The History of Maywood
(Reprinted from the Maywood Centennial
In the early 1600’s, Dutch families from New Amersfoort
(Long Island) and New Amsterdam (New York) came to New Jersey
and settled along the Hackensack River and eventually throughout
Bergen County (named after the town of Bergen, in Holland).
An Indian trading post was established in 1609-1610. The first
deed of land was given by the Indians in 1630.
When the Netherlands surrendered their land around New Amsterdam
to the British in 1664, the Duke of York granted to Berkeley
and Carteret the land west of the Hudson River. Carteret selected
the northern part of his share and in 1668 granted to Captain
John Berry a large tract of land in the vicinity of Hackensack.
Through the Berry Patent, lands were conveyed to settlers
who established farms and homes throughout the area.
Maywood was formerly part of New Barbados Township; when Hackensack
became a village, the westerly portion of New Barbados Township
became Midland Township. In the beauty and diversity of its
scenery, and in the productiveness of its land, it ranked
high among the townships of the county. The Army of Revolution
encamped within its borders, and General Washington frequently
honored the early settlers by his presence.
In 1871 the New Jersey Midland Railroad, now known as the
New York Susquehanna and Western, was constructed and through
the help of property owners, a railroad station was erected
at a country road crossing and given the name “Maywood.”
In 1872, Maywood Avenue, which even before the Revolutionary
war led from Hackensack to Paramus, was straightened and laid
out in its present form.
The opening of the Midland Railroad brought many advantages
to Maywood, including families seeking an attractive place
Among the farmers who owned land were Daniel Ackerman, John
Romaine, John R. Oldis, Andrew Voorhis, James and Daniel Berdan,
Cornelius Van Saun, and John, Henry, and Martin Terhune. Maywood
remained a farming district until Gustav L. Jaeger and Henry
Lindenmeyer purchased a large tract and began laying it out
in building lots.
In 1882, Mr. Jaeger purchased Mr. Lindenmeyer’s interests
and handsome new buildings began to appear, roads were laid
out and paved, and other improvements made.
In 1892, the John Van Saun farm was sold to Gustav Peetz,
a residential developer; he installed roads, sidewalks, and
streetlights. Otto Hartwich built a number of homes in that
section and later on Washington and Fairmount Avenues. Meanwhile,
many homes were built in other sections of the borough, particularly
in the area near the railroad station.
With the coming of the railroad, a Post Office was established
at the station. When George M. Sipley, the station agent,
retired, he moved the post office to his store on the east
side of Maywood Avenue. After he died, the post office was
managed for a time by Paul Ackerman, the borough tax collector,
and at his death was moved back to the railroad station under
Charles M. Berdan. A free delivery service was eventually
The Borough of Maywood came into being through the democratic
process of self-determination, pursuant to a petition signed
by Clarence E. Breckenridge and others.
An election was held on Friday, June 29, 1894. The report
of the election officers, showing a total of 46 votes cast
(42 for and 4 against incorporation) was filed the next day,
and the Borough of Maywood came into existence on June 30,
At the general election in November 1894, a citizens’
ticket was submitted to the voters for the election of a mayor,
six councilmen, an assessor, a tax collector and three commissioners
of appeals, and for an appropriation for borough purposes
of $500. They were elected without opposition and Clarence
Breckenridge became the first mayor.
A code of ordinances was adopted for the administration of
the borough’s affairs, one of which provided that no
new street should be accepted by the borough until it was
graded and paved. Before this, streets had been kept in repair
by the farmers working with their teams a few days in the
spring and fall, filling up the ruts and clearing the drains.
All the roads in the borough were graded and paved at that
time except Essex Street.
The building at the station having been destroyed by fire,
the property of the Maywood Social Club on Park Avenue was
acquired as the Municipal Building; it was enlarged, also
destroyed by fire in October, 1914, and rebuilt as at present.
