After 50 years
History of Public Library Entwined With Story of Mrs. Archibald Jordan

By Lillian Dennegar


Teaneck's first library got its start and continued on to what it is today through the efforts of Mrs. Archibald Jordan of 229 Larch Avenue, who came to Teaneck as a bride in 1910.

Vincent Jordan, brother-in-law of Mrs. Jordan went west to live, and before leaving turned over his collection of books to his brother's wife.

Little children of the town including "'little Johnny Imhoff, red haired and freckled," and "pretty Jo Alice Hazelton too", according to Mrs. Jordan, would come to her home to hear stories.

The interest of the children in books gave her the idea for a library. Encouraged by her mother and husband, she opened a free library in her home. Adults became interested and they too came for books. With the development of the West Englewood Park section newcomers came also.

After a time Mr. Jordan built a store on West Englewood Avenue where the library was installed. Mrs. Jordan would open the store at night and conduct the Free Public Library. Eventually the store was taken over by William Burgois who erected a new building at West Englewood Avenue and Station Street. Fanny Borden, who is now Mrs. W. A. Schultz was connected with the store and ran the library in the day time, with Mrs. Jordan in charge at night. And the library grew. 

Mrs. Jordan wrote the state library commission for the loan of fifty books, and a good selection of adult books was promptly received. An exchange of books was made from time to time.

Advic On Bees

While Mrs. Jordan was busy conducting the library, Mr. Jordan a naturalist at heart, along with a neighbor, found a "bee tree" in the vicinity of his home. He promptly enlisted the services of his wife to get him a book from the State Library Commission on how to remove honey from a bee tree. A book was received in due time which described in detail just what one could expect to find in a bee tree. Large amounts of honey sometimes amounting to a half ton or so could be found, depending on the size of the tree, the book revealed.

The day came for the tree to be taken down and the method of procedure was followed according to the book. Everything went as scheduled, until there was a terrific sound of splitting wood, and the tree came apart where it wasn't supposed to. It fell across the telephone wires and left Englewood without telephone service for several hours.

The telephone linemen who came to repair the wires assisted in the splitting of the tree and helped to extract the spoils. The honey removed from the tree trunk amounted to a small handfull, but the trunk of the the tree was filled with live bees, who followed the honey. A smoke screen had to be put up so the spectators could return to their homes without the bees. 

Form Association 

About 1914 when women were waiting for the vote, the women of Teaneck decided there was not enough  interest being shown in school affairs and the School Civic Association was formed by a group of interested Teaneck women who worked with the school board. 

The School Civic Association established a free dental clinic for school children and Mrs. Jordan was president of the group. She also started the first Parent and Teacher Association in Teaneck which took over and incorporated the library. 

Buy Slave House

Because of the difficulty in securing a place for the library Miss Matte Scott suggested the purchasing of the old slave house on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Teaneck Road. The building is now used as a filling station.

Mrs. Minnie Sitzman was the owner of the property and gave a tentative option for $2,000. The library association had no funds. After being turned down by the Hackensack Trust Company, and the Palisade Trust Company in Englewood, the loan of $2,000 was made to the Library Association by the Franklin Society of New York, through the efforts of Mr. Jordan who practiced law in New York City.

When the owner of the property saw that the Library Association was going to take up the option, she tried to get a better price for the property. Mrs. Carl Franke Sr., mother of Patrolman Carl Franke and Mrs. Settone Bower, were instrumental in closing the sale, and the Library Association acquired its property.

The interior of the building was in bad condition and a volunteer committee made up of Mrs. Frank Sample, Mrs. William Hawkey and Mrs. Archibald Jordan were chosen to "clean house". The house was fumigated and sealed for three days.

Carl Franke Sr., did all the repair work on the building free of charge.

Mrs. Jordan as president, and the women of the Library Association formed a painting bee. A day was set for the painting job to begin. Mrs. Hawkey and Mrs. Sample arrived in a limousine with top hats to cover their hair, and pails of paint and brushes. There was no water in the building but Mrs. Sample brought a pail of lemonade.

Mrs. Franke and Mrs. R. A. Nibbe were on the luncheon committee, and luncheon was served out under a walnut tree. The repast consisted of chicken salad, coffee and Mrs. Rose Peineck's chocolate cake for which she was famous. It is remembered to this day.

It was Mrs. Hawkey's job to paint under the peak of the roof and eaves. She climbed the ladder eager to tackle the job and promptly dropped the pail of paint all over herself.

