GRIMES: This is an early history of Mountain Lakes, and is written to give the residents the complete history from before its conception, until it was formed as a Borough in 1924. From this year, the history and events are recorded from the Borough. In 1924, I became a resident by way of annexation, an owner later of Grimes Homestead, with its history and records handed down through the years of previous owners.
Information for this history was obtained from the following sources: records from Old Hanover Township, Borough of Mountain Lakes, Morris County and State of New Jersey, by seeing actual facts occur, collaboration from a friend who started with Mr. Hapgood with his first development at Shoreham, Long Island, until the last unfinished house was complete in Mountain Lakes. My father, the leading carpenter and contractor in this vicinity at the time. And also being freeholder from Hanover Township. An owner of land, which was to be covered with the formation of Mountain Lake. At this point, I will make some remarks about the previous publications relating to the development in early days of Mountain Lakes. Any criticism will be sustained by facts from the aforementioned sources of information. I can easily understand why facts and events, which were not recorded could be left unsaid, handed down from hearsay from one person to another, and be inaccurate at times, and also true.
In 1924, when Mountain Lakes became a Borough, the definite boundary lines had to be clearly stated, which were all contained on one side of the railroad tracks, which formed one of these boundaries. No mention had ever been made of the later annexation of the area on the other side of the railroad tracks. This shows on your map as part of the Borough, and this annexation is on the Borough records. This is a friendly criticism, but was overlooked by previous writers. This history is handed down with some vital facts left unrecorded, and future generations receive it this way, and it becomes history.
Hapgood’s Choice of Lumber
I do not agree with the writer’s article on Mr. Hapgood setting up a sawmill so he could have lumber to keep pace with his building. The reason for setting up a sawmill first was to utilize the trees for lumber from land which had to be cleared for lakes, roads and building lots. This was the easiest way to dispose of these trees. Years before this time and later, native lumber was used in the construction of buildings. In this period, if you wanted to build a home from native lumber, you went to a local saw mill, gave them a list for the required lumber, and in a house the size of Mr. Hapgood’s houses, would no doubt take two men ten days to saw this required amount. All the lumber Mr. Hapgood sawed from these trees was like a drop of water in a lake.
Most of the framing lumber was MC Pine, which was planed to size. The sheathing was first square edge, and later tongue in groove roofers. For those of you who are not familiar with the term ‘sheathing,’ these were the boards used on top of floor beams for subflooring, and over the framework before the outside finish was applied, such as wire lathe and stucco. Sheathing was to be used on the top of rafters to form a base for asphalt shingles. But Mr. Hapgood’s houses were wood lap, spaced over the rafters, and then wood shingles applied on top of these laps. This MC Pine came from the Carolinas and Georgia, and was very plentiful, with no shortage in sight until World War I, when the output was curtailed because of labor shortage.
Mr. Hapgood was building the best class houses of this era with the best skilled labor. The fact was, though, that the framing lumber was shrinking and cracking, and also forming cracks in the inside walls due to this shrinkage. All the homes before and after this period had the same problems, but it was not poor construction, and did not affect the strength of the structure. Mr. Hapgood plastered all the inside walls and stuccoed the outside. And the moisture of the plaster and stucco created more shrinkage than just plastered walls with weather boards on the outside. Also, you must bear in mind for the past twenty years, the walls had been the dry type. The inside woodwork was exceptional in these homes. And if you could obtain the chestnut trim today, and the same quality floors, that alone would cost as much as the houses sold for.
I agree. Some of these houses built on low ground have settled. But that was due to the settling of the foundation, and created problems for the owners. But the house itself was of the best construction. The selling promotion advertisements to sell Mountain Lakes in the early days, would lead the buyer to believe it was a land of paradise, situated in the beautiful mountains of New Jersey, only one hour from New York by railroad, scenic canals, two railroad stations, lakes, pure spring water, near schools, churches and shopping towns. Trolley, new railroad station, clubhouse, paved roads were just a matter of a short time. These advertisements were no more misleading than what we have been reading for the past fifty years. Spring or [unclear] water — who was to question that? Could it be anything but pure water in these hills, when the water was from Mountain Lakes? Who asked to see where the water came from? What if the few polliwogs came through the water line into your house? Perhaps they were told that was a sign of pure water.
Mr. Hapgood had other things on his mind. He had a lot of money invested and wanted to see some of it returning. He would see that the buyers had everything he had promised later, but full speed ahead now. If you think it was rough living in Mountain Lakes when the first inhabitants came, you were living in paradise as compared to the country neighbors. You were near the railroad, trolley, schools and churches. You had hot and cold running water, and central heating to live with. Sure, plenty of your roads were terrible. But in 1913, you had a hardtop boulevard connecting Boonton and Bloomfield Avenue. Your neighbors had plenty of bad roads, too. Even some of them were hardtop country roads. And believe me, we had plenty of bad dirt roads. Some of these roads were impassible at times. Where they were on low, marshy ground, sawdust would be put on the wet places to absorb water and moisture so you could get over these spots. Mosquitoes were born and bred in Mountain Lakes before and after you lived here. This was a pioneering development, and in these days, the developers did not build and donate schools, churches, clubhouses and playgrounds to the community they were developing.
Arthur Holton was the first resident of what was to be Mountain Lakes, and lived in the first house erected for Mr. Hapgood. If you mean Mr. Luellen was the first resident of a house built by Mr. Hapgood, this is correct. The Boonton Times, referring to the Boulevard as a state road is not correct. It was a country road. As this early history of Mountain Lakes was written, we will try not to repeat the already recorded history, only if it becomes necessary to make the history clearer. Now I will, where possible, give you the locations with names of today, so the residents can better follow this early history of Mountain Lakes.
The only modern convenience we had in common was the steam railroad. It was years before we would live with electrified railroads and trolleys, central heating, city water, bathtubs, electric lights and dustless streets. The clothes were designed in the city, and our clothes were made by our mothers. Boy or girl, you wore dresses until the boys were all five years old. Pajamas were never heard of in our day. It was nightshirts or gowns for the next twenty years. Haircuts were unheard of. Our mothers would comb and brush our hair, and form curls until they would almost reach to our shoulders. Your curls were admired by all the ladies. The prettier the curls were, the more you were admired. It was a sad time for our mothers, when she thought the curls had to be cut off, as she did the job herself, with a pair of scissors. We kids never knew what a barber was until we started high school. From dresses, we would go to short pants. Then to long pants, after we were in high school. The old designs from the city would appear in our local town stores. So, no doubt, there was some jealousy because you had all the modern conveniences and the latest design in clothes, and we had to go to the city to see these as a new way of life.
But you must also look at our side. First there was the pack peddler from the city going to the country, selling us anything from button shoes to what they represented as the latest design in clothes. And you were stuck with this merchandise because it could not be sold in the city. Then along came from the peddler with carpet sweepers, [unclear] and patent medicine. Next came the carpet and rug peddlers appearing on our doorsteps. If you buy anything from these peddlers, you were a plain sucker. We classified them as ‘slick city gyps.’ I had cousins living in the city, and when we went to visit them, they appeared ashamed to be seen with us. Our clothes, and looking up at the tall buildings stamped us as a country rude. But the worst feeling was created with the coming of the automobile, when they would drive on our lawn under a shade tree for a picnic, leaving the papers scattered all around, help themselves to our water, fruit, even pick our flowers and feel insulted when we stopped them. Most of them thought everything was free in the country because the road was public, and they thought everything in sight was. We had our own horse traders, who, if they knew someone from the city decided to buy a farm in the country, knew he would need horses. So, horse traders would stick him with a horse that had not been trained, too old, [unclear], blind, with the heaves, or had been founded. I have seen many horse traders trade horses between themselves, sometimes swapping even. It was always the same procedure. First, look in the horse’s mouth, to judge his age by how much his teeth were worn. Most of these traders would wind up even. Perhaps one would exchange a horse doctored with heavy medicine, or one founded and doctored with [unclear]. Now a horse that became founded was stiff in the ankles, and a blacksmith would cut through the front part of the hoof to drain blood. This seemed to help. This bleeding idea had originated with our doctors before my time, and I have these actual facts from the account book of Dr. Grimes, which is among my records.
