All in a Name

All in a Name

Journeys into Maywood

The community’s short history has it that Maywood came into being when the train came through, and became a borough in 1894.

When one looks a bit deeper, the path to Maywood includes some interesting stories involving from the time of its first European settlers to the place we know of today.

For example, the name we take for granted – Maywood – was not always universally agreed upon as the name of this place.

According to book produced to celebrate the local centennial in 1994, the origin of Maywood has four variations. One points to the name of a home of Civil War General George B. McClellan near Princeton as inspiration. Another refers to a festive spring time celebration of Dutch settlers in the woods of the area. A third mentions that one of the founders of the area (Gustav L. Jaeger) arrived in May and was impressed with the beauty of the woods at that time.

It is the fourth variation that seems to been embraced and which has received the most attention. According to that story, when the railroad was built in the 1870’s it was expected that the railroad company would build a station. That did not happen. So locals took to the task themselves. A station was built. But these locals could not agree on a name. Some wanted West Hackensack to reflect how the area was thought of at the time (there was also South Hackensack and North Hackensack). Others preferred Maywood.

The dispute became contentious. When a signboard was placed reading West Hackensack others destroyed it – it was replaced with a West Hackensack sign affixed to a tree which is said to have lasted for decades – long after the place became known as Maywood.

According to a local history, that permanent change occurred when “…The Dutch farmers did not like the name (West Hackensack) for the section that they called their Maywoods”. They held a meeting in 1865-66 and petitioned to the railroad to have the West Hackensack sign removed and replaced with a sign describing the area as Maywood – that area to the west of Hackensack and part of Midland Township.

All in a Name

Source Information: Maywood - The Borough, The Railroad, and The Station, by Edward S, Kaminski, Acadia Publishing, 2010

Photo Credit: The station at Maywood/West Hackensack, circa 1872 from Maywood - The Borough, The Railroad, and The Station, by Edward S, Kaminski, Acadia Publishing, 2010; Original Source by J.F. Doremus; credit to the New York Public Library collection