Joseph F. (Joseph Fulford) Folsom.

Bloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium online

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erings of all kinds, but unfortunately, the enterprise
was not a success financially, and the Hbrary was never
secured. A free public library was organized in the
Watsessing section of the town in 1886 and proved of
value to that part of the community for some years.
In 1902, James N. Jarvie erected to the memory of his
parents, William J. and Mary N. Jarvie, a parish house
for the Westminster Presbyterian Church, including in
the architectural scheme a public library. An endow-
ment of $50,000 was given to insure an adequate sum
for the securing of new books and periodicals from year
to year. The library started with 5,200 volumes and
now contains about 15,000. The reading-rooms are
entirely free, and, for $1 a year any resident of Bloom-
field or vicinity may draw books from the circulating
department. The trustees of Westminster Church are
ex-ofpcio trustees of the Jarvie Memorial Library. The
library, however, is conducted strictly as a public
library. A large and rapidly growing circulation
demonstrates its value to the community.

During the closing years of the last century a vocal
organization known as the Madrigal Society developed
the musical taste of the community, giving two con-
certs each year. For fifteen years the annual course of


literary and musical entertainments under the auspices
of the Guild of the First Presbyterian Church has been
an important feature of the life of the community.

In 1902 the need of united action on the part of those
citizens desiring the proper development of the town
was realized, and to secure co-operation a Board of
Trade was organized on February 5th. Its first regu-
lar meeting was held on March 19th of that year, and
the following officers elected : Thomas McGowan, presi-
dent ; Joseph F. Vogelius, vice-president ; Peter J.
Quinn, secretary ; and Charles R. Underwood, treasurer.
Those who have held the position of president follow-
ing Mr. McGowan have been William P. Sutphen, Will-
iam Biggart, Frederic M. Davis, and Charles A. Hun-
gerford. This organization has had a large influence
in the development of the town. Beginning with 34,
it now has on its roll about 400 members. Not only
has it exerted its influence in matters governmental, but
it has taken up all lines of civic development. In this
organization originated the idea of observing the present
centennial, and the report of its committee on the cen-
tennial will be found in an appendix. Two features
which were introduced early in its history were the
annual dinner and the Fourth of July celebration. The
first dinner was held on April 16, 1903, at which eighty-
six persons were present. This aff^air has become an
important event in the town, prominent speakers being
secured to address the gathering, which has grown so
large that it is difficult to find a hall sufficiently large
to accommodate those desiring to attend. Probably
the most popular project undertaken by the board was
the celebration of Independence Day, which was first
undertaken with many misgivings in 1905, with a parade


and an oration in the morning, athletic events in the
afternoon, and fireworks in the evening. The under-
taking was so successful from the first that it has be-
come the most popular celebration of the year, and not
only has it been enjoyed by our own citizens, but thou-
sands have come from surrounding communities to share
in the festivities. The expense of the celebration has
been met by popular subscription, the amount in recent
years exceeding $1,000.

At the time of the San Francisco disaster in 1906,
a committee was appointed to receive donations for the
relief of the Pacific Coast sufferers, with the result that
$2,316 was raised in a few days for this purpose. As
has been previously mentioned, a special committee of
the Board of Trade was of material assistance to the
town authorities in making a favorable contract in
1905 for a supply of water.

While Bloomfield has been most fortunate in having
as one of its chief attractions a park equal to the village
greens of New England towns, it was felt by the mem-
bers of the Board of Trade that this community should
receive some share of the funds expended by Essex
County, in the development of a park system which has
few equals. Accordingly, that organization appointed
a park committee on June 8, 1905, consisting of Will-
iam R. Broughton, Charles R. Underwood, D. G. Garra-
brant, Edward G. Ward and Samuel Ellor ; Allison
Dodd was added to the committee later. Bloomfield
being one of the smaller municipalities of the county,
the possibility of securing county funds for park pur-
poses seemed very doubtful, and even those who were
in a position to assist in the endeavor were very pessi-
mistic as to the outcome. In the fall of that year


