but suggests something of the customs 
of the day. 

Coffin and spirits, 25 g., 10 9t. Aanspreker, 19 g., lost. 

^ Keg of Beer, 15 g., 16 st. Carting the goods, 3g.,oost. 
Flour and Milk, 6 g., 5 st. Sundries, 15 g., 05 st. 

Total, 85 g., 06 St. 

The aanspreker was an oflficial whose services were 
absolutely necessary, at all well regulated funerals in 
the Fatherland, and as the early settlers retained and 
followed closely the customs of the old country, a 
description of the duties devolving upon him will be 
found interesting. Of course, it could not be ex- 
pected that the people of the little country village 
should follow every detail of all elaborate ceremonies, 
but such was their love of the old home, that they 

" OLD BERGEN." 1 89 

would not relinquish any of their old customs and 
habits, unless compelled thereto by the force of cir- 

" On the occasion of a death, the aanspreker was 
notified, and immediately appeared at the house of 
mourning. He there received his instructions, and 
thenceforth assumed complete charge of the whole 
affair, donning his official dress, which consisted of 
low shoes, black stockings, black knickerbockers, a 
black cutaway coat covered by a long, flowing black 
mantle, a white cravat or bands, and a queer-looking 
three-cornered hat or stn:/^•, from one corner of which, 
to the right, floated a long black crepe, like a streamer, 
while on the left corner a rosette had been pinned, 
showing the sex, and condition (married or single) of 
the deceased. 

" If the latter was very rich or prominent, some- 
times ten or twenty aansprekers were employed in 
announcing his death, and one, usually an old ser- 
vant of the family, went in the middle of the street, 
clothed in similar dress, walking along with head 
bowed, his face buried in a large mourning handker- 
chief, and led by two aansprekers, one on each side, 
while the others were making the announcement at 
the homes. At the time appointed for the funeral, 
the nearest relations first appeared and partook of 
some refreshments, generally consisting of a glass of 
beer or spirits, and smoking a long clay pipe. 

"After the arrival of all who were invited, the chief 
aanspreker -spoke a few words of consolation, or of- 
fered up a prayer, after which the body was carried 

190 '* OLD BERGEN.*' 

out on the bier, and was followed in accordance with 
these directions : ' The relations will please follow^ 
according to rank, the younger members of the family- 
coming first.' All the mourners and bearers were 
dressed in the same garb as the aansprekers, or else 
had rosettes pinned to their sleeves, or the lapels of 
their coats, the aansprekers wearing black or white 
gloves, according to the sex of the deceased, two of 
them heading the procession, while the others im- 
mediately followed the bearers. 

"As the procession wended its way to the cemetery, 
every one meeting the train stood still uncovered, 
and stood with bowed head until it had passed. At 
the grave, the chief aanspreker again spoke a few 
words, or ofTered a prayer, and after the burial, led the 
procession in the same order as before, back to the 
sto'fhuis, or house of the deceased. Here beer or 
spirits, and food, had been prepared for them by the 
women, who as a rule, did not go to the cemetery. 
The long clay pipes with tobacco, were on the table, 
and the mourners ate, drank and smoked, in honor of 
the deceased. After a short interval, all except the 
immediate relations departed, and left the bereaved 
ones alone with their grief." 

The requirements of church membership in the 
early days were positive, sometimes somewhat arbi- 
trary, and discipline strict. Probably on account of 
the lack of civil courts, many matters considered the 
proper subjects of legal judicature, were then sub- 
mitted to the consistory, and consequently, we find 
them dealing with ordinary crimes as well as with 


matters that might be considered as pertaining to 

They were rather intolerant in those days. Meth- 
odism and dancing were regarded with equal abhor- 
rence, and subjected to the same punishment, viz., 
suspension from the church ; while intemperance and 
other crimes were denounced, and the transgressors 
subjected to special discipline. In 1790 four regular 
meetings of the consistory were appointed for each 
year, and a fine or forfeit of two shillings was ex- 
acted from any member absenting himself without a 
good and reasonable excuse. In 1797, an additional 
resolution was adopted, which compelled those who 
did not punctually attend the ordinary meetings, to 
pay to the consistory the sum of one shilling for every 
hour elapsed after the time appointed. As the meet- 
ings were called for 2 p. m., it was possible to receive 
considerable income from this source. 

Chapter XL. 


The church always occupied a prominent place in 
the consideration of the early settlers, and its services 
were always regarded as important events in life's ex- 
periences, and were well attended. In those days the 
dominie had almost arbitrary power. On account of 
his superior learning, his counsel and advice were 
sought after, and his decision settled all disputed 
neighborhood matters. It being his duty to instruct 
and catechise the children, he did so by visiting not 
only the school, but at intervals, the homes, which 
were always open to him ; and woe betide the un- 
fortunate delinquent, for the dominie's cane was hard, 
and his right arm strong. 

Dr. Taylor says that in 1828 he heard some of his 
parishioners " speaking of their school days, when 
they and their mates were busied with their lessons in 
Dutch and English, using principally the Psalter and 
New Testament, and rather dreading the day for the 
good old Dominie's catechise." The sermons were di- 
vided into heads with mathematical precision, and 
each head again subdivided into as many parts as the 
analytical mind of the old dominie suggested. 

The music, no inconsiderable part of the service, at 
least in volume of sound, was just as vexatious a prob- 

" OLD BERGEN," 193 

lem to determine as at the present time. The choir, 
unlimited as to numbers, grouped about the leader, 
and pitched their voices to the sound of his tuning 
fork; and the strains of "Dundee," "China," "An- 
tioch," and " Coronation " echoed and reechoed, with 
no uncertain sound. At the suggestion of some un- 
regenerate one, it was decided to add some instru- 
ment as an aid to the music. Whereupon a melodeon 
was procured and surreptitiously placed in the church. 
So flagrant was the offence, that it was deemed a 
proper subject for consistorial action ; and after 
proper deliberation, the following resolution was 
adopted : " Whereas at the instance of some un- 
known Person or Persons, a Melodeon was placed in 
the Church without the consent of the Consistory ; 
now, therefore, Be it Resolved, that such Melodeon 
be allowed to remain." 

The communion service was always a specially 
solemn occasion, A long table, covered with a snow- 
white cloth, was spread across the end of the church, 
and around this the communicants in turn seated 
themselves, to partake of the sacred elements, and 
listen to the words of encouragement and admonition 
from their loved pastor. 

Up to about 1830, the Reformed Dutch Church at 
Bergen was the only building used for religious wor- 
ship in the township, and was resorted to by the wor- 
shippers from the outlying farms, from Bergen Point to 
New Durham ; even after the growth of population de- 
manded additional accommodation for church services 
in other sections, many of the older residents con- 

194 " ^LD EERGEN." 

tinued their connection with the old congregation, 
and their attendance upon the services in the old 
church ; and on summer mornings could be seen the 
sturdy burghers trudging to service, with coat on arm, 
and smoking the consolatory pipe. As they met, 
both before and after services, neighborhood matters 
were talked over, and the results of the season's plant- 
ing predicted. Questions of Church and State were 
sometimes so vigorously discussed, especially just be- 
fore a change of administration, that no little effort 
was required to curb their earnestness. However, at 
the tolling of the bell, all wrangling ceased, and with 
devout mien, they filed into the church, and taking 
their accustomed places, adjusted themselves in the 
most comfortable position, ready to receive the spirit- 
ual food prepared for their needs. 

Chapter XLI. 

othf.r churches. 


Considerable space has been devoted to matters 
connected with tlie old Dutch church at Bergen, not 
only because it was the first church organized, but 
likewise for the reason that under the old order of 
things it was so closely connected with the civic and 
social as well as religious conditions then existing. 
As has been stated, with the growth of the commun- 
ity came demands for other church accommodations, 
and to meet these, churches were established in rapid 

Probably the first church organization in old Jersey 
City was St. Matthew's Protestant Episcopal Society. 
The first service was held in the upper room of the 
old Town Hall in 1809 or '10, and on invitation New 
York clerg}'men occasionally officiated there. Dr. 
E. D. Barry afterward became rector, and the worship 
was continued regularly until the completion of their 
church building — which is still standing — on Sussex 
Street near Warren. 

The opportunity for the erection of this building 
came when the Jersey Associates offered a plot of 
ground lOO feet square, to such religious denomina- 

196 " OLD BERGEN." 

tions as would erect a building thereon within a given 
time. Tliis offer was taken advantage of by the 
Episcopal, Presbyterian, Catholic and Methodist per- 
suasions, and if the map of Jersey City be examined, 
it will be seen that a strip of land extending from 
Sussex to York Streets was donated in accordance with 
such offer, and is still so occupied by the respective 
denominations, with the exception of the Presbyteri- 
ans, whose church passed into the hands of the Dutch 
Reformed, as related elsewhere. 

St. Matthew's Society, having received a bequest of 
$500, was enabled to commence building, and on the 
22d of October, 1831, Dr. Barry laid the corner-stone. 
Through all the changes that have occurred in lower 
Jersey City, St. Matthew's still survives, and services 
are regularly held in the venerable edifice. 

Sept. 10, 1 85 1, the Church of the Ploly Trinity 
was organized in old Hudson City, in the school build- 
ine then standincr at St. Paul's and Central Avenues. 
Gen. E. R. Wright was one of the moving spirits of 
this enterprise, and associated with him were Thomas 
Aldridge, Thomas Harrison, David H. Griffith, William 
Thomas, Jared W. Graves, John Aldridge and James 
Montgomery. Oct. 8th the first public service was 
held in the school-house above alluded to, and on 
Dec. lOth the same year, the corner-stone of the 
present building was laid by Rt. Rev. Bishop Doane. 
In July, 1853, the building was duly consecrated, and 
Rev. W. R. Guis became temporary rector. At the 
present writing (1902) a modern and substantial edifice 
is beincf erected for this congregation on the corner of 


Summit and Pavonia Avenues, the present property 
having been disposed of. 

A number of the communicants of Holy Trinity 
residing in what was known as South Bergen, that is, 
the region south of Montgomery Street, because of the 
increase of population in that territory, saw a favorable 
opportunity for the organization of a new church. 
Accordingly services were instituted in a small school- 
house on Gardner Avenue, and in i860 the congrega- 
tion was organized as St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal 
Church. J no. S. Sutphen and Elizur Ward were 
elected wardens, and S. D. Harrison, John M. Cor- 
nelison, Barberie Throckmorton, Thomas James, Chris- 
topher H. Fash, John Rudderow, William P. Bleecker, 
and Edmund Baldwin, vestrymen. 

Rev. F. C. Putnam entered upon his duties as rec- 
tor, October, i860. In 1861 a building was erected in 
Duncan Avenue, followed by the present enlarged and 
commodious church, which is still occupied by the 


Although there were but few Catholics in old 
Jersey City at the time of the ofTer of the Jersey 
Associates, they determined if possible to secure the 
advantage of it. After obtaining pledges from the 
greater number of those residing there, they secured 
the ground and appealed to their brother Catholics in 
New York for assistance. Bishop Dubois, at a service 
held in St. Patrick's Cathedral in that city, urged^that 
assistance be given to the " poor Catholics of Paulus 

198 " OLD BERGEN." 

Hook," and closed his appeal with the following words : 
" Now all you that will go over there, and aid them to 
prepare the ground, and help them to begin in the 
erection of their church, hold up your right hands." 
Instantly the hand of every male member in the 
church was raised. The ferry company had promised 
to convey over without charge all those who would 
help in the work, and the next day between two and 
three hundred horses and carts and a large number of 
men with picks and shovels, wended their way over 
the ferry, and the filling in of the ground for old St. 
Peter's (now Aloysius Hall) was enthusiastically 

The corner-stone was laid by Bishop Dubois in 1831, 
but the difificulties encountered were so great that the 
first mass was not celebrated until 1837. 'U^*^ build- 
ing was dedicated in 1839, ^"^ Rev. William Mahan 
was the first pastor, followed at short intervals by 
others until 1844, when Rev. Father Kelly was duly 
installed as pastor of St. Peter's, and continued as 
such up to the time of his death, April 28, 1866. 

Father Kelly was very closely identified with the 
early growth of old Jersey City. Quiet and indus- 
trious in his habits, modest and unassuming in manner, 
and yet firm in his adherence to right, and at all times 
inculcating an honest, upright line of conduct, his 
name became a household word, and his memory is still 
fragrant in the minds of those who knew him. 

The Methodist persuasion likewise initiated pro- 


ceedings to secure their share of the offered gift of 
the Associates. 

At this time the whole territory now known as Ber- 
gen and Hudson Counties was included in one circuit, 
and as was customary, missionary work was done 
by "circuit riders," faithful men who were ready to 
endure any privation in order to advance the interests 
of their faith. The old hymn aptly describes their 

" No foot of land do I possess, 
No cottage in the wilderness": 

A poor wayfaring man, 
I lodge awhile in tents below. 
And gladly wander to and fro. 

Till I my Canaan gain." 

A nucleus was gathered, and the property on the 
south side of York Street adjoining in the rear the plot 
mentioned above as occupied by the Catholics, was 
secured. A building was erected in 1835, and Dr. Mc- 
Clintock became the first pastor. Like its neighbor, 
St. Matthew's, it has withstood all the changes in its 
neighborhood, and continues regular services at this 

Elder George Banghart, long a presiding elder of the 
Philadelphia Conference, was the first to promulgate 
the doctrines of Methodism in old Hudson City. He 
is described as a " short, broad-shouldered and deep- 
chested man, with a loud, clear voice," and was well 
calculated from a physical standpoint to withstand the 
persecution and opposition to which he was subjected. 
He preached at stated times in the old school-house 

200 " OLD BERGEN. 

on Bergenwood Avenue, and the first class was formed 
in 1 841, with James Jacobus as leader. The Simpson 
Methodist Episcopal Church was organized, and meet- 
ings continued in this place for tliree years, when a 
plot of ground on Cook Street was purchased, and a 
building erected, which was used until the present 
building in Central Avenue was finished in 1857. 
This was then occupied, and still remains the church 
home of the congregation. The property on Cook 
Street was sold to the city, and was for some time 
occupied as a City Hall. 


In 1809 a Presbyterian Society was formed in old 
Jersey City, and held services in the Town Hall alter- 
nately with the Episcopal congregation for some years. 
A Presbyterian church was organized Dec. 15, 1825, 
and in 1828 a frame building was erected on the plot 
of ground on the south side of Grand Street, 
allotted to them by the Associates under the terms 
before mentioned, which was occupied by them until 
it became the property of the Dutch Reformed 
Church as already stated. 

Presbyterianism appears to have languished in this 
section for some years, for there seems to have been 
no movement in this direction until about 1840. April 
22, 1844, the " First Presbyterian Church of Jersey 
City " was organized, and the first services held in the 
First Reformed Church building above alluded to. 
Shortly afterward the First Presbyterian Church was 
erected on the corner of Sussex and Washinirton 


Streets. This building was composed of the identical 
stone taken from the " stone steepled meeting house " 
that stood on the north side of Wall Street, New York 
City. The material of this building was so carefully 
marked and removed, that, when brought over,' it was 
replaced so that the church was rebuilt on the exact 
model of, and presented the same appearance as, the 
original building. The Rev. Jno. Johnston was the 
first pastor. The old congregation has long since dis- 
persed ; many have died, others moved away, and those 
remaining in the vicinity have united with other 
churches, the majority of those remaining with the 
First Presbyterian Church on Emory Street. In 
1885 the building was torn down to make room for 
modern improvements, so that all traces have been 

In 1855 the need was felt for a Presbyterian church 
on what is now Jersey City Heights, which, through 
the energy of John G. Parker and those associated 
with him, soon crystallized into a movement for the 
organization of a new society. A number gathered 
in response to Mr. Parker's invitation, and the first 
meeting was held in a school building on Storm 
Avenue. Sept. 16, 1856, Rev. Jas. B. Bonar preached. 
Oct. 13, 1856, John G. Parker and Orrin H. Crosby 
applied to the Presbytery of New York for permission 
to organize a Presbyterian church. Their request 
was granted, and Oct. 24th the congregation met in 
the school-house, when twenty-four persons were duly 
constituted the " First Presbyterian Church of Ber- 
gen." Rev. J. G. Craighead, Alexander Bonnell, 

202 " OLD BERGEN. 

Henry Dusenberry, and Orrin H. Crosby, were the in- 

Rev. J. G. Craighead, John G. Parker, Jacob M. 
Merseles, John Raymond, Alexander Bonnell, James 
C. McBirney, and EHsha Bliss, Jr., constituted the 
board of trustees, and Messrs. Parker and Crosby 
were elected elders, and Richard H. Westervelt and 
Robert D. Wynkoop, deacons. 

Edward W. French preached as a supply from 
Sept. 28, 1856, to Nov. 19, 1856, when he accepted a 
call as regular pastor and was installed by the Presby- 
tery in the school-house Jan. 15, 1857. Sept. 16, 1857, 
the corner stone of the building was laid on property 
acquired on Emory Street east of Bergen Avenue, and 
Oct. 28, 1858, the church was dedicated. 

Owing to the growth of the congregation through 
the disbandment of the old church in lower Jersey 
City, and increase of population, the need of greater ac- 
commodation was felt, and the building was enlarged ; 
it has recently been redecorated and improved, and 
is to-day one of the most attractive church buildings 
in the city. 

Chapter XLII. 


As has been stated, the education of the young was 
considered by the early settlers as of equal importance 
with instruction in and observance of their religious 
doctrines. Accordingly, in very early times efforts 
were made to secure suitable instructors. 

The first schoolmaster was Engelbcit Stuynhuysen, 
who was licensed October 6, 1662. He was engaged 
as voorleser, or clerk, with the express stipulation 
that he, besides this function, was to act as school- 
master. He was a tailor by trade, and came from 
Soest, the second city in Westphalia, arriving at New 
Amsterdam April 25, 1659, in the Moesman, Capt. 
Jacob Jansen. He also represented Bergen in the 
Landtag, in 1664, and signed the oath of allegiance to 
Charles H., with other inhabitants of Bergen, on 
November 22, 1665. 

E. Stuynhuysen received a deed of sundry parcels 
of land in and about the town of Bergen, from Philip 
Carteret, July 22, 1670. The land comprised seven 
lots, amounting to about one hundred and fifty acres. 
So that we may rightly understand what was required 
of the clerk, it may be well to refer to a resolution 
passed by consistory in later years. Disputes having 
arisen concerning the duties of the clerk, it was de- 

204 "OLD BERGEN.' 

cided : " He is to perform the services in the congre- 
gation botli in the church and at funerals, as has been 
usual among 7is. That is to say, he is to read a chap- 
ter in the Holy Bible, the Law, and the Creed, and 
to sing on the Sabbath, and also when divine service 
is performed on week days ; also, in case of any death 
in the congregation, he is to deliver the invitations, 
and shall also provide the gauze at the expense of the 
consistory, and put it on the chandelier, as soon as 
the evening service is discontinued every year. (For 
which he is to be paid fifteen guilders yearly and to 
charge F4.50 for funeral of each grown person, and 
proportionately for children.)" 

