Frank J. (Frank John) Urquhart.

A history of the city of Newark, New Jersey : embracing practically two and a half centuries, 1666-1913 (Volume 1) online

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following Thursday as a "Day of publick fasting and prayer,"
because of "the dangerous situation of the publick at this juncture."

Colonel Schuyler and his men were sent to the New York
frontier, and garrisoned the fort at Oswego, which was captured by
Montcalm, on August 15, 1756, and all the command then there was


thrown into prison. Schuyler was at the head of the garrison of
1,400 at the time Montcalm overpowered it with 5,000 French and
Indians. Schuyler's superior, Colonel Mercer, had been killed by a
cannon ball.

There was intense excitement in New York and New Jersey.
"After an anxious suspence for several days," ran a letter from
Albany, " 'tis now past all doubt that we have lost Oswego. * * *
How it came to be lost is a question which no man in this colony
will take upon him to determine — New Jersey has lost a regiment.
She has lost more ; she has lost Col. Schuyler, a brave and loyal sub-
ject who despised his own ease and all the delights of an affluent
fortune for the service of his country. Who had greater induce-
ment to content himself at home ? None."


Colonel Schuyler was paroled, but on condition that if a French
officer of his rank was not produced by the English, he would have
to return to prison. He made his way to New York and subse-
quently to Newark and his home at Petersborough across the Pas-
saic where Kearny Castle now stands (1913). But he was soon
informed that the French had received no one in exchange, and that
he must return. His friends and neighbors urged him to disregard
this insistment of the French, but he would listen to none of them.
Like the true soldier and gentleman that he was, he obeyed the con-
ditions of his parole to the letter.

He joined his men in prison at Montreal and spent thousands
of dollars in caring for them and others during their captivity, hav-
ing arranged before his departure for letters of credit. He provided
them with clothing and at times with food. He ministered to their
needs, while sharing their confinement, with such constancy, that
they came to fairly idolize him. He was released in August, 1758,
together with all the other prisoners, he having charge of the
exchange for the English. Strenuous efforts for his release had
been made in the meantime. The King of England had directed his
officers to do their utmost to get Colonel Schuyler out of captivity.


His action in the campaign of 1748, when he paid his men out of his
own pocket, had been disapproved by Governor Clinton of New
York, who had striven to have Schuyler disciplined for his gen-
erosity, declaring that such conduct had a bad effect upon the
morale of the troops. But the king seems to have paid no heed, and
to have admired Schuyler for his high-minded and generous


"During Colonel Schuyler's captivity in Canada," read one
newspaper account of the time, "his gratitude to his unfortunate
countrymen was without bounds, his table being ever open and free
to those in distress ; and we hear he has out of his own private purse
expended upwards of 20,000 livres among his distressed country-
men in redeeming them from captivity."

Schuyler was welcomed as the hero that he was, upon his return
to Newark in November, 1757, and in the following, from the New
York Mercury of November 23, we have an account of the first
demonstration in this community in honor of any individual of
which there is any record :

"Last Sunday evening the Hon. Peter Schuyler, passed through
this place [Newark] in his way to his Seat at Peterborough. Upon
his arrival at his house he was saluted with the discharge of 13
pieces of cannon. The evening following the inhabitants of Newark,
upon his coming into the town, attended by several gentlemen of
distinction, saluted him as before. There was a large bonfire
erected and the houses of the principal inhabitants were illuminated
the remainder of the evening, as an honour due to his great attach-
ment to the interest of his country, and uncommon zeal for his
Majesty's service. The principal gentlemen met together on this
occasion, where the loyal healths were drank, at the discharge of
several rounds of cannon, and a general joy appeared among the
inhabitants." Another account concludes:

".Joy was conspicuous on every Countenance, and each one
manifested his regard due to the merit of that gentleman, whose
kind and humane treatment of his fellow-sufferers while in cap-


tivity, as well as his great attachment to the interest of his country,
and uncommon zeal for his Majesty's service merits universal

The whole Province warmed to him. A few weeks after his
return this appeared in the New York Mercury :