Mr. Underwood, a member of the committee, was elected
a member of the House of Assembly. A bill was intro-
duced authorizing the expenditure of additional park
funds in Essex County. Here was Bloomfield's oppor-
tunity, and Mr. Underwood took full advantage of it.
He insisted that if the bill was to be passed it should
provide funds to be expended in Bloomfield. After much
effort he was successful in reaching an understanding
with his colleagues in the Assembly, and a bill appro-
priating $300,000 became a law. It then became neces-
sary to have the Essex County Park Commission ex-
pend the funds authorized in the municipalities for
which they were intended. This was no easy task, for
some citizens of Newark who were interested in a park
scheme toward which part of the funds covered by the
appropriation were to go, insisted that they should re-
ceive that portion which had been intended for Bloom-
field. Mr. Underwood appeared before the Commis-
sion, and with the support of his colleagues in the Legis-
lature, convinced them that Bloomfield was entitled to
those funds which had been originally provided for in
the Act. As a result, $60,000 was expended by the
Park Commission in securing low lands lying west of
the Lackawanna Railroad, between the Bloomfield and
Watsessing stations. While property in other sections
of the town might have been secured for park purposes
at a lower figure, it was realized by the municipal au-
thorities and the Board of Trade Committee that unless
this land, which lay at the approach to the town, was
developed as a park, it would build up most unattrac-
tively, and become a real detriment, as those visiting the
town would receive in that event most unfavorable im-
pressions. Not only was this an important reason for


the location of the park in the section named, but this
land was adjacent to the section where the population
was most congested. These two considerations deter-
mined the County Park Commission to expend the money
in the purchase of the property recommended. The
park committee of the Board of Trade was instru-
mental in securing the land at most reasonable figures.
Up to the year 1910 over $160,000 was appropriated
by the county for the purchase and improvement of
land in Bloomfield for park purposes. Altogether,
about thirty-five acres of land west of the Lackawanna
Railroad was secured by the Park Commission. The
same conditions prevailed regarding the low land lying
east of the Lackawanna Railroad, and in order to secure
a satisfactory improvement, it was realized that the
land on the east should be improved as well as that on
the west of the railroad. The Park Commission at first
refused to expend any funds on the easterly side. It
was then realized that the municipal authorities would
have to do their share in the work in order to secure the
desired improvement. The sum of $25,000 was appro-
priated by the town. As the plans developed, it was
found necessary to increase this amount to about
$52,000, and the County Park Commission was per-
suaded to expend $25,000 in this section, the result
being that about twenty-five acres were secured for a
playground, bounded by the Lackawanna Railroad and
Bloomfield Avenue, Conger Street and Roosevelt Ave-
nue, the last being a new street laid out in 1909 as the
southern boundary of the Park. The land to which
the town took title was turned over to the care, custody
and control of the Essex County Park Commission for
development and maintenance, in order that the town


might not be put to this expense. Large public im-
provements are secured slowly, and frequently with
great difficulty, and wliile the property has been secured,
the development has not yet been undertaken. It is
confidently expected that the Commission will shortly
improve the land and that before long it will be made
a beautiful park and playground for the delight, not
only of our citizens, but of all those who travel through
our town by the Lackawanna Railroad. The chief
credit for securing this most valuable asset to the town
of Bloomfield is due the park committee of the Board
of Trade and particularly Charles R. Underwood and
Allison Dodd.

The amount of bonded indebtedness for the Bloom-
field parks was made $60,000 to purchase the property
for the playground and to secure and improve land in
the triangular plot in the Second Ward, bounded by
Broad Street, Bay Avenue, and Morris Place. A num-
ber of owners of lots in this plot donated their prop-
erty for park purposes, but some of it had to be ac-
quired by purchase. In securing this property the
Board of Trade's park committee was also of great as-
sistance to the town authorities.