Grimes Was Born in 1895
I was born July 1, 1895, at Parsippany, better known as Fox Hill, Hanover Township, Morris County, New Jersey. I was the youngest of six children. My father, W.H. Grimes, Jr., was born at the original Grimes Homestead in Parsippany, and my mother, Margaret L. Van Ness, was born at the Van Ness Homestead, Powerville, New Jersey, now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John B. Capen, Kingsman Road. My grandfather, W.H. Grimes, gave my father and mother a piece of property from the original Grimes Homestead, and he erected our home there. This house still remains on the southeast corner of Route 46, and Cherry Hill Road, soon to be demolished for business. When My Grandmother Grimes passed away, she owned a pasture lot, wood lot in Parsippany Woods, and the Grimes Homestead property, comprising of fifteen acres. Her estate was left to her two surviving children, Eliza A. Grimes, and my father. My father, already having established his home, took title to the pasture lot, wood lot, and a sum of money. And my aunt became owner of the Grimes Homestead property of fifteen acres. In 1908, my father was approached by Mr. Van Duyne, the surveyor, in reference to the purchase of his pasture lot. Mr. Van Duyne had surveyed most of the land, which was to be Mountain Lakes. He also acted as a real estate agent for the purchase of much of the land. My father knew Mr. Van Duyne years before, as he was the only surveyor in this vicinity, and had done some surveying for him on some other property. Mr. Van Duyne was a very tall man, with a large frame. His home was at 608 Washington Street, Boonton, New Jersey. After he passed away, my father remodeled it for the new owners, and this house still remains.
My father sold this pasture lot to the Mountain Lakes Company, and at this time, the only thing he knew that a company was to build a lake there. When I was about eight years old, my father and I walked there on a Sunday afternoon. He showed me where his pasture lot was located. It was called Grimes Pasture Meadow. He told me as a boy, he brought cows from the Grimes Homestead to pasture there, a trip of about a mile. My oldest brother, W.H. Grimes, Jr., had been introduced to this pasture in his youth by way of the side, as I was to become acquainted with side mowing, on a meadow that my father had acquired adjoining his home. Every early homestead had a wood lot because in those days there was no other fuel. These wood lots were accessible through wagon roads, which laced the whole woods. By 1908, they were mostly grown over, but you could still get through with a horse and buggy with a few whacks from branches. Coal had become a fuel now, and most people burned that in a stove in their living room, and used wood in the kitchen stove for years later. Most of these wood lots were of no further use with the coming of coal, so the owners were glad to sell them. The necessary land had been acquired without too much delay, except seventeen acres, which was owned by Melvin Smith and his sister, who had a farm in Troy Hills. Melly was not going to let any city slicker tell him how much his seventeen acres were worth. He would show them they were not dealing with a country rube. This was quite a vital piece of property, but it was located where, if not acquired, would have to change layout of some proposed road and building lot. There were a few changes, so they could get started without this property.
The price of land purchased at this time depended on the amount of available timber that could be cut. Most of the land acquired cost from ten dollars to twenty dollars per acre. A few years after the time the first land was acquired, my father bought from Mr. Hapgood, twenty acres for five hundred dollars, from one of the heirs of the Doremus estate, situated on Intervale Road, adjoining the Grimes Homestead property. The Craven and Behrbohm homes are now located on this property. Melvin Smith’s property had been acquired by this time. By the end of 1908, most of the land had been acquired. In my youth, I had hunted, trapped and picked berries over most of this land, which was to become the Borough of Mountain Lakes. I remember when the railroad made the big cut through solid rock to take out a sharp curve between the present Mountain Lakes Station and Fox Hill Station, before Mountain Lakes was conceived. There had been several wrecks because of this curve, and I have spent many an hour sitting on top of this cut, watching the trains go by. In these days, this cut was an engineering feat because machines had not yet appeared on the scene. Just dynamite and labor on this kind of a job. From 1908 on, we were going to make many trips to see the lake being built, and roads being carved out. In the winter of 1908-1909, we were to see the trees being cut, working on the dam, and roads being formed. A sawmill was erected on the left-hand side of the dam, next to present Lake Drive. A shed was erected over the saw and carriage, so that sawing could go on in bad weather. Horses and wagons were employed to do all the work.
I described the feeling which prevailed between the city and country folk from my youth until this whole areas was developed, and even after. They could understand the feelings of your country neighbors when Mountain Lakes was being developed. Here is some information before reading history of Fox Hill. These will follow in the order described. One, translation of an original agreement, with a photocopy of the original, which will give you a better understanding of the method some land spectators used in these times. Two, a copy of the original deed from the then-Sheriff of Morris County, William Siddell, Esq., to [unclear] writer. Copies of this deed are numbered 1-4 for your reading, number 1 being the outside of the folded deed, similar to our present-day deeds. This deed covers two tracts of land, which join Dr. Darby’s property, and because of this tract, becomes part of the history of Fox Hill. These records should acquaint the younger generation with the fine phrasing of the English language, and the older generation with the methods of property lines. Philadelphia, September 26, 1801. Received of John Fox a deed for two thousand acres of land, situated in the County of Ontario, in the State of New York, in the Township of #3, in the 5th Range or Rise of Township, in Philip Old Gorham’s purchase, which said tract of land I promise to dispose of to the best advantage, and to be accountable to John C. Fox for one-half of the net proceeds of the sale, be it more or less, and to further agree that in case of brief union bound for London, Captain Whiteman’s master, which I am about to embark in, should be taken and the deed lost, I am not to be liable to account for the same. As witness my hand, the day and year aforesaid, William Beets. The words between the eleventh and twelfth line being interlined before signing. Witnesses present: James Sharp. N.B. Apply to John Warden, who was the merchant or owner of the above mentioned brief union.
Recorded History of Fox Hill
Since Fox Hill was to play a role in this history, and so you can better understand the road changes made on present Route 46 from the early history of Mountain Lakes, I will give you the recorded history of Fox Hill. On the Newark Turnpike, a road leading from the City of Newark to Milford, Pennsylvania, across the State of New Jersey, about a mile west of Parsippany, as it enters a mountainous tract called the Parsippany Woods, is an ascent called Fox Hill. So-called not from the animals of that name, but from two singular beings, John Fox and his wife, who lived and died in an old house at the foot of the hill. John Fox was ultimately a soldier in the Revolutionary War, a New York merchant, a speculator in lands in several states, dealing with Indian Chiefs or hundreds and thousands of acres, a counterfeiter, a preacher, and finally, a poor and small farmer. As a soldier in Washington’s army, he claimed the honor of hearing that General’s profanity at the Battle of Monmouth. He claimed also of having been a successful preacher of the gospel. As he remarked to the right of his father, he frequently smiled to see the tears roll down his hero’s cheeks. As to his counterfeiting, he was one of a gant who carried on their operations at his farm on Fox Hill. The criminal records of the county will show that he was sent to the state prison for several years. The last of his life was spent on his farm, which Mrs. Fox held by a life right. He died in 1815, very poor. It is not so much John Fox or Fox Hill that we propose telling about, but his wife, Esther, the remarkable and once notorious woman who outlived him five years. She was the daughter of Dr. Darby, one of the first settlers of Parsippany. Esther Darby was married to John B. Troop, a Tory living in New Jersey, who held a captain’s commission in the British Army. He was killed at the Battle of Utah Springs. His wife, spending the time he was in the Army at New York, Long Island, and in the Army with her husband. She has been accused of saving the British Army from being captured by claiming a woman’s privilege, and passing between the lines as a spy. She was the mother of two children, John Darby Troop and Elizabeth Troop. The latter died when but two months. The son, born in 1776, was brought up by his father’s relatives in the State of New York. He died just as he attained his majority. The record says, ‘Captain John B. Troop died September 18, 1781 of the wounds he received the eighth at Utah Springs, South Carolina, age twenty-eight years, and was interred the 19th with the honors of war.’ Due to the space which would be consumed in printing a copy of the deed from Sheriff to Gaspar Riter, I will give you the following points of interest: Any organization desiring a copy of this deed may have same upon request to the writer at the conclusion of this article.
