Bergen County Historical Society

Bergen County Historical Society The Bergen County Historical Society (BCHS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization founded in 1902, promotes preservation, study and appreciation of local history.
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The Bergen County Historical Society receives NO public funding and relies soley on donations to bring the history of Bergen County to life. We also have a wonderful staff of docents, who also volunteer their time to make sure this important part of our collective history is told accurately.

A local garden center recently reopened under a new name “New Bridge Farm & Garden” with even more varieties of plants t...
04/26/2020

A local garden center recently reopened under a new name “New Bridge Farm & Garden” with even more varieties of plants than the previous establishment.
I stopped by yesterday to chat about where the name “New Bridge” comes from and describe the historic site “Historic New Bridge Landing“ to the manager.

We can be delighted they have survived when so many garden centers are disappearing throughout the state. It’s located on River Rd., New Milford.

This makes the fifth business/public entity (after the vision of the BCHS & Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission) to return this old name to the area, beginning with NJ Transit and the train stop “New Bridge Landing”, “New Bridge Center” at Cherry Hill School, “New Bridge Landing at River Edge” mall on Main Street, and the new “New Bridge Crossing” apartments on Kinderkamack Road, (not counting the rebranding of the hospital.)

Historian Kevin Wright wrote “The name New Bridge came into use when the Paulus Hook Ferry (Jersey City) was established in July 1764 by Michael Cornelisse, making the overland route via New Bridge of considerable use to travelers going to and from Manhattan.” The stage coach facilitated travel and crossed or began at the growing village at New Bridge.

The name New Bridge appears on many maps created during the American Revolution, look for another post I’m working on that subject.

“We stand at another crossroads today, where an enlightened interest and pride in the citizens not only of the Borough of River Edge but also of the County of Bergen and even the nation call out for recognition and honor for this significant place in American history,” written by Wright for a publication/speech in 2008 on the train station renaming that’s on the Pascack Valley Line at River Edge (south).

Baron Von Steuben's work was not done at Valley Forge. It was for this service that the state of New Jersey provided the...
04/25/2020
Founders Online: General Orders, 25 April 1780

Baron Von Steuben's work was not done at Valley Forge. It was for this service that the state of New Jersey provided the confiscated loyalist Zabriskie House to Baron Von Steuben for his service during the war. Eventually, when Steuben sells the house we see he heavily invested in the property. In early March an updated paint analysis was conducted of the house so that when we begin the restoration process, we will have a better idea of colors that would have been around during the time of Von Steuben and earlier!

General Orders, 25 April 1780

This arbor day, let's reflect on a poem from #Mahwah resident, #JoyceKilmerTreesBY JOYCE KILMERI think that I shall neve...
04/24/2020

This arbor day, let's reflect on a poem from #Mahwah resident, #JoyceKilmer

Trees
BY JOYCE KILMER
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Do you have a photo of a tree at New Bridge? Or do you have a favorite tree? Here are just a few of some of our favorite trees. Each new tree that is planted has historic meaning and is another layer to help continue to tell a complex story.

Friday’s Fare from Historic New Bridge Landing.  At this time of year the shad are running. They swim in from the Atlant...
04/24/2020

Friday’s Fare from Historic New Bridge Landing. At this time of year the shad are running. They swim in from the Atlantic Ocean up the inland waterways to spawn; the Delaware River, the Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson River, and including the Hackensack River that runs by the Steuben House at HNBL. April is Chwame Gischuch - Under the Shad Moon, our celebration of Chief Oratam, Tantaqua and all the local indigenous peoples that once inhabited this area. The Out Kitchen prepares traditional Native American foods using authentic procedures (as close as we can.) Today's sampling is Sapan Pakihm / a Corn Mush with Cranberries that incorporates the native ingredients of corn meal, honey and dried cranberries into a tasty variation of a spoon-bread.

Good Day Bergen County!  It is regrettably another gloomy, cold and rainy day here in northern New Jersey.  The kind of ...
04/24/2020

Good Day Bergen County! It is regrettably another gloomy, cold and rainy day here in northern New Jersey. The kind of day that seldom inspires happy thoughts or optimism, especially during difficult times like we are experiencing today. When will things get better? Are worse things around the corner? Experience teaches us that this too shall pass, and things generally are not as bad as our worst fears may portray. The first warm, sunny day is often just the ticket to restore that optimism.

