Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places
Submitted April 29, 2007; revised May 27, 2007
1. Bethel Indian Town, aka. Cranberry Indian Town
2. Perrineville Road & Schoolhouse Road, Monroe Twp., NJ, Middlesex County, 08831
3. State/Federal/Tribal Certification [blank]
4. National Park Service Certification [blank]
5. Classification: public-local ownership; catagory of property, site
6. Function or Use: Domestic (Native American Village), Religion (Christian Mission),
Education (School for NA children), Agriculture/Subsistence, Natural Feature (Wigwam Brook).
Current Function: Public park with lawns and soccer fields.
7. Architectural Classification: Not Applicable
8. Statement of Significance
Criteria A: Ethnic Heritage, Native American; Religion &
Education; Social History; Community Planning; Traditional Cultural Property.
Criteria B: Religion; Politics and Government
Criteria D: Archaeology: Historic - Aboriginal
Period of Significance: 1746-1762
Significant Person: David Brainerd - Religion [see narrative below for additional names]
Cultural Affiliation: Delaware Tribe of Indians & Algonquian Indians of the northeast
9. Major Bibliographical References - [see narrative below]
Primary Location of Additional Data: State Historic Preservation
the historic and current condition of the property:
Indian Town was a Christian mission village consisting of Delaware and other Algonquian converts under the ministry of David
Brainerd, who was succeeded by both John Brainerd and William Tennent from the period of 1746 to about 1762. Situated on a high plateau of productive land, well-drained by several streams, and having the headwaters
of Wigwam Brook at its village center, Bethel Indian Town was a well-placed occupancy.
Indian Town was a planned community, created as a Christian mission for the Delaware Indians.
Its youth were educated in a school funded by the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge and two of
them went on to the College of New Jersey (Princeton). Farming was an important
factor in providing both sustaining the community, but also as a tool for acculturation to agricultural pursuits. Wigwam Brook provided a steady source of drinking water in the center of the village.
village was, according to David Brainerd’s Journal, “a compact form, where they might be under the advantages
of attending the public worship of God, of having their children taught in a school, and at the same time have a conveniency
for planting, &c.” (Brainerd’s Journal, entry for March 24, 1746) The village was situated on Indian land, at Falconer’s Tract (a Scottish
landowner with proprietary rights in the Eastern Division of New Jersey), at the headwaters of Wigwam Brook.
developed into the largest Native American village in New Jersey during the colonial period.
Reverend Jonathan Edwards stated in a letter dated March 4, 1748:
We have had accounts
from time to time of religion being in a flourishing state in the Indian congregation of New Jersey, under the care of Mr.
John Brainerd; of the congregation's increasing by the access of Indians from distant parts; of a work of awakening carried
on among the unconverted, and additions made to the number of the hopefully converted; and the Christian behavior of professors
there. Mr. Brainerd was at my house a little while ago, and represented this to be the present state of things in that congregation.
The minutes of
the Society for March 29, 1748 made the following observation about Bethel:
continue diligent in the business of their mission; that the Indians under the care of Mr. Brainerd are not only incorporated
in a church, but dwell together in a regular civil society; that the school, which is supported by contributions in these
parts, is greatly increased, and an additional allowance is made for the encouragement of one or two well qualified young
Indians who assist in the instruction of the rest; that by the charity of well disposed persons they have got
spinning wheels, that Indian women may be trained up to industry and diligence.
a letter dated June 20, 1749, Bethel Indian Town was described as follows:
As to the mission in New Jersey, we have
from time to time had comfortable accounts of it; and Mr. John Brainerd, who has the care of the congregation of Christian
Indians there, was about three weeks ago at my house, and informed me of the increase of his congregation, and of their being
added to from time to time by the coming of Indians from distant places and settling in the Indian town at Cranberry, for
the sake of hearing the gospel. (Jonathan Edwards to Mr. Erskine.)
