«HACKENSACK - HERITAGE TO HORIZONS PUBLISHED BY: THE HACKENSACK BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE TERRY LARK, EDITOR DR. IRWIN TALBOT, PHD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR ...»
Across the Green was another tavern, called the Hackensack House, kept by Edward Van Beuren. Next door to it, looking east was the county courthouse and jail, built in 1819...The jail was in the building and the cells, four in number,...(were) secured by two doors, one of iron and one of wood with massive lock and key.
It was in one of these cells the ill-fated murderer, Billie Keating, was confined in 1850. At the execution, the sheriff, John V. Terhune, attired in full military regalia, with sword, cocked hat and feathers, officiated and Sam Dawson, who was the jailor, cut the rope. The scaffold was erected in the triangle enclosure on the west end of the courthouse, in full view of everybody who wanted to see enacted the last drama of the life of that unfortunate murderer. The Green was crowded with people from all parts of the county, rich and poor jostled each other to get a view of the tragedy. He was clothed in a white suit and cap made by a tailor named Royce. At that time there was a flagpole about one hundred feet high standing in the center of the Green, surmounted by a Cap of Liberty.
...All of these large houses spoken of (in this area of downtown) were built after one style of architecture...The front stoop was generally quite small, with a roof supported by a turned column on either corner. A bench with a back ran from each side of the front door at right angles to the house, on which the old settlers used to sit in the summer afternoons and evenings and smoke their long clay pipes... Opposite on the south' corner of Warren 'Street stood a little wooden shanty kept as an oyster saloon by Daddy Olcock. On the opposite corner was the school house with a shingle roof. It was very old and was afterward taken down and the present Washington Institute erected in its place.
These recollections of Mr. Ackerman (cited in the Westervelt book) bring to mind's eye images from a western movie, rural scenes past remembering by current citizens, none of us having lived in 1840. He also gave us interesting observations on the physical aspects of a time-honored
monument, the old Church on the Green:
The pews were sold to the members, who received a deed for the same, in which ownership lasted forever," with the provision "that it should not be destroyed or defaced: The church was heated by two wood-burning stoves placed on either side of the main entrance, each of which had a pipe extending the full length of the building. In cold weather the women folks generally carried little foot stoves in which was a metal pan filled with live coals to keep the feet warm during the services, which were rather long in duration, generally three hours.
The pulpit was quite small, being semi-circular in front and elevated about five or six feet above the floor. It was reached by a circular stairway placed on each side of it. Directly underneath it and in front of the pulpit was a desk and chair occupied by the precentor, who would sing the hymn, to be followed by the congregation. He used a tuning fork to get the pitch. There was no choir and there was not even an organ or any musical instrument in any of the churches. In fact, it was considered by some quite profane and -irreverent to have any instrument of music in their houses of worship and was deprecated in the most caustic terms by the old dominies.
George Ackerman also relates that the early landowners had their homes on the main thoroughfare and made small lanes leading back to their farms. He listed them all and as you read the names you will still know of Bergen County families descended from these rugged souls and maybe live on streets named in their honor. There was John Berry, Issac Van Gieson, Julius Ellis, Jan, Berdan, Paulos Vanderbeek, Simon Simonsen (buried in the Church on the Green), Abraham Ackerman (who manufactured jewelry from his house), Peter Fredericks, and Edward J. Earle's store, Brom Carlock's structure for dressing hides and skins, Robert Campbell's grocery and general store, later run by Michael M. Wygant, the Quick sisters' house (the only brick house in town for quite a -time) Aunt Patty Fowler's house (beloved for her root beer and candy), the Weehawk Bank, John DeGroot, Pres.; George Y. Alliare, Cashier; Cornelius T. ; Banta's building with carriage shop, blacksmith and paint shop.
