Joseph F. (Joseph Fulford) Folsom.

Bloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium online

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the district may require. In this last statement we see
that the teaching force was far inferior to that now
secured, when none but graduates of normal schools and
colleges) with one or more years of experience, are
placed in charge of classes. Out of the twenty-two
scholars who started in 1872, eleven graduated in 1876.
A few each year continued to graduate until 1879,
when the Greenback party was successful at the polls,
and the trustees then elected reduced both the number
and the salaries of the teachers, and changed the course
of study in the schools very materially. The next year


new trustees were elected for a term of three years
under a new law, and the schools again moved forward
along progressive' lines. For three years no pupils were
graduated from the High School; but later, under the
efficient guidance of John B. Dunbar as principal, and
a board of trustees having the confidence of the com-
munity, and reasonbly secure in their offices, the High
School took a strong position from which it has never
since been driven. The average attendance of the Bloom-
field schools at that time was four hundred, about twice
what it was in 1850-1855. The net enrollment was five
hundred and seventy-two. Boys and girls recited to-
gether. This was an innovation, for in former years
the sexes had been entirely separated. The school
library was begun in 1874 by Mr. Stackpole, then a
teacher under Principal Root. The first course of study
to be printed was published in the same year. In 1876
boundaries were first established between the schools,
and an exhibit was sent to the Centennial Exhibition in
Philadelphia. In this same year systematic examina-
tions, designed to enforce upon teachers and scholars
the exact requirements of the course of study, were first

In 1878 the parochial school of the parish of the
Sacred Heart was opened. This relieved temporarily
the greatly overcrowded condition of the schools.

In 1883 the Center Primary School on Liberty Street
was built at a cost of ten thousand dollars.

In 1888 departments of penmanship and drawing
were introduced, and the course of music, which had
been taught in the school for many years, was im-
proved. The nature study course was also greatly im-
proved in this year, and a very successful fair was held


netting eight hundred dollars, for the purchase of vari-
ous apparatus for use in the schools. At this period
there was carried on much industrial work in the nature
of manual training.

In 1891 the High School course was revised for a
three-years' course of instruction, and the subjects were
made partly elective.

In 1892 the Berkeley School was re-built at a cost of
about twenty thousand dollars, replacing the original
Berkeley primary school, built in 1868. Again, in
1909, an addition of eight class-rooms made it the larg-
est school building in the town. In 1893 four rooms
were also added to the Center School.

In 1896 Board of Health rules relating to contagious
diseases were first applied, to the marked benefit of the
schools ; and in the same year the present four years'
course in the High School was established by taking a
grade out of the grammar school, and adding it with
certain changes to the High School. Following these
changes kindergartens were added, the English course
was extended, and the departmental system introduced
in the grammar classes. Laboratories were also placed
in the High School for science instruction. Manual
training was introduced for all classes, embracing de-
partments of drawing, raffia and basket work, cooking,
wood-working, and metal-working. Evening schools
were started providing instruction in the English
branches, also typewriting, stenography and mechanical
drawing. In recent years classes in English for adults
of foreign birth who wish to learn the language of their
adopted country have been added, also classes in wood-
working, cooking and electricity for such students.

Neighborhood clubs were organized to promote the


harmonious working of the schools by bringing teachers
and parents into closer touch, and increasing neighbor-
hood pride in the schools. Free lecture courses are
given each winter, which furnish much instruction and
entertainment. A summer school is carried on in one
neighborhood largely populated by foreigners, where
the pupils devote a few hours each day to manual train-
ing and the common English branches, the work in
English being very helpful to them when the studies of
the regular school year are taken up.