As Stuynhuysen owned his house and lot and 
double farm, he was required " to act well in his capac- 
ity as clerk, not only, but even to look out, and pro- 
cure himself, a proper and convenient place in which 
to keep school." To this he objected, and likewise 
to paying tax of any kind, on the ground that, as 
schoolmaster and clerk, he was exempt, and that the 
community should provide a place suitable for such 
purpose. The matter was submitted to the Schout 
and Schepens, constituting the government of Bergen, 
who decreed that he should serve out his contract. 

A memorial dated December 17, 1663, was presented 
to the Governor General and Council at New Nether- 
lands as follows : " Sliew reverently, the Sheriff and 
your Commission of the Village of Bergen, which they 
presume is known to your Honors, that before the 
election of the new Commissioners, ye were solicited 
by Michael Jansen, deceased, to be favored with the 

" OLD BERGEN." ±0$ 

appointment of a clerk (voorleser), who should at the 
same time keep school to instruct the youth, the per- 
son of Engelbert Stuynhuysen, who possessed the 
required abilities, so is, that the Sheriff and Commis- 
sion now a year past proposed it to the Community ; 
who then approved it, and resolved to engage him, 
not only as Clerk, but with the express stipulation, 
that he besides this function, was to keep school, 
which the aforesaid Stuynhuysen agreed to do, and 
did so, during five quarters of a year, for which, was 
allowed him two hundred and fifty florins in seawant 
annually, besides some other stipulation, the school 
money so as reason and equity shall demand. 

" Now so is, that the aforesaid E. Stuynhuysen, 
whereas he has a lot and house and a double farm, 
situated in the jurisdiction of the Village of Bergen, 
is, by which the aforesaid E. Stuynhuysen considers 
himself highly aggrieved, and so resigned his ofifice, 
pretending that a Schoolmaster and Clerk ought to be 
exempt from all taxes and burthens of the Village, 
which he says is the common practice through the 
whole Christian world, which by the Sheriff and Com- 
mission, is understood, that only can take place when 
such clerk, or schoolmaster, does not possess anything 
else but the school warf, but by no means, when the 
schoolmaster is in possession of a house and lot and 
double farm ; that he in such a case, should pay noth- 
ing from his lot and lands, and the Community at 
large is of the same opinion, as he receives his salary 
as Clerk, and not only is obliged to act well in his 
capacity as Clerk, but even to look out and procure a 

206 "OLD BERGEN." 

convenient place to keep school, which jie has thus 
far neglected, and pretends that the Community must 
effect this, so that he may keep his school in it. 

** They cannot perceive how E, Stuynhuysen can 
be permitted to resign his ofifice, when he neglected 
to notify his intention one-half year before. Where- 
fore the supplicants address themselves to your Hon- 
ors, humbly soliciting them to insinuate to the 
aforesaid Engelbert Stuynhuysen, to continue in the 
service the second year, and to declare if the afore- 
said Engelbert Stuynhuysen is not obliged by his 
possession of lot and farm, to provide for the mainte- 
nance of a soldier as well as other inhabitants." The 
petition was granted and Stuynhuysen admonished 
to continue to the end of his term. As his term of 
engagement was for two years, it is safe to say that 
the first school-house was built shortly after its ter- 
mination, in 1664. 

It is evident that Stuynhuysen ceased to act as 
voorleser about the same time, for the old records of 
later years state that " B. Van Giesen was buried May 
15, 1707, after having filled the ofifice of voorleser at 
Bergen, for about forty-two years." According to 
this. Van Giesen entered upon the duties of his office 
in 1665. 

In Carteret's Charter, dated September 22, 1668, is 
this stipulation : " The Freeholders shall have power 
to choose their own minister, for the preaching of the 
Word of God, and being so chosen, all persons as well 
as the inhabitants, are to contribute according to their 
estates and for the maintenance, or lay out such a 

" OLD BERGEN." 20/ 

proportion of land, for the minister, and the keeping of 
a free school, for the education of youth, as they shall 
think fit, which land being once laid out, is not to be 
alienated, but to remain and continue, from one in- 
cumbent to another, free from paying any rent, or 
any other rate, or taxes whatsoever." 

As the population increased, new settlements were 
formed at inconvenient distances from Bergen, and 
their people rebelled against paying any taxes for the 
support of the school, when they were too far away 
to be benefited. Whereupon "The Schout and 
Magistrates of the Town of Bergen, requesting that 
the inhabitants of all the settlements dependent upon 
them, of what religious persuasion soever they may 
be, shall be bound to pay their share toward the sup- 
port of the Precentor and Schoolmaster, and which, 
being taken into consideration by the Governor and 
Council, it is ordered, that all the said inhabitants, 
without any exception, shall, pursuant to the Resolu- 
tion of the Magistrates of the Town of Bergen, dated 
December i8, 1672, and subsequent confirmation, pay 
their share for the support of said Precentor and 
Schoolmaster." Dated December 24, 1673. 

May 24, 1674, the Schouts complaining that some 
of the inhabitants still obstinately refused to pay 
quota for the support of the precentor and school- 
master, the Governor General and Council ordered 
the Schout to proceed to immediate execution against 
all unwilling debtors. 

Although supported by direct tax, the school was 
under the direct supervision and control of the church. 

2o8 " OLD BERGEN." 

The consistory appointed the schoohnaster, who was 
required, in addition to ordinary instruction in the 
elementary branches of education, to hear the cate- 
chism, and at stated times to receive the pastor and 
elders of the church, when all the pupils were to be 
catechised and instructed in the truths of religion ; 
and no person could be appointed to this office, unless 
he solemnly promised to instruct the children com- 
mitted to his care in the Principles contained in the 
Church Standard. It is probable, in the very early 
days, that the same building served for both church 
and school, and was likely the one referred to before 
as having been erected at Tuers Avenue and Vroom 
Street ; but it is well settled that in after years, at 
least one, or perhaps two, buildings were erected on the 
present school plot at Bergen Square. 

When disputes arose concerning the titles to lands, 
a commission was appointed to determine the matter, 
who reported in 1764, that they had regard to the 
right and allotment due the church and free school, 
" as in said Charter specified and confirmed, and set 
off and allotted the sundry lots of land hereinafter 
described." One of the confirmations and allotments 
made as stated, was the plot located on Bergen 
Square where School No. 11 now stands. It would 
seem from the recent translation of Veerstag, that the 
second schoolhouse was located on this plot as early 
as May 1 1, 1708. 

The Records state : "On Tuesday, May ii, 1708, 
Matheus Bensum has made a beginning with the new 
schoolhouse, and commenced with the foundation, and 

" OLD BERGEN." 209 

Andrien Vermeulen laid the corner stone ; " and the 
following entry would indicate that many of the 
citizens of Bergen aided the good work by donating 
materials : 

" Johannis Michielse, 10 loads stone, 

Cornelis Blinkerhof, 10 " " 

Maritje Hartmans, 10 " " 

Johannis Thomasse, 5 " " 

Fredrick Thomasse, i " clay, 

Uldrich Brouvver, 4 " stone, 

Johannis Pouwelsie, 8 " " 

3 " clay, 
Matheus De Mott, i " stone, 

" " " 10 " clay, 

Jacob Jacobse Van Winkle, 5 " " 

" " " " 5 " stone, 

Robert Scggelse, i " clay, 

Jan Lubberse, 5 " sand, 

" " I " clay, 

I " lime." 
This building was probably occupied until the erec- 
tion of the Columbian Academy, in 1790. 

On October 30, 1793, an act was passed called, "An 
Act for the establishing of Schoolmasters within the 
Province." Its preamble recites, that " the cultivation 
of learning and good manners tends greatly to the good 
and benefit of mankind." The act authorized the inhab- 
itants of each township to meet together and choose 
three men, whose duty it should be to make a rate 
for the salary and maintaining of a schoolmaster with- 
in the said township, for as long a time as they should 


think fit ; and it provided that the consent and agree- 
ment of the major part of the inhabitants should bind 
and oblige the remaining part to satisfy and pay their 
share of said rate, and that the goods and chattels of 
persons refusing or neglecting to pay were to be dis- 
trained and sold. This seems to have been the begin- 
ning of the school trustee system, and it may mark 
the time when the School passed from under the 
government of the Church. 

Chapter XLIII. 


About 1790, by virtue of an act of incorporation, 
" The Trustees of the Bergen Columbian Academy " 
took possession of the school lot, and erected thereon 
the building that in those days attained great promi- 
nence. It was a noted institution, and many prominent 
men of bygone days received instruction within its 

An advertisement in a New York paper of August 
16, 1796, states: " Agreeably to an advertisement of 
the ' Trustees of the Bergen Academy,' New Jersey, 
in April last, the grammar school was opened the first 
of May, and so continues. The pleasant and healthy 
situation of the place, its proximity to New York, and 
the low rate at which board may be had, are advan- 
tages meriting the attention of the public, especially 
the people of New York, who may be assured, that the 
best care and attention will be given to the education 
and morals of the children, by the teacher, Elijah 
Rosegrant. N. B. — The price of boarding, is from 
twenty to twenty-five shillings per year. Th.e dis- 
tance of the Academy from Paulus Hook ferry is one 
and one-half miles only." 

Owing to a change of conditions and government, 
after considerable controversy, " The Trustees of 

212 " OLD BERGEN." 

Columbian Academy conveyed all right, title and in- 
terest in the property, to the Freeholders of the Town 
of Bergen, for the continuance of said free school, and 
for no other purpose." This was confirmed by the 
legislature, January 27, 1814, and in after years 
the property passed under the state school law to the 
trustees of School No. i of the town of Bergen, when 
the present building was erected. At the time of the 
consolidation of Jersey City it became a part of the 
city's school system. 

The Columbian Academy was a large, substantial 
stone building, two stories in height, surmounted by a 
cupola, on which, after the demolition of the old 
church in 1 841, was placed the weather vane that for- 
merly swung from its lofty spire. The school was 
conducted on the special grading system, such as is 
claimed by some of our modern educators as being 
their own peculiar production, the ground work of 
which was simply that individuality was recognized, 
and ability and application encouraged. The whole 
second story of the building was devoted to educa- 
tional purposes, with the exception of a ^^^^'f J^^^ 
on the northwest corner, which was occupied by the 
"Ancient Order of Rechabites," whose mysterious 
rites kept alive among the scholars a degree of curiosity 
that was never satisfied. _ 

The initiation services of this order were especially 
the subject of conjecture ; and " riding the goat " being 
part of the ceremony, a great desire was manifested to 
see this notorious animal. Holes were bored through 
the door during the daytime, in order to get a peep at 

214 *' OLD BERGEN. 

the uncanny beast ; but beyond a faint rustling, no 
evidence was ever secured. He was said to be of the 
razor-backed, high-stepping variety, and it was sup- 
posed that the victim suffered untold tortures during 
the ceremony. 

This room changed the form of the school-room 
from an oblong into an L-shape, a fact that was taken 
advantage of by the discreet schoolmaster, to place the 
girls at one extremity and the boys at the other, with 
his desk in the angle, so as to afford him general super- 
vision over all. This arrangement was convenient for 
the punishment of any refractory or disobedient pupil, 
who was placed between two of the opposite sex, there 
to remain until the fault had been sufficiently atoned 
for; this proceeding was always resented by the boys, 
but when the process was reversed, it was received by 
the girls with a due amount of commendable resigna- 
tion. It is curious to note how often it became neces- 
sary to subject them to this punishment. 

As there were no janitors in those days, the semi- 
weekly cleaning and sweeping of the school-room was 
performed by two of the larger girls, who were selected 
for this purpose by the schoolmaster, as a mark of 
special favor ; and one boy was detailed to assist them 
by carrying water, etc., as a matter of punishment. 
Under the circumstances, a long time was required to 
perform this work, and oftentimes the shades of even- 
ing were falling before it was satisfactorily completed. 
On one occasion, the schoolmaster, passing the building 
about nightfall, noticed an open window, whereupon 
he determined upon an investigation. He discovered 



that the sweeping had been finished some hours before, 
but that the girls had invented a new game which re- 
quired the most active exertion on the part of the boy 
to escape being kissed. It is related that the boy was 
in this instance found in such an exhausted condition, 
that this department of co-education was forthwith 

The school-room was furnished with a large stove, 
which in cold weather was kept red-hot, thus present- 
ing an attractive surface at which to project pieces of 
rubber, assafoetida or other substances producing 
pleasant perfumes when burned. In case of extreme 
cold, the scholars were allowed to surround this stove 
by details ; after one section was well warmed, at least 
on one side, it was followed by another, somewhat after 
the manner of relieving guard in a military camp, and 
as the process continued in an endless succession, the 
danger of any scholar being frozen to death was 

Long benches without backs were provided for the 
smaller pupils, while desks with three compartments 
were furnished for the more advanced scholars. This 
division of the desk was taken advantage of by the oc- 
cupants, who fitted a lock on the middle one, ostensi- 
bly for the purpose of protecting the luncheons of 
those who lived at a distance, but principally for hiding 
contraband articles and forbidden sweets. 

Underneath the corner room alluded to was a similar 
one, in which, according to the fitness of things, a 
shoemaker located himself, so as to be convenient for 
covering balls, furnishing whip lashes, or supplying the 

2l6 " OLD BERGEN." 

penny's worth of strap oil, for which the innocent 
youngster was sent. At a convenient distance, op- 
posite the old parsonage, that stood at the northwest 
corner of the square, was a large weeping willow, well 
calculated to hide those naughty boys who, attaching 
a string to the clapper of the old school bell, concealed 
themselves within its friendly branches, so that they 
might, unseen, ring the bell at unseemly hours, and 
startle the staid inhabitants from their slumbers. 

On account of the size of the Columbian Academy 
and the difficulty of organizing a regular faculty with 
one head, there were often two distinct schools under 
its roof. On one occasion, Gasherie DeVVitt had 
charge of the school on the upper floor, while one 
Gahagen was installed on the lower floor. These were 
both individual enterprises, independent of each 
other, with separate and distinct charges for tuition. 
The rate most frequently charged was $1.50 per quar- 
ter. As may be imagined, considerable competition 
existed between the schools, and when necessary to 
influence pupils, concessions from the above amount 
were made. The income of the principals depending 
upon the number of pupils they might secure, they 
were very active in their canvassing, and at times 
rivalled the arts of the practised politician to ac- 
complish their aims. The usual school year in the 
early days was divided into four quarters of twelve 
weeks each, with two weeks' holiday in both spring 
and fall. This was intended to allow proper time and 
opportunity for replenishing the summer and winter 

Chapter XLIV. 


In the course of time, increased school facilities 
were demanded, and private enterprises instituted 
several small schools. in different sections of the town, 
which met with varying success. One was held in the 
early days, in the old parsonage that stood on the 
site of the present Bergen Reformed Church. Another 
school was opened by Sylvester Van Buren in the 
Van Riper homestead, which stood west of Bergen 
Avenue and south of Montgomery Street. He taught 
the boys, while the instruction of the girls came under 
the direct supervision of his wife and daughter. 

John Welsh and his son James shortly after started 
a school in a small building, formerly used as a car- 
penter shop, that stood near the corner of Bergen and 
Harrison Avenues. This increased in numbers to 
such an extent that a long, low, one-story building 
was erected on Harrison Avenue west of what is now 
Monticello, for its accommodation. After his father's 
death, James Welsh became sole proprietor. His 
method of instruction was to a great extent of the 
muscular sort, and he controlled and disciplined his 
little flock through their fears. He was of a somewhat 
nervous, irritable temperament, and was oftentimes 
so unjust in the treatment of his scholars that open 

2i8 " OLD BERGEN." 

rebellion was frequent, in several cases resulting in their 
withdrawal from the school. Frequently the parents of 
the rebels, recognizing the justice of their active pro- 
tests, sustained them, and either allowed them to fin- 
ish their education at home, or sent them elsewhere 
for that purpose. Notwithstanding this severity and 
lack of discretion in school government, however, 
Schoolmaster Welsh was well versed in the require- 
ments of the age, and there are those still living who 
recognize that the foundations of their intellectual 
acquirements were firmly planted by him. 

This building in later years was followed by another, 
which was erected on the corner of Harrison and 
Monticello Avenues. This was afterward enlarged, 
and under the present municipal government is known 
in the school system of Jersey City as School No. 

The first school building for upper or North Bergen 
section, was in the territory of old Hudson City. 
It was a small, one-story frame structure, located 
about the corner of Bergenwood and Beacon Avenues, 
and was the forerunner of School No. 6. During the 
continuance of the school in this building, a financial 
report was read, which ignored a balance of six 
cents remaining on hand at the end of the previous 
fiscal year ; whereupon an explanation was demanded, 
and it was found that at the meeting at which such 
previous report was submitted, after the report had 
been prepared, it was discovered that artificial light 
would be needed, and that amount was expended for 
tallow dips. At this time, the teachers were obliged 



to depend upon whatever could be collected from the 
scholars, which was supposed to amount to an annual 
contribution of about $2 per pupil, altiiough this 
was by no means certain. 

For lower Jersey City, the first school was started 
in a building located on Sussex Street, in the rear 
of the present U. S. Post Of^ce. It was erected 
in 1809 on ground donated by the Jersey Associates, 
and was used as a town hall, lock-up and school. 
Several years after, the first public school, sustained 
by subscription, was held in this same building, and 
soon became quite flourishing, in evidence of which 
fact we have the following extract from the message 
of Mayor Peter Martin in April, 1840: " A Public 
School has been established on such liberal principles 
that any resident of the City, however poor he may 
be, may avail himself of its benefits. The highest 
price for tuition per quarter, demanded of any pupil, 
is $1.00 — the lowest 50c., but children whose Parents 
or Guardians are not able to pay for their tuition 
are not on that account debarred from the privileges 
of the school. It is in a flourishing condition, nearly 
300 pupils having availed themselves of its benefits 
the past year." 

July 23, 1843, ail ordinance was adopted by the 
Council of Jersey City, which recites: "That all 
monies that may hereafter be received from tavern 
licenses, the city quota of the surplus revenue, the 
interest of the city proportion of the Bergen Corpora- 
tion fund, be, and the same are hereby appropriated, 
to the support of Public School No. i, kept in the 



Town Hall, and such other Public Schools as the 
Common Council may from time to time erect and 
establish." The school was to be open quarterly, 
under the direction of the township school com- 
mittee, and the general supervision of the Mayor 
and Common Council. Tlie pupils were to reside 
in Jersey City, and pay fifty cents per quarter for 
spelling and reading, or one dollar when writing, 
arithmetic and other 

branches were included. 
This school was contin- 
ued until 1847, and ^^''^^ 
under the charge of 
Albert T. Smith. Febru- 
ary 8, of that year, Mr. 
Smith became the prin- 
cipal of the first public 
free school in Jersey City, 
with Geo. H. Linsley as 
first assistant. Tins build- 
ing was located on the 
site now occupied by Pubhc School No. i. 

In 1851 Mr. Smith resigned, and Mr. Linsley suc- 
ceeded him as principal, which position he has held 
continuously to the present time. Mr. Linsley is a 
born teacher and a close student of human nature. He 
inspires the love and confidence of his pupils to a 
remarkable degree through his sympathetic nature 
and conscientious performance of tiie duties pertaining 
to his position. Recognizing the individuality of 
every pupil, he implants within each one the desire for 



22 i 

better and higher thhigs, and teaches them that with- 
out self-exertion no success can be achieved. It was 
the exercise of these qualities that made him the 
successful instructor of over half a century, loved and 
revered by the whole community. 

