Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

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

. (page 6 of 19)
Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 6 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

neglected to withdraw from the meeting, the constables of the town-
sliip were directed by the chairman of the meeting to put such person
in a place of confinement where he would be detained until the meet-
ing was ended.

Prior to 1841 the vote at the town meeting was taken by the rais-
ing of hands, separating the voters, or viva voce. In that year the
legislature directed, by special act, that the voting in Franklin Town-
ship should be by ballot.

The principal objects for which money Avas ordered raised by the
voters at the tOAvn meeting AA'ere for the support of the poor, the
building and repairing of pounds, the destruction of noxious AA'ild
animals and birds, the opening, making, AA^orking and repairing of
I'oads, and prosecuting and defending the common rights of the toAA^n-

The qualified voters of the toAvn meeting made and ordered such
}-egulations and by-laAvs as a majority of them so assembled might
think proper for the improving of their common land in tillage, pastur-
age or in any other way, and directed the use, management and times



of using their coiniuon lands, and elected five '"Judicious Freeholders"
(property owners of judgment) as the township committee, which upon
the first election (1876) consisted of Cornelius J. Bogert, N. R. Bunce,
Peter G. Hopper, Albert P. Hopper and Thomas Terhune. The other
original officers elected were Township Clerk, N. R. Bunce; Assessor,
John A. Marinus; Collector, James Zabriskie; Chosen Freeholder, G.
G. Van Dien; two Surveyors of the Highway, Overseers of the Poor,
Constables, three judicious Freeholders of good character as Commis-
sioners of Appeal in matters of taxation, and one reputable Free-
holder as Judge of Election. In some townships the Overseers of the
Highway were elected at the town meeting and in other townshii)s
l)y the several road districts.

The Township Committee was the governing body of the township.
Its members were required to be property owners and their duties
were largely ministerial. They examined, inspected and reported at
the town meetings the accounts and vouchers of township officers,
superintended the expending of moneys raised by taxation for the use
of the township, read at the town meeting the statement of the accounts
of the money expended in the township by the county Board of Chosen
Freeholders, and settled disputes in reference to partition fences.

The duties of the Assessor and of the Collector w^ere practically
the same as today. The Assessor was a member of the county Board
of Assessors, and as such adjusted the assessment between the various
municipalities and fixed the tax rate for county and state taxes. These
duties of the Assessor have in recent years been taken over by the
county Board of Taxation.

The roads at this time were laid out or altered by surveyors of
liighways. On application to the Court of Common Pleas of ten or
more freeholders, the Court appointed six surveyors of highways.
These surveyors or a majority of them met and determined upon the
necessity of the road and assessed the damages or benefits resulting
from the laying out or altering of the road, and directed the time
when the road should be opened or altered. Roads were opened and
repaired by the Overseers of the Highways. The Township Committee
assigned and appointed in writing to the Overseers of the Highway
their several limits and division of the highways within the township
for opening, working and repairing. Every person assessed for the
raising of money to open or repair the highways could work out his
tax or any part of it on giving notice to the Overseers within whose
limits or division he resided.

The powers and duties of the township officers were such as the
government of a farming community would require.

Village Trustees

The development of railroads changed the character of these com-
munities in Bergen County from farming to suburban, from sparsely
settled districts to thickly settled communities. These changes brought
with them many and dilificult municipal problems for solution, among
which were street improvements, water supply, sewerage, police and
fire protection. Although the township laws were amended from time



to time, the methods of township government were unsatisfactory and
were not suited to these changed conditions and not adapted to the
solution of these problems. Prior to the new state constitution of
1875, special charters were granted to cities and many other munici-
palities. After that date the Legislature sought by general statute to
provide for the government of municipalities.

