The Naming of Godwinville (In 1828)

(Ridgewood, NJ)
Reprinted from Short Sketches on Passaic County History, 1935 
 by Edward Graf

The ceremony of naming this village, in Bergen County about four miles north of Paterson, was performed in the following manner.  On the morning of January first, 1828, the persons particularly interested in the cotton industries, established at that time in the neighborhood, proceeded from Paterson with a number of friends to that place where they met a number of its inhabitants assembled on the same occasion, who had prepared a splendid Liberty pole.  This pole was born to the corner of the road, near the store of David Lydacker by the unanimous assistance of the company present.  After being decorated by an elegant Gilded Liberty Cap, presented by General Abraham Godwin, at the signal given by a discharge from a six-pounder, it was raised amidst the cheers of the surrounding multitude.  The flag of the United States, also presented as above, was then hoisted to the top of the pole under a discharge of canon and cheering of the assembled citizens.  After this, they formed and marched to the new cotton factory of Messrs, Munn, and Whitehead, where an excellent collation was provided by the proprietors of the respective cotton establishments in the vicinity, of which the whole party partook, and fared most sumptuously.

Abraham Van Rypen, one of the oldest inhabitants then addressed his neighbors in the following words:

Friends and fellow citizens – as one of the oldest residents of this neighborhood, I take the liberty on this occasion of welcoming among us the gentlemen who have availed themselves of our water powers and established manufacturies, destined, I trust and at no very far distant day, to make them rich and happy – give employment to the industrious and clothe and feed the needy.  Already do we see and feel the good effects of their genius and enterprise.  Out property has risen in value, our recently vacant houses have become tenanted, and many new ones erected and erecting, giving to what was, as it were yesterday a wilderness, the appearance of a thriving village.  Permit me, therefore, to give it a name whereby it may be perpetuated and handed down to posterity.

In commemoration of one of the few that now remain of that worthy band, who breasted the storm of war in defense of our liberties and independence, and which enable us at this day to sit down under our own vine and fig tree, and to enjoy uninterruptedly such happy festivity as we have on the present occasion the pleasure of partaking and to testify our respect for the Revolutionary Patriot whose company we now have the pleasure to enjoy; I propose to you for this place the name of Godwinville.

The above was received with unabounded applause and General Godwin being present made the following brief reply:

Fellow citizens, with sentiments of unfeigned gratitude, I rise to tender to you my sincere acknowledgment for the flattering compliments you have paid me, and the honor conferred in selecting my name, in preference to any other, wherewith to perpetuate your village.  My sincere wish is, that it may be a rising prosperous and happy one and that its general characteristic may be that of industry and honesty, and genuine republican principles and by pursuing strictly the last three qualifications, I have no doubt of your obtaining the former ones; and that it may be the case with each and all of you, permit me to reiterate my ardent solicitude.

This reply was also received with marked approbation.  The company then again formed procession and returned to the Pole and after appending to the same in handsomely painted letters the newly acquired name of the village, it being about sunset, the flag was lowered until another discharge of cannon and the company retired to their respective places of abode, apparently well pleased with the proceedings of the day.