Property Owners - Cemetery Laid Out - Slaves
Early Property Owners - Van Buskirk Homestead - First Bank of
Constable's Hook - First Cemetery Laid Out - Tombstone
Inscriptions; Names and Dates - Slaves Bought and Sold -
Newspaper Extracts - Early Real Estate Speculation - Captain
Kidd's Hill and Buried Treasures.
It appears that Samuel Edsall, who
settled at Constable's Hook about 1670, had a neighbor on the
Hook a few years later, who rented part of his property. In 1681
Hans Harmense came from New Utrecht, L. I., to Constable's Hook,
with his wife, Willemtie Waemaers, widow of Hasmen of Berckeloo,
and her children, Jannetie, Reymis, Harmen, Jan and William,
besides two children by this marriage, Tryntie (aged nine) and
Annetie (aged seven).1
He erected a
house, the location of which is not certain, but in all
probabilities it stood close to the Kills.
In searching through the genealogies of
some of the early families, the author finds that Arie, a son of
Symon Jacobse (Van Winkle, who came from Middleburgh, Zealand),
was born at Constable's Hook about 1691. This would indicate
that this family also lived at the Hook about this time, and
were neighbors of the Harmense family.
Hans Harmense was elected to the
Assembly in 1692. On February 20, 1695-6,2
he purchased from Edsall (who had re-moved from Constable's Hook
about 1690) nearly five hundred acres of land at Constable's
Hook, for £562.10.3
His daughter, Tryntie, was married to
Pieter Van Boskerck, son of Laurens Andriessen Van Boskerck
(founder of the Van Buskirk family who lived on the New York Bay
shore near present Greenville station). After the marriage, it
is supposed that Pieter built the old stone house that still
stands on the southern slope of Van Buskirk's Point, Constable's
Hook, and lived there with his wife. On May 24, 1694, Annetie,
another daughter of Hans Harmense, was married to Claas Hartman.
She died November 26, 1698, leaving one child, Hartman. Hans
Harmense died in 1700. One-half of the Hook he willed to his
daughter Tryntie and the other half became the property of
In October, 1736, Pieter's wife died and
he buried her in the yard at the rear of the house.5
Through her, he inherited one-half of the Hook, and the
other half he purchased. He died in July, 1738, and was buried
beside his wife.
The old brown tombstones still stand;
the following illustration shows them with their inscriptions as
they look at the present time.
The house that Peter is said to have
erected was originally built previous to 1700, but additions
have since been made to the main building. It is the oldest
building now standing in Bayonne, if not in eastern New Jersey.
In the old Dutch style, its antiquated architecture is
noticeable. A solid foundation of stone masonry rises about five
feet above the ground, on which rests a frame and brick
superstructure with massive joists and timbers and antique
siding of shingles in regular old Dutch colony style. A quaint
old fireplace and high mantel, with curious carvings and fancy
tile decorations (since removed), alongside of which is an old
Spanish closet, have all been features of interest in the
interior of this old homestead. A secret underground closet is
located in a north room of the house. This was used to conceal
persons and effects whenever inquisitive visitors approached the
place. British troops were quartered in this house during the
Revolution. In the little school-room, children were taught
their lessons, and many an unruly boy has jumped out of the
window and fled across the graveyard.6
The old garden adjoined the house on the
east. At the time of the Revolution a hardy Box of considerable
size grew in front of the house.7
There is a story that Mrs. Jonathan Van Buskirk buried a pot of
gold under its branches to prevent its falling into the hands of
unexpected visitors in the way of marauding parties. This lay
concealed so long that the lady quite forgot the exact amount
thus deposited in this, the First Bank of Constable's Hook.
Years afterwards, in spading up the garden, a Negro brought to
the surface a number of golden guineas which had been overlooked
when the business of the bank was closed.
The old dilapidated shed now adjoining
the southwest end of the house stood on the shore at that time.
This building, it is said, was used for the purpose of selling
slaves, who were brought over in ships which anchored off the
mouth of the Kills. The writer cannot vouch for this statement,
but at any rate slaves were bought and sold nearby. In the "Post
Boy" of August 8, 1757, appeared the following advertisement:
"To Be Sold." At Van Buskirk's, at Kil
Van Kull, a Parcel of likely Negro Slaves, Men, Women, Boys and
Girls, just arrived from Guinea in the Sloop "Williams," David
Griffiths, Commander, Apply to Rice Williams or the said David
The quaint old colony graveyard in the
rear of the house was laid out by Peiter's relatives. Here, some
of the pioneer settlers were buried. It was a beautiful little
spot in those days, with its green grass and flowers and shady
trees. It is now in a dilapidated condition. Some of the old
tombstones still stand, and the wording is readable; others have
been blown down by the storms and are covered with sandy soil.
