REMINISCENCES OF MONTCLAIR
Table of Contents
As perhaps the oldest person now living native-born and grown up with Montclair, I have been asked to make some record of its early history, the old-time people, locations of interest, business, etc.
In my memory, it has born three different names, Cranetown, West Bloomfield and Montclair. In order to make the record more complete, and give a better understanding of the growth of the town during my recollection, I have gone back of what I can remember and gathered some historic facts of the early settlement of this locality which was at the time, 1666, a part of the township of Newark, extending from the Passaic River on the east to the top of the mountain on the west, and was settled by Colonists from Branford and Milford, Conn. On account of differences of opinion in matters of civil and religious liberty with the New Haven and Connecticut colonies, negotiations were commenced in 1660 and continued for some years with Governor Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam (New York), seeking a locality "where they might serve God with a pure conscience and enjoy such liberty and privileges, both civil and educational, as might best advantage them," but with no definite results up to 1665. When Philip Carteret arrived from England with letters patent from King Charles II, and was appointed Governor of what now constitutes New Jersey, having been informed of New England Colonists seeking territory on which to settle, and desiring to develop and promote the interests of the province over which he had been appointed, the Governor dispatched messengers to Connecticut who were to commend the attractions of New Jersey as to its productive soil, healthful climate, and its favorable civil and religious privileges. After negotiations through delegates, Robert Treat and other prominent men of Milford, arrangements were concluded on terms of popular freedom to an extent then little known in the world. In attempting to take possession of the new territory they had agreed upon, the newcomers met decided opposition from the Indians as they were about to land on the Passaic River. The natives claimed priority of ownership. A final settlement was arranged with them through the kind offices of Mr. Samuel Edsal, who resided on Bergen Neck, and who on former occasions had transacted business with the Indians and was able to act as interpreter. In order to secure permanently the new possessions to the Colonists, a formal instrument was perfected with the Indians on July 11th, 1667, by which the settlers obtained title to all the land between Newark Bay, on the east, to the foot of Watchung Mountain, on the west, the northerly line being a branch of the Passaic River running northwesterly, and thence south to the bounds of Elizabeth, embracing a large portion of the salt meadows east of Newark, including what is now known as Newark, Orange, Bloomfield, Belleville, Glen Ridge and Montclair. The consideration for this extended tract was fifty double hands of powder, one hundred bars of lead, twenty axes, twenty coats, ten guns, twenty pistols, ten kettles, ten swords, four blankets, four barrels of beer, ten pairs of breeches, fifty knives, twenty hoes, eight hundred and fifty fathoms of wampum, two ankers (about thirty-two gallons) of liquor and three trooper's coats. Eleven years after this purchase the western line of the tract was extended to the top of the Mountain by deed from the Indians dated March 13th, 1678. Two guns, three coats and thirteen cans of rum was the consideration for this last purchase.
The Colonists, who had for some years under consideration their separation from the New England Colonies, had perfected articles of agreement expressing their civil and religious views, which were signed by twenty-three heads of families at Branford, Conn., October 30, 1666, headed by Jasper Crane. The same document was subsequently signed June 24, 1667, by forty-one Milford residents headed by Robert Treat.
In the government of the new colony, Robert Treat and Jasper Crane were leaders and the first elected magistrates. After rendering valuable service to the new colony, Robert Treat returned to Connecticut and became Governor of that State. All matters of public interest, both civil and ecclesiastical, were adjusted at the regular town meeting, the records of which show that the community was emphatically Christian. Religion was no abstraction, but a living, a active principle, manifest in their immediate plans for the Christian Church and the education of the young. The effect of the moral and religious impressions these early settlers gave to this vicinity it would be difficult to estimate. It is noticeable through its history and doubtless has done much in bringing families of like interest and preference in its later growth. Several memorials of the spirit and zeal of these early settlers and their descendants are still extant, viz.: The First Presbyterian Churches of Newark, Orange and Bloomfield, the old Newark Academy and the Academy at Bloomfield, now occupied by the German Theological School. As the community grew in numbers it began to move westward toward the Watchung Mountain, and land grants were issued by action of the public town meeting. The grants were limited to one hundred acres and were issued under the advisement of five competent men chosen for this purpose. An early town record of December 29th, 1670, states, "Jasper Crane had given him a little piece of land adjoining his home lot" (in Newark). Record of April 27th, 1694, shows warrants for tracts of land at the foot of the mountain to Azariah Crane on the northeast and Jasper Crane on the southwest of one hundred and fifty acres. These men were sons of Jasper Crane, one of the original settlers. These two men evidently were the first white settlers in this part of the township, now Montclair, and as the neighborhood grew from their descendants, it took the name of Cranetown. As nearly as I can ascertain, these tracts conveyed by warrant to these two men were strips of land lying under our mountain on both sides of Orange and Valley Roads, the northerly line near Chestnut Street and the southerly line near Gates Avenue. Members of the Crane family afterwards acquired large tracts of land over the mountain, which territory was known as Horse Neck, now Caldwell.
Jasper Crane, whose name heads the list of the first twenty-three Colonists from Branford, Conn., emigrated from England and is named as one of the New Haven Colony, June 4th, 1639. He is mentioned as one of the most influential and active men in the new Newark Colony. His name is the first of the list of signatures for the original church in Newark dated January 20th, 1667. This church building, in size thirty-six feet by thirty-six feet, was located on the west side of Broad Street, south of Market Street, on a six-acre lot set apart by the Colony for a church and burying ground. This church building of frame was superseded about 1708 by a much larger one of stone with steeple and bell. The present church edifice, the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, locate nearly opposite the original buildings, was a bold undertaking for those early days, but was carried through with heroic energy at great personal sacrifice, a building of such proportions and architectural taste that it is at this day an ornament to the city of Newark. It was dedicated under the pastorate of Dr. MacWhorter, January 1st, 1791.
Jasper Crane died in 1681. His will, dated 1678, mentioned his children John, Azariah, Jasper and Hannah Huntington. He bequeathed to his son John a silver bowl, which afterward was inherited by his brother Azariah, who gave it to the First Church of Newark and which is still in use in this old church as a baptismal font. Azariah Crane, son of Jasper, married Mary, daughter of Robert Treat, and is later mentioned as living at his home place at the Mountain (that is, now Montclair) in 1715. He was interested and active in town and church development; a deacon in the Newark church till his death. A deed conveying land to his son Azariah, Jr., dated "in the 26th year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God," may be seen hanging in the public library of this town. He, with his brother Jasper were evidently the first white settlers at the foot of the Mountain. He died November 5th, 1730, in his eighty-third year. His children were Hannah, Mariah, Nathaniel, Azariah, Jr., Robert, Jane, Mary and John. Historic records state that Nathaniel, oldest son of Azariah, was born in 1680 and settled near a spring at the foot of the Mountain. The old house, about which I played in childhood, was located on the Orange Road near to the present Myrtle Avenue, about two hundred feet west from the road. It was a two-story house with double pitched roof, large hall in the center with rooms each side. At the rear of the house stood a small building occupied in the early days by slaves and by their descendants as family servants through several generations. At the south end of the house stood the cut stone milk house built over the spring mentioned above. On the shelves of this cool milk room, I remember seeing the large pans of milk and rolls of new-made butter. The clear stream flowing from this spring was one of the heads of the brook now running across Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue near Park Street. The last occupant in the family line of the old Crane homestead was Major Nathaniel Crane, who died childless. He was the fourth descendant from Nathaniel, son of Azariah. The house was remodeled several times by successive owners after it passed from the Crane family. In later years it was known as the Frost house, Mr. Frost having owned and occupied it for a number of years. It was taken down about 1900 to give place for new improvements, with but little knowledge that it probably was the first house building in Montclair.
Nathaniel Crane, an early occupant of this house, was public spirited and interested in this westerly end of the large township, and particularly desirous for a more convenient place of public worship than the distant church at Newark, which was the only one in the entire township up to 1719, when the first church of Orange was organized and known as the Mountain Society. Nathaniel Crane was an earnest supporter of the new enterprise and a liberal contributor to the new church building. He died in 1760. His children were William, Noah, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Jane and Mehetabel. The preliminary to his will in possession may be of interest to the present generation. "In the Name of God, Amen. I, Nathaniel Crane, of Newark, in the County of Essex and province of New Jersey, Yeoman. Being weak in body, but of sound mind and memory, thanks be to God, calling to mind the mortality of my body do think fit to make and publish this my last Will. This Twenty day of Nov. in the Twenty-seventh year of the Reign of George the Second King of Great Britain, Anno Domini, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-Three. In the following manner and form, that is to say my just debts and funeral charges being paid, I first give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Elizabeth, my riding chair (a two-wheeled chaise with leather top trimmed with green morocco, as I remember it well preserved in my grandfather's wagon house). My best bed stead, bed with all the coverings and furnishings belonging to the same and as much of the rest of my household stuff as she shall see cause to keep for her use and comfort, as also the great yellow cow and the little red cow." Following is a further division of his personal property, giving to his son Nathaniel his best vest with silver buttons. "Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved son Noah my negro boy named Shem upon condition that he doth on the account pay unto my three daughters the sum of Thirty-five Pounds to be equally divided between them. "Then follows the division of his real estate among his sons. He bequeaths to his eldest son, William, a tract of land on both sides of Valley Road north of Clairmont Avenue, where he evidently lived at the time in the stone house known later as Washington's headquarters in the time of the Revolutionary War. The old historic house was recently demolished and the entire farm has been changed to residential plots. It has remained in the family till recent years. A portion is still held by one of his descendants, Mr. Alfred J. Crane, now living at Monroe, New York.
This same will gives to his second son, Noah, the original home (the Frost House) together with the remainder of his land, both below and over the Mountain. Noah Crane was born April 18th, 1719. He married Mary Baldwin. His name appears as an officer and active supporter of the church. Near the close of his life the residents of Bloomfield and vicinity were planning for the organization of a third church in which he took a lively interest, and his name appears as a liberal contributor for the new church building, which still stands with some enlargement, the First Presbyterian Church of Bloomfield. He died June 8th, 1800, and the stone that marks his grave, with that of his wife Mary, may be seen in the Bloomfield Cemetery. His children were Samuel, born 1747; Esther, Joseph (my grandfather), born 1751; Elizabeth, born 1753; Caleb, Nathaniel, Mary, Nehemiah, Stephen and Mehetabel. His will, dated February 17, 1795, bequeaths to his oldest son, Samuel, the tract of land on which he lived at Horse Neck (now Caldwell). Many of his descendants are now living in that vicinity. Mr. Henry D. Crane, late Treasurer of the Montclair Savings Bank, was his great-grandson. To his daughter, Mehetabel he willed L70 York currency. She married Gen. William Gold who lived in Caldwell and was a representative in the New Jersey Legislature. His family monument stands just back of the Caldwell Presbyterian Church.
All the land below the Mountain on both sides of Valley Road from Union Street north to near Hillside Avenue, and also from Van Vleck Street north to about Chestnut Street, he gave to his two sons, Joseph and Nathaniel. The homestead (Frost House) was the inheritance of Nathaniel, who was born October 26th, 1757. He married Hannah Crane, and occupied several positions of trust. His commission as Captain of a Company of Light Infantry of the Militia of Essex County, date August 20th, 1803, and signed by Richard Howell, Governor of the State, and also his commission as Coroner of Essex County, dated October 23rd, 1817, signed by Governor John Williamson, may be seen hanging in our public library. He was interested in the education of your men and to this end he was a liberal contributor to the building of the Academy at Bloomfield, now the German Theological School. He also left a fund for the education of your men for the ministry still held in trust by the Newark Presbytery, the annual income of which is disbursed by the Presbytery in accordance with the will of the donor. He was as much interested as his ancestry in the church. The original bell of the old church at Bloomfield was his gift, and for many years its strong and sweet sound called the people living as far west as the top of our Mountain, and those living at the extreme north of Bloomfield, to public worship. He made provision for his old colored servant, James Howe, who was a survivor of the former slaves of the family and was known as Uncle Jim. He gave him a good tract of land on the north side of Clairmont Avenue running west from North Mountain Avenue, where he lived many years. A part of the house he occupied is still standing. As children, we used to enjoy visiting the old man who had become blind, and listening to his stories of our ancestry. Major Nathaniel Crane had no children and made the West Bloomfield Presbyterian Church the residuary legatee of his estate, which amounted to about ten thousand dollars. This fund the will requires to be held in trust by the church and the annual income to be used in support of the gospel in this church. He died April 18th, 1833. In recognition of his gift to the church, The Society erected a suitable monument over his and his wife's graves in the Rosedale Cemetery.
Joseph Crane, the third son of Noah Crane, who with his brother Nathaniel inherited the farm under the mountain, was born in 1751, and married Hannah Lampson of Orange. He built and lived on the opposite side of the street from the old homestead, a little north of the northeast corner of Orange Road and Plymouth Street. The old grandfather home with its hallowed surroundings, the mysterious old garret with its spinning wheels and other implements for converting the home-grown flax and wool into material for family use, with the dark cellar in which were stored the bins of apples and vegetables, barrels of cider and vinegar, together with the peculiar odor of the special closet for cookies and pies, are still fresh from childhood's memory. He was a man of strong physique and marked integrity of character, interested in public affairs, the promotion of religion and education; was highly esteemed as a citizen and was an elder in the old church in Bloomfield from the time of its organization until his death. He contributed, as per subscription list still extant, L60 sterling toward the building of the church. Two of his sons were graduates of Princeton College and later ministers in the Presbyterian Church. He died October 11th, 1832. The following epitaph on his tombstone in the Bloomfield Cemetery is recognized as an honest record by thefew who remember him: "As husband and father he was affectionate and faithful; as a neighbor, upright and obliging; as a citizen, patriotic and useful, and as a professor of religion, was an officer in the church in an eminent degree exemplary. He had the confidence of all that knew him. Lived esteemed and died lamented. He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost."
There were several other divisions of the Crane family. Of the generation named above, Aaron Crane, who was a descendant of Azariah, lived in a part of the building now known as the Hillside House formerly owned by the Wheeler family. He had a large and respected family. The names of two of his children, Zenas S. and Timothy, are familiar to some now living. They both have descendants residing in Montclair. Zenas S. Crane was a prominent citizen of West Bloomfield, serving the town for many years as Magistrate and Civil Engineer. A large proportion of the deeds of conveyance of land and wills of earlier days may be found in his handwriting. He was regarded as particularly accurate both in his surveys and judicial decisions.
His brother, Timothy Crane, lived on Valley Road at the corner of what is now Mountain View Place, his fine farm extending west of his residence. In early life he followed cabinet making. The old town ballot-box in use many years after his decease was his workmanship. Later he devoted his attention more particularly to his farm. He had a special fancy for fine fruit with which his place was well stocked. Mr. Crane was highly esteemed as a citizen and kindly neighbor. He has descendants still living in the town who revere his memory.
Another branch of the family was Jeremiah Crane who lived in the house on the south side of Union Street west of Orange Road, more recently known as the Porter home, and owned a well-cultivated farm. His life antedates my memory, but he was spoken of as a sturdy old man. He reared a large family. Two of his sons, Ira Crane (grandfather of I. Seymour Crane) and William Crane, were highly respected citizens of the town. Their descendants still live in Montclair and Newark.
Israel Crane, who perhaps attained to a greater eminence than any of the family of his generation, was a descendant of William Crane mentioned above, who built and lived in the house known as Washington's headquarters. Mr. Israel Crane was a successful business man, regarded as the wealthiest person in this vicinity, conducted a large general store on Glen Ridge Avenue facing Spring Street, where his residence still stands; was an active man in the construction and later sole owner of the Newark and Bloomfield Turnpike, and rendered valuable service to the religious and educational interest of the town.
Zadock Crane, one of the old time residents, lived near the southeast corner of Midland Avenue and Walnut street. I am told that his old well still exists under the house of Mrs. Charles H. Johnson, Jr. Uncle Zadock, as he was familiarly called, had some eccentricities. He claimed to have been actively engaged in the Revolutionary War, and used to relate to us his heroic deeds in service. He was possessed with an idea of large mineral wealth, mainly gold, that could be dug from our mountain. He made a number of excavations resulting only in finding what was called "Fool's Gold." Walnut Street at that time was a private lane used as a wood road, terminating in the woods near where the Greenwood Lake Railroad Station now stands, and was called Zadock's Lane.