An event of importance in the history of the schools
was the formation in 1895 of the Borough of Glen
Ridge out of Bloomfield Township, which took away
several hundred children. This reduced the number of
graduates in the high school for a time ; but the public
spirit which was aroused helped wonderfully to advance
the interests of the schools, as the success of the project
to build three new eight-roomed buildings in 1898
plainly showed. Up to this time there had been only
four school buildings in the district : The High School,
as it was called, although it was also used for grammar
and primary pupils for many years ; the Berkeley, built
in 1868, and remodeled in 1892 ; the Center on Liberty
Street ; and the old Brookside, a small two-roomed
building put up in 1868. The three new buildings,
called Brookside, Fairview, and Watsessing, contrary
to general expectation, were soon filled with scholars,
and additions have since been added to each, making
them fourteen-roomed schools. Because of the low
price of material and labor at the time they were built
they have proved an unusually good investment. Fol-
lowing this, as previously mentioned, the Center School,
in 1893, was rebuilt with twelve rooms, and the Berkeley,


in 1909, was doubled in size. All these schools are ar-
ranged in the most approved manner, with an efficient
ventilating and heating system, large assembly halls,
single seats and desks, and lighted by electricity.
Finally a modern up-to-date building has been erected
in Brookdale, upon the same plan and with the same
improvements as the other schools, leaving the town in
possession of six fine school buildings with all the latest
appliances as follows: Berkeley, Brookside, Center,
Brookdale, Fairview, and Watsessing. These are all
for primary and grammar grades. One locality yet re-
mains to be supplied, and for the Silver Lake School,
for which a good lot has been purchased on Grove
Street, there will be erected a modem building similar
to the others.

When all these improvements for the lower grades
had been completed, the demand for a new high school
of sufficient size to accommodate all the scholars became
irresistible. An appropriation was readily secured, and
the land at the southwest corner of Broad Street and
Belleville Avenue purchased. Plans were prepared by
Charles Granville Jones, the architect since 1892 of all
the school buildings, and a contract for its construction
made. The building, now almost completed, is of stone
and brick, four stories in height. When this building
is occupied the high school will, for the first time in its
history, be provided with all the necessary facilities for
its work, including lecture, study, and recitation rooms ;
physical, chemical, and biological laboratories ; manual
training rooms, a gymnasium, and a large assembly
hall to seat one thousand and capable of meeting all the
requirements for public speaking, plays, graduating
exercises, and serving various other uses. By far the





largest hall in the town, centrally located, having
ample entrances and exits, and surrounded by practi-
cally a fireproof building, it is admirably adapted for
public gatherings of a patriotic, political, or social
character. Such a hall has long been needed and will
be greatly appreciated.

We have reached the limits of our history. A closing
word is all that is necessary. Bloomfield has no need
to apologize for either her past or present educational
history. In the early part of the past century she was
the educational center of the cities and towns of the
East. The students taught in her pay schools and
academies adorned every profession, and were known
throughout the land. No less distinguished are many
of those later graduated from her free schools. It
might be well for us to ask ourselves this question:
Have we now reached the limit of achievement in school
work.P The answer will be, "By no means." Every
system is productive of some good results. The pio-
neers, who sat at the feet of the schoolmaster in rooms
lacking every comfort, came into close contact with
men of learning and refinement, getting an inspiration
which is often lacking in our larger classes. Again,
the scholars of what might be called the academy
period, when private schools were flourishing, had the
advantage of meeting children of cultivated families
brought together in such pay schools, and thus were
made to feel that their opportunities should not be
wasted. Classes were also small, and consequently bet-
ter graded than is possible in the schools as at present
carried on. With smaller classes, and more experienced
teachers it would be possible to do better work.

The schools of to-day are for the millions. They


spread intelligence and patriotism among the masses as
no other institution can. They have broader courses
of study than those provided in earlier times, and are
meeting the needs of boys and girls of many races and
tongues. They will develop in a way to provide edu-
cation for a complex civilization, which must have
workers for the farms, the shops and the factories, as
well as for the professions.

The record of Bloomfield has been one of consistent
and carefully considered progress, step by step, almost
without a break from the beginning. Recent history
justifies the belief that the people of to-day are ready
to meet the larger responsibilities, and the greater needs
of the present, in the same spirit of generosity and
courage as that exhibited by their predecessors, when
with scanty means they opened their first school for the
education of the community.

