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Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

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

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received; in other words, the revenue from taxes paid in December
of each year is used to pay the expenses of that year : thus the Village
is forced to borrow money in anticipation of taxes.

58



PAST AND PRESENT



When Eidgewood adopted Coniinission Government, the department
of revenue and finance established a proper system of booklceeping.
Each year it is required to have a complete audit made of all books
and vouchers.

Mr. George U. White is the present Commissioner acting as the
head of the department, a position Avhich he has held since its estab-
lishment in 1911.



DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, PARKS AND PUBLIC PROPERTY

Physical Improvements

The first sidewalk "laid" in Ridgewood was a substantial one of
wood and was built by the firm of Zabriskie & Hawses in the early
70 's. This sidewalk ran from the corner of Ridgewood and Broad
Streets, south on Broad Street and turning the corner of Dayton
Street it continued to and across Prospect Street to the residence of
Mr. Hawes, which w-as located in an open meadow and now stands
on Dayton Street opposite the Reformed Church. The "tide of travel"
quickly turned from Prospect Street to the station through the mud
and the sidewalk w^as worn out by the general public or burned for
kindling w^ood. Mr. Joseph W. Edwards and other residents at this
time also laid wooden sidewalks along their properties whicli were all
later superseded by stone walks.

Up to about 1880 no organized attempt had been made to improve
the sanitary conditions of the Village. About that time one of our
citizens felt that conditions threatened a serious epidemic of typhoid
fever. The section between Broad and Prospect Streets, composed of
bog and thickets of brush, Avas like a swamp on a hill. The cesspools
and the wells kept at about the same level. The danger of inter-
communication was apparent. Then occurred the first concentrated
effort to better the conditions. Two owners of considerable property
in that section planned to improve its value. A drain about five feet
deep had previously been run through Broad and Hudson Streets
across Prospect Street and through the Opera House site to Ridge-
wood Avenue and Oak Street, draining into a bog on the north side
of Ridgewood Avenue to the region of the present Franklin Avenue
and beyond, into an area afterwards occupied by the lumber yards
of G. G. Van Dien. It was proposed to dig this drain to a depth of
tw^elve or fifteen feet. This was done, and a cutting was made through
the hard-pan that formed the bed and the rim of the basin of the
swamp. Immediately the water in the wells dropped ten feet in level;
its quality was changed and the danger that threatened the settlement
was averted. Hundreds of cart-loads of dirt were afterwards dumped
into the Ridgewood-Franklin Avenue bog until it disappeared.

Attention began now to be given to a better organization of the
work of maintenance and improvement of the roads. All road Avork
had been handled Avithout any system. The "Path Master" might
spend quite a sum of money on certain portions of the road, only to
ha\'e his Avork undone by his successor, AA'ho had other ideas of im-

59



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

provenient. Under such a system, consistent progress was impossible.
Following the efforts of John A. Marinus, however, a ]>lan was adopted
of emj)loying an engineer who should direct all work to the accom-
plishment of a fixed and unchanging purpose.

Later, through the persistent efforts of Isaac E. Uutton, Ridge-
wood Avenue was graded, Avith a cut of about ten feet at Irving Street,
and with the consequent result that the surface water was drained
naturally to the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook.

The people of the Village have made constant progress in improv-
ing the roads and streets. In 1866 the first Village streets were laid
out. In 1888 the principal streets were macadamized. As a pioneer of
macadamized roads the Village made expenditure in 1892 of $30,000,
and made its streets second to none in the State. The permanent
improvement of Maple Avenue during 1915, and the laying of brick
pavement in the streets about the railroad station in 1914 and 1916,
are described elsewhere in this book.

Establishment of Department

Previous to the establishment of an organized dc])artment of the
Village to care for such matters, The Village Improvement Associa-
tion, through its Street Committee, in 1898, inaugurated the use of
receptacles for the disposition of rubbish on the Village streets. Six
receptacles w^ere placed on the street corners of the main thoroughfare.

During the same year the association was instrumental in securing
the passage of an ordinance preventing store sweepings from being
emptied upon the sidewalks and into the streets. In 1901 the asso-
ciation engaged a man to sweep the main street of the Village two
days a week, and later started the street sprinkling system.