F'rom these small beginnings in different parts of 
the territory, our present magnificent school system 
has grown and developed. 

Other individual educational enterprises were in- 
stituted, and had much to do with moulding and 

influencing the senti- 
ment and policy of 
the whole commun- 
ity. In 1839 Wm. L. 
Dickinson, who be- 
came so favorably 
known in the educa- 
tional world, opened 
the Lyceum School 
on Grand Street, and 
continued there for 
many years. He 
afterward became a 
member of the 
School Board, and 
was elected City 
and County Superintendent. As such, by his wise and 
judicious action, he inaugurated many reforms and 
gave a decided impetus to the work of education. 

Messrs. Dickinson and Linsley were near neighbors, 
and possessing similar tastes and congenial dispositions, 




they became close and sincere friends. They coun- 
selled and cooperated in all matters pertaining to 
educational advancement, and to them was due the 
early organization and development of our school 

Other notable instances were " The Misses Graves' 
Seminary for Young Ladies," located at the corner of 
Summit Avenue and Cottage Street, adjoining the 
present Baptist Church ; " The Miss Chadeayne's Semi- 
nary," at the corner of Green and Grand Streets ; and 
" Hasbrouck Institute," founded as a preparatory 
collegiate institute for boys. Of these notable insti- 
tutions, only " Hasbrouck Institute "survives. It was 
founded by Doctor Washington Hasbrouck in 1856, 
and the school then occupied a small building on 
Mercer Street, near Wayne. Dr. Hasbrouck con- 
ducted this school for ten years, and many of its 
graduates are now occupying positions of prominence 
and responsibility in the city. It has since then 
greatly developed, and is recognized in educational cir- 
cles as an institution second to none in its facilities for 
and methods of instruction. 

It is curious to note in an examination of the 
old records, how frequently lotteries were resorted to 
as a means of obtaining funds for many enterprises. 
The moneys needed for the support of educational in- 
stitutions, and even for the repairing and building of 
churches and parsonages, were procured in this way. 
The advertisements in the daily prints of 1759 to 1773 
give abundant evidence of the universal practice of 
this method of obtaining funds. 

Chapter XLV. 


Perhaps no more fitting introduction to this di- 
vision of our subject can be folind than the address 
delivered by Chief Justice Hornblower on the occa- 
sion of the dedication of the new court-house in 
March, 1845, as published in the Jersey City Adver- 
tiser of tliat date. He said : — 

'* I remember the old town of Bergen, when it had 
very few inhabitants except old-fashioned Dutchmen, 
and very few houses, except those not built for show, 
but for domestic comfort and convenience; long, low, 
and unpretending in appearance, but durable in ma- 
terials, and opening upon the street some two or 
three hospitable doors, into which the friend and 
stranger might enter and find a welcome, and from 
which they might retire, and leave a blessing behind 
them. Hoboken then consisted of little besides a 
well kept public house, and a beautiful retreat from 
the noise and bustle of the neighboring metropolis " 
(The Elysian Fields). 

" No Jersey City then adorned your shores, nothing 
but a large, long ferry-house, occupied successively by 
an Ellsworth, a Smith, and a Hunt, with here and 
there a boatman's or a fisherman's cabin, that stood 



upon the heap of sand called Powles Hook ; your 
settlements were scarce, your occupations agricultural 
and industrial, and your population small but healthy, 
peaceful and honest. You needed, for many years 
within my recollection, but one physician to admin- 
ister to your physical necessities, and but one man of 
God to supply your spiritual want, and not even one 
lawyer, to satisfy your litigious propensities, for you 
had none to be satisfied. Peace reigned throughout 
your borders. Simplicity of life and manners, and 
honesty of purpose, were the prevailing characteristics 
of the good old Dutch, who almost exclusively occu- 
pied the soil of your county, in the days of my boy- 
hood. A court at Hackensack, and a few Dutch 
justices at home, were all you wanted to punish the 
few offenders, and settle the few lawsuits that troubled 
you in those days. But alas! we fear those good old 
days have gone by, never to return. The rapidly in- 
creasing population of our county, the vast improve- 
ments in science and the arts, and the enterprising 
spirit of the age in which we live, have wrought a 
mighty change, even within the period of my memory. 
The facilities of steamboats and railroad cars, and the 
increasing spirit of trade, and commerce, and manu- 
facture of the arts, have brought the good -old town of 
Bergen into contact with the world, cut up her terri- 
tory into small localities, studded her shores with 
splendid buildings, turned her farms into country 
seats, her cabbage grounds into pleasure gardens, and 
her dwelling places into workshops and manufactories. 
Such, in fact, has been the change in appearance and 



population, of that part of the old County of Bergen, 
that I can scarcely retrace the steps of my boyhood, 
when in my visits to my friends here or in the City 
of New York, I used to traverse these hills." 

The changes alluded to in this interesting discourse 
of the venerable Chief Justice have continued with 
redoubled speed, and in an increasing ratio, and the 
great city, which has consolidated much of the ancient 
territory and absorbed the numerous small municipali- 
ties, is without doubt, destined to rival the greater 
New York, by gathering in all of the contiguous terri- 
tory, and perhaps reaching out to and including the 
green hills of Orange. 
' The early inhabitants of Bergen were strongly im- 
bued with the peculiar characteristics of the Father- 
land, and for years clung with a persistent tenacity to 
the habits and customs they had brought with them. 
Rescued from the silt and sand of the ocean, the 
people of the Fatherland were endowed with a love of 
country and attachment for the home that were but 
intensified by the successive struggles and privations 
to which they were subjected, and they transmitted to 
their descendants, an intense perseverance, frugal thrift 
and untiring industry— qualities of no uncertain value in 
the settlement and development of a new country, and 
which have made them prominent, not only in the 
commercial and mercantile world, but also in civil and 
military life. 

Until about the year 1840, or thereabouts, the town- 
ship of Bergen did not change much in the character 
or habits of its population. Possessed of the old 

226 " OLD BERGEN. 

Dutch characteristic of holding on to the paternal 
acres, inherited from their fathers, they would under- 
go extreme privations rather than voluntarily part with 
their patrimony so that it was almost an impos- 
sibility to secure from the original owners a plot of 
ground even of sufficient size on which to build a 

In the course of time, however, owing to the pass- 
ing away of the original owners, and the resultant 
necessary division of the home acres, or the financial 
embarrassment of some unfortunates, the territory was 
gradually opened up to the investment of outside capi- 
tal. The increasing population of New York City 
created a demand for convenient homes, and Bergen, 
from its proximity and healthful surroundings, received 
much attention. Attracted by its quiet neighborhood, 
its primitive surroundings, and its pure sparkling water 
drawn with the old-fashioned well sweep and moss- 
covered bucket from rock-embedded springs, there 
were many who frequented this spot. A few suc- 
ceeded in securing temporary board, and being thus 
brought into contact with the inhabitants, dispelled 
the existing prejudice against strangers. Many of 
these, in course of time, secured plots of ground, 
which they improved and beautified. As it was 
but occasionally that such plots were thrown on 
the market, there could be no concerted or uniform 
action in relation to the improvements, but as oppor- 
tunity offered, these plots were laid out and built upon, 
to suit the tastes of the owners. 

Had there been, during the early development of the 



territory, an opportunity for such united action, Ber- 
gen Hill would have been noted as the most attractive 
suburb of the commercial and financial center of the 
world. Commanding as it does views of unsurpassed 
beauty, its atmosphere purified and tempered by the 
invigorating ocean breezes from the east, or the fresh, 
pure air direct from the Blue Mountains on the west, 
with perfect drainage facilities, and of easy access to 
the neighboring city, it promised to become the choice 
spot for the ideal home. 

The tenacity with which the old settlers held on to 
what they determined were their rights was marked. 
But though unwilling to concede to an unjust demand, 
they yet recognized the rights of others, and were 
always willing to effect an adjustment of any difficul- 
ties — from their own individual standpoint. Good- 
natured yet decided, controversies were indulged in, 
sometimes being only definitely adjusted by due 
course of law. It is related that two of the old neigh- 
bors, becoming involved in some differences, appealed 
to the old Dutch justice for an adjudication. The 
session occurred on one of the hot days of late summer, 
and the court was instituted under the shade of an 
overhanging apple tree. The legal talent of the day 
was engaged, and indulged in lofty flights of eloquence, 
stimulated thereto by copious cooling drinks of apple- 
jack. After a thorough consideration, the matter was 
determined in favor of one of the litigants, and a 
moderate amount of money adjudged to be due to him ; 
whereupon the whole sum was placed in the hands 
of the justice, and he was instructed to expend the same 



in an old-fashioned jollification, in which all the inter- 
ested parties, witnesses and spectators were invited to 
join. The narrator neglects to supply the final closing 
of the case. As the popularity of the old justice from 
this time rapidly increased, it may be safely assumed 
that he held the scales with an even hand. 

Chapter XLVI. 


Although the Village of Bergen was prescribed 
within certain boundaries, as heretofore mentioned, 
the name attached itself to its outlying plantations 
and dependencies; and as it was the seat of justice 
and the location of the courts, the surrounding terri- 
tory for a considerable extent was designated by the 
same name. Consequently when the province was 
divided into counties in 1682, it was but natural that 
the name of Bergen should attach itself to that por- 
tion of the territory including this venerable town. 

As the development and prosperity of the state con- 
tinued, it was found advisable to make smaller political 
divisions, and in 1709 an Act was passed setting off 
the County of Bergen as follows : " That on the 
Eastern division the County shall begin at Constable 
Hook, and so run up along the Bay and Hudson 
River, to the partition point between New Jersey and 
New York, and along that division line to the division 
line between the East and West sections of the Prov- 
ince, to Pequannock River, thence by such River and 
the Passaic, to the Sound, and thence by the Sound 
to Constable Flook where it began." 

The rapidly changing conditions, with increase of 
population, necessitated political alterations, and old 



Bergen County, in 1837, was subdivided, the present 
Passaic Country being taken therefrom ; and in 1840, 
the County of Hudson, with its present metes and 
bounds, was set off, leaving the remaining territory 
existing under the old name of Bergen County. Hud- 
son County contains the old village of Bergen, and 
the Bergen Township, practically identical with the 
old Indian Grant of 1658. 

In order that an accurate idea of the growth and 
transformation of this territory may be obtained, we 
will follow closely, yet briefly, the different changes 
that have occurred, 

C. Van Vorst was the owner of a large tract of land 
at Paulus Hook, having obtained patent for same 
March 31, 1663, located between Harsimus and Jan 
de Lacher's Point. This property was located south 
of the present Newark Avenue, and extended to 
Communipaw Cove, reaching to above Merseles 

The Duke's Farm, north of this, extending from 
Newark Avenue to Harsimus Cove, was owned by one 
Kennedy. Pie was envious of the exclusive privileges 
enjoyed by Van Vorst for operating the ferry to 
New York, and endeavored to secure the same for him- 
self. After considerable controversy, Van Vorst was 
eventually successful, and such rights became vested 
in him. 

April 14, 1804, Van Vorst sold part of the above 
property, including ferry privileges, to Abraham Var- 
ick, merchant. He transferred same to Anthony Dey 
and others, who afterward formed " Associates of the 



Jersey Company," who thereupon became invested 
with the title of the property. At this time the ferry 
was moved to a point between Grand and York, and 
near the center of the block on which Colgate's 
factory now stands. At this time the horse-boats 
elsewhere described were used, but these were dis- 
placed by steamboats in 1812. Says the .S"^;///;/^/<?/ 


Freedom : " The first trip drew thousands of spectators 
to both shores, attracted by the novel and pleasing 
scene. One may now cross the river at the slight 
cost of fifty cents, same as on bridge." 

Up to 1852 the rates of ferriage from Jersey City to 
New York were fixed by the Board of Chosen Free- 



holders of Hudson County, and it is curious to note 
how the amount cliarged was based upon the article 
carried. Appended are some of the rates fixed by the 
Board in Sept., 1849. 

Every person on foot above ten years old, .03 
Every person on foot under ten years and above five, .02 

Man and horse only, .09 

Ordinary 4 wheeled truck loaded, 2 horses, .371 

Ordinary 4 wheeled truck light, 2 horses, .25 

Coach, coachee,- chariot, phaeton, etc., .30 

Wagon load of hay or straw, .50 

Oats, green peas and beans, per bushel, .01 

Potatoes, per bushel, ,01 1 

Barrels containing apples or vegetables, .06J 

Oysters, per bushel, .03 

Fancy chairs, each, " .02 • 

Common chairs, each, .01 

Sofas and pianos, each, .25 

Bureaus, .I2| 
An additional sum of 3 cents each to be charged every person on 

any vehicle in addition to the driver, who is included in the first 


The first evidence of the disintegration of the old 
township of Bergen was in 1820, when the City of Jer- 
sey was incorporated (re-incorporated in 1829 as 
Jersey City). It comprised that part of the territory, 
bounded between the present line of Grove Street, on 
the west, and the Hudson River on the east, with the 
Bay as the southerly boundary line, and reaching 
north to Harsimus Cove, being part of the property 
alluded to above, as having been owned by Van Vorst. 
It contained at that time about three hundred inhabi- 
tants. Gordon's Gazetteer states in 1834: "Jersey 


City is commodiously laid out in lots twenty-five feet 
by one hundred, distributed into forty-five blocks, 
each two acres, with broad streets, and contains many 
good buildings." Van Vorst Township was taken 
from Bergen in 1841, bounded north by North Bergen, 
east by Hudson River and Jersey City, south by New 
York Bay, and west by Bergen and North Bergen. 

North Bergen was formed in 1842, and comprised all 
the territory of old Bergen Township lying north of 
the New Jersey Railroad, and between Van Vorst 
Township and Hackensack River. Secaucus is a strip 
of land lying in the western part of this township, 
and surrounded by marshes. 

Hudson City was erected in 1855 from the territory 
of North Bergen, and was the southerly portion there- 
of, bounded directly by the New Jersey Railroad, and 
extending north to the line of the Paterson Plank 
Road. It had been previously separated from Bergen, 
in 1852, and was first called the Town of Hudson. 

In this territory likewise, numerous little settlements 
sprang up, each possessing its own characteristics, and 
each known by its distinctive name, such as Washing- 
ton Village, West Hoboken, North Hoboken, Union 
Hill, Guttenberg, Weehawken and New Durham, all 
telling of rapid growth. 

To the southward, the Township of Greenville was 
incorporated in 1863, and at that date was cutoff from 
the Township of Bergen, and was bounded on the north 
by Linden Avenue, reaching down to the Morris 
Canal. From its commanding and healthful situation, 
it was early sought as a place of residence, but the love 

234 " ^^^ BERGEN." 

of the early settlers for their acres, and their conse- 
quent unwillingness to part with them, for some time 
retarded its growth. Owing, however, to the passing 
away of the original owners, and necessary division of 
the home acres, as has been said, much has been thrown 
on the market, since which time the town's growth 
has been constant and rapid, until to-day it has become 
a most important part of Jersey City, into which it 
became incorporated at the time of consolidation in 

At Communipaw% Lafayette was laid out. It had no 
direct connection with Jersey City, on account of the 
impassable nature of the marsh that surrounded it, 
until a foot path was built by driving sharpened stakes 
into the soft meadow ground, and placing planks over 
them. This means of communication was often en- 
tirely interrupted by high tides, which frequently 
carried away the precarious foot path. The extending 
and filling in of Pacific Avenue, to and connecting 
with Grand Street, made a direct and reliable con- 
nection, and caused the rapid growth of that vicinity. 

Bayonne was incorporated in 1869, and comprises 
all the southern portion of the peninsula lying between 
the New York and Newark Bays, south of Morris 

Hoboken, now become a city of considerable mag- 
nitude, was purchased by John Stevens in 1804, as 
previously stated, who shortly after had the same sur- 
veyed and laid out into building lots; and many were 
sold. In 1838 Stevens formed the Hoboken Land 
and Improvement Company, which was incorporated 

" OLD BERGEN." 235 

on February 21, of that year. He transferred much 
of the land to this Company the following year, and 
a uniform system of improvement was instituted, the 
wisdom of which policy has been emphasized by the 
rapid growth and the attractive character of the im- 
provements. Hoboken was set off from North Ber- 
gen in 1849, ^''"^ incorporated as a cit\', March 28, 


Bergen, after having been dismembered to form 
other municipalities, was incorporated as the Town of 
Bergen in 1855, its area comprising but little more 
than the old town as originally surveyed, and the out- 
gardens in its immediate neighborhood. March 11, 
1868, the City of Bergen was incorporated and Henry 
Fitch elected first Mayor. In 1872 it, with other towns, 
was absorbed by, and became part of, the City of 
Jersey City. Like many of its old families, it has lost 
its name and identity, but its influence continues, even 
to the present time, in the shaping and directing of the 
general municipal policy. All of the above mentioned 
territory (outside of the Town of Bergen) was origin- 
ally attached to the old town. It comprised the " bity- 
toituyn" or out-gardens, of its inhabitants, and at the 
close of the Revolution was very sparsely settled. The 
growth of the neighboring city of New York caused a 
demand for near-by homes, and from time to time, 
settlements were made, until at the present time, the 
whole territory is occupied by a thriving population. 

Chapter XLVII. 


Washington Irving has somewhat satirically and 
in an amusing manner ascribed to the early Dutch 
settlers many habits and peculiarities, which, while 
not strictly accurate and historical, were suggested by 
the fact that the early Dutch were so tenacious of the 
habits and customs descending to them from their 
forefathers, and so indifferent to the affairs and 
wrangles of the outside world, that even in those slow- 
going days, their conservativeness and opposition to 
all new and untried theories, were particularly notice- 
able. Although under the shadow of the great city 
and within easy access to it, they disregarded its 
activities and pursued their avocations, undisturbed 
by its allurements. If they did not indulge in its ex- 
travagances or possess its luxuries, they were con- 
tented to enjoy their home comfort, with no desire to 
adopt any of the wild or unusual habits introduced 
by the royalists, of which they doubtless often heard. 

The fertile soil of " Old Bergen " afforded ample 
recompense to the old Dutch husbandman, and he 
cared for his acres with a judgment and industry that 
returned him a most liberal remuneration. Through- 

"OLD BERGEN." ^^^ 

out this section, cabbage was the principal staple of 
produce, and immense quantities were raised, not only 
for supplying the neighboring city, but for shipment 
to all parts of the country ; and even as late as during 
our Civil War, from its beginning in 1861 — when the 
shutting off of Southern transportation cut off the 
early supply from those parts — to its close, the market 
gardens of this territory furnished a goodly supply of 
this succulent vegetable, and the successors of the orig- 
inal settlers reaped an abundant reward. Another 
source of income to the early farmers, in addition to 
the vegetables, grain and hay, raised and sold, was the 
cutting and bunching of clover, which in its green 
state was readily sold to the denizens of New York as 
a most healthful and necessary food for their horses 
and cattle. 

