Copyright
Joseph F. (Joseph Fulford) Folsom.

Bloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium online

. (page 12 of 13)
Online LibraryJoseph F. (Joseph Fulford) FolsomBloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium → online text (page 12 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


before, and there is much evidence to indicate that such
was the case. There is a story, however, to the effect
that the so-called "stone house" was not a human habi-



168 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

tation but an overhanging ledge of rock, used as shelter
hy early travellers both white and Indian. The location
of this "house" A\a6 in the old quarry north of the
Stone House Plains Dutch Church, and on the opposite
side of Bellevue Avenue. It was from this quarry that
the stone was taken to build the church and the various
stone houses in the neighborhood.

On the other hand there are those who believe that the
"stone house" was not only built by human hands before
1696, but that it is still standing and in use. The
house referred to stands near the south bank of Stone
House Brook just across the Montclair boundary line
and north of Bellevue Avenue. It is but a few hundred
feet from the old quarry. The old house faces the east,
and an examination shows that the southern end is much
older than the larger portion to the north. The origi-
nal house was square, twenty-one and a half feet each
way, with one story and attic. Two courses of stone
seem to have been added at some time to increase the
height of the walls. There is a Dutch oven extending
out beyond the south gable wall.

It is thought that the old stone house was built by
Abraham Van Giesen, a brother of Bastien of Second
River, about 1691, but the fact has not been proved.
Through the courtesy of the Fidelity Trust Company
the ownership of the house was traced back to 1818, and
from the surrogate's office it was learned that the house
belonged to Garret Van Wagener, whose will was proved
in 1804. Further investigation indicates that Garret's
parents were Hendrick Van Wagener and Anna Van
Winkcl, that he was bom January 14, 1753, and mar-
ried Jane Van Winkel. Nothing has been found that
would show how the house came into his possession.



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 169

The Van Glesen Family

Reynier Bastiensen Van Giesen lived at Flatbush,
Long Island, where, in June, 1661, he entered into an
agreement with the magistrates, and the consistory of
the Reformed Dutch Church of that place, to teach
school, perform the duties of court messenger, ring the
bell, keep the church in order, perform the duties of
precentor, attend to the burial of the dead, and to all
that was necessary and proper in the premises, for an
annual salary of two hundred florins, exclusive of per-
quisites. In January, 1663, he sold his house and lot in
Flatbush to Jan Strycker.

Reynier B. Van Giesen, the man of so many duties
in Flatbush, moved to Bergen where he died in 1707.
He had five sons and three daughters. The sons were :
1. Bastien; 2. Abraham, bom November 13, 1666;
3. Isaac; 4. Johannis ; 5. Jacob, baptized 1670. Bas-
tien and Abraham Van Giesen were the two brothers who
settled within the jurisdiction of Newark.

There is a betrothal record in the Dutch Church at
Bergen as follows :

Bastien Van Giesen, living at Achquechnonk, and
Aeltje Hendrichx, living at Hackensack, both from
Midwout, at Bergen, by Do. Tessemaker, June 10, 1688.
M. June 25.

Bastien purchased land on the Passaic River between
Second River and the Acquackanonk line. He was a
deacon in the Acquackanonk church in 1694 and 1697,
and an elder in 1700 and at various times until 1730.
He died in 1751.

Abraham Van Giesen, who may have been the builder
of the old stone house, was married at Bergen, October
25, 1691, to Fitje Andriesse from Communipaw, by



170 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

Voorlezer R. Van Giesen, before the Congregation, in
the presence of the Court. He lived on a plantation
within the present limits of Brookdale and Upper Mont-
clair. His sons were: Rynier, Andries, Isaac, Abraham,
and probably a Johannis who died before his father.
He had four daughters; one of them, Prientje, born
September 19, 1696, married Simeon Van Winkel; and
it may be that the old stone house passed down through
this line.

A number of years ago Lewis Cockefair tore down a
house that stood well back from the road on the south
side of Broad Street, not far from the Brookdale Bap-
tist Church, that was known as the Van Giesen house.
The foundations had the letters A. V. G. and date 1711
or 1714 marked at one end of the house, and 1727 at
the other end. Abraham Garrabrant owned this prop-
erty when he died in 1805.

Abraham Van Giesen died July 19, 1753, and his will
directed that his estate on Third River be divided into
two parts, Andries to have the north side, and Isaac the
south side ; other land was also divided among his sons,
including 500 acres in Morris County. This latter may
have been the "Van Giesen Purchase" which is believed
to have been located at Horse Neck, now Fairfield.

