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Bethel Indian Town

National Register Nomination
Home
Archaeological Pitfalls at Bethel
Historical Proof of Bethel's Location
National Register Nomination
Help Preserve Bethel
David Brainerd's Early Work
From Crosswicks to Bethel
Bethel's Role in the French & Indian War
Bethel in 1752
Documents from the Friends Indian Committee
The New Jersey Association for helping the Indians
Crosswicks Treaty of 1756 & Native Men in Military Service
From Bethel to Brotherton
The Search for Bethel
William Tennent & the Move to Brotherton
Proof of Wigwam Brook's Headwaters
Miscellaneous Notes
Books for Sale
Guest Book

Bethel Indian Town Nominated to the New Jersey & National Registers of Historic Places as a National Landmark

Following the requirements of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, PO Box 404, Trenton, NJ 08625-0404, a Preliminary Application Questionnaire was submitted in November, 2005.
 
The NJ HPO took no action on this application.
 
In April, 2007, the PAQ was again submitted as per the legal requirements of the NJ State Register of Historic Places administrative code.  One week later, in the face of ongoing political influence and interference by officials in Monroe Township and Middlesex County, a nomination form was submitted.  In mid-May, Dorothy Guzzo, Administrator of the HPO sent a letter to Richard Walling stating the nomination was incomplete as it did not specifically link Bethel Indian Town to the parcel proposed as the site of the new Monroe High School.
 
A revised nomination form, dated and submitted May 27, 2007 was sent to the HPO with full location data as requested by the HPO.  The site is being nominated for its historical and cultural significance, however, the HPO keeps making the error that the nomination of Bethel is for Criteria D - Archaeological Significance.  This confusion has been has been noted, and the HPO has been requested to acknowledge the correct criteria to be used in considering the nomination form.
 
As of July 5, 2007, the HPO has requested that a prelimary Phase I Archaeological Survey, performed by Richard Grubb & Associates of Cranbury, NJ, be extended into a Phase II.  The Phase I Survey consisted of 602 1' sqaure shovel test holes spaced every fifty feet, and one 5'x5' excavation unit.  Of the many anomalies discovered by ground-penetrating radar, three were not investigated, although they may have contained "features associated with Bethel."
 
The initial survey of 627 square feet of excavated soil, from a total of over 1.5 million square feet (the project area is 35 acres, or the equivalent of 21 football fields) found over 20 colonial artifacts.  If the .0004 percent of the project area yieled over 20 period artifacts, than a 4 percent survey would yield approximately 20,000 period artifacts.
 
Amongst the artifacts recovered was a fragment of a bell that the consultant determined to be "consistant with that of a church bell."
 
The Phase II Survey is expected to be completed by early September, 2007 and the findings submitted to the NJ HPO.
 
Word is awaited from the HPO regarding the nomination of this historic site as a National Landmark.

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 Office.
 
Section 7:
 

Describe the historic and current condition of the property:

 

Bethel 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.

 

Bethel 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.

 

The 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.

 

Bethel 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:

 

The Indians 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.

 

In 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.)

 

While 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.

 

Based 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.

 

In 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.

 

In 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 into grassland.

 

 

As 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]

 

Section 8:


Significant Persons continued:

 

John Brainerd:  Religion

William Tennent:  Religion

Moses Tunda Tatamy:  Ethnic History; Politics and Government

Isaac Still:  Ethnic History, Politics and Government

Stephen Calvin: Ethnic History, Politics and Government; Education

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

the 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. 

 

In 1744, David Brainerd began his mission work with the Delaware Indians at the Forks of the Delaware (Easton, Pennsylvania area).  Not meeting with success, he relocated to Crosswicks, New Jersey, near a well-established Indian community (reference, 1756 Treaty between New Jersey and the New Jersey Indians). 

 

Due to poor soil fertility and problems over land rights, his congregation at Crosswicks moved en masse to Indian lands immediately adjoining the Falconer Tract along the Manalapan River in what was then the Corporation of Perth Amboy.  In his March 24, 1746 entry of his diary, David Brainerd noted, “My people went out this day upon the design of clearing some of their land…in order to their settling there in a compact form; where they might be under 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.”