Bloomfield is justly proud of its large and well-or-
ganized school system, embracing eight schools, and pre-
sided over by more than one hundred teachers, having
under their control about three thousand pupils, of
whom over three hundred are in the High School. The
time is fast approaching when people will realize that
teaching is not a calling to be used merely as a stepping
stone to something else more profitable. The self-
sacrificing work done in the class-room will soon be bet-
ter paid, and much of the talent now devoted to other
labor will be attracted to the school-room, and the work
of the teacher will rise to the dignity of a profession.


By Charles C. Ferguson

It is a long cry from the "gee-ha" of the ox driver
to the "honk" of the automobile. Neariy two and one-
half centuries intervene between the primitive and pres-
ent day methods of transportation, and each progres-
sive step has been in the direction of the elimination of
time, the increase in carrying capacity ; and, in the mat-
ter of passenger transportation, the promotion of the
comfort and convenience of the traveling public.

The same successive steps in transition of methods of
transportation that have contributed to the successful
development of the United States, have all been experi-
enced, and participated in, by the successive generations
that have inhabited the particular section of the State of
New Jersey and County of Essex, known as the Town
of Bloomfield, and which, in this year 1912, is celebrat-
ing the Centennial anniversary of its organization as a

The Newark and Pompton Turnpike, in 1806 ; the
Morris Canal, in 1831 ; the Newark and Bloomfield
Railroad, in 1855 ; the street car hne, in 1867, have
been the essential features in the evolution of the su-
perior transportation advantages that the present-day
Bloomfielder enjoys as compared with those of the
pioneer settlers.

A suspicion of witchcraft no longer applies to Mother
Shipton's prophecy, "Carriages without horses shall
run," and Tennyson's vision of "the heavens filled with
commerce" is on the verge of becoming more than a



poet's dream. Aerial navigation, however, belongs to a
"higher realm" of transportation, and does not yet
enter into the calculations of the practical business man
of to-day.

It is but natural that a centennial period should
arouse the reflective faculties, and a proper comparison
and appreciation of what is now with what has been
can only be reached by looking backward.

The problem of transportation in its earliest stage
in this vicinity was an individual matter, the needs of
commerce, and the traveling public did not enter into it.
Few people traveled very far from home.

A religious compact was the foundation stone of
Newark settlement in the latter half of the seventeenth
century, and compulsory attendance at "town meetings"
was a pohtical obligation resting upon every settler,
and the taking of grist to the mill was a necessity of
life, and the transportation question resolved itself into
a way to get to church, to town meeting, and to the

The ox team and bolster wagon were the means of
conveyance, and a trail along the line of least resistance
was the primitive highway. The "old road to Newark,"
now Franklin Street, is conceived to be among the
earliest of the trails or roads traversed by the pioneer
settlers of Bloomfield, and the road through Belleville
to Watsessing Dock on the Passaic River, the first high-
way of a commercial character.

When, in the course of events, in the early part of
the eighteenth century, a business necessity, or a desire
to see the world, prompted an early Bloomfielder to take
a trip to New York, the method of transportation was
by wagon to Watsessing Dock, and from thence by sloop


down the Passaic. Schedule time did not figure in the
trip. Wind and tide, and not steam or electricity, were
the predominant factors in determining the time con-
sumed in the trip.

Saw mills and grist mills first introduced the indus-
trial element into transportation hereabouts, and the
teamster, in consequence, became a factor in the indus-
trial life of the community.