During the Revolution one of the Van Giesens of
Stone House Plains believed in being loyal to King
George, and he showed it by joining the British army
in September, 1777. He was another Abraham Van
Giesen, and his home was on the west side of Broad
Street, north of the present line of Watchung Avenue.
In March, 1779, the State of New Jersey seized and
sold tin's property under an act of confiscation passed
December 11, 1778. The commissioners gave a deed to



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 171

Thomas Sigler, in consideration of three hundred
pounds, that being the highest bid. This deed has been
kept by the descendants of Thomas Sigler. The exca-
vation which formed the cellar of the old house, and
the old well on this property, were filled up a few years
ago by Mr. Davidson. The house itself had disap-
peared before the earliest recollection of Eunice Sigler,
who was born in 1808. It was some distance north of
the present dwelling, No. 998 Broad Street.
The Cockefaib Family

The first of the Cockefair family in America was
Alexander, a Frenchman who came in 1657. Six years
later he obtained a plantation in Bushwick, Long Island,
now a portion of Brooklyn. At that time he was drum
major of the militia. It may have been his fine military
bearing and uniform, which are always so attractive to
those who do not bear arms, or it may have been his
personality, but in April, 1665, he paid a marriage fee
of six guilders to the Flatbush church. The last men-
tion of his name is in 1698, when he sold some meadow
land in Bushwick. Although he signed his name "Alex-
ander Cokcover" it is generalljj^ understood that the cor-
rect spelling of the name is "Coquefaire." There were
a great many French people in the Dutch colony, a
fact that is often overlooked. It has been estimated that
in the time of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, he of the
wooden leg, one-quarter of the population of New Am-
sterdam was French. A John Cockefair was living in
New York in 1690.

Alexander Cockefair, undoubtedly a grandson of the
dignified drum major, was the first of the family to
settle at Stone House Plains. Just when he came has
not been learned, but his eldest son, still another Alex-



172 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

ander, was baptized at the Acquackanonk church in
1721. He had also a son John, born May 6, 1735 ; and
these two headed the main branches of the family, known
as the Alexander line and the John line. There were
two daughters, one married Jacob Phillips and the other
John Lawrence. The Lawrence house is the old stone
house on Watchung Avenue east of Broad Street.

The first Cockef air house at Stone House Plains stood
on land now owned by Sylvanus Cockefair, between the
present dwelling and the spring to the south. There is
a well now in use that is said to have been within the
kitchen of the first house. Thomas Cockefair, who was
born in 1762, knew of this old house but said it had dis-
appeared before his earliest recollections.

The first Cockefair farm is supposed to haA^e run
from a ledge of rock in a field east of Broad Street,
later owned by the Lindenmeyers, to an oak tree near
the corner of Broad Street and Watchung Avenue ; the
eastern boundary being a line about 800 feet west of
the Third River, and probably the present line of Broad
Street on the west.

This farm was divided from time to time between
sons and daughters. In 1753 the second Alexander of
Stone House Plains added to his portion by a purchase
which extended the farm to the Third River. The deed
for this land is dated May 14th, the 27th year of
King George II, and calls for forty-one acres. During
the Revolutionary War this second Alexander's eldest
son Zebulon, a boy of eighteen, was carried off from
his home by the British soldiers when they were march-
ing south through Stone House Plains, on their way
back from the vicinity of Great Falls. His parents
never saw him again, but they received word some time



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 178

later that he had died on one of the prison ships. The
road of that day lay several hundred feet east of the
present line of Broad Street. It connected at the south
with what is now Morris Place.

Isaac Cockef air, a grandson of the second Alexander,
of Stone House Plains, abandoned the dwelling of his
father and grandfather when William Parsons built
him a new house in 1849. This house and land passed
through various hands after the death of Isaac until
1911, when they were purchased by the Country Club
of Glen Ridge. It was then known as the Jackson farm.
The older house stood a few feet to the northeast of the
present one. The excavation which formed the cellar
of this old house of Colonial days was filled up in 1911.

At Wyoming in Pennsylvania near the present city
of Wilkes Barre, one of the horrors of the Revolution
was enacted. During the massacre two young girls hid
behind a log while the Indians killed all the other mem-
bers of their family. These girls were Mary and Naomi
Hendershott, twin sisters eleven years old, and they suc-
ceeded in escaping with a few others to the settlements
on the Delaware River. This was in July, 1778. Just
when they came to Bloomfield is not known, but Thomas
Cockefair, grandfather of Lewis, married Mary Hen-
dershott, and a John Cockefair married Naomi. Mary
lived until 1808, and Naomi until 1835.

