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Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

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

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citizens of the community when engaged in general military training
under General Andrew H. Hopper, on what were known as "General
Ti-aining Days".

In 1809 the property, including 100 acres of land, was conveyed by
Christian De Peyster to John A. Zabriskie.

About 1849 it came into the possession of David B. Naugle, who
conducted the premises as a hotel during the Civil War. On May 23,
1905, F. H. Bogert bought the property, at a partition sale in the
Sheriff's office at Ilackensack. At that time it was and for more than
twenty years had been conducted as the Ackcrman Hotel by John J.
Ackerman, as lessee of the David B. Naugle P]state. Mr. Ackerman
was permitted by the new owner to continue in possession until his
death in the spring of 1913. His widow continued the business until

103



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

the expiration of her license on September 1st of that year. Although
a new license was granted by the court and Mr. Bogert was offered an
increased rental for the property for hotel purposes, he declined the
offer and thus terminated a hotel business long conducted on the site.
The building was never again occupied and soon after the property
passed out of the hands of Mr. Bogert, in 1915, it was torn down, the
cellar at present marking its site.

Henry Van Emburgh conducted a hotel in the building now known
as "Maple Homestead", located about 1,000 feet north of the old Naugle
Hotel on the Paramus Road. This business was discontinued at about
the time Mr. Naugle took possession of his place.

A number of years after the Revolutionary War, a hotel was built
by a man named Bogert, on the present site of the Martin property,
on the north side of Godwin Avenue opposite Lincoln Avenue. During
the early 40 's, the place was conducted as a tavern by James Blauvelt,
who was noted throughout the country-side for his efforts to discover
ihe secret of perpetual motion, and his place was a center for the people
of the neighborhood.

About 1870, J. W. Halstead built the present Ridgewood House on
West Ridgewood Avenue. At that time the Village was a mere hamlet
and the hotel was looked upon as a very large affair. About two years
later Abram G. Hopper opened the Franklin House, on the present site
of the Ridgewood New^s Office, and continued it until a fire swept that
block. In 1885 Mr. Hopper purchased the Ridgewood House and con-
ducted it until his death. His family carried on the business for a
short time and in 1906 its present occupant, Henry Zellweger, took
possession.

In 1870, Abram Terhune conducted a grocery and meat business at
the corner of Maple and Ridgewood Avenues. In 1874 he obtained
a license and opened a hotel known as the Ridgewood Avenue House,
Avhich burned in 1876. It was re-built at once and continued as an
inn and tavern until its present proprietor, Harry Rouclere, took pos-
session in 1893. He remodelled and refurnished it, added two stories,
put in baths, toilets, and all improvements, changed the name to the
Rouclere House and it soon became the best known hotel in Northern
Jersey. It was a mecca for all bicycle parties and as the wheelmen
at that time were numerous, the reputation of the house grew rapidly
and as many as 400 dinners were often served in a daj^

Mr. Rouclere, tiring of the hotel business, leased the house to Mr.
Zellweger and returned to the theatrical business. Later he again leased
it to Emil Meyers and at the expiration of the latter 's term, returned
and once more remodelled and refurnislied the entire place, adding sev-
eral private baths, a new grill, and a separate dining-room, which at
the present time can seat more than 100 diners.

About 1891, H. A. Herbert erected a building on Maple and Spring
Avenues called the Herbert House and ran it for several j'ears. It
was afterward leased to Miller & Mj'crs and later to S. J. Topping.
Subsequently it was taken over by Van Nortwick & Gillfillen and the
name was changed to the Village Inn. It is still under this pro-
prietorship.

104



PAST AND PRESENT



The first license granted in Ridgcwood was issued to Casper Van
Dien and Albert S. Hopper, who had a grocery store on the site of the
present Hiitton building, and conducted the liquor business in a small
building in the rear of tlie store.

Public Utilities

express service

Wclls-Fargo Compan 1/

About 1888 the AVells-Fargo Express Company succeeded in extend-
ing its service from Chicago to New York over the Erie Railroad. Pre-
vious to that time all express matter entering Ridgewood was carried
by the United States Express Company.

Gradual improvements have been made, from time to time, and to-
day Ridgewood is enjoying an efficient service with two deliveries daily
covering the entire Village.