no contemporary maps of the village exist, there are written descriptions by eyewitnesses that stated Bethel Indian Town consisted
of forty houses, a school, church and cemetery. Its people were sustained by
forty acres of Indian corn and forty acres of English grain. John Brainerd described
“these people thus settled on this Spot, do universally do something more or less at Husbandry…it is not without
Difficulty that they learn to do the several sorts of Work that belongs to Tillage of Land, &c.” (John Brainerd’s report of October 4, 1752 to the Scotch Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.) Husbandry also includes livestock.
upon Indian mission villages that operated at the same time, notably by the Moravians in Pennsylvania, and the Presbyterians
at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the structures at Bethel were likely situated in a planned layout, either along one main street,
or possible a main avenue (or aisle) with a cross street. One map of the area
dating to 1840, shows the area of Bethel Indian Town as having a cut-through lane running on a diagonal line between present-day
Perrineville Road and Schoolhouse Road. This lane may be indicative of the above-referenced
street which may have run through the village. As for the type of domestic structures, cabins are desribed, but other
contemporary Indian mission villages also included the continued use of traditional wigwams.
addition to the farmland described above, Alexander Redmond, who purchased the site of Bethel in 1841, described the presence
of remnant cherry and apple trees that had been planted in the former Indian village.
1758, the Colony of New Jersey purchased land in Burlington County for the creation of an Indian reservation. By 1759, this new reservation, dubbed Brotherton by Governor Bernard, began to receive its first residents,
mainly from Bethel. However, there were still some remaining families who stayed
behind at Bethel, at least until the early 1760s (Moravian Archives, Box 123, Folders 1 and 2). Deeds transferring land ownership of the area during the 1750s were a precursor to white settlement. After the removal of the Indians, the land remained in a rural, agricultural setting.
Sometime between 1850 and 1861, a local property owner, Samuel R. Forman, built a small
house for his son near the intersection of the two roads. This feature appears on the 1861 and 1876 maps of Monroe,
but there is no indication of the date of the structure's demolition. Agriculture remained prevalent during the remainder of the 19th century and well into
the 20th century. The only incongruous use of this parcel seems to
have been its use as a grass airstrip for crop dusters, according to local informants.
Aerial photographs dating to the 1930s depict the area as open fields, with the presence of Wigwam Brook’s headwaters. The brook is shown as open water on a 1953 Middlesex County Engineering Department
map. It is not known specifically when the headwaters were covered over and developed
represented on the first detailed topographical map of the area, from the New Jersey Geological Survey Atlas of 1888, Vicinity
of Trenton Map, the area of Bethel was shown with the following features: At
the intersection of Perrineville Road and Schoolhouse Road (not named on the map), the open headwaters of Wigwam Brook appear. Across Perrineville Road, between the road and Wigwam Brook, the land is primarily
forested as the ravine slopes down to the stream. There is an open field on the
west side of the road where plateau extends towards the stream. The location
of Bethel Indian Town, with its related farmland, is depicted as open land on the 1888 map.
The area of where tributaries to the Manalapan are situated, it is forested.
It should be noted that these woodlands are essentially the same as at the present time (2007), with the exception
of expansion of the woodline slightly towards the west, and up to Schoolhouse Lane at the forest’s southern boundary.
In the 1960s, Middlesex County acquired land in Monroe Township for the creation of Thompson Park. The boundaries of the park acquired with Green Acres Open Space funding were Perrineville Road on the west,
Schoolhouse Road on the south, the Manalapan River on the east and Jamesburg Borough on the north. The park is a multi-use facility that includes nature trails, ball fields, soccer fields, a dog walking
park, a small children’s zoo, picnic groves, and natural areas covered with forestation and transected by a number of
streams that feed into the Manalapan. The area of Bethel Indian Town is currently
utilized as soccer fields and passive open space. The former headwaters of Wigwam
Brook are visible as depressions in the ground situated where open water once flowed.
The opportunity exists for the headwaters to be restored to its natural appearance of the 18th century.
