American Sokol Little
In the fall of 1896 four men met at the residence of Frank Navara,
now owned by former Mayor August Stocek, and organized Sokol of Little
Ferry. Its first officers were Vincent Petrik, President, Joseph
Kucera, Sr., Vice President, Frank Navara, Secretary, and William
Zabransky, Sr., Treasurer. A number of young Sokol came from
Bohemia and charter members Thomas Tuma, William Tuma and Anton Pavlicek
were instructors. Other charter members were Frank and William
Laznicka, Joseph Vedral, William Kour, Sr., John Kavrik, and Anton Budin.
By hard work they erected the first public hall in the borough.
Sokol accepted all nationalities in its organization at the time, as it
does today. The little hall was the center of all activities in
our borough, and its gym classes in those days were fairly large
considering our small population. Two old members organized the
Sokol Fife and Drum Corps, known throughout our country from 1900 to
1917. Dramas and plays were given in both English and Czech, and
we also had a fine Sokol choir and orchestra. Sokol carried on its
annual Fourth of July parade until 1918. All those days are gone.
On March 17, 1911 the old Sokol Hall was completely destroyed by fire
and the present building erected. Over 2,000 children have
attended gym classes and many of these gymnasts have traveled in many
sections of the United States adn Czechoslovakia. The American
Sokol has organizations in twenty states of our country. It is
more than a physical culture organization; it has high ideals and
coincides with the constitution of our great nation. The American
Sokol in the United States was organized in 1865 in the days of Lincoln,
and many of its members fought to save the Union. Up to 1935 its
members wore Union Blue uniforms. To the American Sokol our
country and the constitution are first; it teaches the philosophy of
life and its first aim is to be physically fit to serve our county.
Not one of our members was rejected in either World War I or II.
Sokol teaches individual responsibility and moral uplift and recognizes,
as in our constitution, freedon of conscience and creed. The
membership of its members in churches in their private and personal
affair. During World Wars I and II Sokol gave its
auditorium for Red Cross and Liberty Bond drives, send off and welcome
home celebrations and graduation exercises for our public schools.
Translated Sokol means Falcon. The Sokol ideals were founded by
Dr. M. Tyrs one hundred years ago to conform with our constitution.
(Reprint: Little Ferry 1964-70th Anniverary).
County V.F.W. Band - Petersilge Verlock Post 809
The band was organized in Englewood, New Jersey in 1920 and had a
membership of 35 musicians - veterans of World War I, and sponsored by
Mr. W. Higgins, and undertaker, who resided in Englewood. Its
first president was Mr. William Fay of Ridgefield, New Jersey.
Both men have since passed away. Mr. Charles Vaclavicek was the
band's first treasurer and held this post until 1959. Mr.
Vaclavicek now resides in Maywood, New Jersey. In 1935
the band rehearsed in the old Hackensack Armory, and in that year it was
taken over by the Little Ferry Post 809 under the direction of Mr.
William McCann. Mr. Fred Kirchoff succeeded Mr. William McCann. as
musical director until his resignation a few years ago. Mr. Peker
is the band's able drum major, who at 78 years of age, is the oldest in
the state. (Reprint: Little Ferry 1964-70th Anniverary).
First brickyards built in 1872. Reminders are the many clay
pits throughout the Borough (filled in by water when pumps stopped) now
known as Willow Lake, Lakeview, Mehrhof, etc. The first were
established by Cole and Showers. After a poor start, the business
went into the hands of John Thume. In 1877 the brickyards passed
into the hands of the Mehrhofs. This family was connected with the
yards until they closed down. The location was ideal for brick
making. The availability of clay, the closeness to transportation
(barges down the Hackensack River), and growing areas such as Newark,
New York City, etc. Among the earliest to establish brick
companies in Little Ferry were I. and W. Felter, Charles E. Walsh, and
James Gillies, who came here between 1884 adn 1886. The biggest
plants were the Mehrhof Brick Company at the foot of Mehrhof Road, the
E. N. Mehrhof Company at the foot of Treptow Street, the Gardner Brick
Company on Riverside Avenue and Main Street, and the Hackensack Brick
Company. The Hackensack Brick Company was the last brickyard
to go out of business. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening Record - Weds.
September 20, 1944)
Flower Pot firm
A flower pot company was one of Little Ferry's first industries.
The plant was situated near Strohmeyer's brickyard, where Route 6 and
the Bergen Pike join. The clay pit which was used was filled in when
Route 6 was built. The industry was also the site of the Borough's
first railroad. A small car on tracks was used by the company.