While primarily a residential community, the town has always
benefited by the presence of its industries. In 1890, Ernest
E. Bilhuber established the Maywood Tile Works for the manufacture
of art tile for stoves, mantle pieces, and decoration. Dr.
Louis Schaefer became interested in Maywood for the development
of his alkaloids and other chemical products; the industry
grew, became the Maywood Chemical Works, and was later purchased
by the Stepan Chemical Company, which operates the plant today.
The Baltimore manufacturer of Bromo Seltzer also established
a manufacturing plant here, the Citro Chemical Works, later
bought by the Pfizer Chemical and Pharmaceutical Company.
The John Smith Research Center for Cancer operated here until
its move to Connecticut. The site is now the home of Myron
Mr. Bilhuber, a tree-lover, brought to his home on Maywood
Avenue many interesting and rare specimens from Europe and
other countries. In 1910, the Maywood Shade Tree Commission
was created with Mr. Bilhuber as chairman; under his guidance,
Maywood’s streets were beautified through plantings
The growth of the town made a sewer system imperative. In
1915 Alexander Potter was retained as consulting engineer
to design a sanitary sewer system which was installed with
a disposal plant on the Hackensack River at Cherry Hill. In
addition to providing a sewer system for Maywood, its construction
made it possible to provide facilities to adjoining towns.
In 1923, Hackensack was given the right to use the sewer and
The volunteer fire department, first organized in 1893, was
reorganized into three companies, Peerless, Undine, and Protection;
a keen competition grew among them. Police protection, no
serious problem then, was provided for many years by Marshals.
In 1924, a paid police department was established.
After a period of rising prosperity and growth throughout
the Twenties, Maywood was hit by the same economic disaster
as the rest of the country, the Great Depression. Many hopes
and dreams had to be put “on hold;” the town rallied
to help those in need, but there was little money to spare.
Many homes were sacrificed for non-payment of taxes, causing
shortfalls in town revenues. Teachers in Maywood School were
paid in “scrip” money, honored by Maywood tradesmen
until salaries could be paid. Many stores and businesses declared
But on the brighter side, it was an easy walk or bus ride
to Hackensack to the movies at the beautiful Fox and Oritani
theaters. People with cars were the envy of their neighbors.
When the trolley tracks were pulled up from Peasant Avenue,
few people mourned, even though the rapid transit ride from
Edgewater to Paterson was no more; the car was king.
“The War,” as most who lived then will always
call World War II, changed many lives. Young men went off
to fight, some never to return; rationing and black-outs became
an established routine. Bergen County – and Maywood
– in the midst of wartime austerity, nevertheless enjoyed
renewed prosperity. Men and women who had been reduced to
selling door-to-door or cleaning houses to make ends meet,
found jobs at Bendix and Curtiss-Wright. Industrial New Jersey
was hard at work, helping win the war.
The Fifties was a decade of exploding growth, but its first
years were marred by the Korean War with the loss of more
of Maywood’s young men.
New houses and, for the first time, hotly debated garden apartments,
rose in the north and south ends of town. A new school was
built and in front of it, the old Maywood Playground, once
reached only by walking through the woods, became Veterans
To the dismay of many Maywoodians, that worst of all invaders
of peace and privacy, the shopping mall, moved from threat
to reality. It was called Bergen Mall. We got used to it.
New residents, new organizations, new interests marked the
60s and 70s. A municipal pool added pleasure to our summers.
A fine new library rose on Maywood Avenue. High school students
left Bogota High for Hackensack, which they attend today.
In the 80s, we finally saw the completion of Lydecker Manor
on the site of the old Inter-City bus terminal; our senior
citizen residence was hotly contested, but it has turned out
to be one of Maywood’s great success stories.
In the present day, the Borough has recently completed a new
municipal complex named in honor of John A. Steuert, Jr.,
one of the Borough's longest serving mayors and continues
to move forward into the 21st century, making history every
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