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#1 Jul-01-2011 10:51:pm

Registered: Sep-10-2007
Posts: 51

Cutlosses Plantation

Sschkaak :

I was interested in find out if their is any information about this place. I was  told it was a lenape settlement in mid 1700's .I was wondering if it was an old wise tale or true.




#2 Jul-02-2011 08:00:am

Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4374

Re: Cutlosses Plantation

It's quite true, Al.  Here's an old essay I wrote about this, some years ago:

Those of you who have read the Preface to my book, A DELAWARE-ENGLISH
LEXICON OF WORDS AND PHRASES, have seen the dedication to five New
Jersey Indians, one of whom was Chief Cotluss (the "Bobcat"). Cotluss
was the Lenape Indian whose residence was closest to my own home (about
a mile away)--of those whose names we still recollect. Here are some
comments regarding him.


The old road which winds its way from Boonton Avenue (Morris County
Route 511) in Butler, through Kinnelon, to the Newark-Pompton Turnpike
in Riverdale (now interrupted here and there by NJ Route 23 and some no
longer used portions), is variously designated, "Cutless," "Cutlass,"
"Cotluss" and "Cotlass"--though all, clearly, have a common origin. The
road takes its name from the old "Cutloss Plantation," through which it

"Tradition says that a chief by the name of Cotlas remained and lived
here as a recluse of sorts. He lived in an area that included what is
now Kinnelon, Butler and Riverdale near Sun Tan Lake. This tract was
known as the Schuyler-Cotlas Plantation. Cutlass Road, in fact, derives
its name from him
." [Meyer, Lucy A., KINNELON: A HISTORY, Kinnelon,
N.J., 1976, p.194.]

The name, "Schuyler," became attached to this tract after Phillip
Schuyler acquired some (?or all) of it--at a date, as yet, undetermined.
(In his "Last Will and Testament," from the 1760's, he left to his son,
Phillip, "all that tract of Land formerly known by the name of Cutlosses


The earliest documents referring to this name are two survey returns
from The Genral Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New
Jersey. Both surveys were conducted by George Ryerse for Samuel Berry.
The first is dated August 25, 1753; while the second is dated December
9, 1755. They begin:

"These do Certify that George Ryerse by me duly Deputed and Sworn to the
Intent herein after mentioned did Survey for Samuel Berry All that Tract
of Land situate about two Miles to the Westward of Paulus Vanderbeek's
Plantation, and on the West Side of a high Mountain at a place Call'd
and known by the Name of Cutlosses plantation in the County of
..." [Book S3, page 353]

"These do Certify that George Ryerse by me duly Deputed and sworn to the
Intent herein after mentioned did Survey for Samuel Berry All that Tract
of Pine Land lying between the Mountains near a place called the Catloss
plantation in the County of Morris
..." [Book S4, page 65]

You will note that even at this early period the orthography is
uncertain. We have both "Cutloss" and "Catloss." (The form,
"Cutlosses," is certainly meant to be a possessive [Cutloss's]--not a

That an Indian's land is referred to by these documents is inferred by
the fact that this "plantation" existed PRIOR TO the time these initial
surveys were conducted, since these returns represent the earliest
proprietary transactions for these tracts of land. No European would
have had a "plantation" on land owned by the Proprietors, before
securing title thereto.

The word, "plantation," was often employed, in early New Jersey land
documents, to describe a particular kind of Indian settlement. We read
of "Amiront's plantation," "Shoroppoos plantation," "Sekoppies
plantation," Cookoolsing plantation," etc. [Cf. Grumet, Robert S., "WE
ARE NOT SO GREAT FOOLS" (doctoral dissertation) pp.64, 72, 75, 79, 290
and 294.] John Reading's journal, circa 1715, mentions "Mensalockauke,
an Indian plantation on the head of the southerly branch of Rarington
River..." [quoted in Becker, Donald Wm., INDIAN PLACE-NAMES IN NEW
JERSEY, p.67.]

In Jersey Dutch, the term, "wildeplantage" (that is, "Indian
plantation") meant "Indian encampment." [Cf. "The Jersey Dutch
Dialect," by J.D. Prince, in DIALECT NOTES, Vol.III, part VI, 1910,
pp.475 & 484.]


I have searched the surname indices to all the old Dutch Reformed Church
records of New York, Albany, Staten Island, Bergen, Hackensack, Second
River, Tappan, Paramus, Preakness, Pompton, Totowa, Ackquackanonk, etc.,
etc.; and many other church and civil records of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. Never did I come across any surname, "Cutloss,"
or the like. It cannot be a European family name.

