Sand Hill Indian History

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Chapter 1 Ike’s World - 1800

It was Indian Summer at Sand Hill and the end of the 19th century.

Indian Ike reminisced about the eight decades that elapsed as he rocked back and forth on the front porch of his large Victorian farmhouse onSpringwood Avenue on Sand Hill. As he smoked his pipe, watched his grandchildren chase fireflies, nursed an amputated big toe, Ike reflected on the transformation of New Jersey shore villages caused by industrial changes. Sand Hill was located on the Atlantic coast, about fifty-five water miles south of New York City and about thirty miles east of Princeton , NJ .

Sand Hill was home to several generations of Lenape and Cherokee Indian families, such as the Richardsons and Reveys. Sand Hill became the gathering place for summer powwows as descendants returned home each year.

All the street names have changed on the triangular piece of land that was Sand Hill. Ike’s family owned fifteen acres on Sand Hill. The acreage bordered Sand Hill Road on the north, now named Bangs Avenue ; Springwood Avenue on the south, now called Lake Avenue ; and Springdale Avenue on the east, recently called Neptune Boulevard . Springwood and Springdale Avenues were named after the springs on Sand Hill.

Ike’s four sons, Isaac W., Theodore, Richard and Joseph Richardson, owned fifteen acres of farmland at Sand Hill buying the property in 1877 from James A. Bradley for $500. Twenty-five years of industrial, technological and mechanical advances were changing life at the Jersey shore. The Richardson homestead, called Richardson Heights on some maps, was composed of a dozen houses, barns, smokehouses, out-houses, sheds and other structures built by the Richardson men. Sand Hill was heavily wooded and surrounded by magnolia, black walnut, fruit and hardwood trees. Nearby acres were purchased and used for cutting lumber for construction projects. 

Fields for horses, cows, goats, chickens, a bull and geese were located in the valley below two freshwater springs that bubbled out of the hillside. A hand pump on the back porch was connected to the spring and water was stored in a barrel. A large corncrib was stocked with animal feed for winter use. Since there was no electricity, families used oil lamps for light, had an ice-box with a square block of ice in the bottom and kept a root cellar for winter use.

Food preparation occurred in a large country kitchen while the men worked building new dwellings around shore towns. Meals were served in the large dining room, which had its own porch that faced westward catching the afternoon sun. There were five or six bedrooms upstairs, front and back staircases, and a huge mound of coal piled in the cellar to feed the stoves in winter.

In 1818 full-blooded Cherokee Indian, Isaac Revey Richardson, was born to Rebecca and Joseph Richardson in the small village of Eatontown , NJ, (just a few years after the British burned the White House). Indian Ike was the youngest of twelve siblings, some of whom remained in the mountains of Georgia when the family left or migrated westward to Ohio , Indiana or Oklahoma and were never heard from again.

Ike’s relatives were a fragment of the Cherokee Nation located in the southeastern states of the Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee . Spanish explorers met Eastern woodland tribes as they trekked through this area of the Great Smokey Mountains in the 1500s. Interaction with Spanish and French explorers searching for gold, silver, precious metals, valuable furs and skins upset the trade balance of native communities in the 1600s. Indian natives used medicinal herbs such as dandelion, red clover, yellow dock, violet flowers, burdock to prevent disease and boost the immune system. Cosmetic lotions of sunflower and nut oils were used for sunburn and bear grease kept away insects. The Lenape had no Algonquin word for garbage or trash since all organic matter was stored in pits and used for gardens and fields as compost.

After hiding out in the mountains for a while, Ike’s forefathers chose to make a better life for themselves by moving north following the Appalachian Trail.  They lived with their Lenape cousins, the Reveys in the area called Shrewsbury, of which Eatontown village and the hamlet of Tinton Falls were a small section. Since Isaac married Elizabeth Revey from New York, part of the Sand Hill history is tied to Manhattan.

           Farmers from Holland settled the New Jersey shore before England declared ownership of the entire eastern seaboard in the 1660s. European settlers bought land near Sandy Hook from the local natives and started clearing the land for farming. Nearby we find Holland Road and many roads with Dutch surnames, Van Brackle, Van Mater, and Van derveer. Later Van was dropped from some names. Eventually, European diseases brought fourteen epidemics of small pox, diphtheria, typhus and measles, which eradicated ninety percent of the native population of New York and New Jersey. 

