River Vale Township--When the question was being agitated of separating the village of River Vale from the townships of Hillsdale and WAshington for the purpose of organizing an independent municipality, it was at first planned to make it a borough, but it was finally decided to organize as a township, because under the township government River Vale would be entitled to select a member of the Board of Freeholders. At the first election in the new township, held in May, 1906, there was strenuous contest for freeholder between Melville J. Ford, Democrat, and James M. Blakeney, Republican, which resulted in Blakeney being elected by a majority of only seven votes. Mr. Ford, however, subsequently served a term as the freeholder from River Vale, while John H. Blauvelt was the last freeholder from the township, serving at the time the old large Board of Freeholders was legislated out of office in 1915.
River Vale at the time of its incorporation as a township took in the little hamlet of Eastwood, just west of River Vale and east of Westwood. Regardless of its limited territory and small population, Eastwood caught the borough fever in March, 1896, and was organized as a borough, but in a short time it became tired of borough life and returned to Washington township, from which township it was set off. As a matter of record, Eastwood is the only one of the many boroughs formed in Bergen county that ever went back after being organized.
River Vale was the scene of one of the most stirring events of the Revolutionary period. It was here, at the home of Cornelius D. Blauvelt, that occurred one of the most heartless massacres of the Revolution--the surprise and slaughter of a detachment of Colonel Baylor's command by Hessians in Blauvelt's barn. Descendants of the Blauvelt mentioned still reside in the neighborhood.
River Vale is exclusively a residential and agricultural community. The soil is very productive, and among the farm products are corn, potatoes, wheat, rye, buckwheat, hay, strawberries, and other small fruits. One of the larges farms in the township is owned by Julius Kessler, which is in a high state of cultivation, in connection with which he maintains an extensive game preserve. Mr. Kessler also has the finest residence in the township.
The town is somewhat secluded, being two and one-half miles from the nearest railroad station, which is Westwood. Mail also comes through Westwood by R. F. D. There are two public schools, and a chapel where church services and Sunday school are held. A small stream divides River Vale from Old Tappan borough.
River Vale's population in 1920 was 583, an increase of only 133 in ten years. There is but one township in the county having a smaller population, and that is Washington, with 194. What River Vale lacks in population it makes up in area, as it stands fifth among the townships of the county in acreage, having about 2,660 acres in its territorial limits. With such a large area, there is plenty of room to expand and grow. It is a nice, quiet place to live, and it is claimed to be a very healthy section.
Some of the most fertile farms in Bergen county can be found in River Vale and vicinity, especially just across the river in Old Tappan.
Westervelt, Frances Augusta Johnson,History of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1630-1923
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1923, 1229 pgs., Chapter XXIX, pg. 301-302.