Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

Ridgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present online

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PAST and


Upper — Center of Ridgewood, 1876

Center — 10, 20 and 25 mile radius of Ridgewood

Lower — Village and Township of Ridgewood, 1916








DECEMBERS!, 1916 i,;_


1- /^f

JUL 30 1917




DURING the early part of 1916 a number of citizens recognizing
the historic importance of the year in connection with the life
of Ridgewood, brought to the attention of the Village authorities and
the Independence Day Association, the idea of including in the usual
celebration on Independence Day, the formal opening of the new station
improvements and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the adoption of the
name — Ridgewood.

The Independence Day Association, therefore, called a meeting of
the citizens, which developed the fact that the station improvements
would not be completed by Independence Day.

As a result, the Citizens Semi-Centennial Association was incor-
porated to arrange for a proper celebration during the fall of the
year. Committees were formed and plans developed to make the affair
an epoch in the history of the community.

On account of the prevalence of infantile paralysis in the adjacent
communities and the danger of its being brought into the Village, it
was necessary to abandon the plans.

The Association felt, however, that the event should not pass with-
out some recognition of a permanent character and, as a result, it was
decided to enlarge upon the plans previously contemplated for a souvenir
booklet of the occasion, with a consequent increase in the labor and
time required in its preparation.

This book is dedicated, therefore, to the present and future residents
of our community in commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of
the adoption of the name Ridgewood, and is intended not only for
the citizen who would know something of Ridgewood 's past, but also
for those who are interested in its present life and welfare.

The Association is indebted to the Historical Committee for the story
of our community's life which it contains, to the Publicity Committee
for the fitting manner in which it is published, and to its members,
who through their generosity have made the publication possible.

Citizens Semi-Centennial Association.

Note. — For list of ollicers and members of association, see Appendix.


AS directed by the general committee of the Citizens' Semi-Centen-
nial Association, the Historical and Publicity Committees herein
present the story of Ridgewood's past and present life.

The history of many communities of our present day discloses the
story of a development that would not be complete without recording
therein the place taken by each section — some older, others younger —
which now compose their component parts, including those also which,
due to governmental changes, no longer form a part of a particular

While this is also true of the present municipality of Ridgewood,
Bergen County, N. J., in a book of this kind it is impracticable to tell
in detail the story of each section, although, in the pages which follow,
their relationship from the earliest times of the community will be found
interwoven with its history.

Our object has been to show not only a record, as complete as pos-
sible, of Ridgewood's past, but also its present life, and in a manner
that besides being of historical interest will be of practical value to
those of the present and future who are interested in our community.

With this object in view, the Historical Committee has spared no
effort in seeking out and obtaining the necessary facts, including the
solicitation of contributed articles from those of our citizens who are
active in a particular phase of our community life. These articles, some
of which appear practically as contributed, while others have been
modified only as necessity demanded to adapt them to the general plan
and scope of the booklet, were furnished by the following persons :

Berier, Mrs. de L. Milliken, F. W.

De Yoe, J. Willard Moloney, M. J.

Dimock, F. A. Ockford, Dr. George M.

Doremus, Judge Cornelius Parsons, J. B.

Drinker, W. W. Rouclere, Harry

Graydon, Samuel D. Sowter, E. T.

Haight, W. H. Vail, C. Waldemar

Hopper, Dr. .John B. Van Neste, Rev. J. A.

Howland. Miss Caroline E. Vroom, Dr. W. L.

Kevser, F. L. Watson, Frederick V.

Le Roy, Howard R. White, E. T.

Maier, William H. White, Hon. George U.

Marinus, John A. Willard, Dr. H. S,

To these and to F. H. Bogert, Miss Florence De L. Bunce, H. J.
Carroll, Mrs. Jos. W. Edwards, J. R. Eschelman, T. J. Foster, Hon.
D. A. Garber, Robert Groves, Dr. A. G. Hopper, A. T. Hubschmitt, I. E.
Hutton, Miss Irene C. Kelly, D. W. La Fetra, T. W. McMullen, Wilbur
Morris, H. S. Patten, H. C. Pennal, Peter Pulis, A. B. Stearns, T. V.
Terhune, H. A. Tice, Dr. W. A. Tracy, Carl M. Vail, W. W. Wilsey and

