By DANTE INTINDOLA
As published on TapIntoNutley
June 27, 2019 at 9:02 AM
On June 11, the Van Riper House, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, held a special meeting where the board of directors elected new officers, including me as President and Town Historian John Demmer as Vice President. Our goal is to re-invigorate the effort to preserve, protect, and, most importantly, make useful to our community, the Van Riper House.
Located at 491 River Road, this house circa 1788 is one of the last Dutch brownstone manors still standing on the banks of the Passaic River. It was saved from destruction by the Cambridge Heights development in the late 1990s by a group of concerned citizens.
Despite their efforts, a suspected arson fire damaged the roof and interior of the home in January 2000. There is still much work to be done to preserve the house, which is in dire need of a new roof.
Our next monthly meeting will be held on July 11, 2019 at 7:30 PM at the Nutley Museum, 65 Church Street. All are welcome to come and discuss the future and join the volunteer effort.
For more information, visit our Facebook page under “The Van Riper House”. A new website is in the works as well as a way to donate and join our nonprofit online. The following will be the first in a series of posts telling the Van Riper House story.
While we gear up for the next chapter in the Van Riper House’s history, we’d like to begin by telling its story. A good place to start would be in 1663, when Juriaen Tomassen (surname is patronymic, meaning “Thomas’ son”) arrived in New Netherland aboard T’Bonta Koe (“The Spotted Cow”) from the the city of Ripen, now the oldest city modern-day Denmark under the name of Ribe.
On May 25, 1667, young Juriaen married Reyckje Harmens Coerten in the Old Bergen Dutch Reformed Church in Bergen, a small, 6-year-old village that would later develop into Jersey City. The record image attached shows that this was just the fourth marriage in what was New Jersey’s first permanently chartered municipality.
After Juriaen Thomassen from Ripen settled down with his wife Reyckje in the growing village of Bergen (now Jersey City), he was party to a contract that would significantly shape the future of what we know know as Clifton, New Jersey.
On March 28, 1679, a group of Dutch settlers purchased what was known as “Acquackanonk” (ah-QUACK-ah-nonk) from the Lenni Lenape Indians, located around what is now the Main Avenue Bridge in Passaic.
However, the transfer of Native land rights did not count under English law. This was relevant because the English had granted some rights to English settlers in the same area, and that conflicted with the Dutch settlers’ goals.
So, Juriaen Tomassen and 13 other heads of Dutch households negotiated and purchased from the Proprietors of East Jersey the land encompassed by a line drawn from where the Third River enters the Passaic to what is now the location of Montclair State University (“the first mountain”), then following the Passaic back to the beginning. This was memorialized in the Acquackanonk Patent, granted on March 15, 1684. The Dutch then began splitting up the tract into various lots.
That area became Acquackanonk Township in 1693. After land was parceled out into Paterson, Little Falls, and Passaic, Acquackanonk became the City of Clifton on April 26, 1917.
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