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History of Hoboken

Originally published in 1907
THIS WEB VERSION COPYRIGHT 2003 GET NJ

SOON after the discovery of the Hudson River in 1610 by Captain Hudson, merchants of Holland were allowed by the Dutch Government to take possession of its shores. Under conditions stipulating that those who planted colonies of 50 adults would be entitled to 16 miles of river front, provided they satisfied the Indians for the land taken, one Michael Pauw, in 1630, obtained from the Indians, through the Director of the Council of New Netherlands, the right and title to the lands which now comprise Hoboken.

In the deed conveying these lands they are named Hobocan Hackingh, Hackingh signifying land and Hobocan being the Indian word for tobacco-pipe. The natives were accustomed to procuring a stone from these lands out of which they carved pipes.

In the writings of Robert C. Sands, Vol. II, 1834, descriptive of Hoboken, appears the following statement: "It is a fact not generally known that there is or was an old town in Holland called Hoboken, from which no doubt this place was named. A copy of an old work on medicine by a Dutch physician of the name of Hoboken is in the library of one of the eminent medical men of this city (New York)."

The ownership of Pauw became unpopular, and in 1635 the title to the lands became vested in the West India Company upon payment by them to Pauw of 26,000 florins or $1,040. For nearly two years after this the settlers were at war with the Indians, the result of the treatment they received from the whites by whom they had been scorned in their social intercourse, cheated in commercial transactions, and even plundered and slain. This, the first Indian war, terminated in 1645 when a treaty was signed. War with the Indians broke out again in 1655, in which year the Indians once more took possession of the soil.

In 1658 the land now comprising Hoboken together with other territory located between the Hackensack and Hudson Rivers was deeded by the Indians to Petrus Stuyvesant for eighty fathoms of wampum, twenty fathoms of cloth, twelve kettles, six guns, two blankets, one double kettle and one barrel of strong beer.

In 1664, even before these lands were captured by England, they were included in a grant made by Charles II of England to his brother, the Duke of. York. The latter theta deeded the territory lying between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to John, Lord Berkeley, a brother of the Governor of Virginia, giving it the name New Jersey. The war between England and the Dutch at this time resulted in an agreement being made by which the Dutch were permitted to retain possession of their lands. In 1674, after the Dutch had recaptured New Amsterdam, Holland and England, by the treaty of Westminster, restored these lands to England, which country then remained in possession until the Revolution.

In 1663, Petrus Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam, had deeded the tract which comprised all the land within the present city limits to his brother-in-law, Nicholas Verlet or Varlet.

The original deed, which was confirmed by Governor Carteret May 12, 1068, is at present in the possession of the Stevens family, and is preserved in excellent condition.

Charles II made a second grant, dated July 29, 1674, to the Duke of York, who, in turn, the same year, granted to Sir George Carteret what was afterwards known as East Jersey.

In a description in 1680 George Scott refers to Hoboken as follows: "Further up is a good plantation in a neck of land almost on an island called Hobuck. It did belong to a Dutch merchant, Aert Teunissen, who formerly, in the Indian war, had his wife, children and servants murdered by the Indians, and his house, cattle and stock destroyed by them. It is now settled again, and a mill erected there by one dwelling in New York."

But few incidents appear in the history of the city until 1700, when the inhabitants petitioned King William for relief from the arbitrary powers exercised by the land proprietors. Land troubles continued, however, until 1773, when the Legislature provided for a complete survey and allotment of the, common land among the freeholders. The survey, the original of which is now on file in the Hackensack Court House, was very accurately made, and is today the basis upon which all land titles are founded. Nicholas Varlet died intestate in 1675, leaving two children, Abraham and Susanna.

Abraham entered the service of the Dutch East India Company and remained with this company until his death. Susanna Varlet married John de Freest, and their daughter, Susanna, married John Hickman. Hickman and his wife conveyed the tract known as Hoboken to Samuel Bayard, a New New York City merchant, in 1711 for 500 pounds.

It is supposed that Abraham, the son of Nicholas Varlet, conveyed his interest in Hoboken to Nicholas Bayard, who was probably a son of Samuel Bayard.

A commission appointed to examine into the Bayard title in 1764 reported that Hoboken belonged to William Bayard, who is said to have been an heir of Nicholas Bayard.

The State of New Jersey, in 1780, confiscated all the lands of William Bayard because he joined the army of the King of England. A writ, dated Jan. 30, 1784, was issued out of the Common Pleas of Bergen directed to Cornelius Haring, Agent of Forfeited Estates in Bergen County, to sell and dispose of all the lands belonging to Bayard. On March 16th, 1784, he sold Hoboken to John Stevens, Jr., for 18,360 pounds, or about $90,000.

In 1804 Col. Stevens advertised the sale of 800 lots, and May 6, 1839, his heirs conveyed the unsold property to the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company, which was incorporated Feb. 21, 1838.

Col. John Stevens, the founder of the present city of Hoboken, was born in New York in 1749 and died in 1838. His grandfather was a native of England, and came to New York as an officer of the Crown. His father, John, became a resident of New Jersey, and his son married Rachel, daughter of John Cox, of Bloomsburg, N.J. He was for several years treasurer of the State, and his sister married Robert R. Livingston, Chancellor of New York.

Early in 1774 a ferry was established beween New York and Hoboken and was under the charge of Cornelius Haring, Agent. for the State of New Jersey. During the war of the Revolution, this, like all the other ferries, was under the control of the military.

Up to 1811 the Common Council of New York leased the ferry to different parties, although all the years since 1784 John Stevens had been the owner of Hoboken. 111 1802 he made known the fact that he had successfully applied steam as a propelling power in navigation, claiming that he was the first one to do this. In April, 1811, John Stevens obtained a lease of the ferry and immediately set out to complete his steam ferryboat.

It was called "Julianna," carried one hundred passengers, and was the first steam ferryboat in the world.

In 1817 he disposed of his interest in the ferry to John, Robert and Samuel Swartwout, who assigned it in 1818 to Philip Horne. In 1821 the Stevens family repurchased the ferry, paying to the city of New York $1,800 rent per annum. The ferryboats were then propelled by steam, the first boat, the "Hoboken," making regular trips every hour between, Hoboken and Barclay street. The Christopher Street branch was started in July, 1836, taking the place of the Spring Street landing which had been used since 1774.

In 1814 Samuel Swartwout and his brother Robert purchased from John Stevens the marsh portion of Hoboken, which is now known as the "Coster Estate." They made a vegetable garden of this section and attempted to reclaim a large portion of it. They failed, however, and in 1819 their mortgagee, John G. Coster, took title to the tract. In 186 Coster laid it out into building lots, according to a map made by Daniel and Austin D. Ewen, civil engineers, of New York.

Until 1849 Hoboken was a part of North Bergen and was then organized as a separate township under the name of Hoboken. In 1834 Hoboken was described as a place "built chiefly on one street." It then contained about one hundred dwellings, four or five stores and from six to seven hundred inhabitants.

The home of the New York Yacht Club which was founded in 1844, and which is now one of the most celebrated yacht clubs in the world, was located for twenty years in Hoboken. Its first club house was built in the Elysian Fields in the year 1845 and it was not until 1868 that the club transferred its headquarters from here to Staten Island.

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