This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of March 12

2021-05-12 TWIR Image-Vervalen Machine

March 11, 1871 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

[Image: Etching of the Vervalen brickmaking machine, printed in Daniel DeNoyelles, Within These Gates (1982).]
       While the residents of Nyack and vicinity have always felt proud of the unsurpassed beauties of their location, and indulged a pardonable vanity and exhibiting the same to strangers coming among us, the advantages and inexhaustible resources of our sister village, Haverstraw, have to a great extent been overlooked, and it is only within a few years that her people have emerged from their clay banks to occupy the social and financial position to which, of right, they are entitled.
       When brick making was first engaged in as a business, in Haverstraw, the men who owned the clay banks were possessors of but little else. Machinery, as a manufacturing appliance was then unknown, and if it had been otherwise, the means to procure it were entirely out of the reach of the pioneers in the brick business. Steady perseverence and a determined will overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and year after year, as the toilers toiled on, they began to find the business remunerative, and with prosperity came the appliances by which millions upon millions of bricks are turned out every year.
       The practical business men of Haverstraw to-day, are those who, a few years ago, worked with their own hands among the dirt and extracted from it the means which enables them to enjoy most of the luxuries and elegancies of life, and at the same time spare a portion to make their village all that a refined taste would have it.
       That this is being accomplished rapidly no one can deny, when he looks upon the village as it was a few years ago, and as it is now. During the past year, new and elegant buildings have sprung up in almost every direction, and the approaching season promises many more. The Babcock Brothers have contracts already for some ten or twelve residences, which will cost from three thousand to five thousand dollars each, while other mechanics are engaged in transactions of lesser magnitude.
       On the west side of the village, and beneath the evening shadows of the High Torn [sic], there is a beautiful, elevated ridge of land owned principally by Hon. A. B. Conger and the heirs of Leonard Gurnee. This tract of land is one of the loveliest for location in the vicinity of Haverstraw, and the scenes to be enjoyed from it have induced such men as Michael Archer, the Felter Bros., John Lane, and others, to erect, for themselves, villas of taste, surrounded by grounds which will be beautifully embellished by the hand of art.
       Hon. A. B. Conger has caused to be cut through a portion of it an avenue sixty feet wide, and it is his intention, we learn, to soon intersect it with streets, and subdivide the land into lots for village purposes. Mr. Archer’s residence is a very handsome affair, and, when finished, will cost about $15,000. On the avenue above referred to are the res[i]dences of William Abrams, Wilson’s Mountain Institute, and others of lesser note. A most extensive and beautiful view of the scenery on the opposite shore, is to be had from this portion of the village, and in time, we have no doubt, it will be selected by the wealthier portion of the inhabitants for their place of abode. The ridge is based on red sand stone, and on every portion of it can be found an abundance of pure water.
       Speaking of water, reminds us that the Trustees of the village have in contemplation the introduction of water—the question to be submitted to the vote of people next spring. In anticipation of a favorable result the trustees have made, or are about to make, arrangements with the trustees of the first German Evangelical, of Haverstraw, for a portion of their Church lot on which to construct a reservoir, from which the lower stories of all the houses in the village will be supplied with water. This improvement, if carried to a successful issue, will be of great benefit to the inhabitants and their salvation in the event of a conflagration.
       Among the many enterprises now going on in Haverstraw, the Brick Machine business of R. A. Vervalen & Co. is by no means the least. These celebrated machines have been subjected to every severe test known to the trade, but as yet are without a rival for quick and effective work. The company have now a large number on hand and are constantly at work on others to supply the daily demands upon them. This machine has created a complete revolution in the manufacture of brick, and has been the medium by which the citizens of Haverstraw have attained an enviable reputation for both the quantity and quality of brick which are annually turned out from their yards.
       The departure of the ice from the river has had the effect of stirring up those who are in the carrying trade, and already several sloops and schooners have been landed with brick for the New York market. It is estimated by competent judges, that there is now on hand and ready for shipment, not far from 30,000,000 of brick in the several yards between the foot of the Short Clove and Grassy Point. In another article which we shall furnish soon, we will endeavor to give a detailed account of the number of men employed, quantity of brick manufactured, capital invested, etc., in the brick business of Haverstraw.
       Just so soon as the frost disappears from the ground operations will be commenced in the brickyards, and, judging from the present ruling prices, we have every reason to believe that the approaching season will be a golden one for not only those in the business, but for all whose interests are identified with and bound up in this vast industrial pursuit.

