History of West Milford Township, Passaic County, New Jersey 1834-1934


By Dr. William H. Rauchfuss


He who from the city street
Seeks a comfort and retreat
From the noise‘and dreadful heat,
Finds celestial peace
At West Milford Township old
And a joy worth more than gold;
Blest communion he will hold
Without surcease.

Old North Jersey well may boast
’Mongst the poets’ lauding host
Of the charms from coast to coast
Of a loveliness
That we fail to find elsewhere;
For that section is so fair!
Mount, mead, flowers and birds so rare
Serve to cheer and bless.

Sparkling brooks the meadows lave;
Peaceful moments which we crave
Here are plenty, and they save
Many a mental strain,
“God’s own Country” ’tis indeed!
From all turmoil one is freed
And from mercenary greed:
To be there is gain.

’Tis historic ground, we know,
History it is doth show
This a fact as time may flow
To the student true;
Here the Indian was found;
Heard the pale face voice resound
Who encroached upon his ground,
But gave value due.

From this section went brave men
To defend our Country, when
They were needed, oft again.
And brave Washington,
Erskine met with officer
Of his staff to thus confer
In the Revolution War;
Work that was well done.
Township of a hundred years!
Smiles and shadows, frowns and tears!
What a history appears
Of this charming place!
Still the hills in glory stand;
Scenery is charming, grand;
Beauties of this pristine land
None would we efface.

July 8, 1934.
-Wm. H. Rauchfuss

How many of us folks, travelling to different points of the compass, admire this and that section of our beloved Country! We see this and that to attract our attention. But it seems not long to some, however, before they say, “Well it is very nice here but give me little old North Jersey. I want to live and die there.”

And somehow we all come back to our section so dear to us. Not the least of these “dearest spots on earth to me” is that of West Milford Township, situated in Northern New Jersey; and its surroundings the poet and painter would vie with each other to reproduce on canvass or by pen, the beauties and charms hereabouts,

The beauteous “hills in glory stand;” the verdant valleys are productive of luscious fruits and vegetables, a gift from God in His kind providence; the virgin soil stimulates the growth of all these, as well as the glorious trees that grow to a great height.

Our early fathers saw the beauties here and that is why they settled so long ago. The beauty of landscape, the brooks and ponds; available requisites of life here in abundance; game, fishing; dear old country roads which the aesthetic and idealist “rave” about; all such made for the acceptation of this beauteous land for a dwelling place of our early sires and verily it must have seemed like a second “promised land.” Happy people dwelt here for a long, long time, and lo! we now celebrate its birth‐ day of a century.

Congratulations are in order from all the section bordering on this rural settlement, and Paterson is not the last to offer its felicitations and good will and wishes for another century of progress and successful functioning.

History is a recital of the past events, epochs, and of the men and accomplishments; let us go back to the time when the act was passed in the Legislature; making this section a township.

We find in the records of our State this:

“1834‐‐February 25th.

Map of Bergen County, circa 1836 (Courtesy of Genealogical Society of Bergen County, NJ. Website: https://www.njgsbc.org/files/bc-maps/bc-2.html)

“An act to incorporate a new township in the County of Bergen to come out of the Township of Pompton (a large township which is no longer in existence.)

It was mandatory for a new township to assume the pro rata assets and liabilities of any section absorbed.

We find Christian Zabriskie was a member of the council (1834-1836); the Assemblymen Were Abraham Lydecker, John H, Hopper, and Peter I. Ackerman.

At the time when West Milford in the County of Passaic was organized, New Jersey was under its first Constitution adopted July 2, 1776;

Article I provides

“That the government of this province shall be vested in 3. Governor, Legislative Council, and General Assembly.”

The time for the election to the Legislature was on the second Tuesday of October.

In the Legislature each County was entitled to one person as a member of the Legislative Council, and had to be worth at least one thousand pounds, real and personal; also three Assemblymen, properly qualified five hundred pounds, real and personal.

The Governor held office for one year, and was elected by a joint session of the Council and Assembly by majority of votes.

The Constitution also provided that at the second Tuesday next after election the Council and Assembly should meet, the first sitting of the 1834 Legislature began on the 22nd day of October, 1833.

The second sitting began in January, 1834, and the act establishing what is now the Township of West Milford in the County of Passaic was passed in that sitting.

That act we take pleasure in now quoting:




Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Council and General Assembly of this state, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That all that part of the township of Pompton, in the county Of Bergen, which lies within the boundaries and descriptions following, to wit: beginning at the bridge crossing the Pequanac River, on the Paterson and Hamburg turnpike road, a few rods east of Cook’s hill, so called, and on the Morris county line; thence a direct course, northerly and easterly, to the mouth of a road, a few rods east of the house lately occupied by Richard G. Ryerson, running with said road a northerly course, to the New York state line; thence westwardly as far as to the Sussex line, and thence running southardly along said line as far as to the Morris County line; thence eastwardly along said Morris County line until it reaches the bridge below Cook’s Hill, being the place of beginning, shall be, and the same is hereby set off from the township aforesaid, and established a separate township, to be called and known by the name of the township of West Milford.