Geo. R. Young, as well as the citizens in general who have aided, in the
work, the Historical Committee takes this opportunity of acknowledging
its indebtedness and expressing its api)reciation of the assistance re-

To the following publications and articles and to others less exten-
sively consulted, the Historical Committee also wishes to acknowledge
its indebtedness as sources of information relating to the various periods,
subjects and phases of its work:

Address by Rev. William H. V^room, D.D. — Dedication of Tablet,

Reformed Church of Paranuis, July 4, 1914.
Addresses of Judge David D. Zabriskie relating to the history of

Ridgewood and vicinity.
All the Days of My Life. — An Autobiography by Amelia E. Barr.
Annual Reports of the Village of Ridgewood.
Appraisal of the property of the Bergen Aqueduct Company and

Bergen Water Company, by E. D. Winters, 1915.
Archives of the State of New Jersey.
Atlas of Bergen County, N. J., by A. H. Walker and C. C. Pease,

Between the Ocean and The Lakes, The Story of the Erie, by

E. H. Mott, 1899.
Genealogical Historv of Hudson and Bergen Counties, N. J., by

C. B. Harvey, 1900.
Historic Houses of Bergen County, by B. G. Allbee.
History of Bergen and Passaic Counties, N. J., by W. W. Clayton,

History of Bergen County, N. J., by J. M. Van Valen, 1900.
History of the Classis of Paramus of the Reformed Church in

America, 1902.
History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey, by C. H. Winfield,

History of Ridgewood, by George Edgar Knowlton.
Itinerary of General Washington, by W. S. Baker.
Official Programs. — Independence Day Association of Ridgewood.
Papers and Proceedings, The Bergen County Historical Society.
Program. — 250th Anniversary of the Founding of the Village of

Bergen, 1660.
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York.
Ridgewood, New Jersey, by C. H. Dunn, 1898.
Ridgewood, N. J., by Henry P. Phelps, 1912.
Ridgewood Guide, by Baxter and Breusch, 1896.
Ridgewood of Yesteryear, by Judge Cornelius Doremus.
Ridgewood 's History, by Harold A. Cheel.
The Architectural Record.

The Citizens' Book, Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, 1916.
The Improvement of Ridgewood, N. J. Report by Chas. M. Robin-
son to Board of Trade, 1908.
The Pageant of Ridgewood, N. J., June 19, 1915.
The Ridgewood Herald.
The Ridgewood News.

If the results of our efforts furnish a source of information of value
to those who seek it and also stimulate a devotion to our community's
welfare, we will feel our mission has been fulfilled.

Historical Committee

Richard T. ^^'ILSO^', Chainnaii

Frank A. Baxter Rebecca W. Hawes Ira W. Travell

.Idliii II. Ward Judge David D. Zabriskie Everett L. Zabriskie

Publicity Committee
H. ^V. Casler, Chairman
W. F. ScinriDT, Y ice-Chairman

V. A. Diiiiock B. G. Smith C. C. ]SIiles W. S. :\Ioore

C. H. Green D. R. Dusenborrv A. H. Gamble W. \A'. ^Vil'!ev

E. B. Lilly B. D. Hilton H. R. LeRoy

Ridgewood, Bergen County, N. J.,
December 31, 1916.






Indian Occupation 1

Early Settlers 2

Colonial Period 3

Revolutionary War 4

1782 to 180.5 9

Civil War 12

Birth of Ridgevvood 16


Name 18

Location 18

Appearance 18

Soil 19

Climatic Conditions 19

Road.s and Highways 19

Plant Life 22

Trees of Ridgewood 27

Bird Life of Ridgewood 31



Political Divisions 37

Relation Between Village, County and State 38

Ridgewood's Form of Government 41

Township Committee 41

Village Trustees 42

Village Commissioners 44

The Mayor 46

Department of Public Affairs and Public Safety 46

Police Department 46

Fire Department 48

Board of Health 52

Shade Tree Commission 55

Building Committee 58

Department of Revenue and Finance 58

Department of Public Improvements, Parks and Public Property .... 59

Advisory Board 61



Administration of Justice
Court of Common Pleas
District Court
Recorder's Court .