"The following lines were wrote by a young lady of the Prov-
ince of New Jersey, during the few minutes Col. Schuyler staid at
Prince-Town, the last week, in his way at Trenton, and presented
him in the most agreeable manner. As they discover so fruitful
and uncommon a genius in their fair author, I doubt not that their
communication to the public thro' the channel of your paper, will
be acceptable to all, but more especially to your female readers :


"Dear to each Muse, and to thy Country dear.
Welcome once more to breathe thy native air;
Not half so cheering is the solar Ray,
To the harsh rigour of a Winter's Day;
Nor half so grateful fanning breezes rise.
When the hot Dog Star burns the Summer skies;
Caesaraes Shore with Acclamation rings.
And Welcome Schuyler, every Shepherd sings.
See for thy Brows, the Laurel is prepar'd.
And Justly deem'd a Patriot, thy Reward;
Ev'n future Ages shall enroll thy Name,
In sacred Annals of immortal Fame."


The calls for another regiment from New Jersey were urgent.
In the spring of 1759 a command of one thousand men was
raised and, with Colonel Schuyler at its head, saw hard service
beyond Albany, returning in November of the same year. Still
another regiment of the same size was demanded in 1760, and again
the gallant Schuyler organized and led it back to New York State,
returning like its immediate predecessor at the close of the year and
after arduous campaigning. This ended Colonel Schuyler's service
to his State and country. He was no doubt worn out by his
experiences at the front and in the field, for he was stricken with a
severe illness in the spring of 1761. He died, in March, 1762, at his
beloved Petersborough.


"Yesterday morning," says the Pennsylvania Journal of March
8, 1762, "Col. Peter Schuyler departed this life, at his Seat at
Newark in East-Jersey, greatly and justly lamented. He did honour
to his Country, and gave a noble Example to others : And it vi^ill be
allowed by all who knew him, that he was a sincere Friend, humane,
beneficent and just to all Mankind." Samuel Smith, New Jersey's
first historian, wrote as follows of him, about 1765:

"He had the command of the province troops against the
French of Canada, in divers campaigns in the last two wars; and
by the best judges of military merit was allowed to rank high in
that character. He had qualities besides that greatly recommended
him to his acquaintance, being of frank, open behavior, of an exten-
sive generosity and humanity and unwearied in his endeavors to
accomplish whatever appeared of service to his country. * * *
As to person, he was of a tall, hardy make, rather rough at first
view, yet a little acquaintance discovered a bottom of sincerity,
and that he was ready to every kind office in his power. In con-
versation he was above artifice or the common traffick of forms, yet
seemed to enjoy friendship with its true relish ; and in all relations
what he seemed to be he was."'*

A half length portrait, in oils, of Colonel Schuyler, is preserved
in the rooms of the New Jersey Historical Society.


It has long been said that the expression "Jersey Blue" was
originated during the War for Independence and that it came into
being at the time a band of patriotic Newark women were engaged
in fitting out a company of volunteers with uniforms in which blue
played a prominent part. This is an error. The expression origi-
nated thirty years before the War for Independence, and was
applied to Colonel Schuyler's hardy men, as early as 1747. From
that time each succeeding regiment throughout the French and
Indian Wars was spoken of as "Jersey Blues." In a letter written
from Lake George, in June, 1759, we read :

"Your favours came to hand the first few days before we left
Fort Edward, and the last Saturday morning, the day we marched

Smith's "History of New Jersey," p. 494.


for Half- Way Brook, where we encamped, and left it yesterday, and
are now encamped here: as is likewise the Royal Scots, and the
Jersey Blues."

Another instance is taken from a letter, written a few weeks

later at the same place. It is most dramatic. Part of it is as

follows :

"The second Instant, 16 of the Jersey Blues were sent without
the camp to gather a little brush for General Baker, but were not an
hour gone before they were surprised in sight of the camp by a
party of the enemy, consisting of about 240, who killed and scalped
six, wounded two, took four prisoners and only four of the party
escaped. They showed themselves plainly to the whole Army after
they got the scalps, gave a Hollow [halloo, or warwhoop] and then
made off to their battoes" [boats or canoes]."

