American History and Genealogy Project


Bayoone Incorporated - City Services

1866 - 1872

Incorporated as a City - Charter Submitted to the People - Newspaper Extracts - First City Officials - Last Meeting of Township Committee Men - Organization of City Government - Important Ordinances - Assessed Valuation of Property in 1869 - Public Improvements - First Police Chief - First Annual Tax Assessment - Organization of Fire Department - First Sewer Main

The steady growth of population in the Township of Bayonne, which in 1865 numbered 1,700, was thought by the majority to warrant a charter for a city government. Accordingly, a few years later, after a little effort on the part of certain individuals, "An act to incorporate the city of Bayonne" was passed by the Legislature, and approved March 10, 1869.

The city was divided into three wards, and power was vested in the Mayor and Council to increase the number of wards. The charter provided for the election of a Mayor and Recorder as city officials, and for the election in each ward, as ward officers, of two Councilmen, a Constable, Pound-Keeper, Commissioner of Appeals, Tax Assessor,1 and three Inspectors of Election; also a School Trustee in each ward. By the charter, the school trustees of the several wards were constituted and called a Board of Education.2

On Friday, March 19, 1869, the new charter of the city was submitted to the people, and was ratified by a vote of 225 to 34.

Newspaper Extracts.

The following item appeared in the New York "Times," Saturday, March 20, 1869:

"The charter for the city of Bayonne was ratified yesterday by a popular vote, 225 having voted for it, to 34 against. The new city consists of the neck of land known as Bergen Point, and embraces a population of 4,000 souls. The charter provides for the election of a Mayor and Aldermen every two years. The city is divided into three wards, and will have four or five special Constables."

In the Jersey City "Evening Journal" of Monday, March 29, 1869, this paragraph is found:

"The new city stands so appalled at the sudden greatness thrust upon it, a stake with plentiful condiments, spring birds, springing frogs and in one word, sprung rum, that movements for the corporative officers are very slow."

Apparently, from old newspaper accounts, chicken thieving was practiced very frequently. In the "Evening Journal" (Jersey City) of March 4, 1869, there appears:

"Chicken thieves are still numerous in this neighborhood. Two darkies were found at this game, night before last, one of whom had his coattail shot off. 'Nigger Bill' swears he don't like fowl any more, give him soft clams."

On March 12, in the same paper, the author finds: "A police is wanted to protect the inhabitants from chicken thieving, which is principally laid to the account of the darkies infecting what is called the 'Negro settlement.' "

Horse racing was a chief sport. The Plank Road was the scene of many a lively contest. In the Jersey City "Evening Journal" of Monday, March 29, 1869, is found this:

"Racing, this sport, so gratifying to the sporters but terrifying to youngsters, was lively on the Plank road yesterday.

Several accidents occurred which did not result in any material damage. Why not take the back road?"

The following is an item which also appeared about this time in the "Hudson County Times":

"A milkman in Hudson City has adopted a new and somewhat novel method of giving his customers fresh milk. He drives his cows from door to door and allows each to milk the required amount and then water and chalk to suit their taste."

City Government.

The first election under the original city charter was held Tuesday, April 13, 1869. The following were elected:

Mayor, Henry Meigs, Jr., on the Citizens' Ticket.3
Recorder. William D. Myers.
Councilmen. President, Jacob R. Schuyler.
First Ward. Rufus Story, William L. Beaumont.
Second Ward. Jacob R. Schuyler, Charles C. Hough.
Third Ward. John Combs, Joseph Elsworth.
City Clerk, Francis I. Smith.
City Treasurer, Samuel T. Brown.
Collector of Revenue, John H. Carragan.
Street Commissioner, Hiram Van Buskirk.
City Surveyor, Emmet Smith.
City Attorney, William H. Johnston.
City Council, Leon Abbett.
Overseer of Poor, Edward Perry.
Board of Education,
President, Frederick G. Payn.
Secretary, William D. Myers.
First Ward.
Frederick G. Payn, David C. Halsted, Charles Davis.
Second Ward.
John Van Buskirk, Jr., Nathan Bartlett, Cornelius H. Vreeland.
Third Ward.
William D. Myers, Joshua S. Jones, John W. Russell.

The last meeting of the Board of Committeemen for the township was held April 26, 1869. The minutes of this meeting closed thus:

"The Board at half past eight o'clock adjourned, sine die, harmony and good will prevailing. (Signed) E. C. Bramhall, Chairman; F. I. Smith, Township Clerk."

On April 26, 1869 (then beginning of the Councilmanic term according to the charter), the Mayor and Councilmen-elect assembled at Carragan's Hall (called Council Hall), at Avenue D and what was then Twenty-seventh Street (now Twenty-second), for the purpose of organizing in compliance with the charter, and a thorough organization was effected.

In June, the following ordinance was passed: "An Ordinance

"To fix the Salaries of Officers, for the year ending the first Monday of May, 1870.
"The Mayor and Council of the City of Bayonne do ordain as follows:

"Sec. I. There shall be paid to the several officers named in this section, the following annual salaries, to be paid in quarterly installments, to wit:

"To the Recorder for the first, being the present year, the sum of three hundred dollars; for the second year, the sum of four hundred dollars; for the third year the sum of five hundred dollars.
"To the City Clerk the sum of eight hundred dollars.
"To the Collector of Revenue, the sum of six hundred dollars.
"To the Treasurer, the sum of six hundred dollars.
"To the Corporation Attorney, the sum of two hundred dollars.