Bar of Ridgewood




Public Schools 67

Private Schools 74

Public Library 77


Reformed Church of Paramus 78

Christ Episcopal Church 80

The Kenilworth Collegiate Presbyterian Church {Christian Reformed) ... 81

First Reformed Church 81

African M. E. Zion Church (Colored) 82

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 83

Emmanuel Baptist Church 84

Methodist Episcopal Church 84

Unitarian Society 85

First Church of Christ, Scientist 86

Bethlehem Lutheran Church 86

Mount Bethel Baptist Church (Colored) 86

West Side Collegiate Presbyterian Church 87

Upper Ridgewood Religious Societies 88


Real Estate Development 89

Mercantile and Industrial Enterprises 91

Financial Institutions 96

Medical and Dental Professions 97

Publications 101

Hotels, Inns, and Taverns 103

Public Utilities 105

Express Service 105

Gas and Electric Systems 105

Post Office 107

Erie Railroad 108

Rapid Transit 115

Telephone and Telegraph Facilities 115

Water Supply 118



Homes of Ridgewood 121

Early Dutch Homes 121

Houses of Historical Interest 125

Community Centers 126

Pearsall's Grove 126

Opera House 126



Play House 128

Municipal Building VZS

Halls and Club Rotinis 1^8

Speedway 131

Ho-Ho-Kus Driving Club Park 131

Bergen County Fair Association 131

Community Christmas Tree Festival 133


Clubs 134

Patriotic 141

Political 145

Fraternal 147

Musical 150

Welfare ' 151

School 155

Anti-Liquor 156

Medical 157

For Young Men 158

Commercial 161




Semi-Centennial Association 170

Officers 170

Committees 170

Members and Contributors ^ 172

The Semi-Centennial Songs of Ridgewood 173



Map of Ridgewood and Vicinity Frontispiece

The " Old Elm " in Ho-Ho-Kus 5

The Development of West Ridgewood Avenue 17

Pearsall's Grove — East Ridgewood Avenue — In the Early DO's. 28

Ruins of Fire, March 9, 1881 49

High School — Beech Street 68

The Reformed Church of Paramus 79

Station and Plaza — Before Improvements 110

Station and Plaza — After Improvements Ill

The Old Aycrigg House 123

The Town Club 132

The Ridgewood Country Club 136

Ridgewood Y. M. C. A 159

Ridgewood: Past and Present


IN an analysis of the history of a community it will be found that
the greatest influences in determining its character have been the
ideals and endeavors of its inhabitants.

A narrative, therefore, of the history of Ridgewood is really one
of the life of its people. While the development of particular phases
of its life will be found elsewhere in this book, the general historical
development of the community may well be divided into the following


Before the appearance of Europeans on this continent it is well
known that nations of men speaking widely different languages, and
commonly called Indians, existed here. The nation inhabiting the
greater part of New Jersey was called the Delawares or Lenni Lenape,
signifying, in their tongue, "The original people."

Several sub-divisions of the Delawares have been made by writers.
The tribes who occupied and roamed over the counties of Bergen and
Passaic were those of the Unalachtgo or Turkey, and the Minsi or Wolf.
A further division has also been made into sub-tribes known as Hacken-
sacks, Acquakanonks, Pomptons, Tappans and Haverstraws, all sug-
gestive of well-known districts.

In 1643 the earliest white explorers into the region of the Hacken-
sack and Passaic valleys found scattered villages, embraced under the
name of Hackensacks, and varying in size from one to four or five
houses, distributed over an area now bounded by points located approxi-
matel.y near Jersey City, Staten Island, Newark, Passaic, and the upper
waters of the Hackensack, Passaic and Saddle Rivers.

Investigators have found actual evidence of Indian occupation in
many places along the streams and creeks of the Bergen County water-
shed. The vicinity of Ridgewood, the banks of the Saddle River, and
of the Ho-Ho-Kus and Sprout Brooks, have proven to be most promising
localities for these researches.

As a result of plowed fields and washouts, evidences have been
traced of primitive settlements in many places along the Saddle River
and its branches. One branch in particular, Sprout Brook, below
Areola, has yielded a considerable quantity of material at three dif-
ferent points on its banks, all within a radius of a mile. At one point
on the farm of Mr. Koch, where the brook crosses the Paramus Road,
a quantity of implements and pottery was taken from the former site
of a small village. Further down on Sprout Brook, back of the Board
farm, is the site of what was presumably a large palisaded grass house ;
while one of the best preserved sites of occupation, in fact the most


typical, has been found on a high bank of the Saddle River, just below
the point where it is crossed by the trolley.

