No one knows who was the first human to stand on the cliff above the confluence of the Sprout Brook and the Saddle River. First there were the dinosaurs, then the Wisconsin Glacier, and then a society of early humans who moved about with the seasons to hunt, fish and gather natural crops. Archeological evidence found at the end of Terrace Avenue points to such a group coming here for summer encampments 7,000 years ago.
Whether these people were the ancestors of or simply an earlier people than the Lenape, we do not know. The Lenape were part of the great Algonquian nation. Lenape legend tells us that they came from Asia, across the Bering Strait, into the Rockies and eventually across the Mississippi to the east coast. They were well known for their peaceful ways.
A sub-tribe, the Minsi of the wolf totem, occupied northern New Jersey. The land east of the Saddle River was the Hackensack sachemdom.
Dutch settlement of the area began in 1636. The Europeans bought land from the “Hackensackey Indians.” What is now Hudson County was called “Bergen,” and a trading post was established.
The new settlers were not to enjoy Hackensack tranquility for long. A director general of New Amsterdam tried to exact maize, furs, and wampum as tribute from the tribe. The Hackensacks revolted and attempted to drive the white men out. The Dutch then massacred the Hackensacks, who in turn destroyed the white settlement and murdered the settlers.
Not until 1658 was a satisfactory peace established with the help of Oritany or Oratatin. chief sachem of the Hackensacks
England, France, Spain and the Netherlands were in constant conflict as each sought to gain territory in the new world. In 1665, New Amsterdam became an English colony. Bergen passed into the possession of Lords Berkeley and Carteret.
A patent was granted in 1671 to Nathaniel Kingsland for the land between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. Kingsland. who came from the Island of Barbadoes, called his territory Ness Barbadoes. “Barbadoes” means “bearded.” The island had been named for the beard-like moss growing on its trees.
In 1676, William Penn acquired West Jersey, and Philip Carteret, East Jersey including Bergen. Five years later, Penn and eleven associates bought East Jersey for £3,400 (Approx. $4,491.41 U.S. Dollars).
That part of New Barbadoes which was to become Midland Township was outstanding for its scenery. Oak, chestnut, maple, hickory, gum, and buttonwood trees abounded. Corn and some wheat were raised in the area, but rye was the main crop. People made it into bread for their own use. Apples were an income crop. Windfalls went to the pigs and horses.
Women did the family spinning and weaving. To be considered suitable for marriage a girl had to show a store of domestic linens.
Women, also, made wampum at the Campbell Family wampum factory. The thick blue pan of the clam shell was drilled from both sides, ground smooth and strung on foot-long pieces of hemp. From five to ten strings of wampum were considered a day’s work. When a wagonload of clams arrived from Rockaway Beach in Queens, the Campbell’s offered free clams to everyone. That gave them labor to open up the clams.
The people in Bergen County spoke “New Jersey Dutch,” but they were not all Dutch. Eager to attract immigrants, New Jersey welcomed Germans, Scots, Irish and other Europeans of any and all religious beliefs.
In 1662 Albert Zaboroweski arrived from Poland. He married Matilda Van Der Linde in 1677 and settled on the west bank of the Hackensack River. One of Albert’s five sons, 7-year-old Jacob, was kidnapped by the Hackensacks, who returned him a short time later claiming they had taken him only to teach him their language.
The Hackensacks gave Albert title to a 1,977 acre tract named “New Paramus Patent.” The deed, loaded with legalistic gibberish, designates boundaries in terms of “black oaks” and “wild cherry trees.” The Hackensacks signed with fingerprints. Jacob was permitted to remain with the tribe. He learned the language and was their friend for life.
Red Mill, the saw and grist mill built in 1746 on the Saddle River at Arcola, was owned by “King Jacob” Zabriskie, one of many Zabriskies who were descended from Albert Zaboroweski.