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  • Sue Tryforos, Borough Historian

Life in the New Borough, 1894-1900

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 My main source for framing this series is an unpublished manuscript in the Glen Rock Historical & Preservation Society's archives, which was written by George Hubschmitt. This is Part #7 of the series.

At the time the Borough was formed in 1894, there were three hotels: Wagoner's, at Harristown and Maple; Old Half-Way House, between today's Municipal Annex and Maple Rock Exxon station on Maple Avenue; and O'Neill's, at Amherst Court and Maple Avenue. The hotels were places to stop for a hearty meal and maybe a short rest before continuing on your journey. Maple Avenue was originally named Paterson Road and it served from an early date as a stagecoach road to move people between bustling Paterson and Suffern, New York. In 1894, there was one Glen Rock store, Mrs. Conklin's, located on Paterson Road near Park Avenue. Andrew V. D. Snyder had greenhouses and a seed store on Paterson Road while Thurston's and Bingham's greenhouses did business on Harristown Road. There were about ninety homes with barns and accessory buildings.

The Old Half-Way House Hotel, c. 1900

Early Glen Rock had three carbon arc type street lights for a short period of time. The lights were all along Paterson Road, one at Rock Avenue (now South Highwood Avenue), one at Ackerman Avenue and one at Rock Road. These lights were removed during 1895 since drivers complained of being temporarily blinded by them while driving. The last notation concerning these lights was May 7, 1896 when the Glen Rock Council instructed the borough clerk to notify the Ridgewood Power and Light Company to fill up the holes that were left when the poles were removed.

Andrew Van Dien Snyder became the second Mayor of Glen Rock (succeeding his cousin, Richard Snyder) in 1896. Andrew Snyder had a very sincere interest in government affairs. He had served prior to Glen Rock's incorporation as a Freeholder in Bergen County as a representative from Ridgewood Township. He opened his seed store and greenhouses in 1886. It was an extremely successful business in this rural farming community. His greenhouses were the first official voting location in Glen Rock, using a small metal cracker tin as the first ballot box. His business was located where the Medical Arts Building is now, near the intersection of Maple and Park Avenues.

Harry Sinkway (left) and Andrew J. Snyder (son of A.V.D. Snyder) in the Snyder Seed Store

The first record of relief work is noted when Councilman Garret T. Hopper reported spending 75¢ on needed groceries for a family in August 1897. This family moved out of Glen Rock shortly after.

The 1898 municipal elections were the first to present Democrat and Republican tickets. In the previous elections, the slates of candidates had been listed as Citizens and Independent tickets. Henry E. Mead, Republican, was elected as Glen Rock's third Mayor in 1898. Mead had cast one of the two votes against Incorporation in 1894, but he explained that he had actually been in favor but feared that an unanimous decision could be challenged. Mead was one of only a handful of Glen Rockers at that time who commuted by train into New York City on a daily basis.

In January 1898 there is a report that "Some roads blockaded with snow, but had been opened". It is well to consider the operation involved. After a heavy snow, a sturdy farm sleigh was hooked up with two teams of large farm horses. From a dozen to fifteen men equipped with shovels would pile onto the sleigh and the roads were then driven over, compacting the snow. However, when drifts too deep for the horses to plow through were encountered, the men left the sleigh and shoveled a path wide enough to accommodate one vehicle at a time. On Paterson Road from the Half-Way House to the Bergen County Short Cut railroad tracks, many times there was no attempt to drive through. Often the snow was piled to the top of the fence that ran from the Hotel to the railroad tracks.

At the Council's Annual Meeting on March 20, 1899, Mayor Meade urged the councilmen to consider sidewalk construction, new street lights and the prohibition of new outdoor advertising signs. In October of the same year, the Council passed, over the Mayor's veto, the Telephone Ordinance No. 6, awarding a contract to the Paterson, Passaic and Suburban Telephone Company to erect poles and install electric telephone service in Glen Rock. The Mayor had objected to the Ordinance because there was no guarantee of service or allowance to connect with other phone companies. Other Council discussions during Mayor Mead's term concerned permits for the Ridgewood Traction Company to run trolleys through the borough and to the National Transit Company to lay pipelines over Rock Road from Lincoln Avenue; nothing was decided on these issues.

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