Mahwah Museum is open every Saturday Sunday and Wednesday from 1-4pm. The Donald Copper Model RR is open on weekend only from 1-4pm.
This year we are featuring three new exhibits, along with our permanent exhibits:
MAHWAH’s HIS-“TREE”: 75 Years as a Township, 1944-2019
Mahwah’s history dates back to the 1600s and 1700s, belonging to several territories with different names. In the 1700s and 1800s, Mahwah grew from a seedling of Franklin Township and later stemmed from Hohokus Township. As other towns broke off from Hohokus Township, Mahwah remained, leaving it the largest tract of land in what is now Bergen County.
Mahwah blossomed as an independent community, and was officially incorporated as a township in 1944. Our exhibit will explore the different branches of what makes a community live, breathe, and thrive. Mahwah’s roots as a township were strengthened through the growth of borough organizations, housing developments, schools, recreation, religious and civic groups, and industry.
No matter how far back you can trace your roots in Mahwah, come share our shade as we honor the people, places, and organizations that have continued our history into the 21st century.
Palisades Amusement Park Comes To Mahwah:
(Photo credit: Vince Gargiulo)
New Jersey’s famous Palisades Amusement Park closed nearly 50 years ago. But most Jerseyites over the age of 60 will still smile at the mere mention of this classic American fun center. Mahwah resident, Vince Gargiulo, has been keeping the memory of Palisades alive for the past quarter of a century. He founded the Palisades Amusement Park Historical Society (PAPHS) in the early 1990s. His book, “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories,” was the fastest selling book in the history of Rutgers University Press. His 1998 PBS documentary of the same name won several awards for outstanding documentary and was nominated for a New York Emmy.
His latest project is a working 1930s model of the park that he has been restoring for over a year. A long time park employee, Joe Prisco, originally built the wooden model in the 1990s. After his death, the model was moved several times and sustained a great deal of damage. In 2018, Gargiulo reached out to Prisco’s family, who donated the model to the PAPHS. Gargiulo set about to restore each piece, most requiring a great deal of work and patience. “The Carousel was the hardest piece to restore,” Gargiulo noted. “Many of the ornamental decorations were missing. Half of the light bulbs were burned out, and replacing them was not cheap!”
But his biggest challenge with the carousel was getting it to rotate. “I wish this model came with some kind of instruction manual,” Vince joked. “It would make repairing it so much easier.” After a month of experimenting, he was finally able to get the merry-go-round to operate properly. Gargiulo has completed restoration of 25 pieces including the Tunnel of Love, the World’s Largest Outdoor Salt Water Pool, the Ferris Wheel, the Carousel, the Free Act Stage, the Bumper Cars and much more. On September 22, the miniature amusement park will be on display as part of the Mahwah Museum’s 2019-2020 lineup. Also on display will be some extremely rare artifacts from the park from Gargiulo’s extensive collection.
A College Comes to Mahwah: Ramapo College: 1965-1975
(Photo credit: Vincent Marchese)
When the State of New Jersey decided to build a new college in Northern New Jersey in 1965, few towns wanted anything to do with it. Fears of radical students, traffic, and lost tax revenues dogged early efforts in Leonia, Hackensack and Saddle River. When the Birch Estate was proposed as a potential site, Mahwah quickly became the front runner. Our exhibit on the establishment of Ramapo College in Mahwah takes a look at life in the township 50 years ago and the creation of a unique liberal arts college.
Working with early faculty and graduates from Ramapo College, the exhibit will provide a brief history of the College’s aspirations and a look at its early curriculum. Students recall what campus life was like when the campus was being built around them; the makeshift “dorms” at the Carmel Retreat, a Boy Scout Camp, and Club 300; the jazz festivals; and student and faculty strikes. These challenges forged a tight community and left fond memories. Come and experience an early 1970s college in Mahwah — sights, sounds, and recollections!