We bring this up because, of course, there is historical precedent. Coming out of the winter of 1779-1780, the Continental Army and Bergen County had indeed seen dark days. The British in New York City had made several successful attacks in Westchester, Monmouth, Elizabeth, Newark, and of course at Hackensack and Paramus. Nerves were certainly frayed and rumors abounded on an almost daily basis. Where would the British strike next? Was there a redcoat indeed hidden behind every tree waiting to burst forth and lay waste to the countryside? It is easy after setbacks to assume the worst.

The raid on Hopperstown on April 16, 1780 did not end the presence of troops there. Washington would keep up the 250 man garrison there, at least for a couple more months. Their situation was perfectly known to the British, both by spies and deserters, of which there had been twenty five just in the first two weeks of April. The British were bound to return. On this date, it appeared that was indeed come to pass, as shown in this letter from an alarmed Brigadier General Jedediah Huntington to George Washington:

“Springfield 24th April 1780
half after One am

Dear sir,
I have this hour recd. a line from the Command at Newark that a Body of Enemy are out at Paramus – numbers not known. They are also (I this moment hear by Major Lenox) out at Halstead Point Elisabeth Town. I have no Express from thence nor hear any Firing therefore conclude the last Party small. I am &c.

J Huntington

His Excellency
General Washington”

Source: Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence, 6 March 1780 – 24 April 1780.

The rumors were immediately picked up by the press, which added to the consternation:

“CHATHAM, April 26.

We hear the enemy made another descent upon Paramus on Sunday night last. The particulars of which we have not learned.”

Source: The New Jersey Journal (Chatham), April 26, 1780.

Once the fog of war and rumor was lifted however, the light of facts showed no British incursion, no columns of marching redcoats trampling through Bergen’s fields. Every war, every period of time, has countless rumors and fears, most unfounded. General Huntington set the record straight in his next letter to Washington:

“Springfield 26 April 1780

Dear Sir,
Capt. Betts at Newark who gave me the Information of the Enemy being out at Paramus wrote me last Evening that he had been misinformed – that he finds they have been no nearer that Place than Closter and is not certain that they landed there.
I am very respectfully
your Excellencys
most obedt. servt.
J Huntington

His Excellency
General Washington”

Source: Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence, 3 April 1780 — 6 June 1780.

So while things may seem gloomy, and for good reason, know that our fears may just be that: fears. The sun will be out again, figuratively and literally, disposing of the gloom. Keep the faith!

04/23/2020
Lecture at HNBL - Part 2

Marta Black became fascinated with Nathanael Greene when she acquired the two c.1783 watercolor portraits, they can be seen behind her in the video (Washington too.)
The Blacks donated them to BCHS, and they’re a perfect fit for us as both Washington and Greene were here multiple times including November 20, 1776.

Lecture at HNBL - Part 2
November 1776 Retreat Weekend at Historic New Bridge Landing.

Writer and collector Marta Black gave a presentation on Nathanael Greene. The lecture took place in the 18th century Steuben House at HNBL in River Edge, NJ, November 24, 2019.

https://youtu.be/DWZwZhJktuQ

November 1776 Retreat Weekend at Historic New Bridge Landing. Writer and collector Marta Black gave a presentation on Nathanael Greene. The lecture took plac...

04/23/2020
Lecture at HNBL - Part 1

We have some new video content on YouTube from the November 24, 2019 Retreat Event in the Steuben House.

The first video presentation is BCHS President and HNBLPC Chairman Jim Smith leading off the event. He speaks on Thomas Paine and the new planned museum building at New Bridge.

https://youtu.be/ARkGIg64RUQ

November 1776 Retreat Weekend at Historic New Bridge Landing. BCHS president and HNBLPC Chairman Jim Smith speaking on Thomas Paine, reads the American Crisi...

Historic Preservation and Environmental Responsibility - Perfect TogetherAs we look back at 50 years of Earth Day and ga...
04/22/2020

Historic Preservation and Environmental Responsibility - Perfect Together

As we look back at 50 years of Earth Day and gaining a greater appreciation of the Earth and the world around us, but interestingly enough the Bergen County Historical Society has long been an environmental steward before there was such a thing officially. Actually, if you go back to the original settlers, they harnessed the power of renewable energy with a tidal mill and sourcing local materials for the building construction right here at New Bridge. Or if we study the first peoples of Bergen County, we can understand their usage of the land and their surroundings, think of all the stories the dugout canoe can tell.