It was pulled by a horse and was used to bring clay pottery from the
plant to the Hackensack River, where it was loaded on barges and shipped
to Eastern cities. Old-timers recall seeing the workmen shape the
pottery by hand before it was baked. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening
Record - Weds. September 20, 1944).
The bridge over the Hackensack River at Little Ferry was a very
important link for travelers going to and from New York City. For
years it was necessary to pay a toll to cross the bridge. The
bridge was later a part of the roadway first known as Hackensack
Turnpike. Later named the Bergen Turnpike, it went from
Fairview through Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Little Ferry, then on to
Hackensack. It was first built in 1804. At first, to cross
the Hackensack River, it was necessary to use the little ferry near the
property now owned by the Mehrhof family in Little Ferry. In
1828, the first bridge over the Hackensack River was built. It was
a wooden structure, but at the turn of the century, it was replaced by
the bridge which still stood before the erection of the present span.
It was necessary to pay tolls on both the bridge and Bergen Turnpike
until the start of the World War. In 1915, the Board of
Chosen Freeholders took over the entire stretch of roadway from Fairview
to Main Street, Hackensack. Public Service later became the owners
of the bridge and retained the right of way along the Pike for the
operation of its trolleys. In 1934, after the present
structure was completed the old historic bridge was torn down despite
efforts of the local government and residents of Little Ferry to have it
remain. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening Record - Weds. September 20,
Little Ferry's first settlement was wiped out by the Indians in the
warfare which raged from the Raritan River to Connecticut.
In 1641, Mydertse Van der Heer Nedderhorst set up a plantation and a
trading post on the west bank of the Hackensack River about 100 yards
south of the home of Philip Mehrhof, now Riverside Avenue. Two
years later the settlement was entirely wiped out in a widespread
retaliatory massacre by the Indians. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening
Record - Weds. September 20, 1944).
Little Ferry - the ferry
Little Ferry acquired its name from one of the earliest public
utilities established in the State. It has long since vanished
from its former location. The ferry after which the Borough was
named in 1894 was called the little ferry to distinguish it from the
longer ferry across the North or Hudson River, between New Amsterdam
(New York City) and Paulus Hook and Hobock, now known as Jersey City and
Hoboken respectively. The ferries were then importan
connecting links on the roadway leading from what later became New York
City and the northern sections of New Jersey. An ancient road had
been built from Paulus Hook and Bergen, now known as Jersey City,
connecting with another ancient road from Hobock, now Hoboken, to the
English neighborhood lying on the easterly side of Overpeck Creek.
This old road followed the approximate location of Broad Avenue or
Bergen Turnpike and west to Ridgefield, to approach the Overpeck Creek
near the present site of the bridge connecting Ridgefield Park and
Ridgefield. The old road did not cross Overpeck Creek, but
continued along the southerly side of the creek across what is commonly
known as "The Island". It terminated at the south end of the
railroad bridges at the confluence of the Overpeck Creek and Hackensack
River. On old deeds this point is referred to as the ferry stairs.
From the stairs, the crossing of the Hackensack was made by ferry,
probably to the solid ground upon which the old trading post in Little
Ferry formerly stood. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening Record - Weds.
September 20, 1944).
American Legion Post
The American Legion Post in Little Ferry was organized on September
7th, 1944 by Patrolman Charles Balala, who served as its first senior
commander. The unit became the John H. Gertz Post 310. Named
after the first Little Ferry man to lose his life in WWII. Gertz
was a member of the crew of the U.S.S. Juneau which was sunk in a battle
with the Japanese in the early part of the war in the South Pacific.
Patrolman Balala was active in the Captain Harry B. Doremus Post 55,
American Legion of Hackensack, and handled the work with service men
leaving the Borough. Other officers chosen are Patrolman Henry W.
Strohmeyer, senior vice-commander; Albert Petretti, junior
vice-commander; Charles Hageman, sergeant-at-arms; Harold Woodley, post
chaplain; Watts C. Fairchild, post adjutant; James Nahy Jr., finance
officer; Lester DeBaun, services officer, and Gerard Beckmann,
Building and Loan Association
One of the oldest in the State, formed in 1910 one of the few which
weathered the serious financial crisis without dissolving or merging
with another organization. When formed in July 1910, officers Louis
Brauer as president, Frank Herman, as vice-president, Charles Schulz as
secretary, and Andrew Warhold as treasurer. The first shareholders
were Frederick Becker, William Dorling, Frank Merman, Carl Schulz, Frank
Rysavy Jr., Charles Schulz, Frederick E. Vogel, Louis Brauer, Joseph
Kavrik, Nicholas Schopp, Andrew Warhold, Joseph Mach, and Frank Trinka.
