Built by Tunis Ryerson about 1780 on Hook Road, we see the Ryerson farm.
The ladies are John A. Ryerson’s daughters. With them are grandchildren.
Also pictured are: Edward R. Brown, first from the left,
and Frank R. Parry, third from the right.
This picture was taken in 1889. The farm and the lands pictured are now
under the Wanaque Reservoir.
Settlement in the Wanaque Valley
During the first quarter of the 18th Century, a few European settlers found their way into the picturesque Wanaque Valley. Names familiar to us, the Beams, Ryersons, Sloats, Van Duynes, Van Wagoners, Vreelands, and many others, represent families that settled these hills in the early 1700’s. The activities of these early Dutch settlers centered on providing the bare necessities of life. Farming was the principal occupation. The men raised sheep; the women spun and wove the wool into cloth. As time passed, the wool was taken to Pompton Lakes after shearing and made into blankets and yarn. The settlers cut timber from the surrounding forest and hauled it to a saw mill to be made into lumber for their homes.
The above photograph was taken around the turn of the Twentieth Century by area photographer Vernon Royle. It is called, simply, “Plowing with Oxen.”
From the Records of the Beam Family
One window into this period of Wanaque’s history is provided through the excellent records kept by the Beam family, one of the first European families to settle in this area. The Beams kept written records of their family’s activities. The following information is drawn from these documents.
Abraham Lines, Koenrad Lines, and Anthony Beam purchased from the natural proprietors – Indian Chiefs Quackpacktequa, Namerisco, and Mataros – a certain tract of land containing about 800 acres. The conveyance refers to “a river called Patkeck by the English and…called by an Indian name, Wanochke brook.” The Board of Proprietors, honoring the Indian conveyance, surveyed the tract and found it to contain 683 52/100 acres.
Photograph shows Beam’s Valley near Midvale.
John Beam’s house on Chestnut Street can be seen on left.
A deed dated September 8, 1729, conveying the land from the Indians to Abraham Lines, Koenrad Lines, and Anthony Beam was not acknowledged or recorded. The Board of Proprietors, on August 23, 1740, returned the property to Richard Ashfield who had right to it by a grant. The deed dated May 20, 1741 conveyed the land finally from Richard Ashfield to Anthony Beam, Abraham Lyne, and Coenratt Lyne. Anthony Beam’s one third amounted to 277 3/4 acres.
The tradition of the Beam family as recorded at the Newark Historical Society states that the ancestor Anthony came from Germany and settled at Wynoke. Some have said as early as 1660, but judging from the births of his children, 1715-1720 seems more likely.
West Brook below the Stonetown Bridge. Photograph by Vernon Royle.
One credible tradition is that he lived among the Indians for many years with no other Europeans roundabout. He made his residence in the wilderness north of the Captain Beam place. He first set up a bark hut beyond the brook near the mountain. This area was called Bark House Valley (or Bark House Brook) and was located at what was called the wild plantation when the Indians had a settlement there. He afterwards built a log house west of the Deep Brook where then stood two old apple trees. Subsequently, he built a stone house which is said to be the west end of the house owned by Captain Beam. Anthony’s wife is known only by her Christian name Margaretha. There were five children: Yost or Joseph Beam born about 1717, died 1794 and was married to Catherine Sloat; Conraad Beam born 1727, died November 29, 1810 and married Grietze Mead; Annanickee Beam born January 14, 1741 married John Bartram of Wynockie; Abraham Beam born about 1730 married Sarah Mead; and Catren Beam married Peter Beatie of Wynockie. Yost or Joseph Beam resided on the Joseph I. Beam Place (which could be the remodeled house located on Chestnut Street and currently occupied by John Beam, a direct descendent). Conraad resided between the two brooks at Wynockie. This building might be the house owned by the Scrivani family, now a part of Meadowbrook Estates. Abraham resided on the homestead which could be the stone house opposite Lakeland Regional High School. The house has stone walls over two feet thick, with the upperstructure being made of wood. Chains used in the original construction are visible in the upper section. The purpose must have been to hold the wall because there are tension rods inserted in between.
In the early days of European settlement, the local area probably looked much like the view below of what was known as Ferralasco Pond. Pristine wilderness and clean water were the hospitable norm for the first settlers. Of course, there were no photographs of the 17th and 18th centuries, but we can imagine that this view of Ferralasco Pond taken in the early 1900’s conveys something of the setting enjoyed by the early residents of the Wanaque area. Ferralasco Pond was in the Hook Road area, lost in the construction of the Wanaque Reservoir. Some of the first European settlers mentioned above lived in the Hook Road area, notably the Ryerson family, some of whom are pictured above. The Ryersons lived throughout the area of present New York and New Jersey in Colonial days. Even today, there is a Ryerson Street in Brooklyn and a Ryerson School in Wayne. The Ryerson Furnace, built by Martin J. Ryerson in 1838, was also located on land now innundated by the Wanaque Resevoir. Through the eyes of the cameraman, we can glimpse the bygone day, and consider the path we have taken.
Lower West Brook Valley and Winbeam
Winbeam, a mountain in the Ramapo Mountain Range, is located north of Wanaque in Ringwood. It is one of the highest points in the area, and figures prominently in the book of the same name by Minnie May Monks, mentioned below. The book recounts a reminiscence of her youth in the West Brook Valley area during the years of the early 20th Century.
The two photographs here were taken in the early Twentieth Century by Vernon Royle and were originally published in Winbeam, a book about growing up in the West Brook Valley, written by Minnie May Monks. The Board Homestead was one of the old stone houses destroyed to make way for the Wanaque Reservoir. These photographs, and others from Winbeam, are presented here with the generous permission of living members of the Monks family.