The American Isolates: The Racially-Mixed People of the Ramapos: Undoing the Jackson White Legends


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  • B. Eugene Griessman, sub-editor THE AMERICAN ISOLATES (continued) The Racially-Mixed People of the Ramapos: Undoing the Jackson White Legends” A review o f the lilerature fails t o validate the Jackson White legends which traditionally have accounted f o r the presence o f a racially mixed collectivity i n the Ramapo Mountain area. Extant oral traditions supporting the least documented and most pejorative aspects of the legends serve t o maintain isolation and tlireaten the continuation o f the Ramapo Mountain communi ty o f racially mixed people . DANIEL COLLINS North Carolina Sla te University AMONG LOCAL PEOPLE of the Ramapo Valley, which crosses the New York-New Jersey border at Suffern, New York, the term “Jackson White” denotes a group of mixed breed persons who are held to have descended from the amalgamated issue of renegades, outlaws, and whores of various colors who at various times through- out the eighteenth century sought the sanc- tuary of the Ramapo Mountains. The name “Jackson White” connotes a racial anomaly spawned by inbreeding and intermarriage, born into ignorance and degeneracy, and condemned t o poverty, feeble-mindedness, and suspicion. The difficulty of distinguishing between legend and history has hampered the establishment of a settled account of the racially mixed people’ of the Ramapo Mountains. They have been defined by one state agency as “a race of people of mixed Negro, Indian, and White blood inhabiting *For recent parallel research on the Ramapo Mountain People see David Steven Cohen, “The Or- igin of the ‘Jackson Whites’; History and Legend Among the Ramapo Mountain People,” Journal of A n w r i c a n Folk lore . Vol. R.5. No. 337 (July-Septem- ber. 1972) . pp. 261-267; a book by Cohen on this same subject will be forthcoming, Rutgers Univer- sitv Press. spring 1973. the Ramapo Mountains in the Northern part of New Jersey and extending over the border into the adjoining section of New York State” (Vineland Training School 1911: 1). That a people known as “Jackson Whites” inhabit the rugged Appalachian foothills called the Ramapo Mountains is true; whether or not they constitute a “race of people” and what t h e historical com- ponents of that people are until most re- cently have been open questions. There have been three clusters of people referred to as “Jackson Whites” in the valley.* In the northern portion “Jackson Whites” have been located around Sloats- burg, Ladentown, and Haverstraw, New York. The other two clusters are centered in the southern portion a t Ringwood and Stag Hill (Mahwah) New Jersey. The physical characteristics of the racially-mixed people are varied as would be expected. Hair textures are both kinky and straight. Skin pigmentations range from brown through red-brown, tan (called “coffee” locally), white, and albino. Some have facial characteristics which appear to be distinctly Indian, and others seem more Caucasian or Negro in their conformation. 1276
  • Collins] cJi1CKSON WHITE LEGEND 1277 A similar variety seems to exist with regard to the common surnames. These names include not only Dutch surnames like DeFries, DeVries, DeGroote, Mann, and Van Dunck but also English surnames, among them Conklin and Pitt. The Italian surname Castiglionia is found as well, Corruptions of these names are prevalent also. The number of bona ride “Jackson Whites” is difficult to determine because the people are variously enumerated by themselves and by others in the census reports. They may be listed as Negro, Indian, White, or other. “Jackson White” is not an official state or federal census classification, though it is used infor- mally by state and local organizations. It is common practice among the local towns- people t o refer to these people as a race even though the Jackson Whites are an obvious amalgamation of racial stocks and are indis- tinguishable at times from the rest of the local population. To inquire as t o the number of Dona ride “Jackson Whites” is to assume the existence of some definition of Jackson White and. therefore, some criteria for inclusion in this group. Those that use the term “Jackson White” and its various legends are not the same people t o whom the term and legends refer. The people themselves reject the name “Jackson Whites” even though they can not determine positively their ancestry. At times persons living at Ringwood will refer to those at Stag Hill as “Jackson Whites,” and vice versa. They prefer to be known as racially mixed people or as mountain people. When acknowledging mixed racial ancestry they often refer to the more favorable (White) or romantic (Indian) races contained in the “Jackson White” legend and omit the negative race (Black). To this extent they participate in the legends which they oppose in general (Cohen 1971:94). Usually, they avoid the question of racial identity and, instead, prefer to draw their identity from their location and life style. However, i t is, i n