During its first year the Association had 75 shareholders and 320 shares
sold. In 1944, William Zabransky Jr. was president; Joseph Kour,
treasurer; Charles Schulz, secretary; and Elmer Zabriskie, attorney.
Members of the Board included Max Janish, Anthony W. Riedel, John Faul,
and Otto Schulz. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening Record - Weds.
September 20, 1944)
Little Ferry First Aid
Started by six members of the Fire Department during the winter of
1937. The firemen who originated the plan were Fred Havecker,
Charles Ebenau, William Steeger, John Latusa, Frank Stetnile, and Fred
Vincent, who took Red Cross first aid work. The first Board of
Governors who organized July 14, 1938. Included Robert Ebenau,
president; Robert Abend, vice-president; the Rev. Frederick B. Brown,
secretary; the Rev. Havecker, captain; Mrs. Havecker, assistant
secretary; and Fire Department representatives of Charles Ebenau, John
Kozief, John Weeks, John Krejsa, William Holley, Arthur Borchert, James
Busico, and Andrew Bauer. Chief Frank Trinka, Alvin Scherb, and
Dr. William C. Rucker were also members. The first contribution of
$60 came from the Mayor and Council. The unit was incorporated in
March 1939, and six members, Edward Hubelmeyer, Dr. Rucker, Chief Trinka,
Richard C. Moeller, John Krejsa, and John Weeks, loaned the Corps $225
which was used to purchase an ambulance. The Hook and Ladder Fire
Company depleted its entire treasury to erect a garage adjoining its
firehouse for housing of the ambulance. The Corps answered its
first call May 18th, 1939 and *since then has responded to 879 cases,
including 335 minor cases. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening Record -
*Weds. September 20, 1944).
Little Ferry First Rotary
Organized May, 1937, made many contributions to the Borough.
Organizer Edward P. Kinchley, 187 Main Street, Insurance man, secretary
of the Volunteer Building and Loan Association, and former Bergen
Evening Record correspondent. Kinchley served as the club's first
president. Others elected were Peter A. Wiseman, then cashier of
the Little Ferry National Bank, vice-president; the Rev. Frederick V.
MacPeck, secretary, and William Fehrs, treasurer. Other
original 14 charter members included Dr. Parker A. Groff, Dr. Clarence
R. Slavik, Edward J. Hubelmeyer, Cornelius Jordan, Owen Hawkins, Charles
Rucker Jr., Charles Kuss, Richard C. Moeller, and Frank Perina.
Owens Hawkins was the clubs second president. One of the club's
big projects was to see that each Little Ferry man going into service
was presented a fountain pen. Other projects included a
student loan fund for Little Ferry scholars. (Reprint: The Bergen
Evening Record - Weds. September 20, 1944).
Little Ferry Hose Company
In the year of 1907 Little Ferry
was a typical rural community with no paved streets, sidewalks or
curbs,no water supply, and a very limited electric supply. One thing did
take place that summer of 1907; and this was that water mains were
installed along Lodi Ave. (now Main St.),and Liberty St. The thoughts of
progressive members of the Borough turned to the problem of obtaining
the man-power and equipment needed to use this assured water supply for
On the evening of December 9,1907
Hose Co.1 was organized. A group of enthusiastic young men met at the
Little Ferry Hotel, later known as Becker's Cafe and completed a
temporary organization with the following officers and members: Charles
Schultz Jr., Foreman; Frederick Becker, Assistant Foreman; James Van
Saders, Secretary; Herman Becker, Treasurer; and members John Dvorak,
August Fehrs, Robert Fehrs, J.Kucera Jr.,Otto Schultz and Chester
The Number of members was
increased to twenty five and the Organization was incorporated as Hose
Company Number One of Little Ferry, N.J., on July 25,1908 the members
were sworn in by Notary Jacob Vogt. On October 8,1908 the Governing Body
passed and ordinance on final reading creating the Little Ferry Fire
Department and approved the following as officers and members of Hose
Co. Number 1, the Borough's first volunteer firemen:
Charles Schultz Jr., Foreman
Frederick Becker, Asst. Foreman Frank Rysavy Jr, Secretary
Herman Becker, Treasurer
Bergman, Emil Dannacher, John Dvorak, August Erdman, Henry Erdman,
August Fehrs, Robert Fehrs, George Hendricks, John Knell, John Krejsa,
Joseph Kucera Jr., Charles Lang, George Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Edward
Lutton, Chester Schopp, Raymond Schopp, Otto Schultz, Frank Trinka,
Henry Vopasek, and George Zimmerman.