In this cemetery are the ancestors of the Van Buskirks,
Latourettes, Vreelands, Garrabrants, Zabriskies, La Granges,
Cadmuses and others.
Following are the inscriptions on the
stones over the remains of some of the very early inhabitants:
Here lies the Body of
Johannas La Grange
who deceased May
the 6th A. D. 1748
In the 84th Year of his
Here Lies ye Body of
Melye, wife of John
Lagrange who Died
February ye (?9) 1754
Aged about 40 years.
the Memory of
died the i8th of March
Aged 66 Years 6 Months
& 8 Days.
the Memory of
the Wife of
October 7th 1802
aged 58 Years.
"Here Lyes a Blooming Youth
who lived in Love and died
In Memory of
at Bergen Point
on the 28th Oct 1826
Aged 61 years.
Others bear the following names and
dates of death: Jacobus V. Boskerk, January 1, 1767; James Van
Buskirk, January 6, 1774; Angle Brambos, September 15, 1798;
Catherine Garrabrants, July 5, 1805; Catherine Van Boskerck,
November 2, 1819; Eliza Cubberly, August 9, 1819; Cornelius
Simonson, April 11, 1839; Elizabeth Miller, June 3, 1839; Sarah
Anderson, December 11, 1839.
It might be of interest to quote here an
item which appeared in the "Weekly Post Boy" of December 11,
1752, as follows:
March 25 was the beginning of the new
year, according to the old style.* In 1752 the present style of
beginning the year January 1 was adopted.
"Last Saturday a whale forty-five feet
long ran ashore at Van Buskirk's Point (a part of Constable's
Hook) at the entrance of the Kills from the Bay; which, being
discovered by people from Staten Island, a number of them went
off and killed him, and may now be seen at Mr. John Watson's at
the ferry house on Staten Island."
The following advertisement should be
"Run away some Time in August last, from
Abraham Van Buskirk, of Bergen County in New Jersey, a Negro Man
named Jack, aged about 25 years, middlsiz'd, and not very black,
pretty thick Lips, speaks very slow, and talks both English and
Dutch, and 'tis supposed he has a false Pass: Had on a grey
homespun Linsey Wolsey Coat, red Linsey Wolsey Jacket, a Tow
Shirt and a Linnen Shirt, and has two or three Pair of Breeches
with him, white Woolen Stockings, and a leather Hat.
"Whoever takes up said Negro, and
secures him so that his Master may have him again, shall have
Three Pounds Reward, and all reasonable Charges, paid by
"Abraham Van Buskirk."
The N. Y. "Gazette" Revived in the
"Weekly Post Boy," October 30, 1752.
The Hook was a finely cultivated
district, and was owned and occupied by five or six generations
of the Van Buskirk family, who had extensive farms there. The
place was known as Van Buskirks for a number of years.
"The beauty and convenience of location
at one time excited the cupidity of speculators to an effort to
make it a site for a large and enterprising city. The New
Brighton Company about 1837-8 undertook to reclaim the meadows
and make them eligible for building lots. A suburban city was to
grow up in a very short time, and in the end to rival in a
successful way her metropolitan neighbor across the Bay. The
Navy Yard was to be once located on the shores of the Kills, and
the stockholders of the company were confident of pocketing
fabulous dividends. Large sums of money were expended, but after
a brief period the company found their property mortgaged for
near $400,000 and all improvements stopped. Litigation followed,
and in the end the property was sold for only $70,000 to satisfy
A sea wall of masonry and its
accompanying levee extended from the old copper works as far as
"Captain Kidd's Hill." A dangerous place, known as "The False
Kill," was then removed. The construction of this sea wall
stopped the overflow of the meadows at high tide.
Captain Kidd's Hill was named after the
celebrated pirate. Captain Kidd. Stories of hidden treasures
buried in the hill have been told. In fact, "pots of gold have
often been earnestly sought after," and during the construction
of the sea wall were reported as found.11
New Jersey Historical Society.
2. New Jersey Archives.
First Series, Vol. XXI.
3. Winfield's Land Titles.
4. New Jersey Historical
5. Afterward converted into
6. The Standard Oil Company
are now the owners of Van Buskirk's Point. Since writing the
above, the old historic homestead has been torn down to make way
for immense oil tanks.
7. This and another close
by grew to be immense trees some five feet in diameter, and
remained there until blown down a few years ago.
8.This story appeared in
the "Hudson County Times" of June 13, 1873.
9. Date invisible.
10. Quoted from the
"Hudson County Times" of June 20, 1873.
11. The author has his
doubts as to any truth in this tale, which years ago was
repeatedly recited to groups of wondering children by some
Source: First History of Bayonne, New
Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24
East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.