GAS AND ELECTRIC SYSTEMS

Gas

The Ridgewood Gas Company was incorporated on April 24, 1900,
the first directors being: D. W. La Fetra, William R. Boyce, J. W. Pear-
sail, B. C. Wooster, Theodore Victor, August P. Crouter, Lucius S.
Willard, H. S. Willard, M.D., Arthur J. Hopper, Joseph P. Walker,
S. W. N. Walker, AV. W. Breakenridge, and F. A. Mallalieu.

Of these directors the first nine w^ere residents of Ridgewood and
they elected as the first oificers of the company:

President D. W. La Fetra,

Secretary Arthur J. Hopper,

Treasurer August P. Crouter.

Soon after the company was incorporated, work was begun on the
plant located on Ackerman Avenue near the intersection of Doremus
Avenue. Construction delays interfered with the completion of the
plant until the following year, when it was placed in service.

During 1903 the Board of Directors ]'e-organized. D. W. La Fetra
remained as President for two or three years longer, when he was suc-
ceeded by J. W. Pearsall. Later A. C. Brooks served until the affairs
of the company were taken over by the Public Service Gas Company
in July, 1910.

The first price of gas as established by the comj^any in 1900 was
$1.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. Prior to the taking over of the company by
the Public Service Gas Company, the rate was reduced to .$1.15 per
1,000 cubic feet. Before this there was a cooking rate of 80 cents and
a consuming rate of $1.25.

When the Public Service Gas Company assumed the affairs of the

company, all rates were changed to $1.15. In 1912 they were reduced

to $1.10, and on May 1, 1913, tlirough an order of the Public Utilities

Commission of New Jerse.v, the.y were further reduced to 90 cents, which

I rate is still in effect.

in,5



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

In 1910 the Ridgewood Gas Company served 864 consumers, includ-
ing 200 in Glen Rock and 70 in Ho-Ho-Kus. At present the Ridgewood
District of the Public Service Gas Company supplies 1,950 consumers.

The original works of the Ridgewood Gas Company are still in use
as a storage plant of the Public Service Gas Company, the manufactur-
ing of the product having been discontinued about 1907. Gas is now
supplied from Paterson under high pressure, with high pressure mains
encircling the Ridgewood District to maintain a pi-oper pressure for
all domestic purposes.

Electricity

Kerosene oil lamps for street lighting purposes were introduced by
the individual property owners in the early 70 's and continued in use
until the Ridgewood Electric Light & Power Company, through the
efforts of E. H. Watlington, began supplying consumers between the
months of October and December, 1893. The original officers of the
company were :■

President J. F. Carrigan,

Treasurer Paul Walton,

Secretary K. H. Watlington.

At the time the plant was constructed on the present site of the
Public Service Company's station, a 40-kilowatt alternator for house
lights and a 40-arc direct current generator for street lighting were
installed. The street lighting system was arranged on what was known
as the "moonlight schedule", while the current for house lighting was
started at 5 P.M., and discontinued at 1 A.M. each day.

Originally a flat rate of $5.00 per month was charged for current
with an additional charge of 40 cents for each electric bulb furnished.
On account of increased business, meters were installed in 1894, at which
time bills to consumers were rendered on the basis of one cent per
burning hour for 15-candle power lamps, with a step rate discount.

In 1897 arc lamps were supplied to commercial consumers at .$5.00
per month with a 5 per cent, discount. In 1899 the Gas & Electric
Company of Bergen County leased the Ridgewood Electric Light &
Power Company, and changed the rate to 25 cents per 1,000 watts,
supplying an all-night service. The street arc lights were changed to
32-candle power lamps and a scale of discounts for prompt payments
was made as follows: 20 per cent, on bills up to $10.00, 25 per cent, on
bills from $10.00 to $20.00, 30 per cent, on bills from $20.00 to $30.00,
35 per cent, on bills from $30.00 to $40.00, and 40 per cent, on bills of
$40.00 and over. In 1900 the rates were changed to 20 cents per kilo-
watt with a discount of 15 per cent. This rate prevailed until April,
1906, when it was changed to 15 cents straight.

The Public Service Electric Company assumed the affairs of the
Bergen County Electric Light & Power Companj^ during April, 1905,
and continued their lease of the Ridgewood Electric Light & Power
Company plant.

In January, 1908, the rate w^as changed to 12 cents and in January,
1910, to 10 cents, which rate now prevails without discounts for light-

106



PAST AND PRESENT



ing rates but with a sliding scale for eonsumptioii of over 50 kilowatt
hours, as per the existing contract.