The approach to the Town of Bloomfield by the
Lackawanna Railroad Company as far back as the
"eighties" had been a source of annoyance to those citi-
zens of the town who desired that newcomers might
receive pleasing first impressions, for the railroad sta-
tion at Glenwood Avenue had become an eyesore, and
its surroundings were not at all attractive. A move-
ment was started at that time by the Rev. Samuel W.
Dufficld, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church,
and a progressive citizen, to secure the construction of


a new station and the improvement of surrounding con-
ditions ; but on account of the interests of some of the
property owners in the neighborhood, he was unable to
secure the desired improvements. The matter was al-
lowed to drift along for many years. From time to
time there were rumors that the Lackawanna Company
were to improve their approach, but nothing developed
until about the year 1902, when the railroad company
made a proposal to the town officials looking to the
elevation of the tracks at Glenwood Avenue and Wash-
ington Street, and the erection of a new station at that
point, the town to assume $40,000 of the cost of the
change. The town authorities did not see their way
clear to assume this expense, and the matter was
dropped. It was revived by the Board of Trade in
1903, but the Lackawanna Railroad was not in a po-
sition to undertake the work at that time, on account
of the improvements which they were carrying out
through the city of Newark. Early in the year 1907
the subject was taken up in earnest, and negotiations
undertaken to secure the abolishment of the grade
crossings at Glenwood Avenue and Washington Street,
and the erection of a new station at Bloomfield proper.
These negotiations had proceeded to a point where the
town authorities considered it proper to hold a public
hearing, when the citizens of the southern section of the
town made urgent demand upon the Town Council that
the Railroad Company eliminate the grade crossings in
that section of the town at the same time that the other
work should be undertaken, or at least give some guar-
antee that they should be eliminated within a reasonable
time. The principal difficulties in the way, according
to the railroad company, were the Erie Railroad cross-


ing, and the refusal of the city of East Orange to enter
into any agreement for a change of grade in its streets.
After long delay, the Lackawanna and the Erie Rail-
road came to an understanding regarding the crossing
at Watsessing, and a temporary grade was planned in
East Orange which made it unnecessary to change the
grade of the only street in that municipality on the
Bloomfield division. Even after these obstacles had
been overcome, the question of industrial switches, prop-
erty damage, the location of stations and other details
which affected many interests, made the negotiations of
a contract with the railroad company extremely diffi-
cult. To assist in the negotiations, the Town Council
employed a consulting engineer and a consulting archi-
tect who, with the town attorneys holding office during
this period, Charles F. Kocher and A. B. Van Liew,
together with the town engineer, Ernest Baechlin,
worked out with the Town Council the solution of the
various problems which arose as the negotiations pro-
gressed. Not only was there difficulty in the negotia-
tion, but there was much opposition for various reasons
to the improvement. After years of effort, an agree-
ment, negotiated by Mr. Van Liew, was entered into
with the Lackawanna Railroad Company on July 12,
1910, by which six grade crossings were to be eliminated,
new stations erected on Lackawanna Place (a new street
to be laid out on the east side of the railroad between
Washington Street and Glenwood Avenue), and at
Watsessing Avenue. The estimated cost to the railroad
company for this work was $750,000, while the esti-
mated expense to the town was figured at about .$20,000.
After many years the improvements which had been
desired by the progressive citizens of Bloomfield were


finally realized, the work being commenced in August,
1910, and completed in 1912.

With railroad changes and improvements, and the
development of parks on either side of the track, the
approach to the town of Bloomfield, when finally com-
pleted, will be so altered that it will be difficult to re-
member the miserable conditions which surrounded our
railroad stations before the changes were undertaken;
and it is impossible to estimate the value which these
improved conditions will be to the municipality in mak-
ing attractive the approach to the town, which approach
is so important a feature of every community.

Not only have the men of the community been busy
in securing betterments. In May, 1907, the women,
wishing to have some part in town progress, organized
a Town Improvement Association, which has been help-
ful in stimulating the activity of town officials along
right lines, and in aiding the school children to an ap-
preciation of their part in making the town a better
place to live in.

Bloomfield has made great strides in the last few
years, and the outlook for the old town is most promis-
ing. The effect of the development which has taken
place will not be temporary, but is bound to continue
for many years to come.



By James E. Brooks

The northern portion of the Town of Bloomfield,
New Jersey, has been known as "Brookdale" since 1873,
when the post-office was located there. The old name,
"Stone House Plains," was too long, and "Brookdale"
was adopted at a meeting of citizens held at the time.
It is said that the name was suggested by a man who
had been in Brookdale, Kansas.