part, this mountaineer life style which the local, White, middle class population trans- lates as indolence and ineptitude and, there- fore, evidence of racial differences all of which is summed up in the invidious and slanderous name “Jackson White.” For these reasons an enumeration of the “Jackson White” population seems to be impossible, if not irrelevant. To paraphrase W. I. Thomas, a person is a “Jackson White” if he is perceived as one. Staries about the L‘Jackson Whites” are part of the oral tradition of this north Jersey area. The origins of the racially mixed people are held by local people t o be essentially t h e same as those described by J. C. Storm in 1936, However, contemporary folklore (including social science folklore) tends t o be incomplete and depends on parts or variations of Storms’ thesis to account for the origins of these people. Few are aware of the whole story related by Storms in his privately printed book. According t o Storms, the Ramapo moun- tain region was originally used as a summer resort and hunting area by “the Haginggas- hackie (hackensack) Indians, part of the Lenne Lenipe [sic] family of the Iroquois” (Storms 1936:3). With the influx of White settlers in the latter part of the seventeenth century most of the Indians left or were driven out. Some remained in the more inaccessible parts of the Ramapos where they lived together with some outlawed Whites who were seeking the cover of the mountains. Into this land came the remains of the Tuscarora Indian tribe which had been defeated by the British in North Carolina and expelled from the colony. The decimated Tuscarora went north to New York State to become the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois. By Storms’ account the north- ern trek took the Tuscaroras through the Ramapo Pass in 1714. Many of the women, children, and aged of the Tuscarora stayed in the Ramapos rather than continue the long journey into upper New York State. Quoting Storms, “This, then represented the first real influx into the mountains, and constituted the first element in the race of people that
  • 1278 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOLGIST 174,1972 grew up there and has become known as ‘Jackson White’ ” (Storms 1936:6). According to Storms another racial element entered the valley lending “German blood” to this collection of White “misfits” and vanquished Indians. Hessian soldiers deserting from the British Army during the American Revolution are said to have sought the fastnesses of the Ramapos, and there t o have intermarried with whomever they found, Storms reasoned that the Hessians were an impressed soldiery: Reaching America under duress, placed in the forefront a t every battle in which they engaged, beaten by their officers with the broadside of swords if they attempted to retreat . . . it is not t o be wondered a t that they proved unfaithful and deserted the army at every op- portunity [ 1936:8]. This story of deserting Hessians is very salient among local Whites. Storms asserted that freed and runaway slaves from the Dutch landholdings in Orange and Rockland counties in the north- ern part of the valley found their way into the mountains as well. I t was through the presence of the slaves that Storms accounted for the Dutch surnames. Slaves, customarily, took the surnames of their masters; thus, the “Jackson White” names have been similar to the names of the Dutch patroons who originally held land in this area. In this manner, Storms accounted for the Indian, White, and Negro ancestry of the mountain people but not for the name, “Jackson White.’’ The name, he said, derived from the final influx into the Ramapo mountain settlements; a group known as Jackson’s Whites (note the possessive) came in 1783-84, a t the close of the American Revolution. According t o Storms, a British officer named Jackson was commissioned to secure the services of 3500 women for t h e King’s troops which were garrisoned in New York City. This commission was devised t o preclude any offense to the Tory population that might have occurred through the rape of Tory daughters by British troops. The commission was t o bring Jackson two pounds for each female British subject brought t o New York. As t h e story goes, the women were abducted from England, put on ships, and carried to New York City. During the journey from England, Jackson lost one ship in a storm, several women died, others leaped overboard. As a result, Jackson was short of his goal of 3500 women and 7000 pounds when he arrived in New York. Not to be undone, Jackson dispatched one of his ships to the West Indies where he obtained the requisite number of women to fill his deficit. But, while the West Indian women were British subjects, they were also Black. Jackson’s contract had no “color” clause, so he collected his fee, and t h e troops had their women. These unfortunate wenches were e n c a m p e d in a makeshift stockade (Lipsenard Meadow) near what is now Greenwich Village. Because they were Black and White, they became known as Jackson’s Blacks and Jackson’s Whites. Black and