In 1878 the Legislature provided for the formation, in a township
or part of a township, of boroughs not exceeding four square miles
each; in 1891 it provided for the organization from a township or
part of a township of villages whose population should be at least
300 inhabitants for each square mile. These municipalities were created
after an election held to determine whether the territorj^ described in
the application should be incorpoi-ated as a borough or a village. Orig-
inally both the borough and the village remained a part of the town-
ship for certain purposes, notably for the election of a county Free-
holder. The villages voted with the township in the election of the
Collector and the Assessor. A short time prior to the year 1893
boroughs were permitted to include within their limits a portion of
one or more townships.

In the last mentioned year the Legislature provided that unless a
borough contained a portion of two municipalities, it could not have
a Chosen Freeholder. A large number of boroughs were then formed
in Bergen County, caching taking a portion of two or more townships in
order to have a representative in the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The boroughs of Midland Park and Glen Rock each had included
within their territories a portion of the Township of Ridgewood. In
order to prevent further reduction in the territory and to provide a
more suitable government, on the twenty-seventh day of September,
1894, a petition was presented to Judge Van Valen, Law Judge of
the Court of Common Pleas of the County of Bergen, to fix a time
and place for an election, to submit to the voters the question of
incorporating the remaining portion of the township into a village.
The election was held Noveml)er 15, 1895, and resulted in a vote of
277 for the incorporation and 62 against it. The township at that
time was composed of about 5i/^ square miles, with an assessed valua-
tion of real estate of al)out $1,000,000 and a population of about 2,200.
The new governing body of the village was a Board of Trustees of
five members, Milton T. Richardson, H. E. Hopper, Joseph W. Ed-
wards, Dr. Geo. M. Ockford, and W. J. Fullerton, who served without
compensation. The Board elected Mr. Richardson President and Mr.
Fullerton Treasurer, who thus became respectively the President and
Treasurer of the village. The other officers of the village. Village
Clerk, Village Counsel, Street Superintendent, and Policemen, were
appointed by the Board of Trustees and held office at the pleasure of
the Board. The village Trustees had exclusive jurisdiction over the
streets within the limits of the village and had power to lay out,
widen, and vacate streets and provide for their lighting; to create a
police and fire department; to construct sewers and drains and other
street improvements; to license and regulate public hacks, peddlers and
hucksters; and to cause to be raised by taxation every year such sums



of money as they deemed expedient for the current expenses of the
village. Their important legislative power in the village was exercised
in drawing up, considering, and passing of ordinances. The Assessor,
Collector and Chosen Freeholder of the township still continued to
act for the village, and the Township Committee performed certain
formal duties within the village. In the year 1896 the legislature
abolished the Township Committee for the Township and Village of
Ridgewood, vesting the powers of the Committee in the Board of

In 1912 the offices of township Clerk, Assessor and Collector were
abolished and the governing body was authorized to appoint a Collector
and an Assessor for the village.

The Village of Ridgewood was governed by a Board of Trustees
for seventeen years. During this time many municipal propositions
for the improvement and development of the village were acted upon
by the Trustees. A system of sewers Avas constructed, public franchises
for water, gas and telephone were granted, and many street improve-
ments were made. The last Board of Trustees consisted of Frederick
H. Bogert, President ; George F. Braekett, Jolui J. Lannuier, Joseph H.
Martin, and James H. Snyder.

Village Commissioners

The endeavor to secure greater efficiency in the administration of
municipal affairs in this state resulted in the passing by the legislature
of 1911 of what is known as the Walsh or Commission Form of Gov-
ernment Act.

Consideration of the adoption of the commission form of govern-
ment is left to the voters of any community at an election called for
that purpose. The Village of Ridgewood was among the first to adopt
the new act. The petition for an election was presented to the village
Clerk, and an election was held on the second day of September, 1911.
This election resulted in the adoption of the new form of government.
On the seventh day of November, 1911, Daniel A. Garber, George U.
White, and Frederick Pfeifer were elected Commissioners of the Village
of Ridgewood, and on the fourteenth day of November, 1911, the new
government was organized.

