PASSAIC DAILY TIMES
OCCUPIES HISTORIC GROUND

(Passaic Daily Times of Apr 26, 1882)

As soon as practical, our present establishment will move into a new building, to be erected for its accommodation on the corner of Prospect Street and Howe Avenue, a location in every way desirable for our business. The demands of trade necessitate increased press and job room, and a more suitable foundation for our heavy presses than can be had conveniently where we now are.

In making arrangements for this change, we discover that we shall occupy historic ground, and that in pulling down the old building on the corner, another landmark will disappear from our midst. Persuaded that our readers will find it of interest, we give herewith a somewhat detailed history of the building and its associations that is now being torn down to make way for the march of the improvement column.

In the olden time (as we gather the facts from Judge Henry P. SIMMONS), where five houses were clustered together or in close vicinity, the place was called a Dorrup (Dorp or Village) and as early as tradition goes back to Acquackanonck, or what is now called Passaic City, was a Dorp. Not that the buildings were close together but in convenient proximity. The old VAN WAGONER house at the foot of Main Avenue was one, and the farm of the Van Wagonerís extended away back. But in the Goatham (Gotham) division as it was called, there was a triangular piece of land of about 18 acres, with a frontage on what is now called Main Avenue and Prospect Street, one extreme point of which was the spot now occupied by the DOONER Beer Saloon, nearly opposite our present office. This eighteen acres referred to was drawn by the division of Ruloff Corneliusson (Ruloff, the son of Cornelius), whose surname was VAN HOUTEN.

The Van Houtenís came from the Wood district of Holland, Houten meaning, as we learn, "Woods." This drawing or division of the land was made in 1684, and the Van Houtens occupied the place till it fell into the hands of Coss (James) STAGG, either by purchase or by a marriage of Stagg into the Van Wagoner family. Coss Stagg was a painter and sold paint and putty, window panes, tobacco, snuff, apple-jack, etc., (not in the old stone house, but in a building only a little larger than the Dooner Saloon and on the exact Dooner spot, which was the point of property striking the main road).

The Judge says that when a child, he well remembers seeing Coss Stagg selling snuff to the negro wenches, who used large quantities of it upon their teeth and some of them literally ate it, and Coss would put a penny on one scale and the snuff in the other and give them the weight of the old copper coin as a pennyworth. Whenever the wenches (and in fact white women as well) got together, it was out with a snuff box and boonders (brushes), and dipping in altogether the consumption of snuff was rapid, and its sale quite an item.

From Stagg, the property fell into the hands of Uriah VAN RIPER, who kept a tavern in what is now the UTAH House and who was an old resident when he acquired the title, and who was also the blacksmith of the village. He conveyed it to one Joshua MARTIN, a son-in-law of old James KING of Paterson,--one of the wealthiest men of his day in that town. Martin took to drinking and his father-in-law had to take the property. He sold it to Dr. HOWE.

Thus, we have traced the property down. It was bounded on the East by Prospect Street, or the "Old Indian Pathway," Main Avenue from the river to Prospect, across and up the Wesel Drive to Cedar Lawn and through Market to Willis in Paterson, York Avenue, Broadway, and Mulberry to River and thus to the Indian Fording Place back of what is now GARRABRANTís Passaic Hotel, being the old Indian Trail of the Pompton and the other tribes, and afterwards adopted as the first roadway to Paterson from Paterson Landing (Acquackanonck, foot of Main Avenue).

The property was bounded by the VAN WAGONER line and by what is now the SIMMONS line, and in the rear by land of Luke WESSELS. The house was never large, but a comfortable house in its time, and the Judge says not only were the lines joined, but there was constant intermarriage between the VAN HOUTENís and the VAN WAGONERís. In fact, the Judge adds, the families were so scarce in the olden time that there was a very limited opportunity for the families to pick from, and they had to intermarry if they got wives.

But from this old stone house, now being town down to make way for a new building to be constructed from the Passaic Daily Times, sprang all the numerous families of the Van Houtenís in this and the adjacent counties.

Into this old stone house was the first lockup or jail of our city. It was used for a printing office for a while, and Mr. Jas. C. SIGLER published the Passaic Sentinel there, until it suspended.

It has been used for a blacksmith shop, for a chair makerís shop, and for various other purposes. Our building, sixty-five feet in length, will occupy ground now a score, of times more valuable than the whole place was in the olden times when the Van Houtens occupied it as a dwelling.

(*The above is taken from an article within PCHSís "Winfield Scott Collection." Scott, a Passaic Attorney, maintained a collection area newspaper articles from about the late 19th century which he organized into a series of five scrapbooks and later donated to PCHS.)

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