Historical Sketch of Teaneck

Source: Teaneck, New Jersey – Forty Years of Progress, 1895-1935, pamphlet, copyrighted 1935 by Township of Teaneck

The Teaneck’s early history almost parallels that of the proud colony

Teaneck's first Town Hall

Teaneck’s first Town Hall

of Manhattan and is a truly exciting narrative. The chief difficulty with a brief sketch of this type is that space does not permit the telling of illuminating incidents and anecdotes that humanize an account of the struggle of a pioneer people to hold the land.

The Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indians inhabited East Jersey.  Of this tribe two clans, the Tappeans and the Hackensackeys occupied the section around Teaneck.  The Teaneck achieved considerable prominence. His mark is to be found on early deeds and treaties.

The first land grants were derived from the Dutch government.  An old record shows the transfer of land between the Overpeck Creek and the Hackensack River to Sarah Kiersted by Chief Oritany in recognition of her services as interpreter.   The grant was five years after the surrender of the Dutch government but had little permanent significance for in 1669, five years after the surrender of the Dutch to the English we find the same land included in a grant made by the English to Capt. John Berry.

An early picture of Mr. John Ackerman

An early picture of Mr. John Ackerman

The famous De Marets patent secured from the Tappean Indians and confirmed by Carteret included land from New Bridge to a point above River Edge and easterly to a line marked later by the Northern railway.  Captain John Berry claimed this territory also under an earlier patent.  Eventually carteret withdrew the grant to the De Marets and gave them in exchange a portion of the Berry patent between the Overpeck Creek and the Hackensack River.  Descendants now known as Demarest still hold land in this section.

The name “Teaneck” is Dutch and is made up of two words: “Tea,” which means “bordering on a stream,” and “Neck,” which signifies “a curved piece of land.'” The name appears on maps made for George Washington as “Tee Neck.”

Nearly all of the early settlers to the “manor born” had descended from industrious Holland and Huguenot stock. From a list of names associated with the very early history of this section and compiled by the Rev. Dr. Romeyn, we quote: Albert Saboroweski, 1662; Lawrence, 1682; Lowrie, 1685; Kipp, before 1695; Houseman, 1695; Van Buskerick, 1697; Van Gieson, 1689; Andressen, 1679; Facounier, 1709; Dismarie, 1695; Vanderbeck, 1715; Provoost, 1709; Hopper, 1709; Romeyn, 1690; Davis, 1709; Dereau, Slott, Douglass, Christiansen, Jacobs, Jansen, Westervelt, Brower, Van Horn, Nicholl, Drury, Labagh, Lubbertsa, Epke, Banta, Albertsa, Rooeliffe, Bougart, Freycken, Hendricks, Ackerman, Egberts, Pouelse; Van Der Linda; the last twelve previous to 1686.

The original County of Bergen, created in March 1682 by the Provincial Legislature, included the territory between Constable Hook, Bayonne, and the New York State Line, and between the Hackensack and the Hudson Rivers. In 1709 it was enlarged to take in that portion of land which in 1837 became Passaic County. Hudson County was cut from Bergen County in 1840.

The division of the counties into townships was accomplished in 1682. Bergen County as we know it today consisted of two townships–New Barbadoes, the land between the Passaic and the Hackensack rivers, and Hackensack Township, the land between the Hackensack and the Hudson Rivers. Harrington Township, formed in 1775, took in the northern portions of these townships on both sides of the Hackensack river. Ridgefield, Englewood, and Palisades Townships were formed in 1871 out of the remaining territory of the old Hackensack Township.

In 1895 Teaneck, dissatisfied with an administration which permitted “taxation without benefit” took advantage of an Act of Legislature to “secede.” The census which I took personally at that time revealed a population in this district of 800. The township was incorporated February 13, 1895. The first officers were:

Original photo of the old William W. Phelps home

Original photo of the old William W. Phelps home

Township Clerk, Frank S. De Ronde, 1895-98, John Ackerman, 1898-1901;

Township Committee, William Bennett, 1895-98, Peter I. Ackerman, 1895-97, Henry J. Brinkerhoff, 1895-96;

Freeholder, John J. Phelps, 1895-1901;

Assessor, Daniel G. Bogert, 1895-98, Jonathan Hawkins, 1898-1901;

Collector, Tunis Cole, 1895-98 (died in 1895), Warren M. Cluss appointed in ’96, elected ’96-98;

Justice of the Peace, Robert Stevenson, 1895-1900.