Sec. 2. And be it enacted, That the inhabitants of the said township of West Milford, be, and they and their successors are hereby constituted a body politic and corporate, by the name of “The Inhabitants of the township of West Milford, in the county of Bergen,” and shall be, and are hereby in their corporate capacity invested with and entitled to the same rights, powers, privileges and authorities, and made subject to the same regulations, duties and government, as by law are vested in, and prescribed for the several other townships in the county of Bergen.

Sec. 3. And be it enacted, That the inhabitants of the town of West Milford, shall hold their first town meeting at the inn now kept by Peter Demarest, in Newfoundland, in said Township, at the time appointed by law for holding the annual town meetings in the other townships, in the county of Bergen.

Sec. 4. And be it enacted, That on the first Tuesday in May next, the town committees of the said townships of Pompton and West Milford, shall meet at the inn now kept by Peter Brown, in Wheynockey, at ten o’clock in the forenoon, and shall then and there proceed by writing, signed by a majority of those present, to allot, divide and assign to the said township of West Milford, such proportion of all surplus moneys of said township of Pompton, then on hand, due or owing, arising from taxes on dogs, road taxes, taxes for the support of the poor, and for the education of poor children, as the taxable property, and ratables of that part of the said township of West Milford, which is taken off from the township of Pompton, bears to the whole taxable property and ratables of the present township of Pompton, according to the last assessment; the said township of West Milford to remain liable to pay a like proportion of the debts of the township of Pompton, if any there should be at that time; and that the said township committees, shall then and there also proceed to make a distribution. between the said two townships of Pompton and West Milford, of such poor persons as Shall be chargeable upon the said township of Pompton, at or immediately preceding the’ time at Which this act is to take effect, and that in the division and distribution of the said poor, the said two townships respectively, shall be governed by the same laws, rules and regulations by which they would have been governed had they heretofore existed as separate townships; and if in relation to any such poor, it be uncertain to which of the said two townships they of right, and by law belong, then the said two committees shall divide the same between the said two townships, according to the rule of proportion herein before given; Provided, That if “any of the members of the township committees or either of them, shall neglect to attend at the time and place aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful for such members of said committees or either of them, as shall attend to proceed to such division of property and distribution of poor, as is by this section prescribed, and a decision of a majority of those present shall be final and conclusive.

Sec, 5, And be it enacted, That this act shall take effect on and after the second Monday in March next.

Passed: February 25, 1834.

When the County of Passaic was formed (Act February 7, 1837) West Milford was already in existence. The Act is entitled:

“An Act to erect parts of the Counties of Essex and Bergen into a new county, to be called the County of Passaic; and the eastern part of the county of Gloucester into a separate county, to be called the County of Atlantic.”

The preamble recites that the Act was passed relative to Passaic County in the petitions. of the inhabitants of the township of Paterson and Acquackanonk, in the County of Essex and of Pompton on the West Milford and Saddle River, in the County of Bergen.

In the 1837 Assembly from Bergen county sat Albert G. Lydecker (who was born at Liberty Pole, (now Englewood,) 1787), John Cassedy, David D. VanBussum. In the General Councils at Samuel R. Demarest. (Incidentally we might state that Albert G. Lydecker was the great, great grandfather of Freeholder Willard L. De Yoe.)




This name, Long Pond, is rather unfamiliar to the present generation. It pertains to our present name Greenwood Lake and we find an interesting description.

This was a natural lake, principally located in New York State; subsequently it was enlarged by the erection of a dam across the Wanaque brook, which flowed from it. The dam was in New Jersey near the State line and ran from what is now known as Lakeside to Storms Island.

The old part of Lakeside Hotel (at Lakeside) had on its signboard the year “1836″. The final enlargement of Greenwood Lake took place directly after the incorporation of the Morris Canal & Banking Company, which was incorporated in the year 1824.

This company developed Greenwood (Long Pond) and Hopatcong (Great Pond)‐‐the two largest lakes in Northern New Jersey‐-as sources of water supply, for the canal which ran from what is now Jersey City on the tidewater of the Passaic across the State to Easton on the Delaware.

This canal ran through Passaic County and was recently abandoned (in the year 1924) when its charter was forfeited to the State of New Jersey, one hundred years after its existence. The company is still maintained by the Department of Conservation and Development of the State of New Jersey, and claims its rights in the waters of Greenwood Lake.




Looking back on the pages of history we are interested to find the following statistics pertaining to the township during the past century;




Acres of Land—Improved 9,017 acres; Unimproved 15,870 acres; cash value of farms being $415,625.

Live Stock, June 1, 1850:

Value of Farmers’ Implements $15,060; horses 233; asses and mules 10; milch cows 816; working oxen 331; other cattle 672; sheep 962; swine 996; Value of Live Stock $64,954.

Produce During Year Ending June 1, 1850: Bushels of Wheat 196; Bushels Rye 10,730; Indian Corn 17,425; Oats 7969; Wool 2749 lbs.; Irish Potatoes 8,022 bushels; Buckwheat 11,462; Orchard Produce value $585. Butter 72,956 lbs.; Hay 3,019 tons; Clover Seed 2 bushels; Other grass seeds 9 bushels; Flax 300 lbs.; Beeswax and Honey 2,158 lbs.; Homemade manufactures $134.00. Value of Animals slaughtered $12,368.