Stephen Fordham Crane and Amos Crane were grandsons of William Crane and the last descendants of the family to occupy the old Washington Headquarters. Their farms were largely on the east side of Valley Road. The tract south of Walnut Street and extending east to Forest Street, was the property of Stephen Fordham Crane, and that part of the farm north of Walnut Street as far east as the Erie Station was owned by Amos Crane. They were quiet home people, highly respected, and both members of the First Presbyterian Church of which Stephen Fordham Crane was an elder. Amos Crane possessed a well selected library and was a man of large general information. By the growth of the town these farms were greatly enhanced in value, making a liberal fortune for their families.
Joshua Crane, a cousin of Stephen F. and Amos Crane, occupied the adjoining farm north. The house stood on the west side of Valley Road near Van Vleck Street, and the farm on the opposite side extended east about to forest Street. My boyish memory of Mr. Crane is associated with his peculiar voice as leader of the singing in the prayer meeting and Sabbath School. He married, quite late in life, a lady of strong character from Pennsylvania, and it was generally understood that his conversion to the Democratic party and Baptist faith was due to her. The old home was later purchased by Dr. Wiseman of New York, who made some fine improvements; one in the line of his profession was a pond for the cultivation of leeches. The evidence of its productiveness was furnished by their adherence to the bodies of the young bathers when they left the water.
Josiah Crane, a brother of Joshua, lived at the northwest corner of Clairmont Avenue and Mountain Avenue. His farm lay north and west of his residence and later came largely into the possession of Mr. Joseph Van Vleck. Mr. Crane was an active supporter of the Methodist Church in its early history in Montclair. He was blessed with a large family of children, one of them, the Rev. John Crane, was a minister in the M.E. Church. William C. Carl, distinguished as an organist in New York, is his grandson.
As the early settlers were almost entirely of the Crane family, the name is necessarily conspicuous in this paper, but that I have barely touched the family line is apparent when I state that Hon. Ellery B. Crane of Massachusetts has recently published a genealogical list of the Crane family, has found it necessary to use two volumes to make it complete.
In the growth of the town other names besides the Crane family appeared among the early settlers. The northern part of the town was entirely a farming locality. The principal names of its early settlers were Speer, Van Gieson, Sigler, Harrison and Garrabrant. Speers predominated and it took the name Speertown.
The southern part of the town, joining Orange, was also a farming settlement, conspicuous names being Baldwin, Ward and Dodd. Being nearer the center than Speertown, they were more intimately identified with the social and civic interests of the community. Capt. John Baldwin, whose residence stood at the northeast corner of Elm Street and Orange Road, was physically and mentally, as well as morally, a strong man. He was eminently patriotic and a zealous politician in the true sense, and was a representative of real worth in the State Legislature. His brother Caleb Baldwin, whose farm and home was occupied for many years by the family of Mr. George P. Farmer, on the Orange Road, was a strong and sturdy character, zealous for the religious interests of the town and a close student of Jonathan Edwards. His intelligent, sincere and earnest Christian life has left an influence that may still be traced through the few who remember and revere his name. He was an officer for many years in the First Presbyterian Church at Bloomfield.
Among the names of valued citizens of this generation was Mr. John Munn, who lived in the house now occupied by the Clover Hill School, corner of Mountain and Bloomfield Avenues, his farm extending to the top of the Mountain. He was closely identified with the public and religious interests of the town, as such was a valued citizen, and was an officer in the local church. He served the town for many years as magistrate and State as a member of the Legislature.
Math's Smith lived, and, for the times, conducted a large leather manufacturing business on the property now occupied by Mr. I. Seymour Crane. I have in my possession the contract made by Smith & Doremus with David Riker, dated May 26th, 1807, for building the currier shop, 17x20, which stood, when I was a boy, just in front of where Mr. I. Seymour Crane's residence now stands. The consideration for furnishing the material and completing the building was one hundred and ninety dollars. The tan yard, bark mill, pond and vats occupied the ground in the rear. Mr. Smith held the esteem of the entire town as a Christian citizen. He was an elder in the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church till the time of the organization of the Presbyterian Church in Montclair, of which he was an elder till the time of his death. Associated with him for a number of years in the early history of his leather business was my father, Mr. Peter Doremus, who withdrew from the firm in 1811 and started a general store on the site still occupied by his descendants. He also established an extensive shoe manufacturing business located on the corner now occupied by Charles M. Decker & Bros.' building. He was interested in the business, educational and moral welfare of the town, and respected for his integrity of character.
Many other names come trooping to memory of men who made up the town half a century ago, among them Capt. Joseph Munn, who opened his tavern in 1802 in the house that was moved to give place for the public library building. After the Turnpike was completed (a direct road from Morris County to Newark) he built and moved to what is now known as the Mansion House, which he conducted with general satisfaction to the traveling public till well advanced in life. He was a respected citizen and prominent in the Masonic Order.
Associated with Mr. Munn in the hotel and in the business of manufacturing hats, which was located on the opposite corner, now the Union Hotel, was Nathaniel Baldwin, who was the first appointed Postmaster of the town and kept the office in a side room of the hotel. Mr. Baldwin was a quiet and respected gentlemen. In his will he left a tract of land on Bloomfield Avenue, running through to Church Street, to the First Presbyterian Church, part of which is now occupied by the Church Manse and the Y.M.C.A. building.
Squire Ephraim Stiles, who served the town as magistrate for many years, lived on the property occupied by the late Mr. Charles K. Willmer and still has descendants living in Bloomfield. His son Silas was a teacher in the town school.
Adjoining Mr. Stiles' farm on the south lived Squire Gideon Wheeler. The old residence still stands. He was one of the early schoolmasters and his son AIsaac for many years was teacher of the village school. His son, Grant, lived on the property on Orange Road now occupied as the Hillside House, and with his son carried on an extensive paper manufacturing business.
An interesting old gentleman, whose blunt but genial presence was always enjoyable, was Mr. Moses Harrison. His home and farm were on Valley Road, embracing what is now Erwin Park, named for his son Erwin who succeeded him as occupant of the homestead and farm for many years. Mr. Jared Erwin Harrison was a man of thrift and held positions of trust. He, with William J. Harris and Grant J. Wheeler, was active in securing the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad to Montclair and all three were members of its first Board of Directors. Mr. Harrison conducted a large business in manufacturing cider and vinegar, which had an extensive reputation. He was a man of marked energy, stern, but tender-hearted. The old residence is still held and occupied by his descendants.
A little to the southwest on Valley Road lived Levi Kent, a friendly and familiar gentleman of the town, whose farm was a part of and joined the athletic grounds. His old home was moved back (and still stands) to give place for the new one built by Mr. Jacob Mayer, who purchased the farm, and whose descendants still occupy it.
Some items from a Gazeteer of the State of New Jersey, published in 1834 at Trenton by Thomas F. Gordon, will be of interest. Following is its record of the Township of Bloomfield: "The villages of the township are Belleville, Bloomfield, Spring Garden and Speertown." The territory covered by above villages reaches from the top of our Mountain to the Passaic River, to the county line on the north and to Orange on the south. The census of 1830 gives the population of 4,309. What is now Montclair would show a census of less than one-third of 4,309. The number of horses and mules it states were 387; number of cattle, 862. In 1832 the entire township, including Belleville, was assessed as follows: State tax, $754.50; county tax, $238.37; poor tax, $1,200, and road, $1,200. In contrast, the assessment of Montclair for the year 1907:
County tax: $141,438.85
The aggregate, $451,883.43, of this present Montclair assessment contrasted with the assessment of $3,392.87 covering the original township in 1832, is an index of the phenomenal growth of our town in the last seventy-five years. There are single taxpayers in Montclair whose taxes amount to nearly the entire budget of 1832. The Gazetteer gives the record of Bloomfield Village, which at that time was Bloomfield and Montclair Townships: "The population about 1,600, 250 dwellings, 2 hotels, an Academy, boarding school, 4 common school, 2 stores, 1 Presbyterian and 2 Methodist Churches, 2 woolen factories, 1 mahogany sawmill, 1 rolling mill for copper, 1 calico print works, 2 sawmills. Also an extensive trade is carried on in tanning, currying and shoe manufacturing." A few items of the early history of Newark from this book are interesting. Its population in 1830 was 10,953, but a little more than one-half the present population of Montclair: "Besides the churches the only public building of the town of much importance is the court house and prison of brick under the same roof. The keepers' apartments and prison cells are on the ground floor. Court rooms, jury rooms and Sheriff's office on the second floor."
The entire provision for public travel between Newark and New York at that time was a steamboat making two trips daily with an average of seventy-five passengers; two lines of stages, almost hourly, conveying eight hundred passengers weekly between the two localities. The account adds that "this communication will be still more frequent when the New Jersey railroad, now rapidly progressing, shall have been completed. The Directors are now running the road through part of the town and propose to cross the Passaic River about the center of the town upon a wooden bridge on stone abutments." In 1834 the railroad track between Newark and Jersey City was completed and the first excursion over the road was made in September. The passenger car Washington, described at the time in the public press as a splendid and beautiful piece of workmanship, contained three apartments with seats on top. Regular trips between the two cities at a cost of thirty-seven and one-half cents each way were commenced September 15th. Eight round trips per day accommodated the travel. For more than a year the cars were drawn by horses, until the road across the meadows was sufficiently settled to make it safe for the engine, which first came into use December 2nd, 1835. I remember, as a boy, seeing this car, Washington, drawn by horses on its way across the meadows to Jersey City with passengers seated on top. The growth of travel between Newark and New York from that day to this is a marvel.
A few items from newspapers of near the same date will show the contrast between the early days of stage coach and sailing vessels, with the present day of railroad and telegraphic communication. A New York paper of December 11th, 1828, gives reports of the British Stock Market; also commercial reports from London, dated October 27th, forty-five days old. An item of rapid transit is given in the same issue. A gentlemen who left Boston at seven o'clock A.M. drank tea in Philadelphia the next evening at seven P.M., thirty-six hours between the two places.
The Newark Sentinel of Freedom of December 15th, 1829, gives in full President Andrew Jackson's message, which had been read to Congress on the 8th, just one week previous. Part of the delay is explained by the fact that this was a weekly paper, for the Editor states that the message reached New York in remarkable time of sixteen hours by special arrangement of the New York Commercial Advertiser, and makes acknowledgment of his indebtedness to this paper for having furnished him a copy of the message that enabled him to issue an extra at four o'clock P.M. the next day after it was read to Congress.
Hon. Theodore Frelinghuysen, whose benevolent face I well remember, was a member of the Senate at this time. A quotation by the Newark Daily Advertiser of May 27th, 1834, from the New York Commercial Advertiser says: "Few States have reason to be more proud of their representation in the Senate than our neighbor, New Jersey. Such men as Southard and Frelinghuysen would confer honor upon any legislative hall, whether bearing the appellation of a House of Lords of the humbler designation of a Republican Senate." Mr. Frelinghuysen later was candidate for Vice-President on the Whig ticket with Henry Clay. An irreverent slogan in this political campaign was, "Clay at the card table and Frelinghuysen at the communion table."
The following marriage notice appears in a Newark appear of Tuesday, December 15th, 1829: "Married in New York on Saturday morning last by the Rev. Dr. Wainwright, the Hon. Daniel Webster of Boston, to Caroline, youngest daughter of Herman Le Roy, Esq., of that city." The above mentioned papers are in my possession.
In the development of the town the earliest mill interests of Montclair, of which I have any personal knowledge, were a sawmill and cider mill.
The sawmill, run by water power, was located on Toney's Brook at Bay Street, a little south of Glen Ridge Avenue. The mill seemed to be a community interest where the farmers converted their logs into boards or timber to suit their needs. It preceded my memory many years, but Uncle Jim, mentioned above in the old time stories that he used to tell us of the early days, gave me some account of this sawmill. He said he used to go with Deacon Joseph Crane to the mill to assist him in sawing logs into boards. It was first necessary to cut the logs into the proper length for the boards, this being done with a hand or cross-cut saw. The old gentleman took the handle of one end of the saw and young colored Jim the other, and with a twinkle about his face Jim said: "Back and forth the old man kept the saw and me going without a stop till the cut was finished, and I was right glad when it was done." He told this as an illustration of the physical power of my grandfather of whom it was said he would plow a half acre of land before breakfast.
The primitive cider mill was located on the west side of Orange Road about two hundred feet back and midway between Myrtle Avenue and Plymouth Street, joint property of the two brothers, Major Nathaniel and Joseph Crane. It was also regarded as a neighborhood convenience, as the apple crop had come to be quite a factor in the farm products. A few barrels of cider and vinegar were included in the cellar stores for the winter, and the long evenings were cheered with doughnuts and cider. This mill was constructed with a circular trough hewn from logs, and into this was fitted a heavy solid wooden wheel with axle to which the horse was attached. The trough was partly filled with apples and these were crushed by the wheel in its rounds ready for the press from which the apple juice flowed under the power of the great wooden screws, and when barreled it was a boyish pleasure that I well remember to such through a straw, inserted in the bunghole, this new sweet cider. Years later, in the development of farm land, apple orchards multiplied and the cider industry became prominent in this locality. There were four mills with greatly improved machinery from which it was estimated six thousand barrels were annually shipped. New York was the principal market, but large quantities were shipped to the Southern States, for Jersey cider had a reputation. At the time of apple gathering in the Fall, it was a common sight to see a long line of large farm wagons at the approach to the mill, loaded sometimes with fine fruit, waiting their turn to unload. There was a distinction made in the kind of apples. The early or Fall fruit were called "common" and sold for five and six cents per bushel. The latter consisted of three particular kinds. Harrison, Canfield and Nursery were designated as "fine" and brought from ten to twelve cents per bushel. There was a very perceptible difference in the quality of the juice from the two grades of apples. The former or "common" was usually converted into vinegar and the latter a much richer quality, was kept for market as "fine Cider." Only one of these four mills had a distillery connected with it.
For the times, quite an extensive business in manufacturing woolen goods was carried on under the management of a stock company organized in the early part of last century, in which Israel Crane, Daniel P. Beach, Ephraim Stiles and Peter Doremus were prominent. The stone factory was located on the east side of Bay Street, a few hundred feet south of Glen Ridge Avenue. The water power was supplied from the same stream that had for years run the old sawmill. The storage of water was a pond that covered the ground now partly occupied by John Blondell & Sons' coal yard. The embankment that held the water ran along Glen Ridge Avenue for about two hundred and fifty feet from the coal office, then turned in from the street with rather a high stone dam at the east end for the overflow. The natural bank on which the Lackawanna Railroad now runs formed the south boundary. When flooded the water flowed to a point near the Harrison Milling Company's buildings. From the southeast corner ran a wide race-way to Bay Street conveying the water to the mill. This mill-pond and race-way were the Summer and Winter resort for the town boys. Swimming, fishing and skating were much enjoyed by the young people in their seasons. After a very successful business of a number of years in manufacturing woolen goods, the mill was sold about 1825 to Henry Wilde, a practical mill operator from England. He introduced new machinery and greatly increased the business with some changes in the kind of goods manufactured. Later he made plans for its enlargement, building a new and larger stone mill lower down on the stream on what is known as the Wheeler mill property. The natural lay of the land between the two mills was well adapted for a pond for the water supply of the new mill. A dam built on the north side of Bloomfield Avenue and on a line with it was about all that was needed to flood the land back to the old mill near Glen Ridge Avenue and to form a larger pond than the first one. The overflow was at the arch bridge at the railroad crossing, as the brook now runs. A friend now living, who when a boy lived in this neighborhood, remembers well the building of this mill and dam, and when ten years old was employed in the mill, working twelve hours a day for one dollar per week. Mr. Wilde was successful in his new venture, employing a large number of men, boys and girls in the two mills. The employees were largely from England, so much so that this part of the town took the name of the English Neighborhood.
