North Bergen, NJ from
HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
BY: JOHN W. BARBER and HENRY HOWE
PUBLISHED BY S. TUTTLE (NEW YORK) 1844


NORTH BERGEN.

North Bergen was formed, in 1842, from that part of Bergen N. of the New Jersey railroad. It is 6 miles long, and from 2 to 4 wide. it is bounded N. by Hackensack and Lodi, (Bergen co.,) E. by Hudson river and Van Vorst, S. by Bergen, and W. by Passaic river, separating it from Harrison. The Palisades enter the township on the north. Much of its surface is marsh; elsewhere the soil is generally very fertile, and produces large quantities of vegetables for the New York market.

North Bergen is a scattered settlement, on the summit of the ridge north of the New Jersey railroad, 2 miles west of Jersey City, containing about 60 dwellings. Secaucus is an island, or more properly a strip of firm land, surrounded by a marsh, in the NW. part of the township. There is at that place a Baptist church. New Durham, 4 miles north of Hoboken, on the Hackensack turnpike, has 1 Reformed Dutch and 1 Baptist church, and about 50 dwellings. West Hoboken is a recent settlement, handsomely laid out on. the brow of an eminence, about 2 miles from Hoboken landing. Hoboken, supposed anciently to he called Hoebuck, lies on the Hudson, 1 mile from New York, with which constant communication is had by ferry-boats. It contains an Episcopal church, and from 50 to 70 dwellings. The pleasant and shady retreats, delightfully situated at this place, on the banks of the river, have long made it a favorite resort.

A short distance above Weehawken, and about three miles above Hoboken, overhung by the Palisades, on the bank of the Hudson, is the spot famous as the "duelling-ground." Here several have paid the forfeit of their lives to a custom at which humanity shudders, and which all laws, divine and human, condemn. Here it was that Gen. Alexander Hamilton fell in a duel with Col. Aaron Burr, VicePresident of the United States, July 11th, 1804; an event at which a nation mourned. A monument was erected to the memory of Hamilton on the spot where he fell, by a society in New York, of which the annexed view, taken many years since, by J. C. Ward, Esq., is a representation. The monument was destroyed by the hand of violence, and the pieces carried off as relics. The piece bearing the inscription was found in a low groggery in New York, where it had been pawned for liquor. It is now in possession of a gentleman residing in the vicinity.

The annexed account is drawn from Coleman's Collections, relative to the death of Hamilton:

Hamilton's political opinions were at variance with those of Burr, and some expressions he had dropped, derogatory to the Vice-President, were eagerly embraced by the latter as affording sufficient grounds for sending him an insolent note, requiring him to acknowledge or disavow those expressions. General Hamilton refused to do either, and a challenge from CoL Burr was the consequence. Much delay and deliberation on the part of Hamilton was resorted to, but he finally accepted the challenge.

It was near seven in the morning when the boat which carried Gen. Hamilton, his second, Mr. Pendleton, and their surgeon, Dr. Hosack, reached Weahawk. There they found Col. Burr and his second, Mr. Van Ness, who had been employed since their arrival, with coats off, in clearing away the bushes, limbs of trees, &c., so as to make a fair opening. The parties were soon at their allotted stations: when Mr. Pcndleton gave the word, Burr raised his arm slowly, deliberately took aim, and fired. His ball cntercd Hamilton's right side; as soon as the bullet struck him, he raised himself involuntarily on his toes, turned a little to the left, (at which moment his pistol went off,) and fell upon his face.