Wages in Passaic County in 1850 were as follows:

Average month’s wage to farm hand with board ………………………..$9.64

Labor with board, Daily Wage………………………………………………….…..….50

Labor without board …………………………………………………………………. .75

To Carpenter without board, Daily Wage …………………………………..…..1.25

Weekly wage to domestic with board ………………………………………… 1.04

Laboringman’s weekly board ……………………………………………………. 2.12





The census of population of West Milford in the year 1850 is interesting; There were 1397 males; 1195 females; Total 2592, Free colored males 18; Females 14; Total 32. Total free population 2624.

In Passaic County at this time there were 7 male and 16 female slaves.

This data is published in the Laws of New Jersey, Year 1852.

The United States Census for 1860‐Published in the Laws of New Jersey, 1861 shows for West Milford white 2374, Colored 28. Passaic County slaves listed in East Ward, Paterson, were 2 males.

The United States Census of 1840 showed West Milford Township as a municipalty with a population of 2,108 (Laws of New Jersey, 1841), In 1920 the census showed 1763; 1930 showed 19014 (Legislative Manual. State of New Jersey 1933 Page 207).




The records of any settlement are always interesting and valuable. To ascertain and reproduce the real facts and epochs, as they were, is a difficult thing and no history, we might say, can be absolutely complete. However, to describe the salient facts and submit them to an eager public, the writer is anxious to reproduce facts as he sees the “light” and as told him, for no historian dares to write as he “thinks” they ought to be, but “as they were.”

So now we will go back a bit in history’s pages and see what really did happen as others have written and told of.

The first settlement in Passaic County was doubtless at Acquackanonk about 1680 or 1690. As roadways were difficult to travel, the river was used for travelling, conveying of material and merchandise; that is, the conveying of goods to and from this and that section, principally to New York. Acquackanonk was an important place.

The first roads followed Indian trails. It is an odd fact that the first of all roads are the tracks of an animal as it follows the lines of least resistance; that means, if it wishes to reach an elevated place, it follows here and there the easiest way to the top. The Indian recognized these pathways and used them; they became trails; the white man saw the trails and by and by they became paths, then a road, later a lane and at last we have the boulevard or concourse. So our forefathers took advantage of the Indian pathways, we feel sure.




The road to the region of Pompton and beyond doubtless ran from Acquackanonk now Passaic along Wesel Road, following the Passaic River and through what are now the following streets in Paterson, namely, Market Street, Vreeland Avenue, Willis Street, York Avenue, (18th street), Broadway, Mulberry Street, River Street, to West Street ‐(here a ford across the Passaic River was found), along Water Street and North Main Street, thence the road followed the Goffle Road, Goffle Hill Road, over to the Ponds, (now Oakland), and from there to the countryside called Pompton and beyond.





Some other roads mentioned in official documents as roads particularly affecting region of West Milford Township are as follows:

About 1766, a road was laid beginning at the center of a bridge laid across the river Pequannock at Newfoundland, by the house and lot of Cornelius Davenport and Humphrey Davenport Mill; and then running in a northeasterly direction: other names mentioned are John Coel and Nathaniel Davenport.”

* * * * *

“On April 15, 1767, surveyors “being lawfully called by inhabitants and freeholders of New Foundland and Charlotteburgh to alter a 4-rod road that leads from Bloomingdale Furnace to Charlotteburgh to make said road void, and in the room thereof lay out a new road of 4-rods wide.”

* * * * *

“1767, a road laid, beginning at the Bergen and Sussex line, to the middle of the river between Morris and Bergen at the bridge.”

* * * * *

Another road beginning at the bridge and running by various courses to Nathaniel Davenport’s corner, and running thence generally northeast to the middle of the bridge over the Pequannock River.”

* * * * *

Another road beginning at the bridge of said river below Hendrick Brown’s house, running generally southeast by various courses to the upper forge (located on the Pequannock river about 3/4 of a mile north of Smith’s Mills), thence generally southeast to the river, thence northeast to the middle of the river below the island.” The river mentioned is called the “Pequannock” Makapin brook is also named.


* * * * *

Oct. 16, 1770: Road laid from Benjamin Woodruff’s sawmill near the Long Pond to the public road, which leads from Ringwood to Pompton. This is apparently part of the Greenwood Lake Turnpike which intersects the Ringwood road at Erskine (present name).”


* * * * *


  1. A road laid in the neighborhood of Long Pond, which begins at a large chestnut tree at foot of Long Pond Mountain, running thence various courses to the bridge of Benjamin Woodruff’s sawmills to be one rod wide.”


* * * * *


1784: November 16: Road laid “from the neighborhood of Makapien to the main road that leads from Pompton to Charlotteburgh, 2 rods wide: Beginning where the road formerly went before the door of the dwelling‐house of John Vreeland and running thence” the various courses to the road that leads to Charlotteburgh. This is doubtless what was known as the present Macopin road.

1802: April 10: Surveyors met at the house of Peter Fisher, at the Long Pond settlement, and laid a road commencing at the southwest end of a bridge near Fisher’s dwelling-house; also near a dwelling-house of John Redner, and running from thence the various courses to the Newfoundland road leading from Long Pond to Newfoundland to be 2 rods wide.