In Mr. Wilde's prosperity he built a fine cut brown stone house a little east of the Pilgrim Mission Church, which was regarded at the time as the finest residence in the town. After the decease of Mr. Wilde, the two mills passed to his son Henry, a man of business ability and marked integrity of character. The successful record of the business under the management of the elder Mr. Wilde was maintained by his son to the time of the general financial crisis of 1837 which paralyzed commercial interests throughout the country and made it necessary for Mr. Wilde, with many others, to suspend business. During his business prosperity he was interested in the welfare of his employees, planning for their moral and educational betterment, establishing a Sunday School, etc. It was largely through his influence that the First M.E. Church was built in Montclair, now St. Marks, still standing on Bloomfield Avenue east of Elm Street. Mr. Wilde afterward located in Newark, where he was successful in the lime and cement business, and where he died a few years ago at a ripe old age, most highly esteemed.
Later, when business began to revive in the country, John Wilde, a cousin of Henry Wilde, came over from England and started the mills again, but changed the business to bleaching and printing cotton cloth. The printing was at first by hand from wooden blocks in two or three colors. Later machinery and steam power were introduced and they were able to print in six colors, which was considered a great advance in the art of printing cloth. The products of the mills largely increased and frequent shipments were made to the New York markets by a strong team of horses kept for this purpose. Mr. Wilde was a man of public enterprise and in the interest of his employees used to conduct religious services in the Washington School House located on Glen Ridge Avenue. Later, through his influence and largely from his own means, an Episcopal Church was built, located in the neighborhood near what is now Pine Street about three hundred feet back of the north side of Bloomfield Avenue. This was the origin of St. Luke's Church, which has with the growth of the town attained its present fine proportions.
This old stone mill was destroyed by fire early in the fifties, and on March 25th, 1854, the fine stone residence shared the same fate while occupied by Mr. Dennis Brigham, who succeeded Mr. Wilde in the business of the print works. Later, a frame building was erected on the ground that had been occupied by the stone mill, and for many years a large business was conducted by G.J. Wheeler & Sons in manufacturing straw boards for paper boxes.
Besides the several industries named above, there were the usual mechanical interests to meet the needs of the town. The village blacksmith shop was located on the point now occupied by the Montclair Savings Bank. Its approach was usually littered with scrap-iron, old wagons and carts, an unsightliness that would not be tolerated in these days by the Town Civic Association. Mr. Joseph Kent did the general blacksmith work and horseshoeing for the surrounding country. In about 1834 he sold his stand and business, including his residence at the east end of the shop, to William S. Morris, who with marked energy increased the business, adding the manufacture of plows, a demand for which was made by the growing farming interest in the surrounding country.
On the opposite side of the street was the wheelwright shop and residence of Mr. Richard Romer. His house and shop occupied the ground extending from the east end of the Crane building to about the middle of the Kirby building. Besides the local business of the town, he had quite a market for farm wagons and carts in the South. The plow and wagon part of the business was shared by these two neighbors, one doing the wood work and the other the iron work, balancing their accounts at the end of the year.
Adjoining Mr. Romer's property on the east was the town harness shop conducted by Mr. Peter Sandford, which stood on the ground now covered by the east end of the Kirby building, and his residence still stands adjoining, very much as it was at the time his family occupied it.
These gentlemen all had the respect and full confidence of the community. Mr. Morris was for many years an active officer in the Presbyterian Church and Mr. Sanford in the M.E. Church.
The town cooper shop stood about where Dr. Love's office now stands, and the Club House covers the ground then occupied by the one-story residence of the cooper. Cooper Crane manufactured the barrels and kept in repair the washtubs for the town. He was succeeded by a kindly Irishman known as Cooper Noonan. He was blessed with a Rooseveltian family. His son George was one of the boys with us, a bright fellow and often invited to give readings for families. He settled in Texas and attained some eminence as a Judge in the courts.
The mercantile business of the town was confined to two stores of general merchandise, a full stock of groceries, dry goods, crockery, hardware, hats, shoes, medicines, iron, seeds, etc.; also in the earlier days a general assortment of liquors sold only by the quart or gallon, more generally by the gallon. In the early attack on the growing intemperance of the times, this part of the business was entirely eliminated.
In my memory Mr. Israel Crane was the first in the mercantile business in the town. His store was located on Glen Ridge Avenue, opposite Spring Street, near his residence still standing. This business preceded the opening of the Turnpike. To keep in touch with the new highway and to hold his trade, he opened Spring Street making an easy connection with the Turnpike. Mr. Crane did a large and successful business for many years, and was succeeded by his youngest son, James.
The other store was started in 1811 by Peter Doremus on the site now occupied by the Doremus building. He carried a heavy stock of general merchandise to meet the increased demand for family supplies occasioned by the improved facilities for travel over the new Turnpike, bringing a large trade from Morris and Sussex Counties. Trade was most active in the Fall and Spring, when families would come to town and purchase supplies for the season.
Methods of business in the early days were quite different from the present. Instead of the regular morning ordered for the day, visits were less frequent on account of the distance from the store, and family supplies were purchased accordingly. Consequently business was much less strenuous, giving more or less leisure to the merchant for general town talk with the regular "settlers." Families from Morris County would occupy a full day purchasing stores to carry them over several months, and the business was generally transacted in the Dutch language, which my father spoke fluently. This at the time was the spoken language of a large part of Morris and Bergen Counties.
The present custom of daily calling for orders and delivering the goods had not then been thought of by merchant or customer as a business method, much less a telephone call a half mile from the store for a two-cent yeast cake "sent up quick."
The present day stock of package and canned goods is an entire change. Nearly all ordinary groceries were in the bulk. Coffee was sold in the bean, unroasted; flour came from up country in sacks and was emptied into large bins; New Orleans molasses and sugar in hogsheads. The moist, unrefined sugar was taken from the cask and mixed with a dry Havanna sugar, giving it a better consistency for weighing out from barrels in which it was placed after mixing. The loaf sugar neatly wrapped (the outside paper a uniform bright purple) hung from the ceiling beams in rows. This was particularly "company" sugar and was broken off in quantities as desired. The purple paper wrappers were much sought after by the ladies to use for dyeing material. Flour was always weighed in bags provided by the customer, as the customary division as to quantity being based on a system of one hundred and twelve pounds for one hundred-pound weight. The weights were of cast iron representing respectively fifty-six pounds, twenty-eight pounds, fourteen pounds and seven pounds. The sale of sugar in quantities of seven pounds is still in general use. The scales in use for these weights and for bulky goods consisted of a heavy iron beam hung from the ceiling with square board platforms suspended by chains from the beam ends.
Instead of the present molasses faucet to fill the measure, a tin dipper was used, the hogshead being first conveniently placed and the head removed. The open cask (but meant to be kept covered) was a temptation to the small boys to get a lick of the sweet. One little fellow climbed to the top edge of the hogshead, lost his balance and fell in. He told me, some years afterwards lifted him out, and when he got home he was badly covered with molasses and flies. That was long ago, and we need have no fear of such defilement of our molasses under the modern methods.
It is a pleasant and interesting memory to recall the gatherings of the men of the town of three generations ago in this old store during the winter evenings, entertaining themselves with the general news of the day and a large fund of stories which would usually be prefaced by "that puts me in mind of." During the political campaigns the discussions would sometimes become rather warm. Conspicuous and rather a leader was Capt. John Baldwin, an old line Whig in politics and a man of large brain. One or two of the stories told peculiar to the times may be mentioned. A considerable business was done in the way of barter, farm products, eggs, butter, potatoes, etc., being exchanged at the store for merchandise, and it was the common custom in the days when wine was a part of the stock to treat the customer after the deal. A good lady sent her husband to purchase for her a darning needle, giving in exchange a new-laid egg. After the trade he asked the usual treat. The glass of wine was served, when he asked, "couldn't you afford an egg to break in this?" "Rather close business," the merchant replied, but handed him the same egg that was in the deal, which the customer found on opening contained two yolks, on account of which he thought he was entitled to another needle.
One of the story-tellers with a good deal of dry wit related the following: Indigo was quite an article in trade and every good housewife kept her indigo bag, which must be of the best quality to give the proper shade to the rinsing water of the weekly family wash. A good lady with some experience in the use of indigo undertook to give her neighbor an infallible test by which she could determine the genuine, viz.: Take a cup of clean cold water and gently drop into it a lump of indigo - but, I declare, I forget whether it must sink or swim to be good.
The Turnpike, referred to above, was an important event in the early part of the last century for the town and surrounding country. A stock company under the title name of Newark and Bloomfield Turnpike Company, became incorporated February 24th, 1806, of which Israel Crane was President. The survey contemplated as direct a road as possible from Newark at the corner of Belleville and Bloomfield Avenues west to Pine Brook, with the Pompton branch running north from a point just west of the top of the Mountain to Singac. Many who had subscribed for stock paid for it in work with their teams in opening and constructing the new highway, and, like all public improvements, it met with more or less opposition. In one instance this took on rather a violent character. The new street cut through the grounds of a family whose house stood about where Christ's Episcopal Church now stands in Bloomfield. As the workmen undertook to open the new street across these grounds, the lady of the house came out in strong protestation, ordering them off her ground and severely threatening them with broomstick in hand. After a conference the matter was amicably adjusted by an extra award of a good calico dress.
The road was constructed with a foundation of heavy stone and over this a course of small-sized broken stone, then a thin coat of earth. The stone for this purpose was quarried from the rocks at the top of the Mountain and broken to the proper size by hand, giving employment to a large number of men. The road was kept in creditable condition under the management of Mr. Crane, who later became the sole owner of the stock. The revenue from the investment was the receipts of toll from four gates located, with residences for the gatekeeper, at proper distances from each other. One was a little west of the canal bridge near Branch Brook Park, one at the top of the Mountain, the third at the approach of the Pine Brook bridge, and the other one on the Pompton branch at Singac. The completion of this Newark and Bloomfield Turnpike was an important improvement for the times and proved a large and general benefit to this locality and the surrounding country, making the markets of Newark and New York accessible to the farm-producing country in the northern and western parts of the State. In the Fall and early Winter it was an interesting sight to see the long line of white canvas-covered wagons drawn by well-kept horses, and loaded with farm produce for the market, dressed hogs, poultry, butter, eggs, dried fruit, nuts, etc. Besides these were the regular teams from the grist mills of Morris and Susan Counties, furnishing the stores of this vicinity their entire supply of wheat and rye flour, buckwheat, Indian meal, oats and ground horse feed. Another industry, conspicuous in those days but now almost obsolete, was the manufacturing of charcoal, carried on extensively in the adjoining country to the west, and it was a common occurrence to see a long line of the big tapering-bodied, V-shaped wagons loaded with charcoal on their way to market. This, as a matter of course, was all changed with the development of the railroads throughout the State, furnishing a quicker and better transportation to the markets of Newark and New York.
In 1870 the executors of Mr. Crane sold the Turnpike to the Essex County Road Board, which Board had been created by the State Legislature with the primary purpose of constructing six fine avenues leading out from the city of Newark. By them the street was widened, graded and macadamized, and greatly improved as a public highway, and given the name of Bloomfield Avenue.
The original roadway from Newark running west and through this locality was called the Old Road (dating back to the early settlement). It followed Belleville Avenue to Second Avenue, a little south of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, thence westerly on what is now Franklin Street, passing the Baptist and Westminster Churches in Bloomfield, then following Broad Street on the west side of the Common to Park Avenue, following this and Bloomfield Avenue to Glen Ridge Avenue, to Montclair Center, crossing Bloomfield Avenue to Church Street, thence to the Library corner, thence north on Valley Road to the corner of Clairmont Avenue, thence to the top of the Mountain, then following Clairmont Avenue till it again touched Bloomfield Avenue at Verona, then in and out of Bloomfield Avenue on to Pine Brook and Parsippany. For many years after the Turnpike was completed this old dirt road was chosen as the pleasanter driveway to Newark. It was more largely built up, and besides it avoided the toll-gate.
The Old Road, now Valley Road, was later continued from the corner of Clairmont Avenue north to connect with a road at Upper Montclair running over the Mountain to Little Falls. I have a copy of the report, dated May 13th, 1768, of the surveyors "who were duly chosen and called according to a law of the report, dated May 13th, 1768, of the surveyors "who were duly chosen and called according to a law of the Province in that case made and provided to lay out a Road or Public highway in the town of Newark." The description follows very much the same as the road now runs and is signed by the six surveyors appointed. The description begins at the road leading over the Mountain near Garret Speer's field, running south through the lands of Peter DeGarmo, Rynier Van Gieson, Gideon Van Winkle, John Egbert, William Egbert, Noah Crane, terminating at the house of William Crane, Washington's Headquarters. The above named streets, the Old Road, the Turnpike and what is now Bellevue Avenue connecting Speertown and Stone House Plains, at the north end, and Washington Street (laid November 1, 1744) at the south end, were the only streets running east and west. Those running north and south were Valley Road, which, near the Central School building, joined the Orange Road, Elm Street continuous with Grove Street, and South Fullerton Avenue, a narrow street then called the Lane. These were the only public roads of the town.
From memory I am able to located nearly every house and name each family living on these streets in my early days. The number of residences was about one hundred. The present numerous streets, fine residences, public buildings, churches, and schools that have sprung up in a single memory, present a wide contrast to one who can recall the early appearance of our town when it was an open country almost entirely farm land with a large portion of it heavily wooded. The land north of Walnut Street nearly to the northerly boundary of the township and from near Midland Avenue on the west to some distance beyond Grove Street on the east, with few exceptions, was overgrown with large trees and underbrush, and known as the Big Woods. Remnants of it are still extant as may be seen on Park Street, The Rand Park, etc. There was also Quite a strip of woodland north of the Turnpike (Bloomfield Avenue) between Park Street and Midland Avenue, reaching from the Turnpike north as far as Claremont Avenue. Another almost covered with wood was the square at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Elm Street, now occupied by the Mullen Stables, etc. These various woods furnished fine nutting grounds for the young people of those days. The land approaching the top of the Mountain was largely overgrown with cedar trees.
In the center of the town was located the two-story stone school house. From an old school record that came into my possession a few years ago, is the following item: "At a School meeting held at the house of Joseph Munn, Friday, March 13th, 1812, Capt. John Baldwin was appointed Moderator and E.D. Ward, Clerk. It was resolved that the Trustees be instructed to secure a deed from Israel Crane for a site on which to erect a schoolhouse, containing twenty-five hundredths of an acre, bounded on the northeast by the Turnpike Road, on the south by the Old Road and on the west by Pumenas Dodd's garden fence. The Trustees were Israel Crane, Matthias Smith, Joseph Munn, Eleazer Crane, Oliver Crane, David Riker and Justice Baldwin."
The description in the above deed covers the point of land in front of the First Presbyterian Church. The garden fence of Pumenas Dodd ran on about the front line of the church as it now stands, and the easterly end of the schoolhouse green extended about ten feet beyond the present curbstone. Near the point was an elm tree, one of a line of trees that was set out by the young men of the town, who dug them in the woods, carried them and planted a row on each side of the Green the full length of the lot. Those on Bloomfield Avenue were sacrificed in widening the avenue, the one at the point being removed when that end of the Green was thrown into the public highway. Only two of these original elms are now standing on Church Street. This Green, not enclosed at the time, was the playground for the scholars and baseball was played with less exposure of windows than it would be at the present time. One school exercise that I can remember in connection with the old Green was a plan of the teacher to fix the multiplication table in our young minds by marching us in line about the Green with martial treat, repeating in concert "twice one is two," etc., etc.
The school building stood about twelve feet in front of the present church building, and at the foot of the Green was a creditable liberty pole with gilded ball and liberty cap on top. The schoolhouse was two stories, twenty-two feet by forty-four feet, built on red sandstone, with entrance at the south gable end. The upper story was reached by stairway from the entrance hall and was arranged with two rows of permanent seats, painted green, with platform and reading desk at the north end, and was used for religious service, the pastor from the Bloomfield church holding service periodically Sunday afternoons. The service was sometimes conducted by a layman.
Mr. Israel Crane, who had undertaken to study for the ministry but was compelled to give it up on account of ill health, sometimes led the meetings in this upper room, and I well remember, as a boy, his striking face, his slightly stooping form and his peculiar accent as he read for us the long sermon of some good old preacher.