With the adoption in 1911 of Commission Government, the Depart-
ment of Public Improvements, Parks and Public Property was estab-
lished, first under the direction of Commissioner Frederick Pfeift'er,
and upon the expiration of his term of office in 1915, under the direc-
tion of the new Commissioner, Dr. J. B. Hopper. Mr. F. W. Simonds
is Village Engineer and Mr. J. D. Carlock is Superintendent of Streets
and Sewers.

This department is responsible for the maintenance of all Village
streets, of storm and sanitary sewers and of the sewage pumping
plants and disposal system. It plans and constructs all new streets,
sewers, curbs, gutters and sidewalks, when laid out and built by the
Village. It attends to the purchase of all supplies and materials
used in its work. It controls the Village yard and railroad spur on
Chestnut Street. It has a steam-roller and seven horses for use in
its work, four of the horses being used also for hauling the fire appa-
ratus when called to fires. An automobile is furnished the Superin-
tendent of Streets for use in connection with his duties.

The department is also responsible for the construction of all build-
ings, in accordance with the provisions of the building code, and for
the care of parks and public property other tlian that assigned to
another particular department.

60



PAST AND PRESENT



The Village Engineer

The Village Engineer has active charge of the department and
makes periodical reports to the Commissioner directing the depart-
ment. He makes surveys and investigations; he designs all construc-
tion work and draws the necessary specifications; he is responsible
for all contract work done for the Village and keeps a record of ex-
penditures of the department classified so as to show actual and unit
costs for all work done by the Village.

The Superintendent of Streets and Sewers

The Superintendent of Streets and Sewers reports to the Village
Engineer and acts as the immediate head of all employes in the de-
partment. He is responsible for the carrying out of all work done
by the Village in accordance with his specific instructions.

Sewer System

The department has in its care approximately nineteen miles of
sewer pipe and two sewer plants, one located on the west side, which
acts as a pumping station, and another on the east side, constructed
in 1903, which contains a large septic tank to which the pipe system
first conducts the sewage. Here the bulk of the organic matter is
])recipitated and retained. It is then subjected to a bacterial action,
which disintegrates and consumes it. The overflow of water is con-
ducted to filter beds of coke covered with crushed stone. It is there
purified and is then discharged into a stream running from the Village.

Sixty-one flush tanks have been installed at the dead ends of sewers.
Once every twenty-four hours they automatically flush the sewer lines
to which they are connected.

The cost of maintaining the sewage system, including wages of two
men on day and two on night duty, expenditure for electric power
at the pumping station, and expenses of repairs and up-keep of both
plants, amounts approximately to $1.00 per inhabitant per year.

ADVISORY BOARD

With the establishment of the Commission form of Government in
1911, the newly elected Commissioners deemed it to be in keeping
with the spirit of that form of government to invite the formation
of a body of citizens into an Advisory Board who would meet with
the Commissioners from time to time for the discussion of problems
of public interest and their best mode of solution.

The present Board consists of George F. Brackett. De Witt Clinton,
Jr., T. J. Foster, W. J. Fullerton, Bavlv Hipkins, Frederick Pfeiffer.
Franz Schwartz, J. H. Snyder, S. S. Walstrum, II. G. White, and
J. D. Van Emburgh. Wliile this Advisory Board has no legal standing
in the government of the Village, the opinions and counsel of its
members are of great value, not only to the Commissioners in deter-
miniiig the policies to be ])ursued in public affairs, l)ut also to every
citizen of Kidgewood, who ])rofi1s l)y a wise and efficient administra-
tion of the public business.

61



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

ADMINISTRATION OP JUSTICE

The administration of justice, through the courts of law, is one
of the most solemn and important exercises of the powers of govern-
ment. The government which we have adopted in this country by
the free choice of the people is based upon the absolute independence
of the judicial department. The courts stand for the protection of
rights, for the redressing of wrongs, for the punishment of crime.
They are the great safeguards of the freedom of the people; hence
we clothe these institutions with dignity and invest them with im-
pressive formalities that they may be duly granted the respect and
obedience which are due their exalted prerogatives and powers.