With the dawn of the nineteenth century, the indus-
trial destiny of Newark and vicinity gave manifest evi-
dence; and, with the developing of manufacturing, the
commercial element in the transportation question be-
came permanent. Among the first steps taken to meet
the need was the planning and laying out of several
important highways, and the year 1806 marks the first
important move in this vicinity in the direction of a
scientific development of the means of transportation;
and that was the laying out and opening to travel of
the Newark and Pompton Turnpike, now Bloomfield

Bloomfield was represented in that enterprising move
by two of its leading citizens, Israel Crane and John
Dodd, who were active directors in the laying out and
building of the road. From a commercial standpoint
Bloomfield Turnpike was, at that time, as important as
the opening of a new railroad would be to the present
time. It proved a great accessory in the development
of commerce. The freighter came on the scene, and
great wagons laden with raw material from beyond the
Delaware River, which was then the far West, traversed
the avenue. It also increased facilities for getting farm
products to market, and the wheel-wright and smithing
industries flourished along the route. Wagon making,


which was one of Bloorafield's early important industries,
was stimulated by the opening of the turnpike.

While the turnpike was essentially a freighters' high-
way, it also introduced a new element into the trans-
portation problem, in the line of passenger transporta-
tion. The traveling public was beginning to be a
factor worthy of the attention of the man with an eye
to business. The acme of rapid transit in the year 1800
was an eighteen-hour trip by stage from Jersey City
to Philadelphia, with a ten dollar one-way rate of fair.
Lines of stage conveyances were soon in active operation
on all leading highways, and Bloomfield Center, now a
trolley transfer point, was at one time an important
stage post.

The year 1824 marked another progressive step in
enlarging of transportation facilities, when the State
Legislature granted a charter to the Morris Canal and
Banking Company, to build a canal across the State
from a point opposite Easton, Pa., on the Delaware
River, to Newark, on the Passaic River; and later, in
1828, the charter was amended to enable the extension
of the canal to Jersey City. Two distinctive features
in the transportation business were embodied in the
canal project: one was that it was purely an artificial
artery of commerce, and the other that its construction
was through the medium of aggregated capital. It
marked a new and important era in transportation.

Manufacturing of various kinds, stage and express
business, and other lines of commerce, had reached a
point when iron, coal, wood, hay, and other heavy and
bulky commodities were needed in larger quantities and
at lower prices than could be obtained through the
medium of the old time freighter and his wagon ; but


one of the prime factors that interested the attention
of capitalists and scientific men to artificial navigation
was the bringing of the product of the Pennsylvania
coal fields to a profitable market, and had much to do
with the conception and the direction of the Morris
Canal project.

George McCullough, of Morristown, is credited with
the origination of the then bold enterprise of construct-
ing a canal from the Delaware to the Hudson River.
The mountainous elevations between the two points were
regarded as fatal objections to the project, and to over-
come these Mr. McCullough adopted the expedient of
inclined planes. Such planes, according to a commen-
tary of the times, had never before been applied to boats
of such magnitude, and to an operation so extensive.

Prizes were offered for the best ideas as to the con-
struction of the proposed planes, and the successful
competitor was Ephraim Morris of Bloomfield. His
planes were adopted, and he was made general manager
of the canal, a position he held from 1832 to 1843.
One of the great planes of the canal is located here in
Bloomfield, and has a vertical height of fifty-seven feet.
From its upper end extends the long "seventeen-mile
level," and old canalers west bound with their boats on
Saturday evenings used to urge their mules forward
to get over the Bloomfield plane before midnight Satur-
day night, in order to have the seventeen-mile level for
a Sunday run, as the canal locks and planes were not
operated in those days on Sunday, for the soul had not
yet been squeezed out of corporations.

One day in November, 1832, there was a commotion
in Bloomfield, and numerous people hurried to the
plane, for five boats loaded with pig iron had left


Dover, and were making a trial trip of the canal, and a
test of the planes and locks. The ease and facility with
which the boats were passed over the plane astonished
the spectators, and the great achievement was the town
topic for many days.

Water was turned into the canal for the purpose of
regular operations in April, 1832 ; but a break in a
dyke near Easton delayed the beginning of traffic for
another month. The first boat to reach Newark was the
"Walk in the Water" with a consignment for the
Stephens & Condit Transportation Company.

