In the Beginning...







History Beneath Your Feet

Over millions of years, New Jersey's geology would play a critical role in shaping the history of what would become known as Woodbridge Township.

Receding glaciers, for instance, had carried and deposited huge boulders that can still be found around town. Fine white clay deposits were left by Cretaceous Period glaciers 145 to 66 million years ago, resulting in New Jersey's "clay belt," stretching from Woodbridge and Perth Amboy across the state to Camden. As will be seen, this would become the raw material for the ceramics industries that drove the Township's economy into the early 20th century.

This clay also preserved evidence of when...

Dinosaurs roamed...



Prehistoric Woodbridge

In January 1929, men working in a pit at Hampton Cutter Clay Works in Woodbridge uncovered huge footprints preserved in the clay. Unfortunately, they were destroyed, but Meredith Johnson of the New Jersey Geological Survey photographed and sketched them. In 1930, another trackway was discovered. Paleontologists from Rutgers University managed to save a single footprint, now on display at the Rutgers Geological Museum in New Brunswick, NJ. A third set, from large carnivorous dinosaur, also found in 1930, was removed and displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. As much as 145- to 66-million years old, the Woodbridge footprints are still the only known surviving Cretaceous dinosaur tracks east of the Mississippi!

They were made by a...

Megalosaurus!



Paleolithic Woodbridge

It is believed the first humans arrived in the Woodbridge area at least 10,000 years ago, spreading out of the migrations into North America across the Bering Strait land bridge at the end of the last Ice Age. Fossil evidence shows New Jersey was home to mammoth and mastodon, fox, bear, seal, great beaver, peccary, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, bison, horse, and caribou. Archaeologists have uncovered stone spear points, including near the Woodbridge area, indicating human habitation. These people were the first of the...

Leni Lenapi



Lenape

The indigenous people who lived in and around the area that would become Woodbridge called themselves Lenapi, members of the Algonquian Language People. Two Lenape dialects were spoken, Munsee and Unami, but all members of the Algonquian would be able to understand one another. They inhabited a region encompassing all of modern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York, the northeast tip of Delaware, and parts of eastern Connecticut. The Munsee dialect Lenape occupied areas north of the Raritan River in New Jersey. Their society was based on a matrilineal clan system, with lineage passed along through the women. They were organized into three main clans -  Wolf (Tùkwsit), Turtle, (Pùkuwànku), and Turkey, (Pële), each containing numerous subclans. Those in the Woodbridge area were part of the Turtle clan of central New Jersey. They practiced "companion planting," in which women cultivated many varieties of the "Three Sisters": maize, beans, and squash. Men hunted game and harvested seafood. By the arrival of Europeans, they were cultivating fields of vegetation through the slash and burn technique. It is estimated that this system supported some 15,000 people over some 80 settlements. Living along the many rivers, creeks, and shorelines, the Lenape became a major producer of wampum, beads made from shell that were used as decoration and in trade.