Given that the name was applied to a native inhabitant of the area, what
then was its significance? The first thing that springs to mind, of
course, is that this Indian bore the nickname, "Cutlass," derived from
the English word for a "short, curving sword." But, such a well-known
implement would not, in all likelihood, be misspelled so many
times--even in the eighteenth century.

I believe the name has its origin in the Jersey Dutch word for
"wildcat," or "bobcat." That word was "katelos." (This form is known
only from Jersey Dutch--the New York or Hudson River Dutch employed the
term, "loskat;" and Holland Dutch knows only the separate forms, "kat"
['cat'] and "losch" ['lynx'].) It is pronounced, roughly, as
"cot-uh-loce." [Prince, ibid., p.484.]

"The proper names of Indians are in general given to them after animals
of various kinds, and even fishes and reptiles. Thus they are called
the Beaver, Otter, Sun-fish, Black-fish, Rattle-snake, Black-snake,

Over the years, many Lenape Indians have been called by animal
names--either through direct translation of their Lenape names ("Beaver"
['Tamaqua']; "Big Cat" ['Machingwe Pushis']; etc.)--or, by nicknames
applied to them by Europeans. [See Weslager, C.A., THE DELAWARE INDIANS:
A HISTORY, p.522, and Heckewelder, op.cit., p.141.] Most examples of
this practice appear in English; however, Dutch was similarly used.
Referring to the origin of the place-name, "Prescott Brook," in
Hunterdon County, Becker cites the journal of John Reading, which
indicates that the brook was called after "...an Indian named PISKOT."
[Becker, op.cit., p.67.] Neither Reading nor Becker offer any
interpretation of this name, but those familiar with the vocabulary of
Jersey Dutch will recognize it as that dialect's word, "pesskot" or
"piskat," meaning "skunk"--another animal appellation. [See Storms,
James B.H., A JERSEY DUTCH VOCABULARY, p.36, and Van Loon, L.G., CRUMBS


The first survey return to Samuel Berry, mentioned above, locates his
tract "AT" the Cutloss plantation. Fortunately, this survey is
exhibited on the famous 1767 map of "Part of Bergen and Passaic County,"
a portion of which has been published. [Meyer, op.cit., p.44.] It is
shown under the owner's name, "S. Berrie" (that is, "Samuel Berry"); and
lies on both sides of the brook which now flows along Cutlass Road, in
Kinnelon--crossing Route 23 and emptying into Sun Tan Lake, in Riverdale
(now gone for a Home Depot). By its position--due west of the head of a
tributary brook--it appears to have been very near the present
intersection of Route 23 and Cutlass Road. This is borne out by
Lightfoot & Geil's 1853 map of Morris County, which shows the locale,
"Cotluss," at the bottom of the steep hill in Cutlass Road--where it
winds down to meet the highway.


This part of Morris County was bought from the Indians in 1714 [N.J.
Colonial Deeds, Book N, pp.179-183]; however, it was bought
by the West Jersey Proprietors, whose territory was once
bounded on the west side of the Pequannock River. It
is clear, by the sworn statement appearing at the end of the deed, dated
1754, and recorded in 1756, that this instrument had been resurrected to
bolster New Jersey land claims to this tract, during the important
conferences taking place in Easton, Pa. at that time. The Munsees and
Pomptons were particularly interested in settling their land claims in
New Jersey, then. [See Grumet, op.cit., pp.250-254.] There were many
disputed tracts of land, and it is not at all unlikely that an Indian or
Indians could have been still living on the so-called "Cutloss
Plantation" right up to the 1750's. Indeed, the evidence for this in
the documentary record indicates that this was the case.

Last edited by sschkaak (Jul-02-2011 11:17:am)



#3 Jul-02-2011 07:21:pm

Registered: Sep-10-2007
Posts: 51

Re: Cutlosses Plantation

Thank you I find this very interesting . Is it safe to assume that indians during this period at this location spoke Jersey Dutch, Lenape, and English?




#4 Jul-02-2011 09:11:pm

Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4374

Re: Cutlosses Plantation

dennison wrote:

Thank you I find this very interesting . Is it safe to assume that indians during this period at this location spoke Jersey Dutch, Lenape, and English?




#5 Jul-04-2011 08:52:pm

Registered: Aug-01-2007
Posts: 1577

Re: Cutlosses Plantation

I enjoyed reading it, sschkaak; thank you.



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