"Sec. 2. To the Judges of Election of the several Wards, the sum of six dollars each, for their services as rendered at each election.

"To the Ward Clerks of the several Wards, the sum of seven and one-half dollars each, for their services as rendered at each election.
"To the Assessor of the First Ward, the sum of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
"To the Assessor of the Second Ward, the sum of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
"To the Assessor of the Third Ward, the sum of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
"To the Commissioner of Appeals in cases of taxation, the sum of five dollars for each day employed.
"To the Board of Commissioners of Assessments shall be paid the sum of ten dollars for each assessment to be assessed upon the property included in each assessment for which the services are rendered.

"Passed June 11, 1869.

"Approved June 15, 1869.

"Attest: F. L Smith, Clerk
Henry Meigs, Mayor

By an ordinance passed June 22, 1869, the first Board of Health was created in the city.

About this time it was deemed necessary to have police to patrol the city. An ordinance was passed there for, on August 31, 1869, to establish and regulate a Police Department. A few months later, George B. Whitney was appointed Chief of Police. Michael Connolley and C. Van Horn were appointed patrolmen by Mayor Meigs at the same time. This, then, was the organization of the police force. The population had now grown to 3,834.

The first annual tax assessment (exclusive of poll tax) under city charter for the year ending May 4, 1870, was .fixed by ordinance passed in September, 1869, and amounted to $31,620. It was composed of the following: Payment of interest, $4,935; payment of salaries, $3,335; printing, $1,000; public schools, $8,000; street repairs, $5,000; support of poor, $500; Map and Grade Commission, $5,000; day and night police, $2,100; city prison and lockup, $500; election purposes, $150; public health, $100; contingent expenses, $1,000.

On December 14, 1869, the Council removed and first met to transact public business in the City Hall room (Hendrickson's building) on Avenue D, corner of Maple Avenue (now Thirty-first Street), and they continued to hold their meetings at that place for the next five years.

The first Bayonne newspaper was the "Bayonne Herald and Greenville Register," which was first issued December 25, 1869, as a weekly, with Roswell Graves as editor.4

In the winter of 1869-70, Public School No. 2, on Avenue D, between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Streets, was erected at a cost of $12,000. No. 5 School at Constable's Hook was also erected about this time, and was opened for use in 1870.

In August, 1870, the "Hudson County Times," weekly, was established and published at Bergen Point by the Times Printing Company of Jersey City.5

In November, 1870, an ordinance was passed "to Establish, Regulate and Control a Fire Department." The first fire company was organized in Pamrapo, with a membership of about thirty-five, and was called Truck I. "Hope Hose" Company No. 2 (named after Col. Hope, of N. J. C. R. R.) was organized soon after. This company occupied the former frame school building which stood on the site of "Hudson" Company's present building. It is now in the rear and used as a stable. About the same time, the "Kid Glove" Chemical Engine Company, No. I, was organized, and had their quarters in Schuyler Hall, Bergen Point. The Fire Department in 1870, therefore, had three apparatus, with a total of about one hundred and twenty men, and was volunteer. Fire alarms were sounded by the church bells. Steel locomotive tires, cut and hung by chains, were also struck with sledge hammers; one being near the Thirty-third Street station, another at "Hudson" Company's present building, and another in Pamrapo.

The first sewer main was known as the Cottage Street sewer, and was built in 1870-1871.

No. 4 School, on Fifth Street, was erected shortly after No. 2, at a cost of $16,000, and was opened in September, 1871. The old frame school house on Dodge Street was then converted into an engine house. Shortly after this School No. 3 was erected in Pamrapo on Centre Street, at a cost of about $17,000. One thousand children attended the public schools at this time.

From the time the city was surveyed and laid out, in 1869, public improvements progressed very rapidly. Streets and avenues were opened and graded, including the two principal thoroughfares, Avenues D and C;6 sidewalks were flagged and curbed; crosswalks were laid; sewers constructed, and gas pipes put through.

Cost of Living in 1871.

Four, wheat, per barrel $10.75
Tea, Oolong, per pound 70
Beef, roasting, per pound 19
Lard, per pound .15
Potatoes, per bushel 1.02
Milk, per quart 08
Eggs, per dozen 30
Coal, per ton 9.25
Pine wood, per cord 7.00
Cotton flannel, per yard 27½
Men's heavy boots, per pair 4.00

1. It might be of interest to note here the taxable property in 1868:
Lands valued by the acre $2,021,000
Houses and lots valued at 604,750
Personal property 284,425
2. First Directory and Manual of Bayonne.
3. A copy of Mayor Meigs' speech of acceptance, dated April 26, 1869, is among the collections of the New Jersey Historical Society.
4. Now published at Bergen Point as a weekly democratic paper. Owned and edited by Col. H. C. Page.
5. Now published by* the Bayonne Printing and Publishing Company (J. T. R. Proctor, Editor) at Avenue D and Thirty-first Street, as a daily republican paper, called the Bayonne "Daily Times."
6. An ordinance was passed December 7, 1869, "to open, regulate and grade Avenue D from Cottage Street to the Morris Canal." On June 21, 1870, an ordinance was passed "to open, regulate and grade Avenue C from North Avenue to the Morris Canal."  

Source: First History of Bayonne, New Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24 East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.


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