Within the pi'csent limits of Ridgewood and also covering an area
Avith a radius of from ten to twelve miles f]'om the village, during the
past fifteen years explorations have been carried on by one of its
citizens, ]\Ir. J. R. Esehelman, that have brought to light a most valu-
able collection (still in the possession of Mr. Esehelman) of approxi-
mately two thousand pieces of Indian objects, consisting of arrow-heads,
spear-heads, axes, fish spears, skin scrapers, knives, shaft polishers, hand
hammers, a granite mortar, ]>estles, celts (chisels), hoes, winged objects,
luna (half-moon) knives, and others unclassified.

These relics have been found along the Indian trails, usually on
the high side of a running stream or at some spring. In Ridgewood
and its immediate vicinity the localities which have produced the best
results are the shores of the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook, along the Mastin and
Graydon fields and continuing above Harrison Avenue, opposite the
home of E. L. Zabriskie ; the grounds around the Board springs at
Paramus Road and Duncker Hook (Dark Corner) ; and the fields be-
yond the Valleau Cemetery and along the Diamond Brook at the sites
of its various springs to its junction with the Passaic River.

Formerly within the limits of Ridgewood Township, but now within
the Borough of Glen Rock, a great block of stone stands on Rock Avenue
near the Main Line Station of the Erie Railroad. Tradition says that
this rock w^as a meeting place for the Indians, who called it Pamacka-
puka. It was also known by the early settlers as the Big Rock at Small
Lots. It Avas mentioned as a landmark in 1687, Avhen a Patent Avas
granted for 5,320 acres of land upon the second attempt to settle lands
Avest of the Saddle River.

In 1710 a tract of land containing 42,500 acres, called the ''Ramapo
Patent," including most of the northAvestern portion of Bergen County,
Avas surveyed, beginning at the "Big Rock, four or five miles north-
AA'est of Paterson." A copper pin, placed by the surveying party at
this time on the highest point of the rock, is still in evidence.

Since the early times, many of the land records of this Adcinity
refer to the stone as one of the points in determining the location of
the property they cover. On August 26, 1912, as a result of the efforts
of a number of citizens Avho appreciated its historical value, a deed
was executed transferring the site of the rock, from the South Ridgc-
Avood Improvement Company and from Mr. and Mrs. John F. Walter,
to the Borough of Glen Rock. Since that date the rock has been
surrounded by a concrete Avalk and has been placed in a condition that
guarantees its preservation for many years to come.


The first i^ermaneiit Dutch settlement in Ncav Jersey Avas called
Bergen and Avas made during the year 1660 on tlie site noAv knoAvn
as Bergen Square, Avithin the present corporate limits of Jersey City.
From that point a gradual colonization Avas extended into the more
remote districts, mainly along the AvaterAA'ays, folloAving the lines of
least resistance.


In 1662, Albert Zaborowski, a young man of twenty years, came
from Poland in the Dutch sailing ship Deb Ves ("The Fox"). He
married a Miss Van Der Linde and settled in the little trading post
called Ackensack, where he became the possessor of a large landed
interest. Of the children born to them five were sons. The oldest,
Jacob, when a small boy, was stolen and carried off into the forests
by the Indians. After a period of about fifteen years, Jacob was
returned to his people by the Indians, who claimed they had taken
him to teach him their language so that he could act as an interpreter
between them and the settlers. As a result of this incident, Jacob's
father obtained from the Indians a tract of land containing approxi-
mately two thousand acres and known as the "New Paramus Patent"
or "Wcarimus Tract."

The greater portion of the Paramus Patent lay in the northwestern
part of the present Midland Township, while a section extended across
the Saddle River into what is now Ridgewood Township. The tract
extended in general from the Peter Board homestead on the south,
about four miles north to the Stephen S. Berdan residence, and from
the Saddle River on the west one and one-half miles east to the Sprout

The name "Paramus" is said to be derived from the Indian "Pere-
messing," descriptive of the fact that the country abounded in wild
turkey. The first white settlers called it "Peremesse," from which the
transition was gradually made to the present form, Paramus.

On this tract, in 1713, Jacob Zaborowski built a home located on
the present Paramus Road, just north of what is now Blauvelt's Mill.
This was the first house to be built in this section of the country. A
stone which bears the name Zaborowski, and the year 1713, and which
had been placed in its doorway, is now in the possession of Everett
L. Zabriskie, of Ridgewood.