The home of the latter, who was known as "Aunt
Nomie," stood a few feet north of the present dwelling
of John Henry Cockefair, 741 Broad Street. A de-
pression in the ground shows where the cellar was ex-
cavated. The oldest Cockefair house now standing is
the rear portion of 901 Broad Street. It belonged to
the John Cockefair side of the family, and the date of



174 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

its erection is not known. On one side the pitch of the
roof has been changed in recent years to increase the
head room of the attic. The larger portion of the
house, facing Broad Street, was built by John Cocke-
fair in 1817. This John was a son of Thomas Cocke-
fair and Mary Hendershott, not the John who married
Naomi. The road of Colonial days is supposed to have
been on the opposite side of this house from the present
Broad Street.

The Speer Family

Hendrick Jansen Spier emigrated from Amsterdam
to America with his wife Madeline Hanse and two chil-
dren, on the Dutch West India ship "Faith," arriving
at New Amsterdam in December, 1659.

February 14, 1660, he bought a lot in New Amster-
dam from Pieter Pieterse Menist. It was on the west
side of Broad Street, about 300 feet north of Stone
Street. In the spring of 1668 he removed to Bergen,
buying of Jan Lubbertsen a tract of twenty-five morgen
(fifty acres) near Communipaw. Governor Carteret
confirmed the possession of this land to Spier by a pat-
ent of May 12, 1668. This property remained in the
family till May 1, 1768. He died prior to 1680, and
his widow married, December 16, 1681, Aertsen Van der
Bilt, she being his third wife.

Hendrick Jansen Spier had three sons, the eldest,
John Hendrick Spier, who was one of the company of
fourteen who obtained the Acquackanonk patent ; sec-
ond, Barent Hendrick Spier, who remained at Com-
munipaw ; and third, Hans Hendrick Spier, who settled
at Second River, and it was his son Hendrick, baptized'
October 5, 1685, who was, as far as we know, the first:
Dutch child born there.



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 175

John Hendrick Spier of Acquackanonk received,
among other grants, a farm of two hundred acres on
the Passaic River between Passaic and Delawanna,
where he built a house of stone. He was married to
Maria Franse at Bergen, August 12, 1679. The date
of the first settlement at Acquackanonk can be closely
approximated from the following facts. Franz, the
second son of John Hendrick, was baptized April 2,
1683, and when he was married to Diercktie Corneliese
at Hackensack March, 1705, it was recorded that both
he and she were bom at Acquackanonk. Like his cousin
at Second River, Franz Spier may have been the first
white child born in Acquackanonk. John Hendrick
Spier's will was dated October 22, 1722, and proved
September 18, 1724. A copy was obtained from Tren-
ton, but it is too long to be inserted here. After pro-
viding for his wife, sons and daughters in the matter
of real and personal estate, he seems greatly concerned
about the brewing kettle ; he says, "as for the Brew
cettle and other yousful necessarys belonging to bruing
it shall remain where it is for the aforesaid France and
Jacob, but if any of the aforesaid children have a mind
to brue in the said cettle they shall have the use thereof
anything contrary to the true intent and meaning
hereof notwithstanding."

A wife, three sons and seven daughters survived him,
the sons were: Hendrick, Frans and Jacob. Jacob
Spier married Lea Coejeman, December 5, 1746, and
had three sons and three daughters. One of these sons,
Hendrick, bom in 1750, married Jannetje Van Giesen
and had a daughter Elizabeth who married Starr
Parsons.

Johannis Spier, a grandson of Hans Hendrick Spier,



176 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

the early settler at Second River, lived on the River
road at Belleville. During the Revolution a man be-
lieved to be a British spy appeared on the opposite side
of the Passaic River and called to be ferried across.
Johannis refused, then taking his trusty flint-lock mus-
ket he climbed the steeple of the Dutch Church. From
there he shot the man dead. A watch taken from his
body is still in the possession of the family in Belle-
ville. The distance from the old church to the opposite
bank of the river scales on the map over two hundred
yards.

Passaic County was organized by an Act of February
7, 1837. Before that time Acquackanonk was part of
Essex County. Where the county line crosses East
Passaic Avenue there is a boundary stone marked as
follows :

(South:) (East:) (North:)

E. C. 1837 P. C.

Com. J. R. Speer C. G. Van Riper

P. Speer Surv. P. G. Speer

A. V. Speer

Surely C. G. Van Riper's wife or mother must have
been a Speer or he would not have been admitted to this
family party.

