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decided opinions. During the first year of his ministry
a powerful revival occurred, and a large number was
added to the new church. Doubtless this event was the
leading force to hold back for some eight years the tide
of ecclesiastical controversy which brought about his
dismission in 1810, and later developed into the Jackson
and the Gildersleeve factions. Alexander Wilson, who
taught the school near the church, caricatured Pastor
Jackson as

"The grim man of God, with voice like a trumpet,
His pulpit each Sunday bestampt and bethumpit."

The lonely schoolmaster also noted the after effects
of the revival in the enthusiastic psalm-singing of the
neighborhood, but seems to have had no sympathy with



50 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

the movement. Whatever the merits of the controversy
over the pastor and the two presbyteries, nothing stands
against the good character of the first pastor. He was
prudent, too, as well as pious, for there is extant a cer-
tificate of stock in the Newark Banking and Insurance
Company made out in the name of Abel Jackson about
1805.

That all the Bloomfielders were not as grim as their
worthy first pastor may be gathered from the following
humorous incident that occurred probably soon after
Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve was settled in 1812. The inci-
dent turned on the possession of the old brass cannon.

Mr. Jackson, after resigning in 1810, continued to
reside in the village. After two years Mr. Gildersleeve
was installed, and he warmly supported the Presbyterian
polity, to which meanwhile the people had again re-
turned. But the old leaven of Jacksonism still worked,
and the adherents of that party worshiped in the acad-
emy. When the time for the celebration of the Fourth
approached it was arranged by each of the parties to
have its own celebration. It became a matter of ab-
sorbing competition, and plans were laid to get posses-
sion of the cannon. The Gilderslceveites, or "church
party," got there first, however, and captured the prize,
keeping it secure against the other faction, and indulg-
ing in cheerful anticipations of firing it off loud and
often in the early hours of the national day. But the
Jacksonites, or the "academy party," were not subdued
nor discouraged, and their silence should have boded
mischief.

One doughty member of that party, Thomas Collins,
stole at the dead of night to the hiding place of the old
cannon, and, with grim dog-in-the-manger satisfaction,



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 51

drove a rat-tail file deep and hard into its touch-hole.
There it stuck, and the chances of getting it out before
the next day were slim for the church party. After
this exploit the chuckling scout went back to gloat over
the morrow with his fellow-plotters. But the Gilder-
sleeveites were not long in ignorance of their repulse, for
the spiked cannon was discovered, and for a time con-
sternation spread through their ranks. It looked like no
salutes in the morning and the triumphant jeers of the
Jacksonites. One of them, Thomas Oakes, however felt
sure he could drill it out before daybreak, and so with
mingled hopes they dragged the heavy piece down to the
blacksmith shop at the corner of Franklin and Mont-
gomery streets, and with might and main worked till
the early morning hours on the rat-tail file. Their labors
were rewarded. It was drilled out, and the "academy
party" was awakened in the morning by the jubilant
roaring of the lately choked cannon. It blared with
emphasis that day, and silenced the crestfallen party
that had attempted to put it out of commission. After
that the Jackson party lost ground. Whether this
defeat depressed them beyond revival, or whether the
Nemesis of the old war relic oppressed them for their
act of vandalism, no one can tell ; but the Gildersleeveites
were seen to flourish like the green bay tree, and they
marched at the head of the procession and fired oiF the
cannon any time they wanted to ever afterward.

The brass cannon of this incident still survives. It
was long used in more recent times by the Bloomfield
Battery Association, and not only awoke the neighbors
each 4th of July, but figured in the old-time presi-
dential campaign parades. It was originally gotten
from a shop in New York by Eliphalet Hall and Major



52 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

Simeon Baldwin, who were a committee to buy a town
cannon. It is a handsome French field piece, and has
upon it an inscription in relief. It was used, it is said, in
the colonial wars.

The iron cannon, buried muzzle downward to form a
post at the corner of Liberty Street and Park Place,
was brought to Bloomfield after the Civil War. It was
gotten by Augustus T. Morris from the navy yard at
Brooklyn. It is a ship's howitzer, and stood mounted
for a number of years on a wooden base at the upper
end of the Green.

