Beginning September 19, 2015 the Mahwah Museum presents “The Ramsey Journal and the Dater Family”, “Mail on the Move in Northwest Bergen” and “Hohokus Township, Mahwah and Boroughitis in Northwest Bergen.” The exhibits continue until June 2016. The Museum, located at 201 Franklin Turnpike is open Wednesdays and Weekends from 1-4 p.m.



Ramsey Journal and the Dater Family

It has been said that a newspaper is the “first rough draft of history.” The Ramsey Journal, established by John Y. Dater II in 1892, presented news and views of interest to the people of Northwest Bergen County.

For 75 years, until the paper was sold in 1967, three generations of the Dater family chronicled the births, deaths and marriages; triumphs and defeats; trials and public controversies, and all kinds of interesting things about the communities it served.

In an exciting period of time that spanned five wars, a great depression and the rapid post-war suburbanization of Bergen County, the editors and publishers of The Ramsey Journal preserved the rich first draft of history of Ramsey, Mahwah, Allendale, Upper Saddle River, Saddle River and Waldwick.

The exhibit features a replica of the composing room at the Ramsey Journal Building showing how the paper was composed and printed using the letterpress method invented by Gutenberg in 1450, used by the colonial printers such as Benjamin Franklin, and continued in use well into the 20th century. There are multimedia presentations and a hands on activity for children of all ages about this printing process.

The Dater family has been influential in Hohokus Township history in many ways. Beginning in Sloatsburg in the 18th century, members of the family migrated to Hohokus Township. John Y. Dater (1819-1894) was one of the founders of the village of Ramsey’s Station and for many years Main Street was known as Dater Avenue. He was active in Democratic politics and was a “Peace Democrat” in the New Jersey Senate at the outset of the Civil War.

John Y. Dater, II, the founder of The Ramsey Journal, was the grandson of the Senator. In addition to publishing the paper weekly, John Y. Dater II was an active advocate for public education. He was a member of the school board first for Hohokus Township and later for the Borough of Ramsey for 38 years. As a State Assemblyman and member of other state organizations he was active in education reform. Dater School in Ramsey is named for him.

John Y. Dater, III (1897-1985) succeeded his father as the editor and publisher of The Ramsey Journal in 1950. He, and later his son, Thomas E. Dater published the paper until 1967 when it was sold to the Ridgewood News. Among his many notable accomplishments, John Y. Dater III was a founding member of the Mahwah Historical Society, founded in 1965, that saved and preserved the 1871 railroad station in Mahwah as a museum.

Thomas E. Dater (1920-2013) published a successor paper, The Home and Store News and was active in the Ramsey Fire Department, the Ramsey Library and the First Presbyterian Church. He was also an active member and supporter of the Mahwah Museum.


Mail on the Move in Northwest Bergen

Mail on the Move in Northwest Bergen tells the story of the Colonial and United States Post Offices, as seen in Mahwah since the 1700s. The exhibit presents rare artifacts, such as an 18th century post rider’s saddle and mailbags, authentic Mahwah letters from 1800 to the 1900s, and brass post boxes from the former 1936 Finch Building post office. A concise narrative takes the visitor through the Golden Age of stagecoach travel and mail contracts, the amazing Railway Post Office, RFD service in rural Mahwah, and the modern (present) 1967 post office. Don’t miss this outstanding exhibit!


Hohokus Township

Mahwah and Boroughitis in Northwest Bergen

This exhibit traces the evolution of the Township of Mahwah and the various boroughs that were once part of Hohokus Township starting around 1849. (Hohokus Township changed its name to the Township of Mahwah in 1944.) Various maps, newspaper clippings from the Ramsey Journal, vintage photos, and other materials from the Museum archives and on loan from others will be displayed.

The Boroughs of Allendale, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Ramsey, Ho-Ho-Kus and Waldwick were originally part of Hohokus Township. We will highlight the reasons that the boroughs broke away and sought political independence from the larger Hohokus Township, including issues relating to taxation, school systems and local community improvement. Interesting topics from these six boroughs and the Township of Mahwah will be exhibited as well.

We believe that this exhibit will be very worthwhile and of interest to all citizens of Northwest Bergen County.


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 September-June from 1-4 p.m. For information about joining the train crew, please email director@mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099


Les Paul in Mahwah

The Mahwah Museum has a small permanent exhibit featuring Les Paul 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 recreation 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 performed for their weekly radio show from their home in Mahwah.



The Mahwah Museum receives operating support from the New Jersey Historical Commission in the Department of State.