While the Village still continues to be governed by the laws relating
to a village, the methods of administration of Village affairs was changed
by the adoption of the commission form of government. The number
of Commissioners is determined by the population. Municipalities hav-
ing a population of 10,000 or over have five Commissioners; under
10,000, such as Ridgewood, the number of Commissioners is three. The
powers of the Commissioners are determined by the village act. The
method of procedure remains the same as under the Board of Village
Trustees except as modified by the law relating to commission govern-
ments. Some of the distinctive provisions of the new form of gov-
ernment are as follows:

(1) A special day is appointed for the election of Commissioners
other than the general election day ; preferential ballot is used and
party politics practically is eliminated from the election.



(2) The Commissioners are elected for a term of four years; the
terms of all Commissioners to expire at the same time. All other
officers are appointed by the Commissioners.

(3) The right of Recall is exercised by the voters, who possess the
right by petition to require any Commissioner, if he desires to continue
as Commissioner, to run again for the office at a special election called
for that purpose.

(4) The legal voters possess the right of Initiative. By petition
they may require any ordinance to be passed, amended, or repealed
by the Commissioners, or else to be submitted to the voters for their

(5) The legal voters possess the right of Referendum. By petition
they may require any ordinance passed by the Commissioners to be
repealed or else to be submitted to the vote of the people.

In order to safeguard this right of Referendum, no ordinance takes
effect until ten days after its final passage, unless it is an ordinance
for the immediate preservation of tlie public peace, health, or safety.

(6) Each member of the Board has particular work to perform.

Upon its organization, one member is elected mayor, and he there-
upon becomes the presiding officer. The Mayor ex-offieio is director
of the department of public affairs and public safety.

By a majority vote of the Board, one of the remaining members is
appointed director of the department of revenue and finance. Upon
him falls, in addition to the duties of his department, the duty of acting
as presiding officer in the absence of the mayor. The other member is
appointed director of the department of streets and public improve-
ments, parks and public pi'operty.

(7) In transacting the business of the municipality, every resolu-
tion or ordinance must be reduced to writing and read before the vote
is taken. The yea and nay vote must be recorded and the resolutions
and ordinances signed by a majority of the members of the Board.

Resolutions and ordinances providing for the appropriation of
money for street improvements, and for granting franchises are re-
quired before final passage to remain on file with the clerk for two
weeks for public inspection. No franchise is granted except by ordi-
nance which must be publislied before final passage and receive the
api)roval of a majority of all members.

(8) The mayor receives a salary of one thousand dollars and the
other commissioners salaries of seven hundred fifty dollars each.

(9) The Board is required to hold regular meetings at least once
each week. These meetings and the record of their proceedings are
open to the public.

The Board of Commissioners appoint the subordinate officers and
boards for the Village. The most important of the present village
officials are : Village Clerk and Collector, Wilbur Morris ; Assessor, Louis
IT. Kroder; Engineer, F. W. Simonds; Recorder, P. V. Watson ; Cinm-
sel, J. W. De Yoe. Tlie names of other officers, such as the Superin-
tendent of Streets, Superintendent of Police and members of that de-
partment. Chief of Fire Department and members of that department,
Board of Health and Shade Tree Commission, are sliown in the chapter



of this book which relates to the particular department or commission.
Each officer, department, and board has specific duties to perform in
the successful working of the local self-government.

The commission form of government has succeeded to a large degree
in eliminating partisan politics from public affairs in the municipalities
which have adopted it. It is particularly successful in bringing about
]irompt and efficient action in the jniblic business of the community.


Upon the adoption of the commission form of government by the
Village and the election of Commissioners in 1911, D. A. Garber, who
received the largest number of votes for Commissioner, was elected by
the other Commissioners at their oi'ganization meeting as Mayor of the
Village. Upon his re-election as Commissioner in 1915 he was again
chosen as Mayor.

The Mayor is the chief Executive officer of the Village and it is his
dut}^ to see that the ordinances of the Village are properly enforced.

He is also the chief guardian of the peace of the Village. He has
power to suppress riots and when necessary may call upon the county
or state authorities for aid.

