The Colonial Period

It was the fur traders who first came to the Bergen County area in search of pelts. By 1630 a trading post had grown up on the NJ side of the Hudson River. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Hackensack, Passaic and Saddle Rivers were wide free flowing rivers which provided ready access to the area, and later served as boundaries in land transactions. 
In 1669  Captain John Berry bought a large parcel of land which included most of northern Bergen County. His patent covered a large area, from the Hackensack River in the east, to the Passaic River in the west, and from what is now Rutherford in the south, to Washington Twp. in the north; a total of about 1500 acres.  Captain Berry named this section New Barbadoes, after the island of Barbadoes, from which he came. Many of the first settlers in the area were Dutch seamen who had sailed with Berry and whose family names are still easily recognized in the region:  Kipps, Staggs, Hoppers, Bantas, Ackermans, Westervelts and Voorhis.  

In 1676 Albert Soboriski (or Zaborowski - later changed to Zabriskie) from Prussia, purchased 1076 acres from the Hackensack and Tappan Indians. In 1708 he divided his patent, granting the northern half (current Ho-Ho-Kus/Saddle River) to Thomas Van Buskirk and keeping the area which extended roughly from Rochelle Park to Linwood Ave in the Zabriskie Family. It was a good portion of this area that became "Paramus".

As the 17th century closed and the 18th century saw the expansion of the original families, the Dutch influence became ever more apparent. The architectural style, which became known as "Dutch colonial" was reflected in the tidy homes built of the native brown sandstone with the characteristic gambrel roof. 

The Paramus Dutch Reformed Church (now known as the Old Paramus Church), organized in 1725, built in 1735 and remodeled in 1872, was the center for social as well as religious activities. It was also made of the brown sandstone that was plentiful in the area. 


The first known schoolhouse in the borough was a rough stone building built by Zabriskie on his land in 1726. Remarkably, white and African American children studied together.  The school was on the bend of Dunkerhook Road near the Zabriskie farm's slave cabins.  Neither cabins nor schoolhouse exist today.  

Dunkerhook Road, meaning "dark corner", was a dirt lane to the west of Paramus Road.  The African American slaves from the farms were quartered there.  There was also an African American church in the section as well.


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