«HACKENSACK - HERITAGE TO HORIZONS PUBLISHED BY: THE HACKENSACK BICENTENNIAL COMMITTEE TERRY LARK, EDITOR DR. IRWIN TALBOT, PHD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR ...»
By 1897 there were 263 students attending high school in Bergen County, 117 of these were in New Barbadoes (Hackensack), the site of the only four year high school in the whole county.
Local public and private schools seemed to be always a step ahead of neighboring communities.
Hackensack was truly a center of both public and private education in northern New Jersey.
The Washington Institute on Main and Warren Streets, built by Peter Wilson in 1769, was so highly regarded there was serious consideration of making it a college. This same Dr. Wilson was a professor at Columbia University and also a member of the Assembly of New Jersey. It was up to the assembly to decide on the location for Queen's College (Rutgers University as it is now called). Being a modest man, Dr. Wilson abstained from casting the deciding vote in favor of his hometown of Hackensack and therefore Rutgers is now situated in New Brunswick. The Washington Institute functioned as a private academy until 1865, when its trustees voted to make it a free school open to all. An outstanding scholar, Dr. Nelson Haas, was the principal at that time and the popularity of this exceedingly fine institution caused them to build a new and much larger "Washington School" (in 1878) which was later renamed Union Street School.
Of equally fine reputation was The Newman School on the south east corner of Essex Street and Polifly Road. This was a Catholic boarding school for boys. Its fame must have spread all the way to Minnesota, since in the early 1900s, F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of America's greatest writers, was sent here by his parents. It was known as one of the finest Eastern prep schools.
From 1826 Hackensack also had the Lafayette Institute, on the west side of Main Street near Passaic Street. The school grew, was renamed the Jefferson Institute, subsequently it was rebuilt again as its growth continued and in 1894 it became part of the public school system as School #3, or State Street School (now the Hackensack Middle School).
To learn more about the Hackensack Academy (built in 1870 on the northwest corner of State Street and Central Avenue) the Abeel School, the Gateway School the many parochial schools, the seven elementary schools and the high school in more detail, refer to George Scudder's book, A Historical Record of the Hackensack Public Schools, from which much of this information, was taken.
Chapter IX Between two wars...
World War I 1914, county reaction to the outbreak of the war in Europe was in keeping with the then prevailing national sentiment; "It's not our war; stay out of it." However, when war was declared against Germany in 1917, area residents changed their attitudes.
A factor in Bergen County's reaction was the construction of Camp Merrit, the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) embarkation camp, on 770 acres in the Cresskill-DumontBergenfield region. The fact that many of the more than 1 million soldiers processed there for overseas duty (or on their return from duty) were entertained in local homes or in Camp Merritt by county organizations brought the war closer to the local population.
Governor Walter E. Edge of New Jersey on May 23, 1917; issued a proclamation supplementing the one by President Woodrow Wilson, designating June 5, 1917, as "military registration day".
He requested that it be observed throughout New Jersey as a great patriotic and legal holiday.
Hackensack and Englewood celebrated registry day with parades and mass meetings. There were lively and interesting scenes at various polling places.
In Hackensack each man who registered received a red, white and blue insignia -to be pinned on the lapel of his coat. The participants marched in a big parade held late in the afternoon and then attended mass meetings in the State Street School auditorium in the evening was one of the greatest ever witnessed in the City. The marching column was made up of members of The Grand Army of the Republic in automobiles, Spanish War veterans, members of the Home Defense League, auxiliary firemen, Junior OUAM with their large flag, Boy and Girl Scouts, Boy's Brigade, school children, three "auto machines" of the Hackensack Fire Department, Italian Society with a beautiful flag of their country and a company of Polish riflemen. The procession was led by Cols. Alfred T.
The Hackensack parade, which started from the Oritani field at 4 P.M. 'Holley and Frank M.