As the titular head of the Village, the Mayor represents the numici-
pality on public occasions. Because of his position the people look to
him not only to safeguard the community's present interests, but also
to plan and to suggest such changes and improvements as will provide
for their future civic welfare.


Under the direction of the Mayor, this department protects the lives
and the property of the citizens against vice, crime, and destruction.
In performing its functions, it is divided into the following sub-depart-
ments: Police, Fire, Board of Health, Shade Tree Commission, and
Building Committee.


The functions of the police force arc mainly, the enforcement of
law, preservation of the peace, protection of life and property, tlie
arrest of all violators of the law, and the prevention and detection of
crime. Other duties are incidental ; but all must be performed with
energy, discretion, promptness, and fidelity.

It is the duty of the Police Department and every member of the
force, at all times of the day or night, especially to preserve the peace,
to prevent crime, and to detect and arrest offenders ; to suppress riots,
mobs, and insurrections ; to disperse unlawful or dangerous assemblages
and crowds Avhich obstruct the free passage of public streets, sidewalks,
parks, or other places; to protect the rights of persons and property;
to safeguard the public health; to preserve order at all meetings and
assemblages; and to regulate and control the movements of all vehicles
in the streets and public ]ilaces.

It is their duty also to remove all nuisances in the public streets, parks



and highways; to arrest all mendicants and beggars; to provide proper
police regulation at fires ; to assist, advise, and protect strangers and
travelers on the public highways and at all railroad stations ; carefully
to observe and to inspect all places of public amusement and places of
l)usiness having licenses to carry on a particular business; to repress
and restrain all unlawful and disorderly conduct or practices; to enforce
the observance of all Village laws and ordinances; and for these pur-
poses to arrest all persons guilty of violating any existing law or ordi-
nance for the suppression or punishment of crimes or offences.

During the early ninety's the citizens of Ridgewood were without
adequate police protection and suffered to such an extent from robberies
that in consequence a number of citizens, headed by Joseph W. Edwards,
formed an organization called the Village Protective Association. This
Association held monthly meetings. Its members furnished not only
tlie funds necessary to hire at first one man to do police patrol work
and later others, but they were subject to call for purposes of protection
when need arose.

The first real police force was organized in 1892 and continued
under the direction of the Village Protective Association until the Vil-
lage Trustees took over their work.

Peter Pulis was sworn in as a special officer on July 1, 1897. At
that time the force included James E. Houlihan and James Ham-
mond. On October 1, 1897, Mr. Pulis was appointed Chief of Police,
and on October 31st the other two men were relieved from service.
Ohief Pulis continued as the only member of the force until ]\Iarch 1,
1903, when two additional men were placed under his authority. Since
til at time the force has been gradually increased to a present member-
ship of ten men, including a Police Clerk, first appointed on June 1,

During the lattei' ])art of 191;"), the Commissioners, deeming it wise
to place tlie dei)artment under a Superintendent of Police, selected for
tliis office Robert Groves, for over thirty-two years a member of the
Police Department of the City of New York and appointed him to the
position to take office on January 1, 1916. Chief Pulis resigned his
position on February 1, 1916.

The force at present consists of a Supei'intendent of Police, one
Sei'geant, seven pati'olmen, a clerk and a German slie])herd ])olice dog.
Police dogs Avere first used in Ridgewood in 1913.

Ridgewood 's fii-st lock-u]) for law-breakers was in an old stone lumse
located on the summit of tlie rise on the west side of the railroad tracks
and south of the present Play House. Later a small wooden shack on
Rock Avenue (now Broad Street) was erected and used for this purpose.
In 1898, The Village Improvement Association, as a result of complaints
regarding the conditions existing in the jail, Avhich, when unoccupied,
was used as a shelter for stray dogs, aroused the citizens to provide a
new building which was erected just back of the present Municipal
Building. This building was e(|uip])ed under the supervision of the
Humane Committee of tlie Association. Wlien the Municipal Building
Avas built, rooms Avere provided in it for police headquarters and for the