Information as to the precise origin of the expression "Jersey
Blue" is exasperatingly brief. How it came to be used, we do not
know and probably never will know. The inference that the "Blue"
was derived from the distinguishing feature of their uniforms is
plain enough, but beyond that we cannot go. We have, in fact, but
meagre knowledge of the actual doings of the Jersey soldiers during
the French and Indian Wars. The hardships they endured must
have been most severe, but little or no complaint has come down to
us from them. One or two things we do know, although the State
has all but lost sight of them for the last hundred years: New
Jersey sent several thousand men to the frontier in New York
under Colonel Schuyler, at various times, who did their duty with
patience and fortitude. These men held their commander. Colonel
Schuyler, of Newark, as it then was, in the highest esteem, and
were ever ready to rally to the colors whenever he called; and,
finally, these men, veterans, were, unknown to themselves or the
King whom they served, training themselves for a sterner and
infinitely more important struggle that was to come a decade or so
later and which was to end in the complete separation of the
colonies from the mother country. Colonel Schuyler was making
soldiers for the War for Independence, but neither he nor anyone
else so much as dreamed of it.

' From New Jersey Archives, vol. xx, p. 364.


NEWARK'S GROWTH, 1750-1760.

Newark increased very slowly in population previous to the
War for Independence. It developed its resources gradually. Much
of the old Puritan conservatism still remained. But it was, thanks to
the masterful foresight of its founders, strategically placed, and the
old newspapers of the 1750's and 1760's carried many an item about
the town and its affairs, showing that it was slowly but surely
expanding to meet the changing conditions. The first mention of a
store in Newark appeared in a newspaper in November, 1751, which
reads as follows: "Just imported from Bristol, in the ship Two
Friends, Capt. Wadmore, by John and Uzal Ogden, and to be sold
cheap wholesale and retail at their store in Newark, for ready money
or country produce at market price, a choice assortment of
European goods fit for the season." How long this business had
been established we have no means of knowing. In 1759 Gabriel
Ogden opened a "ware-house of a great variety of goods imported
in the ship Old Grace and the last vessels from England, to be sold
very cheap for ready money."


The town had paid very little attention to the opening of roads
to connect with other communities outside its borders. In 1765,
however, the old Plank Road was provided for by act of the Assem-
bly ; that is, the road which ever since the founding of the town had
supplied communication with the marshes and the lower reaches of
the river, was made part of a sj^stem of communication with Powles'
Hook (now Jersey City). The announcement of the Assembly's
action read, in part, as follows :

"A road from New-Ark to the publick road in the town of
Bergen, leading to Poulos Hook, and establishing ferries over the
two small rivers, Passaick and Hackensack, which makes the dis-
tance from Poulus Hook to New-Ark eight miles, and will be a
level and good road when the cause-ways are made ; and as said road
will be very commodious for travelers, and give a short and easy
access of a large country to the markets of the city of New-York


and be of a general benefit both to city and country, it is hoped
they will unite in the necessary expence of rendering said road for
travellers and carriages, more especially since by said law the pub-
lick interest alone is regarded."

Thus was the accessibility of Newark from New York and its
value as a place in which to assemble the products of the whole
region around it for further shipment, being recognized. This
enterprise was supported largely by leading residents of Newark,
who became the trustees for the venture and were incorporated,
with authority to receive donations, build the necessary causeways
and supply the two ferries over the Passaic and Hackensack rivers.

Work upon this road was going on almost to the time of the
War for Independence, and it is said that Colonel John Schuyler,
the brother of Colonel Peter Schuyler, defrayed a considerable part
of the expense, and roads from Petersborough connected with it.
Brissot de Warville, a French traveler, was much impressed with
the road. "Built wholly of wood," he wrote, "with much labor and
perseverance, in the midst of water, on a 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 thus described his experience on the new highway:
"All the way to Newark (nine miles) is a very flat, marshy country,
intersected with rivers ; many cedar swamps, abounding with
mosquitoes, which bit our legs, and hands, exceedingly ; where 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 from their fulness. At two miles we cross a large cedar
swamp; at three miles we intersect the road leading to Bergen, a
Dutch town, half a mile on our right ; at five miles we cross Hacken-
sack [a little below the site of the present bridge at what was
known as Dow's Ferry] ; at six we cross Passaic River (coachee
and all), in a scoul, by means of pulling a rope fastened on the
opposite side."



