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  • Sue Tryforos, Borough Historian

Glen Rock Incorporation, 1894

For this year's Quasquicentennial Celebration, The Rock Recorder Blog will post a chronological (as much as possible) history of Glen Rock, NJ. My main source for framing this series is an unpublished manuscript in the Glen Rock Historical & Preservation Society's archive, which was written by George Hubschmitt. This is Part #6 of the series.

It is not recorded officially where or how Glen Rock received its name, however "Glen Rock" is found on a map in the Walker Atlas of 1876 to designate the area surrounding The Rock (other local areas were known as "Small Lots" and "Ferndale", to name just two). Mrs. William H. Legg, nee Marinus, stated that one of her forebears in the Marinus family felt that Big Rock was not a pleasant sounding name and that it was he who named the area "Glen Rock". The Marinus family owned a sawmill along the Diamond Brook, in the vicinity of The Boulevard today. There is also the oral tradition that resident Charles Viel objected to the original decision to name the new independent borough "South Ridgewood", feeling that such a name would only invite confusion with its next-door neighbor, and that Viel pushed for using the name "Glen Rock" instead. What is known is that that the original Incorporation papers were drawn up with the name South Ridgewood but that this was crossed out manually and Glen Rock was written in before the papers were submitted to the authorities in Hackensack.

The Marinus Sawmill, circa 1890

In the early 1890s Ridgewood Township had growing pains. Increased and improved train service into Jersey City and thence by ferry into New York City was making this area more popular with people who worked in the city. This improved service brought more people to live in the Ridgewood/Glen Rock area and with them came the issue of more children in the small rural district schools. Ridgewood Township at that time was served by three district schools: School #45 at the Paramus Church, School #61 on Union Street, and School #44 at the intersection of Ackerman Avenue and Rock Road (see our previous Blog Post about School #44.) School #61 was two rooms with two teachers and the #45 and #44 schools were one room with one teacher each. New school facilities were talked about and it was proposed to build an eight-room school on Beech Street (now Cottage Place in Ridgewood). Due to a push by concerned mothers, the new school was to be made of brick and not wood, at the extraordinary cost of $50,000.00.

(left, Beech Street School - now Ridgewood Board of Education Offices)

When informed that all of the district schools would be closed, and all of the pupils compelled to attend the new school, Glen Rock area residents became concerned and a number of the men began to talk about forming their own independent borough. Foremost among those pushing for this change were Garret T. Hopper, Andrew Van Dien Snyder, Richard T. Snyder (Andrew's cousin), John J. Storms and John Vanderbeck. These men were already well acquainted with the problems of government: many of them had served in one way or another in either the Ridgewood Township or the Saddle River Township governments and knew that the road ahead would not be easy. A petition circulated. A survey was made - by lantern light into the evening, including those residents' properties who wished to be a part of the new borough and excluding those who did not - and the papers were delivered to Hackensack just a few hours before a separate petition was filed to create the Village of Ridgewood including some of the same land.

The new borough of Glen Rock was formed on September 14, 1894, consisting of 1,736 acres previously in Ridgewood Township and Saddle River Township. The vote was 80 "yea"s and 2 "nay"s; the 2 nay votes were planned so that there could be no question of fairness in the final outcome (in fact, one of the nay votes was cast by Henry E. Mead, who would become Glen Rock's 3rd Mayor in 1899). The borough's first election of officers followed on October 2, 1894 and Richard T. Snyder was duly elected as Glen Rock's first Mayor. At that time, there were approximately 600 residents of the new borough, living on about 100 farms. The first borough budget amounted to $600.00, half of which was designated for road repairs on the dusty dirt roads. The new borough had one store on Paterson Road (Maple Avenue), three greenhouses, three streetlights (soon to be removed because they were too bright for the horses and wagon drivers), a couple of blacksmiths and a handful of mills along the Diamond Brook.

Abram Christopher's Blacksmith Shop near corner of Paterson Road and Rock Avenue

(Maple Avenue and South Highwood Avenue), 1905

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