Here in Bergen the first local Court in New Jersey was
organized in September, 1661, with Tielman Van Vleck as schout
or sheriff, and Michael Jansen, Herman Smeeman and Casper
Stynmets, as schepens or magistrates, something like justices or
aldermen. The schout was afterwards authorized "to,fill and
execute the office of auctioneer." All criminal cases were
referred to the Director General and Council of Nieu Netherland.
Only minor offenses, such as brawls, slanders, scolding, threats,
etc., could come before this Court. On July 19th, 1673, Mr. John
Berry's house in Bergen was made "ye prison for the Province,"
until a house could be built for that purpose, and Adrian Tost, the
constable, was appointed keeper. Later a "lock up" was built on
the easterly side of the square near the school-house. On the
westerly side were the stocks and the whipping post. The stocks
were still ,standing in 1824, and even later, and the whipping post.
was a terror to evil doers as late. In 1662, a well was dug in the
center of the square. Troughs were placed around it for the use
of the cattle, and a long sweep used to raise the water. This well
was used into the present century, when it was covered and
during the war of 1812-14 a liberty pole was erected in it. In
1870, when the square, was paved the pole was taken
down and no trace of the well is left.