In a town that counts its violent crimes in the single digits per decade, any killing is going to cause a sensation and Ramsey’s had a few over its couple of hundred year history. But what was the first? We’re left to wonder: an argument between Dutch settlers or Native Americans perhaps, a violence perpetrated during or after the Revolutionary War? The earliest recorded story of what would appear to be a crime of man slaughter comes from the mid 1800’s.
A man named William Slack had an approximately 40 year history in Ramsey over two periods (he left for Haverstraw NY a while), first as a cabinet maker when he arrived in 1849. During that time he was also the primary undertaker for the area, but it was his job as constable that introduced him to the “notorious character” Ben Moore.
Slack, described as a “slight young man, not particularly skilled in ruffianism” was tasked with arresting Moore, a local bully who had stabbed a man (who later died of the injuries) in Fowler’s Hotel.
Slack was successful in arresting Moore, although it was described as a “Herculean task”, and brought him to the county jail in Hackensack. Moore received a ten year sentence, served at the State Prison in Trenton, for his crime.
Source: History of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1630-1923; by Frances Augusta Johnson Westervelt; New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1923, 1229 pgs.