Moving forward, in 1928, working with the State of NJ, the Von Steuben House was purchased to avoid being taken apart and moved to California or worse. And yet, the 40+ acres that once were part of the tract that Steuben would advertise and sell, containing orchards, barns, a mill and gardens, was a now a small piece of property surrounding by an encroaching junkyard. In 1944, the Society purchased additional property around the house to prevent the junk yard from encroaching onto the historic site. This allowed the Demarest House, Westervelt Barn and Campbell Christie House to be moved to the site. The aerial pictured below shows the original layout. In 1977, the area known as Brett Park was preserved and eventually became part of the Historic New Bridge Landing Park, and the former junkyard and parking lot were purchased and re mediated in 2009, now offering a welcoming meadow at the entrance. Native trees have been planted throughout the park to not only enhance the site's natural beauty, but also help with historic interpretation and provide native habitat, we've identified invasive species and have been working on their removal naturally, as well. Historic preservation works in others towns as well because it keeps buildings in place and not landfills, helps towns retain historic view sheds and keep soil permeable to name a few. Historic New Bridge Landing has welcomed visitors both locally and nationally to visit a beautiful green space in the heart of Bergen County, where history and the environment blend seamlessly. We take great pride in the green space we maintain as well as tell the rich history of Bergen County as a whole. Thank you for your continued support, I hope all is well with you and your families and I look forward to enjoying this historic green space with you all very soon.

Jim Smith
President
Bergen County Historical Society

Good Day Bergen County!  The Bergen County Historical Society, like many societies and historic sites around the country...
04/22/2020

Good Day Bergen County! The Bergen County Historical Society, like many societies and historic sites around the country, is deeply involved in heritage tourism. We annually greet many visitors from around the state, country and the rest of the world. The goal is to provide them with an exceptional experience and have our home be a destination spot that people will want to visit, learn from, and enjoy. Its admittedly a different experience than the beach or Disney, but we believe it’s vital for both our history, future and indeed, economic well-being.

During the time of the American Revolution, touring Bergen County was a dangerous business, no matter which side you were on. The friendly Dutch farmer could be secretly working for the other side. How would someone from out of the area know? What we present today is a bit of a tourist’s report, if you will, of a Virginia Officer’s Tour of Bergen County from April 20, 1777. It’s also a teachable moment of showing the challenges of historical research, so we present the report first with but a few corrections, the text being left in its original structure and spelling. Afterwards it is presented in a highly edited form, so you may make better sense of it. Some things of note: when he discusses regiments of “new recruits” he is referring to Loyalist troops fighting for the British, the battalions commanded by Drummond/Dongan, Buskirk and Barton being the 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions, New Jersey Volunteers and that of Bayard being the King’s Orange Rangers. The expedition mentioned by General Carleton would become the Burgoyne Campaign coming from Canada to capture Albany and split the colonies, not to attack the Hudson River forts per se. Also shown below is the original document, located today in the George Washington Papers in the Library of Congress.

By way of background, the British had evacuated Hackensack over the winter, but troops still remained centered around the fortifications of Paulus Hook (Jersey City) and about the impressive country house of William Bayard at Hobuck (Hoboken) and Bergen Point (Bayonne). While the main British troops lay about Brunswick and Perth Amboy, George Washington needed some accurate intelligence about what was happening to the north. Major General Adam Stephen of Virginia, stationed at Chatham, detached Captain Isaac Beall of the 4th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line to scout Bergen County and report on his findings.

“A Report of An Expedition to Hackensack &c.

from the best Intelligence I can get the Enemy being at Bargain is About 10 or 12 Hundred Strong Consisting of Col. Buscarrick Regt. of New Recroots, Col. Bartons Col. Dungens from Statten Island with about Six Hundred & Col. Drummond’s, Col. Beards Regt. Lays at Hobuck Ferry, at Polus Hook lay about Two Hundred British Troops & Two Field Pieces, no sertain Intelligence of any Artilery at Bargain, a Picket Guard Keept Two or Three Miles from Polus Hook by the British Troops. A Scouting party is Constantly kept in the English nabourhood detacht from Bargain, we was Inform’d that about Fore Hundred Lay their yesterday, to Guard the Roads in order that the provision waggons mite pass with Provisions & Forridg to Bargain & New York, some of the New Recroots took Two of the Inhabitants of Hackensack Prisoners, Thirsday Night last.