* * * * *


1806: February 24: The Newark and Pompton Turnpike was incorporated by an act of the Legislature. The road to be built by the Company began at Robert Colfax’s corner at Pompton, and thence ran a length of over 18 miles to Newark. This is now the Pompton and Newark Turnpike, and is noted here as one of the roads leading to West Milford Township.

1806: March 12: The Paterson and Hamburg Turnpike Company was incorporated by the New Jersey Legislature to construct a turnpike 4-rods wide, from Acquackanonk Landing to Deckertown. It began at the western abutment of the bridge at Acquackanonk near the store of Abraham Ackerman and the store of George and Daniel Van Gieson, and ran the various courses to a small bridge at the Sussex and Bergen line.


* * * * *


Richard Edsall and William Gould were the commissioners who certified to the return. Some of the names and places mentioned in the return in what is now West Milford Township are George Smith’s house. Maucopin pond brook, the spring, Cypher’s Hill, Maucapin Pond Mountain, Feat brook, Orven Hill, Snyder’s Field, Carson’s Road. Samuel Lacour’s, Snyder’s Mills, Kimble’s house, Weatherholt’s, small bridge at this Sunes and Bergen line. This road was projected and improved the road from Acquackanonk northerly in order to preserve to the Landing the trade of the country to the north, which the Newark and Pompton Turnpike threatened to divert to Newark.

1821; November 12: Surveyors met at the house of Albert Terhune, a miller in the lower end of Long Pond settlement, and laid a road, beginning near his grist mill, and on the main road leading from Long Pond settlement to Newfoundland and thence running various courses to the road leading from Lines bridge by way of James McGee’s at long pond. Names and places mentioned are a log house of Samuel Pain, and the Maukapien road. This road to be 4‐rods wide.


* * * * *


1822: July 24: Surveyors met at the house of Peter “Frederick’s to lay out a road to begin at or near his house, standing on a northerly’ course, to the line of the County of Sussex, to be open 3-rods wide. Names and places mentioned are Road, leading from Longwood through Newfoundland, to Pompton, Charles Oldham’s lane, Silas Day’s Land, Eli Brown’s Spring.


* * * * *


1822: November 18: Upon application of John B. Freeland, and others, a road 2-rods wide, to run between the public road leading from the Hamburg Turnpike to Long Pond, and ending on the Maukapen road: Names and places mentioned are as follows: Blacksmiths shop of Thomas S. Banta, John A. Concklin, Peter Post and Richard Gould.


* * * * *

1831: July 6: Upon application of Ebenezer Cobb and others, surveyors met at the house of Peter S. Demarest at New Foundland and laid out a road beginning on a road laid from the Paterson and Hamburg Turnpike to Joseph Roome’s and ending in a road leading from the Paterson and Hamburg road leading to Jacob Cole. Names and places mentioned are as follows: Union Schoolhouse, E. Hartrum’s dwelling house, and an old log house. David Van Droof’s.

* * * * *

1831: July 6: Public road 2-rods wide, running between the road leading from West Milford to Macopin and the Paterson and Hamburg Turnpike. Names and places mentioned are; James Payne, Samuel Payne Jr., Moses Rensey, Peter Post, Richard Gould, Casper Van Dien, Frederick Cole, Peter P. Brown, Jacob Konouse, Peter S. Demarest, and also Macapin Pond.


1833: December 4: Upon application of Joseph Seholster and others, a road 3-rods wide, surveyors having met at the house of Wm. Strubble, Jr. The road to begin in the old Mockapeen road leading to the Long Pond Church near the house of William Strubble, Jr., and running the various courses to the new road near the house of John A. Vreeland.


* * * * *


1835: March 3: A Upon application of Henry M, Brown and others, surveyors met at the house of Peter T. Fredericks and laid public road 2-rods Wide in the Township of West Milford, beginning on the main road leading from the Paterson and Hamburg Turnpike road to the Clinton works and running thence the various courses to the main road leading from John Ackerhart’s (Eckhart?) to Long Pond settlement.




William Nelson, in “Passaic County Atlas,” 1876, tells us the following interesting history of the settlement of the township. “During the last quarter of the last century, a few settlers found their way up into the charming Wanaque Valley. Then the discovery of the rich mineral wealth of Ringwood led to the formation of the Ringwood Iron Company by a number of Newark capitalists, who, in 1764, sold out to “The London Company” by which the ironworks at Ringwood, Long Pond (now Hewitt) and Charlotteburgh, were carried on until the Revolution, put a shop to the operations of British corporations on American soil.‘ “Under the energetic management of the London Company, the whole upper end of the county was peopled with workmen and their families, large numbers of whom were brought over from Germany for the purpose of working in the mines, furnaces and forges of the concern.”






An authority relates the following:

“ At the time when the iron began to be worked, there were no coal beds in use to furnish, the necessary fuel for the blasting and smelting of the ore. Wood was the fuel that was used and it was found in abundance in this region.

“ In order to obtain the proper fuel, the wood had to be reduced to charcoal; thus in West Milford sprang up the subordinate and necessary trades of wood choppers and charcoal burners.