White, they conceived the children of the soldiery in t h e course of their “service.” On November 25, 1783, the British, defeated in their attempt t o squelch the colonial insurrection, evacuated New York City. In leaving they neglected to take with them the women and children of the stock- ade. Instead, they opened the stockade and left the women and their charges to fend for themselves. As symbols of British cor- ruption, and moral and racial degeneracy, they were chased out of New York City. They made their way up t h e Hudson, across the river and into the safety of the Ramapos where their backgrounds and racial char- acteristics were absorbed without question. Along with their backgrounds and racial characteristics they also brought their nameJackson’s Whites, soon to be shorten- ed to Jackson Whites. Thus, according to Storms’ account, the present race known as “Jackson Whites” are the offspring of these prostitutes, who interbred with the Indians, the Dutch named Negroes, and the outlaws who were already in the Ramapos. At the risk of too lengthy a narration, this story was recounted because it inte-
  • Collins] JACKSON WHITE LEGEND 1279 grates all the elements of the traditional and contemporary folklore of these people. But Storms, like those who continue t o use his story, never bothered to document his theo- ries. (One is tempted t o ask, “Why?”) Constance Crawford, a more assiduous researcher sought ou t Storms and related the following: Each point of his story was discussed with him. The only sources to which he could seem to point other than those few cited in the story were “tradition” and a vague reference to letters, a document, and an article probably in the N e w York Evening Post. In searching for these refer- ences none could be found . . . [Crawford 1940:53]. Among the discrepancies in Storms’ treatise are these: (1) the Lenni Lenape are members of the Algonquin, not the Iroquois nation; (2) Storms’ account of the presence of Hessian soldiers is a t variance with the well documented account of Lossing (1860, Vol. 11); (3) most of the British troops were garrisoned on Staten Island and not on Manhattan Island where the women were supposed to have been kept (Abbott 1929:247-248); (4) the newspapers cited by Storms as references documenting the encampment of women show no record of such a stockade a t Lipsenard Meadow or anywhere in New York City? (5) no mention of the women is made by any of the historians of New York during the Revolution (Abbott 1929; Barck 1931; Fiske 1899, Vol. 11; Lossing 1860, Vol. 11; Riker 1883); (6) there exists no listing of a man named Jackson among the officers stationed in the New York area during the Revolution (Ford 1897). There is another account of who these mountain people are and how they got their name “Jackson Whites.” This account is not widely known as it is threaded through several old works and obscure references. But, taken together, these sources represent a consistent theory of the people and their name, without the damaging identification which Storms’ account continues to supply. The theory of the mountain people’s identity found in these sources is not as accurate as Cohen’s because it, like Storms’ theory, contains much speculation. How- ever, these references cast doubts upon the Storms thesis which are resolved by Cohen’s extensive research. One account of these mountain people appeared in the Eugenical N e w s five years before the Storms account of 1936: The Jackson Whites are a settlement of mixed-blood Indians, negroes and whites in the Ramapo mountains . . . They are the descendants of freed negro slaves who, due t o economic and social forces were crowded back into the mountains where they intermarried with white out- casts and a remnant of Algonquin Indians, supposedly members of the Minsi o r W o l f Clan. [Eugenical News 1931:218]. I t is highly probable that the remains of the once indigenous Indian tribes, which were Algonquin, were scattered throughout the Ramapos. Exactly which tribes were represented there would be difficult to say with certitude as there were at least nine tribes inhabiting the surrounding areas. Whether or not there was any intermarriage between t h e Indians and t h e other elements -Whites, Negroes, and m u l a t t o e s i n the mountains is not known, but Cohen states that generally such marriages were not un- common (Cohen 1971:124). Cohen’s research casts serious doubt upon the Tuscarora legend. As he states: the main route of migration appears to have been up the Susquehanna River Valley. There is documentary evidence that the Tuscarora came through and even settled temporarily along the Juniata River . . . along the Susquehanna river a t Wyoming . . . near present day Bingham- ton, New York, and between Syracuse and Oneida Lake, New York. Scattered, detached bands may have drifted outside this main route of migration: neverthe- less, there is n o positive proof that Tuscarora ever came as far east as the Ramapo Mountains. Cohen asserts further that no archaeological evidence has been found which would
