The Seeds

of War

Reformed Dutch Church, Tappan, NY (Estb. 1694)

 The Federal Period     

Reformed Dutch Church, Tappan, NY (Estb. 1694)

Orangetown Resolutions

The Revolution

Harrington Twp

Carterette Road

Sparkill Creek Canal Co.

Federal Historic Sites



Orange Town

At a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of Orangetown and Province of New York, on Monday the fourth day of July, 1774, at the house of Mr. Yoast Mabie in said town, the following resolves were Agreed upon and passed, viz:

1st That we are, and wish to be, true and Loyal subjects to his Majesty George the Third, King of Great Britain.

2nd That we are most cordially disposed to support his Majesty and defend his crown and dignity in every constitutional measure, as far as lies in our power.

3rd That however well disposed we are towards his majesty, we cannot see the late acts of Parliament imposing duties upon us, and the act for shutting up the port of Boston, without declaring our abhorrence of measures so unconstitutional and big with destruction.

4th That we are in duty bound to use every just and lawful measure to obtain a Repeal of acts, not only destructive to us, but which, of course, must distress thousands in the mother country.

5th That it is our unanimous opinion that the Stopping all exportation and importation to and from Great Britain and the West Indies would be the most Effectual method to obtain a speedy withdrawal.

6th That it is our most ardent wish to see concord and Harmony restored to England and her colonies.

7th That the following gentlemen, to wit: Colonel Abraham Lent, John Haring, Esquire, Mr. Peter Outwater, Mr. Gardner Jones, and Peter T. Haring be committee for this town, to correspond with the city of New York, and to conclude and agree upon such measures as they shall judge Necessary in order to obtain a Repeal of said acts.


Gen. George Washington


         July 4th, 1776, officially began the Federal Period.  With their self-sufficient agricultural way of life, fierce independence, reformed religion, ways of passing on inheritance, and even their Jersey Dutch language, this was a group of  people that had left the village of the Bowery in New York City because they could not abide harsh English authority. They would not easily submit to the British crown in the Hudson Valley. As a group, the Dutch tended to be sympathetic with the patriot cause. The English, on the other hand tended to be mixed and often families divided. With the declaration of independence, a new federal government was formed and Provinces became States. During the Revolution, many a Jersey Dutchman risked his life in the militia and the Harings were no exception. Several members of the Gesner and Sneden families joined Tory brigades. The area remained steeped in conflict between Patriot and Tory, neighbor and neighbor throughout the Revolutionary War. 

          A detachment of Washington's troops encamped on the south side of Willow Road (now T. Happel property). The General had ordered a fortified military post be established at Sneden's Landing. These troops were to man the blockhouse. The troops, however, were not there in 1780, when Capt. Abraham A. Haring was dragged from his farm (Capt. Abraham A. A. Haring House) on Closter Publick Road, never to be seen again. He died in a notorious British prison-hulk in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, before his youngest son, John, was born. British foragers too often reaped the harvest that Bergen farmers had sown. The cupboards in the "old stone kitchen" of the John A. Haring House bear gouges where, according to local tradition, British bayonets pried open the larder.

          When the Revolution ended the Patriots of the valley withdrew into themselves and apart from their Tory neighbors. Within a generation there was intermarriage and reconciliation. Family elders related to their children and their children's children tales of 1776, when a new nation unfurled its flag to the heavens and its voice resounded throughout the land..."We owe allegiance to no Crown."

[50th Anniversary - Borough of Rockleigh, NJ - 1923-1973]


Changing Harrington Township


Harrington Township 1876

           The small farming community had prospered. The late 1700's saw Samuel Sneden, Jr. marry Elizabeth Conklin, Jacob's daughter. When the 2nd Jacob Conklin moved across the road into the former Ryker-Mabie farmstread, Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth, came into possession of what would become known as the Conklin-Sneden House on Sneden Landing Road.  


