GREEN TOWNSHIP, NJ - What we call Sussex County has been settled for more than ten thousand years.
Formed by the last of the Wisconsin glaciers, the area has rich soil and also valleys with sand, according to longtime township resident Glenn Wershing.
The first indigenous people, Paleo Indians, discovered good hunting here around 10,000 BC, Wershing said. Although, he adds, “we’ve never found Clovis points.”
Clovis points, named for Clovis, NM, where they were first found in 1929, are the characteristically fluted projectile points generally associated with that period.
Later, the Lenape, a semi-migratory people, discovered the rich soils and lush forests of the Kittatinny Mountains. The later Folsom points from about 6,000 years ago were found at the Dark Moon and on the Hendershot Farm. Evidence was also found of one of the houses, Wershing said.
Although people starting digging on these sites before there had been scientific studies, it appears the Lenape used a New England style of housing with two rows of branches making up the walls.
They were part of the Algonquin nation whose tribes shared a common language. They could not communicate with the five tribes of the Iroquois nation.
“Probably 20 other good sites have been looted,” Wershing said. “A lot of stuff was looted from under the rock shelters,” he added.
County Freeholder Richard Vohden also noted a Lenape garbage dump was found, indicating the Lenape ate Snapper, Beaver, and Elk.
Most of the sites are in what is now Fredon Township, but were in Green before Fredon was split off.
“Pequest means 'open land,'" Wershing said, but there were also natural rock shelters. There was also a lake 8 by 2 miles across and about 30-feet deep, where Great Meadows is now.
An ever bigger lake was above the Pequest area, Wershing explained.
Wershing noted the European way of setting boundaries is along creeks. The Dutch and Swedes divided land down the middle of the creek. The English gave the largest landowner the entire stream. Native Americans, however, divided land at the top of a ridge. Most settlements were on the west sides of ridges so they would get the morning sun. This was discovered in 1955 when the lake at Great Meadows was drained to become what is now the meadowlands.
William Penn and his descendants were early owners of the land on both sides of the Hudson and Penn’s son, William Jr., instituted the Walking Purchase, in which he would buy all the land a man could walk in a day. He then hired a very fast runner to “walk” the tract. The chief of the Waplings said his tribe claimed all the land down the Hudson to the Raritan and across to the Delaware.
He and the chief of the Onandongas claimed they were cheated out of his land.
The Algonquins were known as a peaceful tribe but that does not mean they did not take sides with the white settlers. They sided with the French against the British in the French and Indian War, during which there were a string of forts up the Delaware.
After the Revolution, most natives from New Jersey migrated west. The headquarters of the Lenape tribe is now in Broadheadsville, Pa, although many descendents of those who intermarried with Europeans still live here.
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