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Reminiscences of Montclair
Chapter 3

Some items from a Gazeteer of the State of New Jersey, published in 1834 at Trenton by Thomas F. Gordon, will be of interest. Following is its record of the Township of Bloomfield: "The villages of the township are Belleville, Bloomfield, Spring Garden and Speertown." The territory covered by above villages reaches from the top of our Mountain to the Passaic River, to the county line on the north and to Orange on the south. The census of 1830 gives the population of 4,309. What is now Montclair would show a census of less than one-third of 4,309. The number of horses and mules it states were 387; number of cattle, 862. In 1832 the entire township, including Belleville, was assessed as follows: State tax, $754.50; county tax, $238.37; poor tax, $1,200, and road, $1,200. In contrast, the assessment of Montclair for the year 1907:

County tax: $141,438.85
Town tax: $157,675.88
School tax: $98,768.70
Poor tax: $6,000.00
Road tax: $48,000.00

The aggregate, $451,883.43, of this present Montclair assessment contrasted with the assessment of $3,392.87 covering the original township in 1832, is an index of the phenomenal growth of our town in the last seventy-five years. There are single taxpayers in Montclair whose taxes amount to nearly the entire budget of 1832. The Gazetteer gives the record of Bloomfield Village, which at that time was Bloomfield and Montclair Townships: "The population about 1,600, 250 dwellings, 2 hotels, an Academy, boarding school, 4 common school, 2 stores, 1 Presbyterian and 2 Methodist Churches, 2 woolen factories, 1 mahogany sawmill, 1 rolling mill for copper, 1 calico print works, 2 sawmills. Also an extensive trade is carried on in tanning, currying and shoe manufacturing." A few items of the early history of Newark from this book are interesting. Its population in 1830 was 10,953, but a little more than one-half the present population of Montclair: "Besides the churches the only public building of the town of much importance is the court house and prison of brick under the same roof. The keepers' apartments and prison cells are on the ground floor. Court rooms, jury rooms and Sheriff's office on the second floor."

The entire provision for public travel between Newark and New York at that time was a steamboat making two trips daily with an average of seventy-five passengers; two lines of stages, almost hourly, conveying eight hundred passengers weekly between the two localities. The account adds that "this communication will be still more frequent when the New Jersey railroad, now rapidly progressing, shall have been completed. The Directors are now running the road through part of the town and propose to cross the Passaic River about the center of the town upon a wooden bridge on stone abutments." In 1834 the railroad track between Newark and Jersey City was completed and the first excursion over the road was made in September. The passenger car Washington, described at the time in the public press as a splendid and beautiful piece of workmanship, contained three apartments with seats on top. Regular trips between the two cities at a cost of thirty-seven and one-half cents each way were commenced September 15th. Eight round trips per day accommodated the travel. For more than a year the cars were drawn by horses, until the road across the meadows was sufficiently settled to make it safe for the engine, which first came into use December 2nd, 1835. I remember, as a boy, seeing this car, Washington, drawn by horses on its way across the meadows to Jersey City with passengers seated on top. The growth of travel between Newark and New York from that day to this is a marvel.

A few items from newspapers of near the same date will show the contrast between the early days of stage coach and sailing vessels, with the present day of railroad and telegraphic communication. A New York paper of December 11th, 1828, gives reports of the British Stock Market; also commercial reports from London, dated October 27th, forty-five days old. An item of rapid transit is given in the same issue. A gentlemen who left Boston at seven o'clock A.M. drank tea in Philadelphia the next evening at seven P.M., thirty-six hours between the two places.

The Newark Sentinel of Freedom of December 15th, 1829, gives in full President Andrew Jackson's message, which had been read to Congress on the 8th, just one week previous. Part of the delay is explained by the fact that this was a weekly paper, for the Editor states that the message reached New York in remarkable time of sixteen hours by special arrangement of the New York Commercial Advertiser, and makes acknowledgment of his indebtedness to this paper for having furnished him a copy of the message that enabled him to issue an extra at four o'clock P.M. the next day after it was read to Congress.

Hon. Theodore Frelinghuysen, whose benevolent face I well remember, was a member of the Senate at this time. A quotation by the Newark Daily Advertiser of May 27th, 1834, from the New York Commercial Advertiser says: "Few States have reason to be more proud of their representation in the Senate than our neighbor, New Jersey. Such men as Southard and Frelinghuysen would confer honor upon any legislative hall, whether bearing the appellation of a House of Lords of the humbler designation of a Republican Senate." Mr. Frelinghuysen later was candidate for Vice-President on the Whig ticket with Henry Clay. An irreverent slogan in this political campaign was, "Clay at the card table and Frelinghuysen at the communion table."

The following marriage notice appears in a Newark appear of Tuesday, December 15th, 1829: "Married in New York on Saturday morning last by the Rev. Dr. Wainwright, the Hon. Daniel Webster of Boston, to Caroline, youngest daughter of Herman Le Roy, Esq., of that city." The above mentioned papers are in my possession.

Reminiscences of Montclair (NJ) was written in 1908 by Philip Doremus
Please do not reproduce this document for profit without notifying me first.

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