The schoolroom below was arranged with platform and teacher's desk at the north end, with continuous stationary desks on each side, the full length of the room, with benches painted lead color. In front of these was a row of smaller benches for the younger scholars. This room was also used for public entertainment, singing school, etc. Mr. Thomas Hastings, of New York, used to come out and give instructions in singing.
The early teachers were Gideon Wheeler, Philander Seymour, David J. Allen, Warren S. Holt, Isaac B. Wheeler, Silas Stiles and Mr. Packard. While I can remember several of them, my early instructions were from Mr. Holt and the impressions made by him may have been more strongly fixed by disciplinary treatment for which he had a good record. Mr. Holt conducted the school successfully for a number of years, introducing some new methods, closing each year with a public examination and in the evening a grand display of the elocutionary powers of the scholars, which was called the "Exhibition," and was regarded as the school event of the year. Conspicuous in oratory was "On Linden when the sun was low All bloodless lay the untrodden snow" and Patrick Henry's famous speech, "Give me Liberty or give me Death," was declaimed with oratorial effect. Dialogues of William Tell, illustrated by shooting the apple from the boy's head, and of David and Goliath, wherein the little David would lay low the big boy Goliath with a stone skillfully thrown from his sling, where rendered at the Exhibition with great satisfaction to the numerous audience.
Mr. Holt's final parting from the school, I think made a more lasting impression on the minds of the scholars than the dry rules of arithmetic or English grammar. The entire school was invited to his boarding house and treated to all the scholars wanted of good home-made root beer and gingerbread.
After Mr. Holt closed his engagement with the district school he married a daughter of Elder Caleb Baldwin and opened a day and boarding school at the Mount Prospect House, which he conducted successfully for many years. The popularity of the school drew scholars from various parts of the country, also many of his former pupils in town. Mr. Holt died at the age of eighty-six on June 16th, 1894.
I have no information as to the annual cost of the school in those earlier days. Taking for data the year 1852, when the male teacher received $340 per annum and the lady assistant $200, we perceive a wide contrast with our present school assessment of $98,768.70 and the corresponding advance in the facilities for public education, giving opportunity to the young people of this day that ought to be appreciated and improved. The low rate of teachers' pay in those early days, as it seems to us, doubtless compared favorably with wages in other industries and with the cost of living, but it would seem to give some justification to a traditional story of a teacher who, when the periodical time for the payment of his board came around, would regularly, but rather privately, take the required amount from a certain earthen mug on the mantel where the good landlady had placed the previous payment. I don't know that it is true, but they used to tell it of good old aunt Hannah Crane's teacher-board.
I may perhaps mention, as of some interest one or two incidents of the old school days. The geography class was arranged in line before the teacher. The lesson was a review of the rivers of the United States, the scholars answering in their regular turn. The teacher gave the location of a certain river in one of the States, and the particular question put to the scholar in line was the name. The boy, who was a little noted for his dullness, hesitated for some time, when the teacher failing to use the tonsorial phrase of the present day, "next," called emphatically, "Emmons," meaning the next scholar, which the boy to whom the question was first given understood as a kindly help from the teacher, and immediately responded, "Oh yes, I remember now, the Emmons River."
While the teacher was illustrating from the platform to the class in philosophy some point by the use of a mirror, with his back toward the scholars, a big, athletic fellow sitting next to me did not seem to discern how the teacher could see him with his back towards us and began to throw out his pugilistic fists towards the instructor on the platform, when immediately came the words from Mr. Holt, rather emphatically and to the chagrin of the chum, "Take care, Surds, I am looking at you." There was a sudden drop in the fighting attitude.
One feature of school life would be a novelty to the present day scholar, and that is the goose quill. It was the only pen we knew of, and when the hour came for writing practice the teacher with penknife in hand would follow the class in line, sharpening each pupil's quill pen in turn. This was superseded by the steel pen, then the gold and now the fountain pen and typewriter, and much after its order comes the adding machine, which adds and multiplies numbers without limit so correctly that it looks as though arithmetic, like the quill pen, is liable to be driven from the school by advancing mechanism.
The organization of the First Presbyterian Church was effected August 31, 1837, under the name of the West Bloomfield Presbyterian Society. The new church purchased the stone schoolhouse and grounds. Plans were made for a church building by Decatur Harrison, a young architect living in the upper part of the town. His portrait may be seen hanging in the Produce Exchange in New York, of which he later was President. The upper story of the old building was taken down, leaving the schoolroom to be finished for social meetings and Sabbath School. It was furnished with the green seats from the upper floor. The new church of wood was built over this room, enlarged by extensions over the front and south ends, giving a pleasant and commodious audience room. The building fronted to the east with heavy pediment supported by pillars corresponding. From its location in the center of the town, the church was conspicuous, well proportioned and in good taste. The extension over the front of the old schoolroom made a large open porch and entrance way to the stairs at the south end, which led from a platform to a landing on each side of the audience room. The pulpit with heavy red tasseled cushion and high ornamental lampstands on each side with comfortable sofa for the preacher, chairs and table in front, were arranged with good effect at the north end of the audience room. At the other end was the choir gallery, built over the stairway, from which the good old tunes were rendered, taking the pitch from the tuning fork, excepting when Mr. Caleb Ward was present with his bass viol, materially aiding the church music and amusing the young folks as we watched his mouth following every movement of the bow. But the old musical instrument, which we used to think was a big thing, is no more, and every voice of that old choir, so familiar to me as a boy, is now silenced in this world, but I believe, under the strong and earnest teachings of the good pastor, Dr. Fisher, is now singing with the celestial choir.
Rev. Samuel W. Fisher was the first pastor. While a student in the Union Theological Seminary of New York he came out and preached for the new church. He was a son of Dr. Samuel Fisher, who was a preacher of considerable note in the state. After Mr. Fisher graduated he was called and installed as pastor of the church in 1839. It was a very harmonious and successful pastorate for more than four years, when he accepted a call to a church in Albany, N.Y. Afterwards he was called to a church in Albany, N.Y. Afterwards he was called to a church in Cincinnati and later became President of Hamilton College. He was succeeded in the West Bloomfield church by Rev. Aaron C. Adams, who served the church six years, when he returned to New England where he served as a pastor for many years. He died a little more than two years ago aged ninety-one. Succeeding pastors were Rev. Job F. Halsey, Rev. Josiah Addison Priest, D.D., Rev. Nelson Millard, D.D., Rev. J. Romeyn Berry, D.D. and Rev. William Junkin, D.D. Pleasant and endearing memories are cherished for these former pastors who did much for the moral and religious welfare of this community. All of them have departed this life except Dr. Nelson Millard, who is now living in Rochester, New York. The present pastor, Rev. Llewellyn S. Fulmer, was called from Baltimore and installed over the church in October, 1901.
The first church building in Montclair was the M.E. Church, referred to above, erected in 1836. Henry Wilde, Gorline Doremus and Josiah W. Crane were active promoters of the enterprise. The advantage of the change made in its location some years later to North Fullerton Avenue is apparent from its present beautiful buildings and largely increased membership.
The original building of the First Presbyterian Church soon followed. Next was St. Luke's first building, mentioned above, and the next in order of time was the Roman Catholic Church, a plain frame building located in Washington Street and now occupied by the Foundling Society. The Church of the Immaculate Conception made a wise move when it changed its location to North Fullerton Avenue where, through the strenuous labors of Father Mendl, it has attained its present large membership and material advance in the large and handsome church building nearing its completion, together with its fine Parochial school building on Munn Street. The other church organizations of the town are fresh in the memory of the present generation.
Up to about 1870 the four churches named, viz.: the Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Roman Catholic, seemed to satisfactorily accommodate the church-going people of the town, but for about fifteen years previous there had been a gradual and increasing growth of residents encouraged by the improved traveling facilities to and from New York. A large proportion of the new residents allied themselves with the Presbyterian Church (the Society was at this time worshipping in the present building), and, while this was not in many cases their denominational preference, yet in the spirit of a true Christian fellowship they added much to the material and spiritual interests of the Society. At the time the church was built it was the custom to give to the contributors a pew or pews according to the amount subscribed for the church building, giving the holder the perpetual ownership on the payment of an annual annuity fixed by the Society for the support of the church. With the largely increased membership, the unequal privilege in the choice of pews with many who were sharing the expense of the church was apparent. After some effort to overcome this olden-time custom, the pews were almost entirely surrendered to the Society, thus giving a more equal chance in the choice of seats, in consideration of which very liberal contributions were made by the new-comers for the improvement of the church property. Galleries were put in, the pews were rearranged, adding much to the seating capacity of the audience room, also to its general appearance.
A large proportion of these families who had united with the Presbyterian Church and had worked and contributed with them for many years in the spirit of true Christian Catholicity, were, in denominational preference and education, Congregationalists, and early in 1870, when they felt their numbers would justify a church organization of their own choice, they held several preliminary meetings, resulting in a unanimous decision to that end; and on June 8th, 1870, a Council of the Congregational Church on invitation met in the Presbyterian Church, when the organization was consummated. In the following September the Council met again in the same place, when Rev. Amory H. Bradford, who had received a unanimous call to become their pastor, was ordained and installed pastor of the new church by the Council.
The severance of this large and valued membership from the old church was attended with much regret, but with a hearty Godspeed.
From the phenomenal growth of the new enterprise, its energetic work in the religious, moral and intellectual welfare and general betterment of Montclair under the long pastorate of Dr. Bradford, it seems quite evident there must have been some good Presbyterian engrafting during the years of association with the old church, and it is certain a kindly impression as left, as the relationship of the two churches since has been one of true Christian fraternity, markedly manifest in the annual New Year morning prayer meetings, which Mr. Joseph B. Beadle, one of the founders of the Congregational Church, was largely instrumental in inaugurating and which has been for nearly forty years a valuable contribution to the true Christian fellowship of all the churches in Montclair.
As a general rule in those days the graveyard was connected with the church. This was located on Church Street, the land having been purchased by the Presbyterian Society from Major Nathaniel Crane, and ran back to the Crescent. Trinity Place was the western boundary and Bradford Place the eastern. The first interment was Prudence, wife of Zenas Baldwin, who died March 8th, 1837. As the town began to grow it was later abandoned as a burial place and the bodies and monuments were removed to the Rosedale Cemetery.
After the school property was sold to the church, a new location was purchased of Ira Campbell on Church Street and a one-story frame school building erected about where the chapel of the Presbyterian Church now stands. When it was decided to build the present church, more land was necessary and a strip of land between the two streets running back to the line of Mr. Cole's store was purchased. Two dwellings on the property were sold at auction. The one on the Turnpike was moved to the east side of South Fullerton avenue, opposite the Crescent, where it stands at present somewhat enlarged. The other, which was located on Church Street, now stands at the northeast corner of Glen Ridge Avenue and Forest Street. The present church building was completed and dedicated November 12th, 1856. At the time it was considered a big undertaking for the Society and by many regarded as a building in size much beyond any future need of the town. The new church was located just back of the old one and the Society continued to hold service in the latter while the new building was being constructed. A few weeks before its completion the people of the town were much surprised to see a fine church bell on a heavy truck driven into town. It was placed on the stone platform at the front entrance of the new church where it stood for several weeks. The explanation of the unexpected surprise to the people was read in the following inscription cast in the bell: "Presented to the Presbyterian Society of West Bloomfield, N.J., by Miss Mary Crane, Oct., 1856, 1084 lb., Key of G." Miss Crane was a daughter of Israel Crane and an esteemed member of the church. The bell was hoisted to its present position in the tower and its fine tone has been a familiar sound for more than half a century, calling worshippers to the House of God.
Later there was a general move for more advanced facilities for public education and after many meetings of prolonged and heated discussions, a decision was reached to purchase of Grant J. Wheeler the land on Church Street between Valley Road and Orange Avenue, and the present Grammar School building was erected, which was regarded as a big advance in the school interests of the town. And as we look back to the plain, original schoolhouse of 1740, with its fire-place in one corner, standing on Church Street, near the present locality, and compare it with our present large and fine Central School buildings with their advanced facilities for education, it becomes evident that the world and Montclair move.
After the completion of the new school building, the Church Street School property was sold to the Presbyterian Society, this being the second purchase from the School District and continuing a seeming affinity between Church and School as we found it with the early settlers. The building which stood about where the present chapel stands was used by the church as a lecture room for a number of years.
Mention has been made of Nathaniel H. Baldwin, the first postmaster of the town. His appointment was made during the administration of President Jackson, 1830. A high lead-colored desk with pigeon-holes for each letter of the alphabet represented the office kept in a side room in Capt. Munn's Tavern. The rate of postage was graduated by the distance the letter traveled and the postage was paid on its receipt. I remember well my first letter from this office and the cost, twenty-five cents, the letter having been mailed at Baton Rouge, La., by my brother. In 1841, Calvin S. Baldwin succeeded N.H. Baldwin and the post-office desk was moved to its new quarters in the tailor shop of Mr. Baldwin, which was the westerly part of the frame building on Bloomfield Avenue near the corner of North Fullerton Avenue. The part used for tailor shop and post-office was recently torn down for the new Kern building. Mr. Baldwin lived in the part of the house still standing. Hewas also for many years the leader of the church choir. Succeeding postmasters were Amzi Ball, Esq., William Jacobus, John C. Doremus, C.P. Sandford and George A. Van Gieson.
The earliest medical practitioner in the town in my memory was Dr. Joseph S. Dodd, father of ex Vice-Chancellor Dodd, now living in Bloomfield. His residence is still standing opposite the Glen Ridge Schoolhouse at the corner of Bloomfield and Ridgewood Avenues. His practice covered the entire township, which was Bloomfield and Montclair. His genial face and his carriage as he drove about the town were familiar to us all. In his duties he had to meet all the ailments in this large field of practice. Bleeding, much in vogue at the time, and tooth pulling were part of his duties. The latter service I remember from experience. The dental instrument in use, the turnkey, is little known in these days. First the gum was cut loose about the tooth, then the instrument was hooked on to the tooth, the jawbone serving as a fulcrum and a strong turn with the handle was sure to result in something giving way. I begged as hard as I could with the big iron in my mouth, "Don't pull it, Doctor," but he knew his business and turned on till the tooth came with a sensation that made me feel either my jawbone or head was gone. But there was the tooth that had given me so much pain in the claw of the turnkey, and I felt better after seeing it. In spite of such hurts and the bitter allopathic dose, we all loved the kindly doctor. As a professional man he was consulted on all matters of importance in the town. A candidate for teacher in the school must pass his scholarly examination before his appointment. Dr. Dodd was most highly esteemed, not only as a medical practitioner but as a genial Christian gentleman. He was succeeded in his practice by Dr. Joseph A. Davis, who also lived in Bloomfield. His original home was in the stone house that stands opposite the Baptist Church. He seems to be the counterpart of his predecessor and was received as the family physician and general counselor with the full confidence that was given to good Dr. Dodd.
One other physician well known and esteemed was Dr. Isaac D. Dodd. He married a daughter of Mr. Israel Crane and resided in Bloomfield, at the corner of Broad Street and Park Avenue, the old home still occupied by his daughter. Physically he was large and well proportioned and designated as the "big doctor." He was regarded as advanced in medical knowledge and recognized as the consulting physician.
Besides the regular doctor in the early days there were as now, quacks and gullible people. I recall one, an Indian doctor, who came to town with infallible remedies for all ailments, and it was surprising how many sick people turned up. Diagnosis of ailments were made to the satisfaction of credulous patients, and the hopeful were soon in the woods to find the herb and root prescriptions. The results I do not know, but think they must have been harmless. One special case was that of a child who was treated for what he termed King's Evil. In strict accord with the Indian doctor's direction, the little girl, wrapped in a woolen blanket, was taken each morning to a rainwater hogshead and immersed in the cold water. In spite of it she still lives, nearly eighty years old.
Some years later a good lady in town who had been ill for some time, was besieged by her many friends with various recipes and "sure cure" doctors. One friend was very persistent that she should try a clairvoyant in spite of her protestations that she had no faith in that medical school and further that she was not able to call on her in Newark, but this difficulty was easily met by sending a lock of the patient's hair. A full diagnosis of the disease with prescription was soon returned on the payment of one dollar, when the wise lady remarked to her family, "This may be all right, but I cut the hair from my wig."