Another red letter day in canal history was the ar-
rival of two boats loaded with coal from Mauch
Chunk, Pa. Enterprising coal dealers urged the people
to lay in an early supply, as canal navigation would
close in winter time. Canal boats rapidly increased in
number, and the freight tonnage reached enormous
totals for the times.

The canal traversed Bloomfield through the longest
direction, and the town was an important point on the
canal, and the coal yards here supplied a very extensive
territory, and in that section of the town known as the
plane a business center of a considerable importance was
built up.

A well-known Bloomfielder, Jacob F. Randolph, was
president of the Canal Company a number of years.

The canal was used in a limited way for passenger
travel, and the packet boat "Marion Colden," drawn by
three horses, was a "flyer" of the times. It made daily
trips (Sundays excepted) between Newark and Passaic.
The fare to Bloomfield was twenty-five cents, and to
Passaic, fifty cents. It was a popular excursion boat.
At Passaic, then called Acquackanonck, excursionists


had an opportunity to ride on the new railroad, now the
Erie Railroad, to Paterson. Ephraim Morris was the
builder of the packet boat.

In 1871 the Morris Canal was transferred under a
perpetual lease to the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and not
many years after that it became defunct as an artery
of transportation. For many years now it has been
regarded as a detriment to the town, but there are indi-
cations of a transformation in which the canal route
will again become a useful and valuable factor as a
transportation route of the most approved rapid tran-
sit character.

In noting the development of the process of trans-
portation from the latter part of the seventeenth cen-
tury to the first half of the nineteenth century, the first
personages who appeared upon the scene were the pio-
neer settlers, with whom the problem of transportation
involved only their individual needs and convenience.
The industrial element was introduced with the appear-
ance of the teamster, whose livelihood was earned in the
transporting of logs to saw mills. Next appeared a
more dignified and romantic personage, in the freighter,
whose business was the transportation of raw materials
and merchandise between the manufacturer in the city
and the country merchants in the remote district. Next
followed the independent canal boat captain, and the
application of science and art to transportation.

Canals, however, were not long equal to the demands
of commerce in the line of transportation.

Science and art had applied their eff^orts to further
improvement of means of travel and freight communi-
cation, and capital was ready to back up and further
any device that promised to meet the expanding needs.


Science and ai't brought forth the steam locomotive and
the raih'oad, and capital busied itself in the exploita-
tions of the new device; and the present day and gene-
ration is witness to the marvelous results since 1830,
when the State Legislature chartered the first railroad
enterprise in New Jersey, the Camden and Amboy Rail-
road, which soon became a power both in the industrial
and political interests of the State.

The Morris and Essex Railroad, incorporated in
1835, brought the railroad in close proximity to Bloom-
field. The Morris and Essex, in the early years of its
operation, did not stand as now in the front rank as a
passenger line. Cars were diverted from the terminus
of the main line at Newark, and drawn by horses down
Broad and Center streets to the Center Street station
of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Com-
pany, and were thence run over that company's tracks
to Jersey city.

In 1855 the road was extended to East Newark, and
a more perfect junction made with the New Jersey

In 1860 the Hoboken Land and Improvement Com-
pany obtained a charter for a railroad connecting
Newark with Hoboken, and the Morris and Essex trains
were then run direct to Hoboken through the Bergen
tunnel of the New York and Erie Railroad.

In 1868, the Morris and Essex and its branches were
leased to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Rail-
road and a new and independent tunnel was completed
in 1877.

Old Bloomfield has suffered the reproach of slowness,
but history bears evidence that the appellation was a
misnomer. In the adoption and application of improved


processes of transportation Bloomfield enterprise has
made a record to be proud of. It was Bloomfield brains

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Online LibraryJoseph F. (Joseph Fulford) FolsomBloomfield, old and new; an historical symposium → online text (page 7 of 13)