Dr. Hosack says: "When called to him, upon his receiving the fatal wound, I found him half-sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton. His countenance of death I shall never forget. He had at that instant just strength to say, 'This is a mortal wound, Doctor;' when he sunk away, and became to all appearance lifeless. I immediately stripped his clothes, and soon, alas ! ascertained that the direction of the ball must have been through some vital part. His pulses were not to be felt; his respiration was entirely suspended; and upon my laying my hand upon his heart, and perceiving no motion, then I perceived him irrecoverably gone. I however observed to Mr. Pendicton, that the only chance for his reviving was immediately to get him upon the water. We therefore lifted him up, and carried him out of the wood to the margin of the bank, where the bargemen aided us in conveying him into the boat, which immediately put off. During all this time I could not discover the least symptom of returning life. I now rubbed his face, lips, and temples with spirits of hartshorn, applied it to his neck and breast, and to the wrist and palms of his hands, and endeavored to pour some into his mouth. When we had got, as I should judge, some 50 yards from the shore, Some imperfect efforts to breathe were for the first time made manifest; in a few minutes be sighed, and became sensible to the impression of the hartshorn, or the fresh air of the water. He breathed; his eyes, hardly opened, wandered, without fixing upon any objects; to our great joy he at length spoke: 'My vision is indistinct,' were his first words. His pulse became more perceptible; his respiration more regular; his sight returned. I then examined the wound, to know if there was any dangerous discharge of blood; upon slightly pressing his side it gave him pain; on which I desisted. Soon after, recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eyes upon the case of pistols, and observing the one that he had in his hand lying on the outside, he said, 'Take care of that pistol; it is undis charged and still cocked; it may go off, and do harm; Pendleton knows (attempting to turn his head toward him) that I did not intend to fire at him.' 'Yes,' said Mr. Pendleton, understanding his wish, 'I have already made Dr. Hosack acquainted with your determination as to that.' He then closed his eyes and remained calm, without any disposition to speak; nor did lie say much afterwards, excepting in reply to my questions as to his feelings. He asked me once or twice how I found his pulse; and he informed me that his lower extremities had lost all feeling; manifesting to me that he entertained no hopes that he should long survive. I changed the posture of his limbs, but to no purpose-they had totally lost their sensibility. Perceiving that we approached the shore, he said, 'Let Mrs. Hamilton be immediately sent for-let the event be gradually broken to her; but give her hopes.' Looking up, we saw his friend Mr. Bayard standing on the wharf in great agitation. He had been told by his servant that Gcn. Hamilton, Mr. Pendleton, and myself had crossed the river in a boat together, and too well had he conjectured the fatal errand, and foreboded the dreadful result. Perceiving, as we came nearer, that Mr. Pendleton and myself only sat up in the stern sheets, he clasped his hands together in the most violent apprehension; but when I called to him to have a cot prepared, and he at the same moment saw his poor friend lying in the bottom of the boat, he threw up his eyes, and burst into a flood of tears and lamentations. Hamilton alone appeared tranquil and composed. We then conveyed him as tenderly as possible up to the house. The distresses of this amiable family were such that, till the first shock was abated, they were scarcely able to summon fortitude enough to yield sufficient assistance to their dying friend. . . . . During the night he had some imperfect sleep, but the succeeding morning his symptoms were aggravated, attended, however, with a diminution of pain. His mind retained all its usual strength and composure. The great source of his anxiety seemed to be in his sympathy with his half- distracted wife and children. He spoke to me frequently of them. 'My beloved wife and children,' were always his expressions. But his fortitude triumphed over his situation, dreadful as it was; once, indeed, at the sight of his little children, brought to the bedside together, seven in number, his utterance forsook him; he opened his eyes, gave them one look, and closed them again until they were taken away. As a proof of his extraordinary composure, let me add that he alone could calm the frantic grief of their mother. 'Remember, my Eliza, you are a Christian.' were the expressions with which be frequently, with a finn voice, but in a pathetic and impressive manner, addressed her. His words, and the tone in which they were uttered, will never be effaced from my memory. At about two o'clock he expired."

After his death, a paper was found in his own handwriting, containing his reasons for accepting the challenge-and also confirming his own words, that it was not his intention to fire at Col. Burr. He gave his testimony against duelling in the same paper, in these words: "My religious and moral principals are strongly opposed to the practice of duelling. It would ever give me pain to be obliged to shed the blood of a fellow-creature in a private combat forbidden by the laws. My wife and children are extremely dear to me, and my life is of the utmost importance to them, in various views." He also gave unequivocal evidence of his firm reliance on the merits of a Saviour for pardoning mercy, and at his earnest request, the evening before his death, the sacrament of the Lord's supper was administered to him. In his interview with the Rev. Dr. Mason, a few hours before his death, he said, "Duelling was always against my principles; I used every expedient to avoid the interview; but I have found, for some time past, that my life must be exposed to that man. I went to the field determined not to take his life."

Immediately after his decease, the bells announced that he was no more. Early on the morning of Saturday, the day of his funeral, all the bells were muffled and tolled with little intermission until the procession reached the church, somewhere between one and two o'clock. The ships in the harbor exhibited their colors at half-mast, and minute-guns were fired from the forts. The procession consisted of the clergy of all denominations-gentlemen of the bar-students at law-strangers--members of the different incorporated bodies, together with the citizens-all anxious to testify their Sense of Hamilton's worth. The side-walks were crowded with spectators-the windows were filled-and many climbed up into trees, and got upon the tops of houses. Not a smile was visible-acarcely a whisper was heard-all was weeping, mourning, and wo. When the proccssion reached Trinity Church, Mr. Gouverneur Morris delivered an oration from a stage that had been erected for the purpose in the portico of the church. After the oration, the corpse was carried to the grave, where the funeral service was performed by the Rev. Bishop Moore. The troops, which had formed an extensive hollow square in the church-yard, closed the solemnities with three volleys over the grave.