We had tramps in the early days, too, but not of the "Weary Willie" order. I recall but two, Josh Flinn and Polly Range. Their walks were periodical through the town. Flinn followed the Orange and Valley Roads and Polly the Turnpike on through Caldwell, each carrying his or her belongings. Miss Range had hers packed in a coarse sack which she carried on her back with her hands clasped across it. She suffered a good deal of annoyance from the boys as she went through the town but with strong language and threats kept them off. Her behavior was orderly and she was usually entertained over night by kindly disposed farmer families. Josh Flinn was not as well disposed, and while some families would help him to a square meal, which was said to be no small undertaking, others sent him from their doors with the threat of the broomstick. Josh had some ideas of turning an honest penny by his medical knowledge, and made a square deal with a deaf bachelor uncle o famine to cure his deafness. The compensation was a good drink of cider. The prescription was: "Wet a little nigger wool and keep it in the ears." He got his cider all right, but I do not know whether the old gentleman tried the prescription. I do know that he died nearly totally deaf in his ninetieth year.
As the town began to show some development, Dr. John J.H. Love, a young man not long out of the medical school, came to look over the field with reference to settling here. He called to ask my advice. I replied, "I hardly know how to advise you. The town is not large and the people are strongly wedded to Dr. Davis, who has the general practice of the town. The only encouragement is in the growth of the town from a contemplated railroad connecting us with New York." With full confidence in himself and sound forethought as to the future of the town, he concluded our interview as I felt in rather a blunt way (but better understood as we afterward knew him) by saying, "Well, I'm coming." He was soon settled in an office centrally located. The anticipated railroad was completed and with it the town development began, and the young doctor soon found himself with a satisfactory and growing practice. He was soon identified with every public interest of the town, and was called upon as a general adviser, also to deliver the Fourth of July orations, etc., etc. He perhaps did more in the interest of public education for Montclair than any other man of his generation.
As an expression of the esteem in which he was held by his fellow townsmen, they united in tendering him a public dinner on the fortieth anniversary of his coming to Montclair, which was given April 16th, 1895, in Montclair Club Hall. One hundred and seventy-six warm friends sat with him at the table, among them several prominent gentlemen and personal friends. Among the guests from out of town were Dr. George F. Shrady, editor of the Medical Record, of New York, and General Grant's physician; and Hon. Franklin Murphy, of Newark, an army associate who afterward became Governor of the State. Mr. John H. Wilson, Chairman of the Town Council, presided. Besides him and the two gentlemen above named, five others of his fellow townsmen made addresses, all highly complimentary to the man in whose honor we had met, and it was truly a "Love Feast," a title under which a descriptive account of the inner is preserved in book form.
Not satisfied to be left out of the expression made by the gentleman of the town, the ladies, in earnest desire to show their esteem for Dr. Love, arranged with Mr. Lawrence C. Early, one of our town artists, to paint his portrait. It was hung in the assembly room of the High School building and was unveiled June 21st, 1895, the closing day of the school year, in the presence of a large and highly pleased audience. Mr. Wilson again presided and in part said: "The picture was not given because we could add in any way to the appreciation and esteem in which the doctor is held. No portrait is needed, for there hangs upon the walls of memory another that time cannot efface, but we desire that the work of dr. Love which will stand always, may be continued in the minds of those yet to come, and this is a permanent testimonial which shall show the future generations the Father of the Public School system in Montclair."
Dr. Love, with his usual activity and interest in every public matter of the town, continued with us about two years longer, when at an early hour in the morning of July 30th, 1897, after a successful operation for a poor woman, he fell to the floor and departed this life with his hands still covered with the blood of his final service. His funeral was held in the Congregational Church, the largest audience room in town and which failed to accommodate the many friends who gathered to express their sincere sorrow. A quotation from the funeral address of his pastor, Dr. Orville Reed, expresses the ardent love of his townspeople: "The whole community mourns; the flags are at half mast; the streets silent; the places of business closed; this great congregation representing every walk in life, every faith, every political adherence, gathered here with heavy hearts and moistened cheeks; these things show what has happened in Montclair."
The contrast between medical facilities at the time of Dr. Love's coming to Montclair and the present number of doctors practicing in town, together with our commodious Mountainside Hospital with all the advanced and modern appliances for the relief of the sick, is very marked and strong evidence that the medical profession has kept pace with the growth of the town in its population, buildings, business, schools and taxes.
Closely akin to the subject of doctors "then and now" is the care of the sick, the dead, the funeral and burial. In the early days professional nurses were unknown. In case of severe illness the kindly neighbors would come to the relief of the family and minister to the patient during the night. The precautionary measures now taken in contagious diseases (excepting smallpox) were not considered necessary and the result was the disease would generally run through the entire family sometimes with sad results. Nearly every family was known to every other and with death came general sorrow and sincere sympathy. There was no undertaker but the sexton, who was also the grave digger, but there was some one or more experienced neighbors who would lay out the dead and assist in preparing for the funeral. The regulation burial dress was called the shroud, delicately made of thin white material which was the volunteer work of some one of the lady friends. Two or more of the young people were called as watchers for the nights before the body was taken from the house. The modern silver-mounted casket was not in use, but instead was the plain, old-time coffin made by the town carpenter, usually of hard wood and stained red, resembling mahogany. I well remember watching with reverent interest the mechanic finishing the coffin of Major Nathaniel Crane in 1833. Its lid was lined with black velvet, tastefully trimmed with gimp and fasted with brass tacks, and the inside delicately finished with plaited muslin, giving a tasteful appearance to the interior. The cost was less than fifteen dollars, which was the bulk of the funeral expense. The service, usually held at the residence of the deceased, was marked by one custom that I never understood. The mirror was covered or the glass to the wall. The minister or ministers conducting the service usually wore a linen scarf or scarves provided by the family, regularly folded and the ends tied together with heavy black ribbon, and hung over the right shoulder, extending across the body to the left side reaching near the ground and having a black silk bow fastened on the shoulder. A regular sermon was preached from a chosen text, several hymns were sung, and the old tune "China" from its frequent use is fixed in my memory as a funeral tune. The body was carried to the grave in the family wagon, or one loaned by a neighbor, and the coffin covered with a bedspread.
In looking over the long stretch of years through childhood, youth and full manhood, nearly all spent in Montclair, on to the present, with each period of life in view, there looms up a long line of familiar faces, with memories of interesting incidents and endearing associations with those with whom I have mingled in social, religious, civil and political life. With some, honest contentions; with others, full sympathy and harmony; but now all are recalled with kindly memories. To enumerate these departed ones (which would outnumber my living acquaintances), with my pleasant recollections of each, would more than fill a book. They have joined the host whom no man can number. With nearly all gone who were born in Montclair near my time and many more of later date and tender association, it is a real comfort in such feelings of loneliness to believe Him who claimed to be the Truth when he said, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me, though he die yet shall he live," and in support of the statement called Lazarus, who had been dead four days back to life.
In this paper I have said little of those who came later to Montclair and have done so much towards its growth in every respect. The History of Montclair, published in 1894, gives a record of many of these gentlemen and the valuable service they had rendered the town up to the time when it was issued, and the valued citizens who have come since are too fresh in our knowledge to be called historical.
It was at the completion of the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad that the real development of Montclair commenced. The first train was run in June, 1856. For several years passengers left the train at Newark and waited for a Morris and Essex through train for New York. Later a continuous train to New York was supplied, a great accommodation to commuters. The completion of the Greenwood Lake Railroad through Montclair with its competition very much enhanced our facilities for travel, reduced passenger and freight rates, and has changed Upper Montclair from a farming community to its present proportions.
In 1860 the name of our portion of the town was changed from Bloomfield to Montclair, and in 1868, by Act of State Legislature, we were set off from Bloomfield Township. With the election of Town officers the organization was effected and we became an independent township. With the conveniences of the two railroads connecting with New York, the town began a phenomenal growth, bringing to us an inflow of new citizens which has added largely to the material growth and beauty of the town. The fine churches, public school buildings, public library, Young Men's Christian Association building and clubhouse are evidences of what these new-comers have done for the religious, moral, social and educational advancement of the town, so that wherever we may be, whether in our own or foreign country, we are proud to say our home is in Montclair.
I take the following items from private memoranda: Electric connection was made with the town April 14th, 1896, and the light turned on at five o'clock P.M. The first electric street car was run through Montclair July 24th, 1898. So that in my memory we have advanced from the tallow candle through the periods of sperm oil, kerosene and gas to the electric light; from the two stages a day between here and Newark to thirty well filled trains from New York on the D., L. & W.R.R. and twenty-one on the Erie R.R., beside the trolley and automobile.
In a broader outlook of memory during the years of my time it is interesting to note the advance in every sphere of life, domestic, industrial, intellectual, scientific and religious. The changes in domestic life, to which some reference has already been made, are specially marked in light and fuel. Coal had been discovered as an article of fuel in the early part of the last century, but wood was the only material in use in my early memory. It was burned in the great fireplace with a big back-log and wood piled in front, making a warm and bright home-room for the household during the long winter evenings as the family gathered about the hearthstone. Well I remember this family association in the old grandfather home. In the kitchen was the great crane stretched across the fire-place. On this was hung the family dinner pot from which was served the savory meals. Every family had its wood-pile with a bountiful supply cut for the long winter use. Fire wood was very much a matter of merchandise and was carted in large quantities to and through the town on its way to Newark. Many of these loads of hickory and oak wood have I measured and computed the value of in early business life, for the accommodation of the farmers. All this gradually changed with the advent of coal, which in the early time came to us in the natural lump as it was taken from the mine. It was my office, as the small boy of the family, to break it into suitable size for the stove. A few tons at first were enough to supplement the wood fires. Just to note the change in its extensive and growing use, the reported output of bituminous coal for 1906 was 342,874,867 tons.
In the primitive time of wood fires it was very important with every family that live coals should be well covered with ashes over night and so be kept alive to start the new fire in the morning. It was not an uncommon event to send to the neighbors for a few live coals with which to start the family fire. This care to perpetuate the live coals of course antedates the present convenience of friction matches, instead of which the family were generally supplied with tinder box, steel and flint. The spark from the flint, produced by a sudden strike on the steel, falling on the tinder would ignite it, then a brimstone match would be lighted from the burning tinder. The first advance from these little shaving brimstone matches was the new invention of a box, with small stick matches at one end and a bottle of acid in the other end. These matches had a preparation on one end which, when dipped into the acid, would ignite. This was soon followed by a match that would ignite by scratching it on any hard substance and was called the Lucifer match. When the price was reduced to two cents a box, an eccentric fellow in the old store punning on its name said, "Oh Lucifer! How though hast fallen; only two cents a box."
The almost universal article for light was the tallow candle, or tallow dip. Often have I helped my mother dip the wicks into the pot of melted tallow till they were sufficiently increased in size to fit the candlestick. After all our puns on the days of candle light, they still have their place in domestic use. Following and in general use for street lights in New York in my earliest memory of the city. Then came camphine, used mainly for a permanent light requiring a glass chimney for draft. At the same time a composition of camphine and alcohol, called burning fluid, was in general use as a portable light. It furnished a clean and pleasant material for the purpose, but was so inflammable that its use was attended with many serious disasters. Then came the kerosene oil which almost spontaneously sprang from great underground reservoirs in apparently inexhaustible supply. Notwithstanding that much has been said and written of dark deeds in its production, it certainly has given more artificial light to the world at a low cost than any article preceding it, and supplementing it we now have the full blaze of gas and electricity.
Almost as marked is the advance in the water supply of New York. In my memory, excepting a small downtown district supplied through wooden pipes from a reservoir located between Prince and White Streets (New York History), the water for family use was from pumps located on the streets, and in some cases, it had to be carried a block or more. The great fire of 1835 was the event that awoke New York to its need, resulting in the great Croton Water plant, which was so far completed in 1842 that the water was turned on July 4th, attended with an immense civic and military parade in which President John Tyler was a conspicuous figure, to me particularly interesting as my first sight of a real live President of the United States.
Another development within my memory is photography, originating in Paris. Pictures were first taken on a highly polished metal plate and called daguerreo-types, framed in a closed case of handsome design at a cost of about five dollars, and in my early experience, furnished a pleasant article of exchange for lovers. It has now become a great industry throughout the world and so common in use that we are liable to be snapped at any time and place, and our homes are flooded with fine and accurate pictures of friends and scenery at very little cost.
A recent and more valuable advance in the art is its aid in the study of astronomy. So minute are the calculations in the movements of the heavenly bodies and so accurate the advanced art of mechanism, that an authoritative astronomer recently told us that the machinery attached to the large telescope would accurately guide the glass in following any particular part of the stellar world on which the glass was fixed throughout the night, and thus give a continuous and accurate exposure, enabling the astronomer to secure pictures of worlds in infinite space that the strongest glass had failed to show.
As a child I was told of two brothers of my father who had emigrated to the far West with teams and canvas-covered wagons, and had located on farms in Seneca County, New York. It was regarded very much as a final family parting. They had but one visit East afterwards and that was many years later. One of our schoolboy friends, on invitation of the teacher, Mr. Holt, visited Boston. On his return from such a trip he was lionized by the boys who were eager to know all about the great city, Bunker Hill and the great Mastodon Skeleton in the Boston Museum, of which we had wonderingly studied and which we had seen pictured in our school books.
To New York and back was a good day's trip, while now we run down for an evening. To Europe and back was a more distinguished event than three times around the world at the present day.
Before our present railroad system across the country the Pacific Coast was reached by steamer around Cape Horn or via Panama. Those who suffered the delay and discomforts in their haste to reach the gold fields of California, newly discovered in 1849, will best understand the advantage of the present railroad facilities.
The undertaking of the Government in constructing the great Panama Canal is an advance in the interest of the world's commerce that will be regarded as the historic event of the present century.
A preserved letter from my brother at Walla, Washington Territory, dated October 7th, 1861, states that after a very good trip of four months from Omaha with ox teams, in which they had lost no stock, they were the first wagoners across the country from the States to the frontiers of Oregon and Washington. He is now living in Portland, Oregon, a city of 90,426 inhabitants as per census of 1900, only thirty-nine years later than his arrival. Now this entire sweep of country which was so largely wilderness less than a half century ago is covered with great cities, immense agricultural enterprises largely furnishing the world with its grain and fruits; and with immense flouring mills giving to the world its fine production. One single mill located in Minneapolis has a capacity of fifteen thousand barrels of flour daily. Their entire plant of five mills is able to furnish thirty-five thousand barrels daily. This business has grown to its present proportion in about one-third of a century, and this is but one of the many great flouring mills in this vast county. Besides these are its numerous and large mechanical industries giving distinction to nearly every prominent locality on the continent, all so singularly advantaged by the great railroad systems traversing in so many lines the entire country, transporting us across the continent in less than five days, as contrasted with the many months of wagon travel fifty years ago. These are advances within a single memory that almost stagger us.
In the early days, still in memory with many, almost all the general merchandise such as hardware, cotton and woolen clothes, spool cotton, etc., (silk entirely), were imported. The great resources of the country in its various metals, gold, silver, copper and iron, together with its vast agricultural products, particularly cotton, have developed a wealth of raw material which necessitate manufacturing facilities to bring it into practical use and profit. Mill interests and machinery have so advanced under native genius and governmental protection to home industries that the business of the country has entirely changed in this respect from a foreign supply to a large exporting business, and very much to our advantage in cost, particularly in iron. With our vast resources of supply and marvelous machinery, plants are furnishing us manufactured goods at a cost of about one-quarter the early importation prices. French calico prints under importation prices were fifty to sixty cents per yard; English prints were in the market at a less rate. But now and for years past the immense print works of Fall River, Mass., with many others in the country, are furnishing us with their fine fabrics at from six to ten cents per yard. As per statistics of the U.S. Government Department of Commerce for the year ending June 30th, 1907, the exports from the United States were $1,853,718,034, exceeding our imports for the same time $446,429,653. Gov. Fort, in a recent address, stated that $35,000,000 of capital was invested in the silk industry in our State. The great cotton factories and print works of New England, and later developments of these industries in the Southern States, the large capitalized steel works of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and many other large manufacturing interests throughout the country with their producing powers, are in evidence as to the material advance of this vast country in a single memory. A marked example is the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. Starting with a small alleyway near Walnut Street in 1831, they are now occupying a plant in the heart of the city covering sixteen acres, and one hundred and eighty-four acres at Eddyston. During the first thirty years their output was one thousand locomotives, thirty-three and one-third per year. Their product for the year 1906 was two thousand six hundred and sixty-six (2,666). In addition to the vast amount of labor-saving machinery in use, they employ nineteen thousand (19,000) men as per their last statement. Besides their contracts with the various railroads of this country, they are exporting locomotives to many foreign governments. They furnished the Imperial Government of Japan one hundred and fifty locomotives in 1905.
