Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sport on the Hackensack Marshes

Despite human interference and destruction of habitat, wildlife somehow managed to survive on the wide marshes and sunken meadows of the Hackensack estuary. On September 11, 1879, the Evening Telegram noted, "Great shooting on the Hackensack swamps," reporting hunters penetrated the meadowland in the beginning of September when "the law is up." Gunners and their "pushers"—that is what they called the men who poled boats through the high grass—went out in search of railbirds. On November 19, 1880, the Bergen Index reported, "a day or two ago a flock of blackbirds numbering thousands passed over the Hackensack meadows. So large a flock has not been seen in New Jersey in years."

Governor John W. Griggs was one of many enthusiasts who made outings onto the meadows in pursuit of railbirds. Several gun clubs closed in the first quarter of the twentieth century owing to severe degradation of the river. Hunting revived somewhat after 1930 as industrial pollution of the stream abated during the Depression. Duck and hares remained plentiful.

The Hackensack River scull-boat was extensively used amongst the meadow grasses for hunting duck, geese and railbirds or for trapping mink, muskrat and snapping turtles. Anglers used it to catch white perch, striped bass, sturgeon, catfish and eels. The scull-boat was flat-bottomed, sharp at the bow and square at the stern. Its deck covered only three-quarters of the length of the boat. A shooter or angler would kneel in the front while a "pusher" with an oar mounted on a fulcrum at the stern would "scull" or guide the boat noiselessly through the reedy channels.

Events Update

Calico Frolic at Historic New Bridge Landing
Saturday, July 17, 2010 – 6:30 to 10:00 PM

The Bergen County Historical Society and Dance Mistress Denise Piccino invite Persons of all Ages and Accomplishments to a Calico Frolic at 6:30 PM on Saturday, July 17, 2010 at the Steuben House, Historic New Bridge Landing, 1201-1209 Main Street, River Edge, NJ 07661. Watch or join in 18th-century Country Dancing to the Musical Accompaniment of Ridley and Ann Enslow on Fiddle and Hammered Dulcimer. Instruction on basic steps and movements will precede the Dance, which commences at 7 PM and continues until 10 PM. Period dress is welcome, but not required. Light summer refreshments provided. The donation is $15 per person and $12 for BCHS members. Come and enjoy Good Company and splendid Musical Entertainments at our usual stand at the New-Bridge, near J. Christie’s Black Horse Tavern.

School of Historical Interpretation, Third Wednesday, 7:30 PM, July 21, 2010.
If you are interested in the public presentation of Historic New Bridge Landing, either as an exhibit docent, greeter, or living-history interpreter in period dress, then join our School of Historical Interpretation. Hone your communication skills while gaining insight into the material culture of the past. With over thirty years of experience, historian Kevin Wright teaches the Basics of Historical Interpretation on July 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm in the Steuben House, 1209 Main Street, River Edge, NJ 07661. We meet the third Wednesday of every month. July's meeting will cover the Dwelling Room and Parlor.

Winu gischuch, the Ripe Corn Moon Festival,
Sunday, August 15, 2010 – 4:30 to 8:30 PM
The Bergen County Historical Society marks the ancient Algonquian festival of Winu gischuch with an old-fashioned picnic, musical entertainment, and corn roast. Historian Kevin Wright will speak on the Cycle of Seasons from his book 1609, A Country That Was Never Lost at 6:30 PM in the Steuben House. Tour the Campbell-Christie House, Demarest House, Steuben House and Jersey Dutch Out Kitchen. $7 Adults, $5 Children, BCHS members free.

The Dark Moon of August, Winu gischuch, was associated with ripened corn, ready to roast. At this time, native farmers pulled cornstalks that produced no ears and sucked out the sweet sap or syrup. Fresh ears of corn in the milk were roasted.

Historic New Bridge Landing, 1201-1209 Main Street River Edge, NJ 07661.