A patent is issued to Captain William Sandford for land between the Passaic and Hackensack rivers that becomes known as New Barbadoes Neck.
Part of this subsequently transferred by Sandford to his uncle, Major Nathaniel Kingsland, is deeded to Arent Schuyler.
A large stone found near Schuyler’s house proves to be copper ore.
Mining begins. Brigadier General Robert Hunter, governor of New York and New Jersey, writes to the Lords of Trade in London (November 12, 1715) that there is “a Copper Mine here brought to perfection [producing] about a ton in the month of July or August last, of which copper farthings may be coined.”
Frank Harrison, surveyor of the port of New York, writes to the Lords of Trade that “Copper Ore now rises very rich and in great plenty in a new-discovered mine of one Mr. Schuyler in New Jersey.”
Following the death of Arent Schuyler, the mine is inherited by his sons Peter, Adoniah, and John, the last of whom takes on management of the mine for himself and his brothers.
The mine, by now, has shipped 1,386 tons (roughly 100 tons a year), making the enterprise a highly profitable one. Most of the ore at this time is extracted by drift mining – digging into the side of the slope between meadows and high ground.
To ensure that the value of copper ore accrues to British interests, the New Jersey legislature imposes a substantial duty on all copper not sent directly to England for smelting.
By now, drift mining is no longer productive, and the facility has been converted to shaft mining. In this year a worker named Malachi Vanderpoel is reported killed in a fall down a 100-foot shaft. This is apparently what came to be known as the Victoria Shaft, sunk about 1735, “reputed to be the first shaft ever sunk in what is now the United States” (quoting the Annual Report of the [N.J.] State Geologist, 1900).
The mine has now been worked as deep as hand and horse power can keep it free of water. Colonel Schuyler, aware of the use of steam power in England, orders a steam (or “fire”) engine sent from England.
The mine is visited in the fall by Benjamin Franklin, who writes (in a letter to Jared Eliot, February 13, 1750) that the mine is not being worked because of flooding and that “they [wait] for a fire-engine from England to drain their pits.”
The engine arrives in New York in September in the company of a young engineer named Josiah Hornblower and is subsequently taken to the Schuyler property, to the mine’s deepest shaft, later known as the Victoria Shaft.
Owing to various delays, it takes a year and a half to assemble the engine. Sometime early in 1755 (probably in March), it is set in operation, making this the first time steam power has been employed in the New World. The Victoria Shaft is about 100 feet deep but is made deeper as work progresses. As it becomes apparent that the engine cannot keep this shaft dry, other shafts are worked.
A new brass cylinder for the engine is shipped from London.
Hornblower and a partner named John Stearndall lease the mine from Schuyler, agreeing to pay one-seventh of the ore as rent.
The building housing the steam engine is burned to the ground by a fire “conjectured to be by the carelessness of one of the workmen” (New-York Mercury, March 22, 1762). The engine itself, however, may not have been seriously damaged.
Stearndall and Hornblower are joined by Philadelphia interests and continue the mine for two years. Then for two years it lies idle until operators from New York revive it.
A fire “on Monday Night last” (New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, October 17, 1768, announces the sale of his estate including, presumably, his interest in the mine.
The mine, which lay idle during the Revolution, is leased from Arent Schuyler, John’s son, by the New Jersey Copper Mining Association, whose principals are Nicholas Roosevelt, Jacob Mark, and Philip A. Schuyler. The lease required lessees to “erect and rebuild a sufficient steam engine.” The company relies heavily on German miners who will work for low wages.
The Soho Company (Nicholas Roosevelt, Arent I. Schuyler, and others) is incorporated, apparently to succeed the New Jersey Copper Mining Association in working the Schuyler mine. But the mine is abandoned a few years later, and the old steam engine is dismantled and sold in pieces. The boiler (now of copper) is brought by interests in Philadelphia. The cylinder (iron) is believed to have been taken by a Mr. Crane, a foundry owner in Newark.
The cylinder is purchased by A.W. Kinney, a Newark machinist and spring manufacturer. He cuts it into two pieces, each roughly four feet in length. One he uses as a pipe for a waterwheel at his establishment; the other he sets aside as a curiosity, apparently presuming it to be a relic of the first steam engine.
Parker Cleaveland’s “An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology,” published in Boston, reports (Vol. 1, p. 557) that “Schuyler’s mines have not been worked for several years, although the ore is considerably abundant; some shafts were sunk 300 feet deep.”
