«HACKENSACK - HERITAGE TO HORIZONS PUBLISHED BY: THE HACKENSACK BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE TERRY LARK, EDITOR DR. IRWIN TALBOT, PHD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR ...»
In 1776 John Hopper was old enough to watch Washington and his ragged troops go straggling by in full retreat from Fort Lee. During the difficult days that followed he saw more armies on the road arid felt the pains of war as British or Hessian foraging parties confiscated cattle and other livestock so that John and the other Hopper children went without milk and good food.
John inherited the property and built a new house directly across the street for his wife Maria.
This house passed.down through the succeeding generations until 1937, when the elegant old mansion, said to have been part of the underground railway in the Civil War, became the New Venice Restaurant, now known as Guido's Restaurant (now known as Stony Hill Inn).
Dr. Powell, a 1923 graduate of Howard University Medical School, became the first black doctor in Hackensack. He opened his office on High Street, just off First and in time became an inspiration and source of pride to his people.
Nellie Morrow was to be the first black teacher in the Hackensack school system. A graduate of Hackensack High, she went on to Montclair for her college work. Before being graduated in 1922, she did her practice teaching at Fairmount School. When the time came to offer Nellie Morrow a teaching contract, it was so unusual to have a black teacher that repercussions resulted, the climax being the Jersey Ku-Klux-Klan's invasion of Hackensack with a fiery night parade when the news came out.
Mrs. Nellie Morrow Parker retired after more than 40 years of teaching in Hackensack and was honored and respected by all. Mrs. Parker's younger brother John Morrow, born in Hackensack in 1910 had a distinguished education. After his appointment as chairman of the department of foreign languages at Talladega College, he became the first American Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea in 1959.
E. Fredrick Morrow was born in Hackensack and wrote about his own "first" in his book Black Man in the White House, telling of the life and work he experienced as executive assistant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Also the author of the provocative, “Way Down South Up North,” Dr. Harriet L. Knox was the first woman to practice medicine in Hackensack and was one of the first women in Hackensack to buy an automobile. Her father, who had wished to be a doctor, encouraged Harriet -- after her service in the Spanish-American War as a Red Cross nurse -- to go to Cornell Medical School.
She did postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins University. After internship at Women's Hospital, Philadelphia, she looked for a place to settle. "Hackensack played a joke on me", she said, "I thought I was going to be in a country town. Look at it today." That was in 1957, after she had been in practice here for 60 years, and before Hackensack had many high-rise apartments.
“Wind-Jammers of the Hackensack" (another poem) is the title of a pamphlet in the Johnson Library that catches the imagination, and well worth reading today as when it was written in 1916 by Eugene K. Bird:
‘Wind-Jammer' is a derisive term applied to sailing vessels, and men employed on them, by those who claim the greater dignity of association with steam craft…" Wind-Jammers of the Hackensack were far different vessels -- they were piraguas, sloops and schooners -- unpretentious craft which nevertheless filled quite as important a place in their humble sphere as did the great argosies with towering masts and wonderful spread of canvas braving every stress of weather on the seven seas; even the uncouth (piragua)had its legitimate mission in former days, when it was frequently an object of interest moving sluggishly with the tide and such wind as could be induced to fill sail or sails.... So, with all its unromantic lines and general unattractiveness, the piragua was a picturesque object when seen across the meadows as"it moved upon the water with only mast and sail in view. The broad stretches of our swampland with thousands of acres of tall grass billowing in the summer breeze...have been a theme for many descriptive and poetic pens...” "Between these marshlands the Red Man paddled his birch bark or dugout canoe centuries before the wind-jammers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries sailed the waters of the crooked Hackensack…” The old-time boats were general freighters, especially on the return voyage, when they carried all manner of merchandise for individuals and stores as far up the Hackensack as the head of navigation at New Milford. There Jacob and Henry Van Buskirk had a noted grist mill, where grain was ground for individuals, and flour as well as animal feed were shipped in large quantities. In addition to groceries, muslins, boots, shoes, hardward, farming implements, liberal supplies of fire-water were shown on the manifests...But there is nothing surprising in this;
nearly everybody drank some form of liquor, and down to a much later date farm hands had their "little brown jub" of rum or applejack for companionship in hay and grainfield. Not all the strong drink came up the river, however; large consignments of applejack were shipped from Bergen County distilleries to New York City and the south, for it was then a famous beverage.