The township of Newark, settled in 1666 by a com-
pany of English colonists from Connecticut, was bounded
on the north by a line running northwest from the
mouth of the Yantecaw or Third River. This line is
now the boundary between Essex and Passaic counties.

A few years after the settlement of Newark, a com-
pany of Dutchmen secured a deed from the Indians,
and a patent from the proprietors, for a large tract of
land adjoining the township of Newark on the north.
This was called Acquackanonk, and included the pres-
ent township of Acquackanonk, the city of Passaic, and
a part of the city of Paterson, all now in Passaic

As the settlers spread over the two townships the
Dutch appear to have moved more rapidly than the
English, for they pushed their settlements soutliward
until a wide strip across the northern part of the New-
ark township was made up of Dutch communities.



These communities were known as "Second River," now
Belleville; "Third River," now Nutley; "Stonehouse
Plain," now Brookdale ; and "Speer Town," now Upper

Of these, Brookdale has changed the least ; the land
is still farmed by the families who originally settled
there two hundred years ago, and the products of the
soil are still taken to market in the farmers' wagons.

These Dutch communities, although within the po-
litical bounds of Newark until 1812, and Bloomfield
after that, always maintained their social and religious
allegiances among themselves, or to their Dutch neigh-
bors to the north, rather than to their English neigh-
bors to the south.

Now and then individuals would cross the boundary
between English and Dutch, as when Alexander Cocke-
f air married Phoebe Morris about 1750 ; or when
Ephraim Morris married Catherine Cockefair in 1798.
Occasionally outsiders entered and cast their lot with
the people of Stone House Plains, as when Starr Par-
sons, the young Connecticut teacher, married Betsy
Speer, and Joshua C. Brokaw, another teacher, from
New York, married Maria Sigler; but these were the

The Acquackanonk Purchase

The Indians had a village at the site of the present
city of Passaic, it was located there because of the good
fishing at the head of tide water on the Passaic River.
They also gathered in large numbers about the time
of our Thanksgiving Day for an annual feast, and a
series of games and contests at the mouth of Third
River. The name Yantecaw is a corruption of two
Indian words meaning a ceremonial dance.


The aborigines never had any idea of the right of
property in land. Such a thing is unknown to primitive
races. But the Indians were willing enough to accept
various trifles in the way of knives, beads, blankets and
rum, and to sign a deed relinquishing their rights to
the land ; and they would sometimes sell the same land
to other purchasers who might be supplied with other
trinkets. The Indians were generally surprised to find
that they had deeded away a much larger tract than
they had intended. These facts led to diff'erences be-
tween the white purchasers themselves, and between the
white purchasers and the Indians. The proprietors of
East Jersey made grants of land to settlers, but left it
to the settlers themselves to make their own terms with
the Indians. Sometimes purchasers of Indian lands
failed to obtain title from the proprietors, and in some
cases this led to serious collisions with the authorities.
Several members of the Van Giesen family of Stone
House Plains in 1746 got into difficulties in this way
over the "Van Giesen Purchase," an account of which
may be found in the "New Jersey Archives."

Christopher Hooglandt, a merchant of New York,
on the recommendation of Jacob Stoff'elson, a man well
acquainted with the Indians, secured a grant from Sir
George Carteret, the governor, for a small tract of land
lying within the limits of the present city of Passaic.
This was in 1678. He sold this to Plartman Michael-
son in 1680. Hartman Michaelsen then secured from
the Indians, Captahen, sachem and chief, and the minor
sachems, a deed for the tract of land now consisting
of the city of Passaic, part of Paterson, and all the
present township of Acquackanonk. The consideration
was a lot of coats, blankets, kettles, powder and other


goods. This enterprising promoter then organized a
company, and obtained from the proprietors of East
Jersey, on March 30, 1684*, a patent for this land sold
to him by the Indians. The fourteen men in this com-
pany were:

Hans Diedricks, Adrian Post,

Garret Garretsen, Urian Thomassen,

Walling Jacobse, Cornelius Roelfsen,

Elias Michaelsen, Symon Jacobse,

Hartman Michaelsen, John Hendrick Spier,

Cornelius Michaelsen, Cornelius Lubers,

Johannis Michaelsen, Abraham Bookey.

