This unattributed article was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in Fall 1987.
Following his retirement from office in 1857, N.J. Governor Rodman Price and his family moved to Mahwah in 1862 and established a dairy farm, “Hazelwood on the Ramapo.” Price became so involved in farm machinery and the ensilage system of feeding cows that the American Agriculture and Dairy Association called him a leading agriculturist. In 1866, he owned 250 acres, which later increased to 400. Hazelwood was one of the earlier large estates in the Ramapo Valley, noted for its beautiful gardens and European art and furnishings. Price remodeled the house in 1881 and the “Bergen Democrat” wrote, “It is a magnificent place.”
The map at right, from the 1876 “Atlas of Bergen County,” shows Price’s home, west of the Ramapo Valley Road and Ramapo River. To the north is “Valley Farm,” (near the intersection of Ramapo Valley Road and present-day Darlington Ave,), owned by A.B. Darling, who came to Mahwah in 1872. Further north, the properties of Bockee and Petry eventually became part of Theodore Havemeyer’s “Mountain Side Farm.” Havemeyer came in 1878.
Price died in 1894, and his wife Matilda in 1897. Eventually, the property was annexed to the Kohler estate to the north. The house was rented out and fell into disrepair. In 1942, Hazelwood and part of the Kohler estate were acquired by Fred and Margaret Wehran. who named the property “Sun Valley Farm.” They removed the third floor of the house and substantially remodeled it. In 1964, the house was torn down and replaced by another.
The photo above is from a 1942 “Previews” real estate brochure (collection of Carol Greene), and is the only photograph of the original Price home known to exist. Badly damaged and written on, it was restored by Sieglinde Lehmann of Oakland.
This article by John Y. Dater, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in October 1981.
The following account of the life of Rodman M. Price was taken from the 1882 History of Bergen and Passaic Counties by Clayton and Nelson (3 1/2 pages) and partly from the research of former Freeholder Chester A. Smeltzer and John Y. Dater II, “Birth and Growth of Ramsey and Mahwah”.
Rodman Price is the only Governor who came from Bergen County and he spent the last years of his life in the Ramapo Valley in Mahwah, the place now owned by Fred Wehran.
Mr. Price was born in Union Township, Sussex County, Nov. 5, 1818, when his father moved to New York City. He attended high school there, then Lawrenceville Academy and finally Princeton in 1834. Ill health cut his college short, and he then studied law with a New York lawyer. At an early age he married Matilda Sands, the daughter of a Navy captain. This gave him contacts with the Navy and in 1840 he was made a Purser. Price had a very interesting career in the Navy including very active participation in the seizure of California during the Mexican War. He lived in San Francisco for a while and then came east to New Jersey. In 1850 he was elected to Congress, but was defeated the next term. His friends said “we will make him Governor” and he was inaugurated in 1854. He was a very successful governor. He put New Jersey on the map by starting normal schools and teachers colleges. He organized the first geological survey of the state and had a very good topographical map drawn of the state. As a result of these· efforts it is claimed that the Ramapo oil well was instigated.
After his governorship, Price started a ferry line from Weehawken to New York which he ran for many years. In 1862, he came to live in the Ramapo Valley. He called the house; Hazlewood and the site is now Sun Valley Farm of Mr. Wehran. On Jan. 8, 1894, he died here, and services were held in the Ramapo Reformed Church and his granite monument still stands there.
During his campaign for Congress in and prior to 1850, Price and John Y. Dater I and Al Lydecker became close friends. It was through their joint efforts that the Ramsey Post Office was opened in 1855, the fifth one in the County. It was opened in John Y. Dater’s general store that stood on Station Square. Previous to that, they had persuaded J.W. Allen, the civil engineer of the railroad, (then the Paterson and Ramapo) to adopt the present route of the line instead of up through the Ramapo Valley to Suffern. The first train came through Nov. 1, 1848. In 1852, the Erie took over the line.
My great-grandmother, Mrs. John Y. Dater, was a frequent visitor to the Price estate. I have been told that on occasion they were stuck there due to the bridge over the river being flooded. My mother and I later visited Matt Price at her home on Island Road in Mahwah. There was a son, Governeur, who lived of Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah.
This unattributed article was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in December 1979.
Mahwah Farms, once the largest cattle breeding and distribution dairy farm in Bergen County from the mid-twenties to 1944, was located along the southbound lane of Route 17 (now the site of Robbie’s Music Barn).
The late Albert J. (Allie) Winter built the first barn back in 1909. He expanded the dairy farm over a span of many years and won first prizes with his registered cattle at the Trenton State Fair.
Milk was delivered from the Oakland line to Route 202 up to Hillburn, N.Y. and Sloatsburg, N.Y., (including Suffern), throughout Mahwah and Airmont, Ramsey, Allendale and Saddle River. Mahwah Dairy was known in the area for its high quality of raw and pasteurized milk.
The late Charles Suffern, who worked for “Allie”, was the father of the late William Suffern who worked for the Mahwah Road Department. Charlie and his family came off the ridge (area beyond the high school on Ridge Rd. in 1909). Others who worked on the farm included Harold Ackerson and the late Dorrie DeGroat and Ralph Osborne.
In the early days, there were two entrances to the dairy. One was over a dirt lane from Island Rd. that came directly to the northwest end of the barns, and the other was through Moffatt Rd. off Island Rd.
Mr. Winter had three teams of horses that he housed in the barns located on North Railroad Ave. (now the site of the Department of Public Works). He planted his own corn and reaped his own hay from fields located north of the barns and the east side of Island Rd.
After Mr. Winter’s death on March 26, 1944, the dairy was operated for about six months under the supervision of his wife, Annie Winter, who sold it to Mr. Fremont Lovett, president of Orange & Rockland Utilities. Mr. Lovett was killed in an airplane accident, and his sons operated the dairy for a short time.
On July 22, 1946, everything, including the purebred cattle and equipment, was sold at auction. The dairy route was sold to Rockland Milk and Cream and the property to Mr. Fred Wehran, owner of Sun Valley Farm in Mahwah.
For several years after that, the late Martin Cook rented the barns and kept his herd of milk cows in the main barn. They grazed in his fields off Island Rd., now the industrial park area. Mr. Cook and his family lived in the house (once a stage coach stop) now the site of Burger King on Route 17.