During the year 1910 the old plant of the Ridgewood Electric Light
& Power Company was taken down and on its site a modern and up-
to-date sub-station was erected by the Public Service Electric Company.
This sub-station contains motor volt regulators and is connected with
the company's central stations at Newark, Paterson, and Marion, which
are of sufficient capacity to carry whatever load the business may place
upon them, thus assuring the consumers of Ridgewood a continuous
service.

The Public Service Gas Company and the Public Service Electric
Company also have a commercial office on Prospect Street where busi-
ness matters between the companies and their consumers are conducted.
Here demonstrations of the practical uses of their products are main-
tained and arrangements may be made at any time to visit and inspect
the equipment used by the companies in rendering their service to
the public.

THE POST OFFICE

When a post office was first established in this vicinity it was nat-
urally near the business center, then the manufacturing establishments
in the Midland Park section of Godwinville. For a long time the mail
was thrown off at Ho-Ho-Kus and carried on horseback to the post
office. In 1859, however, a depot was erected near where the present
depot stands and the mail for Godwinville was thrown off here. With
the coming of numerous New York families to Ridgewood in 1860 and
succeeding years, it was found that the location of the post office was
inconvenient and an effort was made to secure one more satisfactory.
After a number of months of strenuous labor, the postal authorities
consented to the establishment of the Ridgewood post office. This was
in 1865 and the mail was marked "Ridgewood" although the railroad
company did not consent to the change in name from Godwinville
until 1866.

The most persistent workers for the post office were E. A. Walton
and Benjamin F. Robinson, and when the post office was established,
Mr. Robinson was asked to act as postmaster. He accepted the position
but proved to be ineligible as he held a position in the Internal Revenue
Service and the federal law would not permit him to hold both offices.
He resigned the postmastership and Garret G. Van Dien, who kept a
general store on the site where the S. S. Walstrum-Gordon & Forman
real estate office is located in the Wilsey Building, was appointed to
succeed him. Mr. Van Dien continued in the office until his death on
November 1, 1884. His widow then became postmistress and held office
until succeeded by John F. Cruse, in the following year.

The office was removed by Mr. Cruse to the store now occupied by
Mr. Adam. After Mr. Cruse had held office for four years, Mr. Adolph
Huttemyer was appointed. At that time Mr. Huttemyer was running a
coal yard which was removed to make way for the Plaza. Mr. Huttemyer
removed the office to his coal office. He served for four years when Mr.
Cruse was again appointed and moved the office to its former location.

107



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

Mr. Cruse was succeeded in November, 1897, by Roger M. Bridgman, who
removed the office to the corner of Ridgewood Avenue and Chestnut
Street. After the First National Bank was built, the post office was again
removed across the street. These quarters soon Ijecame too small and in
1912 the office was removed to its ])i-csent location on Prospect Street
adjoining the First National Bank Building.

The post office at first was a small affair, the work being done by
tlie postmaster, with the occasional help of an assistant. The nearest
money-order office was at Paterson. The hard times of the years 1873
to 1878 interfered materially with the growth of the town and the de-
velopment of its postal facilities. The first domestic money-order was
issued from the Ridgewood office on August. 1, 1889, and the money-
order business grew slowly. The office frequently does more business
in one day now than it did in montlis after its introduction. The office
was designated as an international money-order office in 1900. In 1901
two rural carriers were appointed and in 1903 three carriers were ap-
pointed to serve the Village. This force was increased from time to
time until now there are eight regular carriers, two of whom were
added since Dr. Geo. M. Ockford, the present postmaster, succeeded
Mr. Bridgman on April 1, 1914. In 1911 the office was designated to
receive postal savings. The parcel post system was installed in 1913
and made necessary the employment of additional help. This work is
now done by auxiliary carriers. They carry parcel post and cover the
routes of absent carriers. The business of the post office has kept pace
with the growth of Ridgewood and the force to-day comprises 22 per-
sons. The quantity of parcel post continually increases and the office
is in a flourishing condition.

THE ERIE RAILROAD

The story of the Erie Railroad, now operating through Ridgewood,
starts indirectly with the war of the Revolution.