This list of names offers a good opportunity for ex-
plaining a Dutch custom. The family name of the
four brothers, Elias, Cornelius, Hartman and Johannis,
was not Michaelsen, it was Vreeland. The word
Michaelsen meant their father's first, or Christian,
name was Michael. Family names were not in general
use among the Dutch at that time of the settlement of
New Jersey. People adopted family names from many
sources, such as the place where they lived, their trade,
or some personal peculiarity. The result was that some-
times different branches of the same family adopted
different names.

Of the fourteen associates in the Acquackanonk
patent, Hans Diedricks never settled on the new pos-
sessions, and Abraham Bookey stayed but a short time.

Some of Garret Garretsen's descendants took the
family name of Van Wagener, and some the name of
Garrison. In the same way, some of Cornelius Lubers
descendants are Westervelts, and some Van Blarcoms.
Walling and Symon Jacobs were the ancestors of the
Van Winkle family ; Urian Thomassen of the Van Riper


family; and Cornelius Roelfsen of the Van Houten
family. But of all the fourteen the descendants of John
Hendrick Spier are the most numerous. Speertown,
now Upper Montclair, was but one of their strongholds.
The spelling of names is something wonderful, if not
awful. William Nelson, of Paterson, the historian, has
found Acquackanonk spelled more than thirty different
ways. The present investigation has found the family
name of Cockefair with the following variations in
spelling: Cokcover, Kockes, Cockhvier, Cockcoever,
Coqueuert, Coquer, Cokever, Cokiver, Cokefair, Kokhe-
feer, Cockiefeer, Kockyser, Kockyefeer, Cokkifer,
Cottiefer, Cokefer, Coccifer, Confer, Cockafair, Cocka-
fer, Cockefer, Kocjefer, Cockkifer, Cokifer, Cockifair,
Cockifer and Cocifer. It is the family tradition that
the proper spelling is Coquefaire. Not satisfied with
such a liberal assortment of spellings, a few years ago
one member of the family changed his name to Coxford.

The Settlement at Second River

Within a year or two after the first settlement of
Acquackanonk, several Dutchmen purchased from mem-
bers of the Newark company tracts of land within the
present limits of Belleville and Nutley. The resulting
settlements were known as Second River and Third
River. Bastien Van Giesen, Tunis Jansen Pier, Claes
Hendrickson and Hans Hendrickson Spier were among
the number.

Hans Hendrickson Spier, a brother of John Hendrick
Spier of Acquackanonk, was married at the Dutch
Church in New York to Trijntie Pieters, on the first
day of August, 1683. Hans and Trijntie probably
settled at Second River soon after this, for their son

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Hendrick, baptized in October, 1685, was bom there.
When Hendrick grew up and was married to Rachel
Teunese Pier in 1708, at the Hackensack Church, the
record stated that both he and his bride had been born
and were Hving in the jurisdiction of Newark. Ad-
ditional evidence is shown by a deed for sixty acres of
land sold by Samuel Ward of Newark to Tunis John-
son Pier, July 15, 1685. This tract was bounded as
follows : N. Hans Hendrickson Spier, E. Passaic River,
S. Second River. The west, not mentioned, was prob-
ably unsurveyed land.

The Old Stone House

The earliest owners of land in Brookdale were mem-
bers of the Newark company who lived around the
Newark green and held these outlying lots and tracts
for future use ; most of which were sold later to Dutch
settlers. The eastern portion of the Jackson farm on
Third River, purchased in 1911 by the Country Club
of Glen Ridge, was, in 1696, part of a tract belonging
to Samuel Plum. North of Samuel Plum was land of
Robert Young, and further north Eliphalet Johnston,
Daniel Dode and Samuel Kitchell; to the west of Eli-
phalet Johnston, the land of Samuel Huntington.
Mention of the deeds and patents for these tracts is in
Vol. XXI, N. J. Archives. These deeds and patents
mention Stonehouse Brook as early as 1696, and Stone-
house Plain in 1697.

The use of the name Stonehouse as early as 1696
would indicate that some one had built a stone house
along the little brook that bears that name, some time

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Online LibraryJoseph F. (Joseph Fulford) FolsomBloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium → online text (page 11 of 13)