Taylor, with a platoon of mounted aides, and bands of music performing patriotic tunes, while flags fluttered from every hand. When the registration for the enlisting men closed at 9 o'clock that evening, Hackensack was second in the county with 1,410 signed up for duty. By December, 1917, and January, 1918, it was necessary for Bergen County to have six draft districts, one of which was District No. 2, Courthouse, Hackensack. Then by August, 1918, when more men were needed, another registration of 21 year old men took place as 40 men from District No. 2 enrolled, followed by a last registration in September of that year. Fortunately, this last group never needed to see active duty since hostilities ended with the signing of the Armistice, November 11, 1918.
When peace was declared with Germany, the people of Hackensack reacted to the news with a celebration which started about 4 A.M. with the sounds of bells, whistles, horns and drums.
There was a large parade which included Mayor Demarest, members of the Hackensack Improvement Commission, and many of "the groups which had whipped up enthusiasm at the beginning of the war. Nearly all businesses hung signs reading; "Closed - no business today gone to the Kaiser's funeral." It was over.
In 1924, four years after Camp Merritt had been closed, a granite shaft was placed on a site marking the center of the former cantonment at Knickerbocker Road and Madison Avenue. The monument was dedicated in a ceremony which included General John J. Pershing, former commander of the A.E.F., and thousands of county citizens.
The postwar era did not bring the campaign slogan, "A Return to Normalcy," to fruition here.
Enactment of the Volstead Act, prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors in the Unite States changed matters drastically. Geographically close to New York City, Hackensack has at times been involved in the larger city's dishonorable as well as worthwhile activities. Prohibition and its speakeasies, bootleg liquor, gang wars and police raids came here via the New York route, too. Hijacking of liquor carrying vehicles was especially rampant on Bergen's highways and often resulted in bloody encounters and the disappearance of gangsters whose bodies were never found. This was not a proud time in our history.
During the same era, a series of trans-Atlantic flights brought productive attention to a salt marsh meadow lying just south of Hackensack. Transatlantic fliers Charles A. Lindbergh and Clarence Chamberlin, and polar explorer Richard E. Byrd helped to put Teterboro on the world's aviation map by their use of this pasture land on which the Dutch farmers had once grazed cattle. Fame came also by way of Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Foller, who built there the tri-motor plane "America" in which Byrd flew. The barnstorming Gates Flying Circus also flew out of Teterboro.
Bergen County and Hackensack took on a suburban flavor between 1920 and 1930, and population increased more than one-third. When the Depression hit in the early '30s its effect here surprised those who had long sought a bridge across the Hudson. Even the marvel of the George Washington Bridge had less than its anticipated effect on the prosperity and progress of the county during the period of rock bottom economics. The span did prove its economic potency; however, two decades later by helping to fuel the real estate boom of Bergen County through the 1950s and well into the '60s.
World War II
A conflict which caused more destruction in human life and property and which affected more people than any war in history has thousands of stories connected with it. Even though the fighting began in September, 1939, the United States was not involved until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
It would take volumes to record the changes in civilian life in the United States, or even in Hackensack, brought on by World War II. Two stories of Hackensack servicemen do bear mention, however.
"They were three friends - boyhood buddies who had played, studied, and grown up together in Hackensack's First Ward. Two of them, Corporal Joseph Peccoralo, 26th Regiment, and Platoon Sergeant Michale Krachkovsky, 24th, had been on the same attack transport, but had been assigned to different landing craft for the invasion."
As the story unfolded in The Record of February 19, 1945, "...60,000 United States Marines...
landed on the tiny, seemingly insignificant mass of volcanic ash, stunted trees, sand, and jagged rock."
This was the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima. "The third buddy, First Lieutenant Carl Padavano, was the company commander of G. Company, 3rd Battalion, 28th Regiment. This was the outfit whose men fought their way inch by inch up the side of a mountain heavily fortified with enemy pillobxes that fortified caves and the best of Japan's soldiers, who had vowed that 10 Americans would die for every Japanese killed. This was Mount Suribachi. Lt. Padavano was later to meet Krahkovsky for a brief interlude of hand-shaking and back-slapping on the side of the mountain when Japanese mortar fire sent the former football teammates diving for shelter. Their next reunion was in Hackensack after the war.