One of the results of the controversy over church
polity was the removal of a number of the Jacksonians
in 1812 to the Caldwell Church, which still remained in
the Associate Presbytery. In the records of that church
a note is added to the names of the members received
from Bloomfield which says: "Who came here because
the church of Bloomfield voted itself Presbyterian, No-
vember 6, 1812," Stephen Fordham, one of the group
to go out, was an influential man in Essex County. He
was appointed at the Newark town meeting of April
12, 1802, a member of a committee to "Enquire into
and ascertain the privileges of the Town under the
ancient Charter." The committee brought in a report
the same year, which is a very useful document, relating
to questions of grants, common lands, and proprietary
rights. Fordham was one of the original subscribers to
the fund to build the Bloomfield church, and went about
soliciting subscriptions. His home was in Cranetown,
and he was buried at Caldwell. He was bom in 1754,
and died November 29, 1829.

Other names in the Caldwell records designated by
the previously mentioned note as members who left the



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 53

Bloomfield church because of its change of polity, are
Oliver Crane and wife; Stephen Fordham and wife;
Zadock Crane and wife ; Lewis Baldwin and wife ; Fanny
Crane, wife of Jonah Crane; Maria CoUins, wife of
Thomas Collins ; and John Cockef air.

Bloomfield was thick with events at the close of the
eighteenth century. With the organization of the
church were grouped the naming of the town, the pur-
chase of the Green, and the opening of the burying-
ground, not to mention Alexander Wilson.

The burying-ground was given by Isaac Ball, and the
first to be buried there was John Luke, who lived on
the Cranetown road, now Park Avenue, near State
Street. There were five acres in the original plot, and
to the north was the property of Isaac Ball, where about
1810 they dug clay and made bricks for the Bloomfield
Academy. The "brick pits" became in time a perpetual
pond, where there were catfish to be caught, and in win-
ter it provided the earliest skating pond. The cemetery
was enlarged about 1850 through the purchase from
James Ball, son of Isaac, of twenty acres. At the same
time it was incorporated, with Dr. J. A. Davis, David
Conger, Mark W. Ball, and William K. Peters as trus-
tees. James Ball had been at the point of selling the
land to Major Simeon Baldwin, but at the request of
his brother Mark, it was secured for the church. The
ground was survej^ed by R. L. Cooke, son of the school
matron, and cost about $1,500.

The "boss mason" who erected the Presbyterian
church was Aury King. His home was east of the hill
on the Newtown road, where afterward the father of
Edmund H. Davey lived. The house still stands. Aury
King had been a soldier in the Revolution. He lies



54 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

buried in the old cemetery, and John Oakes, in Septem-
ber, 1902, paid him the following quaint and beautiful
tribute, which as previously printed in Hulin's "Real
and Ideal Bloomfield," runs as follows :

AuEY King's Monument
Wandering thro' the grounds of the dead
I came to a humble stone on which I read
These words : "To the memory of Aury King."
The stone had no eulogy or praises to sing:
Simply "Died in eighteen forty-six, aged 92."
Turning eastward from his grave on the hill I view
His monument — the walls of a church of stone,
Against which a century's storms have blown;
Yet the stones are as even, the joints are as true
As when as master-mason he laid them up new.
From the upheld spire the bell will outring:
"These walls below are a monument to Boss Aury King."

The stone used to build the church mostly was quar-
ried opposite the copper mills at Soho. From there
came particularly the three great stones at the three
doors. Some of the stone came from a quarry near
Toncy's Brook and the Bromley property. Isaac Ball
was one of the quarrymen.

The Bloomfield Green was purchased for $200 from
Joseph Davis for a military training ground. The deed
given by Squire Davis to the trustees, Samuel Ward,
Joseph Woodruff, Nathaniel Crane and John Dodd, is
dated November 27, 1797. This was five months after
the visit of General Joseph Bloomfield and the exercises
on the "Green," which shows that for some time the
grounds had been used for public purposes by permis-
sion of its owner. The deed definitely mentions "the
meeting house lot" as one of the boundaries of the



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 55

Green, which proves that the church itself was not
built on the parade ground, whatever of the present large
area of the church lot above Beach Street may have
been originally included in the public green. The hnes
mentioned in the deed began at the southwest corner of
the school lot. There was a subscription taken up by
Israel Crane and General John Dodd to secure the park,
but the required amount was not raised. Joseph Davis
generously gave the deed and overlooked the shortage.
There is extant a copy of the deed, but the original is
said to be lost. It was printed in the Bloomfield Record,
December 4, 1873.

The "American Ornithologist" Alexander Wilson, as
previously mentioned, was during 1801 the village
schoolmaster of Bloomfield.