I am inform’d by Mr. Peter Subbrisker an Inhabitant of Hackensack that as soon as the Campain is opened that Some Rogallys & Tenders is to go up the North River to be joined by some Land Forces who are to March by Land to the Clove & Haber Straw, to consist of the New Recroots & Regulars, whare they are to be met by Carlton & his Troops in order to attact our Forts in the Hilands , this Information Mr. Subbrisker has got from some Relations of the New Recroots Officers, which he thinks may be depended on.
A Cross wing from Second River to Doues Ferry & another to Mundungo which you ha[ve] discription of already, no boats at Mundungo Ferry , only a Couple of Cunoe’s Keept in the other side, 4 Miles from Hackensack bridg to Tinev Fly. back in the English Nabourhood spies always Keept about that place not a single Man to be depended on in that Nabourhood, most every Man being a Spy it is Impossable to pass undiscovered, 15 Miles to Bargan from Hackensack bridg a good Retreat from that Quarter over the Pasiak, Troops can pass easily to Bargain with [out] Going by Polus Hook, but small bodys must guard against the Troops Lying at Hobuck, Lest they Cut of[f] their Retreet which they can easily do.

The Molitia up above Hackensack are imbodying by order of Genl. Washingto[n], I was inform’d by a Captn. of Molitia that abouit Two Hundred would be Embodyed by Mint Nite a plenty of Good Pilets are among them if I could have been join’d by a party of the Molitia which I apply’d for I would of attacted the body that lay up in the English Nabourhood, I had not a Guid nor could Get non till the Next day.

Isaac Beall
Capn.

Apl. 20th 1777”

Source: Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 4, Reel 41, 6 April 1777 — 29 May 1777.

From the best Intelligence I can get, the Enemy being at Bergen is about 1000 or 1200 strong, consisting of [Lieutenant] Colonel [Abraham] Buskirk’s Regiment of new recruits, [Lieutenant] Colonel [Joseph] Barton’s [battalion, and Lieutenant] Colonel Dongan’s from Staten Island, with about six hundred & [Major Robert] Drummond’s; [Lieutenant] Colonel [John] Bayard’s Regiment lays at Hoboken Ferry; at Paulus Hook lay about two hundred British troops & two field pieces; no certain intelligence of any artillery at Bergen; a picket guard kept two or three miles from Paulus Hook by the British troops. A scouting party is constantly kept in the English Neighborhood detached from Bergen; we were informed that about four hundred lay there yesterday, to guard the roads in order that the provision wagons might pass with provisions & forage to Bergen & New York. Some of the new recruits took two of the inhabitants of Hackensack prisoners, Thursday Night last.

I am informed by Mr. Peter Zabriskie, an Inhabitant of Hackensack, that as soon as the campaign is opened that some row galleys & tenders are to go up the North River to be joined by some land forces who are to march by land to the Clove & Haverstraw, to consist of the new recruits & regulars, where they are to be met by [General Sir Guy] Carleton & his troops in order to attack our forts in the Highlands; this information Mr. Zabriskie has got from some relations of the new recruits’ officers, which he thinks may be depended on.
A crossing from Second River to Douw’s Ferry & another to Moonachie which you have a description of already; no boats at Moonachie Ferry, only a couple of canoes kept in the other side; 4 Miles from Hackensack bridge to Tenafly. Back in the English Neighborhood spies always kept about that place, not a single man to be depended on in that neighborhood, most every man being a spy, it is impossible to pass undiscovered. Fifteen Miles to Bergan from Hackensack bridge a good retreat from that quarter over the Passaic, troops can pass easily to Bergen without going by Paulus Hook, but small bodies must guard against the troops lying at Hoboken, lest they Cut off their retreat which they can easily do.

The militia up above Hackensack are embodying by order of General Washington. I was informed by a captain of militia that about two hundred would be embodied by midnight, a plenty of good pilots are among them; if I could have been joined by a party of the militia which I applied for, I would have attacked the body that lay up in the English Neighborhood; I had not a guide nor could get one till the next day.