Teaneck, until it became a residential community, was a farming district. Clayton in his HISTORY OF BERGEN AND PASSAIC Co.’s characterizes the people of this district through the young men who saw service in the Civil War. “Bergen contributed the Twenty-second Infantry which was made up chiefly of the bone and sinew of her agricultural population and composed of as respectable and worthy class of young men as entered the service during the war.”

The nineteenth century was marked by outstanding personalities. Individuals have greatly influenced the progress of Teaneck and no history of  this community would be complete without reference to a few of them.

William De Ronde came to Teaneck in 1835 with three sons, Abraham, John W. and William H. ‘The original homestead is now occupied by Mrs. B. Lippman. In the records of public service for a century, the name De Ronde appears frequently.

In the spring of 1863 Mr. Lebbeus Chapman moved to Teaneck. He inaugurated a Sunday school service in the old school. Mrs. Chapman played the organ. The son, born in Teaneck, is Dr. Frank M. Chapman, ornithologist of the Museum of Natural History in New York. Mr. Chapman once told me that he shot his first bird in an apple tree on the Lozier farm.

William Walter Phelps, Bergen County’s outstanding citizen, came to Teaneck in 1865 and bought the farm where the Town Hall now stands. The farm house was improved and the family resided there until March 1889 when the building was destroyed by fire. The new home was built on the present site of Holy Name Hospital. Mr. Phelps served as minister to Austria and later to Germany.

His brother-in-law, Gen. Thomas Van Buren came to Teaneck soon after the Phelps and bought the farm where the Volk Funeral Home now stands.

In 1886 Captain Wm. P. Coe and family came to Teaneck and added largely to the growth of Teaneck.

Composite drawing of Teaneck based on maps from the Walker Atlas of 1876.

Composite drawing of Teaneck based on maps from the Walker Atlas of 1876.

The accompanying map, a composite drawn from maps appearing in Walker’s Atlas shows the residents in 1876 of what is now Teaneck Township.  The map is authentic and especially interesting because it shows not only the family name and the location of the farms but in some instances the exact extent of the holdings.  A study of the map will recall many pleasant memories of the “day s on the farm” for Teaneck’s first families.

The completion of the Northern Railway in 1859 stimulated the growth of Teaneck.  The first building movement was started by Judge Phelps himself when in 1882 he brought William Bennett of Binhamton, New York, to build a row of fine houses on the west side of Teaneck Road. Mr. Bennett later became manager of the Phelps estate.

During the past thirty-five years the population figures show amazing growth.



1900 1910 1920 1930 1935 (estimated)
768 2,082 4,192 16,513 over 20,000



The remains of the fire of the Phelps Mansion. Current site of Town Hall.

The remains of the fire of the Phelps Mansion. Current site of Town Hall.

The Old Town Hall (first school, first Sunday School, first municipal building for Teaneck), was soon outgrown. The last minutes taken in the Old Town Hall bear the date June 6, 1926 and the first minutes taken in the new Municipal Building are dated July 6, 1926. A plaque on the wall facing the entrance records the township committee serving at the time of the erection of the building as follows: W. H. Bodine, Chairman, F. Andreas, F. McGuire, P. B. Garrison, W. T. Salmon, R. J. Lewis, and H. Deissler, Clerk.

On the walls of the Council Chamber one can find a sombre record. Seven pictures hang there so that Teaneck will not forget Basil L. Smith, Capt. Stephen T. Schoonmaker, William A. Burgess, Walter Caldroney, Herbert S. Smith, Hubert Roch and Edwin Welch, dead heroes of the World War.

Teaneck’s growth has been phenomenal but the building pace continues. Official ratings place Teaneck fourteenth in the United States, for the number of residential building permits issued in the month of July, 1935. In this record Teaneck leads among other first rank cities, San Francisco, not to mention the Borough of Manhattan.

The depression years from 1930 to now have brought the most remarkable growth of all, for in those five years, assessed valuations have increased to more than $27,000,000 as compared with $4,000,000 in 1920.