“Today (1934) may be seen in various parts of the township and neighboring localities, ruins of the blast furnaces and the places where the wood was burned that produced charcoal.

“The different settlements in West Milford Township were “Long Pond Settlement,” (now lower Greenwood Lake and Hewitt) West Milford, Macopin, Stockholm, Oak Ridge, New Foundland, Charlotteburgh, Smith’s Mills.





Most diversified and interesting we find conditions of West Milford Township; located in the most northwestern part of Passaic County, it borders on the State line of New York. A rough, rugged, hilly country, there also appears a small mountainous section, for there are portions of elevation at least one thousand feet above sea level.

The Pequannock Valley bounds the township on the southwest, from Smith’s Mills to Stockholm, this distance, as the crow flies, being about ten miles, while the main length, from the northeast to the southwest, is about sixteen miles, making the territory of the township appear like unto an uneven parallelogram.

The valley of the Pequannock from Smith’s Mills, in the extreme southwestern corner of the township, northwesterly to Newfoundland, is very narrow with the hills on both sides shooting up abruptly from the river, in most places a massive pile of rough rocks. Here the river makes a most rapid descent, and in certain places occur a fall of from fifty to seventy-five feet in running but a few rods, thus affording in the earlier days an immense advantage for water‐power. This section is rich in limestone and iron-mines of the very richest quality. In the pre-days and during the Revolution, great quantities of iron were mined and made into requisite material.

The valley from Newfoundland to Stockholm affords perhaps a more desirable farming country, although there are but a few acres of land flat near here or in other parts of the township, and we may well speak of it as “an upland, rolling or mountainous country.”




The township is generally well watered with pure, rapid-running streams, affording the painter and artist a delight and bringing joy to the angler. Bunker, Cedar, Black’s and Hawk’s Ponds, and Echo and Greenwood lakes are beautiful bodies of water. The new lakes made in recent years are bringing many newcomers and lovely bungalows and cottages are springing everywhere, for “example, Pinecliff Lake. The ponds and Echo Lake are located near the northwestern borders, and Greenwood Lake extends several miles from the northeastern border of the township into the State of New York and is about nine miles long by one mile wide.

The Wanaque River, running south through old Pompton township, is the outlet of the lake.




The soil of West Milford is well adapted to grass and pasturage; in many places it has the nature of virgin soil and many enthusiastic residents claim “you can grow anything in West Milford.”

On the hills we find sheep and cattle and goats, producing specimens of their kind of the very best. Through the long past years the happy husband‐ man has, through toil and by “sweat of his brow” secured a comfortable living, for things are so conducive for the hard worker and patient toiler to gain the comforts of life. The township as been devoted for years and years principally to agricultural pursuits, and the small farms of the past generally averaged from seventy-five to one hundred acres. The more wealthy had their “plantations” and many acres.




From whence did the name “Milford” come? Some authorities state a small company of men came to that section and simply decided to call it “West Milford.” Did they have in mind a stream with a ford near by? That would be appropriate; they might have hailed from Milford, Connecticut, or some other place where the name was dear to them. But this is a little matter.

Early settlers came to that section long before the Revolutionary War, mostly from Germany and some other European countries; the iron-mines were conducive “magnets” to draw them thither. Some of these mines were worked early in the eighteenth century.

In “The Forgotten General,“ by Albert H. Heusser, allusion is made aplenty to the mines and early times of that period. In this writing, however, we are a bit limited, but there is a great amount of excellent material most historic and valuable that should be read carefully by all who can secure a copy.




Interesting are the names hereabouts of the early settlers; we find the Vreelands, and Freelands (perhaps first spelled Frieland by the German pioneer), Strubles, Schulster, Sehulster, and Kanouse. Such were the earliest settlers we are told.

John George Kanouse, the ancestor of that family, emigrated from Holland about the year 1720, “paying for his passage thither by selling his time and labor for about two years after his arrival.” He afterward owned a 30‐acre tract near the former residence of John P. Brown. His son, Jacob Kanouse, was born in 1762, and his daughter Elizabeth was the mother of John P. Brown, who was the proprietor of the famous “Brown’s Hotel,” or tavern at Newfoundland.




Incidentally we might refer to West Milford as being the offspring of Pompton Township. In the history of New Barbadoes, Saddle River, Franklin and Pompton townships, there is a close relationship.

West Milford began its career in the county of Bergen in 1834; three years afterwards, February 7, 1837, it became a part of Passaic County. First it was part of Essex County from 1682 to 1709; then of Bergen from 1709 to 1837; and lastly, of Passaic from 1837 when Passaic county was born.




As this section was most rural and sparsely settled in the early days, we find not so many real historic places, except it be the mines and such localities. But we know the section is famous for the patriotic fervor of the “times that tried the souls of men.” Tories did not abound so freely there as over toward Hackensack way; but we do know that General Robert Erskine, Geographer and Surveyor-General for Washington, “did his hit” so well that we choose to think that he was one of the major reasons why the Revolutionary War was won. He drew over two hundred maps; they are in existence and are carefully housed. Photostats have been taken of them and can be secured for a reasonable sum. These are constantly referred to by the writers of the day as in the past, and the new roads which our State and Country are building are controlled greatly by the study of the old maps of such used in the long ago.

