Bayonne City Becomes a Town
1857 - 1860
Act to Lay Out Streets - School Improvements - Bayomie Set
Off as a Township- Origin of Name - Township Government -
We next come to a period of great
importance in the erection of what is now Bayonne City.
An act had been passed by the
Legislature, and approved March 16, 1857, "authorizing the
appointment of commissioners to lay out and map streets, avenues
and squares in that part of Bergen Township south of the Morris
Canal in Hudson County," and the Commissioners thus appointed
were Andrew D. Mellick, Jacob A. Van Horn, Jacob M. Vreeland,
Hartman Vreeland and Egbert Wauters, who were required to
complete their work within two years from the passage of the
act. By a supplement to this act, approved April 7, 1868, Hiram
Van Buskirk, Solon Humphreys, Henry Meigs, Jr., John Combes and
Erastus Randall were appointed Commissioners, and their powers
were prescribed "to cease on the first day of May, eighteen
hundred and seventy-three."
On May 25, 1857, a plot of ground
fronting on Dodge and Fifth Streets, containing about 13¾ city
lots, was procured from Rosewell Graves for the site of a school
house, and a Building Committee, duly appointed, was directed to
build and furnish a district school house thereon, the cost of
which, including the lots, was not to exceed three thousand
dollars. By the report of the Treasurer of the Board of School
Trustees, dated March 4, 1860, it was shown that the new
building and furniture for District School No. S cost $2,190.86,
and 13¾ lots of ground occupied, $831.50; total cost, $3,025.36.1
This building for many years was known
as the First Ward school house and is now located on Dodge
Street in rear of No. 4 brick school, near its old site. About
one hundred scholars attended, and there were two teachers. It
was used for a time as a police station for the Fourth Ward, and
later converted into a dwelling house.
On March 15, 1861, by an act of
Legislature, the Township of Bayonne was set off from the town
of Bergen. The same year, Albert M. Zabriskie was appointed the
first Chosen Freeholder of Bayonne.
There has been some doubt as to the
signification of the word naming the locality. It may have
derived its name from Bayonne in France, being pronounced Bã-yon'.
There is a story that French Huguenots settled here some time
before New Amsterdam was settled. They are said to have remained
about a year. This, however, is probably some old fireside
legend, without a particle of truth in it. The author has
searched, but can find nothing to give this story foundation. He
is also told that when Erastus Randall, E. C. Bramhall and B. F.
Woolsey bought the land owned by Jasper and William Cadmus, for
real estate speculation, they called it Bayonne by reason of its
touching the borders and being on the shores of two bays, Newark
and New York, hence Bay-on, or on the bays. This, in all
probability, is the real origin of the name.
The first elected Committeemen of the
Township of Bayonne held their first meeting for the transaction
of business April 13, 1861, at the house of H. B. Beaty, in
Centreville.* Present, Hartman Vreeland, Ebenezer G. Ferris,
William L. Beaumont, De Witt C. Morris, Peter Vreeland, Hiram
Van Buskirk, Clerk. Hartman Vreeland was elected chairman, and
William Beaumont Treasurer; there being, at the election, a tie
vote for Committee-man between Jacob A. Van Horn and De Witt C.
Morris, Mr. Van Horn declined serving and De Witt C. Morris was
appointed as a member of the Committee by a unanimous vote of
At the time of Bayonne being erected
into a township, it was composed of Saltersville3
(now the Third Ward), Centreville, Bergen Point and Constable's
Hook. About this time, there were only three stores in this
entire section. One was kept by Michael Mullaney at Saltersville.
Another was in Centerville, and kept by Hansan Carragan. Robert
A. Ansart was proprietor of the third, located at Bergen Point.
Later, G. D. L. Zabriski opened a country store on the old Plank
Road opposite the La Tourette House stables. These stores kept a
supply of every-thing from a wooden button up, including
hardware, tinware, dry goods, boots, shoes, clothing and
tobacco. Apple jack was sold at twenty-five cents a bottle. A
post-office was in most of these stores, and the folks would
congregate to get their mail and gossip about the oyster war. A
two-horse express carried the mail to and from New York each
A bucket company was the only means of
On First Street there stood an edifice,
originally designed for a lecture hall and during many years
serving as a school house. This was the first school in Bergen
Point. It was east of the residence of Sheriff Garretson. The
Bergen Point Lyceum met at this hall for several seasons. This
was an institution organized to promote mutual instruction among
the members, the ordinary exercises consisting of debates and
lectures. Straw rides, sleighing parties, corn husking parties
and singing classes occupied the time of the younger set. These
elements were centralized at the La Tourette House, especially
during the summer.
Bayonne was indeed a farmer's paradise;
flourishing farms here and there; men and boys working in the
fields; cows in the pastures, feeding; fields of waving corn,
with a bay on either side; birds singing merrily in the woods;
the occasional bark of a dog; the neigh of a horse; the crow of
a rooster; the rattle of milk cans; a "Gee-up" and "Ho" these
were the things that confronted one when traveling along the old
Plank Road in days of yore. Bergen Point was "the town," and the
section north of Fourteenth Street, which was two-thirds woods,
was the "country," in which there were scattered a few houses.
At this period school was also held in
the old frame building which stands in the rear of Hudson Engine
House on Avenue D. The teacher received $400 per year! In 1855,
Brooks, father of Police Inspector Brooks of New York, was the
teacher. John E. Andrus (now Mayor of Yonkers) taught this
school a few years later. Another school stood at Avenue E and
Grand and Centre Streets. At the close of 1861 the township
could boast of three district schools, three teachers and 596
Fish's Lane, in Pamrapo, received its
name from Captain Robert Fish, who lived there. His house is
still standing. He built the tower on it to get out of reach of
Named so for reason of its being in a central location.
2. First Directory and
Manual of Bayonne.
3. Saltersville was named
after David Salter, who lived at and erected a number of houses
Source: First History of Bayonne, New
Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24
East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.