Source: Published in Times Review, 3/1/1930. Part of local archive collection of the Teaneck Public Library, gift of Chris D. Sheffe.
Historical Sketch of Teaneck
By Elizabeth S. Sample
Mrs. Sample is the wife of Frank L. Sample and a native of the Township. Her article reflects great research and presents very interesting incidents of early Teaneck. This article, possibly to be amplified, will be included in "Teaneck in Pictures," to be published under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce. -- Ed. note.
Oratam, "a notable man among men in his day," and according to historical documents, Sachem of an Indian trible inhabiting a vast territory, of which Teacneck was a part, undoubtediy often stood on the rise of ground at Teaneck road and Fycke lane proudly surveying the many thousands of acres stretching away on all sides over wnich he ruled.
The First Settier
Many indications of more than a casual Indian occupancy have been found around the region of Glenwood and Cedar Parks, such as a large shell heap, ruins of a fort or palisaded section and hundreds of stone implements, one collector having more than five hundred, This location was brougbt to the attention of the Bergen County Historical Society when they were given a set of old photographs of the site and they secured the services of an expert archaeologist to make an examination and it was then found that two settlements had been made, one at what is now known as Glenwood Park and one at Cedar Park; that the road connecting these settlements with Teaneck road was
what is now known as Fyckes Jane. On this site between the years 1577 and 1667, Iived the grand old Indian Oratam, who, to the best of
our knowledge, was Teaneck's first settler.
The name "Teaneck" has had many interpretations but the one usually accepted is that it is of Dutch origin and means "Neck of Land." The fact that our early settIer's were Dutch makes this seem quite plausible. That the name is an historical one we know, as it appears on the original map made by George Washington's aide and used by his army. It appears many times and spelled in many ways in the Orderly Book of the New Jersey Brigade under dates of July 30th to October 18th, 1780. From these Orders we find that this part of Washington's Army camped and had headquarters in Teaneck for several months. The known fact that Washington's Army did camp in Teaneck lends weight to the story surrounding the old well, still in good condition, although lacking a top, located in the northern section of our Township in a field midway between Teaneck road and the West Shore Railroad tracks and near Tryon avenue, known as "Washington's Well," the story being that from this well Washington's troops drew their water while encamped in Teaneck.
The Demarest House
Teaneck's early settlers were Dutch who left their old country to found a home in a land where they could have religious freedom and worship God according to their own beliefs. Descendants of some of these original settlers still live in Teaneck. Notably among them is the Demarest family, whose ancestor, David Demarest, landed in New York City in 1663, later settling on land purchased from the Tappan Indians in 1677.
From this family came one Jasper Demarest, who, in 1829, purchased the Dutch Colonial house built by Hendrick Brinkerhoff in 1728, and which now stands in a remarkable state of preservation on the east side of Teaneck road about a quarter of a mile north of Fort Lee road, a monument to the workmanshIp of our early settlers. To this house in 1829 came Jasper Demarest's son, George C., the father-in-law of the present owner, Mary Demarest.
Many acres of land went wIth thIs house and what a few years ago was farm land is now built up with homes. The members of the family now living in Teaneck are Mrs. Mary Vreeland Demarest, the present owner of the old homestead, and her children, the Misses Saretta and Mary Ella, Mrs. Lotta Demarest Treadwell, George Vreeland and Walter J. Demarest.
Teaneck boasts of another old family, the Westervelts. whose ancestors settled in Teaneck two hundred and fifty years ago on a large tract of land located on both sides of Teaneck road and South of Fort Lee road. Like most of the old estates much of this original tract has been sold and developed with streets and houses.
Members of the family now residing in Teaneck are Dr. Blauvelt Westervelt and Peter F. Westervelt who live in their respective homes located on the west side of Teaneck road south of Fort Lee road. The house now occupied and owned by Mrs. Miller on the west side of Teaneck road was part of the Westervelt property and was built in 1793.
Slaves and Ghost Stories
Another of Teaneck's old houses is that belonging to Mr. and Mrs. H. Cadmus, standing on the west side of River road, south of Cedar lane. Mrs. Cadmus's great grandfather, Henry J. Kipp, came to Teaneck more than one hundred years ago, locating on a farm of seventy-seven acres, most of which has been sold and developed. Their place originally ran from the Hackensack river to what is now the West Shore Railroad.
Along the river and abutting this property was an old Indian cemetery, Mrs. Cadmus remembers hearing her father tell how he often sat around the open fireplace in the slave quarters in the basement of the present house, Iistening to the slaves tell ghost stories. Covered with English ivy and surrounded with beautiful elms this house is still the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cadmus and family.
The Old Burying Ground
On River road north of Cedar lane the Ackerman family settled on an eight hundred acre farm running from the Hackensack to the Hudson river. The old homestead stood on the west side of River road overlooking the Hackensack river. The last member of that family to Iive there was Peter I Ackerman, who sold the property to Joseph Konzley, Jr.
