Allendale History


The approximately three and five eights square miles that are known today as Allendale were part of a vast wilderness known only to the native American Indians until the early 1700’s, when a few adventurous settlers began to carve out farms and build homesteads in the vicinity. Allendale was then part of the Ramapo Tract, a 42,500-acre parcel of land controlled by the East New Jersey Board of Proprietors. The Proprietors were largely old world real estate speculators, and many of them never set foot on the American land they controlled from afar.

Some of Allendale’s earliest settlers included families’ names Lauback, Van Houten, Vanderbeek, Garrison, Storms, Winter, Wilson, Pulis, Smith, Van Blarcom, Crouter, Ackeerman, Powell, Quackenbush, Zabriskie, Christopher, Van Horn and Mallinson.

Until 1767, the Allendale area was part of a “precinct” or a large area with no official local government. When a locality name was used for the area, it usually was linked to a nearby landmark. Thus, John Fell, a well-known Bergen County patriot and member of the Continental Congress, whose home still stands at 475 Franklin Turnpike in Allendale, was said to live in Paramus, or roughly within the jurisdiction of the Paramus Church. During the Revolution, because of his patriotic influence, Fell was taken prisoner at his home by a band of 25 armed Loyalists raiders an April 22, 1777, and confined in the provost jail in New York City for more than a year.

During the first half of the 19th century, our area was known as “The Turnpike,” taking its name from the newly chartered toll road running through the settlement – the Franklin Turnpike. It was chartered as a toll road in 1806 and was once part of the Albany Post Road. A tollgate house once stood on the southwest corner of the intersection of Franklin Turnpike and Crescent Avenue (its well house still stands today).

Allendale at this time was a farming community; farmers raised large amounts of fruit, including apples and peaches (hence Orchard Street). But Allendale became most well known for its strawberries, which were shipped in huge quantities to nearby markets in Paterson, Newark and New York by horse drawn wagons at first and later by train.

The railroad came to Allendale in the 1840s with planning, surveying and construction continuing from 1841 until October 1848 when the first train ran through the town. Its route through this area was surveyed by Joseph Warner Allen, an engineer from south Jersey. While working here, he stayed with the Ackerman family in the old Fell house on Franklin Turnpike, and when a name was needed for the depot, his name was incorporated in “Allendale”.

With the coming of the railroad, Allendale’s first stores opened. Smith Roswell, who came to Allendale as Erie’s first station agent, opened what was probably Allendale’s fist store about 1850. Later Charlie May and Morris S. Ackerman ran stores in the corner of the hotel.

J. Smith operated a saw mill near the Crescent Avenue – Brookside Avenue intersection by 1861, and Henry Mallinson ran a blacksmith and wagon ship at the intersection of Allendale Avenue and Franklin Turnpike. Later John J. Van Horn ran a blacksmith shop and cider mill on Franklin Turnpike.

Peat was mined in 1866 by John J. Zabriskie in the meadows of Allendale once known as Wolf Swamp (an Indian gathering place), later known as Appert’s farm or the Celery Farm and today is a wildlife refuge. About 1880 Albert Lydecker erected a gristmill on the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook near West Crescent Avenue, and Hopper Yeomans ran a traveling butcher shop, carrying meats and vegetables by wagon to customers on his route. R.V. Ackerman ran his general store on Park Avenue near the Erie Depot, and Abraham Rowland opened another general store on Cottage Place. Still another grocery store opened near the center of what is today’s business district, and after a series of partnerships and name changes it became known as Winter Brothers’ Store, later changing from groceries to strictly hardware.

By 1859, the railroad began to bring its first commuters to the area. New Yorkers were looking for the healthy country life began to come to Allendale and its neighboring towns. Some came and settled. Some wealthy city people established summer homes here, and others came to vacation, to the extent that Allendale, by the 1880s, was gaining a reputation as the “Newport of Bergen County”. It was said that during the 1880s and 1890s there was barely a house in town that didn’t have a “boarders” sign hanging out front. One of the most influential newcomers was Oliver Hazard Perry Archer, a former Erie Railroad Vice President, who by 1869 had made Allendale his summer home.

This signaled the beginning of the end of the strawberry frenzy in Allendale. Farmers began to realize that their farmland could bring them more money when sold as building sites than it did when planted with crops. In 1868 Herman Tallman and Harvey Sherwood bought a 34-acre tract from John A. Garrison and his wife, Dolly. They subdivided this tract into building ploys and laid out streets including Park Avenue, Mallinson Street and First Street; hence Allendale’s first real estate “development” was born. About the same time, Daniel Anthony cleared approximately 100 acres along two streets, Anthony Street (now Brookside Avenue) and Allendale Avenue, and created 120 building plots, which he offered for sale between $50 and $100 each.

Allendale’s two oldest churches were also established about this time. The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany grew from Sunday school started in 1872 in the homes of Mrs. Stephan Cable and her daughter, Mrs. James Reading. In 1875, O.H.P Archer built the Archer United Methodist Church.

Telephones came to the area in 1879 when first exchange opened in Paterson with 11 subscribers. Allendale’s first phone, in 1897, was a pay station in R.V. Ackerman’s store.

Officially part of New Barbadoes Township since 1693, in 1767 Allendale (and a large surrounding territory) became Franklin Township. In 1849, a large section of Franklin Township, including part of Allendale, became Ho-Ho-Kus Township. In April 1885, this area was divided and part of it, including much of present day Allendale, was called Orvil Township. In 1894, Allendale residents voted 100 for and 11 against the establishment of a new borough, which was formed from parts of Franklin, Ho-Ho-Kus and Orvil Townships. Two years later, Allendale had its own new schoolhouse (which today is Allendale’s Police Station) at a building cost of $5,500.

In 1902 the depot, which had stood on the east side of the tracks, was moved to its present location on the west side of the tracks. In December 1903, fours tracks, instead of the previous two tracks were put into operation. By 1911, the North Jersey Rapid Transit Company was running a trolley through Allendale.

The next two decades brought a new look to what became Allendale’s business district – the stretch of West Allendale Avenue just east of the railroad station. What had formerly been a residential section, with streets lined with homes, was changed into a commercial area with stores and storefront buildings. Some of the houses were converted into stores, and others were torn down or moved to nearby streets, High Street and Myrtle Avenue, to make room for the building of stores. By 1930, the business district looked much the way it does today.



Copyright (c) 2001-2014 J.S.Mallinson. All rights reserved.