One instance of local interest in mechanical genius and push: A family of young men still known to many of our residents - Moran Brothers - who had the advantage of our public schools, emigrated to the Pacific Coast and located at Seattle, where they recovered sufficient land, about eight city blocks from the water front, and established a shipbuilding plant which has grown in size and importance second to none in the United States and of great value to the new city, to the Pacific Coast, and to the nation. Much of the iron work used in rebuilding the city after the great fire of 1889 was from their works. They shared largely in the construction of the machinery for the fine naval dry dock on Puget Sound; I believe the largest on the Pacific Coast. One of their enterprises was the building of eighteen strong steamers for the gold mine operators in Northern Alaska, the first that had been able to navigate with safety those rough waters. A later product of their yards was the Government battleship "Nebraska," for which the contract consideration was nearly four millions of dollars. They have since sold their plant for $3,000,000 and are still young men. One of them, Mr. Robert Moran, has served Seattle twice as Mayor. He has now retired from business and located on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan group, on a four thousand acre plot with salt water harbor, mountain lakes, deer preserve and all that nature could give for an enjoyable retired life.
The picture of this 15,000 ton first-class battleship "Nebraska" was taken when the ship was running the official trial, making approximately 19-1/2 nautical miles per hour.
The advance in facilities for popular education and scientific study throughout the country during the period in review is in no way behind the material. It took time and effort to educate the average taxpayer to free public schools. At a public meeting called to discuss the subject that I remember in my early days, an old gentleman voiced the opposition: "I believe in education and have given my children its advantages, and now to be assessed to educate other's children does not seem just." That we are far away from this sentiment in Montclair, and throughout the country, visible facts are in evidence. One of the glories of the country is the vast sums of money from taxation and private sources expended in furnishing opportunities free to all classes for a good education.
The tabulated list of universities, colleges and schools of technology in the United States, numbering 578, is an interesting study. A group of ten of the most familiar, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell, represent a property valuation of $187,156,373, with 35,430 students; volumes in libraries, 3,474,641. There are others in the list of the 578 that exceed in number of students and property value several of the ten referred to. Not included in this list is the Carnegie Institute at Washington, D.C., founded to promote original research, the State Normal Schools, and the many educational institutions in large cities, like Cooper Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the numerous large public libraries furnishing opportunities free for classical education and scientific research. The aggregate shows a power for education of hopeful promise for the future of the country.
Reference has been made to the local advance in the interest of public education from the old stone schoolhouse on the green with its limited facilities to the present large and commodious buildings, thoroughly furnished in all branches from kindergarten to academic. It may be an overstrained illustration of the general advance of public education throughout the country, but wherever we travel, particularly in the far West, the one thing that looms up in town and city is the fine public school building.
The Old Kings College (called Columbia after the Revolutionary War) as I remember it standing on College Place near Murray Street, a plain stone building with fair green campus and good outlook over the North River, where Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and many other leading patriots were educated, presented a wide contrast to the present Columbia University to which it has grown, with its magnificent buildings. Its up-to-date apparatus for scientific study, a library of 450,000 volumes, 604 instructors and 5,195 students is a great advance within a single memory of this one institution, and yet in looking over the many universities and colleges of high order and equipment, scattered all over the country, many of them located in States only one-third the age of this college, it may fairly be regarded as not a forced exponent of the increase and development of colleges in the United States.
In addition to the above is the Press with its enormous issue in our own country. As to books, a quotation from Ecclesiastics fits, "Of making many books, there is no end." The government Bureau of Statistics in its report ending June 30th, 1907, gives the money value of books exported as $5,813,107. The daily newspaper that gives us yesterday's news of the world before breakfast, and the great list of magazines and periodicals with pictorial illustrations (many of which in earlier days would have graced our parlor walls) have a mighty educational power, and if this power were always as good as it is mighty, it would be an inestimable boon for the world.
The editor of the Boston Globe recently furnished some statistics on the growth of American journalism: "In 1810 the total of all kinds of newspapers was 366. The latest available figures show that in 1907 there were 21,535 newspapers, reviews and such. This almost fabulous increase in the number of papers published has been accompanied by a still greater increase in the number of copies issued by each paper. The combined circulation of the press of the United States for 1907 could not have been less than ten billions of copies." These figures are startling as I recall the little package of a half dozen daily papers that used to be left by the evening stage from Newark at my father's store to be called for by the few subscribers of the town. The Newark Sentinel of Freedom, a weekly, had a more extended circulation through the farming district.
This is but a brief record of educational facilities; and beyond this is the large amount of money that is still being gratuitously advanced to further the opportunities for learning. One of the daily papers recently stated that "the aggregate of Andrew Carnegie's gifts for this one purpose during the course of years was $111,000,000." Such facilities at the service of the inquiring mind of the average American give a healthy outlook for an enlightened nation.
That the moral and Christian interests of the country and world are keeping pace with the advancing material and educational activities is an interesting fact as results indicate, viz.: The abolition of duelling which was once popularly considered the proper method of adjusting questions of personal honor; the almost entire extermination of the lottery, which formerly was so far sanctioned as to be used to raise funds to build churches, together with the growing public enticement against all forms of gambling; the abolition of human slavery from the entire world; the popular temperance sentiment as compared with the days when liquor was in common use in the harvest field and on all public occasions, and on the family sideboard when it was considered common courtesy to treat guests, particularly the minister on his pastoral calls; the growth in the spirit of public sympathy and the active efforts to relieve suffering humanity as appears in the great and finely equipped hospitals, asylums, reformatories and the various institutions that Christian charity has provided for the sick and injured, the crippled, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the inebriate and the criminal; the organized plans for the poor, as the Fresh Air Fund for the relief of the children and mothers in congested city districts, and the self-denying social work for the uplifting of the less favored classes in the great cities, as the East Side Settlement Work.
In this advancing line of cooperative Christian work may be mentioned the change from the early sectarian sentiment to the broad catholicity and spirit of Christian brotherhood so prevalent throughout the Church today. In the same line and spirit is the world's movement for universal peace and the ending of bloody warfare through plans of manly arbitration.
This partial list of the world's great Christian charities seems in full accord with the prophetic Messianic words of Isaiah, "Sent to bind up the broken-hearted," and the heralding of the Angelic host, "On earth peace among men."
In ordinary reasoning there seems no other explanation of such results and the world-wide reaching out of Christian charity, than the life teachings, mighty works, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of the one personality Jesus Christ who said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself." We do not find among the teeming millions of the Orient anything like this beneficence resulting from the teaching of Buddha, Confucius or Mahomet, which are ethical and of high moral character, but in practice these ameliorating conditions of charity and standard of morals do not prevail. On the other hand the united testimony of credible men who have visited, and many who have spent years of close study in those countries, disclose practices in social life and religious customs that are superstitious and degrading. So hopeless is the outlook for the welfare of these vastly populous countries for their present or future life, that Christendom has been stirred to give them the teachings of the Bible, which have produced such beneficent results in all lands where they have been taught and of which the period in review has seen a marvelous growth in on-Christian lands. The magnitude of the undertaking of a Christian Mission for these millions of people, some of whom close their gates to all foreign ingress, led many in the Church to regard the purpose with disfavor, and the heroic faith and zeal with which such early missionaries as Judson, Cary, Martyn, Morrison, Duff, Paton, Moffat and Livingston were inspired was needed for the undertaking.
The transformation in these countries to the student of Christian Missions of today is amazing. While there is no pretense that the millennium is reached, either in Christian or heathen countries, a great advance has been made. The one obstacle that seemed insurmountable in the memory of many - the exclusion of all foreigners - is no entirely removed, and with this has appeared a growing interest in political and religious thought and an open mind and heart for western education and religion, resulting in the establishment of large numbers of missionary stations in these countries, with many adherents to the Christian faith, including a large number from the higher classes, with churches, schools, universities, colleges, medical schools, hospitals, asylums, etc. A statistical report of the Protestant Missionary Societies of the world for the year 1907, furnished by Rev. D.L. Leonard, D.D., gives the following aggregate of the American churches, viz.:
The number of Missionaries: 5,909
For Christendom, he reports:
One of the strongest educational influences, particularly in China, is the Medical Missionary whose skill in treating disease is recognized by the common people as superior to the ridiculous concoctions of native medical men who are regarded mainly as fakirs.
The schools and institutions for higher learning are a strong factor in disseminating Western education and Christian knowledge, and have awakened a wide interest in Eastern nations. Robert College of Constantinople, in which our townsman, Dr. Orville Reed, was tutor for three years, is sending students of high grade to fill positions of influence in the empire.
Foreman Christian College at Lahore, India, has a student enrollment of 394, of whom 198 are Hindus and 130 Mohammedans. Another Missionary College of India is located at Allahabad, and has 104 students, in which Carol Thompson, one of our town boys, is teacher.
Peking is the educational and political center of China, and affords access to every part of the Empire. Here is located the Imperial University of which Rev. W.A.P. Martin was the head, whom the people of Montclair will remember from his lecture on the Boxer outbreak before the Outlook Club. Miss Alice Carter of our town has been located at this station for some years. She is still doing missionary work there with her husband, the Rev. William H. Gleysteen, to whom she was recently married.
The Shantung Protestant University is mentioned as one of the most conspicuous institutions of learning in the far East. One hundred and twenty-eight students were matriculated in the college last year. Mr. Robert E. Speer, who has visited and made a close study of missions in China, says this institution has led and still leads the higher education of the whole Empire. Its students have gone out into the provinces as Christian ministers, evangelists, teachers, government officials and into commercial life.
The following comment was made in a recent issue of the New York Sun in connection with the decease of Morris K. Jesup, who had helped so largely to create and sustain the English-speaking university in Beirut, Syria. It mentions as its founder and first President, the Rev. Daniel Bliss, D.D., and his son and successor, Rev. Howard S. Bliss, D.D. who was the esteemed pastor of the Christian Union Congregational Church of Upper Montclair: "The institution is a thoroughly organized and a perfectly crystallized university with a faculty of fifty-eight accomplished and eminent men and eight hundred and seventy-eight students from all parts of the Turkish Empire, from the greek Islands, from Egypt, from Sudan, from Persia, from India and the very heart of Arabia, pursuing both academic and professional studies under physical and intellectual conditions precisely similar to those obtained in any American college of equivalent importance. The strictest Musselman, the most orthodox Jew, the fastidious Hindu are found together in the College Library helping each other in the use of reference books, or in the football field amicably and even fraternally commingling in the fiercest rushes. How can you exaggerate its interest as a fact or overestimate its significance as a factor in the making of the future history of the New East?"
The Mission Press in Shanghai is an ally and powerful agency for good throughout the Empire. It is spoken of as the most important mission press in the world. Connected with it are a type foundry, electrotype and stereotype rooms and bindery.
Its reported output for the year ending June 30th, 1907, of Chinese works, Scriptures, commentaries, hymn books, works on Christianity, text-books for schools and colleges, Scripture tracts, periodicals (weekly, monthly and quarterly) was 1522,102 besides 132,474 English and bilingual works.
A special feature has been the work done for medical missionaries. A second edition of Dr. Cousland's Physiology, also an illustrated edition of diseases of the skin and of the eye by Dr. J.B. Neal.
One hundred and thirty-one thousand of Dr. Halock's Chinese Almanacs were printed for the 1907 issue, giving notes on astronomy, geography, science, Chinese and world statistics, with information as to the Christian life.
The potential influence back of all this aggressive Christian work is the one text-book, the Bible. The agency through which it is published is the American Bible Society, located in New York, organized in 1816 with the Hon. Elias Boudinot, of Burlington, N.J., as its first President, who was President of the Continental Congress at the time of signing the treaty of peace with Great Britain. The increase of its publications and circulation in nearly all languages and countries is a record of advance and activity that compares well with the other industries of the past century. the first annual issue was 6,410; its last annual report gave its number 2,236,755.
The entire Bible has been translated and published in one hundred and one languages, but the actual circulation of the Scriptures and portions of them in foreign languages and dialects if 443 versions among nearly all the nationalities of the earth. The circulation in our new possessions, the Philippine Islands, during seven years, was a total of 6,45,541 copies.
A written copy of the Bible in the thirteenth century cost L30, equal at that time to fifteen years of the money earnings of the laboring man. The American Bible Society is now furnishing the entire Scriptures in English for seventeen cents.
It is but just to state that a large part of the advanced work of the Christian Church is represented in the colleges and literary institutions of our own country. A very large proportion of the 578 universities and colleges have their origin in, and affinity with, the Christian Church, many of them denominational and many non-sectarian.
That the Church is not abating in interest and effort its beneficent work is indicated by a recent daily newspaper notice. The New York Tribune of January 18th, 1908, states some facts with comments on the annual report of several New York churches: "The pew rent respectively of St. Bartholomew's and St. Thomas' Churches were $44,000 and $55,000, and for hospitals, Summer homes and Fresh Air Work, to the maintenance of the vast social work on the East Side, and to mission work of all sorts all over the world, St. Bartholomew's congregation gave last year $271,000, or seven dollars to others to each dollar spent on themselves." Gifts for corresponding purposes in St. Thomas' Church were $214,764. After reporting two other churches of the same denomination and mentioning their phenomenal growth in membership, the comment is, "Nothing in the business world has grown faster, and the spiritual work of the parishes is stated to keep pace with the material."
It is well understood that these are large and wealthy parishes, but the same magnanimous spirit of self-denial and zeal may be found in the report of other denominations who, with the above, count themselves in Christian charity the one universal Church with desire, in the spirit of its Divine Head, for the betterment of the entire world.
At a recent meeting held in Philadelphia of about sixteen hundred representative men of the Presbyterian Church in a three days' conference, the question of its responsibility, under the present opportunities for extending the knowledge of the Christian faith throughout the world, was seriously discussed with marked ability and earnestness; and the conclusion was reached to make strenuous effort to induce every member of its communion to share in the purpose with prayerful interest to increase its benevolence from its last annual amount of $1,276,748 contributed to $6,000,0000.
The reported increase of membership on profession of faith in this Church for the last evangelical year was 85,820.
One of the most energetic and successful Christian efforts of the last fifty years has been the Young Men's Christian Association, which has spread throughout this country and the world. Its growth in membership and good works is phenomenal. Originating in London in 1844, its influence reached this country in 1852, and in 1867 the first Association building was erected in Chicago and a few years later one in New York at a cost of $500,000. And now throughout the States and Canada fine Association buildings may be found in nearly every city and very many of the large towns, which is also largely true of Christian Europe. In the far East, as Japan, China, India, Korea, Persia, South Africa, and in the Islands of the Sea and Mexico, are many well equipped Associations in successful operation.
The last annual report for this country states the number of Association buildings to be 589 and the aggregate value $34,132,245. It does its work among the men engaged in the various commercial and large corporate industries, in the army and navy, colleges, railroad companies, mining camps, etc., furnishing every appliance for physical culture, healthful entertainments, baths, reading rooms, lectures and Bible studies, so that its members have every opportunity for sane amusement and physical development, with educational and moral training under Christian influence.
The large corporations, particularly the railroad companies, so appreciate its moral effect on their employees that they have expressed it in words and deeds. They have set aside for the special use of the railroad men fifty buildings, and beside these there are one hundred and twelve buildings owned and occupied by Railroad Associations, making the property value of this branch $2,039,200. A like interest is reported of large manufacturing concerns who furnish facilities and opportunity for noon hour meetings, etc.