The judicial functions of the Village of Ridgewood are performed
by three courts: The Court of Common Pleas, located in Hackensack
and commonly known as the County Court; the District Court of
Ridgewood, and the Recorders' Court.

Court of Common Pleas

Baron Van der Cappellen established a Court of Union Hill for
the purpose of settling differences between the Indians and white set-
tlers. The exact date of its institution has never been ascertained.

In 1655 Adrian Post was appointed by Van der Cappellen as his
deputy to "treat with the Hackensack Indians for the release of pris-
oners"; later, in 1657, a treaty was made with the Indians, through
another deputy, Van Dincklogen, which provided, among other things,
for the "submission of disputed matters to the Courts of Justice at
Hospating, near Hackensack."

For nine years, from 1652 to 1661, and possibly longer, the Court
of Burgomasters and Schepens exercised active operation. A local
Court, consisting of a Schout (presiding judge) and three Schepens,
or magistrates, was established at Bergen in September, 1661. This
Court had civil and criminal jurisdiction, and any appeal from its
decisions was made to the Director-General and Counsel at Manhattan.

In 1683 the twenty- four proprietors responsible for "The Fun-
damental Constitutions for the Province of East New Jersey in Amer-
ica." decreed that neither "justice nor right should be bought or sold"
and that "all tryals should be by twelve men, and, as near as it may
be, peers and equals"; also that "in cases of life there shall be at
first twenty- four returned by the sheriff* for a grand inquest". It
thus appears that our present jury system (grand and petit) was
securely established at that early period in the history of American
jurisprudence. Indeed it has been practically maintained without
serious change, notwithstanding the constantly changing influences
affecting the life of the people.

On Mav 14, 1688, an Act, passed by the General Assembly con-
vened at Perth Amboy, provided for a "Court for Trial of Small
Causes". This Court was to be held monthly at the house of Law-
rence Andriss at New Hackensack, the name by which the settlement
on the west side of the Hackensack River was tlien known, the terri-
tory on the east side of the river being distinguished as "Old Hack-

62



PAST AND PRESENT



cnsack". A similar Court convened at the house of Dr. Johannes, on
the Haekensaek River.

Prior to 1709 Bergen County did not include within its boundaries
the territory west of the Haekensaek River. In that year the lines
of the county were extended, and the county lying west of the Haek-
ensaek River admitted. The Village of Haekensaek became the County
seat, and there the first Court house was built. This edifice stood on
"The Green", near Main Street. It was destroyed by the British
in 1780.

In 1704 the Supreme Court of this State was established by Lord
Cornbury.

The second Court house and a jail were built in Youghpough, in
Franklin Township, during the Revolution.

The third Court house of Bergen County, the first after the Rev-
olution, was built at Haekensaek, near Main Street, on property which
later belonged to Richard Paul Terhune. A clerk's office was built
about 1812 on the west side of Main Street, north of the Susquehanna
Railroad, and remained until 1853. In 1819 the fourth Court house
was built on property deeded by Robert Campbell. It was enlarged
several times, and in 1892 was reconstructed.

On July 6, 1910, was laid the corner-stone of the present County
Court House on Main Street, Haekensaek.

The administrative system of Common Law reaching down to us
from colonial times, had its origin in the Common Law of England.
Though modifications in forms and in practice are made from time
to time to meet the requirements of modern changing conditions, yet
the fundamental principles of the law, founded as they are on inherent
rights, continue substantially unchanged from generation to generation.
The tendency of our day is toward simplification of pleadings and
practice. In the place of the dozen judges formerly required as essen-
tial to rule our County Court a single judge now presides with marked
efficiency.

In the earlier days most of the judges officiating in the Court of
Common Pleas were not lawyers, but for many years it has been the
invariable custom to select the presiding judge from the ranks of men
who have taken their legal degree.

Ridgcwood has had the honor of representation on the bench of
this Court when Honorable David D. Zabriskie served as its judge
from 1898 to 1908.

District Court

The District Court ranks as one of Ridgewood's most useful insti-
tutions. It has jurisdiction over the whole of Bergen County and
supersedes the "ancient and honorable" Court of Justice of the Peace.