 

Bethel became the focus of New Jersey’s efforts to acculturate its Native American population.  Its young people were not only schooled at Bethel, but also learned trades such as blacksmithing and cooperage.  Several boys and one girl attended Wheelock’s school in Connecticut and later went on to become teachers among the Iroquois of New York.  Two young men also went on to the College of New Jersey (Princeton), which was established, in-part, to provide advanced religious training for the Delawares.  Other Christian missionaries visited Bethel, including Job Strong and Elihu Spencer, and a delegation of Moravian missionaries in 1747.  Two years later, Governor Belcher of New Jersey made a special visit to the mission community.

 

In addition to regional Delaware Indians, Bethel was also the home of other Algonquian Indians of the Northeast.  There is a documented case of a Montauk woman (Awiulschashuak, later baptized by the Moravians as Elisabeth) arriving at Bethel and residing there for several years before moving on to the Moravian missions in Pennsylvania.  Munsee Chief Papunahung (1705-1775) had a grandson who was a congregant (Samuel Moore) at Bethel, and the sisters of Teedyuscung (one of whom, Sarah, was baptized in Connecticut and may be of a New England tribe) lived at Bethel with their children.  In regards to Delaware Indians living at other communities in New Jersey, John Brainerd visited these also.  On September 4, 1749, he described a visit to Weekping/Coaxen in Burlington County as follows:

 

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.

 

The work at Bethel was a model for missionary work amongst the Native Americans at the time.  Jonathan Edwards wrote on April 12, 1753:

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]

Residents of Bethel Indian Town played a crucial role during the French and Indian War.  For example, Isaac Still made the harrowing diplomatic mission to the Western Delaware in the fall of 1758 with news of the Treaty of Easton.  His role in this mission, although not well known, was critical to securing the neutrality, and in some cases, the alliance of the western Indian nations.  As for military service, nearly twenty of Bethel’s young men were captured and killed by French-allied Indians at the surrender of Fort William Henry in 1757.  This loss was catastrophic and contributed to the decline of the Bethel community.  Similar examples of wartime losses impacting native groups include the Mashpee, Mohegan, and Stockbridge Mohican of New England.

 

By 1758, New Jersey officials were actively seeking means to isolate its Indian population from the “wild” Indians in the Ohio Country.  In August of that year, a three thousand acre parcel in the Pine Barrens of Burlington County was purchased for the establishment of an Indian reservation.  By 1759, cabins were built and lots laid out for the new residents of Brotherton.  Included in the move were the Calvin family, Isaac Still and the widow of Sachem Weequehela.  Even after the dissolution of Bethel, several Indian families chose to remain in the area, at least into the mid 1760s.

 

After Bethel was abandoned, the area remained sparsely settled.  As depicted on the 1809 survey map of the area, the only structure nearby was Mounts Mill at the dam site in present-day Jamesburg, and a few scattered log homes in the Helmetta area.  Only Spotswood had developed into a small hamlet by the mid to late 18th century, due to its industrial base.

 

Under Criterion D, the potential for archaeological information is high for this site.  By way of analysis and comparison was the 1976 study of the Manalapan watershed in Monroe Township and the boroughs of Spotswood and Helmetta (Middlesex County).  In 1976 the Rutgers Archeological Survey Office of Cook College, New Brunswick, conducted a survey of the proposed Monroe Township municipal utilities system.  The report stated in part, “as a result of the archaeological reconnaissance, one prehistoric site has been recorded within the limits of the project area (along Cedar Brook) and two others have been identified…along the banks of the Matchaponix.” (p. 5)  “It appears, therefore, that the easement will be passing through what was only the lateral fringe of an extensive occupation area which probably extends to the banks of [Cedar] Brook.” (p. 26)   The site included material dating back 8,000 BCE, and up to the Late Woodland period.  Based upon these findings, the RASO recommended the Cedar Brook site be nominated to the National Register.  “This limited information is sufficient to demonstrate that the river drainages of the Manalapan and the Matchaponix were occupied for long periods during prehistoric times and that the region holds potentially valuable information for New Jersey archaeology.” (p. 6)

 

Additionally, the site may yield information relative to the material culture of the residents of Bethel Indian Town.  For example, based upon recovered material, an analysis may be made contrasting the level of native associated artifacts with those of European or Euro-American manufacture.  A similar study at the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation Archaeological District National Historic Landmark in Connecticut showed an unexpectedly large component of manufactured goods.  This may be reflective of a higher degree of acculturation than was originally presumed by the investigators.