  • Circa 1800 Area Map of Rockland, Harrington Township  [click to open]

By 1820, Jacob Haring, Nicholas Haring's son, had enlarged the small house (Jacob Haring House) his father gave him on the east side of Closter Publick Road. He operated a flourishing dairy farm (now Hutcheon Residence) here for many years. Also in the 1820's, several of Jacob Conklin's grandchildren settled on Conklin lands along the road to Snedens Landing by the New York boundary. The Gowdy's, relations of the Conklins, had moved down from New York State and established their farm on Carterette Road near the New York border by 1862 (James Gowdy House). In 1891 Leonard and Catherine Sneden came to Roaring Brook Farm (Ryker-Mabie-Conklin-Sneden House). Their old house and lands have been a landmark since about 1752. The second half of the 19th century brought little growth to the area with three new homesteads built. 


  • Circa 1850 Area Map of Rockland, Harrington Township  [click to open]

[50th Anniversary - Borough of Rockleigh, NJ - 1923-1973]

               In 1840 the Pascack Valley portion of Harrington Township  separated as Washington Township. Other communities within Harrington Township began to incorporate during the latter half of the century. A period of growth and speculation began in Bergen County.


Carterette Road 
(Piermont Road
- North)


Late 19th Century  Piermont Road at Bridge over Roaring Brook
Looking North with Abraham A. Haring House in the left distance 

          First named Carterette Road, this section of Piermont Road northward from Rockleigh Road to the state line, was straightened and improved in 1859 as an extension of the road from Closter. For local farmers it was an easier wagon route to New York State and for carrying produce to the steamboat landings on the Hudson River. The new road was cut through farmlands of Abraham Riker, Joseph DuBois, and John Gisner Conklin.

          By 1872, Willow Road had been laid out between Carterette Road and the road to Snedens Landing. The road was laid out along the northern boundary of the Samuel Beasley property.

50th Anniversary - Borough of Rockleigh, NJ - 1923-1973]


The Sparkill Creek
Canal Company
(Port Harrington?)


Sparkill Creek at Tappan Slote  [Harry Ryerson  c. 1920]


          The latter half of the 19th century saw a mad period of real estate speculation in Bergen and Rockland counties. From 1870-1876 there was a brief interest in canal transportation in the northeast. The area of Harrington Township that was soon to become Northvale and Rockleigh was to play a key role. The Sparkill Creek Canal Company was incorporated in 1871.1 The purpose was to open a canal from the New Jersey state line, where the Sparkill crosses it, to the Hudson River2  [see 1891 map]. One of the many investors in the canal company was Herbert Gray Torrey (1838-1915) of Stirling, NJ.1   The project never advanced farther than the enabling legislation passed by the New York legislature. Yet it is interesting to note that the 1891 Beers Map of Rockland County shows H.G. Torrey as owner of two large (approx 40 acres each) adjacent tracts of  land close to the New York boundary in what would become Rockleigh (bounded by present Link Drive, Piermont Road, and Paris Avenue), and crossing the Sparkill Creek  into what would become Northvale [see 1891 map]. 

          Herbert Gray Torrey, the son of renowned botanist Dr. John Torrey (famous naturalist and professor of Chemistry at the Columbia University Medical School), resided with his family between 1850-1860 at Torrey Cliff in Palisades, NY.  His father founded the Torrey Botanical Club which was instrumental in creating the New York Botanical Garden.3  

          H. G. Torrey married in 1868 Marie Louise Snow of New York City. Upon leaving Torrey Cliff, young H.G. and Marie Louise Torrey moved to Rockland, Harrington Township, NJ. In the 1870 census, Herbert G. Torrey (29) is listed as residing in the H. Tory I House at the NW corner of Willow Road and Rockleigh Road) in now Rockleigh with his wife, Marie Louise, (24) and son John G. (1). In addition, the census lists a nurse, gardener and farm hand. The couple had two sons, John Gray Torrey (1869, Harrington Twp, NJ -1898) and Ralph Guyot Torrey (1878, Harrington Twp, NJ-1893). By 1880 the Sparkill Creek Canal proposal had collapsed and the Torry family moved to a house called Hilltop in Stirling,  Morris Co., NJ.  The Railroad Station Park -- now Turtle Rock Park -- was presented to Stirling by Herbert Gray Torrey. 