March 11, 1921 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

       It’s getting so you can’t tell when there is a show in town any more since the younger set have taken to dressing like actors. Fur-Collar Overcoats, Save-The-Cloth Suits, Adam’s-Apple Collars and Clarence Marshmallow Hair-Part! Gosh, what next?

       There are still some folks who sigh for the good old times. But who would welcome them were they to come back?
       Subtract from modern life the movie; porcelain bath-tubs, vacuum sweepers; electric lights; instantaneous hot water; and telephones.
       Take out photographs; automobiles; electric irons and wash-machines; and sanitary plumbing.
       Banish these things, and you have again what people call “good old times.”
       Who really wants the good old times back?       
       Occasionally, a cynic declaims against the modern improvements, but he never means it. The modest home of the average middle-class American is infinitely more comfortable than the mansion of those other days called “the good old times.”
       The average housewife, relieved of much of the old drudgery of handwork, has more time for leisure and recreation. Her family has more recreational opportunities.
       The new times have their faults, but they are the golden age when contrasted with the “good old times. They cost us more than the “good old days” of yore, but aren’t they worth the price?

March 12, 19711 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Historians, conservationists, genealogists—in fact almost anyone with a vocation ending in “ist”—can have a field day studying Rockland County’s street names and trying to figure out where they came from.
       Some are quite simple. In the village of New Square, every single street is named for a past president of the United States. Almost every village and hamlet has a road named for a nearby body of water, such as Brook Street, Lake Road or River Road.
       Virtually every community also honors the most famous of our earlier presidents: Washington Avenue is the most common; Lincolns and Roosevelts follow in quick order. Most towns also seem proud of our county, and there are easily a dozen Rocklands Roads or Avenues.
       Developers in the past 10 to 15 years apparently have run out of fresh ideas for street names. The traveler today will find clumps of streets all named after trees, others after birds, and still others after the first names of everyone in the builder’s family, particularly women.
       Revolutionary War enthusiasts just [l]ove Tappan, which has streets named after battles, including Valley Forge, Lexington, Concord, Saratoga, Yorktown, Bennington, Monmouth, and Morristown.
       Tappan is also the location of a group of streets named after famous Revolutionary War leaders—Ethan Allen Court, Andre Hill, and Steuben and Clinton Avenues. Implements and by-words of the war can also be found there, like Independence Avenue, Minute Man Circle, Liberty Road, Musket Road and Constitution Avenue.
       Blauvelt and Orangeburg were the locations of the famous World War II Army port of embarkation known as Camp Shanks, and there are still a few roads to serve as reminders, including North Troop Road and Bataan Road.
       About the only World War I name still with us is Bluefields Road in Blauvelt, named for a New York National Guard training camp of those days, now in ruins.
       Pre-Revolutionary names still exist, and map readers will undoubtedly notice the vast number of “Kings Highways” which dot the eastern portion of the county.
       Most of the roads were connected at one time, and of course received their name originally from the King of England. At the time they were known as “The King’s Highway,” but this got shortened along the way.
       The Nyacks have a number of streets named for some of the earliest area residents, including Gurnee, Gesner, Voorhis, Cornelison, Salisbury, Tallman, Defendorf, Van Houten, Lydecker, DePew and Sickles.
       And then there are the really unusual street names for which Rockland County is famous.
       Christian Herald Road in Upper Nyack was named for the old Herald Tribute [sic] Christian Children’s Home there, now Camp Rama. Sterling Mine Road in Sloatsburg led to a well-known Revolutionary iron mine, now deserted. Cranberry Road in the same village leads to Cranberry Lake, one of the prettiest in the region.
       South Mountain Road in New City got its name because it runs along the south side of the mountain range which includes High Tor. Town Line Road, in Pearl River and Nanuet, actually does separate Orangetown from Clarkstown.
       Call Hollow Road in Pomona got its name naturally enough—it runs through a hollow and a farmer named Call lived there on a grant from King George III. Crusher Road in West Nyack also has a simple history—a rock crusher of the New York Trap Rock Corp. is located there.
       Hog Road in Orangeburg was named picturesquely in honor of a hog farm there. But Orangetown officials recently decided the name didn’t befit a new industrial center, and renamed it Blaisdell Road, after the founding director of Rockland State Hospital. Ah, progress.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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