About 100 feet north of west Englewood avenue, on the banks of the Hackensack, was located the old Lutheran Church and burying ground. The church is gone and the river had made inroads and destroyed the greater part of the burying ground but some of the graves still remain marked by the old tombstones. The Bergen County Historical Society has marked this site with a bronze tablet.
In the upper section of Teaneck stands another old house, that known as the Lozier home. The house is in a wonderful state of preservation and stands on the original leasehold held by the Loziers and acquired as a grant from the English Crown. This house is now the home of Miss Essie and Gertrude Lozier.
A number of old houses remain but passed from the hands of the original owners many years ago, the families settling in other localities.
In the years following other families came to Teaneck many of whose descendants still live here and own part of the lands originally purchased by their ancestors.
About 1839 William De Ronde bought a farm of apporximately one hundred and fifty acres located on Teaneck road a short distance north of Cedar lane. His grandson, Frank S. De Ronde, with his wife and children, have their home on a portion of the original farm. Mr. De Ronde's mother was born and spent her entire life in Teaneck, living with her daughter Crissie in the house now owned by Mr. Nicholas Romaine.
The well-known custodian of our Municipal Building, Mr. Jaboc Brinkerhoff, is the son of Henry Brinkerhoff who came to Teaneck many years ago, settling on a farm of sixty acres located on the west side of Teaneck road, running from West Forest avenue to within a few feet of what is now Elizabeth avenue. His mother, Gitty, who before her marriage was also a Brinkerhoff, lived in one of the old houses on Fykes lane. Teaneck has been Jake's home all his life, he and his sister Euphemia living together until her death.
In 1855, Charles Kuntze came to Teaneck from Germany and married here, said marriage taking place in the old Fink farmhouse which stood on what is now the Municipal grounds. Mr. and Mrs. Kuntze lived there for a short time and then moved to the house on Cedar lane and Westfield avenue now being used as a gas station. Later they moved to a farm on Westfield avenue, which originally joined what is now the high school property. Here were born their children, Edmund and Nellie. Nellie subsequently married Henry Clausen, and they now live with their four children on the site of the old Kuntze farm.
The Ackerman Family
In 1859, Richard Ackerman purside of Teaneck road at the head of Englewood Avenue and went to live there with his wife and family. Later his son John married Sarah Christie of the old Schraalenburgh Family. Mr. and Mrs. Ackerman still live in this house with their son Richard, the present owner.
Teaneck is proud to claim as one of her native sons, Dr. Frank M. Chapman, noted Naturalist, whose father, Labeaus Chapman, came to Teaneck in 1863, occupying the house on the east side of Teaneck road opposite West Englewood avenue.
United States Treasurer
In 1865, Conrad N. Jordan, of New YOrk City, bought from the Lozier family a farm of thirty acres located on Teaneck road and West Englewood avenue and running west to what is now the site of the Whittier school. Here he settled with his wife and one child. Later at the old homestead were born to the Jordans six children, the youngest of whom, Archibald N. Jordan, lives in Teaneck with his wife and two children.
In 1869, Conrad Jordan purchased the Brinkerhoff Farm on Teaneck road now the site of the Hannibal Coal Co. Mr. Jordan was a banker and financier and because of his ability was appointed Treasurer of the United States by President Grover Cleveland and kept in office by President McKinley and Roosevelt. It was Mr. Jordan who, in 1869, purchased the Ridgefield Park Railroad Company, then a small railroad running between Bogota and Tappan. He devised and built the extensions from Bogota to Weehawken and from Tappan to Albany and changed the name to Jersey City and Albany railroad. This later became the West Shore Railroad. In 1870, Mr. Jordan built West Englewood avenue from Teaneck road to River road and established a station at West Englewood avenue, known as Jordan Station.
William Walter Phelps
In 1865, William Walter Phelps, of New York, purchased the Fink Farm at the corner of Cedar lane and Teaneck road, now the Municipal Grounds, and here, after remodelling the old farm house, he made his home. As time went by Mr. Phelps gradually added to his holdings until at one time he owned approximately twenty-nine hundred acres in Bergen County.
One his Teaneck estate, which covered many hundreds of acres, Mr. Phelps set out thousands of trees and built miles of roads through is magnificent woods. All of these roads were open to the public and the drives through this property were known throughout the State for their beauty. Many rare and beautiful trees planted by Mr. Phelps still stand in Teaneck.
In 1881. Mr. Phelps was appointed MInister to Austria and later was elected congressman from this District. In the spring of 1888 the old Phelps home was destroyed by fire, the ruins of which, covered with ivy and surrounded by shrubbery stood for many years and presented one of the most picturesque and romantic spots in the County. After the loss of his house, Mr. Phelps bought and occupied for years the house then owned by ex-governor John W. Griggs which stood where now stands the Holy Name Hospital. Within the last fifteen years this estate has been cut up and sold, a large part being what is now the Phelps Manor Country Club. On River road, Captain John J. Phelps, son of William Walter Phelps, has his home. He and his family are the only members of the Phelps family residing in Teaneck.