These exhibits will be on display along with our very popular permanent exhibits, the ever expanding Donald Cooper Model Railroad (open weekends only) and Les Paul in Mahwah!
We also invite you to join us for our upcoming gallery talks and lectures, taking place on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights once a month.
The Donald Cooper Model Railroad
The Museum’s Donald Cooper Railroad is an operating HO-Scale model railroad with many trains traveling between levels and on different routes. Centralized electronic switches allow the operator to control the entire layout from the DCC central control panels. The railroad yard is fully functional allowing operators to make up trains and dispatch them to their own destinations. The four-level high layout has three independent scenic modules that are constantly changing, as well as a trolley, a subway system, logging station, waterfall, roundhouse and turntable. We invite engineers of all ages to come and visit our ever-changing and growing railroad world. The Donald Cooper Model Railroad is open WEEKENDS ONLY, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm. For information about joining the train crew, please email email@example.com or call 201-512-0099.
Please note: the DCMRR is not a free train display (admission is free only for members of the museum) and it is not a train ride.
Les Paul in Mahwah
Mahwah Museum has a permanent exhibit featuring some Les Paul history which allows visitors to learn the essential facts of Les Paul’s life and career. It has sections on his inventions and innovations, a display of one-of-a-kind precious guitars made especially for Les, and a re-creation of the studio in which Les did his work. Learn how this creative genius transformed rock, country and jazz music. See how he and Mary Ford performed for their weekly radio show from their home in Mahwah.
Mahwah Museum receives operating support from the Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historical Affairs.
Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?
The Mahwah Museum archives are processing a large collection of photographs from the Martha Young Kuklinski Collection which document the lives of J. Frank Young (1905-1960) and Henrietta Morriss Young (1909-1984) and their families, ranging 1910-1940s. There are also some older historical family photographs. Henrietta Morriss’ mother was Bessie Hagerman and she lived with Andrew Hagerman. The photos from this branch of the family are fairly well labeled. The photographs of the Youngs, who came from Tallman, often have no labels at all. J. Frank Young’s mother was Anne Jane Bodine and his father was John Franklin Young. His siblings were Alta, Freda, and John Young. If you can help up put names to faces, it would make this collection much more useful to researchers.
This unattributed article was first published in the Old Station Timetable in May 1982.
One more of the rapidly disappearing old family burying grounds in Mahwah has been found. It is located on the property of Dr. Donald Lord on the Ramapo Valley Road. Although there is evidence that it may contain many graves, a diligent search revealed no more than the one stone still standing. This is marked as the burial of Elizabeth B. Willis, daughter of Jon S. and Susan Bartholf, born July 6, 1791, died April 2, 186.6, age 75 years.
Her husband should be buried beside her and children also may be interred here, as well as others of the Willis family.
Further research might determine whether this was a Willis farm. There are Willis stones in the Wyckoff Cemetery as well as in other local cemeteries, so the family has been in the Ramapo Valley for some time.
Dr. Lords adds that there were other stones there when his family first moved to Mahwah.
Any help from readers will be appreciated.
This article, by John Y. Dater, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in March 1983.
In 1848 the NJ Legislature created Hohokus Township which included Mahwah, Ramsey, Allendale, Waldwick and Hohokus. The town committee met in Ramsey in a wing of an old hotel on Main St. People came here to vote also. Hence the roads that came through these towns had a common interest.
Such a road was the Franklin Turnpike which ran through Ramsey to Hohokus. It was the main road to New York City by way of Glen Ave. from the turnpike on Paramus Road, through Hackensack and over the meadows on the Plank Road to Jersey City and thence by ferry to New York.
In Ramsey, the Turnpike stopped at Arch St. which connected with the Island Road. This road was the main road through Ramsey and Mahwah and thence through the Clove to Orange County, NY. Before the railroad, transportation was by this route. In 1797 Dobbins and Tuston were given a franchise to run from Goshen, NY to New York City, by the route as aforementioned.
