Palisade Township was formerly a part of the township of Hackensack. By the division of the old township of Hackensack and the creation of the three new townships of Ridgefield, Englewood and Palisade, it is thought that the people of the last mentioned township were the most fortunate of the trio in the choice of so significant a name. The Palisades of the Hudson have been a great attraction to every traveler since Hendrick Hudson, in 1609, discovered the might river which bears his name, regarded as one of the marvelous natural wonders of the American continent. Rising abruptly from the western shore of the Hudson far below, this precipitous wall of rocks forms the eastern boundary of the townships of Ridgefield, Englewood, Palisade and Harrington to the State line. So any of these township might fitly have the name Palisade.
Near Weehawken the height of the Palisades is about 300 feet above the river, and gradually rising to 540 feet near its northern terminus. Doubtless this precipice rose at first directly from the river's edge, but time has formed an accumulation of broken rock at the base of the cliff, as though to protect the deep foundations beneath the mighty river. The Palisades range continues in precipitous heights and rocky bluffs along the river to Haverstraw, just south of the Highlands, then sweeps back from the river, rearing itself again in massive columns to the northwest and the west to a height of from 300 to 800 feet. The range diverging to the westward, forms the high ridge back of Jersey City, and drops below the surface at Bergen Point, only to reappear again beneath the soil of Staten Island, and from thence its deep foundations may extend far out into the ocean. A few years ago there being grave danger of the Palisades being despoiled by the manipulations of stone quarries at Alpine and other points along the range in blasting the rocks asunder, an Inter-State Park Commission was established by the Legislatures of the States of New Jersey and New York to protect the property, each of the two States being represented by five commissioners. They have laid out what is known as an Inter-State Park as a public playground, extending from Fort Lee along the Palisades into New York State. The park has become a popular resort for parties desirous of enjoying an outing in a spot offering such delightful scenic attractions.
Among the early settlers in that portion of Old Hackensack township embraced in Palisade township were the ancestors of George Huyler, residing at Tenafly, which is now a borough. The homestead of Mr. Huyler, residing at Tenafly, which is now a borough. The homestead of Mr. Huyler at Tenafly was built and occupied by his grandfather, John Huyler. The land was formerly the forfeited estate of John Eckerson, and was sold for L1658, York money. John Huyler owned the premises in question to 1818, when it descended to his son Peter, who was born in 1780, and died in 1872, aged ninety-two years.
Samuel Demarest, another of the old timers of Bergen county, settled at Schraalenburgh, purchased a large tract of land, engaged in farming, and had several children, one of whom was Peter, who married and located in Harrington township about 1700, and had two sons: Samuel and John. Samuel in turn married Margaret Brinkerhoff, settled in Palisade township, and left a long line of descendants.
The Demarests settled very early in the township. In the ancestral line of Ralph S. Demarest was Samuel, born in 1724, and died March 14, 1808. His children were: Peter, Henry, Cornelius, Roelof, Maria and Ann. Roelof, the father of Ralph S., was born August 23, 1756, and died September 4, 1814. He was a freeholder in the old township of Hackensack.
The Lozier family settled here in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Daniel Lozier was born in 1707 and died in 1792.
The Zabriskies descended from the original ancestor, who settled in Palisade in the seventeenth century, and have resided in the township ever since.