There are three District Courts for the County, and these have
their court rooms located as follows:

First District in the City of Englewood; Second District in the
Borough of Rutherford; Third District in the villages of Haekensaek
and Ridgewood.

63



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

The judges of these Courts frequently exchange courtesies by hold-
ing court for one another. As the reader is, naturally, interested more
particularly in what concerns Ridgewood, the Third District Court
only will be referred to.

This Court was created by an Act of the Legislature of this State
entitled "An Act to incorporate the Third Judicial District of the
County of Bergen". This was passed April 11, 1908, and took effect
January 1, 1909.

The territory assigned to the jurisdiction of this Court, as defined
by the Act creating it, embraces that portion of Bergen County reach-
ing from New York State line on the north to Garfield and Rutherford
on the south, and from the Hackensack River on the east to the Passaic
County line on the west.

With a view of avoiding possible inconvenience and annoyance that
the extensive population over this wide territory might be subjected
to, the Legislature decreed that Court should be held in two different
places in this District. Hackensack and Ridgewood were thus chosen.

The Court has commodious court rooms in the County Court House
at Hackensack and in the Trust Company Building at Ridgewood.
At first the Ridgewood Court held its sessions in Prospect Hall but
two years later moved to its present quarters.

The regular Court days are : Tuesday in Ridgewood ; Friday in
Hackensack. Special days for jury trials are set by the judge.

Judge Cornelius Doremus was the first judge to hold this Court.
He was appointed by Governor Fort on January 18, 1909, to serve
for a term of five years. He occupied the bench for the full term,
and was succeeded by Judge Peter W. Stagg, the present incumbent.

The Court has civil jurisdiction only. Criminal cases are tried
elsewhere.

It is a busy Court ; each session lists a long calendar of landlord
and tenant cases, actions for breacli of contract, accident suits, actions
to enforce ordinances, and similar actions other than those involving
offenses against criminal laws, and eqiiity cases. It is essentially what
is popularly described as ''The People's Court". Its sessions con-
tinue the year round and by its expeditious trial of cases at a mini-
mum of cost to litigants, has well deserved its popular title.

Its reputation and importance are further evidenced by the large
volume of business brought to it. The majority of the cases are tried
by the judge without a jury. The court opens promptly at 9 :30 in
the forenoon and continues in session until all cases marked "ready"
are disposed of. Frequently a court day lasts until six o'clock, often
later.

The Court officials consist of a judge, clerk, assistant clerk, ser-
geant-at-arms, and stenographer. Judson B. Salisbury of Ridgewood
has acted as clerk of the Court almost since its organization.

The old saying, "The Law's Delay", has no application to this
particular Court. Usually not more than two weeks are occupied from
the presentation of a case to the rendering of a decision. There are
sixteen fixed rules governing the Court's procedui-e, l)esides the "Gen-
eral Rules of Practise" fixed by the statutes of the State.

64



PAST AND PRESENT



During the first five years of the existence of the Court, upward
of six thousand suits were introduced and disposed of in Hackensack
and Ridgewood, and not one per cent of these were appealed to the
Supreme Court.

The Court is already well advanced in its second five-year term.
"The Court of the People" is one of the institutions of which Ridge-
wood is justly proud.

Recorder's Court

This Court was established by the Village Commissioners on April
28, 1914, under the authority conferred upon them by an act of the
Legislature of the State of New Jersey entitled "A supplement to an
act — An Act for the formation and government of Villages — approved
February 23rd, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety-one", ap-
proved March 26, 1914.

The act provides that "Such recorder shall have the same juris-
diction, power, and authority in criminal matters, affiliation proceed-
ings, relief, removal and settlement of the poor, breaches of the peace,
vagrancy and disorderly conduct, and violation of the numicipal or-
dinances, as are now conferred upon justices of peace in this State".

On the date first mentioned the Village Commissioners appointed
Frederick V. Watson, Counsellor-at-Law of the State of New Jersey,
practising in this Village, as its recorder for a term of four years.
Prior to the institution of this Court recorder's duties were exercised
by justices of peace, who were elected by the people by popular vote.
Dr. George M. Ockford, the present Village Postmaster, then a justice
of peace, formerly acted in this capacity for this community.