The inferior court of common thieves held at Morristown in the County of Morris in the term of September 1785, granted to Mr. Daniels a claim versus Mr. Johnson in the amount of thirty-two pounds, eight shillings and a penny. Proclamation money of New Jersey, which included court costs. These tracts of land were sold by William Siddell September 28, 1787, to Gasper Riter, who was the highest bidder, for ten pounds and ten shillings. These tracts adjoin the property lines of [unclear], Baldwin, Doremus, Stag, Van Heffrey and Dr. Darby. The line established were from a white oak tree, a post, white oak tree marked for a quarter, a maple stump standing by the highway, a post, a white oak stump with stones around it, a small walnut tree marked on three sides, and then two stakes. Utah Springs derived its name from two large springs at the base of a hill, thirty feet in height. The flow of water from these springs formed Utah Creek, which joined the Santi River near present Lake Marion. Our troops were unable to drive the British from this hill. Even though the British were victorious, the advantages fell to our side. Battle of Utah Springs was the [unclear] of the south. Captain John B. Troop is buried on the battlefield of Utah Springs.
In my youth, Fox Hill meant pleasure, excitement, cuts and bruises. We kids would sleigh-ride from the top to the bottom. And if you were lucky enough to get around two very sharp curves on the way down, it was considered quite a feat. And it was only on rare occasions you could do this, until the Flexible Flyer sled appeared. Fox Hill made disappointment and sorrow for many when the first automobiles were appearing on the scene. Newark Turnpike had been re-named Bloomfield Avenue, and was a dirt road, following Hill Road up Fox Hill, and the road followed the contour of the land. There were no cut-down banks or fill at the bottom to lessen the grade. The grade was very steep, which, in the early days of automobiles, created a problem. On a Sunday afternoon, several of us kids would sit along the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Cherry Hill Road, and wait for a car to appear. When some brave soul had the good fortune to get this far, he was in for trouble. A good many would have engine or tire trouble if he had come any distance. But if he did not have to stop, we would run behind the car and follow him up Fox Hill. At this time, most of the cars could not go any faster than we could run. If they were a little ahead, we knew as soon as they started up the hill, they would slow down, and they would need a push to make it. Most of them could not make it even with a push. When a Stanley or White Steamer came along, you knew he would either have to stop to get up some speed, or fill the boiler with the water. The Steamers could go up much better than the gasoline-driven cars, but a little push was necessary most of the time. After we did help someone get up the hill, they would give us a few pennies, a nickel, and on rare occasions, a dime. But most would keep right on going. Each year, Fox Hill was less of a problem. But for several years still, created problems for many, and as the cars had more power and speed, tire trouble increased. This gave us kids a chance to look over the different cars.
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[unclear] Road, very narrow with sharp curves, and following the general route of the Newark Turnpike. Later, it was [unclear] and some of the sharp curves, abrupt mounds and low places were improved to a small degree. In 1921, it became a state highway, with concrete base and amosite top. When it became a state highway, Bloomfield Avenue was renamed Route 6. At the foot of Fox Hill, it left Bloomfield Avenue, now Hill Road, and followed the present Route 46 up the hill. Route 6 was widened considerably. Some more curves and low spots improved. The hills cut down, and the road going under the railroad tracks at Fox Hill. By this time, automobiles were appearing in terrific numbers and traveling faster. This was a super highway of this period. Fox Hill was to be the cause of many more deaths due to the speed, and after a rain by skidding on a hill. In 1938, new Route 6 was built, following generally the route of old Route 6. With this exception in this immediate vicinity, the new route left old Route 6 at Intervale Road and followed present Route 46 and rejoined old Route 6 opposite the Harris House, and continued up the hill, over the present Route 46. Old Route 6, which remained from Intervale Road to the Harris House, again became Bloomfield Avenue. Later, new Route 6 was renamed Route 46, and so Fox Hill had been tamed. Intervale Road was first called Powerville Turnpike, then Powerville Highway. But as this history is written, it was called Bald Crossing Road, or Powerville Road. The Fox home was located about one hundred yards west of the junction of present number 46 and Hill Road, on the right side, going up the hill. A part of the house was back from Hill Road about ten feet. When I was young, it was still standing. Fast going to decay without windows and doors, it was a haven for the so-called tramps, and a haunted house for us kids. It was demolished years later by new owners.
Meeting Mr. Hapgood
It was in the later part of the summer of 1909 that a man drove to my father’s home in a horse and buggy to see my father. His horse and buggy had been hired from Ford Livery Stable, Plane Street, Boonton. And Mr. Hapgood inquired for my father. He informed us Mr. Van Duyne had recommended him as a carpenter and builder. My father and oldest brother had not yet returned home from work. We asked him to come in and wait. My mother and I were home at the time. He was a short, stocky built man, wearing glasses and smoking a cigar. My father and brother returned from work shortly, and he introduced himself as H.J. Hapgood, who was developing Mountain Lakes. My father and he went into the office off our living room, and supper was ready about 6:00 p.m. They were still talking about Mountain Lakes Inn and Holton’s house, which he wanted built as soon as possible. My mother told him to come and have supper with us, and he joined us. In those days, when anyone was around at mealtime, they ate with you. This was part of country living. He and father did most of the talking. We kids were taught to keep quiet while older people were talking.
The conversation was about these two buildings, and he knew what he wanted. Mr. Hapgood also knew my father was freeholder from Hanover Township, and he would need my father’s cooperation in that capacity before long. At this time, my father was also a Director of the Board of the Chosen Freeholders. There was one freeholder from each township in town in the country. This was the governing body of Morris County. So, after supper they went into the office. Father drew a rough sketch of Mountain Lakes Inn, to be built on the corner of the present Route 46 and Crane Road, about where Sawyer’s Real Estate office is now located. And Holton’s house was to be built next to the clubhouse. Holton’s house still remains, but has since been remodeled. About eight, they had come to an agreement. Mr. Hapgood left for Boonton, where he was staying at the Mansion House during his trips to Mountain Lakes. Shortly after, the Mountain Lakes Inn was underway. The reason for this Inn was to have a place close to Fox Hill Station, in order to serve meals and entertain prospects. The Inn was all finished in the early part of 1910, except waiting for the water line to be laid, and the plumbing and heating installed. Mr. Hapgood was behind his timetable with the water, and it was 1913 before it was installed and finished. Then Mr. Robinson bought it, and opened it as a hotel and bar, without much success. At the time my father built the Inn, he erected a few horse stables in the rear, and Mr. Hapgood kept a horse and buggy there to get over his rough roads, which were still in the making. He had brought his [unclear] car from Shoreham and kept it at Liberty Street, Boonton, now occupied by [unclear] Automobile Agency. Sometime later this became his first garage, and he kept a mechanic there to repair and keep his automobiles in running order. Since the water line was behind schedule, he made Mansion House his headquarters for dining his prospects. Holton occupied his house the first part of January 1911, after the water was connected. He was the first resident of what was to be Mountain Lakes.
