The Bartholf Farm

This article, by Charles Anderson, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in October 1980.

The Bartholf Farm on Fardale Avenue, which was first cut through by grandfather Bartholf, was a typical family working enterprise of the early days. orginally part of a huge grant of over 1000 acres, the property was later divided and re-divided among the many descendants.

From Pulis Ave. north and across the present Fardale Ave. and west to Chapel Rd., Mountain View Farm, as it was called, raised all the farm animals usually found on a farm, working the horses in the fields, dairying for milk and butter, housing 2000 chickens for eggs and eating, turkeys, geese, ducks and even guinea hens, kept more for their noisy watchfulness than for their meat. Not many signs are left of the extensive orchards that stretched along the road, of the fields of blackberries and b1ackcaps that bore rich fruit, of the acres of cabbage and rhubarb.

Within the memory of Bartholfs still living are the farm outbuildings, now gone, where firewood was cut and stored for the winter, where the summer cooking was done, where milk was bottled. An old spring house stood in the boggy field east of the house where the fresh milk was cooled. Here a little boy sat on a box and kept the milk constantly stirring, so that the cool bottom layers would mix with the warmer upper layers. Under an apple tree a dog was harnessed to a treadmill working the butter churn although he had to be watched as he favored sitting down on the job. There was a smoke house savory with the odors of home raised and cured bacon and smoked meat only a step away from the kitchen when it was needed.

When help was required on another farm a team of horses and their driver worked for $3.00 a day. In berry picking season, workers were brought down from the polish settlement. They earned 2¢ a pint for baskets that sold for 10¢ a pint. Rhubarb was bunched and tied and sold for a penny a bunch.

The hard working woman of the house hoarded the earnings of the farm until they could be banked in Paterson, the nearest banking facility and a days trip away. Between these intervals the coins and bills were kept in a box carefully hidden under the floorboards. The story goes that once grandmother in an excess of caution hid her year’s receipts under a pile of wood in the stove — and burned it all!

Where the present stone walled driveway exists today, stood a blacksmith’s shop run by Peter Bartholf, a man more interested in making wheels and fine furniture than plowing a straight furrow. Fine walnut, hickory, chestnut and maple were dried and stored in the rafters as he worked with handmade tools. Fire destroyed the building and with it his tools and fine woods, a tragic event in the history of the farm.

With so much timber available in the area and a demand for the huge pilings needed for piers along the Hudson River as well as for the ever extending lines of telephone and electric power, the Bartholfs bought tracts of timbered land, cut the desirable trees and resold as partially cleared acreage. It is to be expected that electric power reached this farm first on poles supplied by their own mill.

In the cemetery of the Hopper Van Horn house there is a grave marker for Jacobus Bartholf who died in 1800 at age 71. However, the family evidently was oriented toward the Wyckoff church and grange because there are many more Bartholfs in the churchyard there and also in Union Cemetery off Godwin Ave. and in Valleau cemetery in Ridgewood.

Note: There is no historical proof for the following statement, but it has possibilities for investigation.

Where it is known that Bartholf’s Mill existed in the 1700’s, an early map names it as Bartholomew’s Mill. Willard DeYoe was interested in this and claimed that there really was a Bartholomew who fled England during the Wars of the Roses and in order to hide his identity, merged his new name with that of a local Dutch family. A writer could do a lot with that plot!                             


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *