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Stories of New Jersey
The Story Of The Discovery Of Scheyichbi
The Aborigines of New Jersey. (Period, prior to 1600)

By Frank R. Stockton

Originally published in 1896
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

I dwell upon the good qualities and high character of the Lenape, because it was from their main body that numerous tribes came across the Delaware River, and became the first Jerseymen, or, if any one likes it better, Scheyichbians. They settled in many pleasant places, building wigwam villages, many of which have since grown into modern towns, and still bear their old Indian names. In fact, the modern Jerseyman has had the good sense to preserve a great many of the names given to rivers, mountains, and villages by the first owners of the soil.But, after all, Scheyichbi was not sufficiently discovered and settled for the purposes of civilization, and its fertile soil waited long for the footsteps of the new immigrants. These came at last from the east.

About the end of the fifteenth century there was a strong desire among the maritime nations of Europe to find a short passage to China and the East Indies. It was for that reason that Columbus set out on his sedition; but with his story we have nothing to do, for he did not discover the continent of North Amerca. and in fact never saw it. But after John Cabot and his son Sebastian, then looking for a passage to Cathav in the interest of the King of Englandmade a voyage to North America and had contented themselves with discovering Newfoundland, Sebastian came back again, and accomplished a great deal more. He sailed along the coast from Labrador to the southern end of Florida, and in the course of this vovage discovered New Jersev. He made a map of the whole coast, and claimed all the country back of it for the King of England.

There is no proof that Cabot knew whether this country had inhabitants or not. He saw it from his ships; but he did not make any attempt to settle it, and thus establish a legal right to the soil. He simply declared it the property of the Crown of England, and it is upon this claim that England afterward based her right to the eastern coast of North America.

And so New Jersey was discovered from the east.

About a quarter of a century after Sebastian Cabot's voyage, the French took up the idea that they would like to discover something, and Francis I. sent an Italian mariner, named John Verrazano, across the Atlantic Ocean.

After having sailed far enough, John Verrazano discovered the coast of North America, which he called "a new land never before seen by any man, ancient or modern." He took possession of it in the name of his king, and, in order to settle the matter, called the whole coast New France. There is reason to believe that Verrazano discovered the southern part of New Jersey, for in sailing northward he probably entered Delaware Bay.

But it appears that New Jersey was not yet sufficiently discovered, and after having been left for a long time in the possession of its true owners, the Lenni-Lenape, it was again visited by Europeans. In 160 the celebrated Henry Hudson, then in the service of the Dutch East India Company, started westward to try to find a northwest passage to China. In those bygone days, whenever a European explorer set out to find an easy passage to the East, he was very apt to discover New Jersey ; and this is what happened to Henry Hudson. He first discovered it on the south, and partially explored Delaware Bay; then he sailed up the coast and entered New York Bay, and sailed some distance up the river which now bears his name.

Hudson did more for New Jersey than any of the other discoverers, for his men were the first Europeans who ever set foot upon its soil. Some of them landed in the vicinity of Bergen Point, and were met in a friendly way by a great many of the original inhabitants. But the fact that he found here possessors of soil made no difference to Hudson : he claimed the country for the Dutch. Five years afterwards, that nation made a settlement at New York, and claiming the whole of the surrounding country, including New Jersey, gave it the name of New Netherland.

Thus was New Jersey discovered on the north ; and after the efforts of four nations, – the Indians first, the English under Cabot, the French, and the Dutch (for Hudson was now in the service of that nation), – it may be said to have been entirely discovered.

MSS. regarding Indians. Rev. John Heckewelder.
History of New Jersey." T. F. Gordon.
"History of New Jersey." I. Mulford.


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