TAVERN SIGN John A. Hopper’s Tavern at Hohokus.
Written and researched by Kevin Wright

The founding fathers on inn signs, 1810

It is quite amusing to see the variety of paintings on the inn-keeper's signs. I saw on in NJ with Thos. Jeff'ns. head & shoulders & his name above it. To day I saw Gen. G Washington, his name underneath. Gen. Putnam riding down the steps at Horseneck. One sign was merely 3 little kegs hanging down one after the other. They have the sun rising, setting, & at Meridian, here a full moon, a new moon, the moon & 7 stars around her, the Lion & Unicorn "fighting & c." & every thing else that a dutchman has ever seen or heard of. ("A Dutchman's inn" Berks County, Pennsylvania, October 29, in A Journey to Ohio in 1810, As Recorded in the Journal of Margaret Van Horn Dwight, ed. Max Farrand, New Haven, 1913, pp. 21-22.)

Found in an Antiques Magazine.

The depiction of President Jefferson on John Hopper’s sign was probably based upon Caleb Boyle’s portrait. Margaret Van Horn Dwight, keeping a journal of her journey to Ohio in 1810, noted: “I found it quite amusing to see the variety of paintings on the inn-keepers' signs. I saw one in N. J. with Thos. Jeff’ns. head & shoulders & his name above it” This tavern sign, which formerly hung from an elm tree in front of John A. Hopper’s Tavern in present-day Ho-Ho-Kus, was donated to the Bergen County Historical Society by Frederick Z. Board.

On April 16, 1780, British, Hessian and Loyalist troops burned and destroyed “two dwelling houses, one store house and one grist mill,” belonging to Captain John Hopper of Hopperstown, who “lost all his private property contained in the buildings, consisting of household furniture, a large quantity of linen, and various other goods, and also the sum of $7,000 in money, not a dollar of which was saved.” He “escaped at the time with the loss of his hat.” His wife, Mary, attributed the loss of their property to the fact “mainly and altogether that the buildings destroyed were used and occupied by the American troops and arms, ammunition and provisions kept and stored in the buildings.”

After the Revolution, John Hopper built and operated an inn at Hopperstown (later renamed Hohokus) along the busy Ramapough road. This highway formed part of an important stage road leading from Manhattan via Hoboken and Hackensack to Albany; the section from New Prospect (Waldwick) to the New York line was incorporated into the Franklin Turnpike in 1806. Unfortunately, the old tavern-house stood at a sharp, descending turn in the Franklin Turnpike (near the present Post Office in Ho-Ho-Kus) known as “Dead Man’s Curve.” Early in this century, the road was straightened and Hopper's inn demolished; architectural remnants from the site were incorporated into the Ridgewood Women’s Club.

Size: 70"x 39".

Restored by the Junior League of Bergen County.

Copyright ©1996 by Bergen County Historical Society. All rights reserved.

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