New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past

By Federal Writers' Project (N.J.) | Go to book overview

Archeology and Indians

ARCHEOLOGISTS concerned with New Jersey usually center their interest on two main problems: (1) remains of the Lenni Lenape Indians and their ancestors or predecessors, and (2) traces of an ancient, possibly glacial age, man. About the Indians there is much conclusive information, but evidence of ancient man has been the crux of New Jersey's major archeological dispute.

The theory of an ancient man in New Jersey was first advanced with evidence by Dr. Charles C. Abbott, a Trenton physician, who discovered crude argillite blades, which he assigned to the glacial period. The spot where these remains were found in gravel along the Delaware River bluff, one mile south of Trenton, consequently became one of the most important archeological sites in the eastern United States. An article concerning his finds, written by Dr. Abbott in 1872, raised a storm of argument.

Late in 1887 Henry C. Mercer, curator of the Museum of American and Prehistoric Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania, investigated the site. He reported that "No token of an antecedent race was discovered." Beginning in 1894 and continuing for nearly twenty years, the Abbott farm was excavated by Ernest Volk, under the direction of F. W. Putnam of Harvard University. Volk, agreeing with Dr. Abbott, wrote that "the conclusive evidence . . . asserts the antiquity of man on this continent at least as far back as the time of these glacial deposits in the Delaware Valley." Dr. Leslie Spier dug several trenches on the Abbott farm in 1914 and 1915. He found large stone blades, arrowheads, and other artifacts of a simple culture differing widely from that of the historic Lenni Lenape Indians, but he did not attempt to answer the question of its being a possible Paleolithic, or Stone Age, culture.

In April 1936 the Indian Site Survey, a Works Progress Administration project sponsored by the State Museum and directed by Dr. Dorothy Cross, began excavations at the Abbott farm and later at other sites. Nothing has been discovered yet that may be attributed to an ancient or glacial man. On the contrary, what evidence has been uncovered tends to disprove Dr. Abbott's interpretation of his findings; as an instance, designs on recently

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New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Sponsors' Forewords v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xv
  • Maps xxi
  • General Information xxiii
  • Calendar of Events xxix
  • Part I - New Jersey: the General View 1
  • A New Jersey Silhouette 3
  • Natural Setting 7
  • Archeology and Indians 28
  • History 35
  • Government 55
  • Industry and Commerce 69
  • Labor 79
  • Agriculture 89
  • The Press 110
  • Racial and National Groups 118
  • Folklore and Folkways 126
  • Education 134
  • Religion 142
  • The Arts 151
  • Part II - Cities and Towns 187
  • Atlantic City 189
  • Bayonne 201
  • Bordentown 207
  • Burlington 216
  • Camden 225
  • Elizabeth 238
  • Freehold 250
  • Hackensack 256
  • Hoboken 262
  • Jersey City 270
  • Morristown 283
  • Mount Holly 292
  • New Brunswick 298
  • Newark 312
  • The Oranges and Maplewood 339
  • Passaic 345
  • Paterson 349
  • Perth Amboy 361
  • Princeton 370
  • Salem 390
  • Trenton 398
  • Part III - Tours 415
  • Part IV - Appendices 687
  • Bibliography 697
  • Index 705
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