A Brief Description of Earliest Piscataway
Founded in 1666, Piscataway Township is one of the fifth oldest towns in New Jersey and among the fifty oldest towns in our nation. The New Market area was the colonial settlement of "Quibbletown" which consisted of a grist mill, a tavern, an inn, a stage depot and about a dozen homes.
Since the southern bank of the Raritan river contained no settlements, Piscataway also included the future Middlesex County across the Raritan as well as most of Somerset County. In 1693, it extended as far as Somerville and Princeton, an area of some 300 square miles. In 1685, Piscataway itself and the out plantations were reported to be 40,000 acres, some 66 square miles.
The Native Americans who inhabited the area numbered only a few thousand. They belonged to the Lenni Lenape, a tribe of the Algonquian group, who lived along the Middle Atlantic and were far less hostile to the whites than the warlike Iriquois of upper New York. Their settlements were semi-permanent, and while they cultivated some plants such as corn, pumpkins, beans and tobacco, they lived chiefly by hunting and fishing. In spring they migrated to the seashore where the summer was spent gathering oysters, clams, mussels and fish which were smoked and carried back inland.
On February 8, 1777 a running battle took place between approximately 2,000 British and Hessian troops under the command of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis and the local patriot militia led by Colonel Charles Scott and a separate militia commanded by Brigadier General Nataniel Warner.
For a more thorough overview of Piscataway, see History of Piscataway Township 1666-1976, by Walter C. Meuly. This book is available in the Local History Room under 974.943 Meuly, and is also available to check out. Also see Historic Piscataway, by the Piscataway Historical & Heritage Society. This is in the Local History Room under 974.943 Historic.
The map below shows the locations of historical landmarks in Piscataway.
View Piscataway History in a larger map