Ridgewood Township--This, which was at one time recognized as the smallest township in Bergen county, is no longer in that class, as the townships of Hillsdale, Lodi, Overpeck and Palisade each have a much smaller area, due to reduction and other causes, while in population Ridgewood stands eighth among the sixty-six municipalities in the county. The township is bounded on the north by Hohokus, east by the Saddle river, south by Saddle River township, and west by Franklin township and Passaic county. Many New York business men were attracted to the town owing to its accessible distance from New York, its great natural beauty and salubrious climate, and through their instrumentality the development and growth of Ridgewood has been rapid. Some of the older families have been settlers since the period prior to the Revolution. Of chief historic interest is the ancient Paramus church, dating from 1725, and which is said to have been the scene of the marriage of Aaron Burr to the Widow Provost. Two railroads traverse the township, the Erie railroad, with a station at Ridgewood, and the New York, Susquehanna and Western railroad, having a station at Midland Park, which is less than a mile from Ridgewood proper, while the Bergen County Short Cut railroad passes through Glen Rock, which was at one time a pat of Ridgewood township, but was set off as a borough. These transit facilities have been of material assistance in developing and the building up of Ridgewood.
Ridgewood is noted for its broad streets and avenues, which are bordered with expansive shade trees, adding to the beauty of the town. Another feature is its diversity of scenery and great natural beauty, all combining to make it a fine residential section and a community of homes. The soil is of a variable nature, clay predominating in some sections, and sand in other parts. A portion of the land is divided into ridges with streaks of clay between. The chief products of the farms on the outskirts of the township are fruits, berries, and such other farm produce as finds a ready market in New York and Paterson. The Saddle river running along the eastern boundary, and the Hohokus brook flowing nearly through the centre, serve to amply water the territory. Small tributaries add to the volme of water in each of these streams.
The names that figured most prominently in Ridgewood's early history were those of Hopper, Van Dien, Van Emburgh, Bogert, Zabriskie, Ackerman, Banta, Van Derbeck, Van Houten and DeBaun. Most of these families are still represented by their descendants. The Hopper family is represented by several branches in the township. They are of Holland extraction.
The Van Emburghs are an early family, having emigrated from Holland and settled in New Jersey. Representatives of the family still residing in Ridgewood are John A. and Jacob D. Van Emburgh, Jr., both in business here. The father of the latter lived and died at Paramus.
Rev. David Marinus came from his native Holland at an early date, and settled in Bergen county, having married in the Dubois family. Of his children his son David located on the line between Ridgewood and Saddle River.
One of the earliest remembered roads is the Paramus road, running from Pompton to Hoboken, and was the route of the old Goshen and Hoboken stage line. It ran parallel with the easterly township line, and curing to the west entered the northeast part of Ridgewood, and again deviating to the north passed into Hohokus. The road territory of the township was divided into nineteen districts, over which overseers were appointed. At the present time the Paramus road is one of the main arteries of the county road system, and is under the control of the Board of Freeholders. Traffic officers keep strict watch along this thoroughfare to check automobile speeders in order to prevent accidents. Offenders when apprehended are handed a summons to appear in the Traffic Court at Hackensack.
The act organizing the township of Ridgewood was passed by the State Legislature and approved March 30, 1876, and fixed the boundaries as follows:
That all that part of the township of Franklin, in the county of Bergen, lying northeasterly of a division line described as follows: Beginning in the Passaic County line at the hotel of Abram Coe, and in the center of the Godwinville macadamized road, and running thence northeasterly along said road to the intersection with the New Jersey Midland Railroad; thence continuing northeasterly in a direct line to the centre of the public road leading from Midland Park to Hohokus; thence continuing northeasterly along the centre of said road to the intersection with the public road leading from Garret I. Hopper's to White Mills; and thence northerly along the centre of said last-mentioned road and the road leading to Allendale to the Hohokus Brook and west line of the township of Hohokus, shall be and is hereby set off from the said township of Franklin and made a new and separate township, to be known by the name of the township of Ridgewood.
Following its organization in 1876 it had a township government, the governing body being a township committee of five members, as provided by law. This form of government continued probably twenty years, and was succeeded by a board of village trustees in control of township affairs for about ten years. During the past ten years Ridgewood has had a commission form of government under the Walsh act with three commissioners, one of whom is the mayor, and they have sole charge of all public improvements, as well as all other matters pertaining to the peace and welfare of the community. The first mayor was Daniel A. Garber, who served one term of four years. Dr. John B. Hopper is the present mayor, now on his second term. As a coincidence the present surrogate of Berge county, who is also a Hopper of Ridgewood, has the same initials to his name as the mayor--J. B., but he is of a different branch of the Hopper family. There are only two other municipalities in Bergen county having a similar commission form of government.
Ridgewood is strictly a residential community, and its population is composed very largely of people whose business interests are in New York City, or some of the larger communities of the metropolitan district. These have chosen to locate here because of the advantages and opportunities for making homes in a perfectly healthful and pleasant environment. As a home location the advantages of Ridgewood can scarcely be exaggerated. By the census enumeration of 1920 the population had grown to 7,580. The town has a well-regulated police and volunteer fire departments, two banks--First National and Ridgewood Trust Company--post office of the second-class, two building and loan associations, a board of trade, five public schools, including primary, grammar and high school, and also one private school, nine churches, representing these denominations: Baptist, Catholic, Christian Science, Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and Zion Methodist. The fraternal orders are: Masons, Odd Fellows, American Mechanics, Royal Arcanum, Knights of Honor, and Modern Woodmen of America. Facilities for all kinds of indoor and outdoor amusements and exercises are liberally provided, especially by the Y. M. C. A.
Westervelt, Frances Augusta Johnson,History of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1630-1923
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1923, 1229 pgs., Chapter XXVIII, pgs. 294-296.