Piscataway Local History

Piscataway Local History

A Brief History of 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 Iroquois 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.

Learn More

  • Come in to the Library - the Local History Room at the Kennedy Building is available any time the library is open.  Stop by the Information Desk and a librarian will open the room for you.
  • Interested in Camp Kilmer?  Click here to read about it.
  • Listen to oral histories :
  • The library holds books on several founding families of the Piscataway area.  The books cannot be removed from the library, but patrons are welcome to use them in the Local History Room. In addition to the seven-volume set entitled First Settlers of Piscataway and Woodbridge 1664-1714, there are books on the following families: Coriell, Deacon John Dunham, Deveny, Doty-Doten, Drake, Dunn, Fitzrandolph, Higgins, Hull, Hunter, Letson, Manning, Martin, Onderdonk, Polhemius, Pyatt, Ross, Runyon, and Singletary.  These books are located in the 929 section of the Local History Room.  Our Local History Room does not contain obituaries.

If you do not see your family name here, try:

Special Collections and University Archives
Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1163
Phone: 848-932-7510
Email: scua_ref@libraries.rutgers.edu

Local Cemeteries

  • Blackford-Clawson Cemetery, between Dickerson Drive and Michael Street, contains James Clawson, 1757-1822; Runyon Blackford, 1775-1850 and families
  • FitzRandolph Cemetery, Behmer Road on High School Property
  • Giles Cemetery, Sewell Avenue at curve, off Mountain Avenue, Birch Run Development
  • Runyon Cemetery, Old Possumtown Road and Centennial Avenue
  • Seventh Day Baptist Church Cemetery, Old New Brunswick and Stelton Roads
  • St. James cemetery on Woodbridge Ave., Edison.  This was formerly part of Piscataway.  Some of the early settlers of Piscataway are buried here.

    For burial records, see the document Stelton and Piscatawaytown Graveyards Burial Records 1880 in the Local History Room.  This booklet has the number 929.5 Stelton.  It may not be removed from the Local Hisory Room.