A lot for the firehouse was
donated by Carl Becker on the corner of Maple St. and Marshall Ave a
site for the building which is still in use today. The building was
dedicated on May 27, 1909. Prior to that date the voters
approved the purchase of a hose wagon and the necessary equipment at a
general election in November 1908. (Reference:
Little Ferry Historical
Primary purpose is to recall the borough's past by collecting
artifacts, photos and records depicting the changes in environment and
culture. Interest ranges from the time of the native Lenni Lenape
people, Van Der Horst's trading post at the ferry crossing in 1641, the
Freiburg section of our town when it was part of Lodi Township, and
especially from the founding of the present borough in 1894. The
Society's activity was manifest when it participated in the re-enactment
of George Washington's RETREAT To VICTORY on November 17, 2001.
Some speakers have been R. Griffin of Bergen County Historical Society,
John Quinn from the DeKorte Environmental Center as well as re-enactors
of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Presently, the Society is in
partnership with the Little Ferry Environmental Commission and Little
Ferry Public Schools to establish the history of the Mehrhof Brick Yard
at the revitalized Losen Slote - Mehrhof Pond site. Many
present home-sites were preceded by earlier structures as is being
witnessed today by demolition or renovation of these old houses.
Pictures of those old structures are in demand. The Society would
like to have a picture of Holz (Krieger) Hall, D.A.Sokol Hall, the
Dvorak Building (present day 7-11), Bud Lake, Silver Cup Diner (at the
Rte. 46 Circle), Verecka's Diner, the Diamond Ball Field (across today's
Boro Hall), Kavrik's general store and adjacent houses along Liberty
Street, Stocek's grocery store, Franz's automobile sales, miniature golf
course at site of George Swagger's house, etc. An owner of such
picture need not relinguish it, as it could be copied perfectly by
today's technology. As an example, Boro Historian Steve Royka has
had Post Cards copied well enough to be on permanent display in the
corridor of the Boro Hall.
Regular monthly meeting (every 4th Tuesday at the Little Ferry
Municipal Building. The public is invited to attend several
meetings as guests to observe the official function and hear special
speakers prior to becoming members for $10.00 annual dues.
Contact either Steve at (201) 641 - 2842 or society president Frank
Zabransky at (201) 641 - 3546. Artifacts and memorabilia are also
on the wish list.
Little Ferry Library
The library had its early beginnings July 11, 1916, when Lewis
Pfister, then deacon of the Congregational church, offered to establish
a free circulating library for members of the church and Sunday school.
He secured permission to use one of the rooms in the parsonage for this
purpose. As a start, the Library received 9 English bibles, 3
German Bibles, 12 religious books, and 20 others from the church.
Pfister was librarian and Miss Anna Pfister assistant librarian.
Then, in 1925, a group of women conceived the idea to organize a public
library in Little Ferry. The plan was discussed with Mrs. A. R.
Bagart, vice-president of the Federation of Women's Clubs, in connection
with the organization of a Woman's Club in Little Ferry. June 7,
1926 was set as the opening day for the new library. The Little
Ferry National Bank officers donated teh use of one of their stores for
the library, and women members volunteered their services in handling
the books. When the need for a full-time librarian was apparent,
Pfister, who started the library plan more then a decade before was
appointed librarian. When the quarters in the old bank building
became inadequate and the library continued to grow in popularity, steps
to erect a new modern building were taken. The library board
members donated considerable time in pushing the project. Members
got merchants to donate the equipment and materials, and residents
volunteered their services to erect the building. In October, 1927
the Board felt that the corner of Redneck Avenue and Liberty Street, a
centrally located valuable spot, would be ideal for the building.
They approached Henry Clausen the owner, with a view toward buying the
plot. His replay to their requests for a price was, "Take it if it
suits you." On October 20, 1929 the cornerstone for the building
was laid. Philip C. Stalb of Hackensack was the quest speaker.