  • 1280 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [ 74,1972 indicate that the Tuscarora came near the Ramapo Pass (Cohen 1971: 66-67). The White element among these people has been accounted for in various ways. There were early White incursions into the mountains in the upper valley in the area of Ladentown and Sloatsburg. In the History o f Hockland, Frank B. Green stated: T h r o u g h o u t the mountains which stretched in almost primeval wildness from Laden’s tavern north and west, dwelt a population so sunken in ignor- ance, so isolated from civilization that it seems foreign to our century . . . The population of the Ladentown mountains maintained an existence by burning charcoal, getting out hoop poles, or making . . . baskets and other wooden ware [1886:401]. It is held that this northern group probably ranged through the mountains hunting and fishing, thereby meeting the others who were living in the mountains. Some investigators have considered the northern group as a part of the “Jackson White” collectivity. Cohen however feels that the northern group of White moun- taineers are a separate group. Although some intermarriage has occurred, it is Cohen’s contention that the groups have always been distinct due to their different origins. In- formation gathered in my own fieldwork concurs with Cohen’s thesis. Informed opinion in the Ramapo area has it that the northern group had strong ties to England and were only associated with the “Jackson Whites” through similar life style and in- frequent marriage. My informants were more than casually familiar with t h e local history. That the ordinary citizen might not make the distinction between the groups lends credence to the idea that “Jackson White” has become a categorical term for social and racial outsiders who are not otherwise identifiable. Hessian deserters from the British Army m a y have constituted an additional Caucasian element (Crawford 1940:46; Lossing 1860, Vol. 11), but there is no proof of this. As Cohen states, “The Continental Congress tried t o encourage enemy desertion with repeated offers of land and immunity from military service to any deserter. In light of these offers, there was no need for deserters t o flee t o the Ramapo Mountains” (1971:67). Cohen argues that while there were Hessian deserters, there remains no proof that the deserters took either refuge or wife in among the racially-mixed Ramapo residents. Cohen states: No Germanic names appear among the Racially-Mixed People in the latter census manuscripts . . . None of the names com- monly associated with the Racially-Mixed People appear in a listing of marriages of Hessian soldiers . . . Nor d o any of the Racially-Mixed names appear on a list of Hessian officers [ 1971 :68-691. The most important element in the ancestry of the racially mixed people is their relationship to free, landholding Negroes, a relationship which predates the American Revolution. Though Storms and others suggested a relationship with freed slaves of the Dutch patroon, the real Negro ancestors of the racially mixed people were far from the freed and escaped slaves which Storm and others described as seeking refuge by huddling in the Ramapos. On the basis of his researching census records, birth, baptismal and marriage records, deeds, wills, and genealogical records of the racially mixed people and the Ramapo area, Cohen concludes as follows: their ancestors can be traced back more than one hundred years before the Revolution to free colored landowners living on the outskirts of New Amsterdam (New York City). Later, these free colored people were among the pioneers who settled the Hackensack River Valley, where they owned land. In the early nineteenth century, for reasons that are not completely clear, they migrated to the Ramapo mountains, many of them buying land [1971:97 J . Cohen has documented a middle-class, land- holding ancestry of free persons of color. The “Jackson Whites,” then, are a group of people held together by the isolation of the mountains, kinship, the mixed racial
  • Collins ] JACKSON WHITE LEGEND 1281 stigma and a defamatory legend. At best, the name “Jackson White” can be only a generic term which is potentially applicable to all those living in the Ramapo region from whom modern, middle class civilization has remained distant, or to those who have obvious mixed racial characteristics. Con- sidering their origins, and the fact that they had been called “Jackson Whites” a t least one-half century before J. C. Storms’ theory was written, the most probable explanation of the name, recorded in 1911, is as follows: “Perhaps the best explanation is that given by DeGroat, the head of the Jackson-Whites: ‘Where did you get your name Jackson- Whites‘?,’ he was asked. He answered, “Because we’re blacks and whites”’ (Craw- ford 1940:46). The term “Jack” was an eighteenth century colloquialism, often con- temptuous, for a freed slave, o r any Black. Over the years the joint reference to the people of the mountain colonies as being “Jacks” and Whites became Jackson Whites by elision (Eugenical News 1931, XVI:218; The