Location of Bethel Indian Town
Based upon the historical record, including surveys, deeds and maps dating from the early federal
period to 1953, and Monroe tax maps, the location of Bethel Indian Town is ascertained. Bethel was situated at the headwaters
of Wigwam Brook, which has been determined to have been at the southwest corner of Thompson Park, Monroe Township. From
colonial documents, including legislative minutes and treaty records, Bethel Indian Town was described as being located at
Falconer's (also Faulkner) Tract along the west bank of the Manalapan River. Falconer's Tracts was described as:
500 acres of land on Menalapan River, in the County of Middlesex, in New-Jersey, beginning at the
Mouth of Island Brook on the said River, and running West Forty Chains, thence South Ninety six Chains, and thence East Thirty
five Chains to a Run of Water, and thence down the Run to the River, and thence as the Stream runs to where it first began;
which Tract, amongst others, was patented to Robert Barclay the 22 of January, 1689, and conveyed to David Falconer by Deed
recorded in the Secretary's Office at Perth Amboy, Lib. H. fo. 3 [New Jersey Archives, Book H., p. 3]
Significant Persons continued:
Moses Tunda Tatamy:
Ethnic History; Politics and Government
Ethnic History, Politics and Government
Stephen Calvin: Ethnic History, Politics and Government;
Joseph Peepy: Ethnic History, Politics and Government
Narrative of Significance:
Bethel Indian Town Historic
Site provides a unique perspective for the understanding and study of the issues confronting Native Americans living in New
Jersey during the mid-eighteenth century. Topics including land dispossession,
attempts at assimilation, native strategies of survival, and the role of the New Jersey Delaware during the French and Indian
War in negotiations between colonial authorities and the Western Delaware and their allies in the Ohio Country. The site also represents community planning to the extent that Christian missions brought Euro-American
concepts of town living to an unfamiliar native population. The establishment
of a school for both young boys and girls, with the opportunity for advanced educational opportunities, was a significant
attempt at social planning. In addition, the natural features associated with
the establishment of Bethel Indian Town were important factors; the continuing presence of these features in a virtually-unaltered
condition, provide the necessary sense of setting, feeling and association for this historic village. As two examples, the site of the village farmland remains in open fields, and the headwaters of Wigwam
Brook are clearly discernable on the landscape and only need to be cleared to complete a restoration of this natural feature.
The site of Bethel Indian
Town, established in 1746, may also be the site of an earlier Lenape village. The
name of Wigwam Brook dates to the earliest colonial usage, and is descriptive of some level of habitation by the indigenous
people. From deeds and surveys of the era, reference is also made to the “old
Indian settlement” or “Indian Town” along the Manalapan in this area (1741 deed from Andrew Woolley & Peter Tule, Indians, to James Peairs; unrecorded deed, Special Collections, Rutgers
University Libraries: also, survey dated June 27, 1752 in Survey Book 3, Board
of East Jersey Proprietors, pp. 256-257). Another fact supporting the native
occupation of the area is the confluence of Indian Brook into the Manalapan at the latter stream’s confluence with Wigwam
Brook (1790 survey for Wm. Burnet, and 1809 manuscript map of Mounts Mills, present-day Jamesburg, held by Special Collections,
Rutgers University Libraries).
The most recognized important
persons associated with Bethel include David Brainerd, his brother John, and William Tennent.
Bethel is also associated with the leadership of the Delaware people during the eighteenth century. Moses Tunda Tatamy, or Tatamy for short, was the acknowledged leader of the New Jersey Delaware through
much of the century. He lived alternately at his land at the Forks of the Delaware
and at Bethel. For example, in 1756, he and his son William, are identified as
Cranberry Indians (a euphemism for those Native American residents at Bethel). Isaac
Still, Joseph Peepy and Stephen Calvin (and others) were cultural diplomats who were engaged by the colonies of New Jersey
and New York, and by Sir William Johnson, Indian Superintendent, to not only maintain the peace among the native tribes and
the British Crown, but also used them to induce hostile tribes to abandon the French and renew the covenant of peace with
the British. Tatamy and Peepy often provided military and diplomatic intelligence
to colonial authorities during the French and Indian War, and Tatamy appeared before the New Jersey General Assembly in 1756
to report on the outbreak of violence in eastern Pennsylvania, near the New Jersey border.