One of the most fruitful fields of the Association has been the army and navy, giving them the home comforts and Christian influence of which their duties deprive them, in buildings like the one at Brooklyn Navy Yard, the gift of Miss Gould, resulting in moral renovations and large money savings for the boys. So far is its benign influence over men recognized by our General Government that it has expressed its approval by the provision of four buildings placed at the disposal of the Association in their work among the many employees on the Panama Canal. Robert G. Goodman, one of our town boys, is doing active Association work in this important field.
Its efforts in the Far East have been received with marked favor, particularly in Japan, where large and kindly service was rendered the army during its war with Russia, and since then expressions of appreciation and thankfulness have been received from that nation's high officials. The growth of Association work has been attended with marked success in China, Korea and India and many other Eastern cities, where large Associations have organized, many with finely equipped buildings. Physical culture is a popular and promising feature with the Eastern people. Mr. John Mott, one of our town men, as a representative of the International Association of North America, in a recent tour of inspection and study of foreign Associations received ovations from high government officials that have never been accorded to a foreigner before. This organization is under the management of an International Committee of able men, of whom our neighbors, Mr. James M. Speers and Secretaries John R. Mott and Fred S. Goodman, are representatives, giving the entire work their constant care, holding frequent InternationalConventions, giving close study to the varied interests of the Association, and holding, besides, periodical world conferences, including representatives from all parts of the world. Meetings of this kind have been held in London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Geneva, etc., some of which have been attended by our local residents who speak of them as marked with great interest and promise for mankind.
To have lived during a major part of these years, reviewed and witnessed the growth of the town in its many details from a population of about 500 to its present number, nearing 20,000, and during a period covering twenty Presidential terms, some of them attended with great political agitation and interest, including the exciting years of the Civil War with its sad details; and to have seen the country's and the world's marvelous growth in material, educational and moral development in a panorama the magnitude and interest of which are hard to realize; and going with it the benign influence and growing zeal of the Christian Church that is reaching out with its well organized system and advancing spirit of Church federation, seeming to portend the apocalyptic vision of St. John, "The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Christ," is a privilege for which to be profoundly grateful.
The present generation is so far away from the events of the Civil War that I conclude some personal recollections of Montclair's part in the fratricidal strife may be of interest. To trace what led up to the conflict would involve much of the country's history. The particular grievance of the Southern States was what they regarded as interference with their sacred state rights in the institution of human slavery, involving their personal property right in the ownership of men, women and children as slaves, which assumes active shape in firing on Fort Sumter April 14th, 1861.
The sole purpose of the General Government was the preservation of the Union. Slavery had been abolished by state legislation in all the North, thus voicing its attitude toward the system. The political position was that it should not be allowed to enter into new States admitted to the Union, but there was no purpose on the part of either political party to interfere with the right of the states to hold to an practice the system. At the same time there were many in the North, and men of prominence, who were very pronounced in opposition to slavery, in some cases to an extent that was regarded by the more conservative as intemperate and even revolutionary. This doubtless had its exciting influence on the people of the slave-holding States. On the other hand we had inflammatory deliverances from the South that were equally revolutionary.
The two sides were designated by the similar terms "Hotheaded Abolitionists" and "Southern Fireeaters." The purpose of the Government was the maintenance of the compact to which each State was pledged in its acceptance of the Constitution and its preamble, "We, the people of the United States."
General Washington foresaw the danger of individual statehood and deplored the "Weakness of the Government in the illiberality and jealousy of the States." In his farewell address his words were, "The Union is the palladium of your political safety and prosperity. It is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your National Union."
A plank in the party platform on which Mr. Lincoln was elected plainly indicated the rights of individual States. "The maintenance of the rights of States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to the balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends." Mr. Lincoln, in his purpose to preserve the Union, faithfully stood for this pledged principle in all his public deliverances, and when, purely as a ware measure, he issued the proclamation emancipating the slaves, it was so shaped as to leave the power with them to retain the system by giving them a time limit in which to lay down their arms and renew their allegiance to the Government. Mr. Lincoln's great spontaneous speech at Gettysburg is an assurance that he had no other motive than preserving the Union in the interest of the South as well as the North: "We are met to dedicate a portion of this great battlefield as the final resting place of those who have given their lives that the Nation might live."
But in spite of all assurances that the rights of the Southern States should have the same governmental protection as those of the North, and in spite of efforts to forestall the war by peace conferences, State after State, in violation of the compact, seceded and arrayed themselves in violent opposition to the Government of the United States, leaving the administrative power no alternative but the defense and protection of the Union, and troops were ordered to the front.
As the contest assumed formidable shape in battle, public excitement increased throughout the North to a tenacity almost impossible to describe, and which showed little abatement to the close of the struggle. Public opinion was divided on the question involved, and lines were sharply drawn between old friends in family, social and church relationship. The two sides were classified as conservatives and radicals, black republicans and secessionists, nigger worshippers and copperheads. Severely bitter words were spoken on both sides. It was hard for those who were in loyal sympathy with the Government, many of whom had relatives and near friends at the front exposing their lives for their country, to have a spirit of tolerance or charity toward those who expressed the least sympathy with the rebellion or denunciation of the Government.
The confidence felt in the righteousness of the Union cause and in the military power of the Government to speedily suppress the rebellion gave strong hopes to the general public that the war would be a short one. But after an experience of bloody conflict, during which time the morning papers with heavy headlines too often brought the words of defeat and great losses to the Union forces, saddening the hearts of loyalists and giving encouragement to those opposed to the Government, who grew more violent in their denunciations of the war, it began to dawn upon the people and the Government that our Southern antagonists were of like metal with our own Northern army. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher expressed the situation to a large London audience, while there seeking England's influence in the preservation of the Union, where he did the country invaluable service. In the midst of a strong and earnest appeal for the North and its righteous cause before a large audience, but one greatly at odds with him, he was interrupted with the question from one of his hearers: "If your cause is so righteous with your great Northern strength, why don't you put the rebellion down?" The quick reply was, "Because we are fighting Americans and not Englishmen."
On the anniversary of our national independence, July 4th, 1863, the heavy headlines of our daily papers announced two bloody but decisive battles of the war, the one at Gettysburg and the other at Vicksburg. In the previous month (June) the Confederate Government, elated with success, with full confidence in the safety of Richmond and in the impregnable defense of Vicksburg on the Mississippi, encouraged by expected aid from friends in Europe and by open sympathy from the North, ordered Gen. Lee to invade Maryland with forces almost equal to the Union Army, which under Gen. Meade was 100,000 strong. The bold attempt was planned to advance even to Washington. On June 26th the whole of Lee's army was in Maryland and Pennsylvania. At the same time, the strong opposition Gen. Grant was meeting in the bitter contest on the Mississippi in his advance on Vicksburg had a seriously depressing effect on the friends of the Union and gave encouragement and greater boldness to the opponents of the Government. Well do I remember those dark days with their bitter forebodings and the severe taunts of those denominated Copperheads. But this tense feeling of anxiety was dispelled by the news that came to us on July 4th of the decisive success of the North in the two historic battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg to which the country had been looking with intense interest for a long time.
The closely contested fight at Gettysburg, which had a victorious ending for the Army of the Potomac on July 3rd, was a fearful and bloody struggle that brought sorrow and mourning to thousands of homes, both North and South, for the loss of those who, from honest convictions, gave up their lives for what they believed a just cause. With this news on the same day came the report of the unconditional surrender of Lieut.-Gen. Pemberton and the evacuation of Vicksburg, which had been besieged by Gen. Grant's forces from May 18th. That was a memorable Fourth of July. These two victories for the Union Army were received with demonstrations of joy and with a quieting effect on those who had rejoiced over rebel successes. These victories which meant so much for the preservation of the Union were hailed with joy by the authorities at Washington. The Secretary of State (Seward) sent a cheering circular letter to the diplomats of our Government in foreign countries, and the President, Mr. Lincoln, recommended the people to observe the 15th day of August as a day of public national thanksgiving, praise and prayer.
But the cruel was not ended. There were still two years of the contest. It was believed at the North, also in the South in later years, that the bold and outspoken sympathy with the rebellion and strong denunciations against the Government by several Northern journals and some prominent individuals were responsible for the prolongation of the bloody strife, so serious in its influence that Congress deemed it necessary to take drastic measures to suppress this rebellious influence by the arrest and imprisonment of seditious persons, which, together with the President's order in the Summer of 1863 of a draft to fill up the ranks of the depleted army, as authorized by Congress, was a new pretext for the Government opponents. Inflammatory speeches and bitter articles from the partisan press followed. One example from a New York paper: "The miscreants at the head of the Government are bending all their powers, as was revealed in the late speech of Wendell Phillips at Framingham, to secure a perpetuation of their ascendancy for another four years, after their triple method of accomplishing this purpose, to kill off Democrats, stuff the ballot boxes with bogus soldier votes and deluge recusant districts with negro suffrage." One of the fruits of these denunciations of the Government was a riotous movement in New York City on July 13th, 14th, and 15th, composed largely of the lower class of people who decried the draft, yelling in the streets "Down with the Abolitionists"; "down with the nigger"; Hurrah for Jeff Davis," etc. Their special wrath was against the colored people. Arson, plunder and murder resulted. The Asylum for Colored Orphans, valued at $200,000, in which two ladies well known and highly esteemed in Montclair were interested, was a special object of hatred. The infuriated rioters soon laid it in ashes and the terrified inmates fled, pursued by the mob, and were cruelly beaten and mimed. Men, women and children were clubbed to death in the streets. A sacrifice of many lives was reported and $2,000,000 of property destroyed. The riot, after its terrible work, was suppressed by the police aided by the troops. Six months later a negro regiment marched down Broadway for the field of battle equipped by the Loyal Legion.
This outbreak in New York gave a feeling of uncertainty to the surrounding country in which the citizens of Montclair shared, and as a precaution the men of the town organized and were drilled in military tactics for any emergency that might arise in our town. The meeting place for drill was the second floor, unfinished, of the present Grammar School building, Mr. William Sigler, one of our townsmen, a loyal Democrat, acted as our Captain. Intense loyalty for the Nation's honor, however, was strongly in evidence and dominated public sentiment in this locality. A call was made for a meeting of the citizens of the township to be held at Bloomfield (of which Montclair was then a part) to consider the question of raising our quota of men demanded by the government in accordance with President Lincoln's order. In the course of the meeting ex-Vice-Chancellor Dodd, still living in Bloomfield, gravely said: "Gentlemen, there are reasons why I cannot go to the front, but aside from myself and family all that I possess is at my country's command." The statement was greeted with hearty applause, which, with marked sincerity, he instantly checked and said, "I am not speaking for bunkum but for the Union," and this sentiment was so largely shared that the quota for our township was more than filled.
It used to be said in those trying days that the ministers and women at the South did more to incite the rebellion than any other class. This was also true on the Union side at the North. The Christian Church and the women were largely loyal and did valuable service to the country. For years preceding the war there was a growing sentiment in the churches against slavery, particularly its extension. At the same time there was a conservative feeling with many that it was unwise to refer to it in public service. I remember very well when public prayer for the enslaved would by many be regarded with disfavor. But when Fort Sumter was fired upon, conservatism weakened and the Christian Church was foremost in its declaration for the Union, and this was particularly true of our old First Presbyterian Church, as minutes on its records will show. Dr. J. Addison Priest was the pastor, but had just offered his resignation when the first guns were fired, and almost his last service was a strong patriotic deliverance urging his people to stand by the Union. It was received with thrilling interest and hearty approval.
Particularly interesting event of the final services of Dr. Priest was his officiating at the marriage of one of our young ladies to Lieut. Cranford, of New York, on a Sabbath afternoon in the church. The bridegroom had been summoned with his regiment to the front and hastily came to the town when arrangements were made for the marriage that afternoon. The young people suitably decorated the audience-room with United States flags, and with the church well filled with friends the beautiful young bride was conducted to the alter by her aged grandfather, Capt. Joseph Munn, where she was met by the bridegroom in full military costume and they were united according to the Church formula in holy matrimony. Those who were present and now living still recalled this impressive and beautiful service. Lieut. Cranford served his term in the army and died a number of years ago in the city of Washington, D.C., where his widow and two sons still live.
Rev. Nelson Millard, a young man fresh from the Seminary, was called to the pastorate of the church and soon made public his love for the Union by earnest appeals for loyalty to the Government and fearless denunciations of slavery. Some of the good old conservatives in all honesty felt it was at least imprudent to make the semi-political question so prominent to the pulpit, but the young pastor saw what he felt to be his duty and with commendable courage, with clear and intelligent deliverance on the duty of Christian citizenship, held the Church almost a unit during the war in full sympathy with, and in hearty support of, the Government. Whenever it became known that he was to preach on Christian duty to the country, the church would be crowded, many coming from surrounding towns.
The ladies of the town were well organized for any aid they could render through the agency of the Christian commission for the relief of the sick or wounded soldiers. When word came of bloody battles and notice was given from the pulpit of needed supplies for the wounded, the response from the ladies was hearty to their utmost limit in preparing lint, bandages, clothing and delicacies for the sick. In several emergencies the ladies met on Sunday afternoon, collected and packed many barrels for the soldiers' relief and forwarded them to the front. As Thanksgiving day approached an appeal was made for a good dinner for our boys at the front. A day was fixed to receive the offerings at the old church, where wide tables were placed in front of the pulpit platform reaching nearly across the audience room. In the evening the people gathered and it was pleasing to see the patriotic expression embodied in the bounteous supply of roast turkey, chickens, pies, cakes, fruit, etc., so heartily contributed.
There were many pleasant incidences connected with the occasion. One gentleman and his wife, now living in town, came in each bearing a fine roast turkey, one labeled Abe, for President Lincoln, and the other Andy, for Vice-President Johnson. The evening was spent in patriotic speeches from gentlemen of the town. The good things were packed that night in large flat cases and next morning shipped to our boys at the front.
Two of these turkeys were secured by a patriotic young lady from a gentleman who was pronounced in his opposition to the Government and the war, on a water, that she should carry one of them from New York, refusing all offers of assistance, and he to carry the other. The condition was agreed to, and a few weeks afterwards the following doggerel, which was appended to one of the turkeys, appeared in the Jerseyman," published in Morristown.
"These turkeys are sent from a Copperhead State
The service rendered the sick and wounded soldiers by loyal hearts, in which the women were foremost, is beyond a moneyed estimate. The two organizations through which such heroic work was done for the moral and physical welfare of the soldiers, were the U.S. Sanitary and the U.S. Christian Commissions. They were constantly in the wake of the army with relief and comfort for the wounded and dying, often in sad and tender circumstances administering the consolation of the Christian faith to the dying and taking last messages for mother, wife and friend at home. The records state that $6,000,000 were expended in the Christian Commission work, and that a single fair in New York realized $1,181,500 for the work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
In the City of New York two military camps were located for the accommodation of troops passing through the city on their way to the front. One was at the battery and the other in the City Hall Park. Rough board barracks were built where the post-office now stands, and brave soldiers, temporarily here, received many kind expressions in word and deed from noble-hearted men and women.
One day while I was standing near the Astor House, opposite this camp, a Maine regiment came marching down Broadway headed by a fine band playing "John Brown's body lies moldering in the ground." To see those stalwart men in martial tread was an impressive sight, and as I thought of the horrors of war these noble fellows were facing, and which doubtless involved the lives of many of them, I could not keep back the tears.
The rendezvous for recruits of this locality was Camp Frelinghuysen, located in Roseville on the east side of Roseville Avenue a short distance north of the Lackawanna R.R. track. It was farm land at the time. Rough board barracks and tents furnished quarters for the soldiers and the fields offered ample room for drill. It was a common event in town for friends to drive down and visit the boys in camp. I recall such a visit with my wife in September, 1862, a few days before one of the regiments was to start for the front. While there we met a patriotic wife from Montclair who was making some repairs on her husband's clothing. Mrs. Doremus remarked "final stitches." She cheerfully replied, "Yes, and with love." It was not long after that the word came that the husband had been wounded in battle and had died May 5th, 1863, near Fredericksburg, Va. His body was kindly cared for by a Confederate family and afterward recovered and buried in the Bloomfield Cemetery. He left a bereaved young wife and son. His name is being perpetuated by the John M. Wheeler Post.