The Paterson & Ramapo R.R. came through in 1848. At first it stopped at the state line in Mahwah and people took a horse and wagon to the Suffern station of the Erie R.R. In 1850 the Erie tied in and you could go to Jersey City by train. Stations were at Ramsey, Hohokus, Glen Rock, Paterson and Passaic.
In the old days most of the roads ran north and south. Ramsey became a railroad station because there was an east-west road there from Saddle River west to Wyckoff. All good farm country. In the season a trainload of strawberries went to the city from Ramsey.
A very important north-south road was the Ramapo Valley Road, now Rte. 202. Originally an Indian trail it has seen many route changes. On the 1781 French map it is east of the river. At one time there was a road along the mountains. I remember walking with a friend along this and he picked up two copper, 18th Century English pennies.
This section ran from Yaw-pough (now Oakland) north to Suffern just beyond the railroad to Washington Ave., also connected with Island Rd. and thus went up through Suffern, through the Clove and upstate NY. At Suffern, there was a road which wandered east to the Hudson River and which was very important in Revolutionary days.
The old roads were gravel covered and it was not until the late 19th Century that crushed stone became the surface. This was called “macadam” and the Turnpike was the first in this part of the state. There was natural crushed stone where the Valley Road ran along Campgaw Mt. Theodore Havemeyer bought a stone crusher when he improved the Valley Rd. from Darlington Ave. north to W. Ramapo Ave. in Mahwah. About this time, there was a stone crushing business northeast of Suffern. The old steel wagon tires helped keep the gravel roads in shape. The towns also had team-drawn road scrapers which kept the roads in shape especially after the thaw at the end of the winter.
In winter the roads were kept snow covered. “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.” I remember doing this more than once. There used to be races on Main Street Ramsey. We had a one-horse sleigh, often called a “cutter,” and a larger one holding four and the driver. I have sleigh bells which the book says are 18th Century. Rich people even had silver-plated bells. We had a pair of chimes (three each) which fastened on the harness over the horse’s back. Snow weather also helped in bringing timber out of the mountains. The sleighs they used were made with two sets of runners. Wagons and sleighs were also made in Ramsey on Mechanic Street by my great-grandfather, John Y. Dater, who was born in Mahwah.
This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published in the “The Old Station Timetable” in March 1983.
For the most part churchyard cemeteries were the last resting places for the early farmers of the Ramapo Valley. Ordinarily they would attend the nearest church. The state line was no barrier to the people who lived at Suffern or in the Clove. The Ramapo Reformed churchyard holds many of the workers from Pierson’s Iron Works, and the miners and woodcutters who labored for the various local iron mines.
The choices were few. Those in the Masonicus area took their families to the Reformed Church in Saddle River. Those living in the Fardale section attended the Wyckoff Reformed Church or the Ponds Church in Oakland. Farmers in the upper Ramapo Valley went to the Reformed Church on Island Road in Mahwah. In each of these old cemeteries can be found grave markers inscribed with the names of oldtime landowners – at Wyckoff, Van Gelder, Ackerman and Terhune; at Saddle River, Doremus and Van Blarcom and De Baun; in Mahwah, the Wanamaker, Hennion and Hopper; and names from north of the line, Pierson, Suffern and Townsend.
Predating the Reformed churches was the Lutheran Church started by early incomers about 1724. It was a log, then wooden structure located on Island Road near Moffatt Road. It served the local families until 1785 when the Ramapo Reformed Church was formed. On Moffatt Road there is a very old cemetery. Since it is located in the old church area and there is a deed for a cemetery given to the Lutheran Church by a Maysinger, this is probably the old Lutheran Church burying ground and certainly many of the graves hold people who attended that church.
