What's In a Name: Oradell As Delford
A Journey into Oradell: The history of how Oradell got its name
We started these "Journeys into Oradell" some time ago by relating the story how was in modern day Oradell before it became the name of the area today known as the Borough of New Milford.
Similarly, we’ve spoken some of the name , and about the origins of the name . We’ve even looked back at the old , which sat gracefully at what is now Schirra Park.
But until now there was at least one glaring omission – the name Delford.
According to Oradell: Biography of a Borough, Hiram Bellis is credited with coming up with the name Delford.
Bellis was part of a commission that had been created to petition and present affidavits to have what is now Oradell become a separate borough comprised of what had been portions of Harrington Township, Midland Township, and Palisades Township.
The petition occurred in 1894 at the height of the "Boroughitis” phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County – a time when groups of residents united to form boroughs from within and among the many townships that were the prevalent form of local government at the time.
According to local histories, this form of change was popular at the time as it allowed boroughs to easily obtain independence without approval from the state legislature, allowed new boroughs to avoid school tax burdens and provided boroughs formed from more than one township to be entitled to a seat on the county's Board of Chosen Freeholders.
When this phenomena motivated such a change locally, discussion started about a new name for the new borough. Another commission member, Jacob Van Buskirk, Jr., a local merchant and after whose family Buskirk Island is named, suggested the name “Borough of Midland”. But this name was discouraged, as many felt it would result in undue confusion with the Township of Midland from which the community was disengaging.
Instead, Hiram Bellis suggested that the last syllable of each participating town be used: “del’ of Oradell and “ford” from New Milford.
And so, Delford was born.
This unity of community was not destined to last very long. By 1920, the name would be changed to Oradell by a referendum vote of 150 to 50.
The Hotel Delford endured for a few more years – a throwback to that earlier time.
Today, the name Delford can be found on Kinderkamack Road, but not in what used to be Delford. now calls River Edge home.
This piece was originally written for publication in River Dell Patch - it appeared there in November, 2011.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Source Materials - Biography of A Borough: Oradell (1969), by Irving Crump; Oradell Centennial; 1894-1994…..Thanks to Borough Historian Frank Vierling for his guidance. And, a special thank you to Borough Archivist, George Carter for his ear, his support generally and in particular his help in securing historic pictures from the Borough/Library Collection….. The Archives, located at the Oradell Public Library, are open to the public the first Friday afternoon of the month from 1-5 p.m.