The Recorder's Court has jurisdiction in all matters specifically
conferred by statute, other than the above mentioned, notably for
violations of the laws applying to the use and operation of motor
vehicles.

The Recorder is also a peace officer. He has the power to commit
to the county jail, to await the action of the prosecutor as to admission
to bail or retention in such county jail, all persons charged with any
serious violation of the criminal statutes of this State. Since persons
charged can waive such hearing if they so desire and be committed
forthwith, or they may make a statement, the recorder's duty requires
him to investigate whether or not they have committed the breach of
the criminal statute charged. Should he find reasonable grounds for
assuming that they have committed such violation, it is his dutv to
commit them forthwith, and rest the final outcome upon the decision
of the prosecutor and the grand jury of the county.

Bar of Ridgewood

The stoi'y of the judicial institutions in which the citizens of Ridge-
wood are interested would be incomnlete without at least some refer-
ence to those of the legal profession who have, at various times,
represented our residents in the Courts.

As in other activities of the community, the legal business of the citi-
zens was taken care of by lawyers having offices in nearby communities,

65



RIDGEWOOD, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

principally in Hackensack, where the County Court had been estab-
lished and which offered an attractive sphere for their calling.

The increase in population and the growth of the community in
the last years have brought a number of the legal profession to the
Village. While a few of these maintain offices in Hackensack and
New York City, those who have offices in the Village at the present
time, are the following. The year recorded after each name respec-
tively indicates the time of establishing practice.

Judge David D. Zabriskie 1884

Judge Cornelius Doremus 1887

John B. Zabriskie 1904

Frederick V. Watson 1907

George V. Halsey 1909

Grant C. Fox 1911

Lewis R. Conklin 1913

Clyde A. Bogert 1915



66



CHAPTER IV

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND THE
PUBLIC LIBRARY

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

TO one who is interested in the present public school system of
Ridgewood there is a certain fascination in tracing its growth
from small beginnings. Today there are six different centers,
where 64 teachers are engaged in the work of educating our 1,600
children. The system is administered by a Board of Education, elected
by the citizens, the present personnel of which are : — Dr. H. S. Willard,
President; E. B. Lilly, Vice-President; Hadley Ford, Clerk; A. Frank
Halsted, E. M. Bull and D. R. Bacon.

Standing on Harrison Avenue near the Paramus Church, a little,
one-room churchlike structure, disused since the Kenilworth School
was built, was for many years the place where the lamp of knowledge
was kept aglow in the Paramus region by a long succession of school-
masters and schoolmistresses.

Four other schools had preceded the present building on approxi-
mately the same site. The first, used in the year following the Treaty
of Peace that established the independence of the United States, was
formerly a dwelling-house. It was located about fifty feet southeast
of the present Paramus Church building, a slight depression of the
earth still marking the spot. This building was itself the successor
of a still earlier schoolhouse built in that vicinity.

In 1810 a change became necessary and a small stone house was
erected for school purposes near the sexton's house of the Paramus
Church.

In 1820 a second stone school building was erected about two
hundred feet east of the present structure. This, in 1845, gave place
to a frame building near the same ground. It was used until 1871,
when the present building was erected.

It is interesting to note that the supervision of schools rested witli
the church authorities until the civil powers took over their admin-
istration.

On Midland Avenue there is in present use an attractive school
building the predecessor of which, a hundred years ago, stood on
Paramus Road between Ridgewood Avenue and Grove Street. In these
two schools, for generations, the little Dutch children from the scat-
tered farms studied their A B C's and applied themselves to the
mastery of the three R's.

Several miles to the west of Paramus, beyond the fields and wood
of the Van Emburgh farm, the little Village of Godwinville had come
into existence a hundred yeai-s ago on the heights just beyond the
western borders of the present Ridgewood. Here, on the Goffle Road
between the present Midland Park Railroad station and the brook,
stood a little brownstone school where Dutch and English were com-

67



PAST AND PRESENT



monly spoken. Part of a blacksmith shop, still standing, is the only
trace that remains of this old school. Children of a later day were
provided with more modern accommodations and better instruction in


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Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 8 of 19)