I can give you a little better picture, before we proceed further, of what was here when Mr. Hapgood first purchased land. The Fox Hill Station was on the northeast corner of the present Route 46, gate crossing located about the center of Route 46, with gate tender shanty on the southwest corner across from the station. On the northwest side of the tracks was a public siding, with a feed house. And next to that, a coal yard with partitions for different size coal, without any cover. The Crone House, which was owned by Mr. Brown, the gate tender at Fox Hill, and the Romine House, built for Mr. Brown’s son, Elwood, who commuted from Fox Hill to New York on business. Standing on the present boulevard, looking toward now-called Fox Hill Lakes on the left, were ice houses in front of the ponds still in use when the winter was cold enough to make ice. A spur from the railroad main line ran across the present Route 46 to the south side of the ice houses. These were called Howell Ponds because the Howell Families owned them and operated as Pocono Ice Company. This was a thriving business when I was young, but was soon to pass out as the years went along. As I have already stated, Mountain Lakes Inn had been finished the first part of 1910, and Mr. Holton’s house completely finished by the summer of 1910, and waiting for water to be connected. We were to see Mr. Hapgood at our house many times from then on, until his departure from Mountain Lakes in 1923. The second time he arrived in his Knox with Harry Demuth from Boonton as his chauffeur. It was quite a thrill just to look the Knox over and sit in it, while Mr. Hapgood was in the house talking over business with my father. Which, from this point on, was trying to get Father’s cooperation on road, and have him introduce him to the right connections. Mr. Hapgood always sat in the rear seat with a cigar in the corner of his mouth. A short time after he appeared in a Packard. This was quite a change from the Knox. Much more modern. And Harry told us he had several more at the garage. The Packard was the best car of this era. Harry Demuth chauffeured him for a good many years, and to Mr. Hapgood built his woodworking mill. Then Harry drove a delivery truck. I never saw Mr. Hapgood driving a car in all the years I knew him, and could well understand why. He had a lot of hard thinking to do, and probably would have wrecked the car and himself.
Now we can go back to early 1910. Carloads of lumber were beginning to arrive at the Fox Hill siting. Mr. Hapgood was starting to do something which was unheard of these days. To carve a community out of rugged rocky country, with very few signs of flowing water. Only marshes and swamps to form his lakes. His country neighbors thought he was crazy, but Mr. Hapgood foresaw the coming trend in city life to a country development, years before most people of that age. When he first came to look over this land, he was just finishing a development of about two hundred homes called Shoreham, Long Island. Mr. Hapgood had married a daughter of a Mr. Tagliabue of Brooklyn. Mr. Tagliabue had a successful sheet metal manufacturing business in Brooklyn, and was at that time, a man of considerable means. So, he backed his son-in-law in the development of Shoreham. This was a successful venture, and when Mountain Lakes was started, there was to be no real financial troubles until quite a few years later. His experience at Shoreham had given him his idea of future trends, and also an experience of trusted foremen, who were to come to Mountain Lakes. He had formed two companies — Mountain Lakes, Incorporated, which held title to the land, and Oak Ridge Company, which did the construction of houses, roads, etc., for Mountain Lakes, Incorporated. These companies were interlocked, and had offices at different times, who had some money in this venture. But Mr. Hapgood was boss all the way to the end.
Opinion of Mr. Hapgood
At this point, I would like to give you my opinion of Mr. Hapgood, formed over the years before his difficulty overcame him. He was a dynamic character, an executive of the highest ability, who knew how to delegate powers. And above all, he was a diplomat. He had to have all of these qualities to go as far as he did, and deserves more credit than Mountain Lakes ever gave him. Mr. Hapgood knew what he was up against, and had most of his moves planned in advance when Mountain Lakes was formed. Sure, his timetable was wrong at times, but not too far off schedule. He became a country neighbor, and he had to depend on this area for skilled and unskilled labor. Also, he had to be one of the city neighbors, for they were the ones to whom he had to sell the homes. He knew he had to have cooperation in order to have a hardtop boulevard connecting to Boonton, the nearest shopping center, a trolley line, a centrally located railroad station, schools, churches and a good water supply. You must bear in mind, he was planning for the future, and in those years, you did not go to a county Board of Freeholders, tell them to take over a rough curved road, make it hardtop and maintain it. First, you have to convince them that enough people would be living there before you even got them to listen. So, it was full speed ahead to get the first three musts to realize this ambition. By the end of 1913, he had accomplished all of these first three musts. Some accomplishment in any day and age. He had to be a diplomat to accomplish these to get acquainted with the right ones. This took untold hours of seeing people and convincing them, even with as few residents as there were in Mountain Lakes when this was accomplished. For instance, he saw rocks everywhere he looked, and he knew what to do with a lot of them. Filling low places on the road, foundation, chimneys and fireplaces for his houses. Also railroad stations, schools, garages, churches, walls, etc. Just as he had erected the sawmill to use the available lumber that had to be cleared from the lake site, roads and building sites to erect his first buildings. From the Saw Mill to the first few houses. Just prior to Mountain Lakes today, at any house you see with a stone foundation and a chimney, that is one of Mr. Hapgood’s houses. He had the foresight to build houses on low ground, and also high ground at the same time, until he had used most of the foresights. And by then on, his beset sites were left.
Hapgood’s Crew and Foremen
These were the first of Mr. Hapgood’s foremen to arrive on the scene: Arthur Holton, called Pinky because of his hair and complexion, who was secretary to the company and was in charge of masonry work and roads. Harry Zile, in charge of plumbing, heating and water lines. Homer, in charge of the upkeep of automobiles and trucks. Rory Pickett, in charge of painting. All of the above mentioned came from Shoreham. The first three mentioned stayed until Mr. Hapgood’s departure. Harry Zile remaining until the last seven remaining houses were completed after Belhall’s exit. Ollie Murray, in charge of carpenters, and later replaced by James Hopler of Boonton. George Lash of Denville, in charge of carpenter shop and mill. Ellis, head salesman of Shoreham, and Martindale, surveyor. About 1912, the first steam shovel appeared, operated by a Mr. McDonald, who later was to be one of Mr. Hapgood’s right-hand men on his road jobs. Later he operated sand and gravel operations, which formed Lake Intervale. I have already mentioned the water system was behind Mr. Hapgood’s schedule. This condition was caused by the rocky conditions and counted with the digging. Also, because Mountain Lakes did not fill as fast as expected. There had to be many changes made in the original layouts of some of these lines due to huge rocks, which would have required expensive blasting operations.
The rapid growth of Mountain Lakes from 1910 until 1917 has already been published many times, so I will not repeat these recorded facts. When World War I came, it slowed up the building operations, as the mechanics could receive much higher pay due to the building boom in this area. I started to learn the carpenter trade with my father, after graduating from high school in 1914. I became acquainted with a good many of the mechanics working on the development of Mountain Lakes at this time. Harry Zile and I had formed a very close friendship over these years, and he has supplied me facts which would have been guesswork. To cite one example, I do know the first water supply came from Mountain Lake. But at what point from the lake I did not know. I knew where the first water supply tank was located on the hill. The water was drawn from Mountain Lake, opposite the now Masonic Temple on the boulevard.
