23 Aug 2014
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Historical Society: The Horseneck Riots

Dr. Beverly Crifasi, Vice-president and historian of the West Caldwell Historical Society, will be the speaker at the Livingston Historical Society's monthly meeting on Monday March 25th, at 7:30pm at the Hillside Ave. Community Center, 204 Hillside Ave., Livingston. Crifasi will present a program on the Horseneck Riots of Essex.

Beginning in 1700 when Newark purchased 13.500 acres of land from the Indians for the equivalent of $350.00, it was called Horseneck Tract because of its resemblance , on the map, to a horse's neck. On this parcel of land which included all of West Essex, the Indians and the settlers lived peacefully in the wilderness.

Soon a bitter dispute developed concerning the Horseneck Tract and surounding areas. Some settlers claimed title by deed from the Indians, others by grant from East Jersey Proprietors, while others, - squatters - by right of possession. Crifasi will explain how with a grant of land from King George II, the Canoe Brook lots to the West of the Horseneck tract were sub-divided. However the shrewd and clever East Jersey Proprietors claimed ownership of all this land and attempted to disposess the mostly unlettered settlers who had lost the deeds for their land in a fire that destroyed the home of Jonathan Pierson where the documents were kept. This created a calamity for the settlers who were threatened by the Proprietors, who demanded payment of “Quit Rent”. This was considered as an illegal tax and a group of settlers lead by Timothy Meeker along with his relatives, woodsmen and squatters decided to resist the Proprietors demands. They armed with clubs, sticks and bats, broke into the Newark jail and released their neighbor, Samuel Baldwin, who had been charged with cutting logs on his property and refused to pay the “Quit Rent” on his homestead.

This was known as the “Horseneck Riots” and marked the beginning of a long series of riots and rebellions against the Crown of England, 30 years before the American Revolution.

The public is invited to attend ,free of charge. Refreshments will be served.

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