Rocklarider 1930:3; see Cohen 1971:90-91 for a list of usages of the word “Jack”). These people have maintained themselves in what now constitutes one of t h e oldest, continual settlements in New Jersey. Today, they live in two main clusters a t Ringwood and Stag Hill. While family ties continue among the groups, a Sense of collective solidarity is not apparent beyond each cluster. Occupational, educational, and welfare agencies in the areas have tended to concentrate social interaction in these clus- ters. Contempt, suspicion, discrimination, and moral indignation on the part of the local, White populations have forced the mountain folk t o withdraw into clanish seclusion for protection of their way 0. life against “outsiders.” Today, they are c; ught in the vicious crossfire of the race and class prejudices of the local, White, middle class. The “Jackson Whites” have been con- t inua l ly rediscovered throughout the twentieth century by historians, archae- ologists, social workers, college students. and journalists. Each has served to perpetuate damaging stories of bastard origins, moral and physical degeneracy, feeble-mindedness, witchcraft, and ignorance. Brewton Berry’s account of the “Jackson Whites” (Berry 1963:23-27) is an example of the perpetua- tion of these legends. While Berry personally found the legends incredible, he did not see a need to correct them o r t o give his readers evidence of his own doubts. This defamation has reinforced the clan consciousness of the racially mixed people t o the extent that few outsiders are permitted open access t o their minds and territory. The following excerpt is indicative of the forces which through the years have turned the mountain people in upon themselves and against outsiders: The wild Ramapos seem tainted and spoiled, somehow. Even the mountain air is polluted with t o o many odors. There is too much rottenness and filth lying about in the sun. And there are too many dark-skinned renegades with surly faces stamping through the mountain laurel. Your heart will indeed be a stout one if it doesn’t jump about a little before the leers of ten or twenty of these gentlemen who have undoubtedly been watching your every step u p the mountain. Is this logical, you ask yourself, that here so close to Times Square, several thousand people like these live and have their being? N o it isn’t logical a t all, it’s 7 50 years and across the world [Greene 1941 : 15ff. 1 . Reacting t o these offenses, the mountain people have adopted a code of silence toward investigators and have formed a sense of identity as a slandered people. Because they d o not want t o participate in the problems of being Black in America, they abjure being classified with the American Negro and have n o desire t o join the Black Cause. Unlike many racially mixed groups, these people offer no solid racial front. On the contrary, they usually avoid any racial identity. Some have left the Stag Hill community and established residences in the valley. There, they have been referred t o as Negroes
  • 1282 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [74,1972 by the local White population. There, they do not refute it. Local residents do not seem perplexed by the various combinations of facial structures and skin colors of some of their “Negroes.” They seem to be happy that they can finally classify these people. One school official in Mahwah stated that the mountain child’s identity is submerged. Being neither positively nor negatively self- referring, the mountain child is difficult to deal with in the traditional academic style. Indeed, one gets the impression that while rejecting both a Black and Indian identity, the mountain people also reject the domin- ant White identity and seek to remain only what he has become, a racially mixed mountaineer. Unfortunately the mountaineers will not remain unmolested. Presently, the mountain land in the Stag Hill area is assessed at $1000 to $1500 per acre? This assessment is low for the area, but low as it is, often there is difficulty meeting tax payments on the land. In Stag Hill the people possess title to their land. This is not true at Ringwood, where the land is owned by the Ringwood Realty Company. In the Ladentown area of the upper valley (inasmuch as this land can be considered a part of the territory of the racially mixed people) much of the land has been confiscated for park areas by the State of New York exercising its right of eminent domain. The Ringwood settlement is threat- ened by plans for industrial and residential development which include the relocation of the “Jackson Whites.” At Stag Hill the land becomes more valuable each year as the New York-New Jersey metropolis creeps steadily into northern New Jersey seeking land and leisure. Stag Hill is being considered for an upper income residential and recreational development; that is, should the land assess- ments rise and tax payments not be met by the racially mixed people. Some younger people have left the troubled mountain communities and become educated entering successful business and