In the fall, the marshes on either side of the hill 
were frequented by hunters in search of the wild-fowl 
that congregated there, and oftentimes great flocks 
of wild pigeons, settling in the woods on the west 
side, afforded sport and sustenance, not only for the 
residents, but for many who crossed over from the 
neighboring city. 

Many of the inhabitants, especially those living at 
Communipau and in the neighborhood of the shore, 
derived a most comfortable living, and oftentimes a 
competency, from the oyster and shad fisheries of 
New York and Newark Bays. From the time that 
Hudson regaled himself on what he termed the larg- 
est and most luscious bivalves that were ever seen, 
until very recent times, when the increase of manu- 

238 " OLD BERGEN." 

factures, and consequent befouling of the waters des- 
troyed the beds, these oysters enjoyed a most flatter- 
ing reputation. 

The spinning and weaving of wool and flax occupied 
the Avomen of the day. Their industry was able to 
furnish the necessary clothing for daily comfort, and 
frequently with provident forethought, the housewife 
prepared for every emergency. The well stored caas 
or clothespress was furnished with the finery deemed 
necessary to envelope the form of the comely bride ; 
and from it the beautifully crimped and plaited gar- 
ments were brought forth for the enshrouding of the 

The frugal mode of life of these people, and their 
economical habits, were rarely departed from, and 
resulted in an accumulation which was prudently in- 
vested and increased. As tillers of the soil, they 
seemed to become imbued with the healthfulness, as 
well with the strict honesty and integrity, of Dame 
Nature, learning well, not only that without honest 
exertion no adequate and regular return could be ex- 
pected, but also that with a proper application and 
cultivation — dealing justly with her — they would be 
assured of a bountiful reward. 

During the occupation of New York by the British 
army, the settlers of " Old Bergen," as they bartered 
with the invaders for their farm produce or garden 
truck, secured most valuable information, by means 
of which Washington was oftentimes enabled to 
thwart the enemy's plans. The first news of the in- 
tended treachery of Benedict Arnold, was conveyed to 

"OLD BERGEN." 239 

Washington through one of the sturdy patriots of 
Bergen Hill, it having been learned by one of the 
female members of his family, while marketing in 
New York. 

The names of the early settlers were selected on 
account of some special characteristic, their trade or 
calling, or the place of their birth. Thus we find Ge- 
rit Gerritse (that is. Garret the son of Garret) as hav- 
ing received a patent for land at Bergen, from Philip 
Carteret, May 12, 1668. He came from the city of 
Wagening, an ancient town near the Rhine ; and van 
signifying from or of, he was designated as Garret 
Van Wagening, which became the family name. So 
the name of Van Buskirk is composed of two Dutch 
words bos, woods, and kercJi, church ; hence with the 
Van, the name signifies " from the woods by the 
church." Jacobse Wallings in the early days came 
from Middleburgh, the capital of Zealand, and as he 
was a storekeeper, was called Jacob Van Winkle, 
winkle signifying store or shop, hence " Jacob of the 
shop." The custom of retaining family names made 
it often very difficult to designate the different mem- 
bers of the same family with the same patronymic, and 
so in time they were localized ; as in the Van Home 
family, various members were known as John, Johns 
John, Trinches John, Mill Creek John, Canal Bridge 
John, etc. 

One custom which made it almost impossible to 
trace genealogies was that of giving a child as a sur- 
name his father's christian name with se or sen (meaning 
son) added. Thus if a child was baptized Hendrick 

246 " OLD BERGEN." 

and his father's name was William, he would be known 
as Hendrick Williamsen ; if his son was called Jan, 
he would became Jan Hendricksen. If his son was 
called Garret, he would be known as Garret Jansen ; 
and the next generation might become John Garretson ; 
the next, Michael Johnson, and so on indefinitely. So 
that, as will be readily seen, identical names would 
frequently occur in families entirely separate and dis- 
tinct. The inconvenience of this practice and the con- 
fusion it occasioned, caused its abandonment, and the 
names borne by the heads of families at this time be- 
came and continued the family names. 

Chapter XLVIII. 


After a period of peace, there were again rumors 
of trouble with Great Britain, and her insistance on the 
" Right of Search " made another outbreak probable. 
The bitterness engendered during the Revolution 
was revived, and once more the territory of Bergen 
was aroused by the bugle call and the martial tread of 
armed hosts. War was declared, and active measures 
were adopted for the defence of New York City, 
which was supposed to be the objective point of the 
enemy. New York State being threatened at her 
northern border, and most of her troops being em- 
ployed in that direction, she Avas obliged to rely on 
New Jersey for the protection of her chief, city. Au- 
gust 13, 18 14, Gov. Pennington of New Jersey issued 
his proclamation for the enrollment of men, and or- 
dered a force, composed of different companies of the 
state, to march immediately to Paulus Hook, where 
Brig. Gen. Colfax was to assume command. 

Some of these troops were encamped at and sur- 
rounding the " Old Arsenal," that stood on the north 
side of Summit Avenue, about midway between 
Newark and Hoboken Avenues. Gen. Swift reported 
to Gov. Tompkins of New York, that the Jersey 
troops were enrolled and occupied a fortified camp at 

242 " OLD BERGEN." 

Bergen Heights. They consisted of twenty-three 
companies, and as soon as inspected, were formed into 
regiments, under command of Col. J. W. Frelinghuy- 
sen. Some were stationed at Paulas Hook, and 
some at Sandy Hook, while those remaining encamped 
at Jersey City Heights were kept in readiness, in case 
of any attempted entrance into the Bay or attack upon 
New York. 

They were never called upon for active service, 
however, as during that campaign, active hostilities 
were carried on upon the Canadian border and in the 
neighborhood of Washington. The treat}' of peace 
was sighed December 14, 18 14, but before that date, 
it was apparent that the end of hostilities was drawing 
near, and the need of a defensive corps removed. On 
December i, 18 14, this brigade of New Jersey militia 
was paid by the Corporation of the City of New 
York, and discharged from the service of protecting 
that cit}'. Col. Frelinghuysen wrote to Gov. Tomp- 
kins December 9, 18 14, expressing great satisfaction 
at the treatment of his troops by New York, and 
stated they would be in readiness at all times to act 
in her defence. On returning to their places of ren- 
dezvous, the war being ended, the militia were mus- 
tered out ; and the war clouds ha\'ing disappeared, 
the people again settled down to their avocations. 

But once more, in the days of '61, the fires of patri- 
otism blazed brightly, as the boom of the gun fired on 
Sumter proclaimed the beginning of an unnatural 
strife. It is hard at this distance of time and under 
prevailing conditions, to thoroughly appreciate the 

"OLD BERGEN." 243 

intensity of feeling that prevailed during those troub- 
lous days. No foreign foe threatened our shores, but 
internal dissensions clouded the future with doubt 
and uncertainty ; ties of blood and interest were 
rudeh' torn asunder, and neighbor looked askance at 
neighbor, while men spoke with bated breath. There 
were white faces and troubled hearts, but the patriotic 
citizens of " Old Bergen " showed no signs of falter- 
ing, and when the call for troops was made, they 
were among the first to volunteer for the defence of 
the national -capital. 

April 15th, 1 861, Simon Cameron, then Secretary 
of War of the United States, wired Governor Olden 
of New Jersey that he had just sent a despatch, call- 
ing on him for four regiments of troops for immedi- 
ate service. The governor, without waiting for 
the receipt of the official paper, which by the way was 
not received until the 17th, at once communicated 
with all sections of the state. On the following day, 
April i6th, a meeting was held in the City Hall, 
Jersey City, for the purpose of aiding in the enlistment 
of troops ; and volunteers being called for, immediate 
response was made. 

On the Sunday following, patriotic sermons were 
preached in all the churches, which raised the feelings 
of the people to a white heat. The figure of old Dr. 
Taylor is vividly recalled, as with quivering lip and 
streaming eyes, he implored that the red hand of war 
might still be stayed, but pointed out in most emphatic 
terms the great danger of apathy and the necessity of 
instant preparation, so that the purpose of those who 

244 " O^^ BERGEN. 

would pull down the whole fabric of our government 
might be thwarted. At his invitation, Company A of 
the 2nd Regiment, Capt. Garret D. Van Reypen, 
largely recruited from within the confines of " Old 
Bergen," marched to the church on the following day, 
to receive at his hands a testament for each member, 
together with his blessing and God-speed. 

On the 22nd, a committee of five citizens was appoint- 
ed to provide for the equipment and transportation of 
the regiment, which duty was so promptly performed 
that on the 26th, only four days after, and ten days from 
the first notification, the 2nd New Jersey Regiment 
was encamped at Trenton, prepared to enter upon an 
active campaign. This was the more notable, as the 
North was at the time completely unprepared for 
war. The necessary expense attending the sudden call 
for troops was borne by individuals, who were afterward 
reimbursed through the issue of local bonds. This 
War Committee was continued throughout the war, 
and took under their special charge the families of 
those who were thus suddenly called away. Large 
amounts of money were subscribed, by means of which, 
under its judicious management, the general govern- 
ment was relieved of much embarrassment. 

The thrilling accounts of these troublous years may 
be found in detail in our state records, and the 
names of those honored heroes emblazoned upon her 

In the old days the ridge of high ground extended 
in an unbroken front, save for the indentations of 
natural ravines or watercourses, from Greenville north 

'' OLD BERGEN." 245 

ward, until it merged into the grand old Palisades, the 
wonder and admiration of the world. Following from 
its commencement an almost direct line to about the 
present line of Academy Street, it tliere jutted out in 
a bold promontory, from eighty to one hundred feet 
high, called " Point of Rocks," where the Pennsylvania 
Railroad round-house now stands, and then receding, 
followed about the original line northward. The 
stream of water known as Mill Creek flowed in from 
the Bay just north of the high point of land, now 
levelled, near the present junction of Jersey Avenue 
and Phillip Street, and in a curving line through the 
marsh until it reached the Point of Rocks; thence it 
followed the base of the hill northward to near Hoboken 
Avenue, where it mingled its waters with a stream that 
flowed into Harsimus Cove. This creek was of con- 
siderable importance both for commercial reasons, 
and as a means of communication with Bergen Town. 

The farmers loaded periaguas at Newark Avenue 
(where the West Shore freight house now stands) with 
garden truck for the New York market ; and in the 
early spring, when escaping frost rendered the road 
from Communipaw well nigh impassable, the devout 
worshippers at that place, loath to lose the privileges 
of the sanctuary, took boat to Point of Rocks, and 
there clambered over the rocks at Academy Street, or 
followed the steep ascent of Mill Road, and thence 
through the lane opening on Bergen Avenue at Foye 
Place, to the church. 

With the exception of a few farm clearings, until a 
comparatively recent day the whole of the northerly 



part of the township was covered with dense woods, 
which Hkewise continued in an ahnost unbroken line 
along the western slope all the way to Bergen Point. 
There were also extensive groves at intervals along 
the eastern brow of the hill, notably at Weehawken 


and North Hudson. As has been mentioned, one of 
the great attractions of " Old Bergen" was its sparkling 
spring water. The purity of this water was greatly 
appreciated, and numberless wells were sunk through- 
out the territory. They were walled up with stone, and 
during the early days, like the old well in the Square, 

*' 6lD BERGEN." 247 

were surmounted by a well-sweep with bucket. So 
cool were they that they were utilized during the hot 
months for the preservation of butter and meats, 
which were lowered to within a few inches from the 
surface of the water, and there kept suspended until 
needed for use. 

In 1850 the population, especially of lower Jersey 
City, had increased to such an extent, that the 
water supply from the old wells not only became 
inadequate, but many of them were abandoned on 
sanitary grounds, and covered over. During this 
time, drinking water from the wells on the Heights 
was carted around and sold by the pailful. Public 
attention was thus directed to the necessity of 
procuring a new and full supply. In 185 1 a water 
company was incorporated, and about three years 
afterward, the water service and reservoirs were 
completed. The source of supply was the upper part 
of the Passaic River, which at that time afforded a 
generous supply of good potable water. 

June 30th, 1854, the reservoirs were filled and the 
water let into the distributing pipes. An event 
of such great importance was marked by a special 
celebration, in which the whole community joined. 
A procession was formed of leading citizens, escorted 
by fire and military companies, many of these from 
neighboring cities, which wended its way from 
lower Jersey City, though the principal streets, and 
to and around the reservoir at Central Avenue on the 
Heights. The long line of blue and red shirted 
firemen, drawing their well polished and gaily decked 

248 " OLD BERGEN." 

machines and encircling the reservoir, was indeed 
an inspiriting sight. The rejoicings were general, 
and the day was concluded with banquets and 

Some of the old wells, however, continued in use to 
within very recent years. Many a thirsty wayfarer 
has had reason to bless the old . Academy Street well 
that was located for centuries on the north side 
of that street about midway between Tuers and 
Summit Avenues. And even at the present day, 
pilgrimages are made by many to the old well still 
in use on the Van Riper hoinestead, corner of 
Academy and Van Reypen Streets, from which has 
continued to flow the clear, refreshing water since 
the very foundation of the town. 

In the early days conflagrations were infrequent, 
and when they did occur they brought out all in 
the vicinity, with pails, pans or any vessel suitable 
for holding water. These were passed from hand to 
hand by establishing long lines, from the nearest 
wells or cisterns to the fire. As buildings became 
more dense, some new method was demanded and 
volunteer companies were formed. These were 
maintained at first by subscription — but afterward 
became a city charge, with no pay attached for service. 
Those were palmy days, and the rivalry between 
the different companies resulted in prompt and efificient 
service. No old fireman can recall without a thrill, 
the being roused at midnight by the clang of the 
fire-bell, and almost unconsciously donning the 
clothing which was always conveniently placed, and 

'• OLD BERGEN." 249 

then rushing, plunging, jumping, rolling down the 
stairs, and landing in some mysterious way, yet 
scarcely awake, in the fire boots that stood at the 
foot. Then intent on gaining the post of honor 
(the tiller) in advance of any other, he would speed 
to the pngine house and strain every nerve to move 
tlie machine toward the scene of conflagration. 
The excitement would grow apace, as the different 
companies struggled in their endeavor to " get on 
first water," and the hoarse shouts of the firemen 
and the clanging of the engine pumps excited an 
enthusiasm that seems to linger tlirough all the passing 

There are still standing some of the old dwellings, 
erected far back in colonial times, which bear evidence 
of the substantial manner in which the houses of those 
days were built. The Demotte and Zabriskie man- 
sions at North Bergen, the Van Home homestead at 
Communipaw, the Gautier home at Greenville and the 
Vreeland house at Cavan Point are instances ; and 
could the walls of these venerable structures speak, 
many tales of the privations and sufferings of the 
early settlers, as well as much secret history of the 
Revolution, would be rescued from the oblivion into 
which they have fallen. Tiie Gautier home was origi- 
nally built by one Tom Brown in 1760, who was a 
privateer, and in 1747 married a Van Buskirk, who 
had inherited a large tract of land, on a part of which 
the building stood, it being contained in the patent 
confirmed by Governor Carteret in 1667 to Lawrence 

250 " OLD BERGEN." 

This Captain Brown was the person who established 
and maintained a ferry across the Hackensack, known 
as Brown's Ferry, which after 171 5, when the road to 
Newark was laid out, was one of the connecting links 
in the stage route from New York to Philadelphia. 
He was a sturdy patriot, and espoused the cause of 
Independence with great vigor. Tradition states that 
in his early days he became very familiar with the 
coast of Africa, and frequently ran into the harbor a 
cargo of slaves, some of whom were confined in the 
cellar of the house, while he was negotiating their 
sale. The old home was likewise the scene of many 
gatherings, attracted thither by the well-known lavish 
hospitality of its owner; and its spacious banqueting 
hall and roomy parlors entertained many of the 
notables of the day in feasting and revelling, such as 
was peculiar to the early times. During the Revolu- 
tion it became the rendezvous for patriot ofificers and 
sympathizers, whose drooping spirits were often in- 
spired through the genial hospitality so bountifully 
dispensed within its walls. 

The Vreeland homestead was another ancient build- 
ing that stood a few hundred feet north of the one 
just mentioned, being located like it on the shore of 
the Bay. It was a conspicuous object to all sailing up 
the harbor, and its prominence subjected it to rather 
rough usage. During the early colonial days and the 
Revolutionary War the old house sustained many 
attacks from the Indians, and many a bullet hole in 
the old oaken wood-work testified to the fierceness of 
attack and defence. During the Revolution, an Eng- 

" OLD BERGEN." 2$ I 

lish war ship opened fire upon the house, and in after 
years a cannon ball, imbedded in its wall, was shown 
as proof of the danger to which its inmates were 
subjected. In this, as well as in its neighbor before 
spoken of, many a merry dance was held and countless 
guests royally entertained by the old Dutch settlers. 

The absorption of the valuable water-front of 
Communipaw by our large railroad corporations, and 
the consequent filling in and docking out, have 
forced the " old settlers" awa)', and one by one they 
have departed, some to that other country where rest 
and peace continuously prevail, while the later genera- 
tions have moved to more pleasant surroundings, until 
at the present writing but one remains (Mr. Garret 
Bush), who, amid the changes and encroachments, still 
clings to the home of his fathers. The charm that 
lingered so long over the old settlement has gone, and 
the ancient roof-trees have been demolished or so 
changed that the spirit of " Long Ago " has fled, 
never to return. 

The following newspaper clipping of 1873 is of 
interest as showing how, even to that late date, the 
old hamlet slept in pristine quietude. " The ancient 
hamlet of Communipau, lying on the New Jersey 
shore within sight of New York, is a precious relic of 
the days long gone. Two centuries and a half have 
hallowed its fields and homes as the dwelling places of 
men. Only a cannon-shot distance from the Battery, 
it sleeps across the Bay in its ancient Dutch repose, 
only a half hour from the marble and gilt of the new, 
to the moss-grown homesteads of the old ; only a 

252 " OLD BERGEN. 

half hour from the dash and rattle of Broadway to the 
whispering, of the thousand shells that yet line the 
quiet beach of old Pavonia." 

There is a tradition that one day in early spring 
there appeared two strangers upon the shore of Com- 
munipaw, who, seeking out the " oldest inhabitants," 
strove to gather such traditions and reminiscences as 
they were able. The one was very talkative and 
entertaining, while the other wandered about at will 
and gathered up much of the material which, woven 
into, the delightful fabric with which Diedrich Knick- 
erbocker has enveloped the early history of our 
Dutch ancestors, has endowed it with such resistless 
charm and attractiveness. 

In the translation of an account of a voyage to New 
Amsterdam in 1679 we find the following, which shows 
somewhat of the settlement and surroundings. Says 
the traveller : " Intending to visit Communipau, our 
landlady told us of another good woman who lived at 
that place named Fitje, and recommended us to visit 
her, which we did as soon as we landed. We found 
her a little pious after the manner of the country, and 
you could discover that there was something of the 
Lord in her, but very much covered up and defiled. 
We dined there and spoke to her of what we deemed 
necessary for her condition. She has many grand 
children, all of whom are not unjust. We continued 
our journey along a fine, broad Avagon-road to the 
other village called Bergen, a good half hour or three- 
quarters inland from there," 


Chapter XLIX. 