Stephen Calvin was the son-in-law
of slain Indian King Weequehela, and maintained the family’s position of leadership for the community as it moved from
traditional homelands to Bethel, then Brotherton, and finally to Wisconsin in the nineteenth century. Calvin was also schoolmaster at Bethel. Several of these men
were appointed attorneys by the New Jersey Delaware, and Teedyuscung, in 1758 to represent them in land negotiations with
New Jersey. The quit claim deed ratified by the Treaty of Easton in October,
1758 effectively settled all New Jersey Indian land claims and laid the foundation to make peace with the Western Delaware.
Natural features were deciding factors in choosing the location for Bethel Indian Town. Situating a village at
headwaters of a stream or spring is common amongst human communities. Specifically,
Holicong Spring in Buckingham Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is the site of both prehistoric aboriginal village habitation,
and historic Delaware Indian habitation. In 1770, Isaac Still, a Delaware Indian
previously resident at Bethel, began to gather scattered New Jersey Indian families at Holicong Spring and settled into a
small village. In 1775, Still led these people to the Western Delaware settlements
in the Ohio Country. Examples of Moravian mission villages settled at spring
heads include Schaghticoke and Wechquetank in Connecticut, Nain in Pennsylvania, Schonbrunn (originally Welhik Tuppeek, or
Great Spring) in Ohio and Fairfield in Ontario. Tulpehocken in Pennsyvania was
a significant Delaware village also located at the source of drinking water.
Just as I was about to take leave of them, there
came a little boy of about ten or eleven years old, and hung about me and began to cry, upon which I inquired what he wanted.
I soon understood that he wanted to go with me; so I asked his parents if they were willing. They said, "yes." So I sent him
along with an Indian who belonged to the place where I live.
Mr. Brainerd, the pastor of the
Indian congregation at Bethel in New Jersey, who is supported by the correspondents [Scotch Society]…His congregation
are, I suppose, the most virtuous and religious collection of Indians in America, and some of them have now been long
established in religion and virtue. [emphasis added]
as a National Historic Landmark:
Bethel Indian Town is worthy of listing as a
National Historic Landmark. As the only Christian Indian mission village in colonial
New Jersey, it meets Criteria A., B., and D. and represents a spectrum of themes. As
outlined in the Statement of Significance above, the site was the most important Delaware Indian village during the period
of the French and Indian War. Its residents included the leadership of the Delaware
with figures like Moses Tatamy and Stephen Calvin, and family members of important leaders like Teedyuscung and Chief Papunahung. David Brainerd was the missionary founder of Bethel, and his stature as a religious
pioneer amongst Native Americans is of national significance. Bethel represented
a community of continuity in a world of change. Other Algonquian speakers from
the region moved to Bethel, and Bethel residents moved to the Moravian mission of Pennsylvania and also to their relatives
in the Ohio Country.
Bethel was to be the example of introducing Euro-American
lifeways to the Native Americans. Eleazar Wheelock was early to recognize Bethel
as a model, which he sought to emulate in other Native American communities. His
first students were two young boys from Bethel who trained as educators and missionaries to the Iroquois of New York and Algonquian
groups in New England. Princeton University was founded in part to provide college
courses of study for the Delaware of New Jersey. During the American Revolution,
several young Delaware men from the Ohio Country were sent to Princeton as a method of securing the alliance of this important
The leadership of Bethel played determinant roles
during the French and Indian War. These cultural brokers assured victory for
the British government by providing a personal and intimate association with those tribes on the frontier disaffected from
colonial interests. Without Isaac Still, for example, the missions of Christian
Frederick Post in the summer and fall of 1758 would have ended differently. The
positive role of the New Jersey, or Jersey, Indians in the frontier era cannot be overemphasized. Teedyuscung, Job Chilloway, Nutimus, White Eyes, all had an association with Bethel Indian Town.