Buildings Used in Constructing Mountain Lakes
Now I will give you a list of the new buildings erected to carry on the actual construction work for the development of Mountain Lakes. First, the sawmill was located opposite the dam on Lake Drive. A plumbing supply shop was located next to the sawmill. Opposite these was a carpenter shop. A paint shop was erected on the present Route 46, where Shell Oil Station now is. These were all erected in 1909. A garage and auto repair shop were built in 1911, between Sawyer’s Real Estate Office and the railroad on Route 46. The cars were moving from Scerbo’s Auto Agency and Liberty Street, Boonton, to this new garage. The new carpenter mill and plumbing shop were all built in 1913 on Route 46, below the paint shop. The sawmill carpenter and plumbing shop were removed from Lake Shore Drive the same year. A new carpenter and woodworking mill, wood and cement storage buildings were erected all west of the Shell Oil Station. Part of the woodworking mill remains occupied by Polka Dot Gift Shop. The railroad station was built in 1912, and Mountain Lakes Garage and stores were built in 1913. And the cars from the garage on Route 46 were moved to the new Mountain Lakes Garage, which were nearer the station, and the old garage used for storage. These are the list of the Mountain Lakes offices: Main office, 170 Broadway, New York City. One, Mrs. Browning’s house, [unclear], now occupied by Haas. Two, [unclear], corner of Lake Drive and Boulevard, now occupied by Baumgarten. Three, house called Old 49 on the Boulevard, across from Mr. Hapgood’s home, now occupied by Cienchy. Four, present Borough Hall. Five, Mrs. Klintrup’s Real Estate Office, and still occupied as Klintrup, Incorporated.
The Fox Hill Coal, Ice and Lumber Company
In 1912, my father sold a seven-acre wood lot at Fox Hill to a newly formed company which was called Fox Hill Coal, Ice and Lumber Company. He became President. Arthur Mitchell, a lawyer from East Orange, who at that time had a home where the now Catholic church is on Littleton Road in Parsippany, who became Vice President, and Charles E. Leonard, who lived on Littleton Road in Parsippany at his wife’s home, located on the opposite side where the present Smith Road joins, and one hundred yards to the west, became secretary and treasurer.
Before this company was formed, Mr. Leonard had a small coal yard already mentioned, which this company bought. They erected an icehouse, four stables, shared and present office and lumber shed connected, where Dixon Brothers now is. In the winter of 1913, they started operations. They purchased a Diamond T truck for delivering lumber, a team of horses, a coal wagon and ice wagon. They harvested some ice during this winter. In early 1913, they started construction of concrete coal pockets, the first in this area. The Crohn House at this time, was operated as a combined tavern and eating place, by a Mr. Ben Owens. The fact that my father was President enabled me to work during my summer school vacation of 1913. The cold pockets were still under construction. I was to act as general office and handy boy. Mr. Leonard had charge of the operation, and he was my boss. Sometimes he would send me by way of the trolley to Boonton to make deposits or for the payroll, which consisted only of him, one driver and myself. I would walk to the trolley at the boulevard opposite now North Crane Road. The trolley had been in operation since July 6, 1910, and was supposed to have a schedule. But from my experiences, they did not keep even close. After doing my banking experience, I would take the same trolley back.
Mr. Leonard almost always wanted to know why I was gone so long. I gave the trolley for an excuse, which was the truth. Mr. Leonard was one of our early natives, and any kind of a deal — if he thought he could make a dollar — he would be in on it. Win or lose, you would never know, but he must have been on the winning side most of the time, for he would start in some new line of business, get it started, and sell out. He was a hard boss to work for, and he had a very strong voice. And when he followed you out, his voice carried a long way. We were doing a little coal and lumber business, my father being the best customer. Mr. Leonard had the ice wagon all painted orange with the word ‘ice’ in large letters on the sides and back. On each side he had a large, blue outlined circle with the same company name circled around the circle. And in the center, a blue fox for the emblem. It sure was a classy looking sign. One night, just before leaving, he wanted me to come to work at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, as he was going to get the ice wagon loaded. And we were to go to Mountain Lakes to start an ice route. I well remember that day being the first part of July. And he had me in the ice house, pulling out large cakes of ice to load the wagon. When finally loaded, we were on our way. He drove, and I was sitting on the seat beside him. Mr. Leonard prided himself on being a good salesman. His chief stock and trade was to say almost anything and give forth with hearty laughter, and most people would laugh because of his laugh. The roads were all dirt, and on some of the grades, he would have to stop to give the horses a rest. I will say something good for Mr. Leonard. He was kind to horses. The first house we stopped at, he beat me on a sales pitch. I was supposed to tell them the ice was the best, and we were making daily deliveries. At the first place we stopped, the maid told me Mr. George Mills of Intervale Road had been supplying them and they were satisfied. Each time I returned to the wagon, Mr. Leonard wanted to know if they wanted any ice. So, I would tell him the bad news. The next few houses had the same answer, and I remember one house I went to the wrong door. The owner appeared. And after taking one look toward the ice wagon, informed me in no uncertain terms that the deliveries were made at the rear door. This ice business did not look too promising at this point, and Mr. Leonard was unhappy until we pulled up in front of a house and the owner was in his front yard. So, Mr. Leonard gave him the sales pitch mentioned above. The man gave us an order for a fifteen cent piece of ice. The man’s name was Kurt Brown, a New York actor at this time. I never forgot that name. This made the ice business look a little more promising. We continued on our way, but could not make any sales. And I could see Mr. Leonard was getting crankier with each stop. And being a hot day, the ice was melting. He conceived the idea to create goodwill and said, “Hell if we can’t sell the ice, we’ll give it away.” The next few stops I carried a free piece of ice when I went to the door, but could not give it away, as they had no room in the ice box. And I remember being bawled out for messing their porch, waiting for someone to appear. This was the end of the ice business.
This company, after some stock changed hands, was sold in August 1919 to Dixon Brothers, who are still operating under their own name. Mr. Hapgood had the cooperation of A.J. Nafie, who was Traffic Manager of the Lackawanna Railroad, and owned the Ed Ball Farm, which included the land where the station was erected. This home is presently owned and occupied by Mr. Dayton. The copper box, which contained the records at the corner stone lane, was made at Mr. Hapgood’s own plumbing shop in Mountain Lakes. Quite a few of the work went on the station, also had their names in this box, including Harry Zile. The station was completed in 1912, and in use the same year. This gave Mountain Lakes a centrally located station. Before the station was built, the residents had to commute from Fox Hill or Boonton. The early history of the land where the station was located was on the property of one of our earliest settlers, Dr. Darby. A Negro who had been in the doctor’s employ for a good many years was presented with a piece of property, and this station is on this land. Morris County Traction Company decided to run a spur to Boonton, using Denville as a junction. They planned to go into Boonton by the way of the foot of the [unclear], and cross over the Rockaway River at Powerville Bridge, then follow the river into present-day Main Street, Boonton. In 1908, they started to prepare the roadbed, beginning in Denville, and crossing Route 46 to the right side of Lake Arrowhead Inn, and cut a bank of perhaps a hundred yards in that side of Route 46.
Work was [unclear] on the roadbed for quite some time, as Mr. Hapgood convinced them to change the course to come through Mountain Lakes. This they did, but changed the course from the above-mentioned street, and entered Mountain Lakes at the curve opposite North Crane Road, and paralleling the boulevard into Boonton. This company had previously extended the line from Morristown through Madison, Chatham, Springfield, and connected with the line at Maplewood, where a connection with a trolley and formed a junction with the Newark trolley. From Morristown, the line ran through Morris Plains, Mount Tabor, Denville, which was a junction point into Boonton, and continued through Rockaway, Dover, and to Lake Hopatcong. There was a spur [unclear] island from this last point, and also a spur from Morris Plains to the state hospital.
