The Naming of Hawthorne, NJ


From the Bulletin of the Passaic County Historical Society, February 1953



For many years, there has existed some doubt as to how Hawthorne in Passaic County received its name.

In the files of this Society, there is a manuscript written by Mr. William E. Janes, at the age of 85 years who gives his version of the question. The editor appends pertinent facts taken from the Janes manuscript.

Previous to 1866, says Mr. Janes, this Borough, now known as Hawthorne, was formerly a part of Manchester Township (Bergen County).  This district was composed of farmlands and the inhabitants turned their attention to farming.  The industries were Morrow’s Mills, icehouses, gristmills, two blacksmith and wheelwright shops.

In 1866, a number of New Yorkers came to this district and bought up several of the farms.  Train service to New York was via Erie R.R. from Paterson, N.J.  To reach the depot in Paterson one must go on by a private team or walk.  The route was down the Goffle Road to N. Main Street, across the bridge and so on to the depot.

Mr. DeGray was successful in getting the Erie R.R. to stop at Wagaraw Road for the benefit of the commuters and in August 1867, at a meeting of the commuters, Messrs. DeGray, E.S. Janes, and Wm. Oakley were appointed to visit the officials of the railroad to learn what could be done concerning the erection of a station in the vicinity.  This meeting resulted in an agreement whereby two trains, each way, were to stop daily on the signal.

A signal pole was erected and on Monday, August 26, 1867, about fourteen persons took the train at 7:06 A.M.  A month later a small station was erected at the pole from funds contributed by the commuters and this little station became known as Norwood.

Meanwhile, a post office was established in the hamlet through the efforts of Mr. E. S. Janes.  The postal authorities objected to the name Norwood as did also the Erie Railroad Company as the latter already had a station of that name on another branch.

Many names were suggested as a substitute for Norwood.  Mr. Janes says that because of the fact that the fields abounded with the growth of the Hawthorn shrub, its characteristics being an emblem of Hope….the name of Hawthorne was adopted for the section lying south of Diamond Bridge Avenue.