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Little Ferry History    

[LFChamber]  [Timeline] [Detailed History] [By Street] [Index]

Please contact littleferrychamber@hotmail.com with your comments, corrections, and updates.

This is a "live" work in-progress area and subject to daily updates.   The following draft information is provided for review by members of our community and interested parties. 


"Quick jump" to year: [1600] [1700] [1800] [1900] [1925] [1950] [2000]

Little Ferry History – Draft timeline

Rev dtd 03/27/07

Glaciers – Nebraskan, Kansan, Illionian, and Wisconsin (all but Nebraskan reached NJ).  The Wisconsin formed Meadowlands region.  Estimated 2500-3500 feet in depth carved bowl like depressions creating NJ’s largest water bodies. 

During the Ice Age, New Jersey underwent at least three glaciations. The last glaciation is known as the late Wisconsinan Glaciation

12,000-14,000 b.c.e Glacial Lake Hackensack formed during Wisconsin glacier withdrawal.  .Lake lasted span of 2,550 years…

10,000-11,000 b.c.e. We live within what was the Glacial Lake Hackensack (10,000 – 11,000 b.c.e.) situated 2 miles west of Palisades, bout 15 miles wide, stretching from northern Perth Amboy 50 miles to NY/NJ

8,000-10,000 b.c.e.  Glacial Lake Hackensack border breached between 8,000 & 10,000 years ago…draining seaward, leaving rich clays and complex ecosystem (Jersey meadows.

Huge Mastodons (cousins to present day elephants) and Paleo-Indians (Lenape descedants) lived off the land.

Paleo Indians derived believed derived from Siberia 20,000-40,000 years ago…crossing Siberian land bridge into North America (Alaska) 13,000-15,000 years ago.

Became the Land of Lenni Lenape Nation Indians.    Three divisions of native people Middle Atlantic region – The Munsees, the Unalachtigo, and the Unami, known today as the  Delaware or the Lenape Indians.  The Hackensack Meadowlands was the heart of the Lenapehoking or Land of the Lenape.

1524 European contact with Lenape, or Unami lower NY Bay of Florentine Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano aboad French caravel Dauphine 1st known to see Manhatten Island.  He was sailing for the French..


1609 Henry Hudson, English navigator (Dutch East India Company) entered Lower New York Bay..exploring as far north as Albany NY and eastward to Newark Bay  Munsee bands of Indians Canarnees, Esopus, Hackensacks, Kitchtawanks, Navasinks, Raritans, Tappans, Warranawankongs, and Wiechquaeskecks.

1620’s Dutch arrival in the area

1625 Pieter Minuit, then governor of New Netherlands, purchased Manhattan from the Metoac tribe

1640 Indian trail map

1641 Trading Post and home established by Hollander named Mydertse Van der Heer Nedderhorst First Building in this area (destroyed by fire  5 am Jan. 15, 1914 during snow storm) stood where Sinclair Oil plant was..

1643 Indian Massacre settlement wiped out. Feb 25, massacre of 80 Hackingsack Indians at Pavonia by Dutch

1643 Killing of an Indian by a white man, caused Trading Post to be entirely wiped out in a widespread retaliation massacre by the Indians.

1643-45 Wappinger War (Governor Kieft's War)  news of the massacre spread, the Hackensack and Tappan joined with the other Wappinger tribes in attacks against the outlying Dutch farms,

1664 British fleet captures New Amsterdam (Manhattan) ending Dutch rule.


1760’s Rope drawn ferry over the Hackensack River.

1776 Nov 20, 1776 ferry used in GW retreat

1798 removal of Lenape to Brotherton (1st American Indian reservation) in South Jersey.


1804 Bergen Turnpike first built from Fairview, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Little Ferry, and onto Hackensack.  Used the little ferry until Hackensack bridge was built.

1812 Tom Pickens, grandfather of 1st mayor James Pickens, fought British in War of 1812 and never returned.

1828 Wooden Bridge built RP to LF  (replaced by steel one in 1900) and replaced the ferry…

1860 prior LF sparsely settled

1861 Civil War (1861-1865) 6 men from LF served

1847 Elizabeth Sutliff Dufler (freed black slave) bought 10 acres along Hackensack river and sold clay to potteries in Newark and Jersey City.

1861-1863 Civil War, Six men from LF return, 5 are known; Hubert derider, August Dickman, Carl Blazer, Tom Gill, and William Beigler

1866 LF first industry Blasting Oil Company  First High Explosives Factory built by Alfred Nobel (Father of Explosives).   First U.S. plant to make nitroglycerine, Little Ferry, NJ.

1870 High Explosives Factory self-destructed.

1870 Clay Bank was opened by Depeyster and Stagg. (2 houses associated with these names on Riverside Ave).

1872 Cole and Showers opened first brickyard.  Brick industry expanded rapidly when Mehrhof  brothers took over.

1874 Early industry, approx. year Flower Pot Firm started.

1875 Washington Avenue with 10 houses, Liberty Street with 3 houses south of Main Street, Main Street with six houses, Pickens Street with 3 houses.