"...a squad of 20 men of G Company reached the summit of Mount Suribachi, only to be driven back by a barrage of Japanese grenades. Eleven survivors again made the assault with the American Flag tucked into the blouse of a sergeant. Six of these heroic Marines made it this time and planted the first flag attached to a length of pipe. The date was February 23, 1945."
Padavano had been wounded and after spending three days in a field hospital returned to the front and "10 days later was wounded again by enemy gunfire", but his courage in leading his platoon in a 500 yard advance under the most extreme conditions earned him not only a Purple Heart, but the Bronze Star as well.
Meanwhile, "Platoon Sgt. Mike Krachkovsky was having his hands full - of • volcanic ash. His unit was among the first to hit the beach" and after three long days on the beach Mike was assigned as stretcher bearer because of the many casualties.
"One of his most memorable recollections was on February 23 when, from 2 miles away, Mike saw the Stars and Stripes flying from the top of Mount Suribachi."
Meanwhile, Corporal Joseph Peccoralo had landed with the eighth wave, moving toward the foot of Mount Suribachi....His first night on the island was spent at the edge of Air Strip No.l. From this position the next morning they watched helplessly while enemy artillery directed by observation posts on top of the mountain wiped out an entire battery of Marine 75s.
"On the fourth day of a seemingly hopeless fight agains an invisible enemy, a tremendous shout went up from every Marine who could see the top of the mountain. Seeing our Flag up there was just what we needed, Joe recalls." He was also wounded, as Mike and Carl had been during this action."
“But the enemy failed to keep their vow or their island...when the final count was made, there were six dead Japanese for each of our dead."
Today we find the three men still in Hackensack. Padavano is Superintendent of Schools, Joseph Peccoralo is a sergeant with the Police Department and Mike Krachkowsky is employed at the Post Office in Hackensack. We turn to another Navy man, H. Kent Hewitt, born here February 11, 1887. He attended local schools, including Hackensack High. His career in the Navy was marked by his becoming Rear Admiral in December, 1940, vice admiral November 17, 1942, Admiral on April 3, 1945, Commander of the U.S. 8th Fleet, 1943. He directed the landings at Morocco, Sicily, Salerno, and the south coast of France. He commanded the U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African waters, the U.S. 12th Fleet; and the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe from August, 1945 to September, 1946.
On November 8, 1942, North African waters were calm. On other days of the month at that time of year, that corner of Africa which edges into the ocean at the foot of the Atlas Mountains provided no spot for troop landings or beachheads.
"We did it," Admiral Hewitt said, "and we were lucky. The top command of the Army and the top command of the Navy put their heads together... We talked some, coordinating our forces, comparing notes, and when we were ready we let go with everything and we won. Once completed, our ships had to stand by until beachheads had been set up and our men well on the way inland."
Admiral Hewitt's forces stood by in those hours just before dawn and suddenly Casablanca's shore batteries opened fire, the only enemy attack on the American invaders. The guns of Hewitt's flagship returned the fire and began to edge in and out of the remarkably accurate shore fire until several harbor vessels lay as charred hulls and the shore batteries finally were silenced.
This was an important step in defeating the Nazis in North Africa.
Our town government
In its early years, Hackensack was a Village located in New Barbadoes Township. Local government of a sort was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 14, 1856, designating an Improvement Commission ' to upgrade the sidewalks of the Village. Those limited powers were expanded over the years until March 30, 1896, when the Commission was declared to be the governing body by the Legislature. At the same time, the Legislature made the boundary of the village and the Township coincide.
The Hackensack Improvement Commission, elected every two years, consisted of a President, one commissioner at large, and a commissioner from each of the five wards. The posts were unsalaried. In 1921 the title of the Commission leader was changed from president to mayor by state legislation.