Until very, recently at Communipaw, on the high, 
projecting bank near the Old Mill Creek, hard by the 
site of the Indian massacre of the early days, stood 
the Van Home farm-house. From its prominent 
position, affording a full view of the waters of the bay 
and surroundings, this house became a favorite "look- 
out " for the Americans during the Revolution, and a 
system of signals was agreed upon to be given from 
this point, as a warning to those of the settlers who 
had ventured across the bay to sell their produce to 
the British army, whenever any danger was to be 
apprehended from the Tories or refugees lurking in 
the neighborhood. It was the habit of the enemy to 
lay in wait for the returning burghers and rob them of 
the proceeds of their sales. 

Northwest from the Van Home house was the 
Race Track, established in 1769 by Cornelius Van 
Vorst. It was laid out on the sand hills, then stand- 
ing between York Street and Wayne, and above Var- 
ick. It was one mile in length, and was a noted place 
of resort for the lovers of sport from New York and 
the surrounding country, until the Revolutionary 
War. After peace was declared, it was again opened, 
but was discontinued in 1808, when a new track was 

254 " <^L1' BERGEN." 

established at Harsimus, near the Erie Railroad at 
Henderson Street. 

Near the corner of Green and Montgomery Streets, 
(at that time the river bank), at a point now occupied 
by the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, Isaac Edge in 
1815 built a windmill, which was taken down in 1839 
and removed to Long Island. In 1856 Lewis A. 
Edwards of Orient, Long Island, wrote in relation to 
it : " Your old windmill though ' demolished ' is not 
' defunct.' It was placed on board of vessels and con- 
veyed around the eastern extremity of the North 
Branch of Long Island into Town Harbor, and from 

thence taken to Mill Hill 
in the town of Southold, in 
Suffolk County, where it 
was again placed upon its 
pins, as natural as life. 

"We live in a migratory 
age, but a migratory wind- 
mill, even at this day, may 
be considered a novelty. 
The old mill is now in an 
excellent state of preserva- 
tion, notwithstanding its 
forty years' wear and tear, 
and one h u n d r e d and 
twenty-five miles of travel, 
and I venture to say would stand as severe a tilt with 
' Don Quixote ' as any mill I ever came in contact 

A short distance south of the Old Mill, between 


" OLD BERGEN." 255 

York and Grand Streets, and about one hundred feet 
east of Green, was the ferry landing, alluded to else- 
where. April 1st, 1839, this was moved to the corner 
of Hudson and Montgomery Streets, and at the time 
of the extension of Exchange Place, was changed to 
its present location. 

The ferry facilities at first consisted of a gallows 
frame, painted green, supporting iron pulleys, over 
which a chain was passed, one end of which was at- 
tached to the floating bridge, while to the other end 
balancing weights were fastened, so that the bridge 
could accommodate itself to the rise and fall of the tides, 
thus facilitating the loading or unloading of the boats. 

The row boats, and periaguas or sail boats of 
the early days were succeeded by what was called 
the horse boat on the Paulus Hook ferry. In this the 
propelling power was obtained by means of an endless 
moving platform, after the manner of a tread mill, on 
which a horse walked, and which turned a paddle 
wheel by a combination of cog-wheels. Sometimes 
slaves were employed for this purpose, and the weird 
songs in which they frequently indulged greatly re- 
lieved the weariness of the passage. 

The first steamboats used on this ferry were com- 
posed of two hulls fastened strongly together, leaving 
a space between, in which was suspended a paddle 
wheel. One side of the boat, over one hull, was in- 
tended for the accommodation of vehicles and cattle, 
and the other side was furnished with seats for pas- 
sengers. Both sides were uncovered, but below the 
passenger side, a cabin was fitted up, so that in case 

256 " OLD BERGEN.'* 

. of stormy or inclement weather, the passengers might 
seek protection from the elements. There were two 
of these boats, named respectively York and Jersey. 

Early one Sunday morning in February, 1816, dur- 
ing a season of extreme cold, there were seen on an 
ice floe floating in the middle of the river, two men 
seemingly engaged in fighting. One would knock 
over .the other, and, taking him sometimes by the 
hands, and again by the heels, drag him over the ice 
some distance; then standing him up, would knock 
him over, repeating the process continually. The af- 
fair created great excitement, and finally a row boat 
with four men put off to ascertain the cause of the 
strange conduct. Reaching the floe, they discovered 
the men to be the U. S. Mail Carrier and his negro, 
who had left Paulus Hook the previous evening, but 
were caught in the floating ice. They had rowed up 
and down seeking for a passage through to the New 
York shore, but were unsuccessful. Feeling the ef- 
fects of the extreme cold, they determined to take to 
the ice, and by vigorous exercise, escape being frozen 
to death. The poor negro, succumbing to the intense 
cold, wished for nothing but to be allowed to sleep. 
The carrier, knowing that this would prove fatal, 
adopted the drastic treatment that had fortunately 
attracted attention, and in doing so, not only saved 
the negro's life, but probably his own, by indulging in 
this violent exercise. The negro was found by his 
rescuers with nose, ears and fingers frozen, and they 
were obliged to lift him into the boat and carry him 
to shore. 

" OLD BERGEN." 2$/ 

At this time the Southern Mail consisted of two 
bags, carried over to New York by row boat. 

In the early days the mail communication of the 
people of Bergen with the outside world was very 
limited, and what few letters there were, were brought 
from the ofifices at Newark or New York by any one 
who visited those places, and distributed as occasion 
offered, being sometimes handed round at the church 
door on Sunday and sometimes left at the general 
store until called for. In 1807, General Granger es- 
tablished an oflfice in a store in lower Jersey City, at 
the corner of York and Washington Streets, from 
whence the mail \<^as distributed at first in the old 
way, or else by carriers, who collected the postage and 
delivery, the amount charged depending upon the 
distance of the place from which the letter was sent. 
Some time afterwards a sub-station was established at 
the Five Corners, where mail bags from the Jersey 
City station were left by the stages in passing. The 
mail for the town of Bergen was called for with con- 
siderable regularity by the school boys, who left any 
letters for the neighborhood at the store on Bergen 

An interesting story is told in connection with the 
mail distribution of the day. General Cummings was 
for many years one of the stage proprietors, and also 
contractor for carrying the mail. Many irregularities 
occurring in the delivery of the mails, the then postmas- 
ter, Gideon Granger, determined to personally investi- 
gate the cause, and travel over the mail routes in dis- 
guise. General Cummings, being informed of his inten- 

" OLD BERGEN." 259 

tion by a friend, gave certain instructions to his negro 
driver, in case he should have a passenger answering a 
certain description. 

A short time after, as the stage was about starting 
from Paulus Hook, the driver detected a suspicious- 
looking personage entering the stage, whereupon, 
gathering up the reins, he started his horses off at a 
tremendous pace over the corduroy road, between 
Newark and Paulus Hook. The occupants were vio- 
lently jostled about to the great danger of life and 
limb. Gideon called out to drive slower. " Cawnt 
do it, massa. I drives the United States Mail," an- 
swered the driver, as he urged the horses to still 
greater speed. Granger begged him again and again 
to slacken his speed, but was met with the unfailing 
response, " Cawnt do it, massa. I drives the United 
States Mail." On the arrival of the coach at Newark, 
it is said. Granger was so bruised that he showed no 
disposition to continue his investigations, being satis- 
fied that at least one contract was being faithfidly 
carried out. 

Prior's Mill was built during the early colonial daj^s 
and was located on the Old Mill Creek, heretofore 
described, near the present crossing of the Junction 
R. R. with Railroad Avenue. It was what was known 
as a tide-water mill, and was operated by the force of 
the outflowing water upon the wheel. A dam was 
built across the creek, with gates arranged so as to 
admit the incoming tides, but wliich closed as soon as 
the pressure against them ceased. The imprisoned 
water was then led by a sluice-way against the paddles 

26o " OLD BERGEN." 

or buckets of the water-wheel, causing it to revolve 
with sufficient force to turn the mill stones by which 
the grain was ground. 

The bolt as it was called, separating the chaff from 
the flour, was operated by means of an iron winch, 
which was turned by the slaves, giving forth first the 
flour, then the middlings, and lastly the bran. As 
the mill could be operated only on the ebbing tide, 
the times for grinding were very irregular, there being 
as it were two' sessions every twenty-four hours, and 
these varying with the tides. The clanking of the 
mill wheel and the rumbling of the stones, accompa- 
nied by the darkies' songs, were calculated at nights, 
when the mill was dimly lighted with the flickering 
blaze of a tallow lantern, to send those indescribable 
thrills along the spine that most of us have at some 
time experienced. 

The prominent places of resort for the sporting 
element of the day, were the Beacon Race Course and 
the Thatched Cottage Garden. The former was locat- 
ed just north of Hoboken Avenue, between Palisade 
and Summit. Here several noted races were run, and 
attracted many of the sporting men of New York, as 
well as those of the surrounding country. But after 
a short season of activity, like its successor at Gutten- 
berg, it succumbed to the unhealthful influences of 
the neighborhood. 

The Thatched Cottage Garden, located at Essex 
Street, in lower Jersey City, was the scene of many 
athletic games and balloon ascensions. In this con- 
nection, it may be well to mention an episode that at 
the time attracted much attention. One Gillie, an 

THE THATCHED COTTAGE. Front and rear vicw. 

262 " OLD BERGEN." 

aeronaut, was in the habit of making ascensions with 
a captive balloon, and descending by means of a para- 
chute. Among those who witnessed this feat was a 
resident of " Old Bergen," who, in his desire to convey 
the idea to the minds of a crowd of admiring young- 
sters, gave what might be called an object lesson. Pro- 
curing a rope and clothes basket, they wended their 
way to a large barn, one rainy Saturday, and throwing 
the rope over a beam near the rafters, fastened one 
end of it to the basket, in which the would-be aeronaut 
seated himself, with an umbrella in his possession. 
Instructing the boys to hoist him up to the beam, 
and to cut the rope at his word, he soon reached the 
elevated position. Then raising the umbrella, he gave 
the word of command ; but alas for his confiding nature, 
the force of gravitation proved too strong for his 
frail support, and he descended to the floor with such 
force, that he was laid up for some time, with fractured 
limbs. This may have been the origin of the saying, 
once so much used in this vicinity for cautioning 
against any act of folly, " Don't be a Gillie." 

At Newark and Summit Avenues stood the official 
hay-scales, which, although not constructed on the 
lines observed in our delicately balanced modern 
machines, Avas nevertheless a decided improvement 
over the method used in Indian times, before alluded 
to. A stout crane was suspended in the center, from 
one end of whicli depended four heavy chains terminat- 
ing in rings, which were slipped over the wheel hubs 
of the hay wagon. From the other end was hung a 
platform, on which were placed fifty six pound weights, 
sufficient to balance the load. 

Chapter L. 


But time has wrought many changes, not only in 
manners and customs, but in the whole topography 
of the country. Hills that were long sacred to the 
sports of childhood, are now levelled, and the many 
ponds over whose glassy surface steel-shod feet glided 
for many years, have been filled up so that not a trace 
remains. Tuers Pond, located along the line of Water 
Avenue, was in the winter, by a little judicious man- 
agement, made to overflow the surrounding fields, 
producing a magnificent expanse for skating. 

By a comparison with present conditions some idea 
may be formed of the changes that have occurred 
along the whole shore line, of the old township of Ber- 
gen. From Weehawken on the north to Constable 
Hook on the south, not only have the coves and bays 
that formerly indented the coast been filled and utilized 
for manufacturing and commercial purposes ; but they 
have been encroached on to such an extent that thou- 
sands of acres have been added to the growth of the 
lowlands, which through natural causes accumulated 
at the base of the rocky heights, against whose walls, 
through passing years, the waters of the Bay dashed, 
as driven by the strong east wind, or gently murmured, 
as the ripples broke upon the shore. 

264 "OLD BERGEN." 

The spots from whence the Indian launched his 
canoe, and the shores first trodden by the feet of the 
early traders, are now hidden forever beneath the 
accumidation of filling that has placed them thousands 
of feet inland. At Communipaw, the only spot where 
the shore has been left on its original line until the 
present, operations have been initiated which will in a 
short time completely obliterate the original ferry 
landing place of colonial days. Here almost a mile 
to the eastward" may be seen the outward bulkhead 
line that marks the limit to territorial expansion. 

Just north of the Pennsylvania Railroad cut, east 
of Baldwin Avenue, one of the giant monarchs of the 
forest w^as standing as late as i860. This point was 
resorted to by many lovers of nature, on account of 
the unsurpassed view presented from that spot. Being 
of unusual prominence, it commanded an exceptional 
view of the whole Bay, with its surroundings. On 
the one hand, could be seen the distant gateway to 
the ocean, guarded by the wooded heights of Long 
and Staten Islands, while Governors, Bedloes, and 
Ellis Islands, like emeralds in a silver setting, added 
to the beauty of the scene. Around this spot, and in 
the neighborhood of the old tree, Lafayette with his 
command encamped on August 24, 1780, and although 
in full view of the enemj^, conducted from thence suc- 
cessful raids through Bergen and Bergen Neck. To 
the northward. Castle Point jutted out, standing like a 
sentinel watching the approach to the Highlands. 

Feb. 24, 1820, an act was passed by the state legisla- 
ture which gave freedom to every child born of slave 

" OLD BERGEN." 265 

parents subsequent to July 4, 1804, males at twenty- 
five, and females at twenty-one years of age. The 
inhabitants of " Old Bergen," however, had been for 
some years gradually freeing the slaves left to them un- 
der the old conditions ; on the death of an old resident, 
it Avas generally found that he provided in his will for 
the manumission and at least partial support of his 
dusky retainers. But notwithstanding this fact, many 
of the old house-servants refused to avail themselves of 
the privilege, and continued as voluntary dependants 
until their death. Provision was made, however, for 
their descendants, and through the liberality of their 
old employers quite a settlement was formed along 
the Old Mill Road between Academy and Montgomery 
Streets. Many of these were for a time distinguished 
by the prefix of the family name of their old owners 
before their own, and they emphasized their approval 
of this custom by fully expecting, and in some cases 
demanding, support, when through their natural 
improvidence they had failed to make provision for " a 
rainy day." Some time in the Fifties a church was 
erected for their exclusive use on the line of the Old 
Mill Road south of Academy Street, and for many 
years w^as the scene of energetic and enthusiastic 

A little farther south, or between what is now Mer- 
cer Street and Fairmount Avenue, east of Summit, 
and extending over the brow of the hill to the edge 
of the marsh below ( now Cornelison Avenue ) was 
a dense woods of pine and cedar, in the recesses 
of which, during the existence of slavery, runaways 

266 "OLD BERGEN." 

were accustomed to hide. They were here provided 
with food by their fellows ; or if, by reason of extra 
watchfulness on the part of their masters, this source 
of supply was cut off, they issued forth in the darkness 
of the night to procure food or other plunder. When 
these depredations became too frequent or especially 
flagrant, a regular hunt was organized, and the out- 
laws captured and subjected to punishment, which was 
sometimes very severe. 

In these woods, near where the City Hospital now 
stands, was a spot made sacred to the negroes as 
the shrine about which to gather on " Bobilation 
Day," the anniversary of the abolition of slavery 
throughout the state. Near this, on the spot now en- 
closed between Church and Montgomery Streets and 
east of Summit Avenue, was Newkirk's pond, a resort 
of the more exclusive, which being surrounded by a 
cedar grove, was sheltered from the wintry blasts. 
The overflow from these ponds passed down through 
the low ground on the line of Monticello Avenue, to 
about where it is now intersected by Gardner; thence 
diagonally across Crescent Avenue and Park Street, 
to a point near the Junction, fell over a ledge of rocks 
called the " offall," crossed Communipaw Avenue, 
and emptied its waters in a creek on the meadows 
back of Communipaw, and afterwards into the Morris 

On the rocks at the head of Academy Street, near 
the site of the old fort, was a favorite picnic ground ; 
and although the way over the rocks was steep and 
precipitous, daring riders forced their horses over a 


The Old Tavern near the Church also alluded to on page 17S, still standing- on 
corner of Bergen and Glenwood Avenues, built in part of the material of the old 
Stuyvesant Tavern of Colonial days which stood in the same spot. In the rear 
wall may be seen the old corner stone with the letters P. S. cut iu. 

268 " OLD BERGEN." 

path leading into Railroad Avenue. But there is a 
consecrated spot on Bergen Avenue south of the 
Square, to which our memories often turn ; for old 
" Aunt Rachel's " ranch afforded club privileges 
equal to the best equipped of the present day, and 
within its friendly shelter plans were laid and plots 
concocted, without any danger of interference by the 
outside world. 

At the corner of Glenwood Street and Bergen Ave- 
nue stood an old tavern, built in the early colonial days, 
which was a favorite stopping place for refreshments 
with Washington and his of^cers, while their escort 
encamped in the Tuers orchard opposite, on part of 
which the P'ourth Regiment Armory stands. This 
old hostelry was justly celebrated for its cooking, and 
its fame continued to a very late day. Even down to 
the Fifties, when, after the fatigues of the Annual 
Training Day, the ofHcers were constrained to seek 
refreshment with which to regale themselves, this 
noted place was selected with a unanimity that be- 
tokened previous favorable acquaintance with its cui- 

At Bergen Square on the southeast corner still 
stands the old De Mott homestead, modernized of 
course, where Gen. Washington enjoyed the lavish 
hospitality of its owner. On the east side of Bergen 
Square just south of Academy Street, a whipping post 
_stgod, and such was the terror inspired by the severe 
flagellations inflicted by the town constable, that 
wrong doers kept aloof, with the result that the 
community enjoyed an unusual sense of security. In 

" OLD BERGEN." 269 

fact, fifty years ago no locks were used on the doors, 
and frequently throughout the hot summer nights, the 
upper halves of the doors were left open, so as to 
afford free ventilation. Sometimes the roystering 
spirits of the day took advantage of the confidence 
exhibited by the " Old Settlers," and the good dame 
found in the morning that some of her luscious pies 
and other goodies had vanished during the night. 
But this, being only an occasional occurrence, was 
submitted to with resignation and regarded as but the 
result of youthful exuberance. 

Sometimes, however, the improvident blacks, unable 
to withstand the temptation to which they were sub- 
jected, purloined the pork and corned beef that were 
carefully " laid away " in the cellar for the winter's use. 
This seems to have been regarded as an unpardonable 
sin, for a general search was made, and the offender 
was made to realize the truth of the admonition that 
" the way of the transgressor is hard." When captured, 
he was taken to the whipping post, and, his outer cloth- 
ing having been removed, was made to clasp his arms 
about it ; his feet were then fastened at the ground 
and, his wrists being tied together, his arms were drawn 
up and fastened by means of a rope passing through 
the top of the post, and the punishment inflicted. 