The Gaurabrant Family

The first Garrabrants at Stone House Plains were
two brothers, Garrabrant Garrabrant and Teunis Garra-
brant. They were sons of Cornelius Garrabrant, and
grandsons of Gerbrandt Cleasen and his wife Marritje
Claes, who lived at Communipaw. His wife was a
daughter of Claes Pietersen Coes. Gerbrandt Cleasen
signed his will March 16, 1696-7, and it was proved
April 22, 1708.



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 177

Garrabrant Garrabrant was bom September 10, 1723,
and married Catrina Pier ; Teunis Garrabrant was born
April 8, 1726, and died May 15, 1760 ; they had other
brothers and sisters.

Garrabrant Garrabrant and Catrina Pier had three
children: Garrabrant, born March 21, 1755; Jannetje,
born March 1, 1760 ; and Comehus, born February 18,
1765.

Abraham Garrabrant of a later generation, who mar-
ried Elinor Kingsland, came into possession of a part
of the Abraham Van Giesen estate, including the house
with the cornerstone marked A. V. G. He died in 1805.
The present investigation has brought to light a map
of his property.

The Sigler Family

The first of the Siglers whose name has appeared in
the present research was Daniel Sigler who lived at
Second River, but who moved to Somerset County some
time before his death in 1754. Mr. Davidson has a
certified copy of his will written in the quaint old way
on parchment. Among his personal efi^ects his High
Dutch Books were left to his daughter Catherine Hoff-
man. Was she able to read them?

He owned thirty acres of woodland on the Third
River (the present poorhouse farm and the farm south
of it) which he left to his son Henry. Henry Sigler
settled on his inheritance and his home faced the stream.
This house was torn down about the time that the pres-
ent poorhouse was built. To his younger son, James,
Daniel Sigler willed the homestead at Second River.

Thomas Sigler, another son of Daniel, was probably
the first of the family to live at Stone House Plains.



178 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

There is extant an old book showing that he was a
farmer and had had an account against John Cocke-
fair in August, I860, for "rie," "weet," turnips, oats,
carting, etc. Lewis Cockefair remembers a stone house
on Broad street, at the corner of Watchung Avenue,
that had the date 1741 over the door, and it was known
as the Sigler house.

There is a stone in the foundation of the house now
on the site of the Sigler house marked with a heart, the
letters C. F. I. and 1774. The letters stand for Chris-
topher and Frouchey Interest. This stone has been in
its present position but a few years. There is some
difference of opinion as to the original location of these
stones bearing the dates 1741 and 1774. There is a
memorandum in an old book which says "Elizabeth In-
terest was born Sept. 2nd, 1774." She has been gone
these many years, but the stone with the heart and the
date are still to be seen. She married Moses Sigler (a
son of Thomas who bought the confiscated homestead
of Abraham Van Giesen) and they had eleven children.

An old bill of sale recalls Elizabeth Interest. Moses
Sigler, her husband, having died in 1825, she was called
"Widow Betsy Sigler." In September, 1830, the Widow
Betsy sold to Jabez Cook her slave woman Zilpha. The
interesting feature of the sale is that the slave had run
away, and part of the purchase money was contingent
upon her being found within ninety days.

After the battle of Long Island, August, 1776, Wash-
ington retreated slowly and crossed the Passaic River
at Acqnackanonk, coming from Hackensack. This was
November 21st, and on the 23d he was in Newark. His
army was reduced to about 3,500 men. Probably most
of the men marched to Newark by the river road, but



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 179

some of them came through Stone House Plains. The
officers halted and stayed a short time at the stone house
by the Oak Tree, the Sigler house.

In 1780 William Heme, Quartermaster, gave Chris-
topher Interest a receipt for two bushels of Indian com
for the use of the 1st Brigade of Infantry, Commanded
by General Hand. The fact that this receipt is still
preserved indicates that Christopher was never paid for
the Indian corn.

The Cueman Family

The Coejeman, or Cueman, family was in Brookdale
at an early date. The will of Lukas Cowman of New-
ark, dated August 7, 1712, and proved February 12,
1717-8, mentions, wife Ariantie; children Jacob, Jo-
hannis ; Mary, wife of Cornelius Tomason ; Yonitie,
wife of Gidion van Winkle; five children of daughter
Geartie, deceased ; also real and personal property.