The same year (1765) a law was passed providing for the
appointment of road commissioners "to run out straight public
roads leading through said province between New York and Phila-
delphia, and empowering them to raise a sum of money by public
lottery, not exceeding £500 towards defraying the charge thereof."
Ephraim Terrill and Abraham Clark, Jr., were the commissioners
for both Elizabethtown and Newark. The new departure was thus
commented upon at the time:

"The shortening and improving of the public roads through this
Province will be a great advantage to the commercial interest and
general convenience of the inhabitants thereof, as well as a very
great advantage to the neighbouring Provinces, particularly to
Pennsylvania and New York ; and as it is the first thing of the kind
that has been attempted on the Continent, it is not doubted but
every public-spirited person in this, as well as the neighbouring
Provinces, will generously contribute to the undertaking, tending
so greatly to the advantage and ease of men of business and pleas-
ure ; as it is judged the distance between New York and Philadelphia
will be shorten'd 12 or 15 miles, and the roads all made more
passable and convenient for travelers in the winter season than at

The first New York-Philadelphia stage was established in
November, 1756, by way of Perth Amboy and Trenton. The second
line was started in 1765, the same year the straightening of the
road was decided upon. The stages took three days to travel one
way and the charge was twopence a mile. Two trips were made
every week, each way. Newark did not benefit much from these
early developments, for, while New York-Philadelphia stages began
to pass through Newark as early as 1769, Newark was not really
considered on the main stage line between New York and Phila-
delphia until after the War for Independence. Travelers to and
from New York usually preferred to use the ferry between New
York and Elizabethtown Point.



It is not probable that stages were run between Newark and
New York before the laying down of the old Plank Road and ferries,
in 1765. In November, 1767, Matthias Ward "acquaints the pub-
lick that he still continues his stage from Newark to Powle's Hook,
as usual, except that after the 20th of November he will return
from Powle's Hook at eleven o'clock for the winter." The business
evidently prospered, because, a year later, in 1768, Matthias Ward
had a partner, John Thompson, and in July of that year they
announced an expansion in a somewhat lengthy advertisement in
the New York newspapers, as follows:

"The following is a new plan for a stage waggon, from Powlas
Hook, proposed by the subscribers, viz: A waggon to set off every
day in the week (Sundays excepted), one from Powlas Hook, and
another from Mr. James Banks in Newark [probably the Rising
Sun tavern which stood about where North Canal street and River
street meet] precisely at half an hour past 7 o'clock in the morning,
and half an hour past 4 o'clock in the evening; meet at Capt.
Brown's ferry, and exchange passengers ; and every Monday,
Wednesday and Saturday, Ward's waggon returns immediately
from the said ferry, through Newark to Elizabethtown ; stays there
till 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then returns back again, through
Newark for Powlas Hook. Passengers from Bank's will be always
on a sure footing on the Elizabethtown days, for if the waggon
should be full from Elizabethtown for New York, Ward will have
other waggons ready at Bank's, for the passengers who will wait
there at the appointed times.

"All persons who are pleased to encourage this undertaking are
desired to be punctual to the times above mentioned, as the waggons
must be very exact in meeting Capt. Brown's ferry [at Paulus
Hook] ; and they may depend (God willing) on constant attendance
and good usage.

"Fare for passengers from Powlas Hook to Newark, Is. 6d. ;
from Newark to Elizabethtown, Is. To begin (if God permit) on
Friday the 15th instant."