Stephen Vanderbeek had a tailor shop and also kept the post office after the term of Albert Doremus who managed to run stage coaches and was post master, too (1845-49). Adam Boyd's house was here (he became a Congressman), as were those of "Butter John Bogert", William Winant (boot and shoemaker), the Phillips' sisters (maiden ladies who kept a goat for their milk supply) and Peter Wilson (whose house was later used as a select girl's boarding school). Richard Amos' tobacco and cigar factory, was the site of the first steam engine ever installed in Hackensack, (the same building later became a carriage factory run by R.H. Gilbert). Other houses belonged to Judge Lewis Moore, (whose slaves were buried in the ground under the street now named in the Judge's honor, Moore Street), Peter Wilson and the Van Gieson homestead.
Garret Meyer's home later became the Wheelman's Club and Harry Banta's square ~ wooden building had a pointed roof on top of which was a windmill used to grind paint when the wind blew. Also there were homes of John Sloat, E.A.
McFadden, and Bunky Bogert's house with store attached. The blacksmith shop of James B.
Cleveland had a hay scale whose platform extended right across the sidewalk. Harry H. Banta had a large home and grounds which later became the site of the present Post Office.
It is not possible to name all of the people and interesting occupations of these Hackensack citizens, but for those whose interest is deep enough more can be found in the "History of Hackensack" by Francis A. Westervelt, in the Johnson Library. It is hoped that the flavor of those days along Main Street and State Street have been of interest to you. George Ackerman continued on about each house and farm to where the Lafayette Academy stood. "This was an ancient seat of learning, which was abandoned in 1853. William C. Smith, a thorough scholar and mathematician and a most beautiful penman was a teacher for a number of years...After a wheelwright shop and some small cottages came "The John S. Mabon house, he kept a classical school and fitted young men for college. The next were the grounds, house and store of Teunis Banta, on Main and Passaic Street, built in 1800. He owned all of the property on the south side of Passaic Street from Main Street to the N.J. and N.Y. Railroad".
The store and dwelling of Abraham H. Berry, on the corner (Main and Passaic) was the center of great commercial intercourse, and a very large and extensive business was done there. His property extended from Main Street to the river front, on which were docks and extensive warehouses. The traffic via the river was considerable at this period. The schooner "John Anderson" was built and launched from these docks.” On the opposite corner of Main and Passaic Streets was a store with dwelling attached belonging to Cornelius C. Bogert who owned about two -hundred feet of River front in rear of his house, called the dock on which were built a number of vessels.
At the river front...up to the Anderson Street Bridge was a row of tall poplar trees. This was called "The Beach", and was a favorite resort for bathing. The whole plot from Ward Street to Anderson Street and Main to the river was under cultivation, and it was not an uncommon sight to see an immense field of rye gracefully ducking its head as the wind playfully swept through it.
Ackerman's words carry us up Main Street to "the last one was the house of Teunis Cole, on the hill near the brook named for him. Here he had a saw mill on one side of the brook and a large grist mill on the other side. It was liberally patronized by all the farmers, who at that time raised their own grain and had it made into flour. The name of Fairmount was changed in 1907 to North Hackensack.
It is noteworthy in his recitation of the various homes and businesses in town that from the very beginning there was a definite interest in education, as evidenced by the number of schools and also to find that taverns were such an important part of the town's social life.
This excerpt taken from Lee's "New Jersey as a Colony and a State" tells the story this way;
During the colonial period of New Jersey the Inn became a social and political center. Not only were the houses designed for the entertainment of man and baiting of beast, but they served as meeting places for council and assembly, as the temporary executive mansions for the governors, as county courthouses, polling places, tax collectors, school houses, regimental headquarters on training days, terminus for post and passenger stages, post offices, banks and traveling ministers of various denominations, while the county freeholders frequently had no other building in which business could be transacted.