The earliest decipherable burial is 1770, only initials being given. Much earlier are the rough field stones with no inscriptions serving the purpose of marking before any gravestone worker appeared. There were over seventy burials and probably more. Many belong to the Wanamaker, Maysineer, Carlough, Bevans and Fox families. A notable stone marks the grave of John Suffern, infant son of John and Mary Suffern. Until Route 17 pushed through Mahwah, this was a pleasant rural countryside. The site of the cemetery on a sandy hill overlooked farms and pastures, a quiet, serene resting place.
The highway cut into the hillside almost to the graves at the edge. Moffatt Road was lined with new homes. Brush grew into trees, vandalism wreaked havoc among the stones, erosion wore down the steep gouged-out slope, threatening a final destruction of hundred year old graves. Today, this is a neglected place, reflecting the callous indifference of the town. A site that should be a monument to pioneer ancestors is a testimonial to historic insensibility.
The Ramapo mountain people did not come down into the valley for burials. We know about two small hidden cemeteries marked with field stones up in the hills. One was obliterated when the pipeline gouged through the mountains, the other is recognized as a burial place only by those who have hunted it out. The population was never very large and there may be more lonely forgotten unmarked graves scattered through the hills.
Throughout the valley some small plots of ground were set aside on the farms for a family cemetery where the graves were marked, kept in good condition and probably visited often. There are only a few under the bulldozer. A few were spared, known t6 town planners, with builders forbidden to disturb them. What is left of the family plot of the Youngs who farmed along Youngs Road lies between two houses in the Fawn Hill development. Anna and James and two of their children lie here with Pulis neighbors.
The new Apple Ridge townhouses on Airmount Ave. are being built around a small fenced family plot. Protected for years by its obscure location, it may be the last unprotected family cemetery in Mahwah.
Two local family cemeteries have survived in good condition because they have not been entirely neglected. The best known is the Hopper plot which is located on the grounds of the historic Hopper house on Valley Road. Because it is so near the road, it is an easy target for vandals, but for the same reason there is a measure of protection. Here are found graves marked with early names in the valley and the earliest known grave of a Bartholf. It may be that of the very first Bartholf to locate here.
Even more fortunate is the Bogert family cemetery on Chapel Road. Here an unknown number of Bogerts, Hoppers and Pulises are buried. The earliest date known is 1799, but there are a number of simple fieldstones which may predate that. The original plot is well cared for and this is a fair sample of what the Lutheran cemetery on Moffatt Road should look like. An additional area is the property of the Lutheran Redeemer Church of Ramsey.
There may be other small private burial sites hidden in brush covered field and not yet ploughed under. All of these early cemeteries provide us with a continuity with the past; a reminder of those early settlers who cleared the land, endured the rigors of pioneer life, lived through the raids and alarms of the Revolution, and left their names to many of the present inhabitants of Mahwah.
This article, by John Y. Dater, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in Fall 1982.
The Island Rd. through Ramsey and Mahwah (once known as the King’s Highway) was part of the road that came up from New Barbadoes (Hackensack) and was a link to the ferry to New Amsterdam until it became New York in 1664. It passed through Paramus, through Hoppertown (Hohokus) to Mt. Prospect (Ramsey) and then along the Franklin Turnpike which stopped just beyond Arch St., down Arch St., to Island Rd., (there was no Main St.), which then ran north towards the state line. It originally passed just west of the 1785 Ramapo Reformed Church and then down the hill to the old Valley Rd., or Route 202. It then joined Washington Ave. in Suffern (NY); from there up through the Clove to Tuxedo (NY) and Goshen (NY). In 1797 a franchise was given to Dobbins and Tustin of Goshen to run a stagecoach from there to New York City, which they did until the railroad came through in 1848.
As before stated Island Rd. started in Ramsey at Franklin Turnpike. It came down Arch St., which was the only east-west road. There was no Main St. in those days. At the first corner it became Island Rd.