In 1779 American troops, under Generals Clinton and Sullivan, in-
vaded the country of the confederated Indian tribes of New York State.
This invasion, provoked by the Wyoming Massacre of the previous year,
led the troops through the valleys of the Susquehanna and Chemung.
This region was tlien unbroken wilderness, but General Clinton realized
the importance of the valleys to the development of New York State
and the influence they were to exert on the westward spread of civil-
ization. He conceived the idea of connecting the seaboard with the
Great Lakes by a thoroughfare which should pass through the southerly
tier of New York counties, and among the earliest petitions to the
newly organized Federal Congress was that of Generals Clinton and
Sullivan for authority and an appropriation to construct a road to be
known as the "Appian Way", from the Hudson River through the
valleys of the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Alleghany, to Lake
Erie. No such appropriation was made by Congress but Clinton
throughout his life continued to advocate the project and after his
death his son, DeW^itt Clinton, kept up the agitation for this thorough-
fare, although along different lines. When he came into power the

108



PAST AND PRESENT



northern and central tiers of New York counties had gained predomi-
nance, commercially and politically, and in 1S17 DeWitt Clinton, as
Governor, brought before the Legislature a plan to construct a canal
from Lake Erie to the Hudson lliver. This canal was completed and
opened in 1825 and is known as the Erie Canal.

DeWitt Clinton had not, however, abandoned faith in his father's
project, nor the interests of the southern tier, and during the year
prior to the oi)ening of the canal, lie brought before the Legislature
the subject of a state road through the Delaware, Sus(juehanna and
Alleghany valleys. A survey was authorized and made, Init the route
was so influenced by political considerations tluit the project came to
nothing. , .

Five years before I)eWitt , Clinton 's advocac.y of the Erie Canal,
Colonel John M. I^fevens pf New Jersey offered to undertake the build-
ing of a steam railway in place of the pi'oposed Erie Canal, but his
offer was rejected Avith ridicule. A project for a canal through the
southern tier was taken under consideration after the abandonment of
tlie highway plan, but this; in turn, was abandoned upon an adverse
report of Benjamin Wright, the engineer of the Erie Canal, who hinted
in the same report at the practicabilitv of a railroad.

In 1829 William G. Redfield, of New York City, issued a pamphlet
entitled "A Sketch of the Geographical Route of a Great Railway,
by which it is proposed to connect the canals and navigable waters of
New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, IMichigan, JMissouri,
and the adjacent States and Territories", commencing at the Hudson
River near New York City and ending at Lake Eric. His pamphlet
found wide circulation and in 1831 the National Government author-
ized Colonel DeWitt Clinton, a son of tlie now deceased Governor and
a member of the United States Army Engineer Corps, to make a recon-
naissance of the route. This reconnaissance showed the project to be
practicable. It is remarkable that, upon the report of a grandson of
General Clinton, a railway was projected and ultimately built along
the "Appian Way"; for, pursuant to a resolution of a convention of
the southern tier counties, held in Owego in 1831, a charter was granted
by the Legislature in 1832 for the consti'uction of a railroad between
Lake P]rie and the Hudson River. After various vicissitudes, political
and financial, this railway was consti'ucted between Dunkirk and Lake
Erie and Piermont on the Hudson River. A portion between Piermont
and Goshen was completed in 1841. The whole road was completed
and opened for traffic in 1851, and the opening was a National cere-
monial. It Avas attended by President Fillmore, Daniel Webster, Sec-
retary of State; John J. Crittenden, Attorney General; W. C. Graliam,
Secretary of the Navy ; W. K. Hall, Postmaster Gencral^t tlie Govei'iior
and Lieutenant Governor of New York State, and nialiy othei' promi-
nent men, all of whom traversed the entire length of tlie railroad on
the initial trip, traveling from New York City to Piermont l)y l)(»at
for the start.

The nearest station on this railroad to Godwiiiville, now Ridgewood,
was Suffern, but, as the natural terminus foi- a railroad was op])osite
New York City, and the natural route lay through the Paramus Valley