There is also a record of the sale of forty acres of
upland on the plain beyond Mill River by Hance Alberts
to Hendrick, Jacob and Johannis Cueman, November
18, 1699. This may not have been the first land in
Brookdale purchased by the Cueman family, and it is
possible that Luke Cueman built the old stone house,
and that it passed to the Van Wagoners through his
daughter Yonitie (Jannitie) who married Gidion
Symese van Winkle March 13, 1708. The marriage
record at Hackensack says that Jannetie was bom at
Albany.

The Cueman farm of recent years adjoined the farm
on which the old stone house stands.



AN AFTERNOON WALK

By Maud Parsons

As ONE strolls northward through Brookdale from
the end of the trolley the first place of historic interest
is the hill to the west. In 1856 this was the site of the
Methodist Church that was later united with the Park
Methodist Church.

To the east is the bed of what was once the Morris
pond. This is now covered with a growth of under-
brush where the first blue-birds and robins come in the
spring, and where red-winged blackbirds are seen in
great numbers in September. Mention of the pond
brings to mind the old Morris mill which stood at the
southwest corner of Bay Lane and Morris Place for
nearly two hundred years, having been built in 1702.
That site was where the mechanical parts for the Morris
Canal were made by Ira Dodel and Caleb D. Baldwin,
and was a scene of great activity about 1830.

In speaking of the canal, while it never has been of
great use in the economic advancement of the little com-
munity, it has afforded the young people much pleasure.
What boy who has ever lived in Brookdale will soon for-
get the good swimming at the "Rock".? And who can
say that the existence of the canal is not justified by
the good times it has brought to those — and they have
been many — who have whizzed along on its glassy sur-
face in winter? And as for canoeing, only the pen of
a Stevenson could describe its charm.

But to come back to Broad Street and the bend in
the road, from which place we can view one of the

180



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 181

prettiest bits of landscape in North Jersey — an inter-
esting landscape, as well. In the field to the right, not
far from the stream, there used to be a large boulder
which was the starting point for the surveys of the
various farms in Stone House Plains. This was blasted
out some few years ago by Henry Lindenmeyer. Then
there is the brook beyond, a famous trout stream (so
we judge from the number of fishermen seen along its
banks on the first of April). But the most welcome
sight, if the day be hot, is the row of tall maples front-
ing the Lindenmeyer estate. A few years back there
was a similar row on the other side of the road, but these
were cut down when the road was widened, probably to
accommodate the long-hoped-for trolley extension. If
you are a lover of birds, before going farther look into
the evergreens on the side of the hill for blue jays, for
that is their rendezvous ; and in the woods across the
pond you may see a kingfisher. Or if the fragrant
julep is your idea of refreshment, lean over the fence
for a bit of the fresh scented mint that grows around the
spring.

If you are interested in golf, the new links of the
Country Club will probably prove so attractive that
you will wish to go no farther.

If not, the next spot of interest is the old cemetery
which has been neglected for many years, and offers an
excellent opportunity for some improvement society to
do good work. Myrtle has grown wild there, and covers
the ground in alm.ost a solid mass. At the expense of
very little time and trouble this could be made a spot
truly delightful to the eye. The sandstone headstones
with their quaint legends, and old-fashioned long s's,
are extremely interesting and well worth preserving.



182 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

One bears the date of 1788, while there are two dates
1804 and one 1808.

On the lot in front of this graveyard stood the old-
est known schoolhouse in Stone House Plains, and Starr
Parsons, who came from Redding, Connecticut, is
thought to have been the first schoolmaster. This school
was burned in December, 1835. A new school was not
built until twelve years later, and in 1857 the new school
was replaced by what is now the old Brookdale school.

Before the Brookdale school system was incorporated
with that of Bloomfield, this little red brick building
was a typical country school where there were pieces
to speak and spelling matches on Friday afternoons.
And those democratic old double seats were a real joy
in more ways than one. For instance, every day the
teacher would write twenty words on the board for that
day's spelling lesson. You would learn the first ten,
your seat mate the last, and by combining your efforts
each have a perfect paper. This in a spirit, not of
dishonesty, but of mutual helpfulness and economy —
call it conservation of energy, if you will.

In the winter, when skating was good, the great
majority of the pupils spent the noon hour on the
canal. They were too far away to hear the sound of
the bell, which was of the ordinary dinner variety ; so


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12

Online LibraryJoseph F. (Joseph Fulford) FolsomBloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium → online text (page 12 of 13)