Trolley to Boonton Opens in 1910
The formal opening of the trolley service from Denville to Mountain Lakes to Boonton took place on Wednesday, July 6, 1910. This was a holiday for Boonton. Mayor Kopp, members of the Town Council, past Mayors, Senator Thomas J. Hillary, and most of the town’s leading citizens joined the trolley officials and [unclear] on a trip to Lake [unclear] to celebrate the occasion. The newspapers remarked about seeing Mountain Lakes from the trolley. Mountain Lake and the process of filling, new homes under construction, that most of them were amazed by this rapid progress. There were not any residents at Mountain Lakes at this time, but it was surely a convenience for the workmen employed in the building at Mountain Lakes. The railroad station on Division Street, Boonton, was the end of the line until later extended to Knox Hat Plant, where the Drew Plant is now located. My father constructed this plant for the Knox Plant Company, which later moved to Danbury, Connecticut. In the history I am now writing, Boonton plays a part, and you hear more about Boonton. This article is mentioned at the conclusion of this early history of Mountain Lakes. Mr. Hapgood had carved a rough road from present Route 46 to North Main Street, Boonton. The route followed generally from the present Crane Road from Route 46 and joined the present boulevard at North Crane Road, and continued into Boonton. This road was impassable at times, and at this time, Mountain Lakes was growing very rapidly, and it became vital to have this a good road, as automobiles were appearing in greater numbers. Mr. Hapgood had a lot of convincing to do to have the county take this over.
In 1912, it became a county road, and Mr. Hapgood was awarded the contract for the construction. The county eliminated a good many of the ups and downs and sharp curves. The total cost, including the rights of way purchase to eliminate curves, and Mr. Hapgood’s contract, was $47,082.82. And thus, this boulevard became a paved road. In 1935 and 1936, it was concreted. This had shortened the mileage by several miles to Boonton, and eliminated having to use Fox Hill, which, at that time, had a very steep grade. Before this road was constructed, there were two routes to Boonton. First, down Fox Hill to the four corners of the Jersey City Reservoir, left on present Reservoir Road.
[end of side two, tape one]
GRIMES: First, down Fox Hill, to the four corners of the Jersey City Reservoir, left on present Reservoir Road. And the other route, down Fox Hill to Intervale Road, turn left, continue to the railroad, across Ball’s Crossing, which came on present Powerville Road. This ran across the present boulevard, making a right turn, and following present Elcock Avenue to Park House, then right on present Hawkin’s Place, which joined present West Main Street Crossing, then called Pond Bridge, into Boonton. My recollection of going to Boonton first, was going on the old dirt road, which ran where the Jersey City Reservoir is now located, and went through then Boonton, which, at this time, had almost been vacated, as the reservoir will soon cover this part of Boonton, where most of the industry was located. And I recall many of them. I can well remember the few trips made by this route, as I was in the back seat of the carriage with my mother. And during cold weather, would be well wrapped with carriage [unclear]. Every Saturday night, weather permitting, the whole family went to Boonton, and we kids always looked forward to Saturday night, as this was sure one of the highlights of our youth. Before I can recall, there was not a bridge where the pond bridge is located. You continued on Powerville Road, right over the Rockaway River Bridge, and followed the river into Boonton. Legislature of the State of New Jersey had passed an Act, making Bloomfield Avenue a sixty-six foot wide right-of-way. In these days, there were proposed right-of-ways for future use, and no land was acquired at the time of this act. The county, township and towns would show this on their maps from the time the Act was passed.
In 1921, the state highway decided to widen this road, and follow the general route of Bloomfield Avenue. This was to be concrete based with amosite top. Bids were received, and Mr. Hapgood received the award from the Jersey City Reservoir four corners to the Denville line. This road was to be known as State Route 6, which I have already described in the changes of Bloomfield Avenue. He already had bought a piece of land, where the White Deer Motel is now located, on Route 46, which had sand and gravel deposits, and intended to use these deposits on this road construction job. But they did not come up to the state highway specifications. Mr. Hapgood had quite a lot of road building equipment by this time. And with the addition of some more modern machines, began on this contract. Up to this time, all of his roadwork had been mostly for his own development, township and county.
First, bear in mind that when a contractor is building a road for the New Jersey Highway Department, the specifications are well defined, and they have different inspectors to see that they are enforced. On most of the state road contracts, the inspectors are changed frequently, so it is almost impossible to form any real friendship. On the county or township level, they have supervisors over a long appointed term, who could overlook some work that was not according to specifications. Since Mr. Hapgood first started Mountain Lakes, until he was awarded the state road contract, there were no real financial difficulties. This was a very large contract, and involved a huge sum of money. The dirt to be removed by going under the railroad and cutting down the top of Fox Hill, was used by the fill required to construct a new route up the hill. This was a major miscalculation. They were required to haul the additional fill from a greater distance, and considerable more was required than they had estimated.
A large truckload of fill dumped there would appear as a grain of sand, removing old macadam created something of a problem. Instead of removing this first with a power shovel, the macadam had to be loosened by dropping a large ball from the shovel before the shovel could handle it. The state highway department would give payments on the contract as certain portions of the work progressed, and okayed by the inspectors. They had erected elevated bins on Route 46 opposite the entrance of present Crane Road for the stone, stand and cement on this road. These bins were erected so the trucks had partitions for this required amount. And then they were taken to the concrete laying mixing machine, mixed, and then dumped by this machine, and spread on the road bed. The concrete laying started at the Jersey City Reservoir four corners, and worked towards Fox Hill, as they wanted the fill to settle before the concrete was laid on the hill. A section of this road, from present Crane Road, in the direction of the Denville Township line was not according to the state highway specifications, and he was compelled to tear this up so they would meet their standards.
Hapgood Leaves Town for Good
There is little doubt this road contract was the cause of his financial troubles. No one approves of his methods employed to try to overcome these. He made a mistake, and I would rather think of Mr. Hapgood’s accomplishments. Most of us will agree he laid out a beautiful community. Mr. Hapgood had some friends in Mountain Lakes who tried to help him when his difficulties were upon him. Some of his workmen had not been paid. One of his foremen, who stuck to the end, had three thousand five hundred dollars due in back pay. Mr. Hapgood’s policy had been over the years to have his foreman report to the office at 6:00 a.m., and they would go over with him the work to be performed for the day. If some houses had been sold, there would be a sign to push these houses to completion for the promised day of sale. These men would go to work at 7:00 a.m. Harry Zile, who lived in Boonton, would arrive by trolley at 6:00 a.m. Of course, it was no secret about Mr. Hapgood’s financial difficulty. The vacant land and every piece of equipment was garnished in some form. In the fall of 1923, Harry Zile arrived on the 6:00 a.m. trolley from Boonton, and went into the office which, at that time, was where Klintrup’s Incorporated Real Estate Office is now located. Mr. Hapgood was trying to get his suspenders fastened, and was having difficulty. So, Harry helped them get fastened. Mr. Hapgood was very nervous. Mr. Hapgood said, “Harry, I’m going on a trip.” He did not say where. “Do not worry about the money I owe you. I will see you are paid.” Here was a man who was leaving the community he created, never to return. His last words to Harry were, “You are the only one who understands the layout of the water system, and wish you would cooperate to see the residents are not without water.” This was the last Harry ever saw of Mr. Hapgood.
A few days later, Harry’s former pay master contacted Harry to check the amount due him, and in a few days, he was paid in full. The amount due was thirty-five hundred dollars. Mrs. Hapgood and Mr. Holton stayed for a short time after Mr. Hapgood’s departure. Some of the other workmen were not so fortunate. Most of them quit after their pay was a week or so behind. One of the foremen with whom I was acquainted quit when his pay was two weeks past due. The Hackensack Trust Company had taken mortgages on Mr. Hapgood’s houses before and during his decline. The Hackensack Trust Company was a state bank, and their charter would not permit them to go into the building business. Therefore, Belhall Company was formed, so they could try to salvage some part they had invested in unfinished houses and land. At the time of Mr. Hapgood’s exit from Mountain Lakes, there were a number of unfinished houses and foundations. Belhall completed quite a number of them, and even built some from the foundation. They finally gave up. Harry Zile stayed with them until the end. Belhall paid all the workmen during the construction years. The rest is recorded history, except the following: Several men who were close friends of Mr. Hapgood over the years had lent him money during his decline, and no doubt had some kind of a claim similar to the Hackensack Trust Company. When Belhall stopped operations, there were seven houses under construction. They came to Harry Zile and asked him to do the plumbing and heating of these seven houses. They assured Harry he would be paid for his work, which Harry did, but he never received any money. At this time, it was such a jungled up mess, claims, back taxes, etc., they were stuck along with the workmen.