The Brarmans and Phillipses
In December, 1866, William Brarman came to this country, built a home on Oak street, Teaneck, where he still resides and where he raised a family of nine children, three of whom live in Teaneck. One son, John J. Brarman, has been Building Inspector of our Town for the past three years.
In May, 1870, James Phillips and wife came to Teaneck, making their home on Cedar lane, later moving to the old red farmhouse that stood just off Teaneck road and on what is now known as Franklin road. Seven children were born to them, five of whom now live in Teaneck. Miss Annie, James Phillips and family, Thomas, robert and family, and Mrs. Christina Jahnes and family.
In the northwestern section of Teaneck, about 1875, Chris Brucker settled and two sons, Phillip and Peter, still make their homes here.
Also to this part of the town and at about the same time came John Brower and his wife. Here they established their home and here they still live. One son, William Henry, also has his home here.
On the west side of Teaneck road, north of Washington place, still stands the house where, in 1879, John De Ronde made his home. His daughter, Lydia Jane, later to become Lydia Jane Taylor, lived here for many years, now making her home with her daughter, Mrs. Maria Decker, just a short distance from the old homestead.
On Teaneck road, just north of the Public Library, is the home of Harry Bennett whose father, William Bennett, in 1882 came to Teaneck and until his death lived in the house now owned by his son. Mr. Bennett for years was Superintendent of the Phelps estate. Mrs. Frank De Ronde, who lives in Teaneck, is a daughter of Mr. William Bennett.
In 1885 Robert Stevenson brought his family to Teaneck, occupying the old white brick house on Teaneck road and Stevenson lane, which will soon have to fall to make way for the new State Highway. In this old house his daughter, Mrs. Frank Sample, was born and still lives in Teaneck. One son, James, also lives in Teaneck.
Teaneck originally was part of what was called "Hackensack Township." In 1871 this was divided, one sub-division becoming Englewood Township and included what is now Teaneck. In the spring of 1895, Teaneck, by act of Legislature, withdrew from Englewood, and became a separate Township.
The first official body of the new Township was elected on the following ticket:
|1895 Citizens Ticket of Teaneck Township|
|For Town Clerk||Frank S. DeRonde|
|For Town Committee||Henry J. Brinkerhoff||1 year|
|Peter I. Ackerman||2 years|
|William Bennett||3 years|
|Chosen Freeholder||John J. Phelps|
|Assessor||Daniel G. Bogert|
|Justices||Robert Stevenson||2 years|
|Constables||George A. Coe||1 year|
|Christian Cole, Jr.||2 years|
|J. W. Ackerman||3 years|
|Surveyor of Highways||Sheffield Phelps|
|Overseer of Poor||John M. Robinson||3 years|
|Commissioner of Appeals||Jasper Westervelt||3 years|
|John M. Robinson||2 years|
|George Blanck||1 year|
|Pound Keepers||Peter I. Ackerman|
It will be noted that the Citizens Ticket was made up of men from both political parties and for twelve years the elections were controlled by a Citizens Ticket which was always elected without opposition.
At this time the assessed valuation of Teaneck's real and personal property given by Englewood was $377,650. Contrast this with the assessed valuation of 1930 which was $22,000,000.
According to notes found in an early history of this section a school district was formed in Teaneck in the spring of 1841 called "Union District No. 10." A building was built at a cost of three hundred dollars, timber, sand, stone and labor furnished gratis by the inhabitants. On May 9, 1851, a meeting was held and a resolution passed by the taxable inhabitants to conform to act of incorporation that Union School District No. 10, Upper Teaneck, shall be called "Teaneck Institute."
On the 21st of May, 1851, "D. L. Van Saun commenced school at the Teaneck Institute, having been engaged by the Trustees at $60 per quarter, and then he must find himself." In 1869, a school building was built at a cost of $3,677.75 and was considered "an elegant two story frame building." This was located on Teaneck road and Forest avenue where Kobbe & Flannery's garage now stands.
This building served the school needs of this part of Teaneck for many years and also took care of the needs of the Sunday School, which, in after years, became first a Union Sunday School and then the Teaneck Presbyterian Church. When a new school was built this old building was moved to the corner of Church street and Teaneck road and was known as The Old Town Hall. In 1929, the Veterans of Foreign Wars bought the building, and, renovated, it now stands on Bedford Avenue as their clubhouse.
Real Estate Development
The original huge tracts of land obtained either by grants or purchase from the Indians, were eventually and gradually split up and sold in parcels varying from ten to hundred acres; these in turn have been sub-divided and sold as home sites. One of the first of these real estate developers to come to Teaneck was Mr. Walter Selvage, who, in the late nineties, bought a number of large tracts, cut roads through and sold home sites. part of the development was known as "Manhattan Heights." Mrs. Selvage now lives in Teaneck on part of Mr. Selvage's original holding.
Very little acreage remains in Teaneck today and what was a beautiful, quiet, farming community will undoubtedly soon be a bustling, hurrying city.