The Island Rd. which we know may have been an Indian trail the way it wanders and curves. The name first appears in the records in 1713 when Pieter Wanamaker was baptized in New Amsterdam. He was one of the Palatinates of the Lutheran faith who came over from Germany. His house was east of the road just before Airmont Rd. The house was torn down in the 1960’s. Diagonally across the road lived Dederick Wanamaker who operated a gristmill and cider mill on the Stony Brook which flows into the Masonicus Brook. This area was always considered an island by the Wanamakers and Maysingers. On some of the old deeds it is called the “llan.” It was also part of John Barberies’ 600 acre tract; acquired in 1709 at the Romopok Tract deal and which ran from Myrtle Ave., Ramsey, to north of the Ramapo Church. It was also called the Road to New York and was so named by Berthier when he drew his 1781 map for the French army to Yorktown. Its route is also shown on the 1762 map of the Romopoke Tract.
The people in the Wanamaker area were very religious and met in their homes until 1724 when they built the log church just before the double bend. Maysinger gave the land for it and also the Lutheran Cemetery on Moffat Rd. This next church was built of sawed lumber about 1745 with the help of the Dutch Reform people who used the church on alternate Sundays. In 1785 the two groups cooperated in the Ramapo Church, and about 1800 the Lutherans moved to Airmont (NY). John Suffern helped in the formation of the Ramapo Church; and he and his wife are buried there along with many of the early settlers. Maysinger built a house near the end of the Airmont Rd. and another in 1740 further north. In 1786 the Christie house was built and with additions is now occupied by Karl Bierley.
Abraham Dater, the second in this area, acquired land on the bend, now Constantine. Dr., in 1797. The deed takes in land down to Dater’s mill lot, a gristmill which stood just west of N. Central Ave. and on Masonicus Brook which flows into Wanamaker’s long-ago pond. Adam Dater lived here and operated the mill until he died in 1823. when his son John Y. took over until he came to Ramsey about 1850 and in 1855 bought 22 acres in the center of the new town. Abraham Dater also had a house in Sloatsburg from where he operated the iron works. Here Adam was born in 1766, and in 1805 Abraham Adam, who fathered the Mahwah Dators. The latter, who married Mary Ward of Sloatsburg, took over the ironwork’s from his father.
This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in April 1980. For the first part, click here.
Henry Frederick, 1729-1790, and several of his children are nearby.
John Bush, who died in 1812, could have been a son of Samuel Bush, who owned lot #96A south of the Frederick land.
Michael Fisher owned #154, including Hilltop Rd. There is a stone listing Mikel Fisher, 1722-1802, with two Fisher women, Mary, who died at 89 in 1812, and Catrin (Fishar), 1777-1793. A few years ago, Fanny Fisher Bartold, who lived in the Fardale section, died in her 100th year. She was raised in the Airmont area of Ramsey, which includes the old Fisher tract.
Adjoining the Fisher land is that of Conradt Brown, -1793 and Mary, his wife, 1777-1793. On the stone, the name is spelled Broun and Conrad loses its T.
One small stone reminds us that “Here lyeth the body of John Suffern, son of John and Mary Suffern of New Antrim, 11 mo., 1777.” On Darlington Ave., west of Grove St., lot #132 is in the name of Mary Ramsey. The young couple settled in Suffern (New Antrim) in 1773 and probably came to the nearest church for services. John Ramsey was one of the founders of the Dutch Reformed Church, and there he and many of his family are buried. There were 11 children just a short distance away from the boy who might have been his firstborn.
The Messenger family settled lot #24. This family too varied the spell ing of its name. Coonrad Mausenger, -1804, Nicholas Maysinger, 1760?-1804, Susannah, the wife of Nicholas Messenger, -1843, and Michael, 1774-1852 and Mary, 1777-1859. Lot #24 was taken by Henry Messenger. It was he who originally gave the church land to the Lutheran Church. Although not marked, he MUST be buried there.