          Through family members, H.G. Torrey developed strong connections with Frederick S. Winston, a New York financier. H.G. Torrey, with intimate knowledge of the area from his childhood, was speculating that his land would become a barge terminal that would open Harrington Township directly to markets down the Hudson and perhaps develop as an industrial site. The opposite could be equally valid: that H.G. Torrey with powerful backing promoted the Sparkill Creek Canal to open his land to the Hudson.  Between 1875-1879, the Northern Branch of the Erie Railroad had pushed north from Jersey City, through Harrington Township, to connect at Sparkill with the Erie main line to western New York. So much for the Sparkill Creek Canal Company as well as the plans and hopes of H.G. Torrey. While, Torrey had invested wisely in the New Jersey West Railroad that passed through family lands in Stirling, his property in Harrington Township remained farmland. 

          The southerly Torrey tract in Harrington Township would eventually become the residential and commercial properties along the north side of Paris Avenue in Rockleigh; the northerly tract became St. Joseph's orphanage and ultimately the county-administered Archie Hay Village School. It is interesting to note that the banks of the Sparkill in Rockleigh and Northvale are today corporate properties that H.G. Torrey likely envisioned, but without a barge canal.


1. HISTORY OF ROCKLAND COUNTY, By Frank Bertangue Green. Rockland County Historical Society, 1989.


3. 1870 Census, Harrington Township, Bergen Co., NJ, p 41.

4. TORREY/TURTLE ROCK PARK, by Mary Lou Weller (Town Historian, Stirling, NJ) and Dr. Patrick L. Cooney []

On the Threshold

of a New Century


Jacob Haring Family
circa 1980

          Years came and went. What was before would be again...the scent of apples from the cider mills would drift on the Fall air...and batten shutters would close hard against the Winter snows, the April wind would be cold...and in the Spring, Roaring Brook, long silent in its icy crust, would be heard again. The village would stir and the mountain would green...and all could anticipate life would again come from old roots...

[50th Anniversary - Borough of Rockleigh, NJ - 1923-1973]


Federal Period Sites

  c. 1780-1783 Site of Revolutionary Encampment
  1788 Old Gesner Burying Grounds 
Earliest grave dated Dec. 11, 1788
Piermont Road - north

c. 1790

Samuel Sneden House
21 Rockleigh Road

c. 1805 John A. Haring House & Barn
5 (South) Piermont Road
  c. 1820 Jacob Haring House
2 Rockleigh Road

c. 1823-1833 Joseph DuBois House
Rockleigh Road

c. 1823-1833

Van Wickel-Moore House
36 Rockleigh Road

c. 1827 Abraham Cooper House 
& Blacksmith Shop

Rockleigh Road
  c. 1850-1861 Site of Conklin's Quarry 
& Ruins of Cider Mill

34 Rockleigh Road
  c. 1850-1861 Ruins of Sloat's Saw Mill
Rockleigh Road
  c. 1850 A. Simms Residence 
(not researched)
  c. 1850 J. Hansen Residence 
Willow Road (not researched)

Carterette Road
(Piermont Road - north)

  c. 1860 J. Drexel Residence 
(not researched)
  c. 1862 James Gowdy House
North Piermont Road
  c. 1870 Abraham Ryker House, later "Pegasus Club"
Rockleigh Road (P. Wollard/Stoever Residence - not researched)

Compiled by E. W. April, 2002


  Background Music: "Dumbarton's Drums" Courtesy of Barry Taylor


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