No book about Hackensack would be complete without a mention of Bogert’s Candy Kitchen. It must have been special to generate such loving recollections.
The ritual every New Year's Day saw hundreds of youngsters coming to the shop on Main Street to wish everyone a Happy New Year. They were usually rewarded with taffy or popcorn balls by Cornelius Bogert, who had been bound out as a youth for 4 years to learn the candy trade. High on the popularity list was taffy in various flavors. Another specialty was the hard candy called "clear toys" and made in forms of dogs, cats, goats, ladders,tiny tables, chairs, pipes, cups and saucers, pitchers, keys and even scissors in delicious gold and red colors. Of course there were chocolates and licorice, too, but those hard candy forms were important decorations on most Christmas trees at the turn of the century.
There is a lovely white house at 370 Summit Avenue. It is not only equally pleasing inside, but comes complete with memories of authors' discussions. This home was built by Joseph C.
Lincoln, who penned many charming stories of Cape Cod. Among his frequent visitors to Hackensack were friends Joyce Kilmer, author of "Trees", and William Sydney Porter -- better known as O.Henry -- wrote "The Luck of Roaring Camp", and many humorous short stories.
James McEachin served as a policeman and a fireman in Hackensack before his acting career took him to California and the starring role in "Tenafly", a TV series in which he played, naturally, a detective, the name was merely a coincidence.
It is not generally known that a top Confederate general in the Civil War was a native of Hackensack. Samuel Cooper, Jr. whose father Samuel Cooper had distinguished himself in the American Revolution as a major in the Continental Army, was born in Hackensack in June,
1798. The future general attended local schools and spent his boyhood here until he left for the U.S. Military Academy. After graduation and various posts he was assigned duty in Virginia in 1828, married and settled in Fairfax. He became a close friend of Jefferson Davis, who later became President of the Confederate States. This friendship caused Cooper to resign from the U.S. Army and help Davis with the organization of the Civil War. When the conflict started in 1861, Samuel Cooper, Jr. was made a full General. It is said that the true history of that war would be incomplete without Cooper's careful preservation of the Southern War Department records and reports.
Gene Saks, formerly of Hackensack, has become a highly successful director of movies and plays. He was 6 years old when his family moved to Hackensack and he went through the Hackensack Public Schools. After graduating from Cornell University, he served in the Navy, attended the New School and Actor's Studio in New York. He has also acted in plays and the movies. Beatrice Arthur, well known as the title in the TV series "Maude" is his wife. Amongst the plays Gene Saks has directed are the Neil Simon plays "SAME TIME NEXT YEAR" and "CALIFORNIA SUITE” which are now on Broadway. Some of his movie credits are the direction of Neil Simon's "BAREFOOT IN THE PARK", "CACTUS FLOWER" and "ODD COUPLE". He directed the theatre and movie version of "MAME". Gene Saks and his wife live in California and keep in touch with their Hackensack relatives...
Among the sculptures located in the lower level of New York City's Lincoln Center, is a magnificent head of Toscanini made by Herman Heilborn of Hackensack. At age 62 he taught himself to sculpt. His first piece was accepted by The New Jersey State Exhibit in 1956 at the Montclair Museum. His "Lincoln Mask" was at the Lincoln Museum in Washington. His head of the renowned author Carl Sandburg was given to the N.Y. Historical Society and Carl Sandburg made a bequeath in his will of his "Lincoln Plaque" by Mr. Heilborn, to the University of Illinois.
The Vatican has a bass relief of Mr. Heilborn's "Pope John", for which Mr. Heilborn received a letter of appreciation from The Vatican. Mr. Heilborn has done other famous people, interesting faces from many ethnic backgrounds and other sculptures.
Movie theaters in Hackensack The Bijou Theater was built in 1901 at 150 Main Street. It was a comfortable, attractive theater showing first rate films. There was a singer of the latest popular songs and orchestra to vary the entertainment. It contained 297 seats, and was heated by steam and cooled by electric fans.