A letter of July 8th, 1524 from Giovanni de Verrazzano to King Francis of France gives us our first description of the area of New Amsterdam, now called New York, and New Belgium, now called New Jersey . A Dutch map of 1635 lists local area tribes and their villages: Naraticons, Awuauachuques, Sanhikans, Tappaens, Manatthans, Matouwacs, Sennecans, Makimanes, Quirepeys, Weckewons, Matavacons, Neversinks Port-au-Pecks and Raritans.

Modern maps reveal our local Indian heritage by using names of tribal places, such as Tappans (Zee), Manhattans, Matawan, Manasquan, Navesink, Seneca, Lake Takanassee and (Chief) Wanamassa. Other names exist on local street signs, towns, brooks, streams names as Wickapecko, Wickatunk, Port-au-peck, Pocano, Ticonderoga, Onieda, Genessee, Ithaca, Cayuga, Horicon, Pocaontas, Wyandotte, Hiawatha, Sgamore, Commanche, Werah, Manahasset, Takanassee, Musquash, Cold Indian Springs, Minnehaha, Minnesink, toboggan, Unamis, Shenandoah, Passaic, Narrumson, Manito, Wanamassa, Rumson, Cheasquake, Assumpink, Wampum Brook, Mahwah, Piscataway and Kittatinny Mountains.

Street names in the local town of Oceanport are Iroquois, Wigwam, Widgeon, Weehawkin, Huron, Mohawk, Mohegan, Ontario , Oswego , Tecumseh, Tohican, Waackaak, Mohoras Brook and Indian Hill School in Holmdel. Located in Tinton Falls are Squankum, Hochhochson Road and the Revey Branch of the Shark River .

Located in the Freehold area are Algonquin, Apache, Topanemus, Manalapan, Navajo, Saratoga , Pigeon, Assumpink, Metedeconk, Matchaponix, Weamaconk and Winkatunk. Our state names identify the native tribes in Utah, Kansas, Iowa, Dakota, Arizona, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Texas, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Alabama.

Cities using native names are Tuscaloosa, Chatanooga, Witchta, Omaha, Topeka, Chicago, Toronto, Canada, (Chief) Pontiac, Cadillac, (Chief) Seattle.  Native Indian names for sports teams and mascots are considered demeaning to people with native ancestry. Lenape heritage remains in New York by tribal names such as Carnarsie, Rockaway, Gowanus, Matinecock, Montauk, Syosset, Massapequa, Mamareneck, Poughkeepsie, Sagaponac (Sag) Harbor, Shinnecock and Ronkonkomo.  

While the family lived in Eatontown village Ike and his brother, William H. Richardson, were commissioned in 1854 “to build a school for colored children” on Wall Street about a mile south of Eatontown village. This location is now under the Eatontown traffic Circle near Monmouth Mall. Nearby on South Street is the Locust Grove Cemetery where William Richardson’s headstone and other relatives were interred. Also bordering Wall Street is the historic White Ridge Cemetery where many century old headstones provide evidence of the history of Ike and Elizabeth’s many Richardson and Revey ancestors.

 Due to the tremendous growth of shore resort towns, the Richardsons and Reveys continued to prosper with the growing economy. At the time land averaged about $10.00 per acre. In Rhode Island land averaged $39 an acre. Land in Georgia sold for $2.50 an acre. Wealth was measured in land, property ownership, trading and shipping.

Another small village in Shrewsbury was Tinton Falls , where the Revey family owned one hundred and five acres. Tinton Falls was named after Tintern Abbey near Shrewsbury and Monmouthshire, England . In 1660s Lewis Morris of Barbadoes was granted a royal charter to mine iron from the Swimming River falls a mile west of Eatontown. Morris brought in hundreds of African slaves to mine the ore resulting in the highest number of slaves in Tinton Falls, the colony of New Jersey at that time. Villages centered on water, small rivers, creeks, where gristmills, sawmills and lumber mills could use the waterpower for energy.

Sand Hill Indian History * PO Box 444 * Lincroft * NJ * 07738 * 732-747-5709