The constable then in a loud voice told of the na- 
ture of the offence and descanted upon its enormity, 
counselling repentance and a return to the way of 
uprightness, pronouncing sentence of banishment in 
the meanwhile. The last two persons punished in 
this way were two men who were detected in the act 

270 " OLD BERGEN." 

of thieving, a colored man and his dissolute white 

A short distance from the Square, on the west, 
fronting on the opposite sides of Academy Street, are 
the Van Wagenen and Van Reypen homesteads. To 
the north, about two hundred feet from the Square on 
Bergen Avenue, is the Sip homestead, and near by, on 
the opposite side, the Ilornblower house, the site of 
Capt. Forsyth's outpost during tlie Revolution, before 

A burying-ground for the colored people was located 
in Van Reypen's orchard, between the Boulevard and 
Van Reypen Street, about two hundred feet southerly 
of a line projected west from the south side of Acad- 
emy Street. There was also one about the center of 
the plot bounded by Bergen Avenue, Enos Place and 
Newkirk Street. This was formerly an Indian bury- 
ing-ground, and in recent years, when an excavation 
was made, human bones were found that indicated 
the interment of a race far above the average height. 

The last interment in this spot was Newkirk's Sam, 
as late as 1853. He had been during the latter part 
of his life engaged specially in the care of a team of 
horses belonging to his employer, which were in the 
nomenclature of the day called, " Dick horse " and 
" Sal horse." Sam always entertained a warm affec- 
tion for Dick; and when in the course of time, the 
horse succumbed to the feebleness of old age and 
died, Sam earnestly besought his employer to bury 
the horse in this old burying-ground, so that he him- 
self could be buried alontj side of him, exacting a 

" OLD BERGEN. 2/1 

promise to that effect. It is needless to say that this 
promise was adhered to, and Sam's last resting place 
was by the side of his faithful old friend, for whom he 
had an abiding affection. Sam, by his integrity and 
faithfulness, had won the respect of many of the 
neighbors, and his funeral services from the old New- 
kirk homestead were largely attended by both black 
and white. 

In his earnestness in the dissemination of some of 
his doctrines, Sam sometimes neglected to gauge his 
capacity for the spiritual consolation in which he in- 
dulged, with the result that on one occasion at least, 
he was so overcome that he was placed in a chair and 
borne to his home by the hands of sympathizing 
comrades. Some time after, on being shown the pic- 
ture of an Indian prince carried in a sedan chair, he 
recalled his experience, and ever afterward boasted of 
his princely method of locomotion, claiming it as an 
evidence of his royal descent. 

On an eminence on the bank of the 'Pennsylvania 
Railroad cut, near the east side of the Boulevard, can 
be still seen the Tonnelle homestead, the scene of 
much merry making in the olden time. The estate ex- 
tended to Summit Avenue, and from Pavonia Avenue 
to near the present line of the Railroad. The house 
is substantially built of the enduring granite of Bergen 
Hill, and with a little renovation may be made to last 
another century. The approach to this house was 
from Summit Avenue, and was rather imposing. 
Heavy iron gates suspended from massive stone pillars 
guarded the entrance, while on either side of the well 

2/2 " OLD BERGEN. 

shaded lane were grassy enclosures, well stocked with 
deer, while the shrill cry of gaudy, bedizened peacocks 
greeted the welcome visitor. 

At the Five Corners were sundry hostelrys con- 
venient for the refreshment of the weary traveller, 
even from colonial days; and in later years these were 
resorted to by the socially inclined who wished to in- 
dulge in the periodical gatherings for the " D.D.'s," 
— dancing and dinners — and were likewise selected as 
the most convenient place for the voters of "Old 
Bergen " township to exercise their right of franchise. 

From " Lee's Memoirs " we learn that Washington's 
favorite position was near " the western shore of the 
Hudson, which was always considered by him the 
point of connection of the two extremes of the Union." 
He frequently met his generals on the hills of "Old 
Bergen," and there discussed the projects on the execu- 
tion of which the fate of the young republic depended. 
And it is well authenticated that, on one occasion at 
least, he and Lafayette dined together under an apple 
tree that stood in the orchard of the old parsonage, 
on the northwest corner of Bergen Square. 

From a letter descriptive of the visit of Lafayette 
to this country in 1824, I quote: "On his arrival at 
Jersey City, remaining but a short time, the General, 
with His Excellency, Governor Williamson, entered a 
superb carriage drawn by four beautiful bay horses, 
and a cavalcade was formed, which proceeded leisurely 
toward Newark. Arrived at Bergen, it was found 
that the inhabitants of the little town had assembled 
at the tavern, on the soutliwest corner of Summit and 

" OLD BERGEN. 273 

Newark Avenues, and were so anxious to pay their 
respects to the General, that he was constrained to 
alight for a moment. 

" Here unexpectedly, he was addressed by a delega- 
tion from the Town, and presented with a cane made 
from an apple tree, under which, when passing through 
that town during the Revolution, he and Washington 
dined. The cane is richly mounted with gold and 
bears the following inscription on the top : ' Lafay- 
ette,' and around the head, ' Shaded the Hero and his 
friend Washington in 1779. Presented by the Corpor- 
ation of Bergen, 1824.' As the General re-entered 
his carriage and left this ancient town, he was heartily 

At the breaking out of the war of 18 12, the United 
States government secured a plot of ground on the 
west side of Palisade Avenue, between Hoboken and 
Newark Avenues, where an arsenal was erected. This 
was likewise used as a barracks for enlisted men dur- 
ing the Civil War. Opposite the arsenal was the 
Harrison estate, by which name the property is still 
known. It is located on the brow of the hill east of 
Summit and between Newark and Hoboken Avenues. 
It was noted for the lavish hospitality and sporting 
proclivities of its owners, some of whom met an un- 
timely end by their indulgence in their favorite pas- 

Chapter LI. 


At Hoboken was the " Elysian Fields," the fashion- 
able pleasure resort of the day, and crowds daily 
wended their way thither from New York to enjoy 
its shady walks and quaff the refreshing beer dispensed 
in this vicinity. It was here that P. T. Barnum insti- 
tuted a buffalo hunt in the Forties. He chartered all 
the boats plying to Hoboken on the day appointed, 
and by judicious advertising, of which art he was a 
past master, attracted a great crowd to see the sport. 
Unfortunately for the seekers after excitement, the 
sedative qualities of Hoboken's atmosphere produced 
such an effect on the " wild untamable " animals, that 
they refused utterly to be disturbed in their medita- 
tions, and the only real hunt that took place at the 
time was that for sufificient refreshment with which to 
regale the famished multitude. 

This was likewise the scene of many hotly contested 
athletic games, and many barbecues were held here. 
It was in short the spot where all lovers of sport in 
those days were wont to congregate. Along the 
river bank, under the shade of Castle Point, was the 
Sibyl's Cave, where cool, refreshing water that bubbled 
from the spring located there, was sold to thirsty way- 
farers at one cent a glass. 

" OLD BERGEN." 2/5 

Of early Hoboken, Lawrence La Bree thus enthusi- 
astically writes : " There was no lovelier spot dotting 
the bosom of the Mahakenaghtus than the little 
island known as Hoboken, or by the Indians called 
Hobulc. Its shores on either side were laved by the 
waters of the great river, and the beauty of its scenery 
made it one of the favorite haunts of the red man. 
Its most prominent point overlooks the waters of the 
bay, and commands an extensive view for some dis- 
tance up the river, the entire scope of the island, and 
the cliffs and mountains to the westward and north- 
west. Here met the savages in council, and here 
arose their conical huts ; here were chanted their war 
songs, and here each season were celebrated the fes- 
tivities of the harvest feast. Here the swart chief, 
the leader of a thousand braves, recounted his victor- 
ies, and exhibited the trophies of an hundred battles, 
and the young warrior stretching his lithe limbs upon 
the green sward, beneath the branches of the over- 
shadowing oak, wooed the nut-brown maid and 
charmed her soul with his passionate declarations. 
Beautiful island, like an emerald set in the bosom of 
an Indian princess, there was no peer above thee in 
all the bright waters around that kissed thy shores as 
amorously, as ever the fondest lover breathed his 
adoration -on the lips of his mistress. No foe 
could approach them unobserved, for watchful eyes 
scanned continually the surrounding waters. The 
fame of the braves had reached the great tribes of tlie 
west, and secured for them immunity from the raids 
and attacks of wanderinef bands." 

2/6 "OLD BERGEN." 

As before stated, Nicholas Verlett received a grant 
of Hoboken from Gov. Stuyvesant in 1663. His 
granddaughter married one Robert Hickman, who 
sold the land, June 9, 171 1, to Samuel Bayard. The 
latter erected a country residence at Castle Point, 
where he was wont to retire to escape the summer 
heats, and entertain his friends and acquaintances in 
the princely manner for which he was noted. Bayard 
was an enthusiastic royalist, and joined the English 
army at the beginning of the Revolutionary troubles. 
During the war his property was raided several times, 
and on August 24, 1780, his residence was burned by 
a foraging party of Patriots, who obtained consider- 
able plunder, and carried off a number of cattle. 
Under the Act of 1778, this property was afterwards 
confiscated, and it was sold by the government to John 
Stevens on February 7, 1787, whose descendants still 
retain the ownership of a considerable portion of the 

To the energy, liberality and wise policy of the 
Stevens family, much of the present attractiveness 
and prosperity of Hoboken is due. Mr. Stevens, who 
was closely identified with the early history of 
Hoboken, was an engineer of wide reputation, as 
well as a natural practical machinist. He was far in 
advance of the times, and often promulgated his 
theories at the risk of ridicule and contumely; he 
was continually engaged in experiments tending 
toward the improvement and betterment of the human 
race, and was pointed at as one of those enthusiasts 
who had cfone daft because of close investigation and 

" OLD BERGEN." 2// 

study. When the Legislature of New York was con- 
sidering the construction of the Erie Canal, "Col. 
Stevens of Hoboken astonished that bodv by announc- 
ing that he could build a railroad at a much less 
cost than the proposed canal, and on which the 
transportation by means of cars drawn by a steam 
locomotive could be carried at a much cheaper rate and 
at a much higher rate of speed than was possible on 
any canal." 

He was laughed at and called a maniac, and some of 
his best friends thought he had lost his mental equi- 
poise through experimental science. Even Chancellor 
Livingston, in a letter dated Mar. 2, i8il, says: "I 
had before read of your very ingenious proposition as 
to railroad communication, I fear, however, on ma- 
ture reflection that they will be liable to serious objec- 
tions. . . . Li case of necessary stops or stays to take 
wood or water many accidents would happen. . . . 
Upon the whole, I fear the expense would be much 
greater than that of canals, without being so conven- 
ient." Present results have proven the truth and 
wisdom of Col. Stevens' assertion. 

The City was regularly laid out in 1 804, but for 
some reason it did not commend itself as a place 
of residence for some years. In 1834 it was described 
as a place " built chiefly on one street. It contains 
about one hundred dwellings, three licensed taverns, 
and many unlicensed ones, four or five stores, and be- 
tween six and seven hundred inhabitants. It is re- 
markable chiefly, however, as a place of resort for 
the citizens of New York during the hot days of 

2/8 "OLD BERGEN." 

summer. The bank of the river is high, and the 
invigorating sea breeze may be enjoyed at almost all 
hours when the sun is above the horizon. 

" In the walks along the river bank, over the grounds, 
and in the beautiful fields studded with clumps of 
trees and variegated by shady woods, the business 
man of New York finds a momentary relaxation and 
enjoyment in the ' Elysian Fields,' and the gastro- 
nome, whether of the Corporation of New Amstel, or 
an invited guest, may find a less rural, but not a more 
sensual pleasure in the feast of Turtle." 

Another description worthy of note because of its 
truthfulness is as follows : " On Sunday afternoon v/e 
stei)ped into a small steamboat bound across the river, 
where lie in all their natural and cultivated beauty the 
' Elysian Fields,' meant to be, I suppose, a second 
edition of the Heaven of the Ancients, but judging 
from a description of the one, and the sight of the 
other, the modern scene is neither greatly improved 
nor enlarged. There are many hills and dales, wind- 
ing walks, grass-covered plains, and shaded seats in 
great profusion, and altogether they do much credit 
to the taste of the proprietor and the public. There 
appears to be a considerable degree of levity amongst 
those who resort to this spot of Sunday recreation, 
which is but little in accordance with our Scotch 
notion of Presbyterian propriety." 

Rev. Dr. Abeel, who was stationed at English 
Neighborhood in charge of the Reformed Dutch 
Church at that place between 1825 and 1828, some- 
times visited the territory of Hoboken and adjacent 

" OLD BERGEN." 279 

thereto. Finding at Hoboken several of the residents 
identified with the Reformed Dutch Church, who 
were wont to cross the river to New York to 
attend reh'gious services, while others were connected 
with the congregations at Bergen, he urged upon them 
the advisability of establishing a church there. Ho- 
boken at this time was sparsely settled, it being 
mainly considered a place of recreation and enjoyment 
for the pleasure-loving denizens of New York. On 
Sundays especially, multitudes thronged its borders, 
and the whole day was devoted to all manner of pas- 
times. There seemed no opportunity for the holding 
of public worship, but Dr. Abeel finally arranged with 
one of the hotel proprietors for the occupancy of his 
ball-room on Sunday evenings, for the purpose of 
worship. It was not deemed judicious to attempt 
services until after the crowds had departed, and 
accordingly the time of assembling was to be deter- 
mined by the ringing of the last ferry bell. The boats 
left Hoboken for their last trip at eight o'clock, and it 
was the custom to ring the ferry bell vigorously at 
that hour so that the belated traveller would hasten 
his steps. Consequently it was full half an hour later 
before the services commenced. 

These services were held intermittingly until 1828, 
when Dr. Abeel was succeeded at English Neighbor- 
hood by Rev. Philip Duryea, and he, in connection 
with Rev. Dr. Taylor, of Bergen, alternated the 
Sabbath evening services twice in each month. These 
services were held in the old schoolhouse, and contin- 
ued until about 1830, when the Protestant Episcopal 

28o " OLD BERGEN." 

Church was erected through the liberality and cooper- 
ation of several families belonging to that denomina- 
tion. On account of the then existing conditions, it 
was not possible to sustain more than one religious 
enterprise, and the Dutch Reformed services were dis- 
continued, several of the congregation worshipping at 
Bergen and New Durham. With occasional attempts, 
no permanent result was secured until Sept., 1850, 
when an application was presented to the Classis for 
establishing a Reformed Dutch Church. This request 
was granted and the church organized Oct. 27th the 
same year. 

Hoboken was likewise noted as the home of the 
" Hoboken Turtle Club," that coterie of Epicureans, 
who rivalled the old Romans in the variety and abun- 
dance of the feasts they prepared. 

Chapter LII. 


Tradition relates a sorrowful romance in connec- 
tion with Castle Point. It is said that on the return 
of Hudson from his explorations up the Hudson, 
lured by the beauty of th^ spot, he determined to 
land and make closer acquaintance with its attractions. 
Accordingly he cast anchor in Weehawken Bay, and 
as his vessel was at once surrounded by Indians in 
their canoes, he made them understand by signs that 
on the morrow he would visit their chiefs. Where- 
upon they departed, and commenced great prepara- 
tions for the reception of the white strangers. 

The chiefs arrayed themselves in glossy skins, orna- 
mented with feathers and rare-colored shells, while the 
women of the tribe were dressed in all their finery, 
which consisted for the most part of highly colored 
pliable mats or blankets, made from the finest of 
rushes, and shell necklaces. Hudson and his crew 
donned their brightest uniforms, and with well 
polished weapons, presented a goodly array as they 
disembarked from their vessel. Great curiosity was 
manifested by all the Indian women, while the braves, 
although evidently impressed by the gallant bearing 
of their visitors, preserved that stolid, indifferent 
demeanor for which the savage has ever been noted. 

After a formal welcome by the chiefs, and a judi- 

282 " OLD BERGEN." 

cious distribution of presents by Hudson, the pipe 
was passed from mouth to mouth and formality dis- 
pensed with. Among the party of Hudson was a 
young gallant, formerly attached to the English court, 
but who, influenced by his love of adventure, had cast 
in his lot with the discoverers. He was conspicuous 
by reason of his great stature and comely appearance, 
and noting in the daughter of the chief, who was eye- 
ing him furtively, a person of uncommon grace and 
beauty, he determined to ply the arts that had been 
so successful at court, and enliven the time by a 
flirtation with this forest beauty. 

He contrived to make her understand what great 
havoc she had created with his affections, and soon 
they were familiarly conversing with signs, which were 
interpreted the more easily through that innate sym- 
pathy which is common alike to the maiden of the 
forest and the belle of the drawing-room. Tlicy 
wandered away through the forest shades, and soon 
reached a secluded spot on the shore, where they sat 
down side by side on a fallen log, she reclining lightly 
against his shoulder. But in spite of the peaceful 
surroundings, the scene was soon to be changed. One 
of the warriors, who had long wooed the Indian 
maiden, and was only waiting to secure suflficient 
wealth to exchange for her with her father — the old 
chief — had watched the advances of the bold gallant 
with a jealous eye, and stealthily followed them 
through the forest's depths. 

His savage nature could not calmly submit to be 
thus thrust aside for this bold stranger, and as he 

" OLD BERGEN." 283 

noted the caresses with which the latter punctuated 
his sign language, he became inflamed with hate, and 
several times raised his bow in readiness to send on its 
mission the deadly arrow, but as often relaxed his 
effort. But when he saw the maiden almost reclining 
in the embrace of the stranger, his anger became so 
fierce, that, maddened beyond restraint, he drew the 
bow to its utmost tension, and let fly the fatal arrow 
with so sure an aim that it not only pierced the body 
of the maiden, but inflicted a mortal wound on the 
gallant. With features convulsed with jealous anger 
and rage, he rushed forward to find the maiden's life- 
blood gushing forth in streams, and her suitor with 
agony depicted on his features, endeavoring to stanch 
the wound in his own breast. Seeing the approach of 
the savage, he gaspingly pleaded for his life, but of no 
avail. With demoniacal laughter the crushing blow 
descended, and man and maiden both lay in the em- 
brace of death at the feet of the infuriated savage. 
Suddenly seizing the body of the maiden, he bore it 
on his shoulders, and laid it at the feet of the old 
chieftain, indicating that her death was caused by the 
white men whom he was then entertaining. 

The fiery, untamed nature of the savage burst forth, 
and threatening glances were cast upon Hudson and 
his men. They soon saw that instant flight alone 
could save their lives from the now thoroughly aroused 
Indians, and an immediate retreat was ordered. The 
savages pressed them closely, but by keeping in close 
array, with blunderbusses ready for action, they were 
able to reach their boats in safety, and were soon 

284 " OLD BERGEX." 

pulled to their vessel. They here missed their com- 
panion, but as the shades of night were drawing on, 
determined that nothing could be done until morning. 

At the early dawn of the following day the shrill 
warwhoop of the Indians was heard, and on looking . 
forth, their uncertainty as to the young man's fate 
was dispelled, for, circling the vessel in his bark canoe 
was a savage in full war-paint, brandishing the yellow 
scalp lock of their companion. So threatening did 
the aspect of the Indians become, that Hudson im- 
mediately weighed anchor and departed from so dan- 
gerous a neighborhood. 

