Their Way of Life
The first people on the property that was to become the Hermitage were the Native Americans. When the Europeans arrived in the 17th century it was the Hackensacks, a group within the Lenni Lenapes, who were living in the current central Bergen County area. A considerable number of Native American artifacts have been found along the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook which bordered the Hermitage property. On the property itself a stone axe, a bowl and arrowheads have been found. These indicate that various Native American people hunted and fished and probably at times resided on this land.
|Native American artifacts found in the vicinity of The Hermitage. They are now in the School House Museum of the Ridgewood Historical Society|
Settlement of Area by European Invaders and Settlers
The first Europeans to claim this area were the Dutch as part of New Netherlands. Then, when in 1664, the English conquered New Netherlands, it became the domain of the Duke of York. He granted what became East Jersey to Lord Berkeley. After the Lord’s death, his widow sold East Jersey to a group of 12 Proprietors, some of whom were English, but most of whom were Scots. They established their colonial base of operations in Perth Amboy.
Exclusion of Native Americans from the Area
Despite the claims of the Proprietors, a group of French Huguenot merchants and land speculators in New York City under the leadership of Peter Fauconnier, bought a large section of what is now northern Bergen County, the Ramapo Tract, from the Hackensacks in 1709.