1875 Wilson School opened (Lodi Ave. now Main St.) closed in 1981…demolished 1985

1876 Map shows Little Ferry as Freiburg (due to large German population)

1882 Mehrhof’s brickyards 2nd largest > 2mil per bricks per year

1884 Felter brickyard opened (now Willow Lake).

1887 1st Czech’s moved in.

1888 Wilson school addition

1890’s Czech’s began coming to LF   Czech’s opened small button shops on their property. (prospered over next 50 years.) 

1890 – 1930 Building Boom

1893 210 names of voters on the canvassers books.  The Mehrhofs continue to manufacture brick, all the other yards have been closed.

1894 Little Ferry Incorporated First Mayor James Pickens. Proclaiming independence from Lodi..Jame Pickens 1st Mayor.  Population approx. 600

1894 1st Mayor Pickens, Republican on Citizen’s Ticket (1894 – 1896)  also 1st village postmaster, opened first LF area country store both where Tracy’s now located.   Elnore Merhof, Boro Clerk

1894 Little Ferry Democratic Club organized.

1894 Early industry, William Zabransky Jr. and Son, Inc. plumbing business.

1897 T.J. Sokol (1st Czech school) built…destroyed in March 17,1911

1896 2nd Mayor Irving Felter, Democrat (1896 – 1898) part owner of Felter Brick.  Did not want to succeed himself as mayor.   William Fehrs, Sr. Boro Clerk

1896 American Sokol Little Ferry organized.

1898 1st parade dedicating Sokol Hall

1898 Spanish American War; three men fought from LF- John Kaufman, Arthur Hunniken, and Dr. Albert Mehrbof

1899 3rd Mayor John Adam Eckel, Democrat (1899-1903) a butcher (River Road).  Saw that roads came and mud roads disappeared.  Daughter was our school principal.   William Kingsley, Boro Clerk

1900 Little Ferry Census – 416 Adults, 657 Children, 15 Grandparents/other relations, 155 Borders, total 1243.  179 Houses, 44 Farms, Immigrants from Bohemia, Germany, Austria, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Russia/Poland, and Scotland

1900 Steel Bridge built between LF and RP closed in 1934.   Trolley ran between Hackensack and Weehawken thru LF.

1900 Sokol Fife & Drum Corps organized

1901 GE plant built

1902 Hackensack River dammed upstream, increasing the salt water content in the Meadowlands.

1903 4th Mayor Oswald Mehrhof, Republican (1903-1905) Youngest mayor. Hard worker, married in office.. William Kingsley, Boro Clerk.

1904 Working Men’s Benefit Organization held 1st labor day parade.

1904 LF had 8 brickyards…declined after WWI

1906 5th Mayor William Kour, Democrat (1906-1908) 1st Czech born Mayor, was a builder.  He and council made agreement with Hackensack Water Company to extend water mains through Washington  Ave & Main Street. William Kingsley, Boro Clerk.

1907 Addition to Wilson school built

1907 LF Hose Company organized (building 1908)(Land donated by Becker)

1908 6th Mayor August Heckel, Republican (1908-1910) A farmer kept roads in good condition. Admin bought 1st fire apparatus (horse drawn) and fire alarm system.  William Kingsley, Boro Clerk

1909 1st Firemen’s Day parade held in August many visiting Fire companies.

1910 7th Mayor Nicholas J. Schopp, Republican (1910-1912).  Helped organize Little Ferry Building & Loan Assoc.  Left our boro debt free.  Geo. Zimmerman, Boro Clerk

1911 First Sokol Hall (Czech school) destroyed, and present one built

1912 8th Mayor Carl Schulz, Democrat (Jan. 1st – Feb. 17th) Pet project Washington Avenue drain.  Killed by train night he was to dedicate T. J. Sokol hall.  William Kingsley, Boro Clerk.

1912 St Margaret of Cortona R. C. Church

1913 9th Mayor Carl Schulz, Democrat (1913-1914)  Oldest son of Carl Schulz, selected to complete father’s unexpired term.  Credited fro widening Washington Avenue, same year Borough asking for $30,000 in school bonds.  Geo. Zimmerman, Boro Clerk. 

1913 Referendum to build School No 2 (Washington School) approved.  Two floors & Eight classrooms.

1914 10th Mayor Frank E. Herma, Republican (1914-1916) Council voted Shade Tree Commission, 100s trees bought but never planted.   First Police department started…1st policeman Frank Trinka    Geo.  Zimmerman, Boro Clerk

1914 Washington School Built

1915 Bergen Pike toll eliminated

1916 10th Mayor Oswald Mehrhof (again..), Republican (1916-1920)  World War I broke out.  1917 Armistice day – sending off boys to war (ck year).  Main Street storm drain built.   Geo. Zimmerman, Boro Clerk.