The great idea of national significance was the
assimilation of the Native American to the mores of English colonial society. One
example was the use of Bethel men as soldiers in the New Jersey Provincial Regiment during the French and Indian War. This effort was also reflected in the years immediately following the removal of the
Bethel community to Brotherton, when Delaware leaders led their people to be the first
Native American nation to have a formal military
alliance with the United States. While the process of assimilation had many victims,
it ultimately led to a stage of American societal development in which native people are full participants. This association is best summarized in the words of New Jersey’s Native Americans at the time. At the January 1756 Crosswicks Treaty between the Delaware Indians and New Jersey,
the Native American spokesman, Ohiockechoque, speaking through interpreter Stephen Calvin, stated:
The bringing in the blessed Gospel, we esteem
the greatest advantage we have received by the English coming among us, and we trust it hath been a means in the Hand of GOD
to reform the Minds and Manners of a Number of us, and we prefer the Enjoyment of it and living with our Brethren the English
even to Life itself.
Based upon the foregoing,
it is requested that Bethel Indian Town be considered as a National Historic Landmark.
A. Associated with events: Bethel Indian Town was a link in the
chain of Christian missionary efforts that began in New England in the 17th century and continue to this day. Specifically, David Brainerd began his work with the Delaware in 1744, later moving
to Crosswicks. After meeting great success there, his congregation moved to Bethel
in order to be on traditional lands and to create a compact community. Its role
during the French and Indian War was significant, including New Jersey’s response to frontier violence, Native American
diplomatic efforts and in providing its men for military service. In terms of
the educational efforts towards colonial Native American groups, Bethel sent the first students to Wheelock’s school
and its young men were the first Indian students at Princeton. The historic site
represents the social history of the interaction between Native American and colonial leaders to deal with a wide range of
points of conflict.
B. Associated with the lives of persons significant in our past: Moses
Tatamy was the Delaware chief of the region during much of the 18th century.
He was a resident of Bethel, as was his family. Joseph Peepy, or Delaware
Joe, was instrumental in maintaining peace among colonial authorities and western tribes.
Isaac Still was of primary importance in the delicate diplomatic mission of 1758 which resulted in the French evacuation
of Fort DuQuesne and the establishment of an English post at what was to become Pittsburgh.
Stephen Calvin continued the leadership position of Sachem Weequehela, and his sons continued that leadership position
into the 1830s. Bartholomew Calvin returned to New Jersey in 1832 to finalize
the last treaty rights between the Delaware and the state.
In terms of Euro-Americans,
Bethel is intimately related to the pioneer missionary work of David Brainerd. Brainerd
is universally recognized for his missionary work with the Native Americans and his journal is still read to this day by members
of the Christian community. John Brainerd began his missionary work at Bethel,
where he took over in 1747 for his brother, and continued in that role until 1781 at Brotherton. William Tennent, noted Presbyterian minister of New Jersey, officiated at Bethel during the absences of
Brainerd, and the Indian converts attended occasional services at the Freehold Presbyterian Church, now known as Tennent Church,
in Manalapan Township, Monmouth County.
D. Have yielded, or likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history: Bethel was a large colonial village consisting of Native American residents. Their material culture will be interesting to analyze in terms of the mixture of traditional items and
European and American-made items. The settlement pattern, the use of the land,
and the potential for prehistoric material are all areas of information that are likely to be found at Bethel Indian Town.
The site of Bethel Indian
Town covers at least three components: The village site which consisted of forty
cabins, a church and a school and based upon square footage requirements of cabins and associated buildings, would have exceeded
one acre in scope if the houses were compactly settled. If the cabins were more
spread out, which is possible, than the habitation site would be accordingly larger.