Admission was about 5 cents. Today, the site is Lowit's parking lot.
The Royal Theater was located at the southwest corner of Bergen Street in the early 1900s. It showed movies and the slides shown on the screen were” accompanied by a singer. The Hudson Theater was at East Broadway and Hudson Street about 1915. It was owned by Samuel Rosenberg.
The Lyric Theater was located next to the Whelan Building at 167 Main Street. It showed movies and fine acts of Vaudeville. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy appeared there several times.
The Eureka Theater, built in 1917, was situated in the middle of the north side of Banta Place.
The Fox Theater was built in 1931, the largest theater in Bergen County. The Fox and the Oritani, built in 1926, are the only two theaters remaining in Hackensack.
When the movies were made in Fort Lee in the early 1900s, some scenes were of motorcycles going over the bridge, filmed near the Courthouse. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. had some of his scenes made in Hackensack. Marion Davies came to Hackensack to buy some clothes while at the Fort Lee studios; she shopped at the Globe Store on Main Street then the largest department store in Bergen County.
Another form of communication was introduced in Hackensack in 1882 when General Charles Barney rented a part of George Hasbrouck's store at 175 Main Street (for $50 a year and free telephone service) in order to establish the first Telephone Company office in town. This meant establishing a central agency and installing a primitive switchboard. Since Mary Peck -Bates had the experience with her father's telephone (connected only from his railroad station here to rail headquarters in Jersey City), she was appointed operator.
She worked the box shaped switchboard with a foot treadle to give the power to transmit the voice over the wire. With a hand held receiver, without headgear, she managed this primitive board and its twenty five lines for almost a week when an electrical thunderstorm put it out of commission for days. By 1886 only 21 firms had bothered to take telephone service and it took seven more years Before the number of phones went up to 50. Not until after 1900, when the Hackensack book listed 225 numbers, -did the telephone really begin to catch on. By that time the business had been turned over to the New York and New Jersey Telephone Co.
George Scudder, author of A Historical Record of the Hackensack Public Schools, has started another book, Fairmount as I Recall -1915, giving more color to that area. He writes: "A single set of trolley tracks ran up the center of Main Street to the boundary of Hackensack and River Edge, at Coles Brook. The tracks had a loop, every so often, enabling northbound and southbound trolleys to pass...This trolley line ran from Zabriskie's Pond through Little Ferry to Weehawken at the 42nd Street ferry slip. In later years they used very small trolleys, operated by one man, which we referred to as Toonerville trolleys, from an old cartoon at that time.
The second trolley line running through Hackensack was the Hudson River Trolley Line that went from the 125th Street Ferry to Paterson. Main Street at Mercer Street was one of the stops on this line which operated from 1900 until 1938. Lines were added that went to Summit Avenue, continued on Summit Avenue to Hasbrouck Heights and then to Rutherford and Newark.
The clay from the banks of the Hackensack River had been used by the early Dutch settlers to mold pottery. Mortar was made from the clay for their sandstone dwellings and plaster walls.
Sandstone was found locally and used frequently to build homes. They were able to make bricks from the clay that were as good as the bricks imported from Holland and bricks were needed for fireplaces/ chimneys and ovens. For quite some time cargoes of Hackensack brick were shipped down the Hackensack River and on to various parts of the nation. During the British rule manufacturing was forbidden in the colonies and bricks were imported. The brick industry started to grow after the Revolutionary War and was an important business along the Hackensack River for a long period of time.
Oratam's name was also spelled Oraton, Oratum, Oratani, Oratany and Oratantin. His mark "z” is on the official seal of the City of Hackensack. Oratam saw the "first sail" up on the Hudson River when Henry Hudson arrived on the Half Moon.
A dugout canoe was unearthed in 1868 near the Hackensack River at Hudson Street on the property of Judge Ackerson. In 1904 it was presented to the Bergen County Historical Society an in 1914 it was identified as a very rare Indian relic probably from the 17th century and one of the few in existence. Its preservation was probably due to the mud and silt in which it was buried.
The U.S. Department of Forestry identified the wood as white oak. The canoe was exhibited at the Johnson Public Library for many years and is now glass enclosed and displayed at the Steuben House in River Edge.