Frederick H. Harris, with intelligent and patriotic zeal for his country, volunteered his services in the army for three years. With a captain's commission he organized Company E of the 13th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers. Previous to leaving Camp Frelinghuysen, September 1st, 1862, he was presented with a handsome sword and silk sash by his fellow townsmen. The presentation was made by Mr. Julius H. Pratt at a meeting of citizens held in the lecture room of the First Presbyterian Church, July 17th, 1862. Mr. Pratt made a pleasing and patriotic address in behalf of the citizens, followed by a thankful response from Capt. Harris. He was promoted Major, then Lieut.-Colonel and later Brevet-Colonel. He served with the army of the Potomac, marched with Sherman's army to the sea and was engaged in about the last battle of the war at Bentonville, N.C., receiving special honors. He lived many years afterward a respected citizen of Montclair, where he suddenly died March 16th, 1889. Over his grave his comrades have placed a monumental stone expressive of their esteem.
Dr. John J.H. Love, our town physician, who from the outbreak of the war had shown strong interest in the country's welfare, offered his services to the Government, was accepted and commissioned Surgeon of the 13th Regiment and mustered into the United States Service August 25th, 1862. His services were in requisition in less than a month later, at the battle of Antietam, September 17th, where our West Bloomfield boys, in about three weeks from the time they left Camp Frelinghuysen, met their first experience in the horrors of war, and with some of them it was their final. James M. Taylor, a promising young man of our town, was killed in this battle and his body never recovered. On account of personal achievement through his skill as a surgeon, Dr. Love was rapidly promoted from Regimental Surgeon to be Surgeon in Chief of the First Division, Twelfth Army Corps, which position he assumed August 1st, 1863. He was a member of Gen. A.S. Williams' staff and served at Different times under Gen. Hooker and Gen. Slocum. January 23rd, 1864, he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged from the United States Service, was heartily welcomed back to Montclair and resumed his practice among his numerous friends.
Joseph Nason, a young man of promise and only eighteen years old, living in the town, with strong and tender home attachments and many friends, with earnest patriotic zeal enlisted in the 26th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers, and was made First Lieutenant. In recognition of his devotion to his country his friends presented him with a handsome sword. He was later assigned to Co. H., 39th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers, and was killed in the last days' fight in front of Petersburg, April 1st, 1865, aged twenty years and ten months. With difficulty his body was recovered and brought home. It was a sad day in Montclair, I well remember, when kind friends conveyed his remains from the station to his father's house, which stood where Mr. Gates' residence now stands on Mountain Avenue. His funeral service was doubly sad, as it was held the Sabbath following the assassination of President Lincoln. The service was conducted in the First Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member, by the pastor, Rev. Nelson Millard. After the impressive service his friends passed in line by the casket and looked on the familiar and peaceful face of the young soldier. He was clad in his uniform and on his breast lay a mini ball marking the spot where he was shot. His body was buried in the Rosedale Cemetery. On the stone that marks his grave is carved: "A Christian patriot who devoted his life during almost the entire Civil War to the service of his country."
Sergeant Charles Littell enlisted September 18th, 1862, in the 26th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers and died from illness contracted in service March 6th, 1863, in camp at Belle Plain, Va., aged twenty-six years, leaving a young wife and one child. His funeral was largely attended in the M.E. Church, of which he was a member.
John B. Munn, another esteemed young man of the town, was a sad sacrifice to his country. He was First Sergeant of Co. E., 13th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers, and was killed while in action at Chancellorville, Va., May 3rd, 1863, aged twenty-five years. He left many relatives and friends mourning his loss. His grave is in Rosedale Cemetery.
Nicholas Bradley, of the 13th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers, a fine young German who had lived in town for some years, was a victim of the battle of Williamsburg. His death was a bitter grief to his younger brother, who was in my employ when the sad news came to him.
Peter King enlisted September 18th, 1862, in the 26th Regiment, N.J. Volunteers. He died in service at the Regimental Hospital near White Oak Church, Va., December 11th, 1862, and was buried in the National Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Va., Division B, Section B, Grave No. 408.
As the names of those from our town who did valiant service and survived the Civil War are recorded in the more complete history of Montclair, published in 1894. I have omitted the list in this paper. Many of them are still living with us, but their lessening number is apparent at every gathering of the Grand Army of the Republic. What we of Montclair owe to these veterans and those who died in service, securing to us the blessings we share in the Union preserved in this vast and prosperous country, is beyond estimate. It was the earnest desire of our lamented Dr. Love that some tangible memorial should evidence our appreciation and perpetuate the names of these men who voluntarily rendered such invaluable service.
To what these men were exposed in warfare may be better understood by some information direct from the field of battle. A personal letter from Dr. Love that I have preserved, dated at Maryland Heights, October 18th, 1862, states, "I am heartily sick of this life. I came out knowing just what it was, but a deep sense of duty to my country impelled me to go. I would return tomorrow if it were not for the same feeling of duty. On the day and after the battle of Antietam I had very, very hard work. I stood at the amputating table for four consecutive days and looked at night more like a butcher from the slaughter house than anything else."
Some time after the close of the war a day was fixed for the dedication of the National Cemetery at Antietam, where were buried so many of our men who fell in the bloody battle to which Dr. Love referred in his letter. The doctor invited me to accompany him to the ceremony of dedication and visit the battlefield in which he felt a strong personal interest. The attendance there was large, with representatives from various parts of the country, including many prominent military officers and citizens. President Andrew Johnson was conspicuous and made an address. Some of his remarks I remember were not kindly received by the many veterans in attendance who were now standing near the graves of their fallen comrades. While there we walked about the town and battlefield. It was pathetic to hear the doctor tell of sad incidents that he had seen connected with the various points as we passed, still so fresh in his mind. As we ascended a little hill and neared the Dunker Church, which, as well as the fence and trees, was still marred with bullet shots, he pointed to the woods back of the church and said "There the rebel force were stationed," and off to the right he pointed to another hill and grove where a strong Union artillery force was located. "The Confederates crossed the road near the little church, entered the field in front of us advancing in well drilled order on toward our batteries, and when in proper range the Union order was 'Fire,' " and, he added sadly, "as the smoke cleared away, the poor fellows were lying dead in rows."
Some years ago I had a very pleasant meeting with S.H.M. Byer, of the 5th Iowa Regiment, and author of "Sherman's March to the Sea." His account of war experiences was interesting and sad. As he related the terrible sufferings of himself and others at Libby Prison, so vivid and distressing, it needed his living presence to assure me that he could possibly endure such hardship and live. Escape was his only hope of life. Bartering the few little valuables he had left, he procured piece by piece a full Confederate suit and in it boldly walked out of the prison grounds, passing guards and outposts by various subterfuges. He related hair-breadth escapes that made my hair stand. An article from his pen in Harper's Magazine, a little more than a year ago, gives his experience in battle: "Grant's army was making its advance on Vicksburg. We charged up into the woods under a heavy fire. Suddenly we were stopped by a blazing line of Confederate musketry. There the two lines, the blue and the gray, stood two mortal hours and poured hot musketry into each other's faces. I was struck twice, but slightly hurt. Comrades near me I saw covered with blood, their faces black with powder, fighting on. The dead lay everywhere unnoticed. Would that awful line in front of us ever give way! The terrific fighting continued. Some took cartridges from the dead and fought on. Once we were being flanked. A boy ran up to me crying. 'My regiment has run, what will I do?' 'Load and fire.' He did until both his legs were shot off by a cannon ball. Before sundown the battle was over. Leaving our dead unburied, our wounded in the woods, we hurried on. 'That was war.' "
Reference has been made to the Vicksburg siege. The above battle was fought during this siege and its surrender came at the same time with the decisive victory of the Union forces at Gettysburg. After this there was little doubt on the part of the Government and the loyal people of the North as to the final issue. But all were not of this opinion. A townsman whose opinions on ordinary questions would command respect, said to me but a few weeks before Lee's surrender: "The North will never succeed in this war." I smiled, but did not say what I believed - that his judgment was shaped by his party preference.
In the face of defeat, the Confederacy, with true American grit, continued the contest against great odds. Encouraged still by Northern sympathizers, the contest continued under the leadership of Gen. Lee, pitted against Gen. Grant at the head of the Union forces, with increasing devastation and distress throughout the Southern States to an extent that was not known till after the war was ended. Some particulars were given me by a lady in Aiken, S.C. Her home had been in Charleston till near the time it was evacuated. Her husband was pastor of one of the city churches. Her story was sad to hear. It told of the stress to which they were driven for the ordinary necessities of life, the loss of property, the terrible suspense, fearing an uprising of the Negroes. The family silver was concealed in the bottom of the well or buried in the field. In the final settlement of the pastor with his church, as I remember, he received in amount $1,500, paid in Confederate currency so depleted in value that it took the entire amount to purchase for himself a hat. While we were there we bought $1,000 bills of the same currency for ten cents each. They were estimable people and still felt theirs was a righteous cause, but deeply deplored the assassination of President Lincoln, whom they believed to be a true friend to the South.
It was on Sunday, April 2nd, 1865, when the end of the war was in sight. A telegram from Gen. Lee was handed to the Confederate President Davis at 11 A.M. while attending service at St. Paul's Church, Richmond. He quietly withdrew from the church, his face expressing anxiety, and of necessity the contents of the telegram soon became known: "Richmond must be evacuated this evening." The historic record of the event is: "With blanched faces and dark forebodings, residents of the city were hastening to collect their effects and every available conveyance was in demand to hasten the flight. By authority, barrels of liquor were emptied into the streets and many of the public buildings and storehouses fired, and by midnight all signs of the boasted Confederacy had fled from Richmond, its seat of government, with the city in flames as well as the war boats on the river." At an early hour on Monday morning, Gen. Weitzel, with a colored regiment, entered the city and first extinguished the fires. Gen. De Puyster, of Gen. Weitzel's staff, unfurled the United States flag on Virginia's State House where it had not floated for four years.
At this time, while the Federal troops were in front of Richmond, our pastor, Dr. Millard, was with them on leave of absence from the church to serve on the Christian Commission. He was offered by his old friend, Gen. Ripley, a horse on which to ride into the city with his staff, but concluded to walk in with two other young clergymen, of whom Rev. Charles E. Knox of Bloomfield was one. Gen. Ripley was made Provost Marshall of Richmond the first day, and Dr. Millard, with others sitting at his table, at his dictation (?) wrote orders for guards, which the General caused to be stationed in many points of the city. From the city he mailed me two Richmond papers, one issued just before the evacuation and the other soon after. The paper on which they were printed showed to what straits they were reduced for ordinary material. The first paper was marked by strong rebel sentiments and the later issue with quite a spirit of moderation, very expressive of changed circumstances. I preserved these papers for many years as valuable historic matter, and very much regret at this present moment I am not able to find them.
The evacuation of Richmond, followed by Gen. Lee's surrender on the 9th of April, was received with great joy all over the North. It would be very difficult to give to the younger people of the present day a full understanding of the deep heartfelt gratitude that possessed the public mind when the news was wired throughout the North that the sad Civil contest was ended. Strong men grasping each other's hands with tearful eyes expressed their earnest feelings of thankfulness. At the National Capital public offices were closed, business suspended and general rejoicing prevailed. The National colors, with renewed brightness, were floating all over the country. Broadway, New York, was ablaze with the Red, White and Blue. In Wall Street immense throngs listened to patriotic speeches, while old Trinity Church bells chimed music in accord with the general rejoicing and thousands of voices in this great financial center joined in singing the Christian Doxology, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," thus expressing the universal joy that was felt over the conclusion of the bloody war and over the Union preserved.
It was rather remarkable in the closing days of the four years of war, how joy, sorrow and bitter hate grouped in historic events. On Sunday night, April 2nd, the dismayed Confederacy evacuated their Capital City, Richmond. On Monday morning, the 3rd, the Union forces possessed the city and raised again over the Capitol the National Union emblem. On the 9th, Gen. Lee made complete surrender to Gen. U.S. Grant. On the 12th, the Confederate soldiers laid down their arms. On the 14th, the U.S. flag was again raised over Fort Sumter; and while in the midst of the general rejoicing, that very night the telegraph flashed throughout the country the dastardly assassination of President Lincoln, shot by John Wilkes Booth, saying as he fled from the scene of his shameful act: "The South is avenged." As the country had grown to understand the magnanimous character of Mr. Lincoln, his universal charity that included the whole country as the one object of his efforts, knowing no North or South, the knowledge had engendered a tender regard for the President in the hearts of the people, making the sorrow all the more deep and sincere over the circumstances of his death; and with it was manifest, even with the most charitable, a latent spirit of revenge that was hard to keep in control. The tension was so strong that it was unsafe for a known opponent of the Government to intimate his approval of the act. That the assassination of Mr. Lincoln was a secret satisfaction to some living among us was well known. One man, it was reported, who had a boy born to him about this time, named him Wilkes Booth.
After Mr. Lincoln was shot he was carried to a plain residence near by, where he died the next morning, April 15th, at 7:22 o'clock. The house containing the little room where his great spirit left its mortal frame is preserved to the public, and in it is a large collection of material of interest connected with his tragic death and the events of those historic days. The body of the good man that the public desired to reverently honor was brought to New York en route to Springfield, Illinois.
Dr. Millard, who had seen the President on the streets in Richmond but a few days before, suggested that we go into New York and witness this historic funeral event. The great depot building at Jersey City was thronged with people at an early hour, awaiting the arrival of the funeral train. The body, under military escort, was taken to the City Hall in New York and placed on a catafalque near the entrance of the Governor's room, where I had shaken hands with him a few years before. After the public officials had looked upon his face, the general public were allowed to pass in line beside his casket. The largeness of the crowd of respectful people, eager to see the face of the great man, was an index to the deep feeling of sympathy that prevailed in the public mind. I was one of the great crowd in line, and, while it was orderly, my experience in the press was such that I regarded it as dangerous. No less expressive of public feeling were the somber emblems of mourning throughout the city and the entire country. Broadway, that a day or two before had been ablaze with the National colors, was now almost solidly draped with black. All the public buildings were clad in mourning with the large columns in front wound with black material. So extensive was the desire of the people to give expression to their sorrow in mourning emblems, it was said the market of suitable material was exhausted. In Montclair, with hardly an exception, every business place and private residence was draped in mourning. In the old church the pulpit was heavily draped and the galleries festooned with black. Those were sad and impressive times that will cling to memory. They brought to the public mind a more tender sympathy with the many, both North and South, who were in deep personal sorrow over the loss of noble men of their own families.
The fact that Fort Sumter was the place of the first attack in the war gave it a prominence as a historic battleground like Bunker Hill, Jamestown and Princeton, and a place of interest to visit. I remember with what peculiar interest I walked through the battered fortification and saw the historic guns that answered the first rebel cannonade. It was just five days after the surrender of Gen. Lee and on the fourth anniversary day of the withdrawal of the United States command of this old fort, that a large delegation of citizens from the North assembled with patriotic interest and saw the raising again by Gen. Anderson of the same United States flag he was obliged to haul down four years before. Among the visitors were Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and, from our town, Mr. William B. Bradbury, much esteemed by the children of the town for the interest he had taken in instructing them in Sabbath school music. He was invited to tell the children of his visit to Fort Sumter. His account was exceedingly interesting. The one thing that seemed to particularly impress him was the colored people, fresh out of slavery and the hard experience of the war. After some description of their characteristics, he said, while they had a feeling of vengeance against the rebellion it was tempered with a sort of religious emotion illustrated in their singing, which he gave in their own words and tune, viz.:
"Hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree!
The reconstruction of the country required years of patient and wise legislation in adjusting new and serious difficulties. The natural antagonism the war had engendered in the public mind, the hordes of untutored slaves made free, created difficult problems for the general Government and the States. More than forty years of time leave us more than a generation removed from the immediate strife. Intelligent statesmanship and a vast amount of educational work among the Freedmen, together with the intermingling of the people of the whole country through the present facilities of travel, have done much to obliterate sectional strife. The growing development of Southern industries, interstate commerce and increasing business relations bringing the people into closer contact and a better acquaintance in sharing mutual interests, will have their part in unifying the public feeling that, under the "Government of the people, by the people and for the people" we should reach a perfection in legislation that would give equal protection to all the people throughout the entire territory of these United States, and thus perpetuate this glorious union of States through all time.
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