professional careers. More typically they attend high school and remain in the area working in construction, manufacturing plants, a local automobile assembly plant, or filling local labor needs. In the 1940’s separate schools for the racially mixed people where they existed, were closed. Since that time the mountain children have attended local public schools. Though not separated externally, internally the mountain children may be placed in slow learning and special classes as they are considered unable to compete with the middle class, college bound, valley children. Stories of the mountain children being un- educable and feeble-minded prevailed until recently as indicated by this excerpt from a recent New York Times feature: Richard Gallivan, the Superintendent of Mahwah’s schools, says that the myths that the mountain people were uneduc- able have been completely refuted by the performance of the 75 or so Stag Hill youngsters now in his school system. “If there is a problem,” he says, “it is with the children of the valley,” he says, adding that the old legends still linger . . . [Kaufman 19701. In the Mahwah High School, which services the Stag Hill area, a race relations committee of parents and faculty has been instituted recently “to establish an under- standing of the racial backgrounds in the Mahwah community, more specifically in the high s c h o ~ l . ” ~ The committee members also seek an emphasis in the curriculum upon the cultural history of Mahwah. While at first this seems an encouraging approach to local problems, the race relations committee is largely a Black oriented organization forwarding the cause of Black identity through Black Studies programs, gaining additional Black faculty and through speakers programs, and other information services. There is some interest in this committee among the racially mixed people. However, the integration of their seemingly local needs with the larger issue and dominant dimensions of Black Identity in White Society may be difficult, recalling that the racially mixed people desire no
  • Collins] JACKSON WHITE LEGEND 1283 association with Black Identity o r the Black Cause.6 The original isolation of the mountain people is being reinforced presently by the suspicion, slander, and rumor among the local population on the one hand and, on the other hand, by withdrawal from such damaging contact by the mountaineers. The lack of open confrontation and sustained conflict between the two groups seems to have perpetuated misunderstandings. Where there is n o conflict there is no need to define oneself uis-a-uis the other party: there is no need to state one’s case. Local people see the racially mixed people as morally loose in that they d o not respect conventional civil and religious marriage regulations. Local people say that the children d o not know who their brothers and sisters are. They liken the family structure on the mountain t o some vague idea of an Iroquois Long- house. Local residents say the “Jackson Whites” are lawless and conjure up pictures of thieves. murderers, and harborers of runaway girls and criminals. As with every- thing else about the “Jackson Whites” the local residents’ description of life on the mountain is a series of legends and half- truths. There are marriages o n the mountain, but often they are of the common law variety. As with all marriages, some last and some d o not. The children of these marriages are cared for in some manner. If the family structure of the racially mixed people is not a replica of the White middle class family, it is not an Iroquois Longhouse system either, as the cultural input of Indians would have been Algonquin and minimal a t best. 1f the family st,ructure is not nuclear; it probably is similar t o the aunt and uncle system of child carr? found among working class and lower class Blacks. Regardless of t h e structure, the children arrive at school dressed and fed adequately according t o the vice-principal of the Mahwah Jr.-Sr. High School. There is a degree of lawlessness among the mountain community. But the legends held by local people are not generally borne out by t h e facts. Mrs. Vilord, the Mahwah tax assessor and a township official for twenty years, stated that the large majority of legal offenses are civil not criminal. The most significant offenses are failure to register a motor vehicle and driving without a license. The mountain people perceive the local residents’ attitudes toward them and feel little need therefore to cooperate with local officials. They perceive a reluctance among police, fire, and sanitation officials to service the racially mixed people. They respond to this affront by communal silence when officials, especially the police, enter the Stag Hill area on official business. The towns- people allege that the silence and the rugged mountains protect a lucrative business in the sale of stolen auto parts that is run by some of the younger mountain men. Some community organizing has begun a t Stag Hill under the leadership of Otto Mann, who is president of the Stag Hill Civic League. In