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.2

C/2



RIDGEWOOD, BETiGEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

to Paterson and thence to Jersey City, there was no question but that
Ridgewood would ultimately be on the Erie map. There w^ere men
in New Jersey who held this belief and who were far-seeing enough to
obtain charters for two railroads; one, the Ramapo and Paterson Rail-
road from Paterson to the State line at Suffern; the other, the Paterson
and Hudson River Railroad from Jersey City to Paterson. The latter
was built and opened in 1836. Tlie former was not built until it be-
came evident that the New York and Erie Railroad (now Erie) was
to be completed. The Ramapo and Paterson Railroad was built and
put in operation in 1848 as a single track road. Its terminus was only
a short distance from the New York and Erie Railroad at Suffern.
The charter of the New York and Erie Railroad did not permit it to
connect with a railroad running into any other State, and for more
than a year it ignored the existence of the New Jersey lines. It could
not prevent its passengers, however, from detraining at Suffern and
taking the shorter route to New York City, but it could and did dis-
criminate against the New Jersey route by making the fare to and from
Suffern the same as the fare to and from New York. Even after the
passage of a bill by the New York Legislature requiring all railroads
to provide proper facilities for connecting railroads, this discrimina-
tion continued. ITnder the new law the Union Railroad Company was
formed and a railroad was built from the Erie Station at Suffern to
the terminus of the Ramapo and Paterson. The New York and Erie
increased the speed of its trains and boats in the hope of competing
with this new connection, but ultimately gave in and in 1851 leased
each of the Jersey companies during the continuance of their charters.
Rockland County interests in New York State fought against this diver-
sion of trat¥ic from Piermont but were not successful.

The terminus of the Paterson and Hudson River Railroad in Jersey
City was just north of the present Pennsylvania Station, the route to
the terminus being .along the westerly side of the Palisades and through
the Pennsylvania Railroad cut into the city. Not until 1862 did it run
througli the tunnel to the present Erie Terminus in Jersey City.

Between the opening of the Paterson and Hudson Railroad in 1830
and the Ramapo and Paterson Railroad in 1848, the residents of Ridge-
wood and vicinity, when traveling to New York City, generally drove
to Paterson and took a train from the terminus of the Paterson and
Hudson River Railroad, then located at the corner of Grand and Main
Streets. The locomotives during the early days were not allowed within
the city limits and the trains were taken out to the city line by horses.

The second track through Ridgewood was laid in 1865 and the third
and fourth tracks in 1902 and 1903.

With the opening of the Paterson and Ramapo Railroad, two stop-
ping places were established in the vicinity of Ridgewood, one at Ho-
Ho-Kus and the other at Rock Road (Glen Rock). These were not
convenient, however, to the people of the vicinity, including their Para-
mus and Godwinville neighbors, and soon after the trains began stopping
at the Godwinville road crossing. The station was called Godwinville
after the nearest hamlet. Cornelius Shuart was appointed station agent

112



PAST AND PRESENT



and served for a number of years. The present agent is Charles F.
Bechtlofft, who has served since March 11, 1896.

The first accommodation for the passengers at the new station was
an old car from the Paterson and Hudson River Railroad, Avith seats
cross-wise like a Concord coach and Avith doors on the side.

Later the property south of Ridgewood Avenue came into the pos-
session of Cornelius IMabe.v, Avho built a house in the rear of where the
Hutton Building now stands. For a number of years one room of this
house was used as a waiting-room by the patrons of the railroad, a few
household chairs being used as seats. In 1859, however, these primitive
accommodations were abandoned for a station built by the residents.

In 1866 there were three stopping places in this vicinity, Ho-Ho-Kus,
Godwinville (Ridgewood) and Rock Road. The station at Rock Road
was a two-story building, the upper story being occupied as a residence
by the station agent, and was located on the north side of Rock Road
adjoining the tracks. The road at this time and for many years after-
wards Avas a broad gauge railroad. The cars Avere lighted by candles
and the conductors carried lanterns at night to enable them to see the
tickets. Occasionally commuters Avho rode Avitli a conductor Avith Avhom
they Avere especially pleased, Avould contribute to a fund to purchase
a sih^er-plated lantern Avhich Avould be presented to the popular official
with impressive ceremony. Commuters Avere fcAv in number and the
train service was very limited.

About 1868 the first train for Ncav York Avas at 6:39 A.M., the
second at 7:39, the third at about 8:12 and the fourth at 9 o'clock.
If a person did not take the 9 o'clock train it Avas necessary to Avait
until three o'clock, except in summer AA'hen there Avas a train at 11 A.M.
Commutation tickets Avere sold only in Ncav York. There Avere no block
signals and no air brakes. When approaching a station, the engineer
blcAV tAvo AA^histles and the brakeman Avent to the platform and applied
the brakes by hand. Richard W. HaAves commuted on the Erie Railroad


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Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 13 of 19)