Old Bergen

Chapter XIX.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

FROM the following report, dated 1680, we can gain a very correct idea of the growth and condition of the territory comprising "Old Bergen."

That there is a considerable settlement on Bergen Point, then called Constable Hook, and first improved by Edsall, in Nicoll's time; other plantations were unproved along Bergen Neck to the east; between the point and a large village of some twenty families, further along lived sixteen or eighteen families, and opposite New York about forty families are seated southward from this. A few families settled together at a place called Duke's Farm (Aharsimus), and further up the country was a place called Hoebuck, formerly owned by a Dutch merchant who, in the Indian wars with the Dutch, had his wife, children, and servants murdered by the Indians, and his home and stock destroyed by them. But it is now settled again, and a mill erected there. Bergen is a compact town which had been fortified against the Indians, and contained about forty families. Its inhabitants were chiefly Dutch, some of whom had been settled there upwards of forty years."
The general condition of the territory may likewise be learned from the following extract from an "Account of the encouragement for promoting a design of planting in East New Jersey," etc., in a letter from one George Scott at Edinburg, published in 1685, in which an allusion is made to the settlements and plantations of that time, in the territory now under consideration:
  1. Those on Overpeck Creek near Hackensack River, a river settled by several valleys, for which Mr. Nicolls, of New York, had a Patent, but gave leave to their settlement, at the request of Governor Carteret.
  2. Near to Snake Hill a piece of land almost an island, belonging to Mr. Penhorne, a Merchant of New York, and one Edward Eickbe.
  3. There are other plantations upon Hackensack River, which goes a great way up the country, almost northwest ; others also on the east side of another Creek or River, at Hackensack River.
  4. A large neck or tract of land, for which one Sarah Kiersted, of New York, had a Patent given her by an old Indian Sachem, in recompense for her interpreting the Indian language into Dutch, as there was occasion. There are some little families thereon ; two or three miles up a great plantation, settled by Captain John Berry, whereon he now lives.
  5. Another plantation adjoining belonging to his son-in-law, Michele Smith; another to Mr. Baker. This neck of land is in breadth, from Captain Berry's new plantation, on the west side where he lives, over to his old plantations, to the east at Hudson's River side, about three miles, which distance severs to Constable Hook, upward of ten miles.
  6. To go back to the south part of Bergen Neck, that is opposite to Staten Island, where but a narrow passage of water, which ebbs and flows between the said Island and Bergen Point, called Constable's Hook, extending in land, above a mile over, from the Bay on the east side of the Neck, that leads to New York, to that on the west, that goes to Hackensack and Snake Hill, the neck running up between both, from the south, to the north of Hudson's River, to the outmost extent of their bounds. It was first settled by Samuel Edsall in Col. Nicoll's time and by him sold for 600.
  7. Other small plantations along the neck to the East, are then named. Among them one to George Umpane (Communipau), which is over against New York, where there is about forty families, within which about the middle of the neck, which is here about three miles, overstands the town of Bergen, which gives name to that Neck. Then again northward, to the waterside going up Hudson's River, there lies out a point of and, wherein is a plantation and a water mill belonging to a Merchant in New York.
  8. Southward there is a small village, about five or six families, which is commonly called the Duke's Farm. Further up is a good plantation in a neck of land almost an Island, called Hobuk. It did belong to a Dutch Merchant who formerly in the Indian War, had his wife, children and servants, murdered by the Indians, and his house, cattle and stock destroyed by them. It is now settled again and a mill erected there, by one dwelling at New York.
  9. Up northward along the River side, are other lands near to Mr. William Lawrence, which is six or seven miles further. Opposite thereto is a plantation of Mr. Edsall, and above that Captain Bien field's plantation. This last is almost opposite to the northwest end of Manhattan Island. Here are the utmost extent of the northern bounds of East Jersey as always computed.
Colve's reign was short, for on the 9th of July, 1674, the treaty of peace with England was concluded, which restored the whole country to the English. February 9, 1674, peace between Holland and England was established on favorable terms to the Dutch settlers, and the New Netherlands restored to English rule, which was continued until the Revolutionary War.

Sir Edmund Andros was commissioned Governor. He was recalled, and Thomas Dongan arrived on the 12th of August, 1683 ; the same year the first Colonial Assembly convened and adopted a Bill of Rights. On the conclusion of peace, the Duke of York obtained a new patent, similar to the first, dated June 29, 1674, and on November 6th of the same year, Governor Carteret published his Commission, and other documents at Bergen, in the presence of his Council. Commissioners were present from all the towns in New Jersey, except Shrewsbury.

It thus seems that Bergen was for a time the seat of government, and consequently may claim to have been the capital of the state. In 1682 the Province of New Jersey was divided into four counties; Bergen, Essex,

Middlesex and Monmouth. Bergen included all the settlements between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, and extended to the north bound of the prov ince. In 1693 each county was divided into townships.