Isaac Beall
Captain

April 20th 1777

Address

1201-5 Main St
River Edge, NJ
07661

1 Short block from the recently renamed Historic New Bridge Landing train station on NJ Transit's Pascack Valley Line.

General information

The Bergen County Historical Society was instrumental in saving the historic Steuben House in River Edge in 1928. The Society established its museum headquarters there in September 1939 and promoted the establishment of the Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission by legislation in 1995. The purpose of the Commission is to unify and coordinate governmental and private efforts not only to preserve the three Bergen Dutch sandstone houses and their unique cultural contents, presently standing on the Revolutionary War battleground at New Bridge, but also to develop the necessary visitor facilities and amenities commensurate with the significance of the site, its importance to Bergen County and the promotion of public enjoyment and appreciation for the lessons of history

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Our Story

The Bergen County Historical Society was founded by the men and women of Bergen County in 1902 to tell the County’s story as a whole. Since 1939, the Society’s HQ has been located at Historic New Bridge Landing, in River Edge, NJ. We are not a government agency and receive no public funding. As an organization, we rely entirely on the support of our members and supporters to bring the history of Bergen County to life. Thank you for your continued support and make sure to stop by and explore YOUR LOCAL history.

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I think i will take my goat cart out for a ride! Historic Bergen County, Rockleigh. To the left is the rear of the 1828 Haring - Corning House,7 Rockleigh Rd., center Piermont Road with the Abraham A. Haring farmstead (with a Dutch Barn) in the background, and right a barn and accessory building.
Another photo, this one is Charlie & Emma Wright's Homestead. I do not know the date or location. The portrait photo is Charlie Wright in later years. Can anyone help identify these?
Hello! Would someone be able to help me identify the town where this brave fireman worked? His name was Frank Springsteel, I believe. TIA!
Was one of America’s first “cars” created in Hackensack? In 1861, John Banta Cleveland (Dec. 3, 1815 - Dec. 27, 1880) owned a “Steam Carriage Factory” in Hackensack. Cleveland in the 1850 Census is noted to be a “Wheelright,” and in the 1860 Census he was recorded to be a “Master Blacksmith.” Combine the two talents and one have the potential to make a rudimentary car. The 1861 Hopkins - Corey map of Bergen and Passaic Counties shows the “Steam Carriage Factory” behind Cleveland’s home on Main Street in Hackensack. Such an endeavor is not improbable, in England, William Murdoch patented a steam carriage that was built and operated in model form in 1784. Sylvester H. Roper of Boston, Massachusetts in 1863 invented steam carriage, that he drove around the city (a picture of his steam carriage is below). But if Cleveland was making “Steam Carriages” in 1861, he would be one of (if not) the earliest creators of a prototype car in America. Does anyone know anything else about John Banta Cleveland and his “Steam Carriage?”
Friday’s Fare Although the our Out Kitchen is closed at Historic New Bridge Landing, we are still researching, testing and preparing dishes made from 18th century recipes; Today’s Friday’s Fare is a batch of krullers (Dutch dough knots), recipe from Dutch Recipes by Helen Hora. Fried goodness - crispy outside, dense inside and topped with powdered sugar.
Friday’s Fare Although the our Out Kitchen is closed at Historic New Bridge Landing, we are still researching, testing and preparing dishes made from 18th century recipes. Today’s Friday’s Fare is a batch of krullers (Dutch dough knots), recipe from Dutch Recipes by Helen Hora. Fried goodness - crispy outside, dense inside and topped with powdered sugar.
Friday’s Fare from the Out Kitchen Although our kitchen is closed at Historic New Bridge Landing, we are still researching, testing and preparing dishes made from 18th century recipes. Today’s Friday’s Fare is krullers (Dutch dough knots), recipe is from Dutch Recipes by Helen Hora. Fried goodness - crispy outside, dense inside and topped with powdered sugar.
The Out Kitchen at Historic New Bridge Landing, River Edge, NJ may be closed for now, but still gotta eat. One of the best things from the garden is the early and fresh asparagus; a welcome break from the foods and produce that was wintered over. This Asparagus Soup recipe is from Elizabeth Cleland’s The New and Easy Method of Cookery 1755, page 12. Sweet herbs used were thyme and rosemary. Bergen County Historical Society. BergenCountyHistory.org
Come Celebrate the 19th Amendment - 3 prominent speakers will walk us through the history, the partnerships, the battles and successes from 1800 to today.
Thought someone might be interested in this upcoming program being presented by the Paterson historian this coming Sunday.
come learn about the second oldest African american newspaper in New Jersey
Black History Month - Bergen County is home to one of the "earliest" newspaper journalists of African American decent in NJ. Based out of Woodcliff Lake, he frequently wrote about events happening locally including Ridgewood, Hackensack and Nationally. Interested to learn more? Mahwah Museum is hosting an event on Feb 6th at 7:30 pm. Hope to see you there