The Schuyler Copper Mine Company is incorporated under the laws of New Jersey, but reports differ as to whether or not any mining takes place at this time.
The mine is leased to business interests that apparently invest a substantial sum installing a new steam engine and deepening the mine shafts. But the pump breaks down on opening day, and the company forfeits its lease.
The mine is taken over by a British company, with William Tregaskis as superintendent. As told by British author John Finch: “The mines are now reopened… it is the only copper mine worked in the Unit States.”
Sometime after 1836, A.W. Kinney’s shop is sold to David M. Meeker, an iron founder, and with it, the four-foot section of cylinder supposed to be a relic of the original engine.
The Passaic Mining Company begins operations in August 1847, clearing the old works, erecting new buildings, and installing new machinery including a 40-horsepower steam engine. Despite a substantial investment, the venture is not a success.
A Philadelphia company, of which one Theodore Moss is engineer, works the mine for two years, with little success.
The Brisk Company of Philadelphia acquires mining rights. A cleaning of the Victoria Shaft reveals a hoard of stolen loot, mostly silver, apparently taken from Newark residences. Sometime after this, rights are acquired by the Consolidated Mining Company, which operates the site as the Victoria Copper Mine, sinking no new shafts and using old machinery but employing as many as 200 workers at a time.
A cave-in deliberately caused by disgruntled workers.
A new company, the New York and New Jersey Mining Company, takes over. The Victoria Shaft is sunk to its maximum depth of 347 feet, and a long drain tunnel is dug from the shaft to the meadows. The company employs between 150 and 200 men. Ore worth more than $10,000 is reported to be produced in one day.
The pump breaks suddenly (February 1865) and the Victoria Shaft fills with water. Workers flee, leaving their tools behind. The mine is abandoned and remains in disuse until 1892.
A cave-in engulfs a barn built over an old mine shaft.
The purported relic of the original Schuyler steam engine, the four-foot section of cast iron said to have been part of the cylinder, is displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia by D.M. Meeker and Sons. With it is a letter from Joseph P. Bradley, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, certifying it as part of “The first ever (steam engine)erected on this continent,” (Bradley is the grandson-in-law of Josiah Hornblower.) Sometime after this, on David M. Meeker’s death, the relic is given to Bradley’s son, Charles, of Newark, who in turn presents it to the New Jersey Historical Society.
The purported relic now is presented to the Smithsonian Institution by the New Jersey Historical Society. In a letter to Samuel P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian, Justice Bradley confirms authenticity of the relic.
The New York and New Jersey Mining Company attempts to revive the mine. In an effort to economize, it tries to remove and reuse timber pillars. There is another cave-in (perhaps a number of them). Operations cease once again.
The mine property is acquired by the McKenzie family of Rutherford.
The Arlington Copper Mining Company is organized on February 3 by Charles L. Dignowity of Boston and William C. Eakins of Chicago, with William McKenzie of Passaic as president, Henry G. Bell of Rutherford as treasurer, Eakins as secretary, and Dignowity as general manager – McKenzie supplying a substantial part of the capitalization, reported to be $2.5 million. The company, expecting that a new metallurgical process devised by Dr. N.S. Keith can make the old mine productive once again, installs a new refining plant to produce copper by eletrolytic extraction. But the process does not prove commercially successful. Arlington Copper stock that has a par value of $10 falls to half of that by the end of the year.
On February 19 Arlington Copper stock is reported on the New York Stock Exchange, apparently for the last time, at $4 a share.
In November all mining operations are suspended. No copper has been produced.
The mine property, totalling 93 acres, is sold at auction September 30 for the benefit of creditors and bondholders. The buyer is James E. Pope of New York.
Arlington Copper stock is recorded as valueless.
With North Arlington in a period of relatively rapid development – and since no sewer system has yet been constructed – real estate developers propose using the old mine as a giant, ready-made cesspool. No one in authority takes the idea seriously.
James E. Pope leases the mine area to a mushroom grower. The project apparently fails.
Real estate developers Wilkinson and Solomon purchase the mine tract for some $70,000 and begin building homes.
Romm’s History of North Arlington reports that “many of the mine’s shafts remain passable today.”
The mine is sealed permanently after several North Arlington lads recount to their mothers tales of crawling through the old mine shafts and tunnels, and the mothers take their fear and dismay to the borough council.