Ringwood, organization seems t o c e n t e r around community organizers sponsored by local poverty programs and welfare agencies. These have been formed largely for improvement of community services and for retaining possession of the land. It appears that these organizations are a means t o protect the mountain people from the tendency of realtors, developers, and politicians to forget, neglect, o r to remove these people, rather than to facilitate their entry into the surrounding environ- ment. Not that the latter would be a desirable or easy occurrence for either the racially mixed people o r the townspeople. There seems t o be little room in the environ- ment around Stag Hill and Ringwood for cultural pluralism. At the same time, the local residents have refused t o allow assimila- tion a t almost every point because of the real and supposed racial and cultural differ- ences between themselves and the mountain people. As far as the mountaineer is concerned it is as difficult for him to desire assimilation, having been called a “blue-eyed nigger,” as it
  • 1284 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [74,1972 must be for those who called him that t o accept him as being equal. The racially mixed person perceives as thrust upon him a meaning for his being which is not the same as the significance he holds for himself. The outsider sees and evaluates him in racial terms, while he sees and evaluates himself in terms of his life style. The name and connotation of “Jackson White” d o not satisfy the mountaineer’s need for an identity. Rather, they seem t o satisfy only the outsider’s need t o identify these people who are a t once so like, and yet, so unlike himself. Beyond identification, the demean- ing connotation of the “Jackson White” identification also seems t o justify, for the majority, the poor relations they have maintained with the racially mixed people. I t may even justify the eventual removal of this mountain culture by land speculators and developers. It was the land which gave the racially mixed people their original identity as an interracial and endogamous group. Even their names were drawn from their direct relations with the landed Dutch patroons. Ironically, the issue of land has given cause for these people t o assert a proper historical identity now when they are threatened with the loss of the land which keeps them localized and somewhat united. By asserting a proper identity they may break down the accretions of derogatory oral and written traditions which have covered their identity as “first citizens.” Certainly Cohen’s work would contribute greatly to this effort. Whether this will preserve this group as an identifiable collectivity is another story entirely. Negative stereotypes and defamation of class and racial outgroups are only part of the intergroup relations problems. I t is not the fact that prejudices exist so much as why they are needed and how they are used that creates intergroup problems. Changing the legends about the “Jackson Whites” to the history of the racially mixed people of the Ramapos is a necessity, but it does not alter the needs and the uses of prejudice by the local Whites. The question of why a negative tradition prevails socially makes a moot point of descriptions of who the slandered people actually are historically. The importance of the exact historical identity is purely academic unless it feeds a new power arrangement between dominant and sub- ordinate cultures. To answer the question of why such negative traditions are needed and used is beyond the scope of this series. However, a comparative study of the needs and uses of negative traditions by the dominant groups which surround the sub- ordinate groups considered here would appear t o b e of immense value both t o the study of mixed racial hybrids in particular and to race relations in general. For those who find value in preserving ethnic identity this research is imperative. NOTES ‘The most recent and by far the most accurate accounting of these people is David Steven Cohen (1971). In deference to Dr. Cohen’s work which marks a new era in the identification of these people, the terms “racially mixed people” and “mountain people” will be used in most cases in place of “Jackson Whites.” *The term “Jackson White” has been used t o refer t o persons living in other parts of New Jersey as well. “Jackson White” appears t o have become a generic term over the years which may be used as a reference to any racially mixed people. Storms’ references were t o Rivington’s New York Loyal Gazette. Crawford stated that there were no accounts of the women in any issues during the revolutionary period. Cohen (1971) concurs with Crawford on Storms’ general lack of evidence and in particular the total lack of validity in Storms’ reference to Rivington’s newspaper. Cohen concludes, however, that Storms’ account is a valuable, albeit an unwitting, collection of oral tradition. 4Related by Mrs. Vilord, Mahwah tax assessor, in an interview with the author. ’Mahwah High School, Race Relations Committee Report, January 9, 1970.
