The most striking figure that we can summon from dim colonial times in this farm and woodland region is the young Dutchman Abram Speer.
He was the eldest of five sons of John Speer of Second River, who owned a large estate in the center of that village and who was a descendant of John Hendrick Speer, an original grantee near Hackensak and also one of the Acquackanonck patentees.
Abram (or Abraham) came over Third River seeking a wife. He found her in the daughter of one Wouterse or Wouters who had a blacksmith shop at Povershon.
He was commissioned Captain in the Second Essex Regiment on May 28, 1777, and stationed at Belleville with this company to "guard the river."
It was his father who from the church steeple shot the "refugee" across the Passaic.
There was another flight of soldiery through this region in 1778, after the battle of Monmouth, when the British were running before the Americans to reach the Hudson.
Skirmishes took place at Belleville and at the restored Acquackanonck Bridge, the red coats escaping across it in the darkness.
SOURCE: HISTORY OF NUTLEY, Elizabeth Stow Brown, 1907, The Retreat Across the Jerseys
NOTES: Belleville at the time of the American Revolution was known as Second River. Washington's retreat route is marked along the path his troops took in town.