It is an old story of how Erskine drilled some hundreds of men to do their part and were accepted by Washington.




West Milford Township has no large settlement, it being principally given to farming or the summer cottage of the perennial citizen. There are Newfoundland, Oak Ridge, West Milford, Macopin. Hewitt, Apshawa, and Smith’s Mills with their quaint and interesting history. Many incidents could be quoted about each one mentioned and would make delightful reading. But there should be a personal touch to it all, for “the study of mankind is man,” and what interesting characters these settlements brought forth!




“The little old red school-house” was in evidence in the years past; now they are having modern structures, of education. The oldest evidently being log cabins, what a contrast today!

Statistics inform us that in West Milford in 1881 there were 908 school children; school property value, $6,500. We are informed, “The schools especially at Newfoundland and at West Milford Village, are well attended, and great interest is felt in these primary schools, which in this section constitute almost the only source of education for the young.”




The good folks of West Milford Township, so near to Nature in “God’s own Country,” blessed these many years with the fruits of their labor, do not forget kind Providence, for the Church, shows its presence here and there‐,

“ Its walls before Thee stand

Dear as the apple of Thine eye.”


These tabernacles raised to the glory of God have been of untold benefit as they are all over the world.

History tells us that one of the oldest churches in the township is the church established by the Roman Catholics in the vicinity of Echo Lake. Some of the pioneer Germans who came here in the early part of the eighteenth century were of this faith, and their descendants follow in their footsteps. There were others from elsewhere in Europe as well.

St. Joseph’s Parish of Macopin (or of Echo Lake as it is now called) was formed shortly after the Revolutionary War; the gathering was somewhat clandestine for the liberty of Conscience issued by William and Mary and not so indulgent here to the Papists.

The Minsi, or Wolf tribe of the Delaware Indians, dwelt here, but about the middle of the eighteenth century began to move toward the Susquehanna, on account of the approach of the white man. A few remaining families were settled in 1758 in Burlington county, whence they sallled forth occasionally on hunting and fishing trips over the old territory, affording our forefathers a glimpse of the vanishing red man. Remains of a fort may be seen at Stockholm, to protect natives against the Indians.




“Macopin” is an old Indian name, and some authorities claim it means “Place where wild potatoes grow. ” The venerable Charles Wesley Vreeland claims it, comes from the Indian words, “Mauk Pon,” which is an interpretation of the echo that abounds in the vicinity of the huge rocks of Echo Lake, whence the name. Here stands the ancient Indian landmark also of that name, where occurs the sweeping outlook on clear days to the shores of Manhattan.



            It was in June 1767 that Peter Hesenclaver arrived at this section where the iron mines were already working; He bought up these ironworks, and also neighboring lands which gave promise of containing iron ore, to the extent of 5,000 acres at Ringwood, Long Pond (Greenwood Lake) and Charlotteburg, in all 15,000 acres. In 1765 a large number of families arrived from the fatherland, including women and children. Soon forges and furnaces were in full operation at Ringwood, Long Pond, and Charlotteburg. Hesenclaver established his headquarters at Ringwood where he “Lived like a lord.” He was a liberal man, bordering on that of a spendthrift, but he reared fine buildings and so much of the earnings went into construct iron and not into the pockets of the London Company, the owners. So in 1769, he returned to London.




The name Charlotte was referred to first as “Charlottenburg”. It is also spelt “Charlotteburgh.” An official inventory of this place showed the following possessions:

1768: one furnace, two double forges, two saw‐mills, three large coal houses containing the charcoal used in smelting the ore, three blacksmith shops, six large frame dwellings, thirty-seven comfortable log houses. These buildings were spread in clusters along the stream, downward from the present Clinton Reservoir, where the original blast furnace stood so well preserved, a mute witness of the days of busy activities.




Among those brought over by Hesenclaver to Charlotteburg to work at this section were three families of the Roman Catholic faith; they hailed from the Schwarzweld or Black Forest region of Baden and were the Marions, Sehuisters, and Strubles, And these are the pioneer founders of St. Joseph’s congregation, and located upon the neighboring heights of Macopin. Here they also built their huts and in time secured the services of a priest whom they called “Father Farmer,” his name was Steinmeier, but he changed it to Ferdin‐ and Farmer. Twice a year this priest journeyed to these people to attend to their spiritual needs.




An authority states “that while the Roman Catholic Church was first established hereabouts, yet it was at the same time, or may have been earlier‐ this is not known from records—but a Presbyterian Church was established in the Village of West Milford.”

Gilbert V. P. Terhune compiled a history in 1932, so we win quote from him in excerpt, for he labored well and his work is good.




It is a beautiful thing to devote time, talent, and prayers for the House of God! Helen Hess Terhune has composed a poem which will quote:


With dignity of age it stands

Above the village street.

Past generations worshipped here.

With reverent souls, and sweet.


God called them from their earthly shrine

To mansions in the sky;

Now others strive, with faithful hearts,

To bear the Torch on high.

O God, this be our earnest prayer,

As passing years roll by;

“The doctrine of this little Church

Lead us to Thee, on High.