 

As a Traditional Cultural Property, sites associated with living communities hold significant cultural meaning.  For example, the Delaware descendants living in Wisconsin and Oklahoma often make special pilgrimages to Gnadenhutten, Ohio, site of the Moravian Indian Massacre in March 1782.  Also, the Stockbridge – Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation of Wisconsin, make regular visits to their ancestral homelands, and specifically to the site of the Stockbridge Indian Massacre site in Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx, New York.  So too, now that the actual site of Bethel Indian Town is identified, the Delaware and related descendant tribes will look upon it as a sacred site.  During the more than decade long habitation of

Bethel, many dozens of Native Americans died and are buried at the as yet to be discovered mission cemetery.  A letter from Chief John Stonefish of the Delaware Nation Council expresses concern for the preservation of the site and for the burial ground not to be disturbed.

 

By the late 1800s, Bethel had passed into legend.  It was remembered in an 1882 history of Middlesex County and described by Alexander Redmond of Monroe Township.  He had acquired the land in question in the 1840s, and at that time foundation holes, chimney stone and scattered fruit trees were all that had remained of the Indian village.  As late as 1939, Charlton Beck recorded a local man as stating, “The tradition had long been handed down, that there was an ‘Indian City’ about a mile and a half from [Jamesburg].”  That distance is the exact same as today from Jamesburg to the headwaters of Wigwam Brook.

 

 Designation 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 Nation.

 

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.

 

Setting:

 

One of the components of integrity is that of setting.  The headwaters of Wigwam Brook are fortunately preserved within Thompson Park.  The broad fields extending to the north and northeast of the village site were an ideal location for agriculture.  This plateau of land is drained by several tributaries to the Manalapan River, all of which are still intact within the setting of the park, and Wigwam Brook is largely in its natural state, at the bottom of a ravine located west of Perrineville Road.  The rural quality of the area, and the open

space associated with the site of Bethel Indian Town preserves the feeling, association and the setting of this cultural resource.

 

Bethel Indian Town is eligible for the New Jersey and National Registers on the following Criteria: A., B., and D.  Additionally, it also qualifies as a Cultural Property as defined by the National Register due to its unique relationship with the Delaware people of today.

 

Bethel Indian Town is significant for its Ethnic Heritage, as a Religious site, for Social History, and for Community Planning and Development.  It was specifically created to be a mission village based upon a European model, inclusive of a church and school.  Its affiliation with the Delaware people qualify it under Ethnic Heritage, and the process of cultural interaction witnessed here falls under Social History.

 

Justification of Eligibility: 

 

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.

 

Bibliography:

 

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 Series 4.  

 

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.

 

Stonefish, John    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 printing.

 

Weslager, C. A.   1972   The Delaware Indians: A History. New Brunswick; New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

 

Utz, Axel  2007  Pennsylvania State University.  Personal communication.

 

Archival Sources:

 

            Haverford College, Quaker Archives, Haverford, Pennsylvania

            Middlesex County Archives, North Brunswick, New Jersey

Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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 Jersey.

New-York Historical Society, Alexander Collection, New York, New York.   

 

Maps:

 

1809      Survey of Lots along the Manalapan River, RUL, Ms. Maps.

1840        US Coastal Survey Map, Number 145.

1850    Map of Middlesex County, Otley & Keily, Camden, New Jersey.

1888    Vicinity of Trenton sheet, New Jersey Geological Survey Atlas.

1901    New Brunswick Quadrangle, United State Geological Survey.

1953    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. 

 

 

Boundary  Justification:

 

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