Atop the old mine, where decades ago homes were built with no thought to the potential consequences of development, a series of cave-ins causes grave concern. But speedy action, beginning with the borough government, prevents any widespread damage. All cave-in sites are eventually sealed. The only noticeable loss is a large tree that plunged into a gaping hole at what was once the Victoria Shaft.
George Bayliss (R)
William Brandenburg, Jr. (D)
Harry McKinlay (R)
Alfred F. Barnard (R)
Daniel Rentschler (R)
Alexander Allan (R)
John R. Manson
Louis E. Gaeckle
Walter J. O’Connell
Leonard Barnett (D)
Peter R. Tonner (D)
William D. McDowell (R)
Theodore R. Lapinski (R)
Edward J. Slodowski (D)
Ernest T. Cerone (R)
Edward Martone (D)
Leonard R. Kaiser (R)
Russell L. Pitman (D)
North Arlington Public Schools
North Arlington’s first public school was built in 1872 on the site of the present Borough Hall when the borough was still part of Union Township. A typical one-room schoolhouse of the time, it served the needs of Bergen County School District 38.
After North Arlington came into being in 1896, the school became known as North Arlington Public School. Increasing population, however, soon made the facility inadequate, and a new school (officially School No. 1 but better known as Lincoln School) was opened in 1912. The board of education then offered the old building to the borough council for $2,500. The council gladly accepted, and the transfer was effective October 1, 1912. The borough government up to this time, had no official quarters of its own. The council, which once met in the mayor’s home, was using the schoolhouse for meetings; but with all the desks and blackboards, this was clearly a makeshift arrangement. Now the schoolhouse could be converted to make it suitable for accommodating council meetings and other municipal functions.
The new Borough Hall was enlarged in 1920 and even more extensively remodeled in 1932, keeping only the foundation of the old. So complete was this renovation that a dedication ceremony was held July 4, 1932. The project provided employment to some 145 local workers hard hit by the Depression. A 1950s renovation gave the building its “closed-in” front, replacing a columned portico. In 1974 there was still another renovation.
Given its origin as an 1872 schoolhouse, the North Arlington Borough Hall is one of the oldest municipal buildings (if not the oldest) in Bergen County.
North Arlington High School
By 1929, enrollment in North Arlington’s four existing schools (Lincoln, Washington, Wilson, and Jefferson) totaled 1,296. Another 153 older students attended high school in Kearny. But those students going to Kearny were only adding to an overcrowding problem there, and in 1932 Kearny announced its refusal to accept any additional students from North Arlington.
Even before this there had come the clear realization that North Arlington, sooner or later, would have to have its own high school. Two factors slowed the process. Firstly, the borough had recently completed construction of three schools and, particularly since this was the Depression, its financial resources were strained to the limit. Secondly (and somewhat paradoxically), the state commissioner of education insisted that the borough, for its size, did not yet need a high school.
Because the borough continued to have difficulty placing students out of town, the commissioner relented a little and allowed the borough to establish its own ninth grade at Lincoln School. Kearny continued to refuse additional students, and the local board then made arrangements to send tenth-graders to Hasbrouck Heights. This meant a student would go to Lincoln for ninth grade, switch to Hasbrouck Heights for tenth, and then attend Kearny High School for the last two grades. Finally, in 1936, North Arlington voters agreed to an 11-room addition to Lincoln School, and with state approval, this became North Arlington High School with a full four-year program. The high school opened in September 1936 and graduated its first class in June 1937. At the the time of its opening it had an enrollment of 349 students; the other schools, a total of 1,253. A gymnasium was added to the high school in the early 1940s, as a WPA (Work Projects Administration) project, and in 1962 came the cafeteria, library, and northern wing.
Lincoln and Washington Schools
Along with independence as a borough came the responsibility for local education. North Arlington, when it became a borough in 1896, inherited the old Union Township school within its borders – the one-room, red-brick structure that had served School District 38 since it was built in 1872. The enrollment of the little school, which encompassed only the equivalent of the present grades one through eight, was about 45 students during the first years of borough government. Those continuing their education beyond eighth grade attended high school out of town, in Kearny, Lyndhurst, and Belleville.