“Then, if it be Thy will, 0 Lord,

As history turns the pages,

May our village Church, in all its charm,

Be a Light down through the ages




At the time of the building of the first Meeting House of this congregation in 1807, the community was known as “Long Pond Settlement”‐-later as “New Milford”‐but going back still further; in 1679 there were but seven hundred families living in the whole Eastern Division. State of New Jersey. By 1709, Bergen County was formed, embracing this territory of the ‘Church. In 1834 separation from Pompton Township occurred; the present West Milford was formed‘

With the formation of the Township, the township was a thriving community with eleven schools, with an enrollment of 408 pupils, five sawmills operating two grist mills, two tanneries, and ten forges.

The first schoolhouse in this immediate vicinity was located on the East side of the road, a short distance south of the parsonage.

One tannery was operated on what is now the farm of George Shackley. One of the first grist mills was situated at the foot of Greenwood Mountain known as the Woodruff Mill, and the other on the farm now owned by Gilbert Terhune. At least one of these mills was known to have been in operation as early as 1773, in grinding corn for the settlers.

As early as 1806, the members of the community felt the need of a House of Worship, for on May 15th of that year, a few inhabitants of “Long Pond Settlement and vicinity, Township of Pompton, County of Bergen” met, and drew up articles of agreement for the building of the “Presbyterian Meeting House” on the farm of Andrew Miller; and he devoted the land for that purpose. The site of the first meeting house is the same as that on which the present edifice stands.

This first Meeting House was constructed of hand-hewn logs, joined by wooden pins, and covered by boards which were hand-scored. The nails used were hand-forged. and the roof was covered with white cedar shakes or shingles. This building measuring forty by forty-five feet was erected through public subscription; fifty‐nine members of the community pledging an amount of $607.07, the largest single subscription being $60.00.

The certificate of incorporation is under date of February 21, 1807, at which time we find notation of a meeting at the home of Andrew Miller, where the following persons were “nominated and chosen Trustees to Direct and Superintend the Building of said Meeting- House:” John Sanford, Abraham Pulls, Angus Monroe, John Freeland, James P. Nveblow.

The above-mentioned trustees drew up the by-laws and at this same meeting, “The Subscribers to said Meeting House proceeded to name said Meeting House when the following name was proposed and accepted:




Intensely interesting, indeed, do we find the record on the pages of Gilbert Terhune, and it is with regret that we must needs pass over this and that; the early records show the hardship and the little money met with, but souls there were “who saw the vision and heard the “Call” and did their best “For God and Country”.

From 1812 to 1818 no records are found; “There’s a reason!” The War of 1812 evidently was the reason; one of the elders, Joseph Tichenor was a captain; and a prominent member of the congregation, Albert Terhune, was on duty at the Sandy Hook fortifications.

In 1818 occurred an important part of the history; the membership increased, and we will quote the names of some of the families‐names which are still with us‐Cahill, Sanford, Terhune, Tichenor, Monroe, Cooley, Pulls, Eckhart, Laroe, Woodruff, Schofield, Moss (Morse) Board and others.




January 27, 1819 the Rev. Barnabas King and E. W. Crane, of the Jersey Presbytery, conducted services. The first pastor, was the Rev. Jacob Tuttle, serving from 1821 to 1832; the Rev. Joseph C. Moore, 1833 to 1836; Rev. Ebenezer McDowell, 1836-1839; Rev. Joseph C. Moore (again served)


February 21, 1842, the Church burned to the ground, but, nothing undeunted, the congregation set about to rebuild, and the present structure was the result.

The Rev. Cornelius S. Conkling, 1843-1846; Rev. Daniel Higbie, 1847-1852; Rev. James H. Board 1858; Rev. William L. Moore, 1859; Rev. James H. Board (again) 1860-1865; Rev. S. S. Goodman 1867-1879; Rev. J. Thompson Osler 1881-1907; It was the Rev. Osler who dedicated the Church of Macopin, August 12, 1898.

The Rev. Walsh succeeded the Rev. Osler and he was followed by Rev ; Reuben Markham, who served until 1912; Rev. Albert Chamberlain 1913, Rev. Daniel Schauss, 1915-1916; Rev. Henry Kauffinan, 1917; Rev. Rudolph Meier, 1918-1922, Rev. A. E. Albertson, 1923; Rev. Archibald Blue; Rev. Daniel Lorentz 1926; Rev. Russell Dierdorff 1930; Rev. John McMurray present pastor.

There has been a Methodist Church established a number of years ago the edifice being built about 1880 Newfoundland boasts of a Presbyterian Church organized nearly a century and a quarter, whose first pastor was the Rev. Edward Allen. He was ordained in Captain Brown’s barn in the vicinity; his successor was the Rev. Edward Osborne; Rev. George Kanouse, son of the early pioneer of the vicinity, was the next preacher of him it is said: “he was a most able and faithful preacher.” Successors were Rev. Mr. Wadsworth, Rev. Mr. Layton, Rev. R. R. Thompson, and others.

Nearly all the religious denominations mentioned have held services in different parts of the township as occasions required. The people were good folks and gave their reverence to the kind Providence who blessed them all. Many Sabbath-schools are connected with these several churches, and we are told “the children in these mountain homes are brought up to reverence and honor the institutions of Christianity.”