It appears that Wilson came to Bloomfield between
May 1 and July 12, 1801, for, according to one of his
letters, he was in Philadelphia on the former date, and
his first Bloomfield letter to his friend, Charles Orr, of
Philadelphia, was dated July 12th. All of his Bloom-
field letters extant were written to Orr, whose address
was in care of "Mr. Dobson's Bookstore, Second, be-
tween Market and Chestnut." The first reads, in part,
as follows :

"If this letter reaches you, it will inform you that I
keep school at 12s. per quarter, York currency, with
35 scholars, and pay 12s. per week for board, and 4s.
additional for washing, and 4s. per week for my horse.
I stayed only one night in York, and being completely
run out, except about three 11-penny bits, I took the
first school from absolute necessity that I could find.
I live six miles from Newark and twelve miles from New
York, in a settlement of Presbyterians. They pay their



66 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

minister £250 a year for preaching twice a week, and
their teacher (Wilson himself) $40 a quarter for the
most spirit-sinking, laborious work, six, I may say,
twelve times weekly. I have no company and Hve un-
knowing and unknown."

In a later letter Wilson thus describes the school and
church in Bloomfield :

"The school-house in which I teach is situated at the
extremity of a spacious level plain of sand, thinly cov-
ered with grass. In the center of this plain stands a
newly erected stone meeting-house, 80 feet by 60, which
forms a striking contrast with my sanctum sanctorum,
which has been framed of logs some 100 years ago, and
looks like an old sentry box. The scholars have been
accustomed to great liberties by their former teacher.
I was told that the people did not like to have their
children punished, but I began with such a system of
terror as soon established my authority most effectively.
I succeeded in teaching them to read, and I care for
none of their objections."

Wilson concluded his letter with the following story,
which can be added to the witch lore of New Jersey :

"The following anecdote will give some idea of the
people's character. A man was taken sick a few weeks
ago and got deranged. It was universally said that he
was bewitched by an old woman who lived adjoining.
This was the opinion of the Dutch doctor who attended
him, and at whose request a warrant was procured from
the justice for bringing the witch before the sick man,
who, after tearing the old woman's flesh with his nails
till the blood came, sent her home and afterward re-
covered. This is a fact. The justice who granted the



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 57

warrant went through among the people with me. I
intend to visit the poor woman myself, and publish it
to the world in the Newark newspapers for the amuse-
ment of New Jersey."

Possibly the Dutch doctor was the Hessian Doctor
Bohn of Verona, who used, it was said, some magic in
his practice.

In one of his letters Wilson told Orr that the bones
of a mammoth had been discovered in Bloomfield, and in
a subsequent letter, July 23d, he gave the details as
follows :

"The gentlemen who discovered the bones of which I
spoke is Mr. Kenzie, who was sinking a well for his
paper mill in a swamp supposed formerly to have been
the bed of a small creek that runs near. . . . Six feet
from the surface, under a stratum of sand four inches
deep, they found several bones, apparently belonging
to the tail, six inches in breadth, with a part of a leg
bone measuring upward of seven inches in diameter, at
the joint, part of a rib four feet long, and many frag-
ments in a decayed state."

The Mr. Kenzie mentioned in this letter was Charles
Kinsey, afterward a member of Congress. He invented
a machine for making paper, and he was at the time
erecting a mill along Second River, near the Daniel
Dodd house, and back of the present "brick row" on
Franklin Street. He also erected a mill at Paterson.
A fine portrait of Kinsey is in the library of the New
Jersey Historical Society. Kinsey's mill was afterward
operated by Eliphalet Hall and Jacob K. Meade. They
made there about 1818 the paper used for "Riley's
Narrative of the Wreck of the Brig Commerce," a



58 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

popular book in its day. The "Coggeshall House" on
Race Street was Meade's home. Next door west lived
his partner. The John Oakes map shows the location.

Wilson lampooned the Bloomfield folks without good
reason. His letters show he had a burden on his mind
when he came here. He had had some affair of the heart
back in Pennsylvania, and his better feelings were held
in leash. There seems to have been but one person in
the village for whom he felt very much regard. That
was James Gibb, an artist, or teacher, who also was a
Scot, having been born in Paisley, February 5, 1775.
To Gibb, in 1812, Wilson wrote a letter which is not
included in the published collection. It was recently
advertised for sale by an Edinburgh bookseller. If
obtained it might throw more light on Wilson's associa-
tions in Bloomfield. James Gibb married Lydia, the
daughter of Bethuel and Hannah Ward. Lydia Gibb
died November 28, 1834. Both are buried in the Bloom-
field cemetery.