The chief duty of the Fire Department is to extinguish fires. A
very important secondary duty is the prevention of fires. Fire pre-
vention is made effective in a variety of ways. A building code specifies
certain principles of construction to which all new buildings must
conform. Inspection of all buildings in process of construction insures
observance of the building code regulations. Fire zone restrictions limit
the use of wooden construction in the more thickly built up sections of
the community. Periodic inspection is made of the buildings used for
public gatherings with the result that the fire hazards are greatly re-
duced. Further service is rendered by the Department by the assign-
ment of firemen in uniform to attend public gatherings so that any
emergency of fire or panic may be promptly and effectively handled.


The history of the Fire Department of Ridgewood, like that of other
departments of tlie community, is the story of a gradual development
as the needs of the community have demanded increased service.

Ridgewood in its existence as a municipality has suffered from only
five serious fires. All occurred before the department was placed upon
an efficient basis.

The first fire of importance was the destruction in 1876 of the Ridge-
wood Avenue Hotel, which stood on the site of the Rouclere House.

On March 9, 1881, a fire, starting in a barn used l)y J. J. Bogert for
the storage of hay and located just northwest of the present IMunicipal
Building, destroyed the adjacent Franklin Hotel facing on Ridgewood
Avenue. Sweeping west on Ridgewood Avenue, it also destroyed a
blacksmith and wheelwright shop on the site of the present Ryerson
Building. Continuing southward on Broad Street, it destroyed several
small out-buildings and Whritnour and Colfax's store located on the site
now occupied by the feed and grain building of E. B. Van Horn. The
Masonic Hall of those days occupied the upper floor of Whritnour and
Colfax's building.

The next fire occurred in April, 1889. It started in a small building
in the rear of the Shuart Building, now the site of the Hutton Building.
After destroying the Shuart Building, it consumed Crouter's Meat
Market, adjoining, and two feed stores on Broad Street at the rear of
the Zabriskie (now Moore) Building, which was also slightly damaged.

A row of one-story stores, commencing at the present site of the
Post Office on Prospect Street and continuing to the corner of Hudson
Street, was destroyed by fire on March 11, 1899.

The last fire of serious consequences occuri-ed on March 21, 1900.
It originated in a coal cellar in the rear of Tice's Drug Store located in
tlie Pioneer Building (a three-story bi'ick building) at the corner of
Ridgewood Avenue and Chestnut Street. It destroyed the Pioneer
Building and the next two on Ridgewood Avenue, a three-story and a
one-story frame structure.







The fire of 1881, followed by the one in 1889, aroused the citizens
to discuss the need of better protection against fire. The only method
of combating fire in vogue at that time was the volunteer bucket brigade.

Some years later a meeting, on the evening of March 3, 1896, fruit-
ful of results, was held in the Opera House. The meeting was attended
by George R. Young, J. H. Christopher, I. E. Hutton, R. M. Bridgeman,
Frank Baxter, Dr. G. Oekford, J. I. Bogert, E. A. Breusch, George
Blauvelt, J. Houlihan and W. H. La Fetra. Committees were appointed
to plan the organization of a fire department and to examine apparatus
wdth a view to its purchase.

Subsequent meetings were held and on March 25th an ordinance
organizing a fire department w^as presented to the village trustees and
was adopted by that body on May 13th. An appropriation of two
thousand dollars was authorized at a General Election of the citizens
held in April for the purchase of fire-fighting apparatus. The first
Chief of the Department, Dr. Walter Van Emburgh, was appointed
on October 7, 1896.

The Department was formally organized during the early part of
January, 1897, as Protection Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, with
sixty-eight members enrolled. In 1905, the word "Protection" was
dropped from its name and it has since been known as Hook and Ladder
Company No. 1.

Following the organization of the company, i>lans were discussed
for a building properly to house the a])paratus and to serve also as a
meeting-place for the members. A contract for a two-story building
on the present site of the Municipal Building on Hudson Street was

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 6 of 19)