The Great Minisink Trail in 1747 ~ Navesink to Minisink Island

While browsing the engravings in the New York Public Library Digital Collections this set of three 1747 maps came to light, Map I, II & III to accompany A bill in the chancery of New Jersey, at the suit of John [Dalrymple], Earl of Stair ... against Benjamin Bond, which were intended as an aid in presenting the issues of land purchases in the lawsuit which subsequently became known as the Elizabethtown Bill in Chancery.

Map no. I* cover the seaboard from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina; Map no. II covers central New Jersey's then Morris county, present day Sussex & Warren Counties; Map no. III covers the area around Elizabeth, New Jersey, between the Raritan and the Passaic Rivers. The maps were engraved by James Turner and "Printed by James Parker, and a few Copies are to be Sold by him, and Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia."

The illustration of Map no. II, click here to enlarge, includes the Muskonetcunk River, Hupatkong Pond, the 17th century "in the Dutch time" Upper and Lower Roads from the Zuidt River to Nieuw Amsterdam, and the ancient "Indian Path", the Great Minisink Trail, from near Clay Pit Creek in Navesink on New Jersey's seaboard  to the Council Fire of Minisink Island on the Delaware River.

Cartouche of Map no. I, 1747

"A persistent tradition among the descendants of the old settlers of New Jersey states that the Indians lived most of the year in the valley of the Delaware, and came to the coast only at certain seasons to hunt and fish.  The results of our survey, while only preliminary, tends to confirm this.  Along the shores of the great bays of east New Jersey from Navesink to Cape May there are a few traces of permanent settlements.  The shell heaps and camp sites that abound betoken frequent use of the same spot during the fishing season, but not continuous occupation.  Village sites and burial grounds are few and far between, Tuckerton and Beesleys Point being notable exceptions.  The great mass of villages and cemeteries, with their countless variey of relics, are along the Delaware River and its tributaries." ~  A Preliminary Report of the Archaeological Survey of the State of New Jersey, Skinner & Schrabisch, 1913, p 16.

John R. Giles in The Story of Waterloo Village, notes:  "Around 1750, a businessman from New York City, Garret Rapalje, [1730-1796], built a dam at the outflow of the Great Pond.  This initial reshaping of the water's course raised the water level behind the dam by about six feet.  This increased water depth resulted in the Great Pond and the Little Pond being merged into one ... this early version of Lake Hopatcong....Mr. Rapalje then built an iron forge, called the Brookland Forge, just below the new dam.  This forge operated for over thirty years."

For more recent maps of the Lenape trails in New Jersey see: The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries 1606 - 1968, by John P. Snyder, reprinted by the New Jersey Geological Survey, 2004, plates 2 & 3.

* Note: We've reported a bug to the NYPL on Map no I, which fails to enlarge to the correct map.