For over twenty years Hoboken was the home of 
the New York Yacht Club, which was founded iu 1844 
by John C. Stevens. The first meeting was held on 
board his schooner yacht, the Gimcrack. In response 
to his invitation, nine gentlemen appeared and organ- 
ized what is now one of the most celebrated yacht 
clubs in the world. In 1845, the first club house was 
built in the " Elj'sian Fields," and this continued to 
be the club's home until 1868, when its headquarters 
was transferred to Staten Island. 

In the early days Hoboken was, like its neighboring 
city, at times surrounded by water, the high ground 
terminating at Castle Point forming an island. An 
old description states: "Hoboken is an island, the 
westerly side of which is one-half mile from the New 
Jersey Shore." This space has since been filled in by 
natural and artificial means, so that the old creek and 
marshes by Avhich it was surrounded have almost en- 
tirely disappeared. 



2^66 " OLD BERGEN." 

Above Weehavvken and just south of the West 
shore ferry landing, is the site of the famous duelHng 
ground, specially noted as the spot where the la- 
mented and scholarly Hamilton met his untimely end 
at the hands of the polished and courtly, yet infamous 
Burr. About twenty feet above the surface of the 
w ater that laves the foot of the overhanging cliffs w as 
a small grassy plateau, about sixty by one hundrcil 
feet in area, completely shut off from the surrounding 
country by perpendicular cliffs reaching up on the 
sides and back. These in summer were covered with 
a profusion of vines and mosses, and with the broad 
river below glittering in quiet ripples, and a rampart 
of cedar and other bushes at the edge that screened it 
from the gaze of any casual passer by, it was a spot 
of unusual beauty, suggesting a peace and quietness, 
utterly at variance with the bloody deeds there 

And yet its very retirement, rendering it safe from 
unwelcome intrusion and difificult of access, it being 
reached only by a rough narrow path from the water, 
made it a resort for the vengeful and lawless. A long 
list might be published of those wlio came to this 
spot, determined to settle their differences according 
to tlie so called "Code of Honor; " but none was so 
universally regretted as the unfortunate Hamilton, 
who in a moment of weakness, allowed himself to be- 
come the victim of vindictive passions. The march 
of improvements, necessitating the cutting away of 
the river bank for railroad purposes, has completely 
obliterated the spot, but the monument erected there- 

" OLD BERGEN." 28/ 

on to commemorate the place, was moved to the top 
of the bluff directly back of its original location. 
The original Hobokcn ferry was established in 


1774, and like its fellows of that time, was of primitive 
construction, consisting of row and sail boats. In 
181 1, John Stevens applied steam ; but this apparently 

288 "OLD BERGEN." 

was considered too expensive a method of propulsion, 
and was superseded by the use of horse-boats, as ap- 
pears from the following extract from a memorial 
which he presented March 12, 18 14, to the municipal 
authorities of New York : " That your memoralist 
hath constructed a boat to be propelled by horses, or 
mules, which he contemplates to use on the ferry from 
the foot of Vesey Street to Hoboken, which he hopes 
will prove a substitute for a steamboat." 

This boat seems to have been constructed on a 
somewhat different plan from those in use on the 
Paulus Hook ferry. " It had a circular platform in 
the center, with cleats to give the horses foothold, 
and the shaft of the paddlewheel was made to revolve 
by means of cranks on a small wheel on either side of 
the shaft, geared to a large wheel, on an upright 
spindle like a crab or cider mill, with two or four arms 
extending over the platform, and to these arms two, 
four or eight horses or mules were hitched." 

In 1807, an event occurred which excited profound 
interest. Great crowds gathered along the shores of 
the Hudson, to witness the departure of a boat up 
the river, that was to defy wind and current. It was 
called the Clcriiioiit, and was built under the superin- 
tendence of Robert Fulton. The following advertise- 
ment appeared in the Albany Gazette of that date : 

" The North River Steam Boat will leave Paulus 
Hook (Jersey City), on Friday the 4th of September, 
at nine o'clock in the eveningo Provisions, good 
berths, and accommodation are provided. The charge 
to each passenger is as follows : 



" Newburgh, 

fare $3, 


14 liours, 


" $4. 


17 " 


" $5, 


20 " 


" $S'A, 


30 " 


" $7. 


36 " 


The dimensions of this boat were: length, 100 feet ; 
width, 12 feet ; depth, 7 feet. 

Chapter LII. 


But the domestic and familiar life of " Old Bergen " 
possesses an iiiterest beyond that of mere personal 
associations. The habits and customs of the Father- 
land were here transplanted, and the tenacity with 
which the early settlers clung to them is illustrative 
of the peculiar steadfastness that is so characteristic 
of the Dutch temperament. From the Zabriskies 
on the north to the Van Buskirks on the extreme 
south, the whole territory was interspersed with 
the Newkirks, Van Winkles, Van Wagenens, Van 
Reypens, Brinkerhoffs, Posts, Vreelands and Van 
Homes, the last two being very much in evidence. 

These families formed a community of their own. 
They were easy-going folk, satisfied to follow the 
sun in its rising and its going down. Bound together 
not only by a community of interest, but oftentimes 
by ties of consanguinity, there was a kindly feeling, 
a warm-hearted sympathy, that could not exist 
under our changed conditions. The early settlers 
were simple in their wants and habits, and clung 
religiously to their old associations. They were slow 
to form new acquaintances, but were firm in their 
friendships ; and whatever local or individual differences 


might arise, the whole community combined and 
acted under one impulse when the common interest 
was involved. Such to a marked degree were the 
traits displayed by the inhabitants of " Old Bergen." 

In a community where the acquaintanceship 
extends back through a long series of years, and 
where also a general knowledge is handed down 
through generations, there is an intimacy and kindly 
feeling generated that could not be produced in this 
changing cosmopolitan age. The long, close knowl- 
edge of wants and conditions, interwoven with kindly 
acts and practical sympathy given and received, 
bound the whole neighborhood in the closest ties, 
so that they seemed as one unbroken family; 
the sorrows and afflictions, the trials and perplexities, 
as well as the joys and happiness, were as common 
property, and were participated in by all. 

When death invaded a family circle, there was a 
general sadness and outpouring of practical sympathy 
to those immediately bereaved, and loving hands 
performed the sad services for the sorrowing. All 
joined in the simple funeral services and followed 
on foot the coffin borne on the shoulders of the 
nearest friends or relatives to its last resting place 
in the old graveyard, where rest the ashes of so 
many of our loved ones. The dominie and the 
doctor usually headed the procession, both wearing 
over the left shoulder a wide white linen scarf. 

The weddings were then as now matters of great 
interest, and regarded with becoming attention, 
yet they were tinged with the good practical sense 


that forbade wastefulness, or dissipation to an un- 
wonted extent. The bride and groom engaged in 
their ordinary occupations until near the hour for 
the ceremony, when, arraying themselves in whatever 
finery they possessed, they submitted to the ordeal 
with becoming resignation. After the ceremony, 
the festivities and feasting were indulged in at the 
house of the bride, and were continued the following 
day at the house of the bridegroom, after which 
the young couple were ready to settle down to the 
practical affairs of life, eaeh anxious and willing to 
meet the responsibilities of the novel position. 

Of course, under the then existing conditions, 
social intercourse and functions were limited, and 
very inf®rmal. There was a hard, practical side to 
life that does not exist in these days of countless 
conveniences; house-keeping then meant actual per- 
sonal work, and most of the accomplishments taught 
the young society belle of the day were in the line 
of useful labor. The skill and ingenuity of the 
more modern brain had not then furnished the labor 
saving machines that in these times divest home 
life of many of the hardships common to the olden 
time, and the daily duties of the family circle 
demanded an economical use of every passing hour. 
Social functions in their present .meaning were 
unknown, and such as were indulged in were combined 
with, and adapted to the existing domestic conditions. 
The general helpful spirit that prevailed prevented 
the existence of many of the anxieties and burdens 
so common to our social life ; each guest became 

" OLD BERGEN." 293 

a host and the dreadful fear of some impending breach 
of etiquette thereby avoided. 

In those early days there was a division of labor 
in all branches of domestic econony, as well as in 
the rougher out-door work. Quilting bees and 
meetings for cutting and sewing carpet rags for 
the much-prized and gaudy floor covering, were 
joined in by the women, with the same general 
interest as harvesting or killing times or house raisings 
were indulged in by the men, and the winter after- 
noons and evenings were fixed on in advance, so 
that each in turn might secure the benefit of the 
general help. Their usual recreations were confined 
to the neighborly " running in" to gossip on domestic 
affairs or mayhap to relieve the weary watcher at 
the bed side of the sick, and the more formal 
afternoon gatherings or quilting bees, to which 
shortly after midday, each good dame could be 
seen wending her way, clad in kerchief and cap, 
while suspended from her waist was the capacious 
outside pocket containing a complete outfit for 
the prudent housewife, with the ball of yarn from 
which she knitted as she trudged along. These 
were indeed a welcome relief from the monotonous 
routine o£ the daily life, and the bustling dames, 
as they gathered at the appointed place, were gladly 
welcomed. With tongues that vied with their clicking 
needles, they discussed church matters, or, seated 
about the quilting frame, tracing the intricacies of the 
gorgeous " Fox Chase " or the solitary " Toad in the 
puddle," they reconciled all neighborhood differences. 

294 " OLD BERGEN." 

And then the social teas in winter were looked 
forward to with plesant anticipations, at which perhaps 
a half dozen congenial couples enjoyed their weekly- 
frolic after the labors of the day were completed. 
Each couple gave a tea in turn and they would 
meet at six o'clock, and rarely delayed their departure 
after ten. The interval was devoted to the enjoyment 
of the good things of this earth, prepared as only 
the Dutch housewife knew how, in utter violation 
of all the known rules of gastronomy or hygiene 
and with a result that proved all theories at fault. 
Such were the ordinary recreations of the staid 
married folk, who knew how to accept the blessings 
of this life in a becoming manner. Of course there 
was the periodical donation party or church fair, 
which awakened a transient excitement in the 
community, and the various holidays brought each 
its own peculiar enjoyments. 

The annual church picnic was eagerly looked for- 
ward to by young and old, and its delights anticipated 
for weeks before the appointed time. As has been 
already stated, the church had an abiding place in the 
hearts of the people, and consequently the whole com- 
munity was stirred whenever it determined upon any 
course of action. When the picnic day was fixed, 
preparations were entered upon that would insure the 
greatest amount of enjoyment, and were commensurate 
with the importance of the occasion. The night pre- 
vious, the skies were eagerly scanned for premonitions 
of the weather, and the best bib and tucker laid out, 
which for the fair sex, of course, included colored rib- 

" OLD BERGEN." 295 

bons and ruffled and embroidered dresses. At the ap- 
pointed time the rustic beaus and belles wended their 
way to the church, whither the youngsters had pre- 
ceded them, while the fathers and mothers, of a more 
practical turn of mind, finished packing the baskets 
with " goodies " of every description ; and when the 
start was finally made, the old folks were so fully im- 
bued with the spirit of the occasion that they were 
just as ready to surrender themselves to the delights 
of the day as the most enthusiastic of the little ones. 

Wagons were lined up and packed so systematically 
that, in order to unload at all, it was necessary to ex- 
actly reverse the order of loading. As soon as all was 
ready, at the sound of a horn, a score or more of 
wagons started in a long line, with flags waving, chil- 
dren shouting, dust flying, all bent on crowding as 
much enjoyment as possible into the one day. Currie's 
Woods, located just south of the Morris Canal, and 
between the Old Road and Newark Bay, was always 
the objective point. In those days there were no 
groves, with dancing pavilions and variegated smells, 
but just plain, old-fashioned country woods, carpeted 
with nature's handiwork, with shady walks and nooks, 
and redolent with the perfumes distilled in nature's 

After the occupants of the wagons had been extri- 
cated from the same, there was a general scattering ; 
the children, to explore the hidden recesses of the 
woods, or look for shells on the shore of the Back 
Bay ; the older people, to busy themselves in the prep- 
aration of the picnic lunch, while the young men and 

296 "OLD BERGEN." 

maidens, impelled by some mysterious law, paired off 
and wandered away, oftentimes to be seen no more 
until recalled by the sounding horns for return. The 
day passed all too quickly ; and when the shadows 
lengthened, the packing was repeated, and the whole 
concourse wended its way homeward, a tired, happy, 
dusty, rollicking lot of good old-fashioned Dutchmen, 
with friendships strengthened, burdens lightened, all 
stronger and better for the close, informal intercourse 
that marked the' innocent enjoyment of the day. 

Chapter LIV. 


Pause and Pfingster were essentially Dutch institu- 
tions. On the one the coloring and cracking of eggs 
were indulged in with as much zest as are the Easter 
festivities at the White House at the present day; 
while on Pfingster congenial couples might be seen 
riding and driving in every direction, oftentimes set- 
tling the most momentous affairs of life ere their re- 

The Fourth of July was celebrated with special en- 
thusiasm in the olden time, for the memories of Rev- 
olutionary struggles and hardships were so recerrt that 
the lustre of heroic deeds was yet undimmed. Its 
observance indicated that it was then invested with a 
deeper significance than in these latter days. Instead 
of being given up to noise and merry making, the oc- 
casion was arranged so as to fasten in the mind the 
patriotism of the forefathers, their sufferings and pri- 
vations, and the necessity of holding fast to their faith 
and doctrines, in order to insure the perpetuity of the 

Early in the day was seen and heard the bustle of 
preparation. A large tent was erected, and at an early 
hour the gathering began. They came singly, by 


298 " OLD BERGEN." 

families, and by wagon loads, until nearly all the popu- 
lation was gathered within the confines of the parson- 
age orchard, before alluded to. Tables were spread,, 
and fairly groaned under the abundance of good things, 
prepared in accordance with the well tested rules of 
the good old Dutch housewife. The Declaration of 
Independence was first read, a suitable address was 
then delivered by the dominie or some other prominent 
person, and patriotic songs were sung by the Sunday 
School children. In this way was emphasized the im- 
portance of a strict adherence to the principles of Lib- 
erty and Justice. As an evidence of the enthusiasm 
with which the anniversary of our independence was 
celebrated in the early days, we have the following 
extract from The Sentinel of Freedom of July 28, 

" The farmers of Bergen, being informed that Capt. 
Decatur would pay them a visit from Newark on the 
morning of the Anniversary of our Liberty, with his 
Flying Artillery, and a troop of horse, on his way to 
New York, made preparations to receive him right 
royally ; but having waited in vain until eleven p. m., 
it was unanimously agreed to prepare cartridges, man 
a gun, and proceed to the City of Jersey to fire a sa- 
lute. Everything being ready by three-quarters past 
eleven, the party set out, and returned in twenty 
minutes, although having the misfortune to lose a 
linch pin, and break one of the axle-trees of the car- 
riage on the road thither." 

The following program shows how the Fourth was 
observed at a somewhat later date: 

" OLD BERGEN. 299 

A Published 

Program for the Celebration of the 

4TH OFjuLY, 1835. 

1. National salute fired at Bergen, and Ringing of Bells. 

2. Procession form at 10 o'clock precisely, at the upper Flag 
Staff, Bergen, and proceed to the church in following order : 

Officers of the Day. 

Artillery, Military, Band. 

Bearers of Liberty Cap and Standard. 

Heroes of '"jd and Banner. 

Orator and Reader. Rev. Clergy. 

Corporation of Bergen and Jersey City. 

Civic Authorities. 

Com. Arrangements. 

Citizens in general. 

Order of Exercises at Church. 

Prayer. Ode. 

Declaration of Independence. 

Music by Band. Oration. 

Ode. Music by Band. 


Preserve the same order from church, and proceed to the 

Square, where a National salute wall be fired. Then proceed to 

Five Corners, dismiss and Dine. 

The annual training day, when all able-bodied men 
were compelled to muster for enrollment and drill, 
was an occasion very generally recognized and gath- 
ered a most wonderful aggregation of armed warriors. 
At Christmas time Santa Claus was eagerly welcomed, 
and gifts were exchanged, the value of which was es- 
timated not from a monetary standpoint, but because 
of the wealth of love and affection they represented. 

300 " OLD BERGEN. 

But New Year's Day was the crowning event of the 
year, and was celebrated by all. Calls were inter- 
changed and friendships renewed in the social manner 
peculiar to those days, and from early morn until 
sometimes the dawning of the next day, the cordial 
greetings were given and received. On every New 
Year's Day, the Dominie made special addresses to 
the different classes of the congregation — the old, the 
middle-aged, and the young ; and in turn each stood 
as indicated. The fathers in Israel, with whitened 
heads and bent and tottering forms, listened to the 
words of love and encouragement from their revered 
pastor, as he assured them of his love and sympathy, 
and, commending them for their steadfastness, remind- 
ed them of the reward of the faithful. They were fol- 
lowed by the middle-aged, those who were in the full 
vigor of manhood ; these he earnestly besought to 
bear the heat and burden of the day, and with wise 
and appropriate words, strengthened them in the 
faith. Lastly the young, so closely enwrapped in his 
affections, hung upon the kindly words spoken to 
them, as though his great love for them, impelled the 
going out to him of their young hearts, cheering and 
helping them by his loving admonitions and advice. 

Chapter LV. 


The amusements of the young from their very sim- 
plicity, were the more enjoyable. The young ladies' 
constitutions in those days did not require expensive 
theatre parties and late suppers to revive their failing 
energies. When an outing was determined upon, the 
young man appeared on horseback, and halting at the 
mounting block, one of which adorned every front 
entrance, awaited the appearance of his maid, who 
mounted upon the pillion behind him and, prompted by 
a very proper Dutch timidity, clasped him convulsively 
about the waist to ensure herself against falling. 
They ambled along the leafy paths and shady roads, 
returning with an appetite that enabled them to do 
full justice to the bountiful meal awaiting them. 

This horseback riding was followed by the more 
exclusive buggy, and long lines of these easy-riding 
vehicles, wending their way in the evening in every 
direction, testified to their popularity. Often a stop 
would be made at some convenient hostelry, where, 
under the inspiration of the negro fiddler, the hours 
were all too quickly consumed in the delights of the 
fascinating schottische, the stately quadrille, or the 
more rollicking Virginian reel. Oh! the delights of 
those moonlight rides through the shady back road, 




not a sound to be heard save the rustling of the shim- 
mering leaves and the katydid's chirp, as the horse 
ambled softly along, guided by fair hands — for the 
girls insisted on driving when the woods came in 

ciiiiiK i-i;!-"'^'; 

sight, and the intelligent animal softened his gait to 
a slow walk, as if to express his intense sympathy. 

Again, at the proper seasons, picnics, straw-rides 
and sleigh-rides were indulged in, and the absence of 
formality, and the consciousness that all were pos- 
sessed of a sincere spirit of friendliness, made them 
most enjoyable. 


In winter at the first indication of sufficient snow, 
the girls were notified, wagon boxes were placed 
on runners and filled with sweet, well-cured salt 
hay or straw, and an abundance of buffalo robes 
furnished. In the early evening hour the favored 
ones were called for, and to the music of silvery voices 
and resonant sleigh bells, the distance to Bergen Point 
or Hackensack was soon covered and the remaining 
hours devoted to that superlative enjoyment that can 
be fully appreciated only through realization. The 
names of Wauters and Pennoyer are so thoroughly 
identified with good substantial suppers and terpsi- 
chorean exercise that their mere mention opens up the 
vista of the past and brings again to view the scene in all 
its vivid freshness. 