On February 26, 1924, the state legislature adopted a bill incorporating Mountain Lakes as a Borough, subject to the approval of the majority of the voters. Hanover Township cooperated as they well realized the condition which existed in the affairs of this proposed Borough, and no doubt were glad to be relieved of trying to untangle such a jungled up mess. The [unclear] as proposed was contained all on the west side of the railroad, which formed one of the boundaries. Mr. Hapgood had never built a house east of the railroad. The only building he erected on this side was the railroad station because he had no other choice. I concede his long-view plans were laid out to develop this area. A decision was made to annex that portion east of the railroad, which has already been mentioned. In these days it was not necessary for our state legislature to adopt a bill for this annexation. If Hanover Township Committee approved, that was all that was necessary. There were about nineteen voters in this area, and the representative of the Hanover Township Committee contacted most of these effected to find out our feelings, which the voting record shows. We felt we had been double-crossed, so we became residents of the Borough of Mountain Lakes.
There are several voters still living in this annexed area, and the writer is one of them. Today it would not be possible to have us a part of the Borough against our wishes. The town and townships adjoining our boundary would say “no” in definite terms. The article entitled “Country and City Living” explains the feeling of most of us as this was to be voted on. Most all of us were here years before Mountain Lakes was conceived, and was satisfied with our way of life. Hanover Township was our home from birth. And why add us to Mountain Lakes? We thought of Mountain Lakes as city people, trying to come out here and upset our way of living. We thought of new ordinances being patterned after New York City. We heard plenty of stories about the early residents living like millionaires, running up bills and fleeing overnight. These stories were not all false. All you would have to do is ask today some of the sons of the early merchants. There was no question that some of them thought that they were in a class above the native residents. This was surely the truth, for I have had some personal experiences other than the one mentioned in the article “Fox Hill Coal, Ice and Lumber Company.” Most all the first residents in Mountain Lakes had maids. We hardly knew what a maid was! If you had any business with the early residents, you knocked on the door, a maid answered, you asked to speak to Mr. Jones, she asked you your name and the nature of business. We country neighbors did not greet people that way. We would just walk in and if it happened to be mealtime, you pulled up a chair and ate like you were a member of the family. In other words, you were considered floor flushers. This is a word we use for people who put on a big front without any money to back it up. It was to be a high-class residential community with only enough business for essential conveniences of the residents. When by this annexation, I became a resident, and someone would inquire where I live, and I told them, “Mountain Lakes,” many would mention, “That is a high class community.” As we became a part of Mountain Lakes, we faced this fact, and lived our normal lives as good citizens. We did not create any problems for the Borough, such as roads, water lines, school transportation or street lighting. Of course, we also faced the fact of being in a small minority, we would be governed by a majority without any representation of the operation of the Borough affairs, beyond our voting privilege. You could liken our position when you were a part of Hanover Township. At least you had one person on the governing party of the township to represent you. These so-called four flushers and so-called beets gradually left Mountain Lakes after the first few years, and before long, Mountain Lakes became a community of good solid citizens as the years went by. They became more accustomed to our way of life, and we to theirs. I do not want to leave the impression that we who lived in the country did not have any faults. This has already been mentioned in the article “Country and City Living.” I have known the first Mayor of Mountain Lakes, Mayor [unclear], Mr. Garnaus and Mr. Palister, down through the years, to many fine present residents. It was just a matter of getting acquainted with each other. In all my years since I became a resident, I want to pay tribute to the public officials throughout these years. Some were paid and some were not. But they did what they thought was best for the Borough, and took a lot of abuse in doing it. At times, I did not approve of some of their actions, but I never heard of any scandal, and they were all above reproach. This is to take you on a tour of the roads forming the boundary east of the railroad, between the present Borough of Mountain Lakes and Parsippany Troy Hills Township. I will give you the location, names of the residents living sixty years ago at that location, and associate as many as possible with the present owners. We will start at Ball’s Crossing, which is opposite present Powerville Road, travel down Intervale Road, turn right on Bloomfield Avenue, following Bloomfield Avenue until it joins Route 46 to the railroad. First Gate Tendershanty on left, next to railroad. On the right, down the hill, were barns, sheds and other farm buildings. My father said when he was a boy, “One of these buildings was used for the distilling of apple brandy or apple jack,” which was located near the brook, between the railroad and brook crossing. This was a legal distillery. The Harry Ball home, being the first house on the right, had a large farm extending on both side of the road and railroad, including Lake Intervale. There were two farm houses on this farm. First, one on the northeast corner of Powerville Road and Morris Avenue, and the other is still standing, southeast of the railroad. Approximately one hundred yards past the same side of the Ball home was a tool and blacksmith shop, since removed. The next house was the Ed Ball home, who was a cousin of Harry Ball. He also had quite a large farm with barns and a farm house on the opposite side of the road. The Ball home is now occupied by Mr. Dayton. The next house on the right is the Katie Ann Romine home, occupied by the Mrs. Trippet and Nolton. On the opposite side, across from the intersection of Intervale and Midvale Roads, was the Stevenson home, at that time occupied by Mr. Stevenson, his daughter and son-in-law, George Mills. Meadow Lake, which was on his property, was formed by them for an ice pond. The next house on the right is the Romine home, occupied by the three Romine sisters, Alice, Mary and Emily, and their nephew, Vernon Guller. This home has a private burial ground in the back field. Mr. Blanshard now resides there. Across the road was Pop Russell’s, who was a painter. On the left, further down, Herbert Doremus, who married one of Pop Russell’s daughters. This home was previously owned by Mr. Carr. Preceding down the road on the right side, the Walter Treeles home, which my father moved from between Island and West Shore off the Jersey City Reservoir, across the fields in 1901. This house has changed owners a number of times. The next house below the Treeles house on the right is the Samuel Treeles home, brother of Walter, now occupied by Thomas Brackin. On the opposite side, further down, the Doremus home, occupied by Miss Jessie and Clarence Doremus. Herbert Doremus was their brother. This was a good sized farm, and further down on the right, on the hill in back of the Craven home, was the remains of a stone foundation and decayed timbers in the cellar. This was also a part of the Doremus Farm. As you cross the brook on the left, on the hill next to the Dodge property, was the private Doremus burial plot. Clarence Doremus was buried there. This Dodge property, at the time of this writing, sixty years ago, was the Banter Farm, which extended to Route 46. On the corner of Intervale and Route 46 was the Banter home. This Banter farm was purchased from Samuel Treeles, and later Mr. Banter sold it to John C. Sparks. Going up Bloomfield Avenue on the right, the McKay Farm House, occupied by Wilson Woon, who was a farmer from my Uncle Simon McKay. Also living in the same house was Newton Romine, who was a carpenter for my father. This house is now occupied by Harold L. Williamson. On the left corner of Cherry Hill Road was the George W. Coal home. On the other corner was the Old Union School House, with my grandfather, W.H. Grimes Cabinet Shop, attached. This was not being used as a school or cabinet shop at this time. The [unclear] real estate office now occupies this corner. Further on the right the Grimes home, occupied by my uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Simon H. McKay, now my home. Further on the right, the John Demerest home, now occupied by Campbell Harris. Going up Fox Hill, 100 yards, from the intersection of Hill Road and Route 46, on the left, the old Fox home, still standing, but demolished long before Route 6 was built. The next house on the left was the Smith place, later owned by John F. Dickerson, at the time Route 6 was built, now occupied by the Barths. The last stop next to the railroad, Fox Hill Station on the right and Gate Tender Shanty on the left. The Bell Telephone Laboratories had purchased from R. W. McCoon, of Wipperny, New Jersey, a large portion of his farm, consisting of a large barn and farm