It was a great epoch for the farmers of West Milford Township when the Midland Railroad was constructed and began operating. This name was changed many years ago to the New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railroad, The dairymen brought their milk to the train early and late, the products of the earth, which yielded her increase, were also conveyed to the freight train and carried to the markets.

The New York, Susquehanna, and Western railroad runs in and out of the Township three times in passing up the Pequannock Valley, its longest-running distance in the township being from a Point above Newfoundland to a point nearly to the northwestern corner of the township.

The Montclair Railway also enters the township in passing up the “Winokie” Valley, in the extreme southeastern part of the township, terminating at Greenwood Lake.



A thriving little Church, whose pastor is the Rev. Abbott P. Davis, is the Echo Lake Baptist Church. Situated a, bit off the main road, its worshippers gather there weekly and semi-weekly to do their part for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ; It is not very old, having been organized in 1874 with twelve constituent members who were: Conrad Vreeland, Carrie M. Vreeland, William Speaker, Letticia Speaker, Richard Freeland, Elizabeth Freeland, Prescott Whitcomb, Ellen Whitcomb, Leah Sisco, Elizabeth Freeland, Elizabeth Sisco, and Ruth Morse. All these have passed on to their just reward.

At Oak Ridge, we find a thriving Presbyterian Church.




It is customary to consult “the oldest inhabitants” when possible in writing local history; this instance is no exception, for the writer enjoyed an evening with Charles Wesley Vreeland, who was born in 1849. Hale and hearty, with excellent memory, he still manifests that vim, pep, and vivacity of his early years, although he “has slowed down a bit” from the speed of his earlier years So let us listen to this “old residenter” and what he had to say;

“Macopin was taken from the Indian word, ‘Maukpon’ which is an echo; this is heard well from Wickham’s dock. My grandfather came here many years ago and he purchased from the Indians 3 large tract of land; this deed was bought by pacing, the distance covered to be the amount purchased.

“Canisteer is also an Indian word; where the Indian, in steering near to the great rocks or precipice, and could not advance, he said, ‘We canno steer further.’ That name is still extant from the origin.

“Seventy-five years ago two post offices were established here; The Midland Railroad reached as far as Smith’s Mills; that name was chosen from the Smiths who established the mills there. The two post offices were called, ‘Lower Maucopin’ (later Echo Lake) and ‘Upper Maucopin.’ Thirty‐five years ago it was changed to ‘Echo Lake’ post office, but Upper Maucopin kept its original name.

“Newfoundland is partly in Passaic and partly in Morris counties, why it was called that I do not know for sure; it may have been as a ‘new found land’ in its beauty to the early pioneer. Brown’s Hotel was there for many years and that was someplace for gathering of noted characters, politicians, and refined folks for years.

“Oak Ridge is a beautiful settlement; evidently its name came from the scrub oaks which there abound plentifully. There one sees a ridge of oaks that would suggest its name.

“A little saw mill was erected and operated at Macopin years and years ago; perhaps you would like me to tell you some of the names of early settlers? Well, there were Isaac P. Cooley, Dr . David Meeker, James Gregory, Joseph Fitzgerald, John Monroe, Stephen Terhune, Peter La Rue, John White, Henry J. Vreeland, William Vreeland, John B. Vreeland, Conn Vreeland, Cobus Vreeland, John Weaver, William Speaker, Gilbert B. Speaker, Peter P. Speaker, Martin Decker, William Decker, Stephen Bailey, Richard Freeland, Thomas J. Kale, Richard Gould (one of the oldest residents), James Gould, Aaron Gould, Dr. Joseph Brookman.

“Old Dr. Brookman was a wonderful old German who used to travel in this circuit once or twice a month. He carried only roots and herbs with him and a, salve with which he seemed to cure almost everything. This salve was really a green grease and he also had a liniment. But he was a peddler as well, for he had in his pack that was strapped across his shoulder, shoe-laces, pins, needles and little home requisites, so that he was able to eke out a fair living. Those who knew of his skill al‐ ways welcomed him, but there were those who did not know him, so they had little faith in him. But he really accomplished splendid service and effected a number of ‘cures’.

“Apshuwa is an Indian name; there were two tribes who lived in that section; the place was named after them as well as the mountain, which is a very beautiful section.

“ We used to have a carnival each year here; I ran them from 1907 to 1914 and we had great success; there were as many as 2,500 people here at a time.

“I was president of this organization for seven years; the first year things went well, but soon the automobile came along. In the early days the people came in their buggies and wagons, but one day while the show was going on, an auto appeared. Then everybody flocked over to see the “wonder”. I had a hard time to get them back for a while. Soon so many automobiles came as the years went on that almost everybody came in one and the spirit of the thing died out. They were great days for this section.


“Hewitt was named after Abram S. Hewitt, once Mayor of New York City. He was a fine sort of man and well-liked. (Walking over to the mantelpiece Mr. Vreeland took down an object and showed the writer, saying: “Here is a bullet that was made in the ironworks over at Hewitt section in the War of 1812.” (It was as large as double horse chestnut and flat on one side.) Continuing he said: “I have the sword of Captain Jim Tichenor and the bayonet that belonged to Captain Charles Cahill of the War of 1812.”

And with that, the happy evening was brought to a close.