Wilson's poem, "The Dominie," was written at Bloom-
field, and published September 8, 1801, in the Sentmel
of Freedom, at Newark. It runs as follows:

"The Dominie"

Of all professions that this world has known,
From clowns and cobblers upwards to the throne;
From the grave architect of Greece and Rome,
Down to the framer of a farthing broom,
The worst for care and undeserved abuse,
The first in real dignity and use,
(If kind to teach and diligent to rule)
Is the learned master of a little school.
Not he who guides the legs or skills the clown
To square his fists, and knock his fellow down;



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 59

Not he who shows the still more barbarous art

To parry thrusts and pierce the unguarded heart ;

But that good man who, faithful to his charge,

Still toils, the opening reason to enlarge ;

And leads the growing mind through every stage,

From humble A B C to God's own page ;

From black, rough pothooks, horrid to the sight,

To fairest lines that float o'er purest white ;

From numeration, through an opening way.

Till dark Annuities seem clear as day ;

Pours o'er the mind a flood of mental light.

Expands its wings and gives its powers for flight.

Till earth's remotest bound and heaven's bright train

He trace, weigh, measure, picture and explain.

If such his toils, sure honor and regard,

And wealth and fame shall be his dear reward;

Sure ever}'^ tongue will utter forth his praise.

And blessings gild the even of his days !

Yes — ^blessed, indeed, by cold, ungrateful scorn.

With study pale, by daily crosses worn,

Despised by those who to his labor owe

All that they read, and almost all they know,

Condemned, each tedious day, such cares to bear

As well might drive e'en Patience to despair;

The partial parent's taunt — the idler dull —

The blockhead's dark, impenetrable skull —

The endless round of A B C's whole train,

Repeated o'er ten thousand times in vain.

Placed on a point, the object of each sneer,

His faults enlarged, his merits disappear;

If mild — "Our lazy master loves his ease.

The boys at school do anything they please."

If rigid — "He's a cross, hard-hearted wretch,

He drives the children stupid with his birch.

My child, with gentle means, will mind a breath ;

But frowns and flogging frighten him to death.'*



60 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

Do as he will his conduct is arraigned,
And dear the little that he gets is gained;
E'en that is given him, on the quarter day.
With looks that call it — money thrown away.
Just Heaven ! who knows the unremitting care
And deep solicitude that teachers share,
If such their fate, by thy divine control,
O give them help and fortitude of soul !
Souls that disdain the murderous tongue of Fame,
And strength to make the sturdiest of them tame;
Grant this, ye powers ! to dominies distrest.
Their sharp-tailed hickories will do the rest.

Wilson caricatured the Bloomfield horse in the follow-
ing stanza:

Here old Rosinantes their bare bones uprearing,
Move past us as if Death's horrid steed were appearing ;.
Dogs snuJfF, turkey buzzards swarm round for a picking,
And tanners look out, and prepare for a sticking.
Here's the one-handed plow, like an old crooked rafter,
The genius of farming surveys it with laughter.

Wilson did not take to the gentler sex, whom he cari-
catured thus : "Like ducks in their gait — like pumpkins
their faces."

Wilson has at least thrown light, however discolored,
upon Bloomfield and its people more than a century ago.
It is easy to sift away the prejudice, and find remaining
in his letters certain facts about the village worth know-
ing. Good Deacon Ephraim Morris, who died May 15,
1814, was lampooned as "Grumbo the Miller" whose
Dutchman, Hans, operated the plant while the deacon
was engaged at the church. We can plainly see through
this caricature the sturdy miller, well known and active,,
whose vigorous influence was felt wherever he moved.



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 61

The men of Bloomfield in the first half of the nine-
teenth century generally followed some trade. Few of
them were "scribes," and the commuter had not yet come
upon the scene. To accompany the valuable map which
appears in this volume the compiler, John Oakes, sup-
plied the vocations of the residents of the town about
1830. They were intelligent men, interested in educa-
tion, and capable of thinking for themselves. The list,
or business directory, for 1830, is as follows:

