Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 160, Ringwood Company Supply Store, Ringwood, NJ
Record book, 1760-1764, 0.3 linear feet / 1 volume
Call Number: MG 160(os)
Financial accounts kept in Newark, New Jersey for a supply store associated with the Ringwood Company ironworks. Includes a name index. The company was established in 1742 by five members of Newark's Ogden family. Located in Passaic County, the ironworks were operated until 1764 by the Ringwood Company, and later by Peter Hasenclever and by Robert Erskine as an agent for the American Iron Company.
Cornelius Board (d. 1745) found iron ore in 1739 in Bergen County (now Passaic County), New Jersey while searching for deposits of copper ore, and built a small forge on the north branch of the Pequannock River. Board sold the tract of 16 acres on April 15, 1740 to five members of the Ogden family of Newark, New Jersey: Colonel Josiah Ogden (ca. 1679-1763); David Ogden, Sr. (1707-1798); David Ogden, Jr. (1726-1801); John Ogden, Jr. (1709-1795); and Judge Uzal Ogden (1705-1780). The Ogdens, in partnership with Samuel and Nicholas Gouveneur, formed The Ringwood Company and built a furnace in 1742. The company produced ammunition for the Seven Years’ War and the French and Indian War and produced finished goods such as plowshares and cannonballs as well as iron bars. The Ogdens ran the company from offices in Newark and New York City until they sold it to the American Iron Company in 1764. Peter Hasenclever (1716-1793) managed the operation as an agent for the company until he was eventually replaced first by John Jacob Faesch (1729-1799) in 1769, and then by Robert Erskine (1735-1780) in 1771.
Robert Erskine sided with the colonies at the outbreak of the Revolution and used the Ringwood facility to further the cause of independence. Because of its remoteness from the enemy, Ringwood was the only permanent barracks for revolutionary troops in New Jersey, and its forges supplied much needed ammunition and weapons.
At the age of 46, Erskine died in 1780 of a cold caught while mapping for the army, and management of Ringwood passed into the hands of his widow Elizabeth and her new husband Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr. The deed to Ringwood was still held by the English-owned American Iron Company, so in 1782, the couple petitioned the legislature for a special Confiscation Act to get title to the mines and furnaces. Though the petition was only partially granted, Hooper put the company up for sale in 1783. Ringwood lay idle until Martin J. Ryerson (1752-1837) purchased it from the sheriff of Bergen County for unpaid taxes and ran it profitably until his death in 1837. Ringwood was expanded under Ryerson’s management, and it supplied the war effort of 1812. His sons ran the company until their bankruptcy and it was sold in 1853, again under sheriff’s deed, to Peter Cooper (1791-1883), the inventor and philanthropist. Abram Stevens Hewitt (1822-1903), Cooper’s son-in-law and partner in Cooper, Hewitt, and Company, was brought in as business manager of the operation. The Ringwood site supplied the Union Army with gun carriages, mortars, and gun barrel iron nearly at cost during the Civil War. Upon the death of Cooper, who had purchased nearly 100,000 acres to expand the Ringwood properties, title passed to Hewitt who built in 1878 the estate called Ringwood Manor by adding on to the house built by Ryerson.
As better grades of ore became available from mines in Minnesota and Michigan in the 1880s, the operation at Ringwood began to falter. The Hewitt family kept Ringwood in production until 1931 when the site was abandoned. In 1936, Erskine Hewitt (1878-1838) donated Ringwood Manor and 95 acres of land to the New Jersey State Department of Conservation and Development for public use and preservation as Ringwood Manor State Park. Norvin H. Green (d.1955), a nephew of Erskine Hewitt, donated additional land to bring the total park acreage to 579. The park has been opened to the public since 1938 and contains the sites of the ironworks that were in operation since the management of Robert Erskine.
After unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate the mines in 1942, 1947, and 1951, Ford Motor Company purchased the mines and land in 1964. From 1967-1972, Ford used the abandoned shafts of Peter’s Mine and Cannon Mine to dispose waste from the nearby Mahwah auto plant, and in 1970, donated 290 acres in the southern part of the site to the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority for the operation of a municipal disposal area. The site was closed by the state in 1976 because of contamination of groundwater, surface streams, and the nearby Wanaque Reservoir. Ringwood was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of sites eligible for Superfund cleanup in 1983 and financial responsibility for the cleanup was given to Ford International Services, who started on the project. Although monitoring of ground and surface water continues, the Ringwood mining site was removed from the Superfund list in 1994.
Boyer, Charles S., Early Forges & Furnaces in New Jersey, (University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, 1931), pgs. 12-23.
Ringwood Vertical File, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Robert Erskine Biographical File, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Abram Hewitt Biographical File, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Ogden Family File, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Mining Subject File, The New Jersey Historical Society.
American National Biography, Vol. 10, pgs. 715-716.
Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume 1607-1896.
This volume was purchased by The New Jersey Historical Society, date unknown.
Although the original owners never labeled this volume, it appears to be an account book for a supply store located in Newark, New Jersey that was associated with the Ringwood Company. Entries date from 1760-1764 and document the sale of iron bars, tea, rum, and provisions. The volume contains accounts with members of the Alling, Baldwin, Dodd, and Ryerson families and is indexed.
Processed by Luis Delfino, October 2000 as part of the "Farm to City" project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The New Jersey Historical Society