The rule was at that time and for several years thereafter, for
the stage to travel once a day to Paulus Hook from Newark, and
return, every day except Sunday, in the summer, and four times a


week during the winter. In 1769 an improvement was made by the
establishment of two stages, one leaving Newark at 8 in the morn-
ing and the other starting from Paulus Hook at the same time,
exchanging passengers at Dow's ferry over the Hackensack,
"which," as an old advertisement reads, "entirely takes off the
inconveniency of detaining passengers by ferrying of the waggons
over said river." The stages left their home stations at 4:30 in the
afternoon, meeting at Dow's ferry as in the morning. By this
arrangement it was only necessary to ferry the passengers across,
something that could be done in far less time than that required
for the transportation of the clumsy stages.


The first notice of a New York-Philadelphia stage passing
through Newark, appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle in Sep-
tember, 1769. It was in part as follows: "The new stage to New
York on the old York road sets out tomorrow, the 26th instant,
from the sign of the Bunch of Grapes in Third street [Philadelphia]
at sunrise, proceeds by the Crooked Billet, Coryell's Ferry, Bound
Brook, Newark, and from thence to Powle's Hook, opposite New
York. It will set out regularly every Tuesday morning during the
winter season, perform the journey from Philadelphia to Powle's
Hook in two days, and exchange passengers at the south branch of
the Raritan * * * on Wednesday morning, when one stage
returns to Philadelphia and the other to Powle's Hook."

The rates on this new line were to be as follows:

"Each passenger to pay ten shillings from Philadelphia to the
south branch of the Raritan, and ten shillings from the south
branch to Powle's Hook, ferriage free, and three pence a mile for
any distance between ; and goods at the rate of twenty shillings per
hundred weight from Philadelphia to New York.

"That part of the country is very pleasent; the distance and
goodness of the road not inferior to any from this to New York.
There is but one ferry from this [Philadelphia] to Newark. The
road is thickly settled by a number of wealthy farmers and mer-"


chants who promise to give every encouragement possible to the
stage. And as the principal proprietors of said stage live on the
road, the best usage may be expected."

Such were the beginnings of transportation in this section of
New Jersey. Considerable space has been given explaining the
early and crude struggles to open up communication through the
Province, for it was by these clumsy, and to us, ridiculously inade-
quate means for travel, that New Jersey now began to increase in
population and to thrive in various ways.


As for the ferries, it is plain enough that travelers dreaded
them, and a stage line that could contrive to eliminate one or more
from its route was sure to meet with ready patronage. They were
slow and wearisome, and no doubt tried the patience of the
exhausted stage passengers to the utmost. The first ferry in New
Jersey of which there is any record was that established in 1669 at
Communipaw, under the charge of Pieter Hetfelsen, for the accom-
modation of the people of Bergen, Communipaw and New York.
Hetfelsen was required to keep his ferry boat in readiness for use
at all times, but especially on three days in the week. The ferries
across the Passaic and Hackensack must also have been in operation
at a very early date, probably within a decade or so after the
establishment of Hetf elsen's ferry. But the ferryman came on call ;
that is, if you wished to cross you had to dismount from your con-
veyance and hunt about until you found him, in case he did not
happen to be in evidence. It is pretty certain that a systematic
ferry system was not created until the building of the Plank Road
already described in this chapter.


Getting one's mail was a haphazard sort of business during the
first three-quarters of the eighteenth century, indeed, until some
time after the War for Independence. For a long time the only
post offices were at Perth Amboy and Burlington. At first, letters


for persons in practically all sections of the provinces were sent to
one or the other of these towns for distribution. In the late 1750's
announcements were made in New York and Philadelphia news-
papers that mail for residents of various places could be obtained
from residents of the district, whose names were given, and to
whom the mail was forwarded from Perth Amboy or Burlington.
There now began to appear occasional evidence of the awaken-
ing of industrial activity in Newark. In 1768, there appeared in a
newspaper this announcement: "Wanted. A person that under-
stands the nailing business in its different branches, or has been
employed in that manufactory. Such a person bringing proper
recommendations will meet with good encouragement, by applying
to Joseph Riggs, Esq., or Joseph Hadden in Newark, New Jersey,
who are entering largely into the business."


As early as 1768, and probably a little earlier, Newark had an

Online LibraryFrank J. (Frank John) UrquhartA history of the city of Newark, New Jersey : embracing practically two and a half centuries, 1666-1913 (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 48)