In 1668 in the Province of New Jersey they already realized the inconveniences that arose from the want of an "ordinary" in every town (lavatory type facility) and the Assembly ordered that Bergen and other counties provide an Inn for the relief and entertainment of strangers. The appointed Innkeeper was considered to be a town officer, chosen with considerable care and he was licensed to provide meat, drink and lodging. An inn was always near the early churches, since so many people attending services drove many miles and the men had an opportunity to refresh themselves with a drink and the ladies also took mild refreshments and had their foot stove pans filled with hot coals to help them endure the three hour services. Often they made another visit at noon, including replenishing the coals for there was another three hour service in the afternoon, and of course before leaving on the long journey home they refilled the stoves once more. Little wonder the Inn was a special place.
A different type of "service" was supplied by taverns as on June 23, 1816, John Dodd stopped at
the Vanderbeek Tavern, making the following announcement:
Fellow citizens, I am here for the purpose of securing information that may be furnished as to the changes which may have taken place in the assessable property of individuals since the last assessment made under the act of June 9, 1815, which information must be given in writing under the signature of the person whose tax may be affected thereby, First, assemble property omitted to be assessed. Second, transfer of real estate and slaves. Third, change of residence.
Fourth, burning or destruction of houses or other fixed improvement. Fifth, slaves that have been born or have died or have run away or have otherwise become useless since the preceding assessment.
The honor system in levying taxes! John Dodd must have learned many interesting bits of gossip on this kind of visit to various town taverns. Not only was the method of taxing different, but the turnpike road system of the 1800s was also different. When the turnpike from Hackensack to Hoboken was established in October, 1802, among the provisions set forth were that "it shall be lawful for the toll gatherer to stop any person riding, leading or driving any horse, cattle, mule, sheep or hogs, or carriage or burthen or pleasure from passing through the said gates until they have respectively paid the toll as above specified. Provided that nothing in this act shall be construed as to entitle the said corporation to demand and receive toll of or from any person except passing to or from public worship or to or from any mill to which he may resort for the grinding of grain for his family use, or horses or carriages solely conveying persons to or from his common business on his farm or any militia man passing to or from any training on muster day".
The tolls mentioned as "above" actually read
For every score of sheep, hogs or calves, 20 cents A score of cattle, horses or mules, 40 cents A horse and rider, or led horse or mule, 9 cents. A carriage, drawn by one beast, 18 cents A carriage drawn by two beasts, 25 cents For every additional beast, if not exceeding four in the whole number, 15 cents each If not exceeding six, 18 cents each If not exceeding eight, 25 cents each for every sleigh or sled drawn by one beast, 9 cents For every additional beast, 3 cents each.
Another interesting part of the enactment read
All wagoneers and drivers of carriages of all kind, whether burden or pleasure, using the said road... keep their horses and carriages on the left hand of the said road..." Also interesting 'is that in 1915 the toll gates of Bergen County were abolished, after a service of 113 years. The idea was to save the taxpayers money by having, for example, the Bergen Pike become State Route N. 10. It had been a wooden plank road, a toll road, county road and then State highway having gone through the epochs from stage coach to trolley line, and then autos.
In speaking of roads and transportation we should note that about the time of the Civil War, through the influence of Judge Jonh Huyler, the established cross streets in Hackensack (evolved from those early farm lanes) were named for the counties of New Jersey. We still have Passaic, Camden, Salem, Mercer, Warren, Bergen, Morris, Hudson, Essex, Sussex and Atlantic Streets.
The Civil War...
Legal slavery had continued in New Jersey longer than any other northern state and in Bergen County the Dutch had as many slaves as any southern state except the cotton states of the really deep south. The New Jersey Legislature declared slavery to be illegal by the act of 1846. The slave population had already been steadily declining as blacks "born free" attained the ages stipulated in the Act of 1804, and left the farms for the larger cities. The majority, undereducated and thus unskilled, faced severe economic and social handicaps. In 1830 Bergen County had a black population of 2,481 of whom 1,985 were freemen, but the pro-slavery feelings were still present.
Bergen County had been Democratic for at least two or three generations and was solidly Democratic in the 1860 Presidential, election giving Stephen Douglas its support.