In later years an addition to the building was built. (Reprint
The Bergen Evening Record - Weds. September 20, 1944)
In 1916, Mr. Henry Frank, 310 Liberty Street, presented a book to the
Congregational Church in which he wrote his wish for a community library
building. This book was put in a copper box along with the history
of the library and placed into the cornerstone which was laid in 1929 by
Mr. Lawrence Messner, Board Chairman. (Reprint: Little Ferry
Little Ferry Mayors
1894-1896 Joseph Srholez
1896-1898 George Merwede
John Adam Eckel
1899-1903 Margaret Srholez
1903-1905 Emil Tuma
Jan. 1959 - July 1961
1906-1908 Fred A. Heinige
1907 Malcolm W. Hill
1908-1910 George Zilocchi
1910-1912 Eugene P. Barden
Jan.1-Feb. 17, 1912 Charles Dipaolo
1912-1914 Louis A. Tedesco, Jr.
Frank E. Herma
1914-1916 Thomas Quirico
Chester F. Schopp
(Re: Little Ferry 1994-100th Anniversary).
Little Ferry P.T.A.
Formed in 1924, the Little Ferry P.T.A unit had Mrs. C. Raymond
Schoop as president, Miss E. Hartwell as vice-president, Mrs. Andrew
Bauer as secretary, and Miss Ethel T. Todd as treasurer. Going
forward presidents (to 1944) included Mrs. Schopp, Mrs. Charles Erdman,
Frank Zavatsky, Mrs. M. Stross, Mrs. Edward P. Kinchley, Mrs. Frank
Wonesh, Mrs. Robert Van Wettering, Mrs. Elsie Karsch, Mrs. Louise Claus,
Mrs. Mary Kupilik, and Mrs. Charles Holley. Among accomplishments
(up to 1944) are the sponsoring of the junior safety patrol, raising
funds to purchase school room and play equipment, record players for
both schools (Wilson and Washington), starting the summer playground,
conducting summer roundup, and contributing to local and other
organizations in their annual drives. (Reprint: The Bergen Evening
Record - Weds. September 20, 1944)
Little Ferry V.F.W
Petersilge - Velock Post No. 809 - Post Chartered July
29, 1921 - Incorporated November 30, 1948 - Auxiliary
Chartered April 16, 1925
"CPL WM E. PETERSILGE POST 809", instituted by Patrick J. Benson
(NJ:'24) of Post 277, Ridgefield Park, NJ honored in the first L.F.
veteran killed in WWI; Velock added in 1954 honors brothers Walter and
John killed in WWII. Its debut: Bazaar & Dance, Nov.
11-12-13, 1921 in T.J. Sokol Hall. Meeting places: Wilson
School (1921-23), Hose Co. Firehouse (1923-24), D.A. Sokol Hall
(1925-28), Washington School (1929-43) Paramont Rec. Center (1943-46)
and D.A. Sokol Hall (1946-48). In 1946, Borough Council
deeded Werneking tract at 100 Main Street. Today's Werneking Place
was driveway to barn servicing 2-story house which was moved to
Petersilge Drive. Surrounding undeveloped area provided sites for
carnivals, the last sponsored by Post 809 in 1948 while post home was
under construction. Ground-breaking on Sept. 1, 1947 started
volunteer construction by young members of WWII. In May 1948 plans
include kitchen, rest rooms, and boiler room were changed to locate them
behind the East Wing; not until 1965 were the Main Hall and West Wing
expanded to the rear. In August 1948, it barely accommodated first
meeting; in April 1949 was adequate for Joint installation of Officers;
and in Dec. 1949 was complete for New Years Eve Party. From
Sept. 3 to Sept. 17,1947, Auxiliary solicited funds House-to-House.
From Aug. 1947 to Aug. 1948 men supplemented with scrap paper drive.
Mortgage obtained Sept. 1948; was burned Feb. 25, 1956, midst
celebration. For 73 years, Post & Aux. have served community
as well as veterans. Building facilities are for hire.
Currently, pancake breakfasts are co-sponsored with town organizations.
Its 416 members strive "TO HONOR THE DEAD BY HELPING THE LIVING"
(veterans widows and children in addition to needy, disabled &
hospitalized veterans) and achieve that by cooperating with many posts
in Bergen County (District 2) and state (Dept. of N.J.). (Reprint:
Little Ferry 1994-100th Anniverary).
#107 Degree of Pocahontas
The Council is a National Fraternal Organization and is founded on
Freedom, Friendship and Charity and pays sick and death benefits to its
members. Susquehanna Council #107 was established on November 17, 1920
at Holz's Hall, later known as Krieger's Recreation. (Reprint: Little
Ferry 1964-70th Anniversary).