Along what was called Back Lane, now West Side Ave- 
nue, were melon patches and a peach orchard, possess- 
ing great attraction for the )-outh of the day, espe- 
cially as there were cedar woods hard by, whose low, 
bushy branches afforded a convenient place of refuge 
from the eyes of the sometimes too inquisitive owners. 
Probably tlie most attractive place in the old town 
at a certain season of the year was Van Wagenen's 
cider press (near where his house now stands), about 
which the boys clustered like flies around a molasses 
barrel ; and no wonder, for no more exquisite enjoy- 
ment could be devised than a judicious combination 
of a well selected straw and an overflowing cider bar- 
rel. Jove never sipped more delicious nectar, than the 
new cider, wrapping as it did the senses in a most 
ecstatic dream, and obliterating all idea of present or 
(uture responsibility. 

304 " OLD BERGEN. 

Near by could be seen, on warm, sunny days, the 
portly form of " Old Uncle Gatt}'," seated in the midst 
of his beehives, calmly smoking his old clay pipe, 
blackened by long use, and watching his industrious 
workers as they piled up their wealth of sweetness. 
Althougk ignorant, perhaps, of what might be termed 
scientific bee lore, his knowledge of the habits of the 
little insects was verified by the seeming affection 
with which they encircled him, buzzing about his 
head as though trying to inform him of the discovery 
of some new, honey-laden flower, or lingering for a 
moment for his words of praise and encouragement. 
He talked with them as though he considered them 
possessed of human intelligence, and whenever any 
one exhibited unusual stupidity, his favorite com- 
parison, spoken in the Dutch vernacular, was : " Huh ! 
you don't know half as much as one of my bees! " 

The harvesting was carried on by an interchange of 
services, and the " killing time " (which always came 
after cold weather had set in), when the well nurtured 
ho^s and beeves were deftly despatched to their 
happy grazing fields, was oftentimes made an occasion 
of great jollification. The farmers arranged to assist 
each other, so that the labor was lightened, and, with 
few exceptions, the work of the day finished by mid- 
afternoon. After refreshments, "weight guessing" 
was indulged in, while the sedative pipe quieted the 
nerves of those who had become unduly excited, and 
prepared them for a like experience at some neighbor- 
ing farm the following day. The young people always 
lon"-ed eagerly for this time, when the old kitchen 

" OLD BERGEN." 305 

became redolent with savory smells, and the manufac- 
ture of sausage, roelechas, head cheese and, last but 
not least, the aromatic mince meat, suggested possi- 
bilities scarcely realized in an Epicurean dream. 

The skins of the cattle killed were sent to the tan- 
nery, the proprietor of which exacted as toll one-half 
the quantity tanned. The leather returned to the 
farmer was laid aside to await the periodical visit of 
the shoemaker, whose custom was to travel from 
house to house, in order to make or cobble the shoes 
of the family. 

Another industry in the fall was the collecting of 
honey from the beehives, which were to be found near 
every well regulated farm house ; and lucky was the 
youngster who received permission to participate in 
this work. There was something so fascinating in the 
thought of being wakened in the early morning hours 
and groping through the gloom to the kitchen, where 
the flickering light of the fire only disclosed the shad- 
ows and dark recesses of the room, thereby increasing 
the chills that made the teeth clatter like castanets, 
not to be dispelled until after the disappearance of a 
bowl of hot supporn. Then, each person being pro- 
vided with the ever-present woolen comforter closely 
wrapped about the neck and head, with a mysterious 
air and stealthy tread, in true keeping with the nefari- 
ous deed about to be performed, the expedition started, 
and it was an experience never to be forgotten. 

The honey could be collected with comparative 
safety in the early morning, when the crisp, cold air 
had benumbed the active little denizens of the hive, 

306 " OLD BERGEN." 

and rendered them unable to use their natural means 
t)f defense in resisting the attack upon their stores of 
wealth. Preparations were made the night before by 
wrapping pine splints with cotton cloth and dipping 
them in melted brimstone. In the morning these 
were lighted and placed beneath the hives, and the 
fumes so stupified the bees that the plunderers were 
enabled to select at willsuch combs of honey as 
seemed to them judicious. Usually sufficient store 
was left to afford the bees a meagre sustenance until 
the return of the spring sunshine again tempted them 
forth in search of their natural food, but frequently 
the whole hive was denuded and the bee family de- 

Often in the early morning hour could be heard the 
deep bay of the fox hound echoing over the fields, as, 
urged by his revengeful master, he swiftly and unerr- 
ingly tracked the midnight marauder, through whose 
shrewd cunning the poultry yard had been depleted. 

Chapter LVI. 


During the winter months the young people like- 
wise enjoyed candle making. In those early days as 
a rule, lard lamps and tallow dips were used for illu- 
minating purposes, but sometimes clam shells were 
filled with melted lard in which a piece of cotton 
cloth was inserted, and the oil being then allowed to 
harden, the shell lamps were laid aside for future use. 
When needed, the wick was lighted, and the heat from 
its flame kept sufificient of the surrounding lard 
melted to ensure a continuous feeding, thus furnishing 
a somewhat dim and flickering light. 

The tallow dips, requiring no special expense, were 
in very general use, and were made as follows : Cotton 
wicks were cut in the required lengths, and hung in 
the middleover a rounded stick, which was sufficiently 
long to accommodate twelve or fifteen of tiiem. When 
a number of these had been prepared, they were in 
turn plunged into a vessel of melted tallow, and when 
encrusted with the grease, were withdrawn and 
placed upon a frame to cool and harden. This pro- 
cess was repeated frequently, and as the candles 
grew larger with each dipping, they soon became the 
required size, when they were hung in the garrets for 
use as needed. 

308 «* OLD BERGEN." 

After the emancipation of the slaves, so attached 
had they become to their masters, that many of them 
absolutely refused to accept their freedom in the sense 
of self dependence, always regarding themselves as 
part and parcel of the old home. Some of them, 
addicted to the roving, careless life that seems to have 
been transmitted to them from some far-off ancestor, 
roamed with their descendants through the woods 
and swamps in search of blackberries, huckleberries, or 
the " snapping turtle," which, under proper manipula- 
tion, was considered a choice and dainty dish, rivalling 
in toothsomeness the terrapin of the South ; while 
others devoted their energies to the capture of the 
frost fish or " killies " that at certain seasons swarmed 
in the Hackensack River and the neighboring marshes. 
Mushrooms abounded in the fields, and were sought 
after during the early morning hours by others of the 
black folk, and the appearance of the " Rovers " with 
a full supply at the " back kitchen" door was hailed 
with delight. Others again engaged in business tran- 
sactions. The sonorous and melodious voice of " Old 
Yon " as he cried " fresh buttermilk," carried in the 
same churn from which the butter had been taken, 
was familiar to all, while " Lame Tomachy," with his 
solitary ox, warranted sound and kind in double or 
single harness, was an unique figure in the early days. 
" Old Betty's " chickens and eggs possessed a pecu- 
liarly appetizing flavor, and her culinary accomplish- 
ments were especially appreciated by the younger 
generation when carried by their wanderings beyond 
the dinner hour of the home. 


All throughout the territory bounded by the 
meadows, from Bergen Point to the northern Hmit, 
were to be found nut-bearing trees, their fruit being 
highly prized for household use. The cool, crisp air 
of early winter was eagerly longed for, and at the first 
indication of frost, expeditions were organized to 
gather the nuts that had been rudely shaken from 
their downy beds by the wintry blasts. Hickory nuts 
and chestnuts were the most abundant, the trees 
growing in groups ; and many of these were regarded, 
by a sort of unwritten law, as the special property of 
different coteries of boys, usually of those living in 
their immediate neighborhood. Sometimes this cus- 
tom was infringed upon by the more lawless, and 
fierce fights resulted, during which the poles intended 
for knocking down the nuts were employed by the 
rival bands in knocking down their opponents. This 
was, however, only an occasional experience, as the 
right of " preemption " was generally recognized. 

In various parts of the territory were scattered black 
walnut trees, many of which were left standing for 
ornament or shade, after the clearing away of all the 
others ; and their leafless branches studded with 
clusters of black balls tossing against the wintry sky, 
formed a unique feature of the landscape. These 
walnuts were, however, avoided by the more fastidi- 
ous, as their gathering imparted an almost indelible 
stain to the hands, that could be obliterated only after 
persistent effort. 

A favorite custom of the boys during the fall 
months, was to gather on Saturdays in " The Cedars," 


where, with the combined plunder gathered through- 
out the week, in the shape of eggs, coffee, or whatever 
material in the culinary line that could be secured, 
they would imitate the feasts indulged in by Marion 
and his men. Sometimes, the rations thus collected 
being inadequate, surreptitious visits were made to 
the neighboring fields and their products confiscated. 
Tubers were so artistically separated from the sweet 
potato vines by burrowing under the side hills, that 
the sparseness of the crop at harvest time suggested to 
the owner the wisdom of discontinuing their cultiva- 

After these feasts, the cooking utensils were again 
secreted in their accustomed hiding places, and then 
hunting for hornets' nests was sometimes indulged in. 
When a nest was discovered, the boys' experience 
taught them to institute an elaborate and carefully 
considered plan of attack. Ammunition, in the shape 
of well selected stones, was gathered, branches of 
cedar trees suitable for defence were conveniently 
placed and the bearings of the nearest ditch carefully 
studied. This latter was a precautionary measure 
that was taken advantage of only in the direst ex- 
tremity. The common belief being that an angry 
hornet would dart toward the spot from which a stone 
was thrown, a simultaneous attack from different points, 
was usually determined on, so that the hornets' idea of 
locality might be somewhat confused, and thus afford 
an opportunity of escape to the attacking party. At 
a given signal the plan was carried out ; at the first 
jostling of the nest, out poured the enraged insects in 


swarms, and away scampered the marauders in every 
direction in their endeavors to escape from tlie wrath 
to come. Sometimes an agonized shriek, accompanied 
by a frenzied waving of branches, would indicate that 
some infuriated insect had inserted his business end 
under the coat collar of his victim, and was plying liis 
art with all the vigor of which it was capable. At 
about this period of time the location of the ditch 
was eagerly sought after, and the fun was over. 

Chapter LVII. 


The houses of the olden times were low, one-story 
buildings, with peaked roof, facing and along the line 
of the street, with a wide hall running through the 
middle of the house and closed at the front with a 
divided door. This door was shaded by a small porch 
with side seats, a most convenient place for the assem- 
bling of neighbors, when making friendly calls or dis- 
cussing any matters of general interest. There are 
very few houses of the old type remaining, and 
these have been so changed and modernized that the 
old homes are not what they used to be. 

The wide hall was in the summer time the living 
room of the family, and here could be found the busy 
housewife, with carding or spinning wheel, adding to 
her household stores, and ever and anon touching with 
her foot the great mahogany rocker that had soothed 
the restlessness of former generations, while the old 
grandmother sat nodding and dozing in her easy chair, 
or teaching the youngsters the mysteries of patchwork, 
or narrowing down the stocking heel, or perhaps guid- 
ing the clumsy fingers over the artistic and much- 
prized sampler. 

The old patriarch of the family sat near-by, dandling 



on his knee mayhap the great-grandchild, to the 
rliythmical cadence of : — 


" Trippe trop a tronches, Varkes in the vonches, 
Couches in the clawver, Pearches in the hawver, 
Calfes in the long a gras, Anches in the wasser plos, 
And the clina young-a, so groat wass." 

Grandfather's clock ticked noisily in the corner, with 
Luna's fair face peeping over the dial and markingthe 
quarters with a shameless irregularity, while the upper 
half-door stood hospitably open as if inviting the passer- 
by to join in the friendly chat or harmless gossip. 

Opening into the hall were the sleeping rooms on 
the one side, and the parlor on the other, the latter 
seldom opened, except in case of marriage or death, 
or for the periodical cleaning, when after a thorough 
sweeping and dusting, it was again closed until some 
special ceremony required its opening. Sometimes in 


the rear of the parlor was the guest chamber, with its 
high-post bedstead, draped and festooned with highly 
colored valances, profusely fringed. The warming pan 
stood in the corner, and was a most welcome adjunct 
in those days of frigid rooms; for, filled with hot 
embers from the kitchen fire, it was passed between 
the icy sheets, imparting a delightful warmth that was 
most grateful to the half-frozen guest, as with acroba- 
tic feat, he plunged into the billowy feather bed and — 

But the glory of the old home was the kitchen, with 
its great fire-place, laughing with wide-open hospital- 
ity, extending across the entire width, with immense 
chimneys, in which the meats were sometimes smoked ; 
the great back-log sputtered Avith its pungent smoke 
curling lazily upward, flanked and overhung with pot- 
hooks and trammels, suspending over the fire the pots 
and kettles which simmered with the noon-day meal ; 
and on the side was the pot of supporn, with dish and 
spoon always ready for the hungry wayfarer, or who- 
ever chose to partake. 

Near by the cavernous oven gaped yawningly, as if 
eager to swallow the luscious pies and cakes prepared 
by the good housewife as her weekly contributions 
towards the domestic economy. Sometimes the neigh- 
bors gathered with the family on some stormy after- 
noon, and plates of rosy-cheeked apples and toothsome 
nuts, washed down with copious draughts of cider, 
increased the comfort and good cheer. And then 
what an inviting place the kitchen was on winter even- 
ings for the family gathering, while oftentimes the 

" OLD BERGEN.' 315 

wail of the Storm King about the wide chimwey tops 
formed a weird accompaniment to the evening hymns 
so often sung; or perliaps at nightfall the little ones 
were gathered about the mother's knee, and by the 
fitful blaze of the wood fire or flickering candle flame, 
the Bible stories from scenes depicted on the tiling 
about the fire place were told. 

Nor must the great garret, extending over the 
whole house, with its nooks, and corners, peopled 
with the shadowy forms of long ago, be forgotten. 
This was indeed the store-house of the family. Piles 
of apples and nuts occupied the corners, and from the 
rafters were festooned strings of red peppers, clusters 
of seed corn, and bunches of dried herbs, filling the air 
with their spicy aroma, while tables bearing dozens of 
mince and pumpkin pies were overhung with strings 
of sausage. 

At the end of the house was the home garden, 
usually superintended by the auntie, which was filled 
with a profusion of old-fashioned blmncclias ; four 
o'clocks and tulips, ragged sailors and poppies, 
banked with the blooming peony and stately dahlia, 
with the sweet-smelling syringa and lilac in the back- 
ground, while the ever-present boxtree lent a sombre 
shade to the coloring. The fragrant mint and sweet 
marjoram, the savory sage, the pungent thyme, and 
the soothing lavender, mingled their odors in the air, 
the memory of which turns back the wheels of time 
and blots out all the intervening years. 

The furniture was chosen and designed for its fit- 
ness and durability, the truth of which is proven by 

3l6 " OLD BERGEN." 

the fact that although made more than two centuries 
ago, there are specimens of this furniture gracing the 
drawing-rooms of the present day in a better state of 
preservation than articles of much more modern man- 
ufacture. Everything was kept scrupulously clean, 
and the good housewife displayed with pride the 
shining array of pots and pans upon her kitchen 
dressers, while the well scrubbed floor, ornamented in 
the early days with the strip of bright-colored carpet, 
was an object of housewifely pride. 

Chapter LVIII. 


The lack of facilities for manufacture of clothing 
or household goods impelled the frugal and self-re- 
specting to habits of industry, and the whir of the 
spinning wheel was heard whenever a few minutes re- 
lief from housekeeping duties allowed. The girls were 
early taught the mysteries of spinning, weaving, and 
knitting, and the well stored chest of the youthful 
bride gave abundant evidence of her own industrious 
habits. Not only were the garments home spun ; but 
the warp and woof were made from the flax grown in 
the home field and the wool shorn from the well kept 
sheep; and in some old families, are still found blan- 
kets and bedding, the handiwork of the great grand- 
mothers in their early days. 

Owing to the primitive condition of the times, many 
industries now unknown in household economy were 
then engaged in, and as a consequence actual labor 
necessary to be performed forbade idleness on the part 
of the enterprising householder. The spices for home 
use were often crushed by means of two stones, one 
being hollowed out to receive the whole berry, and 
the other, of suitable size and shape, being used for 
pounding. These were substituted in the homes of 
the well-to-do, by a mortar and pestle, made of metal. 

3l8 "OLD BERGEN." 

specimens of which are still shown with pride by the 
descendants of the early settlers. Mustard seed was 
crushed by placing a quantity of it in a round bot- 
tomed iron pot, and on it, a medium sized cannon ball. 
This pot was taken on the lap, and by imparting to it 
a rotary motion, the seed was crushed, and the opera- 
tor bathed in copious tears from the effect of the 
pungent odor. 

The churning was usually done by hand. In some 
cases large platform wheels were erected in the cellar 
at an incline, and by means of strips of wood nailed 
just within the rim, a circular walk was formed. On 
this dogs were placed, and as they proceeded on their 
endless journey, the wheel was made to revolve. 
Tliis was connected with the dasher by means of pro- 
jecting arms, and the churning accomplished in a 
comparatively easy manner to all — except the dogs. 
Sometimes the old ram of the flock was utilized, but 
the futility of his efforts to reach the end of his jour- 
ney, seemingly soured his disposition to such a degree 
of pugnacity, that in a short time, he was subjected 
to the butcher's knife, and in the shape of nutritive 
mutton — the quality of which was strengthened by the 
unwonted exercise in which he was compelled to 
indulge — became the foundation for unexceptionable 

The Dutch language prevailed almost exclusively 
to within the last half century, especially in the inter- 
course of the inhabitants with each other ; and even 
after the church services were regularly held in Eng- 
lish, the occasional Sunday afternoon preaching in 

"old BERGEN." ' 3I9 

Dutch was hailed with great satisfaction and rejoicing 
by the older people of the congregation. 

But the old days with their conservative progress- 
iveness are gone never to return. We are facing a 
new era, and events crowd each other so rapidly that 
we scarce catch a glimpse of their departing shadows. 
New customs and associations environ us ; and yet, 
like the traveller, who at eventide standing on some 
eminence, looks back over the surrounding landscape, 
and catches only the sun-tipped peaks of the moun- 
tain heights, the while forgetting the shadowy nooks 
and rugged clifTs, th*e rills and dashing waterfalls, that 
lend completeness to the picture; so as we indulge 
in retrospect, we are apt to recall only the gilded ex- 
periences of the past, forgetting the humdrum, every- 
day life that went so far to make up the days and 
years that have long passed away. 

It is to be hoped that the historic importance of 
" Old Bergen " may in the near future be recognized, 
and that a " New Bergen " may spring up, and under 
that name not only gain the whole of its old posses- 
sions, but also include under its government the, to be 
one day, densely populated territory reaching out to 
and beyond the green hills of the Oranges. 

Already its future prominence is foreshadowed, and 
financial and commercial interests are clustering here 
that will ere long rival in magnitude and importance 
even the enterprises of the great city of which it has 
so long been a neighbor. 






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