Ridgewood is built upon the tract w^est of the Zaborowski lands
and is part of a grant of five hundred acres made by Lord Carteret
to Samuel Kingsland in 1687. The land was sold to Peter Johnson
for the sum of thirty-two pounds and ten shillings, and in 1698 became
the property of Johann Van Emburgh, who built the first house in
1700 in what is now Ridgewood proper.

Other Dutch families, such as the Ackerman, Banta, Bogert, De Baun,
Hopper, Marinus, Terhune, Van Der Beck, Van Dien, Van Houten.
Westervelt and Zabriskie families, shortly afterwards settled in this
locality, purchasing their land from the Van Emburgh estate. Many
of these families are still represented by tlieir descendants, wliile the
property of others has been disposed of to city purchasers in search
of suburban homes.


During the Colonial period and for many years afterwards, the
people devoted their time almost entirely to agricultural pursuits. The
farms each contained a large number of acres, and were scattered over
80 extensive an area that in consequence a slow development of the
community resulted.


The homes generally were of stone with a southern or eastern ex-
posure and with old-fashioned flower gardens in the front.

Since the early settlers had come from Holland, they naturally for
many years spoke their mother tongue, which in later years became
known as "Jersey Dutch."

Following the teachings of their early youth, the Dutch settlers
were not long in establishing a house of Avorship. In 1725 they or-
ganized the "Peremus Kirk," and in 1735 erected the first Church
building on ground furnished by Peter Fauconier. Here for many years
the services were conducted in the Dutch language.

This church is now called the congregation of the Reformed Church
of Paramus and is located in the northeastern part of Ridgewood. For
many years, until the organization of other churches, the Paramus
Church served a territory of about fifteen square miles, and was the
central gathering place for the neighboring country for all purposes
related to the community interests.


The excitement which the tyranny of the British Government aroused
in the colonies was felt throughout the present Bergen County, and
on the 12th day of May, 1775, a Committee of Safety was organized
with John Fell of Paramus as chairman. Party feeling ran high and
many and bitter were the feuds among the people, although historians
state that the Patriots were greatly superior in number to the Tories.
The proximity of the Bergen district to New York made it important
territory during the Revolutionary War. It was the gate to New Jersey
and the West. Recognizing its importance, each party sought to fortify
and to hold it in possession.

Wliile no battles of importance were fought within the limits of the
present county, its soil became a highway for the tread of marching
armies, and its cultivated farms often attracted raiding and foraging
parties of the enemy from New York City. Its people gave their sons
to the cause, and provided supplies to the several American camps
within their boundaries.

Among the names of such camp-grounds that of "Paramus" takes
a prominent place. Tradition states that it was just south of the
Paramus Church. The poet Barlow, who wrote the old-fashioned poem
"Hasty Pudding," was at one time a cliaplain in the army and he
wrote to friends one evening that he had been all day making the
rounds of his camp and that it extended from Paramus four miles
toward Hackensack.

Tradition also states that the Commissary Department of the Ameri-
can forces occupied about ten acres of land now the site of the Valleau
Cemetery opposite the old church. The church edifice existing at that
time was used by the American forces at various times as a prison and
for other j)urposes, and was so greatlj' damaged that in 1785 it was
necessary to make extensive repairs. Tlie graveyard connected with
the church contains the remains of many patriots and British soldiers
who died while their armies were in this vicinity.

Washington and his army were at Paramus several times. Many

Cuurltsy C. H. L. Mitchell

The "Old Elm" in Ho-Ho-Kus


important papers were sent from here, but all trace of Washington's
headquarters seems to have been lost. It was here, after his great con-
tlict at Monmouth, that Washington established his headquarters from
July 11 to July 15, 1778. Here, on Sunday, July 12, he wrote to the
President of Congress in response to the vote of thanks which had
been passed by Congress for the important victory he had gained at
Monmouth. At this time, also, he received advice of the arrival of
the French fleet under Count d'Estaing.

He was at Paramus December r)th to 8th of the same year, and on
July 30 and October 7, 1780.

The following references also indicate that some soldiers must have
been stationed at Paramus nearly all the time :

General Clinton was informed of clothing for troops to be sent to

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Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 1 of 19)