  • Collins] JACKSON WHITE LEGEND 1285 6The mountain people actually out. number the Black population in Mahwah. Statistics provided by Mahwah H. S. showed 204 Negroes and 419 mountain persons in Mahwah, in January, 1970. REFERENCES CITED Abbott, Wilbur C. 1929 New York in the American Revo- lution. New York: Charles Scribner. 1872 Community of Outcasts. Volume Appleton’s Journal 7:324-329. Baird, Doris 1948 Jackson Whites and Their Cul- tures. Suffern, New York: Suffern Free Library. Unpublished paper. Barck, Oscar T. 1931 New York City During the War Tor Independence. New York: Columbia University Press. Beck, Henry Cariton Dutto n. 1939 Fare t o Midlands. New York: E. P. Berry, Brewton 1963 Almost White. New York: Mac- millan. Boyer, Charles S. 1931 Early Forges and Furnaces in New Jersey. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Cohen, David Steven 1971 They Walk These Hills: A Study of Social Solidarity Among the Racially- Mixed People of the Ramapo Moun- tains. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of American Civilization, University of Pennsylvania. Crawford, Constance 1 9 4 0 The Jackson Whites. M. A. thesis, New York University. Donoghue, Frank L. 1942 Jackson Whites’ Tribal Reserve Broken by War. New York Journal American, March. Finn, John W. 1965 A Ramapo Treasure Hunt: A Survey of the Origins of the Jackson Whites of the Ramapos. Unpublished paper delivered t o the Bergen County Historical Society, Hackensack, New Jersey. Fiske, John 1899 The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America. Volume 11. Cambridge: Houghton, Mifflin. Ford, Worthington C. 1897 British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774-1783. Brooklyn, New York: Historical Print- ing Club. Green, Frank B. 1886 The History of Rockland County. New York: A. S. Barnes. Greene, Francis E. 1941 The Tobacco Road of the North. American Mercury 53:15, 22. Heusser, Albert H. 1928 The Forgotten General, Robert Erskine, F. R. S. Patterson, New Jersey : Benjamin Franklin Press. Historical Record of the Close of the Nine- teenth Century of Rockland County. 1 9 0 2 New York: Van Dusen and Joyce. Jones, C. T. 1931 The Jackson Whites. Eugenical News 16:218. Kaufman, Michael T. 1970 Suspicion a Two-Edged Sword for Jersey Mountain People. New York Times, June 18. p. 47. Lamb, Martha J. R. N. 1887 History of the City of New York. Volume 11. New York: A. S. Barnes. 1860 The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. Volume 11. New York: Harper and Bros. Lossing, Benson J. Ransom, James M. 1 9 6 7 Vanishing Ironworks of the Ramapo. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Riker, James 1883 Evacuation Day, 1783. New York: Crichton. Rocklander, The 1 9 3 0 Man Who Educated Mountaineers Awaits Sunset of Life in Poorhouse, Sparkill New York. New York: Sparkill. Skinner, Alanson B. 1915 The Indians of Greater New York. Storms, J. C. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press. 1936 Origin of the Jackson-Whites of the Ramapo Mountains. Park Ridge, New Jersey: privately published. Suffern, J . Bogart 1 9 0 6 The Ramapo Valley During the A m e r i c a n Revolution. Historical Papers, No. 13 . Newburgh, New York: Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and Highlands. Vineland Training School 1911 The Jackson-Whites: A Study of Racial Degeneracy. Vineland, New Jersey. Manuscript document.