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Historical Society of West Caldwell

289 Westville Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ 07006

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Phone: (973) 226-8976 (President)

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PO Box 1701, West Caldwell, NJ 07007-1701

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Surname Saturday - Hasler

September 3, 2017


Welcome to our next Surname Saturday post! This week we're delving into the Hasler last name, this time in honor of our exhibit currently on display at Caldwell Public Library.


Hasler is a name familiar to Caldwell area residents who remember “Hasler’s Pharmacy” on Bloomfield Avenue from ca1887 until 2007, when it was sold. Even after the new owners changed the name, people remembered Hasler’s Pharmacy. Many local residents never knew that this man was also an artist.


The oldest child of immigrants (his father was Swiss and his mother German), William N. Hasler (1865-1933) was born at Alexandria, Virginia. He moved with his family to Newark ca1870, where his father worked as a barber. Within a few years, the family moved their home and the barber shop to Kirker Avenue, Caldwell. It was at this time that Hasler started his career as a clerk in the Caldwell Pharmacy on Bloomfield Avenue. The pharmacy, located in an old schoolhouse, was founded in 1875 by its owner, Lester Wyatt. Hasler clerked in the shop and boarded with Lester and Mary Wyatt for several years. In 1881 Dr. Edward Peck bought out Wyatt (who started another pharmacy at Jersey City) and turned an interest in the pharmacy over to Hasler. The pharmacy was renamed Hasler’s Pharmacy and retained that name for 126 years. By 1887 William Hasler was running the pharmacy with his younger brother Herman. Hasler was also the Caldwell Township clerk, running that office from his pharmacy. In 1895 William Hasler married 22-year-old Eva Jacobus, a local woman whose family had lived at Caldwell for at least three generations.


The year 1897 was a momentous one for William and Eva Hasler. Their first child, Helen, was born on March 28th and on October 9th, the Hasler Pharmacy, the Hasler Barber Shop and four other neighboring shops, on Bloomfield Avenue burned to the ground. The burned buildings, owned by Charles Canfield of Newark, were insured and Canfield could afford to rebuild, but wanted a building that would more resistant to the frequent fires of that era. Without an organized fire company and proper equipment, another fire was only a matter of time. The new building, at 295 Bloomfield Avenue, was the first brick structure built in Caldwell and remains in use to the present day. Thirty-two-year-old William Hasler and his 19-year-old brother Herman, were among the first tenants in the new building, which soon became known as the Hasler Building.


In 1871, the same year the Caldwell Pharmacy opened, a group of art students and their friends organized a sketching class in the New York studio of sculptor Jonathan Scott Hartley. Each week a subject was selected for the following meeting and the sketches would then be critiqued by the group.  The atmosphere was rather casual, some would say bohemian, where boxing matches would sometimes be staged as a diversion before a repast was shared by the members.  The mutual encouragement they received from their fellows continually pushed them to improve their abilities.  


Exactly a decade after that first meeting, the group, now known as the Salmagundi Sketch Club, were on the verge of opening their fourth exhibition on a national scale; had illustrated an article for Scribner's Monthly as a group; exhibited 22 works at the Glasgow Institute in Scotland; published a portfolio of etchings and were preparing for an exhibition in Boston.  No small feat for a group comprised of a mere thirty-five members. A good number of them were by this time well known illustrators whose works appeared regularly in such publications as Scribner's, Harper's, Century and Frank Leslie's Weekly.  Many had also been instrumental in establishing the Art Students League in 1875 and the Society of American Artists in 1877.


There are several legends about the origins of the Club's name. One favorite states that it was adapted from the "Salmagundi Papers," published by Washington Irving and James Kirke Paulding in 1807, a satirical examination on a variety of topics of the time and appropriately reflected the diversity of the Club's membership.  Leading a nomadic existence for its first twenty-four years, the Club finally settled at 14 West 12th Street, the former home of sculptor John Rogers, in 1895.  By the end of the nineteenth century it had become, in the words of its fourth president, Thomas Moran, "the most artistic association in the whole country", boasting a membership that included the likes of Ernest Blumenschein, William Merritt Chase, E. Irving Couse, J. Francis Murphy, Howard Pyle, Edward Potthast and Theodore Robinson.  As the twentieth century progressed, names such as F. Childe Hassam, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Carl Rungius, Maynard Dixon, N.C. Wyeth, J. Alden Weir, Norman Rockwell and Ogden Pleissner were added to the roll.  


William Hasler joined the Club in 1906 and in 1907 exhibited two of his paintings. An oil, “The Marsh”, was shown in the Salmagundi Club’s Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and another painting, “Fish Houses, Nantucket” was in their Annual Auction Sale. In the next ten years Hasler’s Salmagundi Club’s exhibition records indicate that he showed two dozen paintings.

In 1917, the Salmagundi Club took up residence in its landmark brownstone at 47 Fifth Avenue, which became a pivotal meeting place for a large community of artists and art lovers. In order to support their building, the Club members donated work for a fund-raising auction, the “Special Auction of Paintings for the Benefit of the New Club House Fund.”  Hasler participated in this effort, donating one painting, “The Meadow.” The Club is regarded has having played a vital role in helping the American public develop a greater understanding and appreciation of art. Hasler continued to participate in Salmagundi activities and exhibits until at least 1922.


William Hasler Ahnentafel

Generation One

  1. William Nicholas HASLER was born May 1865 and died in 1933. He was the son of 2. Carl R. HASLER and 3. Amalia T. MEUSEL. He married Eva JACOBUS on 18 Sep in the residence of Mr. F. W. Biggs on Forest Avenue in Caldwell, Essex County, NJ, daughter of George B. JACOBUS and Sarah A. VAN HOUTEN. She was born Apr 1873 in New Jersey and died after 1949.

Generation Two

  1. Carl R. HASLER was born 13 Jun 1837 in Basel, Switzerland and died 1 Jan 1901. He was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Caldwell, Essex County, NJ. He married Amalia T. MEUSEL on 17 Nov 1861 at Condordia Lutheran Evangelical in Washington, District of Columbia.

  2. Amalia T. MEUSEL was born about 1842 in Schlochau, Saxony, Germany and died 9 Mar 1898 in Caldwell, Essex County, NJ. She was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Caldwell, Essex County, NJ. She was the daughter of… Children of Amalia T. MEUSEL and Carl R. HASLER are:

    1. 1. William Nicholas HASLER

    2. Julius Carl HASLER

    3. Charles HASLER

    4. Emil HASLER

    5. Bertha HASLER

    6. Herman HASLER










Prepared by: Bev Crifasi

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