Morris family, farmers, saw mill, grist mill, black-
smith shop, owners of four-horse stages running to
New York; Isaac Collins, carpenter; Samuel Pitt,
storekeeper, owner of cider and also paper mill ; Charles
H. Osbom, carpenter ; James Ball, carpenter ; John
Moore, papermaker at Pitt's mill ; Simeon Baldwin, boss
carpenter; Jonathan Dodd, cooper; Captain Benjamin
Tucker, sloop between Newark and New York; Joel
Dunham, millwright; Michael Chitterling, carpet-
weaver ; Gorline Doremus, storekeeper ; Isaac Ward,
paper mill, made by hand; Brower, pasteboard mill;
Hiram Dodd, deceased, was a millwright; Herman
Cadmus, farmer; Brower, father of Samuel, pasteboard
maker; Abijah Dodd, farmer; Silas Monroe, shoe shop;
Dury Bromley, boss millwright, repairer, saw mill;
Jotham Ward, shoe shop ; Thomas Collins, stone-cutter,
tombstones ; Joseph Farrand Ward, farmer and car-
penter ; Daniel Thompson, wheelwright shop ; M. D.
Thomas, storekeeper at the Center ; Caleb Ward, artist ;
Abitha Ward, shoe shop ; Ira Dodd, mason, bridge
builder and farmer ; Abraham Cadmus, farmer ; Captain
Benjamin Church, sea captain; Aaron Ballard, farmer,
stage driver ; Rev. Cyrus Gildersleeve, retired ; Joseph
Collins, tailor shop ; Zophar Baldwin Dodd, tailor shop ;



62 BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

Matthias Bowden, paper maker; Squire Joseph Davis,
died 1827, farmer; Isaac Dodd, mason; Thomas Spear,
watchmaker ; repair shop ; Isaac Dodd, tavern keeper,
had been drummer in Revolution ; Dr. Eleazar D. Ward,
physician ; Dr. Joseph S. Dodd, physician, then had
office in Mrs. Henry King's house ; Bethuel Ward, store-
keeper; Daniel Dodd, farmer; Amos Dodd, shoe shop;
Jacob K. Meade, tanner, squire, etc. ; Eliphalet Hall,
squire, had manufactured paper with Meade; Josiah
Fairchild, hatter, hat shop ; Matthias Baldwin, shoe
shop; Isaac Baldwin, boss carpenter; Charles Wharry,
butcher; James Wharry, carpenter; James Gibb, artist,
friend of Alexander Wilson (the house later occupied
by the mother of A. Oakie Hall) ; Smith Ward, store-
keeper ; Linus Ward, storekeeper ; Moses Condit, farmer,
man of all work ; Eli Baldwin, shoe shop ; Israel Ward,
shoe shop ; William Williamson, had been quarryman ;
Horton, tin peddler, traveled with a one-horse wagon,
lived in house owned by Ira Dodd; Rev. Gideon N.
Judd, pastor of Presbyterian Church, lived in the Cap-
tain Church house.

Zophar Baldwin Dodd, mentioned in the above direc-
tory, originated in Bloomficld the idea of planting elms.
The famous trees around the Green are about eighty-
five years old. In 1826 he visited New Haven and was
impressed by the great elms of that town. The next
year, 1827, he planted the elms now standing in front
of the German Theological Seminary, and the follow-
ing year those at the foot of the Green, opposite the
present Church of the Sacred Heart. Following his
example, other residents whose property adjoined the
Green set out trees. Among these at various times were
R. L. Cooke and Mark W. Ball. The trees in the center



BLOOMFIELD, OLD AND NEW 63

of the park were set out later by R. L. Cooke. There
is a large elm on the old High School grounds stand-
ing alone near Broad Street whose age is also definitely
known. It was planted with some others one day in
the year 1830 by Thomas Collins. John Oakes watched
him remove some poplar trees set out in 1809, and
Thomas Collins told the boy it was now the twenty-first
birthday of his son Alfred Marvin, and that the poplars
planted at his birth having proved unsatisfactory, he
was about to plant elms instead.

Thomas Spear, about 1830, lived in a double house
on the north side of Liberty Street. In the east end of
that house lived Jane Crane and her widowed mother.
The first piano owned in Bloomfield was owned by Jane,
and made music there. The first musical instrument
used in the old church was the big base viol of Caleb
Ward. After some opposition Caleb was allowed to sit
in the midst of the choir in the center gallery and ac-
company the singers. The first band of wind instru-
ments was brought to Bloomfield by Thomas Collins.
The players came from Newark and other places, and
gave a primitive band concert one summer evening at
the Collins house.

The limits of this chapter have long been exceeded.
The much left to be said must in this volume be left
unsaid. Other chapters contain material about more
recent times. The surface, however, has been merely
scratched. There remains for the writer of this chapter
the duty of recognizing the brave boys of 1861, who
went down to the front in the War of the Rebellion,
though the subject falls outside his alloted department.
The following itinerary of the regiment in which the
Bloomfield veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic



64 BLOOIMFIELD, OLD AND NEW

sel•^'^ed has been furnished by Recorder George W. Cad-


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Online LibraryJoseph F. (Joseph Fulford) FolsomBloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium → online text (page 4 of 13)