The second component is the associated cemetery. Based upon other Native
American mission examples, notably the Moravians in Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, and the Stockbridge Mohicans in
Massachusetts, mission burial sites were situated on elevated ground outside the zone of habitation. Bethel was home of upwards of two hundred native congregants and family members at any given time and the
historical record states that it was often visited by mortal illness. The third
component is agricultural; the community relied upon eighty acres of Indian corn and English grain for sustenance. There may be evidence of associated out buildings such as barns, pens, corncribs, etc.
Bethel Indian Town Historic
Site is a unique cultural resource representing the largest Native American domestic site during the colonial period of New
Jersey. It is a source of traditional and religious association, retains its
integrity of setting, feeling and association, and may serve as an educational tool in building awareness of the role of its
residents and missionaries during the period of the French & Indian War.
Grumet, Robert S.
1995 Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today’s Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth
through Eighteenth Centuries, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Hunter, William A.
1974 Moses (Tunda) Tatamy, Delaware Indian Diplomat. Pages 71-78
in, Delaware Indian Symposium, edited by H. C. Kraft. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Anthropology
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection;
Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review 2007 Letter to New Jersey School Construction Corporation: January 17, 2007.
Rutgers Archaeological Survey Office; Report
of the Monroe Township Municipal Utilities System,
1976, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Copy at the Spotswood Borough Library,
Spotswood, New Jersey.
2007 Chief Stonefish, Delaware Nation Council, letter to New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection: March 16, 2007.
Walling, Richard S.
2005 Bethel Indian Town, Its History and Location Revealed: private
Weslager, C. A.
1972 The Delaware Indians: A History. New Brunswick; New Jersey:
Rutgers University Press.
2007 Pennsylvania State University.
Haverford College, Quaker Archives, Haverford, Pennsylvania
Middlesex County Archives, North Brunswick, New Jersey
Moravian Archives, Bethlehem,
Princeton University, Mudd
Library, American Indian Collection, Princeton, New Jersey
New Jersey Historical Society,
Bell Collection, Newark, New Jersey.
New Jersey State Archives,
East Jersey Proprietary Surveys, Middlesex County Deeds,
Probate Records, Trenton, New
New-York Historical Society,
Alexander Collection, New York, New York.
1809 Survey of Lots along the Manalapan River, RUL, Ms. Maps.
US Coastal Survey Map, Number 145.
of Middlesex County, Otley & Keily, Camden, New Jersey.
of Trenton sheet, New Jersey Geological Survey Atlas.
Brunswick Quadrangle, United State Geological Survey.
Jamesburg Quadrangle, United States Geological Survey, revised to 1981.
Verbal Boundary Description:
The boundary description for Bethel Indian Town
is as follows:
Beginning at the intersection
of Perrineville Road and Schoolhouse Road in Monroe Township, Middlesex County and running east along Schoolhouse Road approximately
two thousand (2,000) feet; north westerly on a straight line approximately three thousand, eight hundred feet (3,800) to a
point; then west approximately one thousand, seven hundred (1,700) feet to Perrineville Road; then, south along Perrineville
Road approximately three thousand, eight hundred feed (3,800) to the place of beginning.
The justification for these
boundaries is the placement of the village at the headwaters of Wigwam Brook and encompassing the well-drained plateau that
was the site of the agricultural usage associated with the village. For example,
if the fields were completely adjoining one another, the dimensions would be two thousand (2000) feet on two sides and one
thousand, seven hundred and forty six (1,746) feet on the other two sides (eighty acres total in production). An additional justification is the presence on an 1840 United States Coastal Survey map of the area depicting
a cut through lane extending from Perrineville Road, southeasterly across a large portion of Thompson Parks southwest corner,
to a point on Schoolhouse Road. This feature coincides with the historic location
of Bethel Indian Town.
American Indian Historical Research
For information on Brotherton & Weekping
For information on Weequehela & Spotswood, NJ
For information on the Gnadenhutten Massacre
For information on the Indian Company of 1778