There are many Carlough graves, and since a Carlough was an owner of a lot in the tract, here could be another of our very earliest residents. Some of the stones leave us wondering. Was Molle Hunter really Molly? Who was the Asler (Esler) family who was buried between 1774 and l798? What early names are hidden in the initialed and unmarked stones?
And what of Elias Fall; who died Jan. 31, 1771 at the age of 88? Who could the man have been, a strange name among the German and Dutch families of the early congregation?
This forgotten burial ground is as important in the history of Mahwah as Lorn Hill to Plymouth or Trinity Churchyard to New York. There must be some way that it can be saved for the future. It’s almost too late!
This article, by John Y. Dater, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable”
in February 1980.
The occupation of Bergen County by the early settlers is most interesting. Bergen and most of Hudson were settled by the Holland Dutch. In 1664, when the British seized the land, it was deeded to the Board of Proprietors of East Jersey. Much of the area was available along very old Indian trails which usually followed the streams and other water areas. This was true of the Ramapo Turnpike, Paramus Road and the Plank Road over the meadows. It possibly started as an Indian trail. It was the stage coach route from up country to the city. Dobbins and Tuston of Middletown, N.Y. were given a coach franchise back in 1790. Much the same path was followed by the Erie Railroad when it came through in 1848.
The purchase of the Ramapough Tract from the Lenni Lenape in 1709 was a big event. It opened up 42,500 acres for purchase or lease. It ran from Torne Brook in Rockland County to the rock at Glen Rock, from the Ramapo Mountains east to Saddle River. The original transaction was promoted by Peter Sonmans, who claimed jurisdiction from the British branch of the Proprietors. This occasioned disputes with the American group and especially when his friend Fauconnier was authorized to sell land. He kept the money, lost his records and caused numerous suits by the Proprietors, who finally took over about 1720. His daughter was Mrs. M. Valleau, who claimed many areas. She gave Valleau Cemetery to the Paramus Church. The Minutes of the Proprietors is filled with Ramapough problems. Kierstead and the La Reaus were continually on the docket. Kierstead was a signer of the deed and built the Hopper-VanHorn house in 1720 and by 1760 was heavily in debt to the Proprietors. He had married a La Reau girl and they bailed him out. Because of litigation, the La Reau boundaries as shown on the 1762 map are extremely inaccurate and only became accurate as the area was settled.
I have a copy of the deed to the Ramapough Tract. Kierstad had a lot to do with getting the La Reaus to John Edsall of New York became owner by sheriff’s sale. In 1865 Edsall sold to John Petry of New York for $16,000, along with 138 acres. Petry was in the liquor business in New York. He borrowed $20,000 on the place and then assigned the mortgage to John Y. Dater. About 1870 Mr. Dater foreclosed on the property and thus became the owner. In 1876 Mr. Dater sold to DeCastro and Donner Sugar Refining Company.
In November 1877 Theodore A. Havemeyer rented the property and a little later bought the place and paid off all the various mortgages. He also bought the Bockee place, where his son Henry O. went to live after making extensive alterations. I have a picture of it and was in it many times. This beautiful house fell prey to arson. In 1965 Henry Havemeyer died, and in April the contents were sold at auction. R. O. Havemeyer was a member of the Yale class of 1900, was interested in the Brooklyn District Terminal Railway, which served all the pierheads of south Brooklyn. He was also one of the firm of Havemeyer and Elder which refined sugar in Brooklyn. There is still a Havemeyer Street in that area. He was a member of a sporting club which owned an island off the Carolina coast and used to summer in Newport, Rhode Island. Mr. Havemeyer build extensive buildings and operated Mountainside Farm for a number of years and which his son, Henry, kept up. He also built for his daughter the brick and stone mans; on where the Birchs used to live and is now owned by Ramapo College.
