Hackensack Meadows A Hiding Place For Fugitives

The Meadowlands District of Northeastern New Jersey is known today as the home of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. But in 1910, the area’s swampy marshes were a great hiding place for fugitives:

The murderer, escaped convict, or thief who once starts from the shore line into the great stretch of marsh land can count on security as long as he can find food. Convicts familiar with the jungle facilities of the meadows have long made them their objective after an escape so that they might find a place of hiding until a change of clothes and a new growth of beard or hair might be acquired before venturing once more upon the open roads or streets.

The article goes into narrative detail describing a man hunt in and around the meadows as police hunted for a murderer named Bertrand Pond:

Night came. The man in the meadows must have been tortured with thirst, for the salt sticks to the skin with the rising tide that brings up the spill of the depths of the sea. Then, too, with the going down of the sun came the great swarms of mosquitos to sting and fasten upon anything fleshy. Almost as bad was the hunger that tore at the empty stomach of the murderer, for the salt air of the meadow puts an appetite in a man that would make the coursest food smack of ambrosia.

I’ll let you read the article to find out if they ever caught Bertrand Pond, but the article does tell some gruesome stories of people who were only found after they were dead:

“Some of ’em never got out,” said Danny Small in Cap’n Minnerly’s bunk. “Sometimes we turn up a skeleton while ducking. Then we get a suicide once and awhile, and in the Bergen County part of the meadows a murdered Italian shows up every now and then. One of the last murder cases was discovered through a letter sent to Police Headquarters. It was written in Italian, and said that a body would be found in a certain part of the meadows… We got out and hunted for the body. It showed up all right. The man was murdered. Another Black Hand case, I reckon.”

HACKENSACK MEADOWS A HIDING PLACE FOR FUGITIVES: Little Island, in the Tall Reeds a Safe Retreat for Those Who Are Hunted. Skeletons of Long Missing Outlaws Found in the Swamp Tell Stories of Starvation. (PDF)

From August 28, 1910

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