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Mapping Rural Wayne and the 1870s Atlas of Passaic County

In the 1870s, E.B. Hyde & Co published an Atlas of Passaic County, New Jersey, promising topographical, geological, and historical information, as well as illustrations, relating to the county. Among the atlas’s 50 pages is a map of the township of Wayne, displaying property designations, roads, railroads, and more. Though the boundaries of Wayne haven’t changed dramatically, 20th century suburban development has greatly altered the township’s landscape. Studying the Atlas’s map of Wayne is like opening a time-capsule to the rural Wayne of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

Figure 1- Map of Wayne Township, ca. 1870s, from the “Atlas of Passaic County, New Jersey.” From the Library of Congress.

While the township, as depicted in this map, doesn’t show the housing developments, shopping centers, and malls that cover Wayne today, that hardly means that 1870s Wayne was a quiet place. The Atlas shows numerous property designations, labelled with the name of the property owner. These larger tracts of land show the numerous farms that made up Wayne Township. These properties were rooted in family ties; often, they were passed down through generations, transferred hands with marriages, or were divvied up after a death. These properties made up the bustling agricultural economy of the township. According to the 1860 agricultural returns for New Jersey, Wayne produced 2,009 bushels of wheat, 8,205 bushels of rye, 22,987 bushels of corn, 12,933 bushels of oats, 486 pounds of wool, 23,012 bushels of potatoes, 4,412 bushels of buckwheat, and 3,135 tons of hay. The township’s 615 milk cows produced 75,0004 pounds of butter. Though the properties seem relatively sparse in the map, in reality they would’ve been dotted with outbuildings. Stables and pastures would have housed livestock, including Wayne’s 364 sheep, 274 horses, 8 donkeys and mules, 211 working oxen, 602 cattle, and 530 swine. Later residents of Wayne attest to the agricultural landscape. Bertha Hopper remembered sitting on the porch of the Van Riper-Hopper House, gazing out at “pastures all around, where cows and horses grazed,” while Mrs. Dawes recalled that on her family’s farm, “there were 300 or 400 acres; we kept horses, cows, pigs, chickens and all such. I recall great fields of wheat as the wind blew- it was so beautiful as it waved like that of the sea.”

The Van Riper family of the Van Riper-Hopper House serve as one example of a well-to-do farming family in Wayne. As per the Atlas, the property that includes today’s Van Riper-Hopper House was owned by U.J. Van Riper and totaled at 180 acres; one of the largest properties in the township. As per the 1870 US census, Uriah Van Riper was the head of his household, a 57-year-old farmer with personal property valued at $400 and real estate valued at $10,000. The Van Riper property was occupied by his family- wife Anna and two daughters, Mary Ann

Figure 2- The property of Uriah J. Van Riper, including the Van Riper-Hopper House, ca. 1870s, from the “Atlas of Passaic County, New Jersey.” From the Library of Congress.

and Sarah Elizabeth- as well as four African American individuals- Harry Merselis (70 years old), Sarah Ogden (31), Susan Ogden (9), and William DeMott (5). Sarah, who previously appeared in the 1860 census as a servant working for the Van Ripers, was likely a live-in domestic servant, accompanied by daughter Susan. Harry Merselis is identified as a farm laborer. Though his wage is unknown, William Berce writes in Under the Sign of the Eagle that average wage for a farmhand, including room and board, was about $12 per month. Though their names don’t appear on the Atlas, African American farm workers were a key part of Wayne’s agricultural experience; many previously labored as enslaved individuals, and by the time of the Atlas, served as paid farm laborers.

Figure 3-9- Four family homes in Wayne, along with their locations on the 1870s Atlas: the Van Riper-Hopper House (photographed in the 1930s), the Dawes House (built in the early 1800s for George Washington Colfax, who was raised in the Schuyler-Colfax House), the Mead-Van Duyne House (photographed on its original site before its 1970s move to Berdan Ave), and Sunnybank (home of the Terhune family). All photos from the Wayne Museum. Atlas clippings from from the “Atlas of Passaic County, New Jersey.” From the Library of Congress.

Since we’ve focused on the Van Riper family, it only seems fair to point out the Wayne Museum’s other sites on the Atlas.

North of Uriah J. Van Riper’s property, along Hamburg Turnpike, we can find a series of buildings belonging to “Maj. W.W. Colfax”. While the Schuyler-Colfax House is all that remains of the extended Colfax family estates today, that section of Hamburg Turnpike was once home to countless buildings; the Dawes House, originally built for one of William and Hester Colfax’s children, the toll house, where travelers on Hamburg Turnpike paid their way, as well as farm outbuildings, former enslaved quarters, and more.

Though the Mead-Van Duyne House sits behind the Van Riper-Hopper House today, its 1870s location was on the corner of Fairfield Road and what would become Route 2, labelled as P. Van Done’s home. The home’s original location, right in the middle of the Mead’s Basin, later Mountain View, area, was once a hub of activity. It was near two railroads, the Morris Canal, and the Pompton River. Residents of the home would have been used to the hustle and bustle of travelers passing through, and the businesses that cropped up to cater to them; hotels, general stores, restaurants, and more. Though George Catlin described Mountain View in 1873 as “a small and unpretentious [village]”, it was the closest Wayne got to an ‘urban’ area.

Only about ten years before the atlas was published, Reverend Edward Payson Terhune purchased several acres of land along Pompton Lake for $600; his wife, Mary Virginia Hawes, would describe the property as “a shimmering sunset lake and a natural stretch of shining green lawn.” By 1877, the couple’s acreage grew to 25 acres, and they’d built a three-story Victorian home, featuring a central gable, attic, cellar, and extensive veranda, named Sunnybank. In 1877, Sunnybank was a seasonal home for the family, including children Christine, Virginia, and five-year old Albert Payson, who would go on to memorializ