Going a bit south, there was Alfred B. Darling, who owned and operated the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, who built in 1866 a very fine frame house and farm where the Reservation is now. Mr. Darling brought with him from Vermont, E. F. Carpenter, who became his superintendent and later became prominent in Ramsey. It was his daughter who married Allie Winters and established the Mahwah Library. When Darling died in the 90’s, the land was bought by George Crocker, whose family owned the Crocker National Bank in San Francisco. Mr. Crocker had moved to New York in connection with the banking business. He spent one million in building the brick Elizabethan-style mansion, finished in 1903. When he saw the site where he built, he said “it was the most beautiful building spot from Maine to California.” Mr. Crocker also built St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ramsey in memory of his wife, Emma. Mr. Carpenter gave the land for the building. Emerson MacMillin next owned the property, having made his money operating electric powered suburban railways across New Jersey.
The last and present owner of the property is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Newark, who established there the Seminary and Church of the Immaculate Conception.
This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in February 1980.
Bedford Road is off Deer Trail in the Farda1e section. When the area was developed, a small plot of land was left between two of the houses — an old family cemetery. When it was set aside long ago, it must have been a beautiful location on a wooded knoll above a brook and probably looked out.on extensive farm lands.
Two graves are well marked with stones, that of Jacob W. Pulis, 1784-1861 and of his wife, Maria Ackerson, 1785-1865. These were probably the last interments, but there is a fallen stone almost unreadable of Mary, daughter of Young (1) 1837, 10 yr. There are two marker stones, with letters M.P. and J.P., which could be Pulis markers. Aside from these positive evidences, there are several unmarked field stones which might indicate burials.
Such a small cemetery in this well-populated area has no protection against vandals and in time may disappear, as have so many other small family cemeteries.
This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable”
in February 1980. For a continuation of the article, click here.
The congregation of the Ramapo Lutheran Church chose a sandy hill west of the church on what is now Moffatt Road for its burial ground. It overlooked the valley up to the Ramapo hills. Never did they envision the bustle of a crowded highway, nor the encroachment that today puts the hill in danger of gradually sliding, grave by grave, onto the border of Route 17.
It is a neglected plot of ground in imminent danger of total destruction as land values ‘increase and this’ irreplaceable part of Mahwah’s historic past becomes a burden on its present owner.
The first log church of the early German Lutheran inhabitants was built on Island Road near Moffatt Road in 1720. It was abandoned in 1789, but burials continued into the middle 1800’s. The early group was probably partly absorbed by the Dutch Reformed Church which was formed in 1785. That building was built in 1795.
There are probably many unmarked graves from that early time. Certainly there are many that are marked by a simple field stone without inscriptions. Others bear only initials chiseled in by some survivor, their family names a matter of guesswork. Among these are probably members of the families of the oldest settlers of the valley, men and women who came north from the Paramus and Hackensack area and west from settlements along the Hudson. The earliest legible date is 1758, with about 45 other stones in the 1700’s. After 1867, the cemetery seems to have been abandoned.
Derick Wanamaker was an original lessee in the Ramapo tract in 1740. A few legible stones may be his descendants, M., 1729; Richard, 1750; James, 1752. A young boy, Josiah, buried in 1839 is noted as the tenth son of John (no daughters are mentioned). Henry and Peter W.-10t #155 on the Ramapo Tract map had Airmount Road on its northern border. Susannah W.-#139 had land between Island Road the the railroad tracks. Derick’s family had been a potent force in the development of this area.
The Hemions too have imprinted their name on the community, since Stephen Hemion (Hemmion) on the stone selected lot #150. He was buried here with his wife, Ellen, in 1791 with many of his descendants nearby. The family name was variously spelled Hemmion and Hemion, each different from the spelling on the early 1787 survey.
David Fox 1755-1800 and his wife, Catherine Hemion – 1831 farmed lot #120 on the east side Frederick (lot #72) which was east of the Ramapo River on both sides of the present state line. Their children and grandchildren lie with them, the last being David D. Fox 1793-1869. Some of the Fox family still living in the area can probably trace their ancestry to this early settler, whose grave lies uncared for in the little cemetery. (continued)