1916 1st memorial services May 30th by 7 members of Hose Company No1 marched to NY cemetery in memory of Charles Lang (1st member to depart from our fire department).

1916  Little Ferry library's earliest beginning July 11th, 1916, deacon Lewis Pfister offered to establish free circulation library for members of church and Sunday school.

1917 World War I (1917 – 1918)  124 from LF served.

1918 Referendum to compensate Mayor & Council.  Prior was done for honor of serving Borough.

1919 Welcome Home Dinner for our boys (end of WWI) at T.J. Sokol Hall

1920 11th Mayor Charles Schulz, Democrat (1920-1926)  Hose company building became boro hall (leased).  World War I monument erected (ck year).  Emil Bezdek & George Zimmerman, Boro Clerks.  

1920’s LF Rail way Station built…(on Ridgefield Park side of Hackensack River)

1920 Susquehanna Council #107 Degree of Pocahontas established.

1921 Little Ferry V. F. W. organized

1922 Little Ferry Hook & Ladder organized

1923 1st Dark Town parade held every Thanksgiving started by Hose Company No 1

1923 Rear addition to Wilson school built

1923 Only 4 Brickyards left  (only evidence is 3 lakes Willow, Indian, and Lower End)

1923 LF Hook and Ladder built

1923 Congregational Church built

1924 Original Wilson School structure removed.  Wilson School No 1 remained.

1924 Little Ferry P.T.A. formed.

1924 Sewer system installed


1926 12th Mayor August Stocek, Republican (1926-1932)  Best streets built Mehrhof Road, Pickens Str, Kaufman Ave, Columbus Ave, Echel Road, John Street, Hyer Str, Woodland Ave.  1st War vet to serve as Mayor.   Electric fire alarm system installed.   William Stika, Boro Clerk.

1926  First Little Ferry Public library established by the Women's Club in a store provided by Little Ferry National Bank.

1929 Little Ferry Free Public Library built

1932 13th Mayor Chester F. Schopp, Democrat (1932-1936).  Depression years..  No taxes paid, script used to pay bills and salaries not paid to Mayor & Council.  Held Kiddie Days parade and games.  Cut ribbon to open Route 6 (rte 46).   First Fire Chief.  William Stika, Boro Clerk.

1933 Boys Band

1934 Old Hackensack span closed…new Route 6 (Rte 46) Drawbridge Bridge opens $890,000 cost

1935 Little Ferry Post 809 takes over Veterans Band.

1936 14th Mayor Joseph Zabransky, Democrat (1936-1940)  Born in Little Ferry.  He and council repaired all streets while still in Depression.   New disposal built built and extension to library. 

1937 Little Ferry First Aid Corps started by six members of the Fire Department.  Also Little Ferry Rotary Club organized May 1937.

1937 Large Fire costing $45,000(365 Main St.) 2 houses destroyed, 2 damaged

1938 Little Ferry First Aid Corps first Board of Governors.

1940 15th Mayor Joseph Shrholez, Democrat (1940 - 1957)  Real estate by trade.

1940 Bergen Pike Bridge demolished

1941 World War II  (1941-1945) 594 served from LF.

1944 American Legion organized.

1950 Korean War (1950-1953) LF men served helping United Nations in Korea.

1956 Addition to Washington School

1956 Last Brickyard destroyed by fire

1960 Valley Fair and Outdoor Drive-in Movie Built

1968 HMDC Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission formed by state.  Includes 14 Bergen & Hudson towns

1969 Memorial School opened Feb 3rd   Twelve classrooms, art & science room.  Maryann first class…

1981 Wilson school closed.

1985 Gethsemane Cemetery Afro-American burial yard County Historic Site Sept, 29 1985 dedicated

1986 Older Homes and open land became Condominiums (Drive-in became Waterside Village)  D.A. Sokol Hall (Washington Ave) sold to Sportswear firm;

1999 Replaced the wooden tide gate with a modern, high capacity $2 mil pumping station.


2004-2005 New expansion added to public library

2006 Matthew Fenton – Iraq War


Steve Royka

Frank Zabransky

Fields of Sun and Grass – John R. Quinn  1997 

Breakdown of 1900 Census Little Ferry, NJ – Summarized by Little Ferry Library staff  Oct. 24, 2006

Little Ferry 1994-100th Anniversary publication 1994

Little Ferry 1964-70th Anniversary publication 1964

Our Boro and our Mayors – William Zabransky, Jr  Oct. 11th, 1953

Borough of Little Ferry website - http://www.littleferrynj.org/page2.html 

 A special thank you to all those supporting this ongoing effort including Steve Royka, Frank Zabransky, Anne Deluca and the Little Ferry Library.


Table of Contents:

     Little Ferry Timeline

     Little Ferry Detailed History    

     Little Ferry By Street

     Little Ferry Index

Special Photo History:

      Photo Archive 1870 - 1930

Financial History:

      1911 Tax & Finance Assessment

      1915 Tax & Finance Assessment

      1917 avail 2/11/07