house. My father had built this barn and house from Mr. McCoon back in the early 1900s. As mentioned, this was a large barn which was built for utility, and was ultra modern in looks. The new owners decided to establish a laboratory in the barn and use the farm house for a maintenance supervisor. This was the start of the huge Bell Laboratories of Whippany, New Jersey. In 1926, my father and brother, under the firm name of W.H. Grimes & Son, was awarded the contract for remodeling the inside and outside of the barn for laboratory purposes, and some offices. Some residents of Mountain Lakes had some part of the supervision of this laboratory. I recall quite a few of the names, and no doubt, some are still living here. This was a sizeable contract, and they employed a large number of mechanics during this remodeling. I was working on this job when my oldest brother, W.H. Grimes, Jr., came to tell me my aunt, Eliza G. McKay, had been killed in front of her home by an automobile. This was the day before Labor Day, 1926. I went to live with my aunt in early 1917, enlisted in World War I on December 12, 1917, and when I returned from the Service, made my home with her until her death. She bequeathed her home, which was the Grimes Homestead, to me. This is a photocopy of Union School House, with cabinet shop attached, which was located at the southwest corner of Bloomfield Avenue and cherry Hill Road, and a copy of an 1898 tax bill on the Grimes Homestead property comprising fifteen acres. This was the oldest school house in this vicinity, erected about the year 1790 and abandoned in 1901. When schools were erected in those days, the land was donated by the owners for school use. And when the land was no longer used for this purpose, it would revert to the owners or their heirs. All the deeds on land transactions, while being used for school purposes, would state in definite words, except the land where the union school was located. My mother taught in this school over ninety years ago. In 1901, my uncle, Simon H. McKay, had my father move this school to his farm, and used it as a chicken house for many years. Attached to the Union School House, my grandfather, W.H. Grimes, had erected his cabinet shop, and operated this until his death. My uncle moved this the same time as the school house. This copy of a tax bill for the year 1898, was $11.34, and covered the Grimes Homestead, including all buildings and fifteen acres. When we became a part of the Bow, less than seven acres remained in the Bow. From 1898 until 1906, the taxes increased sixty-one cents. Based on the present acreage, 3-3/4 cents per year over a period of eight years. Mountain Lakes is an average community with many of the same problems to solve as other communities. The Borough has every square foot of area we will ever have, and must make use of this to the best advantage for the residents. There are only two directions to travel, the first one being the same old route which leads — we well know where it leads. Higher taxes every year, and added difficulties for many of our residents. We have learned that residential developments do not solve any problems, only adds to them. The second one, by utilizing the vacant land available for purposes which would show the Borough a profit without effecting the residential status of Mountain Lakes. Everyone can easily understand why the apartment boom is under way. Many of our residents can move into an apartment, live cheaper than trying to meet increasing taxes and upkeep costs. Residents in several ways are relieving the situation. First, selling their property, or leasing it, if possible. Either way, it adds to our taxes. A large portion of our Borough boundaries joins the business and industrial zones of our neighbors. The road being the only separation on some of the boundaries. These business and industrial zones were always there, and still are, with outstretched arms to any prospect. The Borough is zoned on their side of this boundary residential, and only lately lifted some of this zoning with restricted regulations, which apply to a very small portion of this boundary. Any resident who happens to live in this area, knows the problems created by this situation. If something objectionable is erected across from their home, they have to live looking at the rear of a building, which may be a waste collection deep hole or a noisy repair shop. The Borough cannot do anything about it for these residents. The Borough zoning has placed us in a residential zone, but if you continue on some of these boundaries, the zoning law allows business. Many of us in our travels have seen the tendency toward controlled industrial parks, which include research laboratories and offices. These are beautiful and do not create any objectionable situations. The fact is, they are a definite asset for anyone living inside of them. The residents are assured they will be better maintained as such, and many homes. The tax revenue from the aforementioned shows a profit instead of a loss. The communities which encourage this type of revenue have their required regulations. But as we are living in a modernistic age, most of the firms who would want to locate in our area, would erect buildings far superior to our building codes. The Borough owns much of this undeveloped area, and a good portion could be used for the aforesaid purposes. The writer honestly believes the majority of our residents and governing bodies concur with my views, and a decision is theirs. The new true value assessment, which is now in effect, or is soon to be, was a New Jersey state law. I do know outside appraisers who deal in this service appraised our properties. I cannot understand why, with so many realtors living in our Borough, they were not better qualified to do this appraising. Our realtors certainly know the true value, and the effect of the ordinances on values. They were to prove with truer knowledge than out-of-state appraisers. A board of these realtors surely could not concur in favor of any one property owner. Perhaps this state law prohibited them in this capacity. This article is now being written, and will cover all facts obtainable from my records. It will be necessary to call on other records to make this as complete as possible. There will be copies of an Indian deed, record of Dr. Grimes’ account books, showing doctors’ charges and the methods used. Records of Grandfather W.H. Grimes, showing the price of coffins and funerals. There are so many records that it would consume too much space at this time. You will read the true history of the man who created the telephone business, Theodore N. Vail, and the Parther Pine Homestead when he was forming the world’s largest company, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. The writer does not want to leave the impression this history was written because of grievances, or to offend any person or persons. But to give you, the residents, the true facts. He believes you would have had the same views if you had been an early native resident. No writer of this kind of an article could possibly have all the exact facts, so it was necessary to acquire many from sources other than the ones in my possession. I have already stated the official governments, from whom some of the information was obtained, and I’m grateful to them, and want in addition to state my sincere thanks to the following who so willingly cooperated for information requested by me: State of New Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey; Secretary of State and Highway Department; State of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina; Archives Department, F.M. Hudson, [unclear]; Morris County, Morristown, New Jersey; County Engineer, Robert L. Curtis; County and Personal Records; Clearwater Public Library, Coldwater, Florida; Lester F. Dickerson, Rainbow Lakes; Town of Boonton, New Jersey; Town Clerk; Senator Thomas J. Hillary, Boonton, New Jersey; Harry Zile, Boonton, New Jersey; Peter Wendt, Boonton, New Jersey; Mary R. Wilson, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey; Present Hanover Township, Whippany, New Jersey; F.P. Griffith, Collector; Harold R. Keenan, Clerk; Edwin C. Quinby, Rockaway Township, New Jersey; George Lash, Denville, New Jersey; Lilo Hurtz, South Plainville, New Jersey; W. Henry Grimes, Parsippany, New Jersey; John E. Bird, Nantucket, Massachusetts, Ralph [unclear].
[end of side one, tape two]
The following advertisement appears in the New York Times in the early part of this century: Mountain Lakes, Boonton, New Jersey, fifty-six minutes from New York City, on the Delaware and Lackawanna Railroad. The above cuts show the three distinct types of houses for sale at Mountain Lakes. Twenty-five similar places are being constructed, and will be ready for occupancy this year. The property is located only fifty-six minutes from Broadway, New York, on the road of [unclear] among the mountains of New Jersey. It contains several beautiful lakes, with three miles of shorefront. Fine old oak and chestnut trees cover the entire tract. Splendid views stretch out for miles in every direction, and the superb altitude assures pure air, and a delightful climate throughout the year. Water, electric lights, and all modern conveniences are available. A trolley line runs through the entire tract, and there is a railroad station directly on the property. Mountain Lakes, Incorporated, 170 Broadway, New York City.”
This early history of Mountain Lakes has been recorded by the Reverend Edward J. Wynn, Jr., pastor of the Parsippany Methodist Church. It has been re-recorded through David Lee, by his friend, Bill Grady.