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History of Dumont

The borough of Dumont was founded on July 20, 1894. Present-day Dumont was originally part of larger Shraalenburgh, a Dutch province that included the present-day boroughs of Bergenfield, Dumont, Haworth, and parts of Closter.  The original Dutch settlers had traveled into present-day Bergen County from Fort Amsterdam, which was located in lower Manhattan Island.  The Dutch parent colony of New Netherland lasted from the early 17th century to 1664, with the surrender of the colony to Britain. With Governor Pieter Stuyvesant's surrender of New Netherland in 1664, Britain gained control of the Dutch claims in New York and New Jersey. The colony was briefly recaptured by the Netherlands in 1673 in one of the Anglo-Dutch wars, but was restored to British control soon after in 1674. When Dumont became a separate borough in 1894, it initially kept the name of Schraalenburgh (the other towns changed their names). The borough originally contained 3 square miles; however, strips of land were ceded to the neighboring townships of Palisades Twp. (Pd New Milford) and Harrington Twp. (Pd Haworth). In 1898, Schraalenburgh changed its name to Dumont, named after Dumont Clarke, the first mayor of the borough. Dumont's main historical landmarks include Camp Merritt and The Old North Reformed Church (see below) at the intersection of Washington and Madison Avenues. Celebrating over one hundred years as a borough, Dumont has grown and developed into a thriving community, currently home to 17,500 residents* and approximately 5,000 housholds**.

The Old North Church

The Old North Church, located on the southwest corner of Washington and Madison Avenues, is perhaps Dumont's finest link to its past. Founded in 1724 as a result of a schism from the "too liberal" South Church of Bergenfield, the church actually owned and governed most of Schraalenburgh, an area of nearly three square miles, from Cresskill to Palisade Twp (New Milford) and from Harrington Twp (Haworth) to Bergenfield. The word Schraalenburgh actually means "ridges" in Dutch. The Old North Church and surrounding area was governed by the Consistory, a board made up of the eldest deacons, elected by the congregation. Hundreds of years later, the Consistory still functions in making decisions for the congregation.
       The Old North Church remains the second oldest church in the area (second only to the Church on the Green), with its first bricks laid in 1723 on land donated by Colonel Isaac Kipp. Later, after fruitlessly attempting to reunite with the South Church, Rev. Solomon Froeligh's congregation decided a new church must be built. This church's architecture was to be similar to the South Church's, except Froeligh deliberately ordered that the steeple be made twenty feet taller. The construction of the present church at Washington and Madison Ave's was begun in 1801 by Peter J. Durie, a reputable builder from New York City. The structure remains one of the finest examples of early American church architecture.

The Old North Church Cemetery first began burying parishioners over two centuries ago. This cemetery remains the resting place for dozens of Revolutionary War and Civil War veterans.  Well-known parishioners buried at this cemetery include members of the Blauvelt, Demarest, and Quakenbush families.
       When the church's sanctuary expanded in the 19th century, it was necessary to push the west wall of the church 18 feet out into the cemetery, requiring the movement of remains and headstones. This expansion explains the 10-12 headstones currently resting against the west wall of the church. The first burial is approximated to have occurred in the 1730s, shortly after the North Church broke away from the South Church. The last known burial occurred in 1925. Despite the ages of the headstones, most have astonishingly remained intact and readable.
       
       Today, the Old North Reformed Church remains Dumont's best source of history, retaining not only detailed written documents dating back to the eighteenth century, but also a wealth of physical artifacts displayed prominently throughout the church. The church also has an historical committee dedicated to preserving these records and artifacts. Artifacts include Dumont Clarke's mantelpiece, which he donated to the church over a hundred years ago, an old Bible written in Dutch dating back to 1738, and a pew warming box also from that time period.

*According to the 2000 Census.
Source of Dumont Online History Section: Dumont Heritage by H. Jeanne Altshuler, Published by the Mayor and Council of Dumont, New Jersey. © 1969. - Available at Dixon Public Library.

**According to the Borough Assessor's Office
as of 6/23/2006


 
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