Almost the entire township is historic in the events of the Revolution. There was the landing of the British at Huyler's Landing, then known as Lower Closter, in the raid upon Fort Lee. It was a constant source of annoyance to the British in 1776 that the rebels, as they termed them, held Fort Lee, a commanding military post, which rendered the navigation of the Hudson almost impossible. Therefore Lord Cornwallis crossed the Hudson to Old Closter Landing from Spuyten Duyvil, a few miles farther south on the opposite shore, with 6,000 men. The British general's force consisted of the First and Second Battalions of Light Infantry, two companies of chasseurs, two battalions of British and two battalions of Hessian grenadiers, two battalions of guards, and the Thirty-third and Forty-second Regiments of the line. This happened on November 18, 1776. General Greene, while yet in bed, learned of this maneuvre. He forthwith ordered a retreat of his troops to English Neighborhood, in old Hackensack township, and to New Bridge, Palisade township. Immediately notifying General Washington, at Hackensack, of this retreat, General Greene was met by the great commander at New Bridge. This was the only crossing except by horse-boat at Little Ferry, at least six months down the Hackensack. Having reached New Bridge in safety, General Greene returned to Fort Lee to bring up some 300 stragglers and others. By this clever retreat 3,000 Americans were saved all the disasters of surprise and capture. Thus the soil of Palisade becomes memorable in the annals of the Revolutionary period. In those stirring days it formed part of the border land of strife and contention between those patriots who proved true to the cause of our country and those who were found faithless. Inhabitants of this and the neighboring townships were frequently exposed to havoc, starvation and all the nameless disasters of war.
John Hull Browning, Judge Ashbel Green, John S. Lyle, of the large mercantile firm of Lord & Taylor, of New York, whose widow installed the celebrated chimes which caused a great furore in Tenafly, and a number of other New York City business men, at times had their homes in Palisade. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the renowned woman's suffrage agitator with Susan B. Anthony, became a resident here in 1869. In 1880 Mrs. Stanton astonished the natives by offering her vote at the polling place at Tenafly at the general election in November, but her ballot was refused b the election officers. She was just forty years ahead of the time when the full voting franchise was extended to women.
Ashbel Green, above mentioned, was judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Bergen County in 1869. Another noted resident of the township was Cornelius S. Cooper, who was born at New Milford on November 30, 1819, and removed to Schraalenburgh in 1857, where he followed agricultural pursuits and took an active interest in politics. From 1840 to 1857 he lived in New York City and was engaged in the carting business. In 1877 he was elected State Senator for Bergen county. The Cooper family is one of the oldest in Bergen county, of Holland extraction, the name originally being spelled Kupos, and Later Kuyper.
The population of the township in 1875, the first separate census after the formation of the township, was 1,925. By the census of 1880 the population was 2,302. In 1910, prior to which the township had lost several sections of its territory, there was marked falling off in population, the decrease being to 1,141. At the last census, in 1920, there was an increase of 627, the total number of inhabitants being 1,768.
The civil organization of Palisade after its separation from the old township of Hackensack and its erection as an independent municipality in 1871, was as follows:
John H. Anderson was the first town clerk, 1871-73; John H. Huyler, 1874; Charles O. Westervelt, 1875-77; Abraham A. Terhune, 1878-79. The present township clerk is H. William Damm, of Peterzburgh.
Assessors--Albert A. Terhune, 1872-74; John H. Huyler, 1875-77; Samuel E. Demarest, 1878-80. George Gengenagel has been the assessor for the past five years.
Collectors--John C. Banta, 1872-73; George Foster, 1874-76; John H. Anderson, 1877-79; John R. Zabriskie.
Justices of the Peace--William S. Harris, 1871; Benjamin C. Smith, 1872; John R. Zabriskie, 1873; Cornelius S. Cooper, 1874; Benjamin I. Westervelt, 1875-77; Jacob Y. Voorhis, 1878; Daniel D. Blauvelt, 1879. George Blackwell is the present justice.
Freeholders--Samuel D. Demarest, 1871-73, 1875; John Westervelt, 1874; Samuel S. Demarest, 1876-77; George Foster, 1878-80. Among the recent freeholders from the township were: Walter Christie (afterward county collector), E. Stanley Clarke, while Jack L. Fox was positively the last one, serving as director up toe the time the old board was abolished in 1915 by act of the Legislature and superseded by a small board of seven members elected from the county at large.
Westervelt, Frances Augusta Johnson, History of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1630-1923
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1923, 1229 pgs., Chapter XXVIII, pgs. 289-291.