By 1906, the one-room schoolhouse had 75 students, and with year-by-year growth of the town the place was beginning to burst its seams. The obvious answer was a new schoolhouse, and the choice, clearly a good one in retrospect, was for the board of education to sell the old school to the borough and build a larger facility next door. The old building then became Borough Hall and the new one – considerably larger, with four rooms – was opened in 1912 as School No. 1, later known as Lincoln School. A five-room addition including an auditorium for Lincoln School was proposed in 1916 but turned down by voters at the school board election. The following year the same proposal was approved, and the work was completed by September. By now enrollment was up to 285; the faculty totaled six.
Five years later enrollment had nearly doubled, to 524, a clear indication of the growth of North Arlington in the years immediately following World War I. Yet in December 1921, a proposed eight-room addition was defeated by voters by a wide margin – and by now voters had begun a pattern of voting down new school facilities only to approve them a year or two later, a pattern that would continue almost without exception through the completion of a five-school physical plant. Accordingly, in April 1922 the eight-room addition was voted to proceed. The newly enlarged school – now 14 rooms including an auditorium – was completed in June 1923 and formally dedicated as Lincoln School. Up to now it had been officially North Arlington School No. 1 and only informally known as Lincoln School. The official name was suggested by Alfred King, a Civil War veteran who had lived in town for a number of years. In 1926 the board acquired still another tract at Hedden Terrace and Prospect Avenue and sought approval to build. Once again, the electorate said no. By 1928, however, continued population growth forced the inevitable, and voters approved construction of two additional schools – Wilson at the Argyle Place site and Jefferson at the Hedden Terrace location. Both were constructed in 1929. Roosevelt School followed in 1955.
Queen of Peace Schools
Queen of Peace Grammar School began under the leadership of Msgr. Peter B. O’Connor in 1925. Eighty students attended its first classes, which were held in the parish hall of the church. O’Connor enlisted the aid of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a Philadelphia-based order devoted exclusively to teaching, who joined with the Christian Brothers of LaSalle in forming the new school’s faculty. In 1928, Rev. Thomas J. Walsh, bishop of Newark, laid the cornerstone for a new building to house the rapidly growing institution. By 1936, Queen of Peace Grammar School had the largest enrollment of any parochial school in Bergen County. Queen of Peace High School opened in 1930, at a time when North Arlington had no other secondary schools. Fifteen students attended its first year of classes, and its first commencement speaker was the famous Rev. Fulton J. Sheen. Four years later, admission had swelled until both Queen of Peace schools served over 800 students – nearly half the number attending the borough’s public schools. The old facility quickly became inadequate, and in 1952, Archbishop Boland presided at the ground breaking of the new high school building.
In 1954, Queen of Peace became the first parish high school in New Jersey to be evaluated by the Middle Atlantic States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. It was granted membership in the Association and ranked sixteenth among sixty-eight schools evaluated in a three-year period.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church
Since its founding in 1919, Queen of Peace Church has had a remarkable influence on the development of North Arlington. Its first pastor, Msgr. Peter B. O’Connor, founded both the parochial grammar and high school, organized a dental clinic, and lobbied for better public transportation in the Borough. The church building itself, completed in 1951, is noted for its thirteen stained glass windows which depict the history of Catholicism in America.
First Presbyterian Church
In 1924, the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington founded a Sunday School in an empty store on Ridge Road. It later moved into Lincoln High School under the leadership of church elder George P. Scherff. The growing congregation voted to sever its connection with the Arlington Church and became an independent parish. In 1929, the new church was built on a lot purchased by the Newark Presbytery. Clyde H. Roddy was the first pastor of the church.
By 1949, the Church had acquired its present site on Ridge Road. The new building was erected and dedicated in 1955.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Founded in 1932 by Rev. Harry Pfunke, Grace Lutheran Church spent its first ten years holding services in Borough Hall assembly room. Under Pfunke’s successor, Rev. Stephen Ballek, the congregation purchased its first chapel in 1943. The present property on Ridge Road and Arlington Blvd. was purchased in 1952, and the new building was completed in 1955. The pews that had adorned the old church were donated to Clara Maas for use in their own chapel. Grace Lutheran Church has long maintained close ties to the borough’s young people; before the current Youth Center was built, North Arlington’s youth activities were held on church grounds.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
St. Paul’s was established by Archdeacon Ladd of Rutherford in 1914. Its first services were held in the Borough Hall, but the construction of its first church began later that year. Its services later expended to include a church school and a bible class. St. Paul’s church was destroyed by fire in 1978. A new church was built and consecrated in 1980.