On opening the will of the deceased, a letter was found addressed by him to Mrs. Hamilton, written on the 4th inst., in which he assured her he had taken all possible measures to avoid the duel, except by acting in a manner which would justly forfeit her esteem-that he had determined not to fire at him-and should certainly fall. He begged her forgiveness for causing her so much pain, and commended her to that God who would never desert her.

The whole nation was now literally in tears. It has in fact been questioned whether the death of Washington excited a more universal gloom. All party feeling was swallowed up in grief-all united in the general voice of sorrow, "Our Hamilton is no more!"

The following is from the Albany Centinel of August 29: "On Sunday last, the afflicted Mrs. Hamilton attended divine service in this city with her three little sons. At the close of a prayer by the Rev. Mr. Nott, the eldest dropped on his face in a fainting-fit. Two gentlemen immediately raised him, and while bearing him out, the afflicted mother, in the agonies of grief and despair, sprang forward towards her apparently lifeless son. The heart-rending scene with which she had recently struggled, called forth all the finespun sensibilities of her nature, and seemed to say, that nature must and will be indulged in her keenest sorrows. She was overpowered in the conflict, and likewise sunk, uttering such heart-rending groans, as would have melted into sympathy even Burr him. sell: Both soon recovered-and while the little son was supported, standing on the steps, yet speechless, the most affecting scene presented itself-a scene which, could it be placed on canvass by the hand of a master, would be in the highest degree interesting and impressive. The mother fastened upon her son, with her head reclining on his shoulder- agony strongly painted on her countenance-her long flowing weeds-the majesty of her.. person-the position of both-and above all, the peculiarity of their trying situation in the recent loss of a husband and father. Who could refrain from invoking on the head of the guilty author of their miseries, those curses he so richly merits ?-the curse of living, despised and execrated by the voice of a whole nation-the curse of being held up to the view of future ages-a MONSTER and an ASSASSIN."


In July, 1780, Washington, having received informatin that there were considerable numbers of cattle in Bergen Neck, in reach of the enemy, detached Gen. Wayne to bring them off, and at the same time attack a blockhouse which stood on the Hudson river, in this township, about half a mile below Bull's Ferry and the present line of Bergen co. [See page 75.] It was on the occasion of this expedition that Major Andre wrote the poem entitled the "Cow Chace," which was printed by Rivington, printer to his majesty, in New York. It consists of stanzas divided into three cantos. It is said that Andre. gave the printer the last canto the day before he left New York, on the enterprise which cost him his life. The poem appeared in the Royal Gazette on the morning of the day he was taken. The following stanzas are selected from it; the last of which appears somewhat prophetic.

To drive time kinc one summer's morn
The tanner took his way;
The calf shall rue that is unborn
The jumbling of that day.

And Wayne descending steers shall know,
And tauntingly deride,
And call to mind in every low
The tanning of his hide.

Yet Bergen cows still ruminate
Unconscious in the stall,
What mighty means were used to get
And lose them after all.

For many heroes bold and brave,
From New Bridge and Tapaan,
And those that drink Passaick's wave,
And thosc that eat soupaan;

And sons of distant Delaware,
And still remoter Shannon,
And Major Lee with horses rare,
And Proctor with his cannon:

* * * *


I, under cover of th' attack,
Whilst you arc all at blows,
From English Neighb'rood and Tinack
Will drive away the cows.

* * * *

At Irvine's nod 'twas fine to see
The left prepare to fight,
The while the drovers, Wayne and Lee,
Drew off upon the right.

* * * *

Sublime upon his stirrups rose
The mighty Lee behind,
And drove the terror-smitten cows
Like chaff before the wind.

But sudden see the woods above
Pour down another corps;
All helter-skelter in a drove,
Like that I sung before.

Irvine and terror in the van
Came flying all abroad;
And cannon, colors, horse, and man,
Ran tumbling to the road.

* * * *

In his dismay the frantic priest
Began to grow prophetic;
You'd swore, to see his lab'ring breast,
He'd taken an emetic.

* * * *


This solemn prophecy, of course,
Gave all much consolation,
Except to Wayne, who lost his horse
Upon the great occasion.

His horse that carried all his prog,
His military speeches,
His cornstalk-whiskey for his grog,
Blue stockings and brown breeches.

And now I've closed my epic strain,
I tremble as I show it,
Lest this same warrior-drover,
Wayne, Should ever catch the poet.

Return to [ New Jersey History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]