While Mrs. Sample and Mr. Jordan painted the south side of the building, Mrs. Ahrens and Mr. Sample painted the north side. Miss Matte Scott painted window boxes green, while Messrs, Jordan and Sample painted the front white. It rained and the green paint on the window boxes transferred itself to the white front of the building.

Mr. Sample donated a flag pole, which was put in place for the Library Association by telephone linemen working in the vicinity. An American flag was added and the dedication of the flag and pole was made on Decoration Day, May 30, 1923.

Because insurance had to be met on the new library, the mortgage met and new books purchased, ways and means to raise funds had to be found. Mrs. Agnes Campbell came forward with a donation of $25.00 to start the fund. Food sales were held. Mrs. Hawkey, Mrs. Sample and Mrs. Franke baked pies and sold them. Mrs. Peinecke's chocolate cake went over big, as did Mrs. Nibbe's chicken salad.

Mrs. Hawkey, treasurer of the Association, borrowed a truck and filled it with home made food, which was sold throughout the town. Mrs. Hawkey took order to deliver strawberry shortcake on Sunday. Young Billie Hawkey drove the truck, and everyone worked to payoff the mortgage on the library.

Plant Sale Added Funds

Mrs. Hawkey received a large donation of potted plants, and permission to use school No.2 for a plant sale. The interior of the school was dark and dismal, the association thought, and decided in order to make the sale a success something would have to be added. So they borrowed a long table and a real lace table cloth.. Members of the board poured tea from each end of the table and from a silver service, borrowed for the occasion. Just to add a last touch to the affair, Mrs. Hawkey brought oriental rug from her home to make the school floors more attractive.

Such was the determination of the first Teaneck Free Library board to make a success of its enterprise. More than $100 was realized at the sale.

The association was always pressed for funds. Carl Franke Sr., installed shelves for books free of charge. The library was patronized in the extreme by children as well as adult.

The organization was still struggling when the boom struck Teaneck, and the building was sold on June 24, 1926, for $17,500, at a profit after expenses of $15,000.

New Building 

A meeting was held by the library association, and the town council was offered the $15,000 providing it would supply the site for a new library building. After a delay the offer was accepted and the present site allowed for the building.

Frederick Warner, architect, drew plans for the building and did all the work in connection with it free. This  included supervision of construction. The cornerstone was laid in May 1927, on the day Charles Lindburg crossed the Atlantic. In November of the same year the Library was dedicated. After completion of the building it was found that a new state law had been passed and it would be necessary for the library to be known as the Free Public Library of Teaneck. Under the new order Mrs. Jordan was again elected president of the Library in 1927 and remained in office until :;he resigned in 1931.

Mrs. Margaret Hawkey was always treasurer. Miss Matte Scott, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Greenlaw and Mrs. William Thackwell did the work of Librarian in the new building, which included catalogueing twice a week by Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Sample and Mrs. Haw key. Mrs. Gus Ahrens gave her utmost support said Mrs. Jordan and never missed a meeting. Mrs. Sarah Kennedy was the eldest member of the board and her daughter Lillian the youngest. Mrs. Schuman, mother of Mrs. Clarence Hooks of Chadwick Road, was always active and Mrs. Rose Peinecke never failed to help in a financial way through contributions.

A librarian was hired by the board whose health failed after a year. Realizing the need of a good organizer and after interviewing Miss Agnes Norton, Mrs. Jordan recommended that the board hire the present Librarian, which they did.

Libraries were installed in grammar schools and were used extensively. First librarians did the work which was eventually taken over by teachers.

Mrs. Jordan Resigns 

When Mrs. Jordan resigned from the board she was given a luncheon and presented with a library card as a souvenir and the inscription read "In commemoration of a gracious thought, a charming personality, a splendid leader and a devoted friend", and signed by the Rev. Franklin Gaylord, Elizabeth Sample, Frances Quasdorf and J. J. Wilkins.

Mrs. Jordan before her marriage was Miss Louise Scully, of Summerville, N. J. Her forebears were among the settlers of this country. She is a member of the Daughters of the Revolution and served as Regent on the Hackensack Board and on the National Society.

She is the wife of Archibald Jordan, a New York Attorney, who was born in West Englewood. His father, Conrad Jordan, twice treasurer of the United States under Grover Cleveland, came to Teaneck in 1865. He established the West Shore Railroad, and financed the building of the first railroad station which was known as Jordan's Station.

Mr. Archibald Jordan gave to the Teaneck American Legion a piece of ground in West Englewood for its first club house. It was subsequently sold for $1,500 and the